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Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump – Chicago Tribune

What about Antifa? What about free speech? What about the guy who shot Steve Scalise? What about the mosque in Minnesota that got bombed? What about North Korea? What about murders in Chicago? What about Ivanka at the G-20? What about Vince Foster? If white pride is bad, then what about gay pride? What about the stock market? What about those 33,000 deleted emails? What about Hitler? What about the Crusades? What about the asteroid that may one day kill us all? What about Benghazi?

What about what about what about.

We’ve gotten very good at what-abouting.

The president has led the way.

His campaign may or may not have conspired with Moscow, but President DonaldTrump has routinely employed a durable old Soviet propaganda tactic. Tuesday’s bonkers news conference in New York was Trump’s latest act of “whataboutism,” the practice of short-circuiting an argument by asserting moral equivalency between two things that aren’t necessarily comparable. In this case, the president wondered whether the removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville where white supremacists clashed this weekend with counterprotesters would lead to the teardown of others.

Robert E. Lee? What about George Washington?

“George Washington was a slave owner,” Trump said to journalists in the lobby of his corporate headquarters. “Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?”

Using the literal “what about” construction, Trump then went on to blame “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville.

“What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at the, as you say, the ‘alt-right’?” the president said. “Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

For a nanosecond, especially to an uncritical listener, this stab at logic might seem interesting, even thought-provoking, and that’s why it’s a useful political tool. Whataboutism appears to broaden context, to offer a counterpoint, when really it’s diverting blame, muddying the waters and confusing the hell out of rational listeners.

“Not only does it help to deflect your original argument but it also throws you off balance,” says Alexey Kovalev, an independent Russian journalist, on the phone from Moscow. “You’re expecting to be in a civilized argument that doesn’t use cheap tricks like that. You are playing chess and your opponent while making a lousy move he just punches you on the nose.”

Ashley Parker and David Nakamura

Vladimir Putin has made a national sport of what-abouting. In 2014, when a journalist challenged him on his annexation of Crimea, Putin brought up the U.S. annexation of Texas. The American invasion of Iraq is constantly what-abouted on state television, to excuse all kinds of Russian behavior.

In Edward Snowden, “Russia has found the ultimate whataboutism mascot,” the Atlantic’s Olga Khazan wrote in 2013. “By granting him asylum, Russia casts itself, even if momentarily, as a defender of human rights, and the U.S. as the oppressor.”

The term was first coined as “whataboutery” and “the whatabouts,” in stories about the Irish Republican Army in the 1970s, according to linguist Ben Zimmer. But the practice goes back to the chilly depths of the Cold War.

“An old joke 50 years ago was that if you went to a Stalinist and criticized the Soviet slave-labor camps, the Stalinist would say, ‘Well what about the lynchings in the American South?'” philosopher Noam Chomsky once said.

In 1970, as the Soviet Union made headlines for imprisoning dissidents, Ukrainian artist Viktor Koretsky created a propaganda lithograph titled “American Politics at home and abroad.” It depicted U.S. police beating a black man and a U.S. soldier standing over a dead body, presumably in Vietnam.

In May 1985 the State Department funded a conference at the Madison Hotel on the fallacy of “moral equivalence,” a philosophical cousin of whataboutism. The goal was to tamp down comparisons of the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada with the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, among other instances. The actions may be comparable, the State Department implied, but the intentions were not.

“If it is no longer possible to distinguish between freedom and despotism,” said Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations, then “the erosion of the foundation of a distinctively Western, democratic civilization is already far advanced and the situation serious indeed.”

Flash forward 30 years. President Trump’s Twitter feed has been a whataboutism showcase, with Hillary Clinton as the usual target.

April 3: “Did Hillary Clinton ever apologize for receiving the answers to the debate? Just asking!”

June 26: “The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling.”

July 22: “… What about all of the Clinton ties to Russia …”

Googling of “Whataboutism” began to climb sharply in November of last year; this week, with Charlottesville, it reached an all-time high. “You look at both sides,” Trump said Tuesday, after saying “what about” three times. “I think there is blame on both sides … and nobody wants to say that.”

Some people saw this as brave truth-telling, and as exposing double standards in the media.

“Trump-haters on both sides of the aisle simply cry ‘whataboutism,’ as if it were a magic spell to ward off rational thought,” wrote Joel B. Pollak on the right-wing site Breitbart, in an article headlined “The attack on ‘whataboutism’ is a defense of hypocrisy.”

Trump’s most flagrant what-about, though, was used not in defense of himself, but in defense of Russia.

“Putin’s a killer,” Bill O’Reilly said to Trump in a February interview.

“There are a lot of killers,” Trump whatabouted. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think our country’s so innocent?”

“That’s exactly the kind of argument that Russian propagandists have used for years to justify some of Putin’s most brutal policies,” wrote Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration.

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Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump – Chicago Tribune

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August 20, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Is Trump going to pardon Julian Assange? – The Week Magazine

Could President Trump be considering a pardon for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange? That is the latest rumor after California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) met with Assange earlier this week to discuss “what might be necessary to get him out” of asylum, The Daily Caller reports.

