Archive for the ‘Max Blumenthal’ Category

Notorious ‘New Atheist’ Sam Harris Outrageously Calls to ‘Keep the Number of Muslims Down in Any Society’ – AlterNet


AlterNet
Notorious 'New Atheist' Sam Harris Outrageously Calls to 'Keep the Number of Muslims Down in Any Society'
AlterNet
As AlterNet's Max Blumenthal and Nafeez Ahmed have documented, Nawaz concocted significant portions of his memoir and falsely branded members of his own family as Islamic extremists. Nawaz issued his approval, declaring that Harris' proposal to limit …

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Notorious ‘New Atheist’ Sam Harris Outrageously Calls to ‘Keep the Number of Muslims Down in Any Society’ – AlterNet

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July 13, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

RT America — July 07, 2017 RT USA – RT.com – RT

Published time: 8 Jul, 2017 01:49

CNN hires pro-Syrian Al-Qaeda propagandist, erases him from credits Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American living in regions of Syria controlled by the Al-Nusra Front terrorist group, has been referred as “our media man” by top Al-Qaeda clerics. So why did CNN hire him to work on an undercover documentary project, then erase him from the credits? “They didn’t care and just wanted to further the regime change editorial line,” says author and investigative journalist Max Blumenthal, who joins RT America’s Manila Chan to discuss his research into Kareem.

US coalition ‘looks the other way’ when ISIS takes cities journalist In the past few months, US-backed forces in Syria near At Tanf have attacked Syrian forces while claiming self-defense. Yet, they’ve done little fighting against Islamic State despite the United States only stated objective in Syria being to destroy the group, according to journalist Sharmine Narwani, who says the US has a history of looking the other way when Islamic State captures Syrian cities.

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RT America — July 07, 2017 RT USA – RT.com – RT

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July 9, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Anti-Islamist chic Mondoweiss – Mondoweiss

Yesterday on the NPR show Fresh Air, Terry Gross hosted Haroon Moghul, discussing his memoir, How to Be a Muslim. Moghul is charming and intelligent. The book involves his struggle to reconcile a sophisticated American life with the traditional code he grew up with.

Moghul: I wanted to be Muslim, and I wanted to figure out a way to do that on my own terms.

Gross: Its so important for you to challenge the stereotypes that some Americans have of Islam the stereotype of like, you know, terrorism that in order to challenge those stereotypes, does that make it difficult for you to also challenge the parts of Islam that you dont like, you know, the dictators, ISIS?

Moghul: Its like walking a tightrope. How do you be publicly critical of a community and a religion that you love? And at a time when those identities are under attack, what does it mean to be sincerely critical of your own community?

Last year Bernie Sanders said theres a war for the soul of Islam, and no doubt he is right about this. A number of Arab societies have problems with dictators, as Gross points out. But what about the war for the soul of Judaism? Today a great number of Jewish institutions are committed to a militant nationalist ideology, Zionism, that is completely out of step with 21st century pluralist values, an ideology that roughly half of the people under Israels governance reject the non-Jews and that has no other devotees outside the intolerant rightwing Christian community, which ought to tell you something. But both Gross and Sanders remain committed to this traditional code, so they cant interrogate it. It really is much easier to see the mote in someone elses eye than the beam in your own.

The mainstream cant get enough of the anti-Islamist struggle. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and another Muslim woman lately gave testimony to Congress on Islamist oppression. A few days later they were featured on the New York Times op-ed page. The same page that employs a stable of Zionist columnists, and not an anti-Zionist in sight.

There really is something camp about all the anti-Islamist material in these venues. Because its not ours. We have our own crap to deal with militant religious nationalism and theres a war for the soul of Judaism over it but youd never know it from these leading media figures. Terry Gross has never featured Miko Peled or Max Blumenthal or Anna Baltzer or Alice Rothchild Jewish authors who are struggling with their communitys Zionist inheritance. The most important issue in Jewish political culture: swept under the rug. The New York Times cant go near this struggle either. Except to dis anti-Zionists.

Chris Hayes at MSNBC isnt much better, by the way. Hes from the Nation, and he knows the story about Palestine. But even as he brags about being open to rightwing Republicans

he cant find Alice Rothchild or Max Blumenthals phone number. Hayes has never to my knowledge had an anti-Zionist on air to talk about the war for the soul of Judaism. Could that have anything to do with the fact that the top execs at Comcast have Zionist bona fides, David Cohen having raised money for the Israeli army and for the effort to redeem the Jewish land of Israel? But of course. Over at Time Warner, a top exec has served as a speechwriter for Benjamin Netanyahu. No problem!

Speaking of the monoculture, Grosss guest, Haroon Moghul also works for a Zionist institution, the Shalom Hartman Institute. Though Moghul was careful to say hes not a Zionist.

One thing I do for Hartman, however, is I do teach courses on Islam and the Muslim world and share my perspective and Muslim and Palestinian perspectives on the conflict, again, not because I want my audience to necessarily agree with everything Im saying but simply to develop an appreciation for a narrative they may have never encountered. And I say that as someone whos studied the region academically, whos traveled throughout the region and feels deeply invested in the conflict.

Despite his deep investment, Gross asked him nothing about the Palestinian story yesterday. Monocultures are unstable, monocultures can disappear. There are too many oaks in the forests in upstate New York. There used to be too many chestnuts. A squirrel could go from Maine to Florida just leaping from one chestnut to another, it was said. Now theyre almost all gone. The same thing is going to happen to this anti-Islamist chic.

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Anti-Islamist chic Mondoweiss – Mondoweiss

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July 8, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

The Fraud of the White Helmets. An Impressive Piece of … – Center for Research on Globalization

I actually forced myself to watch the documentaryThe White Helmets, which is available on Netflix. It is 40 minutes long, is of high quality cinematographically speaking, and tells a very convincing tale that waspromoted asthe story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.

It is overall a very ., so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short this year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, delivering a Manichean tale that depicts the rebels as always good and Bashar al-Assad and his government as un-redeemably evil.

It has beenreliably reported thatcelebrities like George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and Hillary Clinton really like the White Helmets documentary and have promoted it with the understanding that it represents the truth about Syria, but it is, of course, not the whole story. The film, which was made by the White Helmets themselves without any external verification of what it depicts, portrays the group as heroic, an impartial, life-saving rescue organization of first responders. Excluded from the scenes of heroism under fire is the White Helmets relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of rebel opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operate in rebel held territory, which enables them to shape the narrative both regarding who they are and what is occurring on the ground. Because of increasing awareness of the back story, there is now a growing movement to petition the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to revoke the Oscar based on the complete and deliberate misrepresentation of what the White Helmets are all about.

Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets havede factobecome a major source of eyewitness news regarding what has been going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists are quite rightly afraid to go. It is all part of a broaderlargely successful rebel effortto manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians.

White Helmets on Netflix (Source: Netflix)

The White Helmets have certainly saved some lives under dangerous circumstances but they have also exaggerated their humanitarian role as they travel to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. They have consistently promoted tales of government atrocities against civilians to encourage outside military intervention in Syria and bring about regime change in Damascus. The White Helmets were, for example, the propagators of thetotally falsebut propagandistically effective claims regarding the government use of so-called barrel bombs against civilians.

TheWhite Helmetswere a largely foreign creation that came into prominence in the aftermath of the unrest in Syria that developed as a result of the Arab Spring in 2012. They are currentlylargely fundedby a number of non-government organizations (NGOs) as well as governments, including Britain and some European Union member states. The United States has directly provided $23 million through the USAID (US Agency for International Development) as of 2016 and almost certainly considerably more indirectly. Max Blumenthal hasexplored in some detailthe various funding resources and relationships that the organization draws on, mostly in Europe and the United States.

Former weapons inspector Scott Ritterhas describedhow the White Helmets are not actually trained to do the complicated rescue work that they depict in their self-made videos, which have established their reputation by ostensibly showing them in action inside Syria, rescuing civilians from bombed out structures, and providing life-saving emergency medical care. As an expert in Hazardous Materials handling with New York Task Force 2 USAR team, Ritter reports that

these videos represent de facto evidence of dangerous incompetence or, worse, fraud The bread and butter of the White Helmets self-made reputation is the rescue of a victimusually a small childfrom beneath a pile of rubble, usually heavy reinforced concrete The techniques used by the White Helmets are not only technically wrong, but dangerous to anyone who might actually be trapped In my opinion, the videos are pure theater, either staged to impress an unwitting audience, or actually conducted with total disregard for the wellbeing of any real victims.

Ritter also cites the lack of training in hazardous chemicals, best observed in the videos provided by the White Helmets regarding their activity at Khan Sheikhun on April 4th. He notes

As was the case with their rescues of victims in collapsed structures, I believe the rescue efforts of the White Helmets at Khan Sheikhun were a theatrical performance designed to impress the ignorant and ill-informed Through their actionsthe White Helmets were able to breathe life into the overall narrative of a chemical weapons attack, distracting from the fact that no actual weapon existed.

But perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that theyactively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have beennumerous photosof the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group has an excellent working relationship with a number of jihadi affiliates and is regarded by them as fellow mujahideen and soldiers of the revolution.

So by all means lets organize to revoke the White Helmets Oscar due to misrepresentation and fraud. It might even serve as a wake-up call to George Clooney and his fellow Hollywoodsnowflakes. But the bigger take-away from the tale of the White Helmets would appear to be how it is an unfortunate repeat of the bumbling by a gullible U.S. government that has wrecked the Middle East while making Americans poorer and less safe.

A group of moderates, in this case their propagandists, is supported with weapons and money to overthrow a government with which Washington has no real quarrel but it turns out the moderates are really extremists. If they succeed in changing regime in Damascus, that is when the real nightmare will begin for minorities within Syria and for the entire region, including both Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which seem intent on bringing Bashar al-Assad down. And the truly unfortunate fact is that the Israelis and Saudis apparently have convinced an ignorant Donald Trump that that is the way to go so the situation in Syria will only get worse and, unless there is a course correction, Washington will again richly deserve most of the blame.

Featured image from The Unz Review

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July 5, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Jo Cox MP: the compassionate road to war – Open Democracy

Stop The War march is September 2002 in London. Wikimedia/William M Connelley. Some rights reserved.

Jo Coxs tragically brief career as a Labour MP was cut short by Thomas Mair who, inspired by a far-right ideology, murdered her just over a year ago on 16 June 2016. The Labour MP left behind a husband and two young children aged four and five. During the trial, the MP for Batley and Spen was described by the judge as generous of spirit which was evident in the selfless concern she had for others even when facing a violent death. Brendan Cox described his wife as being driven by a very powerful sense of empathy and so when she would meet people who had a problem, she would be committed to dealing with that problem no matter how difficult or seemingly unsolvable.

Jo Cox was the embodiment of humanitarianism, having worked for several NGOs, most notably Oxfam but also Save the Children and the National Society for the Protection of Children. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, paid tribute to the Labour MPs deep commitment to humanity. This humanitarianism, her compassionate character and appalling murder seem to place Jo Coxs politics beyond criticism. But on how to intervene in Syria, are they?

Labour and Conservative hawks have invoked Jo Coxs memory to generate support for western military intervention in Syria and beyond. These powerful political interests, allied to Syrian rebels, use claims of genocide, human rights abuses and humanitarian crisis as trumps to win political debate and delegitimise opposition to war.

The most notable aspect of Jo Coxs tragically short parliamentary career was her outspoken stance for escalating war in support of the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria. From the Blairite wing of the Labour party, she worked with neoconservatives and other Conservative hawks to use claims of genocide to support taking humanitarian intervention on the side of the moderate rebels by establishing safe havens, the delivery of humanitarian aid to rebel areas and support for the White Helmets.

At the time of her death, Jo Cox was working on a report with the Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat (former principal adviser to the Chief of Defence Staff). This has been posthumously published by the Conservative think tank Policy Exchange asThe Cost of Doing Nothing: The price of inaction in the face of mass atrocities(January 2017). In this report, the Labour MP Alison McGovern, chair of Progress, the Blairite think tank, and Tugendhat argue in support of military intervention: a commitment by all parties to move in this direction would be a fitting legacy for our tireless, brave and humanitarian colleague, Jo Cox.

The report was due to be published on the day of the Chilcot inquiry on 6 July 2016, to counter growing British scepticism about foreign military interventions. The preface of the report was written by Dean Godson, director of Policy Exchange and a prominent British neoconservative. Professor John Bew, a founding member of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society, also contributed. This organisation, established in 2005, is the leading think tank in support of military intervention. It also has a history of demonising Muslims.

Conservative hawks tend to emphasise less altruistic motivations for military intervention and can be more explicit about the implications of establishing supposedly humanitarian initiatives such as safe havens. Michael Weiss, director of communications for the Henry Jackson Society, argued inIntervention in Syria, published in December 2011, for the establishment of a safe area which should not only be used as a base for home-grown rebel military operations but as a political and communications hub for the Syrian opposition. Weiss added: Its role should be tantamount to the one played by Benghazi in helping the Libyan Transitional National Council topple the Gaddafi regime.

While Tugendhat favoured human rights and humanitarian military intervention, he wascritical of the human rights lawsthat constrained the actions of British soldiers, stating that judicial imperialism should urgently be reversed.

Imperialism and humanitarianism have a close historical association, imperialism was often justified as a humanitarian or civilising act.Tugendhat statedthat he and Cox wanted to elevate the role of the military as a force that can change lives for the better. He added: We wanted to show that Britains history of intervention, military and otherwise, is common to both our political traditions and has been an integral part of our foreign and national security policy for over two hundred years.

In the post-Cold War periodwar has become reinvented as humanitarian interventionto make it more palatable to sceptical western public opinion including the leftwing. During the nineties, leftists who had opposed the Vietnam War, the US interventions in Central America, and the nuclear arms race were seduced by human rights and humanitarian arguments for war. Kosovo in 1999 was depicted as the first humanitarian war and a model for future military interventions.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was also justified as a humanitarian intervention. The disastrous consequences of that invasion and the exposure of the deceptions and calculations behind the war undermined humanitarian justifications for war. Some humanitarian organisations, most notably Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF), became critical of the way powerful western states were using human rights and humanitarianism to justify war and imperialism.

