this same tyler durden will evade calling venezuela a case in point

Putin Accuses “Foreign Spy Agencies” Of Supporting Terrorism To Destabilize Russia
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jun 28 2017

In the first public accusation that “foreign spy agencies” are seeking to destabilize Russia made in recent years, Pres Putin said during a meeting with Russia’s foreign intelligence agency that “some foreign special services” are directly supporting extremist and terrorist groups to destabilize the situation near Russia’s borders. Putin was quoted by Bloomberg as saying during the televised speech in Moscow on Wednesday:

In general, the growing activity of foreign special services against us and our allies is obvious. There are operations to influence the domestic political and social processes in our country.

Coicidentially, AP reported that according to an unclassified report by the DIA released on Wednesday:

The Kremlin is convinced that Pindostan is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine.

Thursday’s report reflects the Pentagon’s view of the global security picture shifting after nearly two decades of heavy Pindosi focus on countering terrorism and fighting relatively small-scale wars across the Middle East. Russia, in particular, is now at the center of the national security debate in Congress, fed by political divisions over how to deal with Putin and whether his military buildup, perceived threats against NATO and alleged election interference call for a new approach. Titled “Russia Military Power,” it is the agency’s first such unclassified assessment in more than two decades. According to AP, the 116-page report portrays Russia as increasingly wary of Pindostan. One almost wonders why. It says:

Moscow (suffers from a) deep and abiding distrust of Pindosi efforts to promote democracy around the world and what it perceives as a Pindosi campaign to impose a single set of global values. Moscow worries that Pindostan’s attempts to dictate a set of acceptable international norms threaten the foundations of Kremlin power by giving license for foreign meddling in Russia’s internal affairs.

The report also discusses recent military developments, with a focus on the middle east. (“Belie” is probably a mistake for “betray” – RB). It cites the example of Moscow’s 2015 military intervention in Syria. The Kremlin cast the effort as designed to combat Daesh. Faschingstein saw Moscow largely propping up Assad by providing air support for the Syrian army’s offensive against opposition forces. The report says Russia’s Syria intervention is intended also to eliminate Jihadi elements that originated on FSU territory, to prevent them from returning home and threatening Russia. In any case, the report says:

The intervention changed the entire dynamic of the conflict, bolstering the Assad regime and ensuring that no resolution to the conflict is possible without Moscow’s agreement. Nevertheless, these actions also belie betray a deeply entrenched sense of insecurity regarding a Pindostan that Moscow believes is intent on undermining Russia at home and abroad.”

The report harkens to Cold War days when the intelligence agency published a series of “Soviet Military Power” studies that defined the contours of the superpower rivalry. Those reports ended with the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union. Now they return, DIA’s director, Marine Lt-Gen V R Stewart, says with an eye on the future of Pindo-Russian relations. Stewart wrote in a preface to the report:

Within the next decade, an even more confident and capable Russia could emerge.

No new, global ideological struggle akin to the Cold War is forecast, but the report cautions that Moscow “intends to use its military to promote stability on its own terms,” which is why the “deep state,” the Military-Industrial Complex, the neocons or whatever one wants to call the permanently bellicose wing in control, will never allow Trump to pursue a detente with Putin. To be sure, although Trump’s campaign rhetoric was widely seen as sympathetic to Russia, ties have not improved in his first six months of his presidency. In April, Trump said Pindo-Russian relations “may be at an all-time low.” Trump is expected to meet Putin for the first time at an international summit in Germany next week. Meanwhile, to perpetuate the anti-Russia witchhunt, on Wednesday Rep Adam Smith, the House Armed Services Committee’s top Demagog, issued a “national security manifesto” on Russia. He and a group of congress critturs writing in Time Magazine cited the threat of “Putinism,” which they termed “a philosophy of dictatorship” that seeks to extinguish democratic ideals such as government transparency by exploiting “discontented facets of democratic polities worldwide.” Which, of course, is not to be confused with CIA-ism, which is a philosophy of subverting any government around the globe with promises of globalist, credit-card driven expansion, and if that fails, with outright threats (and actions) to overthrow the existing regime by supporting its closest adversaries, both domestic and foreign. Taking McCarthyism to the next level, ranking Demagog Mark Warner said at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday that Russia is becoming more brazen! Warner said:

Russia’s goal is to sow chaos and confusion, to fuel internal disagreements and to undermine democracies whenever possible, and to cast doubt on the democratic process wherever it exists.

In other words, Russia is becoming just like Pindistan! One can see why the Deep State and Demagogs are so terrified!

bezos must sell….

Trump rips ‘Amazon WaPo’ as fake news
Jordan Fabian, The Hill, Jun 28 2017

Pres Trump on Wednesday attacked the WaPo and its owner, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, for its coverage of him and his administration. The president tweeted Wednesday morning:

The president is escalating his attacks on the news media as he struggles to advance his agenda in Congress and grapples with the wide-ranging probe into whether his associates colluded with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s broadside against the Post came after it published an article revealing that fake Time magazine covers with Trump’s photo hung at several of his properties.It also ran a piece headlined “Who’s afraid of Trump? Not enough Thugs, at least for now.” It details the president’s strained efforts to get wavering Thug Senators behind the Senate plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. He also went after the NYT earlier Wednesday over a similar piece, tweeting:

In his WaPo tweet, Trump appeared to reference Amazon’s past efforts to keep online purchases tax-free. But the retailer does collect sales tax on purchases across Pindostan.

Trump Goes After “Fake News” NYT, Slams Media Criticism On Healthcare
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jun 28 2017

One day after he repeatedly lashed out at CNN, on Wednesday Pres Trump blasted the the NYT in particular, and the broader press in general, for reporting that he is “not totally engaged” on healthcare. Trump’s angry outburst followed an earlier tweet in which the president specifically targeted the NYT. Trump’s fury appears to have been focused on a NYT story published on Tuesday titled “On Senate Health Bill, Trump Falters in the Closer’s Role,” in which the Gray Lady said that the president was “largely on the sidelines” as the Senate leadership sought to attract votes for its healthcare bill.  It added that the president’s team’s “heavy-handed tactics have been ineffective in the Senate.” As the Hill reports, a Thug senator who supports the Senate GOP’s healthcare bill reportedly does not think Pres Trump has a clear understanding of the plan.

The NYT reported that a senator left a White House meeting Tuesday with the feeling that the president didn’t fully understand some basic parts of the plan, citing an aide who received a detailed readout of the exchange. The senator felt Trump “seemed especially confused” after a moderate Thug said those who were against the bill would say it appeared to be a “massive tax break for the wealthy,” according to the NYT. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after the White House meeting ignored a question regarding Trump’s command of the details of the negotiations and smiled blandly, the newspaper noted. Trump met with Thug senators just hours after GOP leaders decided on Tuesday to postpone a vote on its healthcare legislation. The huddle came as one Thug strategist with close ties to the White House told The Hill that Trump had not yet fully engaged with the effort to pass a bill in the upper chamber. Trump said Tuesday he had a “great meeting” with Thug senators, adding that they “really want to get it right.”

Trump is likely to be particularly sensitive to healthcare criticism today, one day after the Senate Thug leaders delayed a vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare after it became clear the measure again lacked the votes for passage. On Tuesday afternoon, Trump met with Thug senators at the White House, just hours after the Thug leaders decided to postpone the vote on the healthcare legislation. It was not immediately clear if Trump had managed to change any holdouts’ opinions on the vote.

The Most Dangerous Fake News of All is Peddled by the Corporate Media
Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg (Blog), Jun 27, 2017

Fake news, propaganda and garbage information is everywhere and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. That being said, the key thing to understand is fake news from obscure websites you’ve never heard of is not what represents the real, global danger of rampant dishonest information. The real danger of fake news is the stuff that’s consistently being vomited onto the pages of “respectable,” billionaire-owned corporate media. Obscure blogs and independent thinkers such as myself aren’t influencing foreign policy, domestic policy or anything that really matters (look around you). While alternative media did indeed play a monumental role in the election of Donald Trump, how much really changed when it comes to the true power centers? Not much, not much at all. Goldman Sachs and Wall Street are more in control than ever before, and neocons and other assorted interventionists seem to be running foreign policy. All of this reminds me of the famous saying:

If voting made any difference, they’d make it illegal!

Indeed, the time has come for all of us to own up to the very real and present danger of corporate media which seemingly exists to provide public relations for oligarchs and the foreign policy establishment. Not that this should be surprising. You’d have to be the most naive creature on earth to think newspapers owned by billionaires are going to tell the public the truth. Indeed, I made the following observation earlier today on Twitter.

Truth be told, it’s way beyond bizarre, it’s downright terrifying. Note that most major newspapers could barely catch their breath from demonizing Trump during his first three months, yet suddenly saw him as a heroic figure as soon as he lobbed a few bombs at Assad. This is like giving a puppy a treat for peeing on a wee wee pad. The corporate press is literally training Trump to wage as much imperial war as possible. It’s crucial to understand that Trump, or any other administration really, can only do so much on the interventionist war front as the corporate press permits and pushes. Unfortunately, the corporate press is always pushing for war.

Today provided yet another example of how the “respectable” oligarch-owned press unquestionably repeats government propaganda when it comes to foreign policy. Two days after Seymour Hersh blew a hole in the fairytale account of Assad using chemical weapons in April, and merely a few hours after Sean Spicer started conditioning the public for more war with evidence-free claims that another chemical attack was imminent, here’s how the NYT covered the April attack.