The rumors reignited Friday morning when an account that tracks who the Trump family follows shared that Donald Trump Jr. followed Assange:

Assange faces sexual assault charges in Sweden and if he returned there, he could be deported to the U.S. where he could face a potential death penalty for leaking documents with Edward Snowden. To avoid the charges, Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012.

In his interview, Rohrabacher suggested that Assange might be pardoned in exchange for information about the Democratic National Committee email leak last year. “[Assange] has information that will be of dramatic importance to the United States and the people of our country as well as to our government,” Rohrabacher told The Daily Caller. “Thus if he comes up with that, you know he’s going to expect something in return. He can’t even leave the embassy to get out to Washington to talk to anybody if he doesn’t have a pardon.”

Assange notably has argued that Russia was not involved in the DNC hack, contrary to reports by U.S. intelligence. Rohrabacher has been criticized for being too soft on Russia.

Rohrabacher added, “I can’t remember if I have spoken to anybody in the White House about this,” but “there has already been some indication that the president will be very anxious to hear what I have to say if that is the determination that I make.” Read the full interview at The Daily Caller. Jeva Lange

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Is Trump going to pardon Julian Assange? – The Week Magazine

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August 20, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Linguist Noam Chomsky joins University of Arizona faculty – Arizona Daily Star

Renowned linguist Noam Chomsky is joining the University of Arizona faculty this fall and will begin teaching in the spring semester.

Having a scholar of Dr. Chomskys caliber on our campus presents a tremendous opportunity for our students, faculty and staff, and truly speaks to the greatness of this university, said UA President Robert Robbins in a prepared statement.

Chomsky, who has been a guest lecturer and teacher at the UA for about five years, will join the Department of Linguistics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in a quarter-time appointment as a laureate professor, Robbins said.

He will also serve as an Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice.

Chomskys salary is $62,500 a year, all of which is funded by philanthropic donations, mostly from the Agnese Nelms Haury Program.

And while Chomsky is not a full-time faculty member, John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, expects him to have a full schedule, splitting his time between teaching and public events.

Chomsky is among the most cited scholars in history and has written more than 100 books.

He is considered the father of modern linguistics, and his work has influenced many fields, including cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, computer science, mathematics, childhood education and anthropology.

He is also a powerful voice on sociopolitical issues, including free speech, foreign policy, political engagement, environmental destruction and the rights of indigenous populations, among many other topics.

Hes been a figure on campus since 2012, Jones said. The first talk we had in Centennial Hall, 6,000 showed up for 2,500 seats. We had to scramble to find classrooms (for overflow).

Since then, hes visited Tucson often, including for A Conversation on Privacy, in which the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences invited Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, co-founding editor of the Intercept; Nuala OConnor, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology; and Edward Snowden, who participated through Skype, to talk about the balance between government surveillance and individual rights.

He wouldnt have come here (permanently) if it hadnt been for the Linguistics Department, Jones said, not only referring to former students who are now at the UA, but the department is also intellectually engaged in the same questions that hes interested in.

Weve very much come to appreciate the intellectual environment and the lifestyle, Chomsky said in a statement. The linguistics department, which is excellent, happens to be full of former students of mine. In general, we felt that the UA would be a good place to work and think and interact with people we like and can work with.

Chomsky worked as a linguistics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1955 then as a professor emeritus.

Teaching undergraduates regularly again was also a big draw, Chomsky said. He hadnt taught undergrads for about 10 years until spring 2016, when he co-taught an elective course on politics and global issues with UA geography professor emeritus Marv Waterstone.

Half of the 500 people who signed for the course were undergraduate students. The other 250 were community members enrolled through the Humanities Seminars Program, Jones said.

I think about the students who are going to be sitting around a dinner table some day, Jones said. And someone will mention Noam Chomsky, and hell say, I took his class! and theyll say, Where? and theyll say, At the U of A.

Chomskys former students and departmental fellows who have also made the move to the UA were just part of his decision to call Tucson home.

We fell in love with Tucson the mountains, the desert, Chomsky said. Tucson has an atmosphere that is peaceful and manageable.

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Linguist Noam Chomsky joins University of Arizona faculty – Arizona Daily Star

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher meets with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: Report – Washington Examiner

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., had a meeting Wednesday with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London at the Ecuadorian Embassy, according to a report on Wednesday.

Charles Johnson, a conservative journalist who joined Rohrabacher and Assange, said the meeting was originally arranged because Assange wants to find an agreement with the U.S. and not live in asylum anymore. Assange has lived in asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy since August 2012.

Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs confirmed to the Daily Caller he was present on the meeting as well.

The Justice Department has expressed interest in pressing charges against Assange for assisting Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, to release classified documents, the Washington Post reported in April. Snowden was granted asylum by Russia.

Last month, Rohrabacher admitted he had previously met with a prosecutor from Moscow to discuss information regarding a Russian fraud case that precluded Congress passing the Magnitsky Act, which imposed U.S. sanctions on Russia regarding human rights abuses.

