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Amnesty International’s kangaroo report on Syria

The Amnesty International report into alleged mass executions in Syria’s Saydnaya prison relies too much on hearsay and selective evidence to be accepted.

Rick Sterling

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Introduction

Amnesty International (AI) has done some good investigations and reports over the years. This has won them widespread support.  However, less well recognized, Amnesty International has also carried out faulty investigations contributing to bloody and disastrous actions. One prominent example is in Iraq, where AI “corroborated” the false story that Iraqi soldiers were stealing incubators from Kuwait, leaving babies to die on the cold floor. The deception was planned and carried out in Washington DC to influence the public and Congress.  A more recent example is from 2011 where false accusations were being made about Libya and its leader as Western and Gulf powers sought to overthrow the Gaddafi government. AI leaders joined the campaign claiming that Gaddafi was using “mercenaries” to threaten and kill peacefully protesting civilians. The propaganda was successful in muting criticism. Going far beyond a UN Security Council resolution to “protect civilians”, NATO launched sustained air attacks and toppled the Libyan government leading to chaos, violence and a flood of refugees. AI later refuted the “mercenary” accusations but the damage was done.

The Sensational New Amnesty International Report

On 7 February Amnesty International released a new report titled “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydnaya Prison”. It has received huge uncritical review in mainstream and liberal media.

Like the Iraq/Kuwait incubator story and the Libyan ‘mercenary’ story, the “Human Slaughterhouse” report is coming at a critical time. The consequences of the AI report are to accuse and convict the Syrian government of horrible atrocities against civilians.  AI explicitly calls for the international community to take “action”.

As will be shown below, the AI report is biased and partial. To the extent that it is resulting in a widespread kangaroo conviction of the Syrian government, the AI release can be called a “Kangaroo Report”. 

Problems with the Report

1) The Amnesty International report on Syria violates their own research standards.  As documented by Prof Tim Hayward here, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, claims that Amnesty does its research ‘in a very systematic, primary, way where we collect evidence with our own staff on the ground. And every aspect of our data collection is based on corroboration and cross-checking from all parties, even if there are, you know, many parties in any situation because of all of the issues we deal with are quite contested. So it’s very important to get different points of view and constantly cross check and verify the facts.’ As documented below, the Amnesty report fails on all counts: they rely on third parties, they did not gather different points of view and they did not cross-check.

2) The report conclusions are not based on primary sources, material evidence or their own staff; they are solely based on the claims of anonymous individuals, mostly in southern Turkey from where the war on Syria is coordinated. 

3) Amnesty gathered witnesses and testimonies from only one side of the conflict: the Western and Gulf supported opposition. For example, AI consulted with the Syrian Network for Human Rights which is known to seek NATO intervention in Syria. AI “liased” with the Commission for International Justice and Accountability. This organization is funded by the West to press criminal charges against the Syrian leadership. These are obviously not neutral, independent or nonpartisan organizations. If AI was doing what the Secretary General claims they do, they would have consulted with organizations within or outside Syria to hear different accounts of life at Saydnaya Prison.  Since the AI report has been released, the AngryArab has published the account of a Syrian dissident, Nizar Nayyouf, who was imprisoned at Saydnaya. He contradicts many statements in the Amnesty International report. This is the type of cross-checking which Amnesty International failed to do for this important study.

4) Amnesty’s accusation that executions were “extrajudicial” is exaggerated or false. By Amnesty’s own description, each prisoner appeared briefly before a judge and each execution was authorized by a high government leader. We do not know if the judge looked at documentation or other information regarding each prisoner. One could argue that the process was superficial but it’s clear there was some kind of judicial process.

5) Amnesty’s suggestion that all Saydnaya prisoners are convicted is false.  Amnesty quotes one of their witnesses who says about the court: “The judge will ask the name of the detainee and whether he committed the crime. Whether the answer is yes or no, he will be convicted.” This assertion is contradicted by a former Saydnaya prisoner who is now a refugee in Sweden. In this news report the former prisoner says the judge “asked him how many soldiers he had killed. When he said none, the judge spared him.” This is evidence that there is a judicial process of some sort and there are acquittals.

