Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:09:35 GMT Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:09:35 GMT Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia Chuck Spinney and Pierre Sprey

The Nuclear Question is becoming increasingly obfuscated by spin and lobbying as the West sleepwalks into Cold War II — a walk made all the more dangerous when the loose lips of the US tweeter-in-chief announced that another nuclear arms race is a great idea (see link, link,link). Two Cold War II issues are central and almost never addressed: What will be the Russians' understanding of all the propaganda surrounding the Nuclear Question and the looming American defense spendup? And how might they act on this understanding?


Barack Obama first outlined his vision for nuclear disarmament in a speech in Prague on 5 April 2009, less than three months after becoming President. This speech became the basis for what eventually became the New Start nuclear arms limitation treaty. But Mr. Obama also opened the door for the modernization of our nuclear forces with this pregnant statement:
“To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same. Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies –- including the Czech Republic.”
Why call for nuclear disarmament while opening the door to nuclear rearmament?

Obama’s speech paved the way to his Nobel Peace Prize in October 2009, but he was also trying to manipulate the domestic politics of the Military - Industrial - Congressional Complex (MICC). By 15 December 2009, 41 Senators sent a letter to President Obama saying that further reductions of the nuclear arsenal would be acceptable only if accompanied by "a significant program to modernize our nuclear deterrent."

Viewed in retrospect, it is clear that the new President — either naively or cynically — acquiesced to that senatorial spending demand in order to keep the powerful nuclear laboratories and their allies in the defense industry and Congress from lobbying against his new arms limitation treaty. In April 2009 Obama took the first steps that launched a huge spending plan to modernize US nuclear forces across the board. Eight years later, during his first call to President Putin on 28 January 2017, President Trump locked that program in place by denouncing Obama’s New START as a “bad deal,” saying it favored Russia.

A particularly dangerous component of the Obama nuclear spending plan is the acquisition of low-yield precision-guided nuclear bombs/warheads. These weapons only make sense within a radical strategy for actually fighting a nuclear war -- as opposed to the almost universally accepted idea that our nuclear arsenal exists only to deter any thought of using these weapons — since actual use is unthinkable, with profoundly unknowable consequences. Last December, the prestigious Defense Science Board — an organization replete with members closely connected to the nuclear labs and their defense industry allies — added its imprimatur to this radical strategy by resurrecting the old and discredited ideas of limited nuclear options (LNOs). LNOs are based on the unproven — and unprovable — hypothesis that a president could actually detonate a few nukes to control a gradually escalating nuclear bombing campaign, or perhaps to implement a psychological tactic of encouraging deterrence with a few small "preventative" nuclear explosions.

Adding to Obama's expansion of our nuclear posture is President Trump’s intention to fulfill his campaign promises to strengthen all nuclear offensive and defensive forces, with particular emphasis on spending a lot more for the ballistic missile defense (BMD) program — which implies expanding the current deployments of BMD weapons in eastern Europe within a few hundred miles of the Russian border.

Early cost estimates — really guesses — for Obama's entire nuclear modernization program are for one trillion dollars over the next 30 years. No missile defense costs are included in this estimate — nor are the costs of Trump's promised expansions.

The components of the currently authorized program — e.g., a new bomber, a new ballistic missile carrying submarine, a new ICBM, a new air-launched cruise missile, a complete remanufacturing upgrade of the existing B-61 dial-a-yield tactical nuclear bomb that also adds a precision guidance kit, a new family of missile warheads, new nuclear warhead production facilities, and a massive array of new large-scale intelligence, surveillance, command and control systems to manage these forces — are all in the early stages of development. Assuming business as usual continues in the Pentagon, the one-trillion dollar estimate is really a typical front-loaded or “buy-in” estimate intended to stick the camel’s nose in the acquisition tent by deliberately understating future costs while over-promising future benefits. 

The money for all of these programs is just beginning to flow into hundreds of congressional districts. As the torrent of money builds up over the next decade, the flood of sub-contracting money and jobs in hundreds of congressional districts guarantees the entire nuclear spend-up will acquire a political life of its own — and the taxpayer will be burdened with yet another unstoppable behemoth.

Readers who doubt this outcome need only look at how the problem-plagued F-35 Strike Fighter lives on, resisting reductions in money flows and even receiving congressional add-ons, despite mind-numbing effectiveness shortfalls, technical failures and unending schedule delays (e.g., see this recent 60 page report by the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation).

Locking hundreds of congressmen and senators into this nuclear modernization program guarantees that the money flow and cost overruns will increase without interference for the next thirty to fifty years. Our many years of observing and analyzing DoD’s largest politically-engineered acquisitions makes it obvious that the initial buy-in guess of a trillion dollar total will turn into at least a three trillion dollar price tag by the end of three decades. In short, the Pentagon is planting the seed money for another F-35-like disaster, only this time on steroids.

But there is more. Once this multi-trillion dollar, self-sustaining money gusher is sluicing steadily into the boiler rooms of the Military - Industrial - Congressional Complex (MICC), US force deployments, alliances, treaties and threat assessments will be shaped even more heavily than now to support the domestic politics of ever-increasing spending for the MICC. Despite this, our nation’s foreign policy mandarins seeking to steer the ship of state from their perch on Mount Olympus will remain oblivious to the fact that their "policy" steering wheel is not connected to the ship’s rudder.

As one perceptive Pentagon wag succinctly observed years ago, “In the real world, foreign policy stops at the water’s edge,” i.e., the domestic politics of the MICC always trump foreign policy. President Eisenhower understood this, though he did nothing about it before leaving office.

As of now, no one in the MICC really gives a damn how the Russians (or the Chinese) might actually react to America’s looming nuclear (and non-nuclear) spending binge. This is clearly seen in the cognitive dissonance of the Obama Defense Department: It was torn between insisting the Russians are not the target of the nuclear program but at the same time justifying the nuclear build up as a means to counter Russian conventional aggression. Equally revealing, an 8 February editorial in the Pentagon's favored house organ, Defense News, described President Trump’s upcoming Nuclear Posture Review without once mentioning the Russians or Chinese nor how they might react to the looming American spending spree. On the other hand, the editorial took great pains to explain in detail how the forces of domestic political consensus will ensure steady funding for Obama’s nuclear spending plans throughout the Trump Administration years.

Do Actions Trigger Reactions (1)?

So, how might the Russians react to the threat of increased American defense budgets?

Lets try to look at the nuclear modernization program — and the looming defense spendup — from the Russian leadership's point of view.

The Russians, particularly those internal political and industrial factions that benefit from Russian defense spending, are very likely to characterize the American spending program as an aggressive sharpening of the US nuclear sword and a strengthening of its nuclear shield, synchronized with a threatening buildup of America’s conventional force. And that will be used to argue that Russia is spending far too little on defense because it faces an existential threat due to increased American spending.

Don’t laugh, this is a mirror image of the argument used successfully by President Ronald Reagan in a televised address to the nation on 22 November 1982. His subject was also nuclear strategy, as well as the need to increase America’s entire defense budget. Reagan said [excerpted from pp. 3-5],
You often hear that the United States and the Soviet Union are in an arms race. The truth is that while the Soviet Union has raced, we have not. As you can see from this blue US line in constant dollars our defense spending in the 1960s went up because of Vietnam and then it went downward through much of the 1970s. Now, follow the red line, which is Soviet spending. It has gone up and up and up.” …


"The combination of the Soviets spending more and the United States spending proportionately less changed the military balance and weakened our deterrent. Today, in virtually every measure of military power, the Soviet Union enjoys a decided advantage” …

If my defense proposals are passed, it will still take five years before we come close to the Soviet level.
Mirror imaging Reagan’s argument, Russian defense advocates emphasizing the dangers of the US spendup are likely to point out that the United States and its allies are already spending far more on their military forces than Russia is spending. Moreover, America certainly intends to rapidly increase the size of this spending advantage, because the large new American nuclear modernization program is only part of a yet-larger long term spending buildup.

After all, have not President Trump and Senator McCain proposed huge increases to President Obama’s defense budget to rebuild what Messrs. Trump and McCain claim is a “depleted” military (see link 1 and link 2 respectively)? Advocates of increased Russian defense budgets might also ask, are not Messrs. Trump and McCain declaring an emergency by calling on Congress to exempt defense spending from the spending restrictions imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011?

Indeed, Russian politicians, echoing Mr. Reagan in 1981, might construct a graphic using the West’s own numbers to prove their points, beginning perhaps with something like this (Chart 2):


Chart 2

A Russian defense advocate using the Janes’ metric in Chart 2 could argue that (1) Russia is now spending slightly less than Saudi Arabia, less than India, and less than the UK; (2) the size of Russia’s budget is only a quarter of China’s; and (3) the size of Russia’s defense budget is an astonishing one-twelfth of that of the United States!

Add to the US defense budget the contributions of its allies and close friends and the spending balance in favor the US and its allies to that of Russia alone becomes an astounding 21 to 1! Even if Russia could trust China to be a reliable ally — which it can’t — the current spending imbalance is over four to one in favor of the US and its allies on the one hand and Russia and China on the other.

Advocates of increased Russian defense spending might even argue their comparison does not suffer from the gross distortions created by Reagan’searlier chart because (1) the Ruble was not convertible into dollars in 1982 (whereas it is today), and Reagan’s comparison severely overstated Soviet spending levels using an artificial exchange rate; and (2) the dollar numbers in their Chart 2 comparison start from zero, unlike the deliberately truncated dollar scale (100 to 275) Reagan used in Chart 1 to exaggerate his point.

Do Actions Trigger Reactions (II)?

Of course, from a Russian leader’s point of view, the strategic threat goes well beyond the madness implied by the asymmetries in defense budgets.

They might see the Trumpian expansion of both nuclear offense and missile defense as evidence the US is planning to dominate Russia by preparing to fight and win a nuclear war — a radical shift from America's 50+ years of building nuclear forces only for deterrence (often referred to as Mutually Assured Destruction or MAD).

Faced with such a threat, militarist factions inside Russia are likely to insist on a rational application of the precautionary principle by the Russian nation.

That principle will dictate a response, presumably a massive Russian nuclear arms race with the United States. The obvious fact that the politically engineered US nuclear program cannot be reined in or terminated by politicians in the US is almost certainly understood by the Russians. But that appreciation would serve merely to magnify the sense of menace perceived by patriotic Russian leaders.

Bear in mind, the Russians are unlikely to view the emerging nuclear menace in isolation. For one thing, there is the toxic question of NATO’s expansion and the mistrust it created.

The vast majority of Russians, including former President Gorbachev, President Putin, and Prime Minister Medvedev, believe strongly that the US and the West violated their verbal promises not to expand NATO eastward in return for the Soviet Union’s acquiescence to the unification of Germany as a member of NATO. Many leaders of the West have either denied any promises were made or downplayed the import of any such understandings. But reporters from the German weekly Der Spiegel discovered documents in western archives that supported the Russian point of view, and on 26 November 2009 published an investigative report concluding …
“After speaking with many of those involved and examining previously classified British and German documents in detail, SPIEGEL has concluded that there was no doubt that the West did everything it could to give the Soviets the impression that NATO membership was out of the question for countries like Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia.”
One thing is beyond dispute: The impression or understanding or promise not to expand NATO was broken by President Clinton — largely for domestic political reasons — making a mockery of President Gorbachev’s hopeful vision of a greater European home.

