It is plain silly to pretend that we don’t know when we all know that we all know.
This notice, it is pointed out, will be “EXHIBIT 1 in any war crimes investigation and prosecution (past, present, future) relating to this matter.” There are, it is claimed, “national and international legal violations” involved.
In the lead-up to the May 10 skirmish—just after the Trump administration exited the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear agreement—Israeli officials began warning of an impending Iranian attack from inside Syria. Then, within hours of the ensuing firefight, an Israeli army spokesman announced that the elite “Quds Force” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had fired 20 missiles into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, after which Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman boasted that “we hit nearly all Iranian infrastructures in Syria.”
The US President is reminded that he is expected to advise the US Congress, the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court in The Hague about this legal matter. He is warned “that ‘false flag’ attacks may be used by Israeli agents in order to assign blame to Palestinian factions and escalate the ongoing protests in Gaza and the West Bank into a larger conflict in order to falsely draw the United States and American military personnel into this artificially created conflict.”
Such an attack, claim those behind the legal notice, “represents a clear and present danger to the citizens of the United States of America, because it may be designed to trigger and escalate American military actions against Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Russia, since these nations are opposed to the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem; and rising tensions already exacerbated by the US withdrawal from the [nuclear deal with Iran].”
The initiation of this impending attack, Trump has been told, will involve a new and higher level massacre of Palestinian civilians protesting against the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Furthermore, the letter serves as “Legal Notice [that] the United States can have no military alliance due to the fact that Israel has no internationally recognized fixed territorial borders which are required to be defined in such an agreement.”
This notice, it is pointed out, will be “EXHIBIT 1 in any war crimes investigation and prosecution (past, present, future) relating to this matter.” There are, it is claimed, “national and international legal violations” involved.
The signatories cite a number of publications as evidence of the seriousness of their claims and warning to the President, and seek legal protection for themselves against “any retaliation, detainment, investigation, sequestration, interrogation, discrimination, imprisonment, torture, financial consequences, or any other negative or prejudicial consequences or actions taken against them.” Indeed, the former government and military officers and officials seek “whistle-blower protection” because they are “fulfilling [their] oaths to the US Constitution.”
Those of us ruled by the western empire are meant to hate Russia while simultaneously being acutely aware that it is only Russian cool-headedness that is saving us from a world war right now. But whether they admit it or not, anyone paying attention to this situation is wondering how far Russia can be pushed.
I love this writer.
Ever since Trump took office last year his mainstream opposition has been giving us daily reminders that “THIS. IS. NOT. NORMAL.” on social media and wherever they can find a platform. The idea, apparently, is that Trump’s presidency is some sort of extraordinary, unprecedented evil, and we mustn’t “normalize” it or else we’ll forget how to get back to what normal is.
Thing is, the “normal” that they are trying to get back to has never existed. It’s a lie.
Which is why Trump’s rank-and-file opposition are running around like they’re on a bad acid trip and swinging at shadows in a state of manic disorientation with vagina hats on their heads.
The “THIS. IS. NOT. NORMAL.” sentiment on social media is typically a response to some new revelation related to the Russiagate conspiracy theory or the Trump administration’s attempt to push back on it. These McResistance ejaculations arise from the delusion that prior to January of last year, America was a functioning democracy that operated more or less the way they were taught about in grade school, wherein the government more or less told the truth, media outlets painted a more or less accurate picture of what the world is like, and everything was more or less stable.
And of course nothing could be further from the truth. The United States is a corporatist oligarchy ruled by a loose collaboration between plutocrats and defense/intelligence agencies in which ordinary people have virtually no say and the mass media exists to prevent everyone from realizing it. This oligarchy is built upon a power structure that is fast approaching post-primacy, and it will do things that are absolutely unthinkable to the “THIS. IS. NOT. NORMAL.” crowd in order to retain dominance.
This includes deceiving the entire western world about what is happening in Syria and Russia.
A perfectly executed strike last night. Thank you to France and the United Kingdom for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military. Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2018
US, French and British forces bombed the Syrian government yesterday in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack that was very clearly not what we’re being told. There are repeated instances of children’s bodies being posed to elicit sympathy and outrage, fake photos of children receiving medical care, and testimony from purported witnesses that the narrative was deliberately and dishonestly manipulated on the scene to make cases of smoke inhalation look like people recovering from a chemical weapons attack. Jaysh al-Islam, the terrorist faction in control of Douma at the time, was clearly involved in a propaganda effort against the Assad government marketed to a western audience.
