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The Kennedy Papers: no evidence of conspiracy to murder but evidence of a conspiracy to conceal huge incompetence

Papers show systemic failure by US intelligence and police agencies to protect the President

Alexander Mercouris

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Many years ago I read Conspiracy by Anthony Summers, the book which I still consider the best single book written about the assassination in 1963 of US President John F. Kennedy.

I remember that I decided after reading this book that Lee Harvey Oswald almost certainly was Kennedy’s murderer and that he most probably acted alone (Summers took a different view) and that the key to the solving the many mysteries about the murder lay with him.

I say this because I did not think then and I do not think now that the evidence patiently assembled by Summers and by so many others like him of a conspiracy to murder Kennedy by the CIA, or by a rogue group within the CIA, or by the mafia, or by the Cubans or by the Russians was in the end convincing.

I also thought the most popular theory – that Kennedy was murdered by the CIA or the US ‘Deep State’ because it was unhappy about his recently announced policy of rapprochement with Russia – rested on a fundamental error: that on foreign policy and security policy specifically on the question of relations with the USSR Kennedy was some sort of foreign policy dove.

On the contrary Kennedy was a militant anti-Communist who had been a close friend and political ally of Senator McCarthy’s. His aggressive anti-Communist, anti-Russian and anti-Cuban policies had brought the superpowers closer to a nuclear war during the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 than has ever been the case both before and since.

The entire thesis that Kennedy was some sort of foreign policy dove rests on a single speech Kennedy delivered on 10th June 1963 at American University in Washington.

This speech – obviously made in order to calm public and international fears following the Cuban Missile Crisis which Kennedy had largely provoked through his extreme belligerence – attracted far more interest in Russia than it did in the US, where it went largely unnoticed.

This by the way is a consistent feature of US-Russian relations, with the Russians always far more interested in the possibility of a lasting rapprochement between Russia and the US than the Americans ever are.

Given President Kennedy’s previous record it is doubtful that many people in the US foreign policy, intelligence and defence bureaucracy took the speech especially seriously.  It is only hindsight – formed following Kennedy’s murder – that has accorded the speech the importance popular mythology attributes to it today.

I would add in passing that I share the skepticism of those who doubt Kennedy’s long-term commitment to his October 1963 decision to begin withdrawing US troops from Vietnam – the other Kennedy decision which is sometimes taken as proof that he had become a dove.

That decision was conditional on US Defense Secretary McNamara’s and US General Maxwell Taylor’s

….judgment that the major part of the US military task can be completed by the end of 1965 …,’ [and] that ‘the long term program to replace US personnel with trained Vietnamese [could go forward] without impairment of the war effort.

(bold italics added)

Once it became clear that the “major part of the US military task” in Vietnam was not being completed by 1965 or by any other date – as would inevitably have been the case – I have no doubt that President Kennedy would have reversed his decision and would have sent US troops back to Vietnam.

In my opinion President Kennedy was no more willing to let “South Vietnam go Communist” than Lyndon Johnson was or than any other conceivable US President in the early or mid 1960s would have been.

I would add that Kennedy’s approach to the war in Vietnam in 1963 was essentially the same ‘stop-go’ approach we have seen more recently from Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump in relation to the war in Afghanistan.  This amounts to make successive announcements of “mission accomplished”, with the numbers of US troops being drawn down on the back of them, only for the decisions to be reversed and for the troops to be sent back when it turns out that the mission has not been accomplished after all.

Overall my opinion of both President Kennedy’s American University speech and of his October 1963 Vietnam withdrawal decision is that they were intended to help President Kennedy win what many expected would be a difficult election in 1964.  I doubt that they had any more significance than that or that anyone in the US government at the time thought that they did.

It follows from this that the hardliners in the CIA or the US Deep State had no reason in October 1963 to want to kill President Kennedy, and given the colossal risks involved in doing so I am sure that they had no plan to do so, and no part in his actual killing.

I would add that if hardliners in the CIA and the Deep State really had wanted to oust President Kennedy from the Presidency, nothing would have been easier, and they would have had no need to arrange his murder in order to do it.

