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Brian McGlinchey

Lockdowns, Masks and The Illusion of Control

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In the early 11th century, King Canute—while at the peak of his power—set out to demonstrate to his fawning courtiers the limited power of royal edicts.

After having his throne placed by the sea’s edge, he sat down and commanded the tide to stop rising. When the water began washing over his feet, he declared, “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings.”

Nearly a thousand years later, facing a different force of nature—Covid-19—an entire global generation of presidents, prime ministers, governors, mayors, public health officials, scientists and citizens is being given the same lesson.

However, where Canute’s lesson sprang from his humility, this lesson springs from the hubris of the present-day ruling class and the credulity of the masses who place far too much faith in their rulers’ power.

The lesson was pointedly driven home on July 19th. That was “Freedom Day” in the United Kingdom, with government ending restrictions on social contact, allowing the reopening of remaining establishments such as nightclubs, and abandoning mask mandates.
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Advocates of Economic Sanctions Mirror the Morality of al Qaeda

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Efforts to restore American and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal—formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—are at an impasse.

President Biden has declared there will be no relaxing of smothering economic sanctions on Iran unless the country first returns to full compliance with the deal. Iran, which began exceeding nuclear enrichment thresholds in response to America’s total withdrawal from the deal under President Trump, wants the United States to begin easing sanctions first.

As that chess game continues, there’s something missing from op-ed pages, network news studios and the House and Senate chambers: a fundamental debate about the morality of economic sanctions.

If we reduce economic sanctions to a general characterization that encompasses both ends and means, we arrive at a truth that is as damning as it is incontrovertible:
Economic sanctions intentionally inflict suffering on civilian populations to force a change in their governments’ policies
If that has a familiar ring, perhaps it’s because “the intentional use of violence against civilians in order to obtain political aims” is one definition of terrorism.
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DOJ Fails to Pursue Allegations of Saudi Lobbying Misconduct

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In March 2017, a group of 9/11 families presented the Department of Justice with 17 pages of detailed allegations that Qorvis Communications had, on behalf of Saudi Arabia, conducted a lobbying campaign against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) characterized by extensive violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
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Leaked Emails Suggest Trump Campaign Duplicity on 28 Pages

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According to leaked emails obtained by Middle East Eye, an unnamed Republican Party figure orchestrated the defeat of a proposed 2016 GOP plank calling for the declassification of 28 pages on Saudi government links to the 9/11 plotters.

That individual then notified Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort of the plank’s defeat and claimed credit for providing instructions to “our political team” to kill it.

Manafort forwarded the news to Tom Barrack—Trump’s billionaire friend, surrogate and fundraiser—who notified Yousef al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States.

The behind-the-scenes communications seem to suggest that Trump campaign officials and associates, eager to strengthen their relationships with Gulf officials, supported efforts to thwart the release of the 28 pages even though candidate Trump had spoken favorably of it.

Months before the Republican convention intrigue, Trump implied he would release the 28 pages if elected, and suggested they could reveal Saudi guilt for 9/11.

At a February 2016 campaign event, Trump said, “It wasn’t the Iraqis that knocked down the World Trade Center. We went after Iraq, we decimated the country, Iran’s taking over…but it wasn’t the Iraqis, you will find out who really knocked down the World Trade Center, because they have papers in there that are very secret, you may find it’s the Saudis, okay? But you will find out.”
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Syracuse National Security Program Director Registers as a Saudi Foreign Agent

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The director of a national security program at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs has registered with the US Department of Justice as an agent of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 
28Pages.org is first to report. In his registration statement, retired US Army Colonel Bill Smullen, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, indicated he has agreed to provide “public relations support” to the Saudi embassy for compensation initially projected at $8,000.
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Lobbyists Concealed Their Saudi Paymasters From Veterans Pressed to Lobby Against 9/11 Bill

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Three veterans who were flown to Washington as part of a Saudi-sponsored campaign to lobby for changes to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) say organizers of the event concealed the Saudi role in the initiative.