6) The Amnesty report includes satellite photographs with captions which are meaningless or erroneous. For example, as pointed out by Syrian dissident Nizar Nayyouf, the photo on page 30 showing a Martyrs Cemetery is “silly beyond silly”. The photo and caption show the cemetery doubled in size. However, this does not prove hangings of prisoners who would never be buried in a “martyrs cemetery” reserved for Syrian army soldiers. On the contrary, it confirms the fact which Amnesty International otherwise ignores:  Syrian soldiers have died in large numbers.

7) The Amnesty report falsely claims, based on data provided by one of the groups seeking NATO intervention, “The victims are overwhelmingly ordinary civilians who are thought to oppose the government.”  While it’s surely true that innocent civilians are sometimes wrongly arrested, as happens in all countries, the suggestion that Saydnaya prison is filled with 95% “ordinary civilians” is preposterous. Amnesty International can make this claim with a straight face because they have effectively “disappeared” the reality of Syria. Essential facts which are completely missing from the Amnesty report include:

a) western powers and Gulf monarchies have put up billions of dollars annually since 2011 to fund, train, weaponize, provide salaries and propaganda in support of a violent campaign to overthrow the Syrian government; 

b) tens of thousands of foreign fanatics have invaded Syria;

c) tens of thousands of Syrians have been radicalized and paid by Wahabi monarchies in the Gulf to overthrow the government;

d) over 100 THOUSAND Syrian Army and National Defense soldiers have been killed defending their country. Most of this is public information yet ignored by Amnesty International and other media in the West. They have done a massive distortion and cover-up of reality.

8) Without providing evidence, Amnesty International accuses the highest Sunni religious leader in Syria, Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, of authorizing the execution of “ordinary civilians”. The Grand Mufti is a personal victim: his son was murdered by terrorists near Aleppo. Yet he has consistently called for reconciliation. Following the assassination of his son, Grand Mufti Hassoun gave an eloquent speech expressing forgiveness for the murderers and calling for an end to the violence. What does it say about Amnesty International that they make these kind of specific personal accusations, against people who have personally suffered, yet provide zero evidence?

9) Amnesty uses sensational and emotional accusations in place of factual evidence. The title of the report is  “Human Slaughterhouse”. What goes with a “slaughterhouse”?  Why of course ….. a “meat fridge”!  The report uses the expression “meat fridge” seven separate times, presumably in an attempt to buttress the association.  Even the opening quotation is hyperbolic: “Saydnaya is the end of life – the end of humanity”.  This report is in sharp contrast with fact-based objective research and investigation; it is closer to perception management and manipulation. 

10) Amnesty International accusations that the Syrian government is carrying out a policy of “extermination” are contradicted by the fact that the vast majority of Syrians prefer to live in government controlled areas. When the “rebels” were finally driven out of East Aleppo in December 2016, 90% of civilians rushed into government controlled areas. In recent days, civilians from Latakia province who had been imprisoned by terrorists for the past 3 years have been liberated in a prisoner exchange. The following video shows the Syrian President and first lady meeting with some of the civilians and gives a sense of the joy.

11) The Amnesty report is accompanied by a 3 minute cartoon which gives the false narrative that Syrian civilians who protest peacefully are imprisoned and executed. The cartoon is titled “Saydnaya Prison: Human Slaughterhouse”. Apparently Amnesty International is in denial of the fact that there are many tens of thousands of violent extremists in Syria. They set off car bombs, launch mortars and otherwise attack civilian areas every day. While there are mistakes from time to time, and also cases of corruption and bribery, it makes no sense that Syrian security or prison authorities would be wasting time and resources with non-violent civilians when there are tens of thousands of foreign sponsored actual terrorists in the country. The AI accusation is also contradicted by the fact that there are many opposition parties in Syria. They compete for seats in the National Assembly and campaign openly for public support from both the right and left of the Baath Party.