Publication of the details of President Kennedy’s baroque sex life involving prostitutes and multiple mistresses – including a woman who was also the mistress of a Chicago gangster and a woman who was suspected of being an East German spy – together with disclosure of his chronic ill-health, would have shattered the Camelot illusion, and would have guaranteed his defeat in the 1964 election.

That nothing like that ever happened, so that the truth about Kennedy’s sex life, his ill-health and his chronic dependence on drugs only became public knowledge decades after his death despite being common knowledge within the US bureaucracy at the time shows that there was no plot within the CIA or the Deep State to get rid of him.

The same also applies to the other the three parties often assumed to have had some role in Kennedy’s death: the mafia, the Cubans and the Russians.

Whilst it is certainly true that the mafia and the Kennedy brothers were in conflict with each other at the time of Kennedy’s death, the mafia has no history in the US of murdering federal politicians (Leon Jordan – in whose 1970 killing the mafia may have had a hand – was a Representative in the Missouri House of Representatives, not a federal politician).  It beggars belief that if the mafia ever were to start killing US federal politicians that they would begin by murdering the President.  Besides it is impossible to see what advantage killing Kennedy would have conferred on the mafia anyway that would have outweighed the enormous risks for them if they had been caught.

The suspicion of mafia involvement in Kennedy’s killing seems to stem from the fact that Jack Ruby – the man who murdered Oswald – seems to have had at least some mafia connections and may at some point in his career have met with the notorious Florida mafia boss Santo Trafficante.

However the actual extent of Ruby’s dealings with the mafia are open to doubt, whilst there is no evidence that before killing Oswald Ruby had ever killed anyone.  What is known about Ruby suggests that he was never anything more than a manager of nightclubs, strip-clubs and dance halls, a fact which makes it extremely unlikely – to put it mildly – that the mafia would have chosen him to murder Oswald.  Besides it has never been made clear what the mafia could have offered Ruby in order to induce him to kill Oswald in the extremely public way that he did.

I would add that I place no credence in the claim made by an airport manager to US investigators and disclosed for the first time in the papers which have just been released that he saw Oswald and Ruby in the same group of young people who flew to Cuba together and that they therefore knew each other.  That sort of sensational story is all but certain to appear in the aftermath of a sensational murder like those of Kennedy and Oswald, and I am pretty sure the airport manager either imagined his story or made it up, and I am sure the investigators who spoke with him thought so as well.

All the facts in fact point to Ruby’s murder of Oswald being the sort of spontaneous act of an unremarkable man desperate to gain fame and attention, which are all too common in the sort of highly charged atmosphere which events like Kennedy’s murder create, and which Ruby – along with many other incoherent things – said that it was.

As for the Cubans, Lyndon Johnson and (possibly) Richard Nixon apparently believed that Fidel Castro ordered Kennedy’s killing in retaliation for the CIA’s multiple attempts – ordered by the Kennedy brothers – to kill him.

No evidence for that has however ever come to light, and all the known facts actually argue strongly against it.

Oswald does appear to have had left wing sympathies, and did visit the Cuban consulate in Mexico City shortly before he killed Kennedy.  He also seems to have had some contacts with an anti-Castro Cuban dissident group based in Mexico City during his trip there.  This group was apparently heavily infiltrated by Cuban intelligence so it is possible that some of the things he told them – which may have included a statement that he intended to kill Kennedy – might have got passed back to Havana.

However Oswald’s dealings with the Cuban officials at their consulate – from whom he sought a visa to travel to Cuba on his way back to the USSR – appear to have been heated and acrimonious, with the Cubans initially refusing him a visa but eventually granting him one only to discover that by then he had returned to the US.

Kennedy’s murder came almost exactly a year after the Cuban Missile Crisis during which Fidel Castro would have learnt the limits of Soviet support for him.  By October 1963 he would have been under no doubt that the USSR would not risk a nuclear war with the US on his and Cuba’s behalf.

It beggars belief that Fidel Castro – an extremely well-educated and highly intelligent man – knowing this would have nonetheless gone ahead and ordered the murder of the President of the United States when he would have known that the result when his role in the murder was discovered – as it was bound to be – would be a US invasion of Cuba and his own death.  It was not after all as if there were not already plenty of people in the US in 1963 who were already itching to do just that.

