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UN Feigns Outrage Over Ghouta While Terrorist Rockets Rain Down on Damascus

The United Nations obfuscates on the shelling of civilian areas of Damascus and elsewhere in Syria and endorses the war propagandists.

Eva Bartlett

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Originally appeared at Mint Press News


GHOUTA, SYRIA —
 On February 20, from Amman, Jordan, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Geert Cappelaere, issued a statement of “outrage” titled: “The war on children in Syria: Reports of mass casualties among children in Eastern Ghouta and Damascus.”

The “statement” — consisting of blank lines with the preface “No words will do justice to the children killed, their mothers, their fathers and their loved ones” — dovetails with corporate media’s increasingly hysterical rhetoric on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, which has been plagued with chemical weapons attacks for over four years, perpetrated by U.S.-backed proxies allied with the Nusra Front attempting to frame the Syrian government with war crimes.

UNICEF further wrote: “We no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering and our outrage. Do those inflicting the suffering still have words to justify their barbaric acts?”

Where was UNICEF’s dramatic blank-lined protest when 200 civilians, including 116 children, were slaughtered by terrorist factions while in convoy from Kafraya and Foua in April 2017? These factions included Ahrar al-Sham (supported by Turkey and Saudi Arabia), al-Nusra (al-Qaeda), and factions of the Free Syrian Army. The Free Syrian Army was armed by the U.S. And, according to the words of former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, Qatar — with the support and coordination of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the U.S.—was from the beginning supporting armed groups, even al-Qaeda, in Syria.

This seemingly outraged UN statement has made the rounds in corporate media reports on eastern Ghouta, most of which cite the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), run from his home by a sole person, Osama Suleiman, who uses the pseudonym Rami Abdul Rahman. In its recent Ghouta reports, SOHR itself does not provide sources.

On February 22, in the UN Security Council, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and head of OCHA, Mark Lowcock, spoke for just over 10 minutes about eastern Ghouta and “400,000 people besieged.”

Not once did he mention the designated terrorist factions within. These terrorist factions include: Jaysh al-Islam (Saudi-backed), Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (al-Qaeda), Ahrar al-Sham, and Faylaq al-Rahman (the main faction in Jobar, and reported to have received BGM-71 TOWanti-tank guided missiles).

The UN would garner much less public support and outrage if, instead of easily-misconstrued emotive statements, it showed training videos like this one depicting then-leader Zahran Alloush’s Army of Islam training in eastern Ghouta with their armored tanks. This is the reality of eastern Ghouta. Jaysh al-Islam is the group infamous for caging civilians, including women, to use as human shields.

The UN would garner less support still were the UN and corporate media to show videos of civilians like this woman cursing the armed groups, blaming them for hunger and for hoarding food, telling them to leave Ghouta.

With hindsight, we know now that in other formerly-occupied areas of Syria, like East AleppoHomsMadaya, al-Waer, and elsewhere, when finally resecured from terrorist factions, civilians in these areas spoke of terrorists hoarding food and medicine, and preventing them from leaving — holding them hostage as human shields.

It also transpired that the numbers the UN and corporate media were citing about eastern Aleppo’s population —250,000 to 300,000 – were highly inflated, double the actual numbers of civilians in eastern areas. As I wrote previously:

110,000 civilians registered at the Jibreen Registration center; another estimated 10 percent might have gone straight to stay with family instead; and according to the Red Cross, 35,000 people (“fighters” and their family members) were evacuated out of Aleppo. The total number was thus at most 150,000, most likely significantly lower.”

In his February 22 address, only once did the UN’s Lowcock address terrorists’ shelling of Damascus, saying: “shelling from eastern Ghouta is reportedly killing and injuring scores of civilians in Damascus City.”

Why reportedly? Why did Lowcock not take and read the testimonies of civilians as he claims to have done of civilians in eastern Ghouta? Damascus is far more accessible than al-Qaeda-occupied Ghouta: Lowcock could very easily travel to the Syrian capital and meet with some of the many civilians affected by the years of constant mortaring from terrorist factions in eastern Ghouta. Instead, he seems to prefer to repeat testimonies collected from afar, solely from and on Ghouta.

For weeks, Jaysh al-Islam, al-Qaeda, Ahrar al-Sham, and Faylaq al-Rahman have intensified their heavy-shelling of Damascus, intentionally targeting heavily-populated civilian areas of the city, including schools, homes, and crowded public spaces.

