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May 27, 2017

The Activities Around Trump's Foreign Policy Are Scandalous - But The Media Won't Tell You Why

During the election campaign Donald Trump argued for better relations with Russia. He wanted to engage in a common fight against the Islamic State and other terrorists. Hillary Clinton argued for a confrontational policy against Russia and a new cold war. The foreign policy establishment, the media and the CIA were solidly on Clinton's side. The people of the United States made their choice. It was Trump and his views of policies that were elected.

After Trump had won the election, he advised his staff to set up a confidential track-2 communication channel with the Russian government. He rightfully did not trust the established official channels through the State Department and the CIA. His incoming National Security Advisor Flynn and his foreign policy advisor Kushner worked on his behalf when they soughed contacts with Russian officials. Such diplomacy is by nature not acted out in public.

But now the U.S. people are told by their media that it is a scandal, A SCANDAL, that President Trump's advisors pursue the policies the candidate Trump had argued for. Today's headlines: NYT - Kushner Is Said to Have Discussed a Secret Channel to Talk to Russia; WaPo - Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin; The Hill - Kushner wanted secure line with Kremlin before inauguration: report; The New Yorker - Jared Kushner’s Russia Problems; Reuters - Exclusive: Trump son-in-law had undisclosed contacts with Russian envoy - sources.

The various formulations in those pieces are painting the discrete diplomatic contacts as something sinister and illegal:

NBC News reported on Thursday that Kushner was under scrutiny by the FBI, in the first sign that the investigation, which began last July, has reached the president’s inner circle.
...
FBI investigators are examining whether Russians suggested to Kushner or other Trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow Russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to Trump, said the current U.S. law enforcement official.

But paragraphs down from that:

While the FBI is investigating Kushner’s contacts with Russia, he is not currently a target of that investigation, the current law enforcement official said.
...
There may not have been anything improper about the contacts, the current law enforcement official stressed.

The WaPo author has at least the honesty to note:

It is common for senior advisers of a newly elected president to be in contact with foreign leaders and officials.

As an aside the Washington Post leakers reveal that U.S. intelligence can listen to Russian diplomatic communication between the embassy in Washington and Moscow. This is a criminal breach of a "sources and methods" secrets that should be punished.

The scandal here are not various contacts of Trump advisors with Russian and other country's diplomats. The scandal is the undermining of the constitutional prerogative of the elected President of the United State to set foreign policy:

Under the Constitution, the President serves as head of state and head of government. [..] As head of government, he formulates foreign policy, supervises its implementation and attempts to obtain the resources to support it. He also organizes and directs the departments and agencies that play a part in the foreign policy process. Along with the Vice President, he is the only government official elected nationally. This places him in a unique position to identify, express and pursue the “national interests” of the U.S.

The scandal here is not Trump and are not his advisors' contacts with Russian officials. The scandal are the leaks by "officials" about confidential diplomacy, the sham FBI "investigations" and the general undemocratic hostility and resistance of the foreign policy establishment, the security services and the media towards the president's chosen policies. This is completely independent of whether one likes those policies or not.

Posted by b at 05:38 AM | Comments (49)

Al-Qaeda's Godfather Is Dead - Good Riddance

The ruthless U.S. imperialist Zbigniew Brzezinski died last night. Good riddance.

Brzezinski was the godfather of al-Qaeda and similar groups.

As National Security Advisor of U.S. President Jimmy Carter Brzezinski devised the strategy of using religiously motivated radical militants against secular governments and their people. He sent Saudi financed Wahhabi nuts to fight the government of Afghanistan before the USSR intended to send its military in support that government. His policy of rallying Jihadis (vid) caused millions of death. Brzezinski did not regret that:

What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Brzezinski hailed from a Polish nobility family in Galicia, now west Ukraine. (Galicia is, not by chance, also the place of origin of today's Ukrainian neo-nazis.) The family fled Poland after its German/Soviet partition and and the socialization of the vast nobility properties during and after the second world war. Zbigniew Brzezinski hate of anything socialist and Russian derived from that.

The 9/11 attacks, the war on Syria, the recent massacre in Manchester and the murder of 28 Copts yesterday in Egypt are direct consequences of Brzezinski's "some stirred-up Moslems" strategy of exporting revolutions. The growth of the fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabi creed, a danger to all mankind, was prepared and propagated by him.