Enacted in September 2016 over President Obama’s veto, JASTA altered the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in a way that cleared the path for 9/11 families and survivors to sue the kingdom for its alleged support of the hijackers.

Earlier this month, The Daily Caller and Politico were first to report that Qorvis MSLGROUP, the public relations giant that works on behalf of Saudi Arabia, has been organizing veterans to travel to Washington at no expense to lobby against JASTA. The veterans initiative is part of a much broader Saudi campaign against the law.

The central argument motivating veterans’ participation—and being used in their lobbying—is that, if other countries reciprocate and pass laws similar to JASTA, individual US service members could be sued in foreign courts. That claim is false, according to William S. Dodge, former counselor on international law at the US State Department and a professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law. (See our detailed analysis of this and related claims.)

In exclusive interviews with 28Pages.org, US Marine Corps and Iraq war veterans David Casler, Tim Cord and Dan Cord shed damning new light on a brazen campaign that turns American veterans into unwitting lobbyists for a kingdom accused of aiding the 9/11 attacks and continuing to support extremism well beyond that day.
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Veterans Being Misled On JASTA, Says International Law Expert

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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 28Pages.org 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.
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Saudi Lobbyists Recruiting Veterans to Kill 9/11 Lawsuit

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Using misinformation and lots of cash, Saudi Arabia is recruiting well-meaning U.S. military veterans into its campaign to eviscerate a recently-passed law allowing 9/11 families to sue the monarchy for its alleged role in facilitating the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

It’s a brazen effort, considering 9/11 inspired so many veterans to enter military service. However, working through hired American proxies who don’t draw attention to their Saudi sponsorship, the kingdom is finding success by taking advantage of veterans’ patriotic instincts.

Specifically, lobbyists are telling veterans that, if other countries reciprocate by passing laws like the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), military service members and veterans will be sued in foreign courts.

Veterans who do their own research will discover an essential fact Saudi Arabia doesn’t want them to know: JASTA only allows U.S. citizens to sue foreign governments for supporting terrorism—not individuals.
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Like Saudi Arabia, Israel Has a Soft Spot for Sunni Extremism

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Thanks to last summer’s release of 28 pages detailing a variety of links between 9/11 hijackers and Saudi government officials—and the October leak of a 2014 email from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declaring the Saudi government was directly supporting ISIS—it’s increasingly clear that the US government’s depiction of Saudi Arabia as a vital ally in the “war on terror” is dishonest.

Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia isn’t the only supposed “ally” whose official depiction as a steadfast foe of terrorism is out of sync with reality: The branding of Israel is also deeply misleading.

Israeli Aid to Al Qaeda in Syria

Though it received very little coverage in US media, last year it was revealed that the Israeli government was providing medical support to the al Nusra Front, a Syrian arm of al Qaeda.

That would seem inconsistent with routine declarations from US politicians that there should be “no daylight” between the United States and Israel, language that suggests two peoples whose interests are in perfect alignment.
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Bush Administration Official: Saudi Ties to 9/11 Hidden to Protect Iraq War Narrative

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In his September 20, 2001 address to a joint session of Congress, President George W. Bush laid out a defining principle of his nascent war on terror: “We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

Even as he spoke those words, however, his administration had already embarked on a course that would mark them as a towering example of US foreign policy hypocrisy. The Bush White House would soon present false claims linking 9/11 to Iraq, while simultaneously hiding credible evidence implicating Saudi Arabia—evidence summarized in the final, 28-page chapter of a 2002 joint congressional intelligence inquiry into 9/11.

Bush demanded the 28 pages be kept from the American public, and it’s increasingly clear why: As former State Department official Lawrence Wilkerson tells 28Pages.org, to a White House bent on selling an invasion of Iraq, compelling evidence of Saudi complicity in the attacks was an unwelcome distraction.
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