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WATCH: Zero Days [U.S. & Israel Attack on Iran via Cyberwarefare, 2016 Documentary]

November 28, 2020

 

 

“What does it mean to be anti-imperialist? It means supporting nations under attack by empire even when or if it is opportunistically inconvenient. It means to stand with all nations under attack, without prejudice, without wavering, and to never serve interests of empire – even if it means you sacrifice popularity or lose social media followers.”

 

Alexandra Valiente, Internationalist360

 

 

“A black ops cyber-attack launched by the U.S. and Israel on an Iranian nuclear facility unleashed malware with unforeseen consequences. The Stuxnet virus infiltrated its pre-determined target only to spread its infection outward, ultimately exposing systemic vulnerabilities that threatened the very safety of the planet. Delve deep into the burgeoning world of digital warfare in this documentary thriller from Academy Award® winning filmmaker Alex Gibney.

 

[Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by Alex Gibney are those of the filmmaker’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of WKOG. Any thoughts in the following interview contrary to WKOG’s expressed opinions are not intended to malign any region, group, country or people.]

 

DIRECTORS STATEMENT ALEX GIBNEY

What do you do when your government launches a global war and keeps it a secret?

That’s the question that haunted me when making “Zero Days,” a film about the spectre of a new generation of classified cyber weapons.

I started out making a small film investigating “Stuxnet,” the self-replicating computer virus invented by the US and Israel to infiltrate and sabotage the Iranian nuclear centrifuges at Natanz.   What I discovered was a massive clandestine operation involving the CIA, the NSA, the US military and Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad to build and launch secret cyber “bombs” that could plunge the world into a devastating series of criss-crossing attacks on critical infrastructure, shutting down electricity, poisoning water supplies and turning cars, trains and planes into deadly weapons.  Even more terrifying, this science fiction scenario, possibly resulting in the loss of millions of lives, could happen without anyone – including our own government – knowing who is responsible.

In the words of David Byrne, You may ask yourself: How did we get here?  

When I started, I knew that the Stuxnet worm (a self-replicating virus) had spread all over the world.  The secrecy of the operation was blown.  But every US official I asked about the operation either refused to talk about it or even admit that it happened.

Everyone justified their silence with claims of national security.  As Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and the NSA, told me, a covert operation “automatically goes into the do-not-talk-about-it box.”

But Stuxnet wasn’t just another covert op.  It represented a fundamental change in the threat landscape.  For the first time in history, a computer virus crossed the threshold from the virtual reality of 1s and 0s to the physical world.  Stuxnet took control of machines and commanded them to destroy themselves.  Then the code leaked all over the world so that it could be re-purposed by other nations, criminals and terrorists.

Keeping that secret was like saying, after Hiroshima, “what bomb?”

And it reached the height of absurdity when I learned that the Department of Homeland Security triggered a high alert to protect the US from Stuxnet, since the NSA never let the other branches of government know that the weapon we launched was now attacking the homeland.  We had met the enemy and it was us.

Since government officials were trying to hide the dangers they had caused, my team and I reached out to others.  We first contacted the cyber detectives, Liam O’Murchu and Eric Chien, from the anti-virus company Symantec, who were the first ones to discover the purpose of Stuxnet.  They took apart the weapon for us so that we could understand both its delivery system and payload.

Then we traveled to Moscow – the capital of cyber crime and headquarters for Russia’s cyber weapons units – and to Israel, the key partner for the US in the development of Stuxnet.  What we discovered in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, by talking to politicians, journalists and – on background – agents for Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, was that “Stuxnet” was not a technical computer story at all.  Rather, it was part of a much larger operation which involved the Mossad, the CIA, the US military unit, Cyber Command, and included covert operations – sometimes directed at American companies, like Microsoft – the assassination of Iranian scientists, and weapons of cyber mass destruction that made “Stuxnet” look like a computer game.

Armed with this level of detail, we returned to the United States and were able to persuade some people inside the NSA and the CIA to talk to us provided we kept their identities a secret.  By now, it’s well known that the Obama Administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined.  So we had to take careful precautions to protect our sources.

We recorded interviews on audio recorders with no wifi capability, transcribed them on electric typewriters and then destroyed the data cards.  We used a system of codes to identify the sources and then integrated their testimony in a “script” that was factually accurate but which masked phrases that could lead investigators to identify our witnesses.   Then we used a system called “Depthkit,” to photograph our “essential source” via a 3-D video capture device that allowed us to break down a human face into separate fields of flesh, dots and lines.  In final post, we recombined those elements with new computer tilts and pans to portray a cyber whistleblower whose “hacked” look harmonized with the film’s animation of the actual Stuxnet code.

(Note: in the code animation sequences we only used excerpts of the Stuxnet code, which would not allow anyone reconstitute the weapon.  That said, our co-producer, Javier Botero, didn’t have much difficulty obtaining the entire code, something that makes the government secrecy about it all the more absurd.)

Our whistleblowers were able to give us an entirely new perspective on the Stuxnet operation, known inside the government as “Olympic Games,” and the new world of cyber weapons.   Among the key elements of information in “Zero Days” that have been revealed in the popular media for the first time are:

-The US, as a matter of policy, has not dedicated sufficient resources to cyber defense. Instead, it is focusing on cyber offense, and hoping that the threat of counterattack will prevent our enemies from launching cyber weapons against us.  So far, that strategy has failed.  Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have all launched limited cyber attacks against us and likely hidden thousands of backdoors to computer networks that have the potential of damaging key portions of our critical infrastructure: power grids, water filtration plants, transportation systems, heat, air conditioning, etc

-While “Olympic Games” was a joint operation between the US and Israel, each country had the ability to modify and deploy the OG cyber weapons in ways they wished. This caused animosity and tension, when the Mossad – pressured by an impatient Bibi Netanyahu – launched, without consultation with the US, a virulent version of the virus that spread all over the world.  This raises very difficult questions about the nature of our relationship with Israel.

