Donald Trump: establishment trojan horse?

Politics, History, & 'Conspiracy'
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Daglord
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Re: Donald Trump: establishment trojan horse?

Postby Daglord » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Giving the Deep State More Leeway to Kill With Drones
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/09/giving-the-deep-state-more-leeway-to-kill-with-drones/540777/

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The Trump administration believes that the targeted-killing policy of its predecessor is too restrictive, and officials intend to give what some call “the administrative state” and others call “the deep state” the ability to use lethal force with less oversight.

Expect more secretive killings by the CIA.

Former President Barack Obama presided over roughly 10 times as many lethal air strikes as George W. Bush in covert war-on-terror operations outside the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. The killings targeted terrorists belonging to groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as other militants that posed threats to allied regimes but not the United States.

American officials described those operations as “exceptionally surgical and precise,” as if innocent men, women, and children had nothing to fear from the strikes. But U.S. strikes in just three countries—Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen—killed at least 384 innocent civilians and as many as 807, in addition to terrorists, according to a credible tally kept by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Put another way, attempts to preempt terrorism from those countries killed at least 128 times more innocents than the Boston Marathon bombing.

A surgeon as sloppy as that would be indicted.

The U.S. government has never explained how it calculates whether the cost of a given targeted killing outweighs the benefits. One wonders how many terrorists, or sworn enemies of America, are created on average when our drones kill an innocent. If the Pentagon or CIA has a working theory, official secrecy makes it impossible to vet.

On the other side of the ledger, al-Qaeda and ISIS kill far more civilians outside the United States than inside it. Some drone strikes surely spare more foreign innocents than they kill.

The trend of more secretive killings in successive presidencies will now continue. The Trump administration “is preparing to dismantle key Obama-era limits on drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields,” according to a New York Times article by Charlie Savage and Eric Schmitt, trusted bylines on this subject.

Two rule changes loom largest:

First, the targets of kill missions by the military and the C.I.A., now generally limited to high-level militants deemed to pose a “continuing and imminent threat” to Americans, would be expanded to include foot-soldier jihadists with no special skills or leadership roles. And second, proposed drone attacks and raids would no longer undergo high-level vetting.


The article adds that officials agree “they should keep in place one important constraint for such attacks: a requirement of ‘near certainty’ that no civilian bystanders will be killed.” What that constraint means in practice has long been unclear since civilian bystanders have, in fact, been killed every year it has been in place.

Given the horrific possibility of killing innocents and the risk of subsequent blowback, why would U.S. officials want to expand permissible targets from those who pose a “continuing or imminent threat” to Americans to “foot-soldier jihadists”?

Luke Hartig articulates the logic at Just Security:

Over 16 years of operations, our counterterrorism professionals have become adept at analyzing the structure of terrorist networks and targeting them based on the understanding that there are particular nodes that, if removed, could have a devastating impact on the entire network.

In many cases, those nodes may be couriers, bodyguards, or propagandists who, while lawful military targets under the laws of war, may not pose a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons. The new policy appears to give operators greater leeway to target according to what will be considerably more effective in disrupting and defeating terrorist networks. The challenge … will be establishing governing principles that limit the pace of strikes (as the continuing, imminent-threat standard did), since there are few countries outside of hot war zones that will give the U.S. blanket approvals for unfettered drone campaigns.

That logic is seductive but incomplete.

It may sound like common sense to target “couriers, bodyguards, or propagandists” that are assisting al-Qaeda or ISIS. But consider how many innocents U.S. drone strikes killed when ostensibly targeting only “imminent” threats. As the number of targets increase, danger to innocents will, too.

A thought experiment can make these trade-offs less abstract. Forget about Yemen, a country most Americans cannot begin to picture, and consider this truth: A propagandist for ISIS or al-Qaeda could conceivably live in the apartment or house next to yours. Or he could work next door to your child’s school. If that were the case, would you want the CIA to fire a Hellfire missile at him, knowing that neighboring buildings are sometimes struck and that innocents are sometimes killed? Americans accept “collateral damage,” including dead children, in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen that they would never tolerate in their own communities.

Homegrown terrorism poses a much bigger risk to Americans than terrorists in Pakistan, Somalia, or Yemen. And an ongoing drone policy that kills lots of innocents abroad increases the likelihood that people here will become radicalized against the United States, as bygone terrorists who’ve cited such grievances illustrate.

Drone strikes, especially those conducted in secret by the CIA, make it easier for elected and appointed elites to wage endless war all over the globe without securing the explicit permission of the people or even their representatives in Congress.
The institutional player that would normally push back against the Pentagon and the CIA, the State Department, is presently less able to clarify the costs of excessively blowing people up for the president, because the president has failed to properly staff Foggy Bottom and seemingly doesn’t understand its purpose.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS are dangerous abominations. Fighting them is just, even if the fight involves the inadvertent killing of innocents, but only if due care is taken to avoid those deaths whenever possible. The entire history of the CIA suggests that it is not an organization one can trust to use lethal force with sufficient prudential and moral restraint, particularly when it needn’t risk its personnel or even public scrutiny to kill.

Obama’s inadequate safeguards guaranteed that U.S. policy on targeted killing would result in more dead innocents than was necessary to achieve like results. The Trump administration is poised to make changes that are even more hubristic and that guarantee even worse outcomes. What’s needed are more checks on killing, not fewer.


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Megaterio Llamas
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Postby Megaterio Llamas » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:59 pm

America's Kurdish gas station stolen from Christians and Bedouins coming under threat of collapse?



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Daglord
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Postby Daglord » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:00 pm

holy shit @ the outrage over a National Anthem protest (while deployments, bombings, militarization, debt ceiling & mass surveillance increase/expand), I've never seen anything like it. MUH FLAG!

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Donald Trump rips NFL, says owners should cut any players who kneel during anthem
https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/donald-trump-rips-nfl-says-owners-should-cut-any-players-who-kneel-during-anthem/

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If Donald Trump owned an NFL team, there would be some severe consequences for any player who chose to kneel for the national anthem.