These shellings are breaches of the de-escalation zones agreement of May 2017, co-signed by Russia, Turkey and Iran. Eastern Ghouta is one of the four areas included in the agreement of cessation of hostilities.  According to the article “6th Astana Process Talks Produce De-Escalation Zone Agreement”:

The guarantor countries noted ‘progress in the fight against terrorism and elimination of ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra and all other individuals, groups, enterprises and organisations associated with Al-Qaida or ISIL as a result of the functioning of these de-escalation zones’ and confirmed their determination ‘to take all necessary measures to continue to fight them both inside and outside de-escalation zones.’”

Jaysh al-Islam — whose political leader, Mohammed Alloush, was supposed to participate in the May and subsequent 2017 Astana peace talks — is one of the factions attacking Damascus. The Syrian website Muraselon reported that the February 23 bombing of Damascus, which killed at least one civilian, was a powerful missile, likely fired by Jaysh al-Islam. The article referred to the terrorist group’s own social media bragging about possessing and intending to fire said missile on Damascus. That deserves a little outrage and more than a passing comment.

Following the Security Council meeting, Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, spoke to the press, noting Mr. Lowcock’s lack of objectivity in his Security Council statement. Ambassador al-Ja’afari said:

We have an official letter from the Resident Coordinator in Damascus, the chair of OCHA in Syria, saying that during 2017, OCHA — with the cooperation of the Syrian government, and Syrian Red Crescent, and International Committee of the Red Cross — have provided humanitarian assistance to 2.3 million people.

Mr. Lowcock denied this information, while we have it in written form coming from the head of OCHA in Damascus. So, something is wrong. Either these people here in New York don’t read what they get from … their own people in Damascus, or they mislead the Security Council members about what’s going on in Syria.”

He also corrected the lexicon of a “stifling siege,” saying:

[This] is not consistent with the reality on the ground. Commercial trucks have been moving constantly between Damascus and east Ghouta. The Syrian government has been facilitating aid to eastern Ghouta, and medical evacuations to hospitals in Damascus. The UN is ignoring video footage posted by these terrorist groups showing women and children pushed into metal cages on the streets.”

Regarding the heavy shelling of Damascus that Mr. Lowcock stated is reportedly happening, at a Security Council meeting one week prior, Ambassador al-Ja’afari cited the over 1,000 shells from eastern Ghouta that had targeted Damascus. On February 22, al-Ja’afari stated that the number of shells on Damascus was now over 1,200, noting that 8 million people in Damascus were at risk.

According to Syrian state media, SANA, the following terrorist attacks on Damascus have occurred in the past week:

  • February 24: “Armed groups positioned in eastern Ghouta on Saturday targeted with more than 55 mortar and rocket shells and with sniper fire the residential neighborhoods in Damascus and its countryside.”
  • February 23: “Armed groups fire 70 rocket shells on Medical Surgery Hospital and residential areas in Damascus and Jaramana: One civilian was killed and 60 others were injured on Friday due to 70 rocket shells fired by the armed groups on the residential neighborhoods of Damascus and its Countryside.”
  • February 22: “Three civilians, two children among them, were killed and 28 other citizens were injured, six of them children, when the armed groups fired shells on Damascus and its countryside.”
  • February 21: “A woman was killed on Wednesday while 22 persons were injured in fresh attacks by armed groups on different Syrian regions.” Dozens of shells.
  • February 20: “Thirteen civilians were killed and 77 others were injured on Tuesday as armed groups in the Eastern Ghouta area continued their breach of the de-escalation zones agreement, targeting residential areas and public facilities in Damascus and its countryside with 114 rocket and mortar shells.”
  • February 19: “Fifteen civilians, among them children, were injured Monday in attacks by armed groups who targeted Damascus and its countryside with shells.”
  • February 18: “Armed groups positioned in some areas in Eastern Ghouta on Sunday evening fired several shells on Bab Sharqi neighborhood in Damascus, killing a person, injuring another.”
  • February 15: “Armed groups, positioned in Eastern Ghouta, launched four shells on al-Wafideen Camp near Harasta, injuring a civilian… Later, the armed groups targeted al-Assad Suburb with four shells, killing one civilian and injuring others.”

The February 23 shelling of Damascus killed a Syrian doctor: Dr. Hassan Haj Hassan, an anesthesiologist and a professor at the Institute of Health Technology in Damascus. He was killed by #EGhouta terrorist shelling of Damascus.

In his latest address at the UN Security Council, Ambassador al-Ja’afari noted that the main headquarters of the Red Crescent in Syria, based in Damascus, was targeted with 10 missiles, originating from Ghouta.

