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Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats

Black Agenda Report

March 29, 2018

By Glen Ford

Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats
 

In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter.”

 

Cops “have the right to shoot us, they get away with it every day,” said a despairing Dawnya Walker, one of 300 community residents that descended on Sacramento, California’s city hall to protest the police killing of Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard . The numbers show that Walker is correct: U.S. police enjoy near-absolute impunity to gun down young Black males without any reasonable fear of punishment. Eight years of a Black, Democratic president in the Oval Office made not the slightest dent in that American reality, despite the re-emergence in 2014 of an incipient social justice movement under the heading of Black Lives Matter.

The youthful insurgency lost momentum — waylaid by the inexorable pull of Democratic Party politics and corporate philanthropy — long before Donald Trump entered the White House and installed a pure Dixiecrat as attorney general. Trumpian malevolence cast an orange chill across Black America. “It has been a long time since any victim was given as much attention as Stephon Clark,” writes Margaret Kimberley, in the current of issue of BAR.

“We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought.”

There is “movement” afoot in the U.S., but it does not “arc towards justice.” Ever since Trump’s electoral victory, the collective national consciousness has been smothered in a maddening fog of manic, industrial-scale propaganda, spewed non-stop by corporate communications conglomerates working hand-in-glove with the most aggressive elements of the surveillance-intelligence “community” and the bi-partisan War Party. We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought, distorting and subverting even the most progressive-minded “movements” struggling to find a way towards human dignity under late stage capitalism in a profoundly racist country. Voices for peace and social justice are asphyxiated in the pestilential plume — unless they find their own air.

Damn right, there is a conspiracy — possibly the loudest one in history! — megaphoned by a billionaire-owned media screaming “War, War, War” day and night, fouling the public mind with pure reactionary malice. The duopoly contest has devolved into a dance of death between Donald Trump’s raw white supremacist nationalism and Democratic Party corporate imperial warmongering. Only fools claim there is space for progressive maneuver in the interstices between such forces.

“The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police in this century.”

What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction. There is no lesser evil in this house of fear and apocalyptic brinksmanship. The Democrats have colluded in a budget whose gargantuan military outlays will inevitably doom what’s left of the U.S. social safety net — that is, if the human race is not annihilated, beforehand. They have replaced and outshouted the John McCain’s and Lindsay Graham’s of the Republican Party in demonizing, not just Vladimir Putin, but every government and movement in the world that resists U.S. lawlessness and aggression.

The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police at unprecedented levels in this century through the Pentagon’s 1033 program. In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter and the accompanying political evisceration of Black America.

Yes, it is certain that Trump’s very presence encourages the most swinish elements of the police. But it is also true that the Democrats — including Black Democrats — have controlled the city governments that maintain the police state in Black neighborhoods and relentlessly disperse our people through gentrification.

“What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction.”

And now it is the Democrats that take the lead in purging the Internet of dissenting political views, under the guise of defending fragile American minds against foreign manipulation. Silicon Valley — the big business sector most supportive of Clinton/Obama Democrats — is thus given license to shape reality in ways that make corporate dictatorship appear both logical and inevitable. Trump’s troglodytes could never finesse such a hijacking of fundamental democratic rights, but the Democrats are pulling it off with alarming speed. There’s nothing “lesser” about this evil.

When the Democrats got their wish, that Trump win the Republican presidential nomination, they became the predominant party of the U.S. ruling class and the most aggressive defenders of empire. Into Hillary Clinton’s campaign “Big Tent” slivered the dregs of the national security state, for whom peaceful coexistence among nations is anathema. Bernie Sanders cannot purge them from their central position in the party. The World Socialist Web Site reports that “an extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.” By WSWS’s count, if the Democrats capture a majority of seats in the House this November, “candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress.”

Such a party is incompatible with any domestic social justice agenda — and a threat to the survival of the species. The Left’s job is to disentangle our people from the political clutches of the ruling class and to build independent people’s organizations. The Republicans are a white people’s problem, but Black activists cannot confront the police, the oligarchs or the warmongers without fighting the Democrats.

 

[BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com]

Is It Time to Critically Interrogate Nonviolence & Nonviolent Direct Action?

Black Agenda Report

March 15, 2018

By Doug Henwood

time to question nonviolence

Time to question nonviolent direct action as the path to change.

Activism. Democracy. Change through nonviolent direct action. These, Doug Henwood points out, have been fetishes for much of the US left for quite some time, especially that portion of the US left that takes its marching orders from corporate funders. Gene Sharp, the founder of the Albert Einstein Institute who passed away at the end of January was regarded as the father of American nonviolent direct action.

I usually write a weekly piece for Black Agenda Report, but this time I’m going to use that space to republish somebody else’s work, easily the most important thing I’ve heard so far this month. It’s an hour long Doug Henwood interview for the weekly radio show Behind The News on KPFA radio. Doug talks with Marcie Smith, who is writing a book on Sharp’s long and problematic career in the service of the US national security apparatus. Smith is an adjunct econ professor at John Jay College. She reveals how Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institute which he founded weaponized and deployed nonviolent direct action in the service of successful and unsuccessful US attempts to overthrow the governments of the Soviet Union, Ukraine, China, Myannmar, Iran, Egypt during the Arab Spring, Venezuela, the former Yugoslavia and the Baltic States.

Besides deploying nonviolent direct action to topple governments standing in the way of Uncle Sam’s global empire, Gene Sharp and his funders have mentored a good deal of what some regard as the US left – at least those parts of it under the influence of one-percenter philanthropy – in the tactics and what passes for the philosophy of nonviolent direct action. According to Sharp’s and the Albert Einstein Institute’s peculiar philosophy, property destruction is violence, while the ravages of poverty and deprivation, of economic blockades and lack of medical care just to name a few phenomena, are not. Sharp’s views on the methods and importance of nonviolent direct action are highly influential in such quarters as Moral Monday and the so-called New Poor Peoples Campaign, parts of the environmental movement, and other places. Whether or not we embrace or espouse nonviolent direct action as an occasional tactic or a bedrock and fundamental strategy we owe it to ourselves to understand the origin of this idea, why the national security state promotes it, how and for whom it works and does not work, and why.

It’s time to critically interrogate the fetishes of nonviolence and nonviolent direct action as a path to the world we need to build. This great interview is a good start to that conversation. Here is the link. Click to listen or download it.

 

[You can find Doug Henwood’s Behind the News shows archived for the last several years at http://leftbusinessobserver.com .]

Propaganda: How Neocolonial Progressives Support Western Imperialism

Libya 360 | Tortilla con Sal

January 7, 2017

20 July 1979: Nicaraguan leftist Sandinista rebels exult in Managua after entering the city and overthrowing Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. General Somoza whose family ruled Nicaragua since 1933, finally surrendered 20 June to the Sandinista rebels. Somoza left a country devastated by civil war, with thousands of people killed in June and July 1979 and half a million, one-fifth of the country’s population, displaced from their homes. Somoza was assassinated in exile in Asuncion, Paraguay in 1980 by a left-wing Argentinian Trotskyst rebel group. Picture: AFP/Getty

 

Across the region, the legitimate struggles of indigenous peoples are being coopted by Western NGOs and media to serve the psychological warfare offensive of the US government and its allies against progressive governments in Latin America.

 

Almost all Western reporting of foreign news constitutes a permanent drip-feed of poisonous disinformation accumulating into a deep, broad, toxic propaganda wave drowning out rational critical analysis. That process has been very clear in reporting of international affairs from Libya to Ukraine, to Venezuela and Syria – anywhere the interests of Western elites encounter resistance. The collaboration of alternative media in that process has been evident in Libya, Syria and Ukraine and is certainly very evident in the case of Nicaragua.

Here, the constant underlying false message is that President Ortega is a dictatorial leader crushing dissent in Nicaragua to impose an anti-democratic regime run by his family. This false message creates a context justifying arbitrary measures by the US authorities and their allies, like the recent NICA legislation, attacking Nicaragua’s economy and intervening heavily in the country’s internal affairs in favor of Nicaragua’s right wing opposition. To flesh out that keynote psychological warfare message, Western media attacks focus on whatever current events they can manipulate to align with the overall falsehood.

All through 2016, the attacks consisted mainly of distorted or downright false reports covering the 2016 national elections. But two other associated media offensive fronts have been established, namely, developments relating to the proposed Interoceanic Canal and also continuing land conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast. A good example of the complete collapse of conventional reporting standards in Western progressive media is this headline news summary from Democracy Now of a recent protest demonstration against Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal:

“In Nicaragua, activists say federal police attacked a campesino caravan heading to the capital Managua Wednesday, opening fire with both live and rubber bullets and throwing tear gas. The caravan was heading to the capital to protest the construction of a $50 billion canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Campesinos say the project could displace up to 120,000 people.”

Democracy Now’s editors ran this classic psychological warfare propaganda beneath a photograph supposedly of a rural worker wounded in an allegedly peaceful protest. Democracy Now omits that six police officers were reported to be wounded after being attacked by violent protesters. The summary report also omits that the “activists” are militant anti-Sandinistas of the misnamed MRS Sandinista Renewal Movement, funded by the US and allied governments and associated NGOs. Likewise, the suggestion that 120,000 people may be displaced by the proposed Canal is completely false, the real figure is under 10,000 people, all of whom are entitled to complete indemnification.

A flurry of reports in corporate and alternative media alleged that the government of Daniel Ortega tried to repress national protests against the Canal timed to coincide with a visit to Nicaragua’s capital Managua by Luis Almagro, right wing Secretary General of the Organization of American States. In fact, it seems that only the incident in Rio San Juan involved violent exchanges between protesters and the police. The national demonstration itself passed off peacefully, with a modest total of several thousand people demonstrating in Managua’s center against the proposed Canal.

The incident in Nicaragua’s south-western Rio San Juan department provoked angry condemnation from the local bishop Socrates René Sándigo, certainly no friend of the Sandinista government. Bishop Sándigo remarked, “The MRS has always been out there manipulating our rural families and non governmental organizations who involve our rural workers in demands that may well be legitimate but they take these rural workers and put them at the head of their attacks...” Given that context, Democracy Now’s headline summary can be seen as all of a piece with its similarly false reporting, for example, of the conflict in Syria, favoring anti-Russian US government propaganda.

Much less prestigious than Democracy Now, the Intercontinental Cry web site purports to represent the views and interests of indigenous peoples around the world. But in the case of Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast its reports are written in the worst neocolonial tradition by North American academics and writers with a very clear anti-Sandinista agenda . One of these writers is the PhD anthropologist Courtney Parker whose widely published inaccurate report in July 2016 carefully omitted relevant information inconvenient to her account. International Cry later supplemented Parker’s July report with a disingenous, misleading attack on us at Tortilla con Sal, evading our criticism that they recycle propaganda of the local Yatama political party, effectively covering up Yatama’s own role in the violent events Parker and others fail to report fairly and honestly.

To make their phony case against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, Intercontinental Cry’s reports consistently omit two essential facts. Firstly, Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under Daniel Ortega is the first administration since the revolutionary Sandinista government of the 1980s to guarantee indigenous people’s land rights. As a result, indigenous peoples in Nicaragua now have statutory land rights to a third of Nicaragua’s national territory. So it is completely counterfactual and deceitful of Intercontinental Cry to publish reports implicitly claiming that the Sandinista government deliberately seeks to deprive indigenous peoples of their land. Intercontinental Cry’s reports are based on allegations of Yatama political party supporters whose leadership themselves have faced serious allegations of complicity in the illegal sale of their own peoples’ land.

The second fact obscured by Intercontinental Cry’s reports is that Yatama is not the only representative of the region’s Miskito and other indigenous peoples. In 2013, a large group of the region’s Miskito population rejected the Yatama leadership and now support the Myatamaran political movement allied with the Sandinista government. That omission indicates just how skewed and neocolonial Intercontinental Cry’s reporting on Nicaragua really is by creating an inaccurate, image of a united Miskito people, hapless victims of relentless alien oppression. The history of the Miskito people itself shows up that kind of account as a ridiculous neocolonial construct. Reports in Intercontinental Cry seem to deliberately omit the fact that extremist Miskito groups have attacked and murdered rural workers’ families in the area in conflict.

Historically, some components of the Miskito people allied with British colonial forces and were themselves cruel oppressors preying on weaker ethnic groups to sell them as slaves to British plantation owners in Jamaica and other British Caribbean colonies. Furthermore, Miskito groups in Jinotega along the Rio Wangki, have a somewhat different history to that of Miskito groups along Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. So even in historical terms it is false to suggest that the Miskito indigenous people share a uniformly homogenous history and cultural identity. None of that is reflected in the neocolonial accounts rendered by the writers for Intercontinental Cry.

To the contrary, despite the complicated political reality in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, Courtney Parker’s July report and Brett Spencer’s November 11th report both falsely suggest that Yatama is the only organization representative of Miskitos in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast and the only opposition movement to the Frente Sandinista Front for National Liberation. In fact, the right wing Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) has always had significant support in the interior of the northern Caribbean region area and won a seat in the legislative elections along with Yatama’s caudillo Brooklyn Rivera. The third seat was won by the FSLN.