12) The Amnesty claim that Syrian authorities brutally repress peaceful protest is also contradicted by the Syrian reconciliation process. For the past several years armed opposition militants have been encouraged to lay down their weapons and peacefully rejoin society. This is largely unreported in western media because it contradicts the false stereotype presented by Amnesty International and western media in general. A recent example is reported here.

13) The Amnesty report cites the “Caesar” photographs as supporting evidence but ignores the fact that nearly half the photographs show the opposite of what was claimed. The widely publicized “Caesar photographs” was a Qatari funded hoax designed to sabotage the 2014 Geneva negotiations as documented here .

14) The Amnesty report makes many accusations against the Syrian government but ignores the violation of Syrian sovereignty being committed by western and Gulf countries. It is a curious fact that big NGOs such as Amnesty International focus on violations of “human rights law” and “humanitarian law” but ignore the crime of aggression, also called the crime against peace.  According to the Nuremberg Tribunal, this is “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister and former President of the U.N. General Assembly, Father Miguel D’Escoto, is someone who should know. He says, “What the U.S. government is doing in Syria is tantamount to a war of aggression, which, according to the Nuremberg Tribunal, is the worst possible crime a State can commit against another State.” Amnesty International ignores this.

Background and Context

The co-author of this Amnesty International report is Nicolette Waldman (Boehland). She was uncritically interviewed on DemocracyNow on 9 February. The background and previous work of Waldman shows the inter-connections between influential Washington “think tanks” and the billionaire foundation funded Non Governmental Organizations that claim to be independent but are clearly not. Waldman previously worked for the “Center for Civilians in Conflict”. This organization is directed by leaders from George Soros’ Open Society, Human Rights Watch, Blackrock Solutions and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). CNAS may be the most significant indication of political orientation since it is led by Michele Flournoy, who was predicted to become Secretary of Defense if Hillary Clinton had won the election. CNAS has been a leading force behind neo-conservatives plan to escalate war in Syria. While past work or associations do not always define new or future work, in this case the sensational and evidence-free accusations seem to align with neoconservative political goals.

Conclusion

Amnesty International has previously published false information or “corroboration” which justified western aggression against Iraq and Libya. This seems to be the same role they are playing now in Syria.

The Amnesty International report is a combination of accusations based on hearsay and sensationalism. Partially because of Amnesty’s undeserved reputation for independence and accuracy, the report has been picked up and broadcast widely.  Liberal and supposedly progressive media outlets have dutifully echoed the dubious accusations. In reality this report amounts to a Kangaroo court with the victim being the Syrian government and people who have borne the brunt of the foreign sponsored aggression. If this report sparks an escalation of the conflict, which Amnesty International seems to call for, it will be a big step backwards not forward ….just like in Iraq and Libya.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist based in the SF Bay Area. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Rise of the Western Dissidents

The only reason Assange is being targeted is that he tangled with the highest levels of the western establishment. He is far from alone.

The Duran

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Authored by Allum Bokhari via Breitbart:


We’re used to Russian dissidents, Chinese dissidents, Iranian dissidents, and Saudi Arabian dissidents. But those who rightly believe the west is superior to authoritarian regimes must now contend with a troubling trend — the rise of the western dissident.

Chief among them is Julian Assange, who for a half-decade has been forced to live in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has claimed political asylum since 2011. Assange claimed that he would be extradited to the U.S. to face charges over his work at WikiLeaks if he left the embassy, and was routinely mocked as paranoid for doing so.

This week, we learned that Assange was right and his critics were wrong. Thanks to a clerical error by the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, reporters were able to confirm the existence of sealed criminal charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

Because the charges are sealed and the evidence is unknown, it’s impossible to say if the case has merit. But it likely relates to WikiLeaks’ release of unredacted diplomatic cables in 2011, which forced the U.S. to relocate several of its foreign sources.

Some allegations are more serious. While he was alive, neoconservative Senator John McCain maintained that leaks provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, which included the diplomatic cables, caused U.S sources to be murdered.