In Afghanistan, NATO used humanitarian aid as part of a counterinsurgency strategy and propaganda to win the hearts and minds of the local population. The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, notoriously described NGOs as a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team. Humanitarian NGOs signed Afghanistan: A Call for Security described as agung-ho documentdemanding more robust NATO military action.

The intensification of Britains involvement in the good war in Afghanistan after 2006 was supposed to restore the reputation of the military after the bad war in Iraq.General David Richards, who was head of the British armed forces, reflected on the war in Afghanistan: in practice, we ended up killing a lot of people, destroying lots of bazaars and mosques. We absolutely knew it was not what we were there to do, and would not be helpful.

British public opinion defied cross-party support for the good war in Afghanistan and consistently opposed intervention from the start of the escalation of the war in 2006. The publics reluctance to suffer casualties joined with no-win outcomes to explain why deception and humanitarian arguments had to be deployed to reduce public misgivings.

There is considerable evidence to suggest that deception was used to justify and extend NATOs intervention in Libya 2011. Advocates of humanitarian intervention claimed that President Gaddafis forces, which were advancing on the rebels in Benghazi, would commit genocide against civilians another Srebrenica unless NATO aircraft intervened. In 2017,McGovern and Tugendhatargued that the Libyan intervention almost certainly saved tens of thousands from slaughter by Gaddafi and the current level of violence is nowhere near the genocide he threatened to unleash. The House of Commons supported military intervention on 21 March 2011 by a vote of 557 MPs to 13 (the latter included Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell).

TheHouse of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) report on Libya, in September 2016, found that Gaddafis threat to civilians was overstated. This claim is backed up by academic research that suggests the regime was trying to negotiate and targeted rebels rather than civilians. The FAC argued, by the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-Gaddafi Libya.Jack Holland and Mike Aaronsonhave argued that the UKs political objective may well have been the removal of Gaddafi, but it was not astute to openly articulate it as such. President Obama was to describe post-intervention Libya as a shit show.

The Russians and Chinese argue that NATOs deception on Libya is why they are reluctant to support similar humanitarian action in Syria. The chaotic consequences of humanitarian intervention in Libya have underlined the ineffectiveness of military action already apparent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During her parliamentary career Jo Cox was a co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Friends of Syria that urged stronger humanitarian military action in support of moderate rebels and against the Assad regime. Humanitarians often claim to be non-political or above politics. After all, who can be against humanitarianism, saving civilians and opposing “genocide? The key question is: who defines what these terms mean and what are their implications for policy? Compassion has too often been a cover for escalating war.

After all, who can be against “humanitarianism”, saving “civilians” and opposing “genocide”?

Jo Cox allied with Andrew Mitchell former Conservative International Development Secretary and Libya hawk to argue that Syriawas a case of genocide by comparing it to Bosnia and Rwanda. They presented war as a Manichaean struggle between the evil dictator Assad who is perpetrating a genocide on the Syrian people and the moderate rebels: never again can we let innocents suffer as they did in the Holocaust. Never again. Innocents are depicted as always the victims of Assad and not of the rebels but the rebels have also carried out atrocities.

The humanitarian proposal of a safe haven was effectively a call for the escalation of NATOs military involvement in Syria and risked a military confrontation with Russia. ForCox and Mitchell, a military component was part of an ethical response, but what was critical was that the protection of civilians must be at the centre of the mission. Safe havens should be created to offer sanctuary from both Assad and ISIS. They argued that preventing the regime from killing civilians, and signalling intent to Russia, is far more likely to compel the regime to the negotiating table than anything currently being done or mooted. International law should be broken by ignoring Russias and Chinas veto on UN action.

So in December 2015 Jo Cox refused to support British involvement in the bombing of Syria because she thought this military action did not go far enough in support of moderate rebel groups. She opposed an ISIS first strategy because it would alienate moderate rebels. Although Jo Cox thought the invasion of Iraq was Labours darkest hour, she argued that this was because there was no follow up strategy, suggesting that such invasions could be successful. Elsewhere she argued that she opposed the Iraq war because the risk to civilian lives was too high, and their protection was never the central objective. Kosovo and Sierra Leone were successes, she argued, because civilian protection was key.

Jo Cox took a hard line in favour of Syrian peace negotiations aiming at the removal of Assad and a rebel victory rather than a diplomatic compromise that might end the violence. Western intransigence can encourage rebels to hold out on negotiations in hope of a Libyan-style NATO military solution. InFebruary 2016, Jo Cox and the German Green Party MP, Omid Nouripour, rejected US negotiations with Russia of a peace settlement in Syria in favour of a much more muscular European response. They added: the US seems intent on a peace settlement that will be dangerously unbalanced. Such is the determination to secure [a] deal at any cost that they are prepared to offer far too many concessions to Assad and their Russian allies. This undermines the Syrian opposition, who feel betrayed by the international community. It also diminishes the chance for a sustainable peace and relegates the protection of civilians virtually out of the conference room. If we dont stand up for them, nobody will.

Jo Coxs advocacy for the White Helmets in Syria follows from this convergence between humanitarianism and arguments to escalate the war on the side of ‘moderate rebels’ for war. She nominated the White Helmets for the Nobel Peace Prize for their rescue work in Syria and one third of her memorial fund is to be donated to them. The White Helmets appear to be a humanitarian organisation that is above politics and prepared to help Syrian people in distress regardless of their politics. Max Blumenthal, however, has uncovered evidence that the White Helmets are aligned to rebel groups. They were founded by a former British Army officer and are financially backed by western governments.The White Helmets leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and the public relations groups that back them. The British government has, reportedly, been involved inpropaganda campaignsin support of moderate rebel” groups.

The key criticism of the Labour and Conservative hawks’ proposals is that their humanitarian arguments are misleading.

The key criticism of the Labour and Conservative hawks’ proposals is that their humanitarian arguments are misleading. Proposals for no fly zones, safe havens, humanitarian corridors, humanitarian access seem so reasonable and non-political that they conceal the highly politicised nature of asking NATO to take one side in a civil war, and the threat of escalation.

In 2012, the head of the US military, General Martin Dempsey, estimated that at least70,000 US servicemenwould be required to impose a no-fly zone over Syria. Some experts have estimated that about 200,000 troops and perhaps several times that number would be needed for ‘peace enforcement’ in Syria or 300-500,000 for a full-scale invasion. The consequences of deeper military involvement became even more serious after September 2015 when Russian aircrafts were deployed to Syria, raising the prospect of a wider war.

President Obama opposed the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria because it was an act of war that would involve attacking the Syrian air force and destroying its air defences, sophisticated defences designed to protect the country from the Israeli air force. Hillary Clinton, a key US Liberal hawk and then-Secretary of State, admitted privately that to achieve a no-fly zone youre going to kill a lot of Syrians because air defence systems were located in civilian areas. Protecting some civilians means that other civilians will die.

The former UK Foreign Secretary and military interventionist, William Hague, opposed the creation of safe havens which wasimpractical at best dangerous at worst. He argued that in Syria’s fluid battlefields, massive ground forces would be needed to defend any safe area from terrorist infiltration and short-range bombardment. The most thoughtful advocates of this policy, such as my old colleague Andrew Mitchell and Labour MP Jo Cox, recognise this. Yet no one can say which country will provide the tens of thousands of troops that would be necessary, and be ready to reinforce them if necessary.

The west did take the side of moderate rebels early on in the Syrian war. In August 2011, after five months of the Syrian uprising, President Obama called for the removal of Assad and a transition to democracy. Together with its allies, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the west armed the opposition to Assad. At first they provided non-lethal aid to the Syrian rebels, but from at least 2012 the US was directly involved in training and arming Syrian rebels. The US spent millions of dollars andfailed to create a force of pro-western moderate rebels. In August 2012, the USDefence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagons intelligence arm, reported that Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. It is believed that weapons supplied by the west and its allies to ‘moderate’ groups have been seized by more hard-line groups, such as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra.

Syrian rebels have an incentive to provoke state repression in order to generate support for NATO military intervention which can be used to defeat Assad. The danger of local forces allying with western llberal hawks and neoconservatives to bring about military intervention was apparent during the Iraq invasion 2003. Iraqi exiles provided suspect intelligence on weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and assured neoconservatives and liberal hawks that an invasion would be easy and popular.

The hawks claimed that the Syrian (and Libyan) uprisings were popular, democratic revolutions which made victory inevitable over President Assad. This encouraged the west to demand his removal from power, to arm rebels and miss opportunities for negotiations that might lead to accommodation. Only with the rise of ISIS and the deeper involvement of Russia has pragmatism won out over ‘wishful thinking’.

The military interventionists argue that the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides were the result of the failure of western intervention. This involves the assumption that the simple application of military force will be successful. The key example of success is Kosovo where exaggerated claims of genocide were used to legitimise a humanitarian war in which NATO bombed from 15,000 feet, killed about 500 civilians without any NATO deaths. The effectiveness of military force is undermined by the subsequent failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Both Iraq and Libya involved the use of deception to justify military intervention.

Jo Coxs compassion is not in question: but the consequences of so-called humanitarian military intervention can be catastrophic. These arguments demonise and criminalise the participants in war with the clear implication that, rather than negotiate, these wars should be fought until the enemy is defeated, which is when justice can be imposed. After the invasion of Iraq, David Kennedy, an academic lawyer and human rights activist, wrote inThe Dark Sides of Virtue(2004):

The generation which built the human rights movement focused its attention on the ways in which evil people in evil societies could be identified and restrained. More acute now is how good people, well-intentioned people in good societies, can go wrong, can entrench, support, the very things they have learned to denounce.

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June 29, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

John McCain and Paul Ryan Hold ‘Good Meeting’ With Veteran Ukrainian Nazi Demagogue Andriy Parubiy – AlterNet

Andriy Parubiy is one of the most notorious right-wing extremists in Ukrainian politics. A founder of the far-right Social-National Party of Ukraine, whose name and symbols were inspired by Germanys Nazi Party, Parubiy directed the street muscle in Kievs Maidan Square that drove the 2014 U.S.-backed coup against Ukraines democratically elected, Russian-oriented government.

In 2016, just two decades after founding a neo-fascist party that declared at its opening ceremony that it was the last hopeof the white race, of humankind as such, Parubiy leveraged his street cred to rise to the chairman of Ukraines parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

This June 15, two of the most influential Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, held court with Parubiy in Washington. The meeting was just the latest event exposing American support for Ukraines post-Maidan government as a cynical exercise in saber-rattling against Russia with little demonstrable concern for liberal democracy.

During his meeting with Ryan, Parubiy signed a memorandum of understanding emphasizing commitment to the U.S. Congress-Rada Parliamentary Exchange.

I was proud to join Speaker Parubiy to renew our interparliamentary ties with the Rada, Ryan declared in a statement published by his office. This mutually beneficial program fosters closer political, economic, and security relations between our legislatures.

Amid ongoing aggression from Russia, close coordination with the people and government of Ukraine is more important than ever, Ryan added. I appreciate Speaker Parubiys commitment to strengthening this critical partnership.

Sen. John McCain, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, likewise met with Parubiy, and said the two had a good meeting.

I’ll always stand for free & prosperous Ukraine, McCain wrote.

Unrepentant fascism

As a far-right leader, Andriy Parubiy played a critical role in pushing for the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 90s. After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Parubiy founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine, a neo-fascist party that borrowed Nazi ideology and Third Reich imagery like the Wolfsangel, which was its official symbol. The SNPU banned non-Ukrainians and established a violently racist paramilitary group called the Patriot of Ukraine.

Scholar Anton Shekhovtsov noted in a 2011 research paper on the “creeping resurgence of the Ukrainian radical right that, at its founding presentation ceremony in 1995, the SNPU proclaimed, In view of the prospects of mass degradation of people and entire nations, we are the last hope of the white race, of humankind as such. The neo-fascist party added, We must resolutely separate ourselves from the North-Eastern neighbour that is to say, Russia.

Parubiy led the Patriot of Ukraine for several years. As a standard bearer of his countrys ultra-nationalist forces, he forged friendly relations with neo-fascists like Frances Jean-Marie Le Pen, who once inscribed a polemic he wrote with a tribute to Parubiy.

In 2004, Parubiy left the SNPU and its paramilitary wing in an attempt to rebrand himself as a more respectable far-right politician. The record Parubiy left behind, however, left little doubt about his fascist worldview.

Among Andriy Parubiys most memorable published writings is a book called View from the Right, which depicts Parubiy on the cover in a Nazi-style uniform.

Parubiy speaking at a rally in his Nazi-style uniform.

When asked in 2015 if he had reformed his extremist politics, Parubiy insisted his values remained unchanged.

I don’t think he changed his views, explained historian Grzegorz Rossoliski-Liebe in an email to AlterNet. Rather, he said, Parubiy has just adjusted them to his current positions.

Yes, he is a far-right nationalist politician, stressed Rossoliski-Liebe, who is a leading expert on far-right movements in Europe. The scholar noted that he interviewed Parubiy in 2006 for his landmark book on Stepan Bandera, a Nazi-collaborating Ukrainian fascist whose historical legacy has been rewritten by the new Western-aligned government, which lionizes Bandera as a hero.

In thebook, Rossolinski-Liebe noted that Parubiy (also transliterated as Parubii) was the leader of the Society to Erect the Stepan Bandera Monument. Parubiy considers Bandera “the most important person in Ukrainian history,” the historian wrote.

McCains visit with Parubiy this year was not the first time he has junketed to Kiev to pay homage to the countrys far-right forces. During the Euromaidan demonstrations that rocked Ukraine in 2013 and 2014, McCain met with Oleh Tyanhbok, the leader of the Svoboda party who had been expelled from his former party for calling on his countrymen to do battle with the Muscovite-Jewish mafia.

