Saturday, October 28, 2017

Desperately Seeking Reason: Canadian Forces Search for a Role in Empire's Asia Play

The Canadian Military’s Search for “Gravitas” in Asia

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice

October 28th, 2017

Canadian leaders search for “gravitas” and “respect” from their US counterparts is adding to friction in the Asia-Pacific.

Amidst tension on the Korean Peninsula, the Canadian Navy has joined Washington’s “pivot” towards Asia.

Recently departed, HMCS Chicoutimi is expected to be in the Asia-Pacific until March.

While they refused to offer CBC News much detail, a military spokesperson said the first ever Victoria-class submarine deployed to the region will,

...provide the government with defence and security options should a timely Canadian response be necessary.”

Chicoutimi’s deployment follows on the heels of a six-month tour of Asia by HMCS Ottawa and Winnipeg, which included “freedom of navigation” operations and exercises alongside US, Japanese, Australian and other countries’ warships. When the two Canadian gunboats travelled through the South China Sea with their allies, Chinese vessels came within three nautical miles and “shadowed” them for 36 hours. On another occasion a Chinese intelligence vessel monitored HMCS Winnipeg and Ottawa while they exercised with a South Korean ship.

After visiting HMCS Ottawa and Winnipeg in Singapore Chief of Defence Staff Jon Vance declared,

If one wants to have any respect or gravitas you have to be in that region.”

During the past decade the US and its principle Asian economic ally Japan have lost their economic hegemony over the region. With Chinese power growing and the Obama administration’s “pivot” designed to contain it, Washington has sought to stoke longstanding territorial and maritime boundary disputes in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and other nations. As part of efforts to rally regional opposition to China, the US Navy engages in regular “freedom of navigation” operations, which see warships travel through or near disputed waters — kind of like the logic employed by street gangs defending “their” territory.

The Canadian Navy has supported Washington’s aggressive posture. They’ve increased participation in patrols and exercises in the region. In 2012 it came to light the military was seeking a small base or “hub” in southeast Asia – probably in Singapore – with a port facility.

Unfortunately, exerting naval power in the region is nothing new for this country. For two decades the Canadian navy has made regular port visits to Asia and since its 1971 inception Canada has participated in every Rim of the Pacific Exercise, which is a massive US-led maritime warfare training every two years.

Immediately after US forces invaded Korea in 1950, Ottawa sent three gunboats to the region. Ultimately eight Canadian warships with 3,600 soldiers were deployed to the country during the conflict (a total of 27,000 Canadians fought in the three-year war that left millions dead). Canadian ships transported troops and bombed the North.

According to a Canadian War Museum exhibit,

During the war, Canadians became especially good at ‘train busting’. This meant running in close to shore, usually at night, and risking damage from Chinese and North Korean artillery in order to destroy trains or tunnels on Korea’s coastal railway. Of the 28 trains destroyed by United Nations warships in Korea, Canadian vessels claimed eight.”

Before the outbreak of the Korean War the Canadian Navy sought to exert itself in the region. In a bizarre move, Ottawa sent a naval vessel to China in 1949 as the Communists were on the verge of victory. According to Canadian Gunboat Diplomacy, the boat was sent too late to stop the Kuomintang’s defeat by Mao’s forces and was not needed to evacuate Canadians since British boats could remove them. The objective, it seems, was to demonstrate to the US and UK “that Canada was a willing partner”, particularly in light of the emerging north Atlantic alliance.

And like the smaller, weaker kid in a street gang our “leaders” are trying to prove how tough we are. Need someone to attack a house? Sure, we’ll do it. Show them our firepower? We’re in.

Canadian military planners’ search for “gravitas” is akin to gang logic. But, let’s hope our behaviour in Asia doesn’t lead to where gang warfare has taken many North American cities.

Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
Read other articles by Yves.

Hillary's Last Laugh: The Real Russia-Gate Story

What Did Hillary Clinton Know?

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

October 25, 2017

Exclusive: With the disclosure that Hillary Clinton’s campaign helped pay for the original Russia-gate allegations against Donald Trump, a new question arises: what did Clinton know and when did she know it, reports Robert Parry.

The revelation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped pay for the notorious “Steele Dossier” of hearsay claims about Donald Trump’s relations with Russia is not surprising but is noteworthy given how long the mystery about the funding was allowed to linger.

Another mild surprise is that the Clinton campaign would have had a direct hand in the financing rather than maintaining an arm’s length relationship to the dossier by having some “friend of the campaign” make the payments and giving Clinton more deniability.

Instead, the campaign appears to have relied on its lawyer, Marc E. Elias of Perkins Coie, and a confidentiality agreement to provide some insulation between Clinton and the dossier’s startling claims which presumably helped inform Clinton’s charge in the final presidential debate that Trump was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Indeed, how much Clinton personally knew about the dossier and its financing remains an intriguing question for investigators.

Ultimately, the facts about who commissioned the dossier were forced out by a congressional Republican subpoena seeking the bank records of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele to compile the opposition research, known as “oppo,” against Trump.

As part of the legal wrangling over that subpoena, the Clinton/DNC law firm, Perkins Coie, wrote a letter releasing Fusion GPS from its confidentiality agreement.

After that letter, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday night that the Clinton campaign and the DNC had helped fund the Steele effort with attorney Elias retaining Fusion GPS in April 2016 and with Fusion GPS then hiring Steele.

The Post reported that “people familiar with the matter” disclosed that outline of the arrangement but still would not divulge how much the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid to Fusion GPS. One source told me that the total amount came to about $1 million.

‘Trash for Cash’

An irony about Hillary Clinton’s role in funding allegations about Trump’s connection to the Russians, including claims that he cavorted with prostitutes in a five-star Moscow hotel while Russian intelligence operatives secretly filmed him, is that the Clinton camp bristled when Bill Clinton was the subject of Republican “oppo” that surfaced salacious charges against him. The Clintons dismissed such accusations as “cash for trash.”

President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton and
daughter Chelsea parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 1997. (White House photo)

Nevertheless, just as conspiratorial accusations about the Clintons gave rise to the Whitewater investigation and a rash of other alleged “scandals,” which bedeviled Bill Clinton’s presidency, the Steele Dossier — also known as the “Dirty Dossier” — provided a map that investigators have followed for the ongoing Russia-gate investigation into President Trump.

Much like those Clinton allegations, Steele’s accusations have had a dubious track record for accuracy, with U.S. government investigators unable to corroborate some key claims but, I’m told, believing that some are true nonetheless.

In the 1990s, even though the core allegations of wrongdoing about the Clintons and their Whitewater land deal collapsed, the drawn-out investigation eventually unearthed Bill Clinton’s sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky and led to his impeachment in the House although he was acquitted in a Senate trial.

Some Democrats have openly hoped for the impeachment of President Trump, too, and they have hitched many of those hopes to the Russia-gate bandwagon.

There is also no doubt about the significance of the Steele Dossier in spurring the Russia-gate scandal forward.

When Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, offered what amounted to a prosecutor’s opening statement in March, his seamless 15-minute narrative of the Trump campaign’s alleged collaboration with Russia followed the trail blazed by Steele, who had worked for Britain’s MI-6 in Russia and tapped into ex-colleagues and unnamed sources inside Russia, including supposedly leadership figures in the Kremlin.

Steele’s Methods

Since Steele could not reenter Russia himself, he based his reports on multiple hearsay from these anonymous Russians who claim to have heard some information from their government contacts before passing it on to Steele’s associates who then gave it to Steele who compiled this mix of rumors and alleged inside dope into “raw” intelligence reports.

Besides the anonymous sourcing and the sources’ financial incentives to dig up dirt, Steele’s reports had other problems, including the inability of FBI investigators to confirm key elements, such as the claim that several years ago Russian intelligence operatives secretly videotaped Trump having prostitutes urinate on him while he lay in the same bed at Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton used by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The luxury Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow

That tantalizing tidbit was included in Steele’s opening report to his new clients, dated June 20, 2016. Apparently, it proved irresistible in whetting the appetite of Clinton insiders. Also in that first report were the basic outlines of Russia-gate.

But Steele’s June report also reflected the telephone-tag aspects of these allegations: “Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP for a least 5 years.

“Source B asserted that the TRUMP operation was both supported and directed by Russian President Vladimir PUTIN. Its aim was to sow discord and disunity both within the US itself, but more especially within the Transatlantic alliance which was viewed as inimical to Russia’s interests. … In terms of specifics, Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years. …
“The Kremlin’s cultivation operation on TRUMP also had comprised offering him various lucrative real estate development business deals in Russia, especially in relation to the ongoing 2018 World Cup soccer tournament. However, so far, for reasons unknown, TRUMP had not taken up any of these.”

Besides the anonymous and hearsay quality of the allegations, there are obvious logical problems, especially the point that five years before the 2016 campaign, virtually no one would have thought that Trump had any chance of becoming President of the United States.

There also may have been a more mundane reason why Trump’s hotel deal fell through. A source familiar with those negotiations told me that Trump had hoped to get a half interest in the $2 billion project but that Russian-Israeli investor Mikhail Fridman, a founder of Russia’s Alfa Bank, balked because Trump was unwilling to commit a significant investment beyond the branding value of the Trump name.

Yet, one would assume that if the supposedly all-powerful Putin wanted to give a $1 billion or so payoff to his golden boy, Donald Trump, whom Putin anticipated would become President in five years, the deal would have happened, but it didn’t.

Despite the dubious quality of Steele’s second- and third-hand information, the June 2016 report appears to have impressed Team Clinton. And once the bait was taken, Steele continued to produce his conspiracy-laden reports, totaling at least 17 through Dec. 13, 2016.

Framing the Investigation

The reports not only captivated the Clinton political operatives but influenced the assessments of President Obama’s appointees in the U.S. intelligence community regarding alleged Russian “meddling” in the presidential election.

President Donald Trump being sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017. (Screen shot from

Still, a careful analysis of Steele’s reports would have discovered not only apparent factual inaccuracies, such as putting Trump lawyer Michael Cohen at a meeting with a Russian official in Prague (when Cohen says he’s never been to Prague), but also the sort of broad conspiracy-mongering that the mainstream U.S. news media usually loves to ridicule.

For instance, Steele’s reports pin a range of U.S. political attitudes on Russian manipulation rather than the notion that Americans can reach reasonable conclusions on their own. In one report dated Sept. 14, 2016, Steele claimed that an unnamed senior official in Putin’s Presidential Administration (or PA) explained how Putin used the alleged Russian influence operation to generate opposition to Obama’s Pacific trade deals.

Steele wrote that Putin’s intention was “pushing candidate CLINTON away from President OBAMA’s policies. The best example of this was that both candidates [Clinton and Trump] now openly opposed the draft trade agreements, TPP and TTIP, which were assessed by Moscow as detrimental to Russian interests.”

In other words, the Russians supposedly intervened in the U.S. presidential campaign to turn the leading candidates against Obama’s trade deals. But how credible is that? Are we to believe that American politicians – running the gamut from Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren through former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to President Donald Trump – have all been tricked by the Kremlin to oppose those controversial trade deals, which are also broadly unpopular with the American people who are sick and tired of trade agreements that cost them jobs?

Of course, the disclosure that the Clinton campaign and the DNC helped pay for Steele’s opposition research doesn’t necessarily discredit the information, but it does suggest a possible financial incentive for Steele and his collaborators to sex-up the reports to keep Clinton’s camp coming back for more.

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

Intercept Drops Ball on Leaked Syria Docs: Revelation May Have Altered Course of the War

The Intercept Withheld NSA Doc That May Have Altered Course Of Syrian War

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News

October 28, 2017

If this document had been published sooner, it could have dramatically changed the course of the war by exposing the true face of the “moderate rebels” — and potentially saved tens of thousands of lives. That didn’t happen, and no reason has been given by the Intercept for its delay.

On Tuesday, October 24, 2017 the Intercept published a hitherto unknown document from the trove of National Security Administration (NSA) documents leaked by Edward Snowden over three years ago.

The document was notable as it shed light on the early days of the Syrian conflict and the fact that, for the past six years, so-called “revolutionary” groups aimed at toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have largely acted as proxies for foreign governments pushing regime change.

The document explicitly reveals that an attack led by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which was intended to mark the anniversary of the 2011 “uprising” that sparked the Syrian conflict, was directed by a Saudi prince.

The document proves, in essence, that the armed opposition in Syria – from the earliest years of the conflict – was under the direct command of foreign governments pushing for regime change.

An NSA graphic released by The Intercept outlines Saudi involvement
in organizing and supplying Syrian opposition forces for attacks on
Syria’s civilian infrastructure.

According to the document, Saudi Prince Salman bin Sultan had ordered the FSA to “light up Damascus” and “flatten” the city’s civilian airport. The Saudis had also “sent 120 tons of explosives/weapons to opposition forces” for the operation. The Saudis, as the document notes, were “very pleased” with the outcome, which claimed at least 60 lives.

The implications of the NSA document are significant. It offers the clearest proof, in the form of official U.S. government documents, detailing the direct relationship between the armed Syrian opposition and foreign governments, and exposing the fact that this relationship existed much earlier than the mainstream narrative on the conflict had previously suggested. 

However, the Intercept article regarding the document is unusual for several reasons. First, the report inaccurately claims that the attack launched at the Saudis’ behest did not result in any confirmed casualties. Second, it states that the 2011 uprising in Syria was an organic, “peaceful” movement that led the Syrian government to wage “an open war against their own people” — a narrative that has since been debunked.

