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Susan Rice admits Trump team placed under surveillance

Susan Rice uses meeting with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to justify surveillance and ‘unmasking’ of Trump officials

Alexander Mercouris

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Publication of Hillary Clinton’s book, which I have not read but which I gather characteristically blames everyone for her election defeat but herself, and which assumes all the Russiagate allegations to be true, begs the question of what stage the Russiagate investigation has reached, and whether we are any closer to a final end to this affair.

The answer is that the investigation – predictably enough – appears to be going nowhere, and that the affair is now probably close to its end.

Firstly, there has been a dearth of new ‘revelations’ driving the scandal, which suggests that the well of such ‘revelations’ from our old friends the ‘anonymous sources’ has finally dried up.  In place of these ‘revelations’ the media has had to content itself with reports of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s activities, including details of the various people he has had interviewed or intends to have interviewed.

The fact that Mueller and his people are carrying out these interviews and are going through the evidence is in my opinion a good thing.  Whilst Comey was in charge of the Russiagate investigation it proceeded at a snail’s pace, almost certainly because Comey had a vested interest in keeping it going as long as possible.  Mueller by contrast appears to be taking his job seriously, which means that (finally!) the people who have been publicly implicated in the scandal are being interviewed, giving them at last an opportunity to state their case and to respond to the allegations which have made against them.

Apart from this the pro-Russiagate media has had only thin fare to work with.  A front page article in the New York Times dated 28th August 2017 about an individual called Felix Sater (described by the New York Times as a “Trump associate”) who bragged in emails he sent in November 2015 to Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen about his high profile connections in Moscow and of his ability to get Russian project financing for a real estate deal in Moscow, is shown to be a red herring by this admission in the New York Times article itself

There is no evidence in the emails that Mr. Sater delivered on his promises, and one email suggests that Mr. Sater overstated his Russian ties. In January 2016, Mr. Cohen wrote to Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, asking for help restarting the Trump Tower project, which had stalled. But Mr. Cohen did not appear to have Mr. Peskov’s direct email, and instead wrote to a general inbox for press inquiries.

The project never got government permits or financing, and died weeks later.

As the independent journalist Robert Parry rightly says, the episode does not show that Trump has links to Moscow.  On the contrary if anything it proves that he has none.

In the meantime there are indications that even of the most fervid supporters of the Russiagate theory have been rattled by the forensic analysis questioning the evidence of a Russian hack of the DNC provided by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  Supposedly the analysis has now been shown to Attorney General Sessions and to Mueller himself, though Sessions has no role in the Russiagate investigation since he recused himself from it.

The fact that the analysis is causing concern is shown by the fact that there have apparently been – most unusually in the Russiagate affair – attempts to refute the analysis in the mainstream media, which is contrary to the media’s usual practice of simply ignoring evidence which calls into question the allegations made over the course of the Russiagate scandal.

Meanwhile, whilst there has been a dearth of revelations driving the scandal, there has now been an important admission from Susan Rice – Obama’s National Security Adviser – that some people close to Donald Trump were indeed placed under surveillance during the transition period, and that she did indeed demand that the identities of these people be circulated within the US government’s bureaucracy (“unmasked”).

This was previously widely denied, including implicitly by Susan Rice herself, for example in this interview

Woodruff: We’ve been following a disclosure by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, that in essence, during the final days of the Obama administration, during the transition, after President Trump had been elected, that he and the people around him may have been caught up in surveillance of foreign individuals in that their identities may have been disclosed. Do you know anything about this?

Rice: I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.

(bold italics added)

Here by contrast is what CNN reports actually happened

Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year, multiple sources told CNN.

The New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House.

The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said.

The Obama administration felt misled by the United Arab Emirates, which had failed to mention that Zayed was coming to the United States even though it’s customary for foreign dignitaries to notify the US government about their travels, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

Rice, who served as then-President Obama’s national security adviser in his second term, told the House Intelligence Committee last week that she requested the names of the Americans mentioned in the classified report be revealed internally, a practice officials in both parties say is common.

CNN claims that members of the House Intelligence Committee were satisfied with Susan Rice’s explanations.  By contrast I find them nothing short of bizarre.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan is as it happens the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, not of the United Arab Emirates, which is a confederation of Gulf Arab states which includes Abu Dhabi as well as Dubai, and which therefore does not have a “Crown Prince”.

