American Resistance To Empire

CIA’s Man In Libya, Gen. Haftar, Backed By Russia, Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia

Russia Has Bought-In To the Libyan War, Siding w/Gen. Khalifa Haftar

Putin Has A Bold Plan for Libya…Restore the Qaddafi Govt, Muammar’s Son, Saif al-Islam

Russia + Saudi Arabia + Qatar, Except When In Syria

Khalifa Haftar: Libyan CIA Asset  ;  Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?  ;  The Libyan Bedlam: General Hifter, the CIA and the Unfinished Coup

Imperial Plan To Use Civil War As Gas and Oil Valve

In the Middle East, a new military crescent is in the making

Counter-revolutionary [they are “mercenaries“–ed.] forces are seeking to resurrect the military dictatorship model the Arab Spring dismantled.

In early April, renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar launched a military operation against the Libyan UN-recognised government in Tripoli [File: Reuters/Esam Omran al-Fetori]
In early April, renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar launched a military operation against the Libyan UN-recognised government in Tripoli [File: Reuters/Esam Omran al-Fetori]

With the breakout of the Arab Spring more than eight years ago, pro-democracy activists in the Arab world and elsewhere were hopeful that the tide of democratic change might have finally reached its shores. Many who had criticised the likes of American scholar Samuel Huntington, who saw democracy as an alien concept to Middle Eastern culture, felt vindicated.

The euphoria of the Arab Spring did not last long, however. In Syria, Libya and Yemen, civil wars erupted, subduing any hopes for a peaceful democratic transition. In Bahrain, fearing Iranian interference, a Saudi-led military intervention quickly put down popular protests. In Morocco, the February protest movement was smothered by a combination of political manoeuvres by King Mohammed VI and a security crackdown. And in Egypt, the military establishment spearheaded a counter-revolution and eventually staged a coup against the democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, which installed General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the country’s new military ruler.

These developments have been seen by many as yet another indication that the Arab world is intrinsically undemocratic . The rise of organisations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) has validated the perceived need for a strongman rule. The political choice of Arab nations has been seemingly reduced to “SISI or ISIS”.

With this logic in mind, regional and world powers have sponsored the return of military dictatorships to the region, with the hope that they would clean up the Arab Spring “mess” and restore order. In particular, they are seeking to create a new “military crescent” in North Africa that encompasses Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Algeria.

But just as the military rule established in the 1950s and 1960s eventually crumbled, this new push to militarise Arab politics is also bound to fail.

The US hope for the ‘enlightened’ Arab military ruler

Western powers have long been supporters of military rule in the Arab world, the United States being one of its earliest and most eager proponents.

In the late 1940s, modernisation theories popular within US political circles regarded the conservative ruling elites as a major hurdle towards the establishment of modern states and societies in the Arab world. At the same time, as Washington gradually emerged as a world power, its interests started to clash with those of its ally, the British empire, particularly in the Middle East.

The US viewed Arab conservative regimes as an extension of British – and in some cases French – colonialism, which it sought to dismantle. It considered takeovers led by Arab military forces – which tended to be more modernised than other state institutions in the Arab world – as a viable solution.

By the 1940s there was also already a model for the region to follow: the Young Turks’ revolution and the subsequent rule of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, which rapidly modernised the newly created Turkish republic.

The US political elite was convinced that Ataturk-like military leaders were better equipped to start a modernisation process from the top, change, forcibly if necessary, the conservative culture of Middle Eastern countries, and expel the Europeans from the region.

In 1949, the CIA assisted the military coup in Syria against the first democratically-elected government of Shukri al-Quwatli. In 1952, the US welcomed the coup against the British-backed Egyptian monarchy led by Gamal Abdel Nasser.

This US strategy faltered a bit after the Suez War of 1956 when the Soviet Union entered the scene in the Middle East and opened another front in the intensifying Cold War, but ultimately, Washington continued to favour military rule in the region over the next few decades.

Arab military rulers did engage in the modernisation of their countries but also created police states and dysfunctional economies in which people had neither bread, nor freedom. Poverty, repression, despair, inequality, and marginalisation led to radicalisation and violence.

It took the US some 60 years to admit the link between authoritarianism and extremism. Four years after the 9/11 attacks, in June 2005, then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, gave a speech in Cairo, in which she said: “For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East – and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.”

Yet, when the people of the region took to the streets in peaceful protests a few years later, demanding freedom and democracy, Washington did not extend its support. In 2011, the US and European countries once again demonstrated their deep conviction that their interests in the Middle East are served best by autocratic leaders and that they see the democratic aspirations of the Arab people as a threat.

A new military crescent

But they are not alone in this belief. Regional players Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates too felt threatened by the popular uprisings in the Middle East and for many years now, they have been leading the counter-revolutionary forces in the region to re-establish military rule. Ironically, the two GCC states weren’t always supporters of Arab military strongmen.

Saudi Arabia, in particular, was a fierce opponent of military rule in the region, as army officers toppled one conservative monarchy after the other in the 1950s and 1960s.

Witnessing the dismal fate of royal families in Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, the House of Saud worried about its own security and took measures not only to weaken and fragment its own armed forces, but also to ally with anti-revolutionary powers in the region (including Iran under Pahlavi rule).

Today, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, like their US and European allies, see their interests better served by military dictatorships in the region. Thus, after funding the military coup in Egypt in 2013, they are now hoping for military rule to extend to Algeria, Sudan and Libya.

In recent months, Algerian and Sudanese people rebelled against their long-term leaders, Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Omar al-Bashir and managed to topple them. But in both countries, the military has sought to take advantage of the situation. In Sudan, military generals stepped in and took control of the country and in Algeria, the military from behind the scenes has been trying hard to engineer a transition that secures its interests.

Meanwhile, in Libya, renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar launched a major military offensive on the capital Tripoli, seeking to unseat the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and derail efforts to spearhead a political transition through general elections.

In all three countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have stood by the military generals seeking state capture, and so have the US and a number of European countries. In the case of Libya, US President Donald Trump expressed direct support for Haftar, while France has been accused of directly supporting his military operation.

There seems to be a concerted effort to establish a crescent of military-ruled countries from Sudan in northeast Africa to Algeria in the northwest through Egypt and Libya to ward off popular upheaval and keep “Islamist” forces in check. It is based on the misguided belief that military strongmen such as el-Sisi in Egypt, Haftar in Libya or even Bashar al-Assad in Syria can provide security and stability in the region.

But the truth is – as all uprisings since 2011 have demonstrated – the stability, which they promise, is a mere illusion. The fact that popular movements calling for democratisation in the Arab world continue to sweep through the region despite the tragic outcomes in countries like Syria, Yemen, Egypt and Libya, demonstrates that authoritarian rule and brutality are the main sources of instability and insecurity. They have led to the rise of a new wave of extremist groups, more violent and more radical than before.

The Middle East will not achieve stability until this vicious circle of despotism, violence and extremism is broken. Establishing a military crescent in North Africa is not the right solution for the region.

Change can be delayed but cannot be stopped. In Algeria and Sudan, the military establishment has the unique opportunity to learn from past mistakes, resist foreign influence and make the right choice: hand over power to the civilian population and prevent another Syria from happening.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


Suspected mastermind Zahran Hashim spent time in south India, says top military source

The Indian Art of Turning Jihadis Into Anti-Jihadis and the War On Pakistan


Sri Lanka Easter blasts: Suspected mastermind Zahran Hashim spent time in south India, says top military source

Investigators identified Zahran Hashim as the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, which they said executed the highly coordinated blasts.

Zahran Hashim, believed to have masterminded the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, spent “substantial” time in “south India,” a top Sri Lankan military source said on Friday.

Investigators identified Hashim as the leader of the National Thowheed Jamaath, which they said executed the highly coordinated blasts on Sunday. Over 250 people, including 45 children and 40 foreign nationals, were killed in the deadly explosions. Two days later, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks and subsequently released an image of eight suspected bombers. The man seen standing at the centre is believed to be Hashim. The other jihadists had covered their faces with a scarf.

Sri Lankan investigators, however, have identified nine suicide bombers, including a woman. “We are looking into the IS angle. We also suspect that some of those radical youth were indoctrinated and trained in India, possibly Tamil Nadu,” the senior official said, on condition of anonymity.

Indian officials would not comment that Hashim travelled to India but pointed to evidence of virtual links he maintained with youth believed to be of Indian origin. More than 100 followers of Hashim’s Facebook page are being investigated, said an official, who asked not to be named. The first hints of Hashim’s doctrinal videos, to likely radicalise youth, emerged when Indian authorities interrogated seven members of a group whose leader, officials found, was a follower of Hashim. The men were IS sympathisers and arrested in September 2018 in Coimbatore, on suspicion that they were plotting the assassination of certain political and religious leaders in India, the official said.

‘Hashim, a Shangri-La bomber’

Sri Lankan authorities, who have so far not named any of the nine suicide bombers or suspects officially, on Friday confirmed Hashim was one of the two suicide bombers who carried out the explosions at hotel Shangri-La, on Colombo’s sea-facing Galle Road. He led the radical Islamist group in Kattankudy, in Batticaloa district of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, and was known for espousing extremist religious ideas, often to the discomfort of many within the community.

An image grab taken from a press release issued on April 23, 2019 by the Islamic State group’s propaganda agency Amaq, allegedly shows eight men it said carried out a string of deadly suicide bomb blasts on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. The man in the centre is believed to be Zahran Hashim, who was identified by the Sri Lankan police as the leader of the Islamist National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) group, which Colombo has blamed for the attacks.

An image grab taken from a press release issued on April 23, 2019 by the Islamic State group’s propaganda agency Amaq, allegedly shows eight men it said carried out a string of deadly suicide bomb blasts on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. The man in the centre is believed to be Zahran Hashim, who was identified by the Sri Lankan police as the leader of the Islamist National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) group, which Colombo has blamed for the attacks.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Earlier this week, locals told The Hindu that Zahran had left the town two years ago after a fierce disagreement with the Moulavi (religious scholar) on the practice of Islam. He was absconding since then, community leaders said.

Heightened searches

Following Sunday’s brutal attacks, inarguably the biggest atrocity the island has seen in its post-civil war decade, police and the armed forces have arrested at least 75 persons for their alleged role in the bombings. A list of 139 youth has been drawn up and security forces are desperate to eliminate any persistent threat, official sources said. Police on Thursday released photographs of a few suspects — including one wrong photograph for which they later regretted — and sought the help of the public to nab them.

President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday vowed to “meet the challenge and defeat terrorism” in the country. Investigations into war-time rights abuse allegations had weakened the country’s security apparatus and made it vulnerable to terror attacks, he said, apparently referring to military officials facing trial for alleged abduction and murder.

Speaking to local editors and Colombo-based foreign journalists, Mr. Sirisena said a major search operation, including a door-to-door check, was underway. Acknowledging a “serious lapse” in intelligence sharing – despite “a friendly country” providing a “highly descriptive warning” on April 4. He squarely blamed the Defence Secretary and the Inspector General of Police for it. Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando resigned on Thursday, although he told Reuters “there had been no failure on his part”.

President Sirisena further said that the planned attack could have been a response to his campaign against illicit drugs. “There is a nexus between international terrorism and international drug trade,” he said.

Have Buddhist Militants Successfully Implicated Islamists In Anti-Catholic Sri Lankan Bombings?

[The Easter Sri Lanka Bombing is turning out to be one of those paradoxical events, which tend to confuse observers more with each bit of explanation offered to unravel the contradictions between the forensic evidence and the police arrests being made in the case.

The Easter bombings were allegedly Islamic attacks made against Catholic churches and upscale hotels, even though Sri Lanka has no history of “radical Islamists” or militant Islamist attacks

The alleged Islamic attackers were identified as elements of an Islamic anti-Buddhist outfit (“National Thowheeth Jama’ath”) which had previously only attacked Buddhist icons.

It has been reported that the leader of this Nat. Th. Jama. was one of the suicide bombers…if the leader of the cell is dead, who will lead the anticipated revolution?

Sinhala-Buddhist extremism is the predominant militant/political force on the island, now that the Tamil uprising is truly finished.  Both Christians and Muslims have been targeted by Buddhist terrorism in the recent past, so it would be reasonable to assume that the Buddhists have either managed to infiltrate the Thowheeth movement, or to imitate the Thowheeth enough to implicate them in the “ISIS” hysteria.  Finding a large ISIS flag at the Sri Lankan bomb factory was enough to convince the world that this was Islamic holy war.

Even though ISIS has taken credit for the attack (they claim all big visible attacks), even announcing the bombers’ IDs on their video statement, does not answer reports that 2-3 of the suicide-bombers were women.  Knowing ISIS’s M.O. (claiming any attack gathering publicity), understanding the principle of “false-flag” attacks (direct responsibility towards the victims), and seeing reports on previous Sri-Lankan religious harmony between Muslim and Christian ( Sri Lanka’s Christians and Muslims Weren’t Enemies), my mind sees Buddhist, NOT ISLAMIC, terrorism.–ed.]

In Sri Lanka’s anti-Muslim violence, an echo of post-war Sinhala triumphalism

What explains the rioting that has led to the declaration of an emergency in the island nation? Once the LTTE had been defeated, it was almost as though Sinhala-Buddhist extremism needed a new enemy.

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Sri Lanka’s army soldiers stand guard a road after a clash between two communities in Digana, central district of Kandy. (Photo: Reuters)

The Sri Lankan government has imposed an island-wide emergency in the wake of anti-Muslim violence in Kandy, a city in the central highlands, on March 4-5, and in Ampara, a district with a near equal population of Muslims and Sinhala-Buddhists on the country’s eastern coast, on February 26. In Kandy, two mosques, shops and other buildings were set on fire, and two mosques and shops were vandalised in Ampara. In Kandy, a Buddhist man succumbed on March 4 to injuries after an altercation a few days earlier with a group of Muslim men, and a Muslim man’s body was found in a building that was the target of arson in Kandy on Tuesday. A Sinhala-Buddhist extremist group is suspected to be behind the violence.

The incidents of the last few days are the latest in a series of violent episodes targeting the Muslim community that Sri Lanka has witnessed in the post-war years. (According to the 2011 Census, Muslims are slightly more than 9% of Sri Lanka’s 20.3 million population; Sinhala Buddhists are 75%, and Tamils 11%.)

They are a direct fallout of the triumphalism and majoritarianism that took hold in sections of the Sinhala Buddhist majority community after the military defeat of the LTTE, encouraged by the Mahinda Rajapakse regime as it went about tightening its political grip on the country. Since then, a raft of groups openly professing hatred for Muslims, as well as Christians, has come up, some of them using social media to spread their venom. Among them are the Bodu Bala Sena, Sinhala Ravaya, Sinhale, and Mahason Balaya. The first and foremost of these, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), was formed in 2012, and enjoyed the patronage of the Rajapakse clan.

Rajapakse’s defeat in the presidential election led to a de-escalation of Buddhist-Muslim tensions. But the incidents began occurring again towards the end of 2016, when some Muslims, who had been displaced from northern Sri Lanka during the war, began going back to reclaim their lands in villages in Mannar district in the Vanni, bordering a national sanctuary called Wilpattu, and close to the Sinhala majority areas of the northwestern province of Puttalam and north-central province of Anuradhapura.

Sri Lanka declares state of emergency for 10 days after Buddhist-Muslim clash
Sri Lanka’s Special Task Force and Police officers stand guard near a burnt house after a clash between two communities in Digana, central district of Kandy, Sri Lanka March 6, 2018. (Reuters Photo)

There were several incidents through April and May 2017 across Sri Lanka. Around the same time, the Buddhist outfits began a campaign against the arrival of a group of Rohingya in Colombo. On September 28 last year, a monk led an attack on a UN-maintained safehouse for the Rohingya in the Colombo suburb of Mt Lavinia. The Rohingya group had been taken into custody by the Navy after they attempted to land on the Sri Lankan coast, and they were ordered to be kept in the safehouse under UN protection. The group that attacked the safehouse alleged the Rohingya had killed Buddhists in Myanmar. In November, Buddhists and Muslims clashed on the streets of Gintota in Galle.

The Buddhist-Muslim tensions of the last few years have surfaced nearly a century after the only such incident in the 20th century in 1915, at the time of a Sinhala Buddhist revival around the perceived marginalisation of the community under colonial rule. After independence, political leaders starting with SWRD Bandaranike harvested Sinhala-Buddhism. The rest is well-documented history. From the 1956 “Sinhala only” Act to the 1983 anti-Tamil riots, Sri Lanka had gone from being an inspiration for Lee Kwan Yew to South Asia’s ethnic cauldron within three decades. As Tamil separatism grew, morphing from a political movement to militancy and terrorism, the Muslims of Sri Lanka found themselves in constantly changing situations.

The language of Sri Lanka’s Muslims is Tamil. The majority of Muslims, most of whom are businessmen or traders, still live in the East, which was part of the LTTE’s Eelam vision. Until 1990, the Muslims believed they had common cause with Tamil political aspirations. But that year, a newly resurgent LTTE following the IPKF’s departure from Sri Lanka, drove out nearly 100,000 Muslims from their northern citadel of Jaffna and other parts of northern Sri Lanka under its control. The eviction took place overnight — people left behind their houses, lands, shops, and possessions, becoming a new set of internally displaced people in Sri Lanka’s conflict.

That was when the Sri Lankan Muslim found a new political consciousness, and within a decade of its formation, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was seen by Sinhala political parties as a “kingmaker” party. Winning seats in Parliament from the predominantly Muslim areas of Ampara; from Batticaloa, where Muslims are the second biggest community after the majority Hindu Tamils; from Trincomalee up the eastern coast, where they are one-third of the population (Tamils and Sinhalese are also one-third each); as well as a few from Kandy and other areas, the community was in the thick of national politics. It has always sided with the ruling party, and is even now part of the coalition government.

Once the war against the LTTE was over, it was almost as if Sinhala-Buddhist extremism, which conflates religion with territory and language, needed a new enemy. Muslims have emerged as that enemy, the rise of Islamist terrorism providing a convenient handle with which to demonise the community.

Sri Lanka’s Buddhist extremism has found an ally in Myanmar’s hardline Buddhist monks. Both countries practise the Theravada variant of Buddhism. In September 2014, ahead of the presidential election, the BBS invited Ashin Wirathu, a monk from Mandalay in Myanmar and the leader of a virulently anti-Muslim group called 969, known for his toxic speeches. At a rally in Colombo, he said he would join hands with the BBS to “protect” Buddhists. Though he has not made a return visit since, extremist Buddhists in Sri Lanka have clearly taken inspiration from the anti-Rohingya movement in Myanmar. Coincidence or not, the first clashes against the Rohingya in Myanmar erupted in 2012, around the time that BBS was formed in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan Troops Raid “Safe House,” Find Bomb-Making Factory, 15 Dead Men, Women, Children Found Inside

Huge amounts of bomb-making material, including thousands of ball bearings, plastic explosives, chemicals and trigger devices which could be made into suicide vests have been discovered in a house in Sri Lanka, sparking fears the Easter Sunday bombings could have been just the start of a massive terror campaign.

The stockpile, discovered in a home in the town of Sammanthurai, 200 miles (325km) from Colombo appears to confirm more horrific attacks were being planned.

The discovery of a so-called Islamic State flag also gives the strongest indication yet that the group responsible for the nine bombings on Sunday is linked to the international terror organisation.

The discoveries came after a shootout at the home between police and suspects.

Some of the bomb making materials discovered.
Some of the bomb making materials discovered. Credit: APTN 

The grim discoveries come just hours after Sunday Masses were cancelled until further notice.

The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said church officials had seen a leaked security document describing Catholic churches and other denominations as major targets for attackers.

He also asked the faithful to stay at home for their own safety.

“We don’t want repetitions,” said the cardinal in cancelling the services.

Cardinal Ranjith also appealed for financial support to rebuild the lives of affected people and reconstruct the churches targeted in the so-called Islamic State-claimed suicide bombings, which killed over 250 people on Sunday.

Authorities in the island nation downgraded the death toll from the previously stated 359.

The announcement comes one day after the Foreign Office warned people not to travel to Sri Lanka “unless absolutely necessary” and the US Embassy in Sri Lanka warned people to stay away from places of worship this weekend over concerns about possible further attacks.

A Sri Lankan Army soldier stands guard in front St Anthony’s Church
A Sri Lankan Army soldier stands guard in front St Anthony’s Church. Credit: Manish Swarup/AP 

On Friday, authorities urged Muslims not to hold congregational prayers over fears they might be targeted.

However, several mosques did hold prayers under the protection of security forces.

Police are also providing patrols to protect Muslims who are fearful of reprisal attacks in the wake of the atrocity.

Local militants with ties to the so-called Islamic State group conducted a series of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday at churches and luxury hotels in and around Colombo and in the distant seaside village of Batticaloa, as well as three related bombings.

Sri Lanka has remained on edge since the deadly attacks as authorities have pursued suspects with possible access to explosives.

The archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said there will be no Sunday Masses.
The archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said there will be no Sunday Masses. Credit: AP

The Easter Sunday attacks have been blamed on National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), a local radical jihadist group whose leader, Mohamed Zahran, killed himself in a suicide bombing at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.

Police also said they had arrested the second in command of the group.

NTJ have not claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Damage at St Sebastian's Church, which was targeted on Easter Sunday.
Damage at St Sebastian’s Church, which was targeted on Easter Sunday. Credit: AP 

Australia’s Prime Minister said it had been confirmed that the Sri Lanka attackers were supported by the Islamic State group, which has claimed responsibility for the massacre.

The group has distributed a video of Zahran and others pledging allegiance to the withered caliphate.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters that about 140 people had been identified as having links to the Islamic State group, and that the government has the capability “to completely control” IS activities in the country.

“We will completely control this and create a free and peaceful environment for people to live,” he said.

Police said investigators had determined that the attackers’ military training was provided by someone they called “Army Mohideen,” and that weapons training had taken place overseas and at some locations in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province.

Police also said they arrested the operator of a copper factory who had helped Mohideen make improvised explosive devices and purchase empty cartridges sold by the Sri Lankan military as scrap copper.

Mr Sirisena blamed Sri Lanka’s defense secretary, who resigned Thursday, and police chief, who he said would soon step down, for failing to share information from international intelligence agencies about the plot.

Muslim men gather to pray at a mosque in Colombo on Friday despite warnings of an attack
Muslim men gather to pray at a mosque in Colombo on Friday despite warnings of an attack. Credit: AP

Almost a week has passed since the Easter Sunday terror bombings and tensions are still running high in Sri Lanka.

Shops that should be open remain with their shutters down and streets that would normally be packed appear deserted.

Security warnings of potentially more attacks have spread fear and road blocks remain in place as police stop and search motorists and motorbike riders around the capital Colombo.

Security officials are still hunting for suspects and explosives that are unaccounted for.

What Doesn’t Cause Islamist Terrorism

What Doesn’t Cause Islamist Terrorism

The suicide bombers in Sri Lanka were affluent and well educated. That should tell us something about the war on terror.

Aftermath of terrorist attack in Sri Lanka / Getty

In 2015, then-State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf suggested that potential terrorists would not join the Islamic State if they had better job opportunities. “We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium- to longer term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs,” Harf said on MSNBC. “We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people.”

Harf is actually right—well, in the narrow sense that combatting Islamist terrorist groups is about more than military strikes. She is woefully—and dangerously—wrong, however, about more jobs being a solution. Yet the view she articulated is not hers alone. Her former boss, Barack Obama, similarly claimed that “extremely poor societies … provide optimal breeding grounds for disease, terrorism, and conflict.” Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security’s program on “countering violent extremism,” or CVE, which the Obama administration established to counter radicalization within vulnerable communities, adheres to the same belief. How? CVE treats jihadists like members of street gangs or the mafia—as disgruntled, perhaps defenseless individuals who traveled down a dark path but can return to the light. And creating a better quality of life—a decent job, a reliable income, more responsibilities—is key to that return. In many cases, this framework would, for example, help gangsters who grew up poor with few opportunities. Not so much for the people who join ISIS.

Recent events show why this approach is misguided for Islamist terrorists. On Wednesday, Sri Lankan authorities revealed that most of the suicide bombers who murdered more than 350 people in coordinated attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday were affluent and well educated. “They’re quite well educated people,” Ruwan Wijewardene, Sri Lanka’s state minister of defense, said of the attackers, adding that many came from “middle class” backgrounds. “We believe that one of the suicide bombers studied in the U.K. and then later on did his post-graduate in Australia before coming back to settle in Sri Lanka.”

Two of the brothers who carried out the bombings came from one of the wealthiest Muslim families in the capital, a family that, according to a neighbor, was “very well connected, very rich, politically connected as well.” The Daily Mail reports they are “the sons of millionaire spice trader Yoonus Ibrahim and were privately educated in Colombo.” Another terrorist had a law degree, and two others were married—not the hopeless loners that one often imagines as suicide bombers.

And yet, the attackers’ “thinking is that Islam can be the only religion in this country,” according to Wijewardene. Indeed, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, although authorities are still investigating whether the terrorists had any links to the group, and whether the group had provided training or financing. Regardless, it is clear that the bombings were a coordinated act of Islamist terrorism.

How could people with comfortable lives and strong formal educations do something so heinous? Finding the answer warrants its own book, or 50, but the fact that affluent, well-educated people turned to extremism should not be surprising. Studies have shown that those with seemingly nothing to lose are often not the ones who become jihadists. In 2016, for example, the World Bank found that foreign recruits to ISIS are well-educated and relatively wealthy individuals. Even more striking, the report found that those aspiring to become suicide bombers ranked among the more educated. “These individuals are far from being uneducated or illiterate,” the report states. “Most claim to have attended secondary school and a large fraction have gone on to study at university.”

Months before the report was published, disaffected members of ISIS released a cache of 22,000 documents that included basic information of nearly 4,000 foreign recruits who joined the terrorist group between 2013 and 2014. According to the data, 69 percent of recruits received at least a secondary level education, while 15 percent left school before high school and less than 2 percent are illiterate.

In other words, as the World Bank put it, “poverty is not a driver of radicalization into violent extremism.” Nor is poor education.

Several other studies have echoed the same findings: that a reduction in poverty or an increase in formal education will not reduce terrorism. Put differently, terrorists are not poor, hopeless people who need jobs to become upstanding citizens.

Jihadists are motivated by an ideology, or a theology, indoctrinated to believe in Islamic supremacy and fundamentalism. To be clear, individuals need a cognitive opening, for lack of a better term, to embrace this ideology. Perhaps they feel like outcasts and want to be part of something “important”—there are several personal and psychological factors that can create such an opening. Indeed, many of the foreign fighters from Europe who traveled to join ISIS in the Middle East were not particularly knowledgeable of Islam. But many opened their minds to a poisonous ideology that took root and grew, like a virus. That is the problem with treating Islamists like regular street gangsters: it misses the importance of Islamism, the ideology that animates their violence.

So the United States obviously needs to counter this Islamist ideology, and not just kill Islamists on the battlefield. Many experts and commentators have already made this point, but apparently not enough times. Plenty of people in Washington have still not embraced this idea, to make the war on terror, or the war on Islamist extremism—whatever your term of choice—fundamentally a war of ideas. That means creating a comprehensive strategy to wage an ideological battle, which means working with the Muslim community and foreign, Muslim leaders who denounce extremism in the name of their religion. But that also means not encouraging leaders to drive their people toward that same extremism with brutal authoritarianism.

In 2014, the former chief of the Australian army, Peter Leahy, warned his country that it is engaged in a century-long war against radical Islam. That is the mindset that the entire Western world needs to have. And while the war extends far beyond the battlefield, giving the jihadists more job opportunities is probably not going to achieve victory.

US Forces Fight To Spread Endless War, Now Busy Creating Wars In 76 Countries

What democracy? 70% of ‘not free’ countries get US military aid

The ‘War on Terror’: The Globalization of Perpetual War

At, Tom Engelhardt has a revealing article on the truly global nature of America’s war on terror, accompanied by a unique map put together by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. The map reveals that America’s war on terror has spread to 76 countries, as shown below:

This metastasizing of “counterterror” efforts is truly paradoxical: the more the U.S. military works to stop terror, the more terror spreads. “Progress” is measured only by the growth of efforts to stem terror networks in more and more countries. But the notion of “progress” is absurd: That 76 countries are involved in some way in this war on terror is a sign of regress, not progress. After 16 years and a few trillion dollars, you’d think terror networks and efforts to eradicate them would be decreasing, not increasing. But the war on terror has become its own cancer, or, in social-media-speak, it’s gone viral, infecting more and more regions.

A metaphor I like to use is from Charles Darwin. Consider the face of nature – or of terrorism – as a series of tightly interlinked wedges. Now, consider the U.S. military and its kinetic strikes (as well as weapons sales and military assistance) as hammer blows. Those hammer blows disturb and contort the face of nature, fracturing it in unpredictable ways, propagating faults and creating conditions for further disturbances.

By hammering away at the complex ecologies of regions, the U.S. is feeding and complicating terrorism with its own violence. Yet new fracture lines are cited as evidence of the further growth of terrorism, thus necessitating more hammer blows (and yet more military spending). And the cycle of violence repeats as well as grows.

A sensible approach: Stop hammering away with missiles and bombs and drones. Stop feeding the terrorist wolf with more blood and violence.

But the U.S. government is caught up in a seemingly endless cycle of violence and war, as Engelhardt notes here:

Let me repeat this mantra: once, almost seventeen years ago, there was one [country, Afghanistan, the U.S. targeted]; now, the count is 76 and rising. Meanwhile, great cities have been turned into rubble; tens of millions of human beings have been displaced from their homes; refugees by the millions continue to cross borders, unsettling ever more lands; terror groups have become brand names across significant parts of the planet; and our American world continues to bemilitarized.

This should be thought of as an entirely new kind of perpetual global war. So take one more look at that map. Click on it and then enlarge it to consider the map in full-screen mode. It’s important to try to imagine what’s been happening visually, since we’re facing a new kind of disaster, a planetary militarization of a sort we’ve never truly seen before. No matter the “successes” in Washington’s war, ranging from that invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to the taking of Baghdad in 2003 to the recent destruction of the Islamic State’s “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq (or most of it anyway, since at this moment American planes are still dropping bombs and firing missiles in parts of Syria), the conflicts only seem to morph and tumble on.

A new kind of perpetual global war: Engelhardt nails it. To end it, we need to stop feeding it. But as the map above indicates, it seems likely that U.S. hammer blows will continue and even accelerate, with results as violently unpredictable as they are counterproductive.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

Pregnant Wife of One Sri Lankan Terrorist Brother Kills Self +3 Sons +3 Cops, To Avoid Capture

[SEE: Sri Lanka: ‘Family of hate’ behind terror attacks are wealthy brothers and wife]

Fatima Ibrahim 

Inshaf Ahmed Ibrahim

Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim

Sri Lanka blasts: Fatima Ibrahim identified as one of the suicide bombers; wife of SL millionaire blew self up with unborn child

Fatima Ibrahim, the wife of Sri Lankan millionaire businessman-turned-Islamic State suicide bomber Inshaf Ahmed Ibrahim blew herself up with her unborn child, as well as three young sons, when police raided the family home on Sunday night, Indian intelligence sources have told Firstpost. Three police officials were also killed in the explosion.

Ibrahim — along with his brother Ilham Ahmed Ibrahim — left the family’s three-storey luxury home in Dematagoda and blew themselves up at the Cinnamon Grand and Shangri-La hotels’ breakfast buffets, as part of a wave of attacks on hotels and churches in which more than 359 people were killed

 Sri Lanka blasts: Fatima Ibrahim identified as one of the suicide bombers; wife of SL millionaire blew self up with unborn child

A series of bomb blasts rocked Sri Lanka on Sunday. Reuters

Fatima, the intelligence sources said, is believed to have been present amid a group of veiled suicide bombers swearing allegiance to the Islamic State, whose images were released by the jihadist organisation on Tuesday night. She can be seen, the sources said, on the right hand side of the frame, standing behind her husband.

Both brothers are sons of Mohammed Yusuf Ibrahim, a millionaire spice-trader who contested elections on Left-leaning Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna party. Ibrahim counted Minister for Industry and Commerce Rishath Bathiudeen among his close friends, and had often been seen at former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s receptions.

In an interview to The Mirror, Inshaf Ibrahim’s brother-in-law, jeweller Ashkhan Alawdeen, said the businessman-bomber had left home on Friday, saying he was going to Zambia for a business trip.

The parting with his sister, Alawdeen said, was unsual: “When he said goodbye he held her head and said, ‘be strong’.”

“She thought it was a bit strange at the time but didn’t think anything of it.”

“My brother-in-law is a psychopath,” Alawdeen told The Mirror, “He deserves to be punished in hell.”

Inshaf Ibrahim owned Colossus Copper, a manufacturing facility in an industrial estate east of Colombo. The factory, investigators believe, was used to fabricate the suicide vests used in the attack, supplying bolts and screws that filled the devices.

Nine Sri Lankans at the factory, including the manager, were arrested shortly before midnight on Sunday. They worked alongside Indians and Bangladeshi migrant workers.

Saudis Have Head-Chopping Party, “ISIS CENTRAL” Beheads 37 Shiites, Putting One Mutilated Corpse On Public Display

Abdullah Al-Bishi, the Head Saudi Beheader

Those Head-Choppin’ Saudis Are Setting Records This Year

Saudi Arabia advertises for eight new executioners

Saudis Can’t Hire Enough Head-Choppers To Carry-Out Barbaric Wahhabi Laws

Saudi Arabia beheads 37 people, mostly from Shia minority, puts body on display

Saudi Arabia beheads 37 people, mostly from Shia minority, puts body on display

Riyadh has drawn outrage from human rights advocates after it put to death 37 people and displayed a mutilated body of one of them on a pole. The execution was carried out after “sham trials,” Amnesty International said.

The ultra-conservative kingdom on Tuesday beheaded 37 of its citizens in its biggest mass execution in three years and first of that scale since Mohammed bin Salman became the heir apparent to the throne in June 2017. AP reported, citing Saudi dissident Ali Al-Ahmed, that at least 34 of those who were executed were members of the country’s Shia minority. According to Al-Ahmed, it became the “largest execution of Shiites in the kingdom’s history.”

ALSO ON RT.COMProgressive Saudi Arabia… vision or mirage? RT’s Boom Bust will tell you

moreThe Saudi Interior Ministry said that the men were subjected to capital punishment for their role in spreading extremist ideologies and establishing terrorist cells. Those executed, the ministry argued, were bent on fueling sectarian tension and plunging the country into chaos. Some were found guilty of killing law enforcement officers, staging attacks against security infrastructure, and assisting an enemy of the state.

A beheaded body of one of the men, reported to be a Sunni militant, was pinned to a pole and put on public display.

While the Saudi government insists that all the executions were perfectly in line with the law, Amnesty International sounded the alarm over what it called a “shocking execution spree.”

Amnesty reported that 11 men were found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia’s archrival, Iran, while 14 others were sentenced to death for “violent offences” they allegedly committed while taking part in anti-government protests against the Saudi government in 2011-2012.

The protests rocked the country’s Eastern Province, home to the Saudi Shia minority, who demanded an end to anti-Shia discrimination and the release of political prisoners. Riyadh’s crackdown on dissent led to the execution of the leader, Shia cleric Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, in 2016. Al-Nimr was put to death along with 46 other prisoners in the largest mass execution since 1980.

Amnesty further noted that one of the prisoners executed on Tuesday was a young Shia man who had not come of age at the time of his alleged offence. The group said that Abdulkareem al-Hawaj was just 16 when he was arrested and found guilty of crimes linked to his participation in the anti-government protests.

Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s Middle East research director, said that the men were convicted after “sham trials” and were forced to confess under torture.

“It is also yet another gruesome indication of how the death penalty is being used as a political tool to crush dissent from within the country’s Shia minority,” she said.

Saudi Arabia have executed over 100 people since the beginning of the year and is on pace to surpass last year’s total – 149.

The World Must Have A Messiah…Any Religion Will Do

I’m on my way to Kabul, Afghanistan. Again. My 38th time to this traumatized country in the past 12 years or so CAI has been active here. The diverse challenges the Trustees of CAI face in managing the various humanitarian projects in this badbakht country is unrelenting and never cease. Most disconcerting is the safety of the 150 orphans under active CAI care. The wellbeing of so many hapless innocent humans would be an enormous undertaking anywhere on earth, and it is, since CAI cares for 400 additional orphans in assorted countries worldwide. But in Afghanistan, with her particular penchant of attracting violence, I cannot be overzealous in my emotions towards these orphans. I’ve known some of these children since they were mere toddlers, almost, so the bond we have developed is special.

