Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hell's Canon: How Western Media Interprets Its Wars

Independent Journalists Reveal America’s Sinister War in Syria

by Tony Cartalucci - Dissident Voice


May 24th, 2017 

Syria is not experiencing a “civil war.” It is being targeted by both proxy and direct military force organized by the United States and its allies for the explicit purpose of dividing and destroying yet another Middle Eastern nation.

Worse than that, the United States is employing tactics to transform Syria’s heterogeneous multi-ethnic and religious communities into segregated ghettos, and using this as a means of dividing and conquering the nation and even the region.

The US is also widely employing the abhorrent tactics of socioeconomic, psychological, and armed terrorism to break the Syrian people completely and absolutely.

Unlike in Libya and Iraq, however, US plans in Syria have been confounded. And because of this, ample time has elapsed for independent journalists to travel to, record, and report what is actually transpiring versus the intentional, malicious, and continuous lies told by the West’s mainstream media.

One of these journalists is Patrick Henningsen of 21st Century Wire, whose recent trip to Syria had him cross paths and interview others frequently visiting and sharing their experiences and findings from the besieged nation.

The picture painted is one that cannot be ignored.

For those who have already decided to believe the Western media based on “activist accounts,” the accounts provided during a recent audio interview published by 21st Century Wire is at least as equally compelling. However, for those who truly desire to discover the truth, critical thought and additional research will reveal the latter to be telling a truth consistently and intentionally obfuscated by the Western media.

Imperialism’s Fingerprints: Weaponized Ethnic-Segregation


In an interview with British journalist Tom Duggan, the process of terrorists from internationally designated terror organizations like Jabhat Al Nusra and the so-called “Islamic State” targeting communities along sectarian lines is described. While the Western media has confirmed the sectarian nature of the ongoing conflict, what Duggan and Henningsen’s accounts reveal is that Syria was multi-ethnic, with communities enjoying integration and diversity based first on being Syrian, then based on their respective religious and ethnic identities, long before the conflict began.

Intermarriage and sociopolitical exchanges were common before the conflict, and only since 2011 has ethnic and religious tensions begun to expose fault lines within communities based solely on fear created and perpetuated by foreign-backed terrorist organizations like Al Nusra and the Islamic State.

Pointed out was the fact that both US foreign policy regarding Syria and Al Nusra and the Islamic State’s goals, both aim to see a Syria divided along sectarian lines.

While Al Nusra and the Islamic State attempt to cut Syria’s sectarian-diverse communities up literally with bullets and blades, the US has repeatedly presented multiple maps over several years of Syria divided into sectarian-based micro-states – effectively eliminating Syria as a functioning and unified nation-state. While the US omits the “secret ingredient” to make its fictional maps a reality, it is demonstrably clear that terrorist organizations are the ones on the ground attempting to draw these new maps.

Libya – besieged, divided, and destroyed by US-led NATO aggression in 2011 – has suffered a similar fate and currently exists as a cautionary example of what may become of Syria should US plans succeed. Libya will no longer contest US special interests geopolitically or otherwise in its current form as a failed, divided, and destroyed state.

The premeditated and systematic nature of this attempted division and destruction of Syria matches verbatim the tactics employed for centuries by the British Empire – and before that – the Roman Empire.

It is a fundamental tactic not of humanitarian-motivated interventionists, but of imperialists. The crass nature of these tactics – simultaneously promoted by the West and designated terrorist organizations – explains why the Western media has attempted to portray Syria as ethnically and religiously divided before the conflict began, rather than as a process of intentional division and destruction unfolding as part of US foreign policy.

Similar tactics have been employed in Iraq as well, with much greater success. And even as far as Thailand in Southeast Asia, the groundwork is being laid for similar tactics to be employed to divide and weaken states targeted by Washington for regime change – highlighting the global nature of America’s neo-imperial proclivities.

Daily Terrorism Carried Out By “Rebels,” Not Against Them


While the Western media has flooded headlines for years regarding the alleged atrocities carried out by the Syrian government and its allies against so-called “moderate rebels,” it has muted coverage of atrocities committed in turn by militants fighting the Syrian government and its people. These accounts are muted, because while they are technically “reported,” the obvious nature of these atrocities is often glossed over – sometimes even spun or lionized – rather than presented in the same straightforward manner accusations against Damascus are.

During Henningsen’s interview with Duggan, the destructive and indiscriminate nature of improvised artillery systems used by terrorists in Syria was described. The narrative is one that equals any tale of “barrel bombs” employed by the Syrian government – perhaps even surpassing them – because while the Western media claims the Syrian government is using helicopters to drop ordnance into areas using direct line of sight, improvised artillery used by terrorists called “hell cannons” do not have direct line of sight to their targets.

This means that those using hell cannons have no way of knowing who, or even what, they are hitting. They are blindly firing canisters full of deadly shrapnel – according to Western reports – up to a mile away.

The Daily Mail would describe the hell cannon as:

Firing improvised explosives with a range of around a mile, this is the homemade weapon of choice of the Free Syrian Army known as the ‘hell cannon’.

The cannon has been widely used during the conflict in besieged cities such as Aleppo and usually fires out highly modified propane gas cylinders.

The hell cannon could only ever be used as an absolutely indiscriminate weapon. With no way to reliably aim it, and no way to know definitively where rounds are landing, the result is predictable mayhem brought upon government forces and innocent civilians alike. With the vast majority of those living down range from the terrorists’ hell cannons being civilians, not soldiers, the likelihood of innocent people being maimed or killed by them is much higher.

For average readers of reports like the Daily Mail’s, “Syrian rebels strike back with the HELL CANNON: Aleppo fighters build devastating homemade weapon that shoots propane gas cylinders,” five minutes of critical thought will lead them to this conclusion.

Those operating among the West’s media – trained in journalism and in reporting events – when writing articles like those appearing in the Daily Mail, are thus making the conscious decision to intentionally, maliciously, and continuously lie regarding the methods and means used by terrorists they repeatedly refer to as “moderate rebels.” The double standards illustrated by the Daily Mail alone regarding “barrel bombs” versus “hell cannons” indicates concerted and serial attempts to misinform audiences and manipulate public perception.

Similar revelations are revealed during Henningsen’s interview with Duggan regarding the terrorists’ use of hospitals, schools, and mosques as military centers – knowing full well that any attempt by Damascus and its allies to target them would be politically exploited by their Western sponsors both from behind the podiums of public offices and within press rooms across the West.

Perhaps most ironic of all – is that US operations in Syria allegedly targeting terrorists, when hospitals, schools, and mosques are hit – produce admissions from across the Western media that – indeed – terrorists are using such facilities as military bases – admissions the Western media refused to make during the Syrian government’s operations to retake cities like Homs, Hama, and Aleppo.

Keeping an Open Mind


For those attempting to make sense of Syria’s ongoing conflict, or any other conflict being reported on by the Western media – the deep and concerted conspiracy that surrounded the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 alone should provide pause for thought before unquestioningly believing narratives produced from these same collection of Western media sources regarding other conflicts.

There are alternative organizations and media platforms operating in Syria, producing videos, audio interviews, and pages of information on a daily basis giving alternative insight into the conflict that people around the world can watch, listen to, and read. While no one is bound to believe Western or alternative narratives – for those genuinely pursing the truth – both need to be considered, researched, and vetted factually, rationally, and within a historical and logical context.

Narratives of a “humanitarian” motivated West seeking to end conflict and bring a brighter future to Syria simply does not add up in any context.

