Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sucking Canada into a World War III Vortex

Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?

by Murray Dobbin - CounterPunch

November 17, 2017 

The world is now at the mercy of a coalition of three of the most dangerous autocrats on the planet: Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Arabia’s new absolute ruler Mohammad bin Salman a name that will become increasingly familiar as the months go by. These three ‘leaders’ are now collaborating in an incredibly reckless plan to permanently reshape the Middle East.

The final outcome will unfold no matter what Canada does. But unless the Trudeau government gets a grip on reality Canada will be drawn into this potential catastrophe by virtue of foreign policy positions it has already taken.

Geopolitics is getting incredibly complex and there is little evidence that the Liberal government has a clue how to navigate through the dangers. The problem is that despite all the hype about “being back” Canada’s foreign policy under Trudeau and Freeland is still characterized by cynicism and ill-considered trade-offs on files within the broad spectrum of foreign affairs – including investor rights agreements like NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Obviously a certain amount of realpolitik is inevitable and even necessary to protect Canada’s interests. But even so it begs the question of how Canada’s interests are defined. How much of the store is Trudeau willing to give away to buy favour with the US on NAFTA, especially when it seems concessions like putting our troops on Russia’s border has gotten us nothing in return? With Trump and his redesigned US Empire, there is no quid pro quo.

The embarrassing “me too” gang up on Russia is bad enough. The Canadian version of the US Magnitzky Act is a pathetic effort to please the US (EU allies in NATO are increasingly uneasy about Russophobia given their own particular national interests). And Putin can hurt Canada and Canadian businesses more than we can hurt Putin and his oligarchs – and he has promised to do so.

And the Middle East is a whole other question. Canada’s past sins like torture in Afghanistan, and the destruction of Libya can be dismissed by the government as old news. Canada has thankfully avoided getting re-involved in the chaos that is Middle East politics. But with the coming to (absolute) power of the new and reckless Saudi ruler Mohammad bin Salman Middle East policy is suddenly fraught with danger and risk for any country allied with the US or with any claim to interests in the region.

The new Saudi prince (who has arrested everyone who might challenge his authority) is encouraging Israel to invade Lebanon, urging the Israelis to do what they want to do anyway: deal a crippling blow to Israel’s most effective foe, Hezbollah. Hezbollah basically governs Lebanon and has its own well-armed force. Funded by and allied to Iran, it fought the Israeli army to a standstill in 2006. It is this fact that prompted the Saudi’s to force the resignation of the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri: he refused or was unable to curb Hezbollah’s political power. The Saudi government upped the ante saying the Lebanese government would “be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia.” It ordered all Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon.

For the Saudi’s the ultimate target is Shiite Iran and its significant influence in the Middle East and presence, directly or indirectly, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. When bin Salman declared that a rocket attack on Riyadh by Yemeni rebels could be seen as an act of war by Iran, the US backed him up, implicitly giving the Saudi dictator a green light for more aggressive action.

Given the political situations in the he US, Israel and SaudiArabia all sorts of sorts case scenarios are now being speculated about.

With the potential for a rapid escalation of military confrontations, to the point of risking a confrontation between the US and Russia. The first would be an Israeli assault on Hezbollah and Lebanon’s infrastructure. That could be followed by a Saudi-led invasion of Qatar and the removal of its government. While less likely, another confrontation could see the US launch a campaign to seize Syrian territory reclaimed by the Assad regime, on behalf of Israel and risking a direct confrontation with Russia.

All of this could be a prelude to an attack on Iran itself and possibly the use by Israel of nuclear weapons. The rich potential for unintended consequences includes world war three.

If all of this sounds fantastical consider who currently runs Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia. Netanyahu is mired in his own corruption scandal and needs a distracting war to survive. Bin Salman has already demonstrated a stunning recklessness and ruthlessness: the brutal bombing of Yemen (and now a blockade of food and medicine), the blockade of Qatar, and the house arrest of another country’s prime minister. As for Trump (and some of his generals) he seems to genuinely believe that the US is invulnerable, a truly suicidal assumption. All three heads of state adhere to the doctrine of exceptionalism: the normal rules of international behaviour don’t apply to them.

If one or more of these scenarios begins to play out just what will Trudeau do? His government’s policy towards Israel is driven by political cowardice rooted in fear of the Israel lobby. Towards Saudi Arabia, it is driven by sales of armoured personnel carriers and a blind eye towards gross human rights violations. With respect to the US it is characterized by ad hoc efforts to predict the unpredicatable.

If any of this war scenario plays out Trudeau will suddenly be pressed to come up with principled positions in response and not just political opportunism and calculated ambiguity. And he should take note: Canadians’ attitudes towards Israel have turned very critical with 46 percent expressing negative views and just 28 percent positive views of that country. As for our proposed $15 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, 64 percent disapprove.

While these progressive attitudes lie relatively dormant at the moment another slaughter of innocents will bring them to life. Is the Prime Minister prepared?
MURRAY DOBBIN, now living in Powell River, BC has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for over forty years. He can be reached at
More articles by:Murray Dobbin

Friday, November 17, 2017

Harvey's People: The Israel-Hollywood Nexus

Harvey Weinstein Hired Israeli Spies to Silence His Victims 


November 17, 2017

The disgraced film producer contracted the firm Israeli firm Black Cube to spy on his accusers. Journalist and best-selling author Max Blumenthal says that's no surprise given Israel's role as a "leading expert on repression".

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post,, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. His most recent book is Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel. His other book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller. 

Painting Rosy Roguish a Dictator To Be and His Bloody Coup

Guardian, NYT Paint Power-Grabbing Saudi Dictator as Roguish, Visionary ‘Reformer’

by Adam Johnson  -

November 17, 2017

Two weeks ago, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman carried out a brutal crackdown on his political opponents, arresting dozens of high-ranking relatives, kidnapping the prime minister of Lebanon, and seeing eight of his political rivals die in a convenient helicopter crash.

The “consolidation of power” by the de facto Saudi ruler comes as his government ramps up its siege of Yemen and gets even closer to its US sponsor, thanks to a Trump’s dopey love affair with—and direct assistance of—the regime.

The cynical plan has been met, in some media quarters, with condemnation, but for many in the Western press, Mohammed’s self-serving power grab is the action of a bold “reformer,” a roguish bad boy doing the messy but essential work of “reforming” the kingdom—the “anti-corruption” pretext of the purge largely repeated without qualification.