Both Courtney Parker and Brett Spencer write essentially as propaganda shills for Yatama, portraying Yatama’s violent supporters as victims. Spencer manages that difficult task even in his report on how Yatama destroyed and looted the offices of the regional authority in Bilwi and violently intimidated local people and businesses. Spencer in particular implicitly tries to justify those attacks by alleging that Yatama caudillo Brooklyn Rivera “was ousted from office in September of 2015, following a rise in violence over an endemic land conflict between the Miskito and Sandinista settlers known to the Miskito as colonos.”

Spencer neglects to mention that Rivera was stripped of his status as a legislator following very serious allegations that he and his Yatama colleagues were illegally selling Miskito land. Spencer turns that reality on its head by alleging that the rural farming families trying to settle Miskito land sold to them illegally are “Sandinista”. Intercontinental Cry have no factual basis at all for publishing that kind of malicious smear which is pure Yatama propaganda diverting attention away from the questionable dealings of their leadership. For her part Courtney Parker published another pro-Yatama propaganda piece exploiting the terrible murder of three members of a family on their isolated farmstead. Parker suggests on the basis of hearsay that the murder was committed by marauding settlers, arbitrarily excluding the possibility of inter-ethnic violence by Yatama extremists or some other sinister interests.

Despite Intercontinental Cry’s very clearly biased coverage of the complex conflict in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, their team of writers has still managed to co-opt other alternative media so as to broaden the reach of their attacks on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Influential progressive Western alternative outlets like Truth Out and the Ecologist published Parker’s flawed reports which break just about every rule of academic rigor and basic reporting. Intercontinental Cry’s editors have finally explicitly acknowledged their anti-Sandinista agenda, overtly attacking Telesur, and openly avowing their sympathy with US and allied government funded Nicaraguan anti-Sandinista NGOs and media like Confidencial and CENIDH.

Given that clear ideological alignment it was perfectly natural for the neocolonial progressives at the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) to publish yet another propaganda attack on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government this time authored by International Cry writer Brett Spencer and US anthropologist Laura Hobson Herlihy. Their NACLA article repeats every main talking point of the US sponsored centre right Nicaraguan opposition as follows:

 

NACLA, Brett Spencer and Laura Hobson Herlihy offer precisely zero evidence for their claims of electoral fraud apart from the claims of Yatama leader Brooklyn Rivera. The apparently authoritiative link by the foreign funded CENIDH human rights outfit leads to a fact-free opinion piece by veteran anti-Sandinista Carlos Tunnerman Bernheim. NACLA’s article alleges inconsistencies in results published in Nicaragua’s official La Gaceta and the Electoral Council’s web site apparently in ignorance of the Electoral Council’s reporting procedures which consists of presenting first preliminary results, then provisional results and, only when all challenges have been processed, the final results.

Here are the final results from the Electoral Council’s web site which enables visitors to scrutinize results right down to those of the local voting centres. The Yatama party for which Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer propagandize is a regional party which only participates in Nicaragua’s departmental elections for the National Assembly. The results completely contradict Yatama’s claims of electoral fraud. In the three municipalities where indigenous people predominate, Yatama prevailed easily against a strong minority vote in favor of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation.

But only in Prinzapolka did Yatama get a really overwhelming vote of over 60%. In the region’s interior so-called mining municipalities, Siuna, Rosita and Bonanza, Yatama was wiped out. The main opposition there came from Nicaragua’s national right wing parties led by Maximino Rodriguez’s Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) which maintained its traditional support, including winning overall in the municipality of Mulukuku. Here are the departmental legislative election results for Nicaragua’s North Caribbean region in which Yatama participated:

Bilwi Waspan Prinzapolka Rosita Siuna Bonanza Mulukuku Average

Yatama

51 57 63 6 0.6 4 1.4 30.26

FSLN

42 38 27 72 68 85 43 55.33

PLC

2.9 2 1 17 29 7 51 9.81

 

In the other elections where the Yatama party was not involved, the Yatama vote went mainly to the traditional right wing parties, especially the PLC, which may or may not indicate Yatama’s broader ideological position:

Presidential elections: FSLN 73%; PLC 19%; Other right wing parties 8%.

National legislative elections: FSLN 65.86%; PLC 15.3%; Other right wing parties 18.89%.

Central American Parliament elections: FSLN 74.3%; PLC 18.86%; Other right wing parties 6.84%.

Yatama claim to have an important presence in the Nicaragua’s Southern Caribbean region but in the municipalities Yatama contested there, they were wiped out by support for the right wing PLC as the departmental legislative election results for the region where Yatama participated clearly indicate:

La Cruz
Grande
Laguna de Perlas Bocana de Paiwas El Tortuguero Bluefields Kukra Hill Average

PLC

65 25.06 62.93 81.77 16.56 20.81 45.35

FSLN

30 52.85 32.61 16.75 59.9 73.54 44.27

YATAMA

0.65 18.89 0.2 0.19 15.46 3.05 6.4

 

That was the reality of the elections beyond NACLA’s vague, hazy propaganda message and the predictable complaints of Nicaragua’s inept, dishonest political opposition parties, duly parroted by Western media.

A look at NACLA’s other anti-Sandinista allegations reveals how disingenuous is the case they are trying to make. The allegation that the National Assembly abolished term limits in 2014 is categorically false. The link in the NACLA article leads to an ill-informed, factually incorrect report from the pro-US government Qatari news outlet Al-Jazeera which writes “The latest reform would allow President Daniel Ortega to follow in the footsteps of his ideological ally, late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and a string of other Latin American nations to give presidents power extending beyond their traditional limits.”

In fact, the term limits for almost all Nicaragua’s institutions, the Presidency, the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Electoral Council and the Auditor General’s office all remain unchanged at five years. Rather than checking their facts, NACLA and Al Jazeera have lazily recycled the false accusations of Nicaragua’s miniscule centre right social democrat movements who have proved incapable of developing a credible political opposition to Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under Daniel Ortega. By linking to this inaccurate Al Jazeera report, NACLA, Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer show up the categorical falsity of their argument.

Equally false is their accusation that no foreign observers took part in Nicaragua’s electoral process. In fact, a group of extremely prestigious foreign electoral specialists accompanied the whole process starting in May 2016. Their reportthoroughly vindicated the professionalism and impartiality of Nicaragua’s electoral authorities throughout the electoral process as well as the efficiency and transparency of the elections on November 6th. The neocolonial demand by Western progressives for foreign electoral observers is one not raised in the case of the United States or other Latin American governments like  Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay whose example Nicaragua has now followed by excluding a role for interventionist electoral observation missions.

Similarly, the accusation that Daniel Ortega effectively ran unopposed is belied by the NACLA report itself and the election results too. Nationally the total opposition vote would have been well over 30% if the right wing parties had overcome their petty internecine divisions, thus enabling a much more effective opposition in the legislature. As has been the case for years now, the weakness of political opposition to the FSLN government in Nicaragua resides in the right wing’s own divisions and their inability to mount a credible political program capable of matching the success of President Ortega’s Sandinista government’s National Development Plan.

Turning to the falsehood that President Ortega’s family occupy high governmental positions, the reality is again completely different from NACLA’s mendacious assertion. Four children from Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s family work in posts associated one way or another with the government. None of them occupy ministerial positions. Rafael Ortega works as a personal assistant to Daniel Ortega. Daniel Edmundo Ortega heads the Sandinista media outlet El 19 Digital. Camila Ortega is a personal assistant to her mother Rosario Murillo. Laureano Ortega is an executive of Nicaragua’s investment promotion authority ProNicaragua. None of them has an executive position at the head of any central government Ministry. NACLA’s accusation is completely false.

Laura Herlihy-Hobson and Brett Spencer follow up the falsity of their broad accusations against President Ortega’s Sandinista government by repeating the claims made by Courtney Parker and Spencer in Intercontinental Cry’s series of articles through 2016. They even allege that “settlers have invaded and now illegally occupy half of the Muskitia rainforest region”. The link there is to a New York Times article that offers nothing to support the claim in Herlihy Hobson’s and Spencer’s NACLA article.

To the contrary, the New York Times article shows the Nicaraguan government is trying to combat the violent land conflicts in the northern Caribbean Coast but with limited success. Nor does NACLA offer any other support for their article’s false allegation. More clearly than in the Intercontinental Cry series of psy-warfare articles, Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer cursorily acknowledge the controversial role of Yatama leader Brooklyn Rivera. But they play down the political opportunism that has marked Rivera’s career ever since his days as a collaborator with the US government funded Contra terrorist campaign in the 1980s.

An interesting point from the NACLA article which will certainly figure in similar future psy-warfare attacks is the effort to link the land conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with opposition to the proposed Interoceanic Canal, even though the Canal lies many hundreds of kilometres to the south of Yatama’s strongholds. The NACLA article and its writers studiously avoid noting that the Nicaraguan authorities have already reached agreement with indigenous people’s organizations in the areas likely to be affected by the route of the Canal. But the efforts to connect Yatama to the Canal protests tie in with Democracy Now’s dishonest coverage of the most recent Canal protest, representing a coordinated alternative media agenda similar to that of Western corporate media. That agenda is very clearly one of neocolonial divide and rule, fomenting violence in any countries with a progressive government, not just Nicaragua but in the other Bolivarian Alliance countries like Bolivia, Ecuador and, most notoriously perhaps, Venezuela.

NACLA’s and Intercontinental Cry’s blatant propaganda in defense of Yatama’s repeated aggressive violence promotes Yatama’s sectarian political agenda in a self-serving, sensationalist way evidently calculated to maximize the potential for conflict. This is very much in line with the experience of the Ecuadoran government, faced with vicious attacks from the CONAIE indigenous people’s organization or the experience of the Bolivian government faced with murderous attacks by indigenous mining cooperative organizations.

Across the region, the legitimate struggles of indigenous peoples are being coopted by Western NGOs and media to serve the psychological warfare offensive of the US government and its allies against progressive governments in Latin America. That is why it is entirely correct to characterize as neocolonial the psychological warfare role of supposedly progressive alternative media that recycle propaganda material like that of Intercontinental Cry.

The Work of Revelations: Snowden, the Torture Report, and the Diminishing Returns of Info-Spectacles

Popaganda

January 2, 2015

 

omidyar-lede

Omidyar, right, with (clockwise from left) Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, and Laura Poitras. Illustration by Matthew Woodson. Photo: Matthew Woodson. Image: THE PIERRE OMIDYAR INSURGENCY [Source]

 

“An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come,” wrote Victor Hugo. Isn’t that ultimately the message of Les Misérables? In contrast to the revolutionaries hopelessly slaughtered en masse at the barricades, it’s Jean Valjean’s unimpeachable righteousness alone that ultimately drives his longtime tormentor to suicide. I dreamed a dream…

Rather than just being the domain of French Romantics and office motivational posters, the notion that information alone has transformative power is the cornerstone of establishment left thinking. It stems from liberal enlightenment ideals that configure history as a linear progression—embodied in the apocryphal quote about the moral arc of the universe. It goes one way, and that’s forwards towards progress. This coincides happily with the preponderance of lawyers in the ranks of mainstream human rights and civil liberties groups, for whom information is the sine qua non of preparing briefs and mounting cases.

There’s a more controversial theory that information isn’t inherently good. Even revelatory information—stuff the powerful don’t want you to know—ostensibly in the service of a progressive goal, can be used for right-wing ends if it obscures or moderates a more radical prescription. If information is getting used to co-opt a more radical course of action, then that project is reactionary.

For its part, progressive e-magazine TruthDig doesn’t want people messing with this line of thinking in the case of the Senate Torture report: “When the truth is spoken by politicians…skeptics are right to suspect it’s not merely the truth. It is always tailored to redound to some benefit to the speaker. But there are moments in history when that doesn’t matter.”

We’re being told it’s one such moment now. The Senate Intelligence Committee has released a heavily redacted, heavily abridged “Executive Summary” of its 6,000 page report on CIA torture. Adding to the report’s mystique is the fact that the White House and CIA wanted to suppress the information contained within, with the CIA even hacking the computers of Senate staffers compiling the report. The torture report seems like the most illicit kind of revelatory information, so it’s created an enormous amount of commentary and condemnation.

However, with the exceptions of some specific ghoulish details, most of the information was already known. The most horrific facts—that the CIA raped prisoners, that torture was used to fabricate justifications for the War in Iraq, that human beings were tortured to death, that almost a quarter of torture cases were the result of mistaken identity—had all been reported on within the last decade.

There’s a disconnect between the content of the torture report and the narrative that now surrounds the event itself. When TruthDig called for putting skepticism aside, it was in a piece hailing Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain as their progressive heroes of the week. Feinstein’s fingerprints are on many of the US’s worst abuses of this century, and McCain is one of the most bloodthirsty figures in the US government, and by extension the planet. Given that these newly minted progressive heroes are some of the worst imperialists, and the torture report’s aura doesn’t reflect reality, this seems like exactly the right moment for those meddlesome skeptics to be asking questions.

The journalists and public figures who promote the torture report present it as transformative information, but it’s shaping up to be a spectacle that sets the left back yet again. The report has followed many parallels with the last time this happened, the spectacle surrounding Ed Snowden’s leaks to Glenn Greenwald et al. The Snowden drama provided a useful template for how dissent is going to be managed, channeled, and moderated going forward. The way the NSA leaks were handled has provided the elites a scalable model for taking the release of even revelatory information and using it to come out on top and consolidate their power.

