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Who will pay the $250+ billion reconstruction cost in Syria?

The United States Government says that Syria’s Government caused the U.N.-estimated “at least $250 billion” cost to restore Syria from the destruction that Syria’s war produced, and so Syria’s Government should pay those reconstruction costs.

Eric Zuesse

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That link is to a New York Times article, which explicitly blames Syrian “President Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless triumph” — which was won against all of the jihadist groups (which the U.S. and its allies had brought into Syria to overthrow and replace Assad’s Government) — for having caused the devastation in Syria; the U.S. and its allies say they aren’t to blame for it, at all, by their having organized and armed and trained and manned that 6-year invasion of Syria; and, so (they say, and the NYT article implicitly assumes it to be true), if the invaders-occupiers of Syria might ultimately agree to pay some portion of these $250B+ reconstruction costs, then this would be sheer generosity by the U.S. and its allies — nothing that these governments are obligated to pay to the surviving residents in Syria.

It would be charity — not restitution — according to them. The way that this NYT news-report presents this case is, first, to ask rhetorically, regarding the U.S. and its allies in the invasion of Syria, “Can they afford to pour money into a regime that has starved, bombed and occasionally gassed its own people?” and then promptly to proceed by ignoring this very question that they have asked, and instead to provide a case (relying heavily on innuendos) for the immorality of the U.S. and its allies to provide restitution to Syria’s Government to restore Syria. That’s how this Times’s news-report argues for the U.S. Government, against Syria’s Government, regarding Syria’s postwar reconstruction:

The Times news-report repeatedly simply assumes that Syria’s Government is evil and corrupt, and is to blame for the destruction of Syria, and thus shouldn’t receive any money from good and honest governments such as ours. It implicitly accepts the viewpoint of the U.S. Government — a viewpoint which blatantly contradicts the actual history of the case, as will here be documented by the facts:

America’s Government (including its press, such as the NYT) simply refuses to recognize the legitimacy of Syria’s Government (even after the first internationally monitored democratic election in all of Syria’s history, which was held in 2014, and which the incumbent candidate Bashar al-Assad (whom the U.S. alliance has been trying to overthrow) won, by 89%), and the U.S. Government has, itself, evilly been trying to conquer Syria (a country that never threatened the U.S.), ever since at least 1949, when the CIA perpetrated a coup there (the new CIA’s 2nd coup, the first one having been 1948 in Thailand — and here is the rest of that shocking history) and ousted Syria’s democratically elected President; but, then, in 1955, Syria’s army threw out the U.S.-imposed dictator, and restored to power that democratically elected Syrian President, who in 1958 accepted Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s offer to unify the two countries (Syria and Egypt) into the United Arab Republic (UAR), in order to protect Syria against a then-imminent invasion and attempted take-over by NATO member Turkey (which has traditionally been hostile toward Syria). It was a peaceful and voluntary transfer of power, to Nasser.

However, Nasser became an unpopular President in Syria, as the nation’s economy performed poorly during the UAR; and, so, on 28 September 1961, Syria’s army declared Syria’s secession from the UAR; and it then installed-and-replaced seven Presidents over the next decade, until 22 February 1971, when General Hafez al-Assad resigned from Syria’s military and was promptly endorsed by the Army for the Presidency; and, soon thereafter, on 12 March 1971, a yes-no national referendum on whether Assad should become President won a 99.2%”Yes” vote of the Syrian people. President Assad initiated today’s Syria, by assigning a majority of political posts to secular Sunnis, and a majority of military posts to secular Shiites. All of the Sunnis that he allowed into the Government were seculars, so as to prevent fundamentalist-Sunni foreign governments — mainly the Sauds — from being able to work successfully with America’s CIA to again take over Syria’s Government.

Assad’s Ba’athist democratic socialist Party chose his son Bashar, to succeed Hafez as President, upon Hafez’s death on 10 June 2000; and, when Barack Obama became U.S. President in 2009, Obama carried forward the CIA’s plan to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and to install a Saud-allied fundamentalist-Sunni Syrian government to replace the existing non-secular, but Iran-allied, Ba’athist Government. However, since Bashar had built upon Hafez’s secular, non-sectarian, governmental system, the old CIA plan, to apply fundamentalist Sunnis to destroy the basically non-sectarian state (which is the basis of the Assads’ political support), ultimately failed; and, so, America’s Government and media are trying to deal with the consequences of their own evil, as best they can, so as to have only Syria and its allies suffer the Syrian war’s aftermath. U.S. President Donald Trump has been continuing President Obama’s policy, and he loaded his Administration with rabidly anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian people.

In the American Government’s view, the least that Syria’s Government should now do is to pay all the costs for the consequences of America’s lengthiest-ever effort against Syria — or, if Syria’s Government won’t do that, then the U.S. Government will continue its occupation of Syria, and won’t help the Syrian people at all, to recover from the devastation, which they blame entirely on Assad (who never threatened the U.S.).

However, the Syrian Government says that the countries which invaded it with their weapons and their jihadists and their organization — not only the United States and its weapons-supplies to the jihadists, but also Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Turkey, UK, France, and other U.S. allies, the entire U.S. coalition who organized and supplied the six-year international jihadist invasion against Syria — are to blame for the destruction of Syria; and, “If you break it, you own it, and need to replace it.” So, Syrians think that the invaders — and not the people of Syria — must pay the reconstruction cost.

The U.S. Government blames Syrian President Bashar Assad for everything. That charge is, however, quite problematic, given the facts in the case. The U.S. CIA was behind the “Arab Spring” movements to overthrow and replace Assad and other Arab leaders who dissatisfied the U.S. regime, and it then fed into Syria the ‘rebels’ until now. Few of them are still remaining under U.S. protection — which is mostly east of the Euphrates River, where America’s Kurdish proxy-forces are in control, after having finally defeated, with American air power, Syria’s ISIS.

That NYT article used the word “rebel” six times to refer to the jihadists who were fighting against Syria’s Government, and didn’t even once use the word “jihadist” or “terrorist” or anything like that, to refer to even a single one of them. However, almost all of the anti-Assad fighters were, in fact, jihadists (or, some people call them, instead, “radical Islamic terrorists”).

Western-sponsored opinion polls have been taken of the residents of Syria, throughout the war, and they have consistently shown that Bashar al-Assad would easily win re-election there in any free and internationally monitored election, and that the Syrian people overwhelmingly (by 82%) blame the United States for having brought the tens of thousands of foreign fighters into Syria to overthrow and replace their nation’s Government.

Consequently, if Syrians will end up bearing the estimated $250B+ reconstruction cost of a war that 82% of them blame on the U.S., then the Syrian people will become even angrier against the U.S. Government than they are now. But, of course, the U.S. Government doesn’t care about the people of Syria, and won’t even allow in any of them as refugees to America; so, Syrians know whom their friends and enemies are. America’s absconding on its $250+B reparations-debt to them wouldn’t surprise them, at all. It’s probably what they’re expecting.

Some U.S. propaganda-media, such as Britain’s Financial Times, have field-tested an alternative, a blame-Russia approach, in case the U.S. team can’t get the blame-Syria story-line to gain sufficient international acceptance. For example, that newspaper’s Roula Khalaf headlined on 1 March 2017,  “The west to Russia: you broke Syria, now you fix it”, but most of the reader-comments were extremely hostile to that designation of villain in the case. Here were the most-popular comments:

COMMENTS, Most recommended:
Newest | Oldest | Most recommended 
Nomad_X Mar 1, 2017 What dreadful ‘analysis’ …. Russia finished the Syrian war because they had to. Syria was an artificial proxy war instigated by the USA, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – the Iranians and Russians joined in after the west tried to remove Assad, and failed. The UN also said publicly that Syria was not a civil war – it was a war of foreign mercenary groups trying to overthrow the Assad regime. Russia had no choice but to be there – Putin said publicly there was over 500 Russian nationals involved, and they would be going home once they were finished in Syria. Syria is another US foreign policy disaster which someone else had no choice but to clean up – it essentially created and legitimized ISIS and now we ALL have to pay for it …. ReportShare54Recommend
Reply Airman48 Mar 1, 2017 The usual Bogus Russian troll perspective that is devoid of the truth. Syria has been a Russian client state in the 1960s when Hafez al Assad invited the Soviets in. Russia took ownership of the Syrian Civil War the minute it intervened and deployed Military forces to that country and after waging a brutal campaign of indiscriminate bombing that killed many hundreds of innocent Syria Non combatants it now expects the West to pay to reconstruct Syria. Read the title of the article again “The West to Russia. You broke it, you FIX it” ReportShare35Recommend

Reply Nomad_X Mar 1, 2017 @Airman48 Some facts for your viewing pleasure – 1. Syria being a client state is not new news – just because they bought their weapons does not mean they wanted a war. 2. Russia cleaned up and finished the war – they did not initiate it – the USA did. 3. The title is a misnomer – the USA, Saudi Arabia and Turkey broke Syria. ReportShare27Recommend 

Although some readers, such as “Airman48,” seemed eager to blame anything on Russia, most of the readers, even at that rabidly anti-Russian, neoconservative-neoliberal (or, to use old terminology, pro-imperialist) publication, seemed to be somehow uncomfortable with that view. Perhaps that view would have been popular in 1900 (America and UK were proudly imperialistic at that time), but it seems to be unpopular today.

It’s not as easy to fool the American and British people into an invasion as it was, for example, when we invaded and destroyed Iraq on the basis of lies, in 2003. Barack Obama managed to win public support for a repeat of that performance in Libya in 2011, and, of course, for the anti-Syria campaign, and also for a very bloody coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014 — a trifecta of U.S. invasions on the basis of lies (and all of which were invasions of countries that never endangered U.S. national security) — but the bipartisanship of that U.S. hyper-aggressiveness (first with the Republican Bush, and then with the Democratic Obama) has made clear to many Americans, that the U.S. Government itself is the problem, that this is not a partisan problem; it is a problem with the Government itself, by both Parties, which is evil in what it is bipartisan about (such as supporting invasions by lies, against countries that never threatened us).

Voice of America is no more propagandistic than all of America’s major media are, even though it’s openly a U.S. Government medium; and it headlined on 30 December 2017, “Pentagon Preparing for Shift in Syrian Strategy”and reported the latest variant of the U.S. regime’s plan to dump all the costs of the invasion of Syria, onto the Syrian people. Secretary of ‘Defense’ James Mattis said, “What we will be doing is shifting from what I call an offensive, terrain-seizing approach. … You’ll see more U.S. diplomats on the ground.” The article continued, “‘When you bring in more diplomats, they’re working that initial restoration of services.

They bring in the contractors. That sort of thing,’ the defense secretary said. ‘There’s international money that’s got to be administered so it actually does something and doesn’t go into the wrong people’s [the Syrian Government’s] pockets.’” He wants U.S. international corporations to be placed into position to skim off some of that reconstruction-money. (Some of this cash might then become recycled into Republican political campaign donations, which would please the Republican U.S. President, and Republicans in Congress. But the Democrats in Congress are ‘patriotic’, and so will not resist Republicans’ effort to continue crushing Syria.)

Mattis was threatening Syrians with America’s absconding with all the damages it left behind, unless Syria’s Government will give America’s Government at least some of what it wants (but never earned). This VOA article said, “There are questions about how the initial recovery efforts will work, given that much of Syria is now under the control of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” The implication there is that America has a right to overthrow Syria’s Government; and, that, unless Syria’s Government will bend at least part-way in recognizing this right, the U.S. Government will abscond totally from this matter. The U.S. regime is blaming everything on Assad, and expects him to be grateful for any financial assistance that the U.S.

Government, in its kindness and generosity, provides, to his land, which it has destroyed. (Of course, Syria’s Government has also bombed targets in Syria, but the only alternative that was available for President Assad would have been to surrender Syria to the jihadists whom the U.S. team had brought into and armed there.) However, VOA’s presumption that Syria’s Government is to blame and that the invading jihadists aren’t, isn’t likely to be accepted by any nations except some of America’s allies.

For example, Poland might back it, in order to retain the U.S. regime’s support, which is especially important to the Polish regime, because their support from some of the other European regimes has been fraying recently, and because beggars (such as Poland is, when it becomes widely criticized by the rest of the EU) can’t be choosers. Apparently, the Trump regime believes it can assemble a sufficient number of such regimes, so as to win its way.

Trump has the support of the entire U.S. aristocracy on this. A leading voice of the U.S. aristocracy (and funder of its agents — such as U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — when they are in the revolving door between government-service and Wall Street or other private agencies of the aristocracy) is America’s Council on Foreign Relations, which publishes Foreign Affairs magazine, which is perhaps the chief public voice of America’s billionaires, concerning international relations. On 4 October 2017, it published an article, “Don’t Fund Syria’s Reconstruction: The West Has Little Leverage and Little to Gain”, which presumed that “The West” is democratic and its governments represent their publics, and that Syria’s Government isn’t and doesn’t; so, “The West” has a supposed right to ignore the plight it caused in Syria (and which “The West” constantly lies to deny that it caused, and to blame Syria’s Government for the devastation that “The West”s hirees actually produced there).

Here are key excerpts from this CFR Foreign Affairs article, showing the position that America’s billionaires collectively argue for, on this matter — displaying their guidance on this issue, for their vassal aristocracies, in America’s allied countries:

Now that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has successfully defeated or neutralized much of the insurgency in his country, domestic and international attention has begun to turn toward stabilization and reconstruction. …

Yet large sections of the international community — including, critically, key donor countries — continue to reject the legitimacy of Assad and his regime. …
There is a less complicated solution: Do not fund the reconstruction of Assad’s Syria. …
Syria’s reconstruction cannot be dictated or meaningfully shaped by Western donors — at least not to any satisfactory political ends. …

The cost of Syria’s reconstruction will be immense — between $200 billion and $350 billion, depending on the estimate. These sums are far beyond the capacity of Syria, or the willingness of its Iranian and Russian allies, to pay. The burden of reconstruction, then, is expected to fall on the United States, members of the EU, and Japan, as well as on multilateral institutions that are likely to take cues from their major Western donors, such as the World Bank. …

On September 21, a meeting of “like-minded” actors (including Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the EU) announced that “recovery and reconstruction support for Syria hinges on a credible political process leading to a genuine political transition that can be supported by a majority of the Syrian people.” Reconstruction funding is “the biggest lever” the United States and its allies have to push for a credible political process, said David Satterfield, a U.S. State Department official, after the meeting. And according to British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, “We have one big card left to play in a pretty poor hand and that is the cash we can provide for the reconstruction of Syria.”. …

The country, in other words, cannot be put back together by working around the regime that tore it apart. …
Some analysts believe that the West can use funding to win concessions short of regime change. …
The regime will end up trading away “things that don’t matter,” said one European diplomat. “But it will hold out for so long, they’ll seem like concessions when you get them. If there’s something that Damascus has that most others don’t, it’s time.”

Donors will not be permitted to do an end run around Assad. …

Westerners who want to drive a hard bargain will find that they have less leverage than they thought. To begin with, the international community — and the universe of possible donors and investors — is not limited to the West. Syrian officials are keen to advertise the country’s nascent economic recovery and attract investment, but they have also said that they will give priority to investors from countries that stood by Damascus. …

Western donors should not finance the regime-led reconstruction effort. …

The West does not get unlimited tries to remove Assad or to dictate Syria’s politics. Thinking otherwise will be an expensive delusion.

Or, in short: America’s billionaires view the entire question as a business deal between themselves and the ‘regime’ that they have hired the U.S. Government since 1949 to overthrow and control; and the advice that they are giving to their vassal aristocracies is: “The West does not get unlimited tries to remove Assad or to dictate Syria’s politics”; and, so, “The West” should just walk away from the matter: there shouldn’t be any deal — Syria should just become a failed state, such as Libya, or Afghanistan.

Another prominent institutional voice of America’s billionaires is the similarly solidly neoconservative-neoliberal (or pro-imperialistic) Brookings Institution, whose Steven Heydemann headlined on 24 August 2017, “Rules for reconstruction in Syria”, and he wrote:

For the Assad regime, however, reconstruction is not seen as a means for economic recovery and social repair, but as an opportunity for self-enrichment, a way to reward loyalists and punish opponents, and as central to its efforts to fix in place the social and demographic shifts caused by six years of violent conflict. Assad himself affirmed this intent in a speech he delivered to mark the inauguration of the Damascus Exhibition. Thanking Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, Assad said that Syria had “lost its best youth and its infrastructure,” but had “won a healthier and more homogenous society.” The prominent Arab [Qatari-Palestinian-Israeli] political analyst Azmi Bishara described Assad’s claim as “Hitlerian” and as confirmation of the “genocidal” intent of the regime’s policies of displacement.

Thus, a statement by Assad expressing satisfaction that Syria has even a smaller percentage of its citizens who support jihadists today than it had prior to the U.S.-Saudi-UAE-Qatari-Turkish importation of the world’s jihadists into Syria, was there being called “Hitlerian.” America’s billionaires (or at least their policy-propagandists) view Assad’s loathing of jihadists as bigotry, just like Hitler’s loathing of Jews was.

Furthermore, Bishara, who was being cited there by Brookings as an authority about Assad, was a big supporter of the U.S. coalition against Syria: for example, he said about Assad’s Government, at 2:17 in this 20 May 2013 telecast on Syria’s enemy Qatar’s Al Jazeera television in Arabic (Al Jazeera is pro-jihadist in its Arabic broadcasts, but anti-jihadist in its English ones), “Now, it’s shelling its own people, ferociously, an ongoing massacre, and yet the people resist. They haven’t stopped.” He didn’t mention “jihadists” or “terrorists” at all (because he represents their backers).

There is no available evidence as to whether Bishara is being paid by the CIA, or perhaps by the Thani family who own Qatar, but Brookings’s failure to disclose information like that (Bishara’s statement’s falsely implying that Assad is anti-Syrian instead of anti-jihadist), in such a context as this passage by Heydemann, indicates the extent to which Brookings should be presumed to be merely an extension of the same international aristocratic group that ultimately controls the CIA, CFR, etc. (Bishara then went on there to use the phrase “we, the Israelis”; so, maybe he instead represents Israel’s Mossad. But that’s just as bad, and maybe even the same thing as the rest of them.)

The argument by America’s billionaires (via their agents), regarding restitution to the Syrian people, for the catastrophe that those billionaires (via their political contributions) spearheaded against Syrians, is: If anyone should pay it, then Syria’s Government should.

Apparently, “The West” intends simply to keep on destroying nations and leaving behind more and more failed states.

Of course, that long war to get rid of Russia’s allies might be a profitable policy for the owners of corporations such as Lockheed Martin, but there are big downsides to this policy, for the billions of people whom “The West” seems to care nothing about, such as in Syria, and in Libya, and in Ukraine. And this evil policy is also bad even for the American people, who are increasingly coming to loathe the Government that America’s billionaires have increasingly bought and impose upon us.

America’s corruption deserves a Nobel Prize, like was won by Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama; but, this one should be called the “Hypocrisy Prize” and awarded directly to the U.S. Government — an invoice, “amount due,” totaling the damages done by this Government to all of the governments that had posed no threat to U.S. national security but that the U.S. Government nonetheless overthrew, starting with Thailand in 1948. Of course, the rogue U.S. Government would not pay it, but the bill should still be presented, because that bill would be the first Hypocrisy Prize, and it would show what hypocrisy can amount to.

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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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