Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Today's Links

1--Are America's Wars Just and Moral? Pat Buchanan 


“One knowledgeable official estimates that the CIA-backed fighters may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies,” writes columnist David Ignatius.


Given that Syria’s prewar population was not 10 percent of ours, this is the equivalent of a million dead and wounded Americans. What justifies America’s participation in this slaughter?
Columnist Eric Margolis summarizes the successes of the six-year civil war to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
“The result of the western-engendered carnage in Syria was horrendous: at least 475,000 dead, 5 million Syrian refugees driven into exile in neighboring states (Turkey alone hosts three million), and another 6 million internally displaced. … 11 million Syrians … driven from their homes into wretched living conditions and near famine.

“Two of Syria’s greatest and oldest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, have been pounded into ruins. Jihadist massacres and Russian and American air strikes have ravaged once beautiful, relatively prosperous Syria. Its ancient Christian peoples are fleeing for their lives before US and Saudi takfiri religious fanatics.”

Realizing the futility of U.S. policy, President Trump is cutting aid to the rebels. And the War Party is beside itself. Says The Wall Street Journal:
“The only way to reach an acceptable diplomatic solution is if Iran and Russia feel they are paying too high a price for their Syria sojourn. This means more support for Mr. Assad’s enemies, not cutting them off without notice. And it means building up a Middle East coalition willing to fight Islamic State and resist Iran. The U.S. should also consider enforcing ‘safe zones’ in Syria for anti-Assad forces.”

Yet, fighting ISIS and al-Qaida in Syria, while bleeding the Assad-Iran-Russia-Hezbollah victors, is a formula for endless war and unending terrors visited upon the Syrian people.
What injury did the Assad regime, in power for half a century and having never attacked us, inflict to justify what we have helped to do to that country.

2-- European Union ‘Stands Ready to Act’ Over US Sanctions on Russia


(More sanctions could split the transatlantic alliance)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says he believes the EU stands “ready to act within days” if US sanctions are adopted without taking Europe’s concerns into account. This is particularly important if major German energy companies get targeted, as they are wholly dependent on Russia for natural gas


3--Say Goodbye to Regime Change in Syria, scott ritter


(US arms and trains al Qaida while US media sleeps)


President Donald Trump has ordered that the CIA begin to phase out its covert train-and-equip program in support of so-called “moderate” rebels fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. ....


The train and equip mission of the CIA in Syria can be traced back to the spring of 2011, when a revolution broke out in Libya against the dictatorial rule of Muammar Gadhafi. Backed by NATO airpower, anti-regime fighters were able to establish control over large areas inside Libya. The CIA began a program to train and equip these fighters, supplying weapons to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who in turn shipped these weapons to Libya, where they were turned over to Libyan rebels...


In August 2011, in the aftermath of the capture of the Libyan capital of Tripoli by rebel forces, Qatar began diverting arms originally intended for Libya to Turkey, where they were turned over to rebel forces that had, since June of 2011, been fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. These rebels were grouped together under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), an ostensibly secular resistance group that  was in reality controlled by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that had been crushed by Bashar al-Assad’s father back in the early 1980’, and was operating in exile in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. While the CIA was not directly involved in this activity, CIA personnel in Libya and Turkey monitored these shipments to make sure no sensitive weaponry, such as hand-help surface-to-air missiles, made their way into Syria. This effort, which involved billions of dollars of arms, including those provided by the United States for the express purpose of aiding Libyan rebels, continued through 2012 and into 2013...



From 2013 through 2015, Timber Sycamore oversaw the purchase of billions of dollars of modern weaponry from Balkan suppliers, primarily in Croatia, and their shipment to ports in Turkey and Jordan, where the CIA, working with Turkish and Jordanian intelligence agencies, trained and equipped thousands of rebel fighters from more than 50 groups inside Syria that had been vetted by the CIA.


4-- Why did Washington hate Hugo Chavez?



EG: I suppose Washington hated Chavez for many reasons. Of course the oil is a primary source of Washington’s aggressive attitude towards Chavez. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves on the planet and before Hugo Chavez was elected, governments were subservient to US interests. In fact, Venezuela was on the verge of privatizing its oil industry, along with everything else in the country, right when Chavez was elected. So the fact that a head of state sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves – which the US needs to maintain its excessive consumer model in the long term – would not be subordinate to US agenda was maddening for Washington.

