Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Who is Behind Fake News? The Brussels Terror Attacks: Fake Videos and Images. “The Man in the Hat”

Who is Behind Fake News? The Brussels Terror Attacks: Fake Videos and Images. “The Man in the Hat”
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, February 13, 2018

Url of this article:
The mainstream media is currently waging a campaign against the alternative and independent media including Global Research.
Progressive online media is accused of propagating “fake news”. Are these allegations justified?
Read this April 20, 2016 Global Research report on the MSM coverage of the March 2016 Brussels terror attacks. The corporate media routinely use fake images and videos with a view to misleading the public in its coverage of controversial events including the “war on terrorism”. Who are protagonists of “fake news”?
Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 13 February 2018
After a month of exhaustive police investigations, the Belgian authorities have identified and arrested the alleged (surviving) terror mastermind of the airport bombing, the “man in the hat” Mohamed Abrini. The other four alleged terrorists involved in the kamikaze bombing attacks at the airport and the metro station are reported dead. 
According to reports, Abrini was identified on a Brussels airport still photo released by one or more airport video security surveillance CCTV cameras.
This photo –which identifies three of the terror suspects– has become a central piece of evidence in the police investigation.
In this still photo, the mystery “man in the hat” allegedly Mohamed Abrini is seen accompanying the two alleged suicide bombers, who according to reports blew themselves up in Brussels airport.
Moreover, Abrini happens to be, according to French police investigators, the main surviving suspect of the Paris November attacks.
The official story is that the attacks in both Paris and Brussels were ordered by the ISIS, which just so happens to be supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia in close liaison with Washington and NATO headquarters in Brussels. (The issue of US-NATO-Israel support of the Islamic State is amply documented).
According to media reports:
The revelation that a Paris attacks suspect escorted two of the Brussels bombers to their deaths at the city’s airport is the strongest sign yet that the Islamic State attackers who brought mayhem to both European cities — killing a total of 162 people — were intimately linked. (See Guardian April 9, 2016)
Abrini is said to have confessed “his presence at the crime scene,” according to the official communique
The Authenticity of the Still Photo of the Three alleged Terrorists at Brussels Airport 
Our analysis below will largely focus on the authenticity of the still photo allegedly from the Brussels airport CCTV surveillance cameras.  CCTV systems are able to to take high resolution images on a time lapse basis.  The still picture could also have taken by closed-circuit digital photography (CCDP), which is used to generate still digital images.
TIMELINE [March 22, 2016]
To address this issue, it is important to recall the timeline:
7:55 am local time: “Surveillance footage shows three suspected attackers exiting a taxi and pushing luggage trolleys through Brussels Airport. Surveillance captured still images of the three suspects.” (See image ab0ve)
ONLY Three minutes later, it sounds absurd: Explosion According to reports the kamikaze bombers blow themselves up.
7.55-7.57am: Very much in a hurry, Abrini is said to have left the airport between 7.55am and 7.57am. before the blast occurred at 7.58am
7:58 am. Gunfire is reported in the departures terminal followed by an explosion. There were two blasts: a second blast erupts 10 seconds later.
8.20 am: The airport is closed. all roads and railway to the airport are closed.
9.07 am, (Dernière Heure), one of Belgium’s largest print and online media released an exclusive video footage of the bomb attack recorded by the CCTV surveillance cameras of the airport. This video was aired on all major TV networks, the images went round the World.
The SOURCE OF THIS VIDEO  released by at 9.07am  did not emanate from the CCTV cameras of Brussels airport [22/03/216, logo pasted on the Moscow 2011 footage], it was a rerun of a 2011 bomb attack at Moscow international airport. (see image below)
Below is the screenshot of DH’s video release.

Now compare this to
Moscow airport attacks (January 2011) Video 1 scan (Moscow airport, January 2011)

9:10 am: A blast is reported on a train at the Maalbeek metro subway station, near the headquarters of the European Commission.
AGAIN: The video broadcast of the Maalbeek metro explosion was not from the CCTV cameras as reported by the police and the media. It was from the Minsk, Belarus metro bomb blast in April 2011.
(see photo scans at the foot of this article)
What we can conclude is that:
1) Dernière Heure broadcast a video of the Moscow airport bomb attack instead of the Brussels blast (recorded by CCTV camera) airport attack. Was it sloppy journalism or something else? This is a matter for the police to investigate. (The broadcast of the video footage of the Minsk metro attack was equally misleading).
2) The official CCTV airport security video was not available to Dernière Heure at 9.07am and the public was misled by the release of the Moscow  video. 
One would therefore assume that if the CCTV video footage of the blast had been available to Dernière Heure, they would have broadcast it instead of the Moscow footage
3) Assuming that the airport CCTV video footage was not available to Dernière Heure at 9.07am, how come they were able to get their hands on still images from the CCTV video surveillance system showing the three alleged terrorists. 
10.25am, less than an hour and a half following the release of the “fake” Moscow CCTV surveillance video of the bomb attack (i.e. Moscow) by Dernière Heure, a still image is released by Dernière Heure of the three alleged suspects walking with trolleys in the airport at 7.55am, three minutes before the first blast in the departure terminal.
The image allegedly from an airport CCTV surveillance camera in the departure terminal was released by at 10.25am, it was tagged EXCLUSIVE, No other media had early access to this alleged airport CCTV video and the still images.  The latter were presented with some confusion as photographic evidence pertaining to the identity of the terror suspects.  
Most media reports acknowledged that the mysterious photo of the alleged suicide bombers was released by the Brussels police rather than
The twitter entries below confirm the exact time at which the airport photos were released:
First Release by at 10.27am (entitled “Photo Exclusive” by
12.58pm, is the time at which the still image is “officially” released by the police in liaison with the office of the prosecutor. (procureur)
Release by Politie Brussel/Police de Bruxelles: 12.58pm   

