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Pompeo's Bombastic Iran Threats: A Sign Of Weakness?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech to the neoconservative Heritage Foundation in which he made 12 US demands of the Iranian government. The demands were in places laughably inaccurate -- demanding Iran close a heavy water reactor that has been dismantled for years -- that one wonders whether it was just incompetence or whether they simply don't care. The US is backing itself into a corner over Iran, risking losing its European allies and further emboldening Russia and China. What's next? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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The Skripal Case Is Being Pushed Down The Memory Hole With Libya And Aleppo

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On the fourth of March, in the sleepy British cathedral town of Salisbury, an ex-spy named Sergei Skripal was poisoned by an assassin with the most deadly nerve agent known to man.

The Russian government was immediately blamed by a shocked and outraged world. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson assured the people of Great Britainthat “There’s no doubt” that Moscow was responsible. In a large and sudden leap forward in cold war escalations, Russian diplomats were thrown out of countries all around the globe, including my own Australia, in a show of solidarity with the United Kingdom. It was the largest collective ejection of Russian diplomats in history.

Two months after his earth-shattering assassination, as the world stared spellbound at the weekend’s immensely popular PR spectacle of a royal wedding, Sergei Skripal was quietly discharged from the hospital he’d been staying at. The BBC reports that he is walking and approaching complete recovery.

Wait a second. Haven’t I seen this Python skit before?

So to recap, an ex-spy who had been retired and strategically irrelevant for years was reportedly poisoned by the Kremlin with Novichok, a scary Russian-sounding word which refers to a group of extremely deadly and fast-acting nerve agents that start shutting down the body’s muscles and respiratory system within 30 seconds to two minutes. Except in the case of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia it was several hours with a leisurely stroll, a meal, and beers in between.
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Among the Persians

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I have just spent a week in Mashad and Tehran Iran, speaking at an international conference on the future of Jerusalem as well as other related issues while also meeting with a broad range of Iranians, including journalists, students and government officials. The conference was organized by a non-government organization called New Horizon. It was the sixth such conference, intended to bring together speakers from a number of countries to discuss issues involving Middle Eastern security and identity issues.

To be sure, Iran, threatened as it is from all sides, has certain aspects of a security state. And as what is essentially a partial democracy run along religious lines, it has very clear limits on what constitutes acceptable behavior. But I think the representatives of the thirty or so countries who attended the congress would agree that there was no attempt made to limit free speech or guide discussions. The only attempt to censor the conference and its content has been, I would note, the blocking of sponsor New Horizon’s website on Google and presumably elsewhere in the Zionist/US dominated social media and information-searching world. Indeed, the only coordinated activity that might have been noted at the conference itself was the loud hissing noise that accompanied any mention of the name John Bolton.

Indeed, there was clear criticism of the nature of the Iranian government openly expressed at the conference as well as very heated exchanges on a number of issues surrounding Jewish identity, Israel, the Palestinians, the status of Jerusalem and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. Privately, many Iranians we encountered were quite free in expressing their dislike of the religious leadership and their desire for dramatic change. It should be noted that such comments were not provoked by anything that any of us said. We were indeed being careful not to offend the host country or to get the organizers in trouble, perhaps more cautious than we had to be.
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Haspel is Not the Problem. The CIA is the Problem.

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As a general rule, when Dick Cheney favors a foreign policy position it’s best to be on the opposite side if you value liberty over war and authoritarianism. The former vice president’s enthusiastic endorsement of not only Gina Haspel as CIA director but of the torture program she oversaw should tell us all we need to know about Haspel.
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Deep State Coup Exposed: CIA Infiltrated Trump Campaign

Turns out there really was foreign collusion in the 2016 US presidential election. UK spies colluded with Obama hold-overs in the US deep state to try and get Hillary elected. When that failed they invented "Russiagate" to try and overthrow the US election. Will President Trump wake up and see the danger that the US intelligence agencies pose not only to his presidency, but to the whole country? Tune in to today's Liberty Report...
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Gaza Massacre Exposes Western Hypocrisy on Russia’s ‘Annexation’ of Crimea

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This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a new 19-kilometer bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with mainland southern Russia. Thousands of kilometers away, in occupied Palestine, a massacre was being carried out by Israeli soldiers with full support of the United States as it opened a new embassy.

The two events are not as disparate as one might think at first glance. They both involve “annexation” – one fictitious, the other very real. But Western hypocrisy inverts the reality.