-Following “Olympic Games,” the NSA developed far more powerful cyber weapons. One operation involving those weapons, named “Nitro Zeus” (disclosed for the first time in “Zero Days”) had the capacity to jam all of Iran’s air defenses and to shut down many of the key power grids in Iran.  As one of our sources told us, “the science fiction cyber war scenario is here.”

-Department of Defense officials in US Cyber Command showed a remarkable lack of sophistication or concern about the amount of destruction that these weapons could cause. As one source noted, when key power plants are shut down, they don’t just “pop back up.  It’s more like Humpty Dumpty…lots of people die.”  In discussing targets in Iran, State Department lawyers objected to the fact that US cyber attacks would shut down hospitals causing large numbers of fatalities.  The Department of Defense overruled those objections.

-“Olympic Games” was a CIA-led operation. For every attack, an officer from the CIA had to stand behind NSA computer operators and give them attack commands.

-When Iran, in retaliation for Stuxnet, launched a cyber attack on US banks, the US government was aware that the attacks were coming from Iran but did not counterattack because the the computers controlling the “botnet” (a network of private computers infected with malicious software)was in another country and the US State Department was concerned that a US attack might involve a friendly nation in a growing cyber conflict.  This highlights one of the dilemmas of cyber war: attribution is very difficult, raising the spectre of “false flags” and mistaken counterattacks that could lead to a cyber world war.

-The “Stuxnet” virus was autonomous. No operator commanded it to attack.  Once Stuxnet found its target inside Natanz, it was programmed to launch its attack on its own, without human intervention.  An increasing number of  cyber weapons share this characteristic.

-The secrecy over offensive cyberweapons and their capability is not only impeding democratic debate but also making us less safe. Indeed, our sources came forward because they believe that secrecy itself is putting us all at enormous, possibly existential, risk.

-The revelation of “Nitro Zeus” sheds new light on the Obama Administration’s deal with Iran on nuclear weapons. While many critics have suggested that Obama was negotiating from a position of weakness, it is likely – given “Nitro Zeus” – that he was negotiating from a position of strength, knowing that the US could virtually shut down the entire country in the event that Iran cheated on the deal.

-Our sources have confirmed that, since the launch of Stuxnet, offensive cyber operations – conducted by nation states – are an every day occurrence. (O’Muchu and Chien from Symantec have confirmed that the number of nation state attacks have increased exponentially in the last few years.) Government secrecy and the inability of the media to report on this story is the only reason we don’t know more about cyberweapons. They are being launched – by and against us – every day.

 

Alex Gibney, April 2016 – New York City

 

Human Rights Fraud from Ukraine to Nicaragua

Tortilla con Sal

July 26, 2020

Stephen Sefton

Current Western human rights industry practice has nothing to do with establishing the truth. Increasingly in recent years, US and allied elites have sought to legitimize illegal aggression by exploiting human rights motifs in their attempts to recolonize the majority world.

 

In any given crisis, human rights NGOs funded by the US and allied corporate elites and governments deploy sensationalist false claims, for example of police murdering peaceful protestors, so as to create a cognitive limbo of doubt and suspicion aimed at disabling opposition to the West’s recolonization campaigns. Over the medium and long term, the steady drip of false accusations against countries resisting recolonization, like Syria and Iran, or Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, creates false memories, corrupting and distorting the historical record and obscuring the West’s crimes against those and so many other countries in the majority world.

Western ruling elites have corrupted human rights organizations and institutions at practically every level using corporate grant making and government funding. The practical results of this corruption mirror corporate techniques of control fraud and strategic avoidance of regulation. Economics writers like Michael Hudson and  William Black, among others, have explained how corrupt US and allied corporations have exploited these fraudulent abuses for decades.  Control fraud is essentially no different from ancient practices like debasing coins, adulterating food products or selling defective goods as fit for use. They all fool people into accepting something that causes them loss, hurt and damage.

In the United States, powerful corporations control US political and institutional life sufficiently to be able to co-opt justice and escape criminal prosecution. This reality crowds out honest, socially responsible business and financial practice. Parallel to control fraud by major financial institutions, other multinational corporations, for example oil, mining or information technology corporations,  operate what various writers call a “veil of tiers” strategy misrepresenting their earnings so as to avoid tax or other regulation, and legal prosecution. More legitimately, in the field of insurance, the “veil of tiers” strategy spreads risks associated with potential litigation. The international human rights industry uses similar techniques to justify and cover up Western attacks against the peoples of the majority world.

The dependence of international human rights NGOs on corporate and government funding and on publicity via corporate media and public relations over time has generated the osmosis of corrupt corporate practice into the human rights industry. Writers like Cory Morningstar have analyzed exhaustively how this takeover by corporate culture of the “non-profit industrial complex serves hegemony as a sophisticated fine-tuned symbiotic mechanism in a continuous state of flux and refinement. The ruling elite channel an immeasurable amount of resources and tools through these organizations to further strengthen, protect and expand existing forms of power structures and global domination.”

In a human rights context, control fraud takes the form of politically motivated, false, sensationalist accusations based on egregiously one-sided, often fact-free research, sometimes using fake pseudo-scientific reconstructions. Accountability for these false accusations is rendered negligible by means of a “veil of tiers” strategy starting at a low level with small, local or national human rights NGOS, progressing via larger international human rights NGOs and auxiliary private contractors to regional human rights institutions, then reaching United Nations organizations and ultimately the highest levels of the international human rights legal system. By excluding independent corroboration, the interchange from one level to the next imparts spurious mutual legitimacy of varying degrees between the organizations and institutions involved.

The process is quasi-judicial with zero accountability, such that attempting to counteract false accusations is extremely difficult if not impossible, especially in the short term. If anything, the human rights industry is even less accountable than multinational corporations. Two recent examples, among innumerable others, confirm the creeping monopolization of the human rights industry by corrupt corporate practice. Against both the Ukraine government in February 2014 and against the Nicaraguan government in May 2018, Western human rights NGOs made very similar accusations that their police forces murdered peaceful protestors indiscriminately. In both cases, the accusations were false.