Those who see Assange as a villain will end the story here. What is typically left out is that WikiLeaks originally released the diplomatic cables in piecemeal form, with names redacted to prevent loss of life and minimize harm.

It was only after a Guardian journalist’s error led to the full unredacted cables leaking to third parties on the web that WikiLeaks published them as well — and not before Assange attempted to warn the office of Hillary Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State.

In other words, WikiLeaks behaved precisely as any responsible publisher handling sensitive material should, redacting information that could cause harm. The redactions only stopped when they became pointless. Assange is unlikely to have won more than a dozen journalism awards if he were completely reckless in his publications.

The Pentagon later admitted under oath that they could not find any instances of individuals being killed as a result of being named in Manning’s leaks to WikiLeaks, contradicting Sen. McCain’s allegations.

At worst, Assange and WikiLeaks can be accused of negligence, not deliberate recklessness, in the way it handled sensitive material. But as Breitbart Tech reporter Lucas Nolan points out, a far stronger case can be made against Hillary Clinton for the way she handled State Department emails — yet we see no criminal charges against her.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the only reason Assange is being targeted is that he tangled with the highest levels of the western establishment. In that, he is far from alone.

In the late 2000s to early 2010s, western governments targeted all manner of individuals associated with Assange and the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, including Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda, and The Guardian newspaper.

This was the early growth period of the internet, when the web had become a truly popular medium but had yet to be censored by pliant social media corporations. It was a time of profound unease at the power of the internet to undermine authority, both through the dissemination of information as in the case of WikiLeaks and Snowden, and in the new mobilization of political forces, as in the case of Occupy Wall Street and the SOPA/PIPA protests. Heavy-handed crackdowns against individuals and groups that were seen, rightly or wrongly, as symbols of the web’s early anarchic tendencies, like Kim DotcomAaron SwartzAnonymous, and LulzSec, were not uncommon.

These days, however, a new class of western dissident has emerged — the populist dissident.

Populist Dissidents

Who would have thought that the highest court in Europe, home of the enlightenment, would uphold a case in which a woman was prosecuted for blasphemy against Islam?

Who would have thought that Britain, the birthplace of liberalism and the free press, would ban an independent journalist from its shores for satirizing the same religion?

Who would have thought that Germany, whose living memory of the totalitarian Stasi is just three decades old, would put its largest opposition party under surveillance?

Just a few years ago, all three would sound far-fetched. But cases like these have become common as elites in virtually every western country mount a panicked attempt to contain the rise of populism (the goal, in the words of a Google executive, is to render it a “hiccup”in history’s march towards progress).

Look at the case of Tommy Robinson, the British critic of Islam who was dragged through Britain’s courts on fuzzy contempt-of-court charges. Sentenced to an astonishing thirteen-month imprisonment, Robinson was eventually freed after a successful appeal and now awaits a final trial before Britain’s Attorney General. Shaky charges that have been successfully appealed were exploited to persecute a British citizen who was inconvenient to the establishment. And there’s still a further trial to come.

Then again, Britain is a country that routinely bans foreign politicians and media figures from the country for being too right-wing. Michael SavageGeert WildersLauren SouthernPamela Geller, and Robert Spencer all enjoy this dubious distinction. Theresa May, who was responsible for internal affairs and immigration when Spencer and Geller were banned, is now the Prime Minister.

But it’s not just Britain. Not only has Trump’s White House, supposedly an ally of populists, failed to publicly intervene on behalf of the American citizens banned from the U.K. for expressing populist viewpoints, but it hasn’t even investigated allegations that far-left Antifa activists were able to stop conservative Rebel Media personality Jack Buckbyfrom entering the country by spreading false criminal allegations.

Julian Assange, a left-libertarian may share little ideological ground with right-wing critics of Islam. But they all share at least one thing: persecution by western states coupled with anti-establishment political speech or activities. They are also targets of the security establishment — Assange because of leaks that have exposed their secrets, and the populists because they refuse to censor themselves to avoid angering Muslims. (The UK justified its attempted ban of Geert Wilders by arguing that his presence in the country could lead to “inter-faith violence.”)