While US dignitaries were opening the new American embassy in Jerusalem amid pomp and ceremony, some 60 unarmed Palestinian protesters were shot dead in cold blood by Israeli snipers. Among the dead were eight children. Thousands of others were maimed by live fire. The bloodshed could increase in coming days.

The relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli-occupied city of Jerusalem, ordered by President Trump, has been rebuked by the majority of nations. The American move pre-empts any negotiated peace settlement which was supposed to bequeath East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
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Will Trump’s Pyrrhic Victory End with America’s Role As Global Bully?

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I am in Iran speaking at a conference on the future of the Middle East. The timing for the meeting is particularly appropriate due to the recent American withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which limited the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for suspension of sanctions. Initial discussions with Iranians revealed that they are less pessimistic about the development than are the Americans and Europeans present, believing as they do that the situation can somehow be reversed either by Congressional refusal to endorse the Trump decision or by rejection of the demands being made by the White House that all parties who were also signatories to the agreement (Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) should also withdraw or themselves face secondary sanctions.

The Iranians concede that the move by President Donald Trump will bring with it additional economic suffering and will also likely upset the delicate political balancing act prevailing in their country, with President Hassan Rouhani being blamed by conservatives for having entered into the agreement in the first place. It was an agreement regarding which the president had expended considerable political equity, and he has also been accused of exaggerating its benefits, having claimed some months ago that all sanctions had been lifted, which was not the case. The stagnant state of Iran’s economy has produced considerable unrest in recent months and it is anticipated that more will be on the way as the economy continues to decline.

Iran’s hopes that Europe will develop a spine and will reject the American overtures, joined by China and Russia, is perhaps too optimistic as banks will be reluctant to lend money for Iranian projects and foreign companies will be unlikely to risk entering into anything but very short-term contracts with the Iranian government for much needed infrastructure improvement.
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Spare me claims Gina Haspel will 'speak truth to power'. Real truth-tellers go to jail.

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In the Senate Intelligence Committee secret vote today on whether to confirm Trump nominee Gina Haspel as chief of the CIA, she will likely again be praised for promising to “speak truth to power.” This has recently become one of the favorite accolades in the least trusted city in America. But will Americans be as gullible this time around?

Porter Goss muzzled CIA

When 7-term congressman and dutiful Republican functionary Porter Goss was nominated in 2004 to become CIA chief, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) endorsed him after he promised to “always speak truth to power.” Fat chance: after he was confirmed, Goss speedily sent a memo to CIA employees muzzling them, declaring that their job was to "support the administration and its policies in our work.” Goss bungled the CIA so badly that the Bush administration heaved him out after less than two years on the job; Goss later became a lobbyist for the Turkish government.

“Speaks truth to power” had a starring role in the 2005 Senate coronation of John Negroponte, America’s first Director of National Intelligence. While working as Reagan’s ambassador to Honduras, Negroponte perennially denied that the Honduran regime was committing vast atrocities, despite its killing of tens of thousands of its own citizens. (Honduras was aiding the Nicaraguan Contras at the time.) But that did not deter Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., and Sen. Mikulski from recycling the “truth to power” phrase in speeches endorsing Negroponte.
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EU Breaks With Trump Over Iran: Good 'Blowback'

The European Union is furious over President Trump's "capricious aggressiveness" in foreign policy, particularly after his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement. While  Washington Beltway "deep state" denizens moan over losing influence in Europe, there is a silver lining in Trump's bombastic foreign policy: if Europe gets a divorce from the US there will be much less opportunities for US meddling. What will Russia do? Join today's Liberty Report...
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The ‘Fake News’ Story is Fake News

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Almost every day on public radio or public television, I hear reports about how fake news is undermining our democracy. These high-minded reporters and anchors seem truly to believe that a feverish menace is overwhelming the minds of once-sensible people.

This story is itself fake news for several obvious reasons. We’ve never had more good information than we have now; people are as well-informed as they want to be. There will always be outlets purveying lies; that is the nature of communication. And the insistence on the “fake news” issue is an effort to assign Trump’s victory not to those who brought it to us (the electorate, and the incompetence of the Clinton campaign) but on some nefarious agents.

The fact that we have more and better information today than ever almost goes without saying. When I started in the news business more than 40 years ago, few reporters carried tape recorders, largely because they worked for a guild and were never subject to correction. Today there are countless outlets, thanks to the internet, and important events are almost always recorded. The amount of data we have on public figures is vast compared to even ten years ago.

We can all argue about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing; but we are today awash in information. That information is more reliable than it has ever been before. My own work on Palestine and the Israel lobby has shown me that global consumers can get more accurate information about that conflict than they’ve ever had.
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