http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/rss.aspx?blogid=3 Fri, 19 Apr 2019 13:50:36 GMT Fri, 19 Apr 2019 13:50:36 GMT Mueller Was Supposed to be the Democrats' Savior, But Now They’re Out For Blood Danielle Ryan http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/19/mueller-was-supposed-to-be-the-democrats-savior-but-now-they-re-out-for-blood/

The Mueller report has finally dropped and instead of being relieved to discover, once and for all, that the president didn’t collude with a foreign power to steal an election, Democrats and media pundits are utterly devastated.

This is America in the era of Russiagate.

The partly-redacted, nearly 400-page report, delivered to Congress on Thursday afternoon, offered no new evidence or indication that Donald Trump or his 2016 campaign were in cahoots with Moscow to prevent Hillary Clinton from ascending to what Democrats believed was her rightful presidential throne.

Of course, their high expectations for the report had already come crashing down when Mueller wrapped up his investigation mid-March and Attorney General Bob Barr sent a four-page letter summarizing its anti-climactic findings to Congress. No evidence of collusion, it said.

The opposition party and the media’s most ardent Russiagate pushers had been moving the goalposts on “collusion” for months. In the earliest days of the two-year investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was given savior status; he would be the one, they said, who would deliver them from the evil of the Trump presidency. “Wait for the Mueller report!”they had screamed, as the weeks and months dragged on with “bombshell” after “bombshell” evaporating into thin air.

“Wait for the Mueller report!” quickly morphed into “Barr must be lying — wait for the full Mueller report!”

But Barr hammered the final nail into the Russiagate coffin on Thursday as he emphatically reiterated during a pre-release press conference that evidence to support theories of collusion did not exist and that all Americans should be “grateful” to hear that news. They were not grateful, though. In fact, they were acutely distressed by the news that Trump had been telling the truth about “no collusion” all along.

On the question of whether Trump had obstructed the investigation, Mueller’s report offered Russiagaters slightly more hope, in that it did not make a final determination and suggested that congress has the authority to take action in that regard.

But Barr enraged reporters by arguing it was necessary to take “context” into consideration when assessing potential obstruction. He said Trump faced an “unprecedented situation,” “relentless” media speculation and held a “sincere belief”that the investigation was “undermining his presidency.”

He also noted that Trump “took no act” that deprived Mueller of documents necessary to conduct the investigation and said he believed there had been no “corrupt intent” to hamper it. Not only that, but Barr also told shell-shocked reporters that Trump had not exerted executive privilege over parts of the report (as he legally could have done), "in the interests of transparency.”

Russiagaters masked their disappointment by trying, in endless formations, to spin the situation into a vindication of their theories; ‘Barr is lying for Trump!’ ‘Maybe Mueller was in on it?’ ‘He didn't investigate the right things!’ ‘It wasn’t about collusion, it was about obstruction!’ – and the most pathetic of all attempts: ‘It doesn't matter anyway, we know in our hearts collusion is real!’

The fact that the report was partly redacted (“standard for prosecutors handling sensitive information,” as the New York Times put it), triggered yet another meltdown from Democrats and Russiagate media stalwarts in advance of its publication. Casual observers of this seemingly never-ending saga might have been led to believe the report would be redacted beyond all comprehension. Indeed, it appears as though that’s what Russiagate truthers would have preferred. The more redactions, the bigger the scope for new conspiracy theories to emerge. Sadly for them, Barr also said an almost completely unredacted version would soon be made available to a bipartisan group in congress.

In a sign of just how desperate they had become, Democrats also spiralled into a total frenzy on Wednesday upon hearing that the aforementioned press conference would be held before the report was handed over to Congress. They genuinely seemed to believe that Barr might stand in front of the entire news media and lie about the contents of a document he was about to post publicly online a couple of hours later.

Why did it matter that he held a press conference summarizing its findings before the release? It didn’t matter, of course, but it was something to cling to. Remember, the Democrats and the media spent two years convincing Americans that Trump and members of his family were going to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the White House in handcuffs – so, at this point, they’ll latch on to anything.

Focus will now shift to Mueller’s expected testimony before Congress, which is due to happen no later than May 23 – and some are still holding out hope that the investigator will pull through at the last minute and say or do something to rehabilitate the entire narrative.

Journalist Aaron Mate, who has painstakingly covered the Russiagate drama, noted on Twitter that Mueller at times used “suggestive wording” in his report while simultaneously acknowledging that no evidence of collusion actually exists. This is likely what Democrats will be watching for during his testimony; any shred of doubt or uncertainty from Mueller on even the tiniest of details.

At the end of the day, however, the fact will remain that Mueller overturned every Russiagate rock and did not charge or arrest even one American for conspiring or colluding with Moscow, despite issuing more than 2,800 subpoenas, 500-plus search warrants and interviewing about 500 witnesses in excruciating detail.

But Russiagate was really always about Democrats and their inability to accept two basic truths: Hillary Clinton lost the election because she ran a terrible campaign – and because of the abject failure of the US political system to deliver basic changes that Americans want and need. Trump offered them hope, however false, of something new – and he won. There is no bigger mystery.

But the cries of “collusion!” will continue for months, if not years, and the media will meticulously pick apart the pages of the Mueller report for weeks, hoping to land on something that can credibly carry the conspiracy forward – and as they do so, they will be handing Trump a great gift going into the 2020 election.

Years from now, when Trump is hosting some post-presidency reality TV show or living out the rest of his days at Mar-a-Lago (rather than in a prison cell), Rachel Maddow will probably still be ruminating over the finer details of the investigation and inviting the most discredited analysts onto her nutty show to help figure out how it all went wrong. Luke Harding is likely gearing up to write a sequel to his “COLLUSION” best-seller as we speak. Maybe he can call the next one“COVERUP” and profit off Russiagate for another two years.

The elaborate and demented conspiracies of Russiagate could fill a library, but the strangest thing of all about this saga might just be how much they fiercely wanted it to be true.

Reprinted with permission from RT.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/19/mueller-was-supposed-to-be-the-democrats-savior-but-now-they-re-out-for-blood/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/19/mueller-was-supposed-to-be-the-democrats-savior-but-now-they-re-out-for-blood/ Fri, 19 Apr 2019 13:50:36 GMT
Robert Mueller Did Not Merely Reject the Trump/Russia Conspiracy Theories. He Obliterated Them. Glenn Greenwald http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/19/robert-mueller-did-not-merely-reject-the-trumprussia-conspiracy-theories-he-obliterated-them/

The two-pronged conspiracy theory that has dominated US political discourse for almost three years – that (1) Trump, his family and his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, and (2) Trump is beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin — was not merely rejected today by the final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It was obliterated: in an undeniable and definitive manner.

The key fact is this: Mueller – contrary to weeks of false media claims – did not merely issue a narrow, cramped, legalistic finding that there was insufficient evidence to indict Trump associates for conspiring with Russia and then proving their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That would have been devastating enough to those who spent the last two years or more misleading people to believe that conspiracy convictions of Trump’s closest aides and family members were inevitable. But his mandate was much broader than that: to state what did or did not happen.

That’s precisely what he did: Mueller, in addition to concluding that evidence was insufficient to charge any American with crimes relating to Russian election interference, also stated emphatically in numerous instances that there was no evidence – not merely that there was insufficient evidence to obtain a criminal conviction – that key prongs of this three-year-old conspiracy theory actually happened. As Mueller himself put it: “in some instances, the report points out the absence of evidence or conflicts in the evidence about a particular fact or event.”

With regard to Facebook ads and Twitter posts from the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, for example, Mueller could not have been more blunt: “The investigation did not identify evidence that any US persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation” (emphasis added). Note that this exoneration includes not only Trump campaign officials but all Americans:

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To get a further sense for how definitive the Report’s rejection is of the key elements of the alleged conspiracy theory, consider Mueller’s discussion of efforts by George Papadopoulos, Joseph Misfud and and “two Russian nationals” whereby they tried “to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and Russian officials” to talk about how the two sides could work together to disseminate information about Hillary Clinton. As Mueller puts it: “No meeting took place.”

Several of the media’s most breathless and hyped “bombshells” were dismissed completely by Mueller. Regarding various Trump officials’ 2016 meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Mueller said they were “brief, public and nonsubstantive.” Concerning the much-hyped change to GOP platform regarding Ukraine, Mueller wrote that the “evidence does not establish that one campaign official’s efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican platform was undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia,” and further noted that such a change was consistent with Trump’s publicly stated foreign policy view (one shared by Obama) to avoid provoking gratuitous conflict with the Kremlin over arming Ukrainians.. Mueller also characterized a widely hyped “meeting” between then-Senator Jeff Sessions and Kislyak as one that did not “include any more than a passing mention of the presidential campaign.”

Regarding one of the most-cited pieces of evidence by Trump/Russia conspiracists – that Russia tried once Trump was nominated to shape his foreign policy posture toward Russia – Mueller concluded that there is simply no evidence to support it:

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In other crucial areas, Mueller did not go so far as to say that his investigation “did not identify evidence” but nonetheless concluded that his 22-month investigation “did not establish” that the key claims of the conspiracy theory were true. Regarding alleged involvement by Trump officials or family members in the Russian hacks, for instance, Mueller explained: “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

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As for the overarching maximalist conspiracy – that Trump and/or members of his family and campaign were controlled by or working for the Russian government – Mueller concluded that this belief simply lacked the evidence necessary to prosecute anyone for it:

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And Mueller’s examination of all the so-called “links” between Trump campaign officials and Russia that the US media has spent almost three years depicting as “bombshell” evidence of criminality met the same fate: the evidence could not, and did not, establish that any such links constituted “coordination” or “conspiracy” between Trump and Russia:

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Perhaps most amazingly, even low-level, ancillary, hangers-on to the Trump campaign that even many Russiagate skeptics thought might end up being charged as Russian agents were not.

Fair Use Excerpt. Read the rest at The Intercept.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/19/robert-mueller-did-not-merely-reject-the-trumprussia-conspiracy-theories-he-obliterated-them/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/19/robert-mueller-did-not-merely-reject-the-trumprussia-conspiracy-theories-he-obliterated-them/ Fri, 19 Apr 2019 13:25:01 GMT
Mueller Exonerates Trump, But 'Russiagate' Will Not Die Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/18/mueller-exonerates-trump-but-russiagate-will-not-die/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/18/mueller-exonerates-trump-but-russiagate-will-not-die/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/18/mueller-exonerates-trump-but-russiagate-will-not-die/ Thu, 18 Apr 2019 16:38:56 GMT
The Triumph of Evil Paul Craig Roberts http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/18/the-triumph-of-evil/

Today (April 17) I heard a NPR “news” report that described the democratically elected president of Venezuela as “the Venezuelan dictator Maduro.” By repeating over and over that a democratically elected president is a dictator, the presstitutes create that image of Maduro in the minds of vast numbers of peoples who know nothing about Venezuela and had never heard of Maduro until he is dropped on them as “dictator.”

Nicolas Maduro Moros was elected president of Venezuela in 2013 and again in 2018. Previously he served as vice president and foreign minister, and he was elected to the National Assembly in 2000. Despite Washington’s propaganda campaign against him and Washington’s attempt to instigate violent street protests and Maduro’s overthrow by the Venezuelan military, whose leaders have been offered large sums of money, Maduro has the overwhelming support of the people, and the military has not moved against him.