The most prominent sources for this spin were two major newspapers, the New York Times and Guardian:

  • Guardian (11/5/17): “Royal Purge Sends Shockwaves Through Saudi Arabia’s Elites: Move Consolidates Power of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman as He Attempts to Reform Kingdom’s Economy and Society”
  • Guardian (11/5/17) : “Saudi Arrests Show Crown Prince Is a Risk-Taker With a Zeal for Reform: Mohammed Bin Salman Is Confronting Some of the Kingdom’s Richest and Most Powerful Men in His Anti-Corruption Drive—but Is He Taking on Too Much Too Fast?”
  • Guardian (11/6/17): “Oil Price Rises to Two-Year High After Saudi Arabia Purge: Markets Push Price Up to $62 a Barrel After Anti-Corruption Purge by Billionaire Crown Prince Who Backs Prolonging Oil Production Curbs”
  • Guardian (11/7/17): “‘This Is a Revolution’: Saudis Absorb Crown Prince’s Rush to Reform: Consolidation of Power in Mohammed Bin Salman’s Hands Has Upended All Aspects of Society, Including Previously Untouchable Ultra-Elite”
  • New York Times (11/5/17): “Saudi Crown Prince’s Mass Purge Upends a Longstanding System”
  • New York Times (11/14/17): “The Upstart Saudi Prince Who’s Throwing Caution to the Wind”

While the text of the Times articles was far more skeptical about Mohammed’s motives, the Guardian’s (11/5/17) initial coverage of the bloody purge—not just the headlines—was written in breathless press release tones:

“Saudi Arabia’s leadership has pulled off its boldest move yet to consolidate power around its young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, arresting 11 senior princes, one of the country’s richest men and scores of former ministers in what it billed as a corruption purge.

“The move sidelined at least 20 senior figures, among them outspoken billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, sending shockwaves through the ranks of the kingdom’s elites, who had long viewed senior royals as immune.

Lot of glowing prose to unpack here. Longtime Mideast correspondent Martin Chulov began by referring to “Saudi Arabia’s leadership,” which is a nice, sterile way of referencing the country’s unelected hereditary king and crown prince. Then he pivoted into marketing pablum about “bold moves” and “consolidating power,” before unironically framing the purge as an “anti-corruption” gesture designed to stick it to the “kingdom’s elites.”

One could come away from reading this lead with the impression that the billionaire aristocrat was a populist folk hero in the vein of Robin Hood or John Dillinger.

The thrilling profile continued:

“Prince Mohammed will oversee the corruption commission, adding to his already formidable list of responsibilities, including his role as Defense minister and champion of the economic transformation, dubbed Vision 2030, that aims to revolutionize most aspects of Saudi life within 12 years.

“Prince Mohammed told the Guardian last month that the kingdom had been “not normal” for the past 30 years and pledged to return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam.

While the author had a “to be sure” paragraph, citing “others” calling it a “naked attempt to weed out dissent,” the overall thrust of the article was that a roguish billionaire Boy King was earnestly seeking “reform” and opposing “elites.”

A follow-up piece (11/7/17) took flattering coverage to new extremes. The dispatch, again by Chulov, cited nothing but anonymous Saudi court hanger-ons and a Gulf-funded talking head from the NATO-aligned Atlantic Council think tank. The article, “‘This Is a Revolution’: Saudis Absorb Crown Prince’s Rush to Reform,” was populated with blind quotes from such adversarial voices as a “senior minister,” “a senior Saudi official,” a “senior figure,” a “senior Saudi businessman” and “veteran business leaders.” (Evidently no junior officials or rookie business leaders were available for comment.)

The article painted the “consolidation of power” by Mohammed as an inevitability with broad support—using the dubious “reform” narrative without irony. With Guardian editors again painting Mohammed as a populist hero by insisting he “upended” “previously untouchable ultra-elite,” one is left to wonder why they don’t consider the absolute-monarch-in-waiting—who just bought a $590 million yacht—part of the “ultra elite.” It’s a curious framing that reeks more of PR than journalism.

The New York Times (6/23/17) editorialized that Mohammed 
bin Salman “has cultivated an image as a dynamic leader, keen 
to take a rigid conservative country into the modern era.”

This was a trope one could see emerging over the past few months. Similar “bold reformer” frames were used in New York Times editorials (“The Young and Brash Saudi Crown Prince,” 6/23/17) and straight reporting (“Saudi Arabia’s Grand Plan to Move Beyond Oil: Big Goals, Bigger Hurdles,” 10/24/17). Everything’s new and exciting. The brutal, routine functions of the Saudi state are seen as laws of nature—and those in charge of it are the reformers of the very oppression they initially authored.

A Guardian editorial on November 7 was critical of the government, calling it “regressive” and Mohammed “belligerent,” but ultimately rested on “both sides” framing of recent events. The only meaningfully critical coverage of Saudi Arabia coming from the Guardian since the purge has been in two articles (11/12/17, 11/16/17), both in the context of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. Neither mentioned bin Salman, and both stressed how the Saudis are responding in earnest to international pleas to stop their mass-murdering blockade of the Arab world’s poorest country.

Per usual, the Guardian reserves the label “regime” for Official Enemies like Syria and North Korea; Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a regime, it has “leadership.” Unlike adversary governments, often seen in need of “regime change,” the Saudi government merely requires “reform”—and a bold new “reformer,” of the sort championed by the likes of the Guardian and New York Times.

You can send a message to the New York Times at , and to the Guardian at (Twitter: @NYTimes, @Guardian).

Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.
Adam Johnson is a contributing analyst for

Syria's Fictional Revolution Exposed

EXPOSED: The ‘Walter Mitty’ of Syria’s Fictional ‘Revolution’

by Prof. Tim Anderson - Global Research

via 21st Century Wire

November 16, 2017

Some western “Liberals” and “Leftists” pay homage to Yassin al-Haj Saleh, an intellectual leftist of the ‘Syrian Revolution’. In fact Saleh represented only a tiny part of Syria’s left. He was ‘persecuted’ because he aligned himself with the 1980 and 2011 bloody uprisings by the sectarian Muslim Brotherhood, and their international Salafist (al Qaeda) supporters. In the end he had to flee for his life from those same sectarian terrorists.

With popular forces in Syria/Iraq destroying globalised sectarian jihadist mercenaries – sponsored principally by Washington and the Saudis – some ideologues in colonial cultures still nurture the romantic idea of a ‘Syrian Revolution’ that tragically failed. This is also a myth propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood and their western sponsors to cover an otherwise naked aggression against Syria.

It is a myth that matters much less now, as such propaganda no longer has the capacity to fuel deeper NATO intervention in Syria. Yet it seems important for the self-image of small groups of western pseudo-leftists, who committed themselves to the cause of ‘red-washing’ Washington’s latest war of aggression, backed by the most reactionary forces in the region.

By pseudo-leftist I mean those fanatic ideologues who cling to their fantasies, showing little interest in what the masses of ordinary people want. Those ‘Syrian Revolution’ fans betrayed the Syrian people, just as they betrayed the people of Libya, Cuba and many other small countries, when under attack from the big powers.

But imagine the western pseudo-leftist’s delight on meeting an apparently like-minded individual Syrian. Enter Yassin al-Haj Saleh, author and proud backer of what he imagined might be a socialist revolution in Syria. His aptly titled book ‘The Impossible Revolution’ (Haymarket Books September 2017) spells out his failed dream and angry disillusionment. He claims to have been caught between “the hammer of Bashar al Assad’s counter-revolution and the anvil of his reactionary Islamic fundamentalist opponents”. On closer examination, his personal dilemmas seem entirely of his own making.

Saleh was jailed for 16 years (1980-96) under Hafez al Assad, for what he and his fans and publisher call ‘activism’. Does this mean ‘dissident’ or ‘peaceful protestor? In fact his party had aligned itself to the bloody and sectarian Muslim Brotherhood insurrections of 1979-1982. In this article I will discuss the implications of that decision.