May he burn in hell - soon to be joined by the other "total whore" and fellow war criminal Henry Kissinger,

Posted by b at 05:31 AM | Comments (44)

May 26, 2017

Poor Poet In A Squeeze

(Pinned to top May 19 - May 26 2017. Scroll down for new content.)
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Dear friends,

this Poor Poet is in a squeeze and needs your support.


bigger

Cont. reading: Poor Poet In A Squeeze

Posted by b at 05:30 PM | Comments (58)

Syria - Truth Slips Through In The New York Times - NATO Preps to Fight Iran And Russia

The New York Times Magazine has an interesting piece about east Aleppo. Robert Worth visited it recently and talked to people there. The NYT editors/censors inserted many of their standard slander against the Syrian government, but the can not drown out the realities described therein.

Thus the piece is headline: Aleppo After the Fall but one of the key sentences in it says just the opposite:

Yasser said he was one of the first people to come back [to east-Aleppo], right after what he — like everyone else I met — called the liberation.

Jihadi propaganda claims of government bombing of random hospitals without reason "verified" by a Skype call to some al-Qaeda propagandist in Idleb- are mixed with reality based on-the-ground reporting:

On my second day in the city, I went to see the Aleppo Eye Hospital, a sprawling compound that the rebels had used as a military headquarters. As we walked through the burned and shattered building, my government minder and the soldiers guarding the place kept picking up markers of the rebels’ Islamist leanings. They weren’t hard to find. A fire-blackened car out front still had the Qaeda logo on its hood. ...

Unfortunately the piece also includes factual errors:

The reporter, an Aleppan named Rida al-Basha, described the neighborhoods where [looting] had taken place and named the militias, including the notorious Tiger Forces, whose leaders include well-known thugs.

I do not doubt that looting has taken place after the liberation of east-Aleppo. Those who supported the "rebel" invasion of their city will have lost everything. But looting by the Tiger Force "militia"? The Tiger Force are the Special Operations Division of the Syrian Arab Army, not a "militia". It is led by highly professional officers, not by "thugs". Its leader, General Suheil al-Hassan, has been in the army for over 26 years. The division is armed with Russian T-90 tanks and other heavy assault equipment. It is an offensive unit which has been very busy on various fronts. It is not a mopping up or occupation force for urban areas that would have time for organized looting in Aleppo. The quoted claim is inconsistent with those facts.

But still - the Magazine piece is filled with detailed story of real people who factually tell what the "rebels" have done to their city. How they looted every factory and house down to the copper electricity wire and sold everything off to Turkey. Wherever the story is based on real reporting it confirms the view and position of the anti-Islamist Syrian majority which supports its government. After years of claiming the opposite in its hundreds of anti-Syrian propaganda pieces one wonder how the NYT editors let this pass.

One anecdote even reveals who the Syrians will choose as their future leader:

My Syrian businessman friend told me that he twice gathered about a dozen people for dinner and offered them a hypothetical in strict confidence. It is up to you to name the next president of Syria, he said. Whom would you choose? The guests were all Syrians, and none supported the regime. To his surprise, almost all of them named Assad.

And that, dear reader, is why the U.S. and its proxies are against truly democratic elections in Syria. Their nemesis would easily win and prevent the planned neo-liberal looting of what is left of the Syrian state.

The Islamic proxy forces of the "west", al-Qaeda under its various disguises, Ahar al-Sham and even ISIS are mostly done. The latest especially is no longer a capable military force but is reverting to guerilla levels of operation. Its final defeat will take a long time but it must and will be achieved by local forces.

Despite that the U.S. pressed on NATO members to let the NATO organization join its "fight against ISIS". The single NATO members were already part of the U.S. coalition. But NATO as an organization brings large scale command and control capabilities as well as additional resources. (All under U.S. control.)

Make no mistake - "fighting ISIS" is not the real purpose of the move. The U.S. wants NATO support to invade Syria from the north in Idleb as well as from the south near Deraa and from the south-east starting at the al-Tanf border station to Iraq. Syria and its allies will now be fought under the disguise of "fighting ISIS" which factually can no longer be the purpose. Thus NATO, together with Wahhabi Gulf forces, will now be engaged in an expanded war not only against the Syria government but especially against its Russian and Iranian allies. Trump's endorsement of anti-Iranian rhetoric on his visit in Saudi Arabia served a similar purpose.