What is going on is that American oil companies want to recover their control over the revenue streams from Venezuela’s vast oil reserves. Under the Bolivarian Revolution of Chavez, continued by Maduro, the oil revenues instead of departing the country have been used to reduce poverty and raise literacy inside Venezuela.

The opposition to Maduro inside Venezuela comes from the elites who have been traditionally allied with Washington in the looting of the country. These corrupt elites, with the CIA’s help, temporarily overthrew Chavez, but the people and the Venezuelan military secured his release and return to the presidency.

Washington has a long record of refusing to accept any reformist governments in Latin America. Reformers get in the way of North America’s exploitation of Latin American countries and are overthrown.

With the exceptions of Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua, Latin America consists of Washington’s vassal states. In recent years Washington destroyed reform governments in Honduras, Argentina and Brazil and put gangsters in charge.

According to US national security adviser John Bolton, a neoconservative war monger, the governments in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua will soon be overthrown. New sanctions have now been placed on the three countries. Washington in the typical display of its pettiness targeted sanctions against the son of the Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. 

Ortega has been the leader of Nicaragua for 40 years. He was president 1985-1990 and has been elected and reelected as president since 2006.

Ortega was the opponent of Somoza, Washington’s dictator in Nicaragua. Consequently he and his movement were attacked by the neoconservative operation known as Iran-Contra during the Reagan years. Ortega was a reformer. His government focused on literacy, land reform, and nationalization, which was at the expense of the wealthy ruling class. He was labeled a “Marxist-Leninist,” and Washington attempted to discredit his reforms as controversial leftist policies.

Somehow Castro and Ortega survived Washington’s plots against them. By the skin of his teeth so did Chavez unless you believe it was the CIA that gave him cancer. Castro and Chavez are dead. Ortega is 74. Maduro is in trouble, because Washington has stolen Venezuela’s bank deposits and cut Venezuela off the international financial system, and the British have stolen Venezuela’s gold. This makes it hard for Venezuela to pay its debts.

The Trump regime has branded the democratically twice-elected Maduro an “illegitimate” president. Washington has found a willing puppet, Juan Guaido to take Maduro’s place and has announced that the puppet is now the president of Venezuela. No one among the Western presstitutes or among the vassals of Washington’s empire finds it strange that an elected president is illegitimate but one picked by Washington is not.

Russia and China have given Maduro diplomatic support. Both have substantial investments in Venezuela that would be lost if Washington seizes the country. Russia’s support for Maduro was declared by Bolton today to be a provocation that is a threat to international peace and security. Bolton said his sanctions should be seen by Russia as a warning against providing any help for the Venezuelan government.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and vice president Pence have added their big mouths to the propaganda against the few independent governments in Latin America. Where is the shame when the highest American government officials stand up in front of the world and openly proclaim that it is official US government policy to overthrow democratically elected governments simply because those governments don’t let Americans plunder their countries.

How is it possible that Pompeo can announce that the “days are numbered” of the elected president of Nicaragua, who has been elected president 3 or 4 times, and the world not see the US as a rogue state that must be isolated and shunned? How can Pompeo describe Washington’s overthrow of an elected government as “setting the Nicaraguan people free?”

The top officials of the US government have announced that they intend to overthrow the governments of 3 countries and this is not seen as “a threat to international peace and security?”

How much peace and security did Washington’s overthrow of governments in Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and the attempted overthrow of Syria bring?

Washington is once again openly violating international law and the rest of the world has nothing to say?

There is only one way to describe this: The Triumph of Evil.

“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” — William Butler Yeats

Reprinted with permission from PaulCraigRoberts.org.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/18/the-triumph-of-evil/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/18/the-triumph-of-evil/ Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:44:45 GMT
Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/18/rumors-of-war-washington-is-looking-for-a-fight/

It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “…require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “…comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/18/rumors-of-war-washington-is-looking-for-a-fight/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/18/rumors-of-war-washington-is-looking-for-a-fight/ Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:14:33 GMT
VIPS Fault Mueller Probe, Criticize Refusal To Interview Assange Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/17/vips-fault-mueller-probe-criticize-refusal-to-interview-assange/

The bug in Mueller’s report to be released Thursday is that he accepts that the Russian government interfered in the election.  Trump should challenge that, says VIPS.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: The Fly in the Mueller Ointment

Mr. President:

The song has ended but the melody lingers on. The expected release Thursday of the redacted text of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election” will nudge the American people a tad closer to the truth on so-called “Russiagate.”

But judging by Attorney General William Barr’s 4-page summary, the Mueller report will leave unscathed the central-but-unproven allegation that the Russian government hacked into the DNC and Podesta emails, gave them to WikiLeaks to publish, and helped you win the election. The thrust will be the same; namely, even if there is a lack of evidence that you colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin, you have him to thank for becoming president. And that melody will linger on for the rest of your presidency, unless you seize the moment.

Mueller has accepted that central-but-unproven allegation as gospel truth, apparently in the lack of any disinterested, independent forensic work. Following the odd example of his erstwhile colleague, former FBI Director James Comey, Mueller apparently has relied for forensics on a discredited, DNC-hired firm named CrowdStrike, whose credibility is on a par with “pee-tape dossier” compiler Christopher Steele. Like Steele, CrowdStrike was hired and paid by the DNC (through a cutout).

We brought the lack of independent forensics to the attention of Attorney General William Barr on March 13 in a Memorandum entitled “Mueller’s Forensic-Free Findings”, but received no reply or acknowledgement. In that Memorandum we described the results of our own independent, agenda-free forensic investigation led by two former Technical Directors of the NSA, who avoid squishy “assessments,” preferring to base their findings on fundamental principles of science and the scientific method. Our findings remain unchallenged; they reveal gaping holes in CrowdStrike’s conclusions.

We do not know if Barr shared our March 13 Memorandum with you. As for taking a public position on the forensics issue, we suspect he is being circumspect in choosing his battles carefully, perhaps deferring until later a rigorous examination of the dubious technical work upon which Mueller seems to have relied.

Barr’s Notification to Congress

As you know, the big attention-getter came on March 24 when Attorney General William Barr included in his four-page summary a quote from Mueller’s report: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Understandably, that grabbed headlines — the more so, since most Americans had been convinced earlier by the media that the opposite was true.

There remains, however, a huge fly in the ointment. Barr’s summary makes it clear that Mueller accepts as a given — an evidence-impoverished given — that the Russian government interfered in the election on two tracks:

Track 1 involves what Barr, echoing Mueller, claims “a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA)” did in using social media “to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.” A careful look at this allegation shows it to be without merit, despite Herculean efforts by the NY Times, for example, to put lipstick on this particular pig. After some rudimentary research, award winning investigative reporter Gareth Porter promptly put that pig out of its misery andbrought home the bacon. We do not believe “Track 1” merits further commentary.

Track 2 does need informed commentary, since it is more technical and — to most Americans — arcane. In Barr’s words: “The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election.”

We are eager to see if Mueller’s report contains more persuasive forensic evidence than that which VIPS has already debunked. In Barr’s summary, the only mention of forensics refers to “forensic accountants” — a far cry from the kind of forensic investigators needed to provide convincing proof of “hacking” by the Russian government.

But They Were Indicted!

Circular reasoning is not likely to work for very long, even with a US populace used to being brainwashed by the media. Many Americans had mistakenly assumed that Mueller’s indictment of Russians — whether they be posting on FaceBook or acting like intelligence officers — was proof of guilt. But, as lawyers regularly point out, “one can easily indict a ham sandwich” — easier still these days, if it comes with Russian dressing.

Chances have now increased that the gullible folks who had been assured that Mueller would find collusion between you and Putin may now be a bit more circumspect — skeptical even — regarding the rest of the story-line of the “Russian hack,” and that will be even more likely among those with some technical background. Such specialists will have a field day, IF — and it is a capital “IF” — by some miracle, word of VIPS’ forensic findings gets into the media this time around.

The evidence-impoverished, misleadingly labeled “Intelligence Community Assessment” of January 6, 2017 had one saving grace. The authors noted: “The nature of cyberspace makes attribution of cyber operations difficult but not impossible. Every kind of cyber operation — malicious or not — leaves a trail.” Forensic investigators can follow a trail of metadata and other technical properties. VIPS has done that.

A “High-Class Entity?”

If, as we strongly suspect, Mueller is relying for forensics solely on CrowdStrike, the discredited firm hired by the DNC in the spring of 2016, he is acting more in the mold of Inspector Clouseau than the crackerjack investigator he is reputed to be. It simply does not suffice for Mueller’s former colleague James Comey to tell Congress that CrowdStrike is a “high-class entity.” It is nothing of the sort and, in addition to its documented incompetence, it is riddled with conflicts of interest. Comey needs to explain why he kept the FBI away from the DNC computers after they were said to have been “hacked.”

And former National Intelligence Director James Clapper needs to explain his claim last November that “the forensic evidence was overwhelming about what the Russians had done.” What forensic evidence? From CrowdStrike? We at VIPS, in contrast, are finding more and more forensic evidence that the DNC emails were leaked, not hacked by the Russians or anyone else — and that “Guccifer 2.0” is an out-and-out fraud. Yes, we can prove that from forensics too.

But the Talking Heads Say …

Again, if Mueller’s incomplete investigation is allowed to assume the status of Holy Writ, most Americans will continue to believe that — whether you colluded the Russians or not — Putin came through for you big time. In short, absent President Putin’s help, you would not be president.

Far too many Americans will still believe this because of the mainstream-media fodder — half-cooked by intelligence leaks — that they have been fed for two and a half years. The media have been playingthecentral role in the effort of the MICIMATT (the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank) complex to stymie any improvement in relations with Russia. We in VIPS have repeatedly demonstrated that the core charges of Russian interference in the 2016 election are built on a house of cards. But, despite our record of accuracy on this issue — not to mention our pre-Iraq-war warnings about the fraudulent intelligence served up by our former colleagues — we have gotten no play in mainstream media.

Most of us have chalked up decades in the intelligence business and many have extensive academic and government experience focusing on Russia. We consider the issue of “Russian interference” of overriding significance not only because the allegation is mischievously bogus and easily disproven. More important, it has brought tension with nuclear-armed Russia to the kind of dangerous fever pitch not seen since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, when the Russian provocation was real — authentic, not synthetic.

Sober minds resolved that crisis more than a half-century ago, and we all got to live another day. These days sober minds seem few and far between and a great deal is at stake. On the intelligence/forensics side, we have proved that the evidence adduced to “prove” that the Russians hacked into the DNC and Podesta emails and gave them to WikiLeaks is spurious. For example, we have examined metadata from one key document attributed to Russian hacking and shown that it was synthetically tainted with “Russian fingerprints.”

Who Left the Bread Crumbs?

So, if it wasn’t the Russians, who left the “Russian” bread-crumb “fingerprints?” We do not know for sure; on this question we cannot draw a conclusion based on the principles of science — at least not yet. We suspect, however, that cyber warriors closer to home were responsible for inserting the “tell-tale signs” necessary to attribute “hacks” to Russia. We tacked on our more speculative views regarding this intriguing issue onto the end of our July 24, 2017 Memorandum to you entitled “Intelligence Veterans Challenge Russia Hack Evidence”

We recall that you were apprised of that Memorandum’s key findings because you ordered then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo to talk to William Binney, one of our two former NSA Technical Directors and one of the principal authors of that Memorandum. On October 24, 2017, Pompeo began an hour-long meeting with Binney by explaining the genesis of the odd invitation to CIA Headquarters: “You are here because the president told me that if I really wanted to know about Russian hacking I needed to talk to you.”