Clinton announced support for NATO expansion in October of 1996, just before the November election, to garner conservative and hawk votes, the votes of Americans of Eastern European descent, and in response to an intense NATO expansion lobbying campaign mounted by the MICC — and to steal the issue from his conservative opponent Senator Robert Dole.

The expansion of NATO eastwards combined with President Bush’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in June 2002, followed by the deployment of ABM systems to Eastern Europe certainly increased the Russians’ sense of mistrust and menace regarding US intentions. To this day, Putin’s speeches repeatedly refer to the broken American promises.

There is more to an appreciation of the Russian point of view. In parallel with the NATO expansion, the European Union (EU) expanded eastward, precipitously like an expanding cancer, beginning in 1995 and continuing to 2013. The EU’s exclusion of Russia from the “greater European home” further fueled an atmosphere of mistrust and menace.

From a Russian perspective, the NATO and EU expansions worked to deliberately isolate and impoverish Russia — and the potential (though to date frustrated) expansion by the West into Ukraine and Georgia intensified the sense that Russia had been hoodwinked by the West.

The perception of a deliberate US and EU campaign to cripple Russia has a history dating back to the end of the First Cold War in 1991: Russian leaders, for example, are unlikely to forget how, during the Clinton Administration, US NGOS combined with American pressure, supported the extraordinarily corrupt privatization of the former Soviet state enterprises in the 1990s (aka “Shock Therapy”). In the words of the Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz (16 June 2000):
“In the early 1990s, there was a debate among economists over shock therapy versus a gradualist strategy for Russia. But Larry Summers [Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, then Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, now Secretary] took control of the economic policy, and there was a lot of discontent with the way he was driving the policy.

The people in Russia who believed in shock therapy were Bolsheviks--a few people at the top that rammed it down everybody's throat. They viewed the democratic process as a real impediment to reform.

The grand larceny that occurred in Russia, the corruption that resulted in nine or ten people getting enormous wealth through loans-for-shares, was condoned because it allowed the reelection of Yeltsin.”
And in a touch of irony, given the current hysteria over President Putin’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election, it gets worse. Russian leaders are also unlikely to forget American intervention on behalf of Boris Yeltsin in the Russian elections of 1996, including using American control of the International Monetary Fund to float a $10.2 billion loan in March to 1996 to help the corrupt and malleable Boris Yeltsin to win the election in June.


July 15, 1996

So, from a Russian perspective, the recent increasingly severe US sanctions are not only hypocritical, they certainly reinforce the view that the US led campaign to cripple the Russian economy is ongoing and perhaps endless.

Moreover, the rapid, opportunistic expansion of NATO and the EU created a kaleidoscope of internal frictions. Now both institutions are in trouble, riven by contradictions and disharmonies. Great Britain is leaving the EU but will remain in NATO. Northern Europe and the EU bankers are imposing draconian austerity measures on Southern Europe, particularly Greece. Turkey, long a key NATO ally, is turning to Russia while being rejected by the EU. The destruction of Libya, Iraq and Syria, under US leadership with European participation, has created an unprecedented flood of refugees into the EU, deeply threatening the EU'S organizing principle of open borders. The increasing tide of European instability and chaos, accompanied by the looming specter of growing Fascist movements from Spain to Ukraine, inevitably add to the traditional Russian sense of being endangered and encircled.

That sense of endangerment is certainly heightened by a recent creepy piece of nuttiness coming out of Poland, perhaps the most Russophobic member of the EU and NATO. The German daily DW says Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a very conservative former prime minister of Poland, chairman of the ruling nationalist-conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), has called for a massive EU nuclear force — trading on Polish fears that the United States will not sacrifice Chicago to save Warsaw. That France and Britain already have nuclear weapons and are members of NATO is, of course, left unsaid in Kaczynski’s demagoguery.

Russian leaders cannot ignore the fact that Kaczynski called for a nuclear EU shortly after the US 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division (3,500 troops and 2,500 vehicles) deployed to Poland. Even worse, the commanding officer promptly declared the brigade is “ready to fight,” though it is intended to “deter” any threat to Poland. One brigade is a trip wire … or a kind of blank check that might be exploited for nutty reasons to trigger a shooting war — and as Kaczynski just demonstrated, nuttiness is afoot in that part of the world.

Now, if you were a Russian; and

(1) you remembered the West’s destruction to your homeland beginning in 1812, 1914, and 1941 together with the recent string of broken promises, economic exclusion, and destructive meddling in Russian internal affairs that made a mockery of the ideal of a post-Cold War common European home; and …

(2) you faced a country that excluded you from Europe, suborned your election and is intent on crippling your economy, a country already outspending you on defense by a factor of twelve to one while expressing an intent to increase that lopsided ratio in a major way; and …

(3) that country has already started a nuclear arms race with a hugely expensive across-the-board modernization program to buy atomic weapons some of which can be justified only in terms of fighting and winning nuclear wars;

What would you do?

To ask such a question is to answer it. For patriotic Americans interested in increasing their real national security (rather than their national securitybudget), the nuclear issue boils down to a question of understanding the powerful impact of America’s spending decisions and actions on patriotic Russians. In other words, it is a question of reasoned empathy and pragmatic self-interest.

Yet the mainstream media and the politicians of both parties in thrall to our MICC are working day and night to pump up anti-Russian hysteria and hype fear to ensure Americans remain completely oblivious to the powerful, dangerous impact of our senseless Obama-Trump nuclear spend-up on the Russians — or on anyone else, for that matter.


Authors' background: Chuck Spinney and Pierre Sprey, between them, have over 75 years of Pentagon and industry experience in engineering weapons as well as in analyzing military systems effectivness and defense budgets. Sprey was one of the early whiz kids in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) in the 1960s. He led the Air Force's concept design team for the legendary A-10 attack aircraft and, together with colonels Boyd and Riccioni, fathered the enormously successful F-16 fighter. Working in OSD in the 1980s, Spinney’s critical analyses of the Pentagon’s defective planning and budgeting landed him on the March 1983 cover of Time. Leaving the Pentagon in 2003, he did an in-depth interview on the military-industrial-congressional complex with Bill Moyers which resulted in a special Emmy Award winning edition of Bill Moyers’Now that aired on 1 August 2003. Sprey and Spinney have testified before Congress on many occasions and were founding members of the Military Reform Movement led by their close colleague, the renowned American fighter pilot and strategist, Colonel John Boyd.

Reprinted with permission from Chuck Spinney's The Blaster.]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 17:09:35 GMT
The Futility and Corruption of the Drug War Jacob G. Hornberger

I just finished watching the much-acclaimed series “Narcos” on Netflix. What a fantastic program. And what an excellent depiction of the futility and corruption of the war on drugs.

The series is a true-life account of Pablo Escobar, a Colombian drug lord who headed up the Medellin drug cartel, a black-market drug group that smuggled hundreds of tons of cocaine into the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. Smuggling an estimated 80 percent of the cocaine into the United States, Escobar became known as the “King of Cocaine,” attaining in the process a net worth of $30 billion by the early 1990s. According to Wikipedia, Escobar was the wealthiest criminal in history.

Amidst much acclaim and publicity, the U.S. government and the Colombian government, working together, targeted Escobar with arrest or killing. Escobar retaliated by effectively declaring war on the government, a war that consisted of assassinations and bombings. Every time the DEA (which was operating in Colombia, along with the U.S. military and the CIA) and Colombian officials tightened the noose on Escobar’s operation, Escobar responded with bullets and bombs, killing a multitude of government officials and private citizens.

The logic of the drug-war crackdown was clear: By eradicating Escobar, officials thought they would be eradicating 80 percent of the cocaine being shipped into the United States. So, all the death and destruction resulting from the crackdown on Escobar was considered worth it in the long run.

But that’s not what happened. The more they tightened the noose around Escobar, the more his cocaine competitors — that is, the ones who were supplying the 20 percent, expanded their operations, gaining them a larger market share. Among the principal beneficiaries of the crackdown on Escobar was the Cali Cartel, which, not surprisingly, became the next big target of the U.S. and Colombian drug warriors, with similar results — the more they cracked down on the Cali Cartel, the more their competitors stepped into the breach and gained a larger market share.

In 1993, they finally caught up to Escobar and killed him in a shootout. You can imagine how U.S. and Colombian officials trumpeted that drug-war victory. Another “milestone” in the war on drugs, the term they have used for decades whenever they kill or capture some big drug lord.

But of course it was all to no avail. Even though they killed Escobar and ultimately smashed the Medellin and Cali cartels, amidst great fanfare and publicity, other suppliers quickly took their places and continued providing cocaine users in the United States with their drug.

In other words, all those people who lost their lives in the drug war on Escobar died for nothing. Absolutely nothing.

There is something else to consider: what the drug war against Escobar did to law-enforcement agents, both American and Colombian. It corrupted them to the core. Frustrated over all the death and destruction that Escobar was wreaking across the country and over their inability to apprehend him, officials began employing brutal and illegal tactics in return, such as torturing prisoners for information and then murdering them so that they couldn’t talk about what the officials had done to them.

Of course, there was also widespread bribery that was taking place within the Colombian police. In fact, that was one of the reasons they had such a hard time catching up to Escobar — his informants within the police and Colombian military would alert him to whatever was going on.

The pathetic thing about all this death, destruction, mayhem, and corruption is that there was a much simpler way to have put Escobar, the Cali Cartel, and all the other black-market drug suppliers out of business,  a way that would not have involved assassinations, bombings, torture, and corruption. All that the U.S. and Colombian governments had to do was legalize drugs.

If they had done that, Escobar and the rest of the black-market suppliers would have been put out of business instantaneously. That’s because of the difference between legal markets and black markets.

In legal markets, suppliers compete against each other by providing better goods and services to their customers. Think CVS, Walgreen, and other pharmacies. Notice that they are not out bombing and assassinating each other and other people

It’s totally different in black or illegal markets. Competitors in these markets deal with each other through violent turf wars that involve murder, kidnapping, bombing, and mayhem. While people like Escobar are able to thrive in a black market, they inevitably go out of business in a legal market because they lack the skills that are necessary in legal markets.

A good example of this phenomenon is alcohol. We don’t see alcohol dealers killing each other to get a larger share of the market. That’s because booze is legal.

But it wasn’t that way when booze was illegal. During Prohibition, there were people like Al Capone involved in the sale and distribution of alcohol, along with killing, mayhem, and corruption.

This same principle, of course, applies today. Notwithstanding all the hoopla to which all of us are subjected when the feds or state drug warriors make a drug bust, the result is no different than it was 20-30 years ago with Escobar. The minute they make the bust, the supplier is replaced by someone else.