Conditions in prison were terrible he says, but adds that he read “hundreds of books [and] … I learned more there than at university”. Not all prisons allow for such study. He had been a member of the Syrian Communist Party (Political Bureau), and so boasts socialist credentials. In 2011 he joined the ‘revolution’, moving from East Ghouta to Raqqa. There, fearing DAESH in 2013 he left the country. He survived the ordeal and published his book in 2017.

His US publisher portrays Yassin Al-Haj Saleh as “the intellectual voice of the Syrian revolution”. In the book Saleh presents a bleak portrait – but one which will probably appeal to western cynicism – of “three monsters … treading on Syria’s corpse”:

(1) the Assad regime and its allies,

(2) DAESH/ISIS and the other jihadists, and

(3) the West (the USA, UK, France, etc).

In other words, a plague on all their houses. Such cynicism, if popular, is weak analysis.

We know from independent Turkish pollsters TESEV that, by the end of 2011, only 5% of Syrians supported ‘violent protest’, the lowest figure in the region (c.f. 33% in Tunisia and 31% in Palestine) (TESEV 2012: 15). The big influx of foreign jihadists in 2012 would have hardened views against jihadist violence. And we know that the Syrian Arab Army, after some relatively small defections in the first year, did not fracture on religious grounds, as the Salafists had hoped.

The key problems with promotion of a figure like Saleh, to keep afloat the romantic idea of a failed ‘revolution’, are these:

(a) the self-serving story hides who this new hero is and what forces in Syria he might represent;

(b) the idealistic narrative (for a ‘democratic and egalitarian Syria’, etc) hides the actual historical forces of the Syrian insurrections; and

(c) in particular, it whitewashes Saleh’s own foolish collaboration with sectarian Islamists.

You don’t have to buy Saleh’s book, as most of his arguments appear in an extended interview with Ashley Smith, in the US journal International Socialist Review. Smith is a member of the US International Socialist Organization, a Trotskyist group drawing on the ideas of the late Tony Cliff.

Prominent amongst those ideas is Cliff’s theory of ‘state capitalism’, which suggests that there has never been a true ‘socialist’ revolution and that all capitalist and ‘state capitalist’ nation-states must be smashed and rebuilt. That line is quite consistent with support for attacks on any state, progressive or otherwise, as also with alliance with imperialism and reactionary forces to do so. To what extent that sort of Trotskyism is consistent with Saleh’s view is another matter.

However we know these things about Saleh. First, his Communist Party (Political Bureau) faction was a tiny ‘Maoist’ splinter from Syria’s main Communist Party, back in the late 1970s. The main reason for this split was that Saleh’s faction wanted to ‘form an alliance’ with the Muslim Brotherhood, as they engaged in a series of sectarian attacks on the Syrian state (Gambill 2001). Most Syrian communists sided with the Ba’ath socialist state. However Saleh and his former leader, Riyad al Turk, persisted in their subordinate ‘alliance’ with the al Qaeda linked Muslim Brotherhood, into the 2000s (Pace 2005).

What precisely was Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood doing, back in 1979? Let’s read it from the late British writer Patrick Seale:

“The artillery school massacre of June 1979 marked the start of full-scale urban warfare against Alawis [and] against Ba’ath party officials … when cornered they often blew themselves up with grenades … In Aleppo between 1979 and 1981 terrorists killed over 300 people, mainly Baathists and Alawis but including a dozen Islamic clergy who had denounced the murders” (Seale 1988: 324-325).

All the other opposition parties, including most communists, rejected the Muslim Brotherhood’s sectarian terror; but not Saleh’s sect. Collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists is why Saleh received a long jail term in 1980, not because he was simply an ‘activist’.

Muslim Brotherhood terror has been romanticised over the years. At the end of the 1979-1982 attacks a final Brotherhood insurrection at Hama city was put down by Hafez al Assad. Revisionist historians these days, including many western writers, claim there was a large ‘civilian massacre’ at Hama in May 1982. For example author Rafaël Lefèvre (2013: 77) credulously reports: “While initial reports suggested 10,000 civilians were killed, other reports put the number as high as 40,000”. This is poor revisionist history.

Seale (1988: 333-334) observes that Hama 1982 was a serious conflict, not a ‘civilian massacre’. The Hama insurrection “was a last ditch battle” for the Brotherhood and it “raged for three grim weeks .. many civilians were slaughtered in the prolonged mopping up … in nearly a month of fighting about a third of the historic inner city was demolished”. On overall casualties he notes that “government forces too suffered heavy losses to snipers .. and grenades”, while total losses of life were controversial even at the time, “with government sympathisers estimating a mere 3,000 and critics as many as 20,000”.

The ‘civilian massacre’ mythology tries to hide the Brotherhood’s hand in initiating the violence, as recurred in Daraa and Homs in 2011. US intelligence back in 1982 had no such illusions. Of course the US had quietly backed those who financed and armed the Brotherhood’s attacks on Syria (the Saudis, the King of Jordan, Saddam Hussein and others). But Washington’s intelligence was dry and pragmatic, in its final assessment of May 1982:

“the Islamic Revolution in Syria, the Nom de Guerre for the Muslim Brotherhood … [spoke of] the rebels’ seizure of the city and the execution of some 50 “spies and informers” … about 3,000 government forces had been killed, according to the communique … the total casualties for the Hama incident probably number about 2,000. This includes an estimated 300-400 members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s elite Special Apparatus … the Syrian Government defeated the fundamentalist[s] … most Syrians, regardless of their difference with the present government, do not want the Muslim Brotherhood in power … [but] their modus operandi will continue to be terrorism, particularly bombings and assassination” (DIA 1982: 6-7).

Even if Saleh was young in 1980, most of the political prisoners with whom he shared prison time would have been Muslim Brotherhood. He was certainly not unaware of their approach to ‘revolution’ when he joined their next major insurrection in 2011. Indeed he says:

“When the [2011] revolution broke out I went into hiding … [and] while I was writing I was directly involved in the struggle” (Smith 2017).

His greatest claim to fame was to be one of the founders of the ‘Local Coordinating Councils’ (LCCs), indeed he says he was “the main author of the first political statement LCCs issued in June 2011” (Smith 2017). This tells us that the apparently secular language of the LCCs masked the faces of Muslim Brotherhood collaborators.

In any case, we know that the LCCs were little more than a fig leaf on the thoroughly sectarian insurrection, dominated by Syrian Muslim Brotherhood groups until 2012. Then they were displaced from leadership by their international jihadist partners, in the form of Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria, set up as a support group for the Syrian Salafis) and DAESH / ISIS, an outreach of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

As I wrote in my book The Dirty War on Syria (Anderson 2016: 83-84), the LCCs were seen as having a mainly media or PR role in 2011 (Asi Abu Najm 2011) and, by 2013, they were embedded with the Islamist groups, mainly reporting on jihadist casualties (LCC 2013).

Yassin al-Haj Saleh says he fled from East Ghouta to Raqqa, before leaving the country. However his early presence in Douma (East Ghouta) demonstrates how reliant he had become on his Salafist partners. For many years Douma had been dominated by Jaysh al Islam, in alliance with Jabhat al Nusra. Although the civilian population there has been decimated, from many thousands fleeing the conflict, it remains one of the few areas in Syria with a social base for sectarian extremists. The same can be said about Raqqa. Both areas had a strong, reactionary culture, with women in burkas and families preferring to send their children to a Salafist-led mosque than to school.

