Saturday, April 15, 2017

BC's Political Fairyland: Myth, Media, and Willful Distortion

How Liberal myths about the NDP distort BC’s political history

by Rafe Mair - Common Sense Canadian


April 14, 2017

Let’s look at some political myths and near-myths.

The BC Liberals are hammering away at the NDP, saying that the last time they were in office, it fiscally ruined the province; this from the government that in 16 years, in 2016 dollars, has doubled the provincial debt. They say that when they took over in 2001 from the NDP, the province was in catastrophic financial shape. In fact the NDP left a surplus of $1.5 Billion.
Cartoon by Greg Perry

The Liberals claim they have had 5 straight balanced budgets.

Well, you can have one too. Form a little private company, put your house and car in it, give it the money to make payments, and, presto! Your household budget is balanced. That’s precisely how the Liberal government operates – if you simply take BC Hydro and ICBC out of the picture, their budget is nice and balanced.

Your company is in lousy shape, of course, and your banker will soon catch up to you. Governments don’t have to worry about things like that because they are hugely valuable customers and the bank knows the government always has the taxpayer to soak.

As so often is the case, the cartoon tells it best, as surely is the case here, proved by Greg Perry.

Dave Barrett, the first NDP premier, was the bête noir of my era and while he certainly wasn’t a great premier, was much better than we admitted, with several accomplishments still very evident, including the Agricultural Land Reserve, ICBC, along with very important reforms in the Legislature. He did some dumb things like buying Ocean Falls, a Victoria restaurant thereafter known as Barrett’s Beanery, Panko Poultry – giving the opposition the marvellous nickname Pinko Panko, “All Left Wings and Assholes” – and Swan Valley, a huge agriculture failure he somehow escaped blame for.

It’s too easily forgotten by the Right that, contrary to their allegations that Barrett favoured unions, he lost the 1975 election because of back to work legislation. In spite of solemn and learned pronouncements by Socreds of the day, like Rafe Mair, a Kamloops lawyer, the sky didn’t fall, business didn’t move en masse to Alberta, and communism was somehow kept at bay.

I’m going to leave out Bill Bennett because I was part of that government, except to observe that, contrary to opposition rumours, the hospitals didn’t close, the poor were not sent to workhouses, nor were unions disbanded and their leaders thrown in jail.

Bill Vander Zalm unquestionably destroyed the Social Credit Party, opening the way for Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark and was a first class, all-time example of how not to govern by consensus.

Rita Johnston was not there long enough to be judged and was the unofficial sacrificial lamb for everything associated with Vander Zalm.

Mike Harcourt was a weak premier, unable to handle a scandal he had no part in. I believe that his successor, Glen Clark, was a very good but most unlucky premier. The Fast Ferries were a mistake that was made to look worse by the giveaway price Campbell sold them for, but chickenfeed compared to any of half a dozen by Campbell/Clark.

If a fair-minded person does any research, it’s obvious that the Dimitrios Pilarinos scandal should have borne by the Crown for showboating in the original search of Glen Clark’s residence, intolerable delay, and proceeding on a paucity of evidence of wrongdoing – bloody stupidity, yes, but, as the trial judge said, “There is nothing in his conduct that crosses the line from an act of folly to behaviour calling for criminal sanctions.”

Dan Miller was simply a short stand-in but Ujjal Dosanjh indicates a justifiable reason one might be leery of the NDP – but more to do with the party than the premier.

Unity has never been the NDP’s strong suit and anyone who attended the leadership convention that made Dosanjh leader can attest to that. The dissension, which almost seemed funny at the time, carried over into government and from, my vantage point, Dosanjh was dead on arrival at the premier’s office.

What is the current state of affairs? The NDP lost in 2013, blowing a huge lead by choosing the last few days to hold their traditional eating of their young. How secure is Horgan, given his tepid-at-best record as Opposition leader? Would he lead a stable NDP Government, an oxymoron?
Libs stick together, no matter the consequences

The Liberals are the very opposite – they remain loyal when sane and sensible people would long before have thrown the leader under a bus, but you have to ask yourself if this philosophy, though directly opposite that of the NDP, is really any better if it just perpetuates the term of a lousy premier? For it sure as hell isn’t superior morality at work, but a huge desire to win – no matter what the consequences – that transcends all other considerations. Any damned fool, myself included, knows that if these were normal times, Christy Clark wouldn’t have a prayer in a leadership race but, at election time, all leadership failings are not only ignored, but the Liberal party, with its long tradition of lying through its teeth to win, goes to work on this speciality with an experience none can come close to, much less match.

You will not find a word coming from Liberals about the real issues, the actual – not phoney – fiscal situation; you will think that there never was a BC Hydro or ICBC, and you can forget about integrity, honesty and truthfulness. Needless to say, social services like mental illness, violence against women, kids in need, homelessness, health lineups and so on won’t even be hinted at. You will hear the carefully manicured mantra about balanced budgets, job creation, and the destruction of the province if the NDP are elected.
Why your local MLA doesn’t matter

If there is such a thing as mass hypnosis, it’s evidenced in the notion that the quality of the candidate should be the determining factor. Every day I read the comics online, having long ago given up making charitable donations to Postmedia, and every day I see ads for our Liberal MLA and allegations about his many achievements on our behalf. In fact, he’s done nothing that each of his colleagues haven’t done or, put another way, if our MLA was a scarecrow or a fencepost with hair, they would have as much right to take credit. Whenever I hear someone say Joe Blow or Sally Slim would make an excellent MLA, I ask, “Why?”

This will be hard to swallow, folks – unless your MLA winds up in Cabinet, they will have ZERO influence upon policy or statutes and if a cabinet minister, unless one of three or four key ministers, not much. When that road is built or the grant goes to the local sports event and you are the MLA, by all means, take credit, because the public is probably dumb enough to believe you. In fact, you know full well that the money came because the party wants the seat and couldn’t care less about whose ass occupies a government seat in the Legislature.

To put it bluntly, policy and legislation are made in the premier’s office, with a bare handful of ministers involved. It’s passed in a cabinet meeting where the ministers know that if they cross the premier they’ll be out and on the backbench, their car will be gone, so will 1st class travel and their pay cut in half. When former US House of Representatives Speaker Sam Rayburn said, “to get along, you must go along,” he knew what he was talking about.

When the bill is voted on and you are a government MLA, you vote yes. If you don’t, the penalty can be as high as being thrown out of caucus and the party. I beg of you to understand that there is not a particle of democracy involved and your MLA could be replaced by a voting machine operated by the premier’s foot with no loss of democracy – for the simple reason it was never there in first place. Under our so-called “Responsible Government” system, it’s the party, not the individual that counts. Thus, I leave you with this irrefutable advice:

Vote for the party and don’t trouble about who your MLA is because it just doesn’t matter.*


* Any who would like my paper on Responsible Government, free of charge, please contact the publisher.

Our Hilarious Endings: Redacted Tonight

Everything you AREN'T being told about bombing Syria

by Lee Camp - RT


April 15, 2017

Host Lee Camp covers the media’s sickening celebration after the US drops lethal weapons in the Middle East. As CNN, MSNBC, and others behave like the Pentagon’s media arm, the truth behind why the attack is obfuscated. And, as news anchors finally knight Trump president, where are the voices opposing war?