As the Emirates Airbus A380 pierces the air at about 550 MPH at the height of 41,000 feet above earth towards a stopover in Dubai, and the movie on the screen in front of me is a yawner, I drift off into a fitful slumber. And my nightmare begins.

I dream I am detached from the aircraft cabin and am aloft outside, floating among the gigantic white fluffy clouds of heaven. It’s a scary feeling for the first few seconds until I realize the clouds hold on my body is solid and unyielding. I enjoy the sensation of the treat, of complete freedom and weightlessness; I giggle in delight. Then, I look down from my birds-eye position of the earth below and what I see puzzles me at first, and then frightens the boohoos out of me.

I see that in the land that I have known as Palestine, there is serenity. Palestinian children carefreely walk to school through olive orchids, hand in hand with their Jewish nationals. Gone are the young indoctrinated armed-to-the-teeth Zionist soldiers who gleefully abused, traumatized and usurped their Palestinian neighbors’ rights and bulldozed their homes.

I see that the skies over Yemen are free of metals spitting fire and terror, killing and maiming at will. The infants and children look well nourished. The mothers’ foreheads are clear of worry-lines and grief from the slaughter of their suckling babies. The men too, with one-half of their mouths budging with ghastly khatt concoction and a hand cradling the customary Janbeeya knife, seem happy, busy with trade and commerce or shoving their mouths with mandis full of succulent fragranced rice and spiced lamb.

I see the women in Afghanistan walk about their cities or villages, unmolested because of their attire. The bazaars of Kabul and Mazar and Herat and Kandahar are crowded with Hazara and Pashtun men, their shops laden with pistachios and badam and saffron, ready for export. There is no thought given to suicide bombers that have claimed so many lives. Gone are the ugly concrete walls that lined every government or prominent building to ward off bombs and death.

I see that Dal Lake in Srinagar is clear of trash and is teeming with tourists from both Pakistan and India, savoring mouthwatering Kashmiri wazwan. That the flower gardens of Srinagar are booked 2 years in advance for Lollywood and Bollywood song shots.

I notice that the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar I visited so often that left me depressed and heartbroken every time is now deserted and the thick depleted forest cleared to accommodate the camp is now lush. And green. The elephants that used to meander about these lands are back in force. Surprised, I cast an eye to the south and I see them back in their homeland of Myanmar. I recognize some of the orphans that CAI donors had given succor; they look well and contented. Happily, I call out to them, but my voice does not carry, no matter how hard I shout. I give up.

I look over west, to India and Pakistan. The borders are demilitarized! The crumbling infrastructure of both countries look so much healthier. Spending their people’s money in a proper manner? I wonder if both the countries have finally rid themselves of inept leaders and installed heads who have had a university education, at least? Gone are shaven head monks or military clad generals traumatizing their populations. Phew. Finally!

I command the cloud I am lounging on to take me west and I find myself above the continent of my birth – Africa; it is no longer dark and corrupt. The hunger, disease and lack of water in many countries I’d visited and on worked in are now histories. Replaced with prosperity and wellbeing, especially the beautiful children.

In Tanga and Arusha, the places I spent most of my childhood remains the same – happy and carefree, as I had known it. However, at the Khoja centers, there are Black worshippers comingling with the Khojas without acrimony. There are none of the senseless rituals that I was indoctrinated in, especially in Muharram. The mourning for Imam Hussein (a) and his family’s brutal murder is commemorated in a manner that is respectful and befitting the Imam’s (a) supreme mission; by following his deeds. The mandatory pulau, daal gost and haleem still feeds the believers.

My Khojas of planet earth, favored by Allah’s grace in prosperity, intellect and a generous heart in the past, but lost in blindly following grandfathered rites, have finally gotten their act straight. Gone are ‘world’ institutes that are Khoja eccentric and are now embracing the Umma concept that the Prophet (s) advocated.

I get to visit a lot more places in our world in my newfound vehicle, where peace, prosperity, and justice now prevails. I am thrilled, ecstatic, on top of the world, literally. But just as quickly, terror pierces my heart. Isn’t this the time when my Imam (a) would be ruling the world? Isn’t this the prophecy that his reappearance and setting up a world with justice and peace herald the end of the world? Has the Imam (a) appeared and I’ve missed the boat? Have I been in slumber while other lucky ones got to help and abet his mission? I begin crying copious tears of disappointment and frustration. Of shame and guilt. I am so engulfed with grief, I begin struggling for breath.

Sir? Sir? Sir! I hear a female voice yelling at me and firm hands shaking me awake. A pretty Indian stewardess is peering at me, concern clearly showing on her pert face. Sir, you were having a bad dream. It’s okay! Here, have a glass of water…

We Have Broken Iraq and Don’t Know How To Fix It, Or Even Care If It Is Ever Fixed

[1,500 children accused of ISIS affiliation living in Iraq’s horrid detention system]

Iraq: ISIS Child Suspects Arbitrarily Arrested, Tortured

Children Should Be Rehabilitated, Reintegrated

Why Did ISIS Preserve/Protect Jewish Historical Relics In Iraq?



“Israel is the source for only 60 foreign fighters”]

[Is there any evidence that ISIS is created by Israel?]


Jewish heritage survived ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq

Mosul’s Jewish quarter miraculously survived three years of occupation by the “Islamic State” terror group and the battle to evict it. Reporter Judit Neurink and photographer Eddy van Wessel went there to find out how.

Hebrew inscriptions in a building in Mosul, Iraq (Eddy van Wessel)

When the Islamic militants of IS were finally routed from the city, most of western Mosul was left in ruins. But not the Jewish quarter. Here too, people are working to restore their houses. However, these are mostly still standing and mainly need repairs and a coat of paint to erase the traces of three years of occupation. While most residents fled the battle to free their neighborhoods of IS, they are now back.

Seventy-two-year-old Imad Fetah, who stands in front of his freshly painted gate, wearing a spotless white dishdasha, a scarf draped over his head, never left..

As he recounts the events of the years of occupation, he points to the blackened remains of a building across the narrow street. The fire was started by IS, he says, after the inhabitants had been ordered to leave. The house, which was built around a covered courtyard in the traditional Mosul style, is badly damaged but can still be restored.

When people realized what IS intended to do to their homes, they started refusing to leave. Fetah stayed put, too. “Daesh destroys old things,” he says sadly, using the local name for IS. It wasn’t only this neighborhood — every monument that did not fit with their strict version of Islam had to go: statues of poets and writers, Sufi places of worship, libraries with unique book collections.

The Islamic militants would only tolerate the things they had a use for, Fetah states. “Like the tunnels in our quarter which the Jews had dug.” The tunnels were built to give the residents an escape route in case of danger. Until the IS takeover, they were likely last used when anti-Jewish riots erupted after the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948.

Most Iraqi Jews then fled the country, and their neighborhoods emptied. Their houses were popular because of the high quality of their construction. But many were neglected in the ensuing years, and the areas gradually changed into slums.

Street vendors in the Jewish quarter of Mosul, Iraq (Eddy van Wessel)The vendors’ wares are too expensive for most people in Mosul’s Jewish quarter

Still, says Imad Fetah, he has lived here happily for many years. All his neighbors are aware of the Jewish history, and they are even proud to live here. In the small supermarket that reopened in the nearby bazaar street, 62-year-old Younis Abdullah confirms this. “My parents bought our home in 1948 from a Jewish family. My 90-year-old mother fondly recounts how she liked our Jewish neighbors and misses them.”

Fear of looters

In Mosul Jews are mainly remembered as ‘good neighbors,’ says Faisal Jeber, director of the Gilgamesh Center for Antiquities and Heritage Protection, while walking through the Jewish quarter. “The negative sentiments all concern the state of Israel.”

One wonders what kept civilians from telling IS about the culturally valuable houses and ruins in the Mahallat al-Yahud, the Jewish Quarter. Amazingly, it survived untouched. The biggest surprise of all is the synagogue. In the 1980s it illegally became the private property of a man who went to live on its grounds. Despite the massive destruction IS wrought in Mosul, the derelict building still stands tall.

Read more: Iraqi historian documents IS atrocities in Mosul

The gate has been boarded up, and an official announcement in red letters on the wall says that trespassing is forbidden as this is a heritage site. But, because its roof is gone, a climb onto surrounding roofs makes it possible to see the synagogue’s interior, with its Hebrew tablets embedded in the walls.

The entryway to the synagogue in Mosul's Jewish Quarter is blocked with bars to prevent looting (Eddy van Wessel)The entryway to the synagogue is blocked with bars to prevent looting

Even though IS used both the synagogue and an old school nearby to store weapons and ammunitions, three of the Hebrew tablets disappeared only after liberation, after a Mosul historian shared his happiness on Twitter that the synagogue had escaped destruction. That’s why Faisal Jeber is not especially keen on the warning against trespassing, as it might inspire professional souvenir hunters.

It is a minor miracle that the neighborhood survived IS relatively unscratched. Jeber thanks the derelict state of the houses for this and asserts that the Hebrew tablets had gone undiscovered because most of the IS members in Mosul were illiterate.

But inhabitants point out that IS wanted them out of the neighborhood for the very reason that it was Jewish, and therefore considered haram, forbidden. And that it was mainly saved by its inhabitants’ refusal to have their homes taken from them and burned down, however scared they may have been.

American protection

And then there is the fact that the neighborhood survived the bombings rather well compared to most of western Mosul. That seems to have been mainly thanks to the Americans. Well aware of the value of Mosul’s Jewish heritage, they had marked it on their maps.

A scene of destruction in Mosul, Iraq (Eddy van Wessel)The Jewish quarter survived IS in far better shape than other parts of Mosul

“In 2004, I saw an American officer walking through the quarters,” recounts Saad Rachawi, 56, as he leads the visitors up onto his roof to look at the Jewish school opposite. IS stored weapons there, he says, which scared him badly. Elsewhere in Mosul, those schools became targets for the coalition fighting IS. But here, nothing happened — because of the American’s visit 14 years ago, he thinks. “He had a map of the neighborhood and was making notes on it.”

He must have been referring to Carlos C. Huerta, a rabbi with the US troops in Mosul after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. In a blog, Huerta reported how he discovered the synagogue there. “My heart broke as I climbed over the garbage piles that filled the room where, for hundreds of years, the prayers of Jews had reached the heavens. I realized I was probably the first Jew to enter this holy place in over 50 years.” The garbage is still there

Last year Saad Rachawi once again saw Americans near his house, when they came to the school after IS had been expelled from Mosul. “They used robots to remove all those explosives.”

New threats to Jewish heritage

Now that IS no longer poses a threat, new ones have appeared. Even though housing prices have fallen by 50 percent, owners are having to sell their properties for lack of money after having survived IS rule. Faisal Jeber fears that bargain hunters will buy the houses in order to demolish them, rebuild and make a profit. Important heritage will be lost, he warns.

His fears center on the synagogue, which has been put on the market for $2 million (€1.8 million). The amount is far too high, Jeber says. “We want to buy the premises, or even rent them, to base our headquarters there. We’re looking for funding, so we can return the building to the community.” At the same time, he is considering starting legal proceedings in the courts, as the synagogue was government property and should never had been sold to a private owner.

People walk past a destroyed building in Mosul, Iraq (Eddy van Wessel)Rebuilding Mosul will take years

Jeber’s dream is to return the derelict quarter to its former glory. “That would be important for raising awareness that the Jewish quarter is an inseparable part of Mosul. For a long time, people tried to erase the Jews from our history. But it is our heritage, our identity and our true history.”

Yet as if to illustrate the difficulty of his plight, soon after the interview, and after showing an Iraqi Jew living abroad around in Mosul, Jeber was picked up by Iraqi security police for allegedly spying for Israel and interrogated for over two months. Finally the charges against him were dropped. It shows how deeply the distrust of Jews is rooted in Iraqi society.

Jeber has since left the city.

Local Sri Lankan Anti-Buddhist Group Is Blamed for the Easter Attacks, but No One Has Admitted Responsibility

“the warning, which was based on information passed to Sri Lankan authorities by a foreign intelligence service, believed to be either India’s or the US’s.”

Friends and relatives at the burial of three members of one family who died in the bomb blast at St. Sebastian Church in Negombo.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

NEW DELHI — Sri Lankan officials said on Monday that the coordinated bombings of churches and hotels across the country on Easter Sunday had been carried out by National Thowheeth Jama’ath, a little-known radical Islamist group, with help from international militants.

Rajitha Senaratne, the Sri Lankan health minister, blamed the group at a news conference in Colombo, the capital, adding: “There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

The government announced that it was asking other countries for help in uncovering international links, and that it was assuming emergency powers in order to investigate the attacks. A dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed for the second consecutive night.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted Roman Catholic churches holding Easter services and high-end hotels favored by foreign tourists. On Monday, officials said the death toll had risen to at least 290, with about 500 others wounded. The Sri Lankan authorities have so far arrested two dozen suspects, but declined to identify them.

Running for safety in Colombo after the police announced that a van thought to contain an explosive device had been found near St Anthony’s Church.CreditM. A .Pushpa Kumara/EPA, via Shutterstock
The Sri Lankan government has acknowledged that more than 10 days before the attacks, a foreign intelligence agency gave security officials a detailed warning of a possible threat to churches by National Thowheeth Jama’ath.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Sunday that he and other top government officials had not been informed of the threat, and that “we must look into why adequate precautions were not taken.”

A forensic analysis by the Sri Lankan government of human remains found at three churches and three hotels determined that seven suicide bombers had carried out the attacks. Most sites were attacked by lone bombers, but two targeted the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Bombings at a guesthouse and the suspects’ safe house remain under investigation.

In interviews, counterterrorism experts said that such an extensively planned and coordinated attack would almost certainly have required considerable financing and expertise from a more experienced group overseas.

“The target selection and attack type make me very skeptical that this was carried out by a local group without any outside involvement,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, a specialist in Sri Lankan extremism at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a counterterrorism research group based in London. “There’s no reason for local extremist groups to attack churches, and little reason to attack tourists.”

Video player loadingThe death toll from the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka was raised to nearly 300 people and the authorities have blamed a little-known radical Islamist group for the attacks.CreditCreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

Sri Lanka, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, was ravaged by decades of civil war that ended in 2009, but it has little history of militant Islamist violence. The suicide bombings that were pioneered there starting in the 1980s were carried out by guerrillas from the country’s Tamil ethnic minority who were mainly Hindu, not Muslims.

Anne Speckhard, the director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, contrasted the attacks by Tamil guerrillas with those attributed to National Thowheeth Jama’ath. Unlike the bombings on Sunday, she said, those during the civil war were part of a nationalist or ethnic separatist movement, and generally did not have religious targets.

“These attacks appear to be quite different,” she said, “and look as if they came right out of the ISIS, Al Qaeda, global militant jihadist playbook, as these are attacks fomenting religious hatred by attacking multiple churches on a high religious holiday.”

National Thowheeth Jama’ath is a small but violent group of young Muslims that started at least three years ago in eastern Sri Lanka, far from the country’s more cosmopolitan western and southern coasts. Until this month, the group was generally perceived as anti-Buddhist, counterterrorism experts said.

Radical Islamist groups like Al Qaeda also have experience in organizing and carrying out simultaneous suicide attacks — most notably those in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.


This advisory sent by a police official alerted security officials about a threat to churches from a radical Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath. Government officials have blamed the group for the attack. 

Local ties with such groups may have been strengthened in recent years by Sri Lankan Muslims who traveled to fight in wars in Syria and Iraq, said Sameer Patil, a national security fellow at Gateway House, a foreign policy research group in Mumbai, India. With the Islamic State having recently lost its last patch of territory in Syria, he said, the group’s foreign fighters are now more likely to return home to Sri Lanka and other countries.

“It was just a matter of time before that would hit them on their own soil,” Mr. Patil said.

Scott Stewart, the vice president of tactical analysis at Stratfor, a geopolitical consulting firm based in Austin, Tex., noted that the attackers were unusually successful for a group with no track record of large-scale assaults.

The initial evidence showed that all seven suicide vests detonated. That is certain to worry law enforcement agencies. Initial efforts by small, homegrown extremist groups are usually marked by some degree of failure. Some of the bombs fail to detonate entirely. Others explode early or late, and still others cause smaller blasts than their builders intended.

Whoever designed the suicide vests used in the Easter Sunday blasts showed considerable expertise, he said, and photographs indicate that the bombmaker had access to a lot of military-grade high explosives.

But Joshua A. Geltzer, who was senior director for counterterrorism in the Obama administration and is now the executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, said that it was now much easier for relatively unknown to groups to be successful on their first try.

Blood-stained gurneys outside a hospital in Negombo where many bombing victims were taken on Sunday.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

“The notion that a smaller, regional terrorist group could pull off an attack of this magnitude really doesn’t stun me, in this age of digitally shared terrorist strategies and tactics,” Mr. Geltzer said. “There is so, so much instruction and guidance available on the open internet these days — not to mention whatever is circulating on encrypted chat groups, widely available in terrorist circles if not totally public.”

Ms. Speckhard said the aim of National Thowheeth Jama’ath was to spread the global jihadist movement to Sri Lanka and to create hatred, fear and divisions in society.

“It is not about a separatist movement,” she said. “It is about religion and punishing.”

Sectarian divisions are ripe for exploitation in Sri Lanka, whose ethnic Sinhalese majority is mostly Buddhist. Sri Lankan Muslims, who make up about one-tenth of the population and mostly speak Tamil, have a long history of conflict with the country’s Buddhists and Hindus, said Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.

The conflict stems partly from statues and other human portrayals of Buddhist and Hindu deities, which some Muslims perceive as idolatrous.

In recent years, Buddhist extremist groups have sprung up among the Sinhalese, who make up nearly three-quarters of the Sri Lankan population. The groups seek to protect statues of Buddha from desecration and make Buddhism more central to Sri Lankan life, but they have also fomented violence. Last year, the Sri Lankan government declared a nationwide state of emergency after mob attacks against Muslims in the central district of Kandy.

St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Monday. Hundreds were killed and hundreds more wounded in coordinated blasts at churches and hotels across the country on Easter Sunday.CreditAdam Dean for The New York Times

National Thowheeth Jama’ath appears to have emerged as part of a backlash by Sri Lankan Muslims against these Buddhist extremist groups, said Kabir Taneja, a counterterrorism expert at the Observer Research Foundation, a public policy research group in New Delhi and Mumbai.

Until now, National Thowheeth Jama’ath was known mainly for vandalizing Buddhist statues. In March 2017, the group was involved in a violent clash in Kattankudy, a mostly Muslim community near the eastern city of Batticaloa, where one of the church bombings took place on Sunday. Three people were hospitalized and 10 were arrested, according to a local news report.

Mr. Chellaney noted that there was also a large group called Thowheeth Jama’ath in the southeastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which lies across a strait from Sri Lanka and has a large Tamil population. Smaller chapters with the same name appear to have been set up in Sri Lankan communities in other countries, he said, often funded by groups in the Persian Gulf and subscribing to Wahhabism, an austere form of Islam that has its roots there. Mr. Chellaney described them as “sister organizations” but said the links among them were unclear.

Counterterrorism experts said that in Sri Lanka, National Thowheeth Jama’ath appeared to consist almost entirely of young people, especially recent graduates of Islamic schools. The group appears to have little hierarchy or organizational structure, and no older leaders.

The presence of mostly young people with deep roots in the community but no strong, mature leaders would make it similar to local groups elsewhere in the Muslim world with which the Islamic State has tried to form affiliations.


An earlier version of this article misidentified the Sri Lankans who were among the first in the world to use suicide bombings as a common tactic. They were the Tamil Tigers, not simply members of the Tamil ethnic group.

Keith Bradsher reported from New Delhi, and Sandra E. Garcia from New York. Dharisha Bastians contributed reporting from Colombo, Sri Lanka, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

Dark Forces Target Catholic Church, Hoping To Ignite Anti-Islam “Holy War”

One of the Sri Lanka Bombs Detonating In Bomb Disposal Van
[So far, no group has taken responsibility for the Easter series of bombs, attacking Roman Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, yet CNN and other Western sources were quick to lay the blame upon an anti-Buddhist Sri Lanka Islamist group called National Thowheeth Jama’ath, even though they have no history, EVER, of them attacking or persecuting Sri Lankan Christians.  However, Thowheeth Jama’ath does have recent history of violent clashes with local Buddhist extremist groups.

“Until now, National Thowheeth Jama’ath was known mainly for vandalizing Buddhist statues. In November 2016, its secretary, Abdul Razik, was arrested on charges of inciting racism….”
“Four months later, the group was involved in a violent clash in Kattankudy, a mostly Muslim community near the eastern city of Batticaloa, where one of the church bombings took place on Sunday. Three people were hospitalized and 10 were arrested, according to local news reports.”]

[“Muslims in Sri Lanka number about 2 million, 10%, concentrated mostly in the east of this exotic island.
The Shias of Sri Lanka number no more than about 2,000, concentrated mostly in the east of the country around Walachil and Calcuda in Batticaloa District; there are also some in Kandy and in Noorelia as well”.–The Shias Of Sri Lanka – A Tentative Beginning.]

[Batticaloa was one of the targets of the bombers and one of the only Shia communities in Sri Lanka.]

[Mysterious explosion in Kaththankudi on night of April 16 –(While Notre Dame was still burning…)

“A team of police officers of the CID revealed that a Scooty-Pep motorcycle had exploded. However, the explosion caused damage to buildings and properties in the surrounding area, and CID officers suspect that it may be a test carried out using steel balls and explosives.”]

[The right-wing rumor mill has been busy the past week, trying to create anti-Islamist phobia over the Notre Dame fire/arson, now we have another track trying to paint Catholics as primary target of ISIS in an anti-Christian “Holy War.”]

Ten days before devastating bombings on Easter Sunday, a top Sri Lankan police official warned the security services in an advisory that a little-known radical Islamist group was planning suicide attacks against churches. Top government officials say the warning never reached them, and no action was taken against the group.

On Monday, the government blamed the group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, for the attacks, saying it received help from unspecified international terrorist organizations.

Here is a translation of the cover letter and summary of the advisory. In several cases, The Times has redacted an address or phone number from the translation.

The cover page of the advisory.
The cover page of the advisory.

April 11, 2019
From DIG Special Security Range
Sent to: Ministerial Security Division
Diplomatic Security Division
Judicial Security Division
Security Divisions of Retired Presidents

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1. This refers to the letter from the Ministry of Defense to the Inspector General of Police and further refers to the memo dated 2019.04.09 by the IGP with reference number STAFF05/IGP/PS/OUT/2860/19.

2. You are hereby instructed to pay particular attention to the reference made in Page 2-4 of the above under title National Thawhith Jamaan concerning a possible suicide attack being planned in this country by Mohammed Zaharan, leader of the National “Thawhith Jamaan.”

3. You should instruct all personnel to pay strict heed to this report and be extra vigilant and cautious of the top officials and residences coming under your purview.


Priyalal Dassanayake
Deputy Inspector General of Police
Special Protection Range,
Colombo 02

  • Regarding information of suicide attacks planned by the Leader of the National Thowheeth Jama’ath, Mohammed Zaharan

  • Foreign intelligence has informed that Mohammed Cassim Mohamed Zaharan alias Zaharan Hashmi the leader of the National Thowheeth Jama’ath and his followers are planning suicide attacks in this country. The reports noted that these attacks could target Catholic churches and the Indian High Commission in Colombo. (Information received is at Appendix A)

  • Initial investigations into these reports have revealed that the following several people are involved in this regard.

  • Information has been received that persons known as Zaharan Hashmi and Shahid are currently in hiding in Oluvil in the Akkaraipattu region after the incidents of damaging religious statues in Mawanella in December 26, 2018.

  • A person known as Rilwan has been identified as a younger brother of Zaharan, and the main recruiter of followers around Zaharan – by the name of Mohamed Cassim Mohammed Rilwan NIC No. 903432624V residing at [address redacted], of the Kattankudy Police Division

  • It has been found that this individual is currently in hiding after a clash between NTJ and another religious organization in Kattankudy on March 10, 2018. Even while in hiding he has been working to build followers for Zaharan in Akkaraipattu, Kuliyapitiya, Puttalam, Mawanella and Thihariya and is currently residing in the home of one his close associates in the Oluvil Region.

  • It has been further found that Rilwan visits his wife and children at night (2300hrs -0400hrs) residing at [address redacted].

  • A person known as Milhan, maintains a social media account under the name Mohammed Milhan and interacts with the social media accounts of Zaharan. It has been observed that he has been regularly updating accounts with hate speech again non-Muslims since the March 15, 2019, attacks on a Muslim mosque by a Christian individual in New Zealand.

  • Mohammed Milhan, who studied at Kalmunai Zahira College, uses [phone number redacted], and as an ardent follower of Zaharan, has been observed as someone who has deep hatred towards nonbelievers.

  • It has been further noted that a former army soldier by the name of Bathurdeen Mohammed Mohideen alias Army Mohideen (NIC 750683126V) resides near the Anwer Mosque in Kattankudy 3.E

  • Even though Zaharan has not specifically called on his recruits to directly attack Catholic churches or the Indian High Commission, he has, since 2016, preached to his followers that the murder of nonbelievers is a most noble religious endeavor and that Islam should be spread through such acts.

  • Highly confidential investigations regarding the above are in process.


Venezuela Ex-city Police Chief Admits Participation In Attempted Drone Assassination of Maduro

BOGOTA/CARACAS (Reuters) – A former Venezuelan municipal police chief and anti-government activist says he helped organize an operation to launch armed drones over a military rally on Saturday that President Nicolas Maduro has called an assassination attempt.

In an interview, Salvatore Lucchese, a Venezuelan activist who was previously imprisoned for his role in past protests, told Reuters he orchestrated the attack with a loose association of anti-Maduro militants known generally in Venezuela as the “resistance.”

The “resistance” referred to by Lucchese is a diffuse collection of street activists, student organizers and former military officers. It has little formal structure, but is known in the country mostly for organizing protests in recent years in which demonstrators have clashed with police and soldiers.

Reuters could not independently verify Lucchese’s claims about the attack, in which drones flew over the rally in central Caracas. Explosives aboard the drones detonated, injuring seven military officers and sending attendees scurrying for cover.

“We had an objective and in the moment we were not able to materialize it 100 percent,” Lucchese said in an interview in Bogota, where he is traveling because of activities with other opposition figures. “The armed struggle will continue.”

Venezuela’s Information Ministry did not reply to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, Lucchese parted ways with Popular Will, a prominent opposition party, saying he disagreed with its continued dialogue with Maduro’s administration. The government is widely criticized for authoritarian tactics, human rights abuses and economic policies that have led to recession and malnutrition across the formerly prosperous Andean nation.

Venezuelan opposition activist Salvatore Lucchese speaks during an interview with Reuters in Bogota, Colombia August 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Julio Martinez

Juan Guaido, one of Popular Will’s national leaders, said Lucchese was expelled for “differences with the party and the national leadership” but did not elaborate further.

Guaido also told Reuters Popular Will rejects the use of violence, a position echoed by other mainstream opposition parties in the wake of the attack.

Maduro, who was chosen by late leftist President Hugo Chavez as the Socialist Party candidate to succeed him in 2013, often says Venezuela’s problems are the result of an “economic war” by enemies abroad, including the United States. He blamed the drone attack on right-wing opposition figures and foreign enablers, specifically citing the government of neighboring Colombia.

Colombia’s government has denied any involvement.

In a televised broadcast on Tuesday night, Maduro mentioned Lucchese and linked him to Colombia’s new right-wing president Ivan Duque.


Venezuela’s opposition said that lawmaker Juan Requesens and his sister Rafaela Requesens, a student leader, were arrested in their Caracas apartment on Tuesday night, following Maduro’s vow vowed to crack down on adversaries following the drone attack.

Requesens’ sister was later released and “was in a safe place,” her father said in a video broadcast on social media that was live-streamed from in front of a Caracas jail.

The Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on those alleged arrests. Venezuelan authorities over the weekend arrested six people, including one suspect who had been detained for protests in 2014 and another wanted for involvement in a 2017 military base attack. The government said the drones carried plastic explosives detonated remotely.

Saturday’s blasts, which shook television footage from the rally and rattled nearby buildings, differed from previous suggestions by Maduro’s government of pending attacks against it. Maduro and top aides have spoken of foiled assassination and coup plots in the past, but provided little evidence for them.

Now, it remains unclear exactly how organized or equipped armed opponents may be.

A little-known group called the National Movement of Soldiers in T-Shirts over the weekend also claimed responsibility for the drone attack. It, too, describes itself as part of the “resistance.”

Lucchese declined to say whether he is associated with Soldiers in T-Shirts. A member of the group, who declined to be identified by name, in an exchange with Reuters via a messaging platform declined to comment on Lucchese.

The 52-year-old activist first drew attention after being jailed for ten months starting in 2014 for refusing to break up anti-Maduro protests. As police chief of the municipality of San Diego, in central Carabobo state, he disobeyed Interior Ministry orders to clear demonstrators, Lucchese said.

His account of the arrest and jail sentence is supported by a ruling on his conviction published by Venezuela’s Supreme Court at the time.

The government released Lucchese at the end of his sentence in February 2015, according to Lucchese and local media reports. Reuters could not find government documentation of his release.

Lucchese told Reuters he left Venezuela for an undisclosed location last August, after learning the government sought his arrest once more, this time for treason and inciting military rebellion. The warrant was widely reported by Venezuelan media in recent months, but Reuters was unable to review a copy of it.

Lucchese said he now resides abroad and continues to work with other anti-Maduro activists, stressing that armed resistance is the only way to topple Maduro. “No dictator leaves power peacefully,” he told Reuters.

Additional reporting by Anggy Polanco in San Cristobal and Mayela Armas and Alexandra Ulmer in Caracas; Editing by Paulo Prada & Simon Cameron-Moore

Iraq Neighbors Summit Attended By Saudi Arabia and Iran, Jordan, Turkey, Kuwait, Syria…BUT NOT U.A.E…


Regional Powers Partake in Iraq Summit in Blow to ‘Arab NATO’

Iraq summit brings together rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran

Baghdad meet brings together lawmakers of Iraq’s six neighbours: Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and Kuwait.

Speaker of the Iraqi parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi attends the Baghdad Summit on Saturday [Iraqi parliament media office via Reuters]
Speaker of the Iraqi parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi attends the Baghdad Summit on Saturday [Iraqi parliament media office via Reuters]

A summit organised by Iraq brought together regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran on Saturday as part of a broader effort by Iraqi leaders to fashion the country’s image as a friend among neighbours.

Scarred by more than three decades of war, Iraq is recasting itself as a mediator among neighbours who are often at odds over weighty issues, including the civil war in Syria and US sanctions against Iran.

The summit, hosted by Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi, brought together top legislators of Iraq’s six neighbours: Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and Kuwait.

“Today, Iraq is building a promising strategic partnership with all neighbouring countries without any reservations or favouring any party,” said al-Halbousi.

The regional meeting follows months of high-profile diplomacy that has involved Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi and President Barham Salih to engage with the neighbours.

“The stability of Iraq is necessary in the stability of the region and contributes its return with all its political and economic weight and creative human resources to its Arab and regional environment,” a final declaration said.

It emphasised “the importance of supporting moderation and combating extremism in all its forms, especially as it is the people of the region who pay the price of extremism”.

Abdul Mahdi made visits in quick succession to Iran and Saudi Arabia earlier this year, emphasising that Iraq would not favour one or the other in the rivalry between them.

Instead, Iraq is looking to expand trade with both as it looks to rebuild itself, 16 years after the 2003 US invasion plunged the country into civil war. The country is seeking billions of dollars in aid and investment – particularly in energy and electricity – for reconstruction.

Iraq is also spearheading a regional initiative to bring Syria – which was suspended in 2011 – back into the Arab League, with President Bashar al-Assad surviving a 2011 uprising against his rule.

While Iraq remains a close ally of the US in the Middle East, Iraqi leaders have made clear they will not be constrained by US policy objectives to isolate Iran and Syria.

“Iraq is coming back to the neighbourhood,” President Salih told The Associated Press last month.

US Relocating ISIS Forces and Families to Iraq and N. Syria, Southern Raqqa

US Relocates ISIL Convoy to Military Base in Raqqa

US Attempting to Transfer ISIL Terrorists from Idlib to Safe Areas in Iraq

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:40 P.M.) – The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) took advantage of the poor weather in central Syria this past weekend to stage a small offensive to capture a mountain area near the Al-Raqqa Governorate’s border.

According to a military source in eastern Homs, the Islamic State was able to capture the mountain town of Al-Kawm in the Al-Sukhnah area after killing over 15 Syrian Arab Army soldiers.

The pro-government Palestinian paramilitary group Liwaa Al-Quds also retreated in order to regroup and secure the area near the historical city of Al-Rusafa in the southern countryside of the Al-Raqqa Governorate.

Syrian Arab Army reinforcements have since entered the area and will be conducting a counter-attack in the coming hours as they look to clear these mountains north of Al-Sukhnah.

Another army source in the area told Al-Masdar that they have faced problems between Al-Sukhnah and Al-Rusafa before; this is due to the absence of checkpoints in this mountainous region.

He added that the Syrian military often conducts night patrols along this road, but it is difficult to clear these mountains as of now because this will require a big operation.

The Islamic State is believed to be hiding between 2,000-3,000 fighters in central Syria, with large number of them hiding in Badiya Al-Sham region’s caves that are located between the Deir Ezzor and Homs governorates.


US/Dutch Air Bases Off Venezuelan Coast

Intervention in Venezuela: A Tour of US Military Bases in Curaçao and Aruba

Misión Verdad“Aerial detection and monitoring of suspicious air and maritime drug trafficking activities” would appear to be the objective of these military bases (Photo: U.S. Air Force).

Aruba and Curaçao are two Caribbean territories under the dominance (in terms of security and foreign policy) of the Netherlands. Since 1999, the United States has agreed to establish “counter-narcotics” operations centres on both islands.

A publication on the website indicates that since that year there were suspicions raised. They cite The Washington Post, which reported that as of March 1999, the Clinton administration began sharing with the Colombian Armed Forces real-time intelligence on guerrilla activities from the outposts installed on these islands.

The United States, therefore, delegated a clearly functional use to these bases in their confrontation with the insurgent and leftist forces. At that time, the United States was designing its roadmap for the emergence of the Bolivarian revolution that was already in power in Venezuela.

U.S. bases on these islands are classified as “Forward Operating Locations (FOLs)” and initially supported the advance of U.S. intervention in Colombia’s internal conflict, without the Netherlands being able to influence decisions on the matter. For the purposes of Washington’s actions in the Caribbean, both islands are used at full discretion for U.S. operations.

This was pointed out in a 1999 article by academic Tom Blickman. Under the title: “U.S. Advanced Bases in Aruba and Curaçao. A contribution to the military intervention in Colombia”, Blickman explained that although it was initially proposed that the Netherlands would not allow the use of these bases for purposes of intervention in the region and that they would only have the goal of combating drug trafficking, there has been an indisputable loss of sovereignty of the Netherlands over its islands by the US government.

Since then, U.S. operations have functioned as a “black box,” without any form of accountability for their activities to local or regional political authorities.

In recent years, Venezuela has denounced the incursion of aircraft that have launched and that would have carried out electronic operations of various kinds.

In 2015, a DACH-8 military aircraft violated the airspace of the Venezuelan territorial sea at a time when the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB) detected an “unusual” additional overflight of other U.S. “intelligence apparatuses” based in Curacao, according to the Ministry of Defense, Vladimir Padrino López.

In March 2018, a U.S. Air Force Boeing C17 aircraft was detected taking off from the Hato base in Curacao. On that occasion, Padrino López denounced that the aircraft carried out prospecting and reconnaissance of the Caribbean coast of Venezuela and explained that this time the plane was detected by the Los Monjes archipelago in the Gulf of Venezuela, in the northwest of the country.

The evolution of the use of these U.S. military bases has led to the formation of a “strategic arc,” which would consist of assault troops, stationed in control and monitoring settlements in several Central American and Caribbean countries, with the aim of carrying out electronic warfare tasks, espionage and the concentration of logistical devices.