Soon after the meeting, McCain and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy appeared on Maidan Square next to Tyanhbok. Ukraine will make Europe better and Europe will make Ukraine better! McCain proclaimed before the crowd of thousands.

When Parubiy left the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 2004, the Nazi-style political group did some rebranding of its own. It was renamed Svoboda and changed its symbol in an effort to seem less directly tied to Nazism.

Historian Anton Shekhovtsov warned in his 2011 research paper that the victory of Svoboda in 2009 regional elections seems to attest to the gradual revival of the radical right in Ukraine. He was correct; Svoboda went on to play a key role in Euromaidan and the 2014 coup, and today is an influential force in mainstream Ukrainian politics.

Legitimizing Ukraines rising extremists, damning democracy

Since the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraines democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine has lurched far to the right and closer to the West. Extreme right-wing nationalists occupy some of the most powerful roles in the new government, which also adopted a new constitution.

These far-right figures include Vadym Troyan, a leader of the neo-Nazi Patriot of Ukraine organization, who became police chief of the province of Kiev under Prime Minister Ansenei Yatsenyuk, a billionaire oligarch. Ukraines interior minister, Arsen Akakov, had personally commissioned neo-Nazi militias like the Azov Battalion, where Troyan served as deputy commander and whose members decorated their helmets with Nazi SS insignia and bore swastika tattoos and flags.

Through the Interior Ministry, Akakov has overseen an online blacklist designed to intimidate journalists accused of collaborating with pro-Russian terrorists in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. Called Myrotvorets, or Peacemaker, the online blacklist targeted some 4,500 journalists, including Western reporters like Ian Bateson, whom it dubbed a traitor for receiving accreditation from Russian separatists so he could enter the Donetsk region. In April 2015, Ukrainian writer Oles Buzina and former lawmaker Oleg Kalashnikov were killed after Myrotvorets leaked their personal information.

In the pro-Western Ukraine, Nazi collaborators like Stepan Bandera are revered as national heroes. Bandera was the commander of the wartime militia the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B), which fought alongside Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. Despite his OUN-B militias role in the massacre of Jews and ethnic Poles during the war including one of the most brutal pogroms in history in the city of Lvov, where some 7,000 Jews were slaughtered a major boulevard in Kiev has been named for Bandera.

Each year since the Maidan revolution, Bandera has been commemorated in Kiev with a torchlit rally. So have the Ukrainian Cossacks, the authors of countless anti-Jewish pogroms.

Neo-Nazi militias and fascist self-defense units are running rampant in the new Ukraine, menacing local police, smashing communist-era memorials and even overturning elections results. As journalist Lev Golinkin wrote last year in the Nation, It is difficult to imagine any stable administration tolerating three years of such brazen challenges to its monopoly over the use of force, yet nearly all of the far rights actions have gone unpunished.

The second anniversary of the Maidan uprising saw central Kiev overtaken not by the youthful technocrats and hipster reformists lionized in the Western press, but by a cast of characters that journalist Anna Nemtsova described as uniformed militia from nationalist movements, war veterans, and some dubious characters with criminal records. Organized under the banner of the Revolutionary Right Force, the masked men got together and burned down a building they mistook for a local branch of the Russian-owned Alfa Bank.

The U.S. has made some weak attempts to pressure Ukraines government to respect the rule of law in eastern Ukraine and tamp down on corruption. However, McCain’s and Ryans good meeting with Parubiy revealed the extent to which Washington has cast aside any concern for democratic institutions and is willing to overlook open displays of violent Nazism in order to ratchet up the tension on Russias doorstep.

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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Comey Hearing: Little New, More Doubt About "RussiaGate" – NewsClick

Aaron Mate: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate. In his long awaited senate testimony, former FBI Director James Comey said President Trump pressured him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Comey also said he takes the President at his word that he was fired over the Russia probe.

James Comey: I know I was fired because of something about the way I was conducting the Russian investigation was in some way putting pressure on him, and in some way irritating him, and he decided to fire me because of that. I can’t go farther than that.

Aaron Mate: Comey also revealed he documented his private conversations with the President because he didn’t trust Trump to tell the truth. And he said he shared details of those conversations to spur a Special Council. Trump critics hope Comey’s testimony will help build the case for obstruction of justice. They’re also hoping for evidence of Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia, but no evidence of that has emerged, and Comey didn’t offer any today. In fact, he said in a New York Times report that Trump officials had contact with Russians is not true. Joining me are two guests.

Max Blumenthal is an award winning journalist, best selling author, and Senior Editor of AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, and Coleen Rowley was a Special Agent for the FBI from 1981 to 2004. She is well known for blowing the whistle on the FBI’s failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Welcome to you both. Max, I’ll start with you. Your impressions of Comey’s testimony today?

Max Blumenthal: Well, the phrase that kept echoing in my head was Walter Mondale on Reagan’s economic plan, “Where’s the beef?” I want to know why Washington practically shut down and people were hanging out in bars playing drinking games for this testimony, when we didn’t really learn anything new. We learned that the investigation really focused on Michael Flynn. Only the Russian aspect of that investigation was even remotely discussed. While Flynn does possibly face investigation for not being forthright about his Turkey lobbying contract, we learned that Trump said in private what he also said in public, which is that he wants the investigators, the FBI, to lay off Flynn.

We learned that there was no investigation of Trump and that Trump pressured Comey to say so publicly. I don’t understand why there was no leak of the fact that there was no investigation of Trump, and finally we learned that Trump, according to Comey, was fine with the investigation proceeding. Then, there’s the other aspect that you see thousands of retweets about from mainstream Beltway journalists which is that the Muller investigation will look into whether Trump obstructed justice. Comey mentioned that it might do that, but it’s not clear that Trump is even under investigation for obstruction of justice, so beyond that, then we have just the allegation that Russia definitely hacked into the DNC server.

The big reveal there, which confirmed testimony that Comey gave earlier this year, is that the FBI, James Comey, the whole bureau, never had any access to the DNC server to investigate whether Russian hackers did indeed do that. This was kind of brushed over by not only the press, but by the Senate Republicans. There’s a lot to say about that, but I really don’t see why there’s so much focus on this when there’s so little beef there.

Aaron Mate: Yeah, Max. There’s a lot there, but on the point of the server, if the FBI didn’t access it, that meant it’s strictly under the control of this firm, Crowdstrike, right?

Max Blumenthal: Right.

Aaron Mate: Which has ties to the DNC, and they have been a major source for all these Russia hacking collusion claims.

Max Blumenthal: Well, Comey under questioning from Senator Richard Burr, the Republican from North Carolina, admitted that his bureau did not have access to the DNC servers that had been hacked, which is amazing, because they could easily subpoena those servers if they wanted to. What wasn’t mentioned was number one, Crowdstrike was the firm that the FBI relied on. Comey just referred to a very well respected firm, and it’s not a very well respected firm. It’s a largely discredited firm that had to retract a report it issued subsequent to its DNC report, claiming that Russia hacked into Ukraine’s artillery guiding apparatus through an electronic application. The Ukrainian military denied that. The who’s who of officials who designed the application for the Ukraine military denied it, and the report was basically retracted.

Jeffrey Carr absolutely savaged the report on the DNC, so there’s no way that Crowdstrike’s report on the DNC servers is necessarily even credible itself. Beyond that, what is Crowdstrike? It’s run by Dmitri Alperovitch, a Russian exile, who is a partisan figure, dedicated to undermining government of Russia. He is housed at the Atlantic Council and militaristic think tank in the Beltway, funding by NATO, Saudi Arabia, arms manufacturers, oil extraction industry, you name it. Also, funded by Victor Pinchuk. Ukrainian nationalist billionaire, and close friend of the Clintons who donated to the Clinton Foundation, and funded Bill Clinton’s birthday.

This firm, is in my opinion, partisan. It’s a for-profit firm, it’s shady, and for the FBI to rely entirely on this firm, and now for the whole mainstream media, the senate, Senator Mark Warner, whoever alleged that there was Russian hacking of the DNC, to even make that allegation, this raises serious questions about why this investigation is proceeding. Now, let’s say Trump is obstructing justice, he’s probably doing it as Comey admitted because there’s a cloud over his administration and you can’t get anything done because of the Russia investigation. That’s what the Democrats want, but it doesn’t establish that there was collusion between the Trump administration and Russia, and it definitely doesn’t establish that Russia hacked into the DNC servers. We need to see those servers and we need to ask why the FBI hasn’t subpoenad them, and what was their business with Crowdstrike?

Aaron Mate: Coleen Rowley, you’re a former FBI Special Agent. Your thoughts on today’s hearing?

Coleen Rowley: Well, I totally agree with Max Blumenthal. I notice there were a lot of contradictions in Comey’s testimony, and I wished I had been in the room to have shouted out a couple of questions. For instance, when Comey admitted that he was actually the one who directed the leak of his important memo written about Flynn’s being fired, that he had made sure that this went into a memo and then later of course, we all learned about that memo. When he testified that he told a colleague to give it to the press in order to get a special council, that should have been followed up on.

I mean, there were many possible follow-up questions. One of which was, “How many other leaks are you aware of? How many other leaks were you personally involved in as you were involved in the leak of your own memo?” Of course, nobody asks those questions. Another contradiction was when Comey testified that he had told Sessions that he was afraid to be alone with Trump. The story now is that on January 6th, it was purposely set up that Comey would be alone with Trump in order to brief him on what today he only called the “salacious memo.” He called it the “salacious information.” Now, that actually has to refer to the Steele dossier, and if you think about it, and actually Comey even testified, “Well, I didn’t want to be seen as J. Edgar Hoover.” What is he referring to? He’s referring to the fact that Hoover used sex related blackmail, even on people like Martin Luther King.

So, when this January 6th meeting occurs between … Alone, by the way, at the end of it, it’s alone with Comey and Trump, he tells him what they have on him, and not only does he tell them the sex related dossier, but he says, “It’s going to be leaked to the press right away. That’s why we’re telling you.” If you put yourself into Trump’s position, or going back to when this happened to Martin Luther King Jr’s position, you can see where Trump is obviously alarmed. Now, Comey testifies that’s why he decides to keep memos. I mean, again, the contradiction, there’s another contradiction here which is that when Comey and Muller have been through everything in the Bush administration after 9/11, where a form of martial law was instituted through John [inaudible 00:09:30] memos, and they learned of this, they learned about torture tactics, they learned about warrantless monitoring and all of the other highly illegal things that were taking place, it never occurred to James Comey that he should document things in a memo then.

But now when he’s briefing Trump on an unverified, salacious piece of information that he says is going to leak to the media right away, then he knows he has to document it. I mean, if I had been in the room, I would have asked a few questions about this because Comey is using … Maybe he’s unwitting too, in a way. Maybe he’s not even realizing that he has been used to some extent for these purposes, but he’s also a part of a whole ambiance here, where there is a lot of leaking, probably a lot of it is the same way Comey leaks, second hand, third hand, so that they are not the direct contacts with the media. I think there were a lot of questions that could have been asked that weren’t, and I totally agree that this is media hyperventilation, and the public has never learned, other than through this one report that they put out in January. All that really focused on was Russian media.

It focused on the fact that Russian media is propaganda, and that it, the media itself influenced the election. There was absolutely little or no proof shown, no evidence shown of any real hacking into the DNC, no proof or evidence of that.

Aaron Mate: Echoing on the point of Comey memo, and deliberately leaking, he also said that that was a deliberate decision because he wanted to spur a special council. Basically him saying there that he’s joining the ranks of Edward Snowden who also leaked because he wanted to see investigations and things changed.

Coleen Rowley: That’s exactly right. He could have been asked, “Did you have a special council in mind? Was that special council that you had in mind that you were attempting to get, was that one of your closest confidants and close colleagues, Robert Muller?” He certainly is not shy about touting how great Robert Muller is. They go all the way back, decades. They’ve stood together in different situations, they both unfortunately, I’ve written about this, but the media has a big forget right now in all of the debacles that they’ve actually been involved in. Muller has been criticized any number of times in front page stories for national security letters, for the anthrax investigation, going after the wrong person, even for his involvement in the Whitey Bulger investigation decades ago.

None of the media’s remembering that these are not the pillars of integrity that they are made out to be, and who knows if they haven’t talked or colluded before this. We don’t know. No one asked him about that.

Aaron Mate: Max, I want to play for you what I thought was a really striking moment, which is when Senator Angus King was questioning Comey, and King asked Comey whether closing out the Flynn investigation would hurt the Russia investigation. Comey’s answer to me was quite important. This is what happened.

Angus King: Would closing out the Flynn investigation have impeded the overall Russian investigation?

James Comey: No. Unlikely, except to the extent … There’s always a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone, and you bring in and squeeze them, you flip them, and they give you information about something else, but I saw the two as touching each other, but separate.

Aaron Mate: Max, that to me was an important moment because the assumption all along amongst Trump’s Democratic critics especially was that he was leaning on Comey to stop investgating Flynn because he wanted to stop the Russia investigation. Here Comey is saying is that Flynn and the Russia investigation are touching each other, but separate, and that stopping the Flynn investigation would not impede the overall Russia investigation.

Max Blumenthal: Right, but what would be left of the Russia investigation? It appears to focus almost entirely around Flynn, and then there’s a lot of speculation about other figures like Carter Page, Jared Kushner, who appears to have done something completely normal within the world of diplomacy, although it’s abnormal that the son-in-law of the President gets that role, but seeking a back channel with the Russian Ambassador to basically handle deconfliction and deescalation in Syria seems to be completely within the realms of diplomatic protocol, or diplomatic precedent, if you consider that Henry Kissinger had done the same thing with Moscow.

