Saturday, November 28, 2015

Turkey - A Rogue State?  (Why the CIA Is Smearing Edward Snowden After the Paris Attacks)

Turkey's a rogue state?

Sorry, I thought it was pretty well controlled by NATO interests.

What/whoever they are.

Rogue State Turkey

November 28th, 2015
by Stephen Lendman

Turkey’s aggression against Russia complicit with Washington remains foremost on my mind - two rogue states posing major threats to world peace. Their actions speak for themselves. Ergodan would never attack Russia on his own. Washington likely planned and orchestrated what happened. He was the triggerman, a fascist dictator destabilizing the region along with destroying fundamental freedoms at home. More on his homeland repression below.

Most important is his alliance with US-dominated NATO - a rogue killing machine threatening world peace, waging one war after another, raging in multiple theaters, notably in Iraq and Syria.

Southeastern Turkey borders the Syrian Republic, Iraq and Iran. Erdogan wants part of northern Syria incorporated into Turkey - a hoped for land grab on the pretext of establishing a safe zone for nonexistent “moderate” rebels.

Thousands of heavily armed Turkish troops are massed on Syria’s border. Invasion may follow if Washington OKs it after Erdogan replaced Chief of General Staff General Necdet Ozel with regime-supporting General Hulusi Akar.

Downing Russia’s aircraft ups the stakes for greater war, ruining chances for diplomatic conflict resolution - Washington’s plan all along, Erdogan going along for his own self-interest, a rogue leader running Turkey despotically.

Press freedom is banned. Dozens of journalists languish in its gulag for doing their job. Domestic and foreign ones are at risk.

In January, Ergodan lied, claiming “there is no place in Europe or in the world where the press is more free than in Turkey.” Anyone openly criticizing government policy risks arrest, prosecution, conviction, imprisonment or death.

Wrongfully imprisoned on phony charges of leading a terrorist group, Turkish journalist Hidayet Karaca wrote an open “letter to the free world months earlier,” saying in part:

“I’m writing this letter from a jail cell, trying to reach out to the free world.”

“I am the general manager of a leading national TV network called Samanyolu, which has 14 broadcast channels in Turkish, English, Arabic and Kurdish, dozens of radio stations and popular news portals.”

“We have always been strong defenders and promoters of fundamental rights, the rule of law and democracy and will continue to do so in full compliance with rules, regulations and the law.”

“I am a victim of a witch hunt that has been waged on the free, independent and critical media in Turkey because the increasingly authoritarian government does not like criticism as well as the exposure of major wrongdoings within government agencies.”

“Any journalist who uncovers the dirty laundry of senior government officials is immediately labeled a traitor and subjected to character assassination, harassment, persecution and even prosecution under trumped-up charges with no evidence at all.”

“It is clear that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his allies in the government have declared a total war on the independent media against the background of massive corruption investigations that incriminated senior government officials between 17-25 December, 2013.”

“Since then, the government has resorted to all sorts of intimidation tactics to muzzle the media and get rid of the corruption scandal.”

Erdogan conspires with Washington against regional peace, stability and security. He’s covertly arming and training ISIS elements on Turkish territory - then smuggles them cross-border to commit terrorist acts in Syria and Iraq.

Stop NATO founder/editor Rick Rozoff earlier said “(i)f confirmation was required that a neo-Ottoman Turkey is determined to reassert (its regional) influence gained 700 years before and lost a century ago and…doing so as part of a campaign by self-christened global NATO to expand into the Arab world, the Turkish head of state's threat to militarily intervene in Syria with the support of its 27 NATO allies should provide it.”

"Reporters Without Borders" calls Turkey the world's largest prison for journalists for good reason.

Press freedom is verboten. It's nonexistent.

No country imprisons more journalists for doing their job. An atmosphere of fear prevails. Widespread arrests are commonplace. Challenging government policy on sensitive issues risks persecution, imprisonment or death.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says Turkish authorities wage “one of the world's biggest anti-press campaigns in recent history.”

“Dozens of writers and editors are in prison, nearly all on terrorism or other anti-state charges. The evidence against them? Their journalism.”

Erdogan imprisons journalists “on a mass scale.” He deplores free expression, tolerating none. Censorship is official state policy. Pro-Kurdish news is called terrorism. Kurdish journalists are especially vulnerable.

Many face charges of participating in anti-government plots - others for belonging to outlawed political groups. Ankara tolerates no dissent. Extrajudicial assassinations are commonplace. Human and civil rights are non-starters. Rogue states operate this way.

Turkish regime assassins murdered Press TV journalist Serena Shim. Intelligence agents hounded her.

She reported important truths Erdogan wants suppressed.

She died in a suspicious car accident amounting to cold-blooded murder - during an October 2014 assignment, covering ongoing conflict at the time in Kobani, Syria.

Heading back to her hotel, a heavy vehicle deliberately smashed into her car. She never had a chance. Dead correspondents tell no tales. The attack vehicle driver remains free and unidentified to this day.

Turkish intelligence wrongfully accused her of spying - the same charge other independent journalists face for doing their job.

Shim had photographic evidence of Turkish intelligence involvement in covertly smuggling ISIS terrorists cross-border into Syria - using trucks bearing false NGO markings. Her evidence proved it, saying before her assassination:

“We were some of the first people on the ground - if not the first people - to get that story of…militants going in through the Turkish border…”

“I’ve got images of them in World Food Organization trucks. It was very apparent that they were militants by their beards, by the clothes they wore, and they were going in there with NGO trucks.”
She expressed fear about what Ankara “might use against her” - harassing, arresting or murdering her as things turned out.

Erdogan’s despotic AKP regime has been running Turkey since 2002. Democracy is pure fantasy. His near 50% majority November snap reelectoral victory was dubious at best - a suspect turnaround after losing one-fifth of the electorate in June elections. Polls indicated a much different outcome.
Dirty war on Turkish, northern Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish populations remains ongoing - abroad on the pretext of combating ISIS, Turkey’s ally, not enemy.

Prior to the election, journalists were harassed, attacked and pressured into self-censorship to prevent opposition parties from getting proper coverage. State-controlled media were entirely one-sided - AKP propaganda prominently featured. Fascist dictatorship triumphed - headed by megalomaniac Erdogan.

RT International reported his son Necmettin Bilal’s involvement in black market sales of ISIS stolen Syrian oil, profiting from high crimes along with regime officials, maybe father like son.
After Turkey downed Russia’s aircraft, Vladimir Putin blasted Erdogan, calling him an “accomplice of terrorists,” adding:

“IS has big money, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, from selling oil. In addition they are protected by the military of an entire nation.”

“One can understand why they are acting so boldly and blatantly. Why they kill people in such atrocious ways. Why they commit terrorist acts across the world…”

Turkey supplied and may continue supplying ISIS with toxic sarin gas to commit terrorist attacks, falsely blamed on Assad - including the notorious August 2013 Ghouta incident, killing and injuring hundreds of Syrian civilians in the Damascus suburb.

Evidence shows ISIS and other takfiri terrorists in Syria used chemical weapons numerous times before. US, Turkish and Saudi Arabian dirty hands were involved - Assad set up to be a fall guy irresponsibility.

No proof of Syrian involvement in chemical weapons use exists since Obama’s war began in March 2011. While ongoing, Assad destroyed his entire chemical weapons stockpile, working cooperatively with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons - certified by OPCW. Phony claims about him retaining supplies persist.

Sarin gas enters Syria through Turkey. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said a former senior US intelligence official with current reliable contacts told him “Turkish government (elements) believed they could get Assad’s ’n-ts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria…forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.”

Erdogan is a megalomaniacal threat to global peace and stability, especially after recklessly downing Russia’s aircraft - an act of aggressive war by any standard, Washington’s dirty hands orchestrating things covertly behind the scenes.

(Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III".
Visit his blog site at

Why the CIA Is Smearing Edward Snowden After the Paris Attacks

By Glenn Greenwald, Los Angeles Times
27 November 15

ecent people see tragedy and barbarism when viewing a terrorism attack. American politicians and intelligence officials see something else:  opportunity.

Bodies were still lying in the streets of Paris when CIA operatives began exploiting the resulting fear and anger to advance long-standing political agendas. They and their congressional allies instantly attempted to heap blame for the atrocity not on Islamic State but on several preexisting adversaries: Internet encryption, Silicon Valley's privacy policies and Edward Snowden.

The CIA's former acting director, Michael Morell, blamed the Paris attack on Internet companies "building encryption without keys," which, he said, was caused by the debate over surveillance prompted by Snowden's disclosures. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) blamed Silicon Valley's privacy safeguards, claiming: "I have asked for help. And I haven't gotten any help."
Former CIA chief James Woolsey said Snowden "has blood on his hands" because, he asserted, the Paris attackers learned from his disclosures how to hide their communications behind encryption. Woolsey thus decreed on CNN that the NSA whistleblower should be "hanged by the neck until he's dead, rather than merely electrocuted."

In one sense, this blame-shifting tactic is understandable. After all, the CIA, the NSA and similar agencies receive billions of dollars annually from Congress and have been vested by their Senate overseers with virtually unlimited spying power. They have one paramount mission: find and stop people who are plotting terrorist attacks. When they fail, of course they are desperate to blame others.

The CIA's blame-shifting game, aside from being self-serving, was deceitful in the extreme. To begin with, there still is no evidence that the perpetrators in Paris used the Internet to plot their attacks, let alone used encryption technology.

CIA officials simply made that up. It is at least equally likely that the attackers formulated their plans in face-to-face meetings. The central premise of the CIA's campaign — encryption enabled the attackers to evade our detection — is baseless.

Even if they had used encryption, what would that prove? Are we ready to endorse the precept that no human communication can ever take place without the U.S. government being able to monitor it? To prevent the CIA and FBI from "going dark" on terrorism plots that are planned in person, should we put Orwellian surveillance monitors in every room of every home that can be activated whenever someone is suspected of plotting?

The claim that the Paris attackers learned to use encryption from Snowden is even more misleading. For many years before anyone heard of Snowden, the U.S. government repeatedly warned that terrorists were using highly advanced means of evading American surveillance.

Then-FBI Director Louis Freeh told a Senate panel in March 2000 that "uncrackable encryption is allowing terrorists — Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and others — to communicate about their criminal intentions without fear of outside intrusion."

Or consider a USA Today article dated Feb. 5, 2001, eight months before the 9/11 attack. The headline warned "Terror groups hide behind Web encryption." That 14-year-old article cited "officials" who claimed that "encryption has become the everyday tool of Muslim extremists."

Even the official version of how the CIA found Osama bin Laden features the claim that the Al Qaeda leader only used personal couriers to communicate, never the Internet or telephone.

Within the Snowden archive itself, one finds a 2003 document that a British spy agency called "the Jihadist Handbook." That 12-year-old document, widely published on the Internet, contains instructions for how terrorist operatives should evade U.S. electronic surveillance.