Yet, the largest oversight of all is the article’s failure to mention the U.S.’ role in funding the Free Syrian Army, as well as the CIA’s well-documented role in training the FSA and pumping tons of weapons into Syria in order to foment and exacerbate the conflict in its early days. In light of the NSA document’s revelation that the U.S. had been given advance notice of the planned FSA attack – on a civilian target, no less – Washington’s decision to let it proceed clearly suggests that the U.S. was involved in and well aware of the Saudi directives to the FSA. However, the Intercept piece chooses not to mention this crucial context.

Intercept’s three-plus year delay in releasing document

Perhaps even more troubling than the article’s failure to mention the CIA’s well-documented role in backing the Free Syrian Army, now exposed as a proxy force following orders from the Saudi royal family, is the fact that the Intercept had access to this document for nearly three-and-a-half years – deciding to publish only now that the Syrian conflict is effectively over and those pushing for regime change have lost. If this document had been published sooner, it could have dramatically changed the course of the war by exposing the true face of the “moderate rebels” — and potentially saved tens of thousands of lives.

That didn’t happen, however, and no reason has been given by the publication for its notable delay. The Intercept has exclusive publishing rights and an exclusive hold on the content of the Snowden leaks, of which this newly released document is a part. Indeed, the Intercept was founded after the Snowden leaks were made public and its first hires were Glenn Greenwald and Lauren Poitras, the only journalists possessing the full Snowden cache. Those documents now belong to the Intercept’s founder — billionaire eBay founder, — and his for-profit media company, First Look Media.

Examining Omidyar’s connections to the U.S. political establishment offers a plausible reason for the Intercept’s delay in publishing documents so crucial to understanding the situation in Syria. Omidyar was a frequent guest of the Obama White House from 2009 to 2013, garnering more face-to-face visits with Obama during his two terms than did Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, New York Times owner Arthur Sulzberger and even fellow tech billionaire turned major media owner, Jeff Bezos.

Omidyar also directly co-invested with the U.S. State Department, via USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in opposition groups that played a key role in overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014 – a U.S.-brokered regime-change operation that shares some notable similarities with the Syrian conflict. His investments with USAID have continued since the Intercept’s founding, helping fund the NGO’s more recent overseas programs aimed at “advancing U.S. national security interests” abroad.

Also worth noting is the fact that PayPal, of which Omidyar is a major owner, has allegedly been implicated in several of the still-withheld NSA documents for its business relationship with the NSA and its role in the agency’s mass spying program. In addition, former Intercept writers have asserted that Omidyar was “shockingly disinterested in the actual journalism” of the paper, suggesting that the Intercept was created explicitly to delay the release of damaging documents from the Snowden cache until deemed acceptable to the U.S. political establishment and others who stood to lose face were the entire cache to have been made public.

Indeed, another interesting coincidence supporting this thesis is the fact that the Intercept published this latest piece only after the U.S. State Department itself began to report more honestly on the nature of these so-called “rebels.” A day before the Intercept’s story on Syrian “rebels” and the Saudis, the U.S. State Department – for the first time – admitted that “moderate” rebels in Syria had previously used chemical weapons, a charge it had categorically denied for years in order to facilitate laying the blame for any and all chemical weapons attacks in Syria on the Syrian government.

In other words, the Intercept released the document, which effectively destroys Washington’s “moderate rebels” narrative with its own internal documents, only after the U.S. government itself began to unravel that very same narrative.

The Intercept did not respond to MintPress News’ request for comment regarding the timing of the document’s release.

Founder’s connections shape Intercept’s journalism 


Omidyar’s connection to U.S. regime-change efforts abroad may also explain why the Intercept – until now, that is – has consistently given voice to journalists who have echoed the U.S. establishment regarding the Syrian conflict.

Billionare Pierre Omidyar, Richard Branson photo: Pierre Omidyar - Flickr, CC BY 2.0  

For instance, Murtaza Hussain – the author of this latest Intercept piece – has written numerous stories downplaying the terrorist and Wahhabist elements of the Syrian “rebels.”

In the last two years, Hussain has written pieces portraying known Al-Qaeda propagandists, such as Bilal Abdul Kareem, and Al-Qaeda-linked organizations, such as the White Helmets, in an overwhelmingly positive light, failing to mention in both cases the significant evidence tying these entities to known terrorist groups. In another piece, published last August, Hussain gave voice to al-Nusra Front leadership in a lengthy interview that largely whitewashed the group’s Wahhabist leanings and links to terrorist acts in Syria.

Last September, on Twitter, Hussain asserted that Saudi Arabia’s funding of armed factions was not necessarily “good” but that “there is little to indicate they contribute to terrorism.” That last statement has been thoroughly debunked for years, but most recently by Hussain’s own piece on the newly released NSA document.

Hussain is by no means the only Intercept writer who has taken such a pro-opposition stance regarding Syria. A recent Intercept piece on Syria, published in September, committed glaring factual errors on basic facts about the war, while also mistranslating a speech given by Assad so as to link him to American white nationalists. In addition, the paper recently hired Maryam Saleh, a journalist who has called Shia Muslims “dogs” and has taken to Twitter in recent months to downplay the role of the U.S. coalition in airstrikes in Syria. She also has ties to the U.S.-financed propaganda group Kafranbel Media Center, which has close relations with the terrorist group Ahrar al-Sham.

For a paper ostensibly dedicated to “fearless, adversarial” journalism, it is strange that the Intercept gives voice to journalists who echo the U.S. position regarding the Syrian war while rarely publishing the work of journalists who have challenged prevailing Western narratives on that war — journalists who, as the Intercept itself recently revealed, have been right all along regarding the myth of the Syrian “moderate rebel.” Yet, given Omidyar’s political connections and the paper’s handling of the Snowden cache, this unfortunate decision is unsurprising.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

How "Canada's" Oil Companies Get Away With Paying Less

Oil giants pay billions less tax in Canada than abroad

by News UBC

October 26, 2017

The Guardian interviewed Philippe Le Billon, a UBC geography professor, after it was revealed that Canadian oil companies made much higher tax payments to developing countries in 2016 than to Canadian, provincial and municipal governments.

“Companies in Canada will point to the jobs they are creating rather than acknowledge they could be sharing more of their profits, which mostly goes to shareholders who are not even in the country,” he said.

The story also appeared on Yahoo U.K.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Pablo Ouziel, Robert Hunziker, Janine Bandcroft October 26, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

October 26, 2017

Right now, as night falls in Spain the future of the country is shrouded in uncertainty. The referendum on independence that began October, and deemed "illegal" by the federal government, has predictably proven divisive, with each of the main players involved, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, and Catalonia's regional president, Carles Puigdemont showing little appetite for compromise.

Rajoy promises to dissolve Catalonia's parliament, and reschedule elections, while unilateral secession is Puigdemont's only arrow in the quiver.

Listen. Hear.

Dr. Pablo Ouziel is a Post-Doctoral fellow at UVic whose project in progress is, ‘Towards Democratic Responses to the Crisis of Democracy in Spain: Forms of Participatory and Representative Civic Engagement.’

Pablo Ouziel in the first half.