“I had a meeting with some people, government officials, and they were saying, Would you be willing to accept material on the Magnitsky case from the prosecutors in Moscow? And I said, Sure, I’d be willing to look at it,'” Rohrabacher told The Hill.

Rohrbacher said he disclosed the information he received from the prosecutor with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the U.S. Treasury Department.

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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher meets with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: Report – Washington Examiner

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Oliver Stone on Julian Assange and Edward Snowden (Video) – Truthdig

Editors note: The following video is a clip from a 19-part series filmed at aTruthdig and KPFK co-sponsored eventin Los Angeles recently. The discussion features Oliver Stone, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director, and Robert Scheer, Truthdigs editor in chief. The two talk about The Putin Interviews, a new Showtime series by Stone, as well as the published transcript, for whichScheer wrote the foreword. We are publishing one video per day. This is the 16th installment.

In the clip above, Oliver Stonetalks about WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as the filmmaker’s struggle to get the movie “Snowden” financed in the United States.

On Thursday, watch the next clip in the series, in which Stone outlines what he considers the “biggest issue” the U.S. faces in the coming years.

Posted byNatasha Hakimi Zapata

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Oliver Stone on Julian Assange and Edward Snowden (Video) – Truthdig

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Martin Shkreli thinks he’ll be president someday – Salon

Do you think Martin Shkreli, aka the Pharma Bro, is destined to become an American president?

If you dont, he certainly does.

Well, at some point Ill be POTUS, Shkreli wroteon his Facebook page ina post published Tuesday. He addedthat conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wouldbe his vice president and alt-right pundit Milo Yiannopoulos wouldbe his press secretary, before going on to list some more unorthodox choices:

Kanye West will be head of the CIA. Stefan Molyneux will be Secretary of State. Kodak Black will be Attorney General. Edward Snowden would be the head of the NSA. Julian Assange: FBI. Kim Kardashian is Fed Chairwoman. Trashy is Surgeon General.

From there, Shkreli predicted defeating a ticket with President Mark Zuckerberg and Vice President Bernie Sanders no earlier than 2024, since he also predicted theyd have to abolish Zuckerbergs Universal Basic Income which passed in 2024.

Shkreli addedthat Young Turks host Cenk Uygar will be sent back to wherever he came from and that Lauren Duca will tragically fall ill from subtweeting too hard if she isnt the First Lady.

Somewhat more ominously, Shkreli also boasted that he would put nuclear weapons in enemies cities, force members of the media to go through training programs and completely slash almost all entitlement programs.

An account purportedly belonging to Yiannopoulos has already liked the status update and said that Im down, while Shkreli added in the comments that OKAY FINE KIM KARDASHIAN WILL BE HEAD OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE.

Whereas President Donald Trump at least had a core of support prior to his career as a politician, Shkreli may now bebest known for raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5000 percent and being convicted of three counts of securities fraud.

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Martin Shkreli thinks he’ll be president someday – Salon

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

‘Edward is a Non-Public Person’: Why Snowden Turned Down a Russian Journalist – Sputnik International

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15:47 15.08.2017(updated 17:14 15.08.2017) Get short URL

World-renown NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who now resides in Russia, refused to let prominent Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner interview him; his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena explains why.

Earlier, Vladimir Posner told the Latvian radio station Baltkom that he’d asked Snowden foran interview butwas refused.

Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, inan interview with RIA Novosti, explained why Edward Snowden refused the proposal.

We talked withVladimir [Pozner], he applied forthe interview several times. But Edward has a strong position onthe issue, he does not grant interviews toanybody anywhere; the Russian media is no exception, Kucherena said.

Kucherena added that Snowden respects Pozner and all Russian journalists butEdward himself is a quiet person unlikemany others inthe public spotlight.

He is non-public person, Kucherena told RIA Novosti.

REUTERS/ Svein Ove Ekornesvaag/NTB Scanpix

He [Snowden] always personally makes decision regarding giving comments. He receives a lot ofinterview proposals fromRussian and foreign journalists. But asyou may notice, he rarely gives interviews, Kucherena added.

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‘Edward is a Non-Public Person’: Why Snowden Turned Down a Russian Journalist – Sputnik International

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Should Vladimir Putin be afraid of German Greens? – American Enterprise Institute

In a striking about-face, Germanys Greens are emerging as the most visible hawks in discussions over the countrys foreign policy, especially regarding Russia. Last month, the party co-chair, Cem zdemir, called for a tightening of sanctions against Russia. Were seeing an escalation in Eastern Ukraine, he explained.

Of Turkish descent himself, he also made a case for more pressure on the regime in Turkey, particularly using economic tools. German investors, he says, need to understand that Turkey is no place for secure investment, because there is no rule of law there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a news conference at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

For many years, the Greens tune was different. Throughout the 2000s, the partys leader and foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, was a leading European critic of US foreign policy. In 2014, the Greens-EFA group in the European Parliament of which the German Greens are a member tried to nominate Edward Snowden for Nobel Peace Prize. In the same year, the Greens dismissed as irresponsible the calls for a stronger NATO presence on Europes Eastern flank.