In sum, Snowden did not tell the terrorists anything they did not already know. The terrorists have known for years that the U.S. government is trying to monitor their communications.

What the Snowden disclosures actually revealed to the world was that the U.S. government is monitoring the Internet communications and activities of everyone else: hundreds of millions of innocent people under the largest program of suspicionless mass surveillance ever created, a program that multiple federal judges have ruled is illegal and unconstitutional.

That is why intelligence officials are so eager to demonize Snowden:  rage that he exposed their secret, unconstitutional schemes.

But their ultimate goal is not to smear Snowden. That's just a side benefit. The real objective is to depict Silicon Valley as terrorist-helpers for the crime of offering privacy protections to Internet users, in order to force those companies to give the U.S. government "backdoor" access into everyone's communications.

American intelligence agencies have been demanding "backdoor" access to encryption since the mid-1990s. .

The key lesson of the post-9/11 abuses — from Guantanamo to torture to the invasion of Iraq — is that we must not allow military and intelligence officials to exploit the fear of terrorism to manipulate public opinion. Rather than blindly believe their assertions, we must test those claims for accuracy. In the wake of the Paris attacks, that lesson is more urgent than ever.

What's up, Doc?

(Eat more organic carrots!)

Friday, November 27, 2015

(Forget Daesh)  Dangerous ISIS Games An Excellent Ploy?  (Did Everything Really Change As of 9/11 or Just for Those Who Benefitted Thereby?) It's Just Greedy Bastards, Folks, and Their Kids  (Syrian Refugees Being Considered for Next American Concentration Camps?) & Then the Rest of US?  (Independence TRUMPS!)

Yes. It's just a game.

And you're IT.

I accept that things changed after 9/11. I take off my belt and shoes at the airport just like the next guy, unless, of course, I luck into the blessed TSA Pre-Check line, for which I regularly thank Big Government Jesus. But I don't accept, and I never have accepted, the fact that "everything" changed on that awful day, let alone a week ago in Paris. I don't think "Eeek! Terrorists!" should invade every institution of daily life in this country the way it has. I don't think local news stations have any business constantly running B-roll of Paris while the local "security consultant" waxes on about the old boogedy-boogedy. And I certainly don't need any more evidence that America is a gun-addled violent place, and that it became such quite on its own.

Also this weekend, there was a mass shooting at the Bunny Friend Playground in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. Seventeen people were shot, none of them fatally, thank god. Here's some of what we know.

Witnesses saw a man with a silver-colored machine gun flee toward Louisa Street. Gunfire continued in the park after he left. It is the largest mass shooting in New Orleans since the Mother's Day second-line of 2013. Between then and now, the shootings that injured the most people took place on Bourbon Street, June 29, 2013, where 10 people were shot, one of whom died; and on Burgundy Street, August 10, 2014, where seven people were shot, two fatally.
​A "silver-colored machine gun."

In an American city.

Good thing the guy wasn't Syrian.
# Thomas Martin 2015-11-26 18:12

We're parsing and obfuscating "terrorism" in a political way, aren't we? Can we deny that the woman and her daughter who were murdered in Des Moines didn't feel terror when they were being shot? Can we deny that in our country domestic crime like this is the norm? I think "We have met the enemy, and he is us." 
# Emmanuel Goldstein 2015-11-26 18:47
In this country there is more than one mass shooting (defined as 4 or more people shot) PER DAY. If that isn't domestic terrorism, I don't know what is. Yet it's rarely described as such in the news media. If it were, people would understand that we're at far greater danger from our fellow citizens than we are from any foreign terrorists.

Problem is, such a realization could lead to an even greater police state than what we already have. What to do?
# bob_vogelsang 2015-11-26 19:05
I think the real question to be asked is, "What is going on with so many people... that they are willing to pick up a gun and shoot others?"
Where's all the good paying jobs?
Where's all the benefits of living in the US... especially when there is so much poverty... while the rich get richer?
Then again, isn't that just what the US is doing all over the world? What an example!

An example?

What a comment.

The U.S. example is Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And don't you forget it!

But it must be said that the call for banning Syrian immigrants, besides being a xenophobic replay of America’s brutal record of turning away European Jews and incarcerating Japanese-Americans during World War II, is most of all a stab at political bait-and-switch:  The Republican candidates think that if they rail enough against the lethal potential of 10,000 destitute Syrian refugees subjected to a two-year American vetting process, maybe no one will notice that they have no coherent ideas for combatting actual ISIS terrorists as opposed to imaginary ones.

No one else in the West has a fail-safe idea, either, but the Republican presidential candidates are particularly clueless. They repeatedly state that Obama’s efforts are insufficient but then, as the president has noted, just repeat his current policy, only louder. Some seem to think the problem will be solved, as Rubio has it, if a president will only say, “We are at war with radical Islam.” Ben Carson has called for “moderate forces” in Iraq and Syria to establish “sanctuary zones” — blissfully unaware that these “moderate forces” he hopes to recruit will be drawn from the same populace he is calling “rabid dogs.”

Lindsey Graham has called for 10,000 American troops to help do the job — a proposal that is a nonstarter with the American public largely because of the war in Iraq that he helped champion and prolong. The others offer only bluster and
gobbledygook that are merely more polite variations on Trump’s vow to “bomb the shit out of them.” The pugilistic Chris Christie seems to think we can defeat ISIS in part by keeping 5-year-old orphans out of Jersey.
Last week, Karl Rove welcomed terrorism as a winning issue for Republicans and cited a September poll from Gallup showing that 52 percent of the public believes that Republicans will do a better job of protecting America, while only 36 percent says the same of Democrats. But that poll was taken before the Paris attacks. The latest "Washington Post"–ABC News poll, conducted since Paris, found that despite a drop in Obama’s numbers, Hillary Clinton was more trusted to “handle the threat of terrorism” in one-on-one matchups with every major GOP presidential candidate. That 3 a.m. phone-call ad that failed in 2008 may easily mow down the gaseous GOP armchair generals of 2016.

Meet The Man Who Funds ISIS:  Bilal Erdogan, The Son Of Turkey's President

By Tyler Durden
In addition to son Bilal's illegal and lucrative oil trading for ISIS, Sümeyye Erdogan, the daughter of the Turkish President, apparently runs a secret hospital camp inside Turkey just over the Syrian border.
Russia's Sergey Lavrov is not one foreign minister known to mince his words. Just earlier today, 24 hours after a Russian plane was brought down by the country whose president three years ago said "a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack", had this to say:  "We have serious doubts this was an unintended incident and believe this is a planned provocation" by Turkey.

But even that was tame compared to what Lavrov said to his Turkish counterparty Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier today during a phone call between the two (Lavrov who was supposed to travel to Turkey has since canceled such plans).

As Sputnik transcribes, according to a press release from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov pointed out that, "by shooting down a Russian plane on a counter-terrorist mission of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria, and one that did not violate Turkey’s airspace, the Turkish government has in effect sided with ISIS."

It was in this context when Lavrov added that "Turkey’s actions appear premeditated, planned, and undertaken with a specific objective."
More importantly, Lavrov pointed to Turkey’s role in the propping up the terror network through the oil trade. Per the Russian statement:

"The Russian Minister reminded his counterpart about Turkey’s involvement in the ISIS’ illegal trade in oil, which is transported via the area where the Russian plane was shot down, and about the terrorist infrastructure, arms and munitions depots and control centers that are also located there."
Others reaffirmed Lavrov's stance, such as retired French General Dominique Trinquand, who said that "Turkey is either not fighting ISIL at all or very little, and does not interfere with different types of smuggling that takes place on its border, be it oil, phosphate, cotton or people," he said.

The reason we find this line of questioning fascinating is that just last week in the aftermath of the French terror attack but long before the Turkish downing of the Russian jet, we wrote about "The Most Important Question About ISIS That Nobody Is Asking" in which we asked who is the one "breaching every known law of funding terrorism when buying ISIS crude, almost certainly with the tacit approval by various "western alliance" governments, and why is it that these governments have allowed said middleman to continue funding ISIS for as long as it has?"

Precisely one week later, in even more tragic circumstances, suddenly everyone is asking this question.

And while we patiently dig to find who the on- and offshore "commodity trading" middleman are, who cart away ISIS oil to European and other international markets in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars, one name keeps popping up as the primary culprit of regional demand for the Islamic State's "terrorist oil" - that of Turkish president Recep Erdogan's son:  Bilal Erdogan.

His very brief bio:

Necmettin Bilal Erdogan, commonly known as Bilal Erdogan (born 23 April 1980) is the third child of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current President of Turkey.

After graduating from Kartal Imam Hatip High School in 1999, Bilal Erdogan moved to the US for undergraduate education. He also earned a Masters Degree in John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2004. After graduation, he served in the World Bank as intern for a while. He returned Turkey in 2006 and started to his business life. Bilal Erdogan is one of the three equal shareholders of "BMZ Group Denizcilik ", a marine transportation corporation.
Here is a recent picture of Bilal, shown in a photo from a Turkish 2014 article, which "asked why his ships are now in Syria":

In the next few days, we will present a full breakdown of Bilal's various business ventures, starting with his BMZ Group which is the name implicated most often in the smuggling of illegal Iraqi and Islamic State through to the western supply chain, but for now here is a brief, if very disturbing snapshot, of both father and son Erdogan, by F. William Engdahl, one which should make everyone ask whether the son of Turkey's president (and thus, the father) is the silent mastermind who has been responsible for converting millions of barrels of Syrian Oil into hundreds of millions of dollars of Islamic State revenue.

By F. William Engdahl, posted originally in New Eastern Outlook:

Erdogan's Dirth Dangerous ISIS Games

More and more details are coming to light revealing that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, variously known as ISIS, IS or Daesh, is being fed and kept alive by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President and by his Turkish intelligence service, including MIT, the Turkish CIA. Turkey, as a result of Erdogan’s pursuit of what some call a Neo-Ottoman Empire fantasies that stretch all the way to China, Syria and Iraq, threatens not only to destroy Turkey but much of the Middle East if he continues on his present path.

In October 2014 US Vice President Joe Biden told a Harvard gathering that Erdogan’s regime was backing ISIS with “hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons…” Biden later apologized clearly for tactical reasons to get Erdogan’s permission to use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base for airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, but the dimensions of Erdogan’s backing for ISIS since revealed is far, far more than Biden hinted.

ISIS militants were trained by US, Israeli and now it emerges, by Turkish special forces at secret bases in Konya Province inside the Turkish border to Syria, over the past three years. Erdogan’s involvement in ISIS goes much deeper. At a time when Washington, Saudi Arabia and even Qatar appear to have cut off their support for ISIS, they remain amazingly durable. The reason appears to be the scale of the backing from Erdogan and his fellow neo-Ottoman Sunni Islam Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.

