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Peter Lavelle regarding “Morell and Vickers: An open letter to Donald Trump”

The world is not only about Washington and its interests. Morell and Vickers represent a morbid imperial and colonial mindset.

Peter Lavelle

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Deconstructing “Morell and Vickers: An open letter to Donald Trump” – published by the The Washington Post on its opinion page September 10, 2016.

Many years ago, I used to engage in rebutting – paragraph-by-paragraph – the most egregious propaganda nonsense the American media could stoop to. But it is time consuming and maddening. I hate giving time to hateful and small minds. But this op-ed forces me to react. My words are in italics.

“Mr. Trump, with all due respect to you as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, you cannot credibly serve as commander in chief if you embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader has repeatedly shown himself to be an adversary of the United States. Putin, during his long tenure, has repeatedly pursued policies that undermine U.S. interests and those of our allies and partners. He has steadily but systematically moved Russia from a fledgling democratic state to an authoritarian one. He is the last foreign leader you should be praising.”

Indeed! Russia under the presidency of Vladimir Putin has and will stand up to Washington’s designs to surround, isolate and attempt to destroy the sovereign state of Russia. This is what the Russian people expect of their elected leader. Yes, Putin does push back. He pushes back against attempts to destabilize and overturn Russia’s constitutional order. Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yelstin bowed to Washington’s demand of appeasement – Putin refuses to. I ask Morell and Vickers a simple question: If Putin wasn’t legitimately elected to the presidency three times, then who was? Morell says the U.S. needs to start killing Russians, while Trump and Putin say their two countries should engage in dialogue. How is that wrong and not commonsensical? Who is undermining a more stable international order based on law and who backs more militarism and foreign interventionism? And which foreign leader should we praise? Obama? Hillary Clinton – the War Party’s candidate?

“Abroad, Putin has interfered in the internal affairs of a host of nations on his periphery — through information operations, manipulation of elections and direct support, including providing weapons, to insurgent groups. Most significant, in the past decade, Putin has invaded two neighbors, Georgia and Ukraine — including annexing Crimea, the first major land grab in Europe since World War II. Putin’s goal in doing this is to keep the nations of the former Soviet Union from linking their futures to that of Europe and the West. Do you back these actions?”

The United State interferes in the internal affairs of countries all over the world. It does it all the time, almost everywhere and with dire consequences. It engages in widespread misinformation campaigns, bribes and threatens countries to tow the Washington line, and illegally funds and arms groups. Russia never invaded Georgia. Though Georgia, being American client, assaulted South Ossetia in August 2008 – killing civilians in their beds and internationally recognized peacekeepers. Washington backed an illegal regime change in Ukraine in 2014. It’s the Kiev regime that breaks international law, commits war crimes and will not implement the proposed Minsk Accords to end the conflict. This is Washington’s fault – not Russia’s. Crimea voted to return to Russia because it feared the hostile regime installed in Kiev at the behest of Washington. And it is good that they did – the Kiev regime has killed about 10,000 of its own citizens in eastern Ukraine. If Russia wants to recreate the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire, then why didn’t it occupy Tbilisi in August 2008 and Kiev in 2014?

“Putin’s support of insurgents in eastern Ukraine resulted in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed 298 innocent civilians. Under Putin’s direction, Russian special forces provided the insurgents with and trained them how to use the air-defense system that brought down the plane. As intelligence officers who oversaw covert action, we can tell you that when a country provides overt or covert support to proxies, that nation is responsible for what those proxies do with that support. That makes Putin responsible for downing the airliner. Do you hold him responsible?”

To be polite and civil, Morell and Vickers write out their sleeves. There is no evidence supporting the above paragraph. The U.S. has never released surveillance data about this tragedy. You should ask yourself why. Washington has never held its Kiev proxy to account. And the EU is spineless for its lack of responsibly for supporting Washington’s position. This paragraph is pure and cheap propaganda.