And; beyond the partisan barbs, it's safe to say Donald Trump is no ecology defender. Surrounded already by climate change deniers and petroleum industry insiders in hiring Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA however, the former real estate tycoon and media phenomenon sent a particularly loud and clear message to businesses big and small: "Damn the enviros, full speed ahead!"

Robert Hunziker is an environmental journalist whose climate clarion calls appear in numerous journals and multiple languages around the World and across the internet. He’s also appeared in a variety of electronic media to talk about global climate change, written extensively about the ongoing aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and penned numerous articles on the ever-quickening polar ice melt.

In his recent article, 'Mr. Toxicity Zaps America' Hunziker reports Environmental Protection Agency head, Scott Pruitt "nixed his own agency’s proposal of 2015 to ban the toxic chemical chlorpyrifos, an insecticide that attacks the nervous system of pesky insects, as well as pesky and non-pesky people..."

Robert Hunziker and the EPA's number one "toxics defender" in the second half.

And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV Radio broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft will bring us the Left Coast Events bulletin at the bottom of the hour. But first, Pablo Ouziel, perched atop the peak of Spain's tipping point.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

American Phoenix: CIA Death Squad Program Back with a Vengeance in Afghanistan

Phoenix 2.0 - CIA To Unleash Vietnam Era Terror Campaign On Afghanistan 

by Moon of Alabama

October 25, 2017

Last week the new head of the CIA Mike Pompeo publicly threatened to make the CIA a "much more vicious agency". His first step towards that is to unleash CIA sponsored killer gangs onto the people of Afghanistan:

"The C.I.A. is expanding its covert operations in Afghanistan, sending small teams of highly experienced officers and contractors alongside Afghan forces to hunt and kill Taliban militants across the country ...
The C.I.A.’s expanded role will augment missions carried out by military units, meaning more of the United States’ combat role in Afghanistan will be hidden from public view."

This will be mass murder campaign. People will be pulled from their houses at night and vanish - 'eliminated'. That has been happening in Afghanistan for years, but on a relatively small scale. So far the targets were 'al-Qaeda', a small terrorist group, not the local insurgency. The new campaign will target the Taliban, a mass insurgency against the U.S. occupation. Thus is will be a mass campaign and cause mass casualties.

It is not going to be a counter-insurgency campaign, even though some will assert it is. A counter-insurgency campaign combines political, security, economic, and informational components. It can only be successful in support of a legitimate authority.

The current Afghan government has little legitimacy. It was cobbled and bribed together by the U.S. embassy after wide and open election fraud threatened to devolve into total chaos. In August CIA director Pompeo met the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and likely discussed the new plan. But the now announced campaign has neither a political nor an economic component. Solely centered on "security" it will end up as a random torture and killing expedition without the necessary context and with no positive results for the occupation.

The campaign will be a boon for the Taliban. While it will likely kill Taliban aligned insurgents here and there, it will also alienate many more Afghan people. Some 75% of the Taliban fighters are locals fighting near their homes. Killing them creates new local recruits for the insurgency. It will also give the Taliban a more sympathetic population which it can use to cover its future operations.

A similar campaign during the Vietnam war was known as Operation Phoenix. Then some 50,000-100,000 South-Vietnamese, all 'suspected communists', were killed by the CIA's roving gangs. The polished Wikipedia version:

"[Phoenix] was designed to identify and "neutralize" (via infiltration, capture, counter-terrorism, interrogation, and assassination) the infrastructure of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF or Viet Cong). The CIA described it as "a set of programs that sought to attack and destroy the political infrastructure of the Viet Cong". The major two components of the program were Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs) and regional interrogation centers. PRUs would kill or capture suspected NLF members, as well as civilians who were thought to have information on NLF activities. Many of these people were then taken to interrogation centers where many were allegedly tortured in an attempt to gain intelligence on VC activities in the area. The information extracted at the centers was then given to military commanders, who would use it to task the PRU with further capture and assassination missions."

The Phoenix program was embedded into a larger civil political and economic development program known as Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support. The civil part of CORDS partially failed over bribery and incompetence. It was too expensive and not sustainable. The accepted historical judgement is that the 'security' part, Phoenix, failed to achieve its purpose despite its wide conceptualization. Its utter brutality alienated the people. The passive support for the Viet Cong increased due to the campaign.

In recent years there have been revisionists efforts by the Pentagon's RAND Corporation to change that view. They claim that the campaign went well and was successful. But those who took part in Phoenix (Video: Part 1, part 2) paint a very different picture. The brutality of Phoenix, which enraged the public, was one of the reason that forced the U.S. government to end the war.

The now announced campaign looks similar to Phoenix but lacks any political component. It is not designed to pacify insurgents but to 'eliminate' any and all resistance:

"The new effort will be led by small units known as counterterrorism pursuit teams. They are managed by C.I.A. paramilitary officers from the agency’s Special Activities Division and operatives from the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence arm, and include elite American troops from the Joint Special Operations Command. The majority of the forces, however, are Afghan militia members."

There are only a few dozen officers in the CIA Special Activities Division that can support such a campaign. The lede to the article suggests that 'contractors' will have a significant role. In August the former head of the mercenary outlet Blackwater, Eric Prince, lobbied the Trump administration for a contractor led war in Afghanistan. We can safely assume that Prince and some Blackwater offspring will be involved in the new CIA campaign. The major intelligence groundwork though will have to be done by the NDS.

The Afghan National Directorate of Security was build by the CIA from elements of the former Northern Alliance, the opponents of the original Taliban. In the late 1990s the Northern Alliance under Ahmed Shah Massoud was financed by the CIA. Shah Massoud's intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, a dual citizen, received CIA training. After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan Saleh headed the new intelligence service, the NDS. Then President Hamid Karzai fired Saleh in 2010 when he resisted Karzai's efforts to reconcile with the Taliban. In March 2017 the current President Ashraf Ghani appointed Saleh as State Minister for Security Reforms. Saleh resigned(?) in June after Ghani reached a peace agreement with the anti-government warlord and former Taliban ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Saleh is an ethnic Tajik and an unforgiving hardliner. He is wary of Pashtun who are the most populous ethnic group in Afghanistan and the base population for the Taliban. Saleh recently founded his own political party. He obviously has further ambitions. He always had excellent relations with the CIA and especially its hardline counter-terrorism center. I find it highly likely that he was involved in the planning of this new campaign.

In the ethnically mixed north of Afghanistan the involvement of NDS led local militia will probably cause large scale ethnic cleansing. In the Pashtun south and east it will lack all local support as such NDS militia have terrorized the country for quite some time:

"For years, the primary job of the C.I.A.’s paramilitary officers in the country has been training the Afghan militias. The C.I.A. has also used members of these indigenous militias to develop informant networks and collect intelligence.
"The American commandos — part of the Pentagon’s Omega program, which lends Special Operations forces to the C.I.A. — allow the Afghan militias to work together with conventional troops by calling in airstrikes and medical evacuations.
"The units have long had a wide run of the battlefield and have been accused of indiscriminately killing Afghan civilians in raids and with airstrikes."