The special interests promoting regime change in Syria have a decades-long track record of deceiving the public, dividing and destroying nations, and leaving a path of destruction cutting across entire regions of the planet. While Western audiences are tempted to believe Western narratives regarding Syria in pursuit of US-backed regime change, nations like Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine smolder in the ruination of Western military intervention. By adding up the big picture, it is clear that alternative media sources are providing invaluable insight into global conflict the Western media has systematically and intentionally covered up for years.

Shifting in the minds of the global public the perceived reputation of Western media organizations versus their demonstrated serial deceptions is the first step toward truly ending conflicts like that raging in Syria, and truly bringing peace and a better future to the people trapped within these conflicts.

• First published at NEO (New Eastern Outlook)

Tony Cartalucci writes at Land Destroyer where this article first appeared.
Read other articles by Tony, or visit Tony's website.

The Balfour Century: 100 Years of Deceit, Devastation and Genocide

The Balfour Declaration 1917-2017: 100 Years of Deceit, Devastation and Genocide

by William A. Cook - AHT


March 31, 2017
 
Since 1948 the state of Israel has celebrated annually its independence as a nation, though it is not clear from what or whom it has declared independence.

The UN had portioned Palestine in November of 1947 and the British Mandate had made clear that its last day in Palestine would be May 15, of 1948. The Zionists determined that they would declare their independence on May 14 and so notified Britain and the United States of that intention; yet neither had opposed the declaration.

Perhaps the celebration should be for the existence of the state of Israel. But that lacks the ring of the glory that attends a state that fought the good fight against a determined enemy and vanquished them.

Lord Balfour

In fact, the Zionists had from 1939 to 1948 fought an enemy in Palestine, the very Mandated authority placed there by the League of Nations and later by the United Nations and the British Government. The Zionists were committed to destroy that Mandate despite its efforts to establish “a home for the Jewish people” from 1922.

And so began the ruthless modern Terrorism that plagues the mid-east and beyond. It began in deception and continues to the present day. Indeed on February 8, 2017 the world had a rather unique look at how this state came into existence through an interview with Lord Jacob Rothschild about, what he declared to be, “a miracle.” “It was the most incredible piece of “opportunism.” (emphasis mine) made more so by Dr. Chaim Weizmann’s “seduction” of Lord Balfour, as Lord Rothschild fondly recalls (“Lord Rothschild discusses cousin’s crucial role in ‘miracle’ Balfour Declaration.” The Jewish News, February 8, 2017).

Curious word “opportunism” when it refers to an official British document declared such on November 2, 1917 before Britain had mandated authority to govern Palestine, before Britain consulted with the people that lived in Palestine, before WW II and the suffering inmates of Nazi Germany’s camps gave sympathy for the Jewish people, and before the Mandate government could act on behalf of the Jews being brought to Palestine in fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration. The result, a British government forced to interact with an agency they had designed to help care for the Jews entering Palestine. That Agency declared war against the British authorities as they established a clandestine government in Palestine and acquiesced in silence to the terrorism mentioned above.

There remains but one more word to add to “miracle, opportunism, and seduction” as the good Lord describes the events that made possible the existence of the Jewish state. Cousin Dorothy de Rothschild, a teenager at the time, “was crucially important” because she connected Weizmann to the British establishment, “told him how to integrate, how to insert himself into British establishment life.” Curious indeed that a handful of people could arrange for a miracle that would displace 800,000 Palestinians who had lived on and owned the land of Palestine for thousands of years without so much as a mention of their existence, condemning them to wander to refugee camps in foreign lands, bereft of homes, jobs, citizenship and a life of humiliation and destitution.

But more curious still is the fate of the Palestinian people when the World Zionist Organization realized that its dependence on Britain to ensure “a homeland for the Jewish people” was in jeopardy with the issuance of the White Paper by the Mandate Commissioner to limit the flow of immigrants from Europe, and, “opportunistically” turned both to terrorism and “seduction” of the United States to ensure its conquest of Palestine. Hence their attention to President Truman’s campaign to defeat Dewey by contributions and advertisements to recognize the “new” state.

And thus did Israel become a state, a state like no other, a state given its land by a Government that had no right to it but a 67 word note written to Walter Rothschild, the gentleman who penned the note. A miracle indeed! Let Avi Shlaim compress the consequences of the Balfour Declaration into its devastation of the Palestinian people.

Britain’s failure in Palestine can be at least partly attributed to the Balfour Declaration for that was the original sin. In Arabic there is a saying that something that starts crooked, remains crooked. The Balfour Declaration was not just crooked; it was a contradiction in terms. The national home it promised to the Jews was never clearly defined and there was no precedent for it in international law. On the other hand, it was arrogant, dismissive, and even racist, to refer to 90 per cent of the population as “the non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” And it was the worst kind of imperial double standard, implying that there was one law for the Jews, and one law for everybody else.

By the end of the mandate, there was no gratitude and no goodwill left towards Britain on either side of the Arab-Jewish divide. I can only agree with Sir John Chancellor that the Balfour Declaration was a colossal blunder-it has proved to be a catastrophe for the Palestinians and it gave rise to one of the most intense, bitter, and protracted conflicts of modern times.
(Avi Shlaim, in Wm. Roger Louis, ed., Yet More Adventures with Britannia: Personalities, Politics and Culture in Britain, London, I. B. Tauris, 2005, pp. 251-270.)

Today, February 6 of 2017 to be exact, the fulfillment of the Zionist intent to confiscate all of Palestine (see The Plight of the Palestinians, “Introduction.” Macmillan, 2010) passed the Israeli Knesset by a vote of 60 for and 57 against, a vote that forces the Israeli court to accept legitimization of all land in “Judea and Samaria,” the land still owned by Palestinians in anticipation of recognition by the communities of the world as the Palestinians’ state. Once again, a handful of “opportunistic” people who have “inserted” themselves into the Israeli government to “seduce” their own people of their right to this land because of beliefs proffered centuries ago destroys the rights of the Palestinian people despite the Charters of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because the United States Congress has become the means to make the Israeli state immune to international law by vetoing the implementation of Justice.

Three developments have merged at this time as Israel celebrates the “miracle” of the Balfour Declaration: the abstention by the United States in the UNSC that allowed a unanimous vote to censure the Israeli state for crimes against humanity; the United Nations International Conference in support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace; and the vote in the Knesset to annex the West Bank preventing the possibility of a Palestinian state. The Knesset vote (60-57), driven by religious zealots cancels out the first two; “the debate is over. Annexation it is,” (Rogel Alpher. Haaretz, Feb. 19, 2017).

B’Tselem condemned the bill’s passage, saying it “proves yet again that Israel has no intention of ending its control over the Palestinians or its theft of their land. Lending a semblance of legality to this ongoing act of plunder is a disgrace or (sic) the state and its legislature. Passing the bill mere weeks after UN Security Council Resolution 2334 is a slap in the face of the international community. While enshrining the dispossession in law is a new development, in practice it is another facet of the massive land grab carried out openly for decades by declaring ‘state land'” (Haaretz 2/7/2017, Jonathan Lis).

The first and second of these come 69 years after the Zionists declared their “independence,” their declared right to seize the land of the Palestinians regardless of international laws and moral rights declared by the United Nations. For the first time in all those years the Security Council can bring the State of Israel before the Human Rights Council for crimes against Humanity and refer the violations they have enunciated to the International Court of Justice. Equally important is the action that the UN International Peace Conference can take by its recognition of the Palestinian State assuring that the Palestinians have equal status with the Zionist state to negotiate their future relative to rights of return, rights of compensation, rights of land with boundaries that constitute a state, and rights of a free people able to secure stability and safety for its people. But even as this possibility arises, after 69 years of ever expanding occupation, land seizure, eradication of human rights, invasion and destruction by land, sea and air, the possibility of achieving these ends is declared by the Knesset in its action that effectively erases the existence of Palestine caused by a handful of “opportunists” that have ensured that fear exists in the hearts and minds of Israelis.