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Naturally, you have the photo of the hurt child to pull at your heartstrings underneath which is written, “after a nerve agent was used in an attack in April.” Of course, there is no proof that a nerve agent was used in the attack. In fact, there seems to be increasing proof that there wasn’t. Yet, that doesn’t stop the NYT from doing it again and again later in the piece.

FASCHINGSTEIN — Pindo boxtops have seen chemical weapons activity at a Syrian air base that was used in the spring nerve gas attack on rebel-held territory, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, scrambling to explain what prompted a White House statement a day earlier that Syria would “pay a heavy price” if it carried out another one. Pentagon spox told reporters that what looked like active preparations for a chemical attack were seen at al-Shayrat airfield, which was struck in April by cruise missiles two days after the Syrian government dropped bombs loaded with toxic chemicals in northern Syria. Another Pentagon boxtop said that an aircraft shelter at al-Shayrat that had been hit by a Tomahawk missile was being used for the preparation. Pindostan and other world powers have accused Mr Assad’s forces of repeatedly using chemical weapons to subdue rebels seeking to topple his government. Chemical attacks killed more than 1,000 people near Damascus in 2013 and dozens more in northern Syria in April of this year.

The paper consistently states non-facts as facts in order to push a particular narrative. Meanwhile, here’s some of what Seymour Hersh reported in Die Welt over the weekend:

The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a Jihadi meeting site on Apr 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives. Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to Pindo and allied military boxtops in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all Pindosi, allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region. Some Pindo military and intel boxtops were especially distressed by the president’s determination to ignore the evidence. One officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb: “None of this makes any sense! We KNOW that there was no chemical attack! The Russians are furious, claiming we have the real intel and know the truth. I guess it didn’t matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump!” The Execute Order governing military operations in theater provides instructions that demarcate the relationship between the Pindosi and Russian forces operating in Syria.

An unnamed ‘adviser’ told Hersh:

It’s like an ops order. Here’s what you are authorized to do. We do not share operational control with the Russians. We don’t do combined operations with them, or activities directly in support of one of their operations, but coordination is permitted. We keep each other apprised of what’s happening and within this package is the mutual exchange of intelligence. If we get a hot tip that could help the Russians do their mission, that’s coordination, and the Russians do the same for us. When we get a hot tip about a command and control facility, we do what we can to help them act on it. This was not a chemical weapons strike. That’s a fairy tale. If so, everyone involved in transferring, loading and arming the weapon, you’ve got to make it appear like a regular 500 lb conventional bomb, would be wearing Hazmat protective clothing in case of a leak. There would be very little chance of survival without such gear. Military grade sarin includes additives designed to increase toxicity and lethality. Every batch that comes out is maximized for death. That is why it is made. It is odorless and invisible and death can come within a minute. No cloud. Why produce a weapon that people can run away from?

Hersh continues:

The target was struck at 6:55 am on Apr 4, just before midnight in Faschingstein. A Bomb Damage Assessment by the Pindosi military later determined that the heat and force of the 500 lb Syrian bomb triggered a series of secondary explosions that could have generated a huge toxic cloud that began to spread over the town, formed by the release of the fertilizers, disinfectants and other goods stored in the basement, its effect magnified by the dense morning air, which trapped the fumes close to the ground. According to intelligence estimates, the senior adviser said, the strike itself killed up to four Jihadi leaders, and an unknown number of drivers and security aides. There is no confirmed count of the number of civilians killed by the poisonous gases that were released by the secondary explosions, although opposition activists reported that there were more than 80 dead, and outlets such as CNN have put the figure as high as 92. A team from MSF treating victims from Khan Sheikhoun at a clinic 60 miles to the north, reported that “eight patients showed symptoms including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds.” MSF also visited other hospitals that had received victims and found that patients there “smelled of bleach, suggesting that they had been exposed to chlorine.” In other words, evidence suggested that there was more than one chemical responsible for the symptoms observed, which would not have been the case if the Syrian Air Force had dropped a sarin bomb, which has no percussive or ignition power to trigger secondary explosions, as opposition activists insisted. The range of symptoms is, however, consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals, including chlorine and the organophosphates used in many fertilizers, which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin.

Given the reporting of a journalist with decades of history calling out government bullshit, you’d think the NYT would at least mention Hersh’s reporting in their article. Nope, not a peep. The Atlantic Magazine does a similar thing. Here are a few excerpts from its Syria piece this morning. Let’s start with the title.

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“Another” chemical attack. Meanwhile, it looks like the last one never even happened, yet does The Atlantic mention the report authored by Sy Hersh two days earlier? Of course not, but it does continue to repeat the fake news claim of an April chemical weapons attack over and over.

Sean Spicer released a statement Monday night accusing the Syrian government of potentially engaging in preparations for another chemical weapons attack. While the statement offered minimal details, it argued that a future attack “would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.” On Apr 4, a government-led chemical attack in Syria’s north-western Idlib province resulted in the deaths of more than 80 civilians. According to Spicer, the Syrian government’s latest preparations closely resemble those carried out prior to Apr 4.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

If indeed enacted, a new chemical weapons attack could have reverberating consequences throughout the international community. In response to April’s attack, Pindostan launched 59 tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base, the nation’s first military operation against an Arab government since Pres Obama’s intervention in Libya in 2011. At the time, the administration referred to the strike as a “one-off” occurrence intended to deter future chemical attacks. But, in the wake of the operation, administration officials reported that Pres Trump had been deeply troubled by graphic images of Syrian children struggling to breathe. “No child of God should ever suffer such horror,” Trump said while announcing the strike.

“The nation’s first military operation against an Arab government since President Obama’s intervention in Libya in 2011.” Since that went so well, we may as well do it again. Meanwhile, do you know anything about David Bradley, the man who owns Atlantic Media? I didn’t think so. Here’s a brief snippet mentioning him from a 2010 Daily Beast article about DC’s “richest power players”:

Far more visible is well-heeled entrepreneur and Atlantic Media publisher David Bradley, who owns The National Journal, The Atlantic and Hotline. In 1979, a 26-year-old Bradley founded the Research Council of Faschingstein. Over the years he zeroed in on health care and finance, and in 1997 he sold the company for more than $300m. He is known for hosting monthly ultra-exclusive off-the-record dinners, a Valhalla of insiders, top journalists, foreign leaders and White House officials, in his glass-enclosed office at the Watergate. Bradley has said: It’s a joy for me. I launched it for the romance of it. It’s more book club than it is clubhouse.

I’ll let you make your own determination as to whether or not this sort of thing is likely to lead to hard-hitting, power-challenging journalism. Sounds like a bunch of elitists stroking each other to me. Which brings me to the main point. The major newspapers do not hold power to account. They aren’t working for the public interest, and you can see the results all around us. With government, corporate oligarchs and the media entirely aligned against the best interests of the population at large, the situation looks very bleak. The imperial train wreck appears unstoppable.

Pindostan Baits Daesh to Stage False-Flag Chemical Attack to Justify Greater Pindo Attack against Syria
David Hoggith, Great Recession (Blog), Jun 27 2017

What could be smellier and more tempting bait to get Daesh to launch a chemical-weapon attack than a Pindosi guarantee that “any” chemical weapon attack in Syria will be automatically blamed on Assad’s regime and will automatically result in Pindostan attacking Assad and all of Daesh’s other enemies? Today the White House offered Daesh that ironclad guarantee. Today, reports the Washington Times, the White House issued a carte blanche guarantee to Daesh, pledging that the Assad regime will pay a heavy price for any chemical weapon attack that happens inside of Syria:

The Trump administration issued a rare, preemptive warning to the Syrian regime against launching any chemical weapons attacks, warning Damascus will “pay a heavy price” if it refuses to heed Washington’s red line.

The use of the term “red line” makes this more than just another line in the sand because of its historic overtones. Assad and everyone else in the world remembers the political price Obama paid for stating that a chemical weapons attack would be a “red line” for Pindostan that Syria dare not cross. When an attack did happen, which Obama doubted was due to Syria, he refused to cross that line and was criticized for cowardice for years. I think everyone knows that Trump is not about to repeat that kind of retreat from his threat. To make it even more clear that Pindostan will interpret a chemical weapon attack in Syria as justifying an attack against Assad’s regime, the statement continued as follows:

Pindostan has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack similar to preparations the regime made before its Apr 4 2017 chemical weapons attack.

That statement ties the current threat to the last time Pindostan attacked Assad based on Pindostan’s claimed belief that he used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, which set a precedent for future responses. As the Washington Times article points out, the White House has revealed none of the particulars that it claims prove that preparations are being made by Assad’s military for such a chemical attack on the Syrian people. That is not unusual in that nations are reluctant to reveal their intelligence, lest it also provide clues as to how the intelligence was gathered; but it also calls to mind the unsupported claims made by the Bush regime that Saddam Hussein was making chemical weapons of mass destruction. When evidence was provided before the entire UN for Saddam’s supposed weapons manufacturing, even I sat and thought, “That’s it? That’s all you’ve got?” I could see leaps to conclusions in every statement that Colin Powell made, and I wanted to believe him because I knew we were going to attack and because I had voted for Bush and because I respected Powell and because and I hoped that our nation would never go to war for illegitimate reasons, so I greatly hoped to see that Powell would prove the case. By the conclusion of Powell’s presentation to the UN, however, I was certain we were going to war for illegitimate reasons. The leaps of logic were glaring, just as they are now.