***

Fortunately, last October Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media had an acrimonious public divorce with once-hire Matt Taibbi. If Taibbi had been someone with less social capital, then the failure of Racket might’ve just been a momentary hiccup for the internet’s hottest journalistic “insurgency.” As it stands, the fact that people want to be in Taibbi’s orbit has opened up a lot of space for analysis of Omidyar’s would-be media empire, where the establishment consensus was once airtight. It’s certainly vindicated what Taibbi said about journalists being akin to an easily spooked herd of deer, who only get around to asking the right questions “eventually. But far after the fact.”

When the leaks began, they painted a complete picture of a monster whose contours had only previously been hinted at. Stories about warrantless wiretapping and the size of “Top Secret America” had won their authors Pulitzers and hinted that the US government was spying on all of us. There were reports of a secret government data-storage facility of gargantuan proportions being built in Utah. Stories had periodically cropped up in unexpected places about the government’s ability to record and store all our communications. However, now the public knew the truth definitively. There was excitement, talk of change, reform, maybe even something more drastic. Soon, the whistleblower went public. More stories came out, about more countries.

However, there were problems from the outset. Tarzie, one of maybe 3 or 4 people asking the right questions from the outset, drew these threads out in August 2013 in his “Fuck the Guardian” series. Some of the serious problems were a zeal for secrecy and redactions, an over-emphasis on one set of actors at the expense of the bigger picture, and a single-minded devotion to “debate” and reform as the ideal solution. There were plenty of other problems, like the smearing of Chelsea Manning and a near-monopoly on information, all of which spoke to having surrendered ground to the very enemies being exposed. The entire event was taking place on the state’s terms, and as Arthur Silber wrote, “when the state floods the zone, any chance for reform is dead.”

However, the state weren’t the only interested parties. There was a big story to be told, after all, and a billionaire patron chose to underwrite the project. The consensus that instantly emerged–and remained firmly in place until Racket’s collapse–was that Pierre Omidyar was a “civic minded billionaire.” What was being exchanged between Omidyar and Greenwald was a paycheck for prestige. As Tarzie pointed out at the beginning, PayPal had conducted an extrajudicial corporate blockade against WikiLeaks that hobbled the organization, and Greenwald lied about Omidyar’s involvement.

When it came out that Omidyar had funded regime change in Ukraine and the election of a fascist PM in India, and would profit handsomely for it, this revelatory information wasn’t enough to tarnish the “civic-minded” gloriole. “Since the rich man in question has demonstrably been involved in funding imperialist activities,” explained Patrick Higgins, the Snowden leak keepers were now “by extension, running interference on imperialism’s behalf.” A typical imperialist oligarch bought a bulletproof reputation as a civic-minded hero, for only $250 million (of which only $50 million has actually been paid so far). To get an idea of what a robust return on investment this is, Bill Gates has to spend billions of dollars a year in order to be seen as a humanitarian while defending capitalism’s brutality and making Malthusian calls for population reduction in Africa and Asia.

Snowden eventually came out of his self-imposed media exile and played a part in the vaunted debate. It’s been reported that whistleblowers tend to be conservative individuals, and this makes sense. Someone who thinks the CIA is an organ of state terrorism is unlikely to get hired there, nor would they seek to restore it to an imagined past if they joined up and eventually found this to be the case. That explained phenomena like Snowden’s insistence that information be mediated by “responsible journalists and government stakeholders,” and a whole slew of reactionary statements he made as the spectacle went on.

As Snowden explained, he was “still working for the NSA” in spirit, seeking to reform temporarily disoriented agencies. For anyone hoping that substantive change would result, this is a death sentence. As Chris Floyd said, “the system itself is not under threat [when] the only goal of any revelations will be ‘reform.’ ‘Reform’ and ‘debate’ can always be managed by those who control the levers of power.”

In the end, the public accrued very limited benefits if any. There were stories that essentially recapitulated the same theme of mass government data collection, told with some different details but committed salesmanship. Long after most of the world has moved on, The Intercept’s reporters still use the same breathless promotional language. In mid-December 2014 Jeremy Scahill was promoting a “Blockbuster” story at The Intercept that’s basically a longer version of a story already reported at Der Spiegel 14 months ago. There wasn’t even reform, either, with one failed bill widely derided as a “sham.” Even First Look supporters concede that the NSA ultimately “retained its powers.” And they might have stronger defenses against future leakers in place now, thanks to Ed Snowden. As reported in a Wired cover story, as Snowden took documents from NSA servers, he did so in a way that “[gave] the government time to prepare for leaks in the future,” in case anyone more radical than him came along.

If anyone benefitted from the event, besides the leak’s owners and the state, it was the tech sector. Snowden updated Thomas Jefferson for the disruptor set when he recommended restraining government surveillance with “the chains of cryptography.” He announced the Reset the Net initiative on June 5th, 2014. By unveiling it a year after the Guardian released its first Snowden-sourced story, the event was marketed as the solution to government surveillance, the logical endpoint of the events that have preceded it. According to Wired, Reset the Net is “a coalition of more than two-dozen tech companies,” i.e. former partners in government spying who would now be the vanguards of privacy. When Trevor Timm, a board member of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation with Greenwald, listed “Four Ways Edward Snowden Changed The World,” two reasons were essentially sales pitches for the tech industry. To hear left celebrities orbiting the Snowden trove tell it, all Silicon Valley had to do was suffer a mild public shaming in order to become zealous guardians of their users’ privacy.

***
Obviously, some factions of the state and oligarch class* would rather the public know nothing. However, if this isn’t an option, then there are ways to accrue benefits from the information release. The Snowden spectacle has shown how the guilty parties can create positive outcomes for themselves, coming out even better than before. The common threads include:

  1. A distracting, singular focus on one set of actors at the expense of other guilty parties.
  2. An erasure of related and often more serious crimes.
  3. The lionizing of deeply reactionary figures.
  4. Right-wing, power-serving “solutions.”
  5. The erasure of leftist ideas from the left.
  6. A further fetishizing of the transformative power of revelation.

In the Snowden spectacle and the torture report, there are two situations in which information is released to the public. It’s been known, but now there are specific details and official confirmations. This is presented as a revelation, and re-stated in different permutations to retain public interest. From there, the ruling class will create an unexpected victory.

  1. Distracting Focus on One Set of Actors

In the case of the Snowden leaks, over a year of reporting focused almost exclusively on the NSA. There was almost no reporting done on the private sector, or the 16 other government agencies that comprise the Intelligence Community—from the FBI and DEA to Army intelligence and the National Reconnaissance Office.

In the case of the Senate torture report, the focus has been exclusively on CIA torture authorized and directed by the Bush administration and its lawyers. Dick Cheney has come out of the shadows to issue ghoulish pronouncements about torture’s goodness, acting as a cartoonish, literally heartless proxy for the entire cast of villains.

However, the focus on the Bush administration has erased contemporary Democratic culpability in the torture program. The 2002 briefing of House Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Jay Rockefeller by the CIA was, according to CIA war criminal and noted sociopath José Rodriguez, “short and sweet.” Though Democrats at the at the time adduced torture as a reason to vote for Democrats, it was, like anti-war opposition, cheap posturing to score political points.

A few years later, it was rising Democratic star Barack Obama’s turn to sweep torture under the rug after exploiting it for electoral reasons. In a tremendously revealing statement that received scant attention at the time, then-Senator Obama said that impeachment was off the table because it was reserved for “serious breaches” of the President’s authority. The statement was a clear indication that Obama didn’t—and doesn’t—consider torture to constitute a serious offense, at least when committed by the United States. Though candidate Obama made overtures to investigate torture, his 2008 behavior on FISA showed how hollow these promises were. On the campaign trail, the Senator declared that he would filibuster TeleCom immunity, before voting for it once it was politically expedient. When Obama was elected and made “look forwards, not backwards” his mantra, the Democratic leadership owned torture as much as Bush.

Just like the NSA was the sole focus of the Snowden cache, a casual observer would think that the CIA were the sole perpetrators of torture after 9/11. The singular focus on the CIA has erased the fact that the US military was responsible for many of the most horrific abuses of the War on Terror. Abu Ghraib, for instance, was born out of a policy to “’Gitmoize’ Iraq,” applying the brutal torture policies of America’s Cuban hellhole to the entire nation of Iraq. Military installations were the sites of countless crimes, like Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base or Iraq’s Camp Nama, whose name was backronymed to mean “Nasty-Ass Military Area.”

The Senate torture report has successfully cordoned off torture as the work of one agency and one set of elites, when the entire political class and national security apparatus is guilty.

  1. Erasure of Related and More Serious Crimes

The Snowden event brought us dozens of stories that reiterated essentially the same point. Less publicized was Reuters’ August 2013 report on NSA-DEA “parallel construction,” where the NSA was giving warrantlessly surveilled information to the DEA, who then build up a criminal case under the pretense that the information had been lawfully obtained. In this case, abstract reports on government abuse were crowding out concrete reports of government abuse. The narrative around the Senate report has taken this aspect of the Snowden drama to a much higher degree. There is a constellation of American crimes that are being erased, whitewashed, and legitimized by the focus on the CIA torture report.

The Obama administration and the CIA saw the kind of legal and political mess that came from indefinite detention, and concluded that assassination was easier. A 2004 report from the CIA’s inspector general warned that “The agency faces potentially serious long-term political and legal challenges as a result of” the torture regime. “The report was the beginning of the end for the program,” according to journalist Mark Mazzetti. “The ground had shifted, and counterterrorism officials began to rethink the strategy for the secret war. Armed drones, and targeted killings in general, offered a new direction.”

Consequently, the Obama administration has waged a far more vicious assassination campaign than Bush ever did, with thousands killed in drone strikes and even American citizens targeted for extrajudicial murder. Obama’s theory of executive power was best summarized by Attorney General Eric Holder explaining that “due process” didn’t need to involve a trial by jury, but could be achieved by the President deciding to murder you in one of his “Terror Tuesday” meetings.

That’s not to say that torture isn’t still practiced. Torture is still common practice in Guantánamo Bay, where inmates are subjected to excruciating force-feedings. The experience of having a feeding tube slid through the nasal cavity and down into the prisoner’s stomach is usually compared to having a razor blade shoved through the nostril and down the throat.

Obama’s vaunted torture ban has also not banned torture, merely returned it to the grey-area status it enjoyed before the Bush administration codified it. The CIA has long practiced torture, like under the Phoenix program in Vietnam or taught at the notorious School of the Americas. Today, the CIA maintains its “extraordinary rendition” and secret prison programs, with loopholes in place for torture to continue more covertly. Torture is still allowed for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and since expanding JSOC’s operational scope has been a cornerstone of Obama’s war-fighting policies, some inductive reasoning indicates that it’s expanded into those dark corners. As the blog Moon of Alabama points out:

The Army Field Manual 2 22.3. Appendix M is still in force and it allows “interrogation techniques” which the UN’s Committee against Torturesays (PDF) amount to torture. The White House is also still believing that using torture abroad is not covered by the UN Convention Against Torture and thereby permissible.

This, together with Appendix M, lets me assume that the U.S. is still torturing people abroad. Why else would it keep those legal holes open?

All this is only to discuss how torture is still practiced in prosecuting the War on Terror (or as it’s called now, the Overseas Contingency Operations). It’s an entirely different story about the United States practicing torture in its system of mass incarceration through solitary confinement, which “human beings experience…as torture,” according to Dr. Atul Gawande.

  1. Reactionary Heroes

The release of the torture report has lead to some strange scenes. Teju Cole, for instance, a longtime critic of American imperialism, thanked Dianne Feinstein “for [her] service” in the pages of the New York Times. Dianne Feinstein has long been a supporter of almost every imperialist venture the US has embarked upon. Her husband’s status as a member of a lucrative government contractor also makes her, quite literally, a war profiteer.

As for John McCain, this release affords him to playact the maverick that the media needs to remind everyone that he is. It’s also erased the fact that in 2008 McCain fought to exempt the CIA from a torture restriction.

Besides Feinstein and McCain, the biggest hero in the release of the torture report has been John Kiriakou, the CIA case officer who first blew the whistle on the CIA’s torture program. As is typical of National Security whistleblowers, Kiriakou is deeply conservative, a “patriotic” spy whose “Letters from Loretto” penitentiary spend a lot of time railing against the FBI. A common theme of his letters are slams against the FBI for their dishonesty, positioning the CIA—who’ve spent over a decade running a global torture and assassination program—as the honest Agency.

At least the Snowden case gave Americans a fresh face, who only exposed his retrograde beliefs gradually. The Senate torture report has boosted “heroes” who are some of the past decade’s most imperialist figures.