On the chance Pompeo has given you no report on his meeting with Binney, we can tell you that Binney, a plain-spoken, widely respected scientist, began by telling Pompeo that his (CIA) people were lying to him about Russian hacking and that he (Binney) could prove it. Pompeo reacted with disbelief, but then talked of following up with the FBI and NSA. We have no sign, though, that he followed through. And there is good reason to believe that Pompeo himself may have been reluctant to follow up with his subordinates in the Directorate of Digital Innovation created by CIA Director John Brennan in 2015. CIA malware and hacking tools are built by the Engineering Development Group, part of that relatively new Directorate.

‘Obfuscation’

A leak from within the CIA, published on March 31, 2017 by WikiLeaks as part of the so-called “Vault 7” disclosures, exposed a cyber tool called “Marble,” which was used during 2016 for“obfuscation” (CIA’s word). This tool can be used to conduct a forensic attribution double game (aka a false-flag operation); it included test samples in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, and Russian. Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima, to her credit, immediately penned an informative article on the Marble cyber-tool, under the catching (and accurate) headline “WikiLeaks’ latest release of CIA cyber-tools could blow the cover on agency hacking operations.” That was apparently before Nakashima “got the memo.” Mainstream media have otherwise avoided like the plague any mention of Marble.

Mr. President, we do not know if CIA’s Marble, or tools like it, played some kind of role in the campaign to blame Russia for hacking the DNC. Nor do we know how candid the denizens of CIA’s Directorate of Digital Innovation have been with the White House — or with former Director Pompeo — on this touchy issue. Since it is still quite relevant, we will repeat below a paragraph included in our July 2017 Memorandum to you under the sub-heading “Putin and the Technology:”

We also do not know if you have discussed cyber issues in any detail with President Putin. In his interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly, he seemed quite willing – perhaps even eager – to address issues related to the kind of cyber tools revealed in the Vault 7 disclosures, if only to indicate he has been briefed on them. Putin pointed out that today’s technology enables hacking to be “masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one can understand the origin” [of the hack] … And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack. Hackers may be anywhere,” he said. “There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? … I can.”

As we told Attorney General Barr five weeks ago, we consider Mueller’s findings fundamentally flawed on the forensics side and ipso factoincomplete. We also criticized Mueller for failing to interview willing witnesses with direct knowledge, like WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.

Political Enemies & Mainstream Media (Forgive the Redundancy)

You may be unaware that in March 2017 lawyers for Assange and the Justice Department (acting on behalf of the CIA) reportedly were very close to an agreement under which Assange would agree to discuss “technical evidence ruling out certain parties” in the leak of the DNC emails” and agree to redact some classified CIA information, in exchange for limited immunity. According to the investigative reporter John Solomon of The Hill, Sen. Mark Warner, D,VA, Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, learned of the incipient deal and told then-FBI Director Comey, who ordered an abrupt“stand down” and an end to the discussions with Assange.

Why did Comey and Warner put the kibosh on receiving “technical evidence ruling out certain parties [read Russia]? We won’t insult you with the obvious answer. Assange is now in prison, to the delight of so many — including Mrs. Clinton who has said Assange must now “answer for what he has done.”

But is it too late to follow up somehow on Assange’s offer? Might he or his associates be still willing to provide “technical evidence” showing, at least, who wasnotthe culprit?

You, Mr. President, could cause that to happen. You would have to buck strong resistance at every turn, and there all manner of ways that those with vested interests and a lot of practice in sabotage can try to thwart you — with the full cooperation of most media pundits. By now, you know all too well how that works.

But you are the president. And there may be no better time than now to face them down, show the spurious nature of the concocted “evidence” attempting to put you in “Putin’s pocket,” and — not least — lift the cloud that has prevented you from pursuing a more decent relationship with Russia.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

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

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

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator

James George Jatras, former US diplomat and former foreign policy adviser to Senate leadership (Associate VIPS) 

Larry Johnson, former CIA Intelligence Officer & former State Department Counter-Terrorism Official, (ret.)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor for Strategic Reconnaissance Operations (NSA/DIA) and Special Mission Units (JSOC)

John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former Senior Investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003

Clement J. Laniewski, LTC, US Army (ret.)

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.)

Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael, former Senior Estimates Officer, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA presidential briefer (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East & CIA political analyst (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Peter Van Buren,US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Robert Wing, US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (former) (associate VIPS)

Ann Wright, US Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former US Diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/17/vips-fault-mueller-probe-criticize-refusal-to-interview-assange/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/17/vips-fault-mueller-probe-criticize-refusal-to-interview-assange/ Wed, 17 Apr 2019 20:20:50 GMT
Imperial Presidency Wins Again: Trump's Veto Continues Yemen War Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/17/imperial-presidency-wins-again-trumps-veto-continues-yemen-war/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/17/imperial-presidency-wins-again-trumps-veto-continues-yemen-war/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/17/imperial-presidency-wins-again-trumps-veto-continues-yemen-war/ Wed, 17 Apr 2019 17:17:15 GMT
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State John W. Whitehead http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/17/from-jesus-christ-to-julian-assange-when-dissidents-become-enemies-of-the-state/

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell

When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are being ruled by criminals.

In the current governmental climate, where laws that run counter to the dictates of the Constitution are made in secret, passed without debate, and upheld by secret courts that operate behind closed doors, obeying one’s conscience and speaking truth to the power of the police state can render you an “enemy of the state.”

That list of so-called “enemies of the state” is growing.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is merely the latest victim of the police state’s assault on dissidents and whistleblowers.

On April 11, 2019, police arrested Assange for daring to access and disclose military documents that portray the US government and its endless wars abroad as reckless, irresponsible, immoral and responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

Included among the leaked materials was gunsight video footage from two US AH-64 Apache helicopters engaged in a series of air-to-ground attacks while American air crew laughed at some of the casualties. Among the casualties were two Reuters correspondents who were gunned down after their cameras were mistaken for weapons and a driver who stopped to help one of the journalists. The driver’s two children, who happened to be in the van at the time it was fired upon by US forces, suffered serious injuries.

There is nothing defensible about crimes such as these perpetrated by the government.

When any government becomes almost indistinguishable from the evil it claims to be fighting—whether that evil takes the form of war, terrorism, torture, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity—that government has lost its claim to legitimacy.

These are hard words, but hard times require straight-talking.

It is easy to remain silent in the face of evil.

What is harder—what we lack today and so desperately need—are those with moral courage who will risk their freedoms and lives in order to speak out against evil in its many forms.

Throughout history, individuals or groups of individuals have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age. Nazi Germany had its Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The gulags of the Soviet Union were challenged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. America had its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering called out for what it was, blatant discrimination and profiteering, by Martin Luther King Jr.

And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for civil disobedience that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him.

Indeed, it is fitting that we remember that Jesus Christ—the religious figure worshipped by Christians for his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection—paid the ultimate price for speaking out against the police state of his day.

A radical nonconformist who challenged authority at every turn, Jesus was a far cry from the watered-down, corporatized, simplified, gentrified, sissified vision of a meek creature holding a lamb that most modern churches peddle. In fact, he spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire.

Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day had all of the characteristics of a police state: secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars, a military empire, martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state.

For all the accolades poured out upon Jesus, little is said about the harsh realities of the police state in which he lived and its similarities to modern-day America, and yet they are striking.

Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics.

Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.

What a marked contrast to the advice being given to Americans by church leaders to “submit to your leaders and those in authority,” which in the American police state translates to complying, conforming, submitting, obeying orders, deferring to authority and generally doing whatever a government official tells you to do.

Telling Americans to march in lockstep and blindly obey the government—or put their faith in politics and vote for a political savior—flies in the face of everything for which Jesus lived and died.

Ultimately, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus—the one who stood up to the Roman Empire and was crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be—is to be an example for our modern age.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we must decide whether we will follow the path of least resistance—willing to turn a blind eye to what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the “evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination, to the moral degeneracy of religious bigotry and the corroding effects of narrow sectarianism, to economic conditions that deprive men of work and food, and to the insanities of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence”—or whether we will be transformed nonconformists “dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

As King explained in a powerful sermon delivered in 1954, “This command not to conform comes … [from] Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.”
We need to recapture the gospel glow of the early Christians, who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word and refused to shape their witness according to the mundane patterns of the world. Willingly they sacrificed fame, fortune, and life itself in behalf of a cause they knew to be right. Quantitatively small, they were qualitatively giants. Their powerful gospel put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests. Finally, they captured the Roman Empire for Jesus Christ… The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.
Reprinted with permission from Rutherford Institute.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/17/from-jesus-christ-to-julian-assange-when-dissidents-become-enemies-of-the-state/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/17/from-jesus-christ-to-julian-assange-when-dissidents-become-enemies-of-the-state/ Wed, 17 Apr 2019 13:39:35 GMT
Washington’s Biggest Fairy Tale: 'Truth Will Out' James Bovard http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/16/washington-s-biggest-fairy-tale-truth-will-out/ undefined

The arrest of Julian Assange has produced rapturous cheering from the American political elite. Hillary Clinton declared that Assange “must answer for what he has done.” Unfortunately, Assange’s arrest will do nothing to prevent the vast majority of conniving politicians and bureaucrats from paying no price for deceiving the American public.

“Truth will out” is a phrase that is routinely recited to keep Americans paying and obeying. Politicians and editorial writers toss this phrase out to simmer down any fears that the government might be conspiring against the people. Actually, “truth will out” is the biggest fairy tale in Washington.

The phrase “truth will out” is first recorded in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Often in Shakespeare’s plays, truths come out only after almost everyone has been conned, stabbed, or screwed. It’s not much better nowadays.

When it comes to politics, “truth will out” should be confined to sarcasm and satire, not to serious pontificating.

Consider the assassination in 1963 of John F. Kennedy. The Johnson administration rushed the Warren Commission to issue a verdict approving the official story of the killing. But the commission announced that the key records would be sealed for 75 years. Truth would out — but not until all the people involved in the coverup had gotten their pensions and died. In 1992, Congress (responding to the uproar provoked by Oliver Stone’s movie on the assassination) shortened the disclosure schedule, but federal agencies are still conniving to withhold key evidence.

The following year, Johnson was running against Barry Goldwater. Folks were warned back then that if they voted for Goldwater, the United States would get involved in a massive land war in Asia. Well, Johnson won and he dragged the United States into the Vietnam War on the basis of totally false claims about the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The Johnson administration built entire pyramids of lies about that war — actually, they were funeral pyres, not pyramids. As philosopher Hannah Arendt noted, during the Vietnam War “the policy of lying was hardly ever aimed at the enemy but chiefly if not exclusively destined for domestic consumption, for propaganda at home and especially for the purpose of deceiving Congress.” CIA analysts did excellent work in the early period of the Vietnam conflict. But “in the contest between public statements, always over-optimistic, and the truthful reports of the intelligence community, persistently bleak and ominous, the public statements were likely to win simply because they were public,” she observed.

Secrets

Fast-forward a few decades to 2003. The Bush administration was claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he was tied to the 9/11 attacks. Both of those charges turned out to be complete hokum — but they were enough to justify dragging the United States into another pointless war against Iraq. A few years later, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared, “Ultimately the truth gets out, notwithstanding people’s efforts to the contrary.” For Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, truth was simply another bomb to drop on opponents, at home or abroad. Los Angeles Times columnist William Arkin noted that Rumsfeld’s redesign of military operations “blurs or even erases the boundaries between factual information and news, on the one hand, and public relations, propaganda, and psychological war- fare, on the other.” As reported in the New York Timeson May 24, 2006, army officers under Rumsfeld’s command bribed Iraqi journalists to produce favorable newspaper and television reports about US military operations. The campaign was aided by psychological warfare experts authorized to use “doctored or false information to deceive or damage the enemy or to bolster support for American efforts.” The program’s exposure spurred momentary outrage in Washington, after which it resumed on a larger scale.

