The Slimy Business of Russia-gate

Special Report: As the U.S. government doles out tens of millions of dollars to “combat Russian propaganda,” one result is a slew of new “studies” by “scholars” and “researchers” auditioning for the loot, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The “Field of Dreams” slogan for America’s NGOs should be: “If you pay for it, we will come.” And right now, tens of millions of dollars are flowing to non-governmental organizations if they will buttress the thesis of Russian “meddling” in the U.S. democratic process no matter how sloppy the “research” or how absurd the “findings.”

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

And, if you think the pillars of the U.S. mainstream media – The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and others – will apply some quality controls, you haven’t been paying attention for the past year or so. The MSM is just as unethical as the NGOs are.

So, we are now in a phase of Russia-gate in which NGO “scholars” produce deeply biased reports and their nonsense is treated as front-page news and items for serious discussion across the MSM.

Yet, there’s even an implicit confession about how pathetic some of this “scholarship” is in the hazy phrasing that gets applied to the “findings,” although the weasel words will slip past most unsuspecting Americans and will be dropped for more definitive language when the narrative is summarized in the next day’s newspaper or in a cable-news “crawl.”

For example, a Times front-page story on Thursday reported that “a network of Twitter accounts suspected of links to Russia seized on both sides of the [NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem] issue with hashtags, such as #boycottnfl, #standforouranthem and #takeaknee.”

The story, which fits neatly into the current U.S. propaganda meme that the Russian government somehow is undermining American democracy by stirring up dissent inside the U.S., quickly spread to other news outlets and became the latest “proof” of a Russian “war” against America.

However, before we empty the nuclear silos and exterminate life on the planet, we might take a second to look at the Times phrasing: “a network of Twitter accounts suspected of links to Russia.”

The vague wording doesn’t even say the Russian government was involved but rather presents an unsupported claim that some Twitter accounts are “suspected” of being part of some “network” and that this “network” may have some ill-defined connection – or “links” – to “Russia,” a country of 144 million people.

‘Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon’

It’s like the old game of “six degrees of separation” from Kevin Bacon. Yes, perhaps we are all “linked” to Kevin Bacon somehow but that doesn’t prove that we know Kevin Bacon or are part of a Kevin Bacon “network” that is executing a grand conspiracy to sow discontent by taking opposite sides of issues and then tweeting.

Yet that is the underlying absurdity of the Times article by Daisuke Wakabayashi and Scott Shane. Still, as silly as the article may be that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. The Times’ high-profile treatment of these gauzy allegations represents a grave danger to the world by fueling a growing hysteria inside the United States about being “at war” with nuclear-armed Russia. At some point, someone might begin to take this alarmist rhetoric seriously.

Yes, I understand that lots of people hate President Trump and see Russia-gate as the golden ticket to his impeachment. But that doesn’t justify making serious allegations with next to no proof, especially when the outcome could be thermonuclear war.

However, with all those millions of dollars sloshing around the NGO world and Western academia – all looking for some “study” to fund that makes Russia look bad – you are sure to get plenty of takers. And, we should now expect that new “findings” like these will fill in for the so-far evidence-free suspicions about Russia and Trump colluding to steal the presidency from Hillary Clinton.

If you read more deeply into the Times story, you get a taste of where Russia-gate is headed next and a clue as to who is behind it:

“Since last month, researchers at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan initiative of the German Marshall Fund, a public policy research group in Washington, have been publicly tracking 600 Twitter accounts — human users and suspected bots alike — they have linked to Russian influence operations. Those were the accounts pushing the opposing messages on the N.F.L. and the national anthem.

“Of 80 news stories promoted last week by those accounts, more than 25 percent ‘had a primary theme of anti-Americanism,’ the researchers found. About 15 percent were critical of Hillary Clinton, falsely accusing her of funding left-wing antifa — short for anti-fascist — protesters, tying her to the lethal terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 and discussing her daughter Chelsea’s use of Twitter. Eleven percent focused on wiretapping in the federal investigation into Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, with most of them treated the news as a vindication for President Trump’s earlier wiretapping claims.”

The Neocons, Again!