We aren’t allowed to say this, by the way. Used to be that you’d get shouted down by establishment loyalists for suggesting that the government might have staged a false flag. Now you even get shouted down by establishment loyalists for suggesting that an actual, literal terrorist group staged a false flag. That’s how stupid the propaganda machine has made everyone.
And they went ahead with the attack. In spite of all the gaping plot holes, the western empire rained a quarter billion dollars worth of explosives down upon Syrian soil to the thunderous applause of establishment loyalists on both sides of the aisle. The evidence that they are giving us for the basis of this attack is laughable; the “proof” French President Macron told us he had consists of garbage open-source information of the sort Atlantic Council propaganda firm Bellingcat might put out, and the way the attack was conducted makes it apparent that the chemical weapons facilities it claimed to have attacked weren’t there at all.
The rhetoric from this administration has been more unequivocal than ever that we can absolutely expect more aggressive acts of war if there are any more chemical weapons false flags, which of course in a region crawling with known terrorist factions who understand propaganda and have a vested interest in overthrowing Assad is a great way to guarantee more false flag chemical weapons attacks. Nikki Haley could not have made this clearer with her comment to the UN Security Council, “I spoke to the president this morning and he said if the Syrian regime uses this poison gas again, the United States is locked and loaded. When our president draws a red line, our president enforces the red line.”
So there’s no reason to believe that was the end of this administration’s attacks on the Syrian government, and there’s every reason to believe we’ll see a lot more.
In response to this attack, Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov stated that “such actions will not be left without consequences,” and that all responsibility for those consequences “rests with Washington, London and Paris.” Putin strongly condemned the attack.
Those of us ruled by the western empire are meant to hate Russia while simultaneously being acutely aware that it is only Russian cool-headedness that is saving us from a world war right now. But whether they admit it or not, anyone paying attention to this situation is wondering how far Russia can be pushed. How many more acts of aggression facilitated by blatant false flags will it take before Russia responds aggressively? How much can you poke the bear before it bites?
These are questions that have an answer, and the people at the steering wheel of this empire seem determined to find that answer.
And this was planned. All of it was planned in advance.
I remember in the run-up to the Iraq War a friend I had known all my life suddenly said to me, ‘We must do something about this monster in Iraq.’ I said, ‘When did you first think that?’ He answered honestly, ‘A month ago’. #Propaganda @medialens
— Malcolm Pryce (@exogamist) April 12, 2018
Ordinary Americans rarely thought about Russia prior to 2016. It certainly wasn’t a nation the rank-and-file west was thinking and talking about constantly. Then all of a sudden, through nothing other than the power of sheer narrative, it’s become an omnipotent, insidious force in the eyes of the public with the ability to infiltrate and overturn democracies all around the world and influence major events everywhere from the US to the UK to Syria.
The Facebook ads could have been a second-page story for one day and nobody would have cared. The DNC hack, even if it happened, could have disappeared from the news after a day or two and it would have gone unnoticed. But because the mass media propaganda machine has been hammering Russia, Russia, Russia all day every day, it now seems perfectly reasonable to believe that Putin is behind every major event in the world; perfectly reasonable for so much of the Syria saber rattling to be targeted not at Damascus but at Moscow.
This anti-Russia propaganda campaign started in 2016 not because of the 2016 election, but because that was when a Russia hawk was scheduled to replace Barack Obama in office.
In 2014, to the notice of hardly anybody, the US staged a coup in Ukraine. Here’s an article from the beginning of 2015 about Hillary Clinton promoting a very anti-Russia position on Ukraine which contrasted sharply with Obama’s, and here is an article from June 2015 about people on both sides of the aisle being made nervous by Clinton’s Russia hawkishness. This was long before Russia was a blip on the radar in American consciousness, but the then-heir apparent to the throne was already gearing up for escalations with that nation.
The prevailing narrative over the last year – that Trump is Putin’s “puppet” and serves Kremlin interests – is the exact opposite of reality https://t.co/N5SWTe35X9
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 11, 2018
The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald and Zaid Jilani recently published an article about something I’ve been yelling about for a while now: the fact that the Trump administration, despite all the allegations of Russian collusion, is actually vastly more hawkish toward Russia than Obama ever was. After his surprise win Trump was taken in, shown around, and then pressured by Washington insiders and/or by the political pressures of Russiagate into doing the thing Hillary Clinton had been planning on doing: greatly escalating the new cold war. Obama’s refusal to fully collaborate with ramping up tensions with Russia was scheduled to be rectified by Clinton, and since they didn’t get her they’re getting the same thing from Plan B.