In an unusual twist, it would appear that Dernière Heure had access to the alleged CCTV still images from the surveillance cameras BEFORE the police.
The media reported that the photo was from federal police sources and was provided on the instructions of the federal prosecutor [procureur]:  released the still image of the three alleged terrorists at 10.25am, two and a half hours before its official release by Brussels police at 12.58pm, which suggests that the exclusive image published by Dernière Heure DID NOT emanate from the police authorities.
There is always the possibility that a police and/or  airport surveillance personnel made these still images available to Dernière Heure prior to their official release by Brussels police at 12.58pm. It is also possible that the still images were taken by a CCTV camera which was live streaming  and that this video livestream was accessible to the public.
The third possibility is that the Brussels police took cognizance of the photograph which Dernière Heure described as a still image from the CCTV airport surveillance system and decided to release it without verifying its original source.
On April 7, new video footage showing the man in the hat leaving the airport, circa 7.56am-7.57am was made public. The still image of him leaving the airport is stamped 7.54am  

Now let us recap: released both the Moscow 2011 video of the bomb attack at 9.07am (instead of the Brussels airport CCTV footage) as well as the still image allegedly from the same CCTV airport source (in the departure terminal) of the three terrorists at 10.25am. 
Did have access to the security CCTV cameras?
At 9.07am, they did not have access to the CCTV video footage. They presented Moscow footage (in lieu of Brussels footage) at 9.07am under the byline: “video de surveillance a l’aeroport”. They then claimed that the still image released at 10.25am was from the same source, namely the CCTV camera system at Brussels airport, departure terminal.
Let us play the devil’s advocate: If had been in possession of the real surveillance video footage at 9.07am, why on earth would they have released the  Moscow airport footage and then one and a half hours later come up with an allegedly authentic image from the CCTV airport cameras.
There is another important caveat. While police and surveillance authorities would be able to view and analyse almost immediately the camera footage of the bomb explosion, the same does not apply to the process of identifying three passengers with trolleys mingling amongst several hundred airline passengers also with trolleys in the departure terminal.
In other words, to identify three individuals from a large number of airport CCTV cameras with hundreds of passengers travelling early morning would not have  been an easy fast-track undertaking: the still images pertaining to hundreds of passengers would have had to be examined, compared to police photographic records, etc: An almost impossible task to achieve in a matter of two hours after the blast, assuming that Dernière Heure had access to the CCTV surveillance video data.  Normally, journalists would not have had access to the CCTV camera footage prior to the police authorities.
Moreover, the airport was immediately evacuated and closed down at 8.20am, twenty-two minutes after the blast. A state of chaos prevailed. And we are led to believe that the journalists of Dernière Heure managed in collaboration with CCTV camera surveillance personnel and/or police to get hold of the still image of three alleged terrorists, which they released at 10.25am, prior to the conduct of a police investigation and less than two and half hours following the 7.58am bomb blast. 

Video 2 scan (Minsk Metro, April 2011)
Here is a screenshot of  the Minsk 2011 video footage broadcast on Belgian network TV and on the internet depicting the explosion in the Metro in Brussels, March 22, 2016

Now Compare the above to the screenshot of  the Minsk April 2011 attacks.

These are the questions for police investigators. 