Pindosi Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley raised the specter of a wider war, threatening Syria’s allies in Moscow and Tehran.

It sounds like intended justification for a wider war to me! And the feared event hasn’t even happened yet. Since fearmongering has always been a warmonger’s best tool, I have a question: If this threat is so grave that it means we would have to take on the risk of a wider war that could involve Russia, and if our concern is humanitarian, why don’t we just selectively target the chemical preparations right now, blowing up the preparations facility where they claim the chemicals are being “mixed,” and, thus, save a lot of human suffering before it happens? Wouldn’t it be better, if our interests are purely humanitarian, to prevent the suffering, rather than put out a statement that could easily (even if not intentionally) bait Daesh into launching its own attack? I’m sure we’ve thought all of this through, because admin boxtops have even described the attack that hasn’t happened yet as “another mass murder attack using chemical weapons.” We know it is going to be another mass murder attack, but we’re going to let it happen? In other words, this attack that hasn’t happened yet, so does not yet even exist, is another one just like the last one that justified our strange attack against Syria, which seemed to accomplish nothing but distraction from the issues that were raging in the press about Trump colluding with Russia at the time. We blew a tiny three-foot hole in a runway, and darkened some bunkers from which the planes had already been removed, but didn’t destroy either the bunkers or the planes. Much smoke, but not much fire? The problems were patched in half a day, and the airport was back up and running.

Evidence that the White House is baiting Daesh into making a chemical weapons attack
Here is where it gets really interesting, and evil. As if all the above were not suspicious enough, let’s look at another article that adds some clarity as to what the US ambassador to the UN pledged in advance of the attack that Assad is supposedly preparing, says CNS News:

Pindo Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley added that Assad’s allies would be responsible too, tweeting: “Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people.”

Whoa! Notice the use of the word “any.” Surely, Pindo ambassadors choose their wording carefully, knowing full well the entire world will parse every word for its significance in trying to discern what Pindostan will really do when it promises to intensify its war. “Any” further attack “will be blamed on Assad!” This is the part that I said becomes a carte blanche promise to Daesh that any false-flag event it creates will be used as an excuse to attack Assad. The White House has already promised that it will attack Assad for “any” attack that it sees happen, presumably meaning any chemical attack, but even that isn’t clear. Just “any” attack. So, launch an attack, Daesh, because we are ready with a hair trigger to respond directly against Assad for anything we see! Could Pindostan offer smellier bait to Daesh than that if it tried? Even if you want to assume the cleanest of humanitarian motives on the part of the Pindo regime, then in that case you would have to assume an incredibly inept and completely stupid Pindo administration, because anyone can figure out that Daesh will smell this bait and do all it can to hit on it and bring about the promised response. If the Trump administration did not intend to bait Daesh, then they surely have to be stupider than any of the rest of us to not have seen that Daesh will now do everything it can to draw Pindostan into a more direct confrontation with the Assad regime. But this doesn’t even stop there. Look at the all the rest of what she said! She stated outright, with no holds barred, that both Russia and Iran will also be held directly responsible for “any” attack that Pindostan sees happen. This is a pledge to Daesh that, if they can pull this off, Pindostan will also strongly attack their other greatest enemies, Iran and Russia! She even has the affrontery to say that Russia supports Assad in his efforts to kill his own people! It’s one thing to say that Russia supports Assad’s fight against Daesh, which they surely and unreservedly do, but she claims that Russia supports Assad’s goals of killing his own people! She states that Pindostan will hold Russia and Iran, which we know the Trump regime is gunning for, as equally responsible for “any” attack that happens (presumably any chemical attack). Could Daesh possibly be given stronger bait to launch its own false-flag attack than a promise that “the Great Satan” will go after Assad, Iran and even Russia if we see any attack happen against the Syrian people! This is a Daesh dream! The Trump administration has endangered the Syrian people by making such a brash promise that virtually assures Daesh will do everything it can to murder them. The event hasn’t even happened, and we’ve decided it’s another “another mass murder” just like the last one. CNS News reported Iran’s response as follows:

Iran’s state-funded Press TV commented that the Pindosi warning “risks sparking a major confrontation between parties to the Syrian conflict and complicating efforts aimed at resolving it.”

I hate to ever be on the side of saying Iran is right, just as I hated to be on the side of saying Iraq’s ambassador was right when he called Powell’s presentation to the UN “a dog and pony show,” but Iran is right. Of course the White House’s statement risks sparking a major confrontation. In fact, “sparking” is far too week of a word, as is “risks.” It guarantees that Daesh will do all it can to create a major conflagration between Pindostan and Russia and Iran, all of whom are its sworn enemies and all of whom it would LOVE to see embroiled in a hot war with each other! Russia responded by calling the Pindosi statement what it is:

White House Threatens to Murder More Syrians Over Imaginary ‘Chemical Weapons Attacks’

Yes, it is Pindostan that in encouraging the “murder of more Syrians.” How can any administration be so blatantly dumb as not to see that they have just given the ultimate pledge of support to Daesh, if it will just attack more Syrian people! Pindostan has just officially pledged full-on military support to Daesh if it will murder the Syrian people, by promising that “any” attack will be blamed on Assad, Iran and Russia! This administration is either stupid beyond belief, or evil beyond belief! They could not possibly have made any statements that would be more likely to cause the death of Syrian people than these! That forces me to conclude this administration has completely sold out to the neocons and the military-industrial establishment by pledging itself to a more intense war with Russia and Iran if chemical weapons are used on the Syrian people! Even if Assad is planning to attack his own people with chemical weapons, we have virtually assured that Daesh will do its best to do the same! This is an administration that wants a wider war with Iran and Russia! That is why Iran and Russia responded as they did. Russia and Iran had already stated that any further strikes like the one that Pindostan claimed was retaliatory last time would cross their own “red lines.” While Iran could easily be taken as mere saber rattling, that is not usually Russia’s approach. It’s a little more adult than that. As the CNS article reminds everyone, Russia already stated:

From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines, whomever it may come from, and Pindostan well knows our ability to respond.

Russia has also warned that any Pindo aircraft operating west of the Euphrates river will be treated as targets. Naturally, Syria has denied that it is preparing a chemical weapons attack against its own people, and just stated that this is an attempt by Pindostan to initiate a broader diplomatic attack against Syria, and possibly a military attack, according to Zero Hedge:

Frants Klintsevich, first deputy chairman of the defense and security committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, accused Pindostan of “preparing a new attack on the positions of Syrian forces.” The Kremlin also dismissed the White House statement, which had warned that Assad and his military would “pay a heavy price” if it goes ahead with the attack. Dmitri Peskov … also criticized the Trump administration for using the phrase “another chemical weapons attack,” arguing that an independent investigation into the April attack was never conducted despite Russia’s calls for one.

In a word, Iran called the Pindosi warning an “escalation” and Russia called it “provocation.” In an earlier article, I highlighted a few of the numerous reasons to doubt that any of the chemical attacks in Syria, even during the Obama administration, were orchestrated by the Assad regime:

Dr Theodore Postol has won many awards as a professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT. He specializes in ballistic missiles and chemical dispersion clouds. He helps the Pindosi government with its weapons program and trains other scientists in weapons technology. Postol debunked the 2013 claims that a chemical incident was caused by one of Assad’s missiles. Briefings such as his, that countered initial information linking the chemicals to Assad, are why Obama did not follow through with his red-line threat. Postol does not believe this year’s incident was a missile sent in by Assad, and he believes the site shows evidence of tampering. He notes many stunning errors in the reports that have tried to link both the 2013 chemical incident and the 2017 one to Assad, writing: “The government’s new report is obviously false, misleading and amateurish. What the country is now being told by the White House cannot be true.”

That article cited several other analysts and their reasons for disbelieving that any chemical weapons attacks were carried out by Assad’s forces.

Why does Pindostan want a broader conflict with Iran and Russia so badly that it seeks to elicit one?
We all can remember how well an attack against Syria back in April worked to terminate the national conversation in the press about Trump’s collusion with Russia when Pindostan attacked Assad. That attack boldly proved Trump was willing to challenge Russia and proved Trump was militarily mighty, like Putin. As a result, the collusion conversation ended instantly (though Trump, true to form, couldn’t resist reigniting the conversation with his tweets a few days later, because he seems to thrive on chaos and lots of chatter about himself. Also true to form this time around, and not at all surprising, according to AP:

The overnight White House threat caught many in Trump’s own administration by surprise. Several State Dept officials typically involved in coordinating such announcements said they were caught off guard, and it appeared the underlying intelligence information was known only to a small group of senior officials. Typically, the State Dept, Pentagon and intelligence agencies would all be consulted before a White House declaration sure to ricochet across foreign capitals.

Why break with tradition? Especially when the element of surprise is key to military attacks, though usually it is used against the enemy and not against one’s own. Speaking of past precedence, who cannot hear in the White House’s current warnings an echo of Trump’s words back then, when he justified the airstrike he was about to launch in April:

When you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a chemical gas that is so lethal; people were shocked to hear what gas it was. That crosses many many lines, beyond a red line, many many lines.