  1. Power-Serving Solutions

Jane Mayer, who’s written more about America’s post-9/11 torture regime than any other journalist, wrote in the New Yorker that “torture is becoming just another partisan issue.” Particularly given the incoming Republican-majority Senate, torture accountability seems like a position that the Democrats can own after having tacitly endorsed it. According to Mayer, Feinstein “proved that Congress can still perform its most basic Madisonian function of providing a check on executive-branch abuse,” while “By contrast, the new report, even before it was released, came under attack from Republicans.” Soon, newly minted transparency and accountability heroine Feinstein will be out, replaced by Republican Richard Burr, “a staunch defense and surveillance hawk,” according to Joshua Eaton at Al Jazeera. “At the same time, one of the intelligence community’s most outspoken voices, Mark Udall, will leave the committee after losing re-election last month.” The departure of the Democrats “threatens to stall attempts to reform the nation’s surveillance laws and avoid transparency about the CIA’s controversial interrogation program,” Eaton says. The narrative, as it’s taken hold, paints a clear distinction between Democrats and Republicans on this issue.

For a Democratic party seeking to reinvigorate its increasingly apathetic base after what Dr. Cornel West calls “a Wall Street and drone presidency,” this is a great branding opportunity. One of Obama’s first decisions in office was to immunize torturers. However, with a Republican Congressional majority imminent, this is a perfect chance for the soon-to-be-helpless Democrats to act like they’d been champions of transparency all along.

For those who remember the now-ancient years of Bush’s second term, the reason proffered to vote for Democratic representatives in 2006 was to stop the Bush agenda. Then, Democrats still couldn’t do anything without a Democrat in the White House. Once Americans gave the Democratic party the veto-proof Democratic supermajority that they needed for some sweet Change, they discovered that relatively little could get done in the face of Republican intransigence. Increasing numbers of Americans see little hope in the two-party system, but the torture report provides a golden opportunity for the Democrats to burnish their image anew.

The report puts torture back in the contested category it once enjoyed. Democrats can once again compel their supporters to go to the polls to vote against torture and in favor of transparency—just like they did in 2006 and 2008, and by recycling the exact same rhetoric. That Hillary Clinton is making a public show of denouncing torture and praising the report’s release is a sign that this is exactly what’s going to happen. Clinton, who supported torture and is “a walking profanity” embodying the worst American corporatism and imperialism, signals that the Democrats are interested in play-act opposition to torture once again, after years of tacit approval.

Beyond just the Democrat/Republican modality, the torture report is functioning as a whitewash for the entire American project. There’s the predictable “rally ‘round the flag” effect—the idea that only America could produce a work of decency and introspection like a report on its own torture program.

Then there’s the hand-wringing over how aberrant torture is—how America lost its way—and accompanying appeals to return to an imagined past. “When I was growing up,” a typical missive goes, “Americans thought of torture as a tactic used by history’s villains.” It’s true, America thought of torture as a uniquely evil tactic, while committing it covertly and teaching it to its proxies. While the author of the above passage was growing up, learning that torture was the sole domain of dictators and terrorists, the US was exporting torture expertise throughout the Southern Cone.

Torture has been with the US since its foundation—what could the treatment of African slaves be called besides that? Overseas torture programs also date back at least to the counterinsurgency to subjugate the Philippines at the birth of the 20th century. So the idea that the CIA torture program was a unique, momentary evil that erupted from the minds of Dick “work the dark side” Cheney and John “the President can crush a baby’s testicles” Yoo serves to conveniently whitewash America’s history as a white supremacist and imperial entity. The release of the torture report is propagating these narratives even as it seems to challenge power.

  1. An Erasure of Substantive Leftist Beliefs

Adolph Reed has written about how one of the ideological functions of neoliberalism is to erase substance from politics, and leave only empty signifiers. “Being a progressive is now more a matter of how one thinks about oneself than what one stands for or does in the world.” The Snowden drama was remarkable for how much it divorced substantive leftist politics from a position called “leftist.” Leftists went to the mattresses for a journalist’s right to redact, hoard, and genuflect to NatSec concerns. “Marxists, anarchists, libertarians and Occupy activists now call a billionaire by his first name”:Pierre. The Snowden leaks told the left some information about bulk collection in exchange for dragging it rightward.

The torture report is so far succeeding in erasing more of the left. Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, published a New York Times op-ed calling for Obama to pardon the Bush administration. “If the choice is between a tacit pardon and a formal one, a formal one is better. An explicit pardon would lay down a marker, signaling to those considering torture in the future that they could be prosecuted.” Besides the obvious inversion of reality evinced by Romero’s position, and the childish treatment of “the law” as some supernatural Platonic construct, it’s literally the ACLU advocating pardons for war crimes. Stephen Walt reiterated this position in a Foreign Policy piece that compared Chelsea Manning to Dick Cheney. A few days later, he tweeted this:

Merry Christmas, torturers. #empathy

A few days after Romero’s op-ed, the ACLU published a piece titled “CIA Agents Said ‘No’ to Torture.” The reason people are discussing the torture report is because CIA personnel said “yes” to torture, but the ACLU is here to remind Americans that #NotAllSpies chose to commit this offense to human dignity. These case officers and analysts the ACLU is celebrating held fast to their day jobs assassinating people, subverting foreign democracy, or otherwise manifesting “the ruling class’s determination to retain power and privilege.”

Those who did torture were, shockingly, not even trained torturers. This is according to one narrative that’s cropped up, echoed by progressive outlets like Mother Jones and lawyers for prisoners’ rights group Reprieve. Deferring to the state’s euphemisms for torture, Mother Jones says that “Extreme interrogations…went on for more than three months before CIA officers received any sort of training in the new techniques from anyone.” For some, evidently, the problem is that CIA torturers hadn’t been briefed on proper torture techniques. This probably resulted in total amateur mistakes like threatening to murder their mothers instead of sisters, or blasting Metallica for 8 hours when they should’ve been blaring Marilyn Manson. Maybe liberal outlets were too quick to pounce on the $80 million payments to those two torture psychologists, since there were too few torture-professionals rather than too many.

Whatever the celebrity left believes their positions to be, many of their concerns don’t seem particularly left-wing. Even less than a month into the torture report drama, we’ve seen calls for pardons, celebrations of CIA spies, and a focus on improper torture techniques and insufficiently trained torturers. With heroes like Feinstein and McCain at the center of this, there’s no rightward boundary for how far the left can slide.

  1. The Fetishizing of Information

In the end, the fetish for information above all else is reified. If only the public learns the truth, if only the lawyers who overwhelmingly staff human rights groups have more direct evidence, something will change. Each revelatory event is also presented as the proverbial Big One, restarting the cycle from scratch. There have been diminishing returns, but the salesmanship is just as enthusiastic.

Shahid Buttar, the executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, called the torture report “the most important document revealing crimes of the intelligence agencies since the Pentagon Papers.” The Snowden leaks, Wikileaks and Cablegate, the Washington Post’s “Top Secret America”—all these events didn’t accomplish much since this is the event we’ve been waiting for. Buttar harkens back to the Pentagon Papers, which have become the Ur-Leak Event in all these conversations. Daniel Ellsberg himself adds to the mystique of each event by coming out and saying he’s been waiting his whole life for it (free idea for The Onion: “Daniel Ellsberg can’t remember all the people who are the next Daniel Ellsberg”).

The narrative that This Is The Leak Event We’ve Been Waiting For serves to keep the public interested in supporting leftish groups like the ACLU, whose lawyers can now meet standing requirements and prepare the relevant briefs. It also resets the clock, convincing a new group of people that justice is imminent while the ruling class manages increasingly favorable outcomes. The Snowden spectacle worked out so well that the torture report offers more reactionary ideas for even less new information.

The idea that information itself, especially information you’re not supposed to possess, is its own good is an article of faith. There’s additional pressure because pointing out that revelatory information is already publicly available is associated with the political right. When someone points out that the information isn’t “new,” it’s usually a crass attempt at smarmy self-promotion or a diversionary tactic from a party with some stake in derailing the inquiry (Mark Ames once wrote “you can always tell a paid troll by their ‘nothing new here’ nonsense”).

However, the left can’t embrace these events without interrogating them more than is going on now. As it stands, the ruling class is being strengthened by these spectacles, and seeing their power further entrenched. Most insidiously, with each info-drama, the left is being purged of actual leftist substance. The idea that’s reflexively invoked, “at least now we know,” is wrong—there’s more than that going on. As Chris Floyd said:

Yet revelations of these machinations, of government/corporate crime or “excesses,” have made no difference. Nothing changes, because the commanding heights of politics and media are in the hands of people deeply committed to preserving the system that gives them wealth and power.

We live in an age of revelation. There has never been era in which so much clear and glaring evidence of so many horrific crimes and abuses by state and private power has been so widely and freely available. Year after year, the revelations pile up. None of it makes any difference. Instead, power doubles down.

The truth alone might not set us free. Powerful entities are working to see it does nothing, or even make us less free in the end.

Update: additional reading– “Liberals vs. Radicals on the Power of Information

Enough of CIA’s ‘Enough Project’ in Africa! [Avaaz, International Crisis Group, Center for American Progress]

Libya360 | Internationalist News Agency

Cross-posted from TeleSUR

October 7, 2016

By Thomas C. Mountain

The “Enough Project” claims it’s mission is to prevent genocide in Africa, but has been conspicuously silent when it comes to the genocidal famine in Somalia.

enough-ngo-partners

WKOG editor: As people finally become aware of Avaaz – as a key instrument of empire – watch for the Enough Project which could, if embraced by the public, become the new NGO assigned to create acquiescence for the destabilization of targeted countries. The Enough Project was co-founded by the Center for American Progress (see below) and the International Crisis Group in 2007. Key partners include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam and UNHCR. Enough is a project of the New Venture Fund, and is based in Washington, DC. Its co-founders are John Prendergast (former Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council) and Gayle Smith (current administrator of the United States Agency for International Development).


enough-avaaz-co-founder-tom-perriello

“ENOUGH operates under the umbrella of the Democratic Party’s corporate funded propaganda and influence peddling operation, The Center for American Progress (CAP).” Former Democratic congressman and Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello served as President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and as a Counselor for Policy at Center for American Progress until July of 2015 when he was appointed Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa by the White House.

“The Enough Project focuses on Africa” – Sudan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, northern Uganda, and the Horn of Africa.

enough-project

The Enough Project has worked hand-in-hand with Avaaz in the past.

Perriello and Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel also co-founded and co-directed DarfurGenocide.org which officially launched in 2004. “DarfurGenocide.org is a project of Avaaz co-founder Res Publica, a group of public sector professionals dedicated to promoting good governance and virtuous civic cultures.”Today, this organization is now known as “Darfurian Voices”: “Darfurian Voices is a project of 24 Hours for Darfur.” The U.S. Department of State and the Open Society Institute were just two of the organization’s funders and collaborating partners. Other Darfurian Voices partners include Avaaz, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Centre for Transitional Justice, Darfur Rehabilitation Project, Humanity United, Darfur People’s Association of New York, Genocide Intervention, Witness, Yale Law School, The Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Bridgeway Foundation. Of all the listed partners of DarfurGenocide.org, with the exception of one located in London, England, all of the entities involved are American and based on U.S. soil.

enough-project-appauds-avaaz-cofounder-tp

Despite the carefully crafted language and images that tug at your emotions, such NGOs were created for and exist for one primary purpose – to protect and further American policy and interests, under the guise of philanthropy and humanitarianism.

 

+++

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.aljazeera.com/mritems/Images/2011/7/16/2011716213159717734_20.jpg

Enough of the CIA’s “Enough Project” in Africa!http://s2.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20110730&t=2&i=469259260&w=580&fh=&fw=&ll=&pl=&r=2011-07-30T121232Z_01_BTRE76T0XWX00_RTROPTP_0_SOMALIA-FAMINE

EP, as it is known, was founded by senior U.S. Intel “spook” Gayle Smith, former Senior Director of the National Security Council under President Obama and now head of the USAID/CIA.

Today EP is headed by Ms. Smith’s protégé John Prendergast whose history as head of EP is one of subterfuge and lies in service to Pax Americana.

EP claims it’s mission is to prevent genocide in Africa, as in the name “Enough Project”, yet has been conspicuously silent when it comes to the genocidal famine in Somalia during the Great Horn of Africa Drought in 2011-12 where 250,000 Somali children starved to death.

Recently George Clooney was enjoying 15 minutes of fame as a humanitarian claiming to have exposed massive corruption in South Sudan when he should have been warning the world of the U.N.’s next genocide in Somalia as in 300,000 starving children. Soon the genocide in Somalia will hit its peak with hundreds, up to 1,000 children a day dying from hunger with only a deafening silence emanating from the CIA’s Enough Project.

https://i0.wp.com/www.aljazeera.com/mritems/Images/2011/7/26/2011726144345181734_20.jpg

EP, with support from its big brother the Center for American Progress, only once in its history raised a real genocide, that back in 2007-8 when Gayle Smith was out to political pasture, she being a rabid democrat during the Bush Jr. years in office. Then she was part of the Democrat “opposition” to the Bush regime and oh so briefly raised the food and medical aid blockade in the Ogaden in Ethiopia, where the only instance of both the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders being expelled from a famine stricken region has been allowed.