During a rally in Huntsville, Alabama on Friday, the president made it clear where he stands on player protests. Trump said he would love to see NFL owners cut any player who protests by kneeling during the national anthem.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now," Trump said to a cheering crowd. "Out. He's fired. He's fired."

As the crowd began to chant "U-S-A" to Trump, the president made sure to mention that he's friends with "many" NFL owners and he also made sure to mention that the first owner to cut a protesting player would instantly become the most popular person in the country.

"You know, some owner is going to do that, he's going to say, 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired,'" Trump said. "And that owner, they don't know it -- they're friends of mine, many of them -- they don't know it, they'll be the most popular person for a week, they'll be the most popular person in this country, because that's a total disrespect of our heritage, that's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for."

Trump does have some support among the NFL ownership. There were at least seven owners who donated a million dollars each to his inauguration fund. That list of owners includes: Robert Kraft (Patriots), Jerry Jones (Cowboys), Woody Johnson (Jets), Stan Kroenke (Rams), Dan Snyder (Redskins), Shahid Khan (Jaguars), and Bob McNair (Texans).

As for protesters, Colin Kaepernick became the first player to protest when he sat for the anthem during a preseason game in August 2016. Kaepernick's protest started a movement where players began to kneel as a way to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

Thirteen months into the protests, Trump said that the players kneeling is likely the second biggest reason that the NFL's TV ratings are down. Of course, the No. 1 reason why ratings are down is because of Trump, according to Trump.

"I know we have freedoms and we have freedom of choice and many many different freedoms, but you know what, it's still totally disrespectful," Trump said. "And you know, when the NFL ratings are down massively -- massively -- the NFL ratings are down massively, now the No. 1 reason happens to be that they like watching what happens with yours truly. They like what's happening."

During his rally in Alabama, protesting players weren't the only ones who Trump took a shot at. The president also blasted the NFL for becoming too soft. Trump said that all NFL's new rules against big hits is making the game unwatchable.

"Today, if you hit too hard, if they hit too hard, 'Fifteen yards, throw him out of the game,'" Trump said. "They had that last week, I watched for a couple of minutes."

Trump's rant also got kind of bizarre when he started to blame some of the NFL's softness on the league's officials.

"Two guys, just a really beautiful tackle, boom, fifteen yards, the referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she's so proud of him," Trump said. "They're ruining the game, right? They're ruining the game."

This is the second time in less than a year that Trump has called the NFL soft. Back in October 2016, then presidential candidate Trump said that the league's concussion rules were making the NFL soft.

Trump must've forgotten for a second that he was in the college football capital of the world because he seemed to lose the crowd for a second after bringing up the fact that the sport of football is being "ruined," so he went back to his original topic: Anthem protesters.

"They want to hit, but it is hurting the game, but you know what's hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they're playing our great national anthem," Trump said.

Trump closed the NFL portion of his speech by telling fans that they should leave the stadium if they see a player protest.

"The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it's one player, leave the stadium, I guarantee you things will stop," Trump said. "Things will stop. Just pick up and leave."

Trump was in Alabama on Friday to help sway the vote in an upcoming run-off for one of the state's seats in the U.S. Senate. Trump was there to support Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who was appointed to his spot February after former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was named Attorney General. Strange is running against Roy Moore in a special election that will be held on Sept. 26.



Mnuchin: NFL players ‘can do free speech on their own time’
http://thehill.com/homenews/sunday-talk-shows/352118-mnuchin-nfl-players-can-do-free-speech-on-their-own-time



Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday defended President Trump's attacks on NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, saying members of the league "can do free speech on their own time."

"I think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand in respect for the national anthem," Mnuchin told ABC's Martha Raddatz on "This Week."

"This isn't about Democrats, it's not about Republicans, it's not about race, it's not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time. That this is about respect for the military and first responders in the country," he continued.

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Daglord
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Postby Daglord » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:35 pm

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Do NFL players have the "right" to protest against the national anthem on the playing field? Should Trump's demand that anyone who does not stand should be fired? What about the owners? And what about the millions the Defense Department sent the NFL to militarize the sporting events



Report: Defense Dept. paid NFL millions of taxpayer dollars to salute troops (2015)
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/defense-department-paid-5-4-million-nfl-honor-troops/

The United States Department of Defense paid the National Football League more than $5 million in taxpayer money between 2011 to 2014 to honor U.S. soldiers and veterans at games, an investigation revealed this week. Nearly $5.4 million was given to 14 NFL teams across the country, the bulk of which ($5.3 million) was supplied by the National Guard and the rest paid by the Army and Air Force, according to government records obtained by NJ.com.

But instead of purely heartfelt salutes to soldiers from hometown football teams, the halftime segments were reportedly part of paid promotions under federal advertising contracts for the military. The National Guard has defended the advertisements, saying they are an effective recruitment tool for the service.

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Postby Daglord » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:00 pm

'Talented' Yellen in running to remain Federal Reserve Chair, Mnuchin says
http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/talented-yellen-in-running-to-remain-federal-reserve-chair-mnuchin-says

Mnuchin: White House won't rule out a second term for Fed's Janet Yellen
http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/politics/mnuchin-white-house-wont-rule-out-a-second-term-for-feds-janet-yellen/553392161

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday left the door open for President Trump to ask Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen to stay on for a second term. The former Goldman Sachs banker said he has been working closely with National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn to vet top picks for the president to consider as the administration seeks to fill several financial regulatory posts, including head of the U.S. central bank.

Yellen's term expires next February, and so far the Trump administration hasn't ruled out reappointing her.

"We haven't made any decisions yet on a Fed chair -- whether we're going to have a new one or not a new one," said Mnuchin during an interview with Bloomberg Television. "We'll be working closely together with the president as we consider all the issues."

It's been unclear whether Trump would reappoint Yellen for a second four-year term, since he has both praised and criticized her. Trump was a fierce critic of the Fed during the final weeks of last year's presidential campaign. He has since softened his views and has avoided publicly questioning the Fed's decisions to lift interest rates.