UN Serial Censorship

In trying to relate Syria’s side of the story in the United Nations, Ambassador al-Ja’afari was initially prevented from doing so. In his subsequent address to the press, he noted:

The President of the Security Council, the Ambassador of Kuwait, acted irresponsibly today by trying to prevent me from speaking, while the meeting is on Syria. This irresponsible behavior coming from the President of the Security Council in a meeting allocated to the situation in Syria reveals also that Kuwait is not — the Kuwaiti delegation — is not up to the responsibility it is assuming as President of the Security Council, because this irresponsible behavior works against the rules and procedures of the Security Council. The shortage of the moral behavior of the Kuwaiti ambassador found a crystal-cut answer by the Russian ambassador, who corrected him and said you have no right whatsoever to prevent the Syrian ambassador from addressing the council.”

Watch | Syria on the situation in the Middle East

Censorship at the UN has happened previously. In early 2015, after interviewing the Syrian Ambassador, I wrote, quoting him:

The British ambassador cut me off one time while I was speaking. He said ‘you have exceeded four minutes.’ I said, ‘Who gave you the right to fix four minutes? I am a member of a concerned party, and I have the right to explain.’ To justify his wrongdoing, he also cut off the Iraqi ambassador after me. We were the only two ambassadors speaking at that session, and it was on Syria and Iraq. The issue was on terrorism in Syria and Iraq, and he cut off both of us after four minutes!”

In a subsequent article, I  of the repeated cuts to the Syrian Ambassador’s video and microphone feeds, also noting the attempted censorship of Syria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs:

In January, 2014, at the Geneva II conference on Syria in Montreux, Switzerland, Foreign Affairs Minister Walid Muallem was himself cut off by none other than the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.

Pointing out the ridiculousness of the situation, Muallem noted: ‘You live in New York, I live in Syria. I have the right to give the Syrian version in this forum. After three years of suffering, this is my right. You spoke for 25 minutes. I need at least 30.’ While Ban interrupted Muallem’s speech, asking him to ‘wrap up in just one or two minutes,’  the Syrian Minister refused to be silenced and did eventually finish his speech.”

Regarding some of the other instances of UN censorship of Ambassador al-Ja’afari, in that same article I wrote:

Correspondent Nizar Abboud…says the cuts are not due to ‘technical problems,’ but instead often done ‘by senior officials at the United Nations.’

Matthew Lee, a journalist with Inner City Press (ICP)  reported on an April 5, 2012 feed cut, noting that the speeches of the then Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, as well as the (Qatari) President of the General Assembly (GA) and Ban Ki-moon were all broadcast on UN television. However, ‘just as Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari took the floor to respond, UN TV went dark. When the session was over several Permanent Representatives were critical of what they called ‘the PGA’s use of the UN for Qatar’s foreign policy.’

…The Syrian Ambassador was again cut out of the feed on June 18, 2014. ICP’s Lee reported that on June 20 he was told by the same Dujarric regarding the June 7 cut that [in Lee’s words], in fact the error in 2012 was been [sic] to allow Ja’afari to speak AT ALL on UN TV. He said the arrangement was that Ban and the Qatari PGA could speak, then the UN TV was supposed to go off.’

Following the June 2014 Syrian elections, international representatives who had observed the elections in Syria convened at the UN to report back. Roughly five minutes in, after Ambassador al-Ja’afari had opened the meeting and thanked the Secretariat for facilitating it, the webcast feed was cut. Ironically, the Ambassador had stressed he wanted to leave ‘enough time to give you the right picture of the Syrian landscape that was prevailing during elections. They are eyewitnesses.’”

Like corporate media, UN whitewashes al-Qaeda and co-extremists

The UN’s Lowcock humanized the suffering in eastern Ghouta, and it cannot be denied there is suffering there, where the aforementioned terrorist groups embed in civilian areas only to hold civilians hostage, and are the cause of the military siege and targeted strikes on Ghouta.

Yet, he and the media mentioned only in passing, and skeptically, the relentless shelling of civilian areas of Damascus and the surrounding countryside, dehumanizing the civilians of Damascus — just as corporate media dehumanized the civilians of Aleppo, then under the relentless bombings and sniping of al-Qaeda and other terrorists’ occupying the city’s eastern areas.

In Aleppo in November 2016, the head of forensics, Dr. Zaher Hajjo, told me (on a day of intense terrorist bombings that killed 18 civilians and injured over 200) that in the past five years 10,750 civilians had been killed in Aleppo, 40 percent of whom were women and children. He said that in the past year alone, 328 children had been killed by terrorist shelling in Aleppo, 45 children killed by terrorist snipers.