To some extent, the Greens long nurtured an internationalist outlook and a distrust of Russia. During Mr. Fischers tenure as foreign minister in the cabinet of Chancellor Gerhard Schrder, Germany took part in NATOs intervention in Kosovo in 1999 and later joined the coalition fighting Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. After leaving the government, Mr. Fischer was also critical of his former boss entanglements with Russia. Just last week, Mr. Schrder, who is also working for the Gazprom-led consortium building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to German, was nominated by the Russian government to join the board of directors of Rosneft.

Whereas few expect Chancellor Angela Merkel to be unseated in the election held on September 24, her coalition partners will shape Germanys and by extension, the EUs posture in its Eastern neighborhood.

Ms. Merkel is already under pressure from CDUs sister party in Bavaria, CSU, to bring the sanctions against Russia to an end. That pressure will only increase if the grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) continues after the election. Quite apart from Mr. Schrders Russian misadvetures, the SPDs former leader and Germanys Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has been long calling for an end to the EUs sanctions. And, on top of that, the partys current leader, the populist Martin Schulz, even rejects NATOs 2% spending target, calling it the wrong goal.

The combination of navet, sanctimony, and crude material interests although in different proportions is not limited to SPD. Unsurprisingly, populists of different stripes, including The Left and the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), are the most reliable allies of the Kremlin. Back in 2015, representatives of The Left even delivered humanitarian assistance to the self-styled authorities of the Donetsk Peoples Republic. Earlier this year, at the Russian Dumas invitation, the AfDs leader Frauke Petry met in Moscow with a range of high-profile parliamentarians.

On the list of Ms. Merkels prospective coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP) flaunt solid classical liberal credentials and a compelling, pro-market agenda at home. Yet, their leader Christian Lindner called recently for a new approach to German-Russian relations, which would recognize the annexation of Crimea as a permanent provisional arrangement. Notwithstanding a small number of critical voices in the party most prominently Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who currently serves as a Vice-president of European Parliament appeasement of Russia has been a part of FDPs toolbox since Russias attack against Ukraine in 2014.

A coalition between Ms. Merkels Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Greens thus appears to be the most likely, if not the only, path toward keeping Russia at bay in the critical run-up to the Russian presidential election in March 2018. As September 24 approaches, expect the eyes of the Kremlins trolls, hackers, and useful idiots to be set primarily on them as opposed to the long list of Putin Verstehers present in German politics.

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Should Vladimir Putin be afraid of German Greens? – American Enterprise Institute

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August 15, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Pulitzer-Winner James Risen Joins The Intercept And First Look Media – HuffPost

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen, who spent seven years fighting off government efforts to force him to reveal a confidential source, will continue to advocate for the First Amendment as director of the First Look Press Freedom Defense Fund, HuffPost has learned.

Risen will also join The Intercept, the First Look Media news organization launched in 2014 by journalists Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras and backed by billionaire eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar.

At the Intercept, Risen will serve as senior national security correspondent, writing a column based on his own reporting, and help steer the sites investigative work.

I am incredibly excited by this amazing and unique opportunity to combine my journalism with efforts to defend press freedom, Risen said in a statement. I am honored to help lead the fund as both America and the world face unprecedented threats to freedom of the press, while also writing and reporting and helping [Intercept editor-in-chief] Betsy Reed and her incredible team continue to turn The Intercept into one of the most important investigative reporting outlets in the nation.

Risen, 62, was among the most prominent journalists to leave the New York Times last month in the papers latest round of buyouts. Times executive editor Dean Baquet described Risen at the time as one of the giants of national security and investigative reporting.

In nearly two decades at the Times, Risen delved deeply into national security, intelligence, and surveillance matters. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team delving into the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and won a second Pulitzer with colleague Eric Lichtblau for their2005 investigation into the National Security Agencys secret domestic spying program.

Risen also battled attempts by both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations to compel him to reveal a confidential source for a botched CIA plot described in his 2006 book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Risen, whose legal fight finally ended in 2015, has expressed concern that the Obama administration laid the groundwork for the targeting of journalists under President Donald Trump.

There is no journalist better equipped to cover the national security scandals and abuses of the Trump era than Jim Risen, Reed said in a statement.

Were honored and thrilled to have the countrys leading national security journalist bring his vast experience and vision to our team at this critical time, she added.

The Intercept was co-founded by journalists at the forefront of reporting on the disclosures from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and the site has quickly distinguished itself for aggressive coverage of national security issues.

But the site alsocame under firein Junefollowing accusations that its reporters failed to protect contractor Reality Leigh Winner, the alleged source of top secret NSA documentrevealing Russian hacking efforts ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Following an internal review,Reed said that at several points in the editorial process, our practices fell short of the standards to which we hold ourselves for minimizing the risks of source exposure when handling anonymously provided materials.

The company announced last month thatFirst Looks Press Freedom Defense Fund would help provide support for Winners legal defense, a role it intends to play for journalists and whistleblowers in future cases.

First Look Media president Michael Bloom cited Risens first-hand experience in a statement on the companys newly created defense fund role.