We also see attacks on free speech, with governments and politicians across the west pressuring Silicon Valley to suppress its critics. An unaccountable, unelected elite can sweep away a person’s livelihood in minutes, and cut their political message off from millions of American citizens. As I wrote in my column two weeks ago, the overarching trend is the gradual destruction or delegitimization of every tool, digital or otherwise, that non-elites use to express their preferences. Does that sound like a free society, or a controlled one?

You don’t have to agree with any of the individuals or groups listed above to see that surveilling political parties, blocking journalists from entering countries, jailing critics of religion, upholding blasphemy laws and censoring the net is the behavior of authoritarian nations, not liberal democracies. Yet this is the disturbing pattern we now see in the west.

Worse, foreign authoritarian regimes now provide safe harbor for western dissidents, in the same way that the west does for foreign dissidents. Edward Snowden, accused of violating the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917 for blowing the whistle on the NSA’s mass surveillance of Americans, has for years resided safely in Russia, a country that persecutes and even kills its own journalists. Before that, he sought refuge in Hong Kong, a “Special Administrative Region” of the People’s Republic of China, an even more terrifyingly totalitarian state.

Will there now be a quid pro quo, with Russia and other authoritarian regimes protecting our dissidents while the west protects theirs? Or will western countries remain true to their liberal traditions, and stop its alarming attempts to surveil, suppress, and persecute a growing number of its own citizens? On present trends, a dark and dystopian future seems to loom on the horizon.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on TwitterGab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to [email protected]il.com.

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Zuckerberg’s “War Face” Has Driven Key Executives Away, Stoked Tension With Sandberg

About a dozen senior or highly visible executives disclosed their resignations or left Facebook in 2018.

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Via Zerohedge


Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gathered around 50 of his key executives and told them that the company was at war – more specifically, under siege from lawmakers, investors and angry users over the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal and Russian influence on the platform.

Zuckerberg, according to the Wall Street Journal, told his top lieutenants during that June meeting that while executives can move more slowly and methodically on key decisions during “peacetime,” he would be acting more decisively going forward, said people familiar with the remarks.

The result? Tension which has boiled over to the point where several key executives have left the country – as well as friction between Zuckerberg and longtime COO, Sheryl Sandberg.

The 34-year-old CEO believes Facebook didn’t move quickly enough at key moments this year and increasingly is pressing senior executives to “make progress faster” on resolving problems such as slowing user growth and securing the platform, said people familiar with the matter. Mr. Zuckerberg also at times has expressed frustration at how the company managed the waves of criticism it faced this year.

On Friday, that tension was on display when, during a question-and-answer session with employees at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., he blasted a fresh round of critical news coverage as “bullshit,” according to the people familiar with the remarks. –WSJ

One Facebook employee at the Friday session asked if the company could mitigate leaks by publishing internal reports on how frequently offenders are found and fired. While Zuckerberg said that Facebook does fire leakers, the root cause is “bad morale” thanks to negative press coverage.

And while the WSJ notes Zuckerberg has taken on ambitious annual goals, such as learning Mandarin and reading 25 books, this year his biggest challenge is fixing Facebook through his tougher management style, according to a person familiar with his thinking (so says the WSJ). Perhaps the Facebook CEO hired a drill sergeant to coach him on bringing out his inner-Alpha?

According to the Journal, Zuckerberg and Sandberg have had confrontations over his new management style, after she had long been afforded considerable autonomy over the company’s teams which handle communications and policy.

This spring, Mr. Zuckerberg told Ms. Sandberg, 49, that he blamed her and her teams for the public fallout over Cambridge Analytica, the research firm that inappropriately accessed private data on Facebook users and used it for political research, according to people familiar with the exchange.

Ms. Sandberg later confided in friends that the exchange rattled her, and she wondered if she should be worried about her job.

Mr. Zuckerberg also has told Ms. Sandberg she should have been more aggressive in allocating resources to review troublesome content on the site, said one person familiar with the matter, a problem that the company still struggles to fix. –WSJ

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg seems to be pleased of late with internal improvements, telling reporters last week that Sandberg is a “very important partner to me, and continues to be, and will continue to be.”