There is only one way to eradicate drug lords and illicit drug dealers, along with all the death, destruction, and corruption that comes with them: End the war on drugs by legalizing drugs.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 15:03:19 GMT
Shock Poll: Is Russia Friend Or Foe? Daniel McAdams
]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:08:33 GMT
Trump's First Terror Arrest: A Broke Stoner The FBI Threatened at Knifepoint Murtaza Hussain
photo: Boone County Sheriff's Department

The Department of Justice proudly announced the first FBI terror arrest of the the Trump administration on Tuesday: An elaborate sting operation that snared a 25-year old Missouri man who had no terrorism contacts besides the two undercover FBI agents who paid him to buy hardware supplies they said was for a bomb — and who at one point pulled a knife on him and threatened his family.

Robert Lorenzo Hester of Columbia, Missouri, didn’t have the $20 he needed to buy the 9-volt batteries, duct tape, and roofing nails his new FBI friends wanted him to get, so they gave him the money. The agents noted in a criminal complaint that Hester, who at one point brought his two small children to a meeting because he didn’t have child care, continued smoking marijuana despite professing to be a devout Muslim.

One of the social media posts that initially caught the FBI’s attention referred to a group called “The Lion Guard”. Hester told one of the undercover agents the name came from “a cartoon my children watch.”

But according to the DOJ press release, Hester had plans to conduct an “ISIS-sponsored terrorist attack” on President’s Day that would have resulted in mass casualties had it succeeded.

News reports breathlessly echoed the government’s depiction of Hester as a foiled would-be terrorist. But the only contact Hester had with ISIS was with the two undercover agents who suggested to him that they had connections with the group. The agents, who were in contact with him for five months, provided him with money and rides home from work as he dealt with the personal fallout of an unrelated arrest stemming from an altercation at a local grocery store.

Hester, who had briefly enlisted in the US Army before being discharged in 2013, had posted images of weapons and a flag sometimes associated with terrorist groups on a social media platform. He had also written “Burn in hell FBI” and “Brothers in AmurdiKKKa we need to get something going here all those rednecks have their little militias why shouldn’t we do the same.” In another post, he asserted that ISIS was created as part of a conspiracy by the United States and Israel.

Hester was arrested by local police in October after getting into a dispute with his wife in the parking lot of a grocery store, allegedly damaging store property. The FBI complaint says that when store employees confronted Hester “he assumed an aggressive stance, forcefully placed his hand into the diaper bag he was carrying, in a manner that appeared to be reaching for a weapon.” Police, they said, later recovered a 9-millimeter handgun from the diaper bag.

Hester was taken into custody and released 10 days later, placed under electronic monitoring and subject to drug testing until his court appearance.

According to the complaint, the FBI undercover agent began communicating with him a day before he was arrested, and continued after Hester left jail — commenting on Hester’s anti-government social media posts (which included news articles about a US military strike in Yemen) and offering to help Hester with his expressed desire of “hitting [the government] hard”. The agent told Hester that he knew some individuals he had met recently who shared these ideas.

In subsequent private messaging conversations, Hester told the agent that he wanted to do something to hurt the US economy, adding that “we need some big help.” The agent offered to introduce Hester to “some brothers” who could assist.

The agent also “raised the subject of firearms,” sending Hester pictures of assault rifles that “the brothers” had transported for someone else recently.

The complaint reports that a few weeks later, the first agent set up a meeting for Hester with a second agent, who posed as someone with direct terrorist connections. The meeting was in an FBI car. Hester brought his two young children, which he said “could not be avoided, given his child care responsibilities that day.”

“I don’t like America, like for my kids,” Hester said, according to a recording.

On November 30, the second undercover agent gave Hester a ride home from his job and gave him $100, telling him that “this is one job that one brother is supposed to do to another….it’s my duty to make sure that the brother is okay.” Two days later, the agent gave him a ride home from work again. Hester said he “was thinking about oil lines, hitting oil pipelines and oil markets,” or targeting “computer systems and stuff.”

Fair Use Excerpt. Read the rest at the Intercept.]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:53:30 GMT
The Sacrifice of Tulsi Gabbard David Gornoski

The media continues to be an increasingly petty, insecure clique as it mimetically parrots its own echo chamber talking points against any person who challenges their preferred leftist-corporatist brand of state hegemony. Think of political ideologies like denominations of a religion. They agree on fundamental dogma, that the statist form of governance is self-evident and unquestioned in its necessity. But not all denominations are equally powerful and entrenched.

The politically correct leftist denomination of the state continues to be the entrenched institutional religion of the state. Fortune 500 companies, Hollywood, music, academia, and the vast majority of media corporations continue to speak its credo and police its doctrinal purity across their platforms. They do this policing in the guise of victimism: they alone are the guardians of truth and they alone protect victims with it.

Except they don’t. A perfect example of this is what the media continues to do with Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard. An independent thinking veteran and advocate for peace, she continues to be shunned by an envious leftist establishment.

She recently visited Syria to see the people on the ground and speak with Syrian leaders including the hegemonic leftist media’s new Hussein, I mean Gaddafi, I mean Bashar Assad. Any media parrot you read or hear on TV will always dutifully use the marketing term “butcher” to preface his name. That’s how vapid their reporting is. Of course, Assad is guilty of very violent things. But so are the terrorists our government created to initiate a coup in Syria. Why did they do it? Money and a Machiavellian global god-complex on the part of financial and bureaucratic interests in DC. The permanent state’s priests in that unholy city have had their bloodthirsty sights on the country’s strategic location, alliances, and resources for some time. Study Syria’s geography, history, and resources to fact check me.

And for those naive enough to question this basic assessment of the state’s interests in Syria, ask yourself: if the US and its owned media clique slavishly calls Assad a butcher and promoted chaos in his country for purely humanitarian reasons, why aren’t they doing the same in countries like Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, and Chad? Those countries are ruled by brutal dictators too. Yet your vacuous media guardians, those valiant watchdogs of the truth, do not tell you every day how much of a butcher they are or how we should overthrow their regimes.

The answer is clear: the financial interests that own these media puppets do not prioritize those nations’ resources, strategic locations, or financial structures. So you don’t hear every night how they’re run by butchers. Instead, you see a congresswoman like Gabbard castigated and demonized for daring to question their lying interventionist narrative.

Is that too cynical to consider? Why not hang around your local city commission for a while and see how much power jockeying, clique politics, lying and back-stabbing goes on to decide who will get the contract to build a new 2 million dollar road.

And you think humans, given access to the greatest monopoly of military leverage in the US government, will magically just act in pure humanitarian interest when trillions of dollars are at stake?

I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Aleppo.

Gabbard has criticized Assad’s role in the conflict. But she has also been vocal in denouncing the US’s one party policy of arming terrorists in Syria. She even introduced a bill in Congress to stop arming terrorists. Our government aided and weaponized ISIS and Al-Qaeda terrorists, the same group that attacked us on 9-11, for the pathetic, pitiful lust for power and money available in Syrian regime change.

Yet today, you’ll see headlines like these plastered all over the hegemonic leftist media: POLITICO: Gabbard won’t disclose who’s paying for secret trip to Syria

DAILY BEAST: Tulsi Gabbard’s Fascist Escorts to Syria The Democratic congresswoman used affiliates of a violent, anti-Semitic political party to take tea with Assad.

DAILY KOS: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has turned into a stooge for Syria’s dictator. Who will primary her?

Remember, these are the same outlets who slavishly lined up to dine with the pro-Syrian coup Clinton campaign, as Wikileaks revealed. These are the same outlets who allowed their key reporters to submit their pre-published content for approval by Clinton operatives.

These reporters are of the same state-religious clique that threatened Tulsi Gabbard’s career when she refused to bow the knee to Hillary Clinton in the primary. They want power. They love the state denomination of establishment leftism which allows them to use Syrian migrants’ fleeing desperation as a photo-op to bludgeon their rival state sect embodied in Trump.

The leftist media outlets incessantly questioning Gabbard’s call for peace and an end to US-backed terrorism in Syria don’t care if our intervention has destroyed cities and murdered and raped thousands. They only care about the social status points they get in social circles where being seen outraged at airport arrival lines is more important than stopping mass murder for profit and power.

They don’t care why these Syrians have no safe home. They only care about posturing against their conservative rivals who are skeptical of tax-payer subsidies to relocate Syrians to the US. As the Center for Immigration Studies notes, “…in their first five years in the United States, each refugee from the Middle East costs taxpayers $64,370 — 12 times what the UN estimates it costs to care for one refugee in neighboring Middle Eastern countries.”

When you’re an upper-middle class urban media state fanboy or girl, it feels good when you can scapegoat Wal-mart shopping Trump voters’ immigration skepticism to assuage the extreme cognitive dissonance of being utter moral cowards in the face of intervention. That’s why they ridicule voices like Gabbard’s consistent exposure of our terroristic bedlam in Syria.

To listen to the nightly TV broadcasts and morning headlines, it is a diabolical outrage for a Syrian to hear, “We are not currently boarding flights to the US at this time,” at their local airport, but it is a righteous cause to create a terrorist organization to hunt and ravage Syrians city by city. That’s the twisted logic of a clique maddeningly in love with power.

Thank you, Mrs. Gabbard, for having the courage to tell the truth. I don’t have to share your ideology to share your human conscience. You are seeing through the double-bind foreign policy trap of our bipartisan war policy: Satan casting out Satan. The state props up a dictator, usually from a minority religion, to control two large rival factions. Then, when that “Satan” has served his purpose we sacrifice him by engineering a coup to install a new regime, a new “Satan.” Our bipartisan deep state did this in Iraq, Libya, and now joins Saudi Arabia, home of 15 of the 19 9-11 hijackers, in fomenting such a bind in Yemen and Syria.

You continue a rare but brave tradition of voices like former congressman Ron Paul who dared to say no to this “Satan casting out Satan” foreign policy. No to the empire. I leave you this quote by the late French anthropologist René Girard to take with you as you face such a seemingly unstoppable unified bipartisan and media march for more Syrian intervention for power lust and profit: “If we ceased to desire the goods of our neighbor, we would never commit murder or adultery or theft or false witness. If we respected the tenth commandment, the four commandments that precede it would be superfluous.”

Oh, I can’t help myself. One more for the imperial congressional record:

“The children repeat the crimes of their fathers precisely because they believe they are morally superior to them. This false difference is already the mimetic illusion of modern individualism, which represents the greatest resistance to the mimetic truth that is re-enacted again and again in human relations. The paradox is that the resistance itself brings about the reenactment.” ― René Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning

Reprinted with permission from]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:19:08 GMT
CIA Weapons Pause In Syria - Are We Backing Off...Or Escalating? Daniel McAdams statement during the campaign has become policy? We hope that is the case. However, the current Commander of the US Central Command said recently that Washington may be sending regular units of the US military into Syria, which would be a significant escalation. Which is it going to be: wisdom or folly? We discuss in today's Liberty Report:

]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:31:35 GMT
Why Do 'Progressives' Like War? Philip Giraldi

Liberals are supposed to be antiwar, right? I went to college in the 1960s, when students nationwide were rising up in opposition to the Vietnam War. I was a Young Republican back then and supported the war through sheer ignorance and dislike of the sanctimoniousness of the protesters, some of whom were surely making their way to Canada to live in exile on daddy’s money while I was on a bus going to Fort Leonard Wood for basic combat training. I can’t even claim that I had some grudging respect for the antiwar crowd because I didn’t, but I did believe that at least some of them who were not being motivated by being personally afraid of getting hurt were actually sincere in their opposition to the awful things that were happening in Southeast Asia.