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Will Mnuchin stop Trump from auditing the Federal Reserve?
http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-administration/316947-will-mnuchin-stop-trump-from-auditing-the-federal

Auditing the Federal Reserve was once part of the Trump administration’s first 100 days’ action plan to “Make America Great Again,” but it appears that Wall Street banker and Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin is now trying to undermine President Trump and the momentum of this important campaign promise.

Over the years, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Thomas Massie’s (R-Ky.) Federal Reserve Transparency Act has received growing bipartisan support, even from polar opposite ideologues like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), who recognize the dangers of allowing Fed officials to manipulate the economy for political gain.

In 2014, the bill passed the House with a 333-92 vote. Although it failed the Senate by a mere 7 votes, many speculate that the “Trump bump” will allow it to hop over the legislative hurdle once and for all -- that is, unless Mnuchin distances the president away from it.

Although Trump recognizes that “Auditing the Fed is so important,” so much so that he publicly called out Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for missing a vote on the bill last year, Mnuchin is quietly working to stop the legislation from advancing. When questioned last week by Sen. Bill Nelson (R-Fla.), Mnuchin said, “As you know, the Federal Reserve is organized with sufficient independence to conduct monetary policy.”

Mnuchin is merely echoing his former Wall Street cohort’s talking points, and it’s important that we debunk them now before further damage is done to this important cause.

The Fed does not operate 'independently'

The Federal Reserve has become nothing more than another arm of the executive branch, responding to the beck-and-calls of the president.

As economics scholar Robert Weintraub detailed, Fed policies almost always change to reflect the monetary views of the president. For example, when he was head of the Fed, William McChesney Martin complied with President Eisenhower’s request for very slow growth in the money supply. Years later, however, Martin then agreed to reverse course by cranking up money growth to 5 percent for President Lyndon Johnson, who depended on massive Fed inflation to finance his “Great Society.”

The same held true under Fed Chairman Arthur Burns. A former vice president of the Dallas Fed said that, “The diary [Burns] kept during the Nixon years confirms that Fed policy became subservient to administration goals and the president’s re-election campaign.”

Things have not improved in recent years. In fact, this past election cycle, the “apolitical” employees of the Federal Reserve doled out over four times more in campaign donations to Hillary Clinton, who was widely speculated to win the presidency, than any of the other candidates combined.

So no, the Fed does not act independently -- its members only do what is politically and personally convenient. Only a thorough Congressional audit can stop this cozy relationship between the president and the central bank.

The Fed is not thoroughly audited

Critics such as Mnuchin and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) often argue that this bill is useless because the Fed is already thoroughly audited. This claim is far from the truth.

Currently, the Government Accountability Office, the independent, apolitical government agency tasked with auditing the Fed, is not allowed to touch the central bank’s monetary policy deliberations, FOMC transactions, and agreements with foreign central banks.

In a testimony to Congress, the GAO expressed how the audit in its current form is virtually futile because it does not allow them to adequately determine where our money is going. The Office stated, “We do not see how we can satisfactorily audit the Federal Reserve System without authority to examine the largest single category of financial transactions and assets that it has.”

In 2011, Congress ordered a limited, one-time GAO audit of Fed actions during the subprime crisis, and the results were far from pretty. That audit uncovered that the Fed lent out a whopping $16 trillion to domestic and foreign banks during the financial crisis without congressional approval.

What is the Fed doing today?

What assets has the Fed bought since then and who is it doling out money to now? The answer to these questions will remain unanswered unless Congress passes Paul and Massie’s Audit the Fed bill this session.

Allowing the Fed to rapidly inflate the money supply and secretly give out loans to foreign entities without congressional oversight is stupid policy. It has destroyed 95 percent of the dollar’s purchasing power, all for the purpose of helping the president and his favored Fed officials retain political power.

Let’s hope that President Trump, who has promised to “drain the swamp,” sees through the light of Mnuchin’s talking points and prioritizes the passage of this bill. The economy can’t be made “great again” without doing so.

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Mnuchin Backs Fed Independence and Signals Reform Isn’t Priority
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-24/mnuchin-backs-fed-independence-and-signals-reform-isn-t-priority

U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin isn’t jumping on the Republican bandwagon to audit the Fed.

In written questions by senators following his confirmation hearing on Thursday, Mnuchin was asked about his thoughts on “politicizing decisions made by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the benefits of an independent central bank.”

Mnuchin’s answer was crafted carefully.

“The Federal Reserve is organized with sufficient independence to conduct monetary policy and open market operations,” Mnuchin responded to Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat. “I endorse the increased transparency we have seen from the Federal Reserve Board over recent years.”

The response appears to lean against legislation such as the Fed Oversight Reform and Modernization Act of 2015, or FORM Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives but never became law, that would have subjected the central bank’s monetary policy decisions to greater congressional scrutiny.

As a candidate, President Donald Trump took aim at the Federal Reserve for playing politics, challenging its legitimacy as an independent institution. He accused the central bank of keeping interest rates low to benefit Barack Obama’s administration.

Mnuchin’s comments are “certainly endorsing the principle, if not every current detail of the practice of Fed independence,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey. “He does not want to make waves at this stage.”

Fed Vacancies

The seven-seat Fed Board in Washington currently has two vacancies, while Janet Yellen’s term as chair ends in February 2018 and Stanley Fischer’s term as vice chairman ends in June 2018. Trump can nominate his own choices for those positions, giving him significant scope to shape the Fed’s leadership and raising questions about the central bank’s future relationship with the Treasury and White House.

“People are asking questions and are curious if the Trump appointments could affect the conduct of policy,” said Paul Mortimer-Lee, chief economist for North America at BNP Paribas in New York. “I think it will be very tough to change very much” with the Fed’s mandate for stable prices and full employment so well established.

The FORM Act would have required the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s policy panel, to submit its policy rule to Congress. If the Fed deviated from its rule, it would be subject to review by the Government Accountability Office and potentially an audit.