The US certainly knew from early days that this ‘revolution’ (1) was being led by extremists and (2) wanted to create a sectarian Islamic state in eastern Syria. US intelligence in August 2012 observed that

“Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction. The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria … there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality [i.e. Islamic State] in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor) and this is exactly what [the US and its allies] want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime” (DIA 2012 in Hoff 2015).

Washington knew it and most Syrians knew it. The head of the Syrian Brotherhood, Muhammad Riyad Al-Shaqfa, issued a statement on 28 March 2011, which left no doubt that the group’s aim was sectarian and their target was what they perceived as a secular state. The enemy was “the secular regime”, he said, and Brotherhood members “have to make sure that the revolution will be pure Islamic, and with that no other sect would have a share of the credit after its success” (Al-Shaqfa 2011).

International jihadists, in the form of Jabhat al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria) appeared in Homs in early 2011, specifically to help the Farouq Brigade (then the largest ‘FSA’ group) with its infamous genocidal slogan ‘Alawis to the tomb, Christians to Beirut’ and genocidal practice: the sectarian murder of supposedly apostate Muslims and the ethnic cleaning of Christians. Those slogans and practice were reported as early as 5 April 2011 (Farrell 2011) and in the New York Times in May (Shadid and Kirkpatrick 2011).

Tens of thousands of Syrian Christians from Homs were indeed driven to Beirut (CNA 2012). Claims that the “Assad regime” was behind the sectarianism were simply dishonest. Whatever their views of the Ba’athist system, most Syrians, and particularly the minorities, swung behind the Syrian state and the Syrian army very quickly.

As international jihadists (mainly from the Arab world, North Africa, the Caucasus and Europe) joined the Syrian Salafis in large numbers in mid-2012, even the western media began reporting that these were fanatics, not revolutionaries.

Well before DAESH / ISIS came across from Iraq to Syria the ‘Free Army’ leaders were complaining that the Syrian President had at least “70 percent” support in Aleppo (Bayoumy 2013); that the local people,

“all of them, are loyal to the criminal Bashar, they inform on us” (Abouzeid 2012); and that the people are “all informers … they hate us. They blame us for the destruction” (Ghaith 2012).

But, they went on to say, they had God on their side. James Foley, himself subject to a theatrical style execution by DAESH in 2014, reported two years earlier that the FSA ‘rebels’ had little public support. Indeed one leader promised Aleppo ‘would burn’, because the people there did not support the ‘revolution’ (Foley 2012).

Unpopularity is fatal to a revolution; to a religious fanatic it is merely inconvenient.

It is impossible that Saleh – an ideological fanatic, but an educated fanatic – did not know all this. Even if he himself was not an sectarian Islamist, he knew that the extreme sectarians with whom he collaborated in 1979 and again in 2011 were leading his ‘revolution’.

Saleh maintains his own self-serving myths about the conflict: that the ‘Assad regime’ was the source of sectarian violence, that Sunni Muslims and Kurds were oppressed, and that the US and its minions really supported the Assad Government. Saleh claims that the Obama administration (despite its repetitive and imperious ‘Assad must go’ demands) really wanted “regime preservation not regime change” (Saleh in Smith 2017).

It is hard to see how any reasonable person can take this seriously. We even have admissions from senior US officials, including former Vice President Biden and former head of the US military Martin Dempsey, that the ‘Arab Allies’ of the US financed every jihadist group from the ‘Free Army’ to DAESH / ISIS, precisely to get rid of Assad. More recently, former Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jassimadmitted that his little petro-state coordinated with Saudis, Turkey and the US to support all anti-Government jihadist forces (Syriana Analysis 2017).

Saleh’s former mentor, Riyad al Turk (who “liked” Saudi-backed Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri), was calling for US military assistance in 2005 to help “the opposition” get rid of the Assad Government (Pace 2005). Of course he did not represent the Syrian Opposition. In the Damascus Declaration (2005), while making harsh criticisms of the Baathist system, most Syrian opposition groups specifically renounced violent attacks on the state and outside intervention. The Muslim Brotherhood and its hangers on, in contrast, always wanted violence with US and/or NATO assistance.

Saleh’s claim to fame as a secular communist against ‘the regime’ is undermined by how unrepresentative his small group was of Syria’s communists. He, like al Turk, criticises most other communists who “supported the regime” (Smith 2017). So how much support did his faction have? Al Turk maintained “we don’t announce how many members we have” (Pace 2005), but Gambill (2001) suggests it was “very little”.

Syria’s main Communist Party split in the mid-1980s (over Gorbachev’s policies), into two groups. Both stood candidates in the Peoples’ Congress (Majlis al Shaab) elections of 2007, 2012 and 2016, gaining 8, 11 and 4 MPs out of 250, respectively. That indicates that Syria’s main communist parties had electoral support of between 80,000 and 140,000 Syrian voters (IDEA 2017; Syrian Parliament 2017). We have no way of knowing how much support there ever was for the Communist Party (Political Bureau), or its successor the ‘Syrian Peoples Democratic Party’. But ask yourself, how many genuinely secular Marxists would collaborate with sectarian, al Qaeda styled Islamists?

After his successive failures Saleh blames everyone (Bashar al Assad, alQaeda/ISIS, the West) but himself. Yet it seems he has become a useful figure for western pseudo-leftists (who never could identify an actual Syrian armed group that they supported) to point at and say “Look, there really was a left revolution in Syria! Here he is!”

Pseudo-leftists in western countries – who for years held on to the Washington-promoted fiction of a ‘Syrian Revolution’ – are desperate for token Syrian ‘hero’ on which to hang their fantasies. That could be an ex-Islamist or an ex-communist; they don’t look too closely to see where these people come from. This desperation highlights their failure to confront actual history, and to care about the things that matter to ordinary people.


Abouzeid, Rania (2012) ‘Aleppo’s Deadly Stalemate: A Visit to Syria’s Divided Metropolis’, Time, 14 November, online: 14/aleppos-deadly-stalemate-a- visit-to-syrias-divided- metropolis/

Al-Shaqfa, Muhammad Riyad (2011) ‘Muslim Brotherhood Statement about the so-called ‘Syrian Revolution’’, General supervisor for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, statement of 28 March, online at: http://truthsyria.wordpress. com/2012/02/12/muslim- brotherhood-statement-about- the-so-called-syrian- revolution/

Amazon (2017) Promotion and reviews of Saleh’s book ‘The Impossible Revolution’, online: Impossible-Revolution-Yassin- al-Haj-Saleh/dp/160846850X

Anderson, Tim (2016) The Dirty War on Syria, Global Research, Montreal

Asi Abu Najm (2011) ‘Syria’s Coordination Committees: a Brief History’, Al Akhbar, 1 October, online: node/764

Bayoumy, Yara (2013) ‘Insight: Aleppo misery eats at Syrian rebel support’, Reuters, 9 January, online: article/2013/01/09/us-syria- crisis-rebels- idUSBRE9070VV20130109