What should we know about these acts of war that we, as news consumers, are all missing? This, and more, on Redacted Tonight.



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Can Rationality Save the World; And Is There Time?

Now Only Rational Thinking Can Save the World!

by Andre Vltchek - Global Research


April 14, 2017

SCENARIO ONE: Imagine that you are on board a ship, which is slowly sinking.

There is no land in sight, and your radio transmitter is not functioning properly.

There are several people on board and you care for them, deeply.

You don’t want this to be the end of ‘everything’.

What do you do?

A) You fix for yourself a nice portion of fried rice with prawns

B) You turn on the TV set, which is still somehow miraculously working, and watch the news about the future Scottish referendum or on BREXIT

C) You jump into the water immediately, try to identify the damage, and then attempt to do something unthinkable with your simple tools and capabilities: to save the ship

Imagine another scenario:

SCENARIO TWO: By mistake, your wife eats two full tubes of sleeping pills, supposedly confusing them with anew line of candies. As you find her on the floor, she appears to be unconscious and her face looks rather bluish.

What would your course of action be?

A) After you realize that her high heels do not match the color of her pantyhose, you run to the closet in search of a much better pair of shoes to achieve the balance

B) You carry her without delay to the bathroom, pump out her stomach, and try to resuscitate her while calling the ambulance using the speakerphone function

C) You recall how you first met, get nostalgic, and rush to your living room library in order to find a book of love sonnets by Pablo Neruda, which you then recite to her kneeling on the carpet

Now brace yourself for a great surprise. Unless you choose C) for scenario one, and B) for scenario two, you can actually consider yourself absolutely “normal” by most North American and European standards.

However, if you opt for C) or B) respectively, you could easily pass off for an extremist, a radical and ideological left-wing fanatic.

*

The West has brought the world to the brink of total collapse, but its citizens, even its intellectuals, are stubbornly refusing to grasp the urgency. Like ostriches, many are hiding their heads in the sand. Others are behaving like a surgeon who opts for treating a small cut on a finger of his patient who is actually dying from a terrible gunshot wound.

There seems to be an acute lack of rational thinking, and especially of people’s ability to grasp the proportions of global occurrences and events. For years I have been arguing that destroying the ability to compare and to see things from the universal perspective has been one of the most successful endeavors of the Western indoctrination drive (dispersed through education, media/disinformation and ‘culture’). It has effectively influenced and pacified both, the people in the West itself, and those living in its present and former colonies (particularly the local ‘elites’ and their offspring).

There seems to be no capacity to compare and consistently analyze, for instance, those certainly unsavory but mainly defensive actions taken by the revolutionary governments and countries, with the most horrid and appalling crimes committed by the colonialist regimes of the West all over Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa,which took place in approximately the same historical era.

It is not only history that is seen in the West through totally crooked and ‘out of focus’ lenses, it is also the present, which has been perceived and ‘analyzed’ in an out of context way and without applying hardly any rational comparisons. Rebellious and independent-minded countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East (most of them have been actually forced to defend themselves against the extremely brutal attacks and subversion campaigns administered by the West) have been slammed, even in the so-called ‘progressive’ circles of the West, with much tougher standards than those that are being applied towards both Europe and North America, two parts of the world that have been continuously spreading terror, destruction and unimaginable suffering among the people inhabiting all corners of the globe.

Most crimes committed by the left-wing revolutions were in direct response to invasions, subversions, provocations and other attacks coming from the West. Almost all the most terrible crimes committed by the West were committed abroad, and were directed against enslaved, exploited, thoroughly plunderedand defenseless people in almost all parts of the world.

Now, according to many, the endgame is approaching. Rising oceans are swallowing entire countries, as I witnessed in several parts of Oceania. It is a horrid, indescribable sight!

People in numerous countries governed by pro-Western regimes are shedding millions of their inhabitants, while some nations are basically ceasing to exist, like Papua or Kashmir, to give just two obvious examples.

The environment is thoroughly ruined where the ‘lungs’ of the world used to work hard, just a few decades ago, making our planet healthy.

Tens of millions of people are now on the move, their countries thoroughly ruined by Western geopolitical games. Instead of influencing and helping to guide humanity, such great cultures as those of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are now forced to disgorge millions of desperate refugees. They are barely surviving, humiliated and hardly relevant.

Extremist religious groups (of all faiths, and definitely not only belonging to the Muslim religion) are being groomed by the Western Machiavellian ideologues and strategists, then dispersed to all corners of the globe: South Asia, the Middle East, China, Latin America, Africa, and even Oceania.

It is a total disgrace what imperialism has managed to reduce our humanity to.


Most of the world is actually trying to function ‘normally’, ‘democratically’, following its natural instincts, which are based on simple humanism. But it is being constantly derailed, attacked and tormented by the brutal monstrous and merciless hydra – the Western expansionism and its ‘culture’ or nihilism, greed, cynicism and slavery.

It is so obvious where we are going as a human race.


We want to fly, we want freedom and optimism and beauty to govern our lives. We want to dream and to create something deep, meaningful, happy and kind. But there are those horrible weights hanging from our feet. There are chains restraining our actions. There is constant fear, which is making us betray all our ideals, as well as each other, again and again; fear that makes us, humans,act like shameless cowards and egoists. As a result we are not flying, we are only crawling, and not even forward, but in bizarre, irrational ellipses and circles.

Still, I do not believe that the endgame is inevitable!


*

For many years I have been sending warnings, I have been writing and showing and presenting thousands of terrible images of destruction, of the irreversible collapse, of barbarity.

I have generally kept nothing to myself. I have recycled my work, my films and books, into new journeys into the darkest abysses of our world. I have received hardly any support from the outside world. But I couldn’t stop: what I have been witnessing, the danger to the planet and total devastation, have forced me to never give up the struggle. If necessary and most of the time, I have done it alone. I spent too much time in Latin America; I could not give up. I learned too much from Cuba and so many other wonderful places; I felt I had no right to surrender.

Whenever the horrors from which our planet is suffering would overwhelm me, I’d ‘collapse’, as I did last year. Then I’d bury myself somewhere for a short period of time, collect myself together, get up and continue with my work and my struggle. I have never ceased to trust people. Some would come full of initial enthusiasm, offering much, then betray me, and leave. Still, I have never lost faith in human beings. This year, instead of slowing down, I ‘adopted’ one more place,which is in agony – Afghanistan.

My only request, my only demand has been, that the world listens, that it sees, that it tries to comprehend, before it is too late. This request of mine has proven to be, I realize now, too ‘demanding’, and too ‘radical’.

Sometimes I ask: have I achieved much? Have I opened many eyes? Have I managed to build many bridges between the different struggling parts of the world? As an internationalist I have to question my own actions, my effectiveness.

I have to admit, honestly: I don’t know the answers to my own questions. But I keep working and struggling.

*

The world looks different if observed and analyzed from a pub in Europe or North America, or if you are actually standing on one of those atolls in the middle of the South Pacific (Oceania) that are under the constant assault of tidal waves, dotted with dead stumps of palm trees pointing accusatively towards the sky. These islets are at the forefront of the battle for the survival of our planet, and they are obviously losing.

Everything also appears to be much more urgent but also ‘real’, when observed from the black and desolate plains of the hopelessly logged out Indonesian islands of Borneo/Kalimantan and Sumatra.