As I look around now, however, I see something quite different. The lefties I knew in college are now part of the Establishment and generally speaking are retired limousine liberals. And they now call themselves progressives, of course, because it sounds more educated and sends a better message, implying as it does that troglodytic conservatives are anti-progress. But they also have done a flip on the issue of war and peace. In its most recent incarnation some of this might be attributed to a desperate desire to relate to the Hillary Clinton campaign with its bellicosity towards Russia, Syria and Iran, but I suspect that the inclination to identify enemies goes much deeper than that, back as far as the Bill Clinton Administration with its sanctions on Iraq and the Balkan adventure, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and the creation of a terror-narco state in the heart of Europe. And more recently we have seen the Obama meddling in Libya, Yemen and Syria in so called humanitarian interventions which have turned out to be largely fraudulent. Yes, under the Obama Dems it was “responsibility to protect time” (r2p) and all the world trembled as the drones were let loose.

Last Friday I started to read an op-ed in The Washington Post by David Ignatius that blew me away. It began “President Trump confronts complicated problems as the investigation widens into Russia’s attack on our political system.” It then proceeded to lay out the case for an “aggressive Russia” in the terms that have been repeated ad nauseam in the mainstream media. And it was, of course, lacking in any evidence, as if the opinions of coopted journalists and the highly politicized senior officials in the intelligence community should be regarded as sacrosanct. These are, not coincidentally, the same people who have reportedly recently been working together to undercut the White House by leaking and then reporting highly sensitive transcripts of phone calls with Russian officials.

Ignatius is well plugged into the national security community and inclined to be hawkish but he is also a typical Post politically correct progressive on most issues. So here was your typical liberal asserting something in a dangerous fashion that has not been demonstrated and might be completely untrue. Russia is attacking “our political system!” And The Post is not alone in accepting that Russia is trying to subvert and ultimately overthrow our republic. Reporting from The New York Times and on television news makes the same assumption whenever they discuss Russia, leading to what some critics have described as mounting American ‘hysteria’ relating to anything coming out of Moscow.

Rachel Maddow is another favorite of mine when it comes to talking real humanitarian feel good stuff out one side of her mouth while beating the drum for war from the other side. In a bravura performance on January 26th she roundly chastised Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. Rachel, who freaked out completely when Donald Trump was elected, is now keen to demonstrate that Trump has been corrupted by Russia and is now controlled out of the Kremlin. She described Trump’s lord and master Putin as an “intense little man” who murders his opponents before going into the whole “Trump stole the election with the aid of Moscow” saga, supporting sanctions on Russia and multiple investigations to get to the bottom of “Putin’s attacks on our democracy.” Per Maddow, Russia is the heart of darkness and, by way of Trump, has succeeded in exercising control over key elements in the new administration.

Unfortunately, people in the media like Ignatius and Maddow are not alone. Their willingness to sell a specific political line that carries with it a risk of nuclear war as fact, even when they know it is not, has been part of the fear-mongering engaged in by Democratic Party loyalists and many others on the left. Their intention is to “get Trump” whatever it takes, which opens the door to some truly dangerous maneuvering that could have awful consequences if the drumbeat and military buildup against Russia continues, leading Putin to decide that his country is being threatened and backed into a corner. Moscow has indicated that it would not hesitate use nuclear weapons if it is being confronted militarily and facing defeat.

The current wave of Russophobia is much more dangerous than the random depiction of foreigners in negative terms that has long bedeviled a certain type of American know-nothing politics. Apart from the progressive antipathy towards Putin personally, there is a virulent strain of anti-Russian sentiment among some self-styled conservatives in congress, best exemplified by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Graham has recently said “2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.”

It is my belief that many in the National Security State have convinced themselves that Russia is indeed a major threat against the United States and not because it is a nuclear armed power that can strike the US That appreciation, should, if anything constitute a good reason to work hard to maintain cordial relations rather than not, but it is seemingly ignored by everyone but Donald Trump.

No, the new brand of Russophobia derives from the belief that Moscow is “interfering” in places like Syria and Ukraine. Plus, it is a friend of Iran. That perception derives from the consensus view among liberals and conservatives alike that the US sphere of influence encompasses the entire globe as well as the particularly progressive conceit that Washington should serve to “protect” anyone threatened at any time by anyone else, which provides a convenient pretext for military interventions that are euphemistically described as “peace missions.”

There might be a certain cynicism in many who hate Russia as having a powerful enemy also keeps the cash flowing from the treasuring into the pockets of the beneficiaries of the military industrial congressional complex, but my real fear is that, having been brainwashed for the past ten years, many government officials are actually sincere in their loathing of Moscow and all its works. Recent opinion polls suggest that that kind of thinking is popular among Americans, but it actually makes no sense. Though involvement by Moscow in the Middle East and Eastern Europe is undeniable, calling it a threat against US vital interests is more than a bit of a stretch as Russia’s actual ability to make trouble is limited. It has exactly one overseas military facility, in Syria, while the US has more than 800, and its economy and military budget are tiny compared to that of the United States. In fact, it is Washington that is most guilty of intervening globally and destabilizing entire regions, not Moscow, and when Donald Trump said in an interview that when it came to killing the US was not so innocent it was a gross understatement.

Ironically, pursuing a reset with Russia is one of the things that Trump actually gets right but the new left won’t give him a break because they reflexively hate him for not embracing the usual progressive bromides that they believe are supposed to go with being antiwar. Other Moscow trashing comes from the John McCain camp which demonizes Russia because warmongers always need an enemy and McCain has never found a war he couldn’t support. It would be a tragedy for the United States if both the left and enough of the right were to join forces to limit Trump’s options on dealing with Moscow, thereby enabling an escalating conflict that could have tragic consequences for all parties.

Reprinted with permission from The Unz Review.]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 18:29:09 GMT
McMaster To NSC - More Troops To Middle East? Daniel McAdams
]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 18:06:41 GMT
Veterans Being Misled On JASTA, Says International Law Expert Brian McGlinchey

As Saudi lobbyists continue to fly U.S. military veterans to Washington to oppose a recently-passed law that cleared the way for 9/11 families and victims to sue the kingdom for its alleged assistance to the hijackers, an expert on international law says the principal argument motivating the veterans’ participation is false.

Lobbyists are persuading veterans to call for the amendment or repeal of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) by claiming that, if other countries reciprocate and pass similar laws, individual military service members and veterans will be exposed to lawsuits in foreign courts.

William S. Dodge, a former counselor on international law at the U.S. State Department, tells that notion is fundamentally at odds with the actual language of JASTA itself and the principles of international law.

JASTA poses no risk of exposing U.S. service members to lawsuits in foreign courts. JASTA deals only with the immunity of foreign states, not individuals,” says Dodge, a professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law.

False Argument Proves Effective

For months now, lobbyists for Saudi Arabia have been using that argument to stir unfounded alarm among veterans—and, in a remarkable demonstration of the kingdom’s spending power, flying scores of them to the nation’s capitol and covering stays at the pricey Trump International hotel.

It’s not clear how many veterans traveling to Washington realize that Saudi Arabia is paying their way. A copy of a travel agency itinerary sent to one veteran only lists D.C.-headquartered Advocacy Group Inc as the payor. In October, the firm’s president, Michael Gibson, and director of field operations, Sara Raak, registered with the Department of Justice as agents of Saudi Arabia. (If you’re a veteran who has joined this effort or been asked to, please share your experience with us:

Anti-JASTA lobbying material circulating among activist veterans and obtained declares that “retaliatory foreign lawsuits inspired by JASTA pose a significant threat to U.S. military personnel, diplomats and officials abroad.”

That claim has been effective in sparking concern among veterans—but it’s false. “If another country decided to pass a similar statute, it might affect the immunity of the United States, but not individual officials or service members,” says Dodge, who studied JASTA closely along its long path to enactment last September, writing three pieces on it for Just Security.

That’s not the only fallacy in the Saudi-funded line of attack: the prophecy of an impending wave of “retaliatory” legislation around the world is also suspect.

“The United States had aterrorism exception in its Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act for 20 years before JASTA. If another country wanted to pass a similar statute, the prior exception would be all the precedent it would need, even if JASTA were repealed,” says Dodge.

Don’t bet on foreign legislatures leaping into action anytime soon. “It seems unlikely that any country will pass similar legislation. In the 20 years before JASTA, only one country—Canada—adopted a similar law,” he says. 

Indeed, more than four full months after JASTA’s enactment, is unaware of any material legislative developments on the issue in any foreign capitol. Meanwhile, it’s important to consider the possibility that the small handful of foreign officials who initially called for reciprocal legislation in the days after JASTA’s passage may have done so as a favor to the Saudi government.

Expert: Drone Argument is a “Red Herring”

Dodge also takes a dim view of claims that drone strikes would make the United States government vulnerable if other countries enacted laws like JASTA. That’s one of the principal talking points of Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, the leading JASTA opponents on Capitol Hill.

“If we don’t (amend JASTA), here is what I fear: that other countries will pass laws like this,” said Graham in November. “They will say that the United States is liable for engaging in drone attacks or other activity in the war on terror and haul us into court as a nation and haul the people to whom we give the responsibility to defend the nation into foreign court.”

Dodge dismisses that premise. “The references to U.S. drone strikes seem like a red herring to me,” he says. “Drone strikes are military activities. The International Court of Justice held in 2012 that international law gives states immunity from suit based on their military activities, even if those activities violate international law.”

Suit Against Israel: A False JASTA Alarm

On February 1, American attorney Martin McMahon gave anti-JASTA forces a new talking point when he filed a suit against, among others, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, various Israeli government officials, David Friedman—Trump’s selection for ambassador to Israel—and the Kushner Family Foundation, which is associated with the family of Trump son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner. Notably, the Israeli government was not among the defendants.

The complaint alleges war crimes against Palestinians and, among many other laws, attempts to invoke JASTA. Opponents of the law promptly heralded the case as a validation of their warnings of unintended consequences.

Dodge reviewed the 103-page complaint for and characterizes it as “long and rambling.”

“I’m not sure what it is really about, but it’s not about JASTA. JASTA only applies to foreign states, and none of the defendants is a foreign state. JASTA only applies to acts of terrorism in the United States, and no acts of terrorism in the United States are alleged,” says Dodge, who has served on the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Law.

Bottom line: Just because a lawyer casually invokes JASTA in a complaint doesn’t mean the courts will give it any credence whatsoever or allow the case to proceed, and it certainly does not represent a validation of anti-JASTA rhetoric.

A Saudi PsyOp

Saudi Arabia’s veteran lobbying campaign is just the latest product of the kingdom’s enormous public influence apparatus; as of November, the kingdom had 14 lobbying firms advancing its agenda, and many of those entities, in turn, hire still more firms for the cause.

