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Susan Rice admits Trump team placed under surveillance

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

Alexander Mercouris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(bold italics added)

Here by contrast is what CNN reports actually happened

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNN reports “a senior Middle East official” saying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lindsey Cotler
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Lindsey Cotler

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

niveb
Guest
niveb

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

TravelAbout
Guest
TravelAbout

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

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

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

Terry Ross
Guest
Terry Ross

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

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

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

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

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

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

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

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

Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

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

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

OR HAS THE UNITED STATES JUST BECOME ANOTHER BANANA REPUBLIC…

TravelAbout
Guest
TravelAbout

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

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

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

Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

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

So STFU until someone is proved guilty…

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

Kindly give Susan Rice that same respect.

Terry Ross
Guest
Terry Ross

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

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

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

Terry Ross
Guest
Terry Ross

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

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Rice is an unindicted felon.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

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

Seán Murphy
Guest
Seán Murphy

Bs!

Terry Ross
Guest
Terry Ross

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

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
Guest
VeeNarian (Yerevan)

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

Lindsey Cotler
Guest
Lindsey Cotler

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

VeeNarian (Yerevan)
Guest
VeeNarian (Yerevan)

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

mike2000917
Guest
mike2000917

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

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

How is the weather in Tal Habib?

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

yeranidiot

mike2000917
Guest
mike2000917

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

seby
Guest
seby

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

Voltaire
Guest
Voltaire

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

This is worse that McCarthyism…

seby
Guest
seby

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

Mike Surack
Guest
Mike Surack

McCarthy was a goddamn hero

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

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

samo war
Guest
samo war
ke0vin
Guest
ke0vin

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

Herbert Dorsey
Guest
Herbert Dorsey

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

Hamletquest
Guest
Hamletquest

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

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

Jonathan Jarvis
Guest
Jonathan Jarvis

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

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

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

L Garou
Guest
L Garou

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

Defiant
Guest
Defiant

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

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

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

Latest

Fake news media FREAK OUT over Trump and NATO (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 172.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the media meltdown over remarks that U.S. President Trump may have made with regard to NATO, and how neo-liberal war hawks championing the alliance as some sort of foreign policy projection of peace and democracy, are really just supporting aggression, war, and the eventual weakening of the United States.

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Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO, Authored by David Swanson:


The New York Times loves NATO, but should you?

Judging by comments in social media and the real world, millions of people in the United States have gone from having little or no opinion on NATO, or from opposing NATO as the world’s biggest military force responsible for disastrous wars in places like Afghanistan (for Democrats) or Libya (for Republicans), to believing NATO to be a tremendous force for good in the world.

I believe this notion to be propped up by a series of misconceptions that stand in dire need of correction.

1. NATO is not a war-legalizing body, quite the opposite. NATO, like the United Nations, is an international institution that has something or other to do with war, but transferring the UN’s claimed authority to legalize a war to NATO has no support whatsoever in reality. The crime of attacking another nation maintains an absolutely unaltered legal status whether or not NATO is involved. Yet NATO is used within the U.S. and by other NATO members as cover to wage wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable. This misconception is not the only way in which NATO works against the rule of law. Placing a primarily-U.S. war under the banner of NATO also helps to prevent Congressional oversight of that war. Placing nuclear weapons in “non-nuclear” nations, in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, is also excused with the claim that the nations are NATO members (so what?). And NATO, of course, assigns nations the responsibility to go to war if other nations go to war — a responsibility that requires them to be prepared for war, with all the damage such preparation does.

2. NATO is not a defensive institution. According to the New York Times, NATO has “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is an article of faith, based on the unsubstantiated belief that Soviet and Russian aggression toward NATO members has existed for 70 years and that NATO has deterred it rather than provoked it. In violation of a promise made, NATO has expanded eastward, right up to the border of Russia, and installed missiles there. Russia has not done the reverse. The Soviet Union has, of course, ended. NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic, bombing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. NATO has added a partnership with Colombia, abandoning all pretense of its purpose being in the North Atlantic. No NATO member has been attacked or credibly threatened with attack, apart from small-scale non-state blowback from NATO’s wars of aggression.

3. Trump is not trying to destroy NATO. Donald Trump, as a candidate and as U.S. President, has wondered aloud and even promised all kinds of things and, in many cases, the exact opposite as well. When it comes to actions, Trump has not taken any actions to limit or end or withdraw from NATO. He has demanded that NATO members buy more weapons, which is of course a horrible idea. Even in the realm of rhetoric, when European officials have discussed creating a European military, independent of the United States, Trump has replied by demanding that they instead support NATO.