Nice Family Business

The prime source of money feeding ISIS these days is sale of Iraqi oil from the Mosul region oilfields where they maintain a stronghold. The son of Erdogan it seems is the man who makes the export sales of ISIS-controlled oil possible.

Bilal Erdogan owns several maritime companies. He has allegedly signed contracts with European operating companies to carry Iraqi stolen oil to different Asian countries. The Turkish government buys Iraqi plundered oil which is being produced from the Iraqi seized oil wells. Bilal Erdogan’s maritime companies own special wharfs in Beirut and Ceyhan ports that are transporting ISIS’ smuggled crude oil in Japan-bound oil tankers.

Gürsel Tekin, vice-president of the Turkish Republican Peoples’ Party, CHP, declared in a recent Turkish media interview, “President Erdogan claims that according to international transportation conventions there is no legal infraction concerning Bilal’s illicit activities and his son is doing an ordinary business with the registered Japanese companies, but in fact Bilal Erdogan is up to his neck in complicity with terrorism, but as long as his father holds office he will be immune from any judicial prosecution.”

Tekin adds that Bilal’s maritime company doing the oil trades for ISIS, BMZ Ltd, is “a family business and president Erdogan’s close relatives hold shares in BMZ and they misused public funds and took illicit loans from Turkish banks.”

In addition to son Bilal’s illegal and lucrative oil trading for ISIS, Sümeyye Erdogan, the daughter of the Turkish President apparently runs a secret hospital camp inside Turkey just over the Syrian border where Turkish army trucks daily being in scores of wounded ISIS Jihadists to be patched up and sent back to wage the bloody Jihad in Syria, according to the testimony of a nurse who was recruited to work there until it was discovered she was a member of the Alawite branch of Islam, the same as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who Erdogan seems hell-bent on toppling.

Turkish citizen Ramazan Bagol, captured this month by Kurdish People’s Defence Units,YPG, as he attempted to join ISIS from Konya province, told his captors that said he was sent to ISIS by the ‘Ismailia Sect,’ a strict Turkish Islam sect reported to be tied to Recep Erdogan. Baol said the sect recruits members and provides logistic support to the radical Islamist organization. He added that the Sect gives jihad training in neighborhoods of Konya and sends those trained here to join ISIS gangs in Syria.

According to French geopolitical analyst, Thierry Meyssan, Recep Erdogan “organised the pillage of Syria, dismantled all the factories in Aleppo, the economic capital, and stole the machine-tools. Similarly, he organised the theft of archeological treasures and set up an international market in Antioch … with the help of General Benoît Puga, Chief of Staff for the Elysée, he organised a false-flag operation intended to provoke the launching of a war by the Atlantic Alliance – the chemical bombing of la Ghoutta in Damascus, in August 2013.“

Meyssan claims that the Syria strategy of Erdogan was initially secretly developed in coordination with former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé and Erdogan’s then Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in 2011, after Juppe won a hesitant Erdogan to the idea of supporting the attack on traditional Turkish ally Syria in return for a promise of French support for Turkish membership in the EU. France later backed out, leaving Erdogan to continue the Syrian bloodbath largely on his own using ISIS.

Gen. John R. Allen, an opponent of Obama’s Iran peace strategy, now US diplomatic envoy coordinating the coalition against the Islamic State, exceeded his authorized role after meeting with Erdogan and “promised to create a "no-fly zone" ninety miles wide, over Syrian territory, along the whole border with Turkey, supposedly intended to help Syrian refugees fleeing from their government, but in reality to apply the "Juppé-Wright plan." The Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, revealed US support for the project on the TV channel A Haber by launching a bombing raid against the PKK.” Meyssan adds.

There are never winners in war and Erdogan’s war against Syria’s Assad demonstrates that in bold. Turkey and the world deserve better. Ahmet Davutoglu’s famous “Zero Problems With Neighbors” foreign policy has been turned into massive problems with all neighbors due to the foolish ambitions of Erdogan and his gang.

And you thought responses from the U.S. couldn't get any worse?

Don't bet on it.

Anti-Islam Group Publishes Addresses of Muslims and 'Muslim Sympathisers'

Bureau of American Islamic Relations, which staged armed protest outside a Texas Islamic centre last week, adds to racial tensions in wake of Paris attacks
An anti-Islam group which staged an armed protest outside a Dallas Islamic centre has posted names and addresses of Muslims and “Muslim sympathisers” on its Facebook page, adding to growing tensions in north Texas following the Paris terror attacks.
The group, which calls itself the Bureau of American Islamic Relations, staged an armed protest outside an Islamic centre in the Dallas suburb of Irving last Saturday. “We’re here protesting Syrian refugees coming to America, protesting the Islamisation of America,” David Wright, a spokesman, told local FOX4 News.

The list of more than 50 names is taken from a record of people who spoke or signed up to express an opinion at an Irving city council meeting in March where the council voted to endorse a planned state bill emphasising the already enshrined primacy of domestic laws above foreign laws.

Many Muslims in the community felt targeted by the event, which came after the Irving mayor, Beth Van Duyne, made waves in the rightwing media by making references to an Islamic dispute mediation panel that wrongly became characterised as an “illegal Sharia court”.

Alia Salem, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said the atmosphere at last week’s protest was “very threatening. They had AR-15 [rifles], they had their faces covered.” The open carrying of long guns is legal in Texas.

Since the Paris attacks on 13 November, Salem said, CAIR has “gotten a large increase in hate-crime reporting”. She said that she herself had twice been verbally abused. Feces and torn pages of the Koran were shot dead two gunmen at a “draw the prophet” contest.

The men had spent time at a Phoenix mosque which was the site of an armed demonstration last month as part of an anti-Islam “Global Rally for Humanity” which failed to attract widespread support.

Irving attracted international attention in September when Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old student, was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school that officials said resembled a bomb. He and his family have since moved to Qatar and are demanding $15m in damages.

It's actually even worse than you think.

Frank Rich documents it for us:

epublican presidential candidates and governors have called for turning away Syrian refugees, Ben Carson has likened them to “rabid dogs,” and Donald Trump is peddling an urban legend about Muslims cheering the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New Jersey. How can a major American political party do this without incurring some political cost?

It can’t. The GOP — not just Trump and Carson — offers something to offend almost every minority group in the country:  black, gay, Latino, and Muslim people. And one majority group:  women. Even its so-called moderate Establishment candidates are culpable:  Jeb Bush called for admitting only Christian refugees from Syria; John Kasich has proposed a government agency to promote “core Judeo-Christian Western values,” a plan that strikes me as not just anti-Muslim but anti-Semitic despite the lip service paid to “Judeos”; Marco Rubio opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

None of this will hurt Republican candidates in safe, gerrymandered House districts or in deep-red states. But it will cripple them in presidential elections, and contested races for the Senate and governorships in purple or even purplish states, let alone blue ones. 

But it must be said that the call for banning Syrian immigrants, besides being a xenophobic replay of America’s brutal record of turning away European Jews and incarcerating Japanese-Americans during World War II, is most of all a stab at political bait-and-switch:  The Republican candidates think that if they rail enough against the lethal potential of 10,000 destitute Syrian refugees subjected to a two-year American vetting process, maybe no one will notice that they have no coherent ideas for combatting actual ISIS terrorists as opposed to imaginary ones.

No one else in the West has a fail-safe idea, either, but the Republican presidential candidates are particularly clueless. They repeatedly state that Obama’s efforts are insufficient but then, as the president has noted, just repeat his current policy, only louder. Some seem to think the problem will be solved, as Rubio has it, if a president will only say, “We are at war with radical Islam.” Ben Carson has called for “moderate forces” in Iraq and Syria to establish “sanctuary zones” — blissfully unaware that these “moderate forces” he hopes to recruit will be drawn from the same populace he is calling “rabid dogs.” Lindsey Graham has called for 10,000 American troops to help do the job — a proposal that is a nonstarter with the American public largely because of the war in Iraq that he helped champion and prolong. The others offer only bluster and gobbledygook that are merely more polite variations on Trump’s vow to “bomb the shit out of them.” The pugilistic Chris Christie seems to think we can defeat ISIS in part by keeping 5-year-old orphans out of Jersey.

Last week, Karl Rove welcomed terrorism as a winning issue for Republicans and cited a September poll from Gallup showing that 52 percent of the public believes that Republicans will do a better job of protecting America, while only 36 percent says the same of Democrats. But that poll was taken before the Paris attacks. The latest "Washington Post"–ABC News poll, conducted since Paris, found that despite a drop in Obama’s numbers, Hillary Clinton was more trusted to “handle the threat of terrorism” in one-on-one matchups with every major GOP presidential candidate. That 3 a.m. phone-call ad that failed in 2008 may easily mow down the gaseous GOP armchair generals of 2016.

That same "Post"-ABC poll showed that Carson had fallen from being neck and neck with Trump to a fairly distant second place (32 percent to 22 percent). What happened to Carson? Why is Trump, who has lately gone so far as to justify the pummeling of a black protester at a Birmingham, Alabama, campaign rally, rising yet again? 

As I wrote in my New York piece back in September, Trump is “a crass, bigoted bully with a narcissistic-personality disorder and policy views bordering on gibberish” who also may be the best thing to happen to American politics since Obama. He is continuing to prove the first part of that equation, heaven knows, but also the second:  His repeated supremacy in the polls is exposing the built-in biases of those in the press who have dismissed his numbers as a transitory blip since day one and has also shown up the bankruptcy of the anachronistic, consultant-shaped political campaigns that offer the voters pablum like Jeb! as a feckless alternative. Most important of all, Trump is exposing the heart of a virtually all-white political party’s base by speaking its most repellent convictions out loud and unambiguously rather than let them continue to be cloaked in the euphemisms of most of his ostensibly more respectable opponents

Trump isn’t suffering any penalty in the polls because the base believes this stuff — the base that has been bullying the GOP ever since John McCain empowered the Ur-Trump, Sarah Palin. And it’s fear of that base’s power in the primary states that has made Trump’s GOP adversaries, except those at the bottom of the pack with nothing to lose, so slow and ineffectual in taking him on.

. That’s why they are coming up with their own me-too plans to turn away Syrian refugees. That’s why they are remaining silent when a black protester is beaten up at a seemingly all-white rally in Birmingham. That’s why, after the Charleston massacre, they didn’t come out against the Confederate flag until after the Republican South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, did so and gave them political cover. They are hoping that when Trump does wear out his welcome they’ll inherit his following. We can thank Trump for inadvertently exposing just how much the GOP leadership cowers before the racists and crazies.

As for the Carson bump, it’s gone the way of the Fiorina bump. It certainly didn’t help him that his own foreign-policy adviser told the "Times," for attribution, that the good doctor didn’t know squat about the Middle East. As Paris has felled Carson, it has boosted Trump by fusing terrorism with the issue that made him a GOP hero:  immigration.