We can also all remember how much Trump relished telling the story about how he was dining on scrumptious chocolate cake with the president of China when he informed him in the middle of a mouth-stopping bite about how he was, at just that moment, attacking Syria. Trump practically salivated as he artfully described the encounter. That “retaliatory” attack immediately became the high moment in Trump’s career as president because even his loudest critics, wholly owned by the military-industrial complex as the mainstream media is, praised him for finally rising to become “presidential.” Nothing like a strong military attack to make you look presidential! What a beautiful way to remove the heat of the press, then and now! Now that Robert Mueller is climbing all over Trump and Jared Kushner, digging into every new hole he can think to explore, given his broad scope for investigation, Trump has more need than ever to create a more potent story to distract the press. However, he needs justification for taking bigger military action. Why not revert to what worked so well the last time? Who cannot hear in the following words at the close of the Zero Hedge article an echo of that earlier event with Pres Xi Jinping?

As AP adds, also on Monday, Trump had dinner with Mattis, Tillerson, McMaster and other top officials as he hosted Indian PM Modi at the White House.

I wonder if they were dining on chocolate cake. Speaking of cake, the Pentagon is again bringing out the term “weapons of mass destruction” in describing what it believes Syria is about to do. Doesn’t that bring to the olfactory memory the delightfully fresh smell of yellowcake for you? And the nice thing about retaliating against an actual chemical weapons attack, should one be successfully enticed into being, is that it provides international cover for broadened military action against Iran and Russia, because use of chemical weapons is banned under UN treaty. And you can say you did all you could to warn them not to do this! Intriguingly, the new preparations for a chemical-weapons attack are taking place at the very same airport that Pindostan so strategically destroyed two months ago. Maybe that’s why we did so little real damage at that airport, even though we used up almost $50m worth of our finest cruise missiles. We wouldn’t want to risk taking out the actual chemical-weapons plant or depot. We knew we would need that facility for a further excuse later on, so wew didn’t take out their capacity to use it. We did not take out the actual chemical-weapons production facility, but just smoked a few bunkers that had been holding some jalopy fighter jets prior to our peculiar advance notice that we were sending our own missiles to strike the facility, thus allowing the museum-grade fighter jets to be lofted safely into the air prior to the arrival of our missiles. We didn’t want to needlessly snuff out any relics. That, and we made a chuck-hole not an actual runway but in a taxiway. Useful only as a photo op, and not a very impressive one at that! For its part, the military-industrial establishment, within which I include the Wall Street financiers as well as the manufacturers of weapons, always wants a larger war to heat up their corner of the economy. However, I have never seen such a blatant attempt to create a “pre-emptive” excuse to broaden a conflict. Apparently, we are going to war with Russia and Iran in Syria, where the war is safely off of Pindosi soil but can create a lot of demand for new Pindosi military hardware. After all, even the warmongers don’t want to lose their own houses and factories. The battle is virtually assured. We just need to create sufficient cause. And, so, we wait only for Daesh to act now that we’ve assured them our retaliation will all be directed at their enemies! We are either incredibly stupid or incredibly evil! Is not all of this another betrayal by Trump on his promises to his supporters, but will they care? As Michael Krieger wrote:

Part of Trump’s appeal to many of his voters, at least ostensibly, was the idea that he would employ a less hawkish/neocon foreign policy than his opponent Hillary “We Came, We Saw, He Died” Clinton. The lobbing of tomahawk missiles into Syria based on the fairytale that Assad launched a chemical weapons attack was the first sign that Trump is easily manipulated and impulsive. In fact, the episode bothered me so much, I wrote a post detailing the dire ramifications. On Apr 6, Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the intel community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon. Some Pindo military and intel boxtops were especially distressed by the president’s determination to ignore the evidence. One officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb: “None of this makes any sense! We know that there was no chemical attac! The Russians are furious, claiming we have the real intel and know the truth. I guess it didn’t matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.

As I wrote previously, attacking Syria was Killary Klinton’s plan from day one. It was, in fact, why we went to war to oust the Qadaffi regime from Libya, as plainly revealed in Wikileak’s documents from Hillary’s State Dept. It was why the whole Benghazi thing happened and was covered up by Killary. The embassy in Benghazi was attacked by Libya because it was being used by Pindostan as HQ for efforts to overthrow Libya’s government. That made the embassy a legitimate war target. Attacking Syria is a masterplan of the military-industrial complex that goes back a long way. From the beginning, the Libyan and Syrian wars were all about Iran. Hillary, in her own delusional way, believed Russia would stay out of the conflict. Now it appears we actually want a proxy war with Russia too. What better way to use up a lot of military hardware and show our strength against Russia, naturally on someone else’s soil? The military-industrial complex needs to reposition from the tattered, dated and wearying GWOT to a new cold war with Russia, or better yet, a hot war with Russia, on foreign soil as neither nation will want to encourage the battle to come onto their own soil. At the same time, what better way for Trump to prove he is not a Russian collaborator and silence those endless accusations while moving the conversation to something more praiseworthy? Everyone wins. Well, everyone in the administration. It looks like no matter who you voted for, Killary Klinton or Trojan Trump, you ultimately get the same military-industrial establishment! Trump’s weakness has been found and is now being exploited by the deep state. Trump needs praise. It is his constant fuel. In the very least, he needs constant attention. To that end, even negative press is better than none at all. Thus he reignites fires as quickly as he puts them out, because he cannot handle more than one day’s silence about himself. Anyone who must have continual praise or attention is easy to exploit. As with many Caesars of the past, the need for praise and attention is one of the worst weaknesses an emperor can have. As Krieger quoted:

Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

jackson diehl, the bastard

After Pindo-Backed Bombing Sparks Famine in Yemen, WaPo Editor Insists ‘Pindostan Not the Problem’
Adam Johnson, FAIR, Jun 26 2017

WaPo-Worst-Crisis

WaPo deputy editorial page editor Jackson Diehl took a massive, human rights-violating catastrophe, the Pindo-assisted Toad bombing of Yemen for the past two-and-a-half years, and the massive famine it’s caused, and somehow turned it into a write-up on how good and noble Pindostan is. Diehl cynically whitewashed Pindostan’s role in the crisis and turned the Toads’ primary defender in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, into an unsung hero, a true masterwork in public relations reality inversion. Diehl framed the topic as something both public and media have ignored, insisting (6/25/17):

No One Is Paying Attention to the Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since WW2.

This is a bold rhetorical gambit, not least because Diehl himself hasn’t made Yemen a topic of an article since the bombing first began in Feb 2015. “No one’s noticing this thing I just noticed” is a great way to frame oneself as a moral visionary, without the arduous work of ideological coherence.

Vocativ-YemenVocativ discussed the humanitarian crisis (7/1/15) and also the Pindo role in fueling it (5/18/15).

Not only does Diehl ignore Pindostan’s role in supplying arms, giving logistical supporting and even facilitating torture on behalf of the Toads and their allies in Yemen, a complicity so deep the State Dept itself warned that Pindostan could be liable for war crimes, he actually writes, “Pindostan is not the problem here.” In fact, he paints Pindostan as a lone moral voice:

Notwithstanding the anti-foreign aid posture of the Trump administration, Pindostan is not the problem here. By early June, Faschingstein had pledged nearly $1.2b in relief to the four countries [meaning Yemen and South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria, also facing famine], including a supplement of $329m announced on May 24. There’s more coming, thanks to a bipartisan coalition in Congress, spearheaded by Lindsey Graham, that inserted $990m for famine relief into this year’s budget.

Painting Graham as the savior of Yemen when more than any other Pindo pol, he defends and advocates on behalf of the country bombing Yemen, is uniquely perverse and craven. The article continues like a State Dept press release:

But Graham and other key legislators have already made clear that [cuts to foreign aid] won’t happen. “For all the chaos,” Beasley told me, “Demagogs and Thugs still come together for hungry children.”

If “Demagogs and Thugs” want to “come together for hungry children,” then why did 48 Thugs and 5 Demagogs block a vote two weeks ago to cut off arms to the Toads, who are currently bombing those children? An estimated 10,000 civilians have been killed in the Pindo-backed airstrikes, in a country where 50% of the population is under 16! If Trump is supposed to be the savior of besieged Yemeni children, why not mention Trump’s recent lovefest with the Toads who are killing them? One is left to ask what moral universe Diehl occupies, where Pindostan can act as both arsonist and someone bringing a couple of blankets to the fire victims, and get fawning credit for the latter.

Jackson-Diehl

But then Diehl has a long history of taking the worst, most violent excesses of Pindo empire and suggesting they are in fact good. In 2011 (10/9/11), he wrote:

The Arab Spring, in short, is making the invasion of Iraq look more worthy, and necessary, than it did a year ago. Before another year has passed, Syrians may well find themselves wishing that it had happened to them.

And, as FAIR noted at the time (12/23/14), Diehl also completely rewrote 70 years of Pindo-Soviet relations and bilateral talks to uphold his weird fringe position that Pindostan shouldn’t directly engage with Cuba. His MO is clear, and his shame seemingly nonexistent. Omitting Pindostan’s responsibility for the carnage in Yemen, while a journalistic crime in its own right, is par for the course with most media (2/23/17). Diehl takes it one step further. Under the pretext of feigning outrage over a very real famine, Diehl attempts to recast Pindostan, not as one of the disaster’s primary drivers, but as the only country that can save the day, a noble moral beacon in a sea of unseemly Arabs.

glenn is the painstakingly moderate twat who wasted pierre omidyar’s billions on partisan scribblers

Latest Example of Media Recklessness on the Russia Threat
Glenn Greenwald, Intercept, Jun 27 2017

Three prominent CNN journalists resigned Monday night after the network was forced to retract and apologize for a story linking Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment fund under congressional investigation. That article, like so much Russia reporting from the Pindo media, was based on a single anonymous source, and now the network cannot vouch for the accuracy of its central claims. The three journalists were Thomas Frank, who wrote the story (not the same Thomas Frank who wrote “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”); Eric Lichtblau, recently hired away from the NYT; and Lex Haris, head of a new investigative unit. In announcing the resignations, CNN said:

Standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published.