At this point it is worth saying that Abu Dhabi is one of the US’s strongest and most trusted allies in the region.  The fact that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan failed to inform the Obama administration of his visit to Washington to meet with officials of the incoming Trump administration in the run up to the inauguration scarcely seems a reason to place him under surveillance.  At worst it was a mere act of discourtesy.  Certainly, since there appears to have been nothing secret about his visit, it was hardly a reason to place him under surveillance when all he appears to have been intent on doing was meeting with senior incoming officials of the US government.

CNN reports “a senior Middle East official” saying

The meeting was about ascertaining the Trump team’s view of the region and sharing the UAE’s view of the region and what the US role should be.  No one was coming in to sell anything or arrange anything.

This is a perfectly valid and sufficient reason for the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to want to meet with the officials of an incoming US administration.  Note that according to this unnamed “senior Middle East official” relations with Russia were not the subject of the discussion.  Other sources who have spoken to CNN confirm this

It’s unclear precisely which Trump officials Rice discussed at the House meeting. But multiple sources have confirmed to CNN that Zayed met at the time with Flynn, Kushner and Bannon. The three-hour discussion focused on a range of issues, including Iran, Yemen and the Mideast peace process, according to two sources who insisted that opening up a back-channel with Russia was not a topic of discussion.

CNN – presumably on the strength of claims by Susan Rice or possibly from sources within the House Intelligence Committee – tries to get round this by linking the meeting between Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and the incoming officials of the Trump administration in December with a meeting which happened shortly after in January in the Seychelles between Erik Prince, the founder of the security firm Blackwater, and an unnamed Russian official.

The Seychelles meeting — and the circumstances around it — has been a subject of interest to Hill investigators looking at any potential link between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The Washington Post initially reported in April that the UAE brokered a pre-inauguration meeting between the founder of the security firm Blackwater, Erik Prince, who is a close Trump ally, and an associate of Vladimir Putin’s in the Seychelles Islands. The purpose of the meeting was part of an effort by the UAE to persuade Russia to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, according to the Post.

And it occured shortly after Bannon, Flynn and Kushner also met in Trump Tower with Zayed, whom the Post said helped arrange the Seychelles meeting with Russia government officials to set up the private discussions with the Trump team.

However all this is expressly denied by the White House – which says that Erik Prince was in no sense a representative of the incoming Trump administration – as well as by the unnamed “senior Middle East official”, and by Erik Prince himself

But the senior Middle East official told CNN this week that Prince’s name was not discussed at the Trump Tower meeting. And Prince himself has said he did nothing wrong, telling CNN’s Erin Burnett last month: “I was there for business.”

Both the White House and Prince have strongly denied that Prince was working as a liaison for the Trump administration.

Prince said he met with a Russian while at the Seychelles but “I don’t remember his name.”

“It probably lasted about, as long as one beer,” he said about the meeting.

In truth Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan scarcely seems a likely person to want to set up a covert ‘backchannel’ between the incoming Trump administration and Russia, or someone likely to be used for such a purpose either by Donald Trump or his associates or by the Russians, and it is scarcely credible that either the Obama administration or the US intelligence community ever thought he was.

Given that this is so, and given that he is a close friend and ally of the US who had come to Washington for no other purpose than to meet with incoming officials of the US government, it is difficult to see what reason there was to put him or the people he was meeting under surveillance.

Frankly the meeting between Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and the officials of the incoming Trump administration in December, as well as the meeting between Erik Prince and the unnamed Russian in the Seychelles in January, look to me to have been introduced into the Russiagate story in order to excuse the fact that incoming officials of the Trump administration were indeed placed under surveillance and – at Susan Rice’s urging – had their identities “unmasked” despite the fact that they had done nothing wrong and when there was no good reason to do it.

I have previously written that the true scandal of 2016 is that US citizens who have committed no wrong were placed under surveillance during the election and after, without proper cause.  Susan Rice’s admission seems to me a further big step towards confirming this.

In addition to the Susan Rice admissions certain other allegations have been circulating in alternative media which if true are even more explosive.

These claim that the FBI was the ultimate client of Christopher Steele, and paid him in excess of $100,000 for the Trump Dossier, and that this happened after Steele was introduced to the FBI by Senator McCain, for whom Steele supposedly produced the earliest entries of the Trump Dossier.