Needless to say if Fidel Castro had nonetheless decided to do such a crazy and reckless thing it is all but inconceivable that Cuban intelligence would have recruited someone as obviously unbalanced as Oswald – with whom the Cubans had previously had only minimal dealings – to do it.

Though the cache of papers that has just been released shows that one or two lower ranking Cuban officials were pleased when they heard the news of Kennedy’s murder (just as some lower ranking Iraqi officials were pleased when they heard the news of 9/11) reliable eyewitness accounts of Fidel Castro’s own reaction say that he was shocked when he heard of Kennedy’s murder and was filled with deep foreboding, being worried that he would be blamed for it.

This is logical, and since it is inconceivable that any Cuban official would have ordered Kennedy’s murder without first obtaining Fidel Castro’s permission, the theory of Cuban involvement in Kennedy’s murder – for which there is no evidence – is unsustainable and must be rejected.

As for the Russians, Oswald did ‘defect’ to the USSR in 1959 and did live for a time there.  He was also attempting to return to the USSR shortly before he killed Kennedy, and was bombarding Soviet diplomatic missions in Mexico City and the US with requests to be allowed to return there.

The papers which have just been released however corroborate what has been known for some time: that the Soviet authorities did not see in Oswald a genuine ideological defector but rather a highly unstable individual with a personality disorder.

They were happy to let him go when he told them he wanted to leave the USSR and go back home, and they showed no enthusiasm in 1963 when he told them that he wanted to come back.

Of claims that Oswald received some sort of special training whilst he was in the USSR there is no evidence, and again it beggars belief that if the Russians had hatched a lunatic plot to murder the President of the United States – risking a nuclear war with the US in the process – that they would have selected an erratic and melodramatic individual with a history of a public defection to the USSR like Oswald to do it for them.

It is in fact all but inconceivable that the Russians would have wanted in 1963 Kennedy killed.  Not only would the risks involved in murdering the President of the United States have been wholly out of proportion to any possible gains, but despite my own cynicism about Kennedy’s American University speech (see above) the Russians were obviously tantalised by it, with the Soviet media publishing it in full in the USSR unamended.

All the evidence points to the Russians hoping that President Kennedy’s American University speech would mark the start of a genuine rapprochement between the USSR and the US, which must in turn mean that the Russians so far from wanting Kennedy dead not wanted him alive but in 1963 but wanted him re-elected in 1964.

The papers which have just been released in fact show that the Russians were horrified and panicked by Kennedy’s murder and by the fact that Oswald, his murderer, had lived for a time in the USSR.

They seem to have genuinely feared that in the confusion and hysteria caused by the murder some paranoid US general would – Dr. Strangelove style – take it on himself to launch a nuclear attack on the USSR.

In their dismay the Russians seem to have clutched at various wild conspiracy theories of their own, with Soviet Premier Khrushchev and the KGB apparently believing that Kennedy was killed as a result of a right wing coup, with Moscow swirling with fantastic rumours – some of them apparently believed in by Premier Khrushchev himself, and passed on by the Russians to the US – including a particularly bizarre one that President Kennedy was killed as a result of a plot involving the Dallas Police Department.

These wild theories should be taken as a sign of the confusion and panic in Moscow following the murder.  They are not evidence of how the murder was actually carried out.  In 1963 the Russians would have had no means to find out the truth about a murder like the one of Kennedy which was carried out on US soil since they would have had no means to carry out an investigation of a murder carried out in the US.  Their various theories about the murder should be treated as no more than the wild guesses that they obviously were.

One particular factoid (as opposed to fact) which has come to light in the recently published papers and which is attracting a disproportionate amount of media attention is that over the course his dealings with the Soviet consulate in Mexico City in the month before the murder Oswald at some point met the Soviet consul, who was an official called Valery Kostikov.

The US papers identify Kostikov as a KGB officer working for the KGB’s “13th Department” (actually the 13th Department of the KGB’s First Chief Directorate) which supposedly was responsible for “assassinations and sabotage”.  This has inevitably led to some excited commentary about Oswald having supposedly met a “KGB assassinations expert” or even a “KGB assassin” in Mexico City a month before he killed Kennedy.