The suspicions about the operational transformation of these “FOLs” were not long in coming, as the intentions revealed by the White House in recent months to carry out a military intervention in Venezuela to depose President Nicolás Maduro are evident.

In February of this year, the Government of Cuba assured in a communiqué that between the 6th and 10th of that month, flights of military transport planes from the United States to bases in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean islands were detected, “surely without the knowledge of the governments of those nations”.

These movements “originated in U.S. military installations from which units of Special Operations Forces and the Marine Infantry operate, which are used for covert operations, including against leaders of other countries,” the Cuban government warned.

Effectively, the military movement would be camouflaged as a alleged “humanitarian intervention” in Venezuela and would involve a tactical deployment to directly attack Venezuela’s institutional high command and thus unleash a war scenario of greater proportions.

Havana stressed that it is “evident that the United States is preparing the ground to establish a humanitarian corridor by force” and pointed out that several of its high officials have said “with arrogance and audacity that, in relation to Venezuela, ‘all options are on the table, including the military’”.

U.S. efforts in these strongholds have included the placement and deployment of equipment, which would be considered disproportionate to the fight against drug trafficking.

Frigates and aircraft carriers

It is presumed that in the occasions in which these placements occurred, the displacement capacity of the naval air force with projection to Venezuelan territory would be calibrated, weighing the particularities of the Caribbean operationally.

Recently, the think tank Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS), based in Washington, sponsored a private meeting entitled “Evaluating the use of military force in Venezuela”. The Grayzone research project and journalist Max Blumenthal released the list of attendees.

Among the approximately 40 figures invited to the off-the-record event to discuss potential military action against Caracas were some of President Donald Trump’s policy advisors on Venezuela.

The list included former and current officials from the State Department, the National Intelligence Council and the National Security Council, along with Admiral Kurt Tidd, who until recently was head of the Southern Command.

In addition to high-level officials from the embassies of Colombia and Brazil, as well as the main representatives of the parallel government of the coup leader in Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, who also participated in the meeting.

Translation by Internationalist 360°

Saudis and UAE Responsible For Sudanese Rebellion, Taking Fight w/Qatar To Africa

Sudan’s military sack diplomat after statement on Qatari visit

Mohammed Dahlan, George Bush’s “Whore,” Now He’s Selling His Ass To the Saudis

W. Bush’s Evil Little Whore, Mohammed Dahlan, Implicated In Saudi Cover-Up of Khashoggi Murder

Arab Fratricide In Libya–Qatar and Turkey vs. UAE and Egypt

Libyans Strike Egyptian and UAE Embassies In Tripoli

Sudanese troops to remain in Yemen: military council

He Was Placed In Cell 17, The Worst In Cooper’s Prison, Al-Bashir Told The UAE And Saudi Arabia Before His Jailers


Sources revealed that ousted President  , said after entering prison  in Khartoum North that a major plot hatched against him by the UAE and Saudi Arabia in coordination with the team Salah Gosh, director of the Security Service and the National Intelligence, who resigned from his post, and the transfer of the ousted president, on Thursday, to prison  , where he sits with a number of senior leaders of the former regime.

The sources said that Abdullah al-Bashir, the brother of the isolated president, Gamal al-Wali, leader of the National Congress Party, Abdul Rahman al-Khader, former governor of Khartoum state, former defense minister Major General Abdul Rahim Mohammed Hussein and a number of leaders of the “shadow battalions” Are being transferred to it.

The journalist Lina Yaqoub said on her Facebook page that she asked: Did not find – means Bashir – a little time for review and accountability? “He does not know how to surrender. He fought until the last minutes.”

For his part, Mohamed Hassan al-Bushi, the activist and the most recently released prisoner, said Bashir had put in cell 17, the worst in Kober prison.

On the other hand , politicians , and activists spoke about the suspicious role of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, in the coup that toppled Bashir on April 11, with the complicity of the team Salah Gosh, raising the demonstrators in front of the army leadership banners reject the role of the three role and any aid plans submitted and called on them not to interfere in the affairs of  ‘s interior.

In the meantime, information revealed that Mohammed Dahlan, security adviser to Abu Dhabi and the leader of the dismissed movement “Fatah” visited Khartoum a few days ago, accompanied by an Emirati delegation and secretly away from the media (SEE: U.A.E., Mohammed Dahlan and Zionist Terrorist Conspiracies Called “DAESH”).

The source told Khaleej Online that Dahlan’s visit to Sudan, which is undergoing critical political and security conditions, was aimed at trying to control the reins of government there and changing any developments that might conflict with its political and economic interests. She said that the UAE delegation, in the presence of Dahlan, met with Sudanese army officials, and discussed the possibility of the escalation of events and damage to the interests of the UAE there.

The transitional military council in Sudan said in a statement on Wednesday: “The President of the Council, Lieutenant General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, met with a high-level Saudi-UAE joint delegation, and it is remarkable that he did not disclose the names or characteristics of the personalities of the joint delegation that attended the meeting with the team The first is Abd al-Fattah al-Burhan.

According to the statement, the delegation expressed its readiness to support and support Sudan and its people at this important historic stage, adding that the delegation also met with Hamidati, who discussed with the delegation what he described as distinguished relations between Khartoum and Abu Dhabi. The sources concluded by saying that the UAE is playing a suspicious and dangerous role in the African country, and implemented by Dahlan, and if the plan succeeded, Sudan could declare a printing country with Israel.

Mubarak al-Nur, spokesman for the opposition Sudanese opposition coalition, said the regime of President Omar al-Bashir remained isolated in Sudan. “Therefore, the revolution will continue until all its demands are fulfilled.” Al-Nur said in a statement to “Gulf Online”, yesterday: “The Transitional Military Council is taking practical steps now to liquidate the former regime, and ask him to fight corruption and corrupt, and return the stolen state money to the Treasury.”

Turkish Army w/Terrorist Proxies Simultaneously Shell Syrian Forces and Kurdish Fighters Overnight

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:25 P.M.) – The Turkish Army and their allies from the National Liberation Front (NLF) launched a heavy attack against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Aleppo this afternoon.

According to a source near Aleppo city, the Turkish Army and NLF heavily shelled the YPG near the town of Mennagh and the Syrian Arab Army inside of Tal Rifa’at.

In response to this attack, the YPG fired several mortar shells towards the Turkish Army’s positions in northern Syria; they would hit a number of areas including the town of Azaz near the border.

The reason for the attack this afternoon by the Turkish military and NLF is not known; however, earlier in the day, the Turkish Air Force was seen flying over Aleppo.

The Syrian Arab Army has yet to respond to the attack and it is unlikely that they will as they do not want to increase tensions in this region.

War crimes and national security

Robert Koehler: War crimes and national security

How dare she question the sanctity of American militarism?

As national security adviser John Bolton declared last fall, the International Criminal Court constitutes “an assault on the constitutional rights of the American people and the sovereignty of the United States.”

That’s you and me that Bolton is speaking about, and the recent revocation of ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s visa — in the wake of her insistence on investigating, among other things, U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan — is just the latest step in the diplomatic war the United States has declared against the court since it was established in 2002.

The “largely unspoken, but always central, aim” of the International Criminal Court’s “most vigorous supporters was to constrain the United States” Bolton said, whipping up the rhetoric against the very idea of international law and global values. “The objective was not limited to targeting individual U.S. service members, but rather America’s senior political leadership, and its relentless determination to keep our country secure.”

This is shock-and-awe level rhetoric, words meant to crush all debate, all discussion. American is a free country, man. That’s the highest value on Planet Earth. It has the freedom to wage any war it wants, and every war it wages is absolutely necessary, according to Bolton and the military-industrial machine he represents.

It seems to me that a more complex set of values used to drive this country’s official rhetoric. In the Trump era, things have gotten increasingly simplistic, as the administration seeks to define the country as complete: no more evolution allowed. The borders are closed . . . to Muslims, Mexicans and International Criminal Court prosecutors.

Consider the United States in the wake of World War II — as much an arrogant superpower then as now, to be sure, but presumably driven by values beyond the right to do what it wants. The country played a central role in the establishment of the International Military Tribunal, which set standards to begin creating global peace and, of course, held the defeated Axis powers of Europe accountable to them.

The punishable transgressions committed by the losers of the Second World War, seemingly put forward by the winners with the idea that they must never happen again, included: (a) Crimes against Peace, i.e., the planning and waging of a war of aggression; (b) War Crimes, such as “wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity”; and (c) Crimes against Humanity: i.e., “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population.”

What if these words actually meant something (which is what the International Criminal Court seems to think is the case)?

“If today the U.S. government were to put itself on trial, on the same basis it employed to try the Nazis at Nuremberg, for actions taken in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years, it might have to convict itself.”

So wrote Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute think tank — in May 2004! At that point the war in Afghanistan, now the longest war in U.S. history, was less than three years old, and the Iraq war had been going barely a year.

“Can anyone sincerely maintain that what was a crime for Hermann Goering and Alfred Jodl,” Higgs continued, “is not equally a crime for Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney?”

Well, John Bolton can. And this is another decade and a half down the road, with the wars, barely in the news anymore, still going on. It’s almost as though they’re grinding forward on their own, but as Bolton reminded us, they represent the will of “America’s senior political leadership, and its relentless determination to keep our country secure.”

These are words forged in the vat of political self-interest into defensive armor, a.k.a., politician-speak cliché. When held up against the actual reality of war, they leave one gasping for breath. For instance, Human Rights Watch, summarizing the 2014 findings of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques, pointed out:

“The summary describes many previously reported facts about the CIA torture program, including the agency’s use of painful stress positions, forced standing, extended sleep deprivation, extensive bright light and loud noise exposure, waterboarding, and throwing detainees against walls or closing them into coffins.

“It also contains new details showing that CIA torture was even more brutal than previously thought. The agency used painful restraints, imposed punitive ‘anal feeding’ or ‘anal rehydration,’ and forced detainees with broken leg bones to stand shackled against walls.”

All in the name of our nation’s security! And there’s so much more. What about our bombing campaigns — the murder of uncounted villagers, wedding party celebrants . . . in North Korea and Vietnam as well as Afghanistan and Iraq. Eventually they simply became collateral damage, a term of great emotional benefit to mass murderers such as Timothy McVeigh.

Higgs, writing about the decimation of the village of Makr al-Deeb, in Iraq, on May 19, 2004, in which U.S. bombing and strafing killed more than 40 people, quoted a survivor’s words to an Associated Press reporter: “One of (the dead) was my daughter. I found her a few steps from the house, her 2-year-old son Raad in her arms. Her 1-year-old son, Raed, was lying nearby, missing his head.”

This data, almost too painful to quote, is wide open to the public. Multiply it by several thousand or a million and it manages to turn into national security.

But each incident, looked at up close, before the dead become collateral damage, is a war crime. Sorry, Ms. Bensouda, but national security requires that we revoke your visa.


Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

U.S. Out of Everywhere

A U.S. soldier stands guard at Kandahar Air base in Afghanistan on January 23, 2018. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Out of Everywhere

The case for an immediate withdrawal from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.


It is time to revive the anti-war movement in the U.S. in order to push the political establishment (both liberal and rightwing) to abandon its imperialist policies and white-savior tendencies.

Trump’s December 19 announcement of troop withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan led to immediate opposition not only from the Right but also from liberal commentators, demonstrating the overlap between liberals and the right wing when it comes to the imperialist U.S. foreign policy. This overlap was illustrated again on January 31, when a bipartisan majority of the Senate voted to move forward with a billrebuking what they describe as Trump’s “precipitous” withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

Many commentators argue that the U.S. political system has become increasingly polarized, pointing to the prolonged shutdown of the federal government as evidence. However, the difference between Democrats and Republicans in Washington is one of style, not substance, as revealed by the history of bipartisan support for U.S. intervention and occupation abroad. Republican administrations may be more frequently associated with U.S. invasions, but establishment Democrats have long backed the policies of U.S. imperialism.

This is, in part, because U.S. interventionist foreign policy is driven by capitalist ideals, shared across the aisle by those in power in Washington. In order to sustain a profitable capitalist economy, there must be a continuous expansion of markets and increase in consumption. This capitalist imperative has been influential in shaping a U.S. foreign policy of invasion, destruction and resource extraction during open-ended wars. In 1971, the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano famously described this extractive relationship as “the open veins of Latin America.” The rhetoric of defending democracy, which was used to justify the invasion of Syria as well as the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, has always been a cover story for neo-colonialism.

U.S. intervention, operating under this cover story of spreading democracy, has historically led to the long-term destruction of countries and exploitation of their natural resources. One only need look at Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in recent history, not to mention continuing U.S. support for the brutal Saudi-led war on Yemen.

U.S. intervention in Syria

The U.S. military has had troops on the ground in Syria for four years. In 2015, President Obama deployed 50 Special Operations troops to Syria, and there are currently 2,000 troops currently stationed there. As happens with many of the wars the U.S. wages abroad, the justifications for invasion and long-term military occupation in Syria have shifted over the years. U.S. intervention was originally nominally aimed at ousting Bashar al-Assad. But by 2014, with Assad still firmly in power, the U.S. claimed to be fighting the Islamic State with an aggressive campaign of airstrikes. Since then, the U.S. narrative has been one of “liberating” people from the Islamic State, but the untold death and destruction that comes in the wake of the military operations will likely take generations to overcome. The country has been decimated by this foreign-backed war. According to an estimate from the United Nations, the war has cost the country nearly $400 billion, with the destruction in physical capital alone amounting to $388 billion.

The destruction of Syria is also a project of capitalist expansion and value drain. Like many other countries in the region, from the 1990s onwards, Syria succumbed to a mixture of internal pressure from the ruling class and external pressure from western states and international financial institutions to liberalize its economy. When Assad took office in 2000, he lifted state controls on private investment, reduced tariffs and opened the economy to foreign investment and trade. These types of reforms are hallmarks of the free-market capitalist ideology that the U.S. has tried to impose across the world.

By 2011, these economic reforms, combined with the euphoria of the Arab revolutions, led to an uprising. Early demands of the populist uprising included both economic and political reforms. However, the public’s resistance was quickly met with violence and repression. The UN estimates that 5,000 Syrians civilians were killed in 2011 alone.

Yet it was largely external factors that transformed Syria into the nightmare it has been unable to exit from. The civil war that broke out inside Syria in 2011 was quickly subsumed into the ongoing geopolitical power struggle. The U.S. alongside Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel, financially supported and armed opposition fighters battling the Syrian government. In their article, “Investment and Neoliberalism in Syria,” Linda Matar and Ali Kadri explain that although Syria is not rich in resources, “it is strategically located and its control imparts strategic gains to whichever imperialist power holds it in the end.”

The rapid and coordinated assault on Syria reflects U.S. determination to maintain its power in the Middle East. The War Powers Act requires the president to give reports to Congress on the U.S. use of military force abroad. In the 2018 War Powers Transparency report, the Trump administration claimed that the ongoing campaign of airstrikes in Syria has “liberated 4.5 million people from ISIS oppression in 2017,” and that the current mission is one of “liberating the middle Euphrates River valley in Syria.” But U.S. intervention in Syria has decimated the country through relentless bombing, ostensibly targeting ISIS.

While the politicians in Washington call Trump’s proposed withdrawal of troops irresponsible, and argue for endless occupation in the name of “stabilization,” airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition continue. Since Trump’s announcement in late December, Airwars has reported 40 separate coalition airstrikes which have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians in Syria. Although the law requires compensation for civilian survivors and victims of attacks that were in violation of international law, the U.S.-led coalition has shown no intention of taking responsibility for or compensating survivors of these attacks.

Meanwhile, the destruction from the overall conflict, including airstrikes from the Syrian and Russian governments, is staggering. Sources today estimate that more than 500,000 Syrians have been killed since the beginning of the war and almost two million have been injured. Additionally, more than half of the country’s population, between 11 and 12 million people, have been displaced and forced to flee their homes due to the unrelenting violence. More than 5 million of those displaced have moved abroad where many have registered as refugees. For the civilian population in Syria, this has been an era of death, destruction, and displacement—not liberation.

In December, California Democrat Ro Khanna, a staunch critic of American interventionism, authored an Op-Ed for the Washington Post titled, “Trump was right to pull out of Syria and Afghanistan. This is what he should do next.” He notes, “the presence of U.S. troops in the Syrian civil war was never authorized by Congress,” and the U.S. is “violating international law by invading Syria without approval of the United Nations.”

Critics of Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria have argued that the U.S. is abandoning the Kurds who control areas of Northern Syria and have created a zone of self-governance and autonomy there. Kurdish fighters have been instrumental in reclaiming the territory that ISIS once held. Recently, a representative of the Kurdish people declared that the mission to defeat ISIS in Syria has been completed, calling it a 100% victory. Although pulling U.S. troops may leave the Kurds vulnerable to Turkish invasion or aggression from Assad’s regime, an indefinite U.S. military presence has never proven to be a stabilizing force—or a boon to revolutionary people’s movements abroad.

U.S. Intervention in Iraq

U.S. military intervention in Iraq has a long, violent history. In 1963, the U.S. and Britain backed a coup against Abd al-Karim Qasim, a popular leader who overthrew the British installed monarchy in Iraq. Qasim swiftly declared Iraq a republic and began implementing widespread reforms, including a plan to nationalize the British-controlled oil reserves. The U.S. and Britain reacted to his rise to power and his leftist reforms with panic. Eventually the powerful countries backed the coup against Qasim in order to pursue their economic and imperialist ambitions. The party that came to power was the Baathist party, including their high-ranking member, and future president Saddam Hussein.

In 1990, the U.S. government launched the Persian Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, a leader the U.S. helped bring to power and supported for decades. During this war, U.S. bombing was targeted at crucial infrastructure and resulted in the destruction of decades-long development in Iraq. Although the Persian Gulf War ended in 1991, the U.S. military assault on Iraq continued on. Throughout Bill Clinton’s presidency, the U.S. military quietly carried out systematic bombing of Iraq in what would become the longest sustained U.S. bombing campaign since Vietnam. Beginning in the immediate aftermath of the Persian Gulf War and lasting until the U.S ground invasion in 2003, the U.S. military conducted airstrikes against Iraq justified as protecting “No Fly Zones” that had been established at the end of the Persian Gulf War. These No-Fly Zones were ostensibly to protect Iraqi ethnic minorities from the possibility of Saddam Hussein using aircrafts.

This U.S. bombing campaign was accompanied by the imposition of devastating economic sanctions that prevented humanitarian aid from reaching Iraq. By 1995, UN reports estimated that over the previous four years, as many as 576,000 Iraqi children died as a result of these sanctions. In a 1996 interview with 60 Minutes, then UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright was asked whether, given the deaths of over half of a million Iraqi children, the price of continuing to impose these economic sanctions was “worth it.” She responded, “We think the price is worth it.” Denis Halliday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, resigned in 1998 from his position over the sanctions against Iraq. He later described them as constituting genocide.

In March 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq with the stated mission to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and end the rule of Saddam Hussein. According to The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein, from March 20 to May 1, the U.S. military dropped roughly 30,000 bombs on Iraq, and 20,000 precision-guided cruise missiles. After this month of relentless bombing, the U.S. declared victory in “The War in Iraq.” Television stations broadcast the monument of Saddam Hussein being toppled in the streets and then President George W. Bush posing in front of a banner reading “mission accomplished.”

In the immediate wake of this declared victory, the U.S. appointed Paul Bremer to take control over the government in Iraq, even though he did not speak Arabic, had no experience with postwar reconstruction, and had never visited Iraq. Bremer is credited with decisions such as abolishing the Iraqi army overnight and reopening Abu Ghraib, where the U.S. infamously detained and tortured thousands of Iraqis.

The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq played a key role in creating ISIS. President Obama admitted as much in an interview where he described ISIS as an example of “unintended consequences.” Then, defeating ISIS became the justification for an indefinite occupation in Iraq and assault against the country.

In 2014, an international coalition led by the U.S. began airstrikes and military action against ISIS in Iraq. This assault was dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve. Four years later, in 2018, Airwars reported the Coalition actions had directly caused between 6,500 and 10,000 civilian deaths.

In 2018, the U.S. announced the end of “major combat operations” and the closing of the coalition command center. Although ISIS no longer holds any significant territory in Iraq, the U.S. military remains an occupying force in the country. In August 2018, a spokesman promised that the U.S. will stay in Iraq “for as long as needed.”

A research project by Brown University called “The Costs of War” has estimated that in Iraq, from March 2003 to October 2018, the total number of deaths directly attributable to post-9/11 War in Iraq was between 268,000 and 295,000. The researchers warn that this number is likely an underestimate due to lack of reporting and lack of transparency by the U.S. government. Furthermore, this number does not account for the untold number of “indirect deaths” that have been caused as a result of loss of access to food, water and other basic necessities. Others have put the estimate of Iraqis killed at 1 million.

The Costs of War report estimates that the number of refugees and internally displaced people in Iraq is roughly 3,250,000.

Today, there are some 5,200 U.S. troops based in Iraq. In a press conference during his first visit to Iraq, Trump said that he has no plans to withdraw troops from the country. Instead, Trump suggested that the U.S. use Iraq as a staging ground in the Middle East: “we can do things from Iraq … we could use this as a base if we wanted to do something in Syria.” Recently, Trump also said that he wants the U.S. military to stay in Iraq to keep a close eye on Iran.

U.S. intervention in Afghanistan

Within a month of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. was leading an invasion of Afghanistan with the claimed mission to kill Osama Bin Laden and defeat al-Qaeda’s leadership. This operation soon expanded to include fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The 2001 invasion marked the beginning of a deadly and unending 17-year assault and occupation of the country.

In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld declared an end to major combat in Afghanistan claiming the U.S. would be moving “to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction activities.”

But today, it’s clear that U.S. government’s stated mission to defeat the Taliban has failed. Last year, the New York Times reported that the Taliban held more territory than ever before as they battle the Afghan government for control.

The war continues to drag on, mostly out of sight and out of mind for the U.S. public. In 2017, Trump announced a new plan for U.S. engagement in Afghanistan saying, “We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.” The latest War Powers Transparency report notes that in Afghanistan, “the United States remains in an armed conflict, including in Afghanistan and against al-Qa’ida, ISIS, the Taliban, and the Taliban Haqqani Network.” Yet, the U.S. has also positioned itself as the broker of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Considering the U.S. role in creating and escalating this conflict, it is absurd for the U.S. to justify its on-going intervention in the name of negotiating peace.

The conflict in Afghanistan has resulted in roughly 4.78 million refugees and internally displaced people and a conservative estimate of 147,000 deaths in war zones. In 2018, the U.S. dropped the greatest number of bombs since the 17-year-old war began. According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, just in 2018, there were 2,798 civilian deaths and 5,252 injuries. Human Rights Watch has reported that the U.S. and Afghan governments are not adequately investigating possible unlawful airstrikes in Afghanistan.

In December, Trump announced that, in addition to Syria, he is ordering the military to start the process of withdrawing 7,000 troops from Afghanistan. This announcement of a limited withdrawal, which constitutes only half of the 14,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, provoked panic in Washington, in another illustration of the meeting of the minds between the Democrats and the Republicans when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.

The U.S. has no business to intervene in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or any other country—whether in the name of “counter-terrorism,” “democracy promotion,” or “state-building.” It is time to revive the anti-war movement in the U.S. in order to push the political establishment (both liberal and rightwing) to abandon its imperialist policies and white-savior tendencies. The U.S. should also acknowledge the calamitous impact of U.S. intervention in other countries and pay reparations to the peoples and countries that it has invaded, destroyed and exploited over the past centuries.

The author would like to thank Luce Randall for the research help with this article and Dr. Corinna Mullin for her review and feedback on drafts of the article.

The Long, Shameful History of American Terrorism

Photos of the six Jesuit priests and their housekeeper murdered by U.S.-supported soldier in El Salvador’s civil war—one of many examples of American-sponsored terrorism—at a 2009 commemoration. (Steve Rhodes / Flickr)

Noam Chomsky: The Long, Shameful History of American Terrorism

President Obama should call our country’s history of supporting insurgents abroad for what it is: U.S.-backed terrorism.


A recent New York Times articles lists three major examples of “covert aid,” in Angola, Nicaragua and Cuba. In fact, each case was a major terrorist operation conducted by the U.S.

“It’s official: The U.S. is the world’s leading terrorist state, and proud of it.”

That should have been the headline for the lead story in the New York Times on October 15, which was more politely titled “CIA Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels.”

The article reports on a CIA review of recent U.S. covert operations to determine their effectiveness. The White House concluded that unfortunately successes were so rare that some rethinking of the policy was in order.

The article quoted President Barack Obama as saying that he had asked the CIA to conduct the review to find cases of “financing and supplying arms to an insurgency in a country that actually worked out well. And they couldn’t come up with much.” So Obama has some reluctance about continuing such efforts.

The first paragraph of the Times article cites three major examples of “covert aid”: Angola, Nicaragua and Cuba. In fact, each case was a major terrorist operation conducted by the U.S.

Angola was invaded by South Africa, which, according to Washington, was defending itself from one of the world’s “more notorious terrorist groups”—Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress. That was 1988.

By then the Reagan administration was virtually alone in its support for the apartheid regime, even violating congressional sanctions to increase trade with its South African ally.

Meanwhile, Washington joined South Africa in providing crucial support for Jonas Savimbi’s terrorist Unita army in Angola. Washington continued to do so even after Savimbi had been roundly defeated in a carefully monitored free election, and South Africa had withdrawn its support. Savimbi was a “monster whose lust for power had brought appalling misery to his people,” in the words of Marrack Goulding, British ambassador to Angola.

The consequences were horrendous. A 1989 U.N. inquiry estimated that South African depredations led to 1.5 million deaths in neighboring countries, let alone what was happening within South Africa itself. Cuban forces finally beat back the South African aggressors and compelled them to withdraw from illegally occupied Namibia. The U.S. alone continued to support the monster Savimbi.

In Cuba, after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, President John F. Kennedy launched a murderous and destructive campaign to bring “the terrors of the earth” to Cuba—the words of Kennedy’s close associate, the historian Arthur Schlesinger, in his semiofficial biography of Robert Kennedy, who was assigned responsibility for the terrorist war.

The atrocities against Cuba were severe. The plans were for the terrorism to culminate in an uprising in October 1962, which would lead to a U.S. invasion. By now, scholarship recognizes that this was one reason why Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev placed missiles in Cuba, initiating a crisis that came perilously close to nuclear war. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later conceded that if he had been a Cuban leader, he “might have expected a U.S. invasion.”

American terrorist attacks against Cuba continued for more than 30 years. The cost to Cubans was of course harsh. The accounts of the victims, hardly ever heard in the U.S., were reported in detail for the first time in a study by Canadian scholar Keith Bolender, Voices From the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba, in 2010.

The toll of the long terrorist war was amplified by a crushing embargo, which continues even today in defiance of the world. On Oct. 28, the U.N., for the 23rd time, endorsed “the necessity of ending the economic, commercial, financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba.” The vote was 188 to 2 (U.S., Israel), with three U.S. Pacific Island dependencies abstaining.

There is by now some opposition to the embargo in high places in the U.S., reports ABC News, because “it is no longer useful” (citing Hillary Clinton’s new book Hard Choices). French scholar Salim Lamrani reviews the bitter costs to Cubans in his 2013 book The Economic War Against Cuba.

Nicaragua need hardly be mentioned. President Ronald Reagan’s terrorist war was condemned by the World Court, which ordered the U.S. to terminate its “unlawful use of force” and to pay substantial reparations.

Washington responded by escalating the war and vetoing a 1986 U.N. Security Council resolution calling on all states—meaning the U.S.—to observe international law.

Another example of terrorism will be commemorated on November 16, the 25th anniversary of the assassination of six Jesuit priests in San Salvador by a terrorist unit of the Salvadoran army, armed and trained by the U.S. On the orders of the military high command, the soldiers broke into the Jesuit university to murder the priests and any witnesses—including their housekeeper and her daughter.

This event culminated the U.S. terrorist wars in Central America in the 1980s, though the effects are still on the front pages today in the reports of “illegal immigrants,” fleeing in no small measure from the consequences of that carnage, and being deported from the U.S. to survive, if they can, in the ruins of their home countries.

Washington has also emerged as the world champion in generating terror. Former CIA analyst Paul Pillar warns of the “resentment-generating impact of the U.S. strikes” in Syria, which may further induce the jihadi organizations Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State toward “repairing their breach from last year and campaigning in tandem against the U.S. intervention by portraying it as a war against Islam.”

That is by now a familiar consequence of U.S. operations that have helped to spread jihadism from a corner of Afghanistan to a large part of the world.

Jihadism’s most fearsome current manifestation is the Islamic State, or ISIS, which has established its murderous caliphate in large areas of Iraq and Syria.

“I think the United States is one of the key creators of this organization,” reports former CIA analyst Graham Fuller, a prominent commentator on the region. “The United States did not plan the formation of ISIS,” he adds, “but its destructive interventions in the Middle East and the War in Iraq were the basic causes of the birth of ISIS.”

To this we may add the world’s greatest terrorist campaign: Obama’s global project of assassination of “terrorists.” The “resentment-generating impact” of those drone and special-forces strikes should be too well known to require further comment.

This is a record to be contemplated with some awe.

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Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor and Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the author of dozens of books on U.S. foreign policy. His most recent book is Who Rules the World? from Metropolitan Books.

Pompeo’s Rage Against Peace, Equity, Justice, Fairness and Human Dignity

Pompeo’s Rage Against Peace, Equity and Justice

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

Following Pompeo’s visit to Chile, Peru, Paraguay, and Colombia to enlist greater support for the Trump’s aim to topple Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and eliminate Bolivarian social democracy, he showed up in Dallas Monday for more of the same ranting.

His hubris, arrogance, and contempt for the rule of law, peace, equity and justice is evident from all his extremist remarks – supporting fascist tyranny worldwide, at home and abroad, core Trump regime values, an agenda based on a litany of bald-faced Big Lies.

Pompeo: “I’ve spent the previous days in South America – Chile, Peru, and Paraguay, and then last night in Cucuta, Colombia, with President Duque, where we talked not only about Venezuela and the importance of Nicolas Maduro leaving Venezuela (sic), but about the opportunity there is between the United States and South America (sic).”

“(W)e talked about the relationships not only how we’re going to work together to restore democracy and the fundamental rights of the people in Venezuela (sic), but how our countries can work together on a broader range of issues (sic).”

Fact: Pompeo and other Trump regime hardliners are hellbent to transform Venezuela into another US vassal state – along with gaining control over its world’s largest oil reserves and other valued resources.

Fact: Most Latin American nations are run by US-supported fascist regimes, exploiting their people to benefit US and internal corporate interests – governance for and by everyone equitably disdained – the same true in the US and other Western societies.

Pompeo: “(W)e need a strong military” – to further US imperial interests worldwide, he failed to explain.

Saying he came to talk about US foreign policy, he addressed a question about Trump regime hostility toward unwanted aliens of the wrong race, religion or ethnicity, falsely saying:

DLT is “us(ing) every lawful tool (sic) that he has available to ensure that we can protect American sovereignty (sic), that we can stop…drugs crossing the border (sic) (and) human trafficking (sic)…”

Notably under Obama (America’s deporter-in-chief) and Trump (exceeding his predecessor’s viciousness), DLT is waging war on unwanted vulnerable people everywhere – close to home, those seeking asylum from repression in their countries and domestically in US inner cities transformed into battlegrounds.

Challenged by a question relating to waging wars without congressional approval, including by other means against Iran, Pompeo ducked the issue, saying:

Trump regime policy is “pushing back against Iran in Lebanon (sic) or pushing back against Iran in Iraq (sic), helping to build an independent, free, sovereign country (sic).”

“The mission set is to help the Iranian people deliver change (sic) so that this Islamic Republic of Iran won’t be the world’s largest state sponsor of terror (sic).”

Fact: That designation belongs to the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners – not Iran, at war against no other nations, threatening none.

Fact: Longstanding US hostility toward the Islamic Republic is all about its sovereign independence, opposition to US/NATO/Israeli wars of aggression, and support for Palestinians’ rights.

Fact: Iran is the region’s leading proponent of peace and stability. It seeks cooperative relations with other countries everywhere – polar opposite how US-dominated NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners operate, waging endless wars of aggression to dominate other nations.

Asked if the Trump regime (falsely) declared Iran’s IRGC a “terrorist organization” is all about wanting to wage war on the Islamic Republic, Pompeo again ducked the issue, giving a pat answer, saying:

“I never talk about inner governmental conversations” publicly. “So I don’t have anything I can add there. I’ll make this very clear, very plain though: The United States and President Trump will act lawfully (sic).”

“(A)s we make decisions about how to move forward, we’ll do so in a way that is deeply consistent with American tradition and America’s Constitution (sic).”

Time and again, polar opposite is true. Without exception, all US post-WW II wars and other hostile actions against nations threatening no one were and remain flagrantly illegal. There’s no ambiguity about it.

The US is a ruthless global hegemon, seeking dominion over all other nations, their resources, and populations by whatever it takes to achieve its objectives – operating solely by its own rules, the rule of law long ago abandoned.

Pompeo on Venezuela repeated the following disinformation and Big Lies:

The Trump regime and its imperial allies aim to “(m)ak(e) sure that Nicolas Maduro doesn’t continue to wreak enormous havoc (sic),” adding:

Venezuelans “are suffering tremendously (sic). They – literally, they’re coming across the border to try and work a job (sic), make a couple of dollars (sic), buy some diapers and some food for their baby so that they can eat every other day, every other day (sic).”

Fact: US war on Venezuela by other means is supported by a litany of bald-faced Big Lies. Venezuelans aren’t starving. They’re not hungry and desperate.

Independent observers visiting the country explain daily life goes on normally despite economic hardships caused by US sanctions war and related hostility.

Things are calm, not chaotic. Ordinary Venezuelans support Bolivarian social democracy, wanting it preserved and protected. Imposter Guaido is increasingly reviled.

Cold hard facts on the ground refute anti-Venezuela propaganda by Pompeo, other Trump regime hardliners, and supportive media – endorsing the attempted coup plot instead of responsibly denouncing it.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at


My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

Trump Declares American/Israeli Immunity From All War Crimes Investigations, Even Torture

Trumps Warns ICC of Prosecuting Israeli Actions

US Forces Remain Above the Law As They Construct the Global American Empire

Push for Afghanistan war crimes probe quashed after Trump administration threats

Badges on the arms of a U.S. and an Afghan soldier are seen during a training session at the U.S. Shinwar Forward Base in the province of Nangarhar, Afghanistan, in April 2013. Judges at the International Criminal Court have rejected a request by the ICC chief prosecutor to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, and alleged crimes by U.S. forces linked to the conflict. (Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Criminal Court  has dismissed its chief prosecutor’s bid to open a probe of possible war crimes in Afghanistan, in the face of pressure and threats from the Trump administration.

In a statement released this morning, a panel of judges at the Hague-based tribunal said that there was “reasonable basis” to consider that crimes like torture and murder had been committed by all sides in the Afghan conflict, but that a further investigation “would not serve the interests of justice.”

The decision comes one week after the U.S. government revoked the entry visa it had issued to the ICC’s chief prosecutor  Fatou Bensouda, a citizen of Gambia.

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state, also warned of additional measures including economic sanctions if the court didn’t back down on its Afghanistan probe.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers questions at the U.S. State Department on March 15 in Washington. During his remarks Pompeo said the U.S. would impose sanctions on any individuals involved in International Criminal Court proceedings against American army personnel. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The ICC was established as a permanent court of last resort by the United Nations in 2002, charged with prosecuting genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity when nation states are unable, or refuse, to do so. Its treaty has been ratified by 123 countries so far, including Canada. But powers like Russia, China, Israel, India and Saudi Arabia have refused to sign on, expressing fears that the body would infringe upon their sovereignty.

The Americans have been its fiercest opponents, however.

When it was created, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that forbids any cooperation with or support for the tribunal, and authorized then President George W. Bush to “use all means necessary” to free any American citizen detained by the court.

The Obama administration took a softer approach, helping the court put its hands on some African war crimes suspects.

But the current president and his top advisors are vehemently opposed to the court.

“The ICC is already dead to us,” National Security Adviser John Bolton proclaimed in a speech last fall, calling the body “illegitimate,” and threatening to ban its judges from the country.