Privately, Zuckerberg has told executives that some of the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal was just “hysteria,” to which Facebook simply didn’t mount an effective response.

Clash of the tech titans

Zuckerberg famously has butted heads with the co-founders of photo-sharing app Instagram, over his desire to share user location data on the main Facebook platform in order to help better target ads. The now-resigned Instagram founders strongly opposed the idea, and abruptly left the company in September.

The founders of WhatsApp similarly bailed on Facebook after disagreements over how to best extract revenue from the messaging service, according to people familiar with the matter.

And most recently, was the departure of Oculus VR co-founder Brendan Iribe, who was forced out by Zuckerberg in part due to a disagreement over the future of the virtual-reality handset, the people said. The decision to leave was reportedly “mutual.”

All told, about a dozen senior or highly visible executives disclosed their resignations or left Facebook in 2018. In May, Facebook announced a major reshuffling of top product executives in a way that helped free up Mr. Zuckerberg to oversee a broader portfolio within the company.

This turmoil at the top of Facebook has made it difficult for the company to execute on some product decisions and shore up employee morale, which has been sinking over the last year along with the stock price, which has fallen 36% since its peak. Many employees are frustrated by the bad press and constant reorganizations, including of the security team, which can disrupt their work, according to current and former employees. –WSJ

Doing whatever it takes

Facebook has come under fire recently – most notably after a New York Times report that the company used GOP operatives to smear the company’s detractors and promote negative news about competitors Google and Apple.

When the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal broke – the resultant rebukes from Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google executives sent Zuckerberg ballistic. The Facebook CEO “later ordered his management team to use only Android phones —arguing that the operating system had far more users than Apple’s,” according to the Times.

Facebook then went on the offensive against the fellow tech giants.

On the advice of Joel Kaplan – a well-connected Republican friend, Bush administration official, and former Harvard classmate of Sandberg, Facebook began to go after Google and Apple.

Mr. Kaplan prevailed on Ms. Sandberg to promote Kevin Martin, a former Federal Communications Commission chairman and fellow Bush administration veteran, to lead the company’s American lobbying efforts. Facebook also expanded its work with Definers.

On a conservative news site called the NTK Network, dozens of articles blasted Google and Apple for unsavory business practices. One story called Mr. Cook hypocritical for chiding Facebook over privacy, noting that Apple also collects reams of data from users. Another played down the impact of the Russians’ use of Facebook.

The rash of news coverage was no accident: NTK is an affiliate of Definers, sharing offices and staff with the public relations firm in Arlington, Va. Many NTK Network stories are written by staff members at Definers or America Rising, the company’s political opposition-research arm, to attack their clients’ enemies. –NYT

Facebook has responded, initially saying they didn’t put out “fake news” against their competitors, and they had no idea what their marketing department was doing. On Friday, however, Sandberg said she took full responsibility for the actions of the communications team.

Facebook has tried to move forward following its various scandals; spearheading efforts to reign in data harvesting, and looking for someone to oversee its corporate, external and legal affairs.

Hopefully whoever is ultimately in charge of oversight won’t be scared away by Zuckerberg’s war face.

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The “Resistance” Struggles To Justify Support For Trump’s Prosecution Of Assange

When you find yourself supporting conflicting principles, it’s a sure sign that you were never guided by principle to begin with.

The Duran

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com:


Ever since suspicions were confirmed that the Trump administration is indeed working to prosecute and imprison WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing authentic documents, the so-called “Resistance” has been struggling to explain exactly why it is so enthusiastically supportive of that agenda. And when I say struggling, I am being very, very generous.

When news broke that a court document copy-paste error had inadvertently exposed the fact that the Trump administration is pursuing an agenda which experts of diverse political persuasions agree would have devastating effects on the freedom of the press, #Resistance pundit and DC think tank operative Neera Tanden responded by tweeting, “Never mess with karma”. As of this writing if you do a Twitter search for the words “Assange” and “karma” together, you will come up with countless Democratic Party loyalists using that concept to justify their support for a Trump administration assault on the press that is infinitely more dangerous than the president being mean to Jim Acosta.