In fact Kostikov’s meeting with Oswald was simply chance, caused by Oswald’s increasingly frantic efforts to get himself a Soviet visa, which caused him to have multiple contacts with Soviet diplomatic missions both in Mexico and the US.  Since Kostikov headed the Soviet consulate in Mexico City, it is not surprising that an increasingly agitated and desperate Oswald somehow managed to meet with him.

The reason the US found out about the meeting between Kostikov and Oswald was because on 1st October 1963 – three days after the meeting supposedly took place – Oswald telephoned the consulate on an open line and demanded news about the progress of his visa application.  He seems to have mentioned his meeting with Kostikov in order to get the official who took his call to pay attention to him.

It beggars belief that if Oswald really was a Soviet agent involved in a dangerous plot to murder the President of the United States that he would have been engaging in open contacts of this sort with people like Kostikov, or that he would have been blabbing about meeting Kostikov on an open line given that both he and the Russians would have known that phone calls to the consulate were being monitored.

As it happens the Soviet government took a formal decision in 1959 to prohibit the KGB from assassinating enemies of the USSR on foreign territory (the last person to have been assassinated by the KGB on foreign territory – immediately before the prohibition was put in place – was the Ukrainian fascist leader Stepan Bandera).

It is generally acknowledged that for the rest of the Cold War the KGB abided by this prohibition, though it took some time before the West became aware of the fact. That means that whatever Kostikov was before 1959, he cannot have been an “assassinations expert” or indeed a “KGB assassin” in 1963.

If there was no conspiracy by the CIA, the mafia, the Cubans or the Russians to murder President Kennedy, was there a conspiracy by someone else?

The papers which have just been released do not provide a definite answer to that question.  Whilst such a thing is therefore possible, I have to say that I think it is unlikely.

The two things that come across to me most strongly from the papers are (1) Oswald’s unbalanced personality and (2) the widespread knowledge of him on the part of the US intelligence and security agencies.

The arc of Oswald’s life in fact bears out the Russian assessment of him as an individual suffering from a severe personality disorder.

Like many such people he seems to have suffered from delusions of grandeur, which he struggled to reconcile with the mundane reality of his existence.  The result – very common with such people – was to make him extremely angry and disruptive as his life came to centre on an increasingly desperate quest to attract attention.

Thus Oswald’s ‘defection’ to the USSR, his suicide attempt whilst he was there, his decision to return to the US, his increasingly chaotic and restless life following his return to the US, his frantic attempts to go to Cuba and to return to the USSR, and eventually – when everything else failed – his decision to kill Kennedy.

It is inherently unlikely that such a person could have carried out a complex plot to murder Kennedy along with other people.

No wholly convincing evidence for such a plot has ever come to light.

The papers which have just been published say that a newspaper in Britain received an anonymous tip-off to call the US embassy about some “big news” 25 minutes before Kennedy’s murder.  Some people will no doubt see that as proof that some sort of conspiracy existed.

Though the FBI very properly took this information extremely seriously, it seems unlikely that it actually had anything to do with Kennedy’s murder.

The suggestion that the newspaper call the US embassy suggests that (assuming the call was not a hoax call, of which newspapers receive many) the caller was giving a tip-off about other news which he or she was expecting to come out of the US but which would not make immediate headlines as the murder of the President of the United States certainly would.

If the call was about President Kennedy then one possibility must be that it was about Ellen Rometsch – the alleged East German call girl who had apparently slept with Kennedy and who was suspected of being an East German agent – who had recently been deported from the US.

There are some reasons to think that in November 1963 the scandal about Rometsch was about to break, only to be swept away by the news of President Kennedy’s death.  If so then it is possible that the tip-off to the British newspaper was about that.

It must be said however that the British newspaper in question – the Cambridge News – is a purely local paper and hardly seems an obvious newspaper for someone intent on giving an anonymous tip-off about “big news” coming out of the US to call.

The reporter who claimed to have taken the call was said to be a “sound and loyal person with no security record”.  However it must be possible that he simply made the whole story of the call up in order to give himself importance and to involve himself if only fictitiously in the gigantic news story of the moment, which was Kennedy’s murder.  That sort of reaction following an event like Kennedy’s murder is unfortunately only too common.

As for the various other claims concerning evidence of a conspiracy which have become such a staple of the literature – the eyewitness claims of a second gunman behind the grassy knoll etc – all I will say here about them is that I have never been at all convinced by them.