In April 2014, I visited the French Hospital in Damascus, which was treating some of the over 60 children who had been injured by terrorists’ shelling of their school, which also killed one child.  Also at the hospital was the BBC’s correspondent, Lyse Doucet. While she promised to give an honest account of the targeting of these children, her report instead read:

They’re believed to be fired by rebels, but the government is also accused of launching them into neighborhoods under its control. So brutal is this war that nothing is considered unthinkable…”

In February 2015, I visited Damascus’ University Hospital, documenting just some of the children maimed and critically injured by such terrorist attacks — and, a year prior wrote about my own experiences in the intense shelling of Damascus, where I stayed several weeks — and, since then, have met victims of terrorist shelling of Old Damascus.

With access to numerous sources on these incessant and deadly mortar and rocket attacks and the Syrian ambassador’s repeated statements on this at the UN, the United Nations nevertheless chooses to obfuscate on the intensified shelling of civilian areas of Damascus and elsewhere in Syria, and instead endorse the war propagandists.

On February 22, UNICEF tweeted a New York Times article featuring “media activist” Firas Abdullah. Abdullah is not the neutral media source portrayed. Following the December 2015 killing of terrorist Zahran Alloush, then-leader of Jaysh al-Islam, Abdullah posted his eulogy for Alloush, calling him a “beautiful martyr.” This is the person whom the Times chose to portray a human face of Ghouta, retweeted by UNICEF.

Also on February 22, the UN body tweeted a CNN report citing the SOHR, and of course the UNICEF blank statement of outrage, in the cyclic fashion that is typical of regime-change war propaganda reinforcing itself.

On February 21, UNICEF tweeted a Newsweek photo slideshow titled after UNICEF’s own blank statement of outrage.

The February 20 tweet of the blank UNICEF statement included #EasternGhouta, but no hashtag for Damascus. Surely an oversight…

Their February 19 tweet links to an article on the Bana al-Abed of Ghouta, Muhammad Najem, whose Twitter account began in December 2017 and has nearly 5,000 followers. Expect that number to skyrocket. Expect a memoir to follow.


A UNICEF February 19 tweet on Ghouta links to war propagandist Louisa Loveluck’s article, reporting from Beirut, Lebanon.

If it isn’t already clear, UNICEF is participating in war propaganda against Syria, reporting and endorsing one very exaggerated and not substantiated side of the story, disappearing another very real side.

This is not the first time the UN has covered up terrorists’ crimes against Syrian civilians. In October 2016, I wrote of UNICEF’s unproven claims of an aerial attack on an Idlib school, in which UNICEF decried it as possibly “the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago.” As I reported, UNICEF overlooked numerous documented deadly attacks on schools:

On October 1, 2014, terrorists’ car- and suicide-bombed the Akrama Al-Makhzoumi School in Homs, killing at least 41 children by conservative estimates, or up to 48 children by other reports, along with women and other civilians.”

I further noted:

On October 28, 2016, RT reporter Murad Gazdiev reported from Aleppo on the latest attacks by Western-backed terrorists on a school in the city. At the time of the report, at least six children were reported killed by a Hell Cannon-fired gas canister bomb which struck a school in Ḩadaiq al-Andalus. From an Aleppo hospital, Gazdiev reported:

‘The rebels launched the rocket at 10 in the morning. Seconds later it hit the National School of Aleppo… Three of the children died on the spot…. blood and pieces of them sprayed on the walls. The victims, six children, ranged in age from 2 to 12. In some cases, doctors weren’t sure if they’d put the right body parts with the correct bodies. Three of the dead children were siblings: two brothers and a sister. Their father was beyond consolation. His mental stability had been torn apart.’

This statement was given over footage of a devastated father kissing the corpses of his children.”

In January 2016, I wrote of OCHA’s selective tweeting around the terrorist-occupied village of Madaya, obfuscating the terrorist-besieged Idlib villages of Foua and Kafraya.

Honest reporters like Murad Gazdiev entered Madaya in January 2016 and confirmed that food and medical aid had indeed entered. He spoke with residents who complained of the armed groups stealing this food.

When I went to Madaya in June 2017, I spoke with civilians there who stated that vast amounts of food and medical aid entered the area, but they had no access to it, as Ahrar al-Sham, al-Nusra and co-extremists holding the village hoarded the food and sold it at extortionist prices. I also saw prisons use to hold, and sometimes torture, civilians before their trials in terrorists’ courts. I also saw these in eastern Aleppo and in al-Layramoun, in the city’s northwest. When eastern Ghouta is finally secured, it won’t be surprising to learn that schools, hospitals, and/or homes were turned into prisons to hold the civilians for whom the UN and corporate media feign concern.