Once Ms. Smith jumped on the Obama For President bandwagon, no further mention of the genocide in the Ogaden was heard.

http://i1.wp.com/richardfalk.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/somalia-famine-2011.jpg?resize=250%2C250 Today EP is proving its loyalty to Pax Americana by playing huckster for regime change in South Sudan, as in denying China access to African oil via the invasion of “peacekeepers” in the name of Responsibility To Protect of Libyan infamy. The USA has abandoned former “rebel leader” Riek Machar in favor of direct military intervention by the U.N. and the USA’s gendarme in Africa, the African Union.

The Chinese have started to expand their oil production so expect to hear louder cries of outrage from the likes of EP about various crimes and even “genocide” in South Sudan followed by demands for more foreign military intervention in the country.

With all their lies and subterfuge, don’t you think that we here in Africa have had enough of the CIA’s Enough Project?

 

 

[Thomas C. Mountain is an independent journalist in Eritrea living and reporting from here since 2006.]

 

Further reading:

Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part IV

US Behind Massacres in Beni, Congo

http://www.anngarrison.com/audio/creating-south-sudan-george-clooney-john-prendergast-and-george-w-bush

 

 

The US Is Preparing to Oust President Evo Morales

Strategic Culture Foundation

September 6, 2016

By Nil Nikandrov

 

The US Is Preparing to Oust President Evo Morales

 

US intelligence agencies have ramped up their operations intended to remove Bolivian President Evo Morales from office. All options are on the table, including assassination. Barack Obama, who sees the weakening of Latin America’s “hostile bloc of populist states” as one of his administration’s foreign-policy victories, intends to buoy this success before stepping down.

Washington also feels under the gun in Bolivia because of China’s successful expansion in the country. Morales is steadily strengthening his financial, economic, trade, and military relationship with Beijing. Chinese businesses in La Paz are thriving – making investments and loans and taking part in projects to secure a key position for Bolivia in the modernization of the continent’s transportation industry. In the next 10 years, thanks to Bolivia’s plentiful gas reserves, that country will become the energy hub of South America. Evo Morales sees his country’s development as his top priority, and the Chinese, unlike the Americans, have always viewed Bolivia as an ally and partner in a relationship that eschews double standards.

The US embassy in La Paz has been without an ambassador since 2008. He was declared persona non grata because of his subversive activities. The interim chargé d’affaires is currently Peter Brennan, and pointed questions have been raised about what agency he truly works for. He was previously stationed in Pakistan, where “difficult decisions” had to be made about assassinations, but most of his career has been spent handling Latin American countries. In particular, Brennan was responsible for introducing the ZunZuneo service into Cuba (an illegal program dubbed the “Cuban Twitter”). USAID fronted this CIA program, under the innocent pretext of helping to inform Cubans about cultural and sporting events and other international news. Once ZunZuneo was in place, there were plans to use this program to mobilize the population in preparation for a “Cuban Spring”. When reading about Brennan one often encounters the phrase – “dark horse”. He is used to getting what he wants, at any cost, and his tight deadline in Bolivia (before the end of Obama’s presidency) is forcing Brennan to take great risks.

Previously, Brennan had “distinguished himself” during the run-up to the referendum on allowing President Evo Morales to run for reelection in 2019, as well as during the vote itself. To encourage “no” votes, the US embassy mobilized its entire propaganda machine, roused to action the NGOs under its control, and allocated considerable additional funds for the staging of protests. It is telling that many of those culminated in the burning of photographs of Morales wearing his presidential sash. A record-setting volley of dirt was fired at the president. Accusations of corruption were the most common, although Morales has always been open about his personal finances. It would have been hard to pin ownership of “$43 billion in offshore accounts” on him, as was done to Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro.

Brennan also has agreements in place with Washington about other operations to compromise the Bolivian president. An attack was launched by the CIA agent Carlos Valverde Bravo, a well-known TV journalist and former agent with Bolivia’s security services. In his Feb. 3 program he accused Morales’s former companion, Gabriela Zapata, the commercial manager of the Chinese company CAMC Engineering Co, of orchestrating shady business deals worth $500 million. Insinuations simultaneously began circulating on the Internet about the Bolivian president’s involvement in those, although Morales completely broke ties with Zapata back in 2007 and has spared no individual, regardless of name and rank, in his battle against corruption.

The “exposés” staged by the US embassy continued until the day of the referendum itself on Feb. 21, 2016. The “no” votes prevailed, despite the favorable trend that had been indicated in the voter polls. Morales accepted defeat with his Indian equanimity, but in his statements after the referendum he was clear that the US embassy had waged a hostile campaign.

The investigation into Gabriela Zapata revealed that she had capitalized on her previous relationship with Morales to further her career. She was offered a position with the Chinese company CAMC and took possession of a luxury home in an upscale neighborhood in La Paz, making a big show of her “closeness” to the Bolivian leader, although he played no role in any of this. This was the same reason she tried to initiate a business and personal relationship with the president’s chief of staff, Juan Ramón Quintana. He has categorically denied having ever met Zapata.

Gradually, all the CIA’s fabricated evidence disintegrated. Zapata is now testifying, and her lawyer has holed up abroad because his contacts with the Americans have been exposed. The American agent Valverde Bravo has fled to Argentina. Accusations against Morales are being hurled from there with renewed vigor. The attack continues. It’s all quite logical: a continually repeated lie is an effective weapon in this newest generation of information warfare. The latest example was the ouster of Dilma Rousseff, who was accused of corruption by officials whom her government had identified as corrupt!

The US military has been increasing its presence in Bolivia in recent months. For example, Colonel Felando Pierre Thigpen visited the department of Santa Cruz, where there are strong separatist leanings. Thigpen is known to be involved in a joint program between the Pentagon and CIA to recruit and train potential personnel for American intelligence. In commentary by Bolivian bloggers and in publications about Thigpen, it isnoted that the colonel was dispatched to the country on the eve of events related to “the impending replacement of a government that has exhausted its potential, as well as the need to recruit alternative young personalities into the new leadership structure.” Some comments have indicated that Thigpen is overseeing the work of diplomats Peter Brennan and Erik Foronda, a media and press advisor at the US embassy.

The embassy responded by stating that Thigpen had arrived in Bolivia “at his own initiative”, but it is no secret that he was invited to “work with youth” by NGOs that coordinate their activities with the Americans: the Foundation for Leadership and Integral Development (FULIDEI), the Global Transformation Network (RTG), the Bolivian School of Heroes (EHB), and others. So Thigpen’s work is not being improvised, but is rather a direct challenge to Morales’s government. Domestically, the far-right party Christian Democratic Party provides him with political cover.

The US plans to destabilize Bolivia – which were provided to Evo Morales’s government by an unnamed friendly country – include a step-by-step chronogram of the actions plotted by the Americans. For example: “To spark hunger strikes and mass mobilizations and to stir up conflicts within universities, civil organizations, indigenous communities, and varied social circles, as well as within government institutions. To strike up acquaintances with both active-duty and retired military officers, with the goal of undercutting the government’s credibility within the armed forces. It is absolutely essential to train the military for a crisis scenario, so that in an atmosphere of growing social conflict they will lead an uprising against the regime and support the protests in order to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy.”

The program’s first fruits have been the emergence of social protests (recent marches by disabled citizens were staged at the suggestion of the American embassy), although Evo Morales’s administration has evinced more concern for the interests of Bolivians on a limited income than any other government in the history of Bolivia.

The scope of the operation to oust President Morales – financed and directed by US intelligence agencies – continues to expand. The Americans’ biggest adversary in Latin America has been sentenced to a fate of “neutralization”. Speaking out against Evo Morales, the radical opposition has openly alluded to the fact that it has been a long time since the region has seen a really newsworthy air crash involving a politician who was hostile to Washington…

The REAL Syria Civil Defence Exposes Fake ‘White Helmets’ as Terrorist-Linked Imposters

21st Century Wire

September 23, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley

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“I am a director not only of a Syrian Civil Defence Unit, but of brave human beings, volunteers who risk their lives, despite the terrorism that is invading Syria, to maintain security for Syria. I give thanks from my heart for the courage of my men who have lost their comrades in terrorist attacks but they keep working despite the risks. They are true soldiers, their equipment and their spirit are their only weapons”
~ Director of Tartous’ REAL Syria Civil Defence

Did I hear a pin drop?  The real Syria Civil Defence? Are the west’s iconized ‘White Helmets’ not the only emergency first-responders inside Syria?

For the REAL Syria Civil Defence you call 113 inside Syria.  There is no public number for the White Helmets.  Why not? Why does this multi-million dollar US & NATO state-funded first repsonder ‘NGO,’ with state of the art equipment supplied by the US and the EU via Turkey, have no central number for civilians to call when the “bombs fall”?

Before we introduce the real Syria Civil Defence, who are Syria’s real ICDO certified civil fire and rescue organisation, let’s first take a closer look at the imposters; terrorists in white hats, and agents of war – NATO’s pseudo ‘NGO’ construct, embedded exclusively in terrorist-held parts of Syria…

We’re told that the White Helmets routinely scale the walls of collapsed buildings and scrambling over smouldering rubble of bombed out buildings to dig a child out with their bare hands. Of course, never without a sizeable camera crew and mobile phone carrying entourage in tow.

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Screenshot from one of the multitude of NATO’s White Helmets promotional videos, as per usual – with fans and camera crew in attendance.

So who, and what exactly are the White Helmets?

“Founded in 2013, the White Helmets, officially called the Syria Civil Defense, are often the only emergency first-responders available in rebel-held areas of Syria and claim to have saved more than 58,000 lives.” ~ The Slate

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White Helmets ‘Team’ Photo: Screenshot from recent Soros funded, Netflix promotional documentary.

The western media mythology goes as follows:

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British Military officer James Le Mesurier

They are made up of former bakers, builders, taxi drivers, students, teachers, pretty much anything apart from rescue workers,” according to the much repeated phrase used by their British ex-military, USAR (Urban Search & Rescue) trainer, James Le Mesurier who specialises in outsourcing warfare – the kind of private security operations exemplified by the likes of Blackwater (now known as Academi) and DynCorp, and other well-known global suppliers of mercenaries and CIA outreach assassination experts.

“Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible.” ~ The Atlantic, 2012

White Helmets founder Le Mesurier, who graduated from Britain’s elite Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, is said to be an ‘ex’ British military intelligence officer involved in a number of other NATO ‘humanitarian intervention’ theatres of war, including Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, as well as postings in Lebanon and Palestine. He also boasts a series of high-profile posts at the UN, EU, and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Not to mention his connections back to the infamous Blackwater (Academi).


The White Helmet network showing primary funding sources and James Le Mesurier connections back to deep state  (Image: UK Column)

The streaming giant, Netflix, recently launched the documentary meant to elevate the White Helmets to a Hollywood level of Madison Avenue-styled demagoguery. As an interesting aside: a major shareholder in Netflix just happens to be the Capital Research Global Investors who hosts a number luminaries of the military industrial complex on its books including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. In 2015, George Soros, billionaire, criminal hedge-fund manager, bought up 317,534 shares in Netflix said to be worth $32.79m.  Curiously in 2016 Soros, dissolved those shares.

For further information on the George Soros role as the anti-Syria NGO impresario read 21WIRE article: George Soros: Anti-Syria Campaign Impresario

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Variation on the Netflix promotional poster for the NATO White Helmet documentary. Poster by: Cory Morningstar of WrongKindofGreen.

Later, in Part III of this article, we will go into depth concerning the recent awards, including an objectionable nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, that have been bestowed upon this group of US, UK, EU backed fifth columnists, or as they would have you believe, “first-responders.”

With over $60 million in their back pocket courtesy of USAID, the UK Foreign Office and various EU nations like the Netherlands, this group is possibly one of the most feted and funded entities within the west’s anti-Syrian NGO complex, a pivotal part of the clandestine shadow state building enterprise inside of Syria.

Like many other ‘NGOs’, the White Helmets have been deployed by the west to derail the Syrian state, first  by undermining existing civic structures and by disseminating staged PR to facilitate regime change propaganda, through western and Gulf state media outlets. Despite the fact that they were started, and are still generously funded by NATO members states, particularly from the US and UK, the White Helmets’ official statement still claims categorically that they are somehow “fiercely independent” and “have accepted no money from governments, corporations or anyone directly involved in the Syrian conflict“. This is both farcical and deeply misleading.

RELATED: ‘Aleppo Media Centre’ Funded By French Foreign Office, EU and US

They claim they are not “tied to any political group in Syria, or anywhere else”, yet they are embedded with Al Nusra Front, ISIS and affiliated with the majority of US allied terrorist brigades infesting Syria.  In fact during my recent trip to Syria, I was once again struck by the response from the majority of Syrians when asked if they knew who the White Helmets were.  The majority had never heard of them, others who follow western media noted that they are a “NATO construct being used to infiltrate Syria as a major player in the terrorist support network.”

For further details on the White Helmets and their role in supporting US & NATO state-sponsored terrorism in Syria please refer to the compilation of articles contained in the 21WIRE article: WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS?

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The REAL Syria Civil Defence

Let us now focus upon the very real heroes inside Syria, the real Syria Civil Defence that have been usurped by the NATO mountebank White Helmets who also call themselves the “Syria Civil Defence” – a mere simulacra of the REAL Syria Civil Defence who have been saving lives in Syria, and further afield for decades.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence was established as an organisation, in 1953, some 63 years before the White Helmets were a glimmer in the eyes of CIA and MI6 operatives.