1. Why did Dernière Heure deliberately broadcast at 9.07am the video footage of the January 2011 Moscow airport terror attack?
Why did the media broadcast the video footage of a Minsk, Belarus  metro terror attack in 2011 in lieu of the surveillance video of the metro?
In other words both the metro and airport videos were “fake”.  
2. Did Dernière Heure interface with Belgian police and  intelligence prior to releasing the Moscow airport video which was broadcast Worldwide?
3. Who authorized the release of this fake video?
4. What are the legal implications of this negligence on the part of Dernière Heure?
5. Where did Dernière Heure get the still image from which they released as an EXCLUSIVE at 10.25am prior to the conduct of a police investigation?
6. Was there evidence of them having access to the CCTV cameras? Did the CCTV airport surveillance personnel provide Dernière Heure with access to CCTV footage? Assuming they did, how on earth did the Derniere Heure journalists manage to single out a still image of three passengers, establish and corroborate their identity in the absence of a police investigation and without immediate access to police records.
7. Did the police corroborate the identity of these three individuals prior to 10.25am and communicate the results of their investigation to Dernière Heure?
Highly unlikely: lest we forget, the police released the still image at 12.58am, two and a half hours later. By that time, the EXCLUSIVE picture by Dernière Heure had been  picked up by the news chain, it had circled the globe prior to its official release by the Brussels police.
Concluding Remarks
People in Belgium who are living the dramatic aftermath of this national catastrophe and loss of life: Draw your own conclusions. Is your government telling the truth?
The Belgian police, by addressing these seven questions, should be in a position to establish the authenticity and the source of the still pictures of the three men at the airport. Will they undertake this task?
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

When Is There Going to be Accountability for US Wars and Aggression?

When Is There Going to be Accountability for US Wars and Aggression?
By Rick Sterling
Global Research, February 03, 2018

Url of this article:
It’s WMD all over again.
Anonymous “US officials” are once again accusing a targeted “regime” of using “chemical weapons” and threatening that the U.S. military may have to “hold it accountable”. Once again, western media is broadcasting these accusations and threats without skepticism or investigation.
The Washington Post story is titled “Trump administration: Syria probably continuing to make, use chemical weapons”.  Jane’s Defence Weekly quotes a U.S. official saying “They clearly think they can get away with this ….”
Jerusalem Online says
“A US official says Syrian President Assad’s forces may be developing new types of chemical weapons, which which could reach as far as the US..”
The Reuters story in the New York Times says
“US officials have said the Syrian government may be developing new types of chemical weapons, and President Donald Trump is prepared to consider further military action…. President Bashar al Assad is believed to have secretly kept part of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile….”
The Washington Post article concludes with the threat,
“If the international community does not take action now . . . we will see more chemical weapons use, not just by Syria but by non-state actors such as ISIS and beyond,” the first official said. “And that use will spread to U.S. shores.”
Based on a review of facts from recent history, it is very likely the story is false and is being broadcast to deceive the public in preparation for new military aggression. Anyone who thinks that politicians don’t consider timing and marketing needs to only recall the statement of a GW Bush official that
“from a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”
The “product” was the PR campaign to get the American public to accept the invasion of Iraq.
When is there going to be some accountability for the US military industrial complex and their political and media enablers and promoters?
The invasion of Vietnam with over 500 thousand US soldiers was preceded by the phoney Gulf of Tonknin incident where a US ship was supposedly attacked by a North Vietnamese vessel. It was untrue and President Johnson knew it. The resolution was passed unanimously (416-0) in the House and only Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening had the integrity and insight to oppose it in the Senate. Was anyone ever held accountable for the lie that led to 55 thousand dead US soldiers and millions of dead Vietnamese? No.
The 1991 attack on Iraq and subsequent massacre of Iraqi soldiers and civilians was preceded by the fabricated testimony of the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter pretending to be a nurse who had witnessed Iraqi soldiers stealing incubators and leaving Kuwaiti babies on the floor. Were the marketing officials Hill & Knowlton and politicians such as Tom Lantos who managed this deceit ever held accountable? No.
In 2003 the US launched the invasion of Iraq leading to the death of over a million Iraqis based on the false and fabricated evidence provided by the CIA and uncritically promoted by the mainstream media. For example,  Michael Gordon and Thomas Friedman promoted and lauded the invasion at the NY Times. Were they held to account?  No, they carry right on to today.
In 2011 the US led NATO attacks on Libya with the stated purpose to “protect civilians” from massacre. This was explained and encouraged by journalists and pundits such as Nicholas Kristof and Juan Cole. NATO officials bragged about their operation. After the brief western euphoria, it became clear that the campaign was based on lies and the real result was an explosion of extremism, massacres and and chaos which continues to today. Accountability? None. One rarely hears about Libya today. Out of sight, out of mind.
In August of 2013 we heard about a massive sarin gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus. Human Rights Watch and others promoting a western attack quickly accused the Syrian government. They asserted that Assad had crossed Obama’s “red line” and the US needed to intervene directly. Subsequent investigations revealed the gas attack was not carried out by the Syrian government. It was perpetrated by a Turkish supported terrorist faction with the goal of pressuring the Obama administration to directly attack Syria. Two Turkish parliamentarians presented evidence of Turkey’s involvement in the transfer of sarin. Some of the best and most time-proven US investigative journalists, including Robert Parry and Seymour Hersh, researched and discovered the evidence points to Turkish supported “rebels” not Syria. Despite the factual evidence exposing the “junk heap” of false claims, mainstream media and their followers continue to assert that Assad committed the crime.
In April 2017 it was the same thing: US and allies made accusations which were never proven and ultimately discredited. The UN / OPCW investigation team never visited the scene of the crime. They discovered the curious fact that dozens of victims in multiple locations showed up at hospitals with symptoms of chemical injuries before the attack happened. This is strong evidence of fraud but that investigation was not pursued. With or without awareness of the deceit, Trump ordered missile strikes on a Syrian air base which killed 13 people including four children. Accountability? None.
Recently it has become clear that dark forces in the US government ad military do not intend to stop their efforts to destroy Syria. Despite confusion  and contradictory claims in the US administration, a core fact is that the US is training and supplying a sectarian military militia inside northern Syria against the wishes of the Syrian government. The US said they were in Syria to get rid of ISIS but now that ISIS is largely gone, the US military says it is not leaving. On the contrary, the US military helped escort ISIS fighters from Raqqa to al Bukamal and the US is now training ISIS fighters to be reincarnated as yet another anti-Assad “rebel” force.
As always, US aggression needs some measure of political support. To gain that, they need a justification. Thus it’s WMD all over again. Once again. the “bad guys” are using chemical weapons on their own people. Supposedly the Syrian government is incredibly stupid …. they just keep on using chemical weapons and giving the US a justification to act as judge, jury and executioner.
Most of the American public is too busy, distracted or overwhelmed with problems to investigate U.S. government claims. Mainstream media, including some alternative media, are failing badly. They are supposed to be holding government to account, critically questioning the assertions, investigating the facts, exposing contradictions and falsehoods. Along with the politicians and government, they have some responsibility for the ongoing wars and aggression. They all should be accountable. When is that going to happen?
Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached at
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Friday, December 1, 2017