CNA (2012) ‘Syrian violence drives 50,000 Christians from homes’, Catholic News Agency, online: http://www.catholicnewsagency. com/news/syrian-violence- drives-50000-christians-from- homes/

Damascus Declaration (2005) ‘The Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change’, English version in Joshua Landis blog ‘Syria Comment’, 1 November, online: Joshua.M.Landis-1/syriablog/ 2005/11/damascus-declaration- in-english.htm

DIA (1982) ‘Syria: Muslim Brotherhood pressure intensifies’, Syria360, May, online: https://syria360.files. syria- muslimbrotherhoodpressureinten sifies-2.pdf

Farrell, Shane (2011) ‘Lebanese Christians react to regional instability’, Now Media, 5 April, online: reportsfeatures/lebanese_ christians_react_to_regional_ instability

Foley, James (2012) ‘Syria: Rebels losing support among civilians in Aleppo’, PRI, 16 October, online: 2012-10-16/syria-rebels- losing-support-among- civilians-aleppo

Gambill, Gary C. (2001) ‘Dossier: Riyad al Turk’, Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, Middle East Forum, Vol 3 No 9, September, online: articles/0109_sd1.htm

Ghaith, Abdul-Ahad (2012) ‘The people of Aleppo needed someone to drag them into the revolution’, The Guardian, 28 December, online: world/2012/dec/28/aleppo- revolution-abu-ali-sulaibi

Hoff, Brad (2015) ‘2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State “in order to isolate the Syrian regime”’, Levant Report, 19 May, online: 05/19/2012-defense- intelligence-agency-document- west-will-facilitate-rise-of- islamic-state-in-order-to- isolate-the-syrian-regime/

IDEA (2017) ‘Syrian Arab republic, Total vote, Parliamentary elections, 1994-2016, online: tools/question-countries-view/ 437/274/ctr

LCC (2013) ‘Dignity Strike … We make our revolution by our own hands’, Local Coordination Committees of Syria, December, online:

Lefèvre, Rafaël (2013) Ashes of Hama: the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, Hurst and Company, London

Pace, Joe (2005) ‘Riyad al Turk, interviewed by Joe Pace on Mehlis, the Opposition, Ghadry’, Joshua Landis Page, October 22, online: http://joshualandis.oucreate. com/syriablog/2005/10/riad-al- turk-interviewed-by-joe-pace. htm

Seale, Patrick (1988) Asad: the struggle for the Middle East, University of California Press, Berkeley

Shadid, Anthony and David D. Kirkpatrick (2011) ‘Promise of Arab Uprisings Is Threatened by Divisions’, New York Times, 21 May, online: 05/22/world/middleeast/22arab. html?pagewanted=all

Smith, Ashley (2017) ‘Revolution, counterrevolution, and imperialism in Syria, Interview with Yassin al-Haj Saleh’, International Socialist Review, Issue #107 online: 107/revolution- counterrevolution-and- imperialism-syria

Syrian parliament (2017) Syrian Peoples’ Assembly, online: 20121008210031/http:// viewStatistics.php ; and Inter-Parliamentary Union (2016) ‘SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC: Majlis Al-Chaab (People’s Assembly)’, online: parline-e/reports/2307_E.htm; and as compiled in Wikipedia ‘Syrian parliamentary elections’ 2007 / 2012 / 2016, online: Syrian_parliamentary_election, _2007

Syriana Analysis (2017) ‘Hamad Bin Jassim: We Supported Al-Qaeda in Syria’, online: v=9f33l30kQxg

TESEV (2012) ‘The perception of Turkey in the Middle East 2011’, Türkiye Ekonomik ve Sosyal Etüdler Vakfi, Istanbul, February, online: the-perception-of-turkey-in- the-middle-east-2011/


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


Keystone's Busted Pipeline, or When Pigs Don't Fly

The Pig That Burst The Keystone Pipeline

by Greg Palast

November 17, 2017

Yesterday, the Keystone pipeline cracked and dumped 210,000 gallons of oil onto the South Dakota prairie. Here’s the reason the pipeline burst: the PIG didn’t squeal.

The PIG, the Pipeline Inspection Gauge, is sent through the Keystone to check for evidence of any leak, failure, or corrosion that will cause it to burst.

But the PIG didn’t squeal a warning.

Why not?

Because, as disclosed in my investigation for Britain’s investigative TV series Dispatches in 2010, the PIG has been silenced, its software jacked and hacked by a company that provides PIGS. The software is deliberately set to reduce the warning signals and thereby cut costs of replacement and repair by billions of dollars on the Keystone and other pipes.

We warned you. In the Dispatches report, in our print reports, and in the "The Pig in the Pipeline", a chapter in Vultures Picnic.

No oil or gas pipeline should ever leak, burst or explode if the PIG is working as it should. Absent of sabotage, pipelines don’t just suddenly crack and break. The signs of thinning of the walls, small warning leaks, corrosion, failing gauges, should all provoke the PIG to squeal. (Technically, the issue is the software that analyzes the billions of data points transmitted by the PIG, which looks like…well, a pig… as it travels through the pipe.)

We have obtained independent confirmation from three software engineers who designed the PIG "warning" system.

* * * * * *

[Prior to turning to investigative reporting, Palast directed the investigation of pipeline explosions for the Attorney General of Illinois and, as a private investigator for the Alaskan Native Corporations, the operation of the Alaska Pipeline and oil shipping system. ]

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, out as major non-fiction movie: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case of the Stolen Election (the brand new, updated, post-election edition). Watch the movie and get the info on the Keystone Pipeline
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Losing the Wild: Fish Farm Threat to Pacific Salmon

Losing Our Wild Salmon

by Susanne Lawson

November 16, 2017 

Tofino, B.C. - I am sitting in a boat near a Marine Harvest fish farm in the Broughton Archipelago...I walk outside and the air stinks of acrid, penned Atlantic salmon and feed pellets that are continuously sprayed into the pens. The sound of the sprayers never ceases.

It is depressing to see these fish leaping in the air trapped in these stinking pens. Salmon should never be in pens.

This farm has been occupied by local First Nations for almost three months now. There are multiple First Nations involved, very dedicated people.

There is a camp in the woods of kayakers standing by to help...they call themselves Kyactivists. These are public lands, public waters. There is another camp of people at a land based house nearby that was built by Marine Harvest which First Nations occupied. Marine Harvest has several land based houses for workers, leased quite permanently (it seems) for comfort and ease of access.

At the farm, 5 pens are empty as the protest has so far prevented more Atlantic salmon from being restocked and 4 are full of approximately 8 month old fish. Marine Harvest does not have permits to restock at this time yet are determined to go ahead.

There are about 4 to 5 boats belonging to supporters of the protest with people aboard them, providing support, transportation and warmth.

The weather has been stormy, cold and is mid November 2017.

First Nations people...Chiefs and their families, have maintained a presence here since August, with two young women, Molina Dawson and Karissa Glendale, in their early twenties, of the Musgmagw and Namgis First Nations, living on the floats. Chief Ernest Alfred and other hereditary First Nations of Alert Bay occupied Swanson Island fish farm and Wicklow fish farms this fall. Marine Harvest came in and stocked the pens in front of the Chiefs who were occupying the farm in full traditional regalia.