Chavez not only reclaimed and transformed the oil industry to redistribute the wealth and ensure foreign corporations abided by the laws (paying taxes and royalties, for example), but he also nationalized other strategic resources in the country that the US had its hands in, such as gold, electricity and telecommunications. Clearly Chavez was a major thorn in Washington’s economic interests in the region. Once Chavez spearheaded the creation of Latin American integration and cooperation, that converged into organizations such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as PetroCaribe, Telesur (the region’s first television network) and many more initiatives, Washington quickly began to lose influence in the region. This also led to more hostility towards Chavez, since he was the major leader and driving force behind Latin American independence and sovereignty in the XXI century.

Washington, and the Venezuelan elite, also couldn’t stand Chavez’s mannerisms and direct way of telling things like they are. He was afraid of nothing and no one and never stood down, he always remained firm and said what he believed, even if it wasn’t the diplomatically correct thing to say. And Washington hated him for bringing back the evil concept of socialism to today’s world. They tried to hard to rid the planet of anything remotely like communism in the XX century, so Chavez’s “Socialism of the XXI Century” was a slap in the face for old school Washington, which still holds the reigns in the US.



5--The media and the Democrats are lying; Russia did NOT hack the election. Here's the proof


Independent cyber-investigators have now completed the kind of forensic work that the intelligence assessment did not do. Oddly, the “hand-picked” intelligence analysts contented themselves with “assessing” this and “assessing” that. In contrast, the investigators dug deep and came up with verifiable evidence from metadata found in the record of the alleged Russian hack.
They found that the purported “hack” of the DNC by Guccifer 2.0 was not a hack, by Russia or anyone else. Rather it originated with a copy (onto an external storage device – a thumb drive, for example) by an insider. The data was leaked after being doctored with a cut-and-paste job to implicate Russia. We do not know who or what the murky Guccifer 2.0 is. You may wish to ask the FBI

It has long been clear to us that the reason the U.S. government lacks conclusive evidence of a transfer of a “Russian hack” to WikiLeaks is because there was no such transfer. Based mostly on the cumulatively unique technical experience of our ex-NSA colleagues, we have been saying for almost a year that the DNC data reached WikiLeaks via a copy/leak by a DNC insider (but almost certainly not the same person who copied DNC data on July 5, 2016).

Forensic studies of “Russian hacking” into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to DNC computers, and then doctored to incriminate Russia

After examining metadata from the “Guccifer 2.0” July 5, 2016 intrusion into the DNC server, independent cyber investigators have concluded that an insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device, and that “telltale signs” implicating Russia were then inserted.
Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack. Of equal importance, the forensics show that the copying and doctoring were performed on the East coast of the U.S. Thus far, mainstream media have ignored the findings of these independent studies [see here and here]....

Why the FBI neglected to perform any independent forensics on the original “Guccifer 2.0” material remains a mystery – as does the lack of any sign that the “hand-picked analysts” from the FBI, CIA, and NSA, who wrote the “Intelligence Community Assessment” dated January 6, 2017, gave any attention to forensics...

(2) a separate leak on July 5, 2016, to pre-emptively taint anything WikiLeaks might later publish by “showing” it came from a “Russian hack.”)

after WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange announced on June 12, 2016, “We have emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication,” her campaign had more than a month before the convention to insert its own “forensic facts” and prime the media pump to put the blame on “Russian meddling.” Mrs. Clinton’s PR chief Jennifer Palmieri has explained how she used golf carts to make the rounds at the convention. She wrote that her “mission was to get the press to focus on something even we found difficult to process: the prospect that Russia had not only hacked and stolen emails from the DNC, but that it had done so to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.”

The Key Event
July 5, 2016: In the early evening, Eastern Daylight Time, someone working in the EDT time zone with a computer directly connected to the DNC server or DNC Local Area Network, copied 1,976 MegaBytes of data in 87 seconds onto an external storage device. That speed is many times faster than what is physically possible with a hack.