Taken together with what is known about Oswald’s personality, the lack of convincing evidence of a conspiracy to murder Kennedy makes me doubt that there was one, and makes me think that the official view that he acted alone is right

Unsurprisingly an individual as unbalanced and melodramatic as Oswald with his multiple contacts with the Russians and his ‘defection’ to the USSR could not fail to attract the attention of the US’s massive intelligence and security apparatus, and it seems in fact that he was being kept under continuous surveillance from at least the time of his first contacts with the Russians in 1959.

Given Oswald’s increasingly erratic behaviour and the increasingly wild threats he was making – including a threat in a handwritten letter to the FBI to blow up the FBI office in Dallas – the situation obviously called for action to put him and those he might put in danger out of harm’s way.

Instead nothing was done, with the US’s various intelligence and security agencies failing to share information about Oswald with each other, and failing to take any action to stop him before disaster struck.  It was this inactivity – which in the circumstances amounts to gross negligence – which was the single most important cause of President Kennedy’s death.

What followed was the most sinister part of the whole affair.

Instead of making a clean breast of what had happened and assisting the Warren Commission to carry out a proper investigation of the murder, the US intelligence and security community closed ranks to covered up the evidence of its own negligence.

The result was that evidence was destroyed – including Oswald’s letter in which he threatened to blow up the FBI’s Dallas office – whilst intercepts of Oswald’s communications with the Russians were not disclosed, and the extent of the US intelligence community’s knowledge of Oswald was kept from the Warren Commission and the American people.

It did not help matters that the Dallas Police Department seems also to have botched its investigation of Kennedy’s death and disregarded warnings from the FBI that Oswald needed to be kept secure.

To say that there were no conspiracies connected to Kennedy’s murder is therefore wrong.   A conspiracy did happen, though it is not the one that is most widely suspected.  It was not a conspiracy to murder Kennedy, but a conspiracy to conceal from the American people the incompetence of the intelligence and security agencies which caused his death.

It was the existence of this conspiracy which has ever since led to the theories about the others.  Coming across evidence of this conspiracy the countless numbers of researchers who have studied the murder have naturally seen in this evidence proof of a conspiracy to murder rather than a conspiracy to conceal the incompetence of the intelligence and security agencies who failed to protect him.

Along the way the researchers also discovered many ghastly truths about the many other bad things the US intelligence and security agencies had been up to, such as the CIA’s plots to murder Fidel Castro, and its attempts to enlist the help of the mafia in order to do it.  Needless to say, on the principle that people who habitually do bad things are capable of any crime, that made many people even more convinced that President Kennedy was killed because of some plot by the US’s own intelligence and security agencies.

Rumours of this plot continue to run rife to this day, and the US intelligence and security community appears to have learnt nothing from this.  Incredibly, fifty years after President Kennedy was killed, they have pressured President Trump into blocking publication of hundreds of documents relating to the murder.

It is all but inconceivable that publication of these documents today could have any national security implications.  Today these documents are purely historic.  Almost certainly their concealment reflects the continued wish of the US intelligence and security bureaucracy to hide the evidence of their own incompetence.  However by doing so they simply feed the rumours which publication of the documents was supposed to suppress.

The other consequence of the conspiracy to conceal the truth about the incompetence of the US intelligence and security community is that no senior US official was ever punished for its negligence or paid the price of losing his job.  The result was that a culture of impunity took hold which continues to this day, as has been made all too obvious by the serial leaking which has taken place over the course of the Russiagate scandal.

Meanwhile the same incompetent officials who were running the US intelligence and security agencies before President Kennedy was killed continued to do so after.  It was these people who went on to botch the US intelligence effort during the Vietnam war, which they largely authored.  Moreover since it is their direct lineal successors who run the US intelligence and security agencies to this day their malign legacy continues still and is the cause of the US’s other repeated intelligence disasters, such as 9/11 and the claims about WMD in Iraq.

The American people have paid a heavy price for this self-protection of people who supposedly work to protect them.  With hindsight it was in 1963 that the US intelligence and security community began to make itself unaccountable.  That was the key moment when the culture of impunity and lawlessness took hold which persists to this day.

In a sense it was on that day – 22nd November 1963, when President Kennedy met his death – that the US “Deep State” began.