The trouble with that of course is that “karma”, as far as observable reality is concerned, is not an actual thing. It’s a Hindu religious concept that is supported by no more factual evidence than the Roman Catholic claim that a priest literally turns bread and wine into the body and blood of a Nazarene carpenter who died thousands of years ago. A Democratic pundit using the concept of “karma” to justify enthusiastic support for Trump’s fascistic attack on press freedoms is exactly the same as a Republican pundit using “God wills it” to justify the existence of poverty, and it is just as intellectually honest.

But it’s also the best argument these people have got.

I mean, think about it. There’s really no other way you can justify supporting a Trump administration agenda — an administration you claim to oppose — in a prosecution with legal implications that are severely detrimental to the free press, which you claim to support.

The only way to justify it is with some vague, abstract notion that Assange is just “getting what he deserves” since the 2016 WikiLeaks publications of Democratic Party likely contributed to Trump’s electoral victory over Hillary Clinton, and the only way to reify that vague, abstract notion is with an appeal to some imaginary metaphysical principle, i.e. karma.

But, again, that is not a thing. There is no invisible eight-armed deity floating around behind the scenes arbitrating and distributing the consequences of WikiLeaks drops, and there is no rational argument that the Trump administration prosecuting Assange is desirable because Assange “deserves” it. The fact of the matter is that these people are supporting Trump’s fascism in the most toxic ways possible, they are utterly incapable of defending that support with any intellectual honesty, and the self-proclaimed “Resistance” would be more aptly named “the Assistance”.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald described this phenomenon as follows:

But the grand irony is that many Democrats will side with the Trump DOJ over the Obama DOJ. Their emotional, personal contempt for Assange  – due to their belief that he helped defeat Hillary Clinton: the gravest crime  –  easily outweighs any concerns about the threats posed to press freedoms by the Trump administration’s attempts to criminalize the publication of documents.

This reflects the broader irony of the Trump era for Democrats. While they claim out of one side of their mouth to find the Trump administration’s authoritarianism and press freedom attacks so repellent, they use the other side of their mouth to parrot the authoritarian mentality of Jeff Sessions and Mike Pompeo that anyone who published documents harmful to Hillary or which have been deemed “classified” by the U.S. Government ought to go to prison.

…It is this utterly craven and authoritarian mentality that is about to put Democrats of all sorts in bed with the most extremist and dangerous of the Trump faction as they unite to create precedents under which the publication of information — long held sacrosanct by anyone caring about press freedoms — can now be legally punished.

And indeed this is exactly what has been happening. Check out the joyous celebrations in online comments sections from when the news broke that the Trump administration has brought sealed charges upon Assange (herehere, or here for example) for a taste of where the “blue wave” zeitgeist is at right now. Their hatred for Assange has overpowered not only their hatred for Trump, but the most important ways in which they are meant to be resisting him.

When you find yourself supporting conflicting principles, it’s a sure sign that you were never guided by principle to begin with.

And this is really the lesson we can take from all this. The noxious strain of American liberalism which promotes Russia conspiracy theories, supports the prosecution of government transparency advocates, and only attacks Trump as an idea rather than actually resisting his actual policies was never about any principle of any kind. There were preexisting agendas against Russia, alternative media, WikiLeaks, and government transparency long before Trump took office, and all of those agendas have been systematically advanced by the powerful using the “us vs them” herd mentality of the McResistance. These people aren’t supporting the prosecution of a leak publisher because of their ideological values, they are supporting it because that’s what powerful manipulators want them to do.

Trump’s despicable prosecution of Assange, and corporate liberalism’s full-throated support for it, has fully discredited all of mainstream US politics on both sides of the aisle. Nobody in that hot mess stands for anything. If you’re still looking to Trump or the Democrats to protect you from the rising tide of fascism, the time to make your exit is now.

*  *  *

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out mypodcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal,buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

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