It thus appears that the purported “hack” of the DNC by Guccifer 2.0 (the self-proclaimed WikiLeaks source) was not a hack by Russia or anyone else, but was rather a copy of DNC data onto an external storage device. Moreover, the forensics performed on the metadata reveal there was a subsequent synthetic insertion – a cut-and-paste job using a Russian template, with the clear aim of attributing the data to a “Russian hack.” This was all performed in the East Coast time zone....

(The CIA has ability to make it look like cyber attacks are launched by a third party) the CIA reportedly used Marble during 2016. In her Washington Post report, Nakashima left that out, but did include another significant point made by WikiLeaks; namely, that the obfuscation tool could be used to conduct a “forensic attribution double game” or false-flag operation because it included test samples in Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic and Farsi....

Putin pointed out that today’s technology enables hacking to be “masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one can understand the origin” [of the hack] … And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack.”
“Hackers may be anywhere,” he said. “There may be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very craftily and professionally passed the buck to Russia. Can’t you imagine such a scenario? … I can.”


6--Gabbard: Media misses point of CIA program Trump ended video


7--The use of children in the propaganda war


President Assad replied: “You cannot build your political position or stand, let’s say, according to a video promoted by the terrorists or their supporters. It’s a game now, a game of propaganda, it’s a game of media....Our mission as a government is to deal with the reality. You have terrorists in Syria, they are supported by foreign powers and foreign countries, and we have to defend our country.”


8--Will Washington get the boot?


"Here's the conundrum: We are operating in the sovereign country of Syria. The Russians, their stalwarts, their backstoppers have already uninvited the Turks from Syria. We're a bad day away from the Russians saying, 'Why are you still in Syria, US?'" Thomas said.
"If the Russians play that card, we could want to stay and have no ability to do it," he finally stated.


9--IMF global outlook downgrades US growth prospects


10--Washington's economic war on Russia continues--


there has been public criticism by the European Union of at least one provision in the sanctions bill, which bars companies from doing deals with Russian partners where the Russian company owns more than a one-third interest in the venture. This could potentially threaten the Nord Stream II pipeline between Russia and Germany, financed by several Western companies but owned by Russia’s Gazprom....

The congressional deal came the same weekend as the Aspen Institute conference on US national security at which former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper denounced Trump for his supposed softness towards Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

Appearing at the same conference, Trump’s own appointees, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and DNI Dan Coats, said they agreed with the series of findings issued by the intelligence agencies that Russia had intervened in the US elections by hacking into Democratic Party servers and spreading anti-Clinton material on the Internet, in order to help Trump win the election.
Top White House aides are under increasing pressure from the congressional and Justice Department investigations into claims—so far unsupported by evidence—that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election

11--Iran rejects US bases, but welcomes Russia--al Maliki: "Yes to Moscow, No to Washington


Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki has called for “substantial” Russian military and political presence in the terror-ravaged country, saying this would bring “balance” to the entire region.
“It’s well known that Russia has historically strong relations with Iraq, therefore we would like Russia to have a substantial presence in our country, both politically and militarily,” said the senior Iraqi official during a Monday meeting with speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, in Moscow, RT reported.
“This way, a balance would be established that would benefit the region, its peoples and its countries” added Maliki, saying his country believes “in Russia’s role in solving most of the key international issues as well as improving stability and balance in our region and worldwide.”...

“The Iraqi society is against foreign military bases on the country’s territory,” al-Maliki noted, adding that he has already warned the Americans against “coming back to Iraq and setting up bases here.”


12--SDF And Syrian Military Make Secret Deal, Divide Spheres Of Influence In Deir Ezzor, Raqqah Provinces


13--The Democrats Are a Lost Cause


So what exactly is in Chuck’s stillborn (Republican president, Republican House, Republican Senate) Better Deal?
“Rules to stop prescription drug price gouging… allow regulators to break up big companies if they’re hurting consumers… giving employers, particularly small businesses, a large tax credit to train workers for unfilled jobs.”
These are good ideas.
But they’re so small.

14--Garbage democrats promise nothing


The bulk of Schumer’s op-ed focuses on small policy changes that would help working people, while also promising more dinky policy proposals to come — but then concludes that the Democrats lack the power to actually enact any of this. So let me understand: Trump threatens our economy, government, democracy, planet and global peace, and Democrats respond with small-bore policy talks focused on what they cannot achieve? No wonder people stay home from the polls.