This campaign started with the creation of the false narrative about JASTA’s impact on veterans. That subset of the population wasn’t chosen at random: Lobbyists know that, given their high standing in American society, veterans are guaranteed to open doors on Capitol Hill and garner sympathy on Main Street.

The false narrative was likely polished by Qorvis, the U.S. public relations giant that oversees much of the monarchy’s efforts to mold opinion and steer policy. And, for months now, it’s been disseminated through dozens of smaller public relations firms in cities all across the country, and by individual centers of influence on the Qorvis payroll…through social media, face-to-face conversations, and ghost-written op-ed pieces in local papers.

By the time a veteran is presented with the alarming description of JASTA, it’s not coming from a Saudi prince or a PR executive in a shiny suit—it’s likely coming from fellow veterans.

Throw in the opportunity for a free trip to Washington to “protect” their fellow service members—with a stay at the Trump International and the chance to meet members of Congress who graciously welcome those who have served—and it’s easy to see why some veterans are making repeat excursions to D.C., unknowingly serving the Saudi monarchy.

Retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell in the George W. Bush administration, agrees that JASTA poses no risk to individual service members, and urges veterans who are involved in the anti-JASTA campaign to exercise caution.

“Be careful about the position you take, particularly with regard to the country that beheads 150-plus people every year with axes, wages a merciless war in Yemen, and very likely had elements of its leadership involved in the horrendous terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Lawsuits might be the only way to get more clarity on the Saudi complicity in these horrendous attacks,” says Wilkerson.

Saudi Motive: It Isn’t the Welfare of U.S. Service Members

Whether already lobbying against JASTA or considering it, veterans should recognize that Saudi Arabia’s eagerness to fly them to Washington and put them up in an expensive hotel is driven by a single, self-serving goal: To prevent 9/11 families and victims from presenting evidence against the kingdom in open court.

And while Saudi Arabia and many U.S. government officials claim that the 9/11 Commission exonerated the kingdom, members of the commission say otherwise.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” wrote former senator Bob Kerrey, a Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient who served on the commission, in a September 2016 piece endorsing JASTA.

Fellow commission member John Lehman, a veteran who served as Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, said, “Our report should never have been read as an exoneration of Saudi Arabia…there was an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers, and some of those people worked in the Saudi government.”

Twenty-eight pages from a 2002 congressional intelligence inquiry into 9/11, declassified last summer, document many indications of Saudi links to the hijackers, and, in a statement submitted for the 9/11 families’ and survivors’ case against Saudi Arabia, Kerrey said, “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued.”

Through its all-out lobbying and public relations campaign against JASTA—which is now fraudulently exploiting the patriotism and good intentions of American veterans—Saudi Arabia clearly wants to keep it that way.

Reprinted with permission from
]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 15:22:47 GMT
The 'Blind Sheik' And The CIA - Media Bury US Support For Radical Islamism Moon of Alabama

Two days ago the Takfiri Islamist leader Omar Abdul-Rahman , the so called "Blind Sheik", died in a US prison. He had been found guilty of involvement in the 1993 attempt to bring down the World Trade Center in New York and of other crimes.

The obituaries of Omar Abdul-Rahman in US media are an example of white washing of the US exploitation of radical Islamism for its imperial purposes. While extensively documented in earlier media and official reports the CIA's facilitation and involvement with Abdul-Rahman is seemingly stricken from history.

Since the 1970s Omar Abdul-Rahman was involved in the growth of radical Sunni Islamism:
Founded in 1976, Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt (FIBE) is part of the banking empire built by Saudi Prince Mohammed al-Faisal. Several of the founding members are leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman.
Financed by Saudi sources Abdul-Rahman created various groups of radicals in Egypt and gets deeply involved with Al-Qaeda, recruiting fighters for Afghanistan in cooperation with the CIA and the Pakistani secret services. He was the ideological leader of Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, an Islamic radical organization in Egypt responsible for several terrorist attacks. He traveled to the US several timed between 1986 and 1990 to further his violent ideology. His visas were issued by CIA agents despite his appearance on a State Department terrorism watch list. In 1990 he moves to the US where he preached his violent Islam and continued to recruit fighters for radical causes.

In December 1990 the New York Times reported:
The 52-year-old religious leader, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, entered the country more than five months ago despite being on a State Department list of people with ties to terrorist groups, the authorities said. He illegally obtained a tourist visa from a consul in the United States Embassy in Khartoum, the Sudan, in May, according to records of the Federal Immigration and Naturalization Service and State Department officials.
In July 1993 the NYT reported that "illegally obtained tourist visa" was not illegal at all:
Central Intelligence Agency officers reviewed all seven applications made by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman to enter the United States between 1986 and 1990 and only once turned him down because of his connections to terrorism, Government officials said today.
Mr. Abdel Rahman helped to recruit Arab Muslims to fight in the American-backed war in Afghanistan, and his lawyer and Egyptian officials have said he was helped by the C.I.A. to enter the United States.
American officials had acknowledged last week that the diplomat at the United States Embassy in Khartoum who signed the May 1990 visa request that allowed Mr. Abdel Rahman to enter the United States was in fact a C.I.A. officer.
Several attempts to remove Abdel-Rahman from the US mysteriously failed. In 1991 he was inexplicably granted a Green Card despite still being blacklisted.

His involvement in the 1993 WTC bombing was a typical "blowback" from the CIA's chronic support of radical takfiri Islamism, supported by Saudi Arabia, whenever it helps its "regime change" plans here or there. Over the last years such CIA support led to the growth of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

After the recent death of Omar Abdul-Rahman several obituaries appeared in US media. But none of them mention or dig into his deep and long CIA connections and the continuing CIA support for radical Islamism.

There is zero mentioning of the CIA and the visa shenanigans in his NYT obit, despite its earlier reporting. Neither the Associated Press nor AFP mention any connection to the CIA. The British service Reuters buries the visa story in one sentence in the 12th paragraph.

That the deep involvement over the years of the CIA (and FBI) in the crimes Omar Abdul-Rahman is now swept under the carpet and forgotten is not just coincidentally. It is a distinct feature of US political culture.

The British poet Harold Pinter referred to this in his 2005 Nobel lecture:
It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest.
I have called this chronic forgetfulness the concept of immaculate conception of US (foreign) policy. There never is an acknowledged history of US misdeeds that may have led to this or that current blowback. When there is one it immediately gets buried, pushed out of sight, never to be talked about. The same applies to partisan policies within the US

Currently the fake "resistance" against a Trump presidency blasts his policy of seeking better relations with Russia, his temporary travel ban reference to seven specific countries and his words against media leaks. But it was the Secretary of State Clinton who initiated a "reset" with Russia, it was the Obama administration that set a ban on those seven countries and it was the Obama justice department that used the espionage act against journalists for publishing leaked material. That all is now forgotten and not to be talked about.

Likewise the deep CIA connection with Omar Abdul-Rahman is now scrubbed from any of the semi-official media reporting. This at the same time the CIA continues its involvement with radical Islamists in Syria and elsewhere.

Pinter continued his lecture:
The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis. ...
To not be taken in by the "immaculate conception" mechanism I recommend to reread or watch Pinter's lecture every once a while.]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:10:55 GMT
More Troops: Why Trump's ISIS Strategy Will Fail Daniel McAdams
]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:25:10 GMT
McCain in Munich: The War Party Fights Back Justin Raimondo

The Munich conference held over the weekend – an annual event that brings the leaders of the Atlantic alliance together to celebrate their hegemonic pretensions – was anything but celebratory this time around. Despite the assurances of Vice President Pence that America’s commitment to NATO is “unwavering,” the Euro-crats in the audience were miffed that he failed to mention the European Union. And while they agreed, at least in public, with US admonitions that they have to start fulfilling their obligations to devote at least 2 percent of their budgets to defense, the reality is that there is very little will to do so: for example, the Brits are now boasting that they have brought their military expenditures up to speed, but as Peter Hitchens points outthey only did this by adding in the cost of military pensions, i.e. cooking the books. 

And while Pence averred that the US would “hold Russia accountable,” he also said that the US would seek to cooperate with Moscow – not at all reassuring for the hawks in the audience, especially the Baltic states and the virulently anti-Russian Brits, who oppose any accommodation whatsoever. With US troops (sent by the Obama administration) on Poland’s border with Russia, tensions have risen, and as the War Party’s McCarthyite campaign tying the Trump administration to Russian intelligence intensifies, the battle over US foreign policy is taking center stage.

Sen. John McCain, the Senate’s leading warmonger, is at the forefront of the fight: in a speech delivered at Munich, he took direct aim at Trump – without having the courage to name him, of course. Assailing the “blood and soil” nationalism that is supposedly taking root not only in Europe but also in the US, McCain noted with sympathy the “alarm” with which the founders of NATO would view the new trend:
But what would alarm them most, I think, is a sense that many of our peoples, including in my own country, are giving up on the West … that they see it as a bad deal that we may be better off without … and that while Western nations still have the power to maintain our world order, it is unclear whether we have the will.
The speech was full of faux-Churchilian rhetorical flourishes, with frequent references to Western “values,” but was remarkably free of actual substance. What, for example, do these “universal values” mean in the face of Turkey’s Recip Erdogan, whose regime is jailing thousands for “sedition,” and setting its sights on our Kurdish allies who are fighting ISIS? So much for NATO’s commitment to these supposedly “universal” values. 

And where, exactly, is “our world order”? The world is in chaos, thanks in large part to people of McCain’s ilk, who led us into the Middle Eastern quagmire and plunged that region in a maelstrom of violence that has only escalated since George W. Bush’s fateful decision to invade Iraq. The attack on Libya, which McCain fulsomely endorsed, decimated that country and created a terrorist paradise where none existed before. And in Syria, McCain championed radical Islamists who sought to overthrow the government and slaughtered tens of thousands – sparking an exodus of refugees now flooding into Europe and destabilizing the very governments the Arizona Senator is so eager to reassure.

I’m glad to see I’m not alone in my analysis of McCain’s utter wrongness. In an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” this [Sunday] morning, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), gave it to Mad John with both barrels:
Everything that he says about the president is colored by his own personal dispute he’s got running with President Trump, and it should be taken with a grain of salt, because John McCain’s the guy who’s advocated for war everywhere. He would bankrupt the nation. We’re very lucky John McCain’s not in charge, because I think we’d be in perpetual war...

I would say John McCain’s been wrong on just about everything over the last four decades. He advocated for the Iraq War, which I think destabilized the Middle East. If you look at the map, there’s probably at least six different countries where John McCain has advocated for us having boots on the ground.
Amen, brother!