Evidence of U.S. military misdeeds in Afghanistan and Iraq was first put into the public sphere via WikiLeaks in 2010. The ICC’s preliminary examination in 2016 concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that Taliban, Afghan forces and the Americans have all committed crimes since the conflict began in 2002, singling out incidents of torture by the CIA and U.S. army interrogators.

A U.S. soldier, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), mans a machine gun aboard a Chinook helicopter over the Gardez district of Paktia province in August 2014. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)

Today’s decision to back away from the investigation is being greeted as an exoneration by the White House.

“This is a major international victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law. We welcome this decision and reiterate our position that the United States holds American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards,” reads an official statement from the president.

But whatever the ICC’s motivation, its choice to move on to other cases throws the tribunal’s very future into question.

Since its inception, most of its investigations and all of its trials have involved African nations, which has led the African Union to call for a mass withdrawal of its member states.

Right now, there are only two active cases being prosecuted — one involving alleged atrocities against peacekeepers in Darfur, and the other probing reported crimes against humanity by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.

In a decision Friday, judges at the headquarters of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, said an investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan ‘would not serve the interests of justice’ because an investigation and prosecution are unlikely to be successful due to a lack of cooperation. (Mike Corder/Associated Press)

Sudan’s ousted president Omar al-Bashir has been under ICC investigation for his government’s actions in Darfur since 2005, with warrants issued for his arrest in 2009 and 2010, but it seems he is no closer to facing justice.

Today, the generals who removed him from power confirmed that they are unwilling to extradite him.

The next big test for the ICC will likely be its ongoing investigation into alleged crimes committed by members of the U.K. military during their occupation of Iraq. The case was initially dismissed in 2006, but reopened after new information surfaced in 2014.

In December 2017,the ICC’s Bensouda dismissed allegations of battlefield atrocities, but declared that there was a “reasonable basis” to believe that British soldiers committed war crimes against detainees.

International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. (Peter Dejong/Reuters)

The U.K. is a member of the court and has cooperated, but that doesn’t mean the government of Theresa May is happy about the situation.

During the ICC’s annual meeting this winter, Britain’s representative Andrew Murdoch delivered a pointed messagenoting that the U.K. is one of the biggest contributors to the court’s operating budget and trust funds.

The U.K. has investigated the allegations of its own accord, he said, and has meted out punishments as it has seen fit.

“The Court is not there to second-guess, still less to review, the decisions of competent, functioning national systems of justice,” he said. “The Court should step in only where States are genuinely unable or unwilling to do so themselves.”

Was Gift of IMF Loan To Ecuador the Motive For Assange Release?

Why did Ecuador give up Assange after seven years?— Apr 11, 2019

Ecuador's Economy Minister Richard Martinez (C) offers a press conference, along with other government representatives. 

Ecuador’s Economy Minister Richard Martinez (C) offers a press conference, along with other government representatives. 


WASHINGTON – The International Monetary Fund on Monday approved a $4.2-billion, three-year loan for Ecuador, part of a broader aid package to help support the government’s economic reform program.

The Washington-based lender agreed to the terms of the financing late last month, and the final approval of the IMF board on Monday releases the first installment of $652-million.

READ: IMF won’t bail out South Africa: Lagarde

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the aid will support the government’s efforts to shore up its finances, including a wage “realignment,” gradual lowering of fuel subsidies, and reduction of public debt.

“The savings generated by these measures will allow for an increase in social assistance spending over the course of the program,” Lagarde said in a statement, stressing that “Protecting the poor and most vulnerable segments in society is a key objective” of the program.

Quito is expected to receive another $6-billion from the Development Bank of Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the Latin American Reserve Fund.

WATCH: IMF’s Lagarde says state capture inquiry good for SA

“The Ecuadoran authorities are implementing a comprehensive reform program aimed at modernizing the economy and paving the way for strong, sustained, and equitable growth,” Lagarde said.

IMF performs periodic reviews of its loans to ensure governments are following through on its policy pledge and then releases funds in installments.


Health Professionals for Patients In Pain Response

Health professionals for patients in pain




Contacts: Health Professionals for Patients in

Stefan G. Kertesz, MD and Sally Satel, MD

On April 10, the Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, wrote to Health Professionals for Patients in Pain (HP3) to state that the CDC’s 2016 Guideline offered no support for mandatory opioid dose reductions in patients with long-term pain. Coming on the heels of an April 9 warning from the United States Food and Drug Administration of “serious harm” to patients after rapid dose reduction or discontinuation, the Director’s letter flags the need for a recalibration of care decisions imposed by a wide range of private and governmental agencies that have invoked the CDC to justify coverage restrictions, quality metrics, legal threats and other actions to force dose reductions on nonconsenting patients.

The CDC Director’s letter was sent to all five members of HP3, which had asked him to “boldly” clarify his agency’s 2016 Guideline on prescribing opioids for chronic pain. He has done this. His agency is also evaluating the impact of the Guideline on clinical practice. 

In their March 6 letter to Dr. Redfield, signed by 3 former United States “drug czars” along with 318 other health care professionals, the authors cited “draconian” opioid dose reductions due to misapplication of the Guideline, resulting in widelyreported harms to patients

The CDC’s Director’s April 10 response specified that:

1. Cautionary dose thresholds from the CDC’s 2016 Guideline had been intended to apply only for “initiation” of opioids, rather than for the care of longstanding recipients who were stable at higher doses. 

2. Clinicians must “work with patients to taper or reduce dosage only when patient harm outweighs patient benefit of opioid therapy.” 

3. For patients already receiving doses higher than 90 morphine milligram equivalents, “the recommendations include reviewing the risks and benefits of continuing high-dosage therapy, and if a patient would like to taper, collaborating with the patient on an individualized plan.”

The director attached a 3-page review of the CDC’s current projects to evaluate the Guideline’s impact.

“There remains an urgent need to confront an addiction crisis where prescriptions were a key part of its genesis. But I have seen many patients harmed by widespread misapplication of the Guideline,” said coauthor Dr. Stefan Kertesz, a scholar in addiction medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who has opposed quality metrics and payment policies that incentivize dose reductions without protection for patient safety.

“We are so grateful to the CDC for its essential clarification,” explained Dr. Sally Satel of the American Enterprise Institute and Yale University. “Now it’s time for the federal, state, and non-governmental institutions that have invoked the CDC’s authority to push some traumatic changes to care to reverse course.”

FDA Statement On Misguided Interpretations of Opiate Prescribing Guidelines

FDA identifies harm reported from sudden discontinuation of opioid pain medicines and requires label changes to guide prescribers on gradual, individualized tapering

Safety Announcement

[4-9-2019] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received reports of serious harm in patients who are physically dependent on opioid pain medicines suddenly having these medicines discontinued or the dose rapidly decreased. These include serious withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, psychological distress, and suicide.

While we continue to track this safety concern as part of our ongoing monitoring of risks associated with opioid pain medicines, we are requiring changes to the prescribing information for these medicines that are intended for use in the outpatient setting. These changes will provide expanded guidance to health care professionals on how to safely decrease the dose in patients who are physically dependent on opioid pain medicines when the dose is to be decreased or the medicine is to be discontinued.

Rapid discontinuation can result in uncontrolled pain or withdrawal symptoms. In turn, these symptoms can lead patients to seek other sources of opioid pain medicines, which may be confused with drug-seeking for abuse. Patients may attempt to treat their pain or withdrawal symptoms with illicit opioids, such as heroin, and other substances.

Opioids are a class of powerful prescription medicines that are used to manage pain when other treatments and medicines cannot be taken or are not able to provide enough pain relief. They have serious risks, including abuse, addiction, overdose, and death. Examples of common opioids include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.

Health care professionals should not abruptly discontinue opioids in a patient who is physically dependent. When you and your patient have agreed to taper the dose of opioid analgesic, consider a variety of factors, including the dose of the drug, the duration of treatment, the type of pain being treated, and the physical and psychological attributes of the patient. No standard opioid tapering schedule exists that is suitable for all patients. Create a patient-specific plan to gradually taper the dose of the opioid and ensure ongoing monitoring and support, as needed, to avoid serious withdrawal symptoms, worsening of the patient’s pain, or psychological distress (For tapering and additional recommendations, see Additional Information for Health Care Professionals).

Patients taking opioid pain medicines long-term should not suddenly stop taking your medicine without first discussing with your health care professional a plan for how to slowly decrease the dose of the opioid and continue to manage your pain. Even when the opioid dose is decreased gradually, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal (See Additional Information for Patients). Contact your health care professional if you experience increased pain, withdrawal symptoms, changes in your mood, or thoughts of suicide.

We are continuing to monitor this safety concern and will update the public if we have new information. Because we are constantly monitoring the safety of opioid pain medicines, we are also including new prescribing information on other side effects including central sleep apnea and drug interactions. We are also updating information on proper storage and disposal of these medicines that is currently available on our Disposal of Unused Medicines webpage.

To help FDA track safety issues with medicines, we urge patients and health care professionals to report side effects involving opioids or other medicines to the FDA MedWatch program, using the information in the “Contact FDA” box at the bottom of the page.

Additional Information for Patients

• If you are taking opioid pain medicines long-term, do not suddenly stop taking your medicine without first discussing with your health care professional a plan for gradually getting off the medicine. Stopping opioids abruptly or reducing the dose too quickly can result in serious problems, including withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, and thoughts of suicide.

• Even when the opioid dose is decreased gradually, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal such as:
– Restlessness – Sweating
– Eye tearing – Chills
– Runny nose – Muscle aches
– Yawning
• Other symptoms also may develop, including:
– Irritability – Loss of appetite
– Anxiety – Nausea
– Difficulty sleeping – Vomiting
– Backache – Diarrhea
– Joint pain – Increased blood pressure or heart rate
– Weakness – Increased breathing rate
– Abdominal cramp

• Contact your health care professional if you experience increased pain, withdrawal symptoms, changes in your mood, or thoughts of suicide. Also contact them if you have any questions or concerns.

• To help FDA track safety issues with medicines, report side effects from opioids or other medicines to the FDA MedWatch program, using the information in the “Contact FDA” box at the bottom of this page.

Additional Information for Health Care Professionals

• Do not abruptly discontinue opioid analgesics in patients physically dependent on opioids. Counsel patients not to discontinue their opioids without first discussing the need for a gradual tapering regimen.

• Abrupt or inappropriately rapid discontinuation of opioids in patients who are physically dependent has been associated with serious withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, and suicide. Abrupt or rapid discontinuation has also been associated with attempts to find other sources of opioid analgesics, which may be confused with drug-seeking for abuse. Patients may also attempt to treat their pain or withdrawal symptoms with illicit opioids, such as heroin, and other substances.

• It is important to ensure ongoing care of the patient and to agree on an appropriate tapering schedule and follow-up plan so that patient and provider goals and expectations are clear and realistic.

• When deciding how to discontinue or decrease therapy in an opioid-dependent patient, consider a variety of factors, including the dose of the opioid analgesic the patient has been taking, the duration of treatment, the type of pain being treated, and the physical and psychological attributes of the patient.

• There are no standard opioid tapering schedules that are suitable for all patients. A patient-specific plan should be used to taper the dose of the opioid gradually.

• In general, for patients who are physically dependent on opioids, taper by an increment of no more than 10 percent to 25 percent every 2 to 4 weeks. It may be necessary to provide the patient with lower dosage strengths to accomplish a successful taper.

• If the patient is experiencing increased pain or serious withdrawal symptoms, it may be necessary to pause the taper for a period of time, raise the opioid analgesic to the previous dose, and then once stable, proceed with a more gradual taper.

• When managing patients taking opioid analgesics, particularly those who have been treated for a long duration and/or with high doses for chronic pain, ensure that a multimodal approach to pain management, including mental health support (if needed), is in place prior to initiating an opioid analgesic taper. A multimodal approach to pain management may optimize the treatment of chronic pain, as well as assist with the successful tapering of the opioid analgesic.

• Patients who have been taking opioids for shorter time periods may tolerate a more rapid taper.

• Frequent follow-up with patients is important. Reassess the patient regularly to manage pain and withdrawal symptoms that emerge. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

– Restlessness – Perspiration
– Lacrimation – Chills
– Rhinorrhea – Myalgia
– Yawning – Mydriasis

• Other symptoms also may develop, including:

– Irritability – Anorexia
– Anxiety – Nausea
– Insomnia – Vomiting
– Backache – Diarrhea
– Joint pain – Increased blood pressure or heart rate
– Weakness – Increased respiratory rate
– Abdominal cramps

• Patients should also be monitored for suicidal thoughts, use of other substances, or any changes in mood.

• When opioid analgesics are being discontinued due to a suspected substance use disorder, evaluate and treat the patient, or refer him/her for evaluation and treatment of the substance use disorder. Treatment should include evidence-based approaches such as medication assisted treatment of opioid use disorder. Complex patients with comorbid pain and substance use disorders may benefit from referral to a specialist.

• To help FDA track safety issues with medicines, report adverse events involving opioids or other medicines to the FDA MedWatch program, using the information in the “Contact FDA” box at the bottom of this page.

Related Information
Opioid Medications
Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
The FDA’s Drug Review Process: Ensuring Drugs Are Safe and Effective
Think It Through: Managing the Benefits and Risks of Medicines

CDC Joins FDA In Correcting Opiate Guidelines Mandating Abrupt Dosage Reduction

[SEE: “Doctors have told patients that they have to take them off opioids because it’s the law.”—“They’re lying.”]

Seeking to Clarify Its Opioid Prescribing Guidelines, CDC Joins FDA in Decrying ‘Mandated or Abrupt Dose Reduction’

The CDC’s advice has been widely interpreted as requiring involuntary tapering of medication so it does not exceed an arbitrary threshold.

Acknowledging the suffering caused by “misinterpretation” of the opioid prescribing guidelines it published in 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday sought to clarify that it never recommended imposing involuntary dose reductions on chronic pain patients. In a letter to physicians who had objected to that widespread practice, CDC Director Robert Redfield emphasized that his agency “does not endorse mandated or abrupt dose reduction or discontinuation, as these actions can result in patient harm.” Redfield described several steps the CDC is taking to research the impact of its guidelines and correct misunderstandings that have led to abrupt withdrawal, undertreated pain, denial of care, and in some cases suicide.

“I have seen many patients harmed by widespread misapplication of the Guideline,” said Stefan Kertesz, a University of Alabama at Birmingham pain and addiction specialist who helped organize a March 6 letter on the subject that was signed by hundreds of health professionals. Kertesz welcomed the CDC’s response, which came the same day that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the risks of involuntary or fast opioid tapering.

“Bravo CDC and FDA!” Kertesz wrote on Twitter, calling it “a great day for patients with pain,” since “two federal agencies have spoken forcefully AGAINST mandated or precipitous #opioid reductions in chronic pain patients.” Sally Satel, a Washington, D.C., psychiatrist who worked with Kertesz on the letter to the CDC, said, “We are so grateful to the CDC for its essential clarification.”

The CDC’s guidelines, which were intended for primary care physicians, said doctors “should avoid increasing dosage” above 90 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day, or at least “carefully justify a decision to titrate dosage” above that level. But the CDC did not say that patients who were already taking daily doses higher than 90 MME, many of whom have been functioning well for years, should be forced below that threshold. Instead it said “clinicians should work with patients to reduce opioid dosage or to discontinue opioids” if they determine that the risks outweigh the benefits.

“The recommendation on high-dose prescribing focuses on initiation,” Redfield writes. “The Guideline includes recommendations for clinicians to work with patients to taper or reduce dosage only when patient harm outweighs patient benefit of opioid therapy.” Furthermore, “the Guideline also recommends that the plan be based on the patient’s goals and concerns and that tapering be slow enough to minimize opioid withdrawal, e.g., 10 percent a week or 10 percent a month for patients who have been on high-dose opioids for years.”

In its “safety announcement” yesterday, the FDA said it had “received reports of serious harm in patients who are physically dependent on opioid pain medicines suddenly having these medicines discontinued or the dose rapidly decreased.” It said the consequences “include serious withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, psychological distress, and suicide.”

Redfield said the CDC is communicating with providers and health systems to “clarify the content” of its advice, to “emphasize the importance of developing policies consistent with the Guideline’s intent,” and to “highlight recommendations within the Guideline, including tapering guidance, options for non-opioid treatments for chronic pain, and communicating with patients.” The CDC is also conducting “systematic reviews of the scientific literature that has been published since the Guideline was released” and sponsoring “four extramural research projects that are examining unintended consequences of tapering and discontinuation.”

The March 6 letter to the CDC included reports from hundreds of patients who have experienced those consequences. “Undertreated pain is killing me!” wrote a Syracuse, New York, patient with osteoarthritis and tethered spinal cord syndrome. “You don’t know me, you don’t walk in my shoes, you don’t have my nerve damage, and you don’t have to live with the thought of will today be the day that I kill myself because I can’t take the pain anymore,” said a patient in Washington, D.C.

“I am experiencing ridiculous effects from the CDC document as my doctors, including pain management specialists, are going to great lengths to deny my access to any kind of opioid,” wrote a patient in Albany, California. “I’ll probably be getting liver failure from taking so much Tylenol. This policy is just cruel. Every patient is an individual and should be treated with care and respect so they can live a functional life—and not given inappropriate or ineffective medication.”

A patient in Little River, South Carolina, who suffers from chronic pain caused by failed back surgery, fibromyalgia, and Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune system disorder, said she has “a kind wonderful pain doctor” who “can’t give me enough medicine to control my pain” because of the way the CDC’s guidelines have been interpreted. A patient with multiple painful conditions, including “sciatica, severe stenosis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, cervical disc degeneration, three bulging discs, two failed spinal fusions that left me with severe nerve damage, cholecystitis, pancreatitis, neuropathy, [and] radiculopathy,” said she had been “abandoned” by her doctor even though she had been on “the same stable high dose” for six years.

Acknowledging the “personal testimonies from patients across the country,” Redfield said, “We agree that patients suffering from chronic pain deserve safe and effective pain management. CDC is committed to addressing the needs of patients living with chronic pain while reducing the risk of opioid-related misuse, overdose, and death.”

Sudanese President Removed In Army Coup, Then Coup Leader Resigns?

Al-Bashir Arrested, State of Emergency Declared in Sudan

Sudan’s military has announced that long time president Omar al Bashir has been arrested and taken to a safe place.

Sudan coup leader Awad Ibn Auf steps down

Ibn OufImage copyrightAFP
Mr Ibn Auf quit a day after becoming military council chief


The head of Sudan’s military council has stood down a day after leading a coup that toppled long-time leader Omar al-Bashir amid a wave of protests.

Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf announced his decision on state TV, naming as his successor Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan.

The army has said it will stay in power for two years, followed by elections.

But protest leaders say they will not leave the streets until the military hands over to a civilian government.

Mr Bashir’s downfall followed months of unrest that began in December over rising prices.

Mr Ibn Auf was head of military intelligence during the Darfur conflict in the 2000s. The US imposed sanctions on him in 2007.

Presentational white space

The new man in charge is also a top military figure, but the Associated Press news agency reports that his record is cleaner than other Sudanese generals. He is also said to have met with protesters to hear their views.

Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan talks to demonstrators in Khartoum, 12 AprilImage copyrightAFP
Image captionLt-Gen Burhan could be seen talking to demonstrators on Friday


Egypt Withdraws Largest Arab Military Force From Trump/Saudi “Arab NATO” Scheme

Egypt withdraws from US-led anti-Iran security initiative: sources



Egypt has pulled out of the US effort to forge an “Arab NATO” with key Arab allies, according to four sources familiar with the decision, in a blow to the Trump administration’s strategy to contain Iranian power.

Egypt conveyed its decision to the United States and other participants in the proposed Middle East Security Alliance, or MESA, ahead of a meeting held Sunday in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, one source said.

Cairo did not send a delegation to the meeting, the latest gathering held to advance the US-led effort to bind Sunni Muslim Arab allies into a security, political and economic pact to counter Shi’ite Iran, the source said.

Egypt withdrew because it doubted the seriousness of the initiative, had yet to see a formal blueprint laying it out, and because of the danger that the plan would increase tensions with Iran, said an Arab source who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Uncertainty about whether US President Donald Trump will win a second term next year and whether a successor may ditch the initiative also contributed to the Egyptian decision, the Arab source said.

“It’s not moving well,” a Saudi source said of the initiative.

The initiative, which Saudi Arabia first proposed in 2017, also is aimed at limiting the growing regional influence of Russia and China, according to a classified White House document reviewed by Reuters last year.

The Egyptian Embassy in Washington and the White House did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

In addition to the United States and Saudi Arabia, the MESA participants include the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Jordan.

Two days after the Riyadh meeting, Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Washington for talks with Trump. Before the meeting, Trump said they would talk about security issues, but it was not clear whether they discussed MESA issue.

Two sources said the countries remaining in MESA were moving ahead with the initiative and would press Egypt diplomatically to revoke its withdrawal, with one saying that the decision did not appear to be final.

“We all want them back,” said the other source.

The Arab source, however, said Cairo could not be convinced to return.

The withdrawal of Egypt, which has the Arab world’s largest military, is the latest setback to the MESA initiative, informally referred to as the “Arab NATO.”

The plan already was complicated by international outrage over the October 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which Turkish officials and some U.S. lawmakers have accused Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of ordering. Riyadh denies the allegation against Salman.

Other obstacles have been feuds among the Arab allies, especially a Saudi-led economic and political boycott of Qatar.

The problems have forced several postponements of a summit meeting in the United States at which a preliminary accord on the alliance would be signed.

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, has been a key proponent of the MESA plan and an architect of the administration’s strategy for containing Iran, according to U.S. officials.

US Forces Remain Above the Law As They Construct the Global American Empire

‘Major international victory’: Trump cheers ICC decision not to probe US atrocities

‘Major international victory’: Trump cheers ICC decision not to probe US atrocities
After the International Criminal Court (ICC) declined to investigate claims of US atrocities in Afghanistan, US President Donald Trump cheered the decision but said the ICC was “illegitimate” and US and allies beyond its reach.

“This is a major international victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law,” the White House said in a statement, referring to the ICC decision to reject the request to investigate the actions of US military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan.

The US “holds American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards,” and has consistently refused to join the ICC because of its “broad, unaccountable prosecutorial powers,” threats to US sovereignty, and “and other deficiencies that render it illegitimate,” Trump said in a statement.

Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response.

Last week, Washington canceled the entry visa of ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, saying that anyone who dared investigate US military or intelligence personnel would face the same fate. The Gambian lawyer had been conducting a preliminary investigation into claims of torture, cruelty and sexual assault by US and allied personnel in Afghanistan, dating to 2003-2004.

Bensouda had found a “reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan,” and was reportedly planning to open a formal investigation.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Mask is off’: US shifts to open coercion & manipulation against ICC, analysts tell RT


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Bensouda last month to “change course” or face US sanctions, however, declaring that the US was determined to protect its troops and civilians from “living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation.”

While Washington has pushed for the creation of ad-hoc international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR), the US voted against the establishment of the ICC in 1998, and has refused to join or submit to its authority after the court was officially created in 2002.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Historic moment to bring end to colonialism’: UN court says UK illegally occupied Chagos Islands

The US has held itself above international law for decades. In 1986, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled that Washington had violated international law by supporting the Contras in Nicaragua. The US refused to participate in the proceedings and blocked the enforcement of the judgment in the UN Security Council.

What makes the pressure on ICC different than in the past, UK journalist Neil Clark told RT recently, is that “interference and attacks are now in the open,” whereas in the past they would be confined to back channels and low-key intrigue.

“You know, it’s the empire with its mask off,” said Clark.

What Happens When the World Opens Its Eyes To the Truth About the American Iraqi War of Aggression?

 To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime.

Neil Clark

Sixteen years on from the start of the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq, further evidence has emerged that the war was planned long before the attack took place and that the stated reason for it, ie ‘Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction’ was bogus.

Speaking before the Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee this week, the former head of the Royal Navy, Admiral The Lord West of Spithead, revealed that he was told in June 2002, ‘that we would be invading Iraq with America at the beginning of the following year’.

“It was quite clear that the Government were thinking we have to get Parliament and others on side. But what was interesting was that as it developed, there was all this stuff on weapons of mass destruction and everything, and it did seem to me that people were looking for a casus belli that they could discuss in Parliament,” Lord West said.

Let’s think back to what we — the public — were actually told in 2002/3.

Bush and Blair and their acolytes repeatedly said that the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein could prevent war by admitting he had WMDs and disarming. As late as 25th February 2003, Blair was saying that ‘even now’ Saddam could avoid war by ‘accepting the UN route to disarmament’ ‘I do not want war’, he told the House of Commons. ‘I do not believe anyone in this House wants war. But disarmament peacefully can only happen with Saddam’s active co-operation.”

READ MORE: 16 Years Later, Legacy of US War in Iraq is Destruction, Lies, Not ‘Misjudgment’

But it’s clear that whatever Saddam did, he and his country were going to be hit with Shock and Awe. The whole charade of weapons inspectors, sent in to search for weapons that were not there, was designed to try and convince people that war was a last resort and not the first option.

Crucially, the invasion had to come before the weapons inspectors finished their job and gave Iraq a clean bill of health- as then the pretext for war would have gone.

Admiral West’s revelations, which follow on from similar comments he made in  2016, are not the only ones we’ve had from Inside the Tent figures about what was really going on in 2002/3.

In his memoir My Life, Our Times, published in November 2017, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2003, admitted that the Iraq War was ‘not justified’. He also said ‘we were all misled on the existence of WMDs’. According to Brown, a key US intelligence report which not only refuted the claim that Iraq was producing WMDs,  but also their ‘current ability to do so‘, was not seen by the British government. An attempt to pass the buck? You make your own mind up.

READ MORE: Pence Clashes With Iraq War Architect Cheney Over Trump-Obama Comparison

Earlier, the former British Ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, said that President Bush had first asked Tony Blair for his support in a war against Iraq at a private White House dinner just nine days after the 9-11 terror attacks, which had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq.

We also know from the Chilcot Inquiry that on 28th July 2002, Tony Blair sent Bush a memo in which he pledged ‘I will be with you, whatever’. He went on: ‘the military part of this is hazardous but I will concentrate mainly on the political context for success’.

That involved trying to ‘encapsulate our casus belli in some defining way’, with weapons inspections the chosen route. ‘ If he (Saddam) did say yes, we continue the build-up and we send teams over and the moment he obstructs, we say: he’s back to his games. That’s it. In any event, he would probably screw it up and not meet the deadline, and if he came forward after the deadline, we would just refuse to deal.”

As for timing, Blair says ‘we could start building up after the break. A strike date could be Jan/Feb next year’.

Blair continued to scare us witless right up to the launch of the invasion in March 2003 about Saddam’s deadly arsenal. A critical claim, contained in the so-called ‘September Dossier’, was the one that Iraq possessed chemical weapons which could be assembled and launched within 45 minutes.

This led to the infamous ‘Brits 45 minutes from Doom’ headline in Rupert Murdoch’s Sun and similarly terrifying headlines in other newspapers. Yet in 2004, Blair said that he had not realised before the war that the alleged weapons were not missiles but only battlefield munitions.

Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook wrote in the Guardian ‘: ‘I was astonished by his reply as I had been briefed that Saddam’s weapons were only battlefield ones and I could not conceive that the prime minister had been given a different version.’

In July 2003 a Foreign Affairs committee report declared “We conclude that the 45 minutes claim did not warrant the prominence given to it in the dossier, because it was based on intelligence from a single, uncorroborated source.”

It is clear that the Iraq War was a plan hatched by neocon extremists in Washington and lurid claims of Iraqi WMDs, which did not exist, were made to justify it.

READ MORE: Drug War, War Against Iraq: The Legacy of George H.W. Bush

The Nuremberg Judgement of the trial of the WW2 Nazi leaders stated: ‘”War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”.

The Iraq War was clearly a war of aggression, and as such, an example of ‘the supreme international crime’, yet, sixteen years on, no one has been held accountable for it.  That’s in spite of over 1m people losing their lives following the invasion and the war greatly increasing the threat from terrorist groups. Even Tony Blair himself has conceded there were ‘elements of truth’ in the claims that the Iraq War led to the rise of Daesh/IS.

Worse still, the war on Iraq was followed by more aggression against Libya, in 2011, and Syria, wars which like the invasion of Iraq, have helped provoke a refugee crisis of Biblical proportions. Let’s go back to 27th January 1998, more than three and a half years before 9-11.   It was on that date that a letter was sent to President Clinton, on behalf of the neoconservative ‘Project for a New American Century’. The letter called for ‘removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now has to be the aim of American foreign policy’.

READ MORE: Decorated US Navy SEAL Under Investigation for Committing War Crimes in Iraq

Among the signatories to the call to arms were Elliot Abrams and John Bolton. Abrams is now the US special envoy to Venezuela- and seeking regime change in Caracas, while Bolton is President Trump’s National Security Advisor and warning us about Iran’s ‘nuclear weapons program’.

It’s as if the Iraq War never happened.

The views and opinions expressed by the contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66 and @MightyMagyar

Brit Lab Claims Explosives Brought-Down Polish President’s Plane at Smolensk

[British labs leading the charge to war against Russia in Europe.]


The British Forensic Explosives Laboratory (FEL) at the request of the Polish National Prosecutor’s Office tested samples collected from the TU-154M jet that crashed in Smolensk for traces of explosive materials. According to “Sieci”, which obtained results of these tests, on most of the 200 tested samples substances used to manufacture explosive materials were found.

The authors, Marek Pyza and Marcin Wikło, claim to have obtained information according to which experts from the British Forensic Explosives Laboratory,testing the samples provided by the National Prosecutor’s Office in May 2017, allegedly, confirmed that TNT was present on the wreck of the Tupolev. The Polish Prosecutor’s Office was allegedly informed about this a few weeks ago.

It is a piece of information kept secret by the investigators. We learned that several weeks ago the Polish Prosecutor’s Office had received a letter informing about the partial results of the tests conducted at the Forensic Explosives Laboratory – a unit attached to the British Ministry of Defence specialising in forensic tests related to explosives.“.

As the journalists reported, traces of substances such as TNT used to manufacture explosives have been found on most of the 200 samples of the wreck of Tupolev provided by the Polish side.

According to the authors of the article, the discovery made by the British scientists will have “colossal” importance for the determination of the causes of the tragedy which took place on 10 April 2010. “What kind of impact could the information about traces of TNT and other substances found have on the investigation and the determination of the causes of the disaster? Colossal. It is still too early, however, to formulate any final conclusions. Years ago, definitive resolutions have been attempted in this case despite the fact that evidence undermined them. That is why we should hold off from formulating absolute opinions until all analyses are completed. They stress that once all results are received the prosecutors will interpret them. Maybe further specialist from abroad will be retained just for that purpose. It is a standard practice.”

The first reports of explosive materials on the fragments of Tu-154M were published on 30 October 2012 by “Rzeczpospolita” daily in an article by Cezary Gmyz entitled “TNT on the wreck of Tupolev”. Cezary Gmyz (currently “Do Rzeczy”) wrote that the Polish prosecutors and forensic experts who investigated the wreck of the Tu-154M found traces of explosives: TNT and nitroglycerine. The publication caused a storm in Poland, and heads rolled at the “Rzeczpospolita ” editorial team. The author of the article Cezary Gmyz, Head of the Domestic News Section Mariusz Staniszewski and the Chief Editor Tomasz Wróbleski lost their jobs. Only several years later the court confirmed that the text “TNT on the wreck of Tupolev” was reliable and that the journalists were fired without justified grounds.

Back then, the Military Prosecutor’s Office denied the information. Meanwhile it confirmed that the so-called high-energy substances have been found on the wreck, but these they argued at the time could have just as well been e.g. pesticides.

Wikło and Pyza also noted that the Smolensk investigation will not end soon. “One should expect the investigation to take even several more years. In 2012, we have learned that portable explosive materials detectors have shown the presence of TNT and other explosives on many fragments of the wreck. The Prosecutor’s Office then explained later that these were fallible devices […]. Their manufacturer denied these accusations while stating that the equipment was infallible.”

The journalists also noted discrepancies between the new results and the results of earlier tests of the samples in Poland:

“It is important that the samples sent to the British Forensic Explosives Laboratory are the same as the samples tested in 2013 by the Central Forensic Laboratory of the Polish Police (CLKP). The tests then, it was announced, found no traces of explosives. A clear conclusion can be drawn: the British tests undermine the forensic tests conducted several years ago by CLKP. It is impossible not to ask questions: whether due to the tests conducted in the United Kingdom will someone go back to the “findings” made by CLKP? Will someone answer for obstructing the investigation of the causes of the death of the President of the Republic of Poland and the Polish delegation?”

The authors also reveal that the Prosecutor’s Office has recently signed a contract with a group of foreign experts who worked on known flight disaster cases to assist in the Polish investigation.

Wikło and Pyza stressed that there is a long way between the found traces of explosives and the causes of the disaster. “If the investigation was conducted like that from the start, we would probably already know the answer to the main question: what happened in the morning of 10 April 2010 over Smolensk? Although we stress that is worth waiting for the tests results from all the labs and all the planned analyses, the news that are coming now from the United Kingdom bring us closer to solving the mystery.

On April 10th, 2010 a TU-154M plane crashed in Smolensk (Russia) a 1km short of the runway killing all passengers on board including the Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, former President Ryszard Kaczorowski, the entire general army command, the Chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Polish government officials, 15 members of the Polish parliament, senior members of the Polish clergy, and relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre.

Boston Globe Tallies the Real “Cost” of the Iraq War Debacle

We poured billions into Middle Eastern wars. What if we’d spent the money differently?

ON WEDNESDAY, March 19, THE United States marked the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.  Actually, marked is the wrong word to use here. Ignored fits better.

President Trump made no mention of it on his Twitter feed, lest it take time away from his feud with a senator and war hero who passed away seven months ago. It was barely referenced by the news media. Even the Pentagon gave it short shrift.

Sixteen years after Americans troops crossed the Kuwaiti border into Iraq, a war that took the lives of more than 4,400 soldiers and left tens of thousands wounded has disappeared down the American people’s collective memory hole.

But the US decision to go to war in Iraq fundamentally altered American society — and will continue to impact Americans for decades to come.

The strategic mistakes made in the invasion of Iraq — and the larger war on terrorism — have been well chronicled.

Less appreciated, however, are the indirect costs of the conflict and, in particular, the tremendous opportunity costs that remain the war’s most enduring and damaging legacy. Money and attention spent on fighting phantom threats in the Middle East could have been spent far more effectively — not only keeping citizens safe from the domestic threats and systemic risks that actually harm them, but also helping millions of people around the world live better and happier lives.

Indeed, America’s over-reaction to 9/11 offers an object lesson in the perils — and stratospheric costs — of foreign threat inflation.

President George W. Bush said that toppling Saddam Hussein would ensure that Americans would “not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.”

He and other administration officials warned of evildoers and mushroom clouds over American cities. Vice President Dick Cheney claimed there existed a “relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the ’90s.”

“The dangers to our country and the world will be overcome,” Bush solemnly declared from the Oval Office on the eve of invasion.

Those dangers did not exist.

Iraq had no weapons of mass murder. It had no links to the terrorist group responsible for the attacks of September 11th; and the US faced no grave danger from Iraq.

But just as the Bush Administration exaggerated the threat from Iraq, it underplayed the ultimate costs of the decision to go to war.

Days after the invasion of Iraq had begun, and after months of purposeful opacity about the estimated price tag for the conflict, President George W. Bush presented Congress with a request for $75 billion to pay for military operations and postwar reconstruction.

Ultimately, the United States would end up spending approximately $819 billion in direct costs on the invasion, occupation, and reconstruction of Iraq. The collective direct and indirect costs of the entire global war on terror was even higher — close to $6 trillion.

And the meter continues to run.

More than 2.7 million active-duty, National Guard, and reserve troops served in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2017 and more than half were deployed more than once. These multiple deployments significantly increased the number of troops suffering from combat-related trauma. In fact, the average wounded veteran from Iraq and Afghanistan has an astounding 7.3 recognized disabilities.

Already, the annual disability compensation given to vets of the war on terrorism is $15 billion. These payments will rise exponentially over the next several decades. So too will the cost of the Pentagon’s military health programs and the financial burdens on the Veterans Administration.

While $3.3 billion was spent in 2012 for veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder, demand will increase because this malady can go undiagnosed for years, with symptoms manifesting themselves decades later.