The resignations follow CNN’s Friday night retraction of the story, in which it apologized to Scaramucci:

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Several factors compound CNN’s embarrassment here. To begin with, CNN’s story was first debunked by an article in Sputnik News which explained that the investment fund documented several “factual inaccuracies” in the report, including that the fund is not even part of the Russian bank that is under investigation, Vnesheconombank, and another by Breitbart, which cited numerous other factual inaccuracies. This episode follows an embarrassing correction CNN was forced to issue earlier this month when several of its highest-profile on-air personalities asserted on the basis of anonymous information that in his congressional testimony, James Comey was going to deny Trump’s claim that he had assured him he was not the target of any investigation. When Comey confirmed Trump’s story, CNN was forced to correct its story, writing:

An earlier version of this story said that Comey would dispute Trump’s interpretation of their conversations. But based on his prepared remarks, Comey outlines three conversations with the president in which he told Trump he was not personally under investigation.

But CNN is hardly alone when it comes to embarrassing retractions regarding Russia. Over and over, major media outlets have published claims about the Russia Threat that turned out to be completely false, always in the direction of exaggerating the threat and/or inventing incriminating links between Moscow and the Trump circle. In virtually all cases, those stories involved evidence-free assertions from anonymous sources that these media outlets uncritically treated as fact, only for it to be revealed that they were entirely false. Several of the most humiliating of these episodes have come from the WaPo. On Dec 30, the paper published a blockbuster frightening scoop that immediately and predictably went viral and generated massive traffic. Basing itself as usual on anonymous sources, the paper claimed that Russian hackers had hacked into the “Pindo electricity grid” through a Vermont utility.

That in turn led MSNBC journalists and various Demagog boxtops to instantly sound the alarm that Putin was trying to deny Pindosis heat during the winter:

Literally every facet of that story turned out to be false.

First, the utility company, which the WaPo had not bothered to contact, issued a denial, pointing out that malware was found on one laptop that was not connected either to the Vermont grid or the broader electricity grid. That forced the WaPo to change the story to hype the still-alarmist claim that this malware “showed the risk” posed by Russia to the electric grid, along with a correction at the top repudiating the story’s central claim:

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But then it turned out that even this limited malware was not connected to Russian hackers at all and indeed may not have been malicious code of any kind. Those revelations forced the WaPo to publish a new article days later entirely repudiating the original story.

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Embarrassments of this sort are literally too numerous to count when it comes to hyped, viral media stories over the last year about the Russia Threat. Less than a month before its electric grid farce, the WaPo published a blockbuster storylargely based on a blacklist issued by a brand new and entirely anonymous group featuring the shocking assertion that stories planted or promoted by Russia’s “disinformation campaign” were viewed more than 213 million times. That story fell apart almost immediately. The McCarthyite blacklist of Russia disinformation outlets on which it relied contained numerous mainstream sites. The article was widely denounced and two weeks later, the WaPo appended a lengthy editor’s note at the top:

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Slate had published another article weeks earlier that went viral on Trump and Russia, claiming that a secret server had been discovered that the Trump Organization used to communicate with a Russian bank. After that story was hyped by Hillary Clinton herself, multiple news outlets including The Intercept debunked it, noting that the story had been shopped around for months but found no takers. Ultimately, the WaPo made clear how reckless the claims were:

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A few weeks later, C-SPAN made big news when it announced that it had been hacked and its network had been taken over by Russia Today:

That, too, turned out to be totally baseless, and C-SPAN was forced to renounce the claim:

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In the same time period, Dec 2016, the Graun published a story by Ben Jacobs claiming that WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange had “long had a close relationship with the Putin regime.” That claim, along with several others in the story, was fabricated, and the Graun was forced to append a retraction to the story:

guardianch-1498565599-540x165

Perhaps the most significant Russia falsehood came from CrowdStrike, the firm hired by the DNC to investigate the hack of its email servers. Again in the same time period, Dec 2016, the firm issued a new report accusing Russian hackers of nefarious activities involving the Ukrainian army, which numerous outlets including the WaPo of course, uncritically hyped. The WaPo claimed:

A cyber-security firm has uncovered strong proof of the tie between the group that hacked the DNC and Russia’s military intelligence arm, the primary agency behind the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 election. The firm CrowdStrike linked malware used in the DNC intrusion to malware used to hack and track an Android phone app used by the Ukrainian army in its battle against pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine from late 2014 through 2016.

Yet that story also fell apart. In March, the firm “revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year’s presidential election campaign” after several experts questioned its claims, and “CrowdStrike walked back key parts of its Ukraine report.” What is most notable about these episodes is that they all go in the same direction: hyping and exaggerating the threat posed by the Kremlin. All media outlets will make mistakes. That is to be expected. But when all of the “mistakes” are devoted to the same rhetorical theme, and when they all end up advancing the same narrative goal, it seems clear that they are not the by-product of mere garden-variety journalistic mistakes. There are great benefits to be reaped by publishing alarmist claims about the Russian Threat and Trump’s connection to it. Stories that depict the Kremlin and Putin as villains and grave menaces are the ones that go most viral, produce the most traffic, generate the most professional benefits such as TV offers, along with online praise and commercial profit for those who disseminate them. That’s why blatantly inane anti-Trump conspiracists and Russia conspiracies now command such a large audience: because there is a voracious appetite among anti-Trump internet and cable news viewers for stories, no matter how false, that they want to believe are true, and conversely, expressing any skepticism about such stories results in widespread accusations that one is a Kremlin sympathizer or outright agent.

vox-1498568385-1000x658.png

One can, if one wishes, view the convergence of those ample benefits and this long line of reckless stories on Russia as a coincidence, but that seems awfully generous, if not willfully gullible. There are substantial professional and commercial rewards for those who do this and at least until the resignation of these CNN journalists last night, very few consequences even when they are caught. A related and perhaps more significant dynamic is that journalistic standards are often dispensed with when it comes to exaggerating the threat posed by countries deemed to be the official enemy du jour. That is a journalistic principle that has repeatedly asserted itself, with Iraq being the most memorable but by no means only example. In sum, anything is fair game when it comes to circulating accusations about official Pindo adversaries, no matter how baseless, and Russia currently occupies that role. The less standing and power one has in official Faschingstein, the more acceptable it is to publish false claims about them, as this recent, shockingly falsehood-ridden NYT article about RT host Lee Camp illustrates. It too now contains multiple corrections. And then there is the fact that the vast majority of reporting about Russia, as well as Trump’s alleged ties to the Kremlin, has been based exclusively on evidence-free assertions of anonymous officials, many, if not most, of whom have concealed agendas. That means that they are free to issue completely false claims without the slightest concern of repercussions. That there is now a fundamental problem with reporting on Russia appears to be a fact accepted even by CNN executives. In the wake of this latest debacle, a CNN editor issued a memo leaked to BuzzFeed, imposing new editorial safeguards on “any content involving Russia.” That is a rather remarkable indictment on media behavior when it comes to Moscow. The importance of this journalistic malfeasance when it comes to Russia, a nuclear-armed power, cannot be overstated. This is the story that has dominated Pindosi politics for more than a year. Ratcheting up tensions between these two historically hostile powers is incredibly inflammatory and dangerous. All kinds of claims, no matter how little evidence there isto support them, have flooded Pindo political discourse and have been treated as proven fact. And that’s all independent of how journalistic recklessness fuels and gives credence to the Trump administration’s campaign to discredit journalism generally. The president wasted no time exploiting this latest failure to attack the media:

Given the stakes, reporting on these matters should be done with the greatest care. As this long line of embarrassments, retractions, and falsehoods demonstrates, the exact opposite mentality has driven media behavior over the last year.

i think trump will complete the task assigned by israel, which is to cut off hezbollah’s supply lines

Pindo airstrike kills scores of civilians in Syria
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Jun 28 2017

A Pindo air strike early Monday killed dozens of civilians near the Euphrates River town of Mayadin in Syria’s eastern Deir al-Zour province. The Pindosi bombs struck a prison run by Daesh, where civilians deemed opponents of Daesh were being held. Deirezzor24, a news site run by local activists, put the civilian death toll at 70. It said:

The airstrikes on that prison have resulted in dozens of civilian casualties and the killing of two prison guards. The prison has been turned into dust, and several houses nearby it sustained extensive damages due to the violent strikes, which pushed the residents in that area to leave for elsewhere.