“Donald Trump was elected president tonight,” Ann Coulter tweeted the night of the Paris carnage with typical hyperbole. Trump will not be elected president unless Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, et al, secede from the Electoral College. But he can’t be ruled out yet as the GOP nominee. The "Wall Street Journal" trumpeted on its front page last weekend an effort by the “Republican Establishment” to mount a “guerrilla campaign” to “defeat and destroy” Trump. How? It would create an ad that “would link Mr. Trump’s views and style to his celebrity foe, Rosie O’Donnell, in hopes of provoking a reaction from Mr. Trump” as well as “fake pro-Trump ads” that would use “a Trump impersonator to show him insulting people.” This plan is so stupid you have to wonder if it wasn’t conceived by Rove.

You can’t fight something with nothing. Which candidate is going to take Trump out? Bush, who supposedly rose from the dead after his last (slightly) less-embarrassing performance in the last GOP debate, is at 6 percent in the "Post"-ABC poll; Rubio, still the subject of countless pieces touting him as the perfect candidate on paper, is at 11 percent. The RealClearPolitics poll average in South Carolina, whose primary has been since 1980 the most reliable indicator of who will win the GOP nomination, is indistinguishable from the national numbers:  27.5 percent for Trump, 21.8 percent for Carson, 12.3 percent for Rubio, 11.3 percent for Cruz, and 6.8 percent for Bush.

Meanwhile, Trump has a plan B:  He is now saying that he may run as an independent after all. This is further confirmation that his faux “pledge” not to do so, signed with much fanfare at the Trump Tower, has all the standing of the Munich pact of 1938, with GOP chairman Reince Priebus reenacting the role of Neville Chamberlain.

Things are a little calmer on the Democratic side, where Hillary Clinton's biggest problems lately are front-page reports in the "Times" and "Washington Post" showcasing her ties to Wall Street and her role in her family’s $3 billion donor network. Will continued stories like these hurt her at all?

I just saw Adam McKay’s upcoming new movie The Big Short, from the Michael Lewis book, and it made me furious all over again at those who made a killing during the housing bubble while so many Americans lost their savings, their retirement plans, or their homes in the crash. But the star power of Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell is no more likely to pull a majority of the Democratic electorate away from Clinton than Bernie Sanders has.

Nor is Clinton likely to suffer any lasting damage by her own tone-deaf gaffes, like her offensive effort in the last Democratic debate to link her coziness with Wall Street to 9/11. And if she ends up running against Trump — or, for that matter, Rubio or Bush or Cruz — she will be seen, by comparison and perhaps not without reason, as a relative populist no matter her speaking fees from Goldman or her ties to Robert Rubin.

Forget Daesh:  Humanity is at Stake

By Ramzy Baroud

When the Americans and their allies claimed that they had left the region, they left behind bleeding, impoverished nations, licking their wounds and searching for bodies under rubble in diverse and macabre landscapes.

And they will never forget.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Pilger:  Media Spreads Disinformation  (Erdoğan Picks Up New Contract From The West)  Turkey Lies (Only Voting En Masse Will Bring Real Change)

Oh my god.

John Pilger on Paris, ISIS and Media Propaganda

Afshin Rattansi goes underground with John Pilger.

Award winning journalist and author, John Pilger talks to us about how Washington, London and Paris gave birth to ISIS-Daesh. Plus we examine the media's role in spreading disinformation ahead of a vote in Parliament for UK bombing of Syria. Afshin looks at the Autumn Statement and why in a time of high alert we are cutting the police force and buying drones.

Always the agendas.

Don't you just love the (new) American War Century?

Doesn't it make you feel strong and vital? (And superior to all others?)

And unapologetically unable to remember the last official story you heard?

Erdoğan Picks Up A New Contract From The West...

By Emre Uslu
November 25, 2015
Today's Zaman
The world is now debating the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey. Most observers agree that bringing down that plane was very risky for Turkey. But is no one asking how Turkey had the courage to do this?
I think this is the essential question in fact. What is giving Turkey the courage to stand up to like this to Russia, which is so much bigger, both militarily and economically? We are talking about the same Turkey that has never even brought down a Greek jet; Greece, of course, being many times smaller in all ways than Turkey. You might also stop and recall that some time ago, Israeli war planes strayed into Turkish airspace while heading to Syria to bomb some facilities there; Turkey did nothing to those jets. In contrast, however, Turkey brought down the Russian plane, without much warning, after an airspace violation that lasted all of 17 seconds.

There are, of course, technical explanations for what happened. But to understand, from a political angle, why Turkey made this decision, calls for examination from a wider perspective.

Let us first make this clear:  The decision to down the Russian plane was not one Turkey made alone. If it were, the reactions from various Western capitals would be different than what we are hearing now. It's clear now that Turkey - more specifically, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan - has picked up a new contract with the West, and that the downing of the Russian jet is just the first stage of this contract.

So what makes this all so clear now? A few essential signals. The first is the process of preparing domestic public opinion, which we have witnessed in recent days. The second is the statement made by US President Barack Obama after the plane came down. The third is the public statements we now hear coming from high-level offices in Turkey.

Let's start with the first signal, though. A project - one which always seems to work with the Turkish public - was implemented by Ankara in the weeks preceding the plane incident. A loud media fuss was made over the “massacres being carried out against the Turkmens” in Syria.

For those familiar with Turkish state traditions, it was definitely not a fuss to be ignored. In Turkey, whenever there is a stir made over Turks or Turkmens being harmed (or being in harm's way) abroad, it always means that a military operation is soon to come. This is actually a strategy that's been in place since the 1950s, when the whole campaign aimed at raising awareness of Cyprus started. Likewise, we've seen the Turkmen population of northern Iraq used the same way that the Turkmens of Syria have now been used. And recalling the Sept. 6-7, 1955 pogrom, it was the same thing, with the Turkish population in Thessaloniki being used. In nearly all of these situations, there have been deep state operations.

In fact, I began to get suspicious about all the news being broadcast regarding massacres against Turkmens in Syria some time ago, which is why I wrote this on my Twitter account back on Nov. 20:

When there is TURKMEN DRAMA news in Turkey, it means society is being prepared for something. They're going to put our military into Syria, which is why all the news about Turkmen Mountain is quite suspicious.”

Just four days after this tweet of mine, the Russian plane was brought down. It's clear now that Turks were being prepared for something like this. Which means, in this case, the bringing down of the Russian plane was not an act committed in the heat of the moment, but a planned operation.

But does this mean it's an operation Turkey carried out alone, or with the backing of a network of Western countries?

We see answers to this question in the statement made by Obama in the wake of the incident. While Obama warned both sides “not to increase the tension,” he only directly blamed Russia. He said that Russia claims to be bombing ISIL, but it is in fact bombing the opposition along the borders. The second half of this statement is crucial, as it marks the first time we've heard Obama mention Turkmen Mountain, in the north of Syria, and use protective language in talking about the groups there, while simultaneously blaming the Russians. But who are these groups that Obama is pushing to protect?

Well, there's al-Nusra, as well as Ahrar al-Sham and the Fatih brigades. Most of these are groups linked one way or another with al-Qaeda. The protective sort of rhetoric we're hearing from Obama with regard to these groups shows us that Turkey was not the main planner of this latest operation.

What's more, the near perfection of the messages given by Ankara to the global public the moment Turkey brought down the Russian jet show us that this was no last-minute operation, and that the scenario as a whole had been well thought out. Think about this:  The plane goes down and immediately Ankara is able to show the entire world the maps showing the route flown by the plane.

Then we hear the audio tapes of the Turkish pilots warning the Russian planes; the voices are so clear and audible, it's as though they had been taped in a studio beforehand. After this, we hear statements from Western pilots and soldiers - in this case, American and Dutch - noting that they, too, had clearly heard the Turkish pilots warning the Russian plane.

Clearly, it's all a well-rehearsed scenario. We've seen the downing of a Syrian helicopter and a plane in the past, not that long ago, but there was nothing like the map distribution and preparation of public opinion in advance we saw this time around.

For those who know the normal speed of Turkish bureaucracy, it's obvious that unless this scenario was prepared in advance, there's no way the statements we've already heard - and the reactions we've already seen - would have come in such a timely fashion.

So, in the end, all this data points to just one possible conclusion, as I mentioned at the start:  Erdoğan has picked up a new contract. . . .

Turkey Is Lying

By Paul Craig Roberts

November 25, 2015
Tyler Durden at "Zero Hedge" has posted the flight paths of the Russian aircraft according to Turkey and to Russia.

We know that Turkey is lying for three reasons.

One reason is that NATO governments lie every time that they open their mouths.

A second reason is that Turkey’s claim that the SU-24 was in Turkey’s airspace for 17 seconds but only traveled 1.15 miles means that the SU-24 was flying at stall speed! The entire Western media was too incompetent to do the basic math!

A third reason is that, assuming Turkey’s claim of a 17 second airspace violation is true, 17 seconds is not long enough for a Turkish pilot to get clearance for such a serious and reckless act as shooting down a Russian military aircraft. If the SU-24 was flying at a normal speed rather than one that would be unable to keep the aircraft aloft, the alleged airspace violation would not have been long enough to be noticed. A shootdown had to have been pre-arranged.

The Turks, knowing that the Russians were foolishly trusting to the agreement that there be no air to air encounters, told pilots to look for an opportunity.

In my recent article, I gave a reason for this reckless act:

Turkey’s explanation to the UN Security Council gives itself away as a lie. The letter states:  “This morning (24 November) 2 SU-24 planes, the nationality of which are unknown have approached Turkish national airspace. The Planes in quesion have been warned 10 times during a period of 5 minutes via ‘Emergency’ channel and asked to change their headings south immediately.”
As SU-24 are Russian aircraft, as Turkey is able to identify that the aircraft are SU-24s, how then can the nationality of the aircraft be unknown? Would Turkey risk shooting down a US or Israeli aircraft by firing at an unknown aircraft?

If the SU-24 takes 17 seconds to fly 1.15 miles, the SU-24s would have only traveled 20.29 miles in five minutes. Does anyone believe that a supersonic aircraft can fly at stall speed for 17 seconds, much less for five minutes?

Do not expect any truth from any Western government or from any Western media. Governments and media know that the Western populations are uneducated, unaware, and can be relied upon to accept any preposterous story. In the West the Matrix has a firm grip. The Russians need to wake up to this fact.

NPR this morning confirmed that the media is a government propaganda organ. The Diane Rehm show on NPR presented us with a group of talking heads. Only one was informed, a professor at the Middle East Institute of the London School of Economics. The rest of the “experts” were the typical dumbshit Americans. They repeated all of the lies. “Russia is attacking everyone except ISIS.” How can there be anyone but ISIS to attack when the US general overseeing the area recently told Congress that “only 5” of our trained “rebels” remained? Yet the myth of “moderate rebels” is kept alive by these liars.