The context of the killings in both cases was a violent attempt at regime change by a US government funded political opposition. In Ukraine’s case, the opposition had been supported for over twenty years with US government funding amounting to over US$5 billion as confirmed in 2013 by Victoria Nuland, then US Assistant Secretary of State. That US government finance was in addition to funding from US corporate oligarchs like Pierre Omidyaar and George Soros. The most notorious event in the regime change campaign in Ukraine took place over February 18th-20th in 2014 when over 70 people were killed in Kiev’s Maidan square during violent confrontations between police and protestors. The massacre led to the overthrow of the legitimate government and its replacement by a fascist US client regime.

After the event, even CNN felt bound to report a leaked conversation between Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs in which Paet confirmed that a  pro-opposition doctor treating wounded protestors claimed opposition snipers, not government security forces, had shot the protestors. That report was followed by the broadcast from Italy’s Mediaset Matrix television channel of interviews, here and here, with mercenary snipers confessing they had fired on both protestors and police during the Maidan protests in February 2014. The mercenaries had come forward aggrieved at not getting paid by the opposition aligned figures who hired them. Even so, the Ukraine authorities announced their investigation into the shootings was complete, simply repeating the false accusations against the former Ukrainian government despite categorically clear evidence to the contrary.

A prominent part of the Ukraine prosecutors’ false case was a virtual reconstruction of events  by a private New York contractor called SITU Research whose human rights work is funded by US oligarch owned grant making bodies, like the MacArthur Foundation, the Oak Foundation and the Open Society Foundations. Ivan Katchanovski of the University of Ottawa has exposed as phony the SITU Research reconstruction of the Maidan shootings, demonstrating, for example, that in various cases SITU Research’s imaging moved wound locations indicated in the respective forensic autopsy reports in order to suit the video’s conclusions. Katchanovksi’s detailed analysis draws on other evidence omitted by SITU Research which also contradicts their claims, for example witness testimony from 25 wounded opposition supporters that they were shot from opposition controlled buildings.

Katchanovski points out that numerous video and TV footage shows opposition snipers and shooters in buildings controlled by the opposition. That footage is supported by over 150 witness testimonies confirming snipers were firing from those locations. Katchanovski also notes that Brad Samuels, founding partner of SITU Research “said in a video [start at 55:16] that ‘…eventually, there is a consensus that there was a third party acting. It is clear from forensic evidence that people were shot in the back. Somebody was shooting from rooftops.’ ” Katchanovski remarks that Samuels’ “striking observation was not included anywhere in the SITU 3D model report that he produced.” Katchanovski’s critical analysis of SITU Research’s material and of the broader official Ukraine investigation into the Maidan massacre has never been seriously challenged.

Similar false accusations ignoring readily available contradictory evidence and also using SITU Research modeling were made against Nicaragua’s government earlier this year. On May 30th the Organization of American States subsidiary body the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), the Argentinian Forensic Anthropology Team and SITU Research jointly published a video allegedly proving that Nicaragua’s police shot and killed unarmed protesters at a demonstration on May 30th 2018. But detailed analysis of the video shows that in this case too SITU Research have misrepresented data, namely the distance between the police and the protestors which was in fact about 175 metres, in order to harmonize the reality of what happened with their virtual reconstruction which claims police snipers fired from a distance of around 250 metres.

The video footage of the protests in Nicaragua contains no scenes where Nicaraguan police use their firearms. Similarly, just as in their false reconstruction of events in Kiev’s Maidan square, SITU Research omitted a substantial body of information contradicting their account of the shootings in Managua on May 30th. The context in this case too was of extremely violent protests by organizations funded by the US government with over US$15 million just in 2017-2018. For example, local human rights organizations received over US$3 million from the US government that year as did local media NGOs. Although, two solidarity organizations wrote and published an open letter to the organizations who produced the video, respectfully questioning their findings, to date the letter has received only a formal acknowledgment without replying to the questions.

In both Ukraine and Nicaragua, the US government funded local opposition aligned NGOs to make false allegations of very serious human rights violations. A private company contractor was funded by US corporate interests to produce false pseudo-scientific material unfairly incriminating the governments for those violations. International human rights NGOs repeated the false accusations on the basis of that same false evidence. Regional human rights institutions accused the governments concerned on the basis of that same material.

The accusations are false but the Nicaraguan government and accused members of the former Ukrainian government are denied a fair defense. This same process has been repeated over and over again against governments resisting US and allied policies. Western human rights organizations share the same corrupt methodology as their corporate and government patrons. They make false claims, suppress inconvenient evidence, do all they can to avoid independent scrutiny and systematically evade accountability.

 

WATCH: COVID-19! Black People Fight Back! Chairman Omali Yeshitela Overview

WATCH: COVID-19! Black People Fight Back! Chairman Omali Yeshitela Overview

Black is Back Coalition

April 19, 2020

 

“The reason this discussion is happening is not because of the numbers of people who are dying – but because who is dying. Because it is something that can also possibly affect white people…”

 

 

“Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the Black is Back Coalitions, sets the tone and sums up the political events such as COVID-19 and upcoming U.S. elections that forces the Coalition to organize the “COVID-19 Pandemic: Black People Fight Back” webinar.” [Running time: 11m:49s]

 

 

[Born in St.Petersburg, Florida, USA Omali Yeshitela is Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party USA and the African Socialist International. Full bio]

Failed Regime Change in Nicaragua. OAS & Amnesty International: Killing, Torturing Sandinistas Is OK

Cuba-Network in Defense of Humanity

December 28, 2018

by Stephen Sefton

 

Between April and July this year, Nicaragua suffered an extremely violent attempt at regime change supported by the US government and its allies. Crucial integral components of that coup attempt were bad faith reporting by international human rights organizations and extremely distorted news coverage by Western media. Partisan human rights organizations and media falsely blamed Nicaragua’s Sandinista government for almost all the deaths during the coup, when the reverse is true. Over two hundred Sandinista supporters, uninvolved passers-by and police were killed and hundreds suffered intimidation, abuse and torture at the hands of the US supported opposition forces. By default, organizations like the Inter American Commission for Human Rights and Amnesty International make clear they could hardly care less.