I used to recount in my essays, just for my readers to know, what the villages somewhere like Gomain the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), look and feel like, after the murderous assaults by the pro-Rwandese, and therefore pro-Western, militias. It was important for me to explain how things are ‘right in the middle of it’, on the ground. I used to write about mass rapes and mutilations, about the burning flesh, terrible torture… I stopped some time ago. You at least once witness all this or you simply didn’t. If you did then you know what it all looks like, what it feels like and smells like… or you could never imagine it, no matter how many books and reports you read, no matter how many images you consume.

I have been trying to speak about all this to the people in the West, at conferences, universities, or even through my films and books. They do listen, mostly respectfully. They do show politely how outraged and ‘horrified’ they are (it is ‘expected’ of them). Some say: ‘I want to do something’. Most of them do absolutely nothing, but even if they decide to take action, it is usually for themselves,just to feel good, to feel better, to convince their own conscience that they have actually ‘done at least something for the humanity’.

I used to blame them. I don’t, anymore. This is how the world is arranged. However, I have sharply reduced my work-visits to both North America and Europe. I don’t feel that I click with the people in those places. We don’t think the same way, we don’t feel the same, and even our logic and rationale are diametrically different.

My recent three-week stay in Europe clearly revealed to me, how little there is in common between the West’s state of mind and the reality in which the great majority of the world has been living.

*

In the past, before the Western empires and the sole“Empire” took most of determination and enthusiasm away from the people, the most talented of human beings used to make no distinction between their personal lives, their creativity and their relentless work and duty towards humanity.

In several places including Cuba, it is how many people still live.

In the West, everyone and everything is now fragmented and life itself became objectively meaningless: there is distinct time to work (satisfying one’s personal career, guaranteeing survival, advancing ‘prestige’ and ego), there is time to play, and for family life… and there is occasionally time to think about humanity or, very rarely, about the survival of our planet.

Needless to say, this selfish approach has failed in helping to advance the world. It has also squarely failed when it comes to stopping at least some of the monstrosities committed by Western imperialism.

When I go to the opera house or some great classical music concert, it is in order to get some deep inspiration, to get fired up about my work, to recycle the beauty that I’m expressing in my novels and films, theatre plays and even political reports. I never go to get simply ‘entertained’. It is never for my own needs only.

It is also essential for me to work closely with the people that I love, including my own mother who is already 82 years old.

It is because I know there is absolutely no time to waste. And also because everything is and should be intertwined in life: love, work, duty, and the struggle for the survival and progress of our world.

*

I may be labeled as a fanatic, but I am decisively choosing those C) and B) options from the ‘dilemmas’ I depicted above.

I am choosing rationality, now that the US ‘armada’ packed with the nuclear weapons is sailing towards both China and North Korea, now that the Tomahawk missiles have rained down on Syria, now that the West will be sending thousands more mercenaries to one of the most devastated countries on Earth – Afghanistan.

Survival and then the advancement of the world should be our greatest goal. I believe it and I stand by it. In time of absolute crises, which we are experiencing right now, it is irresponsible, almost grotesque, to simply ‘continue to live our daily lives’.

Imperialism has to be stopped, once and for all, by all means. At the moment when the survival of humanity is at stake, the end justifies all means. Or as the motto of Chile goes: “By Reason Or By Force”.

Of course, if those ‘who know’ do not act, if they are cowardly and opportunistically do nothing, from a universal perspective, nothing much will happen: one small planet in one of the so many galaxies will simply cease to exist.Most likely there are many inhabited planets in the universe, many civilizations.

However, I happen to love this world and this particular Planet. I know it well, from the Southernmost tip all the way to the north. I know its deserts and valleys, mountains and oceans, its marvelous and touching creatures, its great cities as well as god-forsaken villages. I know its people. They have many faults; and much that could be condemned in them, and much that should be improved. But I still believe that there is more that could be admired in them than denounced.

Now it is time to think, rationally and quickly, and then to act. No small patches will do, no ‘feel good’ actions. Only a total reset, overhaul. Call it the Revolution if you will, or simply C) and B). No matter how you define it, it would have to come rapidly, very rapidly, or there soon will be nothing to love, to defend, and to work for, anymore.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel “Aurora” and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Andre Vltchek, Global Research, 2017

Brainless Decapitation Doctrine: The Value of Leaving the Head on the Snake

Whackos in Washington: the Risky Game of Regime Decapitation

by Dave Lindorff - CounterPunch


April 14, 2017

 
Back in the 18th century, there was an unwritten understanding in the conduct of warfare that one didn’t kill the generals in battle.

This wasn’t about protecting the elite while the “grunts” of the day slaughtered each other. It was a matter of common sense: If you killed the general, there was no one in a position to order a withdrawal or to surrender, once it became clear that one side was winning.

With no general in command, things could become chaotic, leading to more bloodshed than necessary.

In the US, ever since the brief presidency of Gerald Ford, and in the wake of the Senate’s Church Committee hearings into the nefarious activities of the CIA and other secret agencies during the Nixon administration and earlier — particularly efforts to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro and some other national leaders — it has been US policy not to kill heads of state. In fact, a Ford executive order, number 12333, signed by President Ford in the mid 1970s, specifically bans the killing of government leaders, however brutish.

If one wants to see an example of why this is a logical policy, just look at what happened during the Obama administration, when Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafy was murdered by his US-backed captors (with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s enthusiastic support), leaving Libya in a state of total chaos from which it has never really recovered.

Yet now there is talk by President Trump and his increasingly neoconservative- dominated National Security and Pentagon team of advisors of “taking out” North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, even as an aircraft carrier attack group steams towards the Korean peninsula.

Getting rid of Ford Executive Order 12333 would be no difficult hurdle for President Trump, who has been “governing” the country through ill-though-out executive order issuance — most of them written by his political strategist Stephen Bannon, since he assumed office Jan. 20. Bannon, now being sidelined by more traditional cold war neo- cons, may not be writing those orders for his boss now, but someone else could easily do it, erasing E.O 12333 with the stroke of a pen.

What would such a change mean?


In the case of North Korea, it could mean a quick “decapitation” strike by US aircraft from the USS Carl Vinson — one which would presumably destroy North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapon-making capability, and killing Kim and the country’s top military leadership around him.

But what would the result of such a strike be?


For one thing, almost certainly it would mean the contamination of part or even much of the country in North Korea with nuclear fallout and radiation. For another it — given the long history of US “precision” targeting going terribly wrong — it would mean much death and destruction for the long-suffering North Korean people. It would also mean chaos in a country that for nearly three-quarters of a century has been ruled by one absolute tyrant or another, in which there is simply no organized system of governance at lower levels to handle anything, from delivery of health services to distribution of food. If you think the chaos that followed the US invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the Baathist leadership of Iraq was bad, or that the chaos of the US overthrow of Gaddafy in Libya was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet if North Korea’s leader gets offed in a US strike.