Why the UNICEF bias?

According to UNICEF, the current executive director, Henrietta H. Fore, was formerly Administrator of USAID, Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Department of State, and Director of the United States Mint in the U.S. Department of Treasury.

The prior UNICEF executive director, Anthony Lake, was national security advisor to President Clinton, and was nominated to be the director of the CIA.

According to Telesur, Lake played a significant role in mass starvation in Somalia in 2010-2012, under-budgeting food aid, budgeting “10 cents a day per person to feed a million internally displaced persons.” Telesur reported that Lake also “admitted publicly that he knew about and did nothing to prevent the genocide in Rwanda, something he ‘regretted.’”

In Yemen, the UN is suspected of having smuggled in two CIA agents, as reported in 2015 by journalist Nizar Abboud, and surprisingly in 2017 by The New York Times.

UNICEF executive directors who formerly worked for USAID, the U.S. State Department, even Director of the United States Mint in the U.S. Department of Treasury: it seems that UNICEF’s role is less about humanitarian aid and more about being the humanitarian propaganda arm of Washington.

We should, indeed, feel sorrow for any civilian casualties in the U.S./U.K. and allies’ war on Syria. However, after years of the most egregious war propaganda on Syria, we should also exercise caution about the latest stories, be they from unsourced SOHR reports or the UN itself.

Remember, Omran Daqneesh was once depicted widely as the face of Syrian suffering. As it turned out, the entire story Western media and agencies told was false, based on unreliable sources.

Recall that the humanitarian agency MSF once insisted that Syrian or Russian airstrikes had destroyed — reduced “to rubble” — a hospital that MSF supported. This turned out to be utterly false.

Unlike MSF, unlike the most of journalists who reported lies around Omran Daqneesh, I did go to see the intact Quds hospital, and met Omran and his father, who told me everything the media had reported on his son was false; the media had exploited his boy. Both MSF and corporate media lied about these stories, and their lies were used to call for further Western intervention in Syria.

Targeting of Afrin civilians met with relative silence

While UNICEF on January 26 noted having received “alarming reports” regarding children’s deaths in Afrin, it hasn’t thus far expressed outrage at the Turkish murder of civilians in the northwestern Syrian town. On February 20, SANA reported:

Entering its 32nd day, the Turkish aggression continues to claim more civilian casualties and causing material damage to properties.

Medical sources at Afrin Hospital told SANA that so far, 175 civilians were killed and more than 450 civilians, most of them children and women, were injured due to the continued assault on civilians’ houses and infrastructure.”

Contrast the nonspecific and tame title of the January 26 UNICEF statement, “UNICEF statement on the escalating violence in Syria,” to the emotive language of February 20, riding on the coattails of corporate media hysteria around Ghouta:

The war on children in Syria: Reports of mass casualties among children in Eastern Ghouta and Damascus; … No words will do justice to the children killed; … We no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering and our outrage; … barbaric acts …”

The UN has yet to issue an updated statement of concern regarding the latest Turkish bombings of Afrin.

In UN humanitarian chief Lowcock’s February 22 address, he spoke of “the killing of civilians and the destruction of entire cities and neighborhoods.”

However, he didn’t mean the killing of hundreds (a lower estimate) or even thousands of Syrian civilians by the U.S.-led coalition, illegal in Syria — the latest being 12 civilians, “mostly women and children,” killed in residential neighborhoods in Hajin town in Deir Ezzor eastern countryside on February 21.

One day prior, Syrian media reported the deaths of “at least 16 civilians, including nine women,” in al-Bahra village, Deir Ezzor countryside, noting, “the death toll is likely to rise as a number of civilians were injured and some of them are in critical condition as a result of airstrikes…”

A UN press release on Lowcock’s statement cited him as saying: “You can still save lives in eastern Ghouta – and elsewhere in Syria. I urge you to do so.”

But this is precisely what Syrian officials have been attempting to do, with offers of amnesty, safe transport of out of Ghouta, and the provision of medical and food aid.

Recently, independent researcher Hadi Nasrallah tweeted (in a long thread on Ghouta):

Even After 7 years of failed negotiations with terrorists for the sake of civilians held in Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian government dropped flyers and maps on the terrorist-held city to give details for civilians on how to flee areas with high tensions and guaranteed them safety”

Al Masdar News reported:

…eight projectiles struck the Al-Wafideen camp site where the Syrian Army has set up an evacuation point for civilians attempting to escape militant-held areas of East Ghouta.”