The clearest failure in their false reporting of the conflict is the sinister, ridiculous insistence that the Nicaraguan opposition engaged principally in peaceful protest, a claim beyond absurd given the number of Sandinista and police casualties. This deliberately deceitful coverage of events in Nicaragua reflects the broad contamination of Western societies by what economist Bill Black and others call “control fraud” whereby companies, especially powerful financial companies, use superficially legitimate accounts and auditing controls deliberately to mislead investors. Such companies report inflated assets and minimal costs giving a deliberately untrue and misleading view of their company’s financial position. These powerful companies crowd out honest business practice and manipulate political leaders so as to co-opt justice officials and escape criminal prosecution.
The US government’s failed regime change attempt in Nicaragua this year, like the US offensives against Venezuela or Iran, for example, reveal how this corrupt process reaches into Western institutions of all kinds. Western non-profits, news media and multilateral institutions operate as one enormous corrupt combination via an infinite disinformation feedback loop, denying their countries’ peoples a true and fair view of world events. They falsely inflate how good and morally superior they are, their assets, while deceitfully minimizing the costs, the countless victims and the incalculable suffering. So the populations invested in that vast fraudulent concern think the system’s purported controls, like the media and the non governmental sector, work just fine when, in fact, almost everything is corrupt.

In Nicaragua’s case, two events demonstrate this reality very clearly. Firstly, Western reports on Nicaragua either completely omitted or else glibly dismissed the murderous attack last May on a Sandinista media outlet, Nuevo Radio Ya. The attack resulted from a false sensationalist claim by Miguel Mora, of the opposition’s propaganda outlet 100% Noticias, that his TV station was under attack that day. Mora appealed for opposition activists to attack Nuevo Radio Ya, which they did, setting it on fire, holding over 20 radio staff under siege and then shooting at firefighters and police attempting to control the fire and rescue the people inside. Only the bravery of the rescue services and the radio station staff prevented more severe injury and loss of life. That story has never been told in Western media except by probably the only two genuinely independent US writers to visit Nicaragua during the failed coup, Max Blumenthal and Dan Kovalik.

A second incident, among dozens of similar cases, also demonstrates the corruption of the Western human rights industry and their media accomplices. Last week, the Nicaraguan authorities made public the results of a painstaking investigation into one of the headline atrocities the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and Amnesty International attributed to the government when it took place on June 16th. That day a family of six including two children burned to death in an arson attack on their house. Immediately, the virulent opposition human rights organization CENIDH had its activists on the scene falsely accusing the government of the crime. Within hours the IACHR were also attributing the heinous attack to the government. Now, after months of investigation, the police have identified four of the arsonists on the basis of accusations by survivors of the fire, witness identification and testimony, forensic analysis and incriminating material from opposition social media. Two of the accused have been sent for trial and two are fugitives.

Very early during the coup attempt, the Nicaraguan government invited the OAS to send an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts to assist the Nicaraguan authorities in their investigations as part of the IACHR mission in Nicaragua. But the IACHR presented what it called a final report to the Permanent Council of the OAS before that expert group had even started work. Now, the expert group has presented a report covering events up to May 30th that, predictably, reproduces the self-same false information as the earlier peremptory IACHR report based on reports by opposition media and human rights organizations. Like the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights before it, the IACHR expert group broke the terms of its original agreement with the government by engaging in activities it had no authority to undertake.

The term of the expert group’s visit had already expired when, on December 19th, the government decided to suspend the IACHR bodies’ presence in Nicaragua, accusing them of supporting the country’s minority opposition and its efforts to overthrow Nicaragua’s constitutional government. Earlier, the Interior Ministry on December 14th confirmed the National Assembly’s measure canceling the legal status of nine non-profit organizations who made illegal use of their resources to participate in and actively support the coup attempt. Those NGOs represent 0.2% of around 4300 non-profits registered with the country’s Interior Ministry. In another move to dismantle the opposition networks involved in the failed coup attempt, the government applied the country’s long standing legislation against incitement to hatred and arrested Miguel Mora, head of 100% Noticias, based on dozens of accusations by Sandinista victims of opposition violence, citing Mora for his hateful instigation of attacks suffered by them and their relatives.

As in the case of measures by the Venezuelan authorities to protect their country’s society from similar crimes, Western media coverage of these recent events in Nicaragua misrepresents them as moves by a dictatorship. But for people in Nicaragua they represent legitimate measures to defend the rule of law, economic stability and citizen security. Western media and human rights organization persistently omit sadistic, murderous opposition violence and grotesquely misrepresent steps by the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan governments to protect people from it. By covering up the opposition’s crimes they make themselves accomplices to them, as the Nicaraguan government noted in relation to the IACHR, it “ constitutes a platform for the broadcasting of false information to promote international sanctions against our country as did the IACHR official Maria Claudia Pulido in her visit to the United States last September 27th, promoting from overseas the rupture of constitutional order and the attempted coup d’etat against Nicaragua’s legitimate government, thus violating the impartiality established in the OAS Charter.”

By refusing to acknowledge the reality of wholesale murderous opposition violence during the failed coup attempt, the IACHR and its NGO camp followers like Amnesty International have confirmed they are accessories to the US government’s regime change operation in Nicaragua. They have been willing accomplices to the killing, burning, rape, abuse and torture of hundreds of Sandinistas, which they have tried disgracefully to cover up.

 

[Stephen Sefton lives in Nicaragua and is a founder of Tortilla con Sal.] 

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 .]