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Airline wars heat up, as industry undergoes massive disruption (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 145.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the global commercial airline industry, which is undergoing massive changes, as competition creeps in from Russia and China.

Reuters reports that Boeing Co’s legal troubles grew as a new lawsuit accused the company of defrauding shareholders by concealing safety deficiencies in its 737 MAX planes before two fatal crashes led to their worldwide grounding.

The proposed class action filed in Chicago federal court seeks damages for alleged securities fraud violations, after Boeing’s market value tumbled by $34 billion within two weeks of the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX.

*****

According to the complaint, Boeing “effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty” by rushing the 737 MAX to market to compete with Airbus SE, while leaving out “extra” or “optional” features designed to prevent the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.

It also said Boeing’s statements about its growth prospects and the 737 MAX were undermined by its alleged conflict of interest from retaining broad authority from federal regulators to assess the plane’s safety.

*****

Boeing said on Tuesday that aircraft orders in the first quarter fell to 95 from 180 a year earlier, with no orders for the 737 MAX following the worldwide grounding.

On April 5, it said it planned to cut monthly 737 production to 42 planes from 52, and was making progress on a 737 MAX software update to prevent further accidents.

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Via Zerohedge…

Step aside (fading) trade war with China: there is a new aggressor – at least according to the US Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer – in town.

In a statement on the USTR’s website published late on Monday, the US fair trade agency announced that under Section 301 of the Trade Act, it was proposing a list of EU products to be covered by additional duties. And as justification for the incremental import taxes, the USTR said that it was in response to EU aircraft subsidies, specifically to Europea’s aerospace giant, Airbus, which “have caused adverse effects to the United States” and which the USTR estimates cause $11 billion in harm to the US each year

One can’t help but notice that the latest shot across the bow in the simmering trade war with Europe comes as i) Trump is reportedly preparing to fold in his trade war with China, punting enforcement to whoever is president in 2025, and ii) comes just as Boeing has found itself scrambling to preserve orders as the world has put its orderbook for Boeing 737 MAX airplanes on hold, which prompted Boeing to cut 737 production by 20% on Friday.

While the first may be purely a coincidence, the second – which is expected to not only slam Boeing’s financials for Q1 and Q2, but may also adversely impact US GDP – had at least some impact on the decision to proceed with these tariffs at this moment.

We now await Europe’s angry response to what is Trump’s latest salvo in what is once again a global trade war. And, paradoxically, we also expect this news to send stocks blasting higher as, taking a page from the US-China trade book, every day algos will price in imminent “US-European trade deal optimism.”

Below the full statement from the USTR (link):

USTR Proposes Products for Tariff Countermeasures in Response to Harm Caused by EU Aircraft Subsidies

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found repeatedly that European Union (EU) subsidies to Airbus have caused adverse effects to the United States.  Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) begins its process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to identify products of the EU to which additional duties may be applied until the EU removes those subsidies.

USTR is releasing for public comment a preliminary list of EU products to be covered by additional duties.  USTR estimates the harm from the EU subsidies as $11 billion in trade each year.  The amount is subject to an arbitration at the WTO, the result of which is expected to be issued this summer.

“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action. The Administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of U.S. countermeasures,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.  “Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft.  When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted.”

In line with U.S. law, the preliminary list contains a number of products in the civil aviation sector, including Airbus aircraft.  Once the WTO arbitrator issues its report on the value of countermeasures, USTR will announce a final product list covering a level of trade commensurate with the adverse effects determined to exist.

Background

After many years of seeking unsuccessfully to convince the EU and four of its member States (France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom) to cease their subsidization of Airbus, the United States brought a WTO challenge to EU subsidies in 2004. In 2011, the WTO found that the EU provided Airbus $18 billion in subsidized financing from 1968 to 2006.  In particular, the WTO found that European “launch aid” subsidies were instrumental in permitting Airbus to launch every model of its large civil aircraft, causing Boeing to lose sales of more than 300 aircraft and market share throughout the world.