This was all planned. A desperate, declining empire with a need to sabotage the rise of nonconforming nations and their allies has been planning for years to either squeeze Russia like a python until it taps out and moves out of the way, or until it fights back and is crushed militarily. That’s the plan, and since the life of the empire depends upon its success, they’ll do literally anything to make sure it succeeds. This includes lying to the world to an extent that has never before been seen in modern history.
The US-centralized empire is not normal. It never has been. Nothing about this is natural or healthy, and you couldn’t ask for a better sign of this than our close proximity to world war with a nuclear superpower. We’ve got to shuck off these parasites and find a healthier way to function as a species.
Key words: “suspected”, “apparently”, and “circumstantial” evidence. Case closed. Let the jet be launched.
ISIS-Israeli collusion: not in the Western or Arab oil press
Iran directly threatened Israel on Tuesday following an airstrike on a Syrian air force Monday that killed at least seven Iranian advisers. Israel is taking the Iranian threats very seriously: The northern border is on high alert amid concerns of a possible revenge attack by Iran or Hezbollah, as well as a possible U.S. strike against the Assad regime in retaliation to the chemical attack at Douma.
The US uses it’s own cast of criminals in the probe. Edmund Mulet, Head of the three-member Leadership Panel of the JIM, busted for creating “a child export ring” from Guatemala but never put on trial or sentenced. Frightening to think of where those children ended up!
The specialists “found no traces of the use of chemical agents” after searching the sites, the statement said. The center’s medical specialists also visited a local hospital but found no patients that showed signs of chemical weapons poisoning. “All these facts show… that no chemical weapons were used in the town of Douma, as it was claimed by the White Helmets
The White Helmets
Medical relief organization Syrian American Medical Society said 41 people had been killed, with other reports putting the death toll much higher. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 80 people were killed, including around 40 who died from suffocation. The civil defense rescue service, also known as the White Helmets, put the death toll as high as 150 on one of its Twitter feeds.
Britain, France and the United States were among the seven countries that voted against the Russian proposal which they argued would not create an independent panel to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use. The US proposal would have revived the work of a previous panel, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), that shut down in November when Russian vetoed the renewal of its mandate.
The JIM consists of a three-member leadership panel, headed by an Assistant Secretary General. The panel’s two other members advise on political and investigative components, respectively. On 27 April 2017, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Edmond Mulet (Guatemala) as the Head of the three-member Leadership Panel of the JIM. The Leadership Panel is supported by a team of 23 experienced staff with relevant skills and expertise, based in offices in New York and The Hague.
Who is Edmund Mulet?
Head of the independent panel to lead the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) on the use of chemicals as weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.
During the early 80s, Edmond Mulet, who currently serves as the UN’s Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, was a young lawyer involved in an adoption network. On two occasions he got in trouble with the law. In 1981 he was even arrested and accused of breaking Guatemalan adoption laws by taking babies out of the country with “tourist” visas. He claims he wasn’t managing an adoption.
He claims he was acting out of humanitarian concern for the children’s welfare. According to a former member of the special prosecutor’s office who worked with United Nations Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, Mulet’s scheme circumvented legal controls and left children helpless. He was never tried or sentenced. A number of legal records and other documents uncovered in recent years clearly illustrate how this scheme worked and how he used his political connections in order to avoid being investigated for his actions.
It was the 12th time that Russia has used its veto power at the council to block action targeting its Syrian ally.
As the showdown between Russia and the United States got underway, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of “planting this resolution” as a “pretext” to justify action against Syria.
“We are using the veto in order to protect international rule of law, peace and security, to make sure that you do not drag the Security Council into your adventures,” Nebenzia said.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley shot back, saying “Russia has trashed the credibility of the council.”
“Whenever we propose anything meaningful on Syria, Russia vetoes it. It is a travesty,” she said.
Twelve of the 15 council members backed the US-drafted measure. Bolivia voted against it alongside Russia, while China abstained.
Britain, France and the United States were among the seven countries that voted against the Russian proposal which they argued would not create an independent panel to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use.
Haley dismissed the Russian draft as “all about protecting the Assad regime” because of provisions that would have required the Security Council to endorse its findings.