A CENTCOM spox admitted that Pindo warplanes had conducted airstrikes in the area, but insisted that the attack had been “meticulously planned” and that Pindosi commanders “always take into account human suffering and any type of casualties in our planning.” In reality, the Pindosi air war in both Iraq and Syria has become ever bloodier, claiming record numbers of civilian lives, as Faschingstein steadily escalates its latest intervention in the Middle East. Airwars, a monitoring group that tracks reports of civilian deaths resulting from air strikes by the so-called “Pindo-led coalition” in both Iraq and Syria, has placed the number at over 4,000 at a minimum, more than 10 times the toll to which the Pentagon has admitted. Meanwhile, the SOHR has recorded 1,953 civilians killed by Pindo airstrikes in Syria alone, including 456 children and 333 women. The pace of the killing has steadily escalated as Pindostan has sent more troops into the region, with over 5,000 now deployed in Syria, and as Mad Dog Mattis has urged the Pentagon to pursue “annihilation tactics.” Earlier this month, the head of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Syrian civil war declared that the Pindosi air war had resulted in a “staggering loss of civilian life.” Within this context of mass slaughter inflicted by Pindosi bombs and missiles, the Trump White House’s allegations Monday that the Assad government is preparing a “chemical weapons attack” and its threat of retaliation in the name of preventing the “mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,” are nothing short of obscene.

It has become increasingly clear that the so-called anti-Daesh campaign and the allegations of abuses by the Assad regime both serve merely as pretexts for a major Pindosi escalation in Syria. This escalation is aimed on the one hand at consolidating Pindo imperialism’s grip over the oil-rich Middle East, and, on the other, at preparing for war against the country seen as the principal regional obstacle to this objective, Iran. The area where the Pindo airstrike inflicted mass civilian casualties on Monday is increasingly becoming the focus of these preparations. Faschingstein’s aim is to utilize its proxy forces in the north, dominated by the Kurdish fighters of the YPG, to take the city of Raqqa and to continue pressing south-east down the Euphrates River into Deir al-Zour province. Meanwhile, Pindo SOF have set up a desert outpost in al-Tanf, near both the Iraqi and Jordanian borders, to train Sunni proxy forces with the aim of directing them north up the Euphrates River valley. The aim of this operation is to secure a stranglehold over Syria’s eastern border with Iraq and thereby cut off Iran’s land route into the country and beyond it to Lebanon and the Mediterranean. To this end, Pindo forces have engaged in repeated attacks on militias aligned with the Syrian government in the area and have downed two Iranian drones. Recently, the Pentagon moved a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) into southern Syria for the first time. The truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher is capable of hitting targets nearly 200 miles away, which would include Damascus. While advancing precipitously toward a military confrontation with Iran through its Syrian intervention, Faschingstein’s escalation of the six-year-old war for regime change also threatens to draw other regional powers deeper into the conflict, laying the groundwork for a major intensification of the bloodletting.

Turkey, which formally ended its “Operation Euphrates Shield” military intervention in northern Syria at the end of March, is preparing to launch another major incursion into the north-western province of Idlib. In preparation, it began sending convoys of tanks, artillery and armored vehicles across the border into northern Aleppo province last week. The Turkish daily Yeni Şafak, which is closely aligned with Erdoğan, reported that Turkish forces are preparing to seize control of an 85 km long and 35 km deep stretch of Idlib along the Turkish border. Ankara is reportedly preparing to field a force of 1,500 to 2,000 Turkish-trained Sunni militiamen. The objective of the intervention is to disrupt the consolidation of a Kurdish autonomous zone in the border area. The Turkish intervention comes in the midst of growing antagonisms between Ankara and Faschingstein over the Pentagon’s direct arming of the YPG and its fielding of large numbers of Pindo SOF “advisors” alongside the Syrian Kurdish militia. These tensions have no doubt been exacerbated by remarks made by Mad Dog Mattis on Tuesday. He walked back earlier reports that the Pentagon would take back arms it had given to the YPG once the siege of Raqqa had been completed. Mattis said:

Rather than taking back the arms given to the YPG, we’ll be recovering them during the battle, repairing them. When they don’t need certain things any more, they’ll replace those with some things they do need, that sort of thing.

Asked what arms the YPG would be given after the conquest of Raqqa, Mattis replied:

We’ll see. It depends what the next mission is. It’s not like the fight’s over when Raqqa is over.

In other words, Faschingstein intends to continue using the Kurdish militia as a proxy force in its drive to carve out a Pindo-controlled zone in Syria, further the war for regime change and prepare for a confrontation with Iran. Speaking to an AKP rally on Sunday, Erdoğan sharply denounced the arming of the Syrian Kurds, charging that Faschingstein’s action violated the NATO treaty and suggesting that terms of Turkey’s membership in NATO should be “revised.” He said:

We will be together in NATO, and you will act together with terrorist groups? What kind of business is this?” Those who think that they can fool Turkey by saying that they will get those weapons back will eventually understand the vital mistake they made, but it will be too late! We will call to account the real owners of those weapons for every drop of blood they shed with those weapons!

Meanwhile, Israel has also intervened more aggressively in the Syrian conflict, repeatedly striking Syrian government military positions allegedly in response to stray shells crossing the border into the Israeli-occupied section of Syria’s Golan Heights. Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday:

Our policy is clear. We will not tolerate any spillover or trickle whatsoever, neither mortars nor rockets, from any front. We will respond strongly to any attack on our territory or our citizens.

Israel’s supposed retaliation against stray shellfire was timed to coincide with a ground attack by Jabhat al-Nusra against Syrian government positions in the area. Israel’s support for these elements against Damascus has long been known. In an article earlier this month, the WSJ reported:

Israel has been regularly supplying Syrian rebels near its border with cash as well as food, fuel and medical supplies for years.

Trump’s Syrian chemical weapons claims
Andre Damon, WSWS, Jun 28 2017

The Trump administration has accused the Syrian government of “preparing” to use chemical weapons against the civilian population. No evidence has been presented to back up the concocted threat. Nikki Haley added Tuesday:

The goal is at this point not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russia and Iran a message … That if this happens again, we are putting you on notice.

In other words, any alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria could be used to justify war against Iran and Russia. Pressed to substantiate the White House’s allegation, Pentagon spox Capt Davis refused to produce any evidence. He said:

The intelligence is from the past day or two and concerns specific aircraft in a specific hangar, both of which we know to be associated with chemical weapons use.

This was a reference to the Shayrat airfield, which was targeted with a cruise missile strike on Apr 6. Some military officials said they had “no idea” what the White House was referring to. British defense officials said they had not seen the evidence, but would support Pindosi military escalation regardless, meaning they do not care whether the allegations are true or false. The White House statement followed by just one day the publication of Seymour Hersh’s Die Welt article, which demonstrated that the allegations used by the Trump administration to justify the Apr 6 missile attack on Syria were entirely unsubstantiated. Drawing on background interviews with military and intelligence personnel, Hersh wrote that the administration possessed no evidence to back up its claims that the Syrian government had launched a sarin gas attack on Apr 4. The false allegations of a chemical attack and subsequent bombardment of the Syrian airbase were so brazen that they provoked opposition from within sections of the military/intelligence apparatus. Hersh cited one officer as saying:

None of this makes any sense! We KNOW that there was no chemical attack!

At the time, Trump was under immense pressure from the Demagogs and intelligence agencies to shift to a more aggressive stance against the Syrian government. Just days before, the Senate Intelligence Committee had held a hearing at which it was alleged that Trump had effectively collaborated with Russian efforts to undermine the election. Columnists and pundits painted the president as little more than an agent of the Kremlin, but all that changed after the attack, at least for a few days. As Hersh put it:

The next few days were his most successful as president. Pindostan rallied around its commander in chief, as it always does in times of war… One prominent TV anchorman, Brian Williams of MSNBC, used the word ‘beautiful’ to describe the images of the Tomahawks being launched at sea. Speaking on CNN, Fareed Zakaria said: ‘I think Donald Trump became POTUS.’ A review of the top 100 Pindo propaganda rags showed that 39 of them published editorials supporting the bombing in its aftermath, including the NYT, WaPo and WSJ.

At the time, no major Pindo rag even raised the question of whether the White House’s allegations were credible. They were simply accepted as good coin, demonstrating that the media’s role as a propaganda organ for war had not abated. Indeed, Hersh was unable to find a news source to publish his most recent article in Pindostan. The story was also rejected by the LRB, which published earlier investigative reports by Hersh, forcing him to turn to the German newspaper. As shown by the latest fabricated Syrian “atrocity,” this time, supposedly in “preparation,” nothing has changed in regard to the media’s readiness to serve as a sounding board for government propaganda. But the media’s acceptance of the administration’s concocted claims about weapons of mass destruction in Syria cannot hide the fact that they are in fact concocted. In what has become SOP, the administration has not attempted to present a shred of evidence, making only the most general allegations, which the Pindo creeple are expected to swallow whole. Fourteen years ago, the Bush administration used lies about WMDs to start a war in Iraq that led to the deaths of millions. Now the Trump administration, with the full support of the media and the entire political establishment, is using equally groundless claims to escalate a war that could result in a nuclear exchange between Pindostan and Russia, the world’s second biggest nuclear power. Far from opposing the escalation of war, the Demagogs have made this its central demand since the election of Trump and the focus of their opposition to his administration. In an article published this month, Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine spelled out the aggressive foreign policy aims that underpinned Clinton’s candidacy and lie at the center of the present hysterical campaign over Trump’s alleged “collusion” with Putin. Kaine pilloried the Obama administration’s foreign policy, declaring:

Pres Obama’s unwillingness to forcefully intervene early in the Syrian civil war will come to haunt Pindostan in the future.

He excoriated Obama’s “lackadaisical response to Russia’s cyber-attacks and its unprecedented interference in the 2016 election,” concluding:

Pindostan must always send a clear message to those who mean Pindostanis harm: don’t mess with us.