“Also abroad, Putin has aggressively supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brutality against his own people. Putin’s significant intervention in Syria 12 months ago — via the Russian air force and Russian special forces — propped up Assad at the exact moment that the Syrian leader appeared to be losing his grip on power and might therefore be amenable to negotiating a transition of power. As such, Putin is in part responsible for the continuing civil war that has resulted in the deaths of 500,000 Syrians and displaced 10 million others, the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II. Do you support what Putin has done in Syria?”

This paragraph is more delusion in play. Bashar al-Assad is the legal and legitimate elected leader of Syria. Under international law Syria requested Russian military assistance to fight and destroy
western-backed terrorists. It is the west that is responsible for this proxy war and the ensuing humanitarian crisis. The same humanitarian crisis started five years ago when Washington enacted its policy to forcefully and illegally change the political order in Syria. Russia only intervened a year ago and terrorist fear Moscow’s resolve while Washington cuddles terrorists.

“At home, Putin has jailed and killed political opponents. He has jailed and killed journalists. He has neutered the Russian media to the point that he is in complete control of the message reaching the Russian people. He has the popularity that you so admire only because he determines what the Russian people hear about him and his government. Do you support Putin’s violation of Russian law and his tramping of the civil rights of his populace, explicitly protected in the Russian constitution?”

Typical propaganda – Morell and Vickers don’t name names. Who has been jailed? Which journalists have been killed? Russian media is not closed. As a matter of fact a great deal of print media is critical of Putin’s government. The Russia Internet is active and very nuanced. In truth Putin is often criticized for being too moderate when it comes to dealing with the west’s aggressive posture. Morell and Vickers don’t have a clue when it comes to Russian domestic realities.

“One of the more interesting questions is: Who is the biggest loser from Putin’s policies? Take Putin’s actions in Ukraine. One set of losers, of course, was the Ukrainian people, who had their aspirations crushed. Another was the West, particularly the United States, which looked impotent to stop the Russian aggression. But the biggest loser was the Russian people — because Putin has ended any hope of integrating the Russian economy with that of the West, Russia’s only hope for the future. Given this, do you still think Putin is a great leader?”

The biggest losers are Morell and Vickers and the presidential candidate they slavishly support – Hillary Clinton. Washington crushed Ukraine’s very existence as a sovereign state when interfering in its internal affairs. Siding with corrupt oligarchs and fascists has smashed Ukraine into pieces with the future looking grim. Morrell was very active in doing the same when he supported the illegal war on Iraq in 2003. Morell and Vickers embarrass themselves believing they know what the Russian people want. After living in Russia for 18 years I can say Russians want to live in the world under their own terms and not following any fantasy or illusion Morell and Vickers concoct. 

“At the Commander-in-Chief Forum on Sept. 7, you said that as long as Putin says nice things about you, you will say nice things about him. That is not a standard by which a president should make policy decisions. That should not even enter your calculus. Your only question should be “What is in the best interests of the United States?”

Well maybe what is in the best interest of everyone is to be honest, transparent, and reasonable. Morell and Vickers can’t comprehend a world of dialogue and recognition that other countries have legitimate security interests. The world is not only about Washington and its interests. The only standard Morell and Vickers accept is a world that accepts tutelage or war. Morell and Vickers are the kind of people who threat the world with violence and war that are completely unnecessary.

“So, here is our challenge: Demand that Putin stop his aggressive behavior overseas. Demand that he stop his dictatorial moves at home. Tell him that you will live up to our NATO commitments and defend the Baltics if need be. Tell him that you want to work with him on solving the problems in the world — but that he must behave in order to do so. That is what a true commander in chief would do.”

Russia and the rest of the world must behave! This is laughable! Who needs to behave and respect international law? Morell and Vickers write as buffoons. Is Russia threatening NATO? Isn’t it NATO mobilizing against Russia? Russia has no right to defend its borders? Morell and Vickers represent a morbid imperial and colonial mindset.The real problem with Morell and Vickers is the sad reality they believe their own propaganda. I would suggest to Trump to keep speaking his mind. 