Legitimacy and False Witness in a Multipolar World

by Tortilla con Sal

July 31, 2017

 

“The crumbling legitimacy of the US government and its allies in the European Union is reflected in the blatant false witness of Western news media and their NGOs.”

 

July 19, 2016: Cuba VP Leads Delegation To Nicaragua For Anniversary Of Sandinista Revolution. Source/Prensa Latina – Del Sur News

The United States government is currently applying sanctions to Cuba, Iran, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Last week, on July 27th the US Congress moved to include Nicaragua too. Apart from these sanctions, the US is also enforcing a variety of sanctions in relation to Belarus, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, former Ukraine and Yemen. Some of those sanctions are supported by the UN but, in any case, US allies cooperate applying sanctions in a selective way to suit their own interests.

At the highest level, Western strategic thinking in general and US policy making in particular is intellectually and morally corrupt, narcissistic and irrational. Corrupt, because it is so deliberately intellectually ingrown and materially self-serving; narcissistic because it cannot engage other legitimate rationalities; irrational because it operates on the basis of “with us or against us” paranoia. The recent US Department of Defense report At Our Own Peril is the clearest expression of that reality.

US planners really believe that following World War Two the US and its allies shaped and controlled a benign world order and that currently the US and its allies abide by and defend international law. They also assert they project a legitimate, truthful account of world events. Given these insane false beliefs underpinning Western strategic planning, actual and potential targets of Western aggression are bound to work out active measures and alliances based on realistic self-defense.

For the foreseeable future, demented Western foreign policy is in a stage of aggravated desperation as US policymakers adapt to what the DoD report says “can only be described as the early post-U.S. primacy epoch…..This new reality has far-reaching implications for American defense policy, strategy, planning, and risk calculation.” Among the factors contributing to the new risk environment, the report highlights “the weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection.” US military leaders now believe they are already losing their long taken for granted global ideological dominance.

Bringing together progressive and revolutionary movements from across Latin America and the Caribbean, the recent Sao Paulo Forum in Nicaragua also recognized the fundamental importance of the West’s global psychological warfare campaign against the majority world. The Forum’s final declaration notes,

“We should create an anti-hegemonic cultural and communications front incorporating the initiatives of progressive governments as well as the efforts of progressive political forces and social movements, a true revolution is impossible if not accompanied by a deep cultural and communications revolution.”

In this context, reality has definitely caught up and overtaken the wishful rhetoric of the Western corporate elites, their carefully groomed governments, their inept, dysfunctional financial system and, perhaps most clearly of all, their dishonest, counterfeit media. In all of these arenas, strategic analysis, economic policy, news reporting, financial dealings, across the West Gresham’s Law has operated relentlessly, with bad practice forcing out good, progressively exposing the falsity and corruption of Western society under corporate capitalism. That falsity is most immediately obvious in Western information culture including not just mainstream and alternative media, but also reporting by governments and non-governmental organizations.

The crumbling legitimacy of the US government and its allies in the European Union is reflected in the blatant false witness of Western news media and the non-governmental organizations which have now largely displaced legitimate foreign news reporting. Few dispute that Western monopoly corporate interests, control and shape government policy as well as mainstream and alternative news media. Less self-evident is the way those elites and their proxies in government promote “the weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection” via humanitarian and human rights NGOs.

A few writers have exposed the role of NGOs in promoting the psychological warfare agenda of the United States and allied governments. Cory Morningstar, for example, has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like Avaaz and Presence. She argues,

“the most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.”

The campaigns led by NATO powers in 2011 against Ivory Coast, Libya, Syria share the same psy-warfare characteristics used against all the countries targeted by US sanctions. Right now, Venezuela is the target at the most vulnerable stage where a shift could happen very abruptly from current low-intensity NATO country covert, diplomatic, economic and media warfare to outright military aggression either direct or by proxy. Ever since the 2002 coup, opposition non governmental organizations have been key players in destabilizing Venezuela falsely exploiting the motifs of human rights, corruption. They have done so with consistent support from Western NGOs like Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, Transparency International and many others.

“Alexander Soros and Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor attend The Alexander Soros Foundation’s Global Witness ‘Unmasked’ Gala on July 7, 2012 in Bridgehampton, New York.” Source: Getty Images [Further reading].

In Nicaragua’s case the decision to introduce the so called NICA Act applying economic sanctions against the country was preceded a month earlier by publication of a report from the Global Witness organization falsely alleging that Nicaragua is the most dangerous country in the world for environmental activists. In 2016, Global Witness had a budget of over US$13 million, receiving US$3.4 million from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, US$1.5 million from Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, US$840,000 from the Ford Foundation and over US$3 million from European NATO governments plus Sweden. The Global Witness Board and Advisory Board and CEO are all luminaries from the Western elite non governmental sector.

Despite these tremendous material and human resources, the Global Witness report in relation to Nicaragua is inept, poorly researched and downright inaccurate, as occasional Guardian columnist John Perry, among others, has explained. In 2016, Global Witness brought out a similarly false account of problems in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast. But traditional reporting methods, like cross-checking sources or comparing competing accounts of events, are irrelevant for weaponized NATO country news media and the disinformation NGOs they increasingly rely on for foreign news. Now a decision has been taken by the US elites to attack Nicaragua, the campaign may well unfold with sanctions steadily being ratcheted up, damaging the same Nicaraguan people these phony Western advocates of human rights claim they want to protect.

That is what has happened to Cuba for well over 50 years. More recently, those same Western elites and their advocates have supported the corrupt oligarchs and Nazi shock forces who destroyed Ukraine. They supported equipping, supplying and training the organized crime gangs and pseudo-Islamist terrorists that destroyed Libya and Syria. They give support covering up the crimes of fascist Venezuelan paramilitaries setting people on fire and attacking hospitals and preschools, just as they did the massacre in the labor union building in Odessa in May 2014. Morally, intellectually, ethically the Western elites are worthy successors to their genocidal colonialist forebears using the same bogus claims of moral and cultural superiority to justify their crimes. The false witness of their media and their NGOs is a clear signal they know they have no legitimacy.