Russia warns US over military action
After warning Monday of “grave repercussions” of US military action, the Russian ambassador urged the United States to “come to your senses” and refrain from ordering strikes on Syria.
“If you took the decision to carry out an illegal military adventure — and we do hope that you will come to your senses — well then you will have to bare responsibility for it,” said Nebenzia.
The headline is comically absurd. According to US-Israel, any country with an aim to defend itself against imperialist aggression is a threat and an enemy. But just think of how many countries have been aggressive against US or Israel? Any? Unless one believes the official version of 9/11. Unless one believes that Bin-Laden masterminded an operation which involved 3 state governments at the highest echelon of power to pull such a thing off. Unless one believes that the US ‘got’ Bin Laden years after he was dead of natural causes…and declared him dead buried at sea with virtually no evidence and no witnesses.
And where should we suppose US has it’s own nuclear warheads pointed at!
What would have happened to Colonel Qaddafi
MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia threatened the West with a new generation of nuclear weapons Thursday, including what he described as an “invincible” intercontinental cruise missile and a nuclear torpedo that could outsmart all American defenses.
The presentation by Mr. Putin, which included animation videos depicting multiple warheads aimed at Florida, where President Trump often stays at his Mar-a-Lago resort, sharply escalated the military invective in the tense relationship between the United States and Russia, which has led to predictions of a costly new nuclear arms race.
While Mr. Putin may have been bluffing about these weapons, as some experts suggested, he cleverly focused on a vulnerability of American-designed defenses: They are based on the assumption that enemy nuclear missiles fly high and can be destroyed well before they reach their targets.
The new class of Russian weapons, he said, travel low, stealthily, far and fast — too fast for defenders to react.
Mr. Putin’s announcement, in his annual state of the nation address, seemed intended chiefly to stir the patriotic passions of Russians at a moment when he is heading into a re-election campaign, even though his victory is assured in what amounts to a one-candidate race.
A major network seems to be sitting on a lengthy investigation about foreign influence, and no one is up in arms about that. No, a Clintonite congressman wants to punish the network for daring to seek to expose the Israel lobby.
As everyone knows, a special counsel is investigating Russia’s influence in the last election, and as the prosecutor’s circle closes round the Trump White House, a constitutional crisis is looming…. And maybe, just maybe, Donald Trump will go down. Meantime the springs of outrage over Russian interference are refreshed daily on our media, with many a conspiracy theory, some of which are surely true.
Whatever you think of Russia’s actual influence over the 2016 election , the running sideshow to the story has been Israel’s presence in our politics. As the Russia caper unfolds breathlessly, there have also been revelations about Israel’s interference in policymaking. But of course that interference is not a scandal worthy of investigation; that interference never draws the wrath of the liberal press.
Here are three recent incidents that no one is investigating.
First, as we surmised a couple weeks back, it appears that Al Jazeera has put the brakes on an investigative documentary of the operations of the Israel lobby in the U.S. because Qatar is cultivating better relations with the U.S. establishment, or, in a word, with the Israel lobby itself. We’d all been hoping for bombshells from the documentary ala the bombshells from Al Jazeera’s undercover probe of the lobby in the U.K. But even the New York Times is now reporting on pressures to can the documentary, as Qatar and the rival Saudis each host delegations of “prominent American Jewish leaders” in an effort to win favor in U.S. policy circles.
The Times says some congresspeople are trying to punish Al Jazeera for the unaired documentary:
Representative Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey, is among the lawmakers asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to require Al Jazeera to register as a foreign agent — a designation that could limit its access to American officials and facilities. The congressional request, which has yet to be issued, follows a recent revelation that an undercover Al Jazeera reporter secretly filmed pro-Israeli organizations in Washington.
Gottheimer’s letter cites “Al Jazeera’s record of radical anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Israel broadcasts,” Armin Rosen reports at Tablet; and he notes that FARA registration would be a disaster for Al Jazeera’s scores of reporters.
It should go without saying that Gottheimer is a tireless friend of Israel. Last year he undercut the Obama administration over its last-gasp abstention on the excellent anti-settlements resolution in the Security Council. Whether his devotion springs from his Jewish background or his need to raise cash in Democratic national politics is anyone’s guess.