It is utterly predictable how the intensified campaign will end up. The CIA itself has few, if any, independent sources in the country. It will depend on the NDS, stuffed with Saleh's Tajik kinsmen, as well as on ethnic and tribal militia. Each of these will have their own agenda. A 'security' campaign as the planned one depends on reliable intelligence. Who, in this or that hamlet, is a member of the Taliban? For lack of trusted local sources the militia, under CIA or contractor command, will resort to extremely brutal torture. They will squeeze 'informants' and 'suspects' with the most brutal torture until these come up with names of a new rounds of 'suspects'. Rinse-repeat - in the end all of the 'suspects' will have been killed.

The new plan was intentionally 'leaked' to the New York Times by "two senior American officials". It is set into a positive light:

"[T]he mission is a tacit acknowledgment that to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table — a key component of Mr. Trump’s strategy for the country — the United States will need to aggressively fight the insurgents."

That claim is of course utter nonsense. The U.S. already has for 16+ years "aggressively fought the insurgents". The insurgency grew during that time. The Taliban were always willing to negotiate. Their main condition for a peace agreement is that U.S. forces end their occupation end and leave the country. The U.S. is simply not willing to do so. Killing more 'suspect' Taliban sympathizers will not change the Taliban's demand nor will it make serious negotiations more likely.

Five years from now, when the utter brutality and uselessness of the campaign will come into full light, the NYT will be shocked, SHOCKED, that such a campaign could ever have happened.

Let Them Eat...!? Brazil's "Human Pet Food" Project for Poor Children

Brazil Considers Plan To Feed Low-Income Children “Human Pet Food”

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News

October 25, 2017

Having rejected measures to make real food affordable to Sao Paulo’s poor, Mayor Joao Doria is now rushing forward with a plan that would incentivize companies to donate unsaleable food products for conversion into “farinata,” food pellets of questionable safety and nutritional value.

SÃO PAULOA new, controversial plan to feed low-income children and adults in São Paulo with powder pellets made from nearly expired food has drawn the ire of critics, who have called the product “human pet food.” The pellets have been proposed as a solution to feeding hungry schoolchildren in Sao Paolo, but the plan has faced widespread condemnation from parents and critics.

Reprocessed leftover food turned into pellets by Brazilian
company Plataforma Sinergia. (Photo: Plataforma Sinergia/handout) 

The plan was first announced last Wednesday by , the “Donald Trump of Brazil” and mayor of Brazil’s largest city, who compared the pellets – called “farinata” — to “astronaut food” and asserted that their incorporation into the diets of low-income citizens and schoolchildren would alleviate hunger within the city at no cost to the municipal government.

As many as 1.5 million people in São Paulo do not have enough food to eat on a regular basis.

Doria’s assertions about the pellets’ benefits have failed to assuage the concerns of state prosecutors who are now probing the plan, which is set to be implemented later this month. Chief among their concerns regarding the pellets is the lack of available information regarding the food’s nutritional value. As José Bonilha, a state prosecutor working in connection with the case, told the Guardian,

“There is an uncertainty over the nutritional value of this food. What were the tests and the documents that authorized the announcement of its introduction?” 

Yet the Brazilian Ministry of Education had no problem approving the plan — which it did last week, despite the lack of information as well as the fact that the pellets have not undergone the legal, safety, and nutritional tests required for inclusion in school meals.

The pellets have been resoundingly criticized by nutritionists who argue that the lack of information regarding the product’s composition is a red flag that must be addressed.

“It is not food, it is an ultra-processed product. You don’t know what’s in it,” argued Marly Cardoso, professor of public health and nutrition at the Federal University of São Paulo. 

There is also concern among nutritionists that the pellets could worsen Brazil’s growing obesity crisis, which has largely resulted from the aggressive marketing of highly processed fast-food to the country’s urban poor. 

Critics also pointed to the fact that Doria, a political ally of Brazil’s deeply unpopular president, Michel Temer, had rejected a plan earlier this year that would have sought to improve the city’s diet by giving small-scale farmers increased space to sell fruit and vegetables on city streets and by creating price controls on fruits and vegetables to keep them affordable.

Doria’s rejection of this measure, critics argue, suggests that he is less interested in improving the city’s diet and eradicating hunger than in offering incentives to companies who donate food products they are unable to sell to become pellets.

Doria recently offered tax breaks to companies who donate food towards his hunger eradication policy.

Doria (above) and the pellets’ manufacturer,
Plataforma Sinergia, assert that “farinata” is
totally safe and offers excellent nutrition. 

According to Plataforma Sinergia’s website, the organization is associated with the Catholic Church and is a partner of the UN’s “Save Food” program. However, when pressed for comment by the Guardian regarding the product’s nutritional composition, Plataforma Sinergia did not respond.

City officials also did not respond to requests for information regarding whether the pellets had been properly tested.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Spain Chooses Nukes in Catalonia Impasse

Spain to Take 'Nuclear Option' on Catalonia 


October 24, 2017

Spain's central government went 'even more nuclear than anybody had expected' when it announced plans to completely strip Catalonia of its autonomy, says Professor Sebastiaan Faber of Oberlin College

The constitutional crisis in Spain and Catalonia is escalating. In response to Catalonia's recent independence vote, Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has announced he will strip Catalonia's autonomy and remove its leader. This so-called nuclear option is based on article 155 of Spain's constitution, which allows the parliament to take extraordinary measures to restore order in the country.

The move still needs to be ratified by the Spanish parliament, but on Saturday, Rajoy said it's his only option.

"We applied article 55 because no government, I repeat, no government of any democratic country can accept that the law is ignored, that the law is violated, that the law is changed, and that all of that is done in an aim to impose their criteria on others."

 Sebastiaan Faber, professor of Hispanic studies at Oberlin College, author of the forthcoming book Memory Battles of the Spanish Civil War.

Washington's Russophobia Has Long Provenance

Lunatic Russia-Hating in Washington is 70 Years Old. It Started with Joseph Alsop, George Kennan and the Washington Post

by John Helmer - Dances with Bears

October 11, 2017


Joseph Alsop (lead image, centre) and George Kennan (right) started the kind of Russia-hating in Washington which, today, President Vladimir Putin, like the businessmen around him, think of as a novelty that cannot last for long. Alsop was a fake news fabricator, and such a narcissist as to give the bow-ties he wore a bad name.

Kennan was a psychopath who alternated bouts of aggression to prove himself with bouts of depression over his cowardice. For them, Russia was a suitable target. The Washington Post was the newspaper which gave their lunacy public asylum. This, according to a fresh history by a university professor from California, started in 1947, long before the arrival in Washington of the anti-communist phobia known after the name of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Russia-hating was an American upper-class phenomenon, cultivated in the offices, cocktail parties, clubs, and mansions of the deep state, as it emerged out of World War II. It needed a new enemy to thrive; it fastened on Russia (aka the Soviet Union) as the enemy.