 

Further reading:

Nicaragua:

https://libya360.wordpress.com/category/world/latin-america/nicaragua/

Global Witness:

BLOOD DIAMOND DOUBLETHINK & DECEPTION OVER THOSE WORTHLESS LITTLE ROCKS OF DESIRE | Rick Hines & Keith Harmon Snow, Part One (June 1, 2007).

DOWNLOAD:

Keith Harmon Snow Global Witness pdf-203BD Combd Final July 21, 2007

 

 

Human Rights Industry Protects Imperialism

Black Agenda Report

February 15, 2017

When so-called Human Rights organizations are financed by the one percent they dependably echo the priorities and prejudices of their influential sponsors.  So it is that Amnesty International is an energetic source of war propaganda on behalf of US imperial efforts in the Middle East and elsewhere. Their “report” of a supposed “human slaughterhouse” operated by the Syrian regime is the latest installment in a campaign to justify US intervention in the Middle East.

Humanity is in desperate need of individuals and organizations to speak up for their right to live free from the threat of state violence. Instead we have a human rights industrial complex which speaks for the powerful and tells lies in order to justify their aggressions. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are at the top of this infamous list. They have a pattern and practice of giving cover for regime change schemes hatched by the United States, NATO partners and gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International recently released a report “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydnaya Prison Syria” which claimed that the Syrian government executed between 5,000 and 13,000 people over a five-year period. The report is based on anonymous sources outside of Syria, hearsay, and the dubious use of satellite photos reminiscent of Colin Powell’s performance at the United Nations in 2003. There is plenty of hyperbolic language like “slaughterhouse” and “extermination” but scant evidence of the serious charges being made.

Human Rights Watch joined the fray just days later, with claims that the Syrian government used chlorine gas against civilians fleeing Aleppo. Once again, the claims had little evidence, just mud thrown against a wall in the hope that some of it will stick. It is the al Nusra front which attacked the Aleppo refugees as they struggled to get within the Syrian army lines. One day there is a report on execution, another day chemical weapons, barrel bombs the next day and so on. These phony organizations never mention that the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria was brought about by western intervention and its head chopping jihadist allies.

The Syrian war isn’t over, but that government and its allies are winning and they will determine the future of that nation. It is Russia, Turkey and Iran who are convening peace talks between Syria and the opposition and that is why the effort to discredit them goes on.

Beginning in 2011 the United States used a tried and true method of getting support for imperialism. A foreign leader is accused of being a tyrant who terrorizes his nation. The claims silence critics, get buy in from corporate media and cynical politicians and ultimately lead to death at the hands of the so-called saviors. There are 9 million Syrian refugees precisely because of collusion between the west and its gulf monarchy allies. The suffering of the civilian population is the fault of these parties and it is only the determination of the Syrians and help from their allies which prevented it from going the way of Libya.

Now that the jihadists are on the run and their one-time backer Turkey has switched sides, the jig is up. But the imperialists will not go away quietly. That is why Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reappear at a crucial moment.

New president Donald Trump is quite literally a wild card. During his campaign he claimed he would not support regime change but his personality and policy are erratic. It is never clear what he means or wants. His staff are equally amateurish and the direction of American foreign policy is anyone’s guess. One day he wants better relations with Russia and the next he makes a futile demand that it return Crimea to its neo-Nazi overlords. But republicans and democrats in the war party are quite clear on their plans. They are not giving up in their quest for hegemony and they need all the credibility they can get. Enter Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to provide propaganda at just the right moment.

If they were at all serious in their stated goal of giving voice to the abused, they could use their ample resources to criticize the United States domestically and around the world. When president George Bush instigated the invasion or Iraq in 1991 they repeated the fable of soldiers killing babies in incubators. They never explained or apologized for their actions. They continued their awful partnership in 2011 when they provided cover for the Obama administration’s attack on and destruction of Libya.

Neither organization will denounce the American carceral state, the world’s worst. They might attack the modern-day police slave patrol which kills three people every day. They could ask why the United States has an implicit right to decide that Libya or Syria or Somalia can be destroyed and their populations be forced to suffer. But taking on those issues would be in defiance of their true mission, creating the conditions necessary to allow the United States to commit aggressions without fear of public opposition.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are not friendly to the people of the world. They pick on the weak and the targets of imperialist attack and tell lies on behalf of those who violate human rights on a mass scale. Despite playing a lead role in the Syrian disaster, the United States was invited to be an observer at the upcoming peace talks. Enter AI and HRW to help make sure that if the Trump administration should participate, it won’t be making any changes they need worry about. The human rights industrial complex is dependably on the side of the evil doers and their dirty deeds.

 

[Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley (at)BlackAgendaReport.com]

WATCH: Edward S. Herman: “Where the Hell Was the Left?”

The Real News

Video published June 30, 2012

“So, anyway, we criticized them. And Noam Chomsky hates ad hominem, or he doesn’t like fighting on the left. But I believe in it. I think it’s very important to criticize the left. I think a very important part of the problem of the world is the extent to which the conservative forces struggling allegedly for human rights have neutralized or even captured some of the left.”

Excerpt:

TRN: But in terms of your personal arc, you had a bit of a disagreement with Noam Chomsky on Iran.