But here with Flynn, you have the only abnormal aspect, he had made a phone call to Ambassador Kislyak while he was out of the country, so his phone was tapped through a FISA court, and it proved that he had lied to Mike Pence who was in charge of vetting the new administration about contacts with foreign officials, but the FBI investigated that call, this was reported in the Washington Post in January, and found that nothing illicit took place there. Sanctions were discussed but nothing illicit, meaning illegal, took place in the call. I’m not sure what’s there. Comey was asked later, I don’t remember who the senator was, but it was a very revealing question. “Was the Flynn investigation close to being closed?” Comey said as he did over and over, that he was not comfortable discussing that in an open hearing.

That senator likely knew something about the investigation into Flynn being nearly closed. If the investigation into Flynn were closed, I don’t know what the Democrats would have to hang their hats on, really. I mean, Flynn took $40,000 from the Russian government to appear at RT’s 10th anniversary, and that was a speaking fee through his speaker’s bureau. He had that call with Kislyak. I don’t know what else is there, except that he lied to Pence. Again, when we’re talking about collusion with Russia here, I haven’t seen anything concrete, and the closest they have to that relationship is with Flynn who just seems to be an erratic figure who is obviously not above board ethically.

The idea of collusion is absurd, and once again, it seems absurd based on what they’d produced. As Coleen mentioned, there is the ODNI report, the Director of National Intelligence tried to prove what the 17 intelligence agencies had said was high confidence that Russia had hacked into or attempted to influence the election. By the way, among those 17 agencies is the Coast Guard. They’re really savvy Russia sleuths. Anyway, the ODNI report, as Coleen mentioned, 8 of the 23 pages dealt with RT, the Russian TV news outlet, which has a bureau in Washington and most of those 8 pages related to breaking the set, show, by left wing broadcast personality and journalist Abby Martin, whose show was canceled two years ago, two years before the report was even issued, two years before the election.

The report was absolute trash and no one mentions that it was trash, just as no one even bothers to mention that the 17 intelligence agencies just simply said they had high confidence. Again, where’s the beef?

Aaron Mate: Yeah, Coleen, I’m wondering if you can pick up on that.

Max Blumenthal: Or the borscht. Where’s the borscht?

Aaron Mate: Where’s the … Coleen, I’m wondering if you want to pick up on that and respond to this clip that I played of Comey saying that closing down the Flynn investigation wouldn’t really impact the Russia investigation, which as Max says, it makes you wonder what’s actually there?

Coleen Rowley: Yeah. I wasn’t sure when Comey testified, if there wasn’t some false statement. The same type of thing that got Scooter Libby into trouble. If the FBI had somehow talked to Flynn and he had said something similar to what he said to Pence, then maybe they were trying to make that into a false statement to the FBI. I wasn’t sure about that, but Comey also testified, and you just replayed it, that there was a chance that they were going to squeeze Flynn. So that means you’re trying to flip him then. You say you have information that’s incriminating about him, and then he will cooperate, and then tell you about whatever other collusion he might know about.

Of course, that was Comey’s answer there, and obviously that’s always the case, but it’s still in a case like this, where you have a President who really should be focusing on the terrorism problem. We have all kinds of attacks taking place in Europe, and now even in Iran, and elsewhere. We have really important things and to spend hours and really again, to suck all of the oxygen out of the media, out of the Trump administration, and their ability to really do anything that’s helpful here, to reduce terrorism, especially when it’s getting so bad, I think is unconscionable. I think this whole thing right now, if it’s not more than this report castigating the Russian media and saying they must be after us because we’re the shining city on the hill, if there’s nothing more than that, really the politicians in Washington really should get back to work and stop trying to use this political soap opera.

Aaron Mate: Yeah Max, on that point, your thoughts on this? Especially in the context of what Democrats chief focus has been. Jennifer Palmieri who was a top official on the Clinton campaign famously said that, “We should focus on Russia above all else.”

Max Blumenthal: Above all else.

Aaron Mate: You just went to this rally in Washington D.C. this past weekend, did a great report for us here on The Real News, speaking to protesters, demanding the truth about Trump and Russia. Representation of what a top issue this has been amongst Democratic voters.

Max Blumenthal: Yeah, and to pick up on Coleen’s point, two days ago Iran was attacked by ISIS. There was a slaughter in the Iranian parliament by ISIS, weeks after Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, warned that his country, that Saudi Arabia would strike inside Iran. This is as Qatar is under siege by land and air, as Turkish troops are moving into Qatar, to prevent a Saudi land invasion. Trump has taken credit for this disastrous and terrifying escalation in the Middle East, and not only that, in his two line statement which should have been read by Marlon Brando in the voice of Don Corleone, Trump said that countries that support terror, like Iran, deserve what they get.

Trump endorsed an ISIS attack and echoed ISIS propaganda. It’s the most vile thing I can remember an American President saying almost ever. It’s more vile than anything that upset liberals that Trump said, and we hear very little noise about it. Comey has sucked up all the oxygen, Russia’s sucked up all the oxygen, and let’s not forget Russia was desperate to coordinate with the United States against ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Syria, and we blew up that deal. Now, Jared Kushner, who I have absolutely no sympathy for, nothing but contempt for this figure, had attempted to establish a diplomatic back channel to take on ISIS and Al-Qaeda with Russia, and work out a deal in Syria.

He is now paying the price. Our national security state is behind this escalation, Trump is taking credit for it, and it just seems like no one is concerned within the mainstream media. I went to this rally as you mentioned, Rally For Truth on the National Mall two days ago. It was to get liberals excited, the resistance, the organized grassroots of the Democratic Party, get them excited about the Comey testimony and putting more pressure on Trump. What I saw there, and mostly older liberals, the kind of people who watch Rachel Maddow, as you wrote Aaron, in a really excellent report, most of her content is dedicated to Russia and her ratings are through the roof.

These are the same kind of people that I would meet at anti-war rallies over 10 years ago, the same kind of people that would go out and protest climate change and the denial of it, the same kind of people who would show up at Black Lives Matter rallies, and their energy is being chanelled into a militaristic neoconservative narrative, and the keynote speaker was supposed to be the star progressive of the senate, Jamie Raskin from Takoma Park, one of the most liberal districts in America, the son of Marcus Raskin, the Founder of IPS, the leftie think tank in Washington. He gets up and calls for regime change in Venezuela, Philippines, two countries with democratically elected governments, and of course Syria, and he says Russia is the head of the axis of evil in he called it the “unfree world.”

He just got up and sounded like a complete neocon, and when I confronted him on it, his whole argument fell apart, so what the hell is happening with progressives? We can’t just see this Russia investigation within a vacuum in Congress, or within a partisan bubble. It’s corrosive to the entire composition and direction of the progressive movement, the base of the Democratic Party, and it’s toxic to our political culture in general, and it’s not only overshadowing the fact that we stand on the brink of war, of a regional war in the Middle East, it is actually part of the narrative that’s pushing us towards war with the only country in the world that’s capable of striking us with nuclear weapons and destroying us all.

Aaron Mate: Max, just tying two issues that you raised there together, you mentioned President Trump’s response to the Iran attack was to essentially suggest that the Iranian government was responsible for it. Then, you had Democrats response to the Iran attack which came in the form of this vote yesterday in the senate. Many Democrats joining Republicans to vote for beginning debate on imposing new sanctions on Iran, the same day as the attack.

Max Blumenthal: Bernie Sanders was one of the only senators to stand up against the sanctions which were completely unneccesary. The sanctions are punishing Iran for having free and fair elections, and reelecting the the liberal President Hassan Rouhani, and ratifying this process of internal reform. It’s punishing Iran, only six senators stood with Bernie Sanders, and he said, “How dare we do this on the day that Iran was attacked by the force that is supposed to be our adversary?” It was the force that Trump said that he would smash, that he would destroy, and we’re talking about ISIS.

When Trump went to Riyadh, in the heart of this fake global counter-terrorist center, what he did was downgrade ISIS on the threat level and upgrade Iran, a country that’s cooperating with us in the fight against ISIS, which has just signed a landmark nuclear deal with us, and so I wonder where is the concern for national security within the national security state? This is all about empire, and it’s not only delusional, it’s incredibly dangerous. The Russia hysteria that’s been stoked even by progressive media is of a part with it.

Aaron Mate: Coleen Rowley, taking this back to Comey, your final thoughts on what we saw today and where you want to see the conversation go around the Trump/Russia investigation going forward?

Coleen Rowley: Well, I would hope that people would pick up on Max Blumenthal’s last thoughts which I totally agree with. This is simply distracting from the real issues. This war on terror that began, by the way, with Muller onboard and Comey onboard shortly thereafter, doing some terrible things, has actually increased terrorism exponentially, and because there’s no good journalism and there’s no good writing about this, certainly not good questions by the politicians. They are all distracted by this new wrinkle on Russia, completely distracted. No one is dealing with the real problem, and the real problem is that Al-Qaeda and its like groups in the Mid East is going full force. We’re actually making things worse, and so I would like to see it go where you do have some people starting to write about this.

I think right now we do need a little more bipartisan … We need less of the war mongering Rachel Maddow bipartisanship, and we need some more critical thinking to break through this groupthink that Max just described so well.

Aaron Mate: Well, that’s what we’re all trying to do, and we really appreciate you both joining us for this discussion. Max Blumenthal, award winning journalist, best selling author, Senior Editor of AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, and Coleen Rowley, a former Special Agent for the FBI. Thanks to you both.

Max Blumenthal: Thanks a lot.

Coleen Rowley: Thanks.

Aaron Mate: And thank you for joining us on The Real News.

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Civil War: Progressive media starting to push back against Democrat … – legal Insurrection (blog)

As Comey prepares to testify, Democrats ignore progressives questions about Russia

Progressive media outlets have been feeding the resist we much mobs since President Trumps election, and one of their favorite lines of attack has been hammering the Russia collusion / hacking non-story. Recently, however, progressive sites have been warning against pursuing it . . . even as Democrat politicians stay focused on it, seemingly to the exclusion of all else. As Comey gets ready to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Among those calling for Democrats to pivot away from the Russia story are the editor and publisher of The Nation, the Daily Kos, the Young Turks. What is not entirely clear is why they are urging this shift after spending so much devoted, almost single-mindedly, to it.

The Nations editor and publisher Katrina Vanden Huevel states that she thinks the focus on Russia may distract from their ability to combat the rest of Trumps agenda. She notes, too, that the left has become too hyperbolic about Trump administration or campaign officials meeting with Russians.

Townhall reports:

The Nations editor and publisher Katrina Vanden Huevel warned that Democrats obsession about Russia was a mistake and could torpedo efforts to effectively combat the Trump agenda. Granted, the latter part is typical run-of-the-mill progressive talk, The Nation is a left wing magazine, but in March, Vanden Huevel ripped into Democrats for the Neo-McCarthyite furor that has engulfed the party over Russia.

She noted that Russian interference during the 2016 election needs to be investigated, but the political Left has devolved into thinking that mere meetings with Russian officials are akin to treason.

Not only is this nonsensical, but it is self-defeating. Not noted by Hueval is that their hand-wringing and clothes-rending over things like Flynn sitting next to Putin at a formal eventa table at which 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was also sittingdoesnt just distract from the resistances anti-Trump agenda, but it also makes them less credible.

The Daily Kos sounded the alarm last month, stating that the focus on Russia was going to hurt Democrat prospects in 2018.

Russia is a critical story. But its notthe story that affects Americas dinner table, health, or financial well-being. Many of us in the liberal intelligentsialove the intricacies of this story. After all, who would believe that the Republican leadership would be so soft on their patriotism that theyrewilling to put their heads in the sand and play dumb?

. . . . The Trump voter knew that Trump had some relationship with the Russians. In fact, Fox News and Republicans were praising Vladimir Putin as a better leader than President Obama. The Trump voter saw a candidate whorefused to criticize Putin, regardlessof whatever vile act he committed.

. . . . In watching the hyperventilation on Russia, it is clear that progressivesare repeating the same mistakes of thelast several elections that have decimated the Democratic bench throughout the states and in the federal government.The peoples party, the Democrats, are out of step with the people.

Theyre not wrong.

The Washington Post notes that reporters such as Max Blumenthal and the Young Turks Michael Tracey are putting pressure on Democrat politicians regarding their fixation on the Russia story.

Blumenthal directly asks Jamie Raskin (D-MD) if hes been feeding lies to progressive journalists and bloggers.

Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) strolled offstage and straight into quicksand. Max Blumenthal, a dogged reporter working with the Baltimore-based Real News Network, brought Raskin on camera to ask what, exactly, Democrats wanted to know.

We need an independent commission to get all the facts, Raskin said, offering the litany of possible Trump-Russia ties that hed given to progressive and mainstream media for months.

Blumenthal wasnt sold. You said that Russia attempted to hack [Emmanuel] Macron in the French elections, he said.

Well, we know that! said Raskin.

The Washington Post has reported that the French cyber-intelligence agency has said that its not true, said Blumenthal.

Well, certainly, Macron was convinced of it, said Raskin.

It was reported days ago, said Blumenthal.

For four minutes, until the congressman was pulled away by a staffer, an award-winning journalist with bylines at the Nation and Salon asked whether hed been telling bellicose lies about Russia and the Trump team. Why arent we talking about jobs or racism? Blumenthal asked.

. . . . Michael Tracey, a reporter for the Young Turks news network who had Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) push past him after he asked skeptical Russia questions, asked why Democrats were so satisfied to keep searching for a smoking gun that never appears.

This whole issue has been characterized from this lurching, ramping up of expectations that the smoking gun will be discovered imminently, said Tracey. Thats how this story has played out. Its sort of monomaniacal.

Traceys question regarding the reason Democrat politicians are so intent to keep the Russia story alive may have been answered by Red State.

Right now the Democrats are raising money off this meme. They will continue to raise money off it as the investigation pays out. In the end, when nothing is uncovered, they will raise money off the GOP tools, like Comey, who led the investigation. They will gamble that outrage will generate income and tribalism will prevent any price being extracted at the polls.