Syria and its allies will try to prevent a further invasion by cutting off al-Tanf and holding on to Deraa city - thereby blocking any wider military moves. But those measures will probably be in vain. Unless some sane voices intervene we are now at the beginning of a far wider and more dangerous war that can easily slip out of anyone's control.

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Posted by b at 09:49 AM | Comments (74)

May 25, 2017

Details Emerge On The Manchester Blowback From Britain's Terror Support

There are now a few more details on the Manchester attack and how it relates to British support for Takfirs in its wars on independent countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. The picture has not changed though from the one we painted yesterday. The attack was a blow back from the British use of Takfiris to take down governments it dislikes.

In 2011 when the British, French and the U.S. waged war on Libya, the British government sent British-Libyan Takfiris to fight against the Libyan government forces:

Belal Younis, another British citizen who went to Libya, described how he was stopped under 'Schedule 7' counter-terrorism powers on his return to the UK after a visit to the country in early 2011. ...

He said he was subsequently asked by an intelligence officer from MI5, the UK's domestic security agency: "Are you willing to go into battle?"

"While I took time to find an answer he turned and told me the British government have no problem with people fighting against Gaddafi," he told MEE.

Known Libyan radicals were released from control order in Britain, given their passports back and hauled off to Libya. There British special forces were on the ground and British fighter planes in the air to support their fighting against the legitimate Libyan government. MI-5, the domestic British spy service, "sorted" the fighters sent from Britain. The responsible British Home Secretary at that time? One Theresa May, now the British Prime Minister.

The father of the Manchester assassin fought in Libya in a gang related to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a known al-Qaeda entity. His son, then 16 years old, joined him:

In 2011, when Abedi was still a teenager, he traveled to Libya and fought alongside his father in a militia known as the Tripoli Brigade to oust Gadhafi as the revolts of the Arab Spring swept North Africa and the Middle East, a family friend said.

The son returned to Manchester but became a well known danger to society. Members of Libyan exile society in Manchester reported him at least five times as a dangerous Jihadi to the local authorities. There were no reactions. Additionally:

Abedi's own family background might also have been a red flag to authorities. His father was a member of the militant Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
...
France’s interior minister said the 22-year-old had “proven” links with Islamic State and that both British and French intelligence services had information that the attacker had been in Syria.

According to the Financial Times Salman Abedi came back to Britain a few days before the attack via Turkey and Germany. He had come from Libya to Turkey but probably stayed a few days in Syria to receive his last orders.

All these attacks by Takfiris, in Paris, in Brussels, Berlin and Manchester as well as in Libya, Syria and Iraq, have their ideological roots in Wahhabism, the extreme version of Salafist Islam promoted in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The roots of such terrorism are in Riyadh and Doha and will have to be fought there.

But the Saudi and Qatari rulers pay extraordinary amounts of protection money in the form of weapon purchases from British and U.S. companies. As long as they keep doing so they will be kept in place as useful props in the bigger scheme.

For the ruling classes in Britain and elsewhere the victims in Manchester are just collateral damage in their quest to rule the world with help of the Wahhabi storm troopers.

Meanwhile "western" media and news agencies continue to promote life in al-Qaeda country, "Now with Arabian horse races !", and incited more youngsters into joining the deadly cult.

Posted by b at 12:59 PM | Comments (117)

May 24, 2017

The Manchester Attack - A Blowback From Britain's Terror Support In Libya, Syria And Beyond

When I first learned of yesterday's terror incident in Manchester, UK I snarked:

Moon of Alabama‏ @MoonofA

So another heroic "Syrian rebel" - which the British government avidly supports - blew himself up. But why in #Manchester?

6:26 AM - 23 May 2017

Several people attacked my over that tweet.

How would I know it was a "Syrian rebel" who blew himself up in the Manchester Arena?

Well, how would you know that any of the takfiri "Syrian rebels" the UK, the U.S. and their Gulf proxies support in Syria are from Syria? Many are definitely not.