So, let’s stop and unpack this Times’ reporting. First, this Alliance for Securing Democracy is not some neutral truth-seeking organization but a neoconservative-dominated outfit that includes on its advisory board such neocon luminaries as Mike Chertoff, Bill Kristol and former Freedom House president David Kramer along with other anti-Russia hardliners such as former deputy CIA director Michael Morell and former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers.

How many of these guys, do you think, were assuring us that Iraq was hiding WMDs back in 2003?

This group clearly has an ax to grind, a record of deception, and plenty of patrons in the Military-Industrial Complex who stand to make billions of dollars from the New Cold War.

The neocons also have been targeting Russia for regime change for years because they see Russian President Vladimir Putin as the chief obstacle to their goal of helping Israel achieve its desire for “regime change” in Syria and a chance to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran. Russia-gate has served the neocons well as a very convenient way to pull Democrats, liberals and even progressives into the neocon agenda because Russia-gate is sold as a powerful weapon for the anti-Trump Resistance.

The Times article also might have mentioned that Twitter has 974 million accounts. So, this alarm over 600 accounts is a bit disproportionate for a front-page story in the Times, don’t you think?

And, there’s the definitional problem of what constitutes “anti-Americanism” in a news article. And what does it mean to be “linked to Russian influence operations”? Does that include Americans who may not march in lockstep to the one-sided State Department narratives on the crises in Ukraine and Syria? Any deviation from Official Washington’s groupthink makes you a “Moscow stooge.”

And, is it a crime to be “critical” of Hillary Clinton or to note that the U.S. mainstream media was dismissive of Trump’s claims about being wiretapped only for us to find out later that the FBI apparently was wiretapping his campaign manager?

However, such questions aren’t going to be asked amid what has become a massive Russia-gate groupthink, dominating not just Official Washington, but across much of America’s political landscape and throughout the European Union.

Why the Bias?

Beyond the obvious political motivations for this bias, we also have had the introduction of vast sums of money pouring in from the U.S. government, NATO and European institutions to support the business of “combatting Russian propaganda.”

For example, last December, President Obama signed into law a $160 million funding mechanism entitled the “Combating Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act.” But that amounts to only a drop in the bucket considering already existing Western propaganda projects targeting Russia.

So, a scramble is on to develop seemingly academic models to “prove” what Western authorities want proven: that Russia is at fault for pretty much every bad thing that happens in the world, particularly the alienation of many working-class people from the Washington-Brussels elites.

The truth cannot be that establishment policies have led to massive income inequality and left the working class struggling to survive and thus are to blame for ugly political manifestations – from Trump to Brexit to the surprising support for Germany’s far-right AfD party. No, it must be Russia! Russia! Russia! And there’s a lot of money on the bed to prove that point.

There’s also the fact that the major Western news media is deeply invested in bashing Russia as well as in the related contempt for Trump and his followers. Those twin prejudices have annihilated all professional standards that would normally be applied to news judgments regarding these flawed “studies.”

On Thursday, The Washington Post ran its own banner-headlined story drawn from the same loose accusations made by that neocon-led Alliance for Securing Democracy, but instead the Post sourced the claims to Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma. The headline read: “Russian trolls are stoking NFL controversy, senator says.”

The “evidence” cited by Lankford’s office was one “Twitter account calling itself Boston Antifa that gives its geolocation as Vladivostok, Russia,” the Post reported.

By Thursday, Twitter had suspended the Boston Antifa account, so I couldn’t send it a question, but earlier this month, Dan Glaun, a reporter for Masslive.com, reported that the people behind Boston Antifa were “a pair of anti-leftist pranksters from Oregon who started Boston Antifa as a parody of actual anti-fascist groups.”

In an email to me on Thursday, Glaun cited an interview that the Boston Antifa pranksters had done with right-wing radio talk show host Gavin McInnes last April.

And, by the way, there are apps that let you manipulate your geolocation data on Twitter. Or, you can choose to believe that the highly professional Russian intelligence agencies didn’t notice that they were telegraphing their location as Vladivostok.