In theory, China, South Korea or Japan could step in with troops, money and civilian personnel to help reestablish some kind of order and peace, while preventing the rise of yet another tyrannical government, but none of that is likely. The Chinese would probably not want to take it on, the Japanese are viewed negatively as a former colonial power, and South Korea may not want the financial burden of rescuing the North, which would be staggering. Meanwhile, while the US could relatively easily, and at minimal cost, “take out” North Korea’s missiles, nukes and leadership, especially in the case of the Trump administration, there is absolutely no interest in taking on the costs of occupying and subsidizing the rebuilding North Korea following such an ill-conceived attack.

Will that deter the US from ending the ban on killing national leaders and launching an attack on North Korea aimed at “taking out” Kim?

It’s hard to say, but with Trump abandoning his domestic campaign promises left and right, turning domestic policy into a giant give-away to the rich and the Wall Street banksters, and in the process alienating most of his political base, he seems hell-bent on diverting attention abroad by taking dramatic military actions that make him appear decisive and powerful.

In Syria, that is amping up the risk of a direct confrontation with Russia’s air force and a potential World War III. In North Korea, it risks creation of yet another Libya, this time in Asia, complete with a flood of desperate refugees and another flood of unaccountable and uncontrollable weapons, possibly including nukes, or nuclear materials.

One thing is clear: If Donald Trump actually gave a damn about “beautiful little babies,” he would not be contemplating an aerial assault on North Korea, the bombing of its nuclear facilities and the decapitation of its top leadership.    

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).
More articles by:Dave Lindorff

Friday, April 14, 2017

Company You Keep: Tillerson Cyberspook Righthand on Roadtrip to Moscow

SECSTATE TILLERSON’S CHIEF OF STAFF MARGARET PETERLIN HAS BEEN MANAGING US CYBER WARFARE OPERATIONS AGAINST RUSSIA FOR YEARS

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears


April 14, 2017

Moscow - When US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was telling the Russians and the US state press yesterday to stop hacking into American politics, sitting beside him was a former US Navy signals officer and lawyer named Margaret Peterlin (lead image, red circle).

Peterlin’s job for the last two years was managing a Boston company specializing in cyber warfare weapons, including the latest in US computer programmes to mimic foreign hackers and convince US targets they have been hacked by Russians. Peterlin was also an advisor to Donald Trump during the presidential transition. Her targets then included Hillary Clinton and her campaign organization.

Peterlin was born in Alabama, and for most her career she has worked for southerners. Her appointment at the State Department as Tillerson’s chief of staff is currently blank on the Department’s website.





Peterlin’s appointment to run Tillerson’s office was announced more authoritatively by the Washington Post on February 12. There her Texas Republican Party credentials were reported in detail, but not her expertise in signals, codes, and cyber warfare.

“Peterlin has a wealth of government and private-sector experience. After distinguished service as a naval officer, she graduated from the University of Chicago Law School and clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit [Texas and Louisiana]. She then went to work for House Majority Leader Dick Armey [Republican, Texas], just days before the 9/11 attacks. Afterward, she helped negotiate and draft key pieces of national security legislation, including the authorization for the use of force in Afghanistan, the Patriot Act and the legislation that established the Department of Homeland Security. ‘She’s very substance-and policy-focused. She’s not necessarily a political person,’ said Brian Gunderson, a State Department chief of staff for Condoleezza Rice who worked with Peterlin in the House [Armey’s office]. Following a stint as legislative counsel and national security adviser for then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Peterlin moved over to the Commerce Department, where she served as the No. 2 official in the Patent and Trademark Office.”

Peterlin’s appointment triggered a lawsuit by a group of patent lawyers and investors against the Secretary of Commerce. On July 23, 2007, two months after Peterlin was sworn in, papers filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia charged that Peterlin’s appointment violated the Patent Act of 1999 requiring the Director and Deputy Director of the Patent Office to have “professional experience and background in patent or trademark law.”

Peterlin, the lawsuit charged, “lack[ed] the requisite professional experience and background.” The court was asked to order a replacement for Peterlin “who fulfills those requirements.” Six months later, in December 2007 Judge James Robertson dismissed the case on several technicalities. Peterlin’s lack of professional skill and alleged incompetence were not tested in court. Peterlin didn’t last long in her job and left in 2008.


Left: Peterlin at Commerce in May 2007. Right: Peterlin at State in February 2017.


According to her social media resume,

“Margaret and her husband live with their three, young children just outside of Washington, D.C. While her travels have slowed down a little bit, she is ‘on her way to 100 countries. 79 down. 21 to go. ‘When she cannot escape to an airport or a port to see the world, she finds solace in biking.”

Peterlin’s husband is Daniel Keniry, who worked in Republican staff posts in the Congress and the George W. Bush Administration. He has subsequently made his living as a lobbyist for US insurance companies.

Peterlin’s career publications focus on computer and internet surveillance, interception, and espionage. She started with a 1999 essay entitled “The law of information conflict: national security in cyberspace.” In December 2001, with two co-authors, she published a paper at the Federalist Society in Washington entitled “The USA Patriot Act and information sharing between the intelligence and law enforcement communities”. It can be read in full here.

Peterlin argued “the unalterable need for greater information sharing means that the U.S. no longer has the luxury of simply separating law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Separation is a security risk.” Peterlin’s conclusion: “Who performs the surveillance may also matter, but the conditions of the performance are of the most critical importance…the focus of attention should be principally on the techniques by which intelligence is gathered domestically and not on whether other members of the intelligence community are permitted to view the intelligence gathered as a result of those operations.”

After she left the Patent and Trademark Office in 2008, Peterlin became an employee of the Mars family companies with the job title, “technology strategy officer”. That lasted six years, before she went into business for herself at a consulting company she called Profectus Global Corporation. There is almost no trace of that entity on the internet; it appears unrelated to similarly named entities in Hungary and Australia. Peterlin then joined XLP Capital in Boston in November 2015.

Peterlin’s appointment as managing director of the firm, according to XLP’s press release, reveals that when Peterlin was in the US Navy she was a cyber communications specialist. She was also seconded by the Navy to the White House as a Navy “social aide” when Hillary Clinton was First Lady.

XLP didn’t mention that at the time Peterlin was hired, she was also a board member at Draper Labs, the Massachusetts designer, among many things, of US missile guidance systems and the cyber weapons to combat them. According to XLP, one of Peterlin’s selling points was “extensive experience with administrative law as well as deep operations exposure to Federal agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, and Health and Human Services.” For deep operations, read cyber warfare.

Before Peterlin joined Tillerson two months ago, her employer at XLP Capital was Matthew Stack (below).


 

In his internet resume Stack reports he is “an accomplished computer hacker and cryptanalyst, and has written and advised on state-run network cyber-warfare policy, and agility-based strategic combat. He was recognized in 2009 by Hackaday as one of the top 10 most influential hardware hackers.” Before Stack is tempted to reduce his public pride in that accomplishment, here is the website screen shot:


personId=71987011&privcapId=302978562


At Lambda Prime, Stack claims credit for two cyber warfare projects in 2013 – the practical, “weaponized virtual machines with heterogenous nodes for unpredictable and agile offensive fronts” and the theoretical, “Clausewitz, a modern theory of grand strategy for cyber military forces, and the role of guerilla cyber tactics”. The following year Stack hosted his first “Annual Hackathon” — “Hackathoners flew in from all across the United States to inhabit a 27 acre, early 1900s mansion that serves as the Lambda Prime corporate headquarters”.