Then news appeared that the attacker's name was Abedi and that he hailed from an anti-Ghaddafi tribe in eastern Libya. It was eastern Libya from where in Macrh 2011 a tribal insurrection to overthrow the Libyan government was initiated. Weapons were flown in from Qatar and handed out to Jihadists. British special forces were on the ground to help the takfiris of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in their attacks towards the Libyan capital in western Libya. The leader of the eastern front was Abdelhakim Belhadj, a long time al-Qaeda member, After Ghaddafi was overthrown with British help al-Qaeda's flag went up over the court house of the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

The Manchester plot thickened.

Now we read this:

Cont. reading: The Manchester Attack - A Blowback From Britain's Terror Support In Libya, Syria And Beyond

Posted by b at 05:53 AM | Comments (217)

May 23, 2017

Libya - Massacre At Brak al-Shatti May Trigger Larger Civil War

Egypt, the UN and Arab governments try to mediated between the two governments in Libya. A massacre at an air base interrupted the process and threatens to intensify the civil war.

by Richard Galustian

(Cairo) Nobody has their eye on Libya with all "western" media preoccupied with DC machinations, Russiaphobia and the first overseas trip of President Trump.

What about the implosion we are on the brink of seeing in Libya following the murder of all LNA Air Force personnel at the Brak al-Shati AFB?

The death toll in the attack of a Libyan National Army airbase, in south Libya, rose to over 140, a spokesman for Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar said on Sunday.

Remarkably it was militia (called 'the third force') of the UN unelected Government of National Accord (GNA) under Faez Serraj that attacked and executed the unarmed men in the Brak al-Shati Air base. There were allegedly foreigners among the attackers possibly aligned with al-Qaeda.

LNA spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari said on Friday most of the fatalities were maintenance and support Air Force personnel including some pilots. He added the victims included many civilians such as cooks and cleaners who worked at the airbase or were in the nearby area, adding that barbaric summary executions were carried out one by one, all head shots. "Many of the young airmen were returning from a military parade. They weren't armed but still were executed," the spokesman said.

Cont. reading: Libya - Massacre At Brak al-Shatti May Trigger Larger Civil War

Posted by b at 02:01 AM | Comments (26)

May 22, 2017

The Orb - Wahhabis And Zionists Urge Trump To Regime-Change Syria To Fight Iran

There is something deeply wrong with what you do when even Satan feels the need to distance himself from you:

The picture is cropped but the original is even worse - the Wahhabi orb rules them all:

Cont. reading: The Orb - Wahhabis And Zionists Urge Trump To Regime-Change Syria To Fight Iran

Posted by b at 10:52 AM | Comments (114)

May 21, 2017

Talking Tactics, Lacking Strategy - The Generals On Syria And Iraq

On Friday Secretary of Defense [General ret.] Mattis, General Dunford and Special Envoy McGurk on the Campaign to Defeat ISIS held a press briefing. A transcript is available.

My first thought after reading its was: "These people live in a different world. They have no idea how the real word works on the ground. What real people think, say,  and are likely to do." There was no strategic thought visible. Presented were only some misguided tactical ideas.

One purpose of the briefing was obviously to souse the Saudis in preparation of Trumps weapons sales campaign there. There was no mention at all of any (Saudi financed) Jihadis in Syria or elsewhere besides ISIS. Questions about Kurdish or Iraqi paramilitary groups were answered with trash talk about Iran.

Besides that some notable points were made.

Dunford of the Joint Chiefs of Staff remarked at one point that the Raqqa campaign was not delayed by the decision of Trump's National Security Advisor Flynn to temporarily halt the Obama order to launch that operation. He thereby rejected the accusations in a McClatchy news piece that Flynn's decision significantly delayed the campaign and that he was motivated by Turkish payments to him. A MoA piece had listed that McClatchy report as fake news. Turkish consulting payments to Flynn had ended three month earlier,  the decision was reasonable and the Raqqa campaign was not delayed by it. Dunford confirmed that.

The recent unprovoked and illegal U.S. air attack on a Syrian Army contingent moving towards the al-Tanf border station with Iraq was probably a local decision taken by an over-eager U.S. commander on the ground. Dunford said:

Cont. reading: Talking Tactics, Lacking Strategy - The Generals On Syria And Iraq

Posted by b at 01:41 PM | Comments (66)

May 20, 2017

Weekend Leisure - Drumming (Anika Nilles)

I have been listening to some drumming lately. From Mannheim, Germany, Anika Nilles with her composition Mister.