As the Jewish state celebrates its “miracle,” the people of the world have overwhelmingly declared that the occupation and oppression by Israel of the people of Palestine must stop. It’s time for resolution: does the world community stand indifferent to the plight of the Palestinians or does rule by international law determine that moral rights, engraved in the conventions of the UN charter, determine human rights. We are faced with determined fanatics that are in control of the Knesset, a situation not unlike what the US faced under the rule of President George W. Bush when a similar force of far right Evangelical fanatics controlled the government. Both groups impose their beliefs on the governing administrations, the Neo Cons of the Bush administration bolstered by the evangelicals when they determined it was God’s truth the US must bring to the world as expressed in the book of Revelation, and the Settlers and their party in the Knesset under Netanyahu crying that the land was a gift to them as recorded in their book of Genesis. Both groups, the extremists and fanatics, are the products of pathological minds indifferent to all others who must suffer the consequences of their dementia.

Survival of the beast, not survival of the fittest

[A brief review from the past will help illuminate both the Nakba and the Day of Independence. This review is drawn from the past, as far back as 2005 when I examined the destruction caused by the Zionist Zealots of the Christian right and saw in them the superstitious ideology that drives their madness as it does the Zionist mind.]

What fuels slavery, ethnic cleansing, land theft, and genocide? What enables a mind to justify imprisoning another without cause, without trial, without rights of due process and assumption of innocence until proven guilty? What enables a soul to accept dominance over another, to degrade and humiliate other humans, to participate in or acquiesce to genocide?

I’ll posit two trends of thought, two of many perhaps, that seem to reside at the root of Western culture, trends that swirl like infected eddies beneath the surface of our ideals allowing for slavery, ethnic erasure of populations, land theft and genocide. The first blossoms when men, driven by a commitment to an ideology they accept as absolute, as those who zealously and fanatically proclaim they alone know God’s word, rise to power and force their beliefs on others, knowing in their hearts that they are chosen to lead because of their innate superiority, men like Ferdinand, the King of Spain, Columbus and the Pope who guide their legions of friars and conquistadors to impose their divinely ordained right on others. The second follows from the first, when men, who accept unquestioningly their superiority over others deemed by them to be sub-human or inferior in intellect or will, move to positions of power not driven by an ideology, but willingly use those so possessed, to impose their covetous desire to acquire land, natural resources, or labor regardless of the consequences.

Condoleezza Rice noted in her Paris speech “…history does not just happen, it is made. History is made by men and women of conviction, of commitment and of courage, who will not let their dreams be denied.” Once again the past of Christian, civilized Europe is on the march; its dreams of God’s mission to bring His gift of “freedom” to all the peoples of the world will be executed whether or not they are the dreams of all the peoples who will accept them or die. What mind decides, “We are on the right side of freedom’s divide”? What mind declares it will impose its righteousness on all the peoples of the earth? What soul will succumb to the will of its leaders to slay the infidels who deny the “right” as determined by an elite group of fanatics driven by a self-determined superiority and a zeal to impose their beliefs on all?

Let us note that the Secretary of State did not say history is made by those seeking oil to ensure its military dominance, nor did she say that history is made by the nation that supports America’s and Israel’s interests in the mid-East; she said, most emphatically, what the Zionists of the Christian right claim to be “right,” that God gave this land to a Christian nation, to be a “City on a Hill,” a beacon to all the world that they might see what God expected His creatures to do on His behalf, and in that covenant, the responsibility to bring that gift to all the world.

Imbedded in that belief resides the spirit of superiority of God’s chosen, an awareness that they alone possess the truth, and, consequently, are the most civilized creatures on the planet. Indeed, refusal by a people to accept conversion to Christianity became a mark of irrationality and subhuman status. Now, this most Christian of nations brings God’s gift to the nations of the world judging them fit to join the “advanced, civilized, and developed” nations of the West if they adopt willingly or by force America’s form of Democracy, a form dominated by Corporate power and control, where “advanced and developed” means in reality new markets for Capitalism and new resources to fuel its continued growth. Strange how the “bread of heaven” has metamorphosed into a euphemistic “freedom” for all if they become cooperative consumers for extended Christian Capitalism. Both trends that give rise to genocide swirl beneath the rhetoric of “freedom and liberty,” a virtual whirlpool of Zionist Christian fanaticism and neo-con covetousness for land and resources, and will erupt in a tsunami of devastation for those who oppose the will of this administration.

Genocides and holocausts arise out of unchecked zeal, unquestioned duty, and silent acquiescence. They are fueled by blind belief, personal fear, and a sense of superiority that gives license to slaughter. Both the United States under Bush and its clone under Sharon and his successors exemplify the presence of racism resulting in genocidal devastation as they impose their respective wills on Iraqis and Palestinians. The facts alone demonstrate the rampant racism running unchecked as Israel shackles the Palestinian people in chains as grotesque as any imposed by America’s plantation owners on their property in the old south; and the United States, not to be outdone, occupies and oppresses the Iraqi people in methods learned from their Israeli tutors who teach them how to subdue, intimidate, humiliate, torture, and eradicate a people considered inferior to their oppressors.

Let Lt. Gen. James Mattis “tell it like it is” as he instructs our soldiers in the grace of war: “It’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot ... You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that don’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.” Imbedded in that statement resides America’s superiority over the Afghanistan people: a superiority in moral values based on the wearing of a veil, a veil not unlike those used in years past by Catholic nuns to show their modesty before God and their awareness of the frailty of men who “lust in their hearts,” to borrow a phrase from a former President of the United States, caring not to be the source of that lust; a superiority in judgment since this general can determine that his indictment justifies killing every male that has reached the age of marriage; and a superiority in legal rights because he can, as we learned from our Israeli brethren, predetermine who is guilty of breaking our laws, and, without leveling a charge, without representation by jury, without trial before peers, execute all of the male gender in Afghanistan. That is genocidal thinking, base, irrational, and savage.

Let’s be clear. The actions in the Knesset a month ago propel a mentality on all that characterized the spirit of the enlightened age of the industrial revolution, a spirit of survival of the fittest, only today we must not confuse that propagandist euphemism with what it really is, survival of the beast. 

After sixty years, we celebrate not the rebirth of Judaism in Palestine but the aborted triumph of an amoral Nation that, in its Zionist arrogance, from its conception through its infancy to the present day defies not just the secular codes of International conduct agreed upon by the member states of the United Nations but the very principles, morals and values of Judaism. That is the conundrum the Diaspora Jew must face: to embrace those who rule in Israel by imposing on Jews everywhere defiance of International Law – illegal and inhumane acts of collective punishment, eradication through extrajudicial executions of the principles of a state founded on equality before the law, occupation and theft of another people‘s land and natural resources, the imposition of daily humiliation of an oppressed people by economic deprivation, harassment, and visible identification based on Arab lineage as Palestinians, acceptance of torture that in effect denies the humanity of its victims, forced imprisonment without charge or due rights, approval of and complicity in a slow but insidious genocide of the Palestinian people by imprisonment behind an inhumane, illegal Wall, and constant military attacks of a disproportionate kind against a virtually defenseless people – or to embrace the moral fiber that nourished the Jews century after century sustaining their humanity as they came selflessly to the aid of others faced with discrimination and racism that often resulted in death for those they protected and themselves.