ICC Prosecutor Requests Investigation Into U.S. Military, CIA for Alleged War Crimes in Afghanistan

ICC Prosecutor Requests Investigation Into U.S. Military, CIA for Alleged War Crimes in Afghanistan

Fatou Bensouda asked judges to authorize an investigation of reported human rights abuses in Afghanistan, including allegations of rape and torture by the U.S. military and CIA.

By Mike Corder
The Associated Press

November 21, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - NETHERLANDS -The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court asked judges Monday to authorize an investigation of reported human rights abuses in Afghanistan, including allegations of rape and torture by the U.S. military and CIA, crimes against humanity by the Taliban and war crimes by Afghan security forces.

The announcement marked the first time ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has gone after Americans for alleged war crimes and sets up a possible showdown with Washington. The United States is not a member state of the court, but its nationals can be charged with crimes committed in countries that are members.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that it was reviewing Bensouda’s authorization request, but opposes the International Criminal Court’s involvement in Afghanistan.

“Our view is clear: an ICC investigation with respect to U.S personnel would be wholly unwarranted and unjustified,” the State Department said.

“More broadly, our overall assessment is that commencement of an ICC investigation will not serve the interests of either peace or justice in Afghanistan.”

As well as alleged crimes by American troops in Afghanistan, Bensouda wants to investigate the activities of CIA operatives in secret detention facilities in Afghanistan and other countries that are court members.

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Bensouda said in a summary of her request that “information available provides a reasonable basis to believe” that U.S. military personnel and CIA operatives “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations, principally in the 2003-2004 period.”

She added that the Taliban and its allies are suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes “as part of a widespread and systematic campaign of intimidation, targeted killings and abductions of civilians” perceived as supporting the government or opposing the Taliban rebels.

Afghan security forces are, in turn, suspected of involvement in “systematic patterns of torture and cruel treatment of conflict-related detainees in Afghan detention facilities, including acts of sexual violence,” Bensouda said.

This article was originally published by The Star -
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Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan: Dead On Arrival?

Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan: Dead On Arrival?

Trump's peace plan will be highly favourable to Israel and dismissive of the Palestinians

By Richard Silverstein
November 21, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - From almost the first day of his presidency, US President Donald Trump bragged that he would solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. Among his claims was that he could do what no US president had done. He called it "the ultimate deal".
By now, most of the world knows Trump is an empty braggart and that his boasts have almost no connection to reality.