 

 

This lesson, with also more of her pieces, gives a bit of background on her particular style.

I also like these as a comparison of a master player and a quite good apprentice drummer:

Posted by b at 11:10 AM | Comments (21)

May 19, 2017

U.S. Attacks Syrian Government Forces - It Now Has To Make Its Choice

Addendum added below
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The Syrian army is on the way to liberate the ISIS besieged city of some 100,000 and garrison of Deir Ezzor in the east of the country. The U.S. has trained a few thousand "New Syrian Army" insurgents in Jordan and is reportedly prepared to march these and its own forces from Jordan through the east-Syrian desert all the way up to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. About a year ago it occupied the al-Tanf (al-Tanaf) border station which consists of only a few buildings in the mid of the desert. The station between Syria and Iraq near the Jordan border triangle was previously held by a small ISIS group.

A U.S. move from the south up towards the Euphrates would cut off the Syrian government from the whole south-east of the country and from its people in Deir Ezzor. While that area is sparsely populated it also has medium size oil and gas fields and is the land connection to the Syrian allies in Iraq.

With the western part of the country relatively quiet, the Syrian government and its allies decided to finally retake the south-eastern provinces from ISIS. They want to lift the ISIS siege on Deir Ezzor and close the border between Syria and Iraq with its own forces. The move will also block any potential U.S. invasion from the south by retaking the road to al-Tanf and the Syrian-Iraqi border (red arrows). The sovereign Syrian state will not give up half of the country to an illegal occupation by ISIS or the U.S. At the same time as the eastern operations are running consolidation and clearing operations against ISIS in the middle and west of the countries will take place (green arrows).


Map by OZ_Analysis (modified by MoA) - bigger

Yesterday a small battalion size force (~2-300 men) of the regular Syrian army, Syrian National Defense Organization volunteers and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF/PMU of the Kata'ib al-Imam Ali) marched on the road from the west towards al-Tanf. They were about 23 kilometers away from the border station when they were attack by U.S. aircraft coming in low from Jordan. The U.S. jets directly fired at the convoy, allegedly after earlier giving some "warning shots". At least one Syrian tank and several other vehicles were destroyed. Six Syrian government forces were reported killed and more were wounded.

Cont. reading: U.S. Attacks Syrian Government Forces - It Now Has To Make Its Choice

Posted by b at 04:02 AM | Comments (195)

May 18, 2017

The Special Council Inquisition - Bad For Trump - And All of Us

The Trump administration made a huge mistake by not preventing the just announced special council investigation into the alleged, but likely non-existing "Trump-Russia" connections:

The Justice Department appointed a special counsel Wednesday to investigate possible coordination between President Trump’s associates and Russian officials — a clear signal to the White House that federal investigators will aggressively pursue the matter despite the president’s insistence that there was no “collusion’’ with the Kremlin.

Robert S. Mueller III, a former prosecutor who served as the FBI director from 2001 to 2013, has agreed to take over the investigation as a special counsel, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced. The move marks a concession by the Trump administration to Democratic demands for the investigation to be run independently of the Justice Department. Calls for a special counsel intensified after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey last week.

It is weird that the WaPo report above calls this "a concession by the Trump administration to Democratic demands for the investigation". It further states that the White House was not informed about it until it had been made:

The White House did not learn of Rosenstein’s decision until just 30 minutes before the public announcement was made.

Anyway. This is bad and the Trump administration should have pulled all strings to prevent it. Such investigations NEVER stick to their original, limited tasks but extend further and further. The order the Acting Attorney General wrote includes language which allows for nearly unlimited digging in "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” It will thereby continue until -inevitably- some dirt will be found that can be blown out of all proportion and lead to prosecutions or impeachment.

Robert S. Mueller is also a bad choice as a special council as he is a former colleague and friend of former FBI director James Comey who Trump recently fired. From 2013:

Forged Under Fire—Bob Mueller and Jim Comey’s Unusual Friendship

Both men were rising stars mentored and guided by Eric Holder in the 1990s during Holder’s time in the Justice Department under the Clinton administration.
...
Mueller, now 68, and Comey, now 52, would become close partners and close allies throughout the years ahead.
...