Bogged Down

The bill got bogged down in the Senate. Yellen opposed the FORM Act in a letter to Congress in November 2015, calling some of its provisions “significantly flawed.” A bill with similar requirements for the Fed called the Financial Choice Act hasn’t proceeded since being introduced last year.

Mnuchin’s comments point to the fact that the Fed doesn’t have constitutional independence. That’s protected more by organization of the system, as Mnuchin highlighted, where the heads of 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are appointed by private citizens. That’s a check against the influence of the White House appointees on the Fed Board.

Mnuchin also limited his discussion of independence to monetary policy. That could be significant if it suggests that Fed decision-making on financial regulation and crisis management will be up for challenge and debate under Trump.

“There needs to be more democratic accountability at the Fed but he seems to be OK with the status quo,” said Jeff Hauser from the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

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Postby Daglord » Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:15 pm

Megaterio Llamas wrote:America's Kurdish gas station stolen from Christians and Bedouins coming under threat of collapse?



Syria - US CentCom Declares War On Russia
http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/25/syria-us-centcom-declares-war-on-russia/

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Yesterday three high ranking Russian officers were killed in an "ISIS attack" in eastern-Syrian. It is likely that they were killed by US special forces or insurgents under US special forces control. The incident will be understood as a declaration of war.

The US Central Command in the Middle East wants the oil fields in east-Syria under control of its proxy forces to set up and control a US aligned Kurdish mini-state in the area. The Syrian government, allied with Russia, needs the revenues of the oil fields to rebuild the country.

Last week the Russians issued sharply worded statements against US coordination with al-Qaeda terrorists in Idleb province and warned of further escalation.

Yesterday the Russian Ministry of Defense accused the US military in east-Syria of direct collaboration with the Islamic State:

US Army special units provide free passage for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) through the battle formations of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists, the ministry said in a statement.

'Facing no resistance of the ISIS militants, the SDF units are advancing along the left shore of the Euphrates towards Deir ez-Zor,' the statement reads.

The newly released images 'clearly show that US special ops are stationed at the outposts previously set up by ISIS militants.'

'Despite that the US strongholds being located in the ISIS areas, no screening patrol has been organized at them,' the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

This map marks the currently relevant conflict area - (US proxies - yellow, SAA - red, ISIS - black):

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The accusations are plausible. Large parts of ISIS in Deir Ezzor consist of local tribal forces from eastern-Syria. US special envoy Brett McGurk recently met tribal leaders who had earlier pledged allegiance to ISIS. Deals were made. As we wrote:

The US diplomat tasked with the job, Brett McGurk, recently met with local tribal dignitaries of the area. Pictures of the meeting were published. Several people pointed out that the very same dignitaries were earlier pictured swearing allegiance to the Islamic State.

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Just like during the 'Anbar Awaking' in its war on Iraq the US is bribing the local radicals to temporarily change over to its side. This will help the US to claim that it defeated ISIS. But as soon as the payments stop the very same forces will revert back to their old game.

The local criminal Ahmad Abu Khawla, who had earlier fought for ISIS, was suddenly installed as commander of a newly invented "Deir Ezzor Military Council", set up under US special force control.

Last night a Russian three-star general and two colonels were killed in a mortar attack while they visited a Syrian army headquarter in Deir Ezzor:

Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov, of the Russian armed forces, has been killed after coming under shelling from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants near Deir ez-Zor, the Russian Defense Ministry has announced.

In its statement, the ministry said that Asapov was at a command outpost manned by Syrian troops, assisting commanders in the liberation of the city of Deir ez-Zor.

Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov is the highest-ranking Russian officer to be killed in the Syrian campaign. He was a commander of the 5th Army in Russia’s Eastern Military District, one of the four strategic commands in the Russian Armed Forces. The army is based in Russia’s Far East, in the city of Ussuriysk, some 98 km (61 miles) from Vladivostok.

For three years ISIS had besieged Syrian troops in Deir Ezzor city and its airport. It had not once managed to successfully attack the Syrian headquarter or to kill high ranking officers. Now, as US proxy forces "advised" by US special forces, have taken position north of Deir Ezzor, "ISIS" suddenly has the intelligence data and precision mortar capabilities to kill a bunch of visiting Russian officers?

That is not plausible. No one in Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran or Moscow will believe that.

The Russian military, as usual, reacts calmly and officially attributes the attack to ISIS. Doing so avoids pressure to immediately react to the attack. (The US will falsely interpret this as a face-saving Russian retreat.)

But no one in Moscow will believe that the incident is independent of other recent maneuvers by the US forces and independent of the earlier accusations the Russian military made against the US forces.

Nominally the US and Russia are both in Syria to fight the Islamic State. The Russian troops are legitimately there, having been invited by the Syrian government. The US forces have no legal justification for their presence. So far open hostilities between the two sides had been avoided. But as the US now obviously sets out to split Syria apart, openly cooperates with terrorists and does not even refrain from killing Russian officers, the gloves will have to come off.

US Central Command has declared war on the Russian contingent in Syria. A high ranking Russian general was killed. This inevitably requires a reaction. The response does not necessarily have to come from Russian forces. Moscow has many capable allies in the area. The response does not necessarily have to come in Syria.

"Accidents" and "incidents", like an "ISIS mortar attacks", or unintentional bombing of troop concentration of the other side, can happen on both sides of the front. Cars can blow up, bridges can collapse. Any US officer or civilian official in the larger Middle East should be aware that they too are now targets.

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Russia Releases Photos Showing US Special Ops At ISIS Positions In Syria
http://www.mintpressnews.com/russia-releases-photos-showing-us-special-ops-at-isis-positions-in-syria/232432/

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The Russian Defense Ministry has released aerial images allegedly showing ISIS, the SDF, and US special forces working side-by-side on the battlefield against Syrian and Russian forces in Deir el-Zour, Syria.