McCarthyism was an American lower-class phenomenon. It focused on the loyalty or disloyalty of the upper-class deep-staters. That wasn’t the same thing as Russia-hating; Wall Street bankers, Boston lawyers, homosexuals, Jews, communists, were all the enemy. As the Senator from Wisconsin characterized it himself in 1952, “McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled.” He implied – without a middle-class tie; certainly not an upper-class bow-tie.

Russia was not an enemy which united the two American lunacies, for they hated each other much more than they hated the Russians. The Soviet Politburo understood this better then than the Kremlin does now.

Gregg Herken’s The Georgetown Set, is so named because it records the activities of Alsop, Kennan and several other State Department, Central Intelligence Agency and White House officials who lived as neighbours in the Georgetown district of the capital city, together with Katharine (Kay) and Philip Graham, proprietor managers of the Washington Post.

The district – once a chartered city of Maryland and river port, which was absorbed into the federal District of Columbia in 1871 — was expensive, relatively speaking then; more so now. The richest of the set, including Alsop, had town houses in Georgetown, and rural retreats in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

Alsop’s self-designed home at 2720 Dumbarton Street, misnamed 
Dumbarton Avenue in the book. 

Left: Kennan’s house at 2709 Dumbarton Street; right: the Graham 
house at 2920 R Street.

They were a set because because, as Herken said succinctly to an interviewer, “they got together every Sunday for supper and, basically, they ran the country from those meetings.” As the book elaborates, they thought they were running the world. With a longer time lapse in which to view the evidence, they were also losing it.

Newspapers exposed in the book for collaborating in all the deceits, failures and war crimes of the history have reacted by calling Herken’s effort a “provincial corner”. The New Yorker opined that the Russia-hating and Russia war-making which Herken retells are dead and gone.

“The guests at the Sunday soirées no doubt felt that they were in the cockpit of history. But the United States is a democracy, not a Wasp Ascendancy… There was once an atmosphere of willingness that made a system of bribes and information exchanges seem, to the people involved, simply a way of working together for a common cause in a climate of public opinion that, unfortunately, required secrecy. No one got rich from the arrangement. People just lost track of what was inside their bubble and what was outside, as people tend to do. Vietnam was the reality check. ‘I’ve Seen the Best of It’ was the title Alsop gave to his memoirs. Things hadn’t been the same since, he felt. He was right about that, and we should be thankful.” 

In the New York media business these days it’s possible to publish a selfie of pulling your own leg.

The Washington Post has deflected the indictment against itself by describing Herken’s work as “a very strange book…(A) a rehash of the history of the Cold War as experienced in certain Washington circles and (B) an almost obsessive recapitulation of the life and journalism of Joseph Alsop.” Alsop is dismissed as unworthy of a history at all because he was “utterly repellent: arrogant, patronizing, imperious, uninterested in anyone except himself.”

That’s the truth about Alsop. The truth about the Washington Post is buried in this line by the Post’s books editor about the hand that fed him: “it must be very hard for people who did not live through the ’50s and ’60s to understand how obsessed the American people were with the threat from Moscow.” That line appeared in print on November 7, 2014. It was already history, that’s to say, a misjudgement. How monumentally mistaken is obvious now.

In covering the period from 1946 to 1975, Herken’s research does repeat much of the history of the Cold War which has been told elsewhere. It starts on February 22, 1946, the date of the “Long Telegram”, No. 511 — Kennan’s despatch from the US Embassy in Moscow to the State Department, setting out his strategy of so-called containment and much more besides. Read it in the declassified original. Most of the war-fighting and other war crimes which the telegram set in motion under Kennan’s 1948 rubrics, “organized political warfare” and “preventive direct action”, are reported in Herken’s book; so too are Kennan’s frequent funks, failures of conviction, reversals of judgement, and pleas for help.

The book ends on December 30, 1974, the date of Alsop’s last column. Alsop concluded with the line: “I have never known the American people to be really badly wrong, if only they were correctly and fully informed.”

Herken shows how self-deluded and professionally delusional that was — not because of Alsop’s character but because of his sources. Herken documents that they ran upwards from foot-soldiers (also lubricious sailors) to presidents and cabinet secretaries. Herken doesn’t think the same of Kennan, who gets to walk off stage, aged 101, sounding more sceptical of overthrowing Saddam Hussein than he ever was in his prime and in power to direct schemes of what we call state terrorism today.

Left to right: Kennan died in 2005, aged 101; Alsop died in 1989
aged 78; Frank Wisner died in 1965 aged 56.

The deeper Herken gets into the private papers, the more he refers to his subjects by their diminutives and nicknames – Joe, Oppie, Beetle, Dickie, the Crocodile, Wig, Jack, Wiz, Soozle, Vangie, et al.
What is fresh about the sources is that Herken has had access to the private notes, letters and diaries of the Alsop family; the Kennan diaries and letters; and the private papers of Frank Wisner, the first director of covert operations against Russia. Wisner went mad and killed himself, as did Graham. There’s no doubt about the suicide outcome of their madness.

In the case of the mad ex-Defence Secretary James Forrestal his fatal jump from the window of the Navy hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, in May 1949 might have been a homicidal push. Herken concludes that Forrestal’s death was “the first senior-ranking American casualty of the Cold War.” Herken thinks of their madness as anomalies. The history shows they were normalities.

Missing from this history is any reference to official documents, now declassified; press reporting of the time; or interviews with veterans of the same events but on other sides – Russian and Soviet; British; German; French; Polish; Vietnamese; Chinese. This isn’t so much a fatal flaw in Herken’s (right) book as the reason why his history is repeating itself today. Call this a variation on Karl’s Marx’s apothegm that history starts as tragedy and repeats itself as farce. Herken’s blindness to this is as revealing as the Washington Post’s madness, not yet as suicidal as its former proprietor’s, today.

So mesmerized is Herken by the moneyed backgrounds of his subjects and sources, and by the amount of black cash from the US Government they spent on operations, he forgets to report what they did to fill their own pockets. The claim by the New Yorker that “no one got rich from the arrangement” – Alsop’s fake news fabrications – is false, but Herken touches only in passing on how they made (or kept) their money. Alsop’s column, for example, was sold to 200 newspapers, and at one time claimed a readership of 25 million. His family inheritance is recorded, but not its annual revenue value.

Alsop’s payola included silk shirts from Alfred Kohlberg, a textile importer from China who backed Chiang Kai-shek against Mao Tse-tung, as did Alsop. Alsop’s patrons included Convair (General Dynamics), the company building the US Air Force Atlas missile for procurement of which Alsop reported fictions about Soviet missile strength.

In the US power which Alsop, Kennan and Wisner believed without hesitation, Herken is not less a believer. “Anything could be achieved”, Herken quotes a New York Times reporter quoting Wisner. When the US force multiple changed, however, and US allies or agents were outgunned, outspent, outnumbered, or outwitted, they were unable to acknowledge miscalculation, attributing defeat instead to the superior force or guile of their adversaries, especially the Russians.