4. If Trump were trying to destroy NATO, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Trump has claimed to want to destroy lots of things, good and bad. Should I support NAFTA or corporate media or the Cold War or the F35 or anything at all, simply because some negative comment about it escapes Trump’s mouth? Should I cheer for every abuse ever committed by the CIA or the FBI because they investigate Trump? Should I long for hostility between nuclear-armed governments because Democrats claim Trump is a Russian agent? When Trump defies Russia to expand NATO, or to withdraw from a disarmament treaty or from an agreement with Iran, or to ship weapons to Ukraine, or to try to block Russian energy deals in Europe, or to oppose Russian initiatives on banning cyber-war or weapons in space, should I cheer for such consistent defiance of Trump’s Russian master, and do so simply because Russia is, so implausibly, his so-inept master? Or should I form my own opinion of things, including of NATO?

5. Trump is not working for, and was not elected by, Russia.According to the New York Times, “Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said.” But are anonymous “American officials” really needed to acquire Russia’s openly expressed opinion that NATO is a threatening military alliance that has moved weapons and troops to states on Russia’s border? And has anyone produced the slightest documentation of the Russian government’s aims in an activity it has never admitted to, namely “meddling in American elections,” — an activity the United States has of course openly admitted to in regard to Russian elections? We have yet to see any evidence that Russia stole or otherwise acquired any of the Democratic Party emails that documented that party’s rigging of its primary elections in favor of Clinton over Sanders, or even any claim that the tiny amount of weird Facebook ads purchased by Russians could possibly have influenced the outcome of anything. Supposedly Trump is even serving Russia by demanding that Turkey not attack Kurds. But is using non-military means to discourage Turkish war-making necessarily the worst thing? Would it be if your favorite party or politician did it? If Trump encouraged a Turkish war, would that also be a bad thing because Trump did it, or would it be a bad thing for substantive reasons?

6. If Trump were elected by and working for Russia, that would tell us nothing about NATO. Imagine if Boris Yeltsin were indebted to the United States and ended the Soviet Union. Would that tell us whether ending the Soviet Union was a good thing, or whether the Soviet Union was obsolete for serious reasons? If Trump were a Russian pawn and began reversing all of his policies on Russia to match that status, including restoring his support for the INF Treaty and engaging in major disarmament negotiations, and we ended up with a world of dramatically reduced military spending and nuclear armaments, with the possibility of all dying in a nuclear apocalypse significantly lowered, would that too simply be a bad thing because Trump?

7. Russia is not a military threat to the world. That Russia would cheer NATO’s demise tells us nothing about whether we should cheer too. Numerous individuals and entities who indisputably helped to put Trump in the White House would dramatically oppose and others support NATO’s demise. We can’t go by their opinions either, since they don’t all agree. We really are obliged to think for ourselves. Russia is a heavily armed militarized nation that commits the crime of war not infrequently. Russia is a top weapons supplier to the world. All of that should be denounced for what it is, not because of who Russia is or who Trump is. But Russia spends a tiny fraction of what the United States does on militarism. Russia has been reducing its military spending each year, while the United States has been increasing its military spending. U.S. annual increases have sometimes exceeded Russia’s entire military budget. The United States has bombed nine nations in the past year, Russia one. The United States has troops in 175 nations, Russia in 3. Gallup and Pew find populations around the world viewing the United States, not Russia, as the top threat to peace in the world. Russia has asked to join NATO and the EU and been rejected, NATO members placing more value on Russia as an enemy. Anonymous U.S. military officials describe the current cold war as driven by weapons profits. Those profits are massive, and NATO now accounts for about three-quarters of military spending and weapons dealing on the globe.

8. Crimea has not been seized. According to the New York Times, “American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.” Again we have an anonymous claim as to a goal of a government in committing an action that never occurred. We can be fairly certain such things are simply made up. The vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia is commonly called the Seizure of Crimea. This infamous seizure is hard to grasp. It involved a grand total of zero casualties. The vote itself has never been re-done. In fact, to my knowledge, not a single believer in the Seizure of Crimea has ever advocated for re-doing the vote. Coincidentally, polling has repeatedly found the people of Crimea to be happy with their vote. I’ve not seen any written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence in Crimea. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 4 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result. Of course, a U.S.-backed coup had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea — just like a Honduran immigrant — was voting to secede from a coup government, by no means an action consistently frowned upon by the United States.