Mindless Russia Bashing

Another example of this mindless Russia bashing appeared just below the Post’s story on Lankford’s remarks. The Post sidebar cited a “study” from researchers at Oxford University’s Project on Computational Propaganda asserting that “junk news” on Twitter “flowed more heavily in a dozen [U.S.] battleground states than in the nation overall in the days immediately before and after the 2016 presidential election, suggesting that a coordinated effort targeted the most pivotal voters.” Cue the spooky Boris and Natasha music!

Read More: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/28/the-slimy-business-of-russia-gate/

A History of John McCain’s Calls for War Around the World

Cypher-on-McCain

Washington (GPA) – Earlier this week notorious war hawk US Senator John McCain (R-Az) was diagnosed with brain cancer. While the liberal and conservative establishments are sending their regards, Geopolitics Alert instead compiled a list of reasons why we don’t care about McCain.

The list is, of course, a history of all the instances McCain has called for US-led intervention around the world. There’s obviously a long history here, so Geopolitics Alert has compiled the largest examples from Europe to Asia. We’ll start with the obvious wars first.

Afghanistan and Iraq

Obviously every US Senator (besides California’s Barbara Lee) voted to give President George W. Bush the power to invade Afghanistan following the events of September 11th. However, McCain wasn’t happy with just moving to invade Afghanistan. No, he had other targets on his mind as early as the day after the towers fell.

Despite McCain’s claim in 2014 that “the Iraq war probably wouldn’t have happened” if he had won the 2000 Republican primary and the general election, this assertion seems ridiculous. On September 12th, 2001, McCain appeared on MSNBC presenting an extensive list of countries he felt were providing a “safe harbor” to groups like al Qaeda. This list, of course, included Iraq and several other nations that appear later on this list.

Syria

Another country on that 2001 list (of course) was Syria. Now, the Bush regime may have never gotten a chance to continue toppling Mideast countries (thanks to the failure in Iraq and the exposure of that war being sold on lies). But McCain seemingly never lost sight of his hatred for Bashar Al-Assad.

Related: Syrian Rebels ‘Kill Hundreds Of Prisoners’ Captured During Infighting

Shortly after the Arab Spring “broke out” in Syria, McCain – and his constant partner in war crimes Sen. Lindsey Graham – quickly found communication channels with the “Syrian opposition.” Just a few short months after the US endorsed protests in Syria (even having their ambassador attend), McCain and Graham began calling for arms to start flowing to the Free Syrian Army and other “rebel” groups.

Libya

McCain’s plans for Syria never quite worked the way he wanted, but he probably should’ve known they would never yield a positive result. If McCain didn’t want to look at Iraq to prove that point, he had another more recent example he could’ve used: the NATO intervention in Libya.

It was less than a year before McCain wanted to arm Syrian takfiris that he had supported with the bombing and no fly zones in Libya. McCain even wanted tougher actions against the country. Which has now become an anarchic Wild West that’s home to all sorts of horrors from the Islamic State to a new slave trade.

West and Central Africa

McCain is also a champion of the “war on terror” in other parts of Africa. While McCain hasn’t directly supported terrorists in some countries in Africa, he still has called for more US intervention across the continent.

This list includes countries dealing with Islamic insurgencies, such as Mali. McCain has also called for plans like “deploying Special Forces” to rescue girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria and intervention in Sudan, where McCain and his wife have invested money for some time.

Iran

Another country on the list of hated nations initially put forth by Bush undersecretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, and also another long time target of McCain is of course Iran.

Although McCain has always said “he prays” there will never be at war with Iran, the man incessantly calls for it and even jokes about bombing the country when he feels the mood is right. The truth of the matter is, McCain’s positions towards Iran are so hostile that even flagship neoconservative institutions like the Cato Institute think he is too hawkish.

Bosnia and Kosovo

But McCain isn’t satisfied with just backing Salafi jihadists in the traditional Middle East and North African theaters. He’s also backed violent radicals across the fringes of Europe. This trend actually started in the mid-1990’s when McCain was a vocal supporter of then president Bill Clinton’s war in Bosnia.