Then, there is the cost of death. The families of service members killed on active duty or from service-related injuries and those receiving VA disability benefits at the time of death are eligible for pensions of at least $1,200 a month.

As of a few years ago, more than 80 dependents were still receiving benefits connected to the Spanish-American War, which ended in 1898. In 2017, the Veterans Administration was still paying benefits to Irene Triplett, the 87-year-old daughter of a Civil War veteran.

There are the indirect costs, too. At least one-third of the federal debt accrued after 2003 is directly attributable to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But here’s another number to consider: $97 million. That’s the amount of money that Congress appropriated in 2002 to defray the costs for airlines to replace flimsy cockpit doors and simple latches with hardened, bulletproof doors.

That simple change almost certainly did more to stop another 9/11-style attack than anything done by US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So too did the post-September 11th requirement that US intelligence agencies share information with each other. Had the CIA informed the FBI about the presence of al Qaeda terrorists in the United States before 9/11, the attack could possibly have been prevented.

The US military did, however, play one critically important counter-terrorism role. In the fall of 2001, US planes and a smattering of CIA operatives on the ground in Afghanistan helped rebel Afghan forces rout the ruling Taliban leadership in Kabul. Al Qaeda terrorists, including the group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, escaped into Pakistan. However, this was a spent force, unable to mount major attacks on US soil.

The US war on terror should have largely ended then. The threat from international jihadist terrorism had not been fully eradicated, but it had been reduced to a nuisance; a political act depraved and sinister, but one that year-to-year kills fewer Americans than lightning strikes.

But the larger story of America’s misguided war on terror is what could have been.

A fraction of the $817 billion spent on fighting phantom threats in Iraq could have provided every American with health care coverage. Doing so would have prevented 17,000 premature deaths annually.

A third of the nearly $4 trillion spent in fighting the war on terrorism could have brought US infrastructure up to what the American Society of Civil Engineers, in 2001, considered an “acceptable level.” Instead the quality of US infrastructure would, in the years that America was spending $170 billion on reconstruction costs in Iraq, tumble from fifth to 16th on international rankings.

Far smaller sums of money could have been used to create a paid family leave program that would guarantee every American 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. Grants to mental health providers or several hundred million dollars for hiring police could have reduced overall gun crimes. Tens of billions of dollars invested in drug rehabilitation programs could have nipped the worst of the opioid epidemic in the bud.

This was not unknown at the time. A congressional report from 2007, “War at Any Price? The Total Economic Costs of the War Beyond the Federal Budget,” offered a menu of alternatives for an Iraq conflict that was running a tab of $435 million every single day. The same money spent on surging 30,000 US troops to Iraq in 2007 could have added 5,500 teachers to US classrooms; enrolled 57,500 low-income children in the Head Start program; and helped 150,000 low-income students with Pell Grants.

Such investments would have spurred far greater economic growth and productivity than military spending, which provides limited benefits to the economy. By one estimate, if the money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2014 had been channeled into clean-energy industries, health care, and education, 2 million more Americans would have been gainfully employed during that time period.

But it’s not just at home where this money could have been better used.

In 2002, the Bush Administration unveiled PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, to help combat the global AIDS epidemic. An initial investment of $15 billion helped to avert 1.2 million deaths from HIV/AIDS in just the first four years of the program’s existence, and AIDS-related deaths fell for the next 15 years in a row.

At a cost of approximately $6.7 billion (or less than two weeks of the Iraq War at its peak spending), US aid could have helped to expand proven health programs and reduce the number of global deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea. An expenditure of $9.6 billion on maternal nutrition and mineral and vitamin supplementation could have averted the deaths of 900,000 children under five years old across the developing world.

In short, the Iraq War should be viewed as more than just a calamitous and pointless strategic disaster that did nothing to make Americans safer. It ultimately made Americans less safe and less prosperous at home, but also less respected and less of a leader abroad. In short, it must be seen as one of the greatest lost opportunities in contemporary American history.

While Americans, it seems, would prefer to put Iraq in the rearview mirror, the decision to go to war will haunt them for generations to come.

“Doctors have told patients that they have to take them off opioids because it’s the law.”—“They’re lying.”

Health officials warn against rapidly tapering down opioids for pain patients: ‘It’s a game-changer’

Federal agencies behind efforts to address the nation’s harrowing opioid epidemic took major steps this week to address a brewing public health crisis involving pain patients who have been wrongly cut off or abruptly tapered down from their prescription painkillers.

Both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned doctors not to abruptly stop prescribing opioid painkillers to patients who are taking them for chronic debilitating pain, generally lasting more than three months.

The FDA issued an alert to doctors on the dangers of making abrupt changes in opioid treatment of chronic pain. It’s also amending labels on opioids that inform doctors how to taper them. These include opioids such as OxyContin, Vicodin and dozens of generic pills.

The agency noted that chronic-pain patients who have responsibly taken opioids under medical supervision are wrongly being tapered down or abandoned by doctors who are afraid of being targeted by authorities in the current anti-opioid climate.


On its website, the agency said: “FDA has received reports of serious harm, including serious withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain and suicide, in patients who are physically dependent on opioid pain medicines when these medicines are suddenly discontinued or when the dose is reduced too quickly, often without adequate patient communication, follow-up or support.”

In another significant move, the CDC has issued a clarification to its 2016 opioid prescribing guidelines, which – in contrast to the agency’s emphasis that they were not mandates – have been used to enforce strict painkiller policies at the state and federal levels. The clarification – for which pain patient advocates and many medical groups have been pushing – stresses that the guidelines are just suggestions that targeted primary care doctors who were prescribing opioids to first-time users.

Many of the leading critics of strict measures targeting legal opioids hailed the moves by the FDA and CDC.

“It’s a game-changer,” said Michael Schatman, who directs research and network development at Boston Pain Care, which uses an array of programs – including exercise, psychotherapy as well as prescription painkillers—to treat pain. “It’s going to result, hopefully, in the de-weaponization of the CDC guidelines, which had a chilling effect on the physicians who have been scared to prescribe opioids.”

“State medical boards, state attorneys general, insurance carriers, pharmacies, and the health care system have weaponized the guidelines, and doctors have told patients that they have to take them off opioids because it’s the law,” said Schatman, who is a clinical psychologist. “They’re lying.”

Last December, Fox News ran a three-part series about the unintended consequences of the anti-opioid crackdown. The series reported that pain patients around the country who relied on opioids – either entirely or as part of a larger treatment regimen – for years in order to function suddenly were being put on ineffective low doses or dropped by their doctors altogether. In many cases, the patients told Fox News that they had tried non-opioid treatments for their pain, but turned to opioids as a final resort after the other methods did not bring relief.


Many who had been tapered down or cut off confided that they had suicide plans or had thought of suicide, and doctors who have tapered patients or dropped them told Fox News that some of them had killed themselves after becoming completely debilitated. Pain sufferers whose painkillers were tapered or stopped included cancer patients, a double amputee with multiple health problems, a woman with a rare disease that causes such intense spasms they bend her backward, and even a man with a terminal illness who was entering a hospice facility.

“We all agree that there was overprescribing of opioids” at one time, said Kate Nicholson, a former federal prosecutor who credits her opioid treatment with allowing her to function after years of being bedridden. “We have an opioid crisis, which is now dominated by [illicit] fentanyl and heroin. We tried to change prescriber behavior, and a lot of the efforts were good and positive. Prescribers are much more cautious when starting new patients on opioids, and that is a win.”

“But we have also ended up cutting off a lot of people who legitimately use their medication,” said Nicholson, who served for 20 years in the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, where she drafted current regulations under the Americans With Disabilities Act. “There’s a population of people who have been on them for a long time, some for decades, and now they’re being denied their medication or forcibly tapered – and these patients have been destabilized — because the CDC and law enforcement agencies and pharmacies and others have been focused lowering opioid use.”

Nicholson said the move by the CDC to sound an alarm to prescribers and regulators is significant because “it’s their guidelines that have been used to apply these [misguided] policies.”


Opioid medications can be addictive and dangerous even when used under doctors’ orders, though they are also an accepted tool to treat severe pain from serious injuries, surgery and cancer. Prescriptions have fallen in the U.S. by nearly a quarter since peaking at more than 255 million prescriptions in 2012. Driving the decline are new laws and prescribing limits from state and local governments, insurers and hospital systems. Those limits restrict the number of pills, refills and who can prescribe opioids.

But health care experts and pain patients say that the limits are overzealous and treat all pain sufferers in a one-size-fits-all manner.

They argue that the opioid overdose epidemic is driven largely by illegal opioids – such as fentanyl and heroin – or prescription painkillers stolen from the patients who legitimately need them. They say that legal opioids became an easy target in the fervor to respond to the overdose crisis, and that it has done nothing to solve the overdose fatality rate, which has continued to rise.

“The pendulum swung too far,” said Schatman about the government’s crackdown on prescription opioids.

“About 20 million people in the U.S. have chronic, high-impact pain and are disabled by it,” Schatman said. “A good proportion of them find that opioids make them more functional and allow them to enjoy a higher quality of life. Government agencies have not been sympathetic to chronic pain patients.”

In March, the CDC received a letter signed by more than 300 medical experts, including former drug czars from the Obama, Clinton and Nixon administrations, expressing concern that the 2016 guidelines had become a tool for insurers to deny opioid coverage and for doctors to undertreat or drop pain patients.

Many say they’ll take a wait-and-see approach before proclaiming the moves by the FDA and CDC a victory for pain patients.

“It’s a beginning, it is significant, but it is just the beginning,” Nicholson said. “Deconstructing what has happened [because of the overzealous crackdown on prescriptions] will be an onerous process.”

The FDA’s new label will warn doctors that rapidly discontinuing opioids in patients who are dependent on them can cause withdrawal symptoms including uncontrolled pain, nausea, chills and anxiety. In the worst cases, the FDA noted, these problems have been tied to suicide.

The federal agency said doctors and patients should agree on a plan to gradually reduce their dosage, based on their treatment history, type of pain, psychological state and other factors. The FDA stressed the importance of a customized plan, saying no standard method “exists that is suitable for all patients.”

The CDC said opioids should be reserved for the most severe forms of long-term pain. That narrow use was long accepted. But beginning in the 1990s some drugmakers, insurers and pain specialists called for wider use of the drugs for more common pain ailments like backaches and arthritis.

“My instinct is to acknowledge incremental progress, and then get busy forcing the immediate recall and repudiation of the entire [CDC] guidelines document and all state legislation or regulation that incorporates it,” said Richard Lawhern, a pain patient advocate and health care writer.

“We likely won’t be able to avoid a rewrite effort for ‘some’ kind of guideline, because doctors won’t reenter pain management practice without a shield from sanctions,” Lawhern said, adding that what is needed are “actionable recommendations to Congress that allow doctors to use their judgment, and give them meaningful education to develop that judgment.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Israeli Delusions of Interstellar Glory Lie Crumpled In the Lunar Dust

Privately-owned Moon lander crashes in historic attempt

Israel’s dreams of a lunar landing will have to wait a little longer.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

Private spaceflight isn’t quite ready to mark another milestone. SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander has crashed on the Moon after mission controllers lost communication during its descent to the lunar surface. It did successfully take a selfie on the way down, but its experiments are a bust. It was supposed to measure the local magnetic field and use a NASA-made laser retroreflector array (eight mirrors with quartz cube corners) to relay its position to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter using light.

SpaceIL was one of the finalists competing for Google’s Lunar Xprize. That challenge ended without a winner, but SpaceIL joined others in persevering.

Even with the crash, Israel is been part of a very exclusive club — it’s only the fourth country to put a vehicle on the Moon (in one state or another) after the former Soviet Union, US and China. This was also an achievement for more affordable spaceflight with the entire mission costing roughly $100 million, or just a fraction of what it would likely cost in other circumstances.

It’s not certain what will happen next. With that said, the attempt could still encourage more privately-run trips to the Moon, including for NASA, ESA and other institutions that might want to conduct lunar science without the costs of developing their own vessels.

Taliban “Renouncers” (Mullah Rasoul Faction) Claim Shoot-Down of US B-52

[Spokesman for Mullah Rasoul Taliban, Qarri Muhammad Yousef Ahmad, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi.]

Pentagon/CIA Repackages Afghan Govt. Terrorist Force As “The Renouncers”–(updated)

“Afghan Government Quietly Aids Breakaway Taliban Faction”

“The Renouncers are followers of Mullah Mohammad Rasoul”

“In recent months, the government has quietly provided the breakaway faction — popularly known as the Renouncers — with weapons, safe passage and intelligence support in their fight against the mainstream Taliban. The result has been a series of successes in areas where the government has otherwise suffered repeated defeats, particularly in Helmand, a southern province where the mainstream Taliban still control 90 percent of the territory.”

“the mainstream Taliban attacked a Renouncer base in Gereshk”

“The intelligence agency pays the fighters salaries equivalent to $150 to $300 a month, and supplies them with food, weapons and vehicles, the official said.”

The Taliban is currently claiming that militants have shot down a US B-52 Stratofortress heavy bomber over Afghanistan, Middle East based news site Muraselon reports, citing official Taliban statements.

Taliban spokesman Qarri Muhammad Yousef Ahmad was cited by the Mideast news source as saying, “Mujaheddin of the Islamic Emirate targeted US B-52 bomber with heavy weapons today early morning in Lar area in Washir district of Helmand province, the bomber went down and all its crew were killed while smoke still rising from the crash site.”


File photo of B-52 long-range heavy bomber, via AFP.

Russian and Iranian state media were quick to circulate the claim, though it’s as yet to be confirmed by other sources. Neither US nor Afghan national sources have acknowledged a B-52 crash, which the Taliban further said killed all crew members on board. 

The alleged incident occurred as the aircraft was departing Shawrab Airbase in southern Afghanistan during the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Well-known Taliban sources online also cited the alleged shoot down, such as Alemara Arabic, which brands itself the Arabic language version of the “Official account of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”:

الإمارة الإسلامية@alemara_ar

إسقاط طائرة عسكرية أمريكية ضخمة بنيران المجاهدين قرب قاعدة شوراب الجوية بولاية هلمند جنوب .
التفاصيل لاحقا..

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الإمارة الإسلامية@alemara_ar

استهدف مجاهدو الإمارة الإسلامية قاذفة أمريكية من نوع B52 بنيران الأسلحة الثقيلة صباح اليوم في منطقة “لر” بمديرية واشير في ولاية جنوب .
سقطت القاذفة واحترقت وقتل كامل طاقمها ولا زال الدخان يتصاعد منها.
التفاصيل لاحقا…

قاري محمد يوسف أحمدي

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The claim of a Taliban-downed US aircraft — which if true would constitute a rare and disastrous event for coalition forces — comes on the heels of a Taliban attack on a US convoy in north-eastern Afghanistan on Monday, which killed three US Marines and wounded an Afghan contractor.

Early reports out of neighboring Iran which highlighted the claimed incident featured publication of misleading photos of a downed B-52 bomber, given that the main image was of a prior B-52 accidental crash in Guam in 2016.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Fadi Hussein | فادي@fadihussein8

وكالة فارس الايرانية في محاولة لتأكيد الخبر تنشر صورة من عام ٢٠١٦ وتقول أنها اليوم.
The Taliban claimed it shot down a US B52. To confirm their words the Iran Based Fars News Agency released the image of a B52 that crashed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam (May 19, 2016)

See Fadi Hussein | فادي’s other Tweets

The photograph circulated separately from Taliban media accounts after it was promoted by Iran’s Fars News Agency. 

The B-52 was originally developed to carry nuclear weapons but has been adapted over the years for long-range strategic bombing raids, the first and longest lasting of its kind for the US military. It frequently operates over Afghanistan and in Middle East theaters.

Ilhan Omar–“Radical Islamist” Or Concerned Patriot?…read before judging


AUGUST 17, 2017
Jake Westley Anderson visits the spot where Heather Heyer died on Aug. 12.

Jake Westley Anderson visits the spot where Heather Heyer died on Aug. 12.
Ruddy Roye for TIME

American hate is not new — and it is not scarce. While Nov. 8, 2016, acted as a wake-up call for many Americans, to most people of color and indigenous people the election of President Trump served as an affirmation of our nation’s divisions. We have never truly defeated hate. We merely allow it to take new forms: Nazis, the KKK, white supremacists, white nationalists — emboldened by reflective leadership — are again comfortable gathering en masse, without hoods. Take a good look, America; this is real, and it is not going away. It is painless to denounce the events in Charlottesville and to question how or why such events occur. We need to recognize that racism has never been subtle, though it has gone underreported. This is the same fight as the civil rights movement, the Civil War — we are fighting over human rights. So the solution is not compromise.

Our national avoidance tactic has been to shift the focus to potential international terrorism. With constant misinformation and fearmongering, it is easy to exacerbate external threats while avoiding our internal weaknesses. Our apathy has placed immense strain on society, making it difficult to move forward. And because we have perpetually avoided the truth, pretending that everything has been O.K., we have not focused on laws to protect us from domestic terrorism. We are at a bigger risk of destroying ourselves than falling at the hands of external extremists.

The work of restoring this regression in our democracy is daunting, but we are fighting for the lost promises of liberty, justice and pursuit of happiness. The path ahead: Step out of your comfort zone, engage with your enemies and make them your friends. When we interact with those we fear and hate, we will find commonality. Hope will be found by understanding that diversity is the essence of the American Dream and why we need each other to fulfill it.

To bridge the divide:

1. We must realize that most of our differences are exaggerated nuances fueled by uncompromising ignorance.

2. We must see others’ struggles as our own, and their success as our success, so we can speak to our common humanity.

No one has the privilege of inaction. No one has the privilege of saying this is not their battle. If we are not actively fighting against regressive ideologies, we are contributing to their growth. We must be courageous. We must spread a radical vision of love and unity.

It is possible, but it will take a long time — we are trying to undo centuries of institutional and personal hatred and exclusion. This is a generational project; do not underestimate the power of human connection.

Contact us at

This appears in the August 28, 2017 issue of TIME.

Trump Taking War of Terror/Color Revolution Road Show To Africa–(updated)

[Trump has allowed the Corporate Pentagon to maneuver him into something rarely seen in human history, a make-or-break world war, with the winner to take control of all of the world’s resources and the means to market said resources.  World war for economic reasons is war of desperation by the greatest powers, fighting to make the world pay the real price for maintenance of their empires. 

This war…TRUMP’S WAR, has used the “war on terror” as a deception, intended to cover the real war, the economic war being fought solely for the greed of the financial class and other economic reasons.  The American people are so invested in this way of warfare, which makes possible “The American Way of Life,” that they will accept any breach of trust between the American people and the American Govt. that allows Trump to single-handedly turn the terror war into the resource war. 

We say nothing as he simultaneously fights and supports Islamist terrorists in Syria and probably in Libya.  We say nothing as he engineers war and revolution in Venezuela.  We say nothing as he abandons the Palestinian people to a planned genocide/ethnic cleansing.  We say nothing as he encourages the Zionist govt. to wage illegal airstrikes within Syria.  We are a Nation of cowards and moral weaklings, who watch in safety from a distance, while the American Pentagon plan for engineering world war 3 is put into place by an Israeli-dominated American Govt.]


Sudan’s military seizes power from President Omar al-Bashir

Central African Republic: A Russian military base in prospect?

Why this US general says Russian Wagner mercenaries in Africa ‘concern me greatly’

Why Russia Is Standing By Sudan’s Bashir

As protests in Sudan calling for the removal of President Omar al-Bashir enter their fourth month, Russian support for the regime has begun to attract international interest. Much has been written about Russian activity, whether overt or covert, in places like Syria, the Central African Republic and Venezuela. But until now, comparatively little attention has been given to Moscow’s involvement in Sudan, which is a linchpin of Russia’s approach to sub-Saharan Africa and, for this reason, will continue to enjoy Russian support despite its internal strife.

Russia’s relationship with Sudan is far from new. Moscow has been exporting substantial amounts of military equipment to the country for decades, even after a U.N. arms embargo was put in place in 2005. Sudan holds the distinction of being the first Arab nation to purchase Russia’s Su-35 jet.

What has changed recently, though, is the depth of Russia’s engagement, which now encompasses substantial economic interests and underscores Moscow’s reliance on Sudan as a springboard for its broader strategic goals in Africa: access to the Red Sea and natural resources, and the general expansion of its regional influence.

Red Sea access has become a matter of some concern for Russia as it attempts to compete with the U.S. and China’s bases in Djibouti. After Djibouti denied a Russian request for basing rights, Sudan and Eritrea were the only viable alternatives in the region. Russian and Sudanese officials have both indicated that a base is in the works, as well as agreements allowing naval vessels to dock at each other’s ports.

Meanwhile, securing natural resources, particularly fossil fuels and minerals, constitutes a growing share of Russian activity in Sudan. Despite the loss of 75 percent of its proven oil reserves after South Sudan attained independence in 2011, Sudan retains the infrastructure to bring South Sudan’s oil to market. Recent agreements between the two will likely facilitate a greater flow of oil through Sudan. In addition to oil exploration deals with South Sudan, Russia is currently working to establish a refinery in Sudan to process oil before it is exported.

The discovery of large gold reserves in 2015 by a Russian company has also fueled economic interest in Sudan. In a 2017 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Bashir granted a Kremlin-linked company permission to start mining operations.

Beyond economic opportunities, deeper engagement with Sudan makes it easier for Russia to pursue its other interests in the region. Following Bashir’s meeting with Putin in November 2017, the number of Russian citizens entering Sudan on a quarterly basis reached an all-time high. Part of the influx stemmed from the arrival of Russian mercenaries working for the Kremlin-linked Wagner group, who were sent to protect Russia’s installations and train local security forces. In December 2017, leaked footage showed Russian trainers working with the Sudanese army.

Russia cannot afford to sacrifice the economic and diplomatic benefits of having Bashir in its orbit.

By setting up shop in Sudan, Wagner and other Russian mercenaries have better access to Moscow’s installations and resource concessions in the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Russian mercenaries have reportedly entered the Central African Republic through Sudan multiple times to meet with rebel leaders, both to encourage their participation in the Russian-sponsored peace process and to negotiate resource concessions. As Russia’s engagement with South Sudan continues to expand, Russian private military contractors, or PMCs, based in Sudan will be well-positioned to enter the country to guard Russian interests and train the country’s security forces.

Russia’s growing engagement with Sudan is increasingly being discussed against the backdrop of heightened discontent among the Sudanese population. Sudan’s economy is struggling under the weight of rising fuel prices, inflation and widespread corruption. After the government tripled the price of bread in December, Sudanese opposition parties began to protest, calling first for better management of the economy and then for the resignation of Bashir, who has been in power for 30 years. Sudanese authorities declared a state of emergency and have suppressed demonstrations through the use of tear gas, batons and live ammunition. The government says over 30 people have died in the clashes, but opposition groups say the number is far higher.

Many of Sudan’s partners have had little to say in defense of the regime in Khartoum, but Russia has remained a stalwart ally. Throughout the crisis, Putin and other senior Russian officials have continued to take high-profile meetings with their Sudanese counterparts, even going so far as to personally invite Bashir to the first Russia-Africa Summit planned for October.

Russia has also provided some support on the ground. Sudanese opposition members and independent analysts have claimed that Russian mercenaries from Wagner have been present at demonstrations and are training the Sudanese security forces to suppress the opposition. An official spokesperson of the Russian government confirmed the presence of Russian PMCs in Sudan, but denied allegations that they were working on behalf of the Russian government. While Russia and Sudan are unlikely to deploy mercenaries against protesters outright, Wagner and other groups have demonstrated a willingness to train and equip the Sudanese military to suppress the protesters if need be.

As crises in Venezuela, Yemen and South Sudan overshadow Sudan’s protests, the Bashir regime may be able to leverage its relationship with Moscow to weather the current domestic turmoil. Russia’s continued support already seems to have paid dividends for the embattled regime, shoring up the confidence of Sudan’s other partners that Bashir can withstand the protests. Sudan secured loans in excess of $300 million in mid-March from the UAE-based Arab Monetary Fund and Arab Trade Financing Program. Qatar released a statement of support for the Sudanese regime in late January following a visit by Bashir.

As long as Sudan remains useful to Russian interests, Moscow will continue to support Bashir or a hand-picked successor. In the short term, Russia cannot afford to sacrifice the economic and diplomatic benefits of having Bashir in its orbit. From the Russians’ perspective, Bashir is a loyal partner who allows them to strengthen their influence in sub-Saharan Africa while competing with China and the U.S. for geographic access and resources.

Marcel Plichta is a postgraduate student in global security at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. He has previously written on the Central African Republic for Defense One, Small Wars Journal and International Policy Digest.

US Spec. Forces Actions Indistinguishable From “Terrorism”

[US Army Resorts To Mafia-Style Terrorism, Calls It “Psy-Op”]

[The US Army Document That Proves the US is the World’s Number One Sponsor of World Terrorism]

[Seymour Hersh Warned Us 5 Years Ago About the Bush/Cheney Plan To Turn US Special Forces Into “Al-Qaeda”]

US Military: A Terrorist Organization

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)


18 US Code § 2331 defines a terrorist organization as follows:

The term refers to “activities that involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life…(that)  intimidate or coerce a civilian population…influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion…(and engage in) mass destruction.

The US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism (TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-37, 1984) called terrorism “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature…through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear.”

In his “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell explained that “political speech and writing…defen(d) the indefensible.(D)efenseless villages are bombarded from the air (and) this is called ‘pacification.’ ”

“(W)ar on terrorism (is) war of terrorism.” Historian Howard Zinn said “(h)ow can you make war on terrorism, if war is terrorism…Governments are terrorists on an enormously large scale.” 

Scholar/activist Equal Ahmad called terrorism “coercive violence…that is used illegally (and) extra-constitutionally” – whether by governments, groups or individuals, state terrorism most destructive of all, namely wars of aggression and other hostile actions by one nation against others.

Separately, Ahmad asked: “Who will define the parameters of terrorism, or decide where terrorists lurk? Why, none other than the United States, which can from the rooftops of the world set out its claim to be sheriff, judge and hangman, all at one and the same time.” 

What better definition of terrorism than the above. Clearly and indisputably, the US, its government and agencies, especially its military, is an unparalleled terrorist organization under the above definitions.

It consistently and repeatedly flouts international, constitutional, and its own statute laws, operating by its own rules of engagement worldwide, doing whatever it pleases on the phony pretexts of protecting national security, humanitarian intervention, responsibility to protect, and/or democracy building. The US tolerates it nowhere, especially not at home.

On Monday, Mike Pompeo said the following:

“I am announcing our intent to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Qods Force (sic), as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). This designation will take effect one week from today,” adding:

“This is the first time that the United States has designated a part of another government as an FTO.”

Pompeo lied claiming “(w)e’re doing this because (Iran) use(s) terrorism as a tool of statecraft…”

Fact: Iran hasn’t attacked another country in centuries, threatening none now. The US wages permanent war on humanity, raping and destroying one country after another, notably since the 1950s, especially post-9/11.

US inner cities are battlegrounds nationwide, killer cops lethally shooting and otherwise abusing people of color unaccountably, Black Americans harmed most of all, along with unwanted aliens and Muslims from the wrong countries.

In falsely designating Iran’s IRGC (a branch of its military) an FTO, the Trump regime acted at the behest of Israel, aiming to give Netanyahu a further boost ahead of today’s elections, the prime minister tweeting:

“Thank you, my dear friend, President Donald Trump, for answering another one of my important requests.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Trump’s latest action a  “misguided election-eve gift to Netanyahu. Another dangerous US midadventure in the region.”

Longstanding US hostility toward Iran is all about its sovereign independence, its unwillingness to subordinate its sovereignty to US interests, opposition to Washington’s war on humanity, its support for fundamental Palestinian rights, as well as being Israel’s main regional rival it wants eliminated.

Ahead of Pompeo’s announcement, the State Department lied, claiming the IRGC “regularly threatens freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf (sic) while its Aerospace Force directs the country’s ballistic missile program in defiance of Security Council resolutions (sic).”

It lied saying Tehran supports regional terrorist groups (sic), adding “(s)ince 1979, Iran has made it a policy of state to actively direct, facilitate, and carry out terrorist activity globally (sic)” – a US, NATO, Israeli specialty, polar opposite how the Islamic Republic operates.

It lied claiming “Iran’s development of ballistic missiles…poses a critical threat to regional security (sic).” 

The Islamic Republic’s military, its IRGC, and legitimate weapons are solely for defense, solely involved in preserving and protecting Iran from hostile external or internal attacks and threats, its actions strictly defensive. Its involvement in Syria is advisory, aiding Damascus combat US-supported terrorists.

In response to the Trump regime’s action, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) designated the US Central Command (CENTCOM) and  related forces as a terrorist organization.

It labeled the US government a “supporter of terrorism.” The SNSC said “(t)he Islamic Republic of Iran regards (the) baseless (US) move as a major threat to regional and international peace and security and a blatant violation of the compelling rules of international law and the United Nations Charter.”

The Trump regime “will be responsible for dangerous consequences of this adventurist measure.” 

Ahead of the above announcement, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for designating US forces in the Middle East a terrorist organization as defined by Iran’s “Countering America’s Human Rights Violation and Adventurous and Terrorist Actions” law enacted in 2017.

The Pentagon, White House, Congress, CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS, NED, USAID, and other US agencies are terrorist organizations – aiming for world conquest and domination, wanting all nations worlwide bending to Washington’s will – brute force and other terrorist tactics used to enforce it.

The Trump regime is waging war on Iran by other means, similar to its actions against Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries, wanting their governments  toppled, their nations transformed into US vassal states.

Iran successfully withstood hostile US actions for 40 years, Venezuela for 20 years – Cuba for nearly 60 years. 

These countries are a significant counterforce to US aims for global dominance, along with Russia, China, and other nations – aiming to preserve and protect their sovereign independence from US aims to eliminate it.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at

In Taking Crimea, Putin Demonstrated Strategic Genius

Vladimir V. Putin of Russia visiting a Lukoil oil platform in the Caspian Sea in 2010.CreditRIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin, via Pool, via Reuters

By William J. Broad

When Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.

Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Russia dominion over vast oil and gas reserves while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.

Russia did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. It had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.

“It’s a big deal,” said Carol R. Saivetz, a Eurasian expert in the Security Studies Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia. It makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian pressure.”

Gilles Lericolais, the director of European and international affairs at France’s state oceanographic group, called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “so obvious” as a play for offshore riches.

In Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin said there was “no connection” between the annexation and energy resources, adding that Russia did not even care about the oil and gas. “Compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there,” the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Saturday.

Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and other major oil companies have already explored the Black Sea, and some petroleum analysts say its potential may rival that of the North Sea. That rush, which began in the 1970s, lifted the economies of Britain, Norway and other European countries.

William B. F. Ryan, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said Russia’s Black Sea acquisition gave it what are potentially “the best” of that body’s deep oil reserves.

Oil analysts said that mounting economic sanctions could slow Russia’s exploitation of its Black and Azov Sea annexations by reducing access to Western financing and technology. But they noted that Russia had already taken over the Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company, instantly giving Russia exploratory gear on the Black Sea.

“Russia’s in a mood to behave aggressively,” said Vladimir Socor, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a research group in Washington that follows Eurasian affairs. “It’s already seized two drilling rigs.”

The global hunt for fossil fuels has increasingly gone offshore, to places like the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea. Hundreds of oil rigs dot the Caspian, a few hundred miles east of the Black Sea.

Nations divide up the world’s potentially lucrative waters according to guidelines set forth by the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty. The agreement lets coastal nations claim what are known as exclusive economic zones that can extend up to 200 nautical miles (or 230 statute miles) from their shores. Inside these zones, countries can explore, exploit, conserve and manage deep natural resources, living and nonliving.

The countries with shores along the Black Sea have long seen its floor as a potential energy source, mainly because of modest oil successes in shallow waters.

Just over two years ago, the prospects for huge payoffs soared when a giant ship drilling through deep bedrock off Romania found a large gas field in waters more than half a mile deep.

Russia moved fast.

In April 2012, Mr. Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, presided over the signing of an accord with Eni, the Italian energy giant, to explore Russia’s economic zone in the northeastern Black Sea. Dr. Ryan of Columbia estimated that the size of the zone before the Crimean annexation was roughly 26,000 square miles, about the size of Lithuania.

“I want to assure you that the Russian government will do everything to support projects of this kind,” Mr. Putin said at the signing, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

A month later, oil exploration specialists at a European petroleum conference made a lengthy presentation, the title of which asked: “Is the Black Sea the Next North Sea?” The paper cited geological studies that judged the waters off Ukraine as having “tremendous exploration potential” but saw the Russian zone as less attractive.

In August 2012, Ukraine announced an accord with an Exxon-led group to extract oil and gas from the depths of Ukraine’s Black Sea waters. The Exxon team had outbid Lukoil, a Russian company. Ukraine’s state geology bureau said development of the field would cost up to $12 billion.

“The Black Sea Hots Up,” read a 2013 headline in GEO ExPro, an industry magazine published in Britain. “Elevated levels of activity have become apparent throughout the Black Sea region,” the article said, “particularly in deepwater.”

When Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine on March 18, it issued a treaty of annexation between the newly declared Republic of Crimea and the Russian Federation. Buried in the document — in Article 4, Section 3 — a single bland sentence said international law would govern the drawing of boundaries through the adjacent Black and Azov Seas.

Dr. Ryan estimates that the newly claimed maritime zone around Crimea added about 36,000 square miles to Russia’s existing holdings. The addition is more than three times the size of the Crimean landmass, and about the size of Maine.

At the time, few observers noted Russia’s annexation of Crimea in those terms. An exception was Romania, whose Black Sea zone had been adjacent to Ukraine’s before Russia stepped in.

“Romania and Russia will be neighbors,” Romania Libera, a newspaper in Bucharest, observed on March 24. The article’s headline said the new maritime border could become a “potential source of conflict.”

Many nations have challenged Russia’s seizing of Crimea and thus the legality of its Black and Azov Sea claims. But the Romanian newspaper quoted analysts as judging that the other countries bordering the Black Sea — Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania — would tacitly recognize the annexation “in order to avoid an open conflict.”

Most immediately, analysts say, Russia’s seizing may alter the route along which the South Stream pipeline would be built, saving Russia money, time and engineering challenges. The planned pipeline, meant to run through the deepest parts of the Black Sea, is to pump Russian gas to Europe.

Originally, to avoid Ukraine’s maritime zone, Russia drew the route for the costly pipeline in a circuitous jog southward through Turkey’s waters. But now it can take a far more direct path through its newly acquired Black Sea territory, if the project moves forward. The Ukraine crisis has thrown its future into doubt.

As for oil extraction in the newly claimed maritime zones, companies say their old deals with Ukraine are in limbo, and analysts say new contracts are unlikely to be signed anytime soon, given the continuing turmoil in the region and the United States’ efforts to ratchet up pressure on Russia.

“There are huge issues at stake,” noted Dr. Saivetz of M.I.T. “I can’t see them jumping into new deals right now.”

The United States is using its wherewithal to block Russian moves in the maritime zones. Last month, it imposed trade restrictions on Chernomorneftegaz, the breakaway Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company.

Eric L. Hirschhorn, the United States under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said sanctions against the Crimean business would send “a strong message” of condemnation for Russia’s “incursion into Ukraine and expropriation of Ukrainian assets.”

Alexandra Odynova contributed reporting from Moscow.
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves. 

Biden Admits To Getting Ukrainian Prosecutor Fired For Investigating Son’s “Burisma” Fracking Company

John Solomon, opinion contributor
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: Joe Biden's 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived© Getty Joe Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian nightmare: A closed probe is revived 

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Two years after leaving office, Joe Biden couldn’t resist the temptation last year to brag to an audience of foreign policy specialists about the time as vice president that he strong-armed Ukraine into firing its top prosecutor.

In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,'” Biden recalled telling Poroshenko.

“Well, son of a b—-, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden told the Council on Foreign Relations event, insisting that President Obama was in on the threat.

Interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day. Whatever the case, Poroshenko and Ukraine’s parliament obliged by ending Shokin’s tenure as prosecutor. Shokin was facing steep criticism in Ukraine, and among some U.S. officials, for not bringing enough corruption prosecutions when he was fired.

But Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.

U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts – usually more than $166,000 a month – from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia.