While some people were shocked by Rumsfeld’s manipulations, he was following hallowed Pentagon traditions. During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Assistant Defense Secretary Arthur Sylvester announced, “It’s inherent in [the] government’s right, if necessary, to lie to save itself. News generated by the actions of the government … [are] part of the arsenal of weaponry that a President has.” But, as the Pentagon Papers showed, that weapon cripples citizens’ ability to control their government.

The US government became far more secretive after the 9/11 attacks. The federal government made almost 50 million decisions to classify information last year. Politicians and federal agencies have long recognized that “what people don’t know won’t hurt the government.”

US troops are now fighting in 14 foreign nations: will the Pentagon tell us all about it? The chances are slim and none and, as Dan Rather liked to say, “Slim just left town.” And how about our chances of learning the sordid details surrounding the US government’s dealings with the Saudi regime, despite its atrocities at home and abroad?

Pipe dreams

For an even bigger pipe dream, when do you think we’ll learn the facts of US policy in Syria? The US government has massively intervened in Syrian civil war since 2011. US policy has always been a tangle of contradictions and absurdities: Pentagon-backed Syrian rebels actively battled against CIA-backed Syrian rebels. Maybe backing both factions guaranteed that the US would be on the eventual winning side? When US-backed rebels launch a chemical-weapons attack on civilians, the US government usually simply ignores it: “Oh those boys.” The New Yorker reported in November that the US military is building up its forces in Syria in preparation for a conflict with Iran. I don’t recall that that issue was on the ballot — or on the radar — for the 2016 congressional midterm elections. Will Donald Trump use secrecy to drag the United States into another pointless Middle East war?

I’ve been an investigative journalist for more than 35 years. I have fought many federal agencies to get the facts of what they are doing. Sometimes I get some dirt, sometimes I get a smoking gun — or a few whiffs — but most government coverups succeed.

I have been using the federal Freedom of Information Act since the early 1980s. This law is supposed to make Americans think the government is transparent — federal agencies are bound by law to reply within 20 business days to requests for documents and other information.

Some years ago, I sent out a bunch of FOIA requests to federal agencies to see what they had in their files about me. The FBI replied that they had nothing — even though FBI chief Louis Freeh publicly condemned my articles on Ruby Ridge. No records? The FBI told a lot of lies about the Randy Weaver case — enough to con much of the media — but they got whupped by a brave Idaho jury. There are some federal agencies that routinely and wrongfully deny FOIA requests, presuming that people are not seriously seeking information until they sue the agency in federal court.

I wrote a lot about trade policy in the 1990s and clashed at times with the Office of the US Trade Representative. I filed a FOIA to get their files on me, including the uproar after I rattled them by acquiring a secret copy of the US tariff code that they had denied existed. Their response came back — “We have no records on Kevin Bovard.” This was not even “close enough for government work,” but it was typical of the charades of disclosure practiced by many agencies.

I have been slamming the Transportation Security Administration for 15 years, so I sent them a FOIA request for their records on me. The TSA chief had publicly condemned an article I wrote in 2014 but their response to my request contained no information on that. Was I supposed to believe that TSA boss John Pistole had typed his retort in an online portal that the newspaper provided, leaving no internal trace?

After a tussle with the TSA at Reagan National Airport back in March, I filed a FOIA request for the videos of that encounter. I have received nothing on that incident and remain sitting on the edge of my chair waiting. Admittedly, I did already whack the TSA on that ruckus in the Los Angeles Times.The Minneapolis Star Tribune reprinted that article with the headline “TSA: the world’s most incompetent agency” — I wonder if that will show up the next time I file a FOIA request with TSA.

WikiLeaks

Government coverups became a hot issue in November when a Justice Department snafu revealed that the US government had secretly indicted WikiLeaks whistleblower Julian Assange. We do not yet know the specific charges against Assange but the US government has had him in its crosshairs ever since he released scores of thousands of documents exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010. During the 2016 presidential campaign, WikiLeaks released emails from the Democratic National Committee showing that its nominating process was rigged to favor Hillary Clinton. During the final month of the campaign, WikiLeaks disclosed emails from Clinton campaign chief John Podesta. At the same time, the Obama administration had been illegally denying FOIA requests for years that had sought Hillary Clinton’s emails from her four years as secretary of State. But there was no danger that a secret indictment would look into that trampling of the law. The ACLU warned that prosecuting Assange for WikiLeaks’ publishing operations would be “unconstitutional” and would set a “dangerous precedent for US journalists, who routinely violate foreign secrecy laws to deliver information vital to the public’s interest.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denounced WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and labeled Assange a “fraud,” “coward,” and “enemy.” He warned, “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for.” But “our great Constitution” never intended for Washington to keep endless secrets from the American people.

If Assange is going to be indicted, it should be for lèse-majesté —which has not formally been a crime in this part of the world since 1776. Any prosecution of Assange would ultimately rest on a presumed divine right for the federal government to deceive the American people. Assange is a heretic to people who believe the feds have a right to be trusted.

Attorney General Ramsey Clark declared in 1967, “Nothing so diminishes democracy as secrecy.” If someone had massively leaked US government documents on Iraq in January 2003, the Bush administration campaign for war might have been thwarted. If Americans had known the full extent of George W. Bush’s torture regime and domestic spying, he might have failed to win reelection in 2004. If Americans had known that Obama’s National Security Agency was illegally vacuuming up their email, he might have gotten tossed out by voters in 2012.

Myths about truth empower liars. The more people assume that truth automatically outs, the easier it becomes to cork it up. Americans must realize that they will not receive even token disclosures without whistleblowers, journalists, and activists vigorously fighting the political-bureaucratic system.

Reprinted with permission from Future of Freedom Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/16/washington-s-biggest-fairy-tale-truth-will-out/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/16/washington-s-biggest-fairy-tale-truth-will-out/ Tue, 16 Apr 2019 18:09:53 GMT
'Pompeo Has Lost His Mind!' - China Fires Back On Venezuela Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/16/pompeo-has-lost-his-mind-china-fires-back-on-venezuela/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/16/pompeo-has-lost-his-mind-china-fires-back-on-venezuela/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/16/pompeo-has-lost-his-mind-china-fires-back-on-venezuela/ Tue, 16 Apr 2019 17:32:47 GMT
Why the Gulf States Are So Edgy Alastair Crooke http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/16/why-the-gulf-states-are-so-edgy/

A little more than a decade ago, I was asked to address a London dinner-table of about twenty Gulf “figures” – a mix of Ambassadors and those with “ties to power”. All represented the cosmopolitan, rich élite of the Gulf. Then, towards the evening’s end, talk turned to Hizbullah: the gathering simply erupted into flames. Well, almost literally – as these grandees choked on the smoke and tongues of fire pouring from their nostrils (to say they were unhappy is an understatement). In unison, they swore oaths that they would stop at absolutely nothing to destroy “the resistance”. They choked again at the very word “resistance”. They swore to destroy it, utterly, down to the last particle.

But how times do change. Of course, in the interval, there was a war backed by these gentlemen in 2006 that was supposed to finish off Hizbullah for good (but plainly didn’t). There was also a billions-of-dollar insurrection mounted against “rejectionist” President Assad in Syria that was supposed to break the keystone to the arch (but hasn’t); and an equally massive info-war to turn Iran into a global leper. 

Yes, these well-polished gentlemen have had certain successes in squashing the so-called Arab Spring, and in fracturing and demonising Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet, after these, and after gulling the Americans and Europeans with their anti-Iranian propaganda so completely, the Gulf is fretting again. Why?

Well, the clue lies in Libya, and with General Haftar’s military thrust on the capital, Tripoli. At one level, evidently this push is a part of an internal Libyan struggle; but at another, Haftar’s unexpected and sudden exit from the political process (the UN Secretary General and Envoy were left gaping on their last visit to Libya), is revealed more as an expression of Gulf agitation. (Haftar’s push came on the heels of a round of consultations in certain Gulf capitals).

It is not so much agitation about Libya, but rather fears – real fears – about Algeria. Algeria is experiencing huge and repeated popular protests which have forced the President to stand down. The popular (peaceful, so far) uprising, however, continues – but with the security apparatus still hovering menacingly in the background. In Khartoum too, protests have been afoot, and now that President has been overthrown (in a military coup). Ghosts – old ghosts – from 2011 are affronting Gulf leaders.

The UAE-Saudi message from (Islamist-hater) Haftar’s getting the “green light” to take Islamist controlled Tripoli is simply addressed to the people of Algeria: “If you rise up against your ruling-structures, be aware: 'It will be repressed unhesitatingly'". And, it is an absolute “red line” that “Islamists will not be tolerated”. (The UAE has a past history of intervention in Algeria’s affairs through the Algerian military. Bouteflika was a “guest” of the UAE, until he became President).

If that was “it”, a cynic might conclude that the UAE will likely deal with Algeria; so what’s their fuss? But that is not “it”: Algeria comes against a context – a background. One that makes Gulf States so very edgy.

Here is the point. After all those pyrotechnics at dinner a decade or so ago, and after the sarcasm directed at the “resistance” from US commentators subsequently, a resistance front is, in fact, taking shape. From Lebanon to Iran, a political front has arisen out from the defeat of the Gulf-supported, jihadist and Kurdish political projects in the region.

And for the sake of clarity, the regional “Belt and Road” initiative linking Iran – via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – to the Mediterranean ports of Tripoli (in Lebanon) and Latakia in Syria, is very much of interest to China (just as its’ energy dimension is of interest to Russia). Nicholas Lyall writes in The Diplomat:
The Levant is set to become a critical node in the BRI’s China-Central Asia-West Asia economic corridor, as it offers an alternative route to the Mediterranean as opposed to the Suez passage. Syria is being eyed in the long term as the key Levantine region to achieve this aim. For instance, Tripoli in Lebanon is set to become a Special Economic Zone within the BRI, with the Tripoli port planned to be a main trans-shipment hub for the eastern Mediterranean. This will provide a more direct route for Chinese goods to Europe compared to relying on the Suez Canal.

China is set to be the major player in the impending rebuilding process that will occur in postwar Syria …pledged deals include the construction of steel and power plants, car manufacturing, and hospital development. Some of China’s flagship involvements include Huawei committing in 2015 to rebuild Syria’s telecommunications system by 2020, and the China National Petroleum Corporation owning major stakes in two of Syria’s largest oil companies.
And what has this to do with Libya or Algeria, or Gulf edginess? Quite a lot. And that is not just because Syria, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon – all of whom have been on the “wrong end” of Gulf regional projects – are “on the rise”, but because Turkey and deep-pocketed Qatar are moving ever closer to Russia, and to the Iran, Iraq, Syria, axis.

The latter (Turkey and Qatar), are the main supporters of the Libyan Misrata militia, and the Islamists of Tripoli – which is to say, they are the facilitators and funders of those forces opposing General Haftar’s thrust to destroy the Islamist movements based in Tripoli (Libya). The present conflict in Libya therefore is also a Gulf proxy war waged against the Muslim Brotherhood, and its patrons (Turkey and Qatar). This constitutes a further, second, message to Algeria: Do not allow the Brotherhood a role in the popular unrest – or else!