Let‘s be blunt: the anniversary of the Day of Independence in Israel is a day of death not of birth. Any state conceived in terror, nourished with the blood of massacred civilians in the Nakba, and delivered of a land made empty and barren by forced expulsion of its inhabitants is not and cannot be a child born to the community of nations that seeks the rights, the respect and integrity of all its brothers and sisters. It is rather a deformity, an abnormality, in the words of Jeremiah, ―”Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!” (15:10).

How conceived in terror? ―When the Zionist movement started its ethnic cleansing operations in Palestine, in early December 1947 …; so begins Chapter 3 of Dr. Ilan Pappe‘s book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 2006, only to offer a passage from ―Plan D of that movement‘s operations in Chapter 4. “… From the very beginning, the Zionist movement that effectively controlled by forceful means the total Jewish community of over half a million in 1948 regardless of their desires, had determined that the UN partition plan was moot; the Jewish state had no borders other than what it could take by force (Mss. Medit. 20. Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters, the Palestine Police, Jerusalem, 31st July, 1947, p. 4, 7, Top Secret, Rhodes Library, Oxford). Despite protestations to the contrary from that day to this – the myth of the Jews as victims of annihilation by superior forces – the reality is that the Jews faced Arab forces of less than 50,000 troops, ill trained and equipped as a result of the British devastation of their forces in 1936, while Jewish forces numbered over 80,000 well trained troops (As noted by Pappe from Jewish documents and the investigative reports and evidence of the British Mandate government in the Rhodes Library).

What form did the terror take? Ironically, it mirrored the terror that the current Israeli government protests when undertaken by Palestinians. Virtually nothing the Palestinians have done by way of terror was not done by the Jews to the British Mandate government. The first leg of their terror necessitated ridding Palestine of the British Mandate forces since it was its policies concerning immigration that made the Zionists turn to terror against the very nation that had made possible a large Jewish presence in Palestine through the Balfour Declaration. That Declaration had imposed on the British government responsibility for both the indigenous Arab population and the new Jewish immigrants proportionate to their relative size. In keeping with that responsibility, the Palestine Government issued a White Paper in 1939 that limited Jewish immigration to 10,000 per year for five years and an additional 25,000 refugees. That limitation infuriated the Zionists who would tolerate no limits on immigration. Terrorism followed.

From conception to nourishment in the womb of Nakba, how the blood flowed. I should begin here with the massacre at Deir Yassin because it was beneath a tree in the field outside the mental hospital now placed there that I heard about the atrocities committed in this town and felt the anguish that hung like a pall over the land. Deir Yassin had an agreement with Hagana, a non-aggression pact, but unknown to its residence it lay in a pre-determined path of destruction and ethnic cleansing that sealed its doom. On April 9, 1948, a little more than a month to the UN date that removed Britain from its Mandate responsibilities in Palestine and the date that gave Israel its right to its segment of Palestine, the 55% allotted to the Jews, their forces ― ... burst into the village, the Jewish soldiers sprayed the houses with machine gun fire, killing many of the inhabitants. The remaining villagers were then gathered in one place and murdered in cold blood, their bodies abused while a number of the women were raped and then killed. Pappe continues his recital of this massacre with this comment: “―One only has to be told that thirty babies were among the slaughtered in Deir Yassin to understand why the whole --quantitative exercise – which the Israelis repeated as recently as April 2003 (that the number killed cannot be considered a massacre) – is insignificant. Indeed, at the time the Jewish forces greedily accepted a much larger number of dead as a “―warning to all Palestinians that a similar fate awaited them if they refused to abandon their homes and take flight” (Pappe 90-91).

But the Jewish forces in their eagerness to grab as much land as they could before the legally established date for the Israeli nation, found time of the essence and efficiency a necessity if they were to enlarge the land holdings far beyond what the UN resolution had provided to them. Realizing that the remaining British troops could do nothing during the “―lame duck months between the acceptance of the resolution and its date of implementation, the months between March and May of 1948, the Hagana forces moved with great speed to erase as many villages and towns as they could from the landscape of Palestine.” Walid Khalidi‘s research tome, All That Remains, accounts for 418 such sites leveled by the Jewish forces, with their populations killed or expelled from the borders of Israel.

The State archives of Israel contain documents that provide a perspective into the mentality of those driving the Zionist Consultancy, as Pappe labels it. In a section made available through Palestine Remembered, a newly established Internet site, labeled “Plunder of abandoned Arab property, looting, possession without permit, robbery” numerous personal comments are stored by former Israeli forces remembering years later what they had endured. One stands out in my mind as pertinent and telling: it foreshadows the issues facing the Diaspora Jew now.

“―If I thought that the State of Israel would be capable of Deir Yassin, I would not only not wish to be an Arab here – I wouldn‘t want to be a Jew here” (Zalman Aran, MAPAI). This reflection comes years after the Zionist terrorism, years after the true Jew had time to consider “what have I done,” and in whose name have I done it, only to grasp the reality that all honest Jews must ask, “what have I become.”

“―The voice of your brother‘s blood crieth unto me from the ground," cries the Lord, and so the act must be judged and justice done. All humankind will don the robes of justice to condemn the fratricide; all 12 tribes of Israel will sit in judgment on their own; and God Almighty will cast the ultimate curse -- the very ground Cain tilled, the land he stole from his brother, will no longer yield fruit and, as a consequence, he will be a fugitive once more and a wanderer on the earth. Thus will Cain‘s intent -- satiating his selfishness, appeasing his jealousy, releasing his aggression – reveal the disconnect between his inherent evil and his higher nature. In time these are the birth gifts Israel will inherit from a world that is witness to its wanton killing of its brother, the Semitic people of Palestine, who die daily one by one in the scorching heat of the noon day sun, forgotten and alone. No candles light the darkness now, no songs are sung, no ribbons adorn the gifts, no laughter greets the guests, for the Nakba is not a day of celebration, it is a mark of catastrophic wickedness that tolls the death knell of the Jewish soul even as it blares to the world the power of indifference to one‘s brother, the ultimate birthright that severs the very blood of the family. And so will the words of Isiah ring on this day: “―Ah, sinful nation, people laden with iniquity, offspring who do evil, children who deal corruptly, who have forgotten the Lord.” May all of us who hear that cry not forget, that evil may be purged from the earth.

Thus do we return to Arthur Koestler‘s admonition to the Jews in the Diaspora, the dilemma they must face that will become more acute with time: choose between the Zionist controlled, amoral state that acts in your name casting lies like seeds before the multitudes and justifying brutal acts of vengeance and racism as necessary for the security of a state that stands alone in the mid-east as a bastion of technological and nuclear power or choose the truth of the Torah, as those Jews from across the world who remain compassionate, giving and loving people who seek peace in Palestine for both Jews and Palestinians (Promise and Fulfillment, Epilogue, 335).

William A. Cook is a Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California where he served for 13 years as Vice President for Academic Affairs before assuming his faculty position in 2001. He serves this academic year as interim department chair. Prior to coming to California, he served as a Dean of Faculty, Chair of Department of English and faculty member at institutions large and small, public and private in four eastern states. More information is available on his web site: www.drwilliamacook.com.

Twitter's Blue Pencil: Shutting Down Privileges for Impolitic Reporting

Twitter Suspends WND For Seth Rich Story

by Tyler Durden - ZeroHedge


May 25, 2017


A couple of days ago, WND ran a story entitled "Bombshell: Donna Brazile Warned Off Private Eye On Seth Rich Murder."