As with Aleppo, a humanitarian corridor has been established to enable eastern Ghouta residents to leave the district. However, given that terrorists repeatedly shelled humanitarian corridors in Aleppo (including a corridor road I stood on in November 2016), holding civilians hostage, it is quite likely terrorists in eastern Ghouta will do the same.

Yet, in the end, the combination of humanitarian corridors and Syria’s offer of amnesty and reconciliation enabled the exit of terrorists and return of life in Aleppo. As of August 2017, over half a million displaced Syrians returned home, the vast majority internally-displaced.

In Madaya, al-Waer, Homs, and many other areas of Syria, the same deals as in Aleppo enabled the return of stability and life.

In addition to opening the humanitarian corridors, the Syrian army has dropped leaflets over eastern Ghouta informing civilians of designated safe exits for civilians to leave the district to safety in Damascus.

These are the types of actions the UN should be focused on and supporting, not repeating war propaganda that only confuses and prolongs the fight for peace.

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BuzzFeed pushes fake Michael Cohen news, as real news breaks on HUGE conspiracy against Trump at FBI and DOJ (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 169.

Alex Christoforou

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According to Zerohedge, in an almost unprecedented event – having rarely commented on stories related to the special counsel’s investigation – Robert S. Mueller III’s office put out a statement firmly disputing the reporting of the news site BuzzFeed reported that the president instructed his personal attorney to lie to Congress about his push for a Moscow real estate project

BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” the special counsel’s office said.

As The Hill reports, BuzzFeed had released a statement earlier Friday defending the reporters behind the story and saying that it “stands by this story 100%,” and for his part, Cohen adviser Lanny Davis refused to confirm or deny the report during an interview with MSNBC on Friday afternoon.

President Trump retweeted a few social media reactions…

And then made his own views clear:

Meanwhile the real election collusion bombshell had nothing to do with Russia, Moscow hotels, or Michael Cohen, and everything to do with bullet proof evidence that DOJ official, Bruce Ohr, warned all the higher-ups at the FBI and DOJ (Comey, Rosenstein, McCabe, etc…) that the Steele dossier was connected to Hillary Clinton, and was extremely biased against Donald Trump.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how BuzzFeed pushed out a clear, fake propaganda story on Trump, Cohen, and more stupidity about Moscow hotel deals, as real reporter, John Solomon broke a massive story, with solid evidence and facts, that show the FBI and DOJ knew that the Steele dossier was a complete work of fiction, and knowingly hide that fact from FISA courts.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Authored by John Solomon, via The Hill

When the annals of mistakes and abuses in the FBI’s Russia investigation are finally written, Bruce Ohr almost certainly will be the No. 1 witness, according to my sources.

The then-senior Department of Justice (DOJ) official briefed both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative’s work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and might be biased.

Ohr’s briefings, in July and August 2016, included the deputy director of the FBI, a top lawyer for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and a Justice official who later would become the top deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller.

At the time, Ohr was the associate deputy attorney general. Yet his warnings about political bias were pointedly omitted weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant that the FBI obtainedfrom a federal court, granting it permission to spy on whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the 2016 presidential election.

Ohr’s activities, chronicled in handwritten notes and congressional testimony I gleaned from sources, provide the most damning evidence to date that FBI and DOJ officials may have misled federal judges in October 2016 in their zeal to obtain the warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page just weeks before Election Day.

They also contradict a key argument that House Democrats have made in their formal intelligence conclusions about the Russia case.

Since it was disclosed last year that Steele’s dossier formed a central piece of evidence supporting the FISA warrant, Justice and FBI officials have been vague about exactly when they learned that Steele’s work was paid for by the law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

A redacted version of the FISA application released last year shows the FBI did not mention any connection to the DNC or Clinton. Rather, it referred to Steele as a reliable source in past criminal investigations who was hired by a person working for a U.S. law firm to conduct research on Trump and Russia.

The FBI claimed it was “unaware of any derogatory information” about Steele, that Steele was “never advised … as to the motivation behind the research” but that the FBI  “speculates” that those who hired Steele were “likely looking for information to discredit” Trump’s campaign.

Yet, in testimony last summer to congressional investigators, Ohr revealed the FBI and Justice lawyers had no need to speculate: He explicitly warned them in a series of contacts, beginning July 31, 2016, that Steele expressed biased against Trump and was working on a project connected to the Clinton campaign.

Ohr had firsthand knowledge about the motive and the client: He had just met with Steele on July 30, 2016, and Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, the same firm employing Steele.