On social media Stack has revealed his involvement in internet hacking operations in Kiev; also which side he was on. “Ominous clouds hang over Kiev’s central square, like Russia over its post-Soviet era neighboring Slavic states,” Stack instagrammed to his followers.

“The country may be a mess, but Kiev has the fastest internet I’ve ever clocked – now I know why so many hackers live in Kiev. Thanks to my amazing tour guide @m.verbulya.”

Stack, who started with family money he incorporated as the Stack Family Office and diversified into computer engineering and IT technology investments, is a decade younger than Peterlin. Both of them have worked on cyber weaponry for US Government agencies. According to the Wikileaks release last month of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) “Vault 7” files, these weapons include UMBRAGE.

This was developed for the CIA’s Remote Devices Branch; the leaked files for the UMBRAGE operations date from 2012 to 2016. The CIA’s UMBRAGE operation “collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation. With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from. UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.”

Some of the UMBRAGE components date from 2012; most from 2014. A leaked memo dated June 19, 2013, reveals one of the UMBRAGE managers telling others: “As far as Stash organization, I would recommend that you create one larger “Umbrage” project, and then create separate repositories within that project for each component. Then there is one central point on the site for ‘all things Umbrage’.”

Reporting on the applications of UMBRAGE lack conclusiveness on whether US Government agents have used UMBRAGE as a “factory for false flag hacking operations” to make the intrusions into the US election campaign, which have subsequently been blamed on Russian cyber operations – blame Tillerson endorsed in his press conference in Moscow yesterday. For that story, read this.

According to another report,

“it would be possible to leave such fingerprints if the CIA were reusing unique source code written by other actors to intentionally implicate them in CIA hacks, but the published CIA documents don’t say this. Instead, they indicate the UMBRAGE group is doing something much less nefarious.”

Yesterday Tillerson claimed to make “a distinction when cyber tools are used to interfere with the internal decisions among countries as to how their elections are conducted. That is one use of cyber tools. Cyber tools to disrupt weapons programs – that’s another use of the tools.” With Peterlin prompting by his side during his meetings with Lavrov and Putin, Tillerson knew this was not a distinction US cyber operations against Russia make.

What Tillerson knows also is that Peterlin has spent most of her career participating in these operations. Whether or not the CIA’s Operation UMBRAGE has been used to manufacture the appearance of Russian hacking in the US elections, Peterlin knows exactly how to do it, and where it’s done at the CIA, the Pentagon, and other agencies. Peterlin has also drafted the memoranda so that for Americans to do it, it’s legal. And for men like Stack, something to boast about.

Peterlin’s and Stack’s public records are two reasons why none of this is secret from the Russian services. That’s another reason why in Moscow yesterday Lavrov would not look at Tillerson during their press conference — and why Putin refused to be photographed with him.

Older Than Easter: Under Fire in Damascus

DAMASCUS: Easter Week in a City Under Fire

by Patrick Henningsen - 21st Century Wire 


April 14, 2017 

Though old as history itself, thou art fresh as the breath of spring, blooming as thine own rose bud, and fragrant as thine own orange flower, Damascus, pearl of the East.”
-Mark Twain “The Innocents Abroad” 

DAMASCUSThe first thing you notice while driving over Mount Lebanon is how close Beirut and Damascus are, and yet their respective situations could not be further apart.

Last month, the war on Syria entered its sixth year.


Entering the Syrian capital on the
Damascus Road (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)

However, thirty years ago, Lebanon was where Syria finds itself today – embroiled in a painful and protracted not-so-civil ‘civil war,’ with numerous regional and global powers angling for influence, each pressing for their own agenda.

There’s a noticeable difference once you pass from Lebanon into Syria – the highway is paved and smooth, concrete bollards are neatly arranged, and there are no manhole ditches to avoid in the middle of the road. Images of Bashar and his father Hafiz are prominently displayed along the Damascus Road.

As one would expect in a country at war, checkpoints are numerous and security is extremely tight along the rural highways, as well as in the city. Still, life goes on in the capital. Couples are walking, mothers are shopping, children playing and the restaurants are serving.

This is Easter week in Syria. In normal times, the week following Palm Sunday would see major processions and festivities, as families take off work and get together to celebrate over an extended weekend. That’s still happening, but with an air of caution. Church volunteers are still out displaying their Easter decorations, and you can hear the voice of choir hymns gently echoing through the narrow streets of the Old City. Even with the cloud of conflict looming over the city, the spiritual vibration is still undeniable.

This is my first time in Syria, so it’s more than a bit surreal to be having a morning tea while hearing shells exploding only one and a half kilometres away as fierce fighting continues between Syrian government forces and Tahrir al Sham (the latest incarnation in the endless rebranding campaign of Al Nusra Front, aka Al Qaeda in Syria) terrorists (dispensing with the west’s regime change PC lexicon, they are not rebels, they are terrorists) in Jobar.

Last night, we went to sleep with the sounds of artillery and mortars, and awoken by more of the same at about 4:00am. The shelling is loud enough that the bedroom wall vibrates, with a few seconds delay between the sound of firing and the impact. Later today, we’ll get updates and perhaps learn exactly what landed and where, or maybe not. Unfortunately, after 24 hours of continuous random shelling, it becomes background noise. But it also serves as a pungent reminder that anyone’s fortunes can change in a split second.

Some residents intimated that in comparison to 2012 and 2013, the last two years has seen a relative peace for Damascus residents, but that apparent lull in fighting ended last month. Certainly, the tension is palpable. The city is on high alert after intense fighting broke out in the Damascus district of Jobar, and in Quaboun, and in the suburb of Ghouta.

Over the last five weeks, the west’s proxy column commonly known in US and UK media circles and by Senator John McCain, as “moderate rebels,” unleashed what American analyst Andrew Korybko cannily described last month as a Takfiri Tet Offensive. Not surprisingly, the Syrian government forces’ response to the Takfiri offensive in terrorist-occupied places like Jobar has been hard and swift. Syria’s is not like any other urban conflict. As in East Aleppo, terrorists in Jobar have been operating from a series of underground tunnels and bunkers which have been dug and developed over the last five years.

The purpose of this terrorist surge was twofold: to derail international peace talks, and to further destabilize previously stable areas, like Damascus, but also to try and stretch the Syrian Army’s resources, in effect handicapping attempts to regain control of pivotal control lines like Deir ez Zor. Meanwhile, an increasingly motley international conclave continues to huddle around the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in preparation for the big show.

In the same way that Israeli airstrikes in Syria have coincided with al Nusra and ISIS movements on the ground, the timing of this recent terrorist offensive in conjunction with US military operations should not be ignored either. The fact remains that terrorist militants continue to benefit from the US-led Coalition and Israeli sorties, including after the recent US Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in Syria ordered by President Trump. The US President claims the US was “talking out” Syria’s ‘chemical weapon facilities’ in response to the alleged chemical weapons incident in Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province last week.

In his infinite wisdom, what Trump really did was take out a Syrian air base which was responsible for roughly 75% of air sorties launched against ISIS. Like Obama before him, Trump’s claim that Washington’s illegal US operation in Syria is all about fighting ISIS – still rings as hollow as ever.

So it’s not outrageous to say that there are no more coincidences in this war. 