Jim is not only a respected journalist who was prepared to sacrifice his own freedom to protect a source, he said, but a very real example of how the press can challenge those in power who misuse laws to fulfill a political agenda.

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Pulitzer-Winner James Risen Joins The Intercept And First Look Media – HuffPost

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump – Chicago Tribune

What about Antifa? What about free speech? What about the guy who shot Steve Scalise? What about the mosque in Minnesota that got bombed? What about North Korea? What about murders in Chicago? What about Ivanka at the G-20? What about Vince Foster? If white pride is bad, then what about gay pride? What about the stock market? What about those 33,000 deleted emails? What about Hitler? What about the Crusades? What about the asteroid that may one day kill us all? What about Benghazi? What about what about what about. We’ve gotten very good at what-abouting. The president has led the way. His campaign may or may not have conspired with Moscow, but President DonaldTrump has routinely employed a durable old Soviet propaganda tactic. Tuesday’s bonkers news conference in New York was Trump’s latest act of “whataboutism,” the practice of short-circuiting an argument by asserting moral equivalency between two things that aren’t necessarily comparable. In this case, the president wondered whether the removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville where white supremacists clashed this weekend with counterprotesters would lead to the teardown of others. Robert E. Lee? What about George Washington? “George Washington was a slave owner,” Trump said to journalists in the lobby of his corporate headquarters. “Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?” Using the literal “what about” construction, Trump then went on to blame “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville. “What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at the, as you say, the ‘alt-right’?” the president said. “Do they have any semblance of guilt?” For a nanosecond, especially to an uncritical listener, this stab at logic might seem interesting, even thought-provoking, and that’s why it’s a useful political tool. Whataboutism appears to broaden context, to offer a counterpoint, when really it’s diverting blame, muddying the waters and confusing the hell out of rational listeners. “Not only does it help to deflect your original argument but it also throws you off balance,” says Alexey Kovalev, an independent Russian journalist, on the phone from Moscow. “You’re expecting to be in a civilized argument that doesn’t use cheap tricks like that. You are playing chess and your opponent while making a lousy move he just punches you on the nose.” Ashley Parker and David Nakamura Vladimir Putin has made a national sport of what-abouting. In 2014, when a journalist challenged him on his annexation of Crimea, Putin brought up the U.S. annexation of Texas. The American invasion of Iraq is constantly what-abouted on state television, to excuse all kinds of Russian behavior. In Edward Snowden, “Russia has found the ultimate whataboutism mascot,” the Atlantic’s Olga Khazan wrote in 2013. “By granting him asylum, Russia casts itself, even if momentarily, as a defender of human rights, and the U.S. as the oppressor.” The term was first coined as “whataboutery” and “the whatabouts,” in stories about the Irish Republican Army in the 1970s, according to linguist Ben Zimmer. But the practice goes back to the chilly depths of the Cold War. “An old joke 50 years ago was that if you went to a Stalinist and criticized the Soviet slave-labor camps, the Stalinist would say, ‘Well what about the lynchings in the American South?'” philosopher Noam Chomsky once said. In 1970, as the Soviet Union made headlines for imprisoning dissidents, Ukrainian artist Viktor Koretsky created a propaganda lithograph titled “American Politics at home and abroad.” It depicted U.S. police beating a black man and a U.S. soldier standing over a dead body, presumably in Vietnam. In May 1985 the State Department funded a conference at the Madison Hotel on the fallacy of “moral equivalence,” a philosophical cousin of whataboutism. The goal was to tamp down comparisons of the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada with the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, among other instances. The actions may be comparable, the State Department implied, but the intentions were not. “If it is no longer possible to distinguish between freedom and despotism,” said Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations, then “the erosion of the foundation of a distinctively Western, democratic civilization is already far advanced and the situation serious indeed.” Flash forward 30 years. President Trump’s Twitter feed has been a whataboutism showcase, with Hillary Clinton as the usual target. April 3: “Did Hillary Clinton ever apologize for receiving the answers to the debate? Just asking!” June 26: “The real story is that President Obama did NOTHING after being informed in August about Russian meddling.” July 22: “… What about all of the Clinton ties to Russia …” Googling of “Whataboutism” began to climb sharply in November of last year; this week, with Charlottesville, it reached an all-time high. “You look at both sides,” Trump said Tuesday, after saying “what about” three times. “I think there is blame on both sides … and nobody wants to say that.” Some people saw this as brave truth-telling, and as exposing double standards in the media. “Trump-haters on both sides of the aisle simply cry ‘whataboutism,’ as if it were a magic spell to ward off rational thought,” wrote Joel B. Pollak on the right-wing site Breitbart, in an article headlined “The attack on ‘whataboutism’ is a defense of hypocrisy.” Trump’s most flagrant what-about, though, was used not in defense of himself, but in defense of Russia. “Putin’s a killer,” Bill O’Reilly said to Trump in a February interview. “There are a lot of killers,” Trump whatabouted. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think our country’s so innocent?” “That’s exactly the kind of argument that Russian propagandists have used for years to justify some of Putin’s most brutal policies,” wrote Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration.