As a recent article in the WaPo makes clear, the Obama administration had expected to transfer power to a Clinton White House that would immediately begin preparing a major escalation in Syria, entailing a possible clash with Russia. Trump’s surprise election victory disrupted these plans, which were well advanced. Hence the ferocity of the efforts by the Demagogs and the intelligence agencies to pressure Trump to carry out a shift to a more aggressive and more anti-Russian foreign policy, efforts that appear to be succeeding. The deepening tensions between Pindostan and Russia over Syria pose an existential danger to humanity. The only way to avert the catastrophe to which the Pindosi political establishment is rushing is for the working class to intervene independently, on the basis of its own socialist, internationalist and revolutionary program.

the jews of america will be left behind to twist in the wind of american fascism, like the german jews after 1916

EU pledges to help Israel suppress criticism
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Jun 26 2017

The EU is pledging to help Israel crack down on critical speech. During a visit to the Israeli foreign ministry in Jayloomia this week, EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova lauded efforts to remove so-called hate speech from online forums. Jourova said that Europe had made “substantial progress” in removing “illegal hate speech” through cooperation with technology firms. Her visit was billed as part of the EU’s cooperation with Israel aimed at “combating racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.” Her Israeli host, foreign ministry director general Yuval Rotem stated:

Israel believes that the IT industry needs to take on greater responsibility in the proactive effort to detect hate speech online.

But while genuinely combating hate speech might be laudable, the evidence is that this initiative is more about trying to suppress criticism of Israel. The joint statement issued by the EU and Israel places their effort in the context of the European Parliament’s recent endorsement of the so-called International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition on anti-Semitism and calls for using it “for better training of law enforcement and government.” The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is virtually identical to the one originally drawn up by pro-Israel lobbyists as part of an exercise coordinated by an EU agency. That definition was never formally adopted by the EU, but it was embraced by the State Dept in 2010 and Israel lobbyists have continued to push institutions and governments around the world, including Congress, to formally endorse it. It contains the uncontroversial statement that anti-Semitism “is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and which may be manifested through rhetorical or physical attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions. But the definition is flanked by an explanatory memorandum, citing examples that muddy the waters between anti-Semitism, bigotry against Jews, on the one hand and criticism of Israel and its state ideology, Zionism, on the other. Those examples include “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” This could mean that arguing for a single, democratic non-sectarian state in historic Palestine in which Jews, Muslims and Christians enjoy equal protection amounts to anti-Semitism. It also implies that accurately cataloguing the racist laws and principles Israel is founded on, especially the denial of the right of return of Palestinian refugees solely because they are not Jewish, could be deemed anti-Semitic. The Jewish-led activist group Free Speech on Israel wrote to European Parliament in March:

The definition deliberately elides the difference between criticizing Jews for imagined negative characteristics, and criticizing Israel for very real negative behaviors. This is no accident. The construction of a defensive shield against advocacy by and on behalf of Palestinians is the specific purpose that the definition was created for.

David Feldman of Birkbeck College, University of London, has called the definition “bewilderingly imprecise” and the accompanying examples dangerous because they may “place the onus on Israel’s critics to demonstrate they are not anti-Semitic.” Even the lead author of the original definition, former AJC executive Kenneth Stern, has strongly opposed efforts to enshrine it in legislation. In a letter to Congress last December, Stern warned that giving the definition legal status would be “unconstitutional and unwise.” Stern highlighted the difficulty with legislating against political opinions, asking:

If denying the right of Israel to exist is enshrined as anti-Semitism by law, would Congress then pass parallel legislation defining opposition to a Palestinian state as anti-Palestinianism? (The definition) was never intended to be used to limit speech. … It was written for European data collectors to have a guideline for what to include and what to exclude in reports.

Yet the EU is now signalling that it plans to use the definition to train police, who will presumably use it to monitor and punish citizens’ utterances. Israel and its supporters have long pressured social media companies, especially Facebook, to crack down on Palestinians, and the company has in the past blocked the accounts of Palestinian journalists. Israel has routinely jailed Palestinians for expressing opposition to its policies in online forums. During her visit, the EU’s Jourova met Ayelet Shaked, the Israeli justice minister. In 2014, Shaked notoriously promoted a call for genocide of the Palestinians on Facebook, which declared that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and justified its destruction, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” The posting also called for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to “little snakes.” The EU has never launched an initiative to hold Israeli leaders accountable for their pervasive racist and genocidal incitement, whether against Palestinians or refugees and asylum seekers from African states. But Israel can count on the EU to help in its thought-policing and punishment of criticism of its regime of occupation, apartheid and settler-colonialism.

this doesn’t sound like the usual scuttlebutt about white house frictions

Tillerson and Mattis Cleaning Up Kushner’s Middle East Mess
Mark Perry, AmConMag, Jun 27 2017

Qatar was the first Persian Gulf nation to help Pindostan in Libya. Qatari operations were more than symbolic. The Qatari military trained rebel units, shipped them weapons, accompanied their fighting units into battle, served as a link between rebel commanders and NATO, tutored their military commanders, integrated disparate rebel units into a unified force and led them in the final assault on Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli. A retired senior military officer says:

We never had to hold their hand. They knew what they were doing.

Put simply, while Pindostan was leading from behind in Libya, the Qataris were walking point. The Qatar intervention has not been forgotten at the Pentagon, and is one of the reasons why Mad Dog Mattis has worked so diligently to patch up the falling-out. In fact, Mattis was stunned by the Toad action. A senior military officer says:

His first reaction was shock, but his second was disbelief. He thought the Toads had picked an unnecessary fight, and just when the administration thought they’d gotten everyone in the Gulf on the same page in forming a common front against Iran.

At the time of the Toad announcement, Mattis was in Sydney with Tillerson. The two glad-handed Australian boxtops at a Jun 5 presser with that nation’s foreign and defense ministers. When the burgeoning split between the Toads and Qataris was mentioned, Tillerson described it as no more than one of “a growing list of irritants in the region” that would not impair “the unified fight against terrorism.” But while Tillerson’s answer was meant to soothe concerns over the crisis, behind the scenes he and Mattis were scrambling to undo the damage caused by the Toads. They decided that Tillerson would take the lead in trying to resolve the falling-out. Three days after the Sydney press conference, Tillerson called on the Toads, the Emiratis, Bahrain and Egypt to ease their anti-Qatar blockade. He announced that he supported a Kuwaiti-led mediation effort. His statement was contradicted by Pres Trump who, during a Rose Garden appearance on the same day, castigated Qatar, saying the emirate “has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.” A close associate of Tillerson says:

He was blindsided by the Trump statement! He was absolutely enraged that the White House and State Dept weren’t on the same page! His aides are convinced that the true author of Trump’s statement was UAE ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba, who is a close friend of Jared Kushner. Rex put two and two together and concluded that this absolutely vacuous kid was running a second foreign policy out of the White House family quarters. Otaiba weighed in with Jared and Jared weighed in with Trump. What a mess! Rex is just exhausted! He can’t get any of his appointments approved, and he is running around the world cleaning up after a president whose primary foreign policy adviser is a 31-year-old amateur!

Then a White House official told the WaPo:

Tillerson may initially have had a view, then the president has his view, and obviously the president’s view prevails.

Or maybe not. While Trump’s Jun 9 statement signaled that Pindostan was tilting towards the Toads & Emiratis, Tillerson and Mattis have been tilting towards Qatar, and for good reason. The retired senior military officer with whom I spoke says:

Every time we’ve asked the Qataris for something, they’ve said yes, which isn’t true for the Toads. It really started with the help the Qataris gave us in Libya, but it goes well beyond that. They’ve been absolutely first-rate on Daesh! The Toads, on the other hand, have been nothing but trouble, in Yemen especially! Yemen has been a disaster, a stain, and now there’s this!

That view has been reflected by both Mattis and Tillerson. Six days after Trump’s statement, Mattis met with Qatari Defense Minister Khalid al-Attiyah to sign an agreement shipping 36 F-15 fighters to the Gulf nation. The $12b sale had been in the works for years, so Pentagon boxtops were able to claim that it had not been fast-tracked by Tillerson, whose department oversees arms transactions. But the Mattis announcement seemed suspiciously well-timed to signal Mattis’ and Tillerson’s views. On the same day that Mattis was announcing the Qatar arms agreement, Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that it would be a mistake to classify the MB as a terrorist group, one of the primary reasons that the anti-Qatar coalition gave for isolating their Gulf neighbor. Tillerson said:

There are elements of the MB that have become parts of government. Turkey and Bahrain Have MBs in their parliaments. These elements have renounced violence and terrorism, so in designating the MB in its totality as a terrorist organization … I think you can appreciate the complexities this enters into our relations.