“The refugees are fleeing the brutal Assad.” Notice that it is always Assad who is brutal, not ISIS which has cut out opponents hearts and eaten them and routinely cuts off peoples heads and commits the most atrocious atrocities. Here we have “experts” blaming Assad. The “experts” said that the refugees are fleeing from Assad not from ISIS. The refugee problem is Assad’s fault, not the faut of ISIS. It is all Assad’s fault because he doesn’t give up and turn Syria over to Washington’s ISIS henchmen.

There was no acknowledgement from the “experts” that ISIS is a Washington creation or that until the Paris attack Washington was strongly backing ISIS with both words and weapons against the Russian air attacks that caught both Washington and ISIS off guard. This is extraordinary considering the fact that US responsibility for ISIS was acknowledged on TV by the former head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency.
Gullible Americans who give money to NPR are supporting lies and propaganda that have resulted in the deaths and dislocation of millions of peoples and that are leading to WWIII. The Western media whores are complicit in the crimes, because they fail their responsibility to hold government accountable and make it impossible for valid information to reach people. The Western media serves as cheerleaders for death and destruction.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why Russian Plane Downed by NATO's Turkey  (Ben Carson:  Lear's Fool?)  Blowing It After Paris  (Bankster Fraud Outed:  Inside the Money Laundering Scheme That Citi Overlooked for Years)  Tangled Threads of US False Narratives

My hero says "Planet Earth has hit a brick wall (on growth). . . . Japan is back in recession. Abenomics did not work - and they invented QE!"

He's more than a little bit excited.


As for a real world-changing news item.

How about this? (Don't tell anyone but Turkey is also bombing the Kurds.)

On Tuesday, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that was carrying out military operations against jihadi groups in Northern Syria. The downing of the Su-24 fighter jet is part of a broader plan by the administration of Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan to topple the secular government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and to establish “safe zones” on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border. Erdogan needs the safe zones to provide a sanctuary for the militant extremists who are the foot soldiers in his war against Syria. The downing of the Russian fighter is a desperate attempt by Erdogan to incite a reaction from Russia that will draw either NATO or the United States deeper into a conflict which has dragged on for 4 and a half years and killed 250,000 people.

Or these?

An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness

Who Created This Monster?

After Paris:  Hypocrisy and Mendacity Writ Large

Of course, sometimes . . . there's more than meets the eye.

But don't quote me.

Turkey Has Destroyed Russia’s Hope Of Western Cooperation

Turkey’s unprovoked shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft over Syria raises interesting questions. It seems unlikely that the Turkish government would commit an act of war against a much more powerful neighbor unless Washington had cleared the attack. Turkey’s government is not very competent, but even the incompetent know better than to put themselves into a position of facing Russia alone.

If the attack was cleared with Washington, was Obama bypassed by the neocons who control his government, or is Obama himself complicit? Clearly the neoconservatives are disturbed by the French president’s call for unity with Russia against ISIL and easily could have used their connections to Turkey to stage an event that Washington can use to prevent cooperation with Russia.

Washington’s complicity is certainly indicated, but it is not completely out of the question that the well-placed Turks who are purchasing oil from ISIL took revenge against Russia for destroying their oil tanker investments and profitable business. But if the attack has a private or semi-private origin in connections between gangsters and military, would Turkey’s president have defended the shoot-down on such spurious grounds as “national defense”? No one can believe that one Russian jet is a threat to Turkey’s security.

. . . The responses to the shoot-down are also interesting. From what I heard of Obama’s press conference, Obama’s definition of “moderate Syrian rebels” includes all the extremist jihadish groups, such as al Nursa and ISIL, that are the focus of the Russian attacks. Only Assad is an extremist. Obama, following the neocon line, says that Assad has too much blood on his hands to be allowed to remain president of Syria.

Obama is not specific about the “blood on Assad’s hands,” but we can be. The blood is the blood of ISIL forces fighting the Syrian army. Obama doesn’t refer to the blood on ISIL’s hands, but even the presstitutes have told us the horror stories associated with the blood on ISIL’s hands, with whom Obama has allied us.

And what about the blood on Obama’s hands? Here we are talking about a very large quantity of blood:  the blood of entire countries — Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and the blood that Obama’s puppet government in Kiev has spilled of the ethnic Russian inhabitants of Ukraine, not to forget the Palestinian blood spilled by Israel using US supplied weapons.

If the blood on Assad’s hands disqualifies Assad from office, the much greater quantity on Obama’s hands disqualifies Obama. And Cameron. And Hollande. And Merkel. And Netanyahu.

Throughout the entire Washington orchestrated conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, and Ukraine, the Russian government has spoken reasonably and responded in a diplomatic manner to the many provocations. The Russian government relied on European governments realizing that Europe does not benefit from conflicts generated by Washington and separating themselves from a policy that is against their interests. But Europe proved to be a collection of American vassals, not independent countries capable of independent foreign policies.

In its campaign against ISIL in Syria, the Russian government relied on the agreement made with NATO countries to avoid engaging in the air. Now Turkey has violated this agreement.

I will be surprised if the Russian government any longer places any trust in the words of the West and any hope in diplomacy with the West. By now the Russian government and the Russian people will have learned that the Wolfowitz doctrine means what it says and is in force against Russia.

From the Ukrainian attack on Crimea’s power supply and the blackout that is affecting Crimea, the Russian government has also learned that Washington’s puppet government in Kiev intends further conflict with Russia.

Washington has made it clear from the beginning that Washington’s focus is on overthrowing Assad, not ISIL. Despite the alleged attack on France by ISIL, the US State Department press spokesperson, Admiral John Kirby, said that Russia cannot be a member of the coalition against ISIL until Russia stops propping up Assad.

It's difficult to see the Republican Party Follies as serious as those in "King Lear."

Although, they are in there trying and there is an awe-inspiring fool.

And not just one.

What a country.

“I’ll take my chances with the brain tumor:”  Larry Wilmore devastates Ben Carson’s Geography-gate debacle

Do we really need another President who is geographically dyslexic (can't read a map)?

From the suddenly un-subtle Trevor Noah:

Ben Carson apparently doesn’t know anything about foreign policy. Shocking, I know, for the guy who thinks the pyramids were used as grain silos. He was asked three times for the first person he would have called after the Paris attacks if he’s been in office. He couldn’t answer the question.
Trevor Noah had some fun with that on Wednesday night’s “Daily Show,” saying these issues are really complex and you can’t change the way a person thinks. That’s really left up to a neurosurgeon.

After advisor Duane Clarridge made a few truthful comments outing Carson as lacking the foreign policy chops to debate on his feet, the campaign denied that the adviser was ever actually an adviser. Well, except for that time they used him to help with an op-ed in the "New York Times."

He is a person who has come in on a couple of our sessions to offer his opinions about what was going on,” Carson said in an interview trying to distance himself from the non-adviser adviser.

So, basically that’s like “I don’t think of myself as a surgeon; I’m just a guy people pay to stab their brain until they’re healthy,” Noah joked.

The campaign actually disavowed Clarridge as “an elderly gentleman” a comment Noah felt was “dickish.” That’s a decent characterization when a presidential candidate uses “elderly” as a derogatory term to imply someone doesn’t know anything. Kind of like if we coined the phrase “Carson” to be synonymous with being an ill-informed, featherbrained, ditz on foreign policy matters.

Such as:  “Huckabee just Carsoned his way through that question on ISIS” or “That governor is Carsoning his response on refugees.”

He then played the hilarious clip of Chris Matthews on “Hardball” nearly dying with laughter when Carson openly pondered if a Palestinian territory should be in Israel, or if perhaps they could instead “slip it into Egypt.”

“‘Can’t you just slip it into Egypt?'” Noah asked. “You think the Egyptians won’t just notice him walking in with Palestine?”

Check out the hilarity below:

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Get More:  The Daily Show Full Episodes,The Daily Show on Facebook,The Daily Show Video Archive

I lost my last teaching position after 9/11 after I mentioned the word "blowback" (okay, I wrote it on the board), and made the same boring arguments for cool heads and measured responses that appear below. My problem with how today's events are transpiring is almost exactly the same. The integrity of the reporting on "RT" ("Russia Today") and Thom Hartmann's "FSTV" show " is miles above that on all the other channels and that which occurred during the 9/11 event (which was never believable as reported by the mainstream media beginning the day of or as the government's appointed 9/11 Commission detailed ultimately as the investigated truth). The coordinated strikes on display in Paris demand the same if not a closer analysis and measured response (although this is never what the mob screams for). And somehow, against all historical perspective, the mob always rules.

We Blew It After 9/11. We’re Blowing It Again After Paris

On Sept. 14, 2001, 800 million Europeans in 43 countries observed three minutes of silence for the victims of 9/11. From Europe and around the world came pleas that the U.S. not squander this global goodwill. I recall the words of my brother John, a French-American Medieval scholar and co-author of “Europe and Islam:  Fifteen Centuries of History,” who wrote then from France:  “This massive unity of public opinion and political will provides the United States with a tremendous opportunity and risk:  the chance to capitalize on this good will and the danger of taking action that will splinter the forces that stand with us now.”
Of course, we blew it, instead pursuing a foolhardy war under false pretense and prompting a 14-year ongoing nightmare:  half a million Iraqi civilians dead, by one estimate, a deep and abiding rage against America and its occupation, and a mighty vacuum in the wake of Saddam Hussein that prompted the rise of ISIS and the biggest global refugee crisis since World War II.
Now, the fury has exploded, again:  129 people dead in Paris at the hands of a twisted ideology forged in a cauldron of rage, disenfranchisement, perverse religious interpretation and cool military calculation. And again, the West is faced with a choice:  lash out in vengeance, stigmatize certain immigrants, and seal off the borders, or devise a more measured response in keeping with values that for centuries have led refugees to Western shores.