9. NATO is not an engaged alternative to isolationism. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world. A nonviolent, cooperative, treaty-joining, law-enforcing alternative to the imperialism-or-isolationism trap is no more difficult to think of or to act on than treating drug addiction or crime or poverty as reason to help people rather than to punish them. The opposite of bombing people is not ignoring them. The opposite of bombing people is embracing them. By the standards of the U.S. communications corporations Switzerland must be the most isolationist land because it doesn’t join in bombing anyone. The fact that it supports the rule of law and global cooperation, and hosts gatherings of nations seeking to work together is simply not relevant.

10. April 4 belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr., not militarism. War is a leading contributor to the growing global refugee and climate crises, the basis for the militarization of the police, a top cause of the erosion of civil liberties, and a catalyst for racism and bigotry. A growing coalition is calling for the abolition of NATO, the promotion of peace, the redirection of resources to human and environmental needs, and the demilitarization of our cultures. Instead of celebrating NATO’s 70thanniversary, we’re celebrating peace on April 4, in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech against war on April 4, 1967, as well as his assassination on April 4, 1968.

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Turkey prepared to take Syria’s Manbij, won’t let it turn into ‘swamp’ like N. Iraq

Turkey sees the US-backed Kurdish YPG militias as an extension of the PKK and considers them terrorists as well.

RT

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Via RT


Ankara has “almost completed” preparations for another military operation in Syria and will launch it if “promises” made by other parties about the protection of its borders are not kept, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Turkey still hopes that talks with the US, Russia and “other parties” will allow it to ensure its security without resorting to force but it is still ready to proceed with a military option and will not “wait forever,” Erdogan said. He was referring to Ankara’s plans for the northern Syrian territories east of the Euphrates River, which it seeks to turn into a “security zone”free of any Kurdish militias.

“We are on our border with our forces and following developments closely. If promises made to us are kept and the process goes on, that’s fine. Otherwise, we inform that we have almost completed our preparations and will take steps in line with our own strategy,” the president said, addressing a group of businessmen in Ankara on Monday.

He did not elaborate on the promises made. However, they are apparently linked to the withdrawal of the Kurdish YPG militia from the Manbij area and the regions along the border with Turkey. “We will never allow a safe zone to turn into a new swamp,” Erdogan said, referring to the northern Syrian territories and comparing them to the northern Iraq, where the militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – an organization that Ankara considers a terrorist group – have been entrenched for decades.

Turkey sees the US-backed Kurdish YPG militias, which form the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as an extension of the PKK and considers them terrorists as well. “Our proposal for a security zone under Turkey’s control aims to keep terror organizations away from our borders,” the Turkish president said.

He went on to explain that Ankara does not seek any territorial gains in its military campaigns in Syria but merely seeks to restore order in the war-ravaged country. “We will provide security for Manbij and then we will hand over the city to its real owners,” Erdogan said. “Syria belongs to Syrians.”

Turkey also seeks to establish a “security zone 20 miles [32 kilometers] deep” into Syria, Erdogan said, adding that he already discussed this issue with the US President Donald Trump. “Those who insistently want to keep us away from these regions are seeking to strengthen terror organizations,” he added.

Ankara has been long planning to push YPG units out of the area east of the Euphrates River. Its operation was delayed by the US withdrawal from Syria. However, Erdogan repeatedly hinted that his patience is wearing thin and he is not ready to wait much longer. He warned Trump against backtracking on his pledge to withdraw some 2,000 US forces out of Syria following a suicide attack in Manbij that killed four Americans. If the US president halted the withdrawal, it would mean that Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) had won, Erdogan argued.

He has also reiterated that Turkey is ready to take over Manbij “without delay.” The US military is currently working on security arrangements with the Turkish forces to create a buffer zone between Turkey and the Kurdish fighters. The Kurds, meanwhile, invited the Syrian government to take over the city and have reportedly begun to leave the area. Turkey has dismissed the reports saying its a “psyop”.