“I certainly told the FBI that Fusion GPS was working with, doing opposition research on Donald Trump,” Ohr told congressional investigators, adding that he warned the FBI that Steele expressed bias during their conversations.

“I provided information to the FBI when I thought Christopher Steele was, as I said, desperate that Trump not be elected,” he added. “So, yes, of course I provided that to the FBI.”

When pressed why he would offer that information to the FBI, Ohr answered: “In case there might be any kind of bias or anything like that.” He added later, “So when I provided it to the FBI, I tried to be clear that this is source information, I don’t know how reliable it is. You’re going to have to check it out and be aware.”

Ohr went further, saying he disclosed to FBI agents that his wife and Steele were working for the same firm and that it was conducting the Trump-Russia research project at the behest of Trump’s Democratic rival, the Clinton campaign.

“These guys were hired by somebody relating to, who’s related to the Clinton campaign and be aware,” Ohr told Congress, explaining what he warned the bureau.

Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented both the DNC and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election, belatedly admitted it paid Fusion GPS for Steele’s work on behalf of the candidate and party and disguised the payments as legal bills when, in fact, it was opposition research.

When asked if he knew of any connection between the Steele dossier and the DNC, Ohr responded that he believed the project was really connected to the Clinton campaign.

“I didn’t know they were employed by the DNC but I certainly said yes that they were working for, you know, they were somehow working, associated with the Clinton campaign,” he answered.

“I also told the FBI that my wife worked for Fusion GPS or was a contractor for GPS, Fusion GPS.”

Ohr divulged his first contact with the FBI was on July 31, 2016, when he reached out to then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI attorney Lisa Page. He then was referred to the agents working Russia counterintelligence, including Peter Strzok, the now-fired agent who played a central role in starting the Trump collusion probe.

But Ohr’s contacts about the Steele dossier weren’t limited to the FBI. He said in August 2016 — nearly two months before the FISA warrant was issued — that he was asked to conduct a briefing for senior Justice officials.

Those he briefed included Andrew Weissmann, then the head of DOJ’s fraud section; Bruce Swartz, longtime head of DOJ’s international operations, and Zainab Ahmad, an accomplished terrorism prosecutor who, at the time, was assigned to work with Lynch as a senior counselor.

Ahmad and Weissmann would go on to work for Mueller, the special prosecutor overseeing the Russia probe.

Ohr’s extensive testimony also undercuts one argument that House Democrats sought to make last year.

When Republicans, in early 2018, first questioned Ohr’s connections to Steele, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee sought to minimize the connection, insisting he only worked as an informer for the FBI after Steele was fired by the FBI in November 2016.

The memo from Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) team claimed that Ohr’s contacts with the FBI only began “weeks after the election and more than a month after the Court approved the initial FISA application.”

But Ohr’s testimony now debunks that claim, making clear he started talking to FBI and DOJ officials well before the FISA warrant or election had occurred.

And his detailed answers provide a damning rebuttal to the FBI’s portrayal of the Steele material.

In fact, the FBI did have derogatory information on Steele: Ohr explicitly told the FBI that Steele was desperate to defeat the man he was investigating and was biased.

And the FBI knew the motive of the client and did not have to speculate: Ohr told agents the Democratic nominee’s campaign was connected to the research designed to harm Trump’s election chances.

Such omissions are, by definition, an abuse of the FISA system.

Don’t take my word for it. Fired FBI Director James Comey acknowledged it himself when he testified last month that the FISA court relies on an honor system, in which the FBI is expected to divulge exculpatory evidence to the judges.

“We certainly consider it our obligation, because of our trust relationship with federal judges, to present evidence that would paint a materially different picture of what we’re presenting,” Comey testified on Dec. 7, 2018. “You want to present to the judge reviewing your application a complete picture of the evidence, both its flaws and its strengths.”

Comey claims he didn’t know about Ohr’s contacts with Steele, even though his top deputy, McCabe, got the first contact.

But none of that absolves his FBI, or the DOJ for that matter, from failing to divulge essential and exculpatory information from Ohr to the FISA court.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video.

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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The ISIS attack in Syria appears to have failed in its real mission

ISIS probably tried to get Mr. Trump to keep troops in Syria, but in reality this attack shows no compelling reason to remain there.

Seraphim Hanisch

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ISIS is one of the bloodiest, most brutal organizations to ever exist in modern history. During its meteoric rise, the “Caliphate” struck with death and fear across the deserts of Iraq and the wastes of Syria, seducing a seemingly increasing number of recruits from the West, developing its own currency and financing abilities, all the while remaining a death cult, in the conviction that their eventual destruction would trigger a far greater Islamic uprising.