The general prosecutor’s official file for the Burisma probe – shared with me by senior Ukrainian officials – shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of money.

Shokin told me in written answers to questions that, before he was fired as general prosecutor, he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.”

He added: “I would like to emphasize the fact that presumption of innocence is a principle in Ukraine,” and that he couldn’t describe the evidence further.

William Russo, a spokesman for Joe Biden, and Hunter Biden did not respond to email messages Monday seeking comment. The phone number at Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC in Washington was no longer in service on Monday.

The timing of Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s appointment to Burisma’s board has been highlighted in the past, by The New York Times in December 2015 and in a 2016 book by conservative author Peter Schweizer.

Although Biden made no mention of his son in his 2018 speech, U.S. and Ukrainian authorities both told me Biden and his office clearly had to know about the general prosecutor’s probe of Burisma and his son’s role. They noted that:

  • Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board was widely reported in American media;
  • The U.S. embassy in Kiev that coordinated Biden’s work in the country repeatedly and publicly discussed the general prosecutor’s case against Burisma;
  • Great Britain took very public action against Burisma while Joe Biden was working with that government on Ukraine issues;
  • Biden’s office was quoted, on the record, acknowledging Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma in a New York Times article about the general prosecutor’s Burisma case that appeared four months before Biden forced the firing of Shokin. The vice president’s office suggested in that article that Hunter Biden was a lawyer free to pursue his own private business deals.

President Obama named Biden to be the administration’s point man on Ukraine in February 2014, after a popular revolution ousted Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych and as Moscow sent military forces into Ukraine’s Crimea territory.

According to Schweizer’s book, Vice President Biden met with Archer in April 2014 right as Archer was named to the board at Burisma. A month later, Hunter Biden was named to the board, to oversee Burisma’s legal team.

But the Ukrainian investigation and Joe Biden’s effort to fire the prosecutor overseeing it has escaped without much public debate.

Most of the general prosecutor’s investigative work on Burisma focused on three separate cases and most stopped abruptly once Shokin was fired. The most prominent of the Burisma cases was transferred to a different Ukrainian agency, closely aligned with the U.S. embassy in Kiev, known as the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), according to the case file and current General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko.

NABU closed that case, and a second case involving alleged improper money transfers in London was dropped when Ukrainian officials failed to file the necessary documents by the required deadline. The general prosecutor’s office successfully secured a multimillion-dollar judgment in a tax evasion case, Lutsenko said. He did not say who was the actual defendant in that case.

As a result, the Biden family appeared to have escaped the potential for an embarrassing inquiry overseas in the final days of the Obama administration and during an election in which Democrat Hillary Clinton was running for president in 2016.

But then, as Biden’s 2020 campaign ramped up over the past year, Lutsenko – the Ukrainian prosecutor that Biden once hailed as a “solid” replacement for Shokin – began looking into what happened with the Burisma case that had been shut down.

Lutsenko told me that, while reviewing the Burisma investigative files, he discovered “members of the Board obtained funds as well as another U.S.-based legal entity, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, for consulting services.”

Lutsenko said some of the evidence he knows about in the Burisma case may interest U.S. authorities and he’d like to present that information to new U.S. Attorney General William Barr, particularly the vice president’s intervention.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Biden had correlated and connected this aid with some of the HR (personnel) issues and changes in the prosecutor’s office,” Lutsenko said.

Nazar Kholodnytskyi, the lead anti-corruption prosecutor in Lutsenko’s office, confirmed to me in an interview that part of the Burisma investigation was reopened in 2018, after Joe Biden made his remarks. “We were able to start this case again,” Kholodnytskyi said.

But he said the separate Ukrainian police agency that investigates corruption has dragged its feet in gathering evidence. “We don’t see any result from this case one year after the reopening because of some external influence,” he said, declining to be more specific.

Ukraine is in the middle of a hard-fought presidential election, is a frequent target of intelligence operations by neighboring Russia, and suffers from rampant political corruption nationwide. Thus, many Americans might take the restart of the Burisma case with a grain of salt, and rightfully so.

But what makes Lutsenko’s account compelling is that federal authorities in America, in an entirely different case, uncovered financial records showing just how much Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s company received from Burisma while Joe Biden acted as Obama’s point man on Ukraine.

Between April 2014 and October 2015, more than $3 million was paid out of Burisma accounts to an account linked to Biden’s and Archer’s Rosemont Seneca firm, according to the financial records placed in a federal court file in Manhattan in an unrelated case against Archer.

The bank records show that, on most months when Burisma money flowed, two wire transfers of $83,333.33 each were sent to the Rosemont Seneca-connected account on the same day. The same Rosemont Seneca-linked account typically then would pay Hunter Biden one or more payments ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 each. Prosecutors reviewed internal company documents and wanted to interview Hunter Biden and Archer about why they had received such payments, according to interviews.

Lutsenko said Ukrainian company board members legally can pay themselves for work they do if it benefits the company’s bottom line, but prosecutors never got to determine the merits of the payments to Rosemont because of the way the investigation was shut down.

As for Joe Biden’s intervention in getting Lutsenko’s predecessor fired in the midst of the Burisma investigation, Lutsenko suggested that was a matter to discuss with Attorney General Barr: “Of course, I would be happy to have a conversation with him about this issue.”

As the now-completed Russia collusion investigation showed us, every American deserves the right to be presumed innocent until evidence is made public or a conviction is secured, especially when some matters of a case involve foreigners. The same presumption should be afforded to Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Devon Archer and Burisma in the Ukraine case.

Nonetheless, some hard questions should be answered by Biden as he prepares, potentially, to run for president in 2020: Was it appropriate for your son and his firm to cash in on Ukraine while you served as point man for Ukraine policy? What work was performed for the money Hunter Biden’s firm received? Did you know about the Burisma probe? And when it was publicly announced that your son worked for Burisma, should you have recused yourself from leveraging a U.S. policy to pressure the prosecutor who very publicly pursued Burisma?

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill.

It’s Malta, Again…Last Week, Ukrainian Gas and Joe Biden…This Week, It’s Russia-gate

[SEE: The Obscenity of Humanitarian Warfare]

it’s that man joseph mifsud again

The Tale of a ‘Deep State Target’
Daniel Lazare, Consortium News, Apr 4 2019

Now that Russian collusion is dead and buried thanks to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the big question is how and why such charges arose. George Papadopoulos’s “Deep State Target: How I Got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump” doesn’t tell the whole story. But this account by one of the crusade’s first victims pulls the covers off a few important aspects. It describes a lengthy entrapment scheme that began when Papadopoulos told co-workers that presidential candidate Donald Trump was about to appoint him to his foreign-policy advisory team. The time was Mar 2016, the place the London Centre of International Law Practice, where Papadopoulos was working as an energy consultant, a job that mainly involves meeting with diplomats and going out for dinner and drinks. Regarding the LCILP, he recalls it as a “strange operation” where there’s “no actual law practice going on that I can see” and which he later suspects is an intelligence front. The reaction to his announcement was not good. One of Papadopoulos’s bosses tells him:

You should not be working with Trump. He’s a threat to society. He’s a racist. He’s anti-Muslim.

But the tone changes when another LCILP director insists that he join him for a three-day conference at Link Campus University, a privately-owned educational center in Rome. There he is introduced to a well-dressed Maltese academic in his mid-fifties named Joseph Mifsud. Papadopoulos writes:

He asks about my background, and if I have Russian contacts. I shake my head and say: “I heard you have connections, and that you might be able to help me with the campaign.” Mifsud replies: “Oh yes! Absolutely! Let’s talk tonight! Let’s go to dinner!”

With that, the author enters into a rabbit hole filled with twists and turns in which he finds himself in the middle of a deep-state intelligence war over Trump’s alleged Kremlin ties, and by the end of which he has served a 12-day sentence in a medium-security federal prison. In late April, Mifsud takes him to breakfast at a London hotel and says:

I’ve just got back from Russia. They say they have dirt on Hillary Clinton! Emails of Clinton! They have thousands of emails!

Papadopoulos writes it off as idle chitchat by a dubious diplomatic networker whom he has come to see as all talk and no action. A friend from the Australian embassy introduces him to a top Aussie diplomat named Alexander Downer, who tells him over gin and tonics that his foreign policy ideas are all wet. A British foreign-ministry official takes him out for still more drinks and grills him about Russia. Stefan Halper, an old CIA hand turned Cambridge academic, contacts him out of the blue and pesters him about Russia as well. A mysterious Pindo-Belorussian name Sergei Millian offers him a secret $30k/month PR job, but only if he continues working for Trump. A Pindo-Israeli businessman named Charles Tawil buys him lunch at a steakhouse in Skokie, Illinois. Later, in Greece, they go clubbing together in Mykonos, and then Tawil flies Papadopoulos to Israel where he presents him with $10k in cash, which he leaves with a lawyer in Thessaloniki. While flying back to Pindostan in Jul 2017, Papadopoulos runs into a squad of FBI agents as he is changing planes. he writes:

And then, finally, it dawns on me as they are going through my bags. Charles Tawil and the money. They are looking for $10k in undeclared cash! That fucking guy was setting me up!

After appearing before a judge, he goes on:

I’ve barely slept in two days. I’m wearing the same shirt that I left Athens in. I smell like garbage. I look like garbage. I’m disoriented, because while I’ve just finally heard the charges, I still don’t really understand any of it.

To his horror, he learns that he is facing 25 years in prison on charges of obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. What was going on? Although Papadopoulos doesn’t go into the pre-history, we know from other sources that by late 2015, intelligence agencies were buzzing over reports that Trump and Russian Pres Putin were reaching out to one another behind the scenes. Spooks are paranoid by profession, but three recent events had put them particularly on edge. One was the Euromaidan uprising in Kiev in early 2014, which by driving out an allegedly pro-Russian president, sparked a revolt among Russian-speakers in the east. Another was in Syria, where Pindo backing of Islamist rebels had prompted Russia to intervene in support of Pres Assad. The third was on the Pindo campaign trail, where Trump was thoroughly shocking foreign policy “experts” by sounding off against regime change and making friendly noises toward Putin. Trump said of the Russian president in Oct 2015:

But I think that I would probably get along with him very well!

When CNN’s John Dickerson asked about Russian air assaults, he replied:

And as far as him attacking Daesh, I’m all for it! If he wants to be bombing the hell out of Daesh, which he’s starting to do, if he wants to be bombing Daesh, let him bomb them, John! Let him bomb them! I think we probably work together much more so than right now!

Intelligence agencies might have conceded that Pindostan was wrong to encourage far-right elements in Kiev, and that it was equally mistaken in giving backhanded support to AQ and Daesh in the Middle East. They might have granted that Trump, for all his reality-TV bluster, had a point. But western intelligence agencies don’t do self-criticism. What they did was blame Putin for messing up their plans for a clean coup in Kiev and a neat ouster of Assad, and then blame Trump for arguing on Putin’s behalf. From there, it was a very short step to concluding that Trump was not only siding with Putin but conspiring with him. Individual intelligence assets went into action to prove this theory correct, and if need be to invent a conspiracy where none existed. Joseph Mifsud was apparently among them. Papadopoulos devotes a fair amount of space to his background. Although Mueller’s indictment says Mifsud had “substantial connections to Russian government officials,” a wealth of data indicates the opposite. Stephan Roh, a Swiss-German lawyer who employed Mifsud as a consultant, writes in a self-published book:

Joseph Mifsud has only one master: the Western political, diplomatic and Intelligence world, his only home, upon which he is still deeply dependent.

Mifsud has been photographed with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and veteran diplomat Claire Smith, a top British intelligence official. Indeed, Mifsud taught a course with Smith for Italian military and law-enforcement personnel at the same Link Campus where he’d met Papadopolous. Mifsud’s ties with western intelligence are thus multifarious and deep. The same goes for the other people with whom ran Papadopoulos had contact. Alexander Downer, the Aussie diplomat with whom he had drinks, turns out to be a director of a London private intelligence firm known as Hakluyt & Co, which counts among its close associates Halper, the Cambridge academic who was ex-CIA, and Sir Richard Dearlove, ex-director of MI6. These two, Dearlove and Halper, ran an intelligence seminar at Cambridge and are also partners in a private venture calling itself “The Cambridge Security Initiative.” Millian, the man who offered Papadopoulos $30k/month, turns out to be a source for the notorious Steele Dossier. Steele himself sought counselat one point from fellow Cambridge man Dearlove on how to spread his findings. According to one of his buddies, Millian works for the FBI as well. All of which is enough to get anyone’s conspiratorial juices flowing. As for Charles Tawil, he arouses Papadopoulos’s fears of an intelligence link once he arrives in Mykonos by boasting of his friendship with Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and then-South African President Jacob Zuma, and declaring of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard:

It wasn’t our fault he got caught!

In Israel, he brags about helping to wiretap Pres Hafez al-Assad, father of the current president, and says:

We could have killed him at any time.

Papadopoulos reveals a private diplomatic cable citing Tawil as a Pindo intelligence asset back in 2006. Five intelligence assets were thus hounding Papadopoulos at every turn, while a sixth was compiling the dossier that would send Russiagate into overdrive. It added up to the greatest propaganda campaign since the furor over Iraqi WMDs and, like those nonexistent WMDs, it turns out to have been manufactured out of thin air. Papadopoulos is vague about many details, and he doesn’t have all the answers about Russiagate. No-one at this point does. But his book leaves little doubt that he was the victim of a full-court press by intelligence assets in and around the FBI, CIA and MI6. Like everyone, Mifsud knew about Clinton’s emails, the ones she stored on her private server, not those that Wikileaks would later release, and fed Papadopoulos tidbits about a supposed Russia connection in the hope, no doubt, that he would pass them along to the Trump campaign. When he didn’t, Downer nonetheless reported back to Canberra that Papadopoulos had told him something along those lines. Papadopoulos does not remember saying any such thing. Once Canberra told Washington, the FBI investigation dubbed Crossfire Hurricane was on. Halper tried to get him to admit to working with Russia:

It’s great that Russia is helping you and the campaign, right? … You and your campaign are involved in hacking and working with Russia, right? … It seems like you are a middleman for Trump and Russia, right? … I know you know about the emails!

Millian sends him an email shortly before the election, telling him:

Please be very cautious these last few days, even to the point of not leaving your food and drinks out of eyesight!

Charles Tawil observes:

Obviously a Greek Orthodox guy like you has close ties to Russia!

He leaves it to Papadopoulos to fill in the blanks. Even though the charge that Papadopoulos obstructed justice by misleading the FBI was dropped, Papadopoulos is still a convicted liar who pled guilty to misleading the FBI about the exact timing of his meetings with Mifsud, but he says that he was frightened and nervous, didn’t have his lawyer present, and didn’t even remember what he had said until he read it in the indictment. He also says he now regrets taking the advice of his then lawyers to cop a plea:

There was never any pre-trial discovery. We never saw or at least I hadn’t seen the transcript of my interview, so all we had was the prosecutor’s word regarding what I had said, and we caved.

He was an amateur running out of money while doing battle with a prosecutor with a $25m budget. He had little choice. Russiagate was unstoppable until the collusion theory finally collapsed.

The Hunt For Burisma–Pt.2


By John Helmer, Moscow

The UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Central Criminal Court have reported that Nikolai Zlochevsky, a Ukrainian businessman and twice the minister of state for oil and gas licences, is the controlling shareholder of the Ukrainian gas producer Burisma. So what are employees of Igor Kolomoisky, warlord of Dniepropetrovsk and controller of the Privatbank Group, doing as the shareholder representatives on the Burisma board?

Kolomoisky isn’t the accommodating, retiring, passive sort, say sources who work with him. Zlochevsky has the more bending character of the two, the sources claim. So is Burisma their cooperative and joint venture, or is Zlochevsky Kolomoisky’s front-man, just as others were for Zlochevsky in the ten-year history of Burisma’s acquisition of valuable oil and gas prospects.

Zlochevsky, now 48, headed the Ukrainian State Committee for Resources between 2003 and 2005. He then served in the Verkhovna Rada where he presided over legislation regulating resource licences. Between 2010 and 2012 he was the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources. He then became Deputy Secretary of then President Victor Yanukovich’s National Security Council.

During the years he was a state official, if he acquired business assets, especially from licensing awards he was able to direct or influence in his official capacity, Zlochevsky was obliged to act indirectly. The transaction records of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) confirm that in 2009 Zlochevsky (below, right) and a partner, Nikolai Lisin (left), were the beneficial shareholders at the receiving end of a chain in which Millington Solutions and Sunrise Energy Resources sold title to two Ukrainian gasfields, Pari and Esko Pivnich.


Sunrise Energy Resources was a Delaware state company; Millington Solutions was a short-lived UK front, registered at an address on Regent Street, London, where the most active line of business was escort sex. Signing for Sunrise was its purported chief executive, Konstantin Tsiryulnikov; signing for Millington was Yevgeny Kozlov.

As their names suggest, these two are of Russian origin, with Soviet backgrounds. In the history of Burisma and its Ukrainian gasfields, they end up in Canada. Here is Tsiryulikov today and this appears to be Kozlov, an Ottawa lawyer.
For the start of the transaction chain in which Esko Pivnich (pictured below in 2006-2007) ends up on Burisma’s balance-sheet, read this filing with the SEC in 2004.


In April of 2011 Lisin, whose business lines also included petroleum products, was killed in a car crash, apparently self-induced but by accident. In August 2012, a Ukrainian group calling itself the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC), reporting its research into the ownership of Ukrainian gasfields, claimed that Zlochevsky had sold out the year before, apparently after Lisin’s death.

AntAC describes itself as “a Ukrainian civil society organization, which unites experts from legal, media and civic-political sectors fighting corruption as a root cause of the key state-building problems in Ukraine.” Zlochevsky had let go of Burisma through a chain of companies called Ukrnaftoburinnya (Ukraine), Deripon Commercial Ltd. (Cyprus) and Burrard Financial Corporation (BVI). AntaAC’s reports cites Oleh Kanivets, a former chief executive of Ukrnaftoburinnya, as saying the chain ended up with Kolomoisky. “The Privat Group is the immediate owner. This company was founded by Mykola Zlochevsky some time ago, but he later sold his shares to the Privat Group.”

In March 2014, days after the ouster of Yanukovich in Kiev and the installation of a new regime, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) started investigating Zlochevsky. According to the evidence it presented to the Central Criminal Court between March and December of 2014, and according to Justice Blake, who assessed the evidence, there is no mention of Lisin, Deripon, Burrard or Kolomoisky. The judge’s report of how Zlochevsky came by the Pari and Esko Pivnich licences refers only to the fact that Zlochevsky was the state official in charge at the licensing authority, the State Committee for Natural Resources at the time.

The operative companies accepted by the UK investigators and the judge to have been wholly or partly owned by Zlochevsky are identified as Burisma Holdings (Cyprus), Brociti Investments (Cyprus), Chartlux Resources Inc., its subsidiary TOV Kam, Cipriato Alliance Limited (Belize), Seanon Limited, Kisaliano Holdings Limited (BVI), Infox, Vestorgia Holdings Limited (Cyprus), Egeli Services (Cyprus) , and Audrinura Trade LLP (UK). The transaction chains involving these names were reported to the SFO and to the court by Zlochevsky’s lawyer, Andrei Kicha, in order to explain how cash of up to $35 million ended up in London bank accounts of Burisma. Most of the money and most of the names were reported to have nothing to do with Burisma’s gas business but came, allegedly, from real estate dealings by Zlochevsky.

Justice Blake concluded that SFO’s investigation had been barking up the wrong tree. “The transactions appear to involve more corporate vehicles than might seem necessary, but Mr Kicha explains that special purpose vehicles are often the means of conducting large scale transactions in Ukraine and explains why foreign companies and bank accounts are preferred to domestic ones. There is nothing to suggest that any other inference than criminality is implausible.” For Blake’s judgement to lift the freeze order on the bank accounts, read this.

How could it be that the SFO testified, and the judge accepted, that Kicha, the lawyer acting for Burisma and Zlochevsky, was moving Zlochevsky’s cash, when AntAC and other Ukrainian evidence already suggested that Zlochevsky had sold Burisma to the Privatbank group sometime in 2011? Did SFO investigator, Richard Gould, fail to substantiate this with Ukrainian authorities in Kiev? Did the succession of Ukrainian prosecutors evade questions on the point because of Kolomoisky’s countervailing influence? The SFO won’t get into detail. According to spokesman Nilima Fox, “I am unable to share anything further, however, due to the ongoing investigation.”

Vitaly Yarema1

The Blake judgement of January 21 reveals that the court is open to more evidence, but for the time being it isn’t too keen to understand what is happening in Kiev to cover up for Burisma. The Ukrainian media are reporting that Prosecutor-General Vitaly Yarema (right) was pushed out of office on February 11 because he has reopened the Burisma investigation, aiming not at Zlochevsky, but at Kolomoisky. His dismissal, according to the uncorroborated reports, was Kolomoisky’s doing.

Privat Bank won’t answer questions on the relationship to Burisma, and neither will Burisma.

One explanation for the gap in the Blake judgement is that the evidence submitted to the court not only indicates that Zlochvesky kept bank accounts at BNP Paribas in London with the Burisma name; but also that he didn’t use them for Burisma’s gas business. That, the company website suggests, was firmly under control of the two genuine directors on the Burisma board – Anzelika Pasenidou and Riginos Kharalambus. These are genuine in the sense that the Americans on the board – David Apter, Devon Archer, and Hunter Biden — are not, because Pasenidou and Kharalambus directly represent the control shareholder.

An investigation of Pasenidou and Kharalambus (aka Charalambous) uncovers a fresh chain of offshore entities in which they are also board directors or executives. There is no overlap between this chain and the Zlochevsky one pursued by the UK investigators. So where, and to whom, does the Pasenidou-Kharalambus chain lead?

Andreas SofocleousPasenidou and Kharalambus are both employed by Andreas Sofocleous (right) and his eponymous law firm, Andreas M Sofocleous & Co LLC. The firm’s website describes it as “one of the most successful Corporate and Commercial law firms in Cyprus. Headquartered in Limassol and with offices in Eastern Europe and the UK, the firm provides legal services for individuals and companies at a national and at multinational levels across a wide range of industries, dealing with mergers and acquisitions, cross border transactions, joint ventures, intellectual property licensing, as well as company formation and management and other business arrangements.”

This week a source close to the firm identifies employees in the firm’s banking department in Limassol as including Pasenidou, Kharalambus, Anna Korelidou, and Eleni Korelidou. Sofocleous was educated in Moscow; Pasenidou in Lermontov; and Anna Korelidou in Moscow and Kiev. Korelidou appears to be the senior banking lawyer in the firm; Pasenidou and Kharalambus work in the same department but under Korelidou; both are professional accountants. Eleni Korelidou also works in the same department, a source says, but she is currently out of the office on maternity leave.

The Sofocleous law firm also embraces the Sofocleous Foundation (Kepaky), which is at the same address, Proteas House, 155 Archbishop Makarios Avenue, Limassol. Proteas is the name also given to Proteas Management and Proteas Nominees, company fronting operations of the Sofocleous group. A search of Ukrainian entities in which Proteas Nominees is a registered director or company secretary leads to Odessa Airport Development, the private partner of the Odessa city government at the Odessa airport.

Anna Korelidou’s directorships lead also to Odessa Airport Development and Compen Trading (UK)Eleni Korelidou can be traced to a network of very recently established entities in Panama — Alliance Capital Partners, Onix Company SA, Pan Co Ltd SA, Sunoil Trading Corporation, Stock Energy Company. These Panamanian names also lead back to Pasenidou, and to Marina Savvidou. Savvidou, 26, is registered as a company director or secretary at three UK registrations – Texoma Inc. Ltd, Greston Commercial Ltd., and Hancestar Management Ltd. Two others with the same family name, Ria Savvidou and Popi Savvidou, are recorded as being associated with the Sofocleous foundation. So too is Kharalambus. A woman of the same family, also an accountant, is registered with the same foundation.

According to the Burisma website, the Sofocleous firm is one of its “partners”. According to Andreas Sofocleous, “PrivatBank has already become a reliable partner of our company for a long time, and now our long term partnership has developed into strong friendship. We hope to continue our mutual cooperation in the future!” Contacted this week by telephone, Anna Korelidou confirms that Privatbank is one of her clients. The circumstantial evidence therefore ties Burisma through the Sofocleous firm to Kolomoisky.

Vadim PozharskyiIt does not lead to Zlochevsky. The only name on the Burisma board connected to him is Vadim Pozharskyi (right). He was a protégé of Zlochevsky’s at the Ministry of Natural Resources between 2010 and 2012. When Zlochevsky moved to the presidential Security Council, Pozharskyi remained at the State Environmental Investment Agency, where, he says in his recent Wikipedia bio, he “consistently spoke in favor of signing the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.” He also claims to have had a political connection – in the campaign to release Yulia Tymoshenko from prison – with the ex-Polish President, Alexander Kwasniewski. Kwasniewski is also a Burisma board director. Kwasniewski is also on the payroll of Victor Pinchuk, as can be followed here.

A forensic investigator familiar with Ukrainian business practice believes the lack of overlap between the Zlochevsky chain of offshore entities uncovered by the SFO and the chain tying the Burisma board to the Privatbank group is “supportive” of the conclusion that Kolomoisky is the control shareholder at Burisma.This is also claimed in a Wikipedia entry on Kolomoisky – without substantiation. Independent Russian investigations emphasize infighting between the Ukrainian oligarchs, including Kolomoisky, Pinchuk, Rinat Akhmetov, the Yanukovich family, and others for stakes in the burgeoning Ukrainian gas sector.

That still leaves Zlochevsky, who identified himself last December on a visit to Kazakhstan as the “principal” of a Burisma delegation proposing to bring US technology and money to a gas exploration venture with KazMunaiGas (KMG), Kazakhstan’s state oil and gas company. In Astana Zlochevsky was accompanied by Archer and Pozharskyi.

The memorandum signed with KMG and discussed with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov emphasized American technology and American cash for “a round of seismic and drilling operations for the hydrocarbon E&P, as well as explore the possibility of building infrastructure in the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan.” Why KMG would need a small Ukrainian intermediary for this purpose isn’t explained.

Massimov has been the Kazakh official delegated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev to conduct direct relations with the regime in Kiev. Six months before the Burisma visit, Massimov met with Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk in Kiev.

Arseny Yatseniuk

It is noteworthy that for the trip to Astana Burisma omitted its chief executive, Leonid Petukhov and his deputy Alexander Gorbunenko. Their career records reveal that they may have been poached by Kolomoisky from rival oligarchs: Petukhov comes from Geo Alliance, a Pinchuk asset; and Gorbunenko comes from Smart Holding, which belongs to Vadim Novinsky. For an inventory of which Ukrainian oligarch owns which gas asset, as of last November 2014, read the Vlasti report.

Neither is trusted to represent Burisma in the lobbying for US Government cash and loan guarantees to “support energy sector reforms, promote Ukrainian self-sufficiency and mitigate corruption in the energy sector,” as a Burisma press releasedescribes its Washington pitch. Zlochevsky’s name gets as far as Astana, but apparently not as far as Washington. There Burisma is represented by the Americans on the board.

report released on Monday in Warsaw explains the reason. This is the work of the Polish Centre for Eastern Studies (Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich, OSW); a Warsaw informant describes OSW as “an arm of Polish intelligence studying Russia, as well as Ukraine.” According to OSW, the Ukrainian oligarchs are manipulating domestic strife and the balance of power in Kiev and Washington to gain assets at the expense of their rivals. But the oligarchic system itself in Ukraine is undiminished.

“After the victory of the revolution on the Maidan in the balance of power between the major Ukrainian oligarchs – representatives of big business with strong political influence – there has been a significant change, which, however, did not undermine the oligarchic system.” Yanukovoich, Akhmetov, and Dmitry Firtash have lost assets and political influence, OSW reports. By contrast, “the most important trend in the Ukrainian oligarchic system in the past year has been a huge increase in the revenue of Ihor Kolomoyski who, since the 90s, is one of the most powerful men in Ukraine… Kolomoyski’s political success meant that he began to pursue business expansion at the expense of other oligarchs.” Read the full Polish report here.

The Polish report endorses the conclusion of a Washington think-tank report, published late last year, which attacks Kolomoisky for the worst excesses of Ukrainian asset raiding. “Raiding has apparently been an intimate part of Privat Group’s growth strategy. Kolomoisky himself is credited with the memorable quotation, “give me a 1 percent stake and I will take over the entire company.”

Matthew Rojansky

This was written by Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington. Rojansky’s research was hosted by the Economic Section of the US Embassy in Kiev. “It is possible,” Roshansky concludes, “that the realignment of forces in Ukrainian politics could unleash yet another devastating tidal wave of raider attacks under the guise of restitution of assets stolen by the previous government. It is worth recalling that the oligarchs have hardly disappeared from Ukraine, and some are in positions of much enhanced political power”.

That’s code for Kolomoisky – and Burisma. Rojansky’s conclusion is a direct appeal for the US Government to stop Kolomoisky because “corporate raiding undermines U.S. policy objectives in addition to deterring potentially profitable U.S. investments in Ukraine.”

The Hunt For Burisma–Pt.1

Burisma, an influential Ukrainian oil and gas company with disputed ownership involving Nikolai Zlochevsky and Igor Kolomoisky, is under criminal investigation in the UK. But you wouldn’t know it from a release issued by the company on January 22. According to Burisma, “Britain closed criminal proceedings against the assets of Nikolay Zlochevskyi [sic]. The case was closed after the Court analyzed the period from 2002 to December 2014 for alleged illegality of the source of funds of companies the ultimate beneficiary of which was Nikolay Zlochevskyi [sic] and ‘found no grounds for further consideration of the case’, said the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales decision.”

A statement issued yesterday by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in London, which initiated the criminal proceedings against Zlochevsky in April of 2014, said its investigation of Zlochevsky and Burisma is “ongoing”. The SFO regrets, it added, that unexplained changes of position by the state prosecutor in Kiev led to last month’s court judgement. “We are disappointed,” said the SFO spokesman, “we were not provided with the evidence by authorities in the Ukraine necessary to keep this restraint order in place. Our criminal investigation continues.”

No trace of Burisma’s “no grounds” quotation from the court judgement can be found.

Instead, Justice Blake ruled that until or unless the SFO and the Ukrainian authorities produce fresh evidence of wrongdoing by Zlochevsky, a freeze order over Burisma’s bank accounts in London should be lifted. Blake also ruled: “it is not known why the [Ukrainian] authorities subsequently changed their minds 27 days later, or whether fresh evidence has arisen… In the event that this information suggests that a Ukrainian request for mutual assistance is about to be made on fresh evidence not considered in this application, that is a matter that can be addressed by a timetable for setting aside the existing order and to which the parties can give consideration following the handing down of this judgment.”

Burisma Holdings Ltd. was incorporated in Cyprus in 2006; there is no trace of its registration, asset history, or financial accounts on the company website. Its registered office appears to be on St. James Square in London. The chief executive, Leonid Petukhov, and his deputy, Alexander Gorbunenko, pick up the telephone at Asterius Fund, a small hedge fund registered in the Cayman Islands since 2011. Petukhov used to work at Victor Pinchuk’s EastOne holding.

Burisma reports that its auditor is KPMG, but it doesn’t release audited statements of its financial condition. Instead, the company issues press statements of production plans and operating intentions. “By the end of this year, Burisma Holdings is planning to produce more than 700 million cubic meters of natural gas. At year-end 2014, the Company invested around UAH 2 billion. Based on a previously approved strategy, Burisma Holdings intends to put into operation another 28 wells and invest around UAH 3 billion in case of subsoil use tax reduction. In 2015, the Company is aiming to produce more than 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Openness and operational transparency are key factors in the activities of the largest independent gas producer in Ukraine.” For the last report on Burisma, read this.

Until the release of Justice Blake’s judgement, Burisma and Zlochevsky refused to confirm their shareholding relationship. The SFO evidence discussed in Blake’s ruling omits the name of Igor Kolomoisky; he has been identified in Ukrainian investigations and media reports as a stakeholder in Burisma. Kolomoisky runs the Privat Bank group and he is governor of Dniepropetrovsk region.

The attempt by the Ukrainian government to protect Zlochevsky and Burisma from UK charges of money laundering, and the British Government’s decision to continue the investigation of Burisma’s shareholders and their sources of cash, have not deterred the US Government from financing a role for Burisma in what the US Agency for International Development (USAID) calls its Ukrainian Municipal Energy Reform Project (MERP). According to a Burisma press release, the company and USAID have combined to “promot[e] energy security of our country.” USAID is spending $13.5 million on MERP; the locations selected for the programme in April of 2014 are all outside the areas of Lugansk and Donetsk where the civil war is most intense.

Lobbying for US Government support of Burisma are two Americans who were appointed to the Burisma board in 2014, just after the change of government in Kiev. Hunter Biden (below left) is one of the sons of Vice President Joe Biden. Devon Archer (centre) is a campaign advisor and family friend of Secretary of State John Kerry. Biden and Archer work together in a group of investment vehicles known as Rosemont Capital Partners, Rosemont Seneca Advisors, Rosemont Realty, Rosemont Opportunities Fund, and Rosemont Solebury Capital Management. US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) filings indicate that together they are “pooled investment vehicles” linked to Christopher Heinz, managing director of the group (right), and the Heinz family fortune.



Heinz is Kerry’s stepson. His mother Teresa, who was married to Senator John Heinz until he was killed in a 1991 aircrash, controls several Heinz family wealth trusts, as does Kerry his own family trusts. The two also share their investment wealth. According to the SEC dossier, the Rosemont group appears to be funded by money from the Heinz and Kerry trusts; Biden and Archer are fund managers for the Secretary of State’s pocket, as well as crew for Isabel, the Heinz-Kerry family yacht.


The UK investigation of Burisma began just before Biden and Archer officially joined the Burisma board of directors. Initially, when the SFO issued this release on April 28, 2014, there was no identification of Zlochevsky or Burisma. The SFO said it had “opened a criminal investigation into possible money laundering arising from suspicions of corruption in Ukraine. The SFO has obtained a restraint order freezing approximately $23m of assets in the UK in connection with this case. For reasons of confidentiality we cannot say more at this time.”

The SFO was confirming a London court order issued on April 16 in favour of SFO’s request to freeze the cash and other assets of Burisma and two related parties, Brociti Investments Ltd. of Cyprus, and Andrey Kicha. Intended to pre-empt the disappearance of the money abroad, before SFO could complete its investigation and frame indictments, the procedure was made without notice to the defendants. Kicha is identified in court as a “Ukrainian commercial lawyer, the chief legal officer of Burisma and other companies owned by the defendant [Zlochevsky]. He was the sole authorised signatory on the BNP accounts that are the subject to the restraint order.”

KichaBurisma identifies Kicha as having worked for the company since 2007. He can be found signing asset transaction documents on behalf of Burisma recorded by the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) in June 2009. The SEC records treat Kicha as Zlochevsky’s employee. The British court found that as soon as Zlochevsky and Kicha got wind that the British had started an investigation of money-laundering, Kicha tried to empty the London bank accounts. He wasn’t quick enough.

He and Zlochevsky then got their chance to defend their positions, and seek the lifting of the injunctions. Both sides struggled over the evidence to be disclosed to the court, and a hearing didn’t materialize for seven months until December 3, 2014. HugoThe official record then named Zlochevsky as the defendant in the SFO action, but three days of court testimony have not been published. Zlochevsky hired as his advocate Hugo Keith QC (left), who works with Alexander Cameron, brother of the British Prime Minister. Keith has also been the Murdoch media group’s barrister in the telephone hacking scandal. Zlochevsky did not testify in the hearing at the Old Bailey.

The freeze order had been issued after the SFO told the court that Zlochevsky had devised a “complicated pattern of off -shore holding companies established when he was still a serving Minister… effectively to conceal his beneficial ownership of Burisma and the economically active enterprises of which it was the holding company.”

The SFO alleged there were grounds for belief that Zlochevsky (below) had increased his wealth from “the exploitation of mineral licences awarded to his companies when he held public office.” Although the investigation was in its early stages, the SFO said there was “a clear inference of a wilful and dishonest exploitation of a direct conflict of interest by a man holding an important public office such as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in him’. Such conduct would, if committed in this jurisdiction, amount to an offence of misconduct in public office.”