(Michael Morell was acting director and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013. Mike Vickers was the undersecretary of defense for intelligence from 2011 to 2015. Both writers have served in Democratic and Republican administrations and endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.)

Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. He views may or may not reflect those of his employer.

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Beijing Threatens “Severe” Retaliation Against Canada If Huawei CFO Is Not Released

China’s warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony.

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Via Zerohedge


Canada’s extraordinary arrest one week ago of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder and billionaire executive Ren Zhengfei, and its decision to charge her with “multiple” counts of fraud – a preamble to her likely extradition to the US to face charges of knowingly violating US and EU sanctions on Iran – has elicited widespread anger in Beijing, which declared Meng’s detention a “violation of human rights” during a bail hearing for the jailed executive on Friday.

That anger has apparently only intensified after the hearing adjourned without a decision (it will resume on Monday, allowing Meng’s defense team to argue for why she should be released on bail, contrary to the wishes of government attorneys who are prosecuting the case).

And with Canada insisting that it will prosecute Meng to the full extent of the law over allegations that she mislead banks about the true relationship of a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom, angry Chinese officials have decided to issue an ultimatum directly to the Canadian ambassador, who was summoned to a meeting in Beijing on Saturday and told in no uncertain terms that Canada will face “severe consequences” if Meng isn’t released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China’s foreign ministry publicized the warning in a statement (though Canadian officials have yet to comment):

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

“Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility,” said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.

Phone calls to the Canadian Embassy rang unanswered while the Canadian government’s global affairs media office didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony. A federal judge issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest back in August. Though after she was made aware of the warrant, Meng avoided travel to the US. She was arrested in Vancouver last Saturday while traveling to Mexico.

Aside from breaking off trade talks, some are worried that Beijing could seek to retaliate in kind by arresting a notable US executive. While the threats of Chinese bureaucrats might not amount to much in the eyes of US prosecutors, threatening a US executive with long-term detention in a Chinese “reeducation camp” just might.

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The trials of Julian Assange

Eresh Omar Jamal interviews Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi in relation to the situation of Julian Assange.

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Authored by Eresh Omar Jamal for The Daily Star (Bangladesh):


Stefania Maurizi is an investigative journalist working for the Italian daily La Repubblica. She has worked on all WikiLeaks releases of secret documents and partnered with Glenn Greenwald to reveal the Snowden Files about Italy. She has authored two books—Dossier WikiLeaks: Segreti Italiani and Una Bomba, Dieci Storie. In an exclusive interview with Eresh Omar Jamal of The Daily Star, Maurizi talks about the continued arbitrary detention of Julian Assange, why powerful governments see WikiLeaks as an existential threat, and the implications for global press freedom if Assange is prosecuted for publishing secret government documents.

You recently had the chance to visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. When was this and can you describe the state he is in?

I was able to visit him on November 19, after 8 months of failed attempts, because last March the Ecuadorian authorities cut off all his social and professional contacts, with the exception of his lawyers, and in the preceding 8 months, I had asked for permission to visit him nine times without success—the Ecuadorian authorities didn’t reply at all to my requests.

When I was finally granted permission to visit the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last November, I was literally shocked to see the huge impact his isolation has had on his health. Because I have worked as a media partner with him and his organisation, WikiLeaks, for the last nine years, I have met him many times and can tell when there are any changes in his body and mind. I wondered how his mind could keep working; but after talking to him in the embassy for two hours, I have no doubt that his mind is working fine. I still wonder how that’s possible after six and a half years of detention without even one hour of being outdoors. I would have had a physical and mental breakdown after just 6 months, not after 6 years.

Detention and isolation are killing him slowly, and no one is doing anything to stop it. The media reports, the commentators comment, but at the end of the day, he is still there; having spent the last six and a half years confined to a tiny building with no access to sunlight or to proper medical treatment. And this is happening in London, in the heart of Europe. He is not sitting in an embassy in Pyongyang. It is truly tragic and completely unacceptable. And I’m simply appalled at the way the UK authorities have contributed to his arbitrary detention, and have opposed any solution to this intractable legal and diplomatic quagmire.