A vague plan

But over the past week or so the New York Times and Israeli media have reported that a Trump peace plan is indeed taking shape. Sources have been vague about the exact contents of the plan though one common feature to every report is that the US will recognise a Palestinian state as part of the overall deal.
Beyond the recognition of a state, the deal would offer Palestinians almost nothing further
Last week, the Israeli news show Hadashot laid out the provisions of the peace plan that had been leaked to it. Beyond the recognition of a state, the deal would offer Palestinians almost nothing further. Jerusalem would not be accepted as Palestine's national capital. 
No settler would have to evacuate a single settlement, let alone an entire settlement. Israel would hit a payday in terms of getting almost all of what it's demanded and failed to get from previous US administrations.
The US would recognise most of Israel's stated security needs, including for the ongoing presence of Israeli forces along the Jordan border, the TV report added.
It said Netanyahu, for his part, was pushing for the retention of overall Israeli security control in all Palestinian territory. This is a position Netanyahu has publicly demanded, and which, if granted, would underline that the Palestinians would not be gaining full sovereignty.
The New York Times earlier reported that under the provisions of the agreement Israel would open trade with the Arab world and its airlines would be permitted to overfly Gulf airspace. Arab states, says the Times, particularly Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan "could add their own commitments, like overflights by Israeli passenger planes, visas for business people and telecommunications links."
There would be "land swaps", but considering that no settlements or settlers would be removed, it's unclear what land would be swapped and why. Or as the Times of Israel summarised the Hadashot report: "The borders, however, would 'not necessarily' be based on the pre-1967 lines."

False assumptions

Why, you might ask, would any Palestinian agree to such a deal? Well, apparently Trump and Netanyahu believe that Arabs are so venal that they will sell their birthright for a few billion Saudi petrodollars.
Sunni Arab states and others would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in economic assistance for the Palestinians under the plan, to help encourage Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the deal, the report said.
I would venture to say that if you asked any Palestinian whether, if offered a choice, he would prefer to be personally wealthy over his nation achieving full recognition and sovereignty, we would know what the answer would be.
Such a strategy follows a longstanding false assumption by Israel and the US that the Palestinian problem is an economic one at its root, and not political. Secretaries of state and Israeli prime ministers have touted improvements to the Palestinian economy as the way to resolve the overall conflict for many years. 
This is a false and insulting premise. But in case you're wondering how or why the plan was leaked now... remember that Netanyahu faces four separate corruption scandals. He's been interrogated for the sixth time by Israeli police this week.
Netanyahu is desperate to change the subject. What better way to do that than by leaking to the Israeli public that he might achieve what no other Israeli leader has ever achieved: lasting peace with Israel's Arab neighbours.
An op-ed published by Al Jazeera dismissed the offer to the Palestinians as not only demeaning, but also a repudiation of the Saudis' own 2002 peace plan:
…The Kushner deal will not do even minimum justice to the Palestinian national project. While the deal offers strategic gains to Israel, such as ending a Saudi Arab boycott, it offers only tactical gains for the Palestinians, such as financial assistance, prisoners' release, and a silent, partial freeze of settlement activities outside the large settlement blocs.
The Kushner deal will practically fragment the Saudi-sponsored 2002 Arab Peace Plan that offered Israel full normalisation in return for full withdrawal from Arab lands occupied in 1967. By pressuring Abbas to accept the deal, the Saudi leadership is undermining its own initiative, accepting to partially normalise relations with Israel in exchange for an alliance against Iran.

Saudi message to Abbas

Though the US has suggested that one way in which its approach is different than previous peace plans is that neither party will be pressured to agree. There will be no threats.
This claim has already been belied by two separate media reports of threats being made against the Palestinians if they reject the deal.
In the first instance, Israeli media reported that when King Salman summoned Abbas to Riyadh for talks last month, apparently the Palestinian leader pointed out that the deal being offered was less than any Palestinian could accept. The Saudis were having none of it and presumably told him that if he rejected the deal they would make his life a living hell. He should, in that event, resign.
Presumably, that would enable the Saudis to install a more quiescent figure like Mohammed Dahlan, now comfortably ensconced in Dubai, who would do their bidding. In fact, according to Al Jazeera's op-ed, none other than Dahlan himself "happened" to have been invited to Riyadh at the same time Abbas was there. The Saudi message to Abbas was clear: If we can't get you to do what we say, we'll find someone who will.
We've come to see the outlines of what a Trump deal would involve: The provisions would be highly favorable to Israel and dismissive of the Palestinians
Considering that they'd just successfully forced the Lebanese premier, Saad Hariri, to resign, the Saudis thought this would intimidate Abbas. But the leader of the Palestinian Authority realises if he sells out the Palestinian cause history will make a mockery of him.
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Last week, the State Department "miraculously" dusted off an obscure 1994 law declaring that, if the Palestinians call for the International Criminal Court to investigate Israeli war crimes, the US must close the PLO mission in Washington DC
The US has noted that Abbas' speech to the UN General Assembly last autumn did just that: It called for the ICC, which now included Palestine among its members, to hold Israel accountable for the massive loss of civilian life in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.