There are a number of ‘moderate rebel’ mortar strikes left in the pavement 
along a busy shopping thoroughfare in the Old City (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)


In the Old City, you can see where Al Nusra mortar fire landed in the market souks. Despite the fighting, these are areas busy with city residents going about their daily business; shopping, having tea and coffee at cafes, and going to church and mosque. It’s fairly obvious that militants backed by the US, UK, Israel and the Gulf states do not care much for the people of Syria – a conclusion which becomes self-evident by the fact that in every instance where their is fighting in the country, terrorists routinely and as a matter of policy randomly launch mortar and artillery attacks into civilians areas.

For any US or UK politician or pundit to try and characterize this as ‘fighting for freedom’ is ludicrous to the extreme and yet, this is how low the level of discourse has sunk thanks to the efforts of Washington and London’s chief propagandists who fill the ranks of what can only be described as forward military operations and information warfare run out of CNN, followed by the BBC, NBC and equivalent outlets.

Simply put, what CNN and its mainstream cohorts have been doing on a daily basis since 2011 is projecting their own self-styled, fictional narratives, tailored for a virtual sixth grade reading level audience. To suggest that somehow the terrorist occupations of Damascus neighborhoods is an outgrowth of the Arab Spring should be treated as fake news on an epic scale.



In the Old City, you can follow in the literal footsteps of St. Paul in 
the heart of Damascus (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)


‘Jewel of the Middle East’


First impressions are of a bustling landlocked Middle Eastern megatropolis, with the modern utility of Tehran’s social housing on the outskirts, but with some artisan motifs of Beirut. But none of this really means much in comparison to the time travel portal one steps through when entering one of the Seven Gates of Damascus into the Old City.

Here, history and tradition is preserved on a scale which hardly exists elsewhere.


Various Christian churches are busy preparing for Easter
throughout Syria. Earlier today we visited Mar Boulos Syrian
Catholic Church in the Old City of Damascus (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)

A point which has often been made by journalists and travel writers who visit Damascus is that you can often see a church located next door to a mosque. It’s a point worth reiterating – especially as western politicians and numerous ‘experts’ on Middle Eastern affairs continue to flood US television screens and talk radio, droning on endlessly about how sectarianism prevents differing communities from living together in countries like Iraq and Syria. It’s simply not true, but for some macabre reason, western experts seem to want it to be so.

Despite the war, Damascus still remains as an important reminder that the western sectarian narrative is political sophistry projected to the public in order to reinforce a distinctly western brand of divide and conquer geopolitics. Different religious sects have, and will continue to thrive side by side – despite Washington and London’s best efforts to set them against each other.


One of the largest and oldest mosques in the world, the Umayyad Mosque, 
in Old City, Damascus (Photo: Patrick Henningsen)


Patrick Henningsen is a global affairs analyst and founder of the independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire as well as a regular guest commentator for the UK Column News, RT International, host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR).

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trudeau's Anchor

Trudeau Runs Risk Keeping Flawed Politician as Foreign Minister

by Murray Dobbin - New Cold War

via Rabble.ca

April 13, 2017

[The following commentary is published for the information of New Cold War.org readers. The commentary is a rare departure for a Canadian writer from the anti-Russia prejudice across the political spectrum in Canada, including amongst all the parties in the federal Parliament. New Cold War.org does not share the view of the writer that Russian President Vladimir Putin suffers from “paranoia that the West is out to get him”. That statement by the writer illustrates the reach of anti-Russia propaganda.]


The irrational has begun to dominate our politics as if the American virus has stealthily moved north to infect our national narratives.

It reflects itself in various ways but it seems that wars — old wars, current wars and future wars — have gripped the minds of our political elite and their courtiers in the media.

Swearing in ceremony of Canadian FM
Chrystia Freeland Jan 10, 2017 (Adam Scotti, PMO)

Most problematic is Chrystia Freeland whose well-documented hostility towards Russia raises questions about her suitability for the foreign affairs post. She got off almost scot-free for blatantly lying about her Nazi grandfather. Justin Trudeau lost his reason regarding the U.S. missile attack on Syria and we were subjected to an extra-heavy dose of non-sense about Vimy Ridge with Trudeau opining that “this was Canada at its best.”

Really? That was our best? This grotesque war that sent millions of innocent young men — from all combatant countries — to their meaningless deaths is what defined us as a nation? We should obviously mourn the deaths of all those young people forced to sacrifice their lives for nothing.

But Canada at its best? How about when we finally gave women the vote? Or when we established universal medicare? When we decriminalized abortion? Ended the death penalty? When we refused to get sucked into the Iraq war? When Canada invented UN peacekeeping? Or when we took in Syrian refugees?

As for the mendacious Ms. Freeland, why on earth is she still in one of the most important cabinet posts in the Trudeau government? She got a pass on her grandfather’s record with the help of media groupthink along the lines of “we can’t blame her for her Nazi grandfather.” But no one ever did. Critics blamed her for knowing her grandfather was a Nazi collaborator for two decades and saying nothing, and for never denouncing him (she still hasn’t). Critics also blamed her for lying about him — actually portraying him in her autobiography as almost a freedom fighter: “My maternal grandparents fled western Ukraine after Hitler and Stalin signed their non-aggression pact in 1939. They never dared to go back…”

Well, yes, he did leave Ukraine. Freeland’s grandfather Mykhailo Chomiak spent the entire war in Poland editing the Nazi-run newspaper Krakivski Visti (News of Krakow) under the orders of the Nazis’ Polish Governor-General Hans Frank, the man who organized the Holocaust in Poland. Chomiak and his family moved into an apartment seized from a Jewish family and ran the newspaper from editorial offices of a former Polish-language Jewish newspaper, Nowy Dziennik, whose editor ended up being murdered at the Belzec concentration camp along with 600,000 other Jews.

Critics also blame Freeland for repeatedly refusing to answer direct questions about her grandfather. Her office gave the Hillary Clinton defence: “People should be questioning where this information comes from, and the motivations behind it.” Freeland herself tried to deflect them with references to Russian disinformation:

“American officials have publicly said … there were efforts on the Russian side to destabilize Western democracies, and I think it shouldn’t come as a surprise if these same efforts were used against Canada.” 

What disinformation would that be? Not, apparently, the crude attempts at whitewashing her grandfather’s role in Poland.

That whitewashing includes efforts to downplay just how pro-Nazi the newspaper was. Yet Krakivski Visti was a vicious propaganda tool fomenting as much hatred of Jews as it could. The writer Juilan Tarnovych wrote a series, “Out of Satan’s Claws,” in which he referred to Jews as “Yid mobs,” “bastards,” “rotten scum,” “bacillus,” “that riffraff — that nest of crawling kikes,” and “a pile of crawling worms.” Chomiak himself wrote editorials claiming Poland was “infected by the Jews.”

Articles from Chomiak’s newspaper can be found in Holocaust museums around the world, such as the one in Los Angeles, California.

Instead of saying (last year), “I am proud to honour [his] memory today,” how difficult would it be to distance herself from her grandfather’s role?

Perhaps the explanation lies in the fact that Freeland is, like her father and grandfather, a devoted Ukrainian nationalist with a deep-seated hostility towards Russia. Even when she was a journalist with the Financial Times she did not hide her fierce Ukrainian nationalism — encouraging the Euromaidan rebellion that became a violent coup against Russian-friendly Viktor Yanukovich. Freeland’s take?