The REAL Syria Civil Defence is a founding member of the ICDO (International Civil Defence Organisation). Other ICDO partners include the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Secretarian of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations of Geneva (UNOG), Red Cross and the Red Crescent.

To our knowledge and according to the Head Quarters of the REAL Syria Civil Defence in Damascus, the White Helmets are NOT a member of the ICDO. The REAL Syria Civil Defence have received awards for their participation in the training of other member states in USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) and for their contributions to the Civil Defence community, prior to the NATO dirty war on Syria that began in earnest, in 2011.

Later in Part II, we will go into further detail regarding this affiliation with the ICDO and the role the REAL Syria Civil Defence has played in global civil defence developments for the last 63 years – which is tremendous, and something the White Helmets could never lay claim to in reality, despite all the superficial accolades being rained down upon them by the US and NATO fueled organisations, foundations and cosmetic award bodies.

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This is an introduction to the unsung heroes who, unlike the counterfeit White Helmets, do truly risk their lives every day, working not only in government controlled areas, but forging deep into terrorist strongholds to rescue civilians living under the brutal US-NATO-backed terrorist siege and occupation that engulfs all of Syria.

When Syrian civilians are at risk, injured, or buried under the rubble of homes, schools and hospitals destroyed by terrorist mortar showers, it’s not Le Mesurier’s White Helmets who rush to their aid – it’s the REAL Syria Civil Defence, a real civic organization who, up until the publication of this article, have never been mentioned by any western media outlets.

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The REAL Syria Civil Defence, stationed in Syrian government held West Aleppo (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

The REAL Syria Civil Defence: Aleppo

My first stop on my investigation to discover the REAL Syria Civil Defence units in as many Syrian governorates as I could during my time in Syria, was Aleppo. I focused on those units that were in closest proximity to the terrorist held areas of Syria, particularly, Aleppo and Idlib. Damascus which is the home and headquarters of the REAL Syrian Civil Defence was my last port of call, and is surrounded on two sides by Jaish Al Islam, another US-NATO protected terrorist clique.

Because of the the encroachment of the US Coalition terrorist entities, Aleppo city has been carved into two cities with the major occupier of the eastern portion being the universally feared Al Nusra Front. Spurious attempts by the US to rebrand this organisation as a lesser evil in an attempt to separate them from their Al Qaeda affiliation, have failed. People in Syria from all walks of life refuse to accept any differentiation between the titles accorded the terrorist brigades, insisting there is no difference in the way they all kill, maim, torture, rape, behead and destroy at the behest of their paymasters and controllers in the US, NATO states, Turkey, Gulf States and yes, Israel.

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Decimated areas of Sheikh Maqsoud, the northernmost, Kurdish held, entry point into the government held West Aleppo (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 14, 2016)

For further information about the real situation in Aleppo, my journey to this terrorist besieged city and the debunking of the fictional US-NATO narrative, please read Part I of my article published at Mint Press: Journey to Aleppo: Exposing the Truth Buried under NATO Propaganda.

On the 15th of August, I entered the work yard of Aleppo’s REAL Syria Civil Defence and was greeted by an exhausted team of about fifteen crew-members.  That morning from 11am until around 3 pm, just before our visit, they had been fighting a fire in a cement and plastics factory which had been ignited by Al Nusra Front mortar fire.

They were understandably wary, but they still gathered around us (my colleague and independent journalist, Eva Bartlett and our translator) in the searing arid summer heat. Over the course of this 5 years and 6 months of this dirty war against Syria, not one western media journalist had ever asked to speak to them.

This extraordinary omission and failure to follow the most rudimentary journalist text book rules by the western media is staggering, but hardly surprising considering the level of spin and propaganda employed daily by the likes of the BBC, CNN, FOX News, The Guardian, New York Times, and Washington Post. Sadly, western media lap dogs end up simply wagging their tails to their masters voice and turning somersaults with the truth to merit reward.

Unfortunately for the Syrian people, western pundits have only reported on crucial and pivotal events in the war on Syria based largely on ‘evidence’ supplied by the US-UK-NATO construct, the White Helmets, who are ensconsed only in Al Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda and ISIS held areas.

As a result of western media outlets not bothering to make contact with the volunteer Syrians in the REAL Syria Civil Defence, western audiences never received a balanced view of the situation. Instead, western media only disseminates what amounts to a biased, one-sided view which mirrors anti-Syrian state and Syrian Arab Army rhetoric issued by the US State Dept and British Foreign Office.

I explained in detail, why I had come to talk with them, that my objective was to find out who were the real heroes inside Syria, the multi million NATO funded White Helmets created in 2013 or the Syrian Syria Civil Defence established in 1953.

Aleppo’s REAL Syria Civil Defence informed us there are 150 volunteers working across all units in Aleppo, the headquarters are in the Hamadaniya area which is one of the most severely targeted civilian areas, by Al Nusra Front Hell Cannon mortar fire and explosive bullets. The volunteers ages range between 25-45 years old, and the minimum age for training is 18.

All members of the crew were genuine volunteers. They spoke proudly of the intensive training process they undergo before they can be accepted into the unit. They are fully trained in urban search and rescue techniques (USAR).  They are also fully qualified paramedics.

A glance around their yard revealed that their equipment is tired and worn. The fire trucks were gleaming in the sun but showed signs of heavy use. Tattered jackets hung from the fenders and wing mirrors of the trucks and a Syrian flag had been draped across the radiator of one truck, perhaps in honour of our visit.

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West Aleppo REAL Syria Civil Defence unit (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

I was told immediately, that I would not be able to photograph the crew themselves or to use their names. Aleppo is a city under siege, not by “Assad and his army“, as the western media would have you believe, but by an assortment of up to 22 different terror brigades many of whom are armed, funded, and trained by the US, UK, France, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, to name only a few of the west’s ‘coalition.’ The REAL Syria Civil Defence crew-members are under constant threat of being targeted by any one of these terrorist brigades – including the White Helmets, as they later explained to us.

Chemical Attacks

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MODERATE WEAPONS: ‘Rebel’ Terrorists in East Aleppo shell civilians indiscriminately with their crude munitions, and then blame it on “The Regime” via misleading social media imagery. 

The crew told us about a call out they had responded to on the 2nd August. There had been a terrorist Hell Cannon attack on the Old City of Aleppo, which lies right on the border with the Al Nusra front lines and is a regular target for their indiscriminate attacks. Terrorist Hell Cannons use an assortment of containers – gas canisters, water heater tanks packed full of explosives, glass, metal and any other limb-shredding materials.

As the crew entered the area, they said there was a pungent smell in the air that suggested the use of a toxic gas by Nusra Front, possibly chlorine. The concentrations were so high that they immediately experienced breathing difficulties and their flimsy paper oxygen masks were not sufficient to prevent the devastating effects of inhalation.

One of the crew, 36 year old Mohammed Ahmed Eibbish, succumbed to the fumes and eventually died while trying to rescue one of the 25 affected civilians. Both civilians and crew suffered with dizziness, nausea, burns on their body, spasms and respiratory difficulties. Four civilians died that day too, all women. This attack and many others like it, are being intentionally ignored by the western media agencies, politicians and partisan UN officials, desperate to attribute any such attacks to the Syrian government and its national army.

A very salient fact so often mislaid in the stampede to produce lies, is that the only chemical factory in Aleppo (producing chlorine among other substances) was actually captured by the Al Nusra Front coalition in 2012. It is located about 10km east of Aleppo’s airport on the road towards Raqqa.

“The chemicals factory was taken over by Nusra Front and allies three years ago, they emptied everything out of it including potential ingredients for use in chemical weapon attacks. Part of the facility was shipped to Iraq.  They destroyed the factory completely.” ~ Voice from Aleppo

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Painful skin blisters caused by an ISIS chemical weapon attack in Northern Aleppo 17/9/2016 (Photo: Press TV article)

The crew told us that the worst injuries they have ever witnessed, are children who have been hit by the terrorist Hell Cannon mortars. Their little bodies are eviscerated and literally torn apart. At least 54 children had been killed and many others maimed by the Hell Cannon attacks in a two-week period alone, between the July 31st and August 14th. These figures were provided by the Aleppo Medical Association during our time in West Aleppo. In total, 143 civilians, 23 women, 54 children and 66 men, were killed by US-backed “rebels” occupying East Aleppo.

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Aleppo REAL Syria Civil Defence Fire Engine parked in their yard (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

The West Aleppo crew is forced to attend missions without the standard issue equipment and to deal with situations like chemical weapons attacks with only the ineffectual paper breathing masks.  This is another result of the EU-US sanctions being enforced against Syria, and effectively against the Syrian people. The REAL Syria Civil Defence is unable to replace equipment or replenish supplies, unlike the NATO White Helmets who enjoy an endless stream of kit and replacement materials via the Turkey supply chain that has remained unbroken for much of the four years that Aleppo has been under terrorist siege.

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US EQUIPPED: White Helmets showing off their brand new equipment in Idlib (on borders with Turkey) supplied by US Equipment company, Bobcat (Photo: screenshot from White Helmet promotional video)

The White Helmets: Criminals, Kidnappers and Killers

When we got on to the subject of NATO’s White Helmets, the West Aleppo REAL Syrian Civil Defence crew became animated.  One of them, stepped forward and began to talk excitedly to our translator. He had been stationed in East Aleppo at a REAL Syrian Civil Defence unit based in an area that has since been overrun by Al Nusra Front and their associate terrorist gangs.

Again, we are unable, as we have said, to provide names of the men we spoke with. They are prime targets for the Al Nusra Front and company in East Aleppo. This crew member, lets call him ‘Khaled,’ described what happened when the terrorists (western media still call them “opposition” or “moderate rebels”) started to invade East Aleppo in 2012.

“They came in and they drove us out of our homes and they came to the Syria Civil Defence yard and they killed some of my comrades, they kidnapped others.  They wanted to force me to work with them.  I escaped at night.  I was forced to leave my teenage sons behind. They burned my house to the ground and they put my name on all the terrorist checkpoints so if I go back, they will kill me.”

Khaled went on to explain how those men who later became the White Helmets were among this first wave of terrorists:

“They are terrorists, not rescuers.  They stole our ambulances and three of our fire engines. They don’t do any rescue work.  They drive round with guns in the back of their car like any other terrorist.  Some are from East Aleppo, some are from Syria but not from Aleppo and some are even coming in from abroad.”

Granted, this might come as a shock to anyone who has already bought into the public relations image of the group that’s already been developed over three years by various agencies in New York, Washington DC and London, but these are the real accounts regarding what one might say is the true unmasked nature of the west’s White Helmets.

At this point other crew members interjected and told me that they had watched the White Helmet “rescue” videos.

“They are fake.  They don’t carry out any correct procedures, either as paramedics or as search and rescue experts.”

They described how the White Helmets use a heavy-duty power drill to dig down for civilians buried under the rubble of homes allegedly targeted by “Syrian or Russian airstrikes.”

“It’s the wrong equipment to use.  It is not sensitive enough and because it vibrates powerfully,  it can displace the rubble which is dangerous if anyone is genuinely buried beneath it.”

They went on to describe other aspects of the White Helmet videos that they believe contravene all standard procedures that are followed by genuine search and rescue experts, paramedics and first responders.

In the following very recent video made by a White Helmet camera crew, men pretending to be genuine rescuers attack an area of rubble where they seem to know where a body buried. They start with a mint condition JCB digger, which attacks the heap of rubble with gusto.  Then, alarmingly, they begin to pound the rubble with a heavy duty mallet without employing any devices to actually determine where the body is located, under the impenetrable concrete blocks. Finally, the JCB digger returns to the mound of rubble and enters the teeth of its bucket into the rubble without any hesitation, surely not standard procedure if there is a chance of a body being under the debris.

Miraculously, as with all White Helmet videos, they seem to find exactly where the bodies are, despite having displaced the majority of the rubble in the process. They also, miraculously, avoided staving in the first body’s head with the mallet. There is no intention to downplay or belittle the deaths that have obviously occurred but we do ask the questions:

1.  How did the White Helmets know the bodies would be exactly where they found them?

2.  Where is this rescue being filmed?

3.  “Activists”, “citizen journalists”, the White Helmets and western media would have us believe that East Aleppo is under almost constant Russian or Syrian aerial attack yet the White Helmets make, on average, 4 or 5 films per day and we never see or hear any sign of an attack, only the “aftermath”. 

4. Where do these bodies come from? Are they victims of air strikes as we are told by these NATO funded “activists” and “first responders” or are they taken from among the thousands of “disappeared” that have been kidnapped by Nusra Front and other terrorist gangs in East Aleppo? Are they gruesome props being used inhumanely, to polish the image of this faux NGO embedded in East Aleppo, HQ for Al Nusra Front.

I would not ask these questions without good cause and that cause was given to me by the crew members of the REAL Syria Civil Defence, in West Aleppo, some of whom were driven from their homes in East Aleppo and whose families, left behind, remain under threat, while they are unable to return, for fear of being assassinated by the Al Nusra terrorists and their associates the White Helmets.