Both, Comey and Mueller, were involved in the dramatic hospital scene at the bed of Attorney General Ashcroft to stop Bush's illegal program of spying on U.S. citizens. The program in question stopped for a moment but the spying simply continued under a different legal justification.

The attempts to smear Trump and those around him over foreign connections have entered absurd territory. The lead headline at McClatchy today is a. old news, b. confusing the timeline only to further throw dirt into the direction of Trump:

Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent

One of the Trump administration’s first decisions about the fight against the Islamic State was made by Michael Flynn weeks before he was fired – and it conformed to the wishes of Turkey, whose interests, unbeknownst to anyone in Washington, he’d been paid more than $500,000 to represent.

The incoming Trump administration temporarily stopped the Raqqa campaign which the Obama administration had decided would be done with Kurdish forces. This was on January 17, only a few days before the Trump administration took over. The Obama administration itself had deliberated about the issue for over 8 month and its choice was not its preferred option:

Cont. reading: The Special Council Inquisition - Bad For Trump - And All of Us

Posted by b at 07:07 AM | Comments (93)

May 17, 2017

Open Thread 2017-19

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:51 PM | Comments (124)

James Comey Is Losing His Game With Another Non-News Leak

This is a short follow up on yesterday's false news stories topped with a Comey leak.

1. The New York Times tries to add to the story of the WannaCry ransom virus (which is based on NSA exploits),  hyping the unfounded claim that North Korea is behind it: Focus Turns to North Korea Sleeper Cells as Possible Culprits in Cyberattack. The story curiously does not even mention the nonsensical claim of a Google staffer that points to common code snippets in reused software stacks. Instead we get a long elaboration on how North Korea sends students abroad to be trained in IT and programming. In paragraph 4 the story asserts:

As evidence mounts that North Korean hackers may have links to the ransom assaults ...

But no evidence, none at all, is cited in the piece. The "mounting evidence" is a molehill without the hill. Eleven paragraphs later we learn that:

It also is possible that North Korea had no role in the attacks,

Duh. Six NYT reporters collaborated in writing that twenty paragraph story which contains no reasonable news or information. What a waste.

2. The State Department claim that Syria built a crematorium inside a prison to burn executed prisoners saw no follow up. But it had consequences. The presented "evidence" was too thin to make it believable. Even the staunchly anti-Syrian SPIEGEL doubted it: USA bleiben Beweise für Assads Leichenöfen schuldig. Translated: "U.S. fails to give evidence for Assad crematorium claims."

The State Department claim was presented in a special news conference by Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. A day later Jones announced that he would retire:

Jones, 57, told colleagues the decision was his own and that he had not been pushed out or asked to leave the department.

Ahem. Sure. Maybe. Or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disliked the lame propaganda shows Jones presented under the official State Department seal.

3. Yesterday's "Trump revealed critical intelligence to Russia" nonsense is already dying down. Even regular NYT readers criticize their paper's reporting of it:

It’s quite strange that the media is giving such prominence to and broadcasting so much detail about supposedly highly secret information and its source in order to show how irresponsible President Trump is.
...
It seem that of the two, the media and the President, the media is by far the most at fault for leaking state secrets. Strange indeed: it seems the goal of bringing down Trump overrides all other considerations.”

To recap - in March the U.S. and the UK had issued a ban on laptops for fights from certain Middle Eastern airports:

The U.S. officials said intelligence "indicates terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation" by "smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items."

It was known from other reports that the threat was from ISIS. Trump repeated this to the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and added that the origin of the treat is the ISIS capital Raqqa. Anyone would have guessed that. It was no secret. But "current and former officials" phoned up reporter after reporter to claim that Trump revealed critical intelligence because the Russians might now guess which country the information was coming from. A few hours later the Washington Post and the New York Times, not Trump, revealed that the original information came from Israel. It will be difficult to blame Trump for "leaking to the Russians" less information than "current and a former American official" leak to mainstream paper.

But as that smear against Trump and Russia has failed a new one is needed.

A week ago Trump unceremoniously fired FBI boss James Comey:

After six months of investigation the FBI had no evidence for any of the rumors about Russian interference [in the U.S.] that were thrown around. It should have closed the case with a clear recommendation not to prosecute the issue. That Comey kept the case open was political interference from his side. Hearings and public rumors about the case blocked the political calendar. Instead of following the facts, and deciding based upon them, he was himself running a political campaign.