Related: The Destruction Of Yugoslavia: A Template For America’s Future Policy

Many of the Muslims traveling to Bosnia joining the mujahideen there have joined groups like IS in recent years. And IS flags can occasionally be seen in the Sunni areas of Bosnia now. McCain was still backing potential Takfiri movements, recently accusing Russia of interfering in local affairs, and calling for more US intervention in the country.

McCain made similar decisions when he advocated US intervention in Kosovo in the late 90’s. In the Kosovo conflict, McCain backed the Kosovo Liberation Army: a genocidal jihadist organization with ties to Al Qaeda under Osama Bin Laden.

Ukraine

Don’t be fooled into thinking that McCain only supports jihadists in Eastern Europe though! He also backs the overt Nazis acting as death squads for Kiev in the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.

Related: Nikki Haley Perpetuates Lies About Ukraine

This, of course, started in 2014, but McCain has continued to pledge support for Kiev’s crimes in the Donbass region to this day. This is all par for the course in McCain’s larger theme of challenging Russia– the country he believes controls the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russia

The story of McCain’s hatred of Russia spans back to the Cold War. We won’t get into McCain’s fear of communism that’s evolved into just general Russophobia. But we will say he didn’t have many excuses to focus on making threats towards Moscow for a good 15-20 year stretch.

This changed in 2008, with the war in South Ossetia between Georgia and Russia. During this conflict, McCain was the loudest voice saying the US “should immediately call a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to assess Georgia’s security and review measures NATO can take to contribute to stabilizing this very dangerous situation.”

Related: Georgia: Disapproval Rising For NATO Membership

This same situation repeated in Ukraine in 2014 but McCain’s worst comments came this year. As soon as the US Intelligence Community’s accused Russia of interference in the 2016 US elections– and without any evidence– McCain was first to say the event was an “act of war.”

North Korea

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DRPK/North Korea) was also an early target of McCain’s making his September 12th wish list. More recently though, the restyled “Trump opponent” McCain was all-in on the new regime’s saber rattling. Calling on Trump to strike the nuclear-armed country.

Related: Why Trump Can’t Just Bomb His Korea Problem Away

Bonus: China

China is kind of in its own class with McCain, who’s made strange, vague threats towards the country in the past. Such as “the Arab spring is coming to China,” whatever that means. China may be a target on the periphery for McCain, but he does still encourage antagonizing the country to this day. Calling for things like more “freedom of navigation drills” and other naval exercises in the South China Sea.

So, in summation, next time someone asks why you don’t care about John McCain’s clock running out, show them this article. McCain has encouraged the spread of death worldwide. The day he leaves congress will be a victory for the human race.


Also published on Medium.

From: geopoliticsalert.com/history-john-mccain-war

Confronting Russophobia | Zero Hedge

Notice a Pattern?

There is a paranoid, hysterical quality to the public discourse on Russia and all things Russian in today’s America.  The corporate media machine and its Deep State handlers have abdicated reason and common decency in favor of raw hate and fear-mongering.  We have not seen anything like it before, even in the darkest days of the Cold War.

Read More: www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-23/confronting-russophobia

Jim Rogers: “We’re About To Have The Worst Economic Problems Of A Lifetime, A Lot Of People Will Disappear” | Zero Hedge

Submitted by Patrick Ceresna, Macrovoices.com

“Get prepared,” warns billionaire commodity guru Jim Rogers, “because we’re going to have the worst economic problems in your lifetime and a lot of people are going to disappear.” In this wide-ranging interview with MacroVoices’ Erik Townsend, the investing legend discusses everything from whether Russia is being scapegoated (“yes, ask Victoria Nuland”), the war against cash (“governments love it… they want to control everything”), to his views on gold and the demise of freedom.

Read More: www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-11/jim-rogers-were-about-have-worst-economic-problems-lifetime-lot-people-will-disappea

U.S. Special Forces Deployed To 70% Of The World In 2016 | Zero Hedge

American Special Forces Deployment Around the World

Special forces operations like the one in Yemen are nothing new. America’s elite troops have found themselves on the frontlines constantly since 9/11, conducting operations everywhere from the dusty back alleys of North Africa to the snow-capped mountains of Afghanistan.