But let’s be clear about what’s going on. A major network seems to be sitting on a lengthy investigation about foreign influence, and no one is up in arms about that. No, a Clintonite congressman wants to punish the network for daring to seek to expose the Israel lobby. And the New York Times, which chronicles every bit of evidence of Russian interference with shock, lets this pass as s.o.p. — in an article that is an unspoken testament to the power of the lobby, from its description of Alan Dershowitz and Morton Klein as Jewish leaders who flew out to the Gulf, to the chorus of Aaron David Miller, longtime peace processor, and Richard Goldberg, of the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
2, In the fallout over the lately-declassified Nunes memo on the origins of the Russia investigation, Democrats insist that the investigation had an honest impetus: In May 2016, Trump aide George Papadopoulos revealed to an Australian diplomat in London that the Russians had dirt on the Clinton campaign– a trove of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee. The New York Times:
The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.
So once again the revelations from those emails, including the DNC’s alignment with the Clinton campaign and efforts against the Sanders campaign, count for nothing in our discourse.
Many of those emails document the Clinton campaign’s deference in foreign policy positioning to Israel and its advocates. Clinton took a stand against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) to satisfy donors, and as a counter to her support for the Iran deal. She received advice on BDS from Benjamin Netanyahu: “Israel must attack its attackers. The best defense is a good offense: ‘attack, attack, attack’”. She promised to meet with Netanyahu in her first month in office at the urging of a pro-Israel aide who had met with Netanyahu and said she needed to repair President Obama’s damage to the special relationship. She made a call to the pro-settlement Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein so as to distance herself from the Obama administration, resulting in a headline in the New York Times “Clinton Wants to Improve Ties to Israel.” And megadonor Haim Saban promptly thanked Clinton by citing other donors: “pls be aware that these articles will be mailed to thousands of people who are interested in the subject matter and who have been asking themselves ,,,,and me ,many times ‘Where is Hillary on this.’”
Trump was of course involved in the same game: trying to please pro-Israel donors. His love of Sheldon Adelson gave us the disgraceful Jerusalem embassy decision and let us not forget that one of the crimes of the Russia probe involves an effort by a Trump aide to interfere on behalf of Israel against the Obama administration’s foreign policy during the transition in 2016. Former national security adviser Mike Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with the Russians, aimed at thwarting that U.N. Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements a flagrant violation of international law. (The Russians didn’t play ball.)
3. Finally, there’s this item. The Department of Justice has dropped its case for corruption against New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez following a hung jury in Menendez’s trial last year. Menendez is expected to resume his place in the Senate as the top Democrat on Foreign Relations. And Menendez is right back to being a mouthpiece for Israel.
Eli Clifton suggests that maybe the fix was in between Justice and Trump’s biggest donor, Sheldon Adelson: perhaps a “quid pro quo was reached between Adelson, Trump, and Menendez in which Menendez would back Adelson’s hawkish foreign policy positions in the Senate.”
Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam each contributed the maximum allowable amount, $10,000 each, to Menendez’s legal defense fund. That’s a bit surprising considering that Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are the biggest source of funding to groups supporting Trump’s candidacy. They reportedly gave about $35 million to the Future 45 Super PAC that support Trump’s general election bid and contributed more than $80 million to help elect Republicans in 2016.
Sheldon Adelson has been clear about what he expects for his money. He pushed Trump to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, lobbying Trump inside the White House and in the pages of the Las Vegas Review Journal, which the Adelsons own.
Adelson says he wishes he’d served in the Israeli army, and he’s a major player in rightwing Israeli politics. His gifts on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. remind us that there’s only one game in town on Israel policy, the pro-Israel game. Chuck Schumer leapt to his feet to cheer Trump’s Jerusalem lines in the state of the union speech. My progressive congressman says he’ll never stop supporting Israel; and BDS is anti-Semitic. While Sen. Dianne Feinstein‘s criticism of Israel is a dissenting murmur.
The interests of the two countries are held to be congruent in official circles; and the damage of this false belief to America has been endless.
It now appears that it was not the Russians trying to rig the outcome of the U.S. election, but leading officials of the U.S. intelligence community, shadowy characters sometimes called the Deep State.
Despite his former job as chief of the FBI’s counterintelligence section, Strzok had the naive notion that texting on FBI phones could not be traced. Strzok must have slept through “Surity 101.” Or perhaps he was busy texting during that class. Girlfriend Page cannot be happy at being misled by his assurance that using office phones would be a secure way to conduct their affair(s).