HERMAN: Well, I think what he was objecting to was that when Peterson and I were writing on the Iran election, we were taking a heavy crack at the people, the liberals and and left-wingers in the West who were going after Iran very vigorously in this election. In fact, I think we showed very, very well that that election while very imperfect, it wasn’t a stolen election. And I think there was pretty reasonable evidence that Ahmadinejad really won an election and would have won under any kind of conditions. And what we did was feature how the liberals and left in the United States got on that bandwagon just when the United States and Israel were engaged in attempting regime change and were demonizing Iran at every level. So when they had an election, they oh, we got very upset about that election, whereas Saudi Arabia, they don’t have an election and they don’t get very upset about that.But right at that moment when they had that election in Iran, they had a coup in Honduras, a right-wing coup, and then they had a really phony election. And in this series that Peterson and I put up, we thought, where the hell was the left on Honduras? Why were they focusing so heavily on Iran, which was out of our orbit of control, but where we were trying to destabilize and overthrow a regime? You would think the left would get on that. But here’s Honduras right in our sphere of influence and where we could possibly have, we definitely could have real influence if we wanted to, and the left was not yelling and raging and saying, oh, look, dude, this is where you ought to be.

TRN: Some of the left was.

HERMAN: Yeah, some of the left. But a remarkable, a very significant fraction of the left had gotten on the Iran bandwagon. You absolutely have to put it in.

TRN: But certainly people have and the workers of Iran have a right to fight for their rights in Iran.

HERMAN: Oh, of course. Yes. Yes. Yes. I would support them all the time. But that’s largely their business. And, in fact, some of them would even argue that the scene was compromised by the external intervention and the fact that they were tied in with people who were really trying to overthrow the government and engage in serious regime. Some activists in Iran.

TRN: Most of them say that. Most of them say the pressure coming from United States and Israel actually weakens the democracy movement in Iran.

HERMAN: So, in any case, getting back to the Chomsky question, I don’t think he/ I ever had an exchange with him on this, but indirectly we were attacking some of the left-wing groups, like the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, which had never mentioned Honduras in this period but would spend a lot of time on Iran and the election. And, in fact, some of them made statements about the Iran election that we considered to be untrue. So, anyway, we criticized them. And Noam Chomsky hates ad hominem, or he doesn’t like fighting on the left. But I believe in it. I think it’s very important to criticize the left. I think a very important part of the problem of the world is the extent to which the conservative forces struggling allegedly for human rights have neutralized or even captured some of the left.”

 

 

[Edward S. Herman is an American economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media. He’s a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also the author of several books, namely “Manufacturing Consent” which he wrote with Noam Chomsky and “The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context and Politics”.]

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.

carnage

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.

lob

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).

73-MACLAREN-1

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]

 

British Collusion with Death Squads in the Muslim World

Counterpunch

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The British state has long been adept at cultivating fascistic forces in oppressed countries, the most infamous examples of this collaboration being the British open support for the misnamed Mujahideen (‘warriors of the faith’) in Afghanistan during the 1980s and also the British state’s role backing Loyalist sectarian death squads in the occupied six countries in the period of the ‘Troubles’. What was perhaps a slow trickle of events a decade ago has in more recent years turned into a tsunami of revelations alluding to Britain’s seemingly deep and extensive role in supporting death squads in the Muslim world. Having learnt lessons from its experiences in collusion in Afghanistan and Ireland, the British state appears to be applying a more complex and sophisticated strategy towards the current death squads in the Muslim world, some of whom are known more popularly as ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘Jabhat Nusra’, and ‘Isis’/’IS’/’Isil’/’Islamic State’.

The British state’s fundamental role in the bringing to prominence a violent sectarian ideology, which perverts and uses and abuses Islam and Muslims, is well known and goes back centuries when Britain’s was the midwife and senior ally to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. British colonialism backed the vicious religious sectarianism of Ibn Wahhab and the Saud family and brought them to power in the Arabian peninsula, a process which saw tens of thousands of people in that country massacred as part of this supremacist project.

In the late 19th century going into the 20th century, Britain instituted a number of reactionary forces in the Middle East that used and abused Islam as a cover for their monarchical and pro-colonial dictatorships, such as that in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the many monarchical mini-states in the Persian Gulf. The development of such political forces and states was at the same time a strategy against the growing pro-independence, nationalist, left nationalist and socialist struggles and countries gripping the region. Britain’s primary allies in the region are the most sectarian and oppressive regimes, and allying with them supports their common fight against any movements for independence of the people and countries of the region. Most recently, this unholy alliance has been leveled against pro-independence countries of the Libyan Jamahirya and Baathist Syria and also against the leading country in the ‘Resistance Axis’, Iran. Relatedly, the UK, USA and France, Britain’s major allies, are also in direct alliance with similar death squad forces. Mark Curtis in his book Secret Affairs (2010) has thoroughly documented and proven that Britain’s so-called global war on terrorism is predicated on allying with the very states in the Muslim world that are widely seen as propping up these same death squads, which makes the ‘war on terrorism’ more like a neo-colonial war of terrorism against people of Africa and Asia.

The apparent British role in directly fostering sectarianism and terrorism sometimes comes to light, such as during the SAS debacle in Basra in September, 2005. This was when the British undercover SAS dressed as Arabs with heavy weaponry were arrested by the Iraqi police and then forcibly and illegally taken back by the British army. Unfortunately, there was next to no investigative journalism and deeper probing conducted into this incident.

Then we have the case of the so-called Arab Spring in Libya whereby Britain teamed up openly with death squads, such as the ‘Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’. The group’s leader, Hakim Belhaj, was a primary ally for the British and the USA on the ground in Libya during 2011. It was reported recently in the media, and confirmed to me by Libyan journalists, political leaders and analysts that Belhaj’s organization is tied to ‘Isis’ in Libya. The SAS were also caught out in covert operations near Benghazi in Libya during early 2011. None of these issues has seen any serious investigation by British-based analysts and journalists.

Eyebrows were raised when former British Guantanamo and Bagram detainee Moazzam Begg traveled first to Libya and met Hakim Belhaj in 2012, and then went openly and illegally into Aleppo, Syria to openly support a death squad by the name of Katiba Muhijareen, which in its modus operandi and ideology is very similar to other more infamous armed gangs in Syria. Begg’s trial earlier this year collapsed as MI5 convinced the judge to drop the case when it came out that Begg’s visit to Syria was green-lighted in at least one secret meeting with MI5:

“In a subsequent blog [now deleted online – SC] “Begg said […] he had been approached by an MI5 officer “who said they wanted to talk to me about my views on the situation in Syria”.