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Is Trump going to pardon Julian Assange? – The Week Magazine

Could President Trump be considering a pardon for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange? That is the latest rumor after California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) met with Assange earlier this week to discuss “what might be necessary to get him out” of asylum, The Daily Caller reports. The rumors reignited Friday morning when an account that tracks who the Trump family follows shared that Donald Trump Jr. followed Assange: Assange faces sexual assault charges in Sweden and if he returned there, he could be deported to the U.S. where he could face a potential death penalty for leaking documents with Edward Snowden. To avoid the charges, Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012. In his interview, Rohrabacher suggested that Assange might be pardoned in exchange for information about the Democratic National Committee email leak last year. “[Assange] has information that will be of dramatic importance to the United States and the people of our country as well as to our government,” Rohrabacher told The Daily Caller. “Thus if he comes up with that, you know he’s going to expect something in return. He can’t even leave the embassy to get out to Washington to talk to anybody if he doesn’t have a pardon.” Assange notably has argued that Russia was not involved in the DNC hack, contrary to reports by U.S. intelligence. Rohrabacher has been criticized for being too soft on Russia. Rohrabacher added, “I can’t remember if I have spoken to anybody in the White House about this,” but “there has already been some indication that the president will be very anxious to hear what I have to say if that is the determination that I make.” Read the full interview at The Daily Caller. Jeva Lange

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August 20, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Linguist Noam Chomsky joins University of Arizona faculty – Arizona Daily Star

Renowned linguist Noam Chomsky is joining the University of Arizona faculty this fall and will begin teaching in the spring semester. Having a scholar of Dr. Chomskys caliber on our campus presents a tremendous opportunity for our students, faculty and staff, and truly speaks to the greatness of this university, said UA President Robert Robbins in a prepared statement. Chomsky, who has been a guest lecturer and teacher at the UA for about five years, will join the Department of Linguistics in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in a quarter-time appointment as a laureate professor, Robbins said. He will also serve as an Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice. Chomskys salary is $62,500 a year, all of which is funded by philanthropic donations, mostly from the Agnese Nelms Haury Program. And while Chomsky is not a full-time faculty member, John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, expects him to have a full schedule, splitting his time between teaching and public events. Chomsky is among the most cited scholars in history and has written more than 100 books. He is considered the father of modern linguistics, and his work has influenced many fields, including cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, computer science, mathematics, childhood education and anthropology. He is also a powerful voice on sociopolitical issues, including free speech, foreign policy, political engagement, environmental destruction and the rights of indigenous populations, among many other topics. Hes been a figure on campus since 2012, Jones said. The first talk we had in Centennial Hall, 6,000 showed up for 2,500 seats. We had to scramble to find classrooms (for overflow). Since then, hes visited Tucson often, including for A Conversation on Privacy, in which the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences invited Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, co-founding editor of the Intercept; Nuala OConnor, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology; and Edward Snowden, who participated through Skype, to talk about the balance between government surveillance and individual rights. He wouldnt have come here (permanently) if it hadnt been for the Linguistics Department, Jones said, not only referring to former students who are now at the UA, but the department is also intellectually engaged in the same questions that hes interested in. Weve very much come to appreciate the intellectual environment and the lifestyle, Chomsky said in a statement. The linguistics department, which is excellent, happens to be full of former students of mine. In general, we felt that the UA would be a good place to work and think and interact with people we like and can work with. Chomsky worked as a linguistics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1955 then as a professor emeritus. Teaching undergraduates regularly again was also a big draw, Chomsky said. He hadnt taught undergrads for about 10 years until spring 2016, when he co-taught an elective course on politics and global issues with UA geography professor emeritus Marv Waterstone. Half of the 500 people who signed for the course were undergraduate students. The other 250 were community members enrolled through the Humanities Seminars Program, Jones said. I think about the students who are going to be sitting around a dinner table some day, Jones said. And someone will mention Noam Chomsky, and hell say, I took his class! and theyll say, Where? and theyll say, At the U of A. Chomskys former students and departmental fellows who have also made the move to the UA were just part of his decision to call Tucson home. We fell in love with Tucson the mountains, the desert, Chomsky said. Tucson has an atmosphere that is peaceful and manageable.

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August 18, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher meets with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: Report – Washington Examiner

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., had a meeting Wednesday with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London at the Ecuadorian Embassy, according to a report on Wednesday. Charles Johnson, a conservative journalist who joined Rohrabacher and Assange, said the meeting was originally arranged because Assange wants to find an agreement with the U.S. and not live in asylum anymore. Assange has lived in asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy since August 2012. Rohrabacher’s spokesman Ken Grubbs confirmed to the Daily Caller he was present on the meeting as well. The Justice Department has expressed interest in pressing charges against Assange for assisting Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, to release classified documents, the Washington Post reported in April. Snowden was granted asylum by Russia. Last month, Rohrabacher admitted he had previously met with a prosecutor from Moscow to discuss information regarding a Russian fraud case that precluded Congress passing the Magnitsky Act, which imposed U.S. sanctions on Russia regarding human rights abuses. “I had a meeting with some people, government officials, and they were saying, Would you be willing to accept material on the Magnitsky case from the prosecutors in Moscow? And I said, Sure, I’d be willing to look at it,'” Rohrabacher told The Hill. Rohrbacher said he disclosed the information he received from the prosecutor with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the U.S. Treasury Department.