It would have been unfortunate enough for Strzok and Page to have their adolescent-sounding texts merely exposed, revealing the reckless abandon of star-crossed lovers hiding (they thought) secrets from cuckolded spouses, office colleagues, and the rest of us. However, for the never-Trump plotters in the FBI, the official release of just a fraction (375) of almost 10,000 messages does incalculably more damage than that.
We suddenly have documentary proof that key elements of the U.S. intelligence community were trying to short-circuit the U.S. democratic process. And that puts in a new and dark context the year-long promotion of Russia-gate. It now appears that it was not the Russians trying to rig the outcome of the U.S. election, but leading officials of the U.S. intelligence community, shadowy characters sometimes called the Deep State.
More of the Strzok-Page texting dialogue is expected to be released. And the Department of Justice Inspector General reportedly has additional damaging texts from others on the team that Special Counsel Robert Mueller selected to help him investigate Russia-gate.
Besides forcing the removal of Strzok and Page, the text exposures also sounded the death knell for the career of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, in whose office some of the plotting took place and who has already announced his plans to retire soon.
But the main casualty is the FBI’s 18-month campaign to sabotage candidate-and-now-President Donald Trump by using the Obama administration’s Russia-gate intelligence “assessment,” electronic surveillance of dubious legality, and a salacious dossier that could never pass the smell test, while at the same time using equally dubious techniques to immunize Hillary Clinton and her closest advisers from crimes that include lying to the FBI and endangering secrets.
Ironically, the Strzok-Page texts provide something that the Russia-gate investigation has been sorely lacking: first-hand evidence of both corrupt intent and action. After months of breathless searching for “evidence” of Russian-Trump collusion designed to put Trump in the White House, what now exists is actual evidence that senior officials of the Obama administration colluded to keep Trump out of the White House – proof of what old-time gumshoes used to call “means, motive and opportunity.”
Even more unfortunately for Russia-gate enthusiasts, the FBI lovers’ correspondence provides factual evidence exposing much of the made-up “Resistance” narrative – the contrived storyline that The New York Times and much of the rest of the U.S. mainstream media deemed fit to print with little skepticism and few if any caveats, a scenario about brilliantly devious Russians that not only lacks actual evidence – relying on unverified hearsay and rumor – but doesn’t make sense on its face.
The Russia-gate narrative always hinged on the preposterous notion that Russian President Vladimir Putin foresaw years ago what no American political analyst considered even possible, the political ascendancy of Donald Trump. According to the narrative, the fortune-telling Putin then risked creating even worse tensions with a nuclear-armed America that would – by all odds – have been led by a vengeful President Hillary Clinton.
Besides this wildly improbable storyline, there were flat denials from WikiLeaks, which distributed the supposedly “hacked” Democratic emails, that the information came from Russia – and there was the curious inability of the National Security Agency to use its immense powers to supply any technical evidence to support the Russia-hack scenario.
The Trump Shock
But the shock of Trump’s election and the decision of many never-Trumpers to cast their lot with the Resistance led to a situation in which any prudent skepticism or demand for evidence was swept aside.
So, on Jan. 6, 2017, President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released an evidence-free report that he said was compiled by “hand-picked” analysts from the CIA, FBI and NSA, offering an “assessment” that Russia and President Putin were behind the release of the Democratic emails in a plot to help Trump win the presidency.
Despite the extraordinary gravity of the charge, even New York Times correspondent Scott Shane noted that proof was lacking. He wrote at the time: “What is missing from the [the Jan. 6] public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies’ claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. … Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to ‘trust us.’”
But the “assessment” served a useful purpose for the never-Trumpers: it applied an official imprimatur on the case for delegitimizing Trump’s election and even raised the long-shot hope that the Electoral College might reverse the outcome and possibly install a compromise candidate, such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, in the White House. Though the Powell ploy fizzled, the hope of somehow removing Trump from office continued to bubble, fueled by the growing hysteria around Russia-gate.
Virtually all skepticism about the evidence-free “assessment” was banned. For months, the Times and other newspapers of record repeated the lie that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies had concurred in the conclusion about the Russian “hack.” Even when that falsehood was belatedly acknowledged, the major news outlets just shifted the phrasing slightly to say that U.S. intelligence agencies had reached the Russian “hack” conclusion. Shane’s blunt initial recognition about the lack of proof disappeared from the mainstream media’s approved narrative of Russia-gate.