Read More: www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-02-11/us-special-forces-deployed-70-world-2016

MSM says: Russia Russia Russia!


Jan Brady says Russia Russia Russia
What Michael Flynn and the Russian Ambassador REALLY Discussed

February 15, 2017 by Washington’sBlog

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was fired by Trump.  Flynn was caught discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador even before Trump took office.

Sounds bad, right?

Maybe …

But Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake – the former senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast, who covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI notes:

One White House official with knowledge of the conversations told me that the Russian ambassador raised the sanctions to Flynn and that Flynn responded that the Trump team would be taking office in a few weeks and would review Russia policy and sanctions. That’s neither illegal nor improper.

If true, then all that happened is that the Russian ambassador asked about sanctions, and Flynn responded that he couldn’t say anything until he got marching orders from the Trump administration after it took the helm.

In other words, just more anti-Russia hysteria.

Once Again, Reading Beyond the Headlines Reveals Another Smear Attempt

The bottom line here is that the only incremental news is that Manafort knowingly or unknowingly came into contact with Russian intelligence officials during his business dealings but no election-collusion was discovered.

Once again, reading beyond the headline reveals this is just another bold-faced attempt by the former establishment to undermine and discredit the Trump administration.

The establishment takes advantage of the fact that most people only read headlines and listen to sound bites but anyone reading deeper into this will see that they’ve made no solid accusations and have little proof, if any, of actual lawbreaking or collusion.

Once again, just like with the previous attempts, you’ll see that they don’t go to a full investigation because that would reveal the accusation are baseless.

Fake-News
NYTimes Reports Trump Aides’ “Repeated Contact” With Russian Intel Officials, Admits No Collusion Discovered | Zero Hedge
The New York Times appears to be resurrecting an old story with a new angle to keep the ‘blame the Russians’ narrative alive. Following FISA court approval (to spy on Trump’s campaign), intercepted calls reportedly show “repeated contact” between Trump advisor Paul Manafort and senior Russian intelligence officials… but reveal no collusion.

Intercepted phone calls and phone records show that several aides and allies to President Trump’s campaign were in repeated contact with senior Russian intelligence officials, according to the New York Times. As The Hill explains,

Current and former officials that spoke with the Times would not give many details, and it’s not clear exactly who, both from the U.S. and Russia, were part of the conversations or what they talked about, including if discussions centered on Trump himself.

Officials told the publication that they have seen no evidence of collusion in regards to hacking or the election.

Three of the four current and former officials who spoke with the Times said the contacts were discovered during the same time that U.S. intelligence agencies were investigating Russia’s extensive hacking campaign, later determined to be aimed at helping Trump win the White House.

The Times’ sources said Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was picked up on the calls. Manafort left the campaign after several months as reports swirled about his business ties in Russia and the Ukraine.

The officials would not name any other Trump aides or supporters captured in the conversations.

As a reminder, it was not just Paul Manafort that was involved in FBI probes, but Tony Podesta – the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign director John Podesta – who had set up secret meetings with Ukraine officials.

Manafort, who has not been charged with any crimes, exclaims To Britain’s Telegraph that “this is absurb,”

 “I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today.”

Mr. Manafort added, “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.’”

Several of Mr. Trump’s associates, like Mr. Manafort, have done business in Russia, and it is not unusual for American businessmen to come in contact with foreign intelligence officials, sometimes unwittingly, in countries like Russia and Ukraine, where the spy services are deeply embedded in society. Law enforcement officials did not say to what extent the contacts may have been about business.

Finally, buried deep in The New York Times’ story – which is sure to run the narrative during tomorrow’s media cycle (and already is a hot topic of conjecture on CNN) – the author admits, rather sheepishly that…

 The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.

Which confirms what The FBI said back in November.
*  *  *
The bottom line here is that the only incremental news is that Manafort knowingly or unknowingly came into contact with Russian intelligence officials during his business dealings but no election-collusion was discovered. We leave it to Ari Fleischer to sum it all up perfectly…