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Stop adding fuel to the ‘terrorism’ fire – Jordan Times

Stop adding fuel to the 'terrorism' fire
Jordan Times
The other is a recent Alternet article by American journalist Max Blumenthal. In the The Manchester Bombing is Blowback from the West's Interventions and Covert Proxy Wars, Blumenthal explains how the US and the UK helped bring Jihadists like Salem …

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Notorious ‘New Atheist’ Sam Harris Outrageously Calls to ‘Keep the Number of Muslims Down in Any Society’ – AlterNet

AlterNet Notorious 'New Atheist' Sam Harris Outrageously Calls to 'Keep the Number of Muslims Down in Any Society' AlterNet As AlterNet's Max Blumenthal and Nafeez Ahmed have documented, Nawaz concocted significant portions of his memoir and falsely branded members of his own family as Islamic extremists. Nawaz issued his approval, declaring that Harris' proposal to limit …

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July 13, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

RT America — July 07, 2017 RT USA – RT.com – RT

Published time: 8 Jul, 2017 01:49 CNN hires pro-Syrian Al-Qaeda propagandist, erases him from credits Bilal Abdul Kareem, an American living in regions of Syria controlled by the Al-Nusra Front terrorist group, has been referred as “our media man” by top Al-Qaeda clerics. So why did CNN hire him to work on an undercover documentary project, then erase him from the credits? “They didn’t care and just wanted to further the regime change editorial line,” says author and investigative journalist Max Blumenthal, who joins RT America’s Manila Chan to discuss his research into Kareem. US coalition ‘looks the other way’ when ISIS takes cities journalist In the past few months, US-backed forces in Syria near At Tanf have attacked Syrian forces while claiming self-defense. Yet, they’ve done little fighting against Islamic State despite the United States only stated objective in Syria being to destroy the group, according to journalist Sharmine Narwani, who says the US has a history of looking the other way when Islamic State captures Syrian cities.

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July 9, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Anti-Islamist chic Mondoweiss – Mondoweiss

Yesterday on the NPR show Fresh Air, Terry Gross hosted Haroon Moghul, discussing his memoir, How to Be a Muslim. Moghul is charming and intelligent. The book involves his struggle to reconcile a sophisticated American life with the traditional code he grew up with. Moghul: I wanted to be Muslim, and I wanted to figure out a way to do that on my own terms. Gross: Its so important for you to challenge the stereotypes that some Americans have of Islam the stereotype of like, you know, terrorism that in order to challenge those stereotypes, does that make it difficult for you to also challenge the parts of Islam that you dont like, you know, the dictators, ISIS? Moghul: Its like walking a tightrope. How do you be publicly critical of a community and a religion that you love? And at a time when those identities are under attack, what does it mean to be sincerely critical of your own community? Last year Bernie Sanders said theres a war for the soul of Islam, and no doubt he is right about this. A number of Arab societies have problems with dictators, as Gross points out. But what about the war for the soul of Judaism? Today a great number of Jewish institutions are committed to a militant nationalist ideology, Zionism, that is completely out of step with 21st century pluralist values, an ideology that roughly half of the people under Israels governance reject the non-Jews and that has no other devotees outside the intolerant rightwing Christian community, which ought to tell you something. But both Gross and Sanders remain committed to this traditional code, so they cant interrogate it. It really is much easier to see the mote in someone elses eye than the beam in your own. The mainstream cant get enough of the anti-Islamist struggle. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and another Muslim woman lately gave testimony to Congress on Islamist oppression. A few days later they were featured on the New York Times op-ed page. The same page that employs a stable of Zionist columnists, and not an anti-Zionist in sight. There really is something camp about all the anti-Islamist material in these venues. Because its not ours. We have our own crap to deal with militant religious nationalism and theres a war for the soul of Judaism over it but youd never know it from these leading media figures. Terry Gross has never featured Miko Peled or Max Blumenthal or Anna Baltzer or Alice Rothchild Jewish authors who are struggling with their communitys Zionist inheritance. The most important issue in Jewish political culture: swept under the rug. The New York Times cant go near this struggle either. Except to dis anti-Zionists. Chris Hayes at MSNBC isnt much better, by the way. Hes from the Nation, and he knows the story about Palestine. But even as he brags about being open to rightwing Republicans he cant find Alice Rothchild or Max Blumenthals phone number. Hayes has never to my knowledge had an anti-Zionist on air to talk about the war for the soul of Judaism. Could that have anything to do with the fact that the top execs at Comcast have Zionist bona fides, David Cohen having raised money for the Israeli army and for the effort to redeem the Jewish land of Israel? But of course. Over at Time Warner, a top exec has served as a speechwriter for Benjamin Netanyahu. No problem! Speaking of the monoculture, Grosss guest, Haroon Moghul also works for a Zionist institution, the Shalom Hartman Institute. Though Moghul was careful to say hes not a Zionist. One thing I do for Hartman, however, is I do teach courses on Islam and the Muslim world and share my perspective and Muslim and Palestinian perspectives on the conflict, again, not because I want my audience to necessarily agree with everything Im saying but simply to develop an appreciation for a narrative they may have never encountered. And I say that as someone whos studied the region academically, whos traveled throughout the region and feels deeply invested in the conflict. Despite his deep investment, Gross asked him nothing about the Palestinian story yesterday. Monocultures are unstable, monocultures can disappear. There are too many oaks in the forests in upstate New York. There used to be too many chestnuts. A squirrel could go from Maine to Florida just leaping from one chestnut to another, it was said. Now theyre almost all gone. The same thing is going to happen to this anti-Islamist chic.

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July 8, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

The Fraud of the White Helmets. An Impressive Piece of … – Center for Research on Globalization

I actually forced myself to watch the documentaryThe White Helmets, which is available on Netflix. It is 40 minutes long, is of high quality cinematographically speaking, and tells a very convincing tale that waspromoted asthe story of real-life heroes and impossible hope. It is overall a very ., so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short this year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, delivering a Manichean tale that depicts the rebels as always good and Bashar al-Assad and his government as un-redeemably evil. It has beenreliably reported thatcelebrities like George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and Hillary Clinton really like the White Helmets documentary and have promoted it with the understanding that it represents the truth about Syria, but it is, of course, not the whole story. The film, which was made by the White Helmets themselves without any external verification of what it depicts, portrays the group as heroic, an impartial, life-saving rescue organization of first responders. Excluded from the scenes of heroism under fire is the White Helmets relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of rebel opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operate in rebel held territory, which enables them to shape the narrative both regarding who they are and what is occurring on the ground. Because of increasing awareness of the back story, there is now a growing movement to petition the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to revoke the Oscar based on the complete and deliberate misrepresentation of what the White Helmets are all about. Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets havede factobecome a major source of eyewitness news regarding what has been going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists are quite rightly afraid to go. It is all part of a broaderlargely successful rebel effortto manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians. White Helmets on Netflix (Source: Netflix) The White Helmets have certainly saved some lives under dangerous circumstances but they have also exaggerated their humanitarian role as they travel to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. They have consistently promoted tales of government atrocities against civilians to encourage outside military intervention in Syria and bring about regime change in Damascus. The White Helmets were, for example, the propagators of thetotally falsebut propagandistically effective claims regarding the government use of so-called barrel bombs against civilians. TheWhite Helmetswere a largely foreign creation that came into prominence in the aftermath of the unrest in Syria that developed as a result of the Arab Spring in 2012. They are currentlylargely fundedby a number of non-government organizations (NGOs) as well as governments, including Britain and some European Union member states. The United States has directly provided $23 million through the USAID (US Agency for International Development) as of 2016 and almost certainly considerably more indirectly. Max Blumenthal hasexplored in some detailthe various funding resources and relationships that the organization draws on, mostly in Europe and the United States. Former weapons inspector Scott Ritterhas describedhow the White Helmets are not actually trained to do the complicated rescue work that they depict in their self-made videos, which have established their reputation by ostensibly showing them in action inside Syria, rescuing civilians from bombed out structures, and providing life-saving emergency medical care. As an expert in Hazardous Materials handling with New York Task Force 2 USAR team, Ritter reports that these videos represent de facto evidence of dangerous incompetence or, worse, fraud The bread and butter of the White Helmets self-made reputation is the rescue of a victimusually a small childfrom beneath a pile of rubble, usually heavy reinforced concrete The techniques used by the White Helmets are not only technically wrong, but dangerous to anyone who might actually be trapped In my opinion, the videos are pure theater, either staged to impress an unwitting audience, or actually conducted with total disregard for the wellbeing of any real victims. Ritter also cites the lack of training in hazardous chemicals, best observed in the videos provided by the White Helmets regarding their activity at Khan Sheikhun on April 4th. He notes As was the case with their rescues of victims in collapsed structures, I believe the rescue efforts of the White Helmets at Khan Sheikhun were a theatrical performance designed to impress the ignorant and ill-informed Through their actionsthe White Helmets were able to breathe life into the overall narrative of a chemical weapons attack, distracting from the fact that no actual weapon existed. But perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that theyactively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have beennumerous photosof the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group has an excellent working relationship with a number of jihadi affiliates and is regarded by them as fellow mujahideen and soldiers of the revolution. So by all means lets organize to revoke the White Helmets Oscar due to misrepresentation and fraud. It might even serve as a wake-up call to George Clooney and his fellow Hollywoodsnowflakes. But the bigger take-away from the tale of the White Helmets would appear to be how it is an unfortunate repeat of the bumbling by a gullible U.S. government that has wrecked the Middle East while making Americans poorer and less safe. A group of moderates, in this case their propagandists, is supported with weapons and money to overthrow a government with which Washington has no real quarrel but it turns out the moderates are really extremists. If they succeed in changing regime in Damascus, that is when the real nightmare will begin for minorities within Syria and for the entire region, including both Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which seem intent on bringing Bashar al-Assad down. And the truly unfortunate fact is that the Israelis and Saudis apparently have convinced an ignorant Donald Trump that that is the way to go so the situation in Syria will only get worse and, unless there is a course correction, Washington will again richly deserve most of the blame. Featured image from The Unz Review

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July 5, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Jo Cox MP: the compassionate road to war – Open Democracy