As Adam Garrie reports, via The Duran, it has long been thought that the US proxy militia SDF is operating in collusion with ISIS in various parts of Syria. This has especially been the case in respect of Deir el-Zour. In Deir el-Zour, the Russian Defense Ministry has previously stated that the Syrian Arab Army and their allies are fired on most intensely from positions known to be held by the SDF.

Furthermore, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov recently stated,

SDF militants work to the same objectives as Daesh terrorists. Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between Daesh and the ‘third force’, SDF”.


He added that Russia will not hesitate to target SDF forces that threaten the battlefield progress and personal safety of Russia’s allies, namely the Syrian Arab Army.

Other reports surfaced of US military helicopters airlifting known ISIS commanders to safety as the Syrian Arab Army made its advance on the former ISIS stronghold of Deir el-Zour.

All of this has happened as the US is moving its proxy Kurdish led SDF forces from Raqqa to Deir el-Zour, in a move that appears to be an attempt to stop Syrian forces from liberating their own country’s legally recognized territory.

Now, the Russian Defense Ministry has released a statement followed by 12 photos showing how SDF forces work alongside US special forces in ISIS-controlled areas without facing any resistance from ISIS. Furthermore, none of the US or Kurdish led forces even take defensive positions which indicate that they are cooperating with ISIS rather than engaging in a perverse truce.

In other words, the SDF, US special forces, and ISIS move among each other in the same manner as allies do.

The following is the statement from the Russian Defense Ministry on the matter:

#US Special Operations Forces (#SOF) units enable US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (#SDF) units to smoothly advance through the ISIS formations.

Facing no resistance of the ISIS militants, the #SDF units are advancing along the left shore of the #Euphrates towards #Deir_ez_Zor.

The aerial photos made on September 8-12 over the ISIS locations recorded a large number of American #Hummer vehicles, which are in service with the #America‘s #SOF.

The shots clearly show the US SOF units located at strongholds that had been equipped by the ISIS terrorists. Though there is no evidence of assault, struggle or any US-led coalition airstrikes to drive out the militants.

Despite that the US strongholds being located in the ISIS areas, no screening patrol has been organized at them. This suggests that the#US_troops feel safe in terrorist controlled regions”.


This demonstrates that in spite of Donald Trump’s apparent wiliness to abandon the policy of aiding jihadist groups, not only has this policy not changed, but such a reality now includes full-scale battlefield collusion with ISIS.

This also helps explain why in June of this year, SDF forces allowed ISIS terrorists to peacefully leave Raqqa and head towards Deir el-Zour, a place which is now unquestionably the largest remaining ISIS stronghold in the east of Syria.

But now, not only are US proxies allowing ISIS to peacefully retreat, they are visibly coalescing on the battlefield. These realities also corroborate the story of SDF fighters being wounded in a Syrian led strike on known ISIS targets. As I wrote previously in The Duran, this is because SDF militants are fighting beside ISIS.

The fact of the matter is that the Kurdish led SDF and ISIS now share the same strategic goals, in spite of apparent ideological differences. Both seek to aggressively and illegally prevent Syria from liberating her sovereignty territory and in so doing, both are challenging the territorial unity and integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. Likewise, each group’s ideology is opposed to the Arabist Constitution of Syria, seeking instead to lay the groundwork for sectarian ideologies in the areas they seek to illegally annex.

Most worryingly, both militant groups are clearly collaborating and colluding with each other and with the United States, in a proxy war against Syria and the interests and safety of her allies, including Russia and Iran.

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What once was only partly clear, is now as clear as the following color photographs from the Russian Defense Ministry.

[spoiler]
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The images released by the Russian Defense Ministry encourage speculation that the US and SDF forces have some sort of “understanding” with IS terrorists operating in the region, according to Ammar Waqqaf, the director of the Gnosos think tank.

[spoiler]
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“From the footage, the Americans seem to be, and the SDF seems to be quite at leisure, they are not expecting any attack anytime soon,” Waqqaf told RT.

[spoiler]
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The reason why this may be the case is that there has been some sort of understandings with ISIS over there. Probably they were given some amnesty, that they are not going to be prosecuted, … or they were given guarantees that they would not be given back to the state.”

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The SDF, ISIS and the United States are fighting on the same side of the conflict in Syria, it is the side of terrorism which seeks to destroy the secular, modern, pluralistic and independent Syrian Arab Republic.

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Earlier in September, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov accused the SDF of collusion with ISIS terrorists. “SDF militants work to the same objectives as IS terrorists. Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between IS and the ‘third force,’ the SDF,” Konashenkov said.

[spoiler]
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This proves that the Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman was correct. The US and Russia are at war, albeit a proxy war which includes ISIS.



[spoiler]
Spies, Hollywood, And Neocons Team Up To Create New War Propaganda Firm
https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/spies-hollywood-and-neocons-team-up-to-create-new-war-propaganda-firm-f857201743d3

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“We have been attacked. We are at war.”

So begins a video released today by The Committee to Investigate Russia, an organization founded by When Harry Met Sally director Rob Reiner and neoconservative senior editor of The Atlantic David Frum. The video, which stars Morgan Freeman and is rife with patriotic images of American flags, soldiers and bald eagles, continues as follows:

Imagine this movie script: A former KGB spy, angry at the collapse of his motherland, plots a course for revenge. Taking advantage of the chaos, he works his way up through the ranks of a post-Soviet Russia, and becomes president. He establishes an authoritarian regime, then he sets his sights on his sworn enemy: the United States. And like the true KGB spy he is, he secretly uses cyber warfare to attack democracies around the world. Using social media to spread propaganda and false information, he convinces people in democratic societies to distrust their media, their political processes, even their neighbors. And he wins.

We need our president to speak directly to us and tell us the truth. We need him to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office and say, 'My fellow Americans. During this past election, we came under attack by the Russian government. I’ve called on Congress and our intelligence community to use every resource available to conduct a thorough investigation to determine exactly how this happened.'

The free world is counting on us for leadership. For 241 years, our democracy has been a shining example to the world of what we can all aspire to. And we owe it to the brave people who have fought and died to protect this great nation and save democracy. And we owe it to our future generations to continue the fight.