15--Brennan's jihad 


If there was any doubt that the Deep State US intelligence agencies were working to overthrow President Trump, then look no further than former Obama CIA Director John Brennan’s statements at the Aspen Security Forum, moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

John Brennan called for a soft coup against President Trump, should special counsel Mueller be fired.
Brennan urged US government officials to refuse to follow the president’s orders, if Mueller is dismissed, as those orders would be “inconsistent” with the duties of the executive branch.
“I think it’s the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out. I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue. That Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this government is at stake and something needs to be done for the good of the future.”

16--) It is now clear that some of the information that has been fed to the media by our old friends the “anonymous sources”during the Russiagate scandal is either grossly inaccurate or simply false, and Kushner’s statement provides two examples of this.
The “anonymous sources” have either invented two telephone conversations Kushner is supposed to have had with the Russians during the election campaign or else Reuters, which reported this story, has invented both it and them.
It is now also clear that the notorious meeting between Kislyak, Kushner and Flynn which took place in December has been totally misrepresented.

It seems that there was no discussion of setting up a ‘back channel’ between the Trump administration and the Kremlin was discussed during this meeting as our old friends the “anonymous officials” reported.  Rather there was a discussion – which went nowhere – about how the Russian military would convey a message to General Flynn about the situation in Syria.


16--Jared Kushner’s statement DEMOLISHES Russiagate



It is in fact clear that the main topic of the discussion between Kislyak, Kushner and Flynn – and I suspect of the equally notorious telephone conversations between Kislyak and Flynn which eventually caused Flynn’s resignation – was Syria.This makes total sense.  In October 2016 the US and Russian militaries faced off against each other in Syria, with the Russians deploying advanced anti aircraft missiles to Syria to deter any US attempt to intervene in the ongoing battle in eastern Aleppo.  The leaders of both the US and the Russian militaries have spoken repeatedly of the extreme tension during that time, when the world’s two most powerful militaries came closer to armed conflict with each other than they have done at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis at the height of the Cold War...

In summary, Jared Kushner has provided what any reasonable person would accept as a thorough and comprehensive account of his dealings with the Russians both during the election and after it.
Not only does it show that he personally never colluded with the Russians at any point during the election about anything, but given his central role in the Trump campaign any reasonable person reading his statement would conclude that no one in the Trump campaign did either.   In Kushner’s own words
I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector

... we have the two documents which between them have generated the entirety of the Russiagate scandal.  These are the report from CrowdStrike claiming it was Russian intelligence which hacked the computers of John Podesta and the DNC, and the Trump Dossier, which was compiled though apparently not authored by Christopher Steele and Orbis.
Neither of these documents originates with any official agency of the US government or indeed of any other government.  Both are the products of private enterprise paid for by persons having or apparently having some connection to the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Both have however been treated as authoritative by believers in the Russiagate scandal, which it turns out includes many people within the US intelligence community, even though there are serious doubts about the methodology of the first, whilst the second is not merely uncorroborated but looks in large part invented.
Over and above these two inherently unreliable documents there is a mountain of uncorroborated leaks and innuendo, some of which as Kushner’s statement shows are simply wrong.

It says volumes about the collapse of intellectual integrity in the United States that most of the political class – including the entire Democratic Party and much of the intelligence community – still continues to believe the fantasies of these two documents, and will continue to do so, even after they have been provided with this clear and straightforward statement of fact by Jared Kushner, which shows the illogic and absurdity of what they say.


17--The 12 baseless claims that form Russiagate


(1) The Russians hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers and stole the emails they found there

No agency of the US government has examined these computers.  The only examination of the computers which has taken place, and the only investigation of the hacking allegation which has been carried out, has been the work of a private company – CrowdStrike – whose opinions the relevant US government agencies have simply accepted as true.
I have never come across such a situation before, where a police agency bases its conclusions not on its own investigations but entirely on the opinions of a private detective agency.

ultimately we only have the word of Hillary Clinton, the DNC, John Podesta and their paid contractor CrowdStrike that a hack took place at all.  Since the DNC and John Podesta refused to allow the FBI to examine their computers, the FBI cannot itself verify that there was in fact such a hack

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