But something changed for them starting in about 2013. While ISIS got quietly aided and abetted by President Obama’s (perhaps not unwitting) support through neglect and then even quieter collaboration (Obama thought ISIS could be “managed” in the effort to oust Bashar Al-Assad from Syria), its power and reach extended through much of Syria.

But then came Russia. Russia didn’t think ISIS should be managed. Russia determined that ISIS should be destroyed. And in 2015, invited by Syria, the Russians came and went to work. They did most of the heavy lifting in terms of driving ISIS back, while (inconveniently for the US and West) also carefully taking back Syrian territory from antigovernment groups that were supported by the US and its coalition of forces operating in the country, including Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and all the names it took on afterwards. This was quietly carried out because the Americans also had face to save, owing to Obama’s clumsy decision to send American forces into the country, which gradually grew and metastasized into a significantly sized fighting force.

With an extremely complicated group of alliances and enemies, the American forces were forced to quietly abandon their mission of removing Bashar al-Assad from power and to pivot to actually destroying ISIS. President Trump does deserve some credit for his part in helping this to happen. He also deserves a lot of credit for his recent decision to pull American troops out of Syria.

This move was severely condemned by the US hawks, resulting in the resignation / firing / retirement of former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and, in an amusing show of hypocrisy, the pundits from the Anti-Trump crowd at CNN and other news outlets characterized this decision as the US President proving once and for all that he is a Putin operative, a real-life Manchurian President.

ISIS evidently wanted the US not to leave either, so it conducted an attack on Wednesday, January 16th, tragically killing 19 people, with four Americans among the dead. The New York Times was lightning-fast to jump into the fray to carry out what was probably ISIS’ real mission with this attack: to sow seeds of doubt among the US authorities, and to keep American forces in the region (emphasis added).

Four Americans were among 19 people killed in Syria on Wednesday in a suicide bombing that was claimed by the Islamic State, just weeks after President Trump ordered the withdrawal of United States forces and declared that the extremist group had been defeated.

The attack targeted an American military convoy in the northern city of Manbij while troops were inside the Palace of the Princes, a restaurant where they often stopped to eat during patrols, residents said. While the Americans were inside, a nearby suicide attacker wearing an explosive vest blew himself up.

The bombing raised new questions about Mr. Trump’s surprise decision last month to end the American ground war in Syria. Critics of the president’s plans, including members of his own party, said Mr. Trump’s claim of victory over the Islamic State may have emboldened its fighters and encouraged Wednesday’s strike… Mr. Trump’s withdrawal announcement, made over the objections of his top national security officials, “set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we’re fighting,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a prominent Trump ally who has nonetheless criticized the military drawdown.

“I saw this in Iraq. And I’m now seeing it in Syria,” Mr. Graham said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.

The rest of the article, of course, had the Trump Administration defending itself, with Vice President Mike Pence as the spokesman of that defense.

However, already only two days later, the noise about this seems to have faded. There is no ongoing media fury about the President’s decision to remove troops. In fact, aside from the ongoing investigation to confirm that ISIS indeed did carry out this attack, there is no indication of a change in the troop withdrawal process.

If this situation remains as it is, it is a very good sign for these reasons:

  1. President Trump is showing his resolve and confidence in a decision he knows to be right (to withdraw) and not to accede to the War Party wishes.
  2. ISIS is losing its reputation as a significant fighting force as far as the US population is concerned, as it probably should. With the US gone, Russia can prosecute this war full force without risk of creating more serious incidents with the Americans.
  3. The possibility exists that this attack, already heinous in what we know, could have been a false flag, designed specifically to provoke the US troop withdrawal to stop and be reversed.

This last scenario has oddly not been visibly mentioned, but it should be, because it probably happened in April 2018 and earlier. The Duran covered this quite extensively, and while the “official” (Western) investigation has come up curiously silent on the alleged chemical weapons attack last April in Ghouta, the overwhelming body of reports from the region suggested that the “gas” attack was nothing at all but drama to keep the US ensnared in the region. Remember, President Trump at that time also expressed the intention of withdrawing US troops from the area, and this event caused a reversal for a time.

ISIS tried to become a nation. It operates on terror and theater, but it considers itself free to kill people along the way as it creates its pageantry. For the souls of all those innocent people who perished in this attack, we must pray and not forget.

But ISIS is substantially done, and what is left will be dealt with by Russian and Syrian forces.

For once, the definition of “American courage” might be not to fight. President Trump’s decision to remove the troops remains one of the most significant achievements of his presidency, and one of the most important in terms of restoring balance to the United States that it deserves to have.

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