One thing McCain isn’t wrong about is that there is considerable opposition in the political class to the new turn in American foreign policy, and the core of it was present in Munich:
I know there is profound concern across Europe and the world that America is laying down the mantle of global leadership. I can only speak for myself, but I do not believe that is the message you will hear from all of the American leaders who cared enough to travel here to Munich this weekend. That is not the message you heard today from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. That is not the message you will hear from Vice President Mike Pence. That is not the message you will hear from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. And that is certainly not the message you will hear tomorrow from our bipartisan congressional delegation.
The old order isn’t going to give up without a fight: that’s why we see the Deep State openly trying to undermine – and overturn – the Trump presidency. “Our world order” is backed to the hilt by an interlocking network of economic and political interests that have profited from the status quo – and they’ll fight to the death to preserve it. Right now within the administration there are competing factions battling it out for control of our foreign policy, with the GOP Establishment – chief of staff Reince Priebus, Pence, and Secretary of State Rex Tillorsen – arrayed against the so-called ideologues, represented by Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, who are close to the President. The latter want a grand deal with the Russians, and a basic realignment of our alliances, while the old Republican guard – and especially the Saudi lobby — wants to preserve the status quo at all costs.

McCain, and his co-warmonger Lindsey Graham, hope to mobilize the bipartisan foreign policy Establishment and throw a monkey wrench into any effort to rip up the many tripwires that would drag us into a conflict with Russia. Yet they are generals without an army: polls show that Americans don’t consider Russia much of a threat to the US, and this is true especially among Republicans. And there is no appetite among the general public for a confrontation with Moscow: that sentiment is limited to the Washington Beltway.

What this means is that a grassroots effort to beat back the War Party and make some real changes in our foreign policy is not only possible but also very likely – provided anti-interventionists make their voices heard.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:47:47 GMT
Trump’s ISIS Plan: Another US Invasion? Ron Paul

Just over a week into the Trump Administration, the President issued an Executive Order giving Defense Secretary James Mattis 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. According to the Order, the plan should make recommendations on military actions, diplomatic actions, partners, strategies, and how to pay for the operation.

As we approach the president’s deadline it looks like the military is going to present Trump with a plan to do a whole lot more of what we’ve been doing and somehow expect different results. Proving the old saying that when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail, we are hearing increasing reports that the military will recommend sending thousands of US troops into Syria and Iraq.

This would be a significant escalation in both countries, as currently there are about 5,000 US troops still fighting our 13-year war in Iraq, and some 500 special forces soldiers operating in Syria.

The current Syria ceasefire, brokered without US involvement at the end of 2016, is producing positive results and the opposing groups are talking with each other under Russian and Iranian sponsorship. Does anyone think sending thousands of US troops into a situation that is already being resolved without us is a good idea?

In language reminiscent of his plans to build a wall on the Mexican border, the president told a political rally in Florida over the weekend that he was going to set up “safe zones” in Syria and would make the Gulf States pay for them. There are several problems with this plan.

First, any “safe zone” set up inside Syria, especially if protected by US troops, would amount to a massive US invasion of the country unless the Assad government approves them. Does President Trump want to begin his presidency with an illegal invasion of a sovereign country?

Second, there is the little problem of the Russians, who are partners with the Assad government in its efforts to rid the country of ISIS and al-Qaeda. ISIS is already losing territory on a daily basis. Is President Trump willing to risk a military escalation with Russia to protect armed regime-change forces in Syria?

Third, the Gulf States are the major backers of al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria – as the president’s own recently-resigned National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, revealed in a 2015 interview. Unless these safe zones are being set up to keep al-Qaeda and ISIS safe, it doesn’t make any sense to involve the Gulf States.

Many will say we should not be surprised at these latest moves. As a candidate, Trump vowed to defeat ISIS once and for all. However, does anyone really believe that continuing the same strategy we have followed for the past 16 years will produce different results this time? If what you are hammering is not a nail, will hammering it harder get it nailed in?

Washington cannot handle the truth: solving the ISIS problem must involve a whole lot less US activity in the Middle East, not a whole lot more. Until that is understood, we will continue to waste trillions of dollars and untold lives in a losing endeavor.]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:54:59 GMT
Red Hysteria Engulfs Washington Eric Margolis

President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning about the dangers of the military-industrial complex made half a century ago ring as loud and clear today. The soft coup being mounted against the Trump government by America’s "deep state" reached a new intensity this week as special interests battled for control of Washington. 

The newly named national security advisor, Lt Gen Michael Flynn, was ousted by Trump over his chats with Russia’s ambassador and what he may or may not have told Vice President Pence. The defenestration of Flynn appeared engineered by our national intelligence agencies in collaboration with the mainstream media and certain Democrats.

Flynn’s crime? Talking to the wicked Russians before and after the election. Big, big deal. That’s what security advisors are supposed to do: keep an open back channel to other major powers and allies. This is also the job of our intelligence agencies. 

There is no good or bad in international affairs. The childish concept of "good guys" and "bad guys" comes from the Bush era when simple-minded voters had to be convinced that America was somehow in grave danger from a bunch of angry Mideast goat herds. 

The only nations that could threaten America’s very existence are nuclear powers Russia, China, India, France, Britain, and Israel (and maybe Pakistan) in that order.

Russia has thousands of nuclear warheads targeted on the US mainland. Any real war with Russia would invite doom for both nations. Two near misses are more than enough. Remember the 1962 Cuban missile confrontation and the terrifying 1983 Able Archer scare – near thermonuclear war caused by Ronald Reagan’s anti-Russian hysteria and Moscow’s panicked response.

Margolis’ #1 rule of international relations: make nice and keep on good terms with nations that have nuclear weapons pointed at you. Avoid squabbles over almost all matters. Intelligence agencies play a key role in maintaining the balance of nuclear terror and preventing misunderstandings that can cause war.

Gen. Flynn was a fanatical anti-Islamic wing nut. He was, to use Trumpese, a bigly terrible choice. I’m glad he is gone. But Flynn’s sin was being loopy, not talking on the phone to the Russian ambassador. The White House and national intelligence should be talking every day to Moscow, even "hi Boris, what’s new with you guys? Nothing much new here either besides the terrible traffic."

The current hue and cry in the US over Flynn’s supposed infraction is entirely a fake political ambush to cripple the Trump administration. Trump caved in much too fast. The deep state is after his scalp: he has threatened to cut the $80 billion per annum intelligence budget – which alone, boys and girls, is larger than Russia’s entire defense budget! He’s talking about rooting waste out of the Pentagon’s almost trillion-dollar budget, spending less on NATO, and ending some of America’s imperial wars abroad.

What’s to like about Trump if you’re a member of the war party and military-industrial-intelligence-Wall Street complex? The complex wants its golden girl Hilary Clinton in charge. She unleashed the current tsunami of anti-Russian hysteria and demonization of Vladimir Putin which shows, sadly, that many Americans have not grown beyond the days of Joe McCarthy.

As a long-time student of Cold War intelligence, my conclusion is that both sides knew pretty much what the other was up to, though KGB and GRU were more professional and skilled than western special services. It would be so much easier and cheaper just to share information on a demand basis. But that would stop the Great Game. 

It’s sickening watching the arrant hypocrisy and windbaggery in Washington over alleged Russian espionage and manipulation. The US has been buying and manipulating foreign governments since 1945. We even tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. This week Wikileaks issued an intercept on CIA spying and manipulation of France’s 2012 election. We live in a giant glass house.

The Russians are not our pals. Nor are they the evil empire. We have to normalize our thinking about Russia, grow up and stop using Moscow as a political bogeyman to fight our own internal political battles.

Right now, I’m more worried about the far right crazies in the Trump White House than I am about the Ruskis and Vlad the Bad.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 14:55:19 GMT
‘America wants empire and for Europeans to remain subservient’ RT

The US spends more on its military than the next seven nations combined. Russian military spending is a fraction of US spending. The US spends an enormous amount on the military to maintain its empire, says Daniel McAdams, executive director, Ron Paul Peace Institute.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Friday met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference. Although both admitted the need for dialogue, the mood at the table was palpably tense.

NATO's expansion has led to an unprecedented level of tension over the last 30 years in Europe," Lavrov told the Munich conference. 

Statements made by Western politicians at the Munich Security Conference indicate that the Cold War is not over yet, he said.

They say that all wars begin in the minds of people, and by this logic, that’s where they are supposed to come to an end. However, this hasn’t been the case with the Cold War yet, [at least] judging by some speeches of politicians in Europe and in the US, including statements that were made yesterday and today at the beginning of our conference,” the Russian Foreign Minister noted.

Meanwhile, there is also dissonance among Western leaders, including the issue of NATO expenses, as the Trump administration calls on European members to pay their bills to the 28-member defense bloc and boost defense spending.

RT: Can this split that we see happening among the US, the European Union and Russia deepen? What can we read into the situation at this time? 

Daniel McAdams: I think it is all very healthy because everyone is going to have their bluff called. The Europeans are screaming about ‘Russian aggression’ and how they must do something about Russian aggression. Obviously if they felt threatened they would spend more of their own money defending themselves, as any normal person would have if they felt threatened.

The US on the other hand wants to essentially have an empire, but wants the Europeans to be subservient, and President Trump wants to do the impossible which is to spend a trillion dollars a year on the military; a trillion dollars a year on infrastructure, and however much on an upgraded nuclear arsenal – it is absolutely impossible. So heads are going to clash, and it is a very good thing because it might bring us to reassessing what are our defense objectives, rather than what are the US military empire’s objectives. 

RT: Do you think Donald Trump will take a harder line than his predecessors on getting other states to pay up? What is he going to do? 

DM: There is a fundamental clash, as I said earlier. And there will be one between [Jean-Claude] Juncker and Trump. And I welcome it; I’ll pop the popcorn to see that. I think it is very helpful to have these clashes. The US spends more on its military than the next seven nations combined. The Russian military spending, I think, is one-seventh or one-tenth of the US spending. So the fact of the matter is the US spends an enormous amount on the military to maintain its empire. It cannot continue. The Europeans are not going to spend the two percent that’s required. What is going to happen next? Trump is sending mixed signals. He sent [James] Mattis over to play the tough guy – to say the US is all in for NATO, but you’ve got to pay up. The Europeans are not going to pay up. So we’ll see who blinks first.

RT: Europe says it doesn't need to increase its spending on NATO, so why are some member states demanding more protection? 

DM: They want protection, but they want it for free. And they want to provoke Russia by putting troops on Russia’s border, and then complaining about Russian aggression. Well, they can’t have it both ways. They are going to have to make a decision. Are going to have to change their foreign policy? I think it would be best if all nations spent less on the military. I would like to see the US spend instead of four percent, two percent or less.

Figure out what our real needs are, and spend according to our needs, rather than the demands of the military industrial complex, which frankly is what NATO is all about. It is about selling US weapons overseas; forcing US weapons down the throats of countries that can’t afford to buy them to enrich people in Washington.

Watch the interview here.]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 16:56:26 GMT
Bribes, Catapults, and Corruption Trump Trumps Wall Jacob G. Hornberger

Donald Trump is obviously a smart man. One cannot build up a billion-dollar financial empire without being smart.

Unfortunately, however, Trump is not so smart when it comes to some things, like the drug war. He thinks that simply by cracking down in the drug war and becoming more ruthless than previous presidents, he’s going to be the one who finally wins the war on drugs.

It’s not going to happen. No matter how smart he is in business affairs or even politics, Donald Trump will not win the drug war. That’s because no matter how hard he tries and no matter how much support he receives from Congress and the judiciary, no one can repeal the natural laws of supply and demand.