Trump's deal: A sham

Unspoken in these reports was the not so subtle threat that the US would close the mission if the PA rejected the Trump peace plan.
Though Abbas isn't known for having much political spine, the PLO's former chief negotiator Saeb Erekat didn't miss a beat in responding that if the US did close the Palestinian diplomatic facility, that the PA would cut off all communication with the US. That would certainly put a crimp into Trump's peace plan.
Creating a viable Palestinian state at this stage is impossible without enormous Israeli concessions and this Israeli government isn't going to do that
- Prof Stephen Walt, Harvard University 
Through all this we've come to see the outlines of what a Trump deal would involve: the provisions would be highly favourable to Israel and dismissive of the Palestinians. The urge of the latter to summarily reject the deal would be mitigated by overwhelming pressure from the Saudi royals to accept it.
Frankly, despite the near universal consensus from Israel, the US, and Saudi Arabia that this deal is a good one; and despite the enormous pressure they can bring to bear on the Palestinians to accept it - I don't see how they can pull this off.
The US may be banking on the universal acclaim they expect from the world to finally see a serious peace plan accepted by almost all the parties to the conflict. But I'd bet that the world will see through the proposed agreement as a sham being perpetrated on the Palestinians. Stephen Walt, the Belfer Professor of international relations at Harvard University, told me:
"It is hard to believe that Kushner, Friedman and co. are going to come up with a deal that would work, because creating a viable Palestinian state at this stage is impossible without enormous Israeli concessions (reversing 40 years of policy) and this Israeli government isn't going to do that." 

Iran factor

Middle East observers have noted another long-term factor favouring an agreement: Iran. Both Israel and the Saudis see Iran as a far more formidable, intractable obstacle than the Palestinians are. They believe if they can solve the smaller problem (Palestine) the world will look far more favourably on their aggressive approach to confronting Iran and Hezbollah.
"The Arabs and the Israelis are facing two enemies, Iran and terrorism, and they must form an alliance to confront them," a western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "But this alliance cannot be established without resolving the Palestinian issue; Saudi Arabia cannot work openly with Israel in the face of Iran before solving the Palestinian issue, and having the Palestinians themselves involved directly in such an axis."
Though Trump's negotiators have declared they won't attempt to force the parties to adhere to a timeline or a deadline to resolve the matter, a Israeli media report indicates Trump has plans to introduce the plan publicly as early as January.
- Richard Silverstein writes the Tikun Olam blog, devoted to exposing the excesses of the Israeli national security state. His work has appeared in Haaretz, the Forward, the Seattle Times and the Los Angeles Times. He contributed to the essay collection devoted to the 2006 Lebanon war, A Time to Speak Out (Verso) and has another essay in the upcoming collection, Israel and Palestine: Alternate Perspectives on Statehood (Rowman & Littlefield).
Palestinians 'freeze' meetings with US over office row: The Palestinians have frozen all meetings with the United States after it decided to close their representative office in Washington, officials said Tuesday.

Who Gets to Push the Nuclear Button?

Who Gets to Push the Nuclear Button?