This is madness, and there is good reason for recognizing the symptoms again. In 1958, when Herken says Wisner’s paranoid manias were becoming obvious to his friends and colleagues,

“Frank put forward a theory that the careless comment which had gotten George Kennan kicked out of the Soviet Union was evidence the Soviets had succeeded in an area where the CIA’s own scientists had failed: mind control. Some agency hands alleged that Wisner attributed his own increasingly bizarre behaviour to the Kremlin’s sly manipulation.” 

A cell from the comic “Is This Tomorrow? America Under 
Communism” (1947). 

From Washington in 1958, fast forward to Washington in 2017; for mind control and sly manipulation, read Russian hacking and cyber warfare. From Wisner’s and Kennan’s balloon drops of leaflets and broadcasts by Radio Free Europe, fast forward to Russia Today Television and Russian infiltrations of Twitter, Google, the Democratic National Committee, and the Trump organization.

It stands to reason (ahem!) that if you think what the US Government and its journalists were doing then was mad, you might conclude that what they is doing now is just as mad – and not very different. When the incumbent president and his Secretary of State publicly call for IQ tests on each other, all reason has failed. “The nation,” as Alsop had written, “had simply taken leave of all sense of proportion.” That was in March 1954.

If you fast forward to now, there’s one difference. Today the lunatic Russia warfighters don’t retire. They also don’t fade away. Today’s sleek successors to mad Wisner and mad Graham sleep easily in their beds a-nights. For what they’ve done and do, they wouldn’t dream of taking shotguns to their heads.

Herken retells the story of the campaign Alsop waged against McCarthyism at the State Department, against McCarthy himself, and the vulnerability Alsop himself presented until the Boston lawyer Joseph Welch put an end to McCarthy on June 9, 1954:

“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” Welch famously said.
“Have you left no sense of decency?” 

The recurring history reveals why, even if there are plenty of people to say the same thing today to the Washington Post, New York Times, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the madness will continue repeating itself.

Wolves for the Killing: Parks' Perverse Policy

Perverted Perspectives of Humans in Parks Canada Approach to Wolves 

by Susanne Lawson

October 24, 2017

The perverted perspectives of humans in government and Parks approach to killing wolves while allowing dogs is senseless and must stop.
Image: Raincoast Conservation

A so-called "attack" on Vargas Island recently was provoked by Parks encouraging and getting funding from public use on the beaches there, where wolves have existed as long as we have lived here (over 50 years) and long before that.

The Klukwana, or wolf ceremony of the coastal chefs here has been enacted for centuries. The wolves on Vargas, which are now reduced to two out of a once healthy family, were not fed, other than a whale that washed ashore on an outlying island and was towed to Vargas to feed the wolf family there. No one fed them whale blubber, they chewed it off themselves.

They would feed on feces and scraps left by the more than 1000 visitors to the island every year...some beaches having more than 200 people on it at a time. The students that were camping on Vargas were drunk and throwing bear bangers at the wolves according to a nearby, older and more respectful, group of kaykers. The wolf [deemed a threat and later destroyed] could have killed the drunken, passed out person sleeping on the beach in a minute, but it was surprised and shocked and defending itself after being kicked.

It was the traditional approach with Indigenous People the words of Tlaoquiaht grand matron, Nellie Frank, mother of Chief Wickaninnish, that...if you see a wolf, speak softly to it, treat it with respect, if you don't harm it, it won't harm you.

First Nations Chiefs and their families were connected to the wolf families in their territories...the more wolves one had in that territory, the healthier and more balanced their territory would be. If anything happened to those families, it would reverberate within the Chiefs family. It was taboo and still is, to kill a wolf and anyone doing so was in deep trouble, spiritually, physically and mentally. (I remember a man from Tofino who shot two wolves and threw their bodies in a dumpster...he ended up shooting himself).

Wolves are not afraid of us. They are pathfinders and can teach us so much. It is a privilege to learn from them. They also protect from cougars.

It is the antithesis to the approach by Parks, where their brochures state "...throw rocks, throw sticks, wave your arms....or they shoot them with rubber bullets or shoot them and kill them." It is a wonder that the wolves show such restraint in the face of uniformed parks employees. That kind of conditioning is endangering us all.

There is much more I have learned from them: I never feed them, they eat a lot of voles, mice and rats, and keep rodent populations in check. They get rid of diseases but don't eliminate species, as some people think, and they eat the sick and can tolerate that.

By getting rid of wolves, people in Caribou country are condemning the caribou to death by disease, particularly bot flies that go up ungulates nostrils and come out in sores on their bodies, a horrible disease that can affect all ungulates.

These are a few of the things I have learned living on the coast and I am learning daily. It is time to get rid of dogs in the parks and get their population under control.

Monday, October 23, 2017

As Clinton Remembers It: Smears, Tears, and a War on Truth

Clinton, Assange and the War on Truth

by John Pilger - CounterPunch

October 20, 2017

On 16 October, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired an interview with Hillary Clinton: one of many to promote her score-settling book about why she was not elected President of the United States.

Wading through the Clinton book, What Happened, is an unpleasant experience, like a stomach upset. Smears and tears. Threats and enemies. “They” (voters) were brainwashed and herded against her by the odious Donald Trump in cahoots with sinister Slavs sent from the great darkness known as Russia, assisted by an Australian “nihilist”, Julian Assange.
Photo by Kyle Taylor | CC by 2.0 

In The New York Times, there was a striking photograph of a female reporter consoling Clinton, having just interviewed her. The lost leader was, above all, “absolutely a feminist”. The thousands of women’s lives this “feminist” destroyed while in government — Libya, Syria, Honduras — were of no interest.

In New York magazine, Rebecca Traister wrote that Clinton was finally “expressing some righteous anger”. It was even hard for her to smile: “so hard that the muscles in her face ache”. Surely, she concluded, “if we allowed women’s resentments the same bearing we allow men’s grudges, America would be forced to reckon with the fact that all these angry women might just have a point”.

Drivel such as this, trivialising women’s struggles, marks the media hagiographies of Hillary Clinton. Her political extremism and warmongering are of no consequence. Her problem, wrote Traister, was a “damaging infatuation with the email story”. The truth, in other words.

The leaked emails of Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, revealed a direct connection between Clinton and the foundation and funding of organised jihadism in the Middle East and Islamic State (IS). The ultimate source of most Islamic terrorism, Saudi Arabia, was central to her career.

One email, in 2014, sent by Clinton to Podesta soon after she stepped down as US Secretary of State, discloses that Islamic State is funded by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Clinton accepted huge donations from both governments for the Clinton Foundation.

As Secretary of State, she approved the world’s biggest ever arms sale to her benefactors in Saudi Arabia, worth more than $80 billion. Thanks to her, US arms sales to the world – for use in stricken countries like Yemen – doubled.