Supposedly there are now recriminations within the FBI about this, as the bogus nature of the Trump Dossier has become increasingly clear.

These allegations would be explosive if they were true, and they are not intrinsically implausible.  After all intelligence and police agencies regularly pay foreign informers for information, which is essentially all that is being alleged in this case.  The scandal would not be that this is what happened.  Rather it would be that the FBI was so easily gulled that it paid so much money for such an obviously false concoction as the Trump Dossier, and that it failed after the existence of the Trump Dossier became known either to admit to this or to admit its own role in producing it.

However I have to say that I do not trust these claims because I do not trust the sources that report them, and until some more reliable confirmation of these claims appears I will disregard them.

Overall it is difficult to avoid the impression that the Russiagate investigation is drawing to a close without any result to report.  Perhaps this explains the sudden shift towards attacking Russian media outlets like RT, which has suddenly and outrageously been called upon to register itself as a foreign agent.

It is a consistent pattern of the Russiagate scandal that whenever evidence to support its central allegations fails to appear its advocates turn on RT as the most readily available scapegoat.  The point was well made recently by Peter Lavelle

If Robert Mueller’s inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election is now focusing on RT and Sputnik, then the only conclusion to draw is he has found nothing. Blaming RT and Sputnik is cost free for him and the Swamp. Another travesty of justice and a mortal blow against free speech.

Robert Mueller, whatever else he is, is an experienced investigator.  He has now been heading the Russiagate investigation for several months, during which – as media reports confirm – his team of investigators have been extremely active.

It is difficult to believe that by now he does not realise that the central allegation of the Russiagate scandal – that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence to publish the emails which were stolen from John Podesta and the DNC – is untrue and unfounded.  If he ever had any doubts about this then the clear and comprehensive statement provided by Jared Kushner showing the very limited extent of the Trump campaign’s contacts with the Russians ought to have put such doubts to rest.

Mueller’s duty as an investigator requires him to see his investigation through to the end, and to go through each and every allegation which has been made over the course of the affair.  Leaving loose ends hanging around will simply provide an excuse for advocates of the scandal to go on making the claims they have been making, when the whole point of an investigation like this is to achieve closure.  No doubt that is how Mueller sees it, and for that reason he will see this thing through to its end.

However it is wrong to say that there is a mountain of evidence and testimony for Mueller and his team of investigators to go through.  On the contrary the number of individuals involved in the Russiagate affair is actually quite small.  By now Mueller’s investigators must have spoken to most of them, and must have picked through most of the files.

Earlier in the spring before Mueller was appointed Special Counsel I said that I expected the Russiagate scandal to collapse under its own weight by early summer.  Mueller’s appointment, and the snail’s pace at which the investigation was proceeding when Comey was in charge of it, means that it is taking longer than this.  However I now expect Mueller’s investigation to be completed and him to report before the end of the year.

At that point, though the true believers in the Russiagate conspiracy will doubtless go on believing in it, the worst period of the scandal will finally come to an end.

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Lindsey Cotler
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Lindsey Cotler

Muller is trying to break Flynn and Manafort. Can’t wait to hear Flynn’s story because as he said, he “certainly has a story to tell, and would like to tell it.” Oh, and check out VIPS on wikipedia, the group is the real deal, but their forensic analysis is crap. Our own intelligence services are sure that Russia was behind the hack. But thanks for siding with Russian intelligence over our own because it serves your partisan purpose, just like a real patriot.

niveb
Guest
niveb

“Our own intelligence services are sure that Russia was behind the hack. ” How do you know? They certainly haven’t said so publicly. On the contrary, apart from the conclusions of the “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies-which is worth nothing and adduces nothing in the way of evidence- there has been an embarrassed silence from intelligence professionals who are inclined to draw the line at sacrificing integrity and credibility for nothing more substantial than to maintain the neo-liberals’ grip on the internal machinery of the crumbling Democratic Party. Working for warmongers is had enough, working for the DNC and Donna… Read more »

TravelAbout
Guest
TravelAbout

“working for the DNC and Donna Brazile is an humiliation” and even deadly as in the case of Seth Rich.

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

I take it you didn’t watch any of the testimony. I wouldn’t ether if I were in your shoes. It’s too painful to watch your whole tin foil world get ripped apart. You’re gonna love the impeachment!