Wow. There’s a lot going on there.

Firstly, the establishment narrative that Russia used cyber warfare to hand the election to Donald Trump remains wholly unsubstantiated and riddled with gaping plot holes that the US intelligence community has yet to address; there is currently no publicly available evidence whatsoever that the Russian government did what Morgan Freeman tells us it did, let alone that Donald Trump was involved in it. The Russian hacking narrative is getting flimsier by the day, with the assertion that WikiLeaks is a Kremlin proxy being sorely weakened just today by a new leak drop on Russian surveillance activities, which itself comes on the back of an extensive amount of critical Russia-related leaks that the transparency organization had already published.

Establishment loyalists only believe the Russian government hacked the Democratic party and gave its emails to WikiLeaks because pundits, politicians and celebrities have been saying this happened in an authoritative tone, not because there’s any publicly available evidence for it. In a post-Iraq invasion world, this is simply unacceptable.

Secondly, the assertion that America is currently at war with Russia is horrifying, and if Americans start swallowing this disgusting propaganda there’ll be no public outcry if the US really does enter into actual warfare with the only other nuclear superpower on the planet. The evidence-free assertion that America has “been attacked” is plainly geared to elicit a fear response from the video’s intended audience and manufacture support for counter-attacks and/or dangerous new cold war escalations.

Third, a blatant war psy-op advanced by Bush-era neocons bitching about the Russian government using propaganda is hilarious.

Fourth, the notion that “the free world is counting” on the US for leadership is moronic flag-waving, chest-pounding B.S. I assure you that the free world is not counting on any such thing. The idea that America is destined to occupy a dominant role in world affairs is an integral part of neoconservative PNAC doctrine, which posits that its victory in the Cold War means history has selected the United States to hold a unique position of leadership over the rest of the world. Most US military aggression since the end of the Cold War can be seen as a nonstop global disruption campaign to prevent the rise of another rival superpower like the Soviet Union, and the neocons have been responsible for spearheading this initiative.

David Frum, author of President George W. Bush’s infamous “Axis of Evil” talking point, is a notorious neoconservative who has been pushing for war at every opportunity for nearly two decades. He is an unforgivable bloodthirsty psychopath, and everything he touches is cancer.

In addition to Reiner — a virulent #Resistance Clintonist and Russiagate conspiracy theorist — Frum’s advisory board for his new Committee to Start World War Three includes PNAC signatory Max Boot, who has relentlessly pushed for increased US military aggression throughout his entire career, and who once called in plain English for America to “unambiguously to embrace its imperial role.”

There’s also former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has on more than one occasion voiced blatantly racist opinions about the nefarious genetic predispositions of the entire population of Russia. This eugenicist bigot’s handful of hand-picked analysts were behind the conclusions drawn in the intelligence community’s official statements regarding the alleged Russian election interference, forming both (A) the basis for the false narrative that there is unanimous consensus within the intelligence community about Russian hacking and (B) the foundation for the entire Russiagate conspiracy theory.

Also on the advisory board are Norman Ornstein of the neocon think tank American Enterprise Institute and conservative never-Trump pundit Charlie Sykes, who laughably just used the term “strange bedfellows” in reference to the idea of neoconservative Democrats working with neoconservative Republicans to advance their common goal of endless war.

As viscerally disturbing as it is to see the actor who played God conducting a brazen psy-op on the American people, it is already a well-documented fact that the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon have been balls deep in Hollywood for decades. They’re just being more blatant about that collaboration now.

As Noam Chomsky puts it:

Control of thought is more important for governments that are free and popular than for despotic and military states. The logic is straightforward: a despotic state can control its domestic enemies by force, but as the state loses this weapon, other devices are required to prevent the ignorant masses from interfering with public affairs, which are none of their business…the public are to be observers, not participants, consumers of ideology as well as products.


Don’t let them control your mind. Fight the propaganda machine, disrupt their craven agendas, and wake up the others.

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Megaterio Llamas
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Postby Megaterio Llamas » Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:58 pm

I posted this one at Yoshida's a year or two back. The site is down again now... :cry:

Syria Is Another Pipeline War

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. ollow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/10/62769.html

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Proposed pipeline routes through the Middle East to gas markets in Europe. The purple line is the Western-supported Qatar-Turkey pipeline. All of the nations it passes through — Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey (all highlighted in red) — have agreed to it … except Syria. The red line is the “Islamic Pipeline” from Iran through Iraq into Syria. See text below for further explanation. (Source: MintPress News; click to enlarge)

Summary first: We have been at war in Syria over pipelines since 1949. This is just the next mad phase.

I’m not sure most Americans have figured out what’s happening in Syria, because so much of what we hear is confusing to us, and really, we know so little of the context for it. Is it an insurgency against a brutal ruler? Is it a group of insurgencies struggling for power in a nearly failed state? Is it a proxy war expressing the territorial and ideological interests of the U.S., Russia, Turkey and Iran?

Or something else?

According to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. it is something else — a war between competing national interests to build, or not build, a pipeline to the Mediterranean so natural gas can be exported to Europe. Inconveniently for Syria, that nation lies along an obvious pipeline route.

Which makes it another war between interests for money — something not very hard to understand at all.

Here’s Kennedy’s argument via EcoWatch. This is a long piece, well worth a full read, but I’ll try to present just the relevant sections here.


The Historical Context: Decades of CIA-Sponsored Coups and Counter-Coups in Syria

Kennedy’s introductory section contains an excellent examination of the history of U.S. involvement in Syria starting in the 1950s with the Cold War machinations of the Eisenhower-appointed Dulles brothers, John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State, and Allen Dulles, the head of the CIA. Together, they effectively ruled U.S. foreign policy.

Kennedy writes (my emphasis):

Syria: Another Pipeline War

… America’s unsavory record of violent interventions in Syria—obscure to the American people yet well known to Syrians
—sowed fertile ground for the violent Islamic Jihadism that now complicates any effective response by our government to address the challenge of ISIS. So long as the American public and policymakers are unaware of this past, further interventions are likely to only compound the crisis. Moreover, our enemies delight in our ignorance.