Having bravely defended Assange for years, the Ecuadorian government in late March cut off almost all his communications with the outside world. What prompted this turnabout and what is its purpose?

Politics has completely changed in Ecuador, and more in general, in Latin America, since 2012, when Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum. I have never had any interviews with the current Ecuadorian President, Mr Lenin Moreno, but based on his public declarations, it’s rather obvious to me that he does not approve of what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks do.

With all his problems, Rafael Correa (former president of Ecuador) protected Assange from the very beginning, whereas Lenin Moreno considers him a liability. Moreno is under pressure from the right-wing politicians in Ecuador, and also from very powerful governments, like the US and UK governments, who will leave no stones unturned to jail Assange and destroy WikiLeaks. I am not sure how long Lenin Moreno will hold out against this immense pressure, provided that he wants to hold out at all.

Assange was vindicated not so long ago as to why he cannot leave the embassy when the US Department of Justice “accidentally” revealed in November that the founder of WikiLeaks had been secretly charged in the US. What do you think those charges are for?

It’s hard to say unless the charges get declassified and I really appreciate how the US organisation, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is fighting before the court in the Eastern District of Virginia, US, to have the charges declassified.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the US authorities have always wanted to charge him for WikiLeaks’ publications. They have wanted to do so from the very beginning, since 2010, when WikiLeaks released its bombshell publications like the US diplomatic cables.

But the US authorities have been unable to do so due to the fact that WikiLeaks’ publication activities enjoy constitutional protection thanks to the First Amendment. So it will be very interesting to see how they will get around this constitutional protection in order to be able to charge him and other WikiLeaks journalists and put them all in jail.

Why have some of the most powerful governments and intelligence agencies invested so much resources to attack Assange and WikiLeaks?

You have to realise what it meant for the US national security complex to witness the publication of 76,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan, and then another 390,000 secret reports about the war in Iraq; followed by 251,287 US diplomatic cables and 779 secret files on the Guantanamo detainees; and to watch WikiLeaks save Edward Snowden, while the US was trying everything it could do, to show the world that there is no way of exposing the NSA’s secrets and keep your head attached to your neck having done so.

You have to realise what this means in an environment like that of the US, where even the most brilliant national security reporters didn’t dare to publish the name of the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, Michael D’Andrea, even though his name and the abuses committed by his centre were open secrets within their inner circles. Although the New York Times finally did, later on. But this was and still is the reality in the US, and even though it may not be as bad in the UK, it’s still quite bad. Look at what happened with the arrest of Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda, at the Heathrow Airport during the publication of the Snowden Files. Look at what happened with The Guardian being forced to destroy its hard drives during the publication of those files.

There are different levels of power in our societies and generally in our western democracies, criticism against the low, medium and high levels of power via journalistic activities is tolerated. Journalists may get hit with libel cases, have troubles with their careers; however, exposing those levels is permitted. The problem is when journalists and media organisations touch the highest levels, the levels where states and intelligence agencies operate.

WikiLeaks is a media organisation that has published secret documents about these entities for years, and Julian Assange and his staff have done this consistently, not occasionally like all the other media organisations do. You can imagine the anger these powerful entities have towards WikiLeaks—they perceive WikiLeaks as an existential threat and they want to set an example that says, “Don’t you dare expose our secrets and crimes, because if you do, we will smash you.”

If Assange is prosecuted, what impact might it have on other publishers and journalists and on press freedom globally?

It will have a huge impact and that is why organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union are speaking out. Never before in the US has an editor and media organisation ended up in jail for publishing information in the public interest. If Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks’ staff end up in jail, it will be the first time in US history and will set a devastating precedent for attack on press freedom in the US, but actually, not only in the US. Because if a country like the US, in which the activities of the press enjoy constitutional protection, treats journalists this way, you can imagine how other countries where the press doesn’t enjoy such strong protection will react. It will send a clear message to them: “Your hands are free.”