And returning once again to the financial world that was constructed by connected insiders behind the public's back (and that has never been rectified):

Inside the Money Laundering Scheme That Citi Overlooked for Years

How Citigroup's Banamex USA unit turned a blind eye on the Mexican border.
When Antonio Peña Arguelles opened an account in 2005 at Citigroup’s Banamex USA, the know-your-customer documents said he had a small business breeding cattle and white-tailed deer, ranch-raised for their stately antlers. About $50 a month would come into the account, according to the documents.
A week later, Peña Arguelles wired in $7.09 million from an account in Mexico, allegedly drug money from Los Zetas, a violent cartel founded by former Mexican soldiers, documents in his money-laundering case in Texas say. In all, Peña Arguelles shuttled $59.4 million through the account, according to a confidential report by banking regulators that berated Banamex USA in 2013 for its failure to comply with anti-money-laundering rules.
Banamex USA didn’t file a suspicious activity report about the account, according to regulators, even after Peña Arguelles’s brother Alfonso was killed in late 2011, his body dumped at the Christopher Columbus monument in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, with a banner draped above it accusing Antonio of being a money launderer and stealing from the Zetas. The bank didn’t produce an activity report after U.S. prosecutors asked for the account documents at the end of that year or when Peña Arguelles was indicted in early 2012 for conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. And it didn’t file one until May 2013, months after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the California Department of Business Oversight issued a written order in August 2012 demanding the bank check old accounts.
Alfonso Peña Arguelles was murdered in 2011 and his body was dumped at the Christopher Columbus monument in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, under a banner calling his brother Antonio 'a money-laundering murderer living in the U.S.'
Alfonso Peña Arguelles was murdered in 2011 and his body was dumped at the Christopher Columbus monument in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, under a banner calling his brother Antonio 'a money-laundering murderer living in the U.S.'
(Photographer: STR/AFP/Getty Image)

So in June 2013, when more than a dozen Citigroup and Banamex USA executives walked into a meeting to discuss progress on satisfying that order, they faced a group of angry state and national regulators. “Management and board supervision of the bank’s affairs has been critically deficient,” the FDIC and the California agency wrote about Banamex USA in the confidential report, reviewed by Bloomberg, which has never been publicly disclosed. “The willingness to accept and maintain a customer relationship identified with major illicit activity is revealing as to the board’s appetite for reputational and money laundering risk.” The report blasted Banamex USA for looking the other way and for failing to fix problems despite budgeting $32 million that year alone to correct them.
Mark Costiglio, a spokesman for Citigroup in New York, said in an e-mail that Banamex USA has made a “comprehensive effort over a number of years” to address regulators’ concerns, including enhancing controls and ending certain customer relationships.
Seven years after the financial crisis laid bare Wall Street’s inability to contain risk, big global banks are still struggling to stamp out bad behavior and profitably manage their international operations. They’ve paid billions of dollars in fines after employees were found to have manipulated interest rate and foreign-exchange benchmarks, helped clients avoid taxes, and funneled money to countries such as Sudan and Iran.
Big banks, including Citigroup, have continued to stumble over compliance with U.S. anti-money-laundering laws. Citigroup has been reprimanded repeatedly during the past two decades for inadequately monitoring groups that use the financial system to turn dirty funds into legal means of exchange. Since HSBC Holdings agreed in 2012 to pay $1.9 billion for Mexican money-laundering lapses and sanctions violations, it and other banks have severed ties to some foreign lenders and money-changers. “This is the kind of situation where, if you’re a top manager at Citi, you have to say, ‘What are we doing here?’” says Jack Blum, a former investigator for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
What the regulators’ account of the Peña Arguelles case and interviews with more than a dozen former Citigroup employees and consultants show is that Banamex USA tolerated a culture of negligence during years of moving money across the U.S.-Mexico border. And they provide a rare look into how Citigroup failed to oversee a small but risky business in one corner of its global operation. Regulators use the words failed and failure more than 60 times in their report to describe how Banamex USA didn’t comply with anti-money-laundering rules before and after being ordered to do so. The lapses are now the subject of a government investigation that could cost Citigroup hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
“You would certainly think, with all the going back and forth, that know-your-customer would have merited a much more aggressive or closer scrutiny of this client,” says Alonzo Peña, a former deputy director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency who now works as a security consultant for companies doing business in Latin America.
Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat pledged in April to have 30,000 people working in regulatory and compliance functions by the end of 2015, an increase of about 15 percent from a year earlier. Since then, Citigroup has continued to be fined. In May, the bank settled probes into currency rigging, agreeing to pay the U.S. government $925 million, and its Citicorp unit pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros. In July, Citigroup was ordered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to pay $700 million to customers for illegal practices related to the marketing of credit card add-on products.

(Click to enlarge photo.)

Citigroup is still under orders from its two main regulators, the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, to fix its anti-money-laundering practices and is the subject of a Justice Department investigation that focuses on money-laundering controls at Banamex USA.
Costiglio, the Citigroup spokesman, declined to comment on specific allegations made in the FDIC report and by former employees. More broadly, he defended the bank’s efforts. “Citi is committed to achieving the strongest possible system for anti-money-laundering and sanctions compliance,” Costiglio said. “We fully understand our obligation to be vigilant and respond to the changing patterns of criminal and terrorist behavior. Over the past several years, we have spent nearly a billion dollars annually and now employ more than 11,000 full-time employees to prevent money laundering.”
Banamex USA, based in Century City, California, was the U.S. arm of Banco Nacional de Mexico, the country’s third-largest bank, known as Banamex, when Citigroup bought the Mexican lender in 2001. The U.S. unit operated as California Commerce Bank for the next five years, offering U.S. dollar credit cards for Mexican customers traveling north, maintaining deposit accounts like the one used by Peña Arguelles, and wiring money to Mexico and elsewhere as part of an agreement with Western Union.
Although California Commerce was formally part of the U.S. banking division, Citigroup started using the Banamex name in 2006 to align it more closely with the Mexican operation. While the unit’s compliance group reported to New York, the banking operations worked closely with Mexico, former employees say.
In 2010, Banamex USA CEO Salvador Villar embarked on an expansion strategy that ultimately attracted regulatory scrutiny. In June of that year, the unit had just two branches, in Century City and Calexico, California. A year later, the number had grown to 17, from California to Texas, many along the Mexican border, according to the FDIC.
The strategy coincided with a push by Manuel Medina-Mora, 65, the CEO of Banamex when it was sold to Citigroup, who had at that point risen to become Citigroup’s head of consumer banking in the Americas. Medina-Mora, who didn’t respond to e-mails seeking comment, sent a memo to staff in July 2010 detailing “multi-year investments in people, infrastructure, and marketing” to expand the North American consumer business.
The CEO of Banamex when Citigroup bought it in 2001, Manuel Medina-Mora became head of consumer banking in the Americas and Citigroup’s co-president.
The CEO of Banamex when Citigroup bought it in 2001, Manuel Medina-Mora became head of consumer banking in the Americas and Citigroup’s co-president.
(Photographer: Marco Ugarte/Bloomberg News)
In 2012, the bank opened a branch in Laredo, Texas, in the bustling Mall del Norte, about a mile from the Rio Grande. In April of that year, Sonia de Pau opened an account. She said she was a Mexican housewife who wanted to save money in dollars and pay for personal expenses, according to the 2013 FDIC report. (The FDIC didn’t identify de Pau or Peña Arguelles by name; it called them Customer A and Customer B. But the report provided many details about their cases, including information about de Pau’s ex-husband, who had been indicted in the U.S. for money laundering and bank fraud, and the timing of Peña Arguelles’s indictment, which made it possible to identify them.)
In November 2012, de Pau deposited a $25,000 check. Then, 11 days after that, she deposited four cashier’s checks issued by the International Bank of Commerce in Brownsville, Texas, for a total of $1.44 million. “When someone says they are a housewife, and with that amount of money going through, that should raise questions,” says Peña, the former immigration official.
What Banamex USA failed to note until after de Pau had drained the account, according to the FDIC report, was that she had been arrested in Mexico almost a year before she showed up at Banamex USA. She was alleged to be a financial operator for a former governor of Mexico’s Tamaulipas state, the FDIC report said. He was indicted in Texas in May 2012 for allegedly taking bribes from drug cartels and laundering funds. The bribes came from, or were on behalf of, the same Zetas cartel that Peña Arguelles had worked for, as well as the Gulf Cartel, according to a separate affidavit in the case against de Pau’s ex-husband. De Pau, who is in a witness-protection program in Mexico, couldn’t be reached for comment.
(Click to enlarge figure.)

Citigroup and its subsidiaries have been cited for multiple anti-money- laundering lapses over the past two decades and under five CEOs. Click to enlarge.
Citigroup and its subsidiaries have been cited for multiple anti-money- laundering lapses over the past two decades and under five CEOs.
The bank had been alerted to a problem before de Pau took the money out of the account. On Dec. 3, 2012, Banamex USA contacted Banamex in Mexico and was told that de Pau had an account there and that it was blocked by a judicial order. Banamex USA did nothing until Dec. 20, when it filed a suspicious activity report with the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the FDIC report said. Even that was insufficient, because it didn’t mention that de Pau had already withdrawn most of the money. After the initial report, the bank neglected to conduct a review for continuing suspicious activity, as required by the rules governing the filing, preventing law enforcement from tracing where the funds were eventually deposited, according to the FDIC report.
Before the FDIC issued a formal agreement in August 2012 spelling out what the bank needed to fix, known as a consent order, management displayed only negligible interest or ability to detect or report suspicious transfers, the agency said in its report. Even after the order, the bank was slow to address shortcomings, regulators said. Many of the efforts it did make as of mid-2013 were ineffective.
By the time the FDIC presented its report to bank executives, the Fed had filed its own consent order with Citigroup, citing Banamex USA’s deficiencies. The document, like the FDIC consent order, called for a plan to plug the holes in the screening process and for funding personnel, systems, and other resources. The OCC, the regulator for Citigroup’s U.S. national bank, issued a separate order in 2012 demanding improvements in money-laundering controls.
In January 2015, the Justice Department sent a subpoena to Citigroup’s Mexico unit, following up on a probe into Banamex USA that focuses on fund transfers between the U.S. and Mexico. The information demanded in that subpoena highlights many of the issues raised by the FDIC. 
It took the 2013 Fed order to get senior management at Citigroup to take action on Banamex USA, according to two people who worked at the bank at the time, and New York compliance staff soon descended on the Century City offices.
They weren’t the only ones. A slew of independent consultants arrived, with at least six firms working on various projects. As the workforce swelled from a couple of hundred to 700 or more, the bank ran out of space to house all of the additional people on the floors it occupied near the top of a 44-story skyscraper west of downtown Los Angeles. Some employees were forced to camp out in hallways, according to three people who worked there.
Progress was slow. Consultants operated in silos, and senior compliance officers were discouraged from sharing information within the department, according to one former Citigroup employee who worked on the project. Citigroup compliance and internal audit staff members weren’t able to check easily on correspondence within the unit because Banamex USA’s e-mails were kept on separate servers, two former employees say.
Less than two weeks after the Fed’s 2013 consent order, Citigroup placed Villar on leave, choosing as CEO Rebecca Macieira-Kaufmann, now 51, then president of Citigroup’s California operations. Villar, who declined to comment, left the bank in September of that year.
Macieira-Kaufmann hired a new Bank Secrecy Act officer in charge of making sure Banamex USA complied with anti-money-laundering rules. She also added employees to oversee transaction monitoring, know-your-customer procedures, and compliance with Office of Foreign Assets Control rules, which prohibit U.S. companies from doing business with certain individuals and firms.
The new team quickly got bogged down in the minutiae of responding to the consent orders, according to two former employees. Executives broke the documents down by paragraph and created lists of items to address each deficiency. When a bunch of those was completed, management would hold an ice cream social or bring a fruit basket into a conference room to celebrate with staff, says one person who attended. By the fall of 2014, the bank had completed only about half of what regulators demanded and didn’t fully comply until June 2015, another person said. Citigroup declined to make Macieira-Kaufmann available for comment.
At its peak, Banamex USA was just one thread in a global bank that carpeted the globe. The unit never had more than $3 billion in assets, compared with Citigroup’s $1.8 trillion. Yet its compliance failures were a bellwether for lapses in risk controls in other parts of the bank, including a $400 million loan fraud and embezzlement scandal in 2014 at Banamex, Citigroup’s largest international subsidiary.
Citigroup’s money-laundering issues, and the regulatory rancor they bring, go back decades. The bank helped Raúl Salinas, the brother of Mexico’s president at the time, move as much as $100 million into Swiss and U.K. accounts in the mid-1990s and disguised the funds’ source, according to a 1998 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office, which was followed by Senate hearings the next year. In 2001, a Senate investigations committee said Citigroup allowed hundreds of millions of dollars to flow through an account of a correspondent bank operating in Argentina after U.S. law enforcement officials ordered the seizure of $7.7 million of alleged drug money. Japanese regulators shut down the firm’s private bank in 2004 for failing to conduct money-laundering checks.