A further cause for this question is the previous proven use of props and crisis actors by the BBC (just one example) in one of their most dubious reports on Syria, Panorama’s piece entitled, “Saving Syria’s Children”.  Robert Stuart’s quite brilliant investigation into this chilling charade revealed some very disturbing evidence of the lengths to which, the mainstream media are prepared to go, to produce the propaganda required to execute yet another war on false pretenses. Propaganda that best serves the NATO and US intelligence agencies who continue toiling away to facilitate regime change and a ‘No Fly Zone.’

“Why do you do it?” I asked an obvious question of the REAL Syria Civil Defence, essentially, volunteers who survive on a paltry government salary or public donations, who work with dilapidated equipment, under terrorist, indiscriminate, shell, mortar and explosive bullet fire, and with no recognition for the heroic work they do from western media or ‘humanitarian’ NGOs.

“It is humanitarian work for our country. We were there in the good times, and we are here when the times are bad and we are needed most. It’s our duty”

No emotive, Manhattan based PR agency #hashtag headlines for these firefighters and life savers. Instead, we get simple words to convey a simple message.  They told me they often work 24 hour shifts, without sleep. One man sat on the wall behind me told me he had broken both legs falling from a collapsing building after terrorists had shelled the area. Another showed me that he had lost an eye in a Hell Cannon mortar attack. In the background, their uniforms billowed on the washing line ready for the next shout.

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The badge of honour, the REAL Syria Civil Defence badge sewn on to the sleeves of the uniforms in West Aleppo (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

My final question to the REAL Syria Civil Defence in West Aleppo,  was to ask them for their message to the outside world.  The world that is unaware they even exist, many of whom are blinded by the propaganda glare that surrounds the White Helmet media circus. They responded thus:

1. Please lift the sanctions so we can keep working and saving lives.

2. Stop the terrorists from entering Syria, and stop funding and arming them.

3. If terrorists keep entering Syria, eventually it will affect the world, not just Syria. There has been enough bloodshed. It needs to stop now.

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The staple equipment of fire crews and first responders. Visit to the West Aleppo REAL Syria Civil Defence (Photo: Vanessa Beeley August 15, 2016)

The REAL Aleppo Medical Association

One of the other meetings we had during our time in Aleppo, was with the Aleppo Medical Association.  We met with the Director, Dr Zahar Buttal and Dr Bassem Hayak, who is in charge of the medical teams assessing refugees from East Aleppo who fled to West Aleppo via the Russian and Syrian state humanitarian corridors, created on the 29th July, which have allowed over 2000 people to escape the terrorist strongholds to safety, food and medical care in government-protected West Aleppo. These figures were given to us by the Aleppo Medical Association on the 15th August 2016.

One of the questions I asked Dr Hayak, who spoke good English, was what he knew of the White Helmets.  His response was concise and without preamble.  His family is still in East Aleppo and although he has not been able to get back into East Aleppo for the last year, his family have told him that the White Helmets are not known in East Aleppo.  I asked again to be sure, and was told again, people, civilians do not know of the White Helmets in East Aleppo. Any actual first response work is carried out by foreign workers from various countries, Pakistan and the Gulf region among them. These foreigners work with Syrian people who are not properly trained in first response. They might only receive 2 or 3 months training before being allowed to work.

Dr Hayak says, “Even with our relationship with WHO (World Health Organisation) and the UN, we still didn’t hear about the White Helmets.”

Are the White Helmets, NATO ghosts?

Dr Hayak also states quite clearly, he has a cousin, working as a surgeon in East Aleppo. ISIS and other terrorist factions have forced her to stay in East Aleppo by threatening to kill her family, should she leave for West Aleppo.

Dr Hayak also said that the majority of civilians in East Aleppo are “hostages”of the NATO/US allied terrorists.

In East Aleppo, civilians living under Al Nusra Front occupation, do not know the White Helmets. Watch:

It is not unreasonable to speculate that the White Helmets are not first responders at all, except when required to don the white hats for a staged photo or promotional video, or to produce western news propaganda for the likes of CNN or the BBC, courtesy of their ever-present film and media crew.

It is not unreasonable, based upon the statements given by eminent members of the Aleppo medical fraternity and crew members of the REAL Syria Civil Defence in Aleppo, to draw the conclusion that the White Helmets are nothing more than common terrorists, being paid to present themselves as respectable first responders when the need arises for “reports from inside Aleppo” or elsewhere in Syria.

Later, in Part II of this story, we will travel to the northwest Syria regions of Lattakia and Tartous and speak to REAL Syria Civil Defence units there, before finally visiting the Syria Civil Defence Headquarters in Damascus, right in the heart of Jaish Al Islam, terrorist strongholds in Jobar and the surrounding suburbs of Damascus.

Every one of these units has a tale to tell about NATO’s White Helmets and each tale is a further nail in the coffin of the west’s multi-million dollar White Helmet mythology – nails which can’t be extracted by any number of NATO sponsored prizes, awards or accolades.

In the end, the REAL Syria Civil Defence will be recognised as extraordinary “ordinary” human beings who deserve the title “Hero” and whose service to their people and their country will be applauded by all those who are not taken in by the by the obscene parody of terrorists dressed-up as saviours and saints.

The REAL “saints” do indeed come marching in….

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The REAL Syria Civil Defence, Lattakia, next stop on the tour of the true heroes inside Syria. Photo: Lattakia Fire Brigade FB page

 

[Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.]

 

WATCH: The CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy

Video (1995) published March 1, 2012

Excerpt from the book Rouge State by William Blum:

“How many Americans could identify the National Endowment for Democracy? The NED was set up in the early 1980s under President Reagan in the wake of all the negative revelations about the CIA. Seemingly every other day there was a new headline about the discovery of some awful thing the CIA had been mixed up in for years. The Agency was getting an exceedingly bad name.

Something had to be done. What was done was not to stop doing these awful things. Of course not. What was done was to shift many of these awful things to a new organization, with a nice-sounding name – The National Endowment for Democracy. The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades – and thus eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities.

Thus it was in 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy was set up to “support democratic institutions throughout the world through private, non-governmental efforts.” In actuality, virtually every penny of its funding comes from the federal government, as is clearly indicated in the financial statement in each issue of its annual report.

Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, declared in 1991: ‘A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.'”

 

 

Gloria Steinem Discussing Her Time in the CIA:

 

The Nonprofit Industrial Complex: an Accessory to the Crime of Imperialism

Syrian Support Group: CIA Outreach Agents & Terrorist Arms Suppliers

The Wall Will Fall | PINKINDUSTRY

January 7, 2016

Excerpts from original article

ISIS ssg

“This is an open-ended exploration [carried out by PinkIndustry] of some of the outside figures offering assistance to the Syrian Support Group (SSG).

These figures have assisted in the granting of a license that enabled the Group to effectively send arms and money to the ‘Free Syrian Army’. The license was provided by the US State Dept’s oddly named ‘Office of Terrorism Finance and Economic Sanctions Policy’.

Part of the Office of Terrorism Finance’s stated remit is to coordinate: “efforts to create, modify, or terminate unilateral sanctions regimes as appropriate to the changing international situation, such as Iran, Syria, and Libya.” The license was granted in July 2012, based on a May application letter—a remarkably short time considering the nature of the SSG’s objectives and the complexities of the situation.

With the license the SSG can now bypass laws restricting trade with Syria and it is free to pay the wages of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and enable them to buy weapons. The arrangements also seems to include chemical weapons training. From its onset Louay Sakka, the SSG spokesman stated: “Right now we’re only asking them to provide more sophisticated weapons which nobody is willing to do” (Agence France Presse, June 8, 2012).

 

outside figures

 

The Outside Figures

A range of outside figures have been said to appear because they are connected “to the Anglo-American opposition creation business.” Examples are given such as those around western-elite connected figures such as Bassma Kodmani, formerly of the Syrian National Council (now with the Oxford Research Group).

Together with other groups the SSG ostensibly lobby the US government to provide support to the resistance against Assad.  But part of the State Dept’s deal with the SSG is that it reciprocally provides them with reports on who the money is going to. The idea is that this will help them to turn the FSA into a more organized group that could then receive intelligence and so forth from Western security agencies. Essentially this is the formation of a proxy force at arm’s length from the State Dept., so that it can retain the fiction that it is still opposed to providing direct lethal aid.

According to the New York Times, the SSG set up a base in Washington (it also has offices in London, Paris, and eastern Turkey) in April 2012 but had come together earlier in 2011; and even then the group was:

The Syrian Support Group, incorporated here in April as a non-profit, has few resources and, so far, few donations, and whether it succeeds in its larger goal remains to be seen. But it is already serving as a conduit between the United States and the armed forces seeking to topple Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and having an effect on American policy.

To further their cause and advise the Syrian Opposition Coalition in April 2013 (the dates are imprecise) the SSG hired Carne Ross and his New York-based firm, Independent Diplomat. This describes itself  as the “world’s first non-profit diplomatic advisory group.”  The idea was that the firm would:

…meet with key officials and desk officers in the State Department and other U.S. agencies to gather their views [on the Syrian civil war] and advise the Syrian Coalition how best to tailor their own approach to the U.S. Government.

In May 2012 (possibly months earlier) the SSG (or its advisers) also hired Brian Sayers, supposedly after finding him through an online employment agency. At this point the license was applied for and then approved.  Technically it was applied for by Mazen Asbahi, a lawyer who, when President Obama first ran for office, was appointed as his national coordinator to raise millions from Muslim Americans.

By granting such a license, according to a law expert, the US government has breached the UN Charter’s article 2(4), the prohibition on the threat and use of force in international relations: “the basic principle of customary international law prohibiting the interference into the domestic affairs of another state.” But no one seems interested, even although exactly who the FSA are remains a mystery: for the Russians “America’s Syrian friends and Afghan foes are same people.”

The SSG’s lucky find, Brian Sayers is said to have been an ex-NATO Advisor in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Libya—what he advises on we can only guess at.  Some say he was a ‘Political Officer for the International Secretariat at NATO’, others say he worked for the ‘Defense Operations Division at the US State Department,’ or he was the ‘Civilian Representative of the Secretary of Defense’.

He was also said to have run a company called ‘Private Digital Limited Corporation’.  Information on all this is scant, but the State Dept’s records have a Brian Neil Sayers, the husband of Mrs Adeline Hinderer Sayers, the second secretary for Trade at the US’ K Street Delegation of the European Union.  Sayers previously studied at the University of St. Andrews and then Georgetown University—who else found him useful one wonders?

What is peculiar here is that Sayers’ output has been given a remarkably sympathetic airing in the Israeli press.  Elsewhere we find him quoted as setting out the FSA as the lesser evil:

“We believe that if the United States does not act urgently, there is a real risk of a political vacuum in Syria, including the possibility of a dispersion of chemical weapons to rogue groups such as Hezbollah.”

This type of framing and commentary has a familiar ring about it: a private group being given tax-deductible status to raise money for an armed rebel group trying to overthrow a government in a country with which the US is not at war: the outsourcing to the private sector of the sort of thing the CIA used to do.

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The Spook

Carne Ross’ International Diplomat (ID) reports to Najib Ghadbian, who co-ordinates the SSG. According to Ross’ firm, with SSG he will:

meet with key officials and desk officers in the State Department and other U.S. agencies to gather their views [on the Syrian civil war] … and advise the Syrian Coalition how best to tailor their own approach to the U.S. Government.

The acknowledged (thanks to Wikileaks) State Dept. funding of a Syrian opposition dates back to at least 2006. Ross started to advise the ‘National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces’ at the point were concerns were publicly raised that the rebellion was “being hijacked by Islamists linked to Al Qaeda” according to the New York Times.

But the rebellion has never really been in the ascendency, nor has its rebels been homogenous: in 2012, when the US blacklisted the Al-Qaeda-linked group Al-Nusra Front in Syria, the measure was initially criticized by the opposition. Of his firm’s role Ross was quoted as saying:

We’re not lobbyists, we’re an advisory group.

But he openly advocates intervention, arguing that similar fears of a perceived Islamist threat were used to justify non-intervention in Bosnia two decades ago.  This was parroted by Johnathan Freedland in the Guardian (seemingly before Ross was hired).  Ross’ other pronouncements in favour of escalating the conflict, include the inflamatory ‘Let’s call Russia’s bluff on Syria,’ also in the Guardian.  Independent Diplomat, as a private firm, clearly perceived an opportunity to shakedown the émigré groups that would emerge and be supported by the West.

After he resigned over Syria, Kofi Annan wrote in the Financial Times that peace was never given a chance by the UN: multipleplayers were responsible for the failure of diplomacy in Syria, and he said that Assad was not solely responsible for peace in the region.

For Al Jazeera the UN’s Security Council is engaged in a hegemonic power struggle over the Syrian conflict.  The legend which has been put around Carne Ross is that he is some saintly liberal interventionist helping the underdog, somehow at a remove from these machinations and the sanctions on, and then invasion of Iraq.  But he was not. Now that he has ‘resigned’ Ross has availed himself of the situation whereby governments outsource aspects of ‘diplomacy’.

This privatisation of diplomacy is a return to the pre-League of Nations’ secret diplomacy: it will not tackle the problem whereby wars are run by sinister vested interests.