Who Gets to Push the Nuclear Button?
Paul Craig Roberts
William Binney is the former National Security Agency (NSA) official who created NSA’s mass surveillance program for digital information. He says that if the Russian government had conspired with Trump, hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computer, or in any way influenced the outcome of the last US presidential election, the National Security Agency would have the digital evidence. The fact that we have been listening to the unsubstantiated charges that comprise “Russiagate” for more than one year without being presented with a scrap of evidence is complete proof that Russiagate is entirely fake news.
The fake news originated with CIA director John Brennan and FBI director Comey conspiring with the DNC in an effort to discredit and unseat President Trump and at a minimum prevent him from damaging the vast power and profit of the military/security complex by normalizing relations with Russia.
Consider what this means. The directors of the CIA and FBI made up a totally false story about a newly elected President and fed the lies to the presstitutes and Congress. The presstitutes never asked for a drop of evidence and enlarged the Brennan/Comey lie with a claim that all 17 US intelligence agencies had concluded that Russia had interfered. In actual fact, a handful of carefully selected people in three of the agencies had prepared, perhaps under duress, a conditional report that had no evidence behind it.
That it was fake news created to control President Trump was completely obvious, but corrupt security officials, corrupt senators and representatives, a corrupt DNC, and corrupt media used constant repetition to turn a lie into truth.
Here is Binney:
See also:
Having shoved Trump into the militarist camp, his enemies have turned on Trump as an unstable, volatile person who might push the button. Senator Bob Corker (R, TN) and Senator Chris Murphy (D,CT) are using the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to portray President Trump as a quixotic person who shouldn’t have his finger on the nuclear button. We have gone full circle, from Trump who wants to defuse nuclear tensions to Trump who might push the button.
If Senators Corker and Murphy were really concerned and not just orchestrating a new way to attack Trump, they would bring out the fact that Russiagate is a hoax that has made nuclear war more likely. As I have pointed out, Washington has convinced Moscow that Washington is planning a surprise nuclear attack on Russia and also collecting Russian DNA for a tailored Russian-specific bio-weapon. I cannot think of anything more likely to trigger nuclear war than the escalated tensions that Russiagate is preventing Trump from reducing. See:
For the record, contrary to the erroneous assertions of “nuclear experts,” the president cannot simply order a nuclear attack. The president either has to accept a Joint Chiefs war plan and order a launch when the military is ready or he has to accept the advice of his national security adviser to launch in retaliation for incoming enemy ICBMs. If a president simply ordered a nuclear strike, he would be ignored.
If it is not the president who must make the nuclear decision, who is it to be? The military? We should be thankful that that was not the case when the Joint Chiefs pressured President John F. Kennedy to approve a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.
The question who should have launch authority is an easy one to answer. No one.
If nuclear missiles are incoming, launching does not protect you. You are already going to be destroyed. Why destroy the other side of the world in an act of revenge. It is pointless.
There is no such thing as a preemptive strike that prevents retaliation.
Nuclear war is an act of insanity. Nothing can justify it.
The purpose of diplomacy is to prevent war. However, ever since the Clinton regime attacked Serbia, US diplomacy has been used to cause wars. During the 16-years of George W. Bush and Obama the US destroyed in whole or part seven countries, killing and maiming millions of peoples and producing millions of refugees. Not a single one of these wars was justified. Everyone of these wars was based in lies. The last US government that showed any respect at all for truth was the George H. W. Bush administration.
Before launching each of these acts of unprovoked aggression, Washington demonized the leader of the country. To get rid of one person, Washington did not flinch at murdering large numbers of people and destroying the infrastructure of the country. This tells you that Washington has no morality. None. Zilch. Therefore, Washington is capable of launching a preemptive nuclear strike. Back when nuclear weapons were puny by today’s standards, Washington nuked two Japanese cities while Japan was trying to surrender. That was in 1945, a lifetime ago. Whatever bits of morality that still existed then are long gone.
Today a CNN editor-at-large named Chris Cillizza, published online an article titled, “There’s a massive moral vacuum in the country right now.” At last, I thought, a presstitute has realized that Washington’s constant nuclear threats against other countries shows a complete disrespect for the life of the planet and indicates a moral vacuum. But no, the presstitute is talking about sexual harassment, especially that of Roy Moore in the 1970s. And it is all Trump’s fault. How can he lead when he harasses women himself?
President Trump intended to normalize relations with the other major nuclear power. He has been prevented from doing so by the military/security complex, the DNC, and the presstitutes.
Cillizza says sexual harassment is a “very big” consequence of Trump’s election. I am left wondering if CNN’s editor-at-large considers nuclear war to be as serious as sexual harassment.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Presidents and the War Power

Presidents and the War Power

Bombs Over Libya

President Barack Obama's claim that he doesn't need congressional authorization for his current war in Iraq and Syria is troubling. The country's founders would pass out upon hearing his claim that the post-9/11 congressional approval of force in 2001 against the perpetrators of those attacks and their abettors and the congressional resolution approving George W. Bush's invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2003 give him the current authority for a very different war against very different people. However, Obama is not the first president to believe that he has the rather imperial authority for war by executive fiat.

Up until 1950, for major conflicts, presidents followed the nation's founders' intent in the U.S. Constitution to obtain a declaration of war from Congress. For the Korean War, however, Harry Truman, really the first imperial president, decided that this vital constitutional requirement was optional. Unfortunately, as I note in my new book -- Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty -- once a bad precedent is set, meaning that the chief executive gets away with an unconstitutional act, future presidents will cite it in carrying out their own questionable actions.

Over American history, that process has thus resulted in an expansion of presidential power much past what the founders had envisioned when they wrote their constitutional blueprint. Thinking of the powerful European monarchs of the day, who took their countries to war on a whim and let the costs in blood and treasure fall to their unfortunate citizens, the founders wanted an executive with severely restricted powers. Congress was to be the dominant branch of government, and the executive's role merely was to narrowly execute and enforce laws passed by that body. Even the president's commander-in-chief role, much abused by modern chief executives, was to be restricted narrowly to commanding the U.S. military in battle. In fact, contrary to the conventional belief in Washington and among the American public, the Constitution gives most of the powers in defense and foreign affairs to the Congress, not to the president. The erroneous notion that the chief executive is the "sole organ of American foreign policy," derives from the non-binding part of a Supreme Court decision in the 1930s (that is, fairly recently).

In the Constitution, the founders signaled their intent for Congress to approve even minor uses of force by the United States. The document says that Congress will issue letters of marque and reprisal. At the time, letters of marque were issued to private ship captains to raid an enemy nation's commerce.