Doubts about the Russian “hack” or dissident suggestions that what we were witnessing was a “soft coup” were scoffed at by leading media commentators. Other warnings from veteran U.S. intelligence professionals about the weaknesses of the Russia-gate narrative and the danger of letting politicized intelligence overturn a constitutional election were also brushed aside in pursuit of the goal of removing Trump from the White House.
It didn’t even seem to matter when new Russia-gate disclosures conflicted with the original narrative that Putin had somehow set Trump up as a Manchurian candidate. All normal journalistic skepticism was jettisoned. It was as if the Russia-gate advocates started with the conclusion that Trump must go and then made the facts fit into that mold, but anyone who noted the violations of normal investigative procedures was dismissed as a “Trump enabler” or a “Moscow stooge.”
The Text Evidence
But then came the FBI text messages, providing documentary evivdence that key FBI officials involved in the Russia-gate investigation were indeed deeply biased and out to get Trump, adding hard proof to Trump’s longstanding lament that he was the subject of a “witch hunt.”
Justified or not, Trump’s feeling of vindication could hardly be more dangerous — particularly at a time when the most urgent need is to drain some testosterone from the self-styled Stable-Genius-in-Chief and his martinet generals.
On the home front, Trump, his wealthy friends, and like-thinkers in Congress may now feel they have an even widercarte blanche to visit untold misery on the poor, the widow, the stranger and other vulnerable humans. That was always an underlying danger of the Resistance’s strategy to seize on whatever weapons were available – no matter how reckless or unfair – to “get Trump.”
Beyond that, Russia-gate has become so central to the Washington establishment’s storyline that there appears to be no room for second-thoughts or turning back. The momentum is such that some Democrats and the media never-Trumpers can’t stop stoking the smoke of Russia-gate and holding out hope against hope that it will somehow justify Trump’s impeachment.
Yet, the sordid process of using legal/investigative means to settle political scores further compromises the principle of the “rule of law” and integrity of journalism in the eyes of many Americans. After a year of Russia-gate, the “rule of law” and “pursuit of truth” appear to have been reduced to high-falutin’ phrases for political score-setttling, a process besmirched by Republicans in earlier pursuits of Democrats and now appearing to be a bipartisan method for punishing political rivals regardless of the lack of evidence.
Strzok and Page
Peter Strzok (pronounced “struck”) has an interesting pedigree with multiple tasks regarding both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump. As the FBI’s chief of counterespionage during the investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a personal email server for classified information, Strzok reportedly changed the words “grossly negligent” (which could have triggered legal prosecution) to the far less serious “extremely careless” in FBI Director James Comey’s depiction of Clinton’s actions. This semantic shift cleared the way for Comey to conclude just 20 days before the Democratic National Convention began in July 2016, that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against Mrs. Clinton.
Then, as Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, Strzok led the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election of 2016. It is a safe bet that he took a strong hand in hand-picking the FBI contingent of analysts that joined “hand-picked” counterparts from CIA and NSA in preparing the evidence-free, Jan. 6, 2017 assessment accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of interfering in the election of 2016. (Although accepted in Establishment groupthink as revealed truth, that poor excuse for analysis reflected the apogee of intelligence politicization — rivaled only by the fraudulent intelligence on “weapons of mass destruction“ in Iraq 15 years ago.)
In June and July 2017 Strzok was the top FBI official working on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia, but was taken off that job when the Justice Department IG learned of the Strzok-Page text-message exchange and told Mueller.
There is no little irony in the fact that what did in the FBI sweathearts was their visceral disdain for Mr. Trump, their cheerleading-cum-kid-gloves treatment of Mrs. Clinton and her associates, their 1950-ish, James Clapperesque attitude toward Russians as “almost genetically driven” to evil, and their (Strzok/Page) elitist conviction that they know far better what is good for the country than regular American citizens, including those “deplorables” whom Clinton said made up half of Trump’s supporters.
But Strzok/Page had no idea that their hubris, elitism and scheming would be revealed in so tangible a way. Worst of all for them, the very thing that Strzok, in particular, worked so hard to achieve — the sabotaging of Trump and immunization of Mrs. Clinton and her closest advisers is now coming apart at the seams.
Congress: Oversee? or Overlook?