Seven people have set up a camp in the woods nearby, treating the area with great respect and understanding, one of them doing his doctorate in law and jurisdiction. It is a sweet space with big trees and a creek bubbling nearby, (photos available).

Marine Harvest has gone to court seeking an injunction to have everyone removed. The judge has given both parties until Dec. 14th to present their case and in the meantime the First Nations agreed to remove their occupation and buildings. Marine Harvest wants to go ahead and restock the empty pens with Atlantic salmon smolts despite First Nations demanded they don't.

Things are at a standstill right now, sad that nothing is preventing more Atlantic salmon and diseases to continue to prevail in B.C. waters, especially after such a concerted effort to bring about positive change to such a destructive process as fish farmig. So much and so many are losing ... commercial fishermen, sports fishing, families dependent on the wild salmon resource, bears, eagles, trout, marine life like seals, sea lions, and so much is impossible to weigh the values of what wild salmon have provided for the coast.

Wild salmon are on the brink of disaster...wild stocks are crashing, Alaska has closed all Chinook fishing and bears and more have been starving on the coast. Sea lice are out of control all over the world where these farms exist and have been found on emaciated trout, ling cod, herring and more. An application for 18 hectares of pesticide use has been made for Clayoquot Sound waters by another fish farm company, Cermaq, owned by Mitsubishi and operated out of Norway. We are all losing while others are profiting from our loss.

How far does this go...until our amazing wild salmon are extinct? I hope for sanity to prevail.... If this doesn't turn around now, the irreplaceable loss of our wild salmon migration and all it nourishes will be one of the greatest regrets of this century.

Sincerely, Susanne Lawson, Tofino, B.C.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Death in the Cradle: Is Troika the End of Greek Democracy?

Is Greek Democracy Dead?


November 15, 2017

The Real News has returned to Greece for the fourth time in three years to explore the development of the economic crisis and in particular, to examine whether a given current economic reality is, it can be persuasively argued that Greece has began to emerge from that economic crisis.

And today we are with Panagiotis Lafazanis who is the leader of the party that was founded in 2015 in the aftermath of the rebellion within the governing Syriza party. That party is called the Popular Unity Party. And Mr. Lafazanis was the leader of the left-platform of Syriza before leaving Syriza to form Popular Unity with other Syriza leftist MPs who were not satisfied with the Tsipras government's adoption of an austerity program.

Panagiotis Lafazanis, former leader of Syriza's Left Platform and current leader of Popular Unity, says Greece has become a protectorate of the Troika

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Pablo Ouziel, David Rovics, Jainine Bandcroft November 16, 2017

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

November 16, 2017

More than six weeks have passed since the president of Catalonia defied the federal government, holding an independence referendum. The reaction by Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy was swift and definitive; declaring the upstart region's government null and void and Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, (along with several of his party's key ministers) criminals; and by decree rendering the independence movement itself effectively illegal.

Today, Puigdemont is in exile, out on bail in Brussels after being arrested on an EU warrant, and prime minister Rajoy has scheduled elections for a replacement government in Catalan for December 21st, Señor Puigdemont's participation being expressly unwelcome.

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; next week Victoria will host inveterate American activist and singer/songwriter in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, David Rovics to town. It will be the first time I get a chance to talk to David since he dramatically dropped out of the US presidential race in 2015. We can now just wonder, if only he had stayed in the running, "What might have been?"

David Rovics bringing a world of politics and music to Victoria's doorstep in the second half.

And; Victoria-based activist and CFUV Radio broadcaster at-large, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour with the Left Coast Events bulletin update of good things to do in and around our town in the coming week. But first, Pablo Ouziel and an increasingly darkening horizon for both Spain's and European democracy.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Thursday between 11-Noon 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:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Censorgate: America's New Rush to Shut the Internet News Floodgates

America’s Righteous Russia-gate Censorship

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

November 14, 2017

Exclusive: Arriving behind the anti-Trump “resistance” and the Russia-gate “scandal” is a troubling readiness to silence dissent in the U.S., shutting down information that challenges Official Narratives, writes Robert Parry.

A stark difference between today’s Washington and when I was here as a young Associated Press correspondent in the late 1970s and the early 1980s is that then – even as the old Cold War was heating up around the election of Ronald Reagan – there were prominent mainstream journalists who looked askance at the excessive demonization of the Soviet Union and doubted wild claims about the dire threats to U.S. national security from Nicaragua and Grenada.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside
the Kremlin wall,
Dec. 6, 2016. (Photo by Robert Parry)

Perhaps the Vietnam War was still fresh enough in people’s minds that senior editors and national reporters understood the dangers of mindless groupthink inside Official Washington, as well as the importance of healthy skepticism toward official pronouncements from the U.S. intelligence community.

Today, however, I cannot think of a single prominent figure in the mainstream news media who questions any claim – no matter how unlikely or absurd – that vilifies Russian President Vladimir Putin and his country. It is all Russia-bashing all the time.

And, behind this disturbing anti-Russian uniformity are increasing assaults against independent and dissident journalists and news outlets outside the mainstream. We’re not just entering a New Cold War and a New McCarthyism; we’re also getting a heavy dose of old-style Orwellianism.

Sometimes you see this in individual acts like HuffingtonPost taking down a well-reported story by journalist Joe Lauria because he dared to point out that Democratic money financed the two initial elements of what’s now known as Russia-gate: the forensic examination of computers at the Democratic National Committee and the opposition research on Donald Trump conducted by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.

HuffingtonPost never contacted Lauria before or after its decision to retract the story, despite a request from him for the reasons why. HuffPost editors told a BuzzFeed reporter that they were responding to reader complaints that the article was filled with factual errors but none have ever been spelled out, leaving little doubt that Lauria’s real “error” was in defying the Russia-gate groupthink of the anti-Trump Resistance. [A version of Lauria’s story appeared at before Lauria posted it at HuffPost. If you want to sign a petition calling on HuffPost to restore Lauria’s article, click here.]

Muzzling RT

Other times, the expanding American censorship is driven by U.S. government agencies, such as the Justice Department’s demand that the Russian news outlet, RT, register under the restrictive Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires such prompt, frequent and detailed disclosures of supposed “propaganda” that it could make it impossible for RT to continue to function in the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address 
to UN General Assembly Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

This attack on RT was rationalized by the Jan. 6 “Intelligence Community Assessment” that was, in reality, prepared by a handful of “hand-picked” analysts from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency. Their report included a seven-page addendum from 2012 accusing RT of spreading Russian propaganda – and apparently this Jan. 6 report must now be accepted as gospel truth, no questions permitted.

However, if any real journalist actually read the Jan. 6 report, he or she would have discovered that RT’s sinister assault on American democracy included such offenses as holding a debate among third-party candidates who were excluded from the Republican-Democratic debates in 2012. Yes, allowing Libertarians and Greens to express their points of view is a grave danger to American democracy.

Other RT “propaganda” included reporting on the Occupy Wall Street protests and examining the environmental dangers from “fracking,” issues that also have been widely covered by the domestic American media. Apparently, whenever RT covers a newsworthy event – even if others have too – that constitutes “propaganda,” which must be throttled to protect the American people from the danger of seeing it.