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August 17, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Oliver Stone on Julian Assange and Edward Snowden (Video) – Truthdig

Editors note: The following video is a clip from a 19-part series filmed at aTruthdig and KPFK co-sponsored eventin Los Angeles recently. The discussion features Oliver Stone, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director, and Robert Scheer, Truthdigs editor in chief. The two talk about The Putin Interviews, a new Showtime series by Stone, as well as the published transcript, for whichScheer wrote the foreword. We are publishing one video per day. This is the 16th installment. In the clip above, Oliver Stonetalks about WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as the filmmaker’s struggle to get the movie “Snowden” financed in the United States. On Thursday, watch the next clip in the series, in which Stone outlines what he considers the “biggest issue” the U.S. faces in the coming years. Posted byNatasha Hakimi Zapata

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Martin Shkreli thinks he’ll be president someday – Salon

Do you think Martin Shkreli, aka the Pharma Bro, is destined to become an American president? If you dont, he certainly does. Well, at some point Ill be POTUS, Shkreli wroteon his Facebook page ina post published Tuesday. He addedthat conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wouldbe his vice president and alt-right pundit Milo Yiannopoulos wouldbe his press secretary, before going on to list some more unorthodox choices: Kanye West will be head of the CIA. Stefan Molyneux will be Secretary of State. Kodak Black will be Attorney General. Edward Snowden would be the head of the NSA. Julian Assange: FBI. Kim Kardashian is Fed Chairwoman. Trashy is Surgeon General. From there, Shkreli predicted defeating a ticket with President Mark Zuckerberg and Vice President Bernie Sanders no earlier than 2024, since he also predicted theyd have to abolish Zuckerbergs Universal Basic Income which passed in 2024. Shkreli addedthat Young Turks host Cenk Uygar will be sent back to wherever he came from and that Lauren Duca will tragically fall ill from subtweeting too hard if she isnt the First Lady. Somewhat more ominously, Shkreli also boasted that he would put nuclear weapons in enemies cities, force members of the media to go through training programs and completely slash almost all entitlement programs. An account purportedly belonging to Yiannopoulos has already liked the status update and said that Im down, while Shkreli added in the comments that OKAY FINE KIM KARDASHIAN WILL BE HEAD OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE. Whereas President Donald Trump at least had a core of support prior to his career as a politician, Shkreli may now bebest known for raising the price of a life-saving drug by 5000 percent and being convicted of three counts of securities fraud.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

‘Edward is a Non-Public Person’: Why Snowden Turned Down a Russian Journalist – Sputnik International

Life 15:47 15.08.2017(updated 17:14 15.08.2017) Get short URL World-renown NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who now resides in Russia, refused to let prominent Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner interview him; his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena explains why. Earlier, Vladimir Posner told the Latvian radio station Baltkom that he’d asked Snowden foran interview butwas refused. Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, inan interview with RIA Novosti, explained why Edward Snowden refused the proposal. We talked withVladimir [Pozner], he applied forthe interview several times. But Edward has a strong position onthe issue, he does not grant interviews toanybody anywhere; the Russian media is no exception, Kucherena said. Kucherena added that Snowden respects Pozner and all Russian journalists butEdward himself is a quiet person unlikemany others inthe public spotlight. He is non-public person, Kucherena told RIA Novosti. REUTERS/ Svein Ove Ekornesvaag/NTB Scanpix He [Snowden] always personally makes decision regarding giving comments. He receives a lot ofinterview proposals fromRussian and foreign journalists. But asyou may notice, he rarely gives interviews, Kucherena added.

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Should Vladimir Putin be afraid of German Greens? – American Enterprise Institute