And there is something else to keep the Gulf grandees awake at night: Turkey is gently slipping away from NATO towards Moscow (as best Erdogan can do, without as a result, completely losing the secular, Europe-leaning coastal constituencies). And, even if Turkey should remain in NATO in body – though not in spirit – this would represent a huge strategic shift, impacting on (substantively Turkic) Central Asia, and the Middle East.

In brief, a major US pillar is being uprooted from the region at a time when Gulf leaders are questioning US constancy, and are alarmed at the resurgence of popular protest. No wonder they are making overtures towards Israel. Where else can they turn for protection in a world becoming ever more hostile to their interests.

But even that is not without risk. Reports suggest that Trump is on the cusp of publishing his “Deal of the Century”. It is widely expected to be another Naqba (catastrophe) for the Palestinians. Gulf leaders (who guardedly support Kushner’s “deal”), will worry that its publication will provide fertile ground for Turkey and Qatar to instigate the Muslim Brotherhood against them on their own patch – on the Palestinian issue.

All in all, the Gulf grandees have a right to be edgy. They can see that Trump’s “war hawks” are intent on cornering, pressurising and provoking Iran. After 3 May (when oil waivers expire), we may witness a major escalation by Bolton and Pompeo against Iran. How far might this be bluster and bluff in the lead up to crucial Presidential elections in the US? Or is Trump being quietly being manoeuvred into some “forever war” with Iran, that John Bolton has long sought? Will Netanyahu play along? What then will become of the Gulf?

All of this complicates matters for President Putin. The “Belt and Road” political and economic alignment that is shaping up across the northern Middle East to the Mediterranean, is not just some extraneous “happening” that doesn’t really impinge on Russia. No. Rather it impacts very directly on Russian strategic interests. The new alignment serves as the “frontline” to Russia and China’s vulnerable underbellies: the various “stan” states, and China’s Xingjian Province. China needs a secure corridor into Europe for its goods, and Russia needs a land “energy” corridor to Europe – to counter Trump’s attempt at US energy dominance, by hobbling rival producers. (Both China and Russia are at risk from maritime chokepoints on their sea links being closed by the US, through naval blockade).

And, it is just because of this emerging constellation of the northern tier of the region – plus NATO Turkey shifting towards the Russian security “umbrella” – and therefore towards effective “area denial” in respect to the US and Israel, that Russia must worry that the US will try to disrupt it. Not least, because of the Tel Aviv hold over US foreign policy. In other words, Russia must (and is), preparing against the possibility of conflict occurring in the region (most likely between US/Israel and Iran). Recall the old Mackinder doctrine: he who controls the (Asian) heartland ...

On March 14, Russia’s National Security Council, headed by President Putin, officially raised its perception of American intentions toward Russia from “military dangers” (opasnosti) to direct “military threats” (ugrozy). In short, the Kremlin is preparing for war, however defensive its intention.

Does Moscow think Trump wants a war? It is doubtful; but Trump’s position – his very continuance in office, like that of previous US Presidents – inevitably is held ransom by the collegiate deep state which will not allow any existential threat to its inner circle, or to its hold on the levers of global power to develop. Trump undoubtedly is aware of his predecessors’ fates, and trades with them: i.e. pursuit of his own political necessities – against yielding to Sheldon Adelson’s two protégés (Bolton and Pompeo), the licence to do Israel’s will. Faustian perhaps, but maybe the only way to survive.

It appears then, that Putin’s response is to prioritise Moscow remaining as the “go-to” global mediator that is not pulled into any gathering Middle East storm, but holds itself above the fray. The point here is that Middle East conflicts have a history of escalating. And the risk of a direct stand-off between Russia and the US is beyond contemplation. For this end, Putin needs a direct channel to Trump (where none exists at the diplomatic level; they have been dismantled); and, to be able mediate between Israel and Iran, he needs to clutch Netanyahu tight to his bosom, and to show empathy for the latter’s political needs (a strategy that Putin has evolved well, with the mercurial Erdogan too).

It will not be easy: Netanyahu is asking to continue to attack claimed Iranian structures in Syria and Iraq, and wants assurances that Russian air defences will not intervene; and he wants – together with Washington – a joint say in the political future of Syria.

That is no small “ask”. It would place at risk Russia’s relations with Iran and Syria and with her “Belt and Road” allies. The precedent could become the rule. Can Mr Putin walk this tightrope? Is the channel to Trump through Netanyahu worth it? Can Netanyahu ever be trusted?

Crooke is former British diplomat, founder and director of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/16/why-the-gulf-states-are-so-edgy/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/16/why-the-gulf-states-are-so-edgy/ Tue, 16 Apr 2019 14:26:28 GMT
The Railroad That Awaits Julian Assange John Kiriakou http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/the-railroad-that-awaits-julian-assange/

The Justice Department said Thursday that it was charging Julian Assange with one felony count of conspiring to hack into a computer. In the greater scheme of things, that’s a nonsensical charge. There are probably 10,000 fat, lonely guys, living in their parents’ basements who the government could charge with that crime on any given day.

Assange’s attorneys in the UK say the extradition process might last five years because it will likely end up in the European Court of Justice. If true, conceivably Assange could be detained for five years awaiting extradition, or roughly the same amount of time he might be sentenced to if convicted on the computer hacking charge.

Justice Department policy defines time in detention under almost any circumstance as time served. So if there ever were a trial in the US for the computer hacking charge it would likely be nothing more than a show trial.

Additional charges after the application for extradition has been filed are unlikely, due to limitations in extradition treaties requiring full disclosure of all charges prior to an extradition being considered. But that’s not the issue here. 

No matter what happens, no matter what the charges, Julian cannot and will not get a fair trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The Eastern District of Virginia is known as the “Espionage Court” for a reason. No national security defendant has ever won a case there. Never. And Judge Leonie Brinkema reserves all national security cases for herself. She has Julian’s case, she judged my case, as well as the case of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, and we know that she has also reserved what will be the Ed Snowden case for herself.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll tell you about what I went through in Judge Brinkema’s courtroom. None of it was good. And Julian should expect exactly the same.

When I was arrested after blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture program, I was charged with five felonies – three counts of espionage, one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1981, and one count of making a false statement. Of course, I hadn’t committed espionage, nor had I made any false statement. (I’m still not exactly sure what the false statement was supposed to have been.) But those charges were used as leverage to eventually force me to take a plea. When I said that I wasn’t interested in a plea and that I wanted to go to trial, the prosecutors threatened to add a second false statements charge and a charge of obstruction of justice – two throwaway felonies that could be used as additional leverage. I told them to bring it on, but they never did add those charges.

The government will invoke something in Julian’s case called CIPA – the Classified Information Protection Act. That means that the court must do everything possible to “protect” classified information from being revealed, even to the jury. The first thing that’s done in a CIPA trial is that the courtroom is sealed. The only people allowed inside are the defendant and the defendant’s attorneys, the prosecutors, the bailiff, the clerk, and the judge. The jury also would be there in the event of a jury trial, but it gets a little more complicated in that case. The bailiff will lock the courtroom doors and put tape around them, and he’ll cover the windows with plastic or canvas, all so that nobody outside can hear anything.

If there’s a jury trial, the judge will insist that “classified” words or phrases not be uttered, but instead must be replaced by unclassified words. For example, “Did you hack into NSA’s computers and download documents from Operation Widget?” becomes “Did you hack into Castle’s computers and download documents from Operation Pilates?” It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, it is ridiculous. More importantly, it’s very confusing for jurors, many of whom may conclude, “Wow, there are so many classified words that are being discussed! He must be guilty!”

Julian’s attorneys also will make a number of motions, both for discovery and for the declassification of documents necessary for his defense. Judge Brinkema is unlikely to approve any of them. Again, in my case, my attorneys made 70 motions to declassify 70 separate classified documents necessary for my defense. We blocked off two full days for the hearings, as did the prosecutors. But when we got to the courtroom, Judge Brinkema began by saying, “I’m going to make this easy for everyone. I’m going to deny all 70 of these motions.” Her thinking was that I either did it (committed a crime) or I didn’t. There was no reason to “jeopardize national security” if she was going to eventually convict me anyway. So my attorneys had literally nothing to present in my defense.

We didn’t roll over, of course. My attorneys objected and were overruled. The prosecution then asked for an in-camera conversation with the judge. That’s a private conversation between the judge and the prosecutors without my attorneys present. My attorneys objected strenuously. The judge overruled them again and she went into chambers with prosecutors. As crazily unconstitutional as this may sound, it is permitted in a national security case. To this day I have no idea what was said in that room. But when she came out, the judge looked at my attorneys and reiterated her decision to overrule the objection. And then, much to my shock, she looked at me and said, “This case better not go to trial.” The hearing ended. It had begun only 15 minutes earlier.

As we walked out of the courtroom, I asked my attorneys, “What just happened in there?” “We just lost the case,” was the response. “What do we do now?” I asked. “Now we take a plea.” A week later I changed my plea to “guilty.” The government had come down from an offer of 10 years to one of two-and-a-half. I would do 23 months. My attorneys thought that if I had gone to trial, I would have lost and I would have realistically gotten 12-18 years. I had no choice.

At sentencing, the judge said that she was glad the case hadn’t gone to trial. She didn’t want “more classified information out there in the public domain.” But then she said, “I don’t like this deal. I don’t like it at all. If I could, Mr. Kiriakou, I would give you 10 years. But my hands are tied.” I left for federal prison six weeks later.

Julian is likely in for the same kind of treatment. There no justice to be found at the Justice Department. There’s only punishment for unpopular opinions and actions. Julian has a great soapbox now. The stakes are high, but he has to defend his actions and talk about the freedoms of speech and the press that are so basic and important to the survival of our country. The Justice Department may have finally bitten off more than it can chew. We can only hope.

Reprinted with permission from Reader Supporter News.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/the-railroad-that-awaits-julian-assange/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/the-railroad-that-awaits-julian-assange/ Mon, 15 Apr 2019 18:16:17 GMT
Co-Conspirator: Ecuador Paid Off To Deliver Assange Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/co-conspirator-ecuador-paid-off-to-deliver-assange/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/co-conspirator-ecuador-paid-off-to-deliver-assange/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/co-conspirator-ecuador-paid-off-to-deliver-assange/ Mon, 15 Apr 2019 16:30:10 GMT
Iraq Wrecked Me for Nothing Peter Van Buren http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/iraq-wrecked-me-for-nothing/

I recently spoke to some college students who, I realized, were in fifth grade when I got on a plane to Iraq. They now study that stuff in history classes like “Opportunities and Errors: 21st-Century America in the Middle East.” About halfway through our conversation, I realized it’s coming up on 10 years since I first went to Iraq. Now that’s real history.

I was a Foreign Service Officer then, a diplomat, embedded with the US Army at a series of forward operating bases and in charge of a couple of reconstruction teams, small parts of a complex failure to rebuild the Iraq we wrecked. I ended up writing a book about it all, explaining in tragicomic terms how we failed (those “Errors”).

The book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People was—and wasn’t—well-received. People laughed at the funny parts, but my message—it didn’t work and here’s why—was largely dissipated at the time (2012) by government and media propaganda centered on The Surge. That was David Petraeus’s plan to pacify the Sunnis and push al-Qaeda away, while clearing, holding, and building across the country, apparently to make room so ISIS and the Iranians could move in.