“Their victory will be a victory for us all; their defeat will weaken democracy far from the Euromaidan. We are all Ukrainians now. Let’s do what we can … to support them.”

The democracy that resulted from the coup was not quite as advertised. Freeland’s Nazi ghosts came to life in the new government which was chock-a-block with outright Nazis. The new government had five cabinet members from the Svoboda Party — proud descendants of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) who fought against the Red Army alongside the Nazis. In 1941 the OUN sent a message to Lvov’s Jews in the form of a pamphlet which said: “We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet.” The OUN and the SS arrested and executed 4,000 of the city’s Jews.

It is rare to see a modern politician so blinded by personal hostility. To place Chrystia Freeland in the position of foreign minister is nothing short of reckless. If her bias was against Luxembourg it would hardly matter. But the world is now closer to a nuclear holocaust than at any time since the Reagan administration. The relationship between the West and Russia is now the most important geopolitical issue on the planet.

How can we trust someone who has shown hostility towards Russia to the extent that Freeland has to lead Canada in navigating these treacherous foreign policy waters? Does her blindness prevent her from imagining the potential for nuclear war? Is she capable of accepting that Russia has legitimate interests? Are we risking a Freeland blunder in a situation that requires nuance?

Regarding Russia the question arises of whether or not the tail is wagging the dog in the Trudeau government. Trudeau pledged in the last election to rebuild relations with Russia. Now Canada is demanding that “Assad must go” (via Freeland) — pure posturing especially given there is no evidence yet of who used gas against Syrian civilians. Then Trudeau added to the embarrassment by demanding Russia abandon Assad, something everyone knows is not going to happen. But it will add to Putin’s paranoia that the West is out to get him.

Someone should ask Trudeau just who he is trying to please by keeping this flawed politician in such a powerful post.

Murray Dobbin has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for 40 years. He writes rabble’s State of the Nation column.

'Trust Me' Trump Keeping "Sarin Proofs" Secret

Trump Withholds Syria-Sarin Evidence

by Robert Parry - Consortium News


April 12, 2017

After making the provocative and dangerous charge that Russia is covering up Syria’s use of chemical weapons, the Trump administration withheld key evidence to support its core charge that a Syrian warplane dropped sarin on a northern Syrian town on April 4.



Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomes Saudi 
Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman 
to the Pentagon, March 16, 2017. (DoD photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

A four-page white paper, prepared by President Trump’s National Security Council staff and released by the White House on Tuesday, claimed that U.S. intelligence has proof that the plane carrying the sarin gas left from the Syrian military airfield that Trump ordered hit by Tomahawk missiles on April 6.

The paper asserted that “we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence,” but then added that “we cannot publicly release all available intelligence on this attack due to the need to protect sources and methods.”

I’m told that the key evidence was satellite surveillance of the area, a body of material that U.S. intelligence analysts were reviewing late last week even after the Trump-ordered bombardment of 59 Tomahawk missiles that, according to Syrian media reports, killed seven or eight Syrian soldiers and nine civilians, including four children.

Yet, it is unclear why releasing these overhead videos would be so detrimental to “sources and methods” since everyone knows the U.S. has this capability and the issue at hand – if it gets further out of hand – could lead to a nuclear confrontation with Russia.

In similarly tense situations in the past, U.S. Presidents have released sensitive intelligence to buttress U.S. government assertions, including John F. Kennedy’s disclosure of U-2 spy flights in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and Ronald Reagan revealing electronic intercepts after the Soviet shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 in 1983.

Yet, in this current case, as U.S.-Russian relations spiral downward into what is potentially an extermination event for the human species, Trump’s White House insists that the world must trust it despite its record of consistently misstating facts.

In the case of the April 4 chemical-weapons incident in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which reportedly killed scores of people including young children, I was told that initially the U.S. analysts couldn’t see any warplanes over the area in Idlib province at the suspected time of the poison gas attack but later they detected a drone that they thought might have delivered the bomb.

A Drone Mystery


According to a source, the analysts struggled to identify whose drone it was and where it originated. Despite some technical difficulties in tracing its flight path, analysts eventually came to believe that the flight was launched in Jordan from a Saudi-Israeli special operations base for supporting Syrian rebels, the source said, adding that the suspected reason for the poison gas was to create an incident that would reverse the Trump administration’s announcement in late March that it was no longer seeking the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.

President Trump at a news conference with Jordan’s 
King Abdullah II on April 5, 2017, at which the 
President commented on the crisis in Syria. 
(Screen shot from whitehouse.gov)

If indeed that was the motive — and if the source’s information is correct — the operation would have been successful, since the Trump administration has now reversed itself and is pressing Russia to join in ousting Assad who is getting blamed for the latest chemical-weapons incident.

Presumably, however, the “geospatial intelligence” cited in the four-page dossier could disprove this and other contentions if the Trump administration would only make its evidence publicly available.

The dossier stated, “Our information indicates that the chemical agent was delivered by regime Su-22 fixed-wing aircraft that took off from the regime-controlled Shayrat Airfield. These aircraft were in the vicinity of Khan Shaykhun approximately 20 minutes before reports of the chemical attack began and vacated the area shortly after the attack.”

So, that would mean – assuming that the dossier is correct – that U.S. intelligence analysts were able to trace the delivery of the poison gas to Assad’s aircraft and to the airfield that Trump ordered attacked on April 6.

Still, it remains a mystery why this intelligence assessment is not coming directly from President Trump’s intelligence chiefs as is normally the case, either with an official Intelligence Estimate or a report issued by the Director of National Intelligence.

The photograph released by the White House of President 
Trump meeting with his advisers at his estate in Mar-a-Lago 
on April 6, 2017, regarding his decision to launch missile strikes against Syria.

The White House photo released late last week showing the President and a dozen senior advisers monitoring the April 6 missile strike from a room at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida was noteworthy in that neither CIA Director Mike Pompeo nor Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was in the frame.

Now, it is the White House that has released the four-page dossier supposedly summing up the assessment of the “intelligence community.”

An Argumentative Dossier


The dossier also seems argumentative in that it assumes that Russian officials – and presumably others – who have suggested different possible explanations for the incident at Khan Sheikdoun did so in a willful cover-up, when any normal investigation seeks to evaluate different scenarios before settling on one.

It is common amid the “fog of war” for people outside the line of command – and even sometimes inside the line of command – to not understand what happened and to struggle for an explanation.

On April 6, before Trump’s missile strike, I and others received word from U.S. military intelligence officials in the Middle East that they, too, shared the belief that the poison gas may have resulted from a conventional bombing raid that ruptured containers stored by the rebels, who – in Idlib province – are dominated by Al Qaeda’s affiliate and its allies.

Those reports were cited by former U.S. intelligence officials, including more than two dozen who produced a memo to President Trump urging him to undertake a careful investigation of the incident before letting this crisis exacerbate U.S.-Russia relations.