Stop The War march is September 2002 in London. Wikimedia/William M Connelley. Some rights reserved. Jo Coxs tragically brief career as a Labour MP was cut short by Thomas Mair who, inspired by a far-right ideology, murdered her just over a year ago on 16 June 2016. The Labour MP left behind a husband and two young children aged four and five. During the trial, the MP for Batley and Spen was described by the judge as generous of spirit which was evident in the selfless concern she had for others even when facing a violent death. Brendan Cox described his wife as being driven by a very powerful sense of empathy and so when she would meet people who had a problem, she would be committed to dealing with that problem no matter how difficult or seemingly unsolvable. Jo Cox was the embodiment of humanitarianism, having worked for several NGOs, most notably Oxfam but also Save the Children and the National Society for the Protection of Children. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, paid tribute to the Labour MPs deep commitment to humanity. This humanitarianism, her compassionate character and appalling murder seem to place Jo Coxs politics beyond criticism. But on how to intervene in Syria, are they? Labour and Conservative hawks have invoked Jo Coxs memory to generate support for western military intervention in Syria and beyond. These powerful political interests, allied to Syrian rebels, use claims of genocide, human rights abuses and humanitarian crisis as trumps to win political debate and delegitimise opposition to war. The most notable aspect of Jo Coxs tragically short parliamentary career was her outspoken stance for escalating war in support of the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria. From the Blairite wing of the Labour party, she worked with neoconservatives and other Conservative hawks to use claims of genocide to support taking humanitarian intervention on the side of the moderate rebels by establishing safe havens, the delivery of humanitarian aid to rebel areas and support for the White Helmets. At the time of her death, Jo Cox was working on a report with the Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat (former principal adviser to the Chief of Defence Staff). This has been posthumously published by the Conservative think tank Policy Exchange asThe Cost of Doing Nothing: The price of inaction in the face of mass atrocities(January 2017). In this report, the Labour MP Alison McGovern, chair of Progress, the Blairite think tank, and Tugendhat argue in support of military intervention: a commitment by all parties to move in this direction would be a fitting legacy for our tireless, brave and humanitarian colleague, Jo Cox. The report was due to be published on the day of the Chilcot inquiry on 6 July 2016, to counter growing British scepticism about foreign military interventions. The preface of the report was written by Dean Godson, director of Policy Exchange and a prominent British neoconservative. Professor John Bew, a founding member of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society, also contributed. This organisation, established in 2005, is the leading think tank in support of military intervention. It also has a history of demonising Muslims. Conservative hawks tend to emphasise less altruistic motivations for military intervention and can be more explicit about the implications of establishing supposedly humanitarian initiatives such as safe havens. Michael Weiss, director of communications for the Henry Jackson Society, argued inIntervention in Syria, published in December 2011, for the establishment of a safe area which should not only be used as a base for home-grown rebel military operations but as a political and communications hub for the Syrian opposition. Weiss added: Its role should be tantamount to the one played by Benghazi in helping the Libyan Transitional National Council topple the Gaddafi regime. While Tugendhat favoured human rights and humanitarian military intervention, he wascritical of the human rights lawsthat constrained the actions of British soldiers, stating that judicial imperialism should urgently be reversed. Imperialism and humanitarianism have a close historical association, imperialism was often justified as a humanitarian or civilising act.Tugendhat statedthat he and Cox wanted to elevate the role of the military as a force that can change lives for the better. He added: We wanted to show that Britains history of intervention, military and otherwise, is common to both our political traditions and has been an integral part of our foreign and national security policy for over two hundred years. In the post-Cold War periodwar has become reinvented as humanitarian interventionto make it more palatable to sceptical western public opinion including the leftwing. During the nineties, leftists who had opposed the Vietnam War, the US interventions in Central America, and the nuclear arms race were seduced by human rights and humanitarian arguments for war. Kosovo in 1999 was depicted as the first humanitarian war and a model for future military interventions. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was also justified as a humanitarian intervention. The disastrous consequences of that invasion and the exposure of the deceptions and calculations behind the war undermined humanitarian justifications for war. Some humanitarian organisations, most notably Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF), became critical of the way powerful western states were using human rights and humanitarianism to justify war and imperialism. In Afghanistan, NATO used humanitarian aid as part of a counterinsurgency strategy and propaganda to win the hearts and minds of the local population. The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, notoriously described NGOs as a force multiplier for us, such an important part of our combat team. Humanitarian NGOs signed Afghanistan: A Call for Security described as agung-ho documentdemanding more robust NATO military action. The intensification of Britains involvement in the good war in Afghanistan after 2006 was supposed to restore the reputation of the military after the bad war in Iraq.General David Richards, who was head of the British armed forces, reflected on the war in Afghanistan: in practice, we ended up killing a lot of people, destroying lots of bazaars and mosques. We absolutely knew it was not what we were there to do, and would not be helpful. British public opinion defied cross-party support for the good war in Afghanistan and consistently opposed intervention from the start of the escalation of the war in 2006. The publics reluctance to suffer casualties joined with no-win outcomes to explain why deception and humanitarian arguments had to be deployed to reduce public misgivings. There is considerable evidence to suggest that deception was used to justify and extend NATOs intervention in Libya 2011. Advocates of humanitarian intervention claimed that President Gaddafis forces, which were advancing on the rebels in Benghazi, would commit genocide against civilians another Srebrenica unless NATO aircraft intervened. In 2017,McGovern and Tugendhatargued that the Libyan intervention almost certainly saved tens of thousands from slaughter by Gaddafi and the current level of violence is nowhere near the genocide he threatened to unleash. The House of Commons supported military intervention on 21 March 2011 by a vote of 557 MPs to 13 (the latter included Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell). TheHouse of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) report on Libya, in September 2016, found that Gaddafis threat to civilians was overstated. This claim is backed up by academic research that suggests the regime was trying to negotiate and targeted rebels rather than civilians. The FAC argued, by the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-Gaddafi Libya.Jack Holland and Mike Aaronsonhave argued that the UKs political objective may well have been the removal of Gaddafi, but it was not astute to openly articulate it as such. President Obama was to describe post-intervention Libya as a shit show. The Russians and Chinese argue that NATOs deception on Libya is why they are reluctant to support similar humanitarian action in Syria. The chaotic consequences of humanitarian intervention in Libya have underlined the ineffectiveness of military action already apparent in Iraq and Afghanistan. During her parliamentary career Jo Cox was a co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Friends of Syria that urged stronger humanitarian military action in support of moderate rebels and against the Assad regime. Humanitarians often claim to be non-political or above politics. After all, who can be against humanitarianism, saving civilians and opposing “genocide? The key question is: who defines what these terms mean and what are their implications for policy? Compassion has too often been a cover for escalating war. After all, who can be against “humanitarianism”, saving “civilians” and opposing “genocide”? Jo Cox allied with Andrew Mitchell former Conservative International Development Secretary and Libya hawk to argue that Syriawas a case of genocide by comparing it to Bosnia and Rwanda. They presented war as a Manichaean struggle between the evil dictator Assad who is perpetrating a genocide on the Syrian people and the moderate rebels: never again can we let innocents suffer as they did in the Holocaust. Never again. Innocents are depicted as always the victims of Assad and not of the rebels but the rebels have also carried out atrocities. The humanitarian proposal of a safe haven was effectively a call for the escalation of NATOs military involvement in Syria and risked a military confrontation with Russia. ForCox and Mitchell, a military component was part of an ethical response, but what was critical was that the protection of civilians must be at the centre of the mission. Safe havens should be created to offer sanctuary from both Assad and ISIS. They argued that preventing the regime from killing civilians, and signalling intent to Russia, is far more likely to compel the regime to the negotiating table than anything currently being done or mooted. International law should be broken by ignoring Russias and Chinas veto on UN action. So in December 2015 Jo Cox refused to support British involvement in the bombing of Syria because she thought this military action did not go far enough in support of moderate rebel groups. She opposed an ISIS first strategy because it would alienate moderate rebels. Although Jo Cox thought the invasion of Iraq was Labours darkest hour, she argued that this was because there was no follow up strategy, suggesting that such invasions could be successful. Elsewhere she argued that she opposed the Iraq war because the risk to civilian lives was too high, and their protection was never the central objective. Kosovo and Sierra Leone were successes, she argued, because civilian protection was key. Jo Cox took a hard line in favour of Syrian peace negotiations aiming at the removal of Assad and a rebel victory rather than a diplomatic compromise that might end the violence. Western intransigence can encourage rebels to hold out on negotiations in hope of a Libyan-style NATO military solution. InFebruary 2016, Jo Cox and the German Green Party MP, Omid Nouripour, rejected US negotiations with Russia of a peace settlement in Syria in favour of a much more muscular European response. They added: the US seems intent on a peace settlement that will be dangerously unbalanced. Such is the determination to secure [a] deal at any cost that they are prepared to offer far too many concessions to Assad and their Russian allies. This undermines the Syrian opposition, who feel betrayed by the international community. It also diminishes the chance for a sustainable peace and relegates the protection of civilians virtually out of the conference room. If we dont stand up for them, nobody will. Jo Coxs advocacy for the White Helmets in Syria follows from this convergence between humanitarianism and arguments to escalate the war on the side of ‘moderate rebels’ for war. She nominated the White Helmets for the Nobel Peace Prize for their rescue work in Syria and one third of her memorial fund is to be donated to them. The White Helmets appear to be a humanitarian organisation that is above politics and prepared to help Syrian people in distress regardless of their politics. Max Blumenthal, however, has uncovered evidence that the White Helmets are aligned to rebel groups. They were founded by a former British Army officer and are financially backed by western governments.The White Helmets leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and the public relations groups that back them. The British government has, reportedly, been involved inpropaganda campaignsin support of moderate rebel” groups. The key criticism of the Labour and Conservative hawks’ proposals is that their humanitarian arguments are misleading. The key criticism of the Labour and Conservative hawks’ proposals is that their humanitarian arguments are misleading. Proposals for no fly zones, safe havens, humanitarian corridors, humanitarian access seem so reasonable and non-political that they conceal the highly politicised nature of asking NATO to take one side in a civil war, and the threat of escalation. In 2012, the head of the US military, General Martin Dempsey, estimated that at least70,000 US servicemenwould be required to impose a no-fly zone over Syria. Some experts have estimated that about 200,000 troops and perhaps several times that number would be needed for ‘peace enforcement’ in Syria or 300-500,000 for a full-scale invasion. The consequences of deeper military involvement became even more serious after September 2015 when Russian aircrafts were deployed to Syria, raising the prospect of a wider war. President Obama opposed the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria because it was an act of war that would involve attacking the Syrian air force and destroying its air defences, sophisticated defences designed to protect the country from the Israeli air force. Hillary Clinton, a key US Liberal hawk and then-Secretary of State, admitted privately that to achieve a no-fly zone youre going to kill a lot of Syrians because air defence systems were located in civilian areas. Protecting some civilians means that other civilians will die. The former UK Foreign Secretary and military interventionist, William Hague, opposed the creation of safe havens which wasimpractical at best dangerous at worst. He argued that in Syria’s fluid battlefields, massive ground forces would be needed to defend any safe area from terrorist infiltration and short-range bombardment. The most thoughtful advocates of this policy, such as my old colleague Andrew Mitchell and Labour MP Jo Cox, recognise this. Yet no one can say which country will provide the tens of thousands of troops that would be necessary, and be ready to reinforce them if necessary. The west did take the side of moderate rebels early on in the Syrian war. In August 2011, after five months of the Syrian uprising, President Obama called for the removal of Assad and a transition to democracy. Together with its allies, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the west armed the opposition to Assad. At first they provided non-lethal aid to the Syrian rebels, but from at least 2012 the US was directly involved in training and arming Syrian rebels. The US spent millions of dollars andfailed to create a force of pro-western moderate rebels. In August 2012, the USDefence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagons intelligence arm, reported that Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. It is believed that weapons supplied by the west and its allies to ‘moderate’ groups have been seized by more hard-line groups, such as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra. Syrian rebels have an incentive to provoke state repression in order to generate support for NATO military intervention which can be used to defeat Assad. The danger of local forces allying with western llberal hawks and neoconservatives to bring about military intervention was apparent during the Iraq invasion 2003. Iraqi exiles provided suspect intelligence on weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and assured neoconservatives and liberal hawks that an invasion would be easy and popular. The hawks claimed that the Syrian (and Libyan) uprisings were popular, democratic revolutions which made victory inevitable over President Assad. This encouraged the west to demand his removal from power, to arm rebels and miss opportunities for negotiations that might lead to accommodation. Only with the rise of ISIS and the deeper involvement of Russia has pragmatism won out over ‘wishful thinking’. The military interventionists argue that the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides were the result of the failure of western intervention. This involves the assumption that the simple application of military force will be successful. The key example of success is Kosovo where exaggerated claims of genocide were used to legitimise a humanitarian war in which NATO bombed from 15,000 feet, killed about 500 civilians without any NATO deaths. The effectiveness of military force is undermined by the subsequent failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Both Iraq and Libya involved the use of deception to justify military intervention. Jo Coxs compassion is not in question: but the consequences of so-called humanitarian military intervention can be catastrophic. These arguments demonise and criminalise the participants in war with the clear implication that, rather than negotiate, these wars should be fought until the enemy is defeated, which is when justice can be imposed. After the invasion of Iraq, David Kennedy, an academic lawyer and human rights activist, wrote inThe Dark Sides of Virtue(2004): The generation which built the human rights movement focused its attention on the ways in which evil people in evil societies could be identified and restrained. More acute now is how good people, well-intentioned people in good societies, can go wrong, can entrench, support, the very things they have learned to denounce.

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June 29, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

John McCain and Paul Ryan Hold ‘Good Meeting’ With Veteran Ukrainian Nazi Demagogue Andriy Parubiy – AlterNet

Andriy Parubiy is one of the most notorious right-wing extremists in Ukrainian politics. A founder of the far-right Social-National Party of Ukraine, whose name and symbols were inspired by Germanys Nazi Party, Parubiy directed the street muscle in Kievs Maidan Square that drove the 2014 U.S.-backed coup against Ukraines democratically elected, Russian-oriented government. In 2016, just two decades after founding a neo-fascist party that declared at its opening ceremony that it was the last hopeof the white race, of humankind as such, Parubiy leveraged his street cred to rise to the chairman of Ukraines parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. This June 15, two of the most influential Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, held court with Parubiy in Washington. The meeting was just the latest event exposing American support for Ukraines post-Maidan government as a cynical exercise in saber-rattling against Russia with little demonstrable concern for liberal democracy. During his meeting with Ryan, Parubiy signed a memorandum of understanding emphasizing commitment to the U.S. Congress-Rada Parliamentary Exchange. I was proud to join Speaker Parubiy to renew our interparliamentary ties with the Rada, Ryan declared in a statement published by his office. This mutually beneficial program fosters closer political, economic, and security relations between our legislatures. Amid ongoing aggression from Russia, close coordination with the people and government of Ukraine is more important than ever, Ryan added. I appreciate Speaker Parubiys commitment to strengthening this critical partnership. Sen. John McCain, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, likewise met with Parubiy, and said the two had a good meeting. I’ll always stand for free & prosperous Ukraine, McCain wrote. Unrepentant fascism As a far-right leader, Andriy Parubiy played a critical role in pushing for the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 90s. After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Parubiy founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine, a neo-fascist party that borrowed Nazi ideology and Third Reich imagery like the Wolfsangel, which was its official symbol. The SNPU banned non-Ukrainians and established a violently racist paramilitary group called the Patriot of Ukraine. Scholar Anton Shekhovtsov noted in a 2011 research paper on the “creeping resurgence of the Ukrainian radical right that, at its founding presentation ceremony in 1995, the SNPU proclaimed, In view of the prospects of mass degradation of people and entire nations, we are the last hope of the white race, of humankind as such. The neo-fascist party added, We must resolutely separate ourselves from the North-Eastern neighbour that is to say, Russia. Parubiy led the Patriot of Ukraine for several years. As a standard bearer of his countrys ultra-nationalist forces, he forged friendly relations with neo-fascists like Frances Jean-Marie Le Pen, who once inscribed a polemic he wrote with a tribute to Parubiy. In 2004, Parubiy left the SNPU and its paramilitary wing in an attempt to rebrand himself as a more respectable far-right politician. The record Parubiy left behind, however, left little doubt about his fascist worldview. Among Andriy Parubiys most memorable published writings is a book called View from the Right, which depicts Parubiy on the cover in a Nazi-style uniform. Parubiy speaking at a rally in his Nazi-style uniform. When asked in 2015 if he had reformed his extremist politics, Parubiy insisted his values remained unchanged. I don’t think he changed his views, explained historian Grzegorz Rossoliski-Liebe in an email to AlterNet. Rather, he said, Parubiy has just adjusted them to his current positions. Yes, he is a far-right nationalist politician, stressed Rossoliski-Liebe, who is a leading expert on far-right movements in Europe. The scholar noted that he interviewed Parubiy in 2006 for his landmark book on Stepan Bandera, a Nazi-collaborating Ukrainian fascist whose historical legacy has been rewritten by the new Western-aligned government, which lionizes Bandera as a hero. In thebook, Rossolinski-Liebe noted that Parubiy (also transliterated as Parubii) was the leader of the Society to Erect the Stepan Bandera Monument. Parubiy considers Bandera “the most important person in Ukrainian history,” the historian wrote. McCains visit with Parubiy this year was not the first time he has junketed to Kiev to pay homage to the countrys far-right forces. During the Euromaidan demonstrations that rocked Ukraine in 2013 and 2014, McCain met with Oleh Tyanhbok, the leader of the Svoboda party who had been expelled from his former party for calling on his countrymen to do battle with the Muscovite-Jewish mafia. Soon after the meeting, McCain and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy appeared on Maidan Square next to Tyanhbok. Ukraine will make Europe better and Europe will make Ukraine better! McCain proclaimed before the crowd of thousands. When Parubiy left the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 2004, the Nazi-style political group did some rebranding of its own. It was renamed Svoboda and changed its symbol in an effort to seem less directly tied to Nazism. Historian Anton Shekhovtsov warned in his 2011 research paper that the victory of Svoboda in 2009 regional elections seems to attest to the gradual revival of the radical right in Ukraine. He was correct; Svoboda went on to play a key role in Euromaidan and the 2014 coup, and today is an influential force in mainstream Ukrainian politics. Legitimizing Ukraines rising extremists, damning democracy Since the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Ukraines democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine has lurched far to the right and closer to the West. Extreme right-wing nationalists occupy some of the most powerful roles in the new government, which also adopted a new constitution. These far-right figures include Vadym Troyan, a leader of the neo-Nazi Patriot of Ukraine organization, who became police chief of the province of Kiev under Prime Minister Ansenei Yatsenyuk, a billionaire oligarch. Ukraines interior minister, Arsen Akakov, had personally commissioned neo-Nazi militias like the Azov Battalion, where Troyan served as deputy commander and whose members decorated their helmets with Nazi SS insignia and bore swastika tattoos and flags. Through the Interior Ministry, Akakov has overseen an online blacklist designed to intimidate journalists accused of collaborating with pro-Russian terrorists in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine. Called Myrotvorets, or Peacemaker, the online blacklist targeted some 4,500 journalists, including Western reporters like Ian Bateson, whom it dubbed a traitor for receiving accreditation from Russian separatists so he could enter the Donetsk region. In April 2015, Ukrainian writer Oles Buzina and former lawmaker Oleg Kalashnikov were killed after Myrotvorets leaked their personal information. In the pro-Western Ukraine, Nazi collaborators like Stepan Bandera are revered as national heroes. Bandera was the commander of the wartime militia the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B), which fought alongside Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union. Despite his OUN-B militias role in the massacre of Jews and ethnic Poles during the war including one of the most brutal pogroms in history in the city of Lvov, where some 7,000 Jews were slaughtered a major boulevard in Kiev has been named for Bandera. Each year since the Maidan revolution, Bandera has been commemorated in Kiev with a torchlit rally. So have the Ukrainian Cossacks, the authors of countless anti-Jewish pogroms. Neo-Nazi militias and fascist self-defense units are running rampant in the new Ukraine, menacing local police, smashing communist-era memorials and even overturning elections results. As journalist Lev Golinkin wrote last year in the Nation, It is difficult to imagine any stable administration tolerating three years of such brazen challenges to its monopoly over the use of force, yet nearly all of the far rights actions have gone unpunished. The second anniversary of the Maidan uprising saw central Kiev overtaken not by the youthful technocrats and hipster reformists lionized in the Western press, but by a cast of characters that journalist Anna Nemtsova described as uniformed militia from nationalist movements, war veterans, and some dubious characters with criminal records. Organized under the banner of the Revolutionary Right Force, the masked men got together and burned down a building they mistook for a local branch of the Russian-owned Alfa Bank. The U.S. has made some weak attempts to pressure Ukraines government to respect the rule of law in eastern Ukraine and tamp down on corruption. However, McCain’s and Ryans good meeting with Parubiy revealed the extent to which Washington has cast aside any concern for democratic institutions and is willing to overlook open displays of violent Nazism in order to ratchet up the tension on Russias doorstep. Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton. Max Blumenthal is a senior editor of the Grayzone Project atAlterNet, and the award-winning author of Goliath andRepublican Gomorrah. His most recent book isThe 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza.Follow him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