The story was sourced back to on-the-record quotes provided by Detective Rod Wheeler who was hired by the Rich family shortly after their son's suspicious murder in July 2016.

Among other things, Wheeler said that it was former Democratic National Committee interim chairwoman Donna Brazile who allegedly called police and the Rich family and demanded to know why a private investigator was “snooping” into Rich’s death.

“The high-ranking DNC official that called the police after I inquired about Rich’s case was Donna Brazile,” veteran homicide detective Rod Wheeler told WND. “Why shouldn’t I reveal who it was?”

To promote the story, WND sent the following tweet:



Unfortunately, Twitter seemed to take issue with the story and sent a message to WND demanding that they "Delete Tweet."




When they refused, a follow-up message from Twitter informed WND that their account had been effectively frozen.

"We have determined that you have violated the Twitter Rules, so we've temporarily limited some of your account features. While in this state, you can still browse Twitter, but you're limited to only sending Direct Messages to your followers - no Tweets, Retweets, or likes."



Of course, Twitter refused to highlight which of their rules (which can be found here) had been violated when asked by WND. After a quick review, we must admit that we would have a hard time identifying which rule was 'violated' as well. Here is a list of Twitter's "Abusive Behavior" rules...see if you can figure out which of them was violated.

  • Violent threats (direct or indirect): You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.
  • Harassment: You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others. Some of the factors that we may consider when evaluating abusive behavior include:
  • if a primary purpose of the reported account is to harass or send abusive messages to others;
  • if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats;
  • if the reported account is inciting others to harass another account; and
  • if the reported account is sending harassing messages to an account from multiple accounts.
  • Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.
  • Multiple account abuse: Creating multiple accounts with overlapping uses or in order to evade the temporary or permanent suspension of a separate account is not allowed.
  • Private information: You may not publish or post other people's private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address, or Social Security/National Identity numbers, without their express authorization and permission. In addition, you may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent. Read more about our private information policy here.
  • Impersonation: You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that is intended to or does mislead, confuse, or deceive others. Read more about our impersonation policy here.
  • Self-harm: You may encounter someone considering suicide or self harm on Twitter. When we receive reports that a person is threatening suicide or self harm, we may take a number of steps to assist them, such as reaching out to that person expressing our concern and the concern of other users on Twitter or providing resources such as contact information for our mental health partners.

But that's not really the point now is it? 


Perhaps the reason we can't find the 'rule' that was violated is because Twitter doesn't overtly publish their policy which demands the censoring all media which conflicts with their 'progressive' worldview.

Or maybe Twitter simply deemed the story to be 'fake news'? If so, perhaps Twitter could share their evidence that negates the on-the-record quotes reported by WND. Or, maybe Twitter just assumed that an upstanding citizen like Brazile, a woman who destroyed her own integrity by sharing debate questions with Hillary's campaign and subsequently lying about those actions on every media outlet in existence, would never do such a thing.

Moreover, if Twitter is now in the business of censoring 'fake news' then perhaps they can explain why our friends at CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post seem to be able to publish numerous 'fake news' stories, on a daily basis, without consequence?

Remember that whole 'Golden Showers' dossier that CNN pumped relentlessly over Twitter that was subsequently debunked with very minimal efforts...


Spicer goes first, calls Buzzfeed story on unsubstantiated documents: "outrageous"



Curiously, we don't remember CNN or Jim Acosta being temporarily suspended for pumping that story.  


Fear and (Self) Loathing in Israel

Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis Afraid?

by Ramzy Baroud - ramzybaroud.net


May 25, 2017

Bat-Hen Epstein Elias's long article on Iranian Jews is interesting. Parts of it, in fact, are heartwarming. Yet, despite the lack of any serious evidence, the story is entirely framed in the language of fear.

Entitled, "All the Jews there live in fear that their telephones are tapped," the story in ‘Israel Hayom’ peddles the idea that, although Iranian Jews seem generally content with their lives in Iran as an economically-privileged group, somehow, they are still afraid.

Or, perhaps, Israel needs them to be afraid, despite the fact that the Iranian Jews interviewed in the article expressed little or no fear sentiment at all.

One such character is 'M', who, like others asserted:

"I never felt like I was being attacked because I was Jewish, or that my religious freedom was harmed."

His narrative seems positive, if not altogether an encouraging model for co-existence.

For example, 'M' said:

"I have a good friend, a Muslim, who takes care of me. He takes me to the doctor, and even to the movies and the park, and invites me for meals. Everyone is very good to me and helps me. Before I got sick, I had a lot of money. Medications in Iran are good, a little expensive, but they can be obtained with private insurance and government insurance.”

But then, the fear component is purposely pushed by the Israeli journalist with no clear editorial justification.

Referring to 'M', Elias wrote,

"Like others, ('M') is careful when it comes to talking about the political situation, the nuclear program or the fear of an attack."

Aside from the fact that Israel Hayom serves, along with other Israeli media, as a major platform for fear-mongering, the need to be afraid is a collective phenomenon in Israel, which it insists on imposing on Jewish communities around the world.

One could in fact argue that 'fear' in Israel is an official industry. It helps the government justify its military spending; it helps the military justify its wars; and it further cements the rise of rightwing, religious and ultra-nationalist parties, which now together, rule Israel.

In some way, this is an old, yet ongoing story


When Israel was established in 1948, it called on all Jews to 'return' to the Jewish state, for they, allegedly, could not be safe anywhere else. While many Jewish immigrants throughout the years came to Israel seeking economic opportunities, many were compelled by fear.

That mindset has not changed at all. When militants staged several attacks in Paris in January 2015, Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called on all French Jews to migrate to Israel.

"We say to the Jews, to our brothers and sisters, Israel is your home and that of every Jew. Israel is waiting for you with open arms," Netanyahu said.

The statement was strongly criticized by French officials. Many were befuddled by such opportunism during one of France's most difficult moments in many years.

But for Netanyahu, as for past and present Israeli leaders, inciting or capitalizing on Jewish fears is nothing new.

However, peddling fear is now far more sophisticated, and is deeply embedded in the relationship between the state and Israel’s Jewish population. It has been so internalized to the extent that Israel is incapable of seeing the legitimate fears of the Palestinians and is only obsessed with its own self-induced fears.

A particularly telling story was reported in Israeli media earlier this month when Israeli police officers gave a group of elementary school children a demonstration on "how to kill a Palestinian assailant and verify that he is dead."

True, the event which took place in Ramat HaSharon on May 8 was not welcomed by all parents, but it was, nonetheless, an example of the training in fear that takes place at a very young age.

Commenting on the story, Jonathan Cook wrote,

"Half of Jewish schoolchildren believe these Palestinians, one in five of the population, should not be allowed to vote in elections."

This, then, is the desired outcome of such methodology, which is constantly fed by the state. Cook adds,

"This month the defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, called the minority’s representatives in parliament 'Nazis' and suggested they should share a similar fate."

The use of the word 'Nazis' is not merely a widely inaccurate depiction, but such terminology is designed to constantly stir past fears to achieve racially-motivated political objectives.

Yes, Israelis are manipulated to be very afraid. But unlike occupied and oppressed Palestinians, the Israeli fear is self-induced, an outcome of an inherent sense of collective insecurity that is constantly fed by the government, political parties and official institutions.

Despite Israel’s massive military budget, nuclear arms and territorial expansion at the expense of Palestinians and other Arab neighbors, the sense of insecurity it engenders keeps on growing at the same rapid speed as its military adventures.