Meanwhile, the new American president, elected in part based on his “no” vote on the war in 2003, proclaimed it all a victory and started bringing the troops home even while I was still in Iraq. Meanwhile my employer, the US Department of State, was unhappy with my book. After a year-long process, State pushed me into early retirement. My career was history.

Iraq wrecked me, even though I somehow didn’t expect it to. I was foolish to think that traveling to the other side of the world and spending a year seeing death and poverty, bearing witness to a war, learning how to be mortared at night and deciding it didn’t matter that I might die before breakfast, wasn’t going to change me. Of the military units I was embedded in, three soldiers did not come home; all died at their own hands. Around us, Iraqis blew themselves up alongside children. Everyone was a potential killer and a potential target. I did this at age 49, on antidepressants and with a good family waiting back home. I cannot imagine what it would have done to 18-year-old me. And I had it easier than most, and much easier than many.

People asked in line at Trader Joe’s and in interviews on semi-important TV shows, “Was it all worth it to you?” I always answered yes. I’m not important, I said, but the story is. And now we’re making the same mistakes in Afghanistan. The only way to even start to justify it was to think there might be some meaning behind it all. It didn’t do anything for me but fill my soul with vodka but maybe somehow it…helped?

See, my book wasn’t aimed at cataloging the failures in Iraq per se, but in trying to make sure we didn’t do the same thing in Afghanistan. The initial title wasn’t We Meant Well, but Lessons for Afghanistan from the Reconstruction of Iraq. The early drafts were pretentious scholarly stuff, outlining our mistakes. Harvard Business School-like case studies. Maps. Footnotes. It would have sold maybe five copies, and so my editors encouraged me to add more funny parts. NPR’s Fresh Airactually added a laugh track to my interview. I figured I’d get the lessons across with humor more effectively anyway. In such situations, you have to think that way. You can’t believe that what you went through didn’t matter and keep getting out of bed every morning.

I now know officially that it did not matter. It was pointless. SIGAR shows I accomplished nothing.

SIGAR is the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, a government oversight body that is supposed to prevent waste, fraud, and mismanagement of the billions of dollars being spent rebuilding Afghanistan but that has its hands full just keeping a CVS receipt-length history of what’s wrong. Sound familiar?

SIGAR just released its “2019 High-Risk List,” which points out especially egregious things that will follow in the wake of any peace agreement in Afghanistan. Here are some quoted highlights:

- “There are over 300,000 Afghans currently serving in the security forces, most of whom are armed. If, because of a loss of financial support, their paychecks were to stop coming, this could pose a serious threat to Afghanistan’s stability.”

- “A failure to peacefully reintegrate as many as 60,000 heavily armed Taliban long-term would threaten any peace agreement as disaffected former Taliban who may have been expecting a peace dividend may return to violent and predatory behavior.”

- “Effective policing will require a force that gives citizens the presumption of innocence, rather than anticipating and taking preemptive offensive operations against perceived threats…. There is no comprehensive strategy for a competent civil police force backed by the rule of law.”

- “Failure to effectively address systemic corruption means US reconstruction programs, at best, will continue to be subverted and, at worst, will fail.”

- “The opium trade plays a significant role in the Afghan economy and it is difficult to see how a peace accord between the Afghan government and the insurgency would translate into the collapse or contraction of the illicit drug trade.”

- “If the US reduces its presence in Afghanistan but feels compelled to provide significant financial support for reconstruction, there may be little choice but to provide a greater proportion of funding as on-budget assistance. But if that road is taken and conditions are lacking, we may as well set the cash ablaze on the streets of Kabul for all the good it will do.”

That last line really got me. In my book, I’d written, “While a lot of the money was spent in big bites at high levels through the Embassy, or possibly just thrown into the river when no one could find a match to set it on fire….” Had SIGAR read what I’d written? Or was the joke just so obvious that we’d both come to the same punchline 10 years and two countries apart?

Word for word as in Iraq, and after over 17 years of American effort, the US has failed to establish a viable government in Afghanistan, eliminate the local insurgents/patriots/residents, establish a civil society, tamp down corruption, and ensure some sort of national defense. Afghanistan has almost no chance of survival except as a Taliban narcoland with financial support needed indefinitely to avoid whatever “worse” would be in that calculus.

But there still are semi-believers. One former State Department colleague is on her fourth assignment in Kabul, roughly half her career. Her job is to liaise with the few NATO officials still hanging around. She says it’s easy work; they’ve known each other for years. She’s heard we’re making progress.

Around the same time as the SIGAR report, the Army War College released its history of the Iraqi Surge, a quagmire of dense prose that I’m only about halfway through, but so far no mention of the impact of reconstruction. The theme seems to be that the Army had some good ideas but the politicians got in the way. Fair enough, but they misspelled Vietnam as I-r-a-q all throughout.

The post-9/11 wars have metastasized across three presidencies so far. Pick the thing you detest most about Bush, Obama, and Trump, and complain about how it was never investigated enough and how there weren’t enough hearings. And then I’ll disagree, for most everything that happened and continues to happen in Iraq and Afghanistan has gone uninvestigated, unheard of, and unpunished. It’s ancient history.

We all want to believe that what we did, what we didn’t do, the moral injury, the PTSD, the fights with spouses, the kid at home we smacked too hard when she wouldn’t eat her green beans, all of what we saw and heard, mattered. You read that SIGAR report and tell me how. Because basically I’m history now.

Reprinted with author's permission from The American Conservative.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/iraq-wrecked-me-for-nothing/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/iraq-wrecked-me-for-nothing/ Mon, 15 Apr 2019 13:40:16 GMT
Julian Assange: Political Prisoner Ron Paul http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/julian-assange-political-prisoner/

Last week’s arrest of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange by the British government on a US extradition order is an attack on all of us. It is an attack on the US Constitution. It is an attack on the free press. It is an attack on free speech. It is an attack on our right to know what our government is doing with our money in our name. Julian Assange is every bit as much a political prisoner as was Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary or Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

They, and so many more, were imprisoned because they told the truth about their governments.

Repressive governments do not want their citizens to know that they are up to so they insist on controlling the media. We are taught, at the same time, that we have a free press whose job it is to uncover the corruption in our system so that we can demand our political leaders make some changes or face unemployment. That, we are told, is what makes us different from the totalitarian.

The arrest of Assange is a canary in a coal mine to warn us that something is very wrong with our system.

What’s wrong? The US mainstream media always seems to do the bidding of the US government. That is why they rushed to confirm Washington’s claim that the Assange indictment was not in any way about journalism. It was only about hacking government computers!

As the New York Times said in an editorial, sounding like a mouthpiece of the US government, Julian Assange committed “an indisputable crime.” But was it? As actual journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote last week, what Julian Assange did in 2010, for which he is facing extradition to the US, is no different from what New York Times and other journalists do every day! He attempted to help Chelsea Manning shield his identity as he blew the whistle on US government crimes to a publisher. The information in question included a video showing US military personnel participating in and cheering the murder of Iraqi civilians. Why is it criminal for us to know this?

The difference is that what Assange and Manning did embarrassed the US government, which was lying to us that it was “liberating” Iraq and Afghanistan when it was actually doing the opposite. Mainstream journalists publish “leaks” that help bolster the neocon or other vested narratives of the different factions of the US government. That’s why the US media wants to see Assange in prison, or worse: he upset their apple cart.

The lesson is clear: when you bolster the government's narrative you are a “brave journalist.” When you expose corruption in government you are a criminal. Do we really want to live in a country where it is illegal to learn that our government is engaged in criminal acts? I thought we had an obligation as an engaged citizenry to hold our government accountable!

As long as Julian Assange is in prison, we are all in prison. When the government has the power to tell us what we we allowed to see, hear, and know, we no longer live in a free society. Julian Assange will be extradited to the US and he will have dozens of charges piled on. They want him to disappear so that the next Assange will think twice before informing us of our government’s crimes. Are we going to let them steal our freedom?]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/julian-assange-political-prisoner/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/15/julian-assange-political-prisoner/ Mon, 15 Apr 2019 13:26:26 GMT
I’m Jumping Off the Trump Train: Assange Was the Last Straw James George Jatras http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/13/i-m-jumping-off-the-trump-train-assange-was-the-last-straw/

On March 6, 2016, this Deplorable issued a statement formally endorsing Donald J. Trump for the presidency of the United State.

I now hereby withdraw that endorsement.

No doubt this declaration from your Working Boy will be greeted with the same deafening indifference as my earlier less than earth-shattering announcement of support.

Keep calm. The planet will continue to spin on its axis at a 23.44 degree tilt.

As I tweeted on April 4, when it appeared that Ecuadorian President Lenín [sic] Moreno was going to cough up Julian Assange:
“If this comes to pass & #JulianAssange is brought to #US in chains like a Gaulish chieftain in a Roman triumph can we definitively declare that any possible #Trump revolution is over & the #DeepState won?”
A quick perusal of social media since Assange’s arrest shows that many others have reached a similar conclusion.

But why? To be sure, there have been other betrayals. The two strikes on Syria on phony chemical warfare accusations come immediately to mind. Or Trump’s failure to build the Mexican wall, coupled with repeated humiliating defeats in Congress with the predictability of Charlie Brown’s getting suckered by Lucy into trying to kick the football.

At the same time there were excuses. On Syria, maybe the President was fed false intelligence. Or maybe Ivanka was upset: Daaaddyyy, you have to dooo something! Or maybe Trump knew the CW accusations against Damascus were fake but felt he had to act (an ominous sign in itself) to deflect charges of being Putin’s puppet, hence what could be deemed deliberately pinprick pro forma strikes. On the wall, well you can’t trust lawyers’ advice, he just doesn’t understand his legal authority well enough, or maybe he…

But the Assange arrest and his upcoming renditi- – oops! – extradition to the United States are different. There’s no nuance. No excuse. No false intel report. No poor legal advice.

It’s plain and simple. The same entities (Deep State, permanent government, the oligarchy, the Borg, whatever term you like) that targeted Trump with the phony Russia collusion narrative want Assange’s scalp nailed to the wall. It’s one thing for favored outlets like the Washington Post and CNN to disseminate classified information that favors the Deep State, quite another to reveal information contrary to its interests. As the premier dispenser of embarrassing secrets that facilitates online dissidence from the established narrative (also under attack by governments and their tech giant accomplices) an example must be made of Assange pour encourager les autres. He can count on being sentenced to rotting for decades in a nasty Office Space federal prison (the US will gladly waive the death penalty to spare the Brits’ prissy Euro-consciences) but may very well die soon enough of natural causes, perhaps like Slobodan Milošević.

An essential role in Assange’s betrayal by Moreno was played by Trump’s Veep Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Former President Rafael Correa says a direct condition of Moreno’s getting a $4.2 billion IMF loan was Assange’s head on a platter. That’s a lot more plausible than establishment media reports that Assange was ejected for transgressing the Ecuadorians’ fastidious hygiene standards, which (whether based in fact or not) are just cynical defamations to justify his upcoming lynching.

It’s irrelevant whether Trump – who theoretically is the boss of all US agency operatives working with their Brit colleagues to get their mitts on Assange – let the nab go forward because he was unwilling to order his minions to stand down or was powerless to do so. In that regard, it’s similar to pointlessly asking why he has the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad national security team he does. Is it because of “Javanka”? Is it because he’s beholden to a gaggle of oligarchs? (Supposedly his being a self-financed billionaire made him immune from such influences.) Is it areflection of a personality disorder?