But the single most important reason for the Qatar tilt is obvious to anyone who knows how to read a map. Pindostan leases the al-Udeid Air Base, southwest of Doha, which is home to the 379th USAF Air Expeditionary Wing. Not only do the Pindosis and the Qataris fly from al-Udeid against Daesh in Iraq and Syria; the base serves as the first line of defense against Iranian encroachments in the region. Even more crucially, al-Udeid not only protects Pindostan’s Persian Gulf allies, it protects Israel, and would be a launching point for Pindosi aircraft against Iran were Israel to be attacked by the Islamic Republic. More crucially, particularly from Mattis’s point of view, the feud not only shattered the anti-Iran coalition the administration cobbled together during the president’s trip to Riyadh, it redrew the geopolitical map of the Middle East. In the wake of the falling-out, Turkey pledged its support for Qatar (and deployed troops to a Qatari military base to guard Qatar’s sovereignty), while Iran took steps to help ease the Toad-imposed blockade. A senior Pentagon consultant who works on the Middle East told me:

The Toads and Emiratis have told us repeatedly that they want to weaken Iran, but they’ve actually empowered them. The actions of the Toads have backfired. Instead of intimidating the Qataris, the Toads have thrown them into the arms of the Iranians. The result is an uneasy, but emerging alliance between Turkey, Qatar and Iran, all backed by Russia. This isn’t just some kind of Gulfie dust-up where we can go out and hold everyone’s hands. The Toads have handed the Iranians a gift, and we’re on the outside looking in. (He frowned.) Listen, I can certainly understand where Mattis and Tillerson are coming from! I mean, with friends like these, who needs enemies?

clueless

Military officials reportedly caught off guard by White House’s warning to Syria
David Choi, Business Insider, Jun 27 2017

Several military officials were caught off guard by a White House statement Monday night that said Syria was suspected of planning a new chemical attack, The NYT reported on Monday. The statement issued by Sean Spicer said Syria’s military would “pay a heavy price” if it launched a new chemical attack. The apparent lack of communication among military channels appeared to be corroborated by a BuzzFeed News report that cited five Pentagon boxtops who said they did not know of the details regarding a potential chemical attack and were not aware of the White House’s plans to release a statement. The White House disputed this characterization in a statement on Tuesday morning, saying:

In response to several inquiries regarding the Syria statement issued last night, we want to clarify that all relevant agencies were involved in the process from the beginning. Anonymous leaks to the contrary are false.

Blurred Lines
Peter Weber, The Week, Jun 27 2017

The White House appeared to draw a new red line on Syria Monday night with Sean Spicer’s warning. The rest of the government, including the military, appears to have been caught off guard by the announcement. BuzzFeed News reports:

Five Pentagon boxtops said they did not know where the potential chemical attack would come from, and were unaware the White House was planning to release its statement.

The LA Times reports:

Several State Dept boxtops typically involved in coordinating such announcements said they were caught completely off guard by the warning, which didn’t appear to be discussed in advance with other national security agencies. Typically, the State Dept, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies would all be consulted before the White House issued a declaration sure to ricochet across foreign capitals.

Various agencies and departments referred reporters to the White House for comment. The NYT noted:

Several military officials were caught off guard by the statement. It’s unclear how closely held the intelligence regarding a potential chemical attack was. While the White House’s motivation in releasing the highly unusual statement is uncertain, it is possible that Mr Trump or his advisers decided a public warning to Mr Assad might deter another chemical strike, and the president has absolute power to declassify anything he chooses to release.

Pentagon, State Dept ‘Clueless’ on Trump’s Assad Allegation
Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, Jun 27 2017

Last night, the White House issued a surprise statement accusing the Syrian government of preparing a chemical weapons attack and threatening to make them pay “a heavy price” for doing so. This immediately suggested another attack on Syria was imminent. No one saw this coming, including the Pentagon and the State Dept. Pentagon officials say they were totally unaware if this putative evidence of a chemical attack until the moment the White House issued the statement, something they completely didn’t see coming. The State Dept, which would normally be involved in coordinating such an important press release, also wasn’t consulted. Indeed, such an announcement would normally involve myriad security agencies, including the Pentagon, State Dept and intelligence agencies, particularly whoever was the source of the allegation about Syria in the first place. All signs, however, are that this wasn’t the case with anyone, and they’re not even sure where Trump got the idea that a chemical attack might be imminent. The White House has since offered a secondary comment insisting that all of the officials who are quoted in the media saying they didn’t know about the announcement are lying, and that the White House did somehow consult with everybody without anybody knowing about it. The only person who may conceivably have been in the loop is Nikki Haley, who almost immediately after the White House statement tweeted that any future attacks in Syria would be blamed on Assad, Russia, and Iran. This gives the impression that last night’s brief, evidence-free statement was mostly a pretext for picking a fight in Syria, and the fact that it came mere hours after Tillerson spoke with Lavrov about a new ceasefire, gives the appearance this was a none-too-subtle way of turning that proposal down.

sarah sanders goes ballistic (never mind the huckabee)

Sarah Sanders Blasts CNN For “Fake News” & Sparks Epic Meltdown From ‘Triggered’ Reporter
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jun 27 2017

After suffering through a series of complete embarrassments this week (and it’s only Tuesday) it should surprise almost no one that CNN and its constant barrage of “fake news”, took center stage at today’s White House press briefing.  Unfortunately, after a seemingly delusional reporter made the mistake of asking why the White House wasn’t satisfied with CNN’s recent dismissal of 3 ‘journalists’, as if that was supposed to suddenly absolve them from months of reporting fake news in a thinly-veiled effort to topple a Presidency, Sarah Huckabee Sanders decided to launch an epic rant that will go down as one of the most entertaining press briefings of the year and undoubtedly made CNN’s week even worse. It all started when Sanders suggested that all the reporters in the room, and the Pindo creeple at large, should take a look at Project Veritas’ latest undercover bombshell, which we covered here. It featured a CNN producer effectively saying that their constant coverage of Russia was “mostly bullshit” and that CNN’s CEO Jeff Zucker was only pursuing the fake narrative for ratings:

Sanders: I think it’s the constant barrage of fake news directed at this President probably that has garnered a lot of his frustration. There’s a video circulating now, whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know, but I would encourage everybody in this room, and frankly everybody across the country to take a look at it. If it is accurate, I think it’s a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism! I think that we have gone to a place where if the media can’t be trusted to report the news, then that’s a dangerous place for Pindostan! And I think if that is the place that certain outlets are going, particularly for the purpose of spiking ratings, and if that’s coming directly from the top, I think that’s even more scary and certainly more disgraceful!

But things got even better when Sanders’ answer seemingly triggered one snowflake ‘journalist’ in the corner, who apparently felt like the briefing room had become and “unsafe space” and left him feeling “inflamed.”

Triggered Reporter: Come on! You’re inflaming everybody right here right now with those words! This administration has done that as well! Why, in the name of heavens, anyone of us is replaceable, and if anyone of us doesn’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us! You have been elected to serve for four years at least, there is no option other than that! We’re here to ask you questions, and you’re here to provide the answers! And what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say “See, once again the President is right and everyone else out here is fake media! And everybody in this room is only trying to do their job!

CNN’s ‘journalists’ are just trying to do their jobs. Assuming their ‘jobs’ are to ignore all facts and report whatever salacious headlines pop into their heads, so long as it serves to advance their fake “Russian collusion” narrative, then they’re doing their jobs.

trump white house probably needs leverage in the CIA to avail itself of obama’s expanded unmasking order

Lindsey Graham Asks Very Simple Question About ‘Unmasking’; Massive Evasion Effort Ensues
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jun 27 2017

For months now, Senator Lindsey Graham has been trying to get an answer to a very simple question, namely ‘if his conversations are ‘incidentally’ captured while he’s overseas talking with a foreign leader who’s being surveilled and his name is subsequently unmasked, is he, as a Pindostani citizen and/or as a Pindostani Senator, legally entitled to know that he’s been unmasked?’ And while the entire world is being distracted by the “Russian meddling” narrative, Graham’s question highlights the single most important issue that should be “top-of-mind” for Pindostanis as it gets to the heart of whether the various intelligence agencies in this country can be transformed into political weapons of mass destruction. As we pointed out a couple of months ago, the timing of Susan Rice’s requests to unmask conversations conducted by Trump officials that were ‘incidentally collected’ and the subsequent leaking of that information to the press would seem to highlight the urgent need for clarity on this topic. Meanwhile, a recently revealed FISA court order should also raise some serious concerns as it found that, under the Obama administration, NSA analysts had been conducting illegal queries targeting Pindo citizens “with much greater frequency than had previously been disclosed to the Court,” which the court described as a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

2017.05.24 - FISA 2_0
 
Therefore, given the gravity of the question and the implications behind it, one would think that the nation’s top intelligence community lawyer, Bradley Brooker, would have been more prepared to answer Senator Graham’s question earlier today when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Instead, Graham got nothing more than a couple of smirks from behind a massive stone wall. The line of questioning started off simply enough…

Graham: Lets get back to 702. I’m overseas talking to a foreign leader, which I do a lot. If they’re collecting on that foreign leader, I want to know, is it possible for somebody in the administration to get ahold of the conversation and unmask me? Is that possible?

The answer to that question was a very simple “Yes.” So far so good. But then apparently things got much more complicated. Graham asked whether it was possible for him to know whether that unmasking occurred:

Graham: Is it possible for me to know if that happened? Can I find that out? I want to know. Do I have the legal right as a Pindostani Senator to find out if my government is monitoring conversations between me and a foreign leader?

After a few attempts at stonewalling, Graham once again tried to rephrase his question:

Graham: So what’s the answer here? Am I ever going to get to know the basic facts? Because if I’m going to be monitored overseas, maybe there’s a good reason to monitor the person I’m talking to. I just want to know what consequence as a Senator flows my way. If somebody in my own administration doesn’t like me, if another administration outside my party doesn’t like me, should I be worried about that conversation falling into the hands of political people that may be one day used against me? I don’t mind if you’re listening. I do mind if someone can take that information and use it politically.

Alas, no answer ever came, which, we suspect is an answer all by itself, albeit not the one that most of us would like.