[W]e need to look at history from the Syrians’perspective and particularly the seeds of the current conflict. Long before our 2003 occupation of Iraq triggered the Sunni uprising that has now morphed into the Islamic State, the CIA had nurtured violent Jihadism as a Cold War weapon and freighted U.S./Syrian relationships with toxic baggage.

During the 1950’s, President Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers rebuffed Soviet treaty proposals to leave the Middle East a cold war neutral zone and let Arabs rule Arabia. Instead, they mounted a clandestine war against Arab Nationalism—which CIA Director Allan [sic] Dulles equated with communism—particularly when Arab self-rule threatened oil concessions. They pumped secret American military aid to tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon favoring puppets with conservative Jihadist ideologies which they regarded as a reliable antidote to Soviet Marxism. At a White House meeting between the CIA’s Director of Plans, Frank Wisner, and Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, in September of 1957, Eisenhower advised the agency, “We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect.”

The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949—barely a year after the agency’s creation. Syrian patriots had declared war on the Nazis, expelled their Vichy French colonial rulers and crafted a fragile secularist democracy based on the American model. But in March of 1949, Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Kuwaiti, hesitated to approve the Trans Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. In his book, Legacy of Ashes, CIA historian Tim Weiner recounts that in retaliation, the CIA engineered a coup, replacing al-Kuwaiti with the CIA’s handpicked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, 14 weeks into his regime.

Kennedy then details the history of coups and counter-coups in and against Syria, and concludes this section with this:

Thanks in large part to Allan Dulles and the CIA, whose foreign policy intrigues were often directly at odds with the stated policies of our nation, the idealistic path outlined in the Atlantic Charter was the road not taken. In 1957, my grandfather, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, sat on a secret committee charged with investigating CIA’s clandestine mischief in the Mid-East. The so called “Bruce Lovett Report,” to which he was a signatory, described CIA coup plots in Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Egypt, all common knowledge on the Arab street, but virtually unknown to the American people who believed, at face value, their government’s denials.

The report blamed the CIA for the rampant anti-Americanism that was then mysteriously taking root “in the many countries in the world today.” … A parade of Iranian and Syrian dictators, including Bashar al-Assad and his father, have invoked the history of the CIA’s bloody coups as a pretext for their authoritarian rule, repressive tactics and their need for a strong Russian alliance. These stories are therefore well known to the people of Syria and Iran who naturally interpret talk of U.S. intervention in the context of that history.

While the compliant American press parrots the narrative that our military support for the Syrian insurgency is purely humanitarian,many Syrians see the present crisis as just another proxy war over pipelines and geopolitics. Before rushing deeper into the conflagration, it would be wise for us to consider the abundant facts supporting that perspective.

So much for our supposed interest in “humanitarian” intervention in Syria. From a Syrian point of view, it has never been thus. It has been about pipelines since 1949, and they understand that, even if we don’t.


The Current Conflagration

Kennedy then turns to the present, or the near-present. Refer to the map above as you read:

A Pipeline War

In [the Syrians’] view, our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000 when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500km pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.

Qatar shares with Iran, the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository. The international trade embargo, until recently, prohibited Iran from selling gas abroad and ensured that Qatar’s gas could only reach European markets if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs.

The EU, which gets 30 percent of its gas from Russia, was equally hungry for the pipeline which would have given its members cheap energy and relief from Vladimir Putin’s stifling economic and political leverage. Turkey, Russia’s second largest gas customer, was particularly anxious to end its reliance on its ancient rival and to position itself as the lucrative transect hub for Asian fuels to EU markets. The Qatari pipeline would have benefited Saudi Arabia’s conservative Sunni Monarchy by giving them a foothold in Shia dominated Syria.

The Saudi’s geopolitical goal is to contain the economic and political power of the Kingdom’s principal rival, Iran, a Shiite state, and close ally of Bashar Assad. The Saudi monarchy viewed the U.S. sponsored Shia takeover in Iraq as a demotion to its regional power and was already engaged in a proxy war against Tehran in Yemen, highlighted by the Saudi genocide against the Iranian backed Houthi tribe.

Which puts the Qatari pipeline squarely opposite to Russia’s national interest — natural gas (methane) sales to Europe.

Of course, the Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat. In Putin’s view, the Qatar pipeline is a NATO plot to change the status quo, deprive Russia of its only foothold in the Middle East, strangle the Russian economy and end Russian leverage in the European energy market. In 2009, Assad announced that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally.”

That was likely the last straw vis-à-vis the U.S. Which brings us to another pipeline, the so-called “Islamic Pipeline” (see map above):

“Assad further enraged the Gulf’s Sunni monarchs by endorsing a Russian approved “Islamic pipeline”running from Iran’s side of the gas field through Syria and to the ports of Lebanon. The Islamic pipeline would make Shia Iran instead of Sunni Qatar, the principal supplier to the European energy market and dramatically increase Tehran’s influence in the Mid-East and the world. Israel also was understandably determined to derail the Islamic pipeline which would enrich Iran and Syria and presumably strengthen their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Another, competing pipeline which would run through Syrian territory, but this time carrying Iranian gas instead of Qatari gas. Thus the demonizing of Assad as evil in the mold of Saddam Hussein, instead of just a run-of-the-mill Middle East autocrat, as bad as some but better than others. Kennedy includes a good section on the history of the al-Assad family’s rule of Syria, including this information from top reporters Sy Hersh and Robert Parry:

According to Hersh, “He certainly wasn’t beheading people every Wednesday like the Saudis do in Mecca.” Another veteran journalist, Bob Parry, echoes that assessment. “No one in the region has clean hands but in the realms of torture, mass killings, civil liberties and supporting terrorism, Assad is much better than the Saudis.”

In September 2013, the Sunni states involved in the Qatar-Turkey pipeline were so determined to remove Syrian opposition to the pipeline that they offered, via John Kerry, to carry the whole cost of an U.S. invasion to topple al-Assad.