““I told them that they must be aware that I was investigating several leads regarding British and American complicity in rendition and torture in Syria. They called back after consulting with their lawyers and said they understood that and would still like to meet. I agreed to speak to them and meet at a hotel in East London. Both MI5 and me had our lawyers present.”

“In the meeting Begg said MI5 were concerned about “the possibility of Britons in Syria being radicalised and returning to pose a potential threat to national security. I told them that Britain had nothing to worry about, especially since British foreign policy, at the time, seemed in favour of the rebels.”

“Begg then says he was “assured by MI5” that he could return to Syria and continue his work “unhindered””. (Guardian, 02/10/2014)

This seems to indicate that the British state is more than willing to facilitate even well-known public political figures in Britain to support their common aims in places like Syria. More indirect and circumstantial evidence points to possible British collusion, connected to Begg’s organization ‘Cage’, with one of their former clients, the so-called ‘Jihadi John’ (AKA Mohammed Emwazi), who before disappearing and apparently reappearing as an infamous ‘Isis’ butcher and propagandist complained of many instances of harassment and meetings with MI5. In addition to MI5’s outreach to Emwazi, MI5 has also admitted to trying to recruit the killer of Lee Rigby Michael Adebalajo.

More recently there has been a stunning public admission by Abu Muntasir stating he was a senior, if not the most senior, British-based recruiting sergeant for death squads in Chechnya, Kashmir, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Myanmar for some 20 years with de facto impunity from the British state: “I came back [from war] and opened the door and the trickle turned to a flood. I inspired and recruited, I raised funds and bought weapons, not just a one-off but for 15 to 20 years. Why I have never been arrested I don’t know.”” (Guardian, 13/06/2015)

While there is a growing number of articles recently, including in the British mainstream media, exploring possible USA state and government collusion with these death squads, there is in still little to no work digging into the nature and breadth of British collusion. There are many reasons for this, but perhaps one of the central reasons is that sections of and leading personalities in the British left have been and remain in open alliance with organisations and individuals in Britain who supportthese death squads, in some cases even giving them leadership platforms and positions in anti-war and other progressive organisations.

Three more factors complicate the issue: 1, the same sections of the British left have also themselves supported directly and in some cases indirectly these same death squads as ‘rebel’ or even ‘revolutionary’ forces in the ‘Arab Spring’. This seems to have pushed back on any possibility for certain people to make self criticisms and develop their position in light of the growing and overwhelming evidence that these armed gangs are not pro-people in anyway way but are depraved and profoundly sectarian and are in an overt and covert relationship with Western states in a common project to divide and ruin regions of Africa and the Middle East and Asia.

The final complicating factor is borne out of fear of not falling into anti-Muslim racism and prejudice or Islamophobia when engaging critically with these issues. It is of utmost importance that one exercises cigilance as to not to fall into the Western imperialist trap of internalizing anti-Muslim prejudice in countering collusion. There are a number of forces on what one can say is broadly on the left who have fallen into this trap and have fallen victims to the ruling classes strategy of Islamophobia. However, those who are mistakenly thinking they are supporting Muslims by backing  death squads perhaps fail to appreciate that these death squad forces and British state collusion with them is designed exactly against Muslims who are, in terms of being targeted and in a quantitative sense the overwhelming victims of this joint enterprise between leading Nato countries, reactionary states and sectarian armed gangs. It is an integral part of British racist policy to on the one hand punish all Muslims for a situation of the British state’s making in allying with the very regimes who are espousing basically the same ideology as Al Qaeda and ‘Isis’; ensuring over the decades that Saudi Arabia is in control of most of teaching in mosques in Britain and oppose and overthrow all tolerant forces in Islam that are tied to different levels of independence struggles against imperialism. Having developed this grand neo-colonial entrapment strategy towards Muslims, the British state deceitfully blames Muslims for extremism, when the British state itself is by far the biggest culprit in developing this extremism but white washes this situation and instead hides its own covert and overt strategies in this field and engages in the promotion and inculcation of anti-Muslim racism amongst peoples of all communities but focused especially on white communities. If one looks back to the history of the Loyalist paramilitaries, like with the death squads in the Muslim world, both these forces were on the surface in contention with the British state, however similarly in both these situations having spats here and there with these death squads only hides and befuddles the actual relationship between them.

In the West increasing numbers of people, writers and analysts are uncovering the USA’s role in collusion with death squads in the Muslim world it is only amount of time before the levee breaks as it were on this issue and people who live in Britain will be asking more questions and demanding accountability and justice. However, we are nearly into the fifth year after Britain openly teamed up death squad forces in Libya, the very forces it has been saying it has been opposing in the ‘war on terror’, and for all this time there has been a great amount of resistance and avoidance of this growing scandal. For the few who have been trying to raise these issues, the response has too often been at best avoidance or more often attempts at shutting down any mention of the subject.

As our comrades in the Irish freedom struggle said in relation to the British state’s covert and not so covert operations in supporting the Loyalist gangs: “collusion is no illusion, it is state murder”. The Irish people’s demands and struggles were listened to and acted upon by leading sections of the British left, and the latter supported and continue to support the Irish struggle in their on-going campaigns against collusion. It is high time that the British left similarly listened to the people of Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia, Mali and many other places and campaign to end this sordid relationship which is collapsing whole countries and regions into veritable living nightmares borne out of the policies of imperialism in an increasingly desperate and barbaric crisis mode.

[Sukant Chandan is a London-based decolonial anti-imperialist activist and analyst. He advocated justice for Libyans in visiting Libya three times during the Nato onslaught in 2011 and reports frequently on English-language news channels based in Russia, Iran, China and Lebanon on which he discusses issues pertaining to the challenges of the struggle to end neo-colonialism. He can be contacted at sukant.chandan@gmail.com.]