It is a vicious cycle


When Netanyahu, for example, drew a red line in a graphic of a bomb during a speech at a United Nations General Assembly session in September 2012, he was, in essence drawing a new parameter of fear for his own society.

Yoav Litvin, a US-based Israeli doctor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience, wrote convincingly on the subject.

His article entitled, "Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor," critiques the Zionist narrative, explaining how such deeply entrenched ideas of eternal victimization has led to Israel's current state of permanent aggression and highly militarized society.

“We see that perspective represented by a long line of pro-aggression, exclusivist, expansionist and militaristic Israeli governments that instill and potentiate fear in order to control public opinion and facilitate their political and economic goals,” he wrote.
“In so doing, the Jewish victim narrative, a form of collective Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), sustains the level of aggression and oppression that is a part of daily life in the reality of occupation.”

Writing in the ‘Haaretz’, Daniel Bar-Tal conveys a similar sentiment. However, for Bar-Tal, the Zionist narrative is itself designed, in part, to accommodate existing beliefs pertaining to a collective Jewish experience.

Bar-Tal writes,

“Societal beliefs, vis-à-vis security, in Israel are based on past experience and on information disseminated via various channels and institutions, whether with regard to the conflict with the Palestinians or to relations with other actors in the region.” But equally important, “every member of society is also exposed to the collective memory of the Jewish people, by means of social, educational and cultural institutions.”

The Zionist narrative has purposely molded ‘past experiences’ into new political objectives and an expansionist ideology to harness the perpetual support of the Jewish people, in Israel and elsewhere. It has convinced them that their very survival is dependent on the subjugation of Palestinians.

This vicious cycle has, thus, become an obstacle to any peace that is predicated on justice and respect for international law and human rights.

The Zionist narrative, as championed by Netanyahu and Lieberman has zero margins for inclusiveness, and for that ideology to be maintained, fear in Israel must be infused.

However, the stronghold of fear must be broken.

Litvin courageously writes:

“We, as Israelis, must break the parasitic bond that Zionist propaganda has created between the Israeli/Zionist collective narrative (the state) and ourselves so that dissent becomes both legitimate and even patriotic as a means of building an inclusive and just society in Israel/Palestine.”


In fact, there can be no other way.


Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

Down Donald's Memory Hole: Making America Again

Down the Memory Hole: Living in Trump’s United States of Amnesia

by Rebecca Gordon - TomDispatch


May 25, 2017

The Trump administration seems intent on tossing recent history down the memory hole. Admittedly, Americans have never been known for their strong grasp of facts about their past. 

Still, as we struggle to keep up with the constantly shifting explanations and pronouncements of the new administration, it becomes ever harder to remember the events of yesterday, let alone last week, or last month.

The Credibility Swamp


Trump and his spokespeople routinely substitute “alternative facts” for what a friend of mine calls consensus reality, the world that most of us recognize.

Whose inaugural crowd was bigger, Barack Obama’s or Donald Trump’s? It doesn’t matter what you remember, or even what’s in the written accounts or photographic record. What matters is what the administration now says happened then. In other words, for Trump and his people, history in any normal sense simply doesn’t exist, and that’s a danger for the rest of us.

Think of the Trumpian past as a website that can be constantly updated to fit the needs of the present. You may believe you still remember something that used to be there, but it’s not there now. As it becomes increasingly harder to find, can you really trust your own memory?

Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Those Who Do Not Remember History...
In the first paragraphs of George Orwell’s famed novel 1984, Winston Smith slips through the doors of his apartment building, “Victory Mansions,” to escape a “vile wind.” Hate week -- a concept that should seem eerily familiar in Donald Trump’s America -- was soon to arrive. “The hallway,” writes Orwell, “smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats.” Smith then plods up to his seventh-floor flat, since the building's elevator rarely works even when there’s electricity, which is seldom the case. And, of course, he immediately sees the most famous poster in the history of the novel, the one in which BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. (“It was one of those pictures... so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move.”)

Now, imagine us inside our own “Victory Mansions,” an increasingly ramshackle place called the United States of America in which, like Smith, we simply can’t escape our leader. Call him perhaps “Big Muddler.” He may not be looking directly at YOU, but he is, thanks to a never-ending media frenzy, remarkably omnipresent. Go ahead and try, but you know that whatever you do, however you live your life, these days you just can’t escape him. And if Donald Trump’s America isn’t already starting to feel a little like that ill-named, run-down building in a future, poverty-stricken London, then tell me what it's like.

Can’t you feel how rickety the last superpower on planet Earth is becoming as our very own Big-Muddler-in-Chief praises himself eternally for his “achievements”? Here’s just a small sample from a recent graduation address President Trump gave at the Coast Guard Academy. (You know, the one where he so classically claimed that “no politician in history -- and I say this with great surety -- has been treated worse or more unfairly”): 

“I’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time as president. Jobs pouring back into our country... We’ve saved the Second Amendment, expanded service for our veterans... I’ve loosened up the strangling environmental chains wrapped around our country and our economy, chains so tight that you couldn’t do anything -- that jobs were going down... We’ve begun plans and preparations for the border wall, which is going along very, very well. We’re working on major tax cuts for all... And we’re also getting closer and closer, day by day, to great healthcare for our citizens.”

This is, of course, all balderdash -- from the “big, fat, beautiful wall” the Mexicans were going to finance, for which he’s requested $1.6 billion in the next budget (compared to the up to $67 billion it might actually cost) and which he’s unlikely to get, to those scam jobs supposedly flooding in thanks to him. His urge is clearly to establish a fantasy America, a true Victory Mansion (undoubtedly with his name in golden letters above it) in the potential ruins of the country we once knew, which would indeed be an Orwellian trick of the first order. In the meantime, as TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon points out, President Trump and his coterie of cabinet plutocrats and advisers have been doing Orwell one better and, 33 years after 1984 passed us by, are in the process of creating their own memory hole down which they plan to stuff reality itself. Tom 

Down the Memory Hole: Living in Trump’s United States of Amnesia

by Rebecca Gordon

In recent months, revisions of that past have sometimes come so blindingly fast that the present has simply been overrun, as was true with the firing of FBI Director James Comey. First, the president ordered up some brand new supporting documents from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein. These were designed to underpin his line that Comey was fired on their recommendation -- for being “unfair” to Hillary Clinton. Then, even as his surrogates were out peddling that very story, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that, “regardless of [Sessions’ and Rosenstein’s] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.” And he explained why:

“And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”

Which rationale for Comey’s departure is true? Both? Neither? What is “truth” after all?

When the need to ask such questions occurs once in a while, it’s anomalous enough that we notice. We have time to remark that someone or various people in this story -- Sessions, Rosenstein, the surrogates, Trump himself -- are mistaken or even lying. Fortunately, in the case of Comey’s firing, journalists are still reporting the lies, but what happens if the rewrites of our recent history begin to come so fast that we stop keeping up?

During the Vietnam War, President Lyndon Johnson was famously said to have a “credibility gap.” People, including journalists, had stopped believing everything his administration said about one very important topic: the war. Trump doesn’t have a credibility gap; he’s tossed us into a credibility swamp. We’re all there together swimming in a mire of truth and lies, with the occasional firecracker thrown in just to see if we’re still paying attention.

If the age of Trump doesn’t end relatively soon, the daily effort to sort out what happened from what didn’t may eventually become too much for many of us. Memory fatigue may set in, and the whole project of keeping the past in focus shelved. In that case, we might very well start to give up the concept of citizenship altogether and decide instead to just get on with our own private uninsured, underpaid, and overworked lives.