At the top of his list of things Trump intends to do to win the drug war is his much-vaunted wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the one he thinks is going to keep out drugs (and illegal immigrants).

Here is why Trump’s wall and drug-war crackdown will never enable him to win the drug war.

At best, Trump’s measures will reduce the supply of drugs. What does that mean? Under the laws of supply and demand, that means a higher price.

What does a higher price mean? It means higher profits for those doing the supplying.

What do higher profits mean? They mean that more suppliers are going to be drawn into supplying drugs.

Like it or not, many, if not most, people like money. And most of the people who like money like more money as compared to less. More money enables them to do more things, such as pay for their children’s education, buy their spouse a new car, and go on nicer vacations.

When drug-war prices are soaring through the roof, people who would never seriously consider committing a felony drug offense are suddenly tempted to do so. For example, an ordinary law-abiding person would be much more likely to smuggle a package of cocaine into the country if he stands to make $250,000 than if he can only make $5,000. The risk of getting caught might be worth the higher amount but not worth the lower amount.

The Washington Post reported this week that 12 former and current TSA members and airport workers have just been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the country.

Why would federal law-enforcement personnel and airline employees engage in cocaine smuggling? Because of the money. Big money. One hundred million dollars to be exact. The Post article details how those 12 people allegedly smuggled tons of cocaine into the country.

How is Trump’s Wall going to prevent that? If his wall succeeds in reducing supply, that will only mean higher prices and profits, which will induce more TSA agents and airport personnel to take the chance at making a big score.

After all, what are the chances that a drug smuggler is going to get caught? Given the large amount of drugs that get through, I’d venture to say that the number of people who get caught is miniscule. Just think about the big financial reward for just one successful smuggling operation, and it’s not difficult to see why ordinary people take the chance.

Those 12 TSA workers and airline workers are not the only ones. There are also the government officials who take bribes to look the other way when drugs are being crossed over the border.

Notice something important here: All that the foreign drug sellers need is one border guard who is willing to take a bribe. The reason is obvious: If only one guard looks the other way, unlimited amounts of drugs can be smuggled at that border crossing.

Last December the New York Times carried an article on the bribery phenomenon. The article focused primarily on bribes to facilitate the smuggling of illegal immigrants, but obviously if border guards are willing to take money to look the other way on immigrant smuggling, there is a good chance they will also take money to look the other way on drug smuggling, especially if the amount of the money is extremely large.

Last month, for example, Johnny Acosta, a Customs and Border Protection officer in Douglas, Arizona, received an 8-year jail sentence for taking $70,000 in bribes for helping smuggle a ton of marijuana into the country. A TSA airport screener in Puerto Rico was recently accused of accepting $215,000 in bribes to facilitate the smuggling of drugs.

According to the NYT article, dozens of Customs and Border Protection officials have been charged with bribery. In 2016, 15 officials in the Department of Homeland Security were charged with bribery. A study of agency and court records “showed that over the last 10 years almost 200 employees and contract workers of the Department of Homeland Security have taken nearly $15 million in bribes while being paid to protect the nation’s borders and enforce immigration laws.”

How will Trump’s wall prevent bribery? It won’t and it can’t. The more his wall constricts supply, the higher will be the prices and profits, which will enable drug smugglers to pay even higher bribes, which will attract more officials to accept them in return for looking the other way.

Now, take a look at this fascinating catapult in an article from yesterday’s USA Today. What’s a catapult have to do with Trump’s border wall? It’s currently being used to fling bundles of marijuana over the current U.S. border fence that exists between the United States and Mexico. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, if it can do that to a fence, it can to it to Trump’s wall, unless, of course, he makes it 100 feet high. (Of course, there is also the tunneling problem, unless Trump makes his wall 100 feet deep.)

The only way that Donald Trump or anyone else can possibly win the war on drugs is by turning America into a total police state, with cameras in every room in every building in the country, including homes, as well as body cameras and mandatory daily drug testing for everyone in the country.

And even that still might not do the trick. Don’t forget: They can’t even keep drugs out of prisons.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 21:08:16 GMT
Flynn's Gone But They're Still Gunning For You, Donald David Stockman

General Flynn's tenure in the White House was only slightly longer than that of President-elect William Henry Harrison in 1841.  Actually, with just 24 days in the White House, General Flynn's tenure fell a tad short of old "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too".  General Harrison actually lasted 31 days before getting felled by pneumonia.

And the circumstances were considerably more benign. It seems that General Harrison had a fondness for the same "firewater" that agitated the native Americans he slaughtered at the famous battle memorialized in his campaign slogan. In fact, during the campaign a leading Democrat newspaper skewered the old general, who at 68 was the oldest US President prior to Ronald Reagan, saying:
Give him a barrel of hard [alcoholic] cider, and… a pension of two thousand [dollars] a year… and… he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin.
That might have been a good idea back then (or even now), but to prove he wasn't infirm, Harrison gave the longest inaugural address in US history (2 hours) in the midst of seriously inclement weather wearing neither hat nor coat.

That's how he got pneumonia! Call it foolhardy, but that was nothing compared to that exhibited by Donald Trump's former national security advisor.

General Flynn got the equivalent of political pneumonia by talking for hours during the transition to international leaders, including Russia's ambassador to the US, on phone lines which were bugged by the CIA. Or more accurately, making calls which were "intercepted" by the very same NSA/FBI spy machinery that monitors every single phone call made in America.

Ironically, we learned what Flynn should have known about the Deep State's plenary surveillance from Edward Snowden. Alas, Flynn and Trump wanted the latter to be hung in the public square as a "traitor", but if that's the solution to intelligence community leaks, the Donald is now going to need his own rope factory to deal with the flood of traitorous disclosures directed against him.

In any event, it was "intercepts" leaked from deep in the bowels of the CIA to the Washington Post and then amplified in a 24/7 campaign by the War Channel (CNN) that brought General Flynn down.

But here's the thing. They were aiming at Donald J. Trump. And for all of his puffed up bluster about being the savviest negotiator on the planet, the Donald walked right into their trap, as we shall amplify momentarily.

But let's first make the essence of the matter absolutely clear. The whole Flynn imbroglio is not about a violation of the Logan Act owing to the fact that the general engaged in diplomacy as a private citizen.

It's about re-litigating the 2016 election based on the hideous lie that Trump stole it with the help of Vladimir Putin. In fact, Nancy Pelosi was quick to say just that:
'The American people deserve to know the full extent of Russia's financial, personal and political grip on President Trump and what that means for our national security,' House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a press release.
Yet, we should rephrase. The re-litigation aspect reaches back to the Republican primaries, too. The Senate GOP clowns who want a war with practically everybody, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are already launching their own investigation from the Senate Armed Services committee.

And Senator Graham, the member of the boobsey twins who ran for President in 2016 while getting a GOP primary vote from virtually nobody,  made clear that General Flynn's real sin was a potential peace overture to the Russians:
Sen. Lindsey Graham also said he wants an investigation into Flynn's conversations with a Russian ambassador about sanctions: "I think Congress needs to be informed of what actually Gen. Flynn said to the Russian ambassador about lifting sanctions," the South Carolina Republican told CNN's Kate Bolduan on "At This Hour. And I want to know, did Gen. Flynn do this by himself or was he directed by somebody to do it?"
We say good riddance to Flynn, of course, because he was a shrill anti-Iranian warmonger. But let's also not be fooled by the clinical term at the heart of the story. That is, "intercepts" mean that the Deep State taps the phone calls of the President's own closest advisors as a matter of course.

This is the real scandal as Trump himself has rightly asserted. The very idea that the already announced #1 national security advisor to a President-elect should be subject to old-fashion "bugging," albeit with modern day technology, overwhelmingly trumps the utterly specious Logan Act charge at the center of the case.

As one writer for LawNewz noted regarding acting Attorney General Sally Yates' voyeuristic pre-occupation with Flynn's intercepted conversations, Nixon should be rolling in his grave with envy:
Now, information leaks that Sally Yates knew about surveillance being conducted against potential members of the Trump administration, and disclosed that information to others. Even Richard Nixon didn’t use the government agencies themselves to do his black bag surveillance operations. Sally Yates involvement with this surveillance on American political opponents, and possibly the leaking related thereto, smacks of a return to Hoover-style tactics. As writers at Bloomberg and The Week both noted, it wreaks of 'police-state' style tactics. But knowing dear Sally as I do, it comes as no surprise.
Yes, that's the same career apparatchik of the permanent government that Obama left behind to continue the 2016 election by other means. And it's working. The Donald is being rapidly emasculated by the powers that be in the Imperial City due to what can only be described as an audacious and self-evident attack on Trump's Presidency by the Deep State.

Indeed, it seems that the layers of intrigue have gotten so deep and convoluted that the nominal leadership of the permanent  government machinery has lost track of who is spying on whom. Thus, we have the following curious utterance by none other than the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes:
'I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,' he told The Washington Post. 'The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.'
Well, yes. That makes 324 million of us, Congressman.

But for crying out loud, surely the oh so self-important chairman of the House intelligence committee knows that everybody is bugged. But when it reaches the point that the spy state is essentially using its unconstitutional tools to engage in what amounts to "opposition research" with the aim of election nullification, then the Imperial City has become a clear and present danger to American democracy and the liberties of the American people.

As Robert Barnes of LawNewz further explained, Sally Yates, former CIA director John Brennan and a large slice of the Never Trumper intelligence community were systematically engaged in "opposition research" during the campaign and the transition:
According to published reports, someone was eavesdropping, and recording, the conversations of Michael Flynn, while Sally Yates was at the Department of Justice. Sally Yates knew about this eavesdropping, listened in herself (Pellicano-style for those who remember the infamous LA cases), and reported what she heard to others. For Yates to have such access means she herself must have been involved in authorizing its disclosure to political appointees, since she herself is such a political appointee. What justification was there for an Obama appointee to be spying on the conversations of a future Trump appointee?

Consider this little tidbit in The Washington Post. The paper, which once broke Watergate, is now propagating the benefits of Watergate-style surveillance in ways that do make Watergate look like a third-rate effort.  (With the) FBI 'routinely' monitoring conversations of Americans...... Yates listened to 'the intercepted call,' even though Yates knew there was 'little chance' of any credible case being made for prosecution under a law 'that has never been used in a prosecution.'
And well it hasn't been. After all, the Logan Act was signed by President John Adams in 1799 in order to punish one of Thomas Jefferson's supporters for having peace discussions with the French government in Paris. That is, it amounted to pre-litigating the Presidential campaign of 1800 based on sheer political motivation.

According to the Washington Post itself, that is exactly what Yates and the Obama holdovers did day and night during the interregnum:
Indeed, the paper details an apparent effort by Yates to misuse her office to launch a full-scale secret investigation of her political opponents, including 'intercepting calls' of her political adversaries.
So all of the feigned outrage emanating from Democrats and the Washington establishment about Team Trump's trafficking with the Russians is a cover story. Surely anyone even vaguely familiar with recent history would have known there was absolutely nothing illegal or even untoward about Flynn's post-Christmas conversations with the Russian Ambassador.