In the end it doesn’t matter why, all that matters is what is. With Assange’s arrest Trump is now exposed as the wholly owned subsidiary of the Swamp he ran against. He’s now just a wheel fixed to an axle. All he can do now is it spin.

In my 2016 endorsement I asked the questions – only questions, not predictions – of what Trump might hopefully accomplish:
‘Can we trust Trump? Will he build his wall and secure our borders? Renovate our deteriorating infrastructure? Restore our manufacturing base? Audit the Federal Reserve and defenestrate the banksters? Restore the GOP’s long-lost reputation (now hardly remembered by anyone) as the “Peace Party” that got us out of wars the Democrats started? Sign a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they continue to perform abortions (which they will)? Exclude actual or potential Islamic terrorists? Dump our freeloading so-called “allies”? Cease the PC trashing of every tradition in which Americans once took pride? Reunite a nation sundered by Barack Obama and the GOP mandarins, with their divide et impera Punch and Judy show of class and racial discord?

‘Can Trump really “Make America Great Again”? Or at least slow our decline and give our country another chance?

‘I don’t know. But I do know that none of the more mannerly politicians served up by the oligarchy will.

‘“Trust not in princes...” (Ps. 146:3) Neither Trump nor any other politician should be accepted on blind faith. Who really can say if Trump can win or if he does how he would govern. Who can say what’s really in his mind and heart or if, in God’s eyes, he’s a good man or a bad one. But given the dire warning from the likes of Mitt Romney, I like the odds with Trump better than with any of the available alternatives. When the character of his enemies is considered – particularly Warfare State neoconservatives (some of whom at least have the honesty to defect openly to Hillary) – my willingness to gamble on him only increases.’
Even in retrospect it was then a gamble worth taking, indeed the only responsible choice given the horrifying alternative. More, given what Trump promised that departed from the usual nonsense served up by the GOP, the fact that Trump got the nomination instead of the NPCs on the shelf was itself perhaps a sign of that the historic American nation still had a fighting chance.

As for what we hoped he might deliver to “Make America Great Again,” we can see now that the answers to all of the above questions are and will remain an emphatic No. Sure, we got a marginally better tax bill passed, something that any Republican White House and Congress would have done. He may have made minor progress on trade. If we are really lucky, he’ll get another Supreme Court pick and Roe v. Wade will be overturned – marvelous to be sure, but it won’t same this country.

Trump has utterly failed to control the border, much less deal with related issues like remittances, birthright citizenship, and aliens illegally voting. As retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor observes: “Surely, Trump should have concluded by now that without an Executive Order that commits the US Army to the defense of the southern border and limits cross-border traffic to legitimate commercial activity, mass illegal immigration will not stop… In a word, Trump refuses to take command and match rhetoric with action, then he will join the pantheon of failed presidents that promised the world only, this time, the American Republic’s existence hangs in the balance.”

Unfortunately, Trump’s appointees – uniformly neoconservatives, Bush-era warmongers, and GOP apparatchiki – have better things for our military to do than defending our own country, to which they are at best indifferent. We can be thankful that Trump hasn’t started any new wars, yet, but his underlings’ dogged commitment to regime change in Venezuela and Iran may change that. His outreach to North Korea hangs by a thread in the face of blatant attempts to sabotage it.

One hopes that at least some animal-level gut instinct will preclude Trump’s crossing that dark river and ruining what’s left of his presidency as George W. Bush did in Iraq. If his lunatics are reckless enough to stumble us into a war with Russia, Trump’s reelection will be the least of anyone’s concerns.

Even without a war his remaining time in office will not be the revival of America that he promised. Let’s keep in mind that for many decades now transformative Democratic presidents have not left this country the same way they found it: FDR, LBJ, Clinton, Obama. By contrast, Republican presidents’ tenures have been at best plateaus along our decline (Eisenhower, Reagan) or positively contributed (Nixon, the two Bushes) to the march of what the Left regards as “Progress” toward their abolition of the historic America and birth of a dystopian Cultural Marxist dictatorship of victims: a borderless, multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious, multisexual, ahistorical, fake country.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that even if he survives in office until the 2020 vote (and he might not) Trump still will almost certainly be the lesser of two evils, in the manner to which we have become accustomed. Despite his no longer representing a threat to the Swamp, the critters will continue to hate him anyway as an avatar of the America they seek to destroy: European ethnicity, Christian (culturally if not spiritually or morally), English-speaking, toxically masculine. He might even win, given the Wall Street and Democratic Socialist Democrats’ ripping each others’ guts out and the solid 35 to 40 percent of the folks who think from Trump’s tweets and stump speeches he’s actually delivering on his promises.

Either way, though, the outcome will be the same. The man who had what is almost certainly to have been the last peaceful, political chance save what’s left of the American republic will thrash around for a few more years, having become little more than a catalyst for our nation’s demise and perhaps its dissolution.

This is not to say that there is no hope. Maybe tomorrow Trump will pardon Assange. Maybe he’ll decide to militarize the Mexican border. Maybe he’ll fire his whole national security team and, for good measure, pull us out of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq – and NATO. Maybe Barr really will hold the FISA miscreants to account. Maybe…

…maybe there will be an outpouring of miracles that match the one that occurred when Trump improbably was elected in the first place. But as is the case with miracles, the odds are not good.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/13/i-m-jumping-off-the-trump-train-assange-was-the-last-straw/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/13/i-m-jumping-off-the-trump-train-assange-was-the-last-straw/ Sat, 13 Apr 2019 15:26:21 GMT
How You Can Be Certain That The US Charge Against Assange Is Fraudulent Caitlin Johnstone http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/12/how-you-can-be-certain-that-the-us-charge-against-assange-is-fraudulent/

Julian Assange sits in a jail cell today after being betrayed by the Ecuadorian government and his home country of Australia. A British judge named Michael Snow has found the WikiLeaks founder guilty of violating bail conditions, inserting himself into the annals of history by labeling Assange “a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest.” So that tells you how much of a fair and impartial legal proceeding we can expect to see from the British judicial process on this matter.

But the real reason that Assange has been surrendered by the Ecuadorian government, imprisoned by the British government, and ignored by the Australian government is not directly related to any of those governments, but to that of the United States of America. An unsealed indictment from the Trump administration’s District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, accompanied by an extradition request, charges Assange with “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified US government computer” during Chelsea Manning’s 2010 leak of government documents exposing US war crimes.

This charge is premised on a fraudulent and manipulative distortion of reality, and you may be one hundred percent certain of it. Let me explain.

You can be absolutely certain that this charge is bogus because it isn’t based on any new information. The facts of the case have not changed, the information hasn’t changed, only the narrative has changed. In 2010 the United States opened a secret grand jury in Virginia to investigate whether Assange and WikiLeaks could be prosecuted for the publication of the Manning leaks, and then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration was conducting “an active, ongoing criminal investigation” into the matter. The Trump administration has not turned up any new evidence that the Obama administration was unable to find in this active, ongoing criminal investigation (US government surveillance has surely acquired some new tricks since 2010, but time travel isn’t one of them), and indeed it does not claim to have turned up any new evidence.
“There’s a huge myth being misreported about today’s indictment of Assange,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted today. “The claim that Assange tried to help Manning circumvent a password to cover her tracks isn’t new. The Obama DOJ knew about it since 2011, but chose not to prosecute him. Story on this soon.”

“Holder chose not to prosecute Assange based on the same info Trump DOJ cited,” Greenwald added.

“The weakness of the US charge against Assange is shocking,” tweeted NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. “The allegation he tried (and failed?) to help crack a password during their world-famous reporting has been public for nearly a decade: it is the count Obama’s DOJ refused to charge, saying it endangered journalism.”

This is all information that the Obama administration had access to (journalist Tim Shorrock observed that the alleged 2010 correspondence between Assange and Manning “looks like it came straight from NSA surveillance” of the two), yet it chose not to do what the Trump administration is currently doing because it would endanger press freedoms. This means that nothing has changed since that time besides (A) the fact that there is now a more overtly tyrannical administration in place, and (B) the fact that the public has been paced into accepting the prosecution of Assange by years of establishment propaganda.

Last year, after it was revealed that the Trump administration was seeking Assange’s arrest, Greenwald wrote the following:
“The Obama DOJ – despite launching notoriously aggressive attacks on press freedoms – recognized this critical principle when it came to WikiLeaks. It spent years exploring whether it could criminally charge Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing classified information. It ultimately decided it would not do so, and could not do so, consistent with the press freedom guarantee of the First Amendment. After all, the Obama DOJ concluded, such a prosecution would pose a severe threat to press freedom because there would be no way to prosecute Assange for publishing classified documents without also prosecuting the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and others for doing exactly the same thing.”
Nothing has changed since 2010 apart from a more thoroughly propagandized populace and a more depraved US government, which means that this new charge that the Trump administration issued in December 2017 is based on nothing other than a diminished respect for press freedoms and an increased willingness to crush them. This makes it fraudulent and illegitimate, and the precedent that is being set by it should be rejected and opposed by everyone in the world who claims to support the existence of a free press which is capable of holding power to account.

So what are we left with? We’re left with the US government filing criminal charges against a journalist(and Assange is indisputably a journalist) for protecting his source and encouraging his source to obtain more material, both of which are things that journalists do all the time.

“While the indictment against Julian Assange disclosed today charges a conspiracy to commit computer crimes, the factual allegations against Mr. Assange boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identity of that source,” said Assange lawyer Barry J Pollack in a statement today. “Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges.”

“There are parts of the indictment that are clearly designed to criminalize things journalists routinely do,” Greenwald told CNN. “Part of the accusation is that [Assange] encouraged Chelsea Manning to provide him with more documents than the original batch that she gave him, which is something that as a journalist I’ve done many times with my sources, that journalists do every day. They say ‘Oh thanks for this document, maybe you could get me this?’ They also say that he helped her to essentially cover her tracks by giving her advice about how to get this information without being detected. The only thing in the indictment, and it’s very vague, is a suggestion that he tried to help her circumvent a password; it didn’t seem to be successful, but it’s unclear whether that was designed to get documents or to simply help her cover her tracks. But either way it’s clearly a threat to the First Amendment, because it criminalizes core journalistic functions.”

In an article for Rolling Stone titled “Why the Assange Arrest Should Scare Reporters“, journalist Matt Taibbi writes that “The meatier parts of the indictment speak more to normal journalistic practices.”

“Reporters have extremely complicated relationships with sources, especially whistleblower types like Manning, who are often under extreme stress and emotionally vulnerable,” Taibbi writes. “At different times, you might counsel the same person both for and against disclosure. It’s proper to work through all the reasons for action in any direction, including weighing the public’s interest, the effect on the source’s conscience and mental health, and personal and professional consequences. For this reason, placing criminal penalties on a prosecutor’s interpretation of such interactions will likely put a scare into anyone involved with national security reporting going forward.”

The Espionage Act has not at this time been employed to prosecute Assange as many have speculated it might, and the computer crimes he’s been charged with carry a maximum sentence of five years. But this does not mean that further far more serious charges cannot be added once Assange is imprisoned on American soil, especially after his guilt in the Manning leaks has been made official government dogma following the conspiracy conviction.

“In my opinion this charging Assange with a lower-level crime (not espionage) is a trick that would allow the UK to extradite him to the US with ‘no threat of capital punishment’ only to have US prosecutors do what they always do: pile on charges,” tweeted Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Liberty Report, referring to assurances sought by the UK and Ecuador that Assange would not face the death penalty if extradited to the United States for the conspiracy charge.