This was revealed by WikiLeaks and published by The New York Times. No one doubts the emails are authentic. The subsequent campaign to smear WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, as “agents of Russia”, has grown into a spectacular fantasy known as “Russiagate”. The “plot” is said to have been signed off by Vladimir Putin himself. There is not a shred of evidence.

The ABC Australia interview with Clinton is an outstanding example of smear and censorship by omission. I would say it is a model.

“No one,” the interviewer, Sarah Ferguson, says to Clinton, “could fail to be moved by the pain on your face at that moment [of the inauguration of Trump] … Do you remember how visceral it was for you?”

Having established Clinton’s visceral suffering, Ferguson asks about “Russia’s role”.

CLINTON: I think Russia affected the perceptions and views of millions of voters, we now know. I think that their intention coming from the very top with Putin was to hurt me and to help Trump.

FERGUSON: How much of that was a personal vendetta by Vladimir Putin against you?

CLINTON: … I mean he wants to destabilise democracy. He wants to undermine America, he wants to go after the Atlantic Alliance and we consider Australia kind of a … an extension of that …

The opposite is true. It is Western armies that are massing on Russia’s border for the first time since the Russian Revolution 100 years ago.

FERGUSON: How much damage did [Julian Assange] do personally to you?

CLINTON: Well, I had a lot of history with him because I was Secretary of State when ah WikiLeaks published a lot of very sensitive ah information from our State Department and our Defence Department.

What Clinton fails to say – and her interviewer fails to remind her — is that in 2010, WikiLeaks revealed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had ordered a secret intelligence campaign targeted at the United Nations leadership, including the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and the permanent Security Council representatives from China, Russia, France and the UK.

A classified directive, signed by Clinton, was issued to US diplomats in July 2009, demanding forensic technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials, including passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks.

This was known as Cablegate. It was lawless spying.

CLINTON: He [Assange] is very clearly a tool of Russian intelligence. And ah, he has done their bidding.

Clinton offered no evidence to back up this serious accusation, nor did Ferguson challenge her.

CLINTON: You don’t see damaging negative information coming out about the Kremlin on WikiLeaks. You didn’t see any of that published.

This was false. WikiLeaks has published a massive number of documents on Russia – more than 800,000, most of them critical, many of them used in books and as evidence in court cases.

CLINTON: So I think Assange has become a kind of nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator.

FERGUSON: Lots of people, including in Australia, think that Assange is a martyr for free speech and freedom of information. How would you describe him? Well, you’ve just described him as a nihilist.

CLINTON: Yeah, well, and a tool. I mean he’s a tool of Russian intelligence. And if he’s such a, you know, martyr of free speech, why doesn’t WikiLeaks ever publish anything coming out of Russia?

Again, Ferguson said nothing to challenge this or correct her.

CLINTON: There was a concerted operation between WikiLeaks and Russia and most likely people in the United States to weaponise that information, to make up stories … to help Trump.

FERGUSON: Now, along with some of those outlandish stories, there was information that was revealed about the Clinton Foundation that at least in some of the voters’ minds seemed to associate you ….

CLINTON: Yeah, but it was false!

FERGUSON: … with the peddling of information …

CLINTON: It was false! It was totally false! …..

FERGUSON: Do you understand how difficult it was for some voters to understand the amounts of money that the [Clinton] Foundation is raising, the confusion with the consultancy that was also raising money, getting gifts and travel and so on for Bill Clinton that even Chelsea had some issues with? …

CLINTON: Well you know, I’m sorry, Sarah, I mean I, I know the facts ….

The ABC interviewer lauded Clinton as “the icon of your generation”. She asked her nothing about the enormous sums she creamed off from Wall Street, such as the $675,000 she received for speaking at Goldman Sachs, one of the banks at the centre of the 2008 crash. Clinton’s greed deeply upset the kind of voters she abused as “deplorables”.

Clearly looking for a cheap headline in the Australian press, Ferguson asked her if Trump was “a clear and present danger to Australia” and got her predictable response.

This high-profile journalist made no mention of Clinton’s own “clear and present danger” to the people of Iran whom she once threatened to “obliterate totally”, and the 40,000 Libyans who died in the attack on Libya in 2011 that Clinton orchestrated. Flushed with excitement, the Secretary of State rejoiced at the gruesome murder of the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi.

“Libya was Hillary Clinton’s war”, Julian Assange said in a filmed interview with me last year. “Barack Obama initially opposed it. Who was the person championing it? Hillary Clinton. That’s documented throughout her emails … there’s more than 1700 emails out of the 33,000 Hillary Clinton emails that we’ve published, just about Libya. It’s not that Libya has cheap oil. She perceived the removal of Gaddafi and the overthrow of the Libyan state — something that she would use in her run-up to the general election for President.

“So in late 2011 there is an internal document called the Libya Tick Tock that was produced for Hillary Clinton, and it’s the chronological description of how she was the central figure in the destruction of the Libyan state, which resulted in around 40,000 deaths within Libya; jihadists moved in, ISIS moved in, leading to the European refugee and migrant crisis.

“Not only did you have people fleeing Libya, people fleeing Syria, the destabilisation of other African countries as a result of arms flows, but the Libyan state itself was no longer able to control the movement of people through it.”

This – not Clinton’s “visceral” pain in losing to Trump nor the rest of the self-serving scuttlebutt in her ABC interview — was the story. Clinton shared responsibility for massively de-stabilising the Middle East, which led to the death, suffering and flight of thousands of women, men and children.

Ferguson raised not a word of it. Clinton repeatedly defamed Assange, who was neither defended nor offered a right of reply on his own country’s state broadcaster.

In a tweet from London, Assange cited the ABC’s own Code of Practice, which states:

“Where allegations are made about a person or organisation, make reasonable efforts in the circumstances to provide a fair opportunity to respond.”

Following the ABC broadcast, Ferguson’s executive producer, Sally Neighbour, re-tweeted the following: “Assange is Putin’s bitch. We all know it!”

The slander, since deleted, was even used as a link to the ABC interview captioned ‘Assange is Putins (sic) b****. We all know it!’

In the years I have known Julian Assange, I have watched a vituperative personal campaign try to stop him and WikiLeaks. It has been a frontal assault on whistleblowing, on free speech and free journalism, all of which are now under sustained attack from governments and corporate internet controllers.

The first serious attacks on Assange came from the Guardian which, like a spurned lover, turned on its besieged former source, having hugely profited from WikiLeaks’ disclosures. With not a penny going to Assange or WikiLeaks, a Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie deal. Assange was portrayed as “callous” and a “damaged personality”.

It was as if a rampant jealousy could not accept that his remarkable achievements stood in marked contrast to that of his detractors in the “mainstream” media. It is like watching the guardians of the status quo, regardless of age, struggling to silence real dissent and prevent the emergence of the new and hopeful.

Today, Assange remains a political refugee from the war-making dark state of which Donald Trump is a caricature and Hillary Clinton the embodiment. His resilience and courage are astonishing. Unlike him, his tormentors are cowards.

John Pilger can be reached through his website:
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