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Political Knives Dull Themselves on the Rock of Brexit Article 50

The invocation of Article 50 was undertaken by an act of Parliament. And it will take another act of Parliament to undo it.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored Tom Luongo via Strategic Culture Foundation:


Theresa “The Gypsum Lady” May went through an extraordinary twenty-four hours. First, seeing her truly horrific Brexit deal go down in historic defeat and then, somehow, surviving a ‘No-Confidence’ vote which left her in a stronger position than before it.

It looks like May rightly calculated that the twenty or so Tory Remainers would put party before the European Union as their personal political positions would be terminally weakened if they voted her out of office.

While there is little stomach in the British Parliament for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, there is less for allowing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister. And that is the crux of why the incessant calls to delay Brexit, call for a ‘people’s vote’ or, in Corbyn’s case, “take a no-deal Brexit off the table,’ ultimately lead to a whole lot of political knife-fighting and very little substantive action.

The day-to-day headline spam is designed to wear down people’s resistance and make it feel like Brexit getting betrayed is inevitable. That has been the British Deep State’s and EU’s game plan all along and they hoped they could arm-twist enough people in parliament to succeed.

But the problem for them now, since the clock has nearly run out, is the invocation of Article 50 was undertaken by an act of Parliament. And it will take another act of Parliament to undo it.

And I don’t see anyone on the Remainer side working towards that end. That should be your clue as to what happens next.

Why? Because they know they don’t have the time to get that act past Parliament. So, the rest of this is simply a PR campaign to push public opinion far enough to allow for an illegal canceling or postponing of Brexit.

But it’s not working.

According to the latest polls, Brits overwhelmingly want the original Brexit vote respectedLeave even has a 5-6 point lead over Remain.

And, I think Theresa May now realizes this. It is why she invited the no-confidence vote against her. She knew she had the votes and it would give her the ammunition to ignore Corbyn’s hysterical ranting about taking a no-deal Brexit off the table.

Whether she realizes that the only negotiating tool she has with the EU is the threat of a No-Deal Brexit, exactly like Nigel Farage and those committed to Brexit have been telling her for two years is still, however, up in the air.

It looks like she’s finally starting to get it.

The net result is we are seeing a similar outing of the nefarious, behind-the-scenes, power brokers in the public eye similar to what’s been happening in the US with Donald Trump and Russiagate.

May has been singularly unimpressive in her handling of Brexit. I’ve been convinced from the beginning that betraying Brexit was always her goal. Negotiating a deal unacceptable to anyone was meant to exhaust everyone into the position to just throwing up their hands and canceling the whole thing.

The EU has been in the driver’s seat the entire time because most of the British establishment has been on their side and it was only the people who needed to be disrespected.

So, after all of these shananigans we are back to where we were last week. May has cut off all avenues of discussion. She won’t commit to taking ‘no-deal’ off the table to tweak Corbyn. She won’t substantively move on any other issue. This is likely to push her deal through as a last-minute panic move.

Corbyn is still hoping to get new elections to take power, and the majority of MP’s who don’t want to leave the EU keep fighting among themselves to cock up the entire works.

All they are doing is expending pound after pound of political capital beating themselves against their own act of Parliament which goes into effect on March 29th.

By the time that date comes around the frustration, shame and humiliation of how Parliament has mishandled Brexit will make it difficult for a lot of Remainers to hold together their majority as public opinion has decidedly turned against them.

In the past the EU has had that façade of democratic support undermining any change at the political level. With Brexit (and with budget talks in Italy) that is not the case. The people are angry.

The peak moment for Remainers to stage a bipartisan political coup against May should have been the most recent no-confidence vote.

With May surviving that it implies that Remainers are not willing to die politically for their cause.

This should begin to see defectors over the next couple of weeks as they realize they don’t have a hand to play either.

And by May refusing to rule out a ‘no-deal’ Brexit it has finally brought the EU around to throw a bone towards the British. Their admitting they would extend Article 50 is just that. But they know that’s a non-starter as that is the one thing May has been steadfast in holding to.

On March 29th with or without a deal the U.K. is out of the EU. Because despite the European Court of Justice’s decision, Britain’s parliament can only cancel Article 50 at this point by acting illegally.

Not that I would put that past these people, but then that opens up a can of worms that most British MP’s will not go along with. The personal stakes are simply too high.

When dealing with politicians, never bet against their vanity or their pocketbook. In May’s case she may finally have realized she could have the legacy of getting Britain out of the EU just before it collapses.

And all she has to do between now and the end of March is, precisely, nothing.

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