Sometimes it's easier to simply adjust to an ever-changing official version of reality than to keep up a constant, unrewarding struggle to remember. This was the phenomenon George Orwell described so unforgettably in his dystopian novel 1984. His hero, Winston Smith, becomes aware that the sole party that runs his country incessantly rewrites the past to its own liking and advantage. In fact, he realizes that “the past not only changed, but changed continuously.”

Like most inhabitants of the mega-state of Oceania, it wasn’t that Smith couldn’t accept such a reality. He could. What he couldn’t shake was a nightmarish sense “that he had never clearly understood why” the Party needed to do it. “The immediate advantages of falsifying the past were obvious, but the ultimate motive was mysterious” to him. That “ultimate motive,” he eventually realizes, is to so destroy people’s hold on memory that they come to believe that truth genuinely is whatever the Party says it is.

“In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable?”

Does President Trump know what he’s doing? Does he know that, in a more chaotic fashion than Orwell’s “Big Brother,” he’s grinding away at American memories, threatening to turn them into so much rubble? It’s hard to say; he appears to be incapable of either self-reflection or planning, indeed of acting in any way except on impulse. He does, however, seem to know in an intuitive way what works for him, what gets him things he wants, as he has his whole professional life. He’s called his method “truthful hyperbole.” And regardless of what he himself understands, there are certainly people around him who do grasp all too well the usefulness of that “ultimate motive,” of convincing the public that facts are not all that stubborn after all.

The Memory Hole


Supplying alternative facts is one way of destroying memory. Erasing real facts is another.

In Orwell’s 1984, there was a slot in the wall at the Ministry of Truth where Winston Smith worked, a memory hole, into which inconvenient documents could be fed to be consumed forever by a huge basement furnace. There are, it seems, plenty of memory holes in Washington these days.

Since January, the Trump administration has been systematically removing from federal websites inconvenient information on subjects as diverse as climate change and occupational health and safety, and replacing it with anodyne messages. Take, for instance, this one, which you get when you search the Environmental Protection Agency’s website for the term “climate change” and click on links that search turns up:

“This page is being updated.

“Thank you for your interest in this topic. We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA's priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator [Scott] Pruitt. If you're looking for an archived version of this page, you can find it on the January 19 snapshot.”

If you do click on the link for that January 19, 2017, “snapshot,” you can still (for now) see what the old climate change portal of the Obama era looked like. At the top of the “snapshot,” however, is a bright red notice announcing:

“This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to www.epa.gov. This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2017. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.”

The government has now entered full-scale climate change denial mode. Information of just about any sort on global warming has been or is being memory-holed in a wholesale fashion at other agency websites as well. The Guardian, for instance, reports that, in the part of the Department of Energy’s site addressed to children, “sentences that point out the harmful health consequences of burning coal and other impacts of fossil fuels have gone.” At the State Department, references to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and a recent U.N. meeting on climate change have similarly been expunged.

However, it’s not just government pronouncements on issues like climate change that are being sanitized. Actual data is disappearing from government websites. The federal government collects vast amounts of data, much of it the results of studies it has funded. Some agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, are required by law to retain data they collect, but they are not required to post it. This means basic information and the results of scientific research, once available online, are now only available through a Freedom of Information Act request. Of course, you have to know that the information exists in the first place in order to request it.

One result of hiding such data is that scientists citing U.S. government webpages as sources in their own work are now finding that the references they’ve pointed to have disappeared. Arctic researcher Victoria Herrmann describes watching her citations dissolve into thin air:

“At first, the distress flare of lost data came as a surge of defunct links on 21 January. The U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic, the Implementation Plan for the Strategy, and the report on our progress all gone within a matter of minutes. As I watched more and more links turned red, I frantically combed the Internet for archived versions of our country’s most important polar policies.”

Herrmann was able to find some of her missing articles using the Wayback Machine, an internet archiving project. But as Herrmann points out, “Each defunct page is an effort by the Trump administration to deliberately undermine our ability to make good policy decisions by limiting access to scientific evidence.”

It’s not just environmental information that’s been tossed down the memory hole. Concerned about the health and safety of workers or animals? The Washington Post reports some things you won’t find anymore on federal sites:

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for instance, has dramatically scaled back on publicizing its fines against firms. And the Agriculture Department has taken offline animal-welfare enforcement records, including abuses in dog breeding operations and horse farms that alter the gait of horses through the controversial practice of ‘soring’ the animals’ legs.”

Sometimes information only hangs around for a brief moment, before sliding down the memory hole. That’s what happened to an advertisement for Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, which was masquerading as an entry on Share America, which the State Department calls its “platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.” The page appeared on the website of the U.S. embassy in London.

Someone must have realized that using the State Department to advertise the President’s private club was not a great idea. Conflict of interest? No problem. It’s down the memory hole.


Nor is it just government websites that are being reworked in a distinctly Orwellian fashion. Recently, the Trump 2020 reelection campaign (yes, it already exists) quietly removed many 2016 campaign documents from its website. The Washington Post’s Avi Selk describes some of the missing press releases, among them the one that reproduced Trump’s full interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in which he so infamously insulted Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who spoke out against him at the Democratic Party convention, and his wife, Ghazala.

Similarly, links to Trump’s “New Deal for Black America,” released a week before the 2016 election, now bring up a dreaded “404 - Page not found” message on the Trump-Pence website. Whatever that “deal” was, it’s evidently no longer on offer, nor is it even to remain in the historical record.


The same memory hole has also evidently devoured a December 2015 press release announcing that “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” Fortunately, versions of that particular statement were repeated often enough in enough places that lawyers have been able to continue to use it to argue against the president’s executive orders banning the entry of people from seven (now six) majority-Muslim countries.

The Trump administration’s memory holes have swallowed up more than documents and data. People have also disappeared -- if not from the world, at least from their government positions. We still remember former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former FBI Director James Comey, but who remembers Ponisseril Somasundaran or Courtney Flint? They are among the scientists recently dismissed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors. Among their duties was to give advice on environmental regulation. They are to be replaced, according to agency spokesperson J.P. Freire, by people “who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community” -- that is, representatives of polluting industries.

The United States of Amnesia


Gore Vidal coined the expression “the United States of Amnesia” in a 2004 book about George W. Bush’s America. The particular instance of amnesia Vidal highlighted with that phrase was the failure of those then waging the “war on drugs” to remember the disasters of the prohibition of alcohol sales in the 1930s, and the ensuing corruption, gangsters, and smuggling rings that came with it.

His larger point, however, was that, in general, American historical memory is short. Thirteen years after Vidal’s book appeared, and with a new Republican administration ascendant, it seems that this country is in danger of sinking ever deeper into a state of amnesia. And can there be any question that, in a distinctly Orwellian fashion, the new administration is doing everything in its power to hasten that process? As the Trump administration prepares for a new “surge” on the perpetual battlefield that is Afghanistan, we’ve conveniently forgotten how little the last one achieved. We’ve forgotten how deregulation led to the Great Recession, as the federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded in 2011. “The greatest tragedy,” that panel wrote, “would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming and thus nothing could have been done. If we accept this notion, it will happen again.” Yet the Republicans in Congress can’t wait to repeal Dodd-Frank, the law that restored a semblance of regulation to the world of commercial banking.