The memo said “our U.S. Army contacts in the area” were disputing the official story of a chemical weapons attack. “Instead, a Syrian aircraft bombed an al-Qaeda-in-Syria ammunition depot that turned out to be full of noxious chemicals and a strong wind blew the chemical-laden cloud over a nearby village where many consequently died,” the memo said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressing the audience at a concert for Palmyra, Syria, via a satellite link on May 5, 2016, 
after the ancient city was liberated from the Islamic State. 
(Image from RT’s live-streaming of the event)


In other words, to suggest possible alternative scenarios is not evidence of a “cover-up,” even if the theories are later shown to be erroneous. It is the normal process of sorting through often conflicting initial reports.

Even in the four-page dossier, Trump’s NSC officials contradicted what other U.S. government sources have told The New York Times and other mainstream news outlets about the Syrian government’s supposed motive for launching the chemical-weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

According to the earlier accounts, the Syrian government either was trying to terrorize the population in a remote rebel-controlled area or was celebrating its impunity after the Trump administration had announced that it was no longer seeking Assad’s removal.

But the dossier said, “We assess that Damascus launched this chemical attack in response to an opposition offensive in northern Hamah Province that threatened key infrastructure.” Although Khan Sheikhoun was not near the fighting, the dossier presented the town as an area of support for the offensive.

Assuming this assessment is correct, does that mean that the earlier explanations were part of a cover-up or a propaganda operation? The reality is that in such complex situations, the analyses should continue to be refined as more information becomes available. It should not be assumed that every false lead or discarded theory is proof of a “cover-up,” yet that is what we see here.

“The Syrian regime and its primary backer, Russia, have sought to confuse the world community about who is responsible for using chemical weapons against the Syrian people in this and earlier attacks,” the dossier declared.

But the larger point is that – given President Trump’s spotty record for getting facts straight – he and his administration should go the extra mile in presenting irrefutable evidence to support its assessments, not simply insisting that the world must “trust us.”

[In a separate analysis of the four-page dossier, Theodore Postol, a national security specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, concluded that the White House claims were clearly bogus, writing:

“I have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

“In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4. This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment, is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.”]

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

image_pdf

War Porn: Getting to Know MOAB

Getting to Know MOAB

by History Channel

Year 1

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB, aka Mother of All Bombs, most powerful non-nuclear bomb made so far) deliver a hell of a punch & blast radius of up to one mile(on each side).



IF I HAD to recommend ONE BOOK for people to read it would be this one:
"Among Heroes: A U.S. Navy SEAL's True Story of Friendship, Heroism, and the Ultimate Sacrifice"
You can find it here: http://amzn.to/1BBtgmX

Red and White: Praising Canada's WWI "Sepoys"

New trend of praising Indigenous soldiers at Vimy Ridge ironic tribute to Canada's colonial past

by Yves Engler - Rabble.ca


April 13, 2017

In recent days, the Canadian Forces, banks, politicians, sports TV networks, private foundations, the news media, etc. have all promoted the idea that the centennial of Canadian troops capturing some high ground in France during a minor battle in the First World War somehow represented the "birth" of Canada. Amidst an orgy of martial patriotism that is finally over, there was a sad irony.


Elders and Indian soldiers in the uniform of the 
Canadian Expeditionary Force (Online MIKAN no. 3192219) 
by Library and Archives Canada / PA-041366

 The notion that the battle of Vimy Ridge “created our country” is bizarre enough but the celebration of First Nations participation in this episode of Canadian imperialism pushed the exercise into the realm of the absurd.

One hundred years ago in northern France, 10,000 Canadians and 20,000 Germans were hurt or killed during four days of fighting to capture Vimy Ridge. Despite the claim it represented the "birth" of Canada, the soldiers were under British command and the battle had little impact on the war. The young men fell in a war spurred by intra-imperialist competition in Africa and elsewhere.

Strangely, the recent Vimy commemorations included an Indigenous component. The prime minister's office put out a number of press releases that mentioned the Indigenous organizations part of his official delegation to France. APTN did a story titled "Métis man with special connection to Vimy Ridge battle will see history up close" while a CKOM headline noted, "Indigenous veteran reflects on personal ties to Vimy Ridge." A Two Row Times article was titled “’Indian’ warriors of Vimy Ridge” and on CBC’s Unreserved former Native Women's Association of Canada president Marilyn Buffalo discussed her grandfather, Henry Norwest, who died at Vimy.

Historically, the racist, colonialist narrative erased the contribution of First Nations to Canadian warfare. But, the recent Truth and Reconciliation process has included significant attention devoted to indigenous members of the Canadian armed forces. The Canadian Forces, government commissions and Indigenous veterans associations, often backed by Veteran Affairs, have produced much of the laudatory literature on Aboriginal war veterans.

A dozen books and theses, as well as hundreds of articles, detailing First Nations’ contribution to Canadian and British wars mostly echo the military's perspective of those conflicts. In “The Awakening Has Come”: Canadian First Nations in the Great War Era, 1914-1932, Eric Story depicts the First World War as a noble affair.

"The Great War had put First Nations shoulder to shoulder with Euro-Canadians in a fight for human rights and dignity," writes Story in Canadian Military History Journal. The editor of We Were There said the aim of the Saskatchewan Indian Veterans Association book is to convince kids they fought for "freedom."

"I wanted to publish... to let Indian children know that their fathers and grandfathers fought for the freedom we now cherish." (In truth, Canadian soldiers have only fought in one morally justifiable war: the Second World War.)

The Canadian Aboriginal Veterans and Serving Members Association (alongside other Indigenous veterans’ groups) have been pressing the federal government to proclaim November 8 National Aboriginal Veterans Day. In 2016 Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr attended an Ottawa celebration while Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett participated in a Fredericton ceremony. In a statement Hehr noted,

"we thank the thousands of Indigenous Canadians in uniform who answered the call of duty and made the ultimate sacrifice. Their contributions and efforts have helped our country in its efforts to make this world a safer place."

There is even a current of progressive thinking that draws on Indigenous military contributions to legitimate criticism of Canadian colonialism while simultaneously promoting Canadian imperialism. In a 2013 Huffington Post blog titled "Whitewashing Remembrance: I Wear A Poppy For Native Veterans," Elizabeth Hawksworth made an anti-racist argument for wearing the red poppy.

"I choose to wear it because as a woman with Native ancestry, I want to remember those whose faces we never see in the Heritage moments or on the Remembrance Day TV spots.… I wear the poppy not just as a way to remember, but as a statement: freedom doesn't just belong to white folks."

Of course the red poppy is the property of, and raises funds for, the jingoist Royal Canadian Legion. Additionally, red poppies were inspired by the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields” by Canadian army officer John McCrae. The pro-war poem calls on Canadians to "take up our quarrel with the foe" and was used to promote war bonds and recruit soldiers during the First World War.

In a TVO interview marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, author Joseph Boyden said Indigenous men enlisted to "do what's right." As he denounced the mistreatment of Indigenous peoples after the war, the author of Three Day Road, a novel dedicated to "the native soldiers who fought in the Great War," called their fighting a "beautiful corner" of Canadian history.

But, there was nothing "beautiful" about the First World War. It was an inter-imperialist conflict that left 15 million dead. All the ordinary soldiers who participated in it were victims of the ruling classes’ imperial ambitions.

And glorifying First Nations participation in imperialist wars as part of overcoming Canada’s colonial treatment of First Nations is, at a minimum, ironic.

This is where blind foreign policy nationalism and so-called patriotism has taken us.