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June 24, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Comey Hearing: Little New, More Doubt About "RussiaGate" – NewsClick

Aaron Mate: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate. In his long awaited senate testimony, former FBI Director James Comey said President Trump pressured him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Comey also said he takes the President at his word that he was fired over the Russia probe. James Comey: I know I was fired because of something about the way I was conducting the Russian investigation was in some way putting pressure on him, and in some way irritating him, and he decided to fire me because of that. I can’t go farther than that. Aaron Mate: Comey also revealed he documented his private conversations with the President because he didn’t trust Trump to tell the truth. And he said he shared details of those conversations to spur a Special Council. Trump critics hope Comey’s testimony will help build the case for obstruction of justice. They’re also hoping for evidence of Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia, but no evidence of that has emerged, and Comey didn’t offer any today. In fact, he said in a New York Times report that Trump officials had contact with Russians is not true. Joining me are two guests. Max Blumenthal is an award winning journalist, best selling author, and Senior Editor of AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, and Coleen Rowley was a Special Agent for the FBI from 1981 to 2004. She is well known for blowing the whistle on the FBI’s failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Welcome to you both. Max, I’ll start with you. Your impressions of Comey’s testimony today? Max Blumenthal: Well, the phrase that kept echoing in my head was Walter Mondale on Reagan’s economic plan, “Where’s the beef?” I want to know why Washington practically shut down and people were hanging out in bars playing drinking games for this testimony, when we didn’t really learn anything new. We learned that the investigation really focused on Michael Flynn. Only the Russian aspect of that investigation was even remotely discussed. While Flynn does possibly face investigation for not being forthright about his Turkey lobbying contract, we learned that Trump said in private what he also said in public, which is that he wants the investigators, the FBI, to lay off Flynn. We learned that there was no investigation of Trump and that Trump pressured Comey to say so publicly. I don’t understand why there was no leak of the fact that there was no investigation of Trump, and finally we learned that Trump, according to Comey, was fine with the investigation proceeding. Then, there’s the other aspect that you see thousands of retweets about from mainstream Beltway journalists which is that the Muller investigation will look into whether Trump obstructed justice. Comey mentioned that it might do that, but it’s not clear that Trump is even under investigation for obstruction of justice, so beyond that, then we have just the allegation that Russia definitely hacked into the DNC server. The big reveal there, which confirmed testimony that Comey gave earlier this year, is that the FBI, James Comey, the whole bureau, never had any access to the DNC server to investigate whether Russian hackers did indeed do that. This was kind of brushed over by not only the press, but by the Senate Republicans. There’s a lot to say about that, but I really don’t see why there’s so much focus on this when there’s so little beef there. Aaron Mate: Yeah, Max. There’s a lot there, but on the point of the server, if the FBI didn’t access it, that meant it’s strictly under the control of this firm, Crowdstrike, right? Max Blumenthal: Right. Aaron Mate: Which has ties to the DNC, and they have been a major source for all these Russia hacking collusion claims. Max Blumenthal: Well, Comey under questioning from Senator Richard Burr, the Republican from North Carolina, admitted that his bureau did not have access to the DNC servers that had been hacked, which is amazing, because they could easily subpoena those servers if they wanted to. What wasn’t mentioned was number one, Crowdstrike was the firm that the FBI relied on. Comey just referred to a very well respected firm, and it’s not a very well respected firm. It’s a largely discredited firm that had to retract a report it issued subsequent to its DNC report, claiming that Russia hacked into Ukraine’s artillery guiding apparatus through an electronic application. The Ukrainian military denied that. The who’s who of officials who designed the application for the Ukraine military denied it, and the report was basically retracted. Jeffrey Carr absolutely savaged the report on the DNC, so there’s no way that Crowdstrike’s report on the DNC servers is necessarily even credible itself. Beyond that, what is Crowdstrike? It’s run by Dmitri Alperovitch, a Russian exile, who is a partisan figure, dedicated to undermining government of Russia. He is housed at the Atlantic Council and militaristic think tank in the Beltway, funding by NATO, Saudi Arabia, arms manufacturers, oil extraction industry, you name it. Also, funded by Victor Pinchuk. Ukrainian nationalist billionaire, and close friend of the Clintons who donated to the Clinton Foundation, and funded Bill Clinton’s birthday. This firm, is in my opinion, partisan. It’s a for-profit firm, it’s shady, and for the FBI to rely entirely on this firm, and now for the whole mainstream media, the senate, Senator Mark Warner, whoever alleged that there was Russian hacking of the DNC, to even make that allegation, this raises serious questions about why this investigation is proceeding. Now, let’s say Trump is obstructing justice, he’s probably doing it as Comey admitted because there’s a cloud over his administration and you can’t get anything done because of the Russia investigation. That’s what the Democrats want, but it doesn’t establish that there was collusion between the Trump administration and Russia, and it definitely doesn’t establish that Russia hacked into the DNC servers. We need to see those servers and we need to ask why the FBI hasn’t subpoenad them, and what was their business with Crowdstrike? Aaron Mate: Coleen Rowley, you’re a former FBI Special Agent. Your thoughts on today’s hearing? Coleen Rowley: Well, I totally agree with Max Blumenthal. I notice there were a lot of contradictions in Comey’s testimony, and I wished I had been in the room to have shouted out a couple of questions. For instance, when Comey admitted that he was actually the one who directed the leak of his important memo written about Flynn’s being fired, that he had made sure that this went into a memo and then later of course, we all learned about that memo. When he testified that he told a colleague to give it to the press in order to get a special council, that should have been followed up on. I mean, there were many possible follow-up questions. One of which was, “How many other leaks are you aware of? How many other leaks were you personally involved in as you were involved in the leak of your own memo?” Of course, nobody asks those questions. Another contradiction was when Comey testified that he had told Sessions that he was afraid to be alone with Trump. The story now is that on January 6th, it was purposely set up that Comey would be alone with Trump in order to brief him on what today he only called the “salacious memo.” He called it the “salacious information.” Now, that actually has to refer to the Steele dossier, and if you think about it, and actually Comey even testified, “Well, I didn’t want to be seen as J. Edgar Hoover.” What is he referring to? He’s referring to the fact that Hoover used sex related blackmail, even on people like Martin Luther King. So, when this January 6th meeting occurs between … Alone, by the way, at the end of it, it’s alone with Comey and Trump, he tells him what they have on him, and not only does he tell them the sex related dossier, but he says, “It’s going to be leaked to the press right away. That’s why we’re telling you.” If you put yourself into Trump’s position, or going back to when this happened to Martin Luther King Jr’s position, you can see where Trump is obviously alarmed. Now, Comey testifies that’s why he decides to keep memos. I mean, again, the contradiction, there’s another contradiction here which is that when Comey and Muller have been through everything in the Bush administration after 9/11, where a form of martial law was instituted through John [inaudible 00:09:30] memos, and they learned of this, they learned about torture tactics, they learned about warrantless monitoring and all of the other highly illegal things that were taking place, it never occurred to James Comey that he should document things in a memo then. But now when he’s briefing Trump on an unverified, salacious piece of information that he says is going to leak to the media right away, then he knows he has to document it. I mean, if I had been in the room, I would have asked a few questions about this because Comey is using … Maybe he’s unwitting too, in a way. Maybe he’s not even realizing that he has been used to some extent for these purposes, but he’s also a part of a whole ambiance here, where there is a lot of leaking, probably a lot of it is the same way Comey leaks, second hand, third hand, so that they are not the direct contacts with the media. I think there were a lot of questions that could have been asked that weren’t, and I totally agree that this is media hyperventilation, and the public has never learned, other than through this one report that they put out in January. All that really focused on was Russian media. It focused on the fact that Russian media is propaganda, and that it, the media itself influenced the election. There was absolutely little or no proof shown, no evidence shown of any real hacking into the DNC, no proof or evidence of that. Aaron Mate: Echoing on the point of Comey memo, and deliberately leaking, he also said that that was a deliberate decision because he wanted to spur a special council. Basically him saying there that he’s joining the ranks of Edward Snowden who also leaked because he wanted to see investigations and things changed. Coleen Rowley: That’s exactly right. He could have been asked, “Did you have a special council in mind? Was that special council that you had in mind that you were attempting to get, was that one of your closest confidants and close colleagues, Robert Muller?” He certainly is not shy about touting how great Robert Muller is. They go all the way back, decades. They’ve stood together in different situations, they both unfortunately, I’ve written about this, but the media has a big forget right now in all of the debacles that they’ve actually been involved in. Muller has been criticized any number of times in front page stories for national security letters, for the anthrax investigation, going after the wrong person, even for his involvement in the Whitey Bulger investigation decades ago. None of the media’s remembering that these are not the pillars of integrity that they are made out to be, and who knows if they haven’t talked or colluded before this. We don’t know. No one asked him about that. Aaron Mate: Max, I want to play for you what I thought was a really striking moment, which is when Senator Angus King was questioning Comey, and King asked Comey whether closing out the Flynn investigation would hurt the Russia investigation. Comey’s answer to me was quite important. This is what happened. Angus King: Would closing out the Flynn investigation have impeded the overall Russian investigation? James Comey: No. Unlikely, except to the extent … There’s always a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone, and you bring in and squeeze them, you flip them, and they give you information about something else, but I saw the two as touching each other, but separate. Aaron Mate: Max, that to me was an important moment because the assumption all along amongst Trump’s Democratic critics especially was that he was leaning on Comey to stop investgating Flynn because he wanted to stop the Russia investigation. Here Comey is saying is that Flynn and the Russia investigation are touching each other, but separate, and that stopping the Flynn investigation would not impede the overall Russia investigation. Max Blumenthal: Right, but what would be left of the Russia investigation? It appears to focus almost entirely around Flynn, and then there’s a lot of speculation about other figures like Carter Page, Jared Kushner, who appears to have done something completely normal within the world of diplomacy, although it’s abnormal that the son-in-law of the President gets that role, but seeking a back channel with the Russian Ambassador to basically handle deconfliction and deescalation in Syria seems to be completely within the realms of diplomatic protocol, or diplomatic precedent, if you consider that Henry Kissinger had done the same thing with Moscow. But here with Flynn, you have the only abnormal aspect, he had made a phone call to Ambassador Kislyak while he was out of the country, so his phone was tapped through a FISA court, and it proved that he had lied to Mike Pence who was in charge of vetting the new administration about contacts with foreign officials, but the FBI investigated that call, this was reported in the Washington Post in January, and found that nothing illicit took place there. Sanctions were discussed but nothing illicit, meaning illegal, took place in the call. I’m not sure what’s there. Comey was asked later, I don’t remember who the senator was, but it was a very revealing question. “Was the Flynn investigation close to being closed?” Comey said as he did over and over, that he was not comfortable discussing that in an open hearing. That senator likely knew something about the investigation into Flynn being nearly closed. If the investigation into Flynn were closed, I don’t know what the Democrats would have to hang their hats on, really. I mean, Flynn took $40,000 from the Russian government to appear at RT’s 10th anniversary, and that was a speaking fee through his speaker’s bureau. He had that call with Kislyak. I don’t know what else is there, except that he lied to Pence. Again, when we’re talking about collusion with Russia here, I haven’t seen anything concrete, and the closest they have to that relationship is with Flynn who just seems to be an erratic figure who is obviously not above board ethically. The idea of collusion is absurd, and once again, it seems absurd based on what they’d produced. As Coleen mentioned, there is the ODNI report, the Director of National Intelligence tried to prove what the 17 intelligence agencies had said was high confidence that Russia had hacked into or attempted to influence the election. By the way, among those 17 agencies is the Coast Guard. They’re really savvy Russia sleuths. Anyway, the ODNI report, as Coleen mentioned, 8 of the 23 pages dealt with RT, the Russian TV news outlet, which has a bureau in Washington and most of those 8 pages related to breaking the set, show, by left wing broadcast personality and journalist Abby Martin, whose show was canceled two years ago, two years before the report was even issued, two years before the election. The report was absolute trash and no one mentions that it was trash, just as no one even bothers to mention that the 17 intelligence agencies just simply said they had high confidence. Again, where’s the beef? Aaron Mate: Yeah, Coleen, I’m wondering if you can pick up on that. Max Blumenthal: Or the borscht. Where’s the borscht? Aaron Mate: Where’s the … Coleen, I’m wondering if you want to pick up on that and respond to this clip that I played of Comey saying that closing down the Flynn investigation wouldn’t really impact the Russia investigation, which as Max says, it makes you wonder what’s actually there? Coleen Rowley: Yeah. I wasn’t sure when Comey testified, if there wasn’t some false statement. The same type of thing that got Scooter Libby into trouble. If the FBI had somehow talked to Flynn and he had said something similar to what he said to Pence, then maybe they were trying to make that into a false statement to the FBI. I wasn’t sure about that, but Comey also testified, and you just replayed it, that there was a chance that they were going to squeeze Flynn. So that means you’re trying to flip him then. You say you have information that’s incriminating about him, and then he will cooperate, and then tell you about whatever other collusion he might know about. Of course, that was Comey’s answer there, and obviously that’s always the case, but it’s still in a case like this, where you have a President who really should be focusing on the terrorism problem. We have all kinds of attacks taking place in Europe, and now even in Iran, and elsewhere. We have really important things and to spend hours and really again, to suck all of the oxygen out of the media, out of the Trump administration, and their ability to really do anything that’s helpful here, to reduce terrorism, especially when it’s getting so bad, I think is unconscionable. I think this whole thing right now, if it’s not more than this report castigating the Russian media and saying they must be after us because we’re the shining city on the hill, if there’s nothing more than that, really the politicians in Washington really should get back to work and stop trying to use this political soap opera. Aaron Mate: Yeah Max, on that point, your thoughts on this? Especially in the context of what Democrats chief focus has been. Jennifer Palmieri who was a top official on the Clinton campaign famously said that, “We should focus on Russia above all else.” Max Blumenthal: Above all else. Aaron Mate: You just went to this rally in Washington D.C. this past weekend, did a great report for us here on The Real News, speaking to protesters, demanding the truth about Trump and Russia. Representation of what a top issue this has been amongst Democratic voters. Max Blumenthal: Yeah, and to pick up on Coleen’s point, two days ago Iran was attacked by ISIS. There was a slaughter in the Iranian parliament by ISIS, weeks after Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, warned that his country, that Saudi Arabia would strike inside Iran. This is as Qatar is under siege by land and air, as Turkish troops are moving into Qatar, to prevent a Saudi land invasion. Trump has taken credit for this disastrous and terrifying escalation in the Middle East, and not only that, in his two line statement which should have been read by Marlon Brando in the voice of Don Corleone, Trump said that countries that support terror, like Iran, deserve what they get. Trump endorsed an ISIS attack and echoed ISIS propaganda. It’s the most vile thing I can remember an American President saying almost ever. It’s more vile than anything that upset liberals that Trump said, and we hear very little noise about it. Comey has sucked up all the oxygen, Russia’s sucked up all the oxygen, and let’s not forget Russia was desperate to coordinate with the United States against ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Syria, and we blew up that deal. Now, Jared Kushner, who I have absolutely no sympathy for, nothing but contempt for this figure, had attempted to establish a diplomatic back channel to take on ISIS and Al-Qaeda with Russia, and work out a deal in Syria. He is now paying the price. Our national security state is behind this escalation, Trump is taking credit for it, and it just seems like no one is concerned within the mainstream media. I went to this rally as you mentioned, Rally For Truth on the National Mall two days ago. It was to get liberals excited, the resistance, the organized grassroots of the Democratic Party, get them excited about the Comey testimony and putting more pressure on Trump. What I saw there, and mostly older liberals, the kind of people who watch Rachel Maddow, as you wrote Aaron, in a really excellent report, most of her content is dedicated to Russia and her ratings are through the roof. These are the same kind of people that I would meet at anti-war rallies over 10 years ago, the same kind of people that would go out and protest climate change and the denial of it, the same kind of people who would show up at Black Lives Matter rallies, and their energy is being chanelled into a militaristic neoconservative narrative, and the keynote speaker was supposed to be the star progressive of the senate, Jamie Raskin from Takoma Park, one of the most liberal districts in America, the son of Marcus Raskin, the Founder of IPS, the leftie think tank in Washington. He gets up and calls for regime change in Venezuela, Philippines, two countries with democratically elected governments, and of course Syria, and he says Russia is the head of the axis of evil in he called it the “unfree world.” He just got up and sounded like a complete neocon, and when I confronted him on it, his whole argument fell apart, so what the hell is happening with progressives? We can’t just see this Russia investigation within a vacuum in Congress, or within a partisan bubble. It’s corrosive to the entire composition and direction of the progressive movement, the base of the Democratic Party, and it’s toxic to our political culture in general, and it’s not only overshadowing the fact that we stand on the brink of war, of a regional war in the Middle East, it is actually part of the narrative that’s pushing us towards war with the only country in the world that’s capable of striking us with nuclear weapons and destroying us all. Aaron Mate: Max, just tying two issues that you raised there together, you mentioned President Trump’s response to the Iran attack was to essentially suggest that the Iranian government was responsible for it. Then, you had Democrats response to the Iran attack which came in the form of this vote yesterday in the senate. Many Democrats joining Republicans to vote for beginning debate on imposing new sanctions on Iran, the same day as the attack. Max Blumenthal: Bernie Sanders was one of the only senators to stand up against the sanctions which were completely unneccesary. The sanctions are punishing Iran for having free and fair elections, and reelecting the the liberal President Hassan Rouhani, and ratifying this process of internal reform. It’s punishing Iran, only six senators stood with Bernie Sanders, and he said, “How dare we do this on the day that Iran was attacked by the force that is supposed to be our adversary?” It was the force that Trump said that he would smash, that he would destroy, and we’re talking about ISIS. When Trump went to Riyadh, in the heart of this fake global counter-terrorist center, what he did was downgrade ISIS on the threat level and upgrade Iran, a country that’s cooperating with us in the fight against ISIS, which has just signed a landmark nuclear deal with us, and so I wonder where is the concern for national security within the national security state? This is all about empire, and it’s not only delusional, it’s incredibly dangerous. The Russia hysteria that’s been stoked even by progressive media is of a part with it. Aaron Mate: Coleen Rowley, taking this back to Comey, your final thoughts on what we saw today and where you want to see the conversation go around the Trump/Russia investigation going forward? Coleen Rowley: Well, I would hope that people would pick up on Max Blumenthal’s last thoughts which I totally agree with. This is simply distracting from the real issues. This war on terror that began, by the way, with Muller onboard and Comey onboard shortly thereafter, doing some terrible things, has actually increased terrorism exponentially, and because there’s no good journalism and there’s no good writing about this, certainly not good questions by the politicians. They are all distracted by this new wrinkle on Russia, completely distracted. No one is dealing with the real problem, and the real problem is that Al-Qaeda and its like groups in the Mid East is going full force. We’re actually making things worse, and so I would like to see it go where you do have some people starting to write about this. I think right now we do need a little more bipartisan … We need less of the war mongering Rachel Maddow bipartisanship, and we need some more critical thinking to break through this groupthink that Max just described so well. Aaron Mate: Well, that’s what we’re all trying to do, and we really appreciate you both joining us for this discussion. Max Blumenthal, award winning journalist, best selling author, Senior Editor of AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, and Coleen Rowley, a former Special Agent for the FBI. Thanks to you both. Max Blumenthal: Thanks a lot. Coleen Rowley: Thanks. Aaron Mate: And thank you for joining us on The Real News.