Either way, this is a cataclysmic threat to press freedoms, and the time to act is now. The US government’s arbitrarily gifting itself the right to use fraudulent distortions to imprison anyone in the world who publishes facts about it will chill any attempts to do so in the future, and poses a far greater threat to press freedoms than anything we’ve seen in our lives. Anyone who sits idly by while this happens is signing over the sovereign right of every human being on this planet to hold power to account, and anyone calling themselves a journalist who does anything other than unequivocally oppose this move is confessing that they are a state propagandist. This is an intolerable plunge toward Orwellian dystopia, and is an assault on human dignity itself.

It’s time to shake the earth and refuse to let them cross this line. Enough is enough.

Roar, humans. Roar.
Reprinted with permission from CaitlinJohnstone.com.

Support Ms. Johnstone on Patreon or Paypal.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/12/how-you-can-be-certain-that-the-us-charge-against-assange-is-fraudulent/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/12/how-you-can-be-certain-that-the-us-charge-against-assange-is-fraudulent/ Fri, 12 Apr 2019 16:08:32 GMT
Who Is Killing Whom in the Middle East? Blaming Iran Might be an Excuse for War Philip Giraldi http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/12/who-is-killing-whom-in-the-middle-east-blaming-iran-might-be-an-excuse-for-war/

Newsweek is reporting a story regarding how Iran “was responsible for the deaths of at least 608 American troops in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.” The account is sourced to a newly revised estimate prepared by analysts at the Pentagon that was discussed by Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook at a State Department press briefing on April 2nd. According to Hook, Tehran is now being blamed for 17 per cent of all US military deaths because it supplied weapons to the several Shiite militias that were opposing the US invasion, occupation and subsequent presence in the country.

Hook also stated that the American casualties are in addition to the “thousands” of Iraqi troops and civilians that were killed in attacks initiated by what he referred to as the Iranian proxy forces. Hook noted that the new number is higher than the 2015 confirmed death total of 500 that was reported by then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, who qualified his estimate by saying “We were not always able to attribute the casualties that we had to Iranian activity, although many times we suspected it was Iranian activity, even though we did not necessarily have the forensics to support that.”

There is little doubt that Tehran provided weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq after the invasion of the country by American forces in April 2003 and the defeat and replacement of the Saddam Hussein regime. The US was occupying the country at the time and Shiites were a repressed majority of the population given the fact that Saddam ruled through his Sunni minority.

The most controversial and lethal weapons used by the Shiite and Sunni resistance to the United States were the Improvised Explosive Devices or IEDs, subsequently also referred to as Explosively Formed Penetrators or EFPs which were capable of penetrating the armor on US military vehicles. They first appeared in Iraq in the summer of 2004, but they were initially mostly used by Sunni insurgents, not by the Shiites.

Now that the US occupation has ended, Iran and Iraq enjoy a close relationship that is based on their common Shiite religion. The former militiamen are now referred to as Popular Mobilization Forces, which were key to the eventual defeat of ISIS. The United States, which retains a major military base inside Iraq, continues to rail against Iran. During the briefing, Hook said “We are imposing costs on the [Iranian] regime for behaving as an outlaw expansionist regime. The regime is weaker today than when we took office two years ago. Its proxies are also weaker. Unless the regime demonstrates a change in policy and behavior, the financial challenges facing Tehran will mount.”

There are several problems with the Hook analysis, if that is actually what it was. The United States government has been arguing since 2005 that Iran is “interfering” in neighboring Iraq, combined with allegations about “they are killing our soldiers” to make sure that Tehran continues to be everyone recognizable regional enemy. Specific claims by generals and US politicians were made between 2005 and 2007 regarding Iranian involvement in the production of the shaped charges, which were increasingly exacting a bloody toll of US and allied military personnel.

But the claims being made by the Bush Administration, by Congress, and by the media regarding Iranian support of militants in Iraq had a number of things in common: they were generic and lacking in specificity, they were based on possibly unwarranted assumptions about Iranian interactions with other players in the region, they played fast and loose with statistics, and they seldom provided actual verifiable evidence to back up the assertions being made. One might also point out that nearly all the reports were derivative in that they build on each other to develop credibility, much like the reports about Iraq in 2002.

It has also been noted that the arguments about Iranian involvement are logically inconsistent. The Iraqi insurgency in the period 2004-2006 was largely Sunni. That the Iranians would be supplying the Sunnis or that the Sunnis would even seek such assistance does not appear probable. In an April 2007 briefing Major General William Caldwell explained, “We have, in fact, found some cases recently where Iranian intelligence services have provided to some Sunni insurgent groups some support.” Three uses of “some” in one sentence suggest a degree of uncertainty. Even the relatively tame media at the briefing were skeptical, asking “Do the Iranians support all the militias in Iraq?”

The fact that the EFP is very simple to make also argues against a largely Iranian provenance. The EFP or variations thereof has been around for a long time. It was reportedly used under its old name “shaped charge” by the French resistance against the Germans and by the Irish Republican Army against British armored vehicles and it has been used extensively by both Hezbollah and Hamas against the Israelis.

The case against Iran basically relies on a basic argument that the EFP is actually a sophisticated weapon that has to have its copper disk machined in a weapons shop that is accustomed to milling metal to the finest tolerances. According to those who believe in an Iranian hand in EFP attacks, it is not possible that the weapons are being produced by Iraqis without Iranian assistance but the fact is that the Iraqis are more than capable of making the weapon. Iraq had a large and relatively sophisticated military prior to 2003. It had its own weapons shops and ordnance experts, many of whom were Sunnis and many of whom became unemployed in the spring of 2003 when the army was disbanded.

So Iran’s EFP weapon of choice that, according to the Pentagon, has killed 608 Americans turns out to be not that hard to make and not uniquely Iranian. But the real argument against Brian Hook’s numbers is the assumption made by the government analysts that supplying weapons, even if and when the end user can be demonstrated, makes one responsible for who gets killed as a result. Since the US is the world’s leading arms manufacturer, that argument leads down a slippery slope as “Made in USA.” weapons are likely featured in every conflict.

Also bear in mind that the United States in Iraq was an invading army in what became a guerrilla war in which that country’s civilians ultimately constituted most of the victims. By one estimate, 460,000 Iraqis died, many by US-made ordnance. To cite one other more recent example of what that measure of accountability might mean, the United States could be considered responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands civilians in Yemen, 5,000 in 2018 alone, as the Saudis are using US supplied weapons. And there are a lot of other instances of American made weapons winding up in all kinds of places, including the arsenals of ISIS and al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda in its war against the Russians in Afghanistan relied largely on American weaponry. Some of those weapons are still being used to kill American rather than Russian soldiers.

Since the United States government is selectively charging Iran with offenses that might well be exploited by neoconservatives named Bolton and Pompeo to initiate a war it should be more careful in how it attempts to frame its arguments. Iran did not kill those 4,424 American soldiers who died in Iraq. President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the band of psychopaths at the Pentagon and National Security Council did that when they initiated a chain of events that began with attacking a country that they knew posed no threat against the United States. The bloody consequences of that action continue to this day.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/12/who-is-killing-whom-in-the-middle-east-blaming-iran-might-be-an-excuse-for-war/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/12/who-is-killing-whom-in-the-middle-east-blaming-iran-might-be-an-excuse-for-war/ Fri, 12 Apr 2019 13:41:48 GMT
The US Government's Indictment of Julian Assange Poses Grave Threats to Press Freedoms Glenn Greenwald & Micah Lee http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/12/the-us-governments-indictment-of-julian-assange-poses-grave-threats-to-press-freedoms/

The indictment of Julian Assange unsealed today by the Trump Justice Department poses grave threats to press freedoms, not only in the US but around the world. The charging document and accompanying extradition request from the US Government, used by the UK police to arrest Assange once Ecuador officially withdrew its asylum protection, seeks to criminalize numerous activities at the core of investigative journalism.

So much of what has been reported today about this indictment has been false. Two facts in particular have been utterly distorted by the DOJ and then misreported by numerous media organizations.

The first crucial fact about the indictment is that its key allegation – that Assange did not merely receive classified documents from Chelsea Manning but tried to help her crack a password in order to cover her tracks – is not new. It was long known by the Obama DOJ and was explicitly part of Manning’s trial, yet the Obama DOJ – not exactly renowned for being stalwart guardians of press freedoms – concluded it could not and should not prosecute Assange because indicting him would pose serious threats to press freedom. In sum, today’s indictment contains no new evidence or facts about Assange’s actions; all of it has been known for years.

The other key fact being widely misreported is that the indictment accuses Assange of trying to help Manning obtain access to document databases to which she had no valid access: i.e., hacking rather than journalism. But the indictment alleges no such thing. Rather, it simply accuses Assange of trying to help Manning log into the Defense Department’s computers using a different user name so that she could maintain her anonymity while downloading documents in the public interest and then furnish them to WikiLeaks to publish.

In other words, the indictment seeks to criminalize what journalists are not only permitted but ethically required to do: take steps to help their sources maintain their anonymity. As long-time Assange lawyer Barry Pollack put it: “the factual allegations…boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identity of that source. Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges.”

That’s why the indictment poses such a grave threat to press freedom. It characterizes as a felony many actions that journalists are not just permitted but required to take in order to conduct sensitive reporting in the digital age.

But because the DOJ issued a press release with a headline that claimed that Assange was accused of “hacking” crimes, media outlets mindlessly repeated this claim even though the indictment contains no such allegation. It merely accuses Assange of trying to help Manning avoid detection. That’s not “hacking.” That’s called a core obligation of journalism.

The history of the case is vital for understanding what actually happened today. The US Government has been determined to indict Julian Assange and WikiLeaks since at least 2010, when the group published hundreds of thousands of war logs and diplomatic cables revealing numerous war crimes and other acts of corruption by the US, the UK and other governments around the world. To achieve that goal, the Obama DOJ empaneled a Grand Jury in 2011 and conducted a sweeping investigation into WikiLeaks, Assange and Manning.

But in 2013, the Obama DOJ concluded that it could not prosecute Assange in connection with publication of those documents because there was no way to distinguish what WikiLeaks did from what the New York Times, the Guardian and numerous media outlets around the world routinely do: namely, work with sources to publish classified documents.

The Obama DOJ tried for years to find evidence to justify a claim that Assange did more than act as a journalist – that he, for instance, illegally worked with Manning to steal the documents – but found nothing to justify that accusation and thus never indicted Assange (as noted, the Obama DOJ since at least 2011 was well aware of the core allegation of today’s indictment – that Assange tried to help Manning circumvent a password wall so she could use a different user name – because that was all part of Manning’s charges).

So Obama ended eight years in office without indicting Assange or WikiLeaks.

Fair Use Excerpt. Read the entire article at The Intercept.]]>
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/12/the-us-governments-indictment-of-julian-assange-poses-grave-threats-to-press-freedoms/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/12/the-us-governments-indictment-of-julian-assange-poses-grave-threats-to-press-freedoms/ Fri, 12 Apr 2019 13:13:59 GMT
US Henchmen Violently Arrest Assange! Show Trial To Follow. Daniel McAdams http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/11/us-henchmen-violently-arrest-assange-show-trial-to-follow/
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http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/11/us-henchmen-violently-arrest-assange-show-trial-to-follow/ http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2019/april/11/us-henchmen-violently-arrest-assange-show-trial-to-follow/ Thu, 11 Apr 2019 16:30:09 GMT