If you bother to study the Jan. 6 report’s addendum, it is hard not to conclude that these “hand-picked” analysts were either stark-raving mad or madly anti-Russian. Yet, this “Intelligence Community Assessment” is now beyond questioning unless you want to be labeled a “Kremlin stooge” or “Putin’s useful idiot.” [An earlier State Department attack on RT was equally ridiculous or demonstrably false.]

And, by the way, it was President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who testified under oath that the analysts from the three agencies were “hand-picked.” That means that they were analysts personally selected by Obama’s intelligence chiefs from three agencies – not “all 17” as the American public was told over and over again – and thus were not even a full representation of analysts from those three agencies. Yet, this subset of a subset is routinely described as “the U.S. intelligence community,” even after major news outlets finally had to retract their “all 17” canard.

So, the myth of the intelligence community’s consensus lives on. For instance, in an upbeat article on Tuesday about the U.S. government’s coercing RT into registering as a foreign agent, Washington Post reporters Devlin Barrett and David Filipov wrote, “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the network and website push relentlessly anti-American propaganda at the behest of the Russian government.”

In the old days, even during the old Cold War and President Reagan’s ranting about “the Evil Empire,” some of us would have actually examined the Jan. 6 report’s case against RT and noted the absurdity of these claims about “relentlessly anti-American propaganda.” Whether you want to hear the views of the Greens and Libertarians or not – or whether you like “fracking” and hate Occupy Wall Street – the opportunity to hear this information doesn’t constitute “relentlessly anti-American propaganda.”

The U.S. government’s real beef with RT seems to be that it allows on air some Americans who have been blacklisted from the mainstream media – including highly credentialed former U.S. intelligence analysts and well-informed American journalists – because they have challenged various Official Narratives.

In other words, Americans are not supposed to hear the other side of the story on important international conflicts, such as the proxy war in Syria or the civil war in Ukraine or Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians. Only the State Department’s versions of those events are permitted even when those versions are themselves propagandistic if not outright false.

For example, you’re not supposed to hear about the huge holes in the Syria-sarin cases, nor about Ukraine’s post-coup regime arming neo-Nazis to kill ethnic-Russian Ukrainians, nor about Israel’s evolution into an apartheid state. All right-thinking Americans are to get only a steady diet of how righteous the U.S. government and its allies always are. Anything else is “propaganda.”

Also off limits is any thoughtful critique of that Jan. 6 report – or apparently even Clapper’s characterization of it as a product of “hand-picked” analysts from only three agencies. You’re not supposed to ask why other U.S. intelligence agencies with deep knowledge about Russia were excluded and why even other analysts from the three involved agencies were shut out.

No, you must always think of the Jan. 6 report as the “consensus” assessment from the entire “U.S. intelligence community.” And you must accept it as flat fact – as it now is treated by The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other mainstream news outlets. You shouldn’t even notice that the Jan. 6 report itself doesn’t claim that Russian election meddling was a fact. The report explains, that “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.”

But even quoting from the Jan. 6 report might make an American reporter some kind of traitorous “Russian mole” whose journalism must be purged from “responsible” media and who should be forced to wear the journalistic equivalent of a yellow star.

The Anti-Trump/Russia Hysteria

Of course, much of this anti-Russian hysteria comes from the year-long fury about the shocking election of Donald Trump. From the first moments of stunned disbelief over Hillary Clinton’s defeat, the narrative was put in motion to blame Trump’s victory not on Clinton and her wretched campaign but on Russia. That also was viewed as a possible way of reversing the election’s outcome and removing Trump from office.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaking with 
supporters at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, 
March 21, 2016. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The major U.S. news media quite openly moved to the forefront of the Resistance. The Washington Post adopted the melodramatic and hypocritical slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” as it unleashed its journalists to trumpet the narrative of some disloyal Americans spreading Russian propaganda. Darkness presumably was a fine place to stick people who questioned the Resistance’s Russia-gate narrative.

An early shot in this war against dissenting information was fired last Thanksgiving Day when the Post published a front-page article citing an anonymous group called PropOrNot smearing 200 Internet news sites for allegedly disseminating Russian propaganda. The list included some of the most important sources of independent journalism, including, apparently for the crime of questioning some of the State Department’s narratives on international conflicts, particularly Syria and Ukraine.

Then, with the anti-Russia hysteria building and the censorship ball rolling, Congress last December approved $160 million for think tanks and other non-governmental organizations to combat Russian propaganda. Soon, reports and studies were flying off the shelves detecting a Russian behind every article, tweet and posting that didn’t toe the State Department’s line.

The New York Times and other leading news organizations have even cheered plans for Google, Facebook and other technology companies to deploy algorithms that can hunt down, marginalize or eliminate information that establishment media deems “fake” or “propaganda.” Already Google has put together a First Draft coalition, consisting of mainstream media and establishment-approved Web sites to decide what information makes the cut and what doesn’t.

Among these arbiters of truth is the fact-check organization PolitiFact, which judged the falsehood about “all 17 intelligence agencies” signing off on the Russian “hacking” claim to be “true.” Even though the claim was never true and is now clearly established as false, PolitiFact continues to assert that this lie is the truth, apparently filled with the hubris that comes with its power over determining what is true and what is false.

But what is perhaps most troubling to me about these developments is the silence of many civil liberties advocates, liberal politicians and defenders of press freedom who might have been counted on in earlier days to object to this censorship and blackballing.

It appears that the ends of taking down Donald Trump and demonizing Vladimir Putin justify whatever means, no matter the existential danger of nuclear war with Russia or the McCarthyistic (even Orwellian) threats to freedom of speech, press and thought.

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

Seal Team Dark Side: The Mysterious Death of Logan Melgar

Killing of Green Beret Illuminates Dark Side of Famed Navy SEAL Team Six

by Whitney Webb - MintPress News

November 14 2017

Sergeant Melgar’s death is just the latest confirmation that the most celebrated and mysterious group of the U.S. military continues to function with minimal oversight and accountability — producing a climate in which even other members of the U.S. military are not safe.

After several months of investigation into the strangling of U.S. Army Green Beret Logan Melgar, the accounts of those at the center of the homicide investigation – two members of the famed Navy SEAL Team Six – have unraveled. The killing occurred while the SEALs and Melgar were on a secret assignment in the West African nation of Mali, where they were said to have been helping with training and counterterrorism efforts led by local and French forces.

Following Melgar’s sudden death, found by an autopsy to have been the result of “homicide by asphyxiation,” the two SEALs told their superiors that Melgar had been drunk and later became violent.

34-year-old Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar,
killed while on a secret assignment in Mali.

However, Melgar’s autopsy showed no presence of alcohol or drugs at the time of his death and several sources, including Melgar’s wife, stated that he did not drink.

Melgar’s wife later gave emails to investigators, including one in which Melgar told her that he had “a bad feeling” about two of his partners, both of whom were members of SEAL Team Six.

Now, as the Daily Beast reports, two special-operations sources have confirmed the likely reason for Melgar’s sudden death. Melgar had allegedly discovered that the two SEALs in question were illegally pocketing money from a fund used to pay informants in counterterrorism efforts. 

The SEALs had offered to let Melgar in on the scheme, but Melgar refused. A day later he was dead.