Five years later, Citigroup was barred for a month from marketing banking services to individuals in Japan because it didn’t have adequate money-laundering controls. Citigroup spokesman Costiglio said the bank has strengthened its compliance program “across business and geographic lines” and improved controls, technology, and audit operations to support a “zero-tolerance approach.”

Citigroup isn’t the only global bank to be punished for lax controls linked to operations in Mexico. Wells Fargo paid $160 million in 2010 after Wachovia, which it bought in 2008, admitted it had willfully failed to maintain an anti-money-laundering program linked to transactions with Mexican currency-exchange houses. HSBC agreed in 2012 to pay $1.9 billion for similar failures, as well as for sanctions violations. Both banks were found to have allowed Mexican drug cartels to launder money through their institutions.
It may take prison time for senior executives or even bigger fines to get more banks to focus on preventing money laundering, says Jerry Robinette, a former compliance officer at JPMorgan Chase who served as the agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in San Antonio. “Until you start sending people to jail, the pockets are there to satisfy the penalties,” he says. “It’s not until the ends don’t justify the means that you may start seeing people thinking differently.”
On the same day as the HSBC settlement, Banamex USA officers in Laredo failed to raise an alarm when Sonia de Pau took $1.4 million out of her account. But the biggest miss appears to be Antonio Peña Arguelles and the bank’s lack of action despite publicity around his brother’s 2011 murder, one of 27,213 in Mexico that year, the most homicidal in Mexico’s history, according to the national statistics agency.
“Still a money-laundering murderer living in the U.S., nice and peaceful,” read the banner hung above the body, taunting the dead man’s brother. Before relations with the Zetas soured — Peña Arguelles and his brother allegedly stole $5 million from the cartel, according to an affidavit by a Drug Enforcement Administration agent — he also had allowed the Zetas to use his ranch to move drugs, bypassing a federal checkpoint, and served as the conduit between the cartel head and several Mexican politicians, the affidavit said.
Peña Arguelles, 60, pleaded guilty in federal court in Texas in March 2014 to conspiracy to commit money laundering and was sentenced to 30 months in prison, most of that time already served. He agreed to forfeit about $5.5 million in cash and real estate. His lawyer, Gerry Goldstein, declined to make Peña Arguelles available for this story, citing a lawsuit he’s filed trying to get back some forfeited property. Charlie Strauss, the assistant U.S. attorney in San Antonio who led the prosecution, declined to comment on the case or on Banamex USA.
The FDIC fined Banamex USA $140 million in July for violating anti-money-laundering laws. It didn’t provide an estimate of how much money, if any, was actually laundered. Barbara Hagenbaugh, a spokeswoman for the agency, declined to comment on the action or on the 2013 report.
If Peña Arguelles walked into a Banamex USA branch today, he’d find a much different institution. In fact, he’d likely be turned away — not just because of his record. In July, Citigroup said it was shutting Banamex USA’s remaining branches and winding down the business. — With assistance from Ben Bain.