Source for photographs of Zlochevsky’s Ukrainian mansion:

In addition, the SFO said, Kicha’s attempt to remove the cash to Cyprus “was troubling evidence of an attempt to avoid sanctions and freezing orders.”

The decision of Justice Blake to lift the freeze order was issued on January 21. It can be read in full here.

Revealed in the judgement is that in 2013 Burisma’s bank in London, BNP Paribas, had hired Kroll Associates to clear Zlochevsky before it accepted the Burisma money. Kroll (misspelled Kress), reported the judge, told the bank that “a career in politics was chosen by MZ around 2002 precisely to develop further his business. I do not read that as an admission of corruption, nor is it likely that BNP did so when agreeing to open the accounts after reading this report.”

The judge’s conclusion was that crooked though Zlochevsky might allegedly be, the SFO’s application for the freeze order didn’t provide enough evidence to substantiate that finding, or warrant the injunction. This got Zlochevsky’s and Burisma’s money off the hook, but not Zlochevsky. According to Blake, “I accept that very large sums of money came into the BNP accounts, US $35 million, of which $23 million remains. I accept that the defendant held public office in a regime that is presently considered corrupt. I accept that Ukrainian domestic arrangements to prevent conflict of influence by public officials who were already wealthy businessmen and had substantial shareholdings in companies involved in the extractive industries might either be considered inadequate or inadequately enforced. I accept that there is always the possibility that, despite the existence of safeguards as to who makes decision, undue influence can be brought to bear. However, none of these general points establishes reasonable grounds for a belief that his assets were unlawfully acquired as a result of misconduct in public office.”

This week, the SFO spokesman said, “our criminal investigation continues and as such we are unable to comment further. I am unable to share anything further, however, due to the ongoing investigation.”

The Blake ruling reveals that the initiative to investigate Zlochevsky and Burisma came from the SFO, not from the Ukrainian regime which took over in Kiev on February 22, 2014. Until December, the judge says there was “political contact between Ukraine and the United Kingdom since the change of regime in February 2014. There have been high profile commitments on the English side to assist Ukraine to recover stolen assets and some political expressions of support on the Ukrainian side for the fact that the English authorities have taken the lead with respect to MZ [Zlochevsky].”

When the Yanukovich government was toppled, the Prosecutor-General in Kiev was Viktor Pshonka. He and his son were hit by UK Government sanctions on March 6; they were accused of “misappropriation”. The new prosecutor on February 22 was Oleh Makhnitsky (below, left), a member of the rightwing Svoboda party. He was dismissed on June 18, and reportedly bought himself a home in London.


Vitaly Yarema (right) was appointed in his stead. Yarema was dismissed last week, on February 11.


Early in the SFO’s investigation in 2014, it received a letter from the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior to say “‘there are sufficient grounds to suggest that MZ [Zlochevsky] had been receiving his share of money for participating in law violations.”

Justice Blake faults the SFO investigator, Richard Gould, for failing to do enough to verify the allegations he had presented to the court in April; and for subsequently misleading the court on what the Ukrainian evidence added up to.

According to the SFO’s advocate in the December hearing, Zlochevsky “has not made a witness statement detailing how he came by his significant wealth or the nature of his dealings with those who are connected to the funds in the BNP accounts, or explaining the source of the funds paid into the accounts. It is not sufficient for him to rely on the evidence of Mr Kicha and that evidence leaves unanswered questions. It is a reasonable inference that it involved criminality of one sort or another.”

Blake refused to agree. According to his judgement, “shortly before the hearing of this application a letter dated 2 December 2014 was received from the General Prosecutor of Ukraine [Yarema] stating that in respect of five separately identified investigations opened between 19 December 2012 and 6 August 2014 ( including 155 and another investigation 181) ‘allegation notification was not delivered to MZ due to absence of grounds for criminal prosecution.’”

Blake also reveals there was a change of mind on Prosecutor Yarema’s part in Kiev between the London hearing and Blake’s judgement. “On 29 December 2014, in respect of investigation 42014000000805 (805), the Ukrainian prosecutor made a decision to give MZ notice that he was suspected of having committed a criminal offence of unlawful enrichment. He could not be served with this notice as his whereabouts were unknown. On 30 December 2014, at a without notice hearing in the same investigation, a judge of the Percherskyi District Court in Kyiv gave a decision on the prosecution’s application to seize the funds in the BNP accounts, inviting the initiation of a mutual assistance request to the English authorities so as to obtain their recovery.”

Blake decided to ignore this, ruling “these developments do not cause me to reopen this hearing or to revisit the provisional conclusions already reached.” At the close of his ruling, Blake underlines that his decision to lift the freeze order is provisional. “It is not known why the authorities subsequently changed their minds 27 days later, or whether fresh evidence has arisen. Equally it is not known what persuaded the [Ukrainian] judge to make a seizure order without notice, when of course the assets were already subject to an existing UK order of which the defendant had notice.”

In the last section of the ruling, Blake says that if the Ukrainian prosecutor submits “fresh evidence”, and the SFO returns to court with it, he will reopen “consideration” of the freeze order.

Tomorrow, in Part 2: the evidence that Igor Kolomoisky controls Burisma through a chain of corporate front companies registered in Cyprus and Panama, managed by individuals who reveal for the first time that they work for the Privat Bank group. Plus: what the Polish intelligence services reveal they believe about Kolomoisky in a report published in Warsaw this week.

“Creepy Joe” Meme Blindsiding Biden’s True Predatory Nature, Seen In His Conspiratorial Looting of Ukrainian Gas

[SEE: Son of Biden Joins Cyprus-Based Corp. with Ukrainian “Fracking” Contract In Crimea and Dneper-Donetsk Basin]

[The Hunt For Burisma, Pt.1 ; Pt.2]

KNOWLES: The Joe Biden Scandal The Media Is Covering Up

DE: Former Vice President Joe Biden Keynotes First State Democratic Dinner
Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On Thursday’s episode of “The Michael Knowles Show,” the host discusses that while Democrats are coming after former Vice President Joe Biden over inappropriate touching allegations, there is a far worse scandal in the veteran lawmaker’s background. Transcript and video below.

The one thing you can’t get Joe Biden on as far as we know is sexual misconduct. He’d probably be in a better space if you could. Teddy Kennedy let his mistress drown in a car. Bob Menendez almost certainly had sex with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, and federal prosecutors certainly think he did. We caught Bill Clinton and he survived impeachment. Joe Biden is sort of the exception here in that he actually isn’t sexually improper.

The thing to go after Joe Biden for is that he’s a total hack. He is the most disingenuous unctuous politician in the country who will say anything to win a vote, because he’s so desperate to appeal to every single person, that he’s going to nuzzle them with his nose and give them butterfly kisses. Frankly, the one way that I could see this fake scandal redounding to Joe Biden’s benefit is that it seems to be covering up in the media the actual scandal that he’s involved in, the actual impropriety that he’s involved in, which is basically that he bullied Ukraine into paying his son millions of dollars. Oh, you haven’t heard about this? I’m not surprised because no mainstream media outlets are covering it. This is the real scandal that Joe Biden is hiding right now.

Joe Biden’s younger son Hunter received millions of dollars from a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma Holdings, while his father was vice president. While his father was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukrainian affairs, and while Joe Biden was funneling $1.8 billion to Ukraine. Coincidentally, while Joe Biden was funneling all of that money to Ukraine, his son Hunter received millions of dollars. He receives regular monthly payments of one hundred sixty-six thousand dollars per month from Burisma.

This is a real scandal. This is real corruption. This is a real reason that Joe Biden should not be president, also it’s collusion. I guess it’s Ukrainian collusion or is it Russian collusion – I don’t know but it is collusion, and that’s a real reason. Demagoguing and race hustling and saying that Mitt Romney wants to put black people back in chains – that’s a reason that he shouldn’t be president. The fact that he’s a plagiarist which is why he had to drop out of the 1988 presidential race – that’s a reason that he shouldn’t be president. And the issue with the plagiarism being that Joe Biden is an empty suit he’s a walking grin. He’s a walking butterfly kiss. That’s all he is. All good reasons to prevent Joe Biden from being president.

The CIA Takeover of America in the 1960s Is the Story of Our Times

The CIA Takeover of America in the 1960s Is the Story of Our Times

A Lie Too Big To Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

by Lisa Pease

– Lisa Pease, quoting from the LAPD questioning of Sirhan

When Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, 1968, the American public fell into an hypnotic trance in which they have remained ever since. The overwhelming majority accepted what was presented by government authorities as an open and shut case that a young Palestinian American, Sirhan Sirhan, had murdered RFK because of his support for Israel, a false accusation whose ramifications echo down the years. That this was patently untrue and was contradicted by overwhelming evidence made no difference.

Sirhan did not kill Robert Kennedy, yet he remains in jail to this very day. Robert Kennedy, Jr., who was 14 years old at the time of his father’s death, has visited Sirhan in prison, claims he is innocent, and believes there was another gunman. Paul Schrade, an aide to the senator and the first person shot that night, also says Sirhan didn’t do it. Both have plenty of evidence. And they are not alone.

There is a vast body of documented evidence to prove this, an indisputably logical case marshalled by serious writers and researchers. Lisa Pease is the latest. It is a reason why a group of 60 prominent Americans has recently called for a reopening of, not just this case, but those of JFK, MLK, and Malcom X. The blood of these men cries out for the revelation of the truth that the United States national security state and its media accomplices have fought so mightily to keep hidden for so many years.

That they have worked so hard at this reveals how dangerous the truth about these assassinations still is to this secret government that wages propaganda war against the American people and real wars around the world. It is a government of Democrats, Republicans, and their intelligence allies working together today to confuse the American people and provoke Russia in a most dangerous game that could lead to nuclear war, a possibility that so frightened JFK and RFK after the Cuban Missile Crisis that they devoted themselves to ending the Cold War, reconciling with the Soviet Union, abolishing nuclear weapons, reining in of the power of the CIA, and withdrawing from Vietnam. That is why they were killed.

The web of deceit surrounding the now officially debunked Democratic led Russia-gate propaganda operation that has strengthened Trump to double-down on his anti-Russia operations (a Democratic goal) is an example of the perfidious and sophisticated mutuality of this game of mass mind-control.

The killing of the Kennedys and today’s new Cold War and war against terror are two ends of a linked intelligence operation.

Moreover, more than any other assassination of the 1960s, it is the killing of Bobby Kennedy that has remained shrouded in the most ignorance.

It is one of the greatest propaganda success stories of American history.

In her exhaustive new examination of the case, A Lie Too Big To Fail, Lisa Pease puts it succinctly at the conclusion of her unravelling of the official lies that have mesmerized the public:

The assassination of the top four leaders of the political left in the five year period – President John Kennedy in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968 – represented nothing less than a slow-motion coup on the political scene.

If anyone wishes to understand what has happened to the United States since this coup, and thus to its countless victims at home and throughout the world, one must understand these assassinations and how the alleged assassins were manipulated by the coup organizers and how the public was hoodwinked in a mind-control operation on a vast scale. It is not ancient history, for the forces that killed these leaders rule the U.S. today, and their ruthlessness has subsequently informed the actions of almost all political leaders in the years since. A bullet to the head when you seriously talk about peace and justice is a not so gentle reminder to toe the line or else.

“But the way the CIA took over America in the 1960s is the story of our time,” writes Pease, “and too few recognize this. We can’t fix a problem we can’t even acknowledge exists.” Nothing could be truer.

Lisa Pease has long recognized the problem, and for the past twenty-five years, she has devoted herself to shedding light on the CIA’s culpability, particularly in the Robert Kennedy case. Few people possess the grit and grace to spend so much of their lives walking this path of truth. The extent of her research is dazzling, so dazzling in its voluminous detail that a reviewer can only touch on it here and there. She has written a book that is daunting in its comprehensiveness. It demands focused attention and perseverance, for it runs to over 500 pages with more than 800 footnotes. This book will remain a touchstone for future research on the RFK assassination, whether one agrees or disagrees with all of her detailed findings and speculations. For this book is so vast and meticulous in its examination of all aspects of the case that one can surely find areas that one might question or disagree with.

Nevertheless, Pease fundamentally proves that Sirhan did not shoot RFK and that there was a conspiracy organized and carried out by shadowy intelligence forces that did so. These same forces worked with the Los Angeles Police Department, federal, state, and judicial elements to make sure Sirhan was quickly accused of being the lone assassin and dispatched to prison after a show trial. And the mass media carried out its assigned role of affirming the government’s case to shield the real killers and to make sure the cover-up was successful.

No doubt others will investigate this case further. Yet I think no more research is really needed, for as with these other assassinations, additional analyses will only result in pseudo-debates about minutiae. Such debates will only serve to prolong the hallucinatory grip the perpetrators of these crimes have on a day of reckoning, suggesting as they would that we do not really know what happened. This is an old tactic meant to delay forevermore such a day of reckoning.

The facts are clear for all to see if they have the will to truth. All that is now needed is a public tribunal, which is planned for later this year, in which the fundamental, clear-cut facts of these cases are presented to the American public. In the case of Robert Kennedy’s assassination as with the others, a little knowledge goes a long way, and only those who are closed to basic logic and evidence will refuse to see that government forces conspired to kill these men and did so because all were seeking peace and justice that was then, and is now, a threat to the war-making forces of wealth and power that control the American government.

Pease writes:

Anyone who has looked closely and honestly at the evidence has realized that more than one person was involved in Robert Kennedy’s death. So why can’t reporters see this? Why can’t the media explain this? Because the media and the government are two sides of the same coin, and those who challenge the government’s version of history, as numerous reporters have found out, all too often lose status and sometimes whole careers. Kristina Borjesson published an anthology of such stories in her book Into the Buzzsaw, in which journalists describe how they lost their careers when eachof them expressed a truth that the government did not want exposed.

Lisa Pease discloses such truths. I am reporting on her work. Therefore, the mainstream media, except for an extraordinary reporter or two, such as Tom Jackman of The Washington Post, will likely ignore both of us, but the publication where you are reading this is on the side of truth, and in the disclosure of truth lies our hope.

Since more than one person was involved in the killing of RFK, there was – ipso facto – a conspiracy. This is not theory but fact. The fact of a conspiracy. For more than fifty years, mainstream reporters have been cowed by this word “conspiracy,” thanks to the CIA. Many others have been intelligence assets posing as journalists, regurgitating the lies. This is a fact.

The official story is that after giving his victory speech for winning the 1968 Democratic California Primary, Kennedy, as he was walking through a crowded hotel pantry, was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, who was standing to his left between 3-6 feet away. Sirhan’s revolver held eight bullets, and as he was shooting, he was tackled by a group of large men who subdued him. All witnesses place Sirhan in front of Kennedy and all claim he was firing a gun.

Fact: As the autopsy definitively showed, RFK was shot from the rear at point blank range, three bullets entering his body, with the fatal headshot coming upward at a 45-degree angle from 1-3 inches behind his right ear. Not one bullet from Sirhan’s gun hit the Senator. In addition, an audio recording shows that many more bullets than the eight in Sirhan’s gun were fired in the hotel pantry that night. It was impossible for Sirhan to have killed RFK.

Let me repeat: More than one gunman, contrary to the government’s claims, equals a conspiracy. So why lie about that?

What is amazing is that the obvious conclusion to such simple syllogistic logic (Sirhan in front, bullets in the back, therefore…) that a child could understand has been dismissed by the authorities for fifty-one years. The fact that the government authorities – the LAPD, the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney, federal and state government officials, the FBI, the CIA – have from the start so assiduously done all in their power to pin the blame on “a lone assassin,” Sirhan, proves they are part of a coordinated cover-up, which in turn suggests their involvement in the crime.

The fact that Robert Kennedy was shot from the back and not the front where Sirhan was standing immediately brings to mind the Zapruder film that shows that JFK was killed from the front right and not from the 6th floor rear where Oswald was allegedly shooting from. That unexpected film evidence was hidden from the public for many years, but when it was finally seen, the case for a government conspiracy was solidified.

While no such video evidence has surfaced in the RFK case, the LAPD made sure that no photographic evidence contradicting the official lies would be seen. As Lisa Pease writes:

Less than two months after the assassination, the LAPD took the extraordinary step of burning some 2,400 photos from the case in Los Angeles County General’s medical waste incinerator. Why destroy thousands of photos in an incinerator if there was nothing to hide? The LAPD kept hundreds of innocuous crowd scene photos that showed no girl in a polka dot dress or no suspicious activities or individuals. Why were those photos preserved? Perhaps because those photos had nothing in them that warranted their destruction.

While “perhaps” is a mild word, the cover-up of “the girl in the polka dot dress” needs no perhaps. Dozens of people reported seeing a suspicious, curvaceous girl in a white dress with black polka dots with Sirhan in the pantry and other places. She was seen with various other men as well. The evidence for her involvement in the assassination is overwhelming, and yet the LAPD did all in its power to deny this by browbeating witnesses and by allowing her to escape.

Sandra Serrano, a Kennedy campaign worker and a courageous witness, was bullied by the CIA-connected police interrogator Sergeant Enrique “Hank” Hernandez. She had been sitting outside on a metal fire escape getting some air when the polka dot dress girl, accompanied by a man, ran out and down the stairs, shouting, “We’ve shot him, we’ve shot him.” When Serrano asked whom did they shoot, the girl replied, “We’ve shot Senator Kennedy.” Then she and her companion, both of whom Serrano had earlier seen ascending the stairs with Sirhan, disappeared into the night. A little over an hour after the shooting Serrano was interviewed on live television by NBC’s Sander Vanocur where she recounted this. And there were others who saw and heard this girl say the same thing as she and her companion fled the crime scene. Nevertheless, the LAPD, led by Lieutenant Manuel Pena, also CIA affiliated, who was brought out of retirement to run the investigation dubbed “Special Unit Senator,” worked with Hernandez and others to dismiss the girl as of no consequence.

Lisa Pease covers all this and much more. She shows how Sirhan was obviously hypnotized, how the trial was a farce, how the police destroyed evidence from the door frames in the pantry that proved more than the eight bullets in Sirhan’s gun were fired, how Officer DeWayne Wolfer manipulated the ballistic evidence, etc. Through years of digging into court records, archives, transcripts, the public library, and doing countless interviews, she proves without a doubt that Sirhan did not kill Kennedy and that the assassination and the cover-up were part of a very sophisticated intelligence operation involving many parts and players. She shows how no matter what route Kennedy took in the hotel that night, the killers had all exits covered and that he would not be allowed to leave alive.

While some of her more speculative points – e.g. that Robert Maheu (Howard Hughes/CIA) was “the most credible high-level suspect for the planner of Robert Kennedy’s assassination,” that Kennedy was shot twice in the head from behind, etc. are open to debate, they do not detract from her fundamentally powerful case that RFK, like his brother John, was assassinated by a CIA-run operation intended to silence their voices of courageous resistance to an expanding secret government dedicated to war, murder, and human exploitation. The U.S. government of today.

When Bobby Kennedy was entering the kitchen pantry, he was escorted by a security guard named Thane Eugene Cesar, a man long suspected of being the assassin. Cesar was carrying a gun that he drew but denied firing, despite witnesses’ claims to the contrary. Conveniently, the police never examined the gun. He has long been suspected of being CIA affiliated, and now Pease says she has found evidence to confirm that. She writes, “It’s hard to overstate the significance of finding a current or future CIA contract agent holding Kennedy’s right arm at the moment of the shooting.”

Yes, it is. As she rightly claims, the CIA takeover of America in the 1960s is the story of our time. And our time is now. None of this is ancient history. That is so crucial to grasp. For those who think that learning the truth about the 1960s assassinations is an exercise in futility reserved for those who are living in the past, they need to think again. Our descent into endless war and massive media propaganda to support it is part of a long-term project that began with the elimination of JFK, Malcom X, MLK, and Robert Kennedy. They were killed for reasons, and those reasons still exist, even if they don’t physically, but only in spirit. Their killers roam the land because they have become far more deeply part of the institutional structure of government and the media.

Pease says:

It was horrible that Robert Kennedy was taken from us far too soon. It is horrible that one man has borne the guilt for an operation he neither planned nor willingly participated in. It’s horrible the conspiracy was so obvious that bullets had to be lost and switched to hide it. And it’s horrible that the mainstream media has never dared to tell the people of this country that the government lied to us about what they really found when they looked into this case. Until the media can deal with the truth of the Robert Kennedy assassination, and until the people can be made aware of the CIA’s role in slanting the truth on topics of great importance, America’s very survival is in jeopardy….We’ve come perilously close to losing democracy itself because of fake, CIA-sponsored stories about our history. Should America ever become a dictatorship, the epitaph of our democracy must include the role the mainstream media, by bowing to the National Security state, played in killing it.

By writing A Lie Too Big To Fail, Lisa Pease has done her valiant part in refuting the lie that is now failing. Now it is up to all of us to spread the word of truth by focusing on the fundamental facts so we can finally take back our country from the CIA.

Then we can say with RFK and his favorite poet Aeschylus:

And even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.

India Officially A Racist State For Treating Dalits As “Sub-human” “Untouchables”

India as world’s only last remaining racist state- Dalit Voice
Dalits- India’s “Untouchables”
Indian Congress In Uproar Over Basic Human Rights for India’s Untouchable “Dalits”
The Uncertain Fate of the Dalit (Untouchable) Caste in India
Blood-curdling story of Dalit struggle for self-determination
DALIT VOICE: Casteism and Killing Social Justice 

UNHRC chief reprimands India for hate crimes against minority and Dalits

UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the divisive policies could undermine India’s economic growth and narrow political agendas were marginalizing vulnerable people in an ‘already unequal society’.

UNHRC chief reprimands India for hate crimes against minority and Dalits

The United Nations human rights chief has been reprimanded India for its divisive policies, narrow political agendas and deepening harassment of the minorities, particularly, Muslims.

UNHCHR Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, in her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said they are receiving reports that indicate increasing harassment and targeting of minorities, in particular, the Muslims and people from historically disadvantaged and marginalized groups, such as Dalits and Adivasis.

However, India’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has dismissed the report, once again terming it as ‘baseless’. BJP leader, Shahnawaz Hussain rejected the report saying “these are baseless allegations to tarnish the image of India.” He said India is the best country for Muslims in the world and Hindus are their best friends.

Bachelet said the divisive policies could undermine India’s economic growth and narrow political agendas were marginalizing vulnerable people in an ‘already unequal society’. Amnesty International has also recorded a number of hate crimes, which it has described as ‘disturbing’. The organization’s India Chapter said this included rape, murder and assault against marginalized groups. The Minority Rights Group International noted that communal violence has often been instrumentalised in India for political gains. It said communal violence draws on and exacerbates a climate of entrenched discrimination against the religious minorities with far-reaching social, economic, cultural and political dimensions. “Such violence is frequently met with impunity and in certain instances direct complicity from state actors, ranging from inciting violence through hate speech to refusing to properly investigating communal incidents after they have occurred” said the rights group.

In its World Report 2019, the Human Rights Watch highlighted that mob violence by extremist Hindu groups affiliated with the ruling party against minority communities, especially Muslims, continued through 2018 amid rumors that they traded or killed cows for beef. It also brought to fore the National Register of Citizens in Assam that excludes millions of Muslims, raising concerns over arbitrary detention and possible statelessness.

The US Continues to Grovel to Israel, Doesn’t That Demolish the “Canard” About Jewish/Israeli Domination?

Why Does the US Continue to Grovel to Israel?


U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv • Public domain

Is there any other country on Earth with which America would dare collude on such a scale? Forget the “special relationship” with the crackpots in Britain, or the New World coming to the rescue of the Old World in the Second World War. There’s only one special relationship that matters right now – and we all know what that is. Having given its blessing to all Jerusalem as Israeli property and having now handed Golan to Israel as a possession – for “to annex” means “to take possession”, does it not? – Donald Trump has undermined the entire foundation of “land for peace” enshrined in Security Council Resolution 242. And Israel is happy. A gift for Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election, we are told.

True, the Middle East “peace process” died years ago – if it ever existed, or was meant to work – but Trump’s ostentatious signature on Israel’s annexation of Golan on Monday tore up the documents, the paragraphs, the very basis for the two-state Israeli-Palestinian settlement which might have ended the longest military occupation of our generation. And the United States has now given its open, public and wholehearted support to Israel’s side in the world’s last colonial war. And if Golan is now part of Israel because of the threat of Iran, then southern Lebanon can become part of Israel. Isn’t Hezbollah​ also an Iranian “threat”? And how quickly will we see the West Bank annexed by Israel with the approval of the United States?

Notice two things about the above paragraphs. Firstly, the number of times I have been forced to use quotation marks around verbs and nouns and adjectives which would normally never need them. And secondly, how one word – Syria – simply did not occur. Syria’s loss of Golan in 1967 is so long ago and has become so normalised that in a perverse way, its real ownership had ceased to exist; Trump’s recognition of Israel’s own “annexation” – unrecognised anywhere else in the world – merely accepted what we’d all secretly gone along with. That the theft of Syria’s land was now perfectly legal. Or “legal”. It was highly instructive that when the BBC website chose to cover the story about Trump’s Golan mischief, it ran a story headlined “What it all means” – but which did not mention Syria until the fifth paragraph.

The media, in its grovelling, cowardly, craven obeisance to Israel – and its absolute fear of being cast into the accusatory hell of “antisemitism” – has a lot to answer for. When Colin Powell told the US State Department to instruct its embassies to call the West Bank “disputed” rather than “occupied”, the American press and television almost at once switched nomenclature. And so when the State Department suddenly referred to Golan a few weeks ago as “Israeli-controlled” rather than “Israeli-occupied”, we all knew what was coming. Thank heavens, as I always say, for those brave Israeli journalists – and preciously few activists and politicians – who speak out against these insanities.

This verbal transition, however, is neither subtle nor surprising – given America’s utter surrender to all things Israeli – but it is very sinister for the people of the Middle East. I was very struck by something Netanyahu said in response to Trump’s signature on that outrageous Golan document: he said that “the Jewish people’s roots in the Golan go back thousands of years”. True. But I recalled at once that in 1982, within weeks of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, Israeli troops and “civil affairs” officers travelled around the Shia Muslim and Christian villages of the south of Lebanon, handing out questionnaires to the Arabs. I saw them do this. The documents were long and complicated. Were there any Jewish archaeological remains on their lands, the Lebanese were asked? Had any of their older buildings any signs of Jewish habitation in previous decades or centuries? Did any hills or villages have Hebrew names? They were especially interested in the area within the triangle of Tyre, Sidon and Qana.

Of course, there were many Jewish remains. Even in the hill villages of the Druze Chouf mountains, I have found the indent of the mezuzah on stone door frames, proving that their ancient owners followed the instructions of the Book of Deuteronomy. The Israelis noted these marks; indeed, some of the inhabitants pointed them out to the initially friendly Israeli soldiers. But of course, it set a precedent. What if – after the next Lebanon war – Israel decides that rather than occupy southern Lebanon, it will annex the region because “the Jewish people’s roots” in the region “go back thousands of years”.

Yes, I know that Israel would have to defeat Hezbollah to do this – an unlikely event since Hezbollah would more likely be heading across the Lebanese border into Israel. But in the 18 years in which it occupied almost all of southern Lebanon, the media never referred to it as “Israeli-occupied”. It was always called “Israeli-controlled” and the vast Israeli occupation zone was never called by this name. Instead, it was always referred to as Israel’s “security zone”. We journos had already laid the semantic groundwork for the annexation which hasn’t happened – yet.

But this is not a story about Lebanon any more than it is about Trump himself. Indeed, watching the tomfoolery in the mother of parliaments, I find it ever more embarrassing to write about the insanity of the Trump White House. No, this is about the very act of international annexation and the west’s willingness to go along with land theft – unless, of course, Putin and Russia are involved. And it is about the fact – let us not haggle like skinflints over definitions – that the United States, in its foreign policy in the Middle East, is in hock to Israel. As many 20 years ago, I gathered together dozens of US and Israeli government policy statements on the region, jumbled them up – and asked a colleague to arrange them back in their original order. Readers might try the same test: it was – and is – an impossible task.

I’m tired of the utterly false arguments about antisemitism in the United States. The country contains many anti-Jewish, anti-Arab, anti-black racists without de-semanticising the word “antisemitism” by using it against all of Israel’s critics. It doesn’t need new Arab-origin legislators, with their dodgy, unpleasantly revealing remarks and their sloppy grasp of history, to understand that Americans will not and dare not complain about the dual loyalties of their countrymen and countrywomen.

Just look at the US congress when Netanyahu addresses it. The representatives of the United States stand up and applaud and sit down and again stand up and applaud and sit down – 29 times in 2011 and 39 times in 2015. I always watch this act of US legislative grovelling with a smile, for it reminds me of the ovations which Saddam Hussein would always receive from his beloved people and which Bashar al-Assad always received – and still receives – from his loyal subjects. I can well see why Middle East leaders spot parallels between the Arab world and America.

And I could well understand why congress stands to attention so many times on cue when Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, says, as he did on Monday, that “we stand with Israel because her cause is our cause, her values are our values, and her fight is our fight”.

Really? Does the United States, which fought a colonial war against the British, really stand with Israel’s colonial cause – its colonial expansion and land thievery in the West Bank? Do Americans really “stand with” Israel in its constant, brutal bombardments of Palestinians – and of Lebanon – and tolerate and approve those war crimes which all but the Americans acknowledge to be Israel’s responsibility. And if they do, why did Americans bother to go to war with Saddam? Why do we bomb Syria?

There’s no point in tracing the putrid history of annexation. Of the US annexation of Hawaii because it needed a naval port in the Pacific (as the Japanese noted) and its annexation of most of New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. I’m not even mentioning Putin and Crimea. Nor do we surely need to drag ourselves through the annexations perpetrated by the little corporal with the moustache – Jacinda Ardern-like, I shall not mention his name– who annexed the Sudetenland and all of Austria, the latter event accompanied by a Times editorial comparing it favourably with the 300-year-old union of Scotland and England.

No, I’m not comparing annexations. The Israelis are not Nazis and the Americans are not Russians and the Russians are not Israelis. But there are parallels which countries themselves draw when they choose to annex – or sanctify annexations – of other people’s land. All of which can be based and in most cases were based on both ethnic roots and military necessity.

Today, we must learn again that old phrase “facts on the ground”. Israel annexed Jerusalem and Golan in 1980 and 1981 – all the world (and a lot of Israelis) condemned this at the time – but now Trump has snapped the “land for peace” equation in half. Washington has given its imprimatur to illegal land acquisition, to territorial theft. And why not when congress is in thrall to Israel?

Yet why get worked up about this? By recognising Israel’s annexation of Golan, Trump merely recognised that Israel has annexed America.

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Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

US Quietly Creates Backdoor In US Security Council Decisions To Legitimize ANY US Aggression Against ANY Country

[The “Unwilling or unable” standard to use force against terrorist groups becomes the new secret standard for invading any country with any imaginary link or problem with terrorism, just as the “Responsibility to protect” fraud to commit “humanitarian war” has opened the door to US plans to wreck weaker nations like Libya and Syria.]

Latin Americans fear precedent set by legal justification for Syria intervention

Countries fear that legal standard of states being ‘unwilling or unable’ to deal with terrorism could be used in Latin America

The yellow flag of US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the village of Baghuz, Syria
 The yellow flag of US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the village of Baghuz, Syria Photograph: EPA

Latin American states are mounting a challenge to the acceptance of a legal standard promoted by the US, UK and their allies to justify military operations in the Middle East, fearing the same standard could eventually be used to justify intervention in their own hemisphere.

The Mexican government is spearheading an effort at the UN to bring greater transparency to the formal legal justifications presented by western powers for military operations in Syria and elsewhere.

Latin American states say that one of the most important questions in international law – when is it permissible to wage war on another country’s territory – is being settled by stealth, by a small group of military powers, with no global debate.

States involved in the counter-Isis campaign and other foreign military operations have submitted letters of justification for their actions to the UN, citing self-defence against the threat of terrorism and arguing in many cases that the governments of the countries involved have been “unwilling or unable” to deal with the threat. The letters have typically been submitted after the military operations have taken place.

Writing for the legal website, JustSecurity, on Tuesday, the legal adviser to the Mexican UN mission, Pablo Arrocha Olabuenaga, said: “The debate regarding the legitimacy and relevance of the ‘unwilling or unable’ standard to use force against terrorist groups has so far been largely dominated by a few western states.”

Olabuenaga argues that the lack of a concerted pushback so far against the use of such self-defence arguments under Article 51 of the UN charter should not be interpreted as consent. Rather, it is a reflection of the lack of transparency of the UN system. The submission of Article 51 letters to the security council justifying a military operation is not publicised. They eventually appear on a security council archive, known as the repertoire, but that is currently two years out of date.

The JustSecurity article is written in his personal capacity, but he stresses that the concerns are shared widely across Latin America. Last October, 33 countries represented by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, issued a statement raising concern about the increase in Article 51 letters being sent to the security council justifying the use of force in counter-terrorism operations.

“Of course it’s relevant whether states communicate their claims of justifications publicly or whether they obscure them,” said Paulina Starski, senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg. “This is one more reason to doubt whether ‘unwilling or unable’ has consolidated as a legal standard and represents an accurate interpretation of Article 51.”

Unease in Latin America has been heightened by Donald Trump’s recent rhetoric. He accused the Mexican armed forces of being “unable or unwilling” to stop columns of migrants reaching the US border, and in March he said he was thinking “very seriously” about designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organisations.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, claimed in February there were Hezbollah “active cells” in Venezuela, and declared: “We have an obligation to take down that risk for America.”

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo
The US secretary of state. Mike Pompeo. Photograph: Cliff Owen/AP

The evolution of the “unwilling or unable” standard reaches back to George W Bush’s “global war on terror”. After failing to agree with the European Union on a legal standard to justify foreign military operations, John Bellinger, a state department legal adviser, convened a meeting in 2007 of national security lawyers from the UK, Australia, Canada and few other close allies at the West Point military academy.

Over the next decade, the little-known “West Point group” hammered out a set of principles, including the “unwilling or unable” standard, to underpin the use of Article 51 self-defence justifications for the use of force, in particular against non-state groups in the Middle East.

When Jeh Johnson, the general counsel at the Pentagon in the Obama administration, compiled a memo to justify the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad in 2011, he is reported to have drawn on the workof the West Point group in arguing controversially that Pakistan was “unwilling or unable” to deal with Bin Laden itself.

The former legal adviser to the UK foreign office, Sir Daniel Bethlehem, set out a similar set of principles in a 2012 article for the American Journal of International Law. President François Hollande cited Article 51 as justification for French military intervention in Mali in 2013. Over the past five years, most of the 13 countries have invoked the right of self-defence under the UN charter to launch attacks on groups deemed to be terrorist threats, most of them in Syria, without the consent of the Damascus government.

“There is a sense that the security council and international law in general have so profoundly failed in the Syria case that even critics of US policy could understand why US behaved the way it did,” said Richard Gowan, the UN director at the International Crisis Group.

“But there is mounting concern in general that as the security council and the UN system grinds to a halt, it gives the US and others the leeway to just consistently flag Article 51 and bomb away.”

A Latin American diplomat acknowledged the severity of the challenges to international law in Syria, but argued that if the security council was deadlocked it should pass the issue to the UN general assembly to resolve, rather than confecting open-ended legal grounds for military intervention.

“The threat of Isis is very grave, but our concern is that even though you are doing this today for that reason, if you open the door to these exceptions, the precedent you set goes beyond Isis, and raises questions of whether you can intervene on other grounds,” said the diplomat, who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the issues involved.

“Transnational organised crime is a non-state actor in our region. If other governments can say this threatens their international peace and security, that is very dangerous.”

Trump’s Nat. Emergency Declaration

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code;

I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, in order to take additional steps to deal with the national emergency with respect to significant transnational criminal organizations declared in Executive Order 13581 of July 24, 2011 (Blocking Property of Transnational Criminal Organizations), in view of the evolution of these organizations as well as the increasing sophistication of their activities, which threaten international political and economic systems and pose a direct threat to the safety and welfare of the United States and its citizens, and given the ability of these organizations to derive revenue through widespread illegal conduct, including acts of violence and abuse that exhibit a wanton disregard for human life as well as many other crimes enriching and empowering these organizations, hereby order:

Section 1.  Subsection (e) of section 3 of Executive Order 13581 is hereby amended to read as follows:

“(e)  the term “significant transnational criminal organization” means a group of persons that includes one or more foreign persons; that engages in or facilitates an ongoing pattern of serious criminal activity involving the jurisdictions of at least two foreign states, or one foreign state and the United States; and that threatens the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.”