The New York Times noted late last month that the investigation “threatened to stain” the sterling reputation of SEAL Team Six. Indeed, the unit has practically become a household name in the United States following its reported participation in a 2011 high-profile raid on a compound that was said to have housed Osama bin Laden — owing in part to the enshrinement of the raid in a high-profile movie and book that were later found to have been highly imaginative in their portrayal of events.

However, despite its fame and repute for allegedly having “taken out” Osama bin Laden, SEAL Team Six has been no stranger to controversy, and Melgar’s untimely death is just the latest in a string of incidents that highlight the group’s more sinister side.

“Global manhunting machine” with little accountability 


A SEAL Team Six operator stands guard while on Close Protection
duty in Afghanistan. (Photo: public domain)

SEAL Team Six’s dark side has become more well known in recent years — in parallel with the group’s transformation from small elite squadron to “global manhunting machine” that has killed numerous suspected militants, as well as civilians, over this period. The testimony of former members and officers has revealed that the much-celebrated SEAL team now regularly partakes in so-called “revenge ops,” extrajudicial killings, mutilations of the deceased and other war crimes – crimes that were not only tolerated by the command’s leadership but also covered up.

Numerous high-profile raids performed by the SEALs since 9/11– such as a 2009 rescue mission meant to deliver Capt. Richard Phillips from the hands of Somali pirates — illustrate the less glamorous side of the group. That operation saw members of SEAL Team Six shoot and kill pirates – though the authorization to shoot was never given – and saw over $30,000 in cash previously taken by the pirates disappear. Though the SEALs were suspected of stealing the money, the money was never found and no charges were ever filed for its disappearance nor for the group’s decision to shoot without authorization. Despite the controversy, the mission was turned into a Hollywood movie starring Tom Hanks.

In addition, the mutilation of the bodies of the deceased became fair game for members of SEAL Team Six, as evidenced by the widespread practice of “canoeing” — in which rounds are fired into the foreheads of the deceased in order to split open the skull and expose brain matter. The practice – referred to by a former SEAL Team Six leader as “sport” — became so common that the head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees SEAL Team Six, was forced to require “full photographic accounting” of the dead to ensure mutilation was kept to a minimum.

Aside from such measures intended to rein in the group, SEAL Team Six is subject to minimal oversight. For instance, JSOC has self-investigated numerous inquiries of wrongdoing without passing them along to Navy investigators. In addition — according to Harold Koh, the State Department’s former top legal adviser, who provided guidance to the Obama administration on clandestine war — Congress has been largely uninterested in scrutinizing the command’s behavior. As a former SEAL Team Six leader told the Intercept, “You can’t win an investigation on us.”

Given SEAL Team Six’s culture of lawlessness and impunity, Sergeant Melgar’s death can hardly be seen as an isolated incident. Instead, Melgar’s death is just the latest confirmation that the most celebrated and mysterious group of the U.S. military continues to function with minimal oversight, control, and accountability — producing a climate in which criminality has become tolerated to the point that even other members of the U.S. military are not safe.

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Saudi Reality Check, Please

What’s Really Going On in Saudi Arabia

by John Chuckman - CounterPunch

November 13, 2017  
“Trump Says Saudi Elites Caught In Anti-Corruption Probe Were ‘Milking’ Kingdom For Years.”

This is just nonsense from Trump. Corruption is and has been everywhere in Saudi Arabia.

How else could it be with all the countless billions changing hands in a fairly closed society?

So, it is easy for a guy like the new Crown Prince to glance around and conveniently find some corruption among people he wants to discredit anyway.

It may go beyond merely discrediting them to having hundreds of billions seized by the Crown Prince. Not a bad day’s work.

What is going on is a kind of coup against the old order by the new usurper Crown Prince. His recent appointment was by a King well known for his senility, and it suddenly and surprisingly upset the established order of succession and all kinds of extended family compacts.

We likely will never know what truly happened in this secretive kingdom. But we do know the abrupt changes created lots of enemies who needed attending to, and that seems to be what is happening.

And the enemies have no friends in Washington to whom they can appeal. The old order in Saudi Arabia suffered terribly in the wake of 9/11, and despite great efforts to pacify the US with new levels of cooperation, it is now being swept out.

Now, whatever is considered good for a hyper-aggressive United States is coincidentally good for its de facto colony in the Middle East.

Trump himself has already proved to be one of Israel’s best-ever American friends. Israel has long had great influence, but it possibly never had it so good as it does now, as with a UN Ambassador who speaks as though she were a joint appointment of Trump and Netanyahu. Trump’s only competitor in this regard would be Lyndon Johnson.

The US and Israel closely embrace the usurper because he has proven his dependability with bloody projects like making illegal war on Yemen. That war is exactly like the proxy war waged by mercenaries – ISIS and Al-Nusra et al – in Syria except that in this case it is the open work of a nation-state. And now he joins Israel in making threats on Lebanon.

In all the Neocon Wars in the Mideast, great effort has been made, one way or another, not to have Israel at center stage, to avoid having Israel appear as aggressor. But, in fact, without the influence of Israel, none of these terrible wars would have happened.

Yes, the Crown Prince will be a dependable component in the years-long American-Israeli project of creating a new Middle East. The Crown Prince is essentially Israel’s man in Saudi Arabia, just as President el-Sisi is in Egypt. Israel is comfortable being surrounded by absolute governments, so long as they are absolute governments beholden to its patron, the United States.

Right now, the new Crown Prince is doing another bloody service for Israeli interests. The Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, was called to come to Riyadh in the King’s name for some business, as it turned out on false pretenses. Hariri had his plane surrounded and he was effectively arrested upon landing. Just pure modern piracy. Later, and who knows after what threats, he announced his sudden and unexpected resignation as prime minister, and he remains in Saudi Arabia.

It just so happens, in very recent time, Netanyahu and some of his officials have made some very ugly noises against Lebanon and even staged a large-scale set of war games, including calling up reservists, clearly threatening the country.

Israel just cannot stand the idea of Hezbollah being part of the Lebanese government whereas a reasonable observer would say Lebanon had achieved a peaceful balance in governing a land of many diverse political and religious groups.

After all, it hasn’t been that long ago since Israel helped catapult Lebanon into a terrible, bloody civil war, and it did so with its own bloody and unwarranted invasion of the country. Hezbollah, an organization which has never been a true terrorist group no matter what Israel goes on about, came into its own by opposing Israel’s long-term, illegal occupation of Southern Lebanon.

They were only defending what is theirs, but they made Israel look very bad, and that is an unforgivable offence. So, here we have the new Saudi Crown Prince doing more dirty work on Israel’s behalf, much as with his war in Yemen where he bombs civilians regularly, saving Israel from having to act on its own to get what it wants in someone else’s country.

You see, if Israel itself actually had to do all the ugly deeds it wants done in the region, the world would see it with blinding clarity for the pariah state that it truly is, starting wars incessantly. Proxies – whether mercenary gangs like ISIS and Al-Nusra in Syria or tyrants like the new Saudi Crown Prince in Yemen and Lebanon – are the latest fashion statement from Tel Aviv.

John Chuckman lives in Canada.
More articles by: John Chuckman