Comey had hoped that he would not be fired as long as the investigation was running. Since Trump kicked him out Comey tried to get a public hearing in Congress to spill the beans and get some revenge. The Republican majority leaders smelled the trap and did not invite him. Today he upped his game: Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation

President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

Comey leaked the memo to raise new allegations against Trump and to finally get his day in Congress. But Trump's “I hope you can let this go” is not a clear interference in a judicial investigation. Trump just wished that the FBI would use its resources to look into other issues, like the extensive leaking of secret intelligence that occurred during recent months. Nothing nefarious can be constructed from that reasonable explanation. The investigation into Flynn, for violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act with relation to Turkey(!), continues. Trump has had no influence on it. If this talk has been so important as to possibly constitute a breach of law why did Comey wait months, until after he was fired, to leak it?

The Comey claim is another non-issue and non-story. The Republican congress leaders will not jump on Comey's bandwagon (- or will they?) If this was the worst Comey can present he has lost the fight.

The deep-state, which opposes any collaboration with Russia and wants Trump impeached (RealNews vid), will now have to find a new angle for its attack.

Posted by b at 05:17 AM | Comments (46)

May 16, 2017

One Day, Three Serious News Stories That Turn Out To Be False

It is a fakenews day. Three stories are making the rounds through the media that are each based on false or widely exaggerated interpretation of claims. North Korea, Syria and the U.S. President are the targets.

1. The Wall Street Journal asserts with a #fakenews headline that bits of computer-code in the recent WannaCry ransom virus are identical with bits of computer code that was allegedly used in a 2014 hack of Sony. (The Sony attack was falsely attributed to North Korea.)

Researchers Identify Clue Connecting Ransomware Assault to Group Tied to North Korea

Neel Mehta, a security researcher at Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit, on Monday pointed out similarities between that earlier WannaCry variant and code used in a series of attacks that security specialists have attributed to the Lazarus group.

The "Lazerus group" (which probably does not exist at all) was attributed to North Korean state agencies. Six paragraphs later we learn that the "similarities" were found in often reused code:

Cont. reading: One Day, Three Serious News Stories That Turn Out To Be False

Posted by b at 03:25 AM | Comments (96)

May 15, 2017

State Department: Renamed Al-Qaeda Not A Terrorist Organization - Can Receive CIA Supplies

Max Abrams, a professor who works about terrorism, came up with this new definition of "terrorism":

Nonstate actors who use violence against civilians for a political goal and haven't been supported by the US.

The highlighted part is "new" to those who have not learned from history and the many occasions of U.S. support for (typically extremely right-wing) terrorist organizations like the "contras" in Nicaragua, OUN fascists in Ukraine or Jihadi Mujahedin in Afghanistan. It can indeed be argued that the U.S. created al-Qaeda as well as the Islamic State (ISIS).

But lets just be happy that people get again reminded of the issue.

Prof. Adams remark came after a report by the Canadian CBC which found that the U.S. has not designated al-Qaeda's recently renamed organization in Syria as a "foreign terrorist entity". HTS rules (vid) the Syrian city and governate of Idleb.

The U.S. offered a $10,000,000 reward (official pdf) for Abu Muhammad al-Joulani the founder al Al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al-Nusra aka Jabhat Fatah al-Sham). But newly again renamed organization which he leads as the official military commander, the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), is not on any U.S. (and Canadian) terrorist entity list:

The Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, currently calling itself Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), has succeeded in getting itself off Canada's list of designated terrorist entities following its latest identity shift.
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[I]n January of this year, the group shifted again, nominally dissolving itself and joining with four other jihadi groups. It altered its name, changing the word "Jabhat" (Front) to "Hay'at" (Organization), and "Fateh" (Conquest) to "Tahrir" (Liberation).
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The State Department did issue a statement in March, in Arabic only, branding HTS a terrorist group. But the State Department's Nicole Thompson told CBC that was a mistake.

"Though closely affiliated with al-Nusra, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham is not a designated terrorist organization," she said in an email. "The statement you found should have said al-Nusrah Front and has been corrected."

Al-Nusra, however, no longer exists.