Sec. 2.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


March 15, 2019.

Trump protects al Qaeda in Syria. The Resistance applauds.

Summary: The Black Agenda Report examines one of the great puzzles of US foreign policy. It is never mentioned by our leaders, ignored by journalists, and supported by the Left. It is quite mad.

She asks why we helped overthrow secular women-friendly regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya – and are now trying to do so in Iran and Syria.

Islamic woman, by Naderbellal1
By Naderbellal1.

Trump protects al Qaeda in Syria. The Resistance applauds.

By Glen Ford at the Black Agenda Report.

“The so-called ‘resistance is the world’s phoniest ‘left.’”

The “Russians” had to be reinstalled as the “enemy” after Obama made his alliance with Islamist jihad. Trump has now signed on as Protector of the Idlib Caliphate.

The Trump administration, just like the Obama regime, is willing to start World War III to protect the largest al Qaeda outfit in the world from annihilation by the Syrian government and its Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies. The New York Times and the rest of the corporate media have also chosen sides in the struggle against terror in Syria; they prefer the sons and daughters of Osama bin Laden to the internationally recognized government in Damascus.

The same goes for most of the so-called “resistance” – the world’s phoniest “left,” who direct their righteous anger at the victims of U.S. imperialism and take their political cues from the corporate rag on 42nd Street, oligarch Jeff Bezo’s propaganda sheet in Washington, and Rachel Maddow, the MS-DNC’s 8 Million Dollar Woman.

On September 4, the NY Times spent more than 800 words warning that a Syrian-Russian air offensive against “densely populated,” “rebel-held” Idlib Province could result in a “bloodbath,” without once informing its readers that Idlib Province is almost entirely controlled, militarily and civilly, by al Qaeda, now operating as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. Donald Trump, who two years ago accused President Obama of having “founded” ISIS, along with Hillary Clinton – an essentially correct assessment – is now all-in with the al Qaeda defense team.

Donald J. Trump


President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province. The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!

Trump and Syria

Donald Trump is now all-in with the al Qaeda defense team.”

Just in case the al Qaeda/White Helmets don’t get the message – that the U.S. is eager to “retaliate” against Syria for chemical weapons use, no proof required — the White House issued this statement: “Let us be clear. It remains our firm stance that if President Bashar al-Assad chooses to again use chemical weapons, the United States and its allies will respond swiftly and appropriately.”

It is an invitation to al Qaeda to stage another “sarin” attack, as the jihadists did on April 4 of last year, resulting in a U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airbase.

Idlib Province is al Qaeda’s last bastion, the place where the Syrian government has allowed defeated Islamist jihadists to retreat, along with their families, so that battles to-the-last-man could be avoided. But al Qaeda cannot be allowed to continue its de facto “caliphate” in Idlib. Not only is the Syrian government entitled to exercise legal authority over all of its territory, but the U.S. is bound by a unanimous United Nations Security Council Resolution to take all steps necessary to destroy al Qaeda and its off-shoot, ISIS, wherever these terrorists raise their heads.

Instead, Trump is threatening war to protect al Qaeda’s shrunken realm, while the remaining ISIS strongholds in Syria are located within the U.S. military sphere of influence, from which they have been allowed to stage attacks against Syrian Arab Army units and civilians.

“Trump is threatening war to protect al Qaeda’s shrunken realm.”

With Turkey reassessing its position, the only allies the U.S. has on the ground in Syria are the Kurds and al Qaeda/ISIS. That’s why Trump is drawing a defensive line around the de facto caliphate in Idlib Province. An anonymous administration official told the Washington Post’s David Ignatius: “Right now, our job is to help create quagmires [for Russia and the Syrian regime] until we get what we want.” What Washington wants is to prevent the reunification of Syria after seven years of U.S. proxy warfare against that nation, at the cost of possibly half a million lives.

Every single Syrian death in this conflict is, legally, the fault of the aggressors: the United States and its allies, who spent billions to deploy as many as 100,000 jihadists to wage war against a sovereign nation – a crime against peace, the highest crime under international law, for which Obama, Clinton and other ranking U.S. civilian and military officials deserve the most extreme punishment. Donald Trump is now guilty of the same crime – the one that ten Nazis were hanged for at Nuremberg.

“Presidents of both parties have nurtured and protected
the same jihadist terrorists that were blamed for 9/11.”

There would be a horrific political price to pay – an upheaval such as has not been witnessed in the U.S. since the Civil War – if the American people became fully aware of the scope of their leaders’ partnership with al Qaeda. Many suspect the war on terror is phony, or at least incompetently waged, but the fact that presidents of both parties have nurtured and protected the same jihadist terrorists that were blamed for 9/11 is – too awful to contemplate.

The analysts at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) also found it difficult to fathom, back in 2012, why the U.S. and its allies were doing everything possible to set the stage for the creation of an Islamic caliphate in Syria and Iraq. According to a DIA memo declassified in 2015 …


ISIS declared its caliphate in 2014. The birth of a “rogue” ISIS – as opposed to the more compliant al Qaeda army, then called the al-Nusra Front, which was content to fight the Syrian government and forswear a caliphate for the time being – was not necessarily the intention of U.S. war planners. However, the split in al Qaeda should have been seen as inevitable, given the billions of dollars and thousands of tons of arms that were lavished on the Islamist fighters descending on Syria. All al Qaeda members dream of a caliphate – it is only a question of timing.

“There would be a horrific political price to pay if the American people
became fully aware of the scope of their leader’s partnership with al Qaeda.”

But U.S. planners have even bigger dreams, of global domination. And to achieve their imperial aims, the secular, Arab nationalist government in Damascus had to go. This was Barack Obama’s “smart war” – to achieve, with a proxy army of right wing fundamentalist Islamist maniacs, what George Bush could not accomplish with hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops: U.S. military domination of the entire energy-rich region, allowing Washington to strangle China, the up-and-coming superpower, at will.

Bush and Obama lost both wars. Now Trump is digging in his heels to preserve an American military presence in long-suffering Syria, to play for time – to the applause of the phony left, the ridiculous “resistance,” the lying corporate media and the hideously criminal CIA, the architects of the Crime of the Century.

“The New McCarthyite line is that, since the Russians are trying to stir up dissent in the U.S., all dissenters are in league with the Russians.”

Donald Trump is now assuming the role of guardian of al Qaeda’s Idlib caliphate, to replace the diminished ISIS caliphate. He knows that he is aiding and abetting al Qaeda, as he accused Obama of doing, but, What choice does an imperialist have? If Syria is reunified and rebuilt, and its alliance with Iran, Lebanon and Iraq allowed to deepen, then the prospect of Washington derailing China’s New Silk Road evaporates – and with it, the future of U.S. empire. Trump doesn’t want to preside over that, and so he takes up the mission of the predecessor he despises.

The entirety of the corporate media are committed to their role in the mission. They must pull off the Deception of the Century, to cover up the Crime of the Century. Since the U.S. is so deeply enmeshed with Islamist fighters in Syria, the jihadist terrorists have lost their value as the “generational,” existential threat to America. The “Russians” have been drafted – capitalist oligarchs and all – to resume their historic place on the hit/hate list.

Having failed to come up with proof of “collusion” between Wikileaks, Donald Trump, and the Russian government to filch Hillary Clinton campaign emails – because it didn’t happen – the New McCarthyite line is that, since the Russians are trying to stir up dissent in the U.S., all dissenters are in league with the Russians. The “resistance” is fine with that, which shows they are frauds, allies of a corporate multicultural fascism that is vying for domestic hegemony with an older, white supremacy-based fascism.

The only U.S. political force that cannot be assimilated by either of these fascisms, is the Black polity, which yearns for self-determination. But, that won’t stop the Black Misleadership Class from trying to find its niche in the fascist corporate order of endless austerity and war, and to blame Russians for rich white Americans’ crimes. For the Black misleaders, opportunism is always in season.


Glen Ford

About the author

Glen Ford’s first full-time broadcast news job was at James Brown’s Augusta, Georgia radio station WRDW, in 1970. Later he worked as a newsperson at four other stations. At them he created his first radio syndication, a half-hour weekly news magazine called “Black World Report.” In 1974, Ford joined the Mutual Black Network, where he served as Washington Bureau Chief while also producing a daily radio commentary.

We Deserve Our Own Nuremberg Trials

The U.S. Deserves Its Own Nuremberg Trials

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and then-President George W. Bush attend a Washington, D.C. , inaugural event in 2005. (The White House)


Are Americans capable of committing atrocities on the same scale as Germans did under Nazi rule? That is the question that University of San Francisco ethics professor Rebecca Gordon and Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer grapple with in the latest installment of “Scheer Intelligence.” Gordon, author of “Mainstreaming Torture” and “American Nuremberg,” posits that if America’s actions in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, were to be scrutinized the way Nazi Germany’s crimes were probed in the aftermath of World War II, the U.S. would likely also be found guilty of crimes against humanity.

Gordon begins her comparison by exploring the main charge levied against Nazis during the Nuremberg trials, which was committing a crime against peace due to Germany’s breach of the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, which, she explains, “essentially outlawed war.” American prosecutors in the mid-20th century insisted that this initial crime was the unlawful act from which all other crimes committed by the Nazis originated.

“By comparison,” the author tells Scheer, “I look at the Bush-Cheney administration’s decision to make an unnecessary and illegal war, both in Afghanistan and especially in Iraq.

“It’s very clear from the documentary record that exists that the main reason people were being tortured [by the U.S. before the Iraq War began] was because they wanted to get somebody somewhere to say that Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaida, so that there could be an excuse for invading Iraq,” Gordon says.

Throughout the so-called war on terror, the ethics expert says, the U.S. has also violated several rules set forth in just-war theory, including what constitutes collateral damage and proportionality, in its slaughter of countless Iraqi civilians.

“We took what had been one of the most vibrant, developed and cosmopolitan countries in that part of the world—which was Iraq—and we essentially did what [U.S. military officials] used to say they wanted to do to North Vietnam: bombed it back to the Stone Age,” Gordon says.

Listen to Scheer and Gordon discuss a range of moral issues that Americans for several generations have swept under the rug as the government both openly and secretly commits crimes in their name abroad. You can also read a transcript of the interview below the media player.

Robert Scheer: Hi, this is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence. The intelligence comes from my guests. In this case, it’s Rebecca Gordon. And she has her doctorate in ethics and social theory. I teach ethics at USC; you teach at the University of San Francisco, which is a Catholic school, so presumably with all their difficulties they’re still concerned about ethics. And actually we have a good pope, in major ways, who’s dealing with the subject I want to talk to you about: the ethics of war making, and the violence that has been unleashed on the world. And you wrote two very important books, maybe the most important in some ways. One is called Mainstreaming Torture, and another is called American Nuremberg. So the question I want to ask you, you know, because we’ve always treated the crimes of others, particularly the Germans, the worst crimes of modern history, as an aberration in the development of the human race. Those people went berserk, crazy, and they were evil; now we have another category, Muslims are evil, they do terrible things. We’re recording this on a day where in New Zealand, some 48 people trying to practice their religion were killed. So we see a lot of crime against Muslims, as there was obviously a lot of crimes against Jews and other people. And in your writing, you’re very clear that the crimes of Nuremberg, of the Nazis, are a low level of evil. But the real question is, the Germans are so much like Americans. They were–largest number of immigrants in this country were Germans; they’re a white, Anglo-Saxon population; they’re highly educated, probably the highest level of music and science at that point. And can it happen here?

Rebecca Gordon: And that, of course, is the question many of us have been asking at least since the election of 2016, and probably before that. And the answer in some ways, of course, is that it did happen here with the invasion of the Americas by people from Europe, and the destruction of all the peoples who were living here at the time. So there has been a genocide on this continent and in South America that, you know, we just forget about, because it happened a while ago. But coming to Nuremberg, what I was trying to do in the book is to say how important the principle was that was established at Nuremberg, which is that international law is real law. And when you break international law, there are genuine consequences, and people can and should be held accountable. So what I looked at was the conduct of this so-called War on Terror in the post-September 11th period, and asked: Could the United States be accused of the same categories of crimes for which the Nazi leadership were held accountable? And there were three categories that were established by the prosecution, and these were crimes against peace; ordinary war crimes, which had already been well described in the body of international law; and a new category, crimes against humanity, which was created in order to take in the enormity of what had been done in Europe by the Nazis. But what was very interesting is that it was Americans who insisted that the first of these crimes should be crimes against peace. So what’s that? That means making an aggressive war. It means starting a war that was not a war of self-defense, that was not a war of so-called necessity, but making an aggressive war. Why was that illegal? It was illegal because Germany and the United States and many other countries in Europe had signed a treaty in 1928 called the Kellogg–Briand Treaty, which essentially outlawed war. It said that nations will not use war to settle their disputes. And the argument that the U.S. prosecutors made was that all the other crimes that the Germans committed actually sprang from this first crime of making this aggressive, unnecessary, illegal war. And so by comparison, I look at the Bush-Cheney administration’s decision to make an unnecessary and illegal war, both in Afghanistan and especially in Iraq. And just as the Nazi crimes arose from this making of a war that was wrong and illegal, the U.S. crimes–and specifically now because my area of expertise is torture, I look at the reasons why the United States became involved in torture. And in the beginning, it’s very clear from the documentary record that exists, that the main reason people were being tortured, both in the CIA dark sites and also at Guantanamo under the Department of Defense, was because they wanted to get somebody somewhere to say that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al-Qaeda, so that there could be an excuse for invading Iraq. And so the other crimes–

RS: But wait, let’s be very clear about that. This would be like the Nazis saying, Jewish bankers destroyed our economy and colluded with Western powers, and therefore made life untenable in Germany. That was the vicious scapegoating argument to justify Nazi expansion and destruction of other societies. So this thing of whether Bush–you know, it’s kind of become part of folklore–they lied us into the war in Iraq. But what you’re saying, and very clearly, the very idea of going to war in Iraq over the 9/11 incident, which not only did Saddam Hussein have–

RG: Nothing to do with.

RS: –nothing to do with, but actually he was opposed to Al-Qaeda, and it was the one country where Al-Qaeda could not operate in, was Iraq. But instead of going to war with Pakistan, or going to war, you know, elsewhere–no. We–

RG: Or Saudi Arabia.

RS: Well, of course, Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 hijackers–

RG: Came from.

RS: –came from. You could actually make an argument to go into–hey, you attacked us, you supplied the money and so forth. No, we whitewashed the Saudi Arabia thing and went to war with Iraq. So your analogy, listeners should understand, is very precise. It is inventing an excuse, a defensive excuse, to engage an offensive invasion.

RG: Exactly. And from that spring all of these other kinds of crimes. So then I look at ordinary war crimes, and if you go over the Geneva Conventions and the various other laws of war, you can see that there are a number of categories of crimes. Many of them have to do with failing to make the distinction between civilians and fighters, combatants. And of course the Bush-Cheney administration very early on decided to create a third, nonexistent category called unlawful combatants. But this designation doesn’t exist in the International Red Cross’s understanding; it doesn’t exist in the Geneva Convention’s. It was just a convenient way of saying this particular group of people, whoever it is that we choose to capture, detain forever, torture–they have no legal standing in the world. They exist outside of international law.

RS: So let me pick up on that also. And I don’t want to lose the earlier thread of the invention of war, and connecting with this incredibly important work you’ve done on torture. And you made the statement, which I think people should ponder: the reason we were torturing these people was not to get information about a future attack. We already had Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and everything, we knew everything about it, and so forth. The real reason for it was to invent an alibi for the invasion, to get somebody to say Saddam Hussein was backing them. And I think that’s a very important–a reason, by the way, to read your book, Mainstreaming Torture; let me give a plug here. But this other argument is also interesting, the whole idea of the noncombatant. And we are doing this interview at a time when Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, is in prison–

RG: Yes.

RS: –again, because they want to fabricate a story about WikiLeaks and all that, and get everybody off the hook for all of the crimes and torture and everything they’ve done. But the interesting thing is, if you look at what did WikiLeaks–and they were just like in the position of the Washington Post with the Pentagon Papers, they’re the publisher–what did Chelsea Manning reveal? She revealed the death of noncombatants, including journalists. So why don’t you develop that a little bit, because that is so critical to the moment, that no one–no one has been prosecuted for those attacks that she revealed with the data. But she is now sitting in prison.

RG: And this is, of course–the fate of whistleblowers all over the world, and certainly in this country, is exactly that. That the matters that they have revealed disappear in a story that becomes about the crimes of the revealer. And of course in the war in Iraq, there was tremendous amounts of civilian death. And it falls into a number of categories; one category is those people who had actually been detained and were being held by U.S. forces. And for example at Abu Ghraib, we know–which is the prison outside of Baghdad that had been Saddam Hussein’s major torture site, and which the U.S. decided in its wisdom would be the perfect place to hold detainees, and where we know a group of reservists ended up torturing people. But the real torture was going on upstairs, by the employees of various C.I.A. contractors, and by the C.I.A. itself. And that’s where people actually died. So there’s that whole category of people, but that’s a much smaller category than the category of ordinary civilians whose lives were either ended or destroyed by the regular U.S. use of warfare in places like Fallujah and other cities. So that we took what had been one of the most vibrant, developed, and cosmopolitan countries in that part of the world–which was Iraq–and we essentially did what they used to say they wanted to do to North Vietnam, bombed it back to the Stone Age. And so in just war theory, there are these rules about discriminating between combatants and noncombatants, and you are permitted a certain number of civilian deaths as long as they are side effects of your attempt to go after some legitimate military target. And this is called collateral damage; it’s, collateral means on the side, right? But in fact, in Iraq, we don’t know because there are many different counts, but anywhere between 500,000 and a million people have died in the U.S. invasion and occupation in Iraq. And when you lay that against the 3,000 people who died on September 11th, none of whom were killed by anyone even from Iraq, you also see that we have violated another rule of just war theory, which is proportionality. We have destroyed human life out of all proportion.

RS: And let me just–you know, it’s so difficult to grapple with these questions. And you are teaching at one of the major Catholic universities here.

RG: It’s a Jesuit university, and that’s a little different. And these are the left-wing Jesuits.

RS: I’m not putting down your school. [Laughter] Hey, I teach ethics at the University of Southern California–

RG: Enough said.

RS: –and clearly, yes, we are ethically challenged at this moment. I was about to actually celebrate the pope in this regard. And so there is a certain necessity for being consistent in the application of these principles, or they mean nothing.

RG: Exactly.

RS: And I think that’s the body of your life’s work, to remind us of that. So in a sense, you are at a good place where you’re teaching. I’m just wondering, how is this disregarded so widely? I mean, people make a big deal about don’t kill the unborn child. You know, I could see arguments about that. But if that’s the beginning of a consistent, pro-life position, yes, it makes certain sense. If it’s the end of a pro-life position, and then you end welfare and you don’t care what happens to the baby and so forth, you’re into a deep immorality. And it seems to me you’re at a very interesting place. Because for better or worse, this pope seems to be the only one able to challenge, let’s call it U.S. imperialism or imperial ventures, on a moral basis.

RG: I think that’s right. He certainly is doing a better job of that than either of his last two predecessors.

RS: Or the major–

RG: Other major, yeah. No, I think that’s right. And I think, you know, it’s interesting that at USF, we have Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. We have people who are training to be second lieutenants when they leave university in the U.S. Army. And I have had students tell me, I had a student from Guam who told me, you know, Professor Gordon, I know that when they send me to basic training, they’re going to try to take me apart and change me from being a person into being a soldier. And I just want you to know that I’m not going to let them do that to me. He said, but you know, ROTC was my ticket off the island, and I have a duty now to follow through with my promise. And I just, my heart broke for him. Because what they do to you in basic training is actually a slightly lighter version of what they do when they train torturers. Everyone who becomes a torturer–and people don’t just torture on a whim; people are trained to be torturers. And part of that training involves being brutalized first yourself, and having survived that ordeal, you emerge with this sense of yourself as an elite person who therefore has the right, as a superior being, and now the skills, to turn around and abuse and torture people who come along behind you. And the U.S. has its own methods of training, and its own locations where this happens.

RS: [omission for station break] I’m back after our break with Professor and Doctor Rebecca Gordon. And we were just talking about how we train people to be torturers. And this is fascinating, because if you don’t consider this question, that you’re getting basically good people to do horrible things, you’re missing the whole point. But I just want to say something about the good German. Because the basic appeal of Hitler was the solid–you know, he was going to make Germany great again. And this is, I’m not demonizing Germans here, but Donald Trump’s father was obviously familiar with this in his lineage, in that tradition. And the whole appeal, even though this dictator Hitler was this funny-looking guy, hardly the Aryan model–was to a notion of order. And even in the concentration camps, keeping direct bookkeeping of how many teeth you pulled and gold you found in the teeth, and so forth. But it’s not–manners. They had the manners. And what bothers me about the very simplistic Trumpwashing that we’re going through now, that Trump is uniquely evil–it’s all about manners. He’s crude, he’s boorish, he’s a misogynist, he says these things, he does these things, he grabs people’s private parts, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. That’s not his crime. His crime is he’s continuing a tradition of bombing people who we have no right to bomb. And so I want to push this a little bit more, the whole question of manners. Because what Nuremberg did is unmask the manners. And this was also true in the Eichmann trial that Hannah Arendt talked about, when she talked about the banality of evil. Evil can be masked by manners. Smile while you learn to kill, right?

RG: That’s exactly right. And I especially know, when you talk about the meticulous records that they kept, this is a hallmark of torture regimes all over the world. This very careful record-keeping, this documentation of the work that’s been done–because there’s no shame about the work. The process of becoming a torturer includes developing a sense of yourself as doing something uniquely courageous, uniquely necessary, a unique sacrifice that you as the torturer, more in sorrow than in anger, are being forced to do by the tremendous evil that confronts you. And so you’re absolutely right that especially among upper-class liberals in the United States, the objection to Trump is his manner, and his manner is crude and obnoxious, as you say. But what he’s really doing is not only continuing to kill people, and in fact increasing the number of drone strikes, for example, over the already great number that the Obama administration–

RS: A man of impeccable manners. Barack Obama. I even feel that way about Bill Clinton. When Bill Clinton’s on television, I smile. I like him. He’s warm, he’s encouraging. And then I forget, he’s the guy that ended the welfare system, for example. Yes.

RG: Exactly. Exactly right. And you know, Trump is now with his, I don’t know if you’ve taken a look at his so-called budget, but he’s planning to take away our Medicare and Medicaid, just in case you might have wanted to have healthcare. Obviously, that’s dead on arrival. But nonetheless, the point is that he is masking what he is actually doing by distracting us with this bombastic display. And in fact, one of his officials in the EPA actually recently said exactly that, that they’ve been able to make all these regulatory changes because every time it looks as though the press is going to notice, Trump fires off a tweet, and everybody’s like, ooh, shiny!

RS: This is a really important point. Because if you look at the Nuremberg Trial or you look at the Eichmann trial, these people all hid behind manners. They were well spoken, they were well educated, and they were following a Charlie Chaplinesque figure, a ludicrous figure; Hitler was certainly a, yes, he was a more ludicrous figure than Trump, in terms of manners and style and everything. But his popularity was largely based on being a sort of comic figure, in a way. He inspired a whole nation of logical, scientific, well-educated–probably the best-educated population in the world. And so I’ve had this experience, I’ve talked to people in the business community and they say well, you know, but Trump is good for business. And we did have a mess before, and then look at what’s happened to unemployment, and so forth and so on. And so we are really at the limit of manners as a guide. And that’s really what Nuremberg is about. Nuremberg was unmasking manners. Now, we didn’t continue after that; we had the brief Eichmann trial. But what we didn’t really ever do in this country–and this is why I want people to listen or to read your book, better to read it, although listening is great–we never really took apart the Nazi experience. Because we wanted the ex-Nazis and other Germans to be our allies in the Cold War. So we have never had that investigation of how an incredibly well-educated, Christian, law-and-order nation goes into madness.

RG: Not only that, we never did what the next step was supposed to be, which is establish a venue in which U.S. war crimes could also be examined in World War II. And there were a number of people who developed the Nuremberg principles, and worked on the original trial, who really honestly believed that this would be the prelude to establishing an international court for trying offenses committed during war, and expected that the United States would in fact be held accountable, not only for the firebombing of German cities, but for the destruction of up to 60 Japanese cities which were constructed of wood and paper and reduced to ashes, in a campaign that really very few people in this country even know about. Although Robert McNamara actually describes it in that excellent documentary–

RS: The Fog of War, yeah.

RG: The Fog of War.

RS: And it’s excellent because you see that McNamara was involved in designing the bombing of Japan and Germany. But also, I mean–like, we talk about Korea. Oh, North Korea, animals, and Kim Il-sung and his progeny–nobody I ever run into knows we leveled every single structure in North Korea during the Korean War. Again, a war that was not needed; it was an attempt to get a Chinese communist who had come to power the year before. I mean, it’s bizarre. Then you look at what we did to North Vietnam, and the carpet bombing, and everything. So this is critical. American exceptionalism–I’ve mentioned this a number of times on this podcast–to my mind, is a really, it’s the most profound problem that American people have to face.

RG: It’s a vicious idea. And it’s been taken up in different ways by both the liberal democratic world, and by the, you know, the hard right in this country. The idea that by definition, the United States can do no wrong, because we are the leader of the so-called free world. Which is a locution I don’t even understand anymore, given that we’re not competing anymore with the unfree communist world that supposedly we were in opposition to. But the idea that–and this was the argument, actually, that the Bush administration made about torture. By definition, the United States is a country that does not torture. Therefore, whatever it is that you are observing, it cannot be torture, because that would be a logical contradiction, because we are the nation that doesn’t do that. And it’s almost impossible to enter into that understanding of the world, because no amount of evidence that you can present to the person who believes that is going to break that worldview. And so American exceptionalism allows us not only to have military bases in over 100 countries around the world; not only to conduct secret wars that the people in this country don’t even know about–we just suddenly woke up and said, oh my gosh, we’re having a war in Somalia! Who knew. And not to mention Yemen–I was very heartened to see that the Senate had actually voted with the House to reprimand the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia in Yemen. But leave that aside. This whole idea that we are a unique bearer of human rights and democracy in the world–it’s very hard to break, because it’s a concealed, hermetically sealed worldview that people imbibe in grade school. And they imbibe it as they grow up, and it takes a lot of effort to break through. And one of the sad things that I see, especially with younger people that I’ve worked with in organizations like War Times/Tiempo de Guerras, is that once you’ve broken through, it then becomes very hard to imagine that the United States is not permanently and always going to be the hegemon. It almost, having made the effort and understood the danger the U.S. actually presents to the world, it becomes almost impossible to recognize when the U.S. actually loses one. And I think it’s very important we claim our victories.

RS: Well you know, you hit it clearly with this, the abandonment by the Democratic Party of any serious oppositional role. [With] control of the House now, there should be hearings about what are we doing in these different countries. And instead they’re actually criticizing Trump for being, kind of selling out by getting out of Afghanistan, or not fighting more aggressively in Syria. And we’ve actually sort of lost the peace movement, in a way, is a theme I get back to once in a while here. And we forget, actually, most of the terrible wars since World War II have been fought under democrats, and financed enthusiastically. So I want to get back to basic moral principles, because they don’t mean anything if you’re not consistent. You have to call out people on the left or on the right, you have to call out war crimes, you have to call out the attacks on homosexuals, black people, Jewish people–anybody, any other, and so forth. It’s something that Jesus reminded us of in the tale of the Good Samaritan, if you can believe that Luke is the word of God, and not the others, [Laughter] where the Good Samaritan doesn’t appear. I don’t want to get into your whole Catholic university thing here. But it’s interesting to me, this notion of consistency. Because it’s painful to be consistent. It requires examining the motives of people you voted for. And this was the problem of Germany: people forget Hitler was elected. People forget Germany had all the trappings of a–

RG: Of a democracy.

RS: –of a democracy. And more important, the conceit that somehow education–education, and manners–will prevent genocide is a lie. Maybe it’s time to recognize this whole notion of American greatness is the end of thought; if you are by definition great, there’s nothing to question. And it seems to me that main religions that we’ve had, their one demand that they have in common is you must question not only your nation’s morality, but your own. The devil is in you. We have to struggle with this devil, we have to struggle with these forces. Yet as a nation, we think America the beautiful absolves us all. And that’s what you’re saying in your torture book. That basically, you take these young recruits that have a very limited knowledge of our history, and you convince them that they are the agents, really, of a higher power.

RG: Absolutely right. And in doing that, you pervert the very virtues that we say the United States is supposed to represent. The virtue of courage, for example, becomes the courage to suppress your squeamishness at causing pain to another human being. And justice becomes the idea that you give the punishment first and the trial later, if ever. Right? And this is exactly what we see in the way our detainees have been treated. And honestly, another locus of this that we don’t often recognize is what goes on on the U.S. soil prisons and jails in this country, where we have 2.2 million people locked up in cages, and where torture is a regular feature of prison life. It’s no accident that the reservists who were downstairs at Abu Ghraib, they were from West Virginia, and most of them in their civilian life were prison guards. They were corrections officers. And there’s a famous email that one of the ringleaders, Charles Graner, sent home which said: The Christian in me knows it’s wrong, but the corrections officer in me loves to see a grown man piss himself. And that is exactly the attitude of the people who are caging up 2.2 [million] largely, vastly disproportionately, black and Latino, Latinx, people in this country today. And so torture actually is a red thread that runs through the entire history of the United States, beginning with the Native American population. Slavery itself would not have been as successful as it was at allowing the amassing of capital–which is, you know if you’re a good Marxist, the congealed labor of these unpaid, captive people, who when they got to the United States, or what was not even yet the United States, would not work unless, the farmers figured out, they were caused physical pain. And it was the use, the concerted, intentional, well-documented use of physical pain in the cotton fields a century later that forced people to develop a physical technology of their bodies that allowed them, in the course of 40 years, to multiply by eight times the amount of cotton a human being could pick in a day, because the alternative was to have the skin taken off your back with a whip.

RS: You know, increasingly in my life I have been a bad Marxist. And I’ve embraced some truths that seemed to come out of these religions that, growing up, really frightened me or were intimidating, and also were on the wrong side. But let’s take it back to the pope, let’s take it back to the Jesuit school, University of San Francisco, where you teach. There’s a wisdom that I daresay Karl Marx did not sufficiently embrace. It is that we all have a capacity for evil. That we have virtue; we care, we bring children into this world, we nurture them, we care about others, we can cry over a refugee. On the other hand, the 2.2 million–I’ve been on Death Row quite recently interviewing Kevin Cooper, who I believe is an innocent man. And fortunately, the governor of California has suspended the death penalty, and I think Gavin Newsom deserves great credit for his courage. But–and it is a cage, and we don’t care; we don’t care about these people. And we don’t care about the people we bomb, and we don’t care–they’re expendable, they’re throwaway people. You want them out of sight, out of mind. It’s very deliberate. And the problem is, if Marxism were accurate [Laughter]–I don’t know, not too many people care, anyway, but since the two of us are talking about it–you know, if it was just the economic motive, we’d probably do better. The libertarians, for instance–to the degree that they’re right, they’re right, yes. But the wars don’t make sense. And growing that cotton that way didn’t ultimately make sense. And slavery didn’t make sense. Except–except if we have a barbaric part of our nature, if we have a need to exploit others. Not just for economic reasons; if power corrupts. And this, not to quote Marx, but to quote Jefferson or Washington, these people who came to power in this great experiment of ours, with all its contradictions–I repeat this ad nauseum on these podcasts. All their, yes, white, male, I got it, I got it, slave owners, the whole thing–they were on to a wisdom about their own corruption. And the reason we have the First Amendment, the reason we have all the amendments, the reason we have separation of powers, is that power corrupts.

RG: Absolutely.

RS: And what comes through in these torture stories and so forth–I talked, I have one student, just like you, I’ve had students go off to these wars. I had one who ended up at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo, a reserve officer. He was outside with the families. I’m not going to compromise his privacy. But he told me what shook him up was he was being told all these things about the people inside the jail, but his job was to herd the families that were trying to visit. And he could not deny that there was some kind of humanity going on with these people inside, or why would all these people care so much about them. And I think we need to be reminded of our own capacity for evil. I think that’s what Nuremberg was about, that the people who commit evil don’t present as evil and are not inherently more evil than we are.

RG: Exactly.

RS: And we have to struggle with this. And the good liberals who accommodate this, and say well, you know, Barack Obama had to do this with the drones, and governor so-and-so had to kill these people even though he didn’t believe in the death penalty–we have to challenge that. Because that is the fount of evil.

RG: So, my favorite virtue, Aristotle calls it phronesis, or practical wisdom. St. Thomas Aquinas calls it prudentia, prudence. But what it really is, is that capacity of the mind that allows you to actually understand the moral questions that are in front of you. And not to be fooled by the fog of American exceptionalism, by the distraction of a Trumpian tweet, but to be able to actually examine and really see, in this case, the effects of U.S. policy on actual human beings around the world. And this requires a kind of courage to be willing to accept that your own self-understanding, and the understanding of your people, your country, might be wrong. But it also requires a willingness to look, to actually see and examine what’s in front of you. And if there’s one virtue I would like to see developed, and that I try to develop in my own students, it’s this virtue of practical wisdom, where you actually are responsible for what the effects of your actions can reasonably be foreseen to be. And this is something that we in the United States really don’t have. It’s trained out of us, we don’t have it. And part of it, yes, is that capacity to understand that the ability to do evil things exists in all of us, and it’s also to understand that when you multiply that capacity by the technological and economic power that a country like the United States has, the results–well, the results could be the end of human society, because of climate change. I mean, the results are so terrible, and we need to be able to see it. Because we can’t stop it if we can’t understand it, we can’t diagnose it. And I worry that we’re not going to be able to.

RS: If you could learn about Aristotle in this way we just did for a few minutes, and why some of these older thinkers matter, that was it. And I do want to say, we’ve smashed America a little bit here. And I think the great thing about America is that it could produce generals like George Washington, who warned us about the impostures of pretended patriotism; generals like Dwight Eisenhower, who warned us about the military-industrial complex; and a guy named Major Danny Sjursen, who I’ve had on this podcast, who writes for Truthdig, who now comes out of the military and tells us that the barbarism in Iraq and Afghanistan is comparable to these dangers that were warned against. So that’s Rebecca Gordon. She teaches at the University of San Francisco. Her books are Mainstreaming Torture and American Nuremberg. That’s it for this edition of Scheer Intelligence. Our engineers at KCRW are Mario Diaz and Kat Yore. Our producers are Joshua Scheer and Isabel Carreon. And we couldn’t have done this broadcast without the able assistance of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, where [name unclear] presided over these proceedings. Thank you very much.

RG: Thank you, it was a pleasure.

“Creepy Joe” Biden Learning That World Class Pervs Can’t Get Elected

Former Vice President Joe Biden talks with Stephanie Carter


Former Vice President Joe Biden appears with Stephanie Carter during former Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s swearing in ceremony in the White House on Feb. 17, 2015. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

Ex-Defense secretary’s wife says photo of her with Biden misleading

Joe Biden Got a Little Too Close to the New Defense Secretary’s Wife

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter delivers remarks after being sworn in during a ceremony in the White House in Washington. D.C. while his wife Stephanie Carter and Vice President Joseph Biden observe on Feb. 17, 2015.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter delivers remarks after being sworn in during a ceremony in the White House in Washington. D.C. while his wife Stephanie Carter and Vice President Joseph Biden observe on Feb. 17, 2015.–Alex Wong—Getty Images

During the swearing-in ceremony for Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter on Tuesday, cameras caught Vice President Joe Biden whispering into the new defense secretary’s wife’s ears. Critics were quick to pounce on what they saw as another example of the veep’s poor etiquette.

“Joe Biden strikes again with inappropriate touching,” wrote Truth Revolt.

“New SecDef can’t even defend his wife from Joe Biden,” the Daily Callerquipped.

This isn’t Biden’s first time close-talking. In fact, the Washington Post declared Biden “the world’s most powerful close talker.”

There was that time last year when he cozied up to a biker:

And then when he chatted with Delaware Sen. Chris Coons’ daughter Maggie during a different swearing-in ceremony. (After the Internet backlash, Coons noted that his daughter “doesn’t think the vice president is creepy.”)