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June 10, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Civil War: Progressive media starting to push back against Democrat … – legal Insurrection (blog)

As Comey prepares to testify, Democrats ignore progressives questions about Russia Progressive media outlets have been feeding the resist we much mobs since President Trumps election, and one of their favorite lines of attack has been hammering the Russia collusion / hacking non-story. Recently, however, progressive sites have been warning against pursuing it . . . even as Democrat politicians stay focused on it, seemingly to the exclusion of all else. As Comey gets ready to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Among those calling for Democrats to pivot away from the Russia story are the editor and publisher of The Nation, the Daily Kos, the Young Turks. What is not entirely clear is why they are urging this shift after spending so much devoted, almost single-mindedly, to it. The Nations editor and publisher Katrina Vanden Huevel states that she thinks the focus on Russia may distract from their ability to combat the rest of Trumps agenda. She notes, too, that the left has become too hyperbolic about Trump administration or campaign officials meeting with Russians. Townhall reports: The Nations editor and publisher Katrina Vanden Huevel warned that Democrats obsession about Russia was a mistake and could torpedo efforts to effectively combat the Trump agenda. Granted, the latter part is typical run-of-the-mill progressive talk, The Nation is a left wing magazine, but in March, Vanden Huevel ripped into Democrats for the Neo-McCarthyite furor that has engulfed the party over Russia. She noted that Russian interference during the 2016 election needs to be investigated, but the political Left has devolved into thinking that mere meetings with Russian officials are akin to treason. Not only is this nonsensical, but it is self-defeating. Not noted by Hueval is that their hand-wringing and clothes-rending over things like Flynn sitting next to Putin at a formal eventa table at which 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was also sittingdoesnt just distract from the resistances anti-Trump agenda, but it also makes them less credible. The Daily Kos sounded the alarm last month, stating that the focus on Russia was going to hurt Democrat prospects in 2018. Russia is a critical story. But its notthe story that affects Americas dinner table, health, or financial well-being. Many of us in the liberal intelligentsialove the intricacies of this story. After all, who would believe that the Republican leadership would be so soft on their patriotism that theyrewilling to put their heads in the sand and play dumb? . . . . The Trump voter knew that Trump had some relationship with the Russians. In fact, Fox News and Republicans were praising Vladimir Putin as a better leader than President Obama. The Trump voter saw a candidate whorefused to criticize Putin, regardlessof whatever vile act he committed. . . . . In watching the hyperventilation on Russia, it is clear that progressivesare repeating the same mistakes of thelast several elections that have decimated the Democratic bench throughout the states and in the federal government.The peoples party, the Democrats, are out of step with the people. Theyre not wrong. The Washington Post notes that reporters such as Max Blumenthal and the Young Turks Michael Tracey are putting pressure on Democrat politicians regarding their fixation on the Russia story. Blumenthal directly asks Jamie Raskin (D-MD) if hes been feeding lies to progressive journalists and bloggers. Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) strolled offstage and straight into quicksand. Max Blumenthal, a dogged reporter working with the Baltimore-based Real News Network, brought Raskin on camera to ask what, exactly, Democrats wanted to know. We need an independent commission to get all the facts, Raskin said, offering the litany of possible Trump-Russia ties that hed given to progressive and mainstream media for months. Blumenthal wasnt sold. You said that Russia attempted to hack [Emmanuel] Macron in the French elections, he said. Well, we know that! said Raskin. The Washington Post has reported that the French cyber-intelligence agency has said that its not true, said Blumenthal. Well, certainly, Macron was convinced of it, said Raskin. It was reported days ago, said Blumenthal. For four minutes, until the congressman was pulled away by a staffer, an award-winning journalist with bylines at the Nation and Salon asked whether hed been telling bellicose lies about Russia and the Trump team. Why arent we talking about jobs or racism? Blumenthal asked. . . . . Michael Tracey, a reporter for the Young Turks news network who had Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) push past him after he asked skeptical Russia questions, asked why Democrats were so satisfied to keep searching for a smoking gun that never appears. This whole issue has been characterized from this lurching, ramping up of expectations that the smoking gun will be discovered imminently, said Tracey. Thats how this story has played out. Its sort of monomaniacal. Traceys question regarding the reason Democrat politicians are so intent to keep the Russia story alive may have been answered by Red State. Right now the Democrats are raising money off this meme. They will continue to raise money off it as the investigation pays out. In the end, when nothing is uncovered, they will raise money off the GOP tools, like Comey, who led the investigation. They will gamble that outrage will generate income and tribalism will prevent any price being extracted at the polls.

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June 7, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed

Stop adding fuel to the ‘terrorism’ fire – Jordan Times

Stop adding fuel to the 'terrorism' fire Jordan Times The other is a recent Alternet article by American journalist Max Blumenthal . In the The Manchester Bombing is Blowback from the West's Interventions and Covert Proxy Wars, Blumenthal explains how the US and the UK helped bring Jihadists like Salem … and more »

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June 7, 2017   Posted in: Max Blumenthal  Comments Closed


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