At this point, the $64 question is whether the various congressional oversight committees will remain ensconced in their customarily cozy role as “overlook” committees, or whether they will have the courage to attempt to carry out their Constitutional duty. The latter course would mean confronting a powerful Deep State and its large toolbox of well-practiced retaliatory techniques, including J. Edgar Hoover-style blackmail on steroids, enabled by electronic surveillance of just about everything and everyone. Yes, today’s technology permits blanket collection, and “Collect Everything” has become the motto.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, with almost four decades of membership in the House and Senate, openly warned incoming President Trump in January 2017 against criticizing the U.S. intelligence community because U.S. intelligence officials have “six ways from Sunday to get back at you” if you are “dumb” enough to take them on.
Thanks to the almost 10,000 text messages between Strzok and Page, only a small fraction of which were given to Congress four weeks ago, there is now real evidentiary meat on the bones of the suspicions that there indeed was a “deep-state coup” to “correct” the outcome of the 2016 election. We now know that the supposedly apolitical FBI officials had huge political axes to grind. The Strzok-Page exchanges drip with disdain for Trump and those deemed his smelly deplorable supporters. In one text message, Strzok expressed visceral contempt for those working-class Trump voters, writing on Aug. 26, 2016, “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support. … it’s scary real down here.”
The texts even show Strzok warning of the need for an “insurance policy” to thwart Trump on the off-chance that his poll numbers closed in on those of Mrs. Clinton.
An Aug. 6, 2016 text message, for example, shows Page giving her knight in shining armor strong affirmation: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace [Trump].” That text to Strzok includes a link to a David Brooks column in The New York Times, in which Brooks concludes with the clarion call: “There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame.”
Another text message shows that other senior government officials – alarmed at the possibility of a Trump presidency – joined the discussion. In an apparent reference to an August 2016 meeting with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Strzok wrote to Page on Aug. 15, 2016, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.” Strzok added, “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.”
Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says he will ask Strzok to explain the “insurance policy” when he calls him to testify. What seems already clear is that the celebrated “Steele Dossier” was part of the “insurance,” as was the evidence-less legend that Russia hacked the DNC’s and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails and gave them to WikiLeaks.
If congressional investigators have been paying attention, they already know what former weapons inspector Scott Ritter shared with Veteran intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) colleagues this week; namely, that Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson, who commissioned the Russia dossier using Democratic Party money, said he reached out to Steele after June 17, just three days before Steele’s first report was published, drawing on seven sources.
“There is a snowball’s chance in hell that this is raw intelligence gathered by Steele; rather he seems to have drawn on a single ‘trusted intermediary’ to gather unsubstantiated rumor already in existence.”
Another VIPS colleague, Phil Giraldi, writing out of his own experience in private sector consulting, added:
“The fact that you do not control your sources frequently means that they will feed you what they think you want to hear. Since they are only doing it for money, the more lurid the details the better, as it increases the apparent value of the information. The private security firm in turn, which is also doing it for the money, will pass on the stories and even embroider them to keep the client happy and to encourage him to come back for more. When I read the Steele dossier it looked awfully familiar to me, like the scores of similar reports I had seen which combined bullshit with enough credible information to make the whole product look respectable.”
It is now widely known that the Democrats ponied up the “insurance premiums,” so to speak, for former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele’s “dossier” of lurid — but largely unproven — “intelligence” on Trump and the Russians. If, as many have concluded, the dossier was used to help justify a FISA warrant to snoop on the Trump campaign, those involved will be in deep kimchi, if congressional overseers do their job.
How, you might ask, could Strzok and associates undertake these extra-legal steps with such blithe disregard for the possible consequences should they be caught? The answer is easy; Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in, remember? This was just extra insurance with no expectation of any “death benefit” ever coming into play — save for Trump’s electoral demise in November 2016. The attitude seemed to be that, if abuse of the FISA law should eventually be discovered — there would be little interest in a serious investigation by the editors of The New York Times and other anti-Trump publications and whatever troubles remained could be handled by President Hillary Clinton.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee of Judiciary on Crime and Terrorism, joined Sen. Grassley in signing the letter referring Christopher Steele to the Justice Department to investigate what appear to be false statements about the dossier. In signing, Graham noted the “many stop signs the Department of Justice ignored in its use of the dossier.” The signature of committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, however, was missing — an early sign that a highly partisan battle royale is in the offing. On Tuesday, Feinstein unilaterally released a voluminous transcript of Glenn Simpson’s earlier testimony and, as though on cue, Establishment pundits portrayed Steele as a good source and Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson as a victim.
The Donnybrook is now underway; the outcome uncertain.