In a striking about-face, Germanys Greens are emerging as the most visible hawks in discussions over the countrys foreign policy, especially regarding Russia. Last month, the party co-chair, Cem zdemir, called for a tightening of sanctions against Russia. Were seeing an escalation in Eastern Ukraine, he explained. Of Turkish descent himself, he also made a case for more pressure on the regime in Turkey, particularly using economic tools. German investors, he says, need to understand that Turkey is no place for secure investment, because there is no rule of law there. Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a news conference at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS For many years, the Greens tune was different. Throughout the 2000s, the partys leader and foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, was a leading European critic of US foreign policy. In 2014, the Greens-EFA group in the European Parliament of which the German Greens are a member tried to nominate Edward Snowden for Nobel Peace Prize. In the same year, the Greens dismissed as irresponsible the calls for a stronger NATO presence on Europes Eastern flank. To some extent, the Greens long nurtured an internationalist outlook and a distrust of Russia. During Mr. Fischers tenure as foreign minister in the cabinet of Chancellor Gerhard Schrder, Germany took part in NATOs intervention in Kosovo in 1999 and later joined the coalition fighting Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. After leaving the government, Mr. Fischer was also critical of his former boss entanglements with Russia. Just last week, Mr. Schrder, who is also working for the Gazprom-led consortium building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to German, was nominated by the Russian government to join the board of directors of Rosneft. Whereas few expect Chancellor Angela Merkel to be unseated in the election held on September 24, her coalition partners will shape Germanys and by extension, the EUs posture in its Eastern neighborhood. Ms. Merkel is already under pressure from CDUs sister party in Bavaria, CSU, to bring the sanctions against Russia to an end. That pressure will only increase if the grand coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) continues after the election. Quite apart from Mr. Schrders Russian misadvetures, the SPDs former leader and Germanys Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has been long calling for an end to the EUs sanctions. And, on top of that, the partys current leader, the populist Martin Schulz, even rejects NATOs 2% spending target, calling it the wrong goal. The combination of navet, sanctimony, and crude material interests although in different proportions is not limited to SPD. Unsurprisingly, populists of different stripes, including The Left and the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), are the most reliable allies of the Kremlin. Back in 2015, representatives of The Left even delivered humanitarian assistance to the self-styled authorities of the Donetsk Peoples Republic. Earlier this year, at the Russian Dumas invitation, the AfDs leader Frauke Petry met in Moscow with a range of high-profile parliamentarians. On the list of Ms. Merkels prospective coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP) flaunt solid classical liberal credentials and a compelling, pro-market agenda at home. Yet, their leader Christian Lindner called recently for a new approach to German-Russian relations, which would recognize the annexation of Crimea as a permanent provisional arrangement. Notwithstanding a small number of critical voices in the party most prominently Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, who currently serves as a Vice-president of European Parliament appeasement of Russia has been a part of FDPs toolbox since Russias attack against Ukraine in 2014. A coalition between Ms. Merkels Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Greens thus appears to be the most likely, if not the only, path toward keeping Russia at bay in the critical run-up to the Russian presidential election in March 2018. As September 24 approaches, expect the eyes of the Kremlins trolls, hackers, and useful idiots to be set primarily on them as opposed to the long list of Putin Verstehers present in German politics.

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August 15, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed

Pulitzer-Winner James Risen Joins The Intercept And First Look Media – HuffPost

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen, who spent seven years fighting off government efforts to force him to reveal a confidential source, will continue to advocate for the First Amendment as director of the First Look Press Freedom Defense Fund, HuffPost has learned. Risen will also join The Intercept, the First Look Media news organization launched in 2014 by journalists Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras and backed by billionaire eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar. At the Intercept, Risen will serve as senior national security correspondent, writing a column based on his own reporting, and help steer the sites investigative work. I am incredibly excited by this amazing and unique opportunity to combine my journalism with efforts to defend press freedom, Risen said in a statement. I am honored to help lead the fund as both America and the world face unprecedented threats to freedom of the press, while also writing and reporting and helping [Intercept editor-in-chief] Betsy Reed and her incredible team continue to turn The Intercept into one of the most important investigative reporting outlets in the nation. Risen, 62, was among the most prominent journalists to leave the New York Times last month in the papers latest round of buyouts. Times executive editor Dean Baquet described Risen at the time as one of the giants of national security and investigative reporting. In nearly two decades at the Times, Risen delved deeply into national security, intelligence, and surveillance matters. He was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team delving into the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and won a second Pulitzer with colleague Eric Lichtblau for their2005 investigation into the National Security Agencys secret domestic spying program. Risen also battled attempts by both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations to compel him to reveal a confidential source for a botched CIA plot described in his 2006 book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Risen, whose legal fight finally ended in 2015, has expressed concern that the Obama administration laid the groundwork for the targeting of journalists under President Donald Trump. There is no journalist better equipped to cover the national security scandals and abuses of the Trump era than Jim Risen, Reed said in a statement. Were honored and thrilled to have the countrys leading national security journalist bring his vast experience and vision to our team at this critical time, she added. The Intercept was co-founded by journalists at the forefront of reporting on the disclosures from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and the site has quickly distinguished itself for aggressive coverage of national security issues. But the site alsocame under firein Junefollowing accusations that its reporters failed to protect contractor Reality Leigh Winner, the alleged source of top secret NSA documentrevealing Russian hacking efforts ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Following an internal review,Reed said that at several points in the editorial process, our practices fell short of the standards to which we hold ourselves for minimizing the risks of source exposure when handling anonymously provided materials. The company announced last month thatFirst Looks Press Freedom Defense Fund would help provide support for Winners legal defense, a role it intends to play for journalists and whistleblowers in future cases. First Look Media president Michael Bloom cited Risens first-hand experience in a statement on the companys newly created defense fund role. Jim is not only a respected journalist who was prepared to sacrifice his own freedom to protect a source, he said, but a very real example of how the press can challenge those in power who misuse laws to fulfill a political agenda. The Morning Email Wake up to the day’s most important news.

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Edward Snowden  Comments Closed


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