At the end of the day, I think there are two sides to this Assange and WikiLeaks saga: the US-UK national security complex, but more in general, I would say, the people within the national security complex, who want to destroy Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to send a clear message to journalists: “Don’t mess with us if you don’t want your lives to be destroyed.” While on the other side, there are the freedom of the press guys, meaning journalists like me, who want to demonstrate the exact opposite: that we can expose power at the highest levels, we can expose the darkest corners of governments and come out alive and well. And actually, we must do this, because real power is invisible and hides in the darkest corners.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a journalist for The Daily Star (Bangladesh). You can find him on Twitter: @EreshOmarJamal and Stefania Maurizi: @SMaurizi

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Diplomacy a Waste of Time with Washington

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

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Authored by Stephen Lendman:


The US is a serial lawbreaker, operating by its own rules, no others.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches international treaties, Security Council resolutions, and other rule of law principles, including its own Constitution.

Diplomacy with Republicans and undemocratic Dems is an exercise in futility.

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s proposed US outreach to discuss INF Treaty bilateral differences is well intended – despite knowing nothing is accomplished when talks with Washington are held, so why bother.

It’s just a matter of time before the US breaches another promise. They’re hollow when made. Kremlin good intentions aren’t enough to overcome US duplicity and implacable hostility toward Russia.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” said Zakharova, adding:

“We have admitted (US) documents for further consideration. This text again includes accusations in the form of unfounded and unsubstantiated information about Russia’s alleged violations of this deal.

Comments to Washington like the above and similar remarks are like talking to a wall. The US demands all countries bend to its will, offering nothing in return but betrayal – especially in dealings with Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent governments it seeks to replace with pro-Western puppet ones.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia violated its INF Treaty obligations. The accusation is baseless like all others against the Kremlin.

“No one has officially or by any other means handed over to Russia any files or facts, confirming that Russia breaches or does not comply with this deal,” Zakharova stressed, adding:

“We again confirm our consistent position that the INF Treaty is one of the key pillars of strategic stability and international security.”

It’s why the Trump regime intends abolishing it by pulling out. Strategic stability and international security defeat its agenda. Endless wars and chaos serve it.

The US, UK, France, Israel, and their imperial partners get away with repeated international law breaches because the EU, UN, and rest of the world community lack backbone enough to challenge them.

It’s how it is no matter how egregious their actions, notably their endless wars of aggression, supporting the world’s worst tinpot pot despots, and failing to back the rights of persecuted Palestinians and other long-suffering people.

The only language Republicans and Dems understand is toughness. Putin pretends a Russian/US partnership exists to his discredit – a show of weakness, not strength and responsible leadership.

In response to the Trump regime’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, he said Russia will “react accordingly” – precisely what, he didn’t say.

A few suggestions, Mr. President.

  • Recall your ambassador to Washington. Expel the Trump regime’s envoy from Moscow and other key embassy personnel.
  • Arrest US spies in Russia you long ago identified. Imprison them until the US releases all Russian political prisoners. Agree to swap US detainees for all of them, no exceptions.
  • Install enough S-400 air defense systems to cover all Syrian airspace. Warn Washington, Britain, France and Israel that their aircraft, missiles and other aerial activities in its airspace will be destroyed in flight unless permission from Damascus is gotten – clearly not forthcoming.
  • Publicly and repeatedly accuse the above countries of supporting the scourge of ISIS and likeminded terrorists they pretend to oppose.
  • Warn them in no uncertain terms that their aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic no longer will be tolerated. Tell them the same goes if they dare attack Iran.
  • Stop pretending Mohammad bin Salman didn’t order Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, along with ignoring the kingdom’s horrendous human rights abuses domestically and abroad – including support for ISIS and other terrorists.
  • Put observance of rule of law principles and honor above dirty business as usual with the kingdom and other despotic regimes for profits.
  • Do the right things at all times and damn the short-term consequences – including toughness on Washington, the UK, Israel, and their imperial partners in high crimes of war and against humanity.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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