Kerry reiterated the offer to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL27): “With respect to Arab countries offering to bear the costs of [an American invasion] to topple Assad, the answer is profoundly Yes, they have. The offer is on the table.”

Obama’s response:

Despite pressure from Republicans, Barrack Obama balked at hiring out young Americans to die as mercenaries for a pipeline conglomerate.. Obama wisely ignored Republican clamoring to put ground troops in Syria or to funnel more funding to “moderate insurgents.” But by late 2011, Republican pressure and our Sunni allies had pushed the American government into the fray.

The rest is a history of provocation and over-reaction — a great deal of both — and chaos and death in Syria. Kennedy provides much detail here, at one point adding:

[Syria’s]moderates are fleeing a war that is not their war. They simply want to escape being crushed between the anvil of Assad’s Russian backed tyranny and the vicious Jihadi Sunni hammer that we had a hand in wielding ina global battle over competing pipelines. You can’t blame the Syrian people for not widely embracing a blueprint for their nation minted in either Washington or Moscow. The super powers have left no options for an idealistic future that moderate Syrians might consider fighting for. And no one wants to die for a pipeline.

I’ll leave it there, but again, do read the entire piece if you want to truly understand what’s going on in Syria, and what is about to go on.


Bottom Line

Bottom line, it’s as Kennedy said: “No one wants to die for a pipeline” … but many do and will.

I’ll offer three thoughts. One, if we weren’t so determined to be deeply dependent on fossil fuels, this would be their war, not ours. Two, we are deeply dependent on fossil fuels because of the political machinations of the oil companies, their CEOs, and the banks and hedge funds who fund them, all of whom pay our government officials — via campaign contributions and the revolving door — to prolong that dependence. We’re here because the holders of big oil money want us here.

And three, keep all this in mind during the term of the next president. It will help you make sense of the phony warrior-cum-humanitarian arguments we’re almost certain to be subjected to.

We have been at war in Syria over pipelines since 1949. This is just the next mad phase.

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Daglord
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Postby Daglord » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:20 pm

great read^, I almost always find myself agreeing with the Kennedys.

to add to that:

The War Against the Assad Regime Is Not a "Pipeline War"
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37685-the-war-against-the-assad-regime-is-not-a-pipeline-war

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The reason put forward by the Obama administration for the war against the Bashar al-Assad regime -- saving the Syrian people from suffering and death at the hands of Assad -- has no credibility with anyone familiar with the record of US interventions for regime change around the world.

As has been the case with all the other wars the US has fought over the decades, opponents of the US war state have had to come up with their own explanations for the sponsorship of a sectarian bloodbath in Syria. The explanation that is rapidly gaining popularity is that the war in Syria is a "pipeline war," fought to ensure that the natural gas from Qatar would go to Europe through Syria and would weaken Europe's dependence on Russia for its energy.

That argument has been made in a number of places over the last few years, but the most widely republished version is an essay by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in Politico, arguing that the Obama administration began to lay the groundwork for overthrowing the Assad regime in 2009 after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected a pipeline proposed by Qatar. That planned pipeline agreed to by Qatar and Turkey, Kennedy argues, would have linked Qatar's natural gas to European markets through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, so it would have deprived Russia of Europe's dependence on its natural gas.

But Assad not only prevented the realization of the Qatari plan but signed up with Iran for an alternative pipeline that would make Iran, not Qatar, the principal Middle East supplier of natural gas to European energy markets, according to the "pipeline war" account, so the Obama administration decided that Assad had to be removed from power.

It's easy to understand why that explanation would be accepted by many anti-war activists: it is in line with the widely accepted theory that all the US wars in the Middle East have been "oil wars" -- about getting control of the petroleum resources of the region and denying them to America's enemies.

But the "pipeline war" theory is based on false history and it represents a distraction from the real problem of US policy in the Middle East -- the US war state's determination to hold onto its military posture in the region.

But the "pipeline war" theory is based on false history and it represents a distraction from the real problem of US policy in the Middle East -- the US war state's determination to hold onto its military posture in the region.

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It is true that Qatar had proposed a pipeline to carry its natural gas to Turkey. But nearly everything else about the story turns out, upon investigation, to be untrue. There is no contemporaneous report of any such rejection by the Syrian government. It was only four years later, in August 2013 that an Agence France-Presse article recounting what happened in a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, claimed in passing, "In 2009, Assad refused to sign an agreement with Qatar for an overland pipeline running from the Gulf to Europe via Syria to protect the interests of its Russian ally, which is Europe's top supplier of natural gas." No source is given for the statement, but the main source for other information in the article was "a European diplomat who shuttles between Beirut and Damascus."

That claim has no credibility for a very simple reason: there was no Qatari proposal for Syria to reject in 2009. It was not until October 2009 that Qatar and Turkey even agreed to form a working group to develop such a gas pipeline project.

Even more important, the immediate problem for Qatar's proposal was not Syria but Saudi Arabia, whose territory the Qatari gas would have to cross to get to Syria. In January 2010, The National, a daily UAE [United Arab Emirates] newspaper reported that the main obstacle to the idea of a pipeline to carry Qatari natural gas to Turkey and then to Europe "was likely to be Saudi Arabia, which has a track record of obstructing regional pipeline development" and still had very bad relations with Qatar. And Middle East geopolitical analyst Felix Imonti reported at Oilprice.com in 2012 that Qatar had been forced to abandon the pipeline idea in 2010 because Saudi Arabia had not agreed to have it built across its territory.

So where did the idea that the Obama administration responded to Assad's alleged rejection by shifting to covert regime change policy come from? Kennedy's article asserts, "In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria."

But the article links to a Washington Post news report on the WikiLeaks cables on Syria that doesn't support that charge at all. According to the Post report, the cables show that a London-based satellite channel called Barada TV, supported by the State Department, "began broadcasting in April 2009." But they also show, according to the Post report, that the State Department had "funneled as much as $6 million to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities insideSyria."

So the US