So it is curious from his past behavior that Obama, a constitutional lawyer, believes that if he avoids putting "combat troops" on the ground -- defining this narrowly to exclude Special Forces hunting terrorists and American military trainers of local forces -- and limits his attacks to air strikes, it's not a real war that would require congressional approval. His criterion seems to be that if no Americans would be killed, it's not a "war" that the Congress needs to bother with authorizing. Yet aircraft can get shot down or malfunction and pilots can be captured or killed. Also, the people being bombed would probably call it a war, and so the people's representatives in Congress might want to comment on whether the United States should be in a state of hostilities with them.

The people's representatives don't always make the right decision -- as they didn't in President James Madison's pointless War of 1812, James Polk's war of aggression against the weaker Mexico to steal its land, William McKinley's colonial Spanish-American War, or Woodrow Wilson's ruining of the twentieth century by American entry into World War I -- but they should at least get to vote, as the nation's founders intended and the Constitution states.

Dubious Osama bin Laden Documents: A Pretext for a War on Iran

Dubious Osama bin Laden Documents: A Pretext for a War on Iran


The CIA has given the Long War Journal exclusive access to the supposed Osama bin Laden files taken from his “compound” in Pakistan.

The Long War Journal is a project of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) where its editors are senior fellows. The foundation is a refuge for neocons and a staunch supporters of Israel and its policies. It is also a vocal advocate of confronting Iran.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise the CIA “shared” a carefully selected portion of the documents — some 500,000 files — with the Long War Journal.

The released documents focus on Iran and its supposed relationship with al-Qaeda.

On November 1, NBC News reported:
The trove also provides new insight into the often adversarial relationship between al Qaeda and Iran — the Sunni Muslim terror group and the Shiite republic — in the form of a 19-page report described by the Long War Journal as “a senior jihadist’s assessment of the group’s relationship with Iran.”
Intelligence officials describe the report as “evidence of Iran’s support of al Qaeda’s war with the United States.”

It cites the escape of al-Qaeda members from Afghanistan to Iran after the US invaded Afghanistan. I have written about this previously. There is no evidence al-Qaeda worked with Iran. Iranian officials said they have held al-Qaeda members in detainment, although they will not release further information, including names.

Once again, the neocons are attempting to spread lies and fabrication as a pretext to step up hostilities against Iran, same as they did with Iraq.

The CIA and the neocons at FDD are counting on the ignorance of the American people to sell these lies. It’s safe to say most Americans are unaware of the fact Shiite (Iran) and Sunni Muslims (primarily the Saudi Wahhabi variety) are sworn enemies and it is extremely unlikely they would cooperate on anything.

Naturally, the establishment media grabbed this fairy tale and ran with it.

“Iran and al-Qaeda: Best of Frenemies,” headlines Bloomberg.

The alt-right aka New Right website Breitbart, once again home to former Trump strategist Stephen Bannon, writes that “[a]mong the most interesting revelations are details of Iran’s collusion with al-Qaeda and bin Laden’s citation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a formative influence on his political thought.”

Is this the same Muslim Brotherhood that collaborated with the CIA?

“According to CIA agent Miles Copeland, the Americans began looking for a Muslim Billy Graham around 1955… When finding or creating a Muslim Billy Graham proved elusive, the CIA began to cooperate with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim mass organization founded in Egypt but with followers throughout the Arab Middle East,” writes Arab historian Said Aburish.

For more, see this interview with F. William Engdahl.

After Trump said he wants to designate both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as terrorist organizations, the CIA stepped in and said that wouldn’t be a good idea. The agency is currently headed up by Mike Pompeo, a rabid anti-Iran zealot.

“MB groups enjoy widespread support across the Near East-North Africa region and many Arabs and Muslims worldwide would view an MB designation as an affront to their core religious and societal values,” according to the CIA.

I’m curious what Arabs and Muslims think about the CIA’s killer drone program and Trump’s merciless bombing of Syria. Is this considered an affront to their core religious and societal values?

It seems the non-stop deluge of negative news — including this latest batch of fairy tales — has resulted in an unfavorable view of Iran by Americans. If Pew Research can be believed, only 14 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of Iran and nearly 70 percent disapprove of the Iran nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, thanks to endless propaganda, many Americans look favorably on Saudi Arabia, a country where 92 percent of citizens approve of the Islamic State.

“One might reasonably wonder, then: why do Americans hate and fear Iran, over and above even the nation — the royal family and their clerics — that were actually behind 9/11? Might it be, perhaps, because the Shia clerics of Iran are as fundamentalist as the Sunni ones in Saudi Arabia? Not at all; but, yet, Americans seem to assume that that’s the case,” writes Eric Zuesse.

I disagree with Zuesse on his belief that Saudi Arabia was the prime motivator behind the 9/11 attacks. It certainly participated, but the blame falls squarely on the United States and its intelligence agencies. If not for the CIA and Saudi partnership, there would be no al-Qaeda, no al-Nusra, no Islamic State, and other Wahhabi terrorist organizations.

Reprinted with author's permission from