The non-designation will make it more difficult to prosecute members and supporters of the organization. Donations and other support to HTS are now legal. While Nusra and HTS had claimed to no longer be part of al-Qaeda (but never retracted their oath to it), scholars within those organization frequently argue for publicly admit the connection. No professional working on the issue denies that HTS is part of al-Qaeda and a terrorist group. But, apparently, the U.S. State Department does.

The CBC speculates why HTS is not (or no longer) designated:

Cont. reading: State Department: Renamed Al-Qaeda Not A Terrorist Organization - Can Receive CIA Supplies

Posted by b at 10:12 AM | Comments (78)

May 14, 2017

CentCom Breaks "Safe Passage" Deal - Making Its Allies Bleed For It

On Friday the U.S. "Inherent Resolve" command of its operations in Syria and Iraq released an statement that points to unnecessary intensified fighting about the city of Raqqa and elsewhere.

SAC and SDF Liberate Tabqah

The Syrian Arab Coalition and their Syrian Democratic Force partners completed the liberation of the Tabqah Dam, as well as the city of Tabqah and its nearby airfield May 10.
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In Tabqah, the SDF's increased pressure on ISIS from each flank allowed it to accelerate the pace of the fight, clear the final neighborhoods of the city, and isolate Tabqah Dam.

Approximately 70 ISIS fighters conceded to the SDF's terms, which included the dismantling of IEDs surrounding the dam, the surrender of all ISIS heavy weapons, and the forced withdrawal of all remaining fighters from Tabqah City.

The SDF accepted ISIS's surrender of the city to protect innocent civilians and to protect the Tabqah dam infrastructure which hundreds of thousands of Syrians rely on for water, agriculture, and electricity.

(The "Syrian Arab Coalition" is U.S. propaganda parlance for its own forces in the area. That force is part of its Central Command. The "Syrian Democratic Force" are predominantly fighters of the Syrian-Kurdish YPG and a few U.S. special forces embedded with them.)

The Kurdish forces obviously made a deal with the ISIS rearguard. They offered safe passage (safe conduct) to the ISIS fighters if those would dismantled their demolition charges on the Tabqa dam and leave their heavy weapons behind. The ISIS group accepted and fulfilled its part of the deal. The dam was saved. The ISIS forces withdrew.

The Kurdish commander had made the right decision. Any fighting around, on or within the dam structure could have led to a catastrophic dam failure which would have killed ten-thousands (at least) further down the Euphrates.

The next line in the U.S. press release is therefore ominous:

Cont. reading: CentCom Breaks "Safe Passage" Deal - Making Its Allies Bleed For It

Posted by b at 09:49 AM | Comments (74)

May 12, 2017

Syria - "The regime will be there" - U.S. Concedes Raqqa ... And The Syrian East?

There are strong rumors that the U.S. intends to launch an invasion of east-Syria from Jordan with the aim of occupying the whole eastern area. The Syrian army and its allies launched a move towards the east (red) to prevent such an outcome.


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A new Wall Street Journal piece, primarily about the ISIS held city of Raqqa on the Euphrates, casts doubt on long term U.S. plans for such an occupation. Its core quote:

"We won’t be in Raqqa in 2020, but the regime will be there."

There were already doubts that a big U.S. move in east-Syria was really going to happen. Jordan opposes any such move. While the U.S. and Jordan have trained, equipped and paid Syrian "rebels" to hold a zone of control in south-west Syria, little preparations have been seen for a large move in the south-east. The U.S. has so far vetted and trained at most 2,000 local Arab fighters in the area. Fewer are ready to go. Even with U.S. special forces embedded with them these forces are way too small to take an ISIS defended city or to capture or to hold a significant area. At least ten to twenty thousand troops would be needed (likely more) for such an endeavor. The current force is probably only tasked with taking a few border stations to close down the border between Syria and Iraq. (A move that Syrian and Iraqi forces will try to prevent.)

The upcoming taking of Raqqa by U.S. forces and its Kurdish proxies is now endorsed by the Syrian government and its Russian allies. It seems that an agreement has been made without any public announcement. This agreement may well extend to the other eastern areas south of Raqqa. From the WSJ:

Cont. reading: Syria - "The regime will be there" - U.S. Concedes Raqqa ... And The Syrian East?

Posted by b at 10:37 AM | Comments (77)

 
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