Tangled Threads of US False Narratives

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

20 November 15

Official Washington’s many false narratives about Russia and Syria have gotten so tangled that they have become a danger to the struggle against Sunni jihadist terrorism and conceivably a threat to the future of the planet, a risk that Robert Parry explores.
ne way to view Official Washington is to envision a giant bubble that serves as a hothouse for growing genetically modified “group thinks.” Most inhabitants of the bubble praise these creations as glorious and beyond reproach, but a few dissenters note how strange and dangerous these products are. Those critics, however, are then banished from the bubble, leaving behind an evermore concentrated consensus.
This process could be almost comical – as the many armchair warriors repeat What Everyone Knows to Be True as self-justifying proof that more and more wars and confrontations are needed – but the United States is the most powerful nation on earth and its fallacious “group thinks” are spreading a widening arc of chaos and death around the globe.
We even have presidential candidates, especially among the Republicans but including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, competing to out-bellicose each other, treating an invasion of Syria as the least one can do and some even bragging about how they might like to shoot down a few Russian warplanes.
Though President Barack Obama has dragged his heels regarding some of the more extreme proposals, he still falls in line with the “group think,” continuing to insist on “regime change” in Syria (President Bashar al-Assad “must go”), permitting the supply of sophisticated weapons to Sunni jihadists (including TOW anti-tank missiles to Ahrar ash-Sham, a jihadist group founded by Al Qaeda veterans and fighting alongside Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front), and allowing his staff to personally insult Russian President Vladimir Putin (having White House spokesman Josh Earnest in September demean Putin’s posture for sitting with his legs apart during a Kremlin meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu).
Not surprisingly, I guess, Earnest’s prissy disapproval of what is commonly called “man spread” didn’t extend to Netanyahu who adopted the same open-leg posture in the meeting with Putin on Sept. 21 and again in last week’s meeting with Obama, who – it should be noted – sat with his legs primly crossed.
This combination of tough talk, crude insults and reckless support of Al Qaeda-connected jihadis (“our guys”) apparently has become de rigueur in Official Washington, which remains dominated by the foreign policy ideology of neoconservatives, who established the goal of “regime change” in Iraq, Syria and Iran as early as 1996 and haven’t changed course since. [See’s “How Neocons Destabilized Europe.”]
Shaping Narratives
Despite the catastrophic Iraq War – based on neocon-driven falsehoods about WMD and the complicit unthinking “group think” – the neocons retained their influence largely through an alliance with “liberal interventionists” and their combined domination of major Washington think tanks, from the American Enterprise Institute to the Brookings Institution, and the mainstream U.S. news media, including The Washington Post and The New York Times.
This power base has allowed the neocons to continue shaping Official Washington’s narratives regardless of what the actual facts are. For instance, a Post editorial on Thursday repeated the claim that Assad’s “atrocities” included use of chemical weapons, an apparent reference to the now largely discredited claim that Assad’s forces were responsible for a sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.
After the attack, there was a rush to judgment by the U.S. State Department blaming Assad’s troops and leading Secretary of State John Kerry to threaten retaliatory strikes against the Syrian military. But U.S. intelligence analysts refused to sign on to the hasty conclusions, contributing to President Obama’s last-minute decision to hold off on a bombing campaign and to accept Putin’s help in negotiating Assad’s surrender of all Syrian chemical weapons (though Assad still denied a role in the sarin attack).
Subsequently, much of the slapdash case for bombing Syria fell apart. As more evidence became available, it increasingly appeared that the sarin attack was a provocation by Sunni jihadists, possibly aided by Turkish intelligence, to trick the United States into destroying Assad’s military and thus clearing the way for a Sunni jihadist victory.
We now know that the likely beneficiaries of such a U.S. attack would have been Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the spinoff known as the Islamic State (also called ISIS, ISIL or Daesh). But the Obama administration never formally retracted its spurious sarin claims, thus allowing irresponsible media outlets, such as The Washington Post, to continue citing the outdated “group think.”
The same Post editorial denounced Assad for using “barrel bombs” against the Sunni rebels who are seeking to overthrow his secular government, which is viewed as the protector of Syria’s minorities – including Christians, Alawites and Shiites – who could face genocide if the Sunni extremists prevail.
Though this “barrel bomb” theme has become a favorite talking point of both the neocons and liberal “human rights” groups, it’s never been clear how these homemade explosive devices shoved out of helicopters are any more inhumane than the massive volumes of “shock and awe” ordnance, including 500-pound bombs, deployed by the U.S. military across the Middle East, killing not only targeted fighters but innocent civilians.
Nevertheless, the refrain “barrel bombs” is accepted across Official Washington as a worthy argument for launching devastating airstrikes against Syrian government targets, even if such attacks clear the way for Al Qaeda’s allies and offshoots gaining control of Damascus and unleashing even a worse humanitarian cataclysm. [See’s “Obama’s Ludicrous ‘Barrel Bomb’ Theme.”]
False-Narrative Knots
But it is now almost impossible for Official Washington to disentangle itself from all the false narratives that the neocons and the liberal hawks have spun in support of their various “regime change” strategies. Plus, there are few people left inside the bubble who even recognize how false these narratives are.
So, the American people are left with the mainstream U.S. news media endlessly repeating storylines that are either completely false or highly exaggerated. For instance, we hear again and again that the Russians intervened in the Syrian conflict promising to strike only ISIS but then broke their word by attacking Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and “our guys” in Sunni jihadist forces armed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the CIA.
Though you hear this narrative everywhere in Official Washington, no one ever actually quotes Putin or another senior Russian official promising to strike only at ISIS. In all the quotes that I’ve seen, the Russians refer to attacking “terrorists,” including but not limited to ISIS.
Unless Official Washington no longer regards Al Qaeda as a terrorist organization – a trial balloon that some neocons have floated – then the Putin-lied narrative makes no sense, even though every Important Person Knows It to Be True, including Obama’s neocon-leaning Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
The U.S. political and media big shots also mock the current Russian-Iranian proposal for first stabilizing Syria and then letting the Syrian people decide their own leadership through internationally observed democratic elections.
Okay, you might say, what’s wrong with letting the Syrian people go to the polls and pick their own leaders? But that just shows that you’re a Russian-Iranian “apologist” who doesn’t belong inside the bubble. The Right Answer is that “Assad Must Go!” whatever the Syrian people might think.
Or, as the snarky neocon editors of The Washington Post wrote on Thursday, “Mr. Putin duly dispatched his foreign minister to talks in Vienna last weekend on a Syrian political settlement. But Moscow and Tehran continue to push for terms that would leave Mr. Assad in power for 18 months or longer, while — in theory — a new constitution is drafted and elections organized. Even a U.S. proposal that Mr. Assad be excluded from the eventual elections was rejected, according to Iranian officials.”
In other words, the U.S. government doesn’t want the Syrian people to decide whether Assad should be kicked out, an odd and contradictory stance since President Obama keeps insisting that the vast majority of Syrians hate Assad. If that’s indeed the case, why not let free-and-fair elections prove the point? Or is Obama so enthralled by the neocon insistence of “regime change” for governments on Israel’s “hit list” that he doesn’t want to take the chance of the Syrian voters getting in the way?
Reality Tied Down
But truth and reality have become in Official Washington something like Gulliver being tied down by the Lilliputians. There are so many strands of lies and distortions that it’s impossible for sanity to rise up.
Another major factor in America’s crisis of false narratives relates to the demonizing of Russia and Putin, a process that dates back in earnest to 2013 when Putin helped Obama sidetrack the neocon dream of bombing Syria and then Putin compounded his offense by assisting Obama in getting Iran to constrain its nuclear program, which derailed another neocon dream to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran.
It became ominously clear to the neocons that this collaboration between the two presidents might even lead to joint pressure on Israel to finally reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, a possibility that struck too close to the heart of neocon thinking which, for the past two decades, has favored using “regime change” in nearby countries to isolate and starve Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestinian groups, giving Israel a free hand to do whatever it wished.
So, this Obama-Putin relationship had to be blown up and the point of detonation was Ukraine on Russia’s border. Official Washington’s false narratives around the Ukraine crisis are now also central to neocon/liberal-hawk efforts to prevent meaningful coordination between Obama and Putin in countering ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq.
Inside Official Washington’s bubble, the crisis in Ukraine is routinely described as a simple case of Russian “aggression” against Ukraine, including an “invasion” of Crimea.
If you relied on The New York Times or The Washington Post or the major networks that repeat what the big newspapers say, you wouldn’t know there was a U.S.-backed coup in February 2014 that overthrew the elected Ukrainian government of Viktor Yanukovych, even after he agreed to a European compromise in which he surrendered many powers and accepted early elections.
Instead of letting that agreement go forward, right-wing ultra-nationalists, including neo-Nazis operating inside the Maidan protests, overran government buildings in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, causing Yanukovych and other leaders to flee for their lives.
Behind the scenes, U.S. officials, such as neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, had collaborated in the coup plans and celebrated the victory by Nuland’s handpicked leaders, including the post-coup Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whom she referred to in an earlier intercepted phone call as “Yats is the guy.”
Nor would you know that the people of Crimea had voted overwhelmingly for President Yanukovych and – after the coup – voted overwhelmingly to get out of the failed Ukrainian state and reunify with Russia.
The major U.S. news media twists that reality into a Russian “invasion” of Crimea even though it was the strangest “invasion” ever because there were no photos of Russian troops landing on the beaches or parachuting from the skies. What the Post and the Times routinely ignored was that Russian troops were already stationed inside Crimea as part of a basing agreement for the Russian fleet at Sevastopol. They didn’t need to “invade.”
And Crimea’s referendum showing 96 percent approval for reunification with Russia – though hastily arranged – was not the “sham” that the U.S. mainstream media claimed. Indeed, the outcome has been reinforced by various polls conducted by Western agencies since then.
The MH-17 Case
The demonization of Putin reached new heights after the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine killing all 298 people onboard. Although substantial evidence and logic point to elements of the Ukrainian military as responsible, Official Washington’s rush to judgment blamed ethnic Russian rebels for firing the missile and Putin for supposedly giving them a powerful Buk anti-aircraft missile system.
That twisted narrative often relied on restating the irrelevant point that the Buks are “Russian-made,” which was used to implicate Moscow but was meaningless since the Ukrainian military also possessed Buk missiles. The real question was who fired the missiles, not where they were made.
But the editors of the Post, the Times and the rest of the mainstream media think you are very stupid, so they keep emphasizing that the Buks are “Russian-made.” The more salient point is that U.S. intelligence with all its satellite and other capabilities was unable – both before and after the shoot-down – to find evidence that the Russians had given Buks to the rebels.
Since the Buk missiles are 16-feet-long and hauled around by slow-moving trucks, it is hard to believe that U.S. intelligence would not have spotted them given the intense surveillance then in effect over eastern Ukraine.
A more likely scenario of the MH-17 shoot-down was that Ukraine moved several of its Buk batteries to the frontlines, possibly fearing a Russian airstrike, and the operators were on edge after a Ukrainian warplane was shot down along the border on July 16, 2014, by an air-to-air missile presumably fired by a Russian plane.
But – after rushing out a white paper five days after the tragedy pointing the finger at Moscow – the U.S. government has refused to provide any evidence or intelligence that might help pinpoint who fired the missile that brought down MH-17.
Despite this remarkable failure by the U.S. government to cooperate with the investigation, the mainstream U.S. media has found nothing suspicious about this dog not barking and continues to cite the MH-17 case as another reason to despise Putin.
How upside-down this “Everything Is Putin’s Fault” can be was displayed in a New York Times “news analysis” by Steven Erlanger and Peter Baker on Thursday when all the “fundamental disagreements” between Obama and Putin were blamed on Putin.
“Dividing them are the Russian annexation of Crimea and its meddling in eastern Ukraine, Moscow’s efforts to demonize Washington and undermine confidence in NATO’s commitment to collective defense, and the Kremlin’s support of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria,” Erlanger and Baker wrote.
Helping ISIS
This tangle of false narratives is now tripping up the prospects of a U.S.-French-Russian-Iranian alliance to take on the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and other Sunni jihadist forces seeking to overthrow Syria’s secular government.
The neocon Washington Post, in particular, has been venomous about this potential collaboration which – while possibly the best chance to finally resolve the horrific Syrian conflict – would torpedo the neocons’ long-held vision of imposed “regime change” in Syria.
In editorials, the Post’s neocon editors also have displayed a stunning lack of sympathy for the 224 Russian tourists and crew killed in what appears to have been a terrorist bombing of a chartered plane over the Sinai in Egypt.
On Nov. 7, instead of expressing solidarity, the Post’s editors ridiculed Putin and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for not rushing to a judgment that it was an act of terrorism, instead insisting on first analyzing the evidence. The Post also mocked the two leaders for failing to vanquish the terrorists.
Or as the "Post"’s editors put it:  “While Mr. Putin suspended Russian flights on [Nov. 6], his spokesman was still insisting there was no reason to conclude that there had been an act of terrorism. … While Western governments worried about protecting their citizens, the Sissi and Putin regimes were focused on defending themselves. …
“Both rulers have sold themselves as warriors courageously taking on the Islamic State and its affiliates; both are using that fight as a pretext to accomplish other ends, such as repressing peaceful domestic opponents and distracting attention from declining living standards. On the actual battlefield, both are failing.”
Given the outpouring of sympathy that the United States received after the 9/11 attacks and the condolences that flooded France over the past week, it is hard to imagine a more graceless reaction to a major terrorist attack against innocent Russians.
As for the Russian hesitancy to jump to conclusions earlier this month, that may have been partially wishful thinking but it surely is not an evil trait to await solid evidence before reaching a verdict. Even the Post’s editors admitted that U.S. officials noted that as of Nov. 7 there was “no conclusive evidence that the plane was bombed.”
But the Post couldn’t wait to link the terrorist attack to “Mr. Putin’s Syrian adventure” and hoped that it would inflict on Putin “a potentially grievous political wound.” The Post’s editors also piled on with the gratuitous claim that Russian officials “still deny the overwhelming evidence that a Russian anti-aircraft missile downed a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine last year.” (There it is again, the attempt to dupe Post readers with a reference to “a Russian anti-aircraft missile.”)
The Post seemed to take particular joy in the role of U.S. weapons killing Syrian and Iranian soldiers. On Thursday, the Post wrote, “Syrian and Iranian troops have lost scores of Russian-supplied tanks and armored vehicles to the rebels’ U.S.-made TOW missiles. Having failed to recapture significant territory, the Russian mission appears doomed to quagmire or even defeat in the absence of a diplomatic bailout.”
Upping the Ante
The neocons’ determination to demonize Putin has upped the ante, turning their Mideast obsession with “regime change” into a scheme for destabilizing Russia and forcing “regime change” in Moscow, setting the stage for a potential nuclear showdown that could end all life on the planet.
To listen to the rhetoric from most Republican candidates and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, it is not hard to envision how all the tough talk could take on a life of its own and lead to catastrophe. [See, for instance, Philip Giraldi’s review of the “war with Russia” rhetoric free-flowing on the campaign trail and around Official Washington.]
At this point, it may seem fruitless – even naïve – to suggest ways to pierce the various “group thinks” and the bubble that sustains them. But a counter-argument to the fake narratives is possible if some candidate seized on the principle of an informed electorate as vital to democracy.
An argument for empowering citizens with facts is one that transcends traditional partisan and ideological boundaries. Whether on the right, on the left or in the center, Americans don’t want to be treated like cattle being herded by propaganda or “strategic communication” or whatever the latest euphemism is for deception and manipulation.
So, a candidate could do the right thing and the smart thing by demanding the release of as much U.S. intelligence information to cut this Gordian knot of false narratives as possible. For instance, it is way past time to declassify the 28 pages from the congressional 9/11 report addressing alleged Saudi support for the hijackers. There also are surely more recent intelligence estimates on the funding of Al Qaeda’s affiliates and spin-offs, including ISIS.
If this information embarrasses some “allies” – such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – so be it. If this history makes some past or present U.S. president look bad, so be it. American elections are diminished, if not made meaningless, when there is no informed electorate.
A presidential candidate also could press President Obama to disclose what U.S. intelligence knows about other key turning points in the establishment of false narratives, such as what did CIA analysts conclude about the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack and what do they know about the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of MH-17.
The pattern of the U.S. government exploiting emotional moments to gain an edge in an “info-war” against some “enemy” and then going silent as more evidence comes in has become a direct threat to American democracy and – in regards to nuclear-armed Russia – possibly the planet.
Legitimate secrets, such as sources and methods, can be protected without becoming an all-purpose cloak to cover up whatever facts don’t fit with the desired propaganda narrative that is then used to whip the public into some mindless war frenzy.
However, at this point in the presidential campaign, no candidate is making transparency an issue. Yet, after the deceptions of the Iraq War – and with the prospects of another war based on misleading or selective information in Syria and potentially a nuclear showdown with Russia – it seems to me that the American people would respond positively to someone treating them with the respect deserving of citizens in a democratic Republic.

(Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.)