Ross was head of the  according to the Jerusalem Post (September 5, 1995) and it is mentioned far and wide that he was the chief drafter of a key December 1999 UN Security Council resolution easing sanctions against Iraq in return for restarting weapons inspections (The Cairns Sun (Australia) January 5, 2001).

Less put-about stories include when John Pilger met Ross, and described him, more accurately, as the British official responsible for the imposition of sanctions.  To confront him Pilger read to him a statement Ross had made to a parliamentary select committee in 2007:

“The weight of evidence clearly indicates that sanctions caused massive human suffering among ordinary Iraqis, particularly children. We, the US and UK governments, were the primary engineers and offenders of sanctions and were well aware of this evidence at the time but we largely ignored it or blamed it on the Saddam government. [We] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.”

Ross’ reply was:

“I feel very ashamed about it… Before I went to New York, I went to the Foreign Office expecting a briefing on the vast piles of weapons that we still thought Iraq possessed, and the desk officer sort of looked at me slightly sheepishly and said, ‘Well actually, we don’t think there is anything in Iraq.’ “

Pilger’s story is really about another individual, Dr. Rafil Dhafir, who for 13 years with his ‘Help the Needy’ organisation had raised money for food and medicines for sick and starving Iraqis who were the victims of Ross’ sanctions. US officials told Dhafir his humanitarian aid was legal and then arrested him. Today, Dhafir is serving 22 years in prison for aiding terrorism.  Remember the State Dept. gave the SSG a licence to fund who knows who after looking at them for just over four or so weeks.

As chance would have it Ross has explained exactly how a false case for war is constructed using émigré and/or defector groups.  He has also outlined further how he and his colleagues pretended to delude themselves, when he was Blair’s Iraq expert at the UN security council, and was responsible for liaison with the weapons inspectors and intelligence on WMD. This was accomplished:

…not by the deliberate creation of a falsehood, but by willfully and secretly manipulating the evidence to exaggerate the importance of reports […] and to ignore contradictory evidence. This was a subtle process, elaborated from report to report, in such a way that allowed officials themselves to believe that they were not deliberately lying —more editing, perhaps, or simplifying for public presentation.

One of many witnesses at the Chilcot enquiry bent on self-exoneration, Ross was involved in all that he condemns, i.e. he was involved in the initial preparation of Blair’s dossier on WMD, and kept quiet about it until it was too late.  He even claims to have discussed the Number 10 WMD dossier at length with David Kelly in late 2002, who told him it was overstated.  There are reasons to doubt that his resignation was particularly motivated by his experience engineering the war—as he claims. Before, when on sabbatical leave in the US, he was happily extolling the virtues of his employers in the Guardian in March 21, 2002, claiming that:

I’ve never had a problem with motivation. I always thought that this job was worthwhile and work that needed to be done. One of the great things about the Foreign Office is that nearly everbody feels like that […] I didn’t feel unvalued a year ago.

Ross was also the UK’s Afghanistan “expert” at the UN Security Council after September 11th, 2001, and also briefly served in the British Embassy, Kabul, after the 2002 invasion.

Independent Diplomat’s name comes from one of his books: ‘Independent Diplomat, Dispatches From an Unaccountable Elite’. But we are not far away from this elite in his firm’s make-up.

It has a prestigious board of directors including Kieran Prendergast, who is also a member of the advisory board of another ‘British business intelligence’ firm, Hakluyt (Intelligence Online, January 8, 2009). Its advisory board, includes Sir David Manning, who was Tony Blair’s principal foreign affairs adviser in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.

The company has been found to have engaged in activities such as employing an operative to infiltrate environmental groups on behalf of BP and Shell; it was the firm that hired the subsequently murdered British businessman Neil Heywood as a consultant in China—he was said to be

part of a global network of consultants who use local connections to provide intelligence for Hakluyt clients.

Haykluyt’s parent company is the Holdingham Group who’s Advisory board are beyond a shadow of a doubt an unaccountable elite. Its other organisations are H+ described as:

“An insight-driven consultancy providing independent and objective advice to senior executives at leading international corporations who face major strategic challenges and decisions”

and Pelorus Research which says:

Government intrusion into the commercial space is on the rise, and this is an increasingly important investment consideration. This weighs heaviest on industries most exposed to regulatory action, including telecoms, financial services, tobacco and natural resources”. 

Yes governments are way down the pecking order here—just another palm to cross with silver in the process of money making.

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The Lobbyist

In April 2013, along with Carne Ross, the SSG also hired professional lobbyist Andrew Gifford as co-director with Sayer, together with UK Ambassador Donald MacLaren as a political Consultant and Ian Griffiths (in charge of operations). 

According to a 1991 study of the firm: in the 1980s GJW’s three founding partners worked in the offices of David Steel, James Callaghan and Edward Heath (an original partner was to be Peter Mandelson). Its Finance director, Nigel Clarke, is the nephew of former defence secretary Tom King. Gifford is known for manipulating the press, e.g. for the arms industry (such as GEC’s bid to retain an MoD contract for heavyweight torpedoes).

Gifford’s firm, GJW Government Relations, also hired the young Nick Clegg and was known for its work aiding Colonel Gaddafi with Lockerbie. Other clients included Enron, Lady Shirley Porter and the Kuwaiti ruling family.

[Edit:  term “aiding” is perhaps, misleading.  Here is actual quote from the Independent article:]

The Libyan account, which even Ian Greer, a lobbyist whose name has become synonymous with political sleaze said he rejected, required GJW International to present Colonel Gadaffi’s position on the Lockerbie bombing. The Tripoli regime maintains that it is being made a scapegoat by the West for the destruction of the Pan-Am airliner in December 1988. It also wanted the trial of two Libyan nationals, alleged to be the bombers, to be held at a neutral venue rather than in Britain and or the United States as London and Washington demand.”

But according to PR Week(April 29, 1993) the biggest account GJW handled was with ‘Citizens for a Free Kuwait’ (similar to the SSG).

But let me back track a little bit here. Gifford is an associate of ex-SAS officer, Tony Buckingham who was “linked to a series of mercenary military operations launched on behalf of governments in power or exile and multinationals, in return for cash.” The New Statesman noted that:

Executive Outcomes was registered in the UK in September 1993 by Simon Mann, a former troop commander in 22 SAS specializing in intelligence and South African director of Ibis Air, and Tony Buckingham, an SAS veteran and chief executive of Heritage Oil and Gas.

The Heritage Oil and Gas board of directors includes former Liberal Party leader David Steel, and Andrew Gifford of GJW Government Relations, an influential parliamentary lobbyist. The company, originally British, now registered in the Bahamas, is associated with a Canadian oil corporation, Ranger Oil.

Both Heritage Oil and GJW are subsidiaries of Sandline International, another international security company.  Their own testimony states that together they brokered the arms into Sierra leone that met with the approval of the British Government and MI6In the mid 1990s EO blended into Sandline International.

The military companies operated from Buckingham’s offices in King’s Road, Chelsea, with the premises operated by Heritage Oil and Gas, and Branch Energy.  GJW, City PR firm Financial Dynamics and pollster Gallup joined forces to bankroll a new public affairs agency called Matrix Public Affairs Consultants.  Gifford and Tony Buckingham also share ownership with Guardian Newspapers of a publishing company called Fourth Estate.

If I turn back to GJW’S big account, Citizens for a Free Kuwait (CFK) this was a front group, established with the assistance of another large public-relations company, Hill & Knowlton. Other groups: e.g. the Council of American Muslims for Understanding were funded by the US State Dept. The Iraqi National Congress, was also a front organisation funded by the US government—all echoed the call for intervention and war.

After his 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein was accused of removing Kuwaiti premature babies from incubators and leaving them on the floor to die. The charges were made during testimony given before a meeting with a front group the ‘Congressional Human Rights Caucus’ designed to resemble the US Congress in October 1990. As John McArthur put it:

The Human Rights Caucus is not a committee of congress, and therefore it is unencumbered by the legal accoutrements that would make a witness hesitate before he or she lied [ …] Lying under oath in front of a congressional committee is a crime; lying from under the cover of anonymity to a caucus is merely public relations.

Nevertheless the story was widely circulated in the media and cited by political leaders (including George Bush and Amnesty International) as a justification to launch the invasion three months later.

After the Gulf War was over, the false testimony was revealed to have been by the teenage daughter of Saud bin Nasir Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador in Washington as part of an elaborate propaganda campaign devised by Hill & Knowlton and financed by the Kuwaiti government via CFK.  GJW was hired by the Association for a Free Kuwait to lobby Westminster and Brussels.

The Kuwaitis paid GJW more than £400,000 in fees and expenses while the Association’s US equivalent paid $5.6 million to Hill and Knowlton for the work in Washington (PR Week, January 17, 1991).

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The Ambassador

The SSG also hired Ambassador, Donald MacLaren, who can be seen at rallies in Whitehall that call for intervention in front of 10 Downing St. He joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1978 and served until 2008, after posts in Berlin and Moscow he became Ambassador to Georgia from 2004 to 2007, but he was seconded to Oxford Analytica from 1998-99.  Their assessment of the situation in Syria as of May 16 (2013) was:

“Syrian regime forces have managed to turn the tide in central and southern Syria by adopting a new counter-insurgency strategy. Despite slow but steady rebel advances in the north and east, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is now in a position to exploit international developments, such as the US-Russian diplomatic initiative, Saudi-Qatari divisions over the opposition, and Jordanian reluctance at hastening regime change in Syria.”

Oxford Analytica is a private intelligence company advised by Sir Colin McColl the ex-Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service amongst others that includes John Negroponte who was involved in supervising the Nicaraguan Contras, and according to Michel Chossudovsky:

“Negroponte’s mandate as US ambassador to Iraq [together with, now US Syrian Ambassador, Robert S. Ford] was to coordinate out of the US embassy, the covert support to death squads and paramilitary groups in Iraq with a view to fomenting sectarian violence and weakening the resistance movement. Robert S. Ford as “Number Two” [Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs] at the US Embassy played a central role in this endeavour.”

OA also have Peter Woicke, former CEO of the International Finance Corporation and Managing Director of the World Bank Group and other high flyers (and David Milliband). It was started by David Young after he fled from the Nixon administration after working with the White House Special Investigations Unit, the ‘Plumbers,’ and was miraculously granted immunity from prosecution.  OA believe that the Syrian conflict is a proxy war involving the regional actors and the US and Russia.

+++

 

Also SSG connection to Israel lobby and CIA mentioned in this Acronym TV report on the NPIC [Not for Profit Industrial Complex]

 

WKOG OP-ED: THE NIHILISTS

Wrong Kind of Green Op-Ed

December 23, 2015

by Jay Taber

nihilists agents of chaos

Illustration remixed from an original image by andres.thor under Creative Commons License – Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0

When it comes to the annals of shady people in the U.S. federal bureaucracy, few figures in American history figure so prominently, if obscurely, as Richard Armitage. As U.S. Deputy Secretary of State under George W. Bush (2001-2005), Armitage was deeply involved in events surrounding 9/11 and the Plame affair. As Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush (1983-1989), he was connected to the Iran-Contra affair.

In part of his taped March 24, 2004 testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Armitage noted that getting arms to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan was not so difficult: “It was making sure that we wouldn’t be, one, embarrassed by what they were. And no matter the charismatic nature of Ahmed Shah Massoud – and he was quite charismatic – that doesn’t make up for raping, drug dealing, et cetera, which many of the Northern Alliance had been involved with. So it’s not easy.”

As Deputy Secretary of State, Armitage was responsible for outing undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband Ambassador Wilson’s refusal to go along with the fraudulent Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) campaign promoted at the UN by Secretary Powell.

One of the myths deposed by the 2010 Wikileaks U.S. State Department embassy cable cache is the notion of diplomacy as a benign exercise, above the fray of dirty dealing that takes place at the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency. With the revelation of spying on UN officials — authorized by Secretary of State Clinton — the continuity of malpractice under the previous White House by Secretary Powell, with help from his long-time associate at the Department of Defense, Richard Armitage, proceeded seamlessly under the Obama administration.

As documented by Jerry Sanders in his book Peddlers of Crisis, Cold War hawks in Washington made their bones by producing and disseminating misperceptions about the Russian threat, that in turn justified the inordinate military buildup by the US and NATO. In essence, says Sanders, the national security military industrial complex, while perhaps warranted at some level, was nevertheless a colossal fraud concocted by Washington insiders at Langley and the Pentagon.

Deliberately falsified information and wildly exaggerated threats were, in fact, not only used to enable looting of the U.S. Treasury to meet these false threats, but also to promote some notorious characters into the halls of power. People like Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, and Richard Armitage.

Today, through agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID, lessons in psychological warfare learned by Cold War hawks and private sector friends like George Soros are still being applied in the interest of US hegemony, albeit in more creative ways. As noted in this 2011 article about NED-funded political opposition groups in Russia, the exaggerations, while containing an element of truth, are leveraged to perpetuate popular myths that can be capitalized on by US interests.

 

Further Reading

9/11 As Sequel to Iran-Contra: Armitage, Carlucci and Friends

Amnesty’s Shilling for US Wars

Wag the Dog: Campaigns of Purpose

Welcome to the Brave New World — Brought to You by Avaaz

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website: www.jaytaber.com]