The fifth-century African bishop St. Augustine was probably the first western thinker to pay attention to human memory. In his Confessions, Augustine observes that it is memory -- the ability to bring into present awareness past experiences and the ability to recognize the difference between past, present, and future -- that makes us self-aware beings. He described the “vast hall of my memory,” where “I meet myself and recall what I am, what I have done, and when and where and how I was affected when I did it.” It is on the basis of memory, he added, that “I reason about future actions and events and hopes, and again think of all these things in the present. 'I shall do this and that,' I say to myself within that vast recess of my mind which is full of many rich images, and this act or that follows.”

If Augustine was right and memory gives us our selves, allowing us to “reason about future actions and events and hopes,” then a political regime that seeks to destroy its people’s memory is an existential threat.

In that case, the first act of resistance is to remember who we are.


Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular, teaches in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes. Her previous books include Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States and Letters from Nicaragua.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer's dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Rebecca Gordon

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Russia-Gate's Rusty Hinges

New Cracks in Russia-gate ‘Assessment’

by Robert Parry - Consortium News


May 23, 2017

At the center of the Russia-gate scandal is a curious U.S. intelligence “assessment” that was pulled together in less than a month and excluded many of the agencies that would normally weigh in on such an important topic as whether Russia tried to influence the outcome of a U.S. presidential election.


Former CIA Director John Brennan
at White House meeting as President
Barack Obama’s counterterrorism adviser.

The Jan. 6 report and its allegation that Russia “hacked” Democratic emails and publicized them through WikiLeaks have been treated as gospel by the mainstream U.S. media and many politicians of both parties, but two senior Obama administration intelligence officials have provided new information that raises fresh doubts about the findings.

On Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee that only four of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies took part in the assessment, relying on analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the oversight of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Brennan said the report,

“followed the general model of how you want to do something like this with some notable exceptions. It only involved the FBI, NSA and CIA as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It wasn’t a full inter-agency community assessment that was coordinated among the 17 agencies, and for good reason because of the nature and the sensitivity of the information trying, once again, to keep that tightly compartmented.”

But Brennan’s excuse about “tightly compartmented” information was somewhat disingenuous because other intelligence agencies, such as the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), could have been consulted in a limited fashion, based on their areas of expertise. For instance, INR could have weighed in on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would have taken the risk of trying to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign, knowing that – if she won as expected and learned of the operation – she might have sought revenge against him and his country.

The Jan. 6 report argued one side of the case – that Putin had a motive for undermining Clinton because he objected to her work as Secretary of State when she encouraged anti-Putin protests inside Russia – but the report ignored the counter-argument that the usually cautious Putin might well have feared infuriating the incoming U.S. President if the anti-Clinton ploy failed to block her election.

A balanced intelligence assessment would have included not just arguments for believing that the Russians did supply the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks but the reasons to doubt that they did.

Pre-Cooked Intelligence


However, the restricted nature of the Jan. 6 report – limiting it to analysts from CIA, NSA and FBI – blocked the kind of expertise that the State Department, the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies might have provided. In other words, the Jan. 6 report has the look of pre-cooked intelligence.



Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (right) talks with 
President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, with John Brennan 
and other national security aides present. 
(Photo credit: Office of Director of National Intelligence)

That impression was further strengthened by the admission of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on May 8 that “the two dozen or so analysts for this task were hand-picked, seasoned experts from each of the contributing agencies.”

Yet, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion. For instance, if the analysts were known to be hard-liners on Russia or supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could be expected to deliver the one-sided report that they did.

In the history of U.S. intelligence, we have seen how this approach has worked, such as the determination of the Reagan administration to pin the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II and other acts of terror on the Soviet Union.

CIA Director William Casey and Deputy Director Robert Gates shepherded the desired findings through the process by putting the assessment under the control of pliable analysts and sidelining those who objected to this politicization of intelligence.

The point of enlisting the broader intelligence community – and incorporating dissents into a final report – is to guard against such “stove-piping” of intelligence that delivers the politically desired result but ultimately distorts reality.

Another painful example of politicized intelligence was President George W. Bush’s 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD that removed INR’s and other dissents from the declassified version that was given to the public.

Lacking Evidence


The Jan. 6 report – technically called an Intelligence Community Assessment (or ICA) – avoided the need to remove any dissents by excluding the intelligence agencies that might have dissented and by hand-picking the analysts who compiled the report.


 
President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney 
receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. 
Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). 
(White House photo)

However, like the declassified version of the Iraq NIE, the Russia-gate ICA lacked any solid evidence to support the conclusions. The ICA basically demanded that the American public “trust us” and got away with that bluff because much of the mainstream U.S. news media wanted to believe anything negative about then-President-elect Trump.

Because of that, the American people were repeatedly – and falsely – informed that the findings about Russian “hacking” reflected the collective judgment of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, making anyone who dared question the conclusion seem like a crackpot or a “Russian apologist.”

Yet, based on the testimonies of Clapper and Brennan, we now know that the ICA represented only a hand-picked selection of the intelligence community – four, not 17, agencies.

There were other biases reflected in the ICA, such as a bizarre appendix that excoriated RT, the Russian television network, for supposedly undermining Americans’ confidence in their democratic process.

This seven-page appendix, dating from 2012, accused RT of portraying “the US electoral process as undemocratic” and offered such “proof” as RT’s staging of a debate among third-party presidential candidates who had been excluded from the Republican-Democratic debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

“RT broadcast, hosted and advertised third-party candidate debates,” the report said, as if allowing political figures in the United States who were not part of the two-party system to express their views, was somehow anti-democratic, when you might think that letting Americans hear alternatives was the essence of democracy.

“The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham,’” the report continued. Yet, polls have shown that large numbers of Americans would prefer more choices than the usual two candidates and, indeed, most Western democracies have multiple parties, So, the implicit RT criticism of the U.S. political process is certainly not out of the ordinary.

The report also took RT to task for covering the Occupy Wall Street movement and for reporting on the environmental dangers from “fracking,” topics cited as further proof that the Russian government was using RT to weaken U.S. public support for Washington’s policies (although, again, these are topics of genuine public interest).

Assessing or Guessing


But at least the appendix offered up some “evidence” – as silly as those examples might have been. The main body of the report amounted to one “assessment” after another with no verifiable evidence included, at least in the unclassified version that the American people were allowed to see.


President Donald Trump delivering inaugural address, Jan. 20, 2017
(Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

The report also contained a warning about how unreliable these “assessments” could be: “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.”

In other words, “assessing” in intelligence terms often equates with “guessing” – and if the guessers are hand-picked by political appointees – it shouldn’t be surprising that they would come up with an “assessment” that would please their bosses, in this case, President Obama and his appointees at CIA, NSA, FBI and ODNI.

The timing and speed of the Jan. 6 report also drew some attention at Tuesday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing, where Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York, noted that President Obama requested the ICA on Dec. 9 and the last entry was dated Dec. 29.

“This report was produced in just 20 days in December,” Stefanik said, adding: “It’s of concern to me that there was a two-month lag” between when Obama’s intelligence agencies first alleged Russian “hacking” of Democratic emails and when Obama ordered the ICA.

Of course, the ICA’s flaws do not mean that Russia is innocent or that WikiLeaks is telling the truth when it asserts that the two batches of Democratic emails – one from the Democratic National Committee and the other from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta – did not come from the Russians.

But the Jan. 6 report has served as the foundation for a series of investigations that have hobbled the Trump administration and could lead to the negation of a U.S. presidential election via the impeachment or forced resignation of President Trump.

The seriousness of that possibility would seem to demand the most thorough examination and the fullest vetting of the evidence. Even just the appearance that the ICA might be one more case of politicized intelligence would do more to destroy Americans’ faith in their democratic system than anything that Putin might dream up.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).