Indeed, we recall from personal experience the thrilling moment on inauguration day in January 1981 when word came of the release of the American hostages in Tehran. Let us assure you, that did not happen by immaculate diplomatic conception -- nor was it a parting gift to the Gipper by the outgoing Carter Administration.

To the contrary, it was the fruit of secret negotiations with the Iranian government during the transition by private American citizens. As the history books would have it because it's true, the leader of that negotiation, in fact, was Ronald Reagan's national security council director-designate, Dick Allen.

As the real Washington Post later reported, under the by-line of a real reporter, Bob Woodward:
Reagan campaign aides met in a Washington DC hotel in early October, 1980, with a self-described 'Iranian exile' who offered, on behalf of the Iranian government, to release the hostages to Reagan, not Carter, in order to ensure Carter's defeat in the November 4, 1980 election.

The American participants were Richard Allen, subsequently Reagan's first national security adviser, Allen aide Laurence Silberman, and Robert McFarlane, another future national security adviser who in 1980 was on the staff of Senator John Tower (R-TX).
To this day we have not had occasion to visit our old friend Dick Allen in the US penitentiary because he's not there; the Logan Act was never invoked in what is surely the most blatant case ever of citizen diplomacy.

So let's get to the heart of the matter and be done with it. The Obama White House conducted a sour grapes campaign to delegitimize the election beginning November 9th and it was led by then CIA Director John Brennan.

That treacherous assault on the core constitutional matter of the election process culminated in the ridiculous Russian meddling report of the Obama White House in December. The latter, of course, was issued by serial liar James Clapper, as national intelligence director, and the clueless Democrat lawyer and bag-man, Jeh Johnson, who had been appointed head of the Homeland Security Department.

Yet on the basis of  the report's absolutely zero evidence and endless surmise, innuendo and "assessments", the Obama White House imposed another round of its silly school-boy sanctions on a handful of Putin's cronies.

Of course, Flynn should have been telling the Russian Ambassador that this nonsense would be soon reversed!

But here is the ultimate folly. The mainstream media talking heads are harrumphing loudly about the fact that the very day following Flynn's call -- Vladimir Putin announced that he would not retaliate against the new Obama sanctions as expected; and shortly thereafter, the Donald tweeted that Putin had shown admirable wisdom.

That's right. Two reasonably adult statesman undertook what might be called the Christmas Truce of 2016. But like its namesake of 1914 on the bloody no man's land of the western front, the War Party has determined that the truce-makers shall not survive.

The Donald has been warned.

David Stockman is a Ron Paul Institute Board Member. For information on how to subscribe to his Contra Corner website, click here.]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:18:14 GMT
You Are Forbidden to Talk with Russians! Michael S. Rozeff

A New York Times article says “The agency’s [FBI’s] investigation of Mr. Manafort began last spring as an outgrowth of a criminal investigation into his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and for the country’s former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. It has focused on why he was in such close contact with Russian and Ukrainian intelligence officials.”

Paul Manafort chaired Trump’s campaign. The poor guy just did not realize that he couldn’t even exchange pleasantries with anybody Russian. If you are not anti-Russian, then you must be pro-Russian. That’s how the nitwits in the US intelligence agencies think. And if you’re pro-Russian, then you must be in their pockets or a spy or a dupe. You don’t deserve to be making US policy, which must remain anti-Russian until America manages to break up Russia and take it over.

You see, American citizens do not have the freedom to talk with Russians. The people they talk to may be spies, after all. My 1991 visit to Russia with my wife is next to be investigated, especially since we spent some time in Kiev. Russia is the enemy of us all. Don’t speak to any Russian or person of Russian descent. Putin deserves no respect, and Trump obviously is his puppet. Putin obviously tampered with American voting machines and secured Trump’s election. Trump must be thrown out of office immediately. Russia is imperialist and wants to take over the world. It’s aggressive. It never abandoned its Communist ambitions. The Cold War never ended. These are facts! Russia threatens Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and your local bar and pool hall. This is not fake news! It is real, you fools! Russia should give back Crimea and allow the Ukrainian armed forces to take back Donbass. Russia should allow westerners to enter its country and preach the overthrow of its government. It should allow George Soros to finance the dismemberment of the country. Russia is nothing but a bunch of backward peasants; Obama has said so. It must be true. The US must never alter its suspicion and distrust of anything Russian. We must all erase from history Russia’s role in defeating Hitler in World War II. Russia was never an ally of America. That’s an impossibility. How could such a poor country have stood up against Hitler’s mechanized divisions and panzers?

Forget about Russia’s nuclear weapons. They are old and rusty. The US will knock them right out in a first strike, and the US anti-ballistic missiles will miraculously clear the air of any Russian missiles targeting US cities. Don’t worry if a few H-bombs make it through. What’s 50 million people and a radioactive halo against ending Russia once and for all!? Our leaders will be safe in their underground caverns, to lead the rest of us to bigger and better things. America will be great!

Americans like Mr. Manafort are all potential criminals if they so much as communicate with Russians, put in a good word for them, or, God forbid, even feel them out on their positions, policies, people and beliefs. Trump’s people should have stayed as ignorant as possible of any Russians prior to his election. If they communicated with these devils, they must be regarded with great suspicion. The FBI must investigate them. There are not enough real criminals around anymore who have actually killed, raped and stolen. The FBI must now investigate potential criminals and crimethink. Anyone of us right now might be thinking destructive thoughts and imagining bonfires, bomb bursts and ballistic missile explosions. The FBI needs to go after video game players, video arcades and video manufacturers.

What does it matter if the FBI and the CIA can examine everyone’s phone calls and e-mails? Didn’t the Gestapo have a similar spy network, and wasn’t it a highly effective way of controlling the German population and anyone who disagreed with Hitler’s policies? Who cares about due process of law? The government makes the law. The Constitution is a dried up piece of useless parchment written by racist pigs, make that racist white pigs. What does it matter if the NSA doesn’t control access to the content and lets unnamed CIA operatives read them and leak them? Why shouldn’t you or I be subjected to investigations for having friends in foreign countries? We all may be terrorists, right? We definitely need an even stronger police state in order to flush out the terrorists among us. Trump is surely a Manchurian candidate and an enemy of the people. That’s what certain people are saying. That’s what theNew York Times and the Washington Post are printing. It must be true!

If you are even thinking about being friendly to Russians, stop it now! Get it through your heads, you numbskulls: Russia is our Enemy! Trump is a Russian agent. Even his own party wants to investigate him and defang him. They want to take away his Twitter account! Milo was a trial run. Next come bigger fish. Trump will be confined to his quarters where he can twitter all day long, but they won’t go any further than the desk of John O. Brennan. Who is he? He’s the man who can’t stand anything that Trump says. He’s the former CIA chief who’s one of the powers behind the anti-Trump campaign; that’s my guess because his antipathy to Trump has been open and strong.

But do we actually know the sources of the leaks? No, not at this moment. Rats prefer to stay hidden in the dark.

Reprinted with permission from]]> Thu, 16 Feb 2017 23:49:19 GMT
Is The Intelligence Community At War With Trump? Daniel McAdams
]]> Thu, 16 Feb 2017 18:06:06 GMT
Trump and Duterte: Birds of a Feather Jacob G. Hornberger

When it comes to the drug war, the verdict is in: The big, drain-the-swamp, anti-establishment president, Donald Trump, is turning out to be just like all the other mainstream establishment politicians. He made that clear last week in a speech before a group of law-enforcement officials, where he vowed to be “ruthless” in the war on drugs. Trump told the group:
We’re going to stop the drugs from pouring in. We’re going to stop those drugs from poisoning our youth, poisoning our people. We’re going to be ruthless in that fight. We have no choice. And we’re going to take that fight to the drug cartels and work to liberate our communities from their terrible grip of violence.
Oh, great! Shades of President Richard Nixon and all of his successors! Four more years of more violence, corruption, arrests, record drug busts, prosecutions, convictions, incarcerations, and, of course, more robberies, muggings, thefts, burglaries, and homicides.

Where has Trump been? Have Americans elected some sort of Rip Van Winkle? Has he just awakened from a decades-long sleep and unaware of what federal and state law enforcement agencies have been doing ever since Nixon declared a war on drugs (to go after blacks and antiwar dissidents)?

In fact, the DEA was busting people for drugs even before Nixon’s declaration. Back in the 1960s, some of my friends down in Laredo, Texas, got caught with pot and ended up with federal felony convictions. Into the 1970s, the feds and the cops were going full-force after drug users, distributors, and cartels. Maybe Trump ought to watch the Netflix series “Narcos” so he can discover that cracking down in the drug war is nothing new. A review of newspapers over the past 50 years would reveal an endless series of “record drug busts,” where DEA officials and local police proudly announce their most recent record drug-war bust, only to have the busted drug lord quickly replaced by a new supplier. Indeed, maybe Trump can just watch a movie about Al Capone or other booze lords during Prohibition to see what happened when the feds ruthlessly enforced the war on booze.

There are the asset-forfeiture laws, which have converted DEA agents and the police into legalized thieves. Those monies have fattened the coffers of the DEA and the police, enabling them to become self-funding fiefdoms. And there are the ever-increasing mandatory-minimum sentences, leading to enormous profits from big prison-owning corporations whose facilities are overflowing with drug-war “customers.”

Mass incarceration, of course, is not the only negative result of the drug war. There is also the ever-increasing violence and corruption that comes with drug prohibition. Look at Mexico, a country where Americans could once visit without much concern but is now a cauldron of violence and corruption that many American tourists avoid like the plague. Or just look at inner cities across America, which the drug war has ravaged.

And, of course, there is all the drug-war racism, with the negative consequences of drug-war enforcement falling disproportionately on blacks.

Every time they have ramped up the drug war, as Trump has now said he is going to do again, they have just made the entire situation worse. The only people who benefit are the unsavory drug dealers and drug cartels and the drug-war bureaucracy, including the judges, police, DEA, court clerks, and others who feed at the drug-war trough.

Could things get worse? You bet that could. Just look at how ruthlessly Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has been waging the drug war. He has had his goons just going out and shooting and killing anyone suspected of violating the drug laws. Just imagine: No need for arrests, prosecutions, convictions, or incarcerations. Just kill them. Just as Trump is doing in his “war on terrorism” (following the example of his immediate predecessors Bush and Obama). It’s difficult to get more ruthless than that.

What about the concept of freedom in all this? Under what moral authority do Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte (or officials in communist China and Russia) jail or kill people who have done nothing more than ingest, possess, or distribute drugs? It’s actually none of Trump’s and Duterte’s business what people do in their private lives, so long as their choices and conduct are peaceful. Trump and Duterte, like other drug-warriors, are nothing more than deadly and destructive busybodies who use force to control, manage, and direct the peaceful and consensual activities of “their people.”

When will the American people finally put an end to this deadly and destructive idiocy? The only solution to the violence, corruption, brutality, and loss of liberty that the drug war has spawned is ending it. Not reforming it. Not reining in the cops. Not reducing jail sentences. And certainly not enforcing the war more ruthlessly. Just repeal all drug laws.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 21:33:17 GMT