Terry Ross
Guest
Terry Ross

What I remember of Clapper was that he lied under oath to Congress, even after being given 12 months in advance to find out the CORRECT situation and reply back to congress. He came back with a lie. A huge one.
Lock Him Up? Lawmakers Renew Calls for James Clapper Perjury Charges

The video of his testimony is shown below and the outrageous lie can be found starting at 6:10.
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Clapper+Senate+Testimony%2C+Mar.+12%2C+2013&t=ffab&ia=videos&iax=1&iai=QwiUVUJmGjs

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Clapper is a liar. So is this ugly Cotler mofo.

Lindsey Cotler
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Lindsey Cotler

This from someone who hides behind a giant “D.” So, today Manafort’s emails showed that he offered a briefing to a Putin ally, i.e. he offered collusion. This isn’t the last shoe to drop. Too bad you guys won’t be around when he is convicted.

Franz Kafka
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Franz Kafka

The only shoes dropping are the ones being thrown at you.

Voltaire
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Voltaire

There is an appalling and embarrassing absence of firm evidence against the Russians…

Do you really think you could prosecute anyone on the basis of what “anonymous officials” state?

OR HAS THE UNITED STATES JUST BECOME ANOTHER BANANA REPUBLIC…

TravelAbout
Guest
TravelAbout

“OR HAS THE UNITED STATES JUST BECOME ANOTHER BANANA REPUBLIC”, that was a rhetorical question I’m assuming?

Lindsey Cotler
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Lindsey Cotler

We have no idea what Muller can prove. But we will find out. See you in court!

Voltaire
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Voltaire

In case you did not know a person is innocent until proved guilty under US and UK law…

So STFU until someone is proved guilty…

Lindsey Cotler
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Lindsey Cotler

Kindly give Susan Rice that same respect.

Terry Ross
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Terry Ross

She has already incriminated herself as well as been caught lying to the House Intelligence Committee.

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

Has that been proven in a court of law? No? Then STFU!

Terry Ross
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Terry Ross

I don’t think you understand. You do not need to PROVE a self-admission. Are you saying she led about that as well?

Franz Kafka
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Franz Kafka

Rice is an unindicted felon.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The only thing Mueller could prove is that HE, Mueller, was front man for the Silverstine/Cheney demolition of the WTC.

Seán Murphy
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Seán Murphy

Bs!

Terry Ross
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Terry Ross

His profile links to The Hill. What can you expect?

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
Guest
VeeNarian (Yerevan)

“Our own intelligence services are sure that Russia was behind the hack.”
Really? Can you find out exactly when did any US “intelligence” agency, as opposed to US bought, corrupt and stupid agencies, examine the DNC server to find the EVIDENCE for this hack?
If they did not themselves examine the DNC server then their accusations are based on second hand allegations, not EVIDENCE gathered by the legal authorities. Do you understand the difference between the POLICE and private investigators in criminal cases?

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

You’re right, all we know are roomers and leaked info. And even the leaked info indicates there are no smoking guns (so far.) So we can argue in the dark all day long, but there is an investigation run by a real FBI guy that will get to the truth and then have to prove it in a court of law. And he won’t need a smoking gun if he’s got a rat or two. Do you really think Trump’s people had all those meetings with Russians (that they later “forgot” to mention on their security forms) and didn’t talk… Read more »

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
Guest
VeeNarian (Yerevan)

Remind me, when did meeting Russians become a crime in the US? The US is descending into the worse kind of anti-Russian RACIST hysteria. This hysteria has gone on for over a year and no EVIDENCE has actually been presented. It is just disgusting gossip and hearsay. Let’s see Mueller comes up with. So, what EXACTLY has the FBI, NSA, and the rest of the 17 US intelligence agencies been doing this past year? Farting with their secretaries, male, female or neither? Based on this anti-Russian RACIST hysteria, the US has accused nuclear-armed Russia of interference that has been called… Read more »

mike2000917
Guest
mike2000917

How disappointed you will be when Trump celebrates New Year’s eve in the White House on December 31,2020. But persist in your fantasies if you wish. Everyone must have a hobby!

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

How is the weather in Tal Habib?

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

yeranidiot

mike2000917
Guest
mike2000917

Russian conspiracy theory believer are the equivalent of the birthers of 2008. Devoid of rational thought and facts yet stubbornly persistent in their beliefs.

seby
Guest
seby

russiagate has to be the most pathetic attempt at a drum beat for war in the history of humanity.

Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

And the Constitution of the United States has been torn into shreds in the process of destroying the rights of thousands of people falsely attacked…

This is worse that McCarthyism…

seby
Guest
seby

See Scott Noble’s documentary on YT or at Metanoia films, PLUTOCRACY. The United States has never been a constitutional republic, let alone a democracy. These attacks on ordinary, working people have been going on from the beginning. FFS, if you didn’t have property, you didn’t get a vote until the 1850’s! In the late 1800’s, working Americans fought back and the same terms and language as today was used. WW1 killed that movement, no doubt part of the plutocracy’s reasoning to get involved. Watch out, the tRump and the repubelicans are chumming up now, always a sign when repubes and… Read more »

Mike Surack
Guest
Mike Surack

McCarthy was a goddamn hero

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The murder of Archie Duke was not that much better as an excuse to murder millions in WW1.

samo war
Guest
samo war
ke0vin
Guest
ke0vin

Misleading headline… Still incidental collection and not “they’re under surveillance”… It is a valid difference.

Herbert Dorsey
Guest
Herbert Dorsey

All this optimism about the Russia Gate non event hinges on Muller’s integrity. But, Muller was FBI head after 9/11, a time when the FBI was busy covering up evidence that 9/11 was an inside job.

Hamletquest
Guest
Hamletquest

All the Russia Gate nonsense indicates that the US is now a failed state. It has worked to enable other weaker countries to fail and now those chickens (of lies, faked stories and false flags) have come home to roost.

Clearly the instigators of these, the CIA, NSA, FBI have nothing left up their sleeves and the whole façade is crumbling.

Jonathan Jarvis
Guest
Jonathan Jarvis

considering almost all Russan athletes have been cleared of doping, yet calls are still made to ban Russia from future events: it will be the same regarding Russiagate-it will still be extant, as for example, Germans actively trying to find evidence in their current election activities, the new EU anti Russia website states Macron’s “facts” about RT and sputniknews international , yet Head of French Intelligence said there was no evidence of Russian hacking……so EU is believing its own “ministry of truth” so called>>>>>>>>> crazeeee.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

The CIA/USSD just spent 150 million USD to influence the Moscow City election.

L Garou
Guest
L Garou

Susan and Valerie sitting in a tree, S-P-Y-I-N-G..
(and baby Barry makes three)

Defiant
Guest
Defiant

How are the American people to react to the more and more BLATANT fact that BIG Democrats don’t have to follow the same laws (or, ANY laws, it seems) as the rest of us?

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Oswald killed Kennedy. Osama Bin Laden bombed the Silverstein Center. Russia won the 2016 US Election. These things are now in the shitty fabric that makes up what passes for an American ‘mind’.

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Skripal and Khashoggi: A Tale of Two Disappearances

Two disappearances, and two different responses.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Two disappearances, and two very different responses from Western governments, which illustrates their rank hypocrisy.

When former Russian spy Sergei Skripal went missing in England earlier this year, there was almost immediate punitive action by the British government and its NATO allies against Moscow. By contrast, Western governments are straining with restraint towards Saudi Arabia over the more shocking and provable case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The outcry by Western governments and media over the Skripal affair was deafening and resulted in Britain, the US and some 28 other countries expelling dozens of Russian diplomats on the back of unsubstantiated British allegations that the Kremlin tried to assassinate an exiled spy with a deadly nerve agent. The Trump administration has further tightened sanctions citing the Skripal incident.

London’s case against Moscow has been marked by wild speculation and ropey innuendo. No verifiable evidence of what actually happened to Sergei Skripal (67) and his daughter Yulia has been presented by the British authorities. Their claim that President Vladimir Putin sanctioned a hit squad armed with nerve poison relies on sheer conjecture.

All we know for sure is that the Skripals have been disappeared from public contact by the British authorities for more than seven months, since the mysterious incident of alleged poisoning in Salisbury on March 4.

Russian authorities and family relatives have been steadfastly refused any contact by London with the Skripal pair, despite more than 60 official requests from Moscow in accordance with international law and in spite of the fact that Yulia is a citizen of the Russian Federation with consular rights.

It is an outrage that based on such thin ice of “evidence”, the British have built an edifice of censure against Moscow, rallying an international campaign of further sanctions and diplomatic expulsions.

Now contrast that strenuous reaction, indeed hyper over-reaction, with how Britain, the US, France, Canada and other Western governments are ever-so slowly responding to Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.

After nearly two weeks since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the Saudi regime is this week finally admitting he was killed on their premises – albeit, they claim, in a “botched interrogation”.

Turkish and American intelligence had earlier claimed that Khashoggi was tortured and murdered on the Saudi premises by a 15-member hit squad sent from Riyadh.

Even more grisly, it is claimed that Khashoggi’s body was hacked up with a bone saw by the killers, his remains secreted out of the consulate building in boxes, and flown back to Saudi Arabia on board two private jets connected to the Saudi royal family.

What’s more, the Turks and Americans claim that the whole barbaric plot to murder Khashoggi was on the orders of senior Saudi rulers, implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The latest twist out of Riyadh, is an attempt to scapegoat “rogue killers” and whitewash the House of Saudi from culpability.

The fact that 59-year-old Khashoggi was a legal US resident and a columnist for the Washington Post has no doubt given his case such prominent coverage in Western news media. Thousands of other victims of Saudi vengeance are routinely ignored in the West.

Nevertheless, despite the horrific and damning case against the Saudi monarchy, the response from the Trump administration, Britain and others has been abject.

President Trump has blustered that there “will be severe consequences” for the Saudi regime if it is proven culpable in the murder of Khashoggi. Trump quickly qualified, however, saying that billion-dollar arms deals with the oil-rich kingdom will not be cancelled. Now Trump appears to be joining in a cover-up by spinning the story that the Khashoggi killing was done by “rogue killers”.

Britain, France and Germany this week issued a joint statement calling for “a credible investigation” into the disappearance. But other than “tough-sounding” rhetoric, none of the European states have indicated any specific sanctions, such as weapons contracts being revoked or diplomatic expulsions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “concerned” by the gruesome claims about Khashoggi’s killing, but he reiterated that Ottawa would not be scrapping a $15 billion sale of combat vehicles to Riyadh.

The Saudi rulers have even threatened retaliatory measures if sanctions are imposed by Western governments.

Saudi denials of official culpability seem to be a brazen flouting of all reason and circumstantial evidence that Khashoggi was indeed murdered in the consulate building on senior Saudi orders.

This week a glitzy international investor conference in Saudi Arabia is being boycotted by top business figures, including the World Bank chief, Jim Yong Kim, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Britain’s venture capitalist Richard Branson. Global firms like Ford and Uber have pulled out, as have various media sponsors, such as CNN, the New York Times and Financial Times. Withdrawal from the event was in response to the Khashoggi affair.

A growing bipartisan chorus of US Senators, including Bob Corker, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Chris Murphy, have called for the cancellation of American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as for an overhaul of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Still, Trump has rebuffed calls for punitive response. He has said that American jobs and profits depend on the Saudi weapons market. Some 20 per cent of all US arms sales are estimated to go to the House of Saud.

The New York Times this week headlined: “In Trump’s Saudi Bargain, the Bottom Line Proudly Stands Out”.

The Trump White House will be represented at the investment conference in Saudi Arabia this week – dubbed “Davos in the Desert” by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He said he was attending in spite of the grave allegations against the Saudi rulers.

Surely the point here is the unseemly indulgence by Western governments of Saudi Arabia and its so-called “reforming” Crown Prince. It is remarkable how much credulity Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and others are affording the Saudi despots who, most likely, have been caught redhanded in a barbarous murder.

Yet, when it comes to Russia and outlandish, unproven claims that the Kremlin carried out a bizarre poison-assassination plot, all these same Western governments abandon all reason and decorum to pile sanctions on Russia based on lurid, hollow speculation. The blatant hypocrisy demolishes any pretense of integrity or principle.

Here is another connection between the Skripal and Khashoggi affairs. The Saudis no doubt took note of the way Britain’s rulers have shown absolute disregard and contempt for international law in their de facto abduction of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. If the British can get away with that gross violation, then the Saudis probably thought that nobody would care too much if they disappeared Jamal Khashoggi.

Grotesquely, the way things are shaping up in terms of hypocritical lack of action by the Americans, British and others towards the Saudi despots, the latter might just get away with murder. Not so Russia. The Russians are not allowed to get away with even an absurd fantasy.

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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