In response, the EU removed two minor subsidies, but left most of them unchanged.  The EU also granted Airbus more than $5 billion in new subsidized “launch aid” financing for the A350 XWB.  The United States requested establishment of a compliance panel in March 2012 to address the EU’s failure to remove its old subsidies, as well as the new subsidies and their adverse effects.  That process came to a close with the issuance of an appellate report in May 2018 finding that EU subsidies to high-value, twin-aisle aircraft have caused serious prejudice to U.S. interests.  The report found that billions of dollars in launch aid to the A350 XWB and A380 cause significant lost sales to Boeing 787 and 747 aircraft, as well as lost market share for Boeing very large aircraft in the EU, Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, and UAE markets.

Based on the appellate report, the United States requested authority to impose countermeasures worth $11.2 billion per year, commensurate with the adverse effects caused by EU subsidies.  The EU challenged that estimate, and a WTO arbitrator is currently evaluating those claims

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Mueller report takes ‘Russian meddling’ for granted, offers no actual evidence

RT

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Via RT…


Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report has cleared Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ charges but maintains that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. Yet concrete evidence of that is nowhere to be seen.

The report by Mueller and his team, made public on Thursday by the US Department of Justice, exonerates not just Trump but all Americans of any “collusion” with Russia, “obliterating” the Russiagate conspiracy theory, as journalist Glenn Greenwald put it.

However, it asserts that Russian “interference” in the election did happen, and says it consisted of a campaign on social media as well as Russian military intelligence (repeatedly referred to by its old, Soviet-era name, GRU) “hacking” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the DNC, and the private email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

As evidence of this, the report basically offers nothing but Mueller’s indictment of “GRU agents,” delivered on the eve of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was surely a cosmic coincidence.

Indictments are not evidence, however, but allegations. Any time it looks like the report might be bringing up proof, it ends up being redacted, ostensibly to protect sources and methods, and out of concern it might cause “harm to an ongoing matter.”

‘Active measures’ on social media

Mueller’s report leads with the claim that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ran an “active measures” campaign of social media influence. Citing Facebook and Twitter estimates, the report says this consisted of 470 Facebook accounts that made 80,000 posts that may have been seen by up to 126 million people, between January 2015 and August 2017 (almost a year after the election), and 3,814 Twitter accounts that “may have been” in contact with about 1.4 million people.

Those numbers may seem substantial but, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out in November 2018, they should be regarded against the background of 33 trillion Facebook posts made during the same period.

According to Mueller, the IRA mind-controlled the American electorate by spending “approximately $100,000” on Facebook ads, hiring someone to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask,” and getting Trump campaign affiliates to promote “dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.” Dozens!

Meanwhile, the key evidence against IRA’s alleged boss Evgeny Prigozhin is that he “appeared together in public photographs” with Putin.

Alleged hacking & release

The report claims that the GRU hacked their way into 29 DCCC computers and another 30 DNC computers, and downloaded data using software called “X-Tunnel.” It is unclear how Mueller’s investigators claim to know this, as the report makes no mention of them or FBI actually examining DNC or DCCC computers. Presumably they took the word of CrowdStrike, the Democrats’ private contractor, for it.

However obtained, the documents were published first through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 – which the report claims are “fictitious online personas” created by the GRU – and later through WikiLeaks. What is Mueller’s proof that these two entities were “GRU” cutouts? In a word, this:

That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.(p. 43)

However, the report acknowledges that the “first known contact” between Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was on September 15, 2016 – months after the DNC and DCCC documents were published! Here we do get actual evidence: direct messages on Twitter obtained by investigators. Behold, these “spies” are so good, they don’t even talk – and when they do, they use unsecured channels.

Mueller notably claims “it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks” (the rest of that sentence is redacted), but the report clearly implies the investigators do not actually know how. On page 47, the report says Mueller “cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”

Strangely, the report accuses WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange of making “public statements apparently designed to obscure the source” of the materials (p.48), notably the offer of a reward for finding the murderer of DNC staffer Seth Rich – even though this can be read as corroborating the intermediaries theory, and Assange never actually said Rich was his source.

The rest of Mueller’s report goes on to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with anyone even remotely Russian and to create torturous constructions that the president had “obstructed” justice by basically defending himself from charges of being a Russian agent – neither of which resulted in any indictments, however. But the central premise that the 22-month investigation, breathless media coverage, and the 448-page report are based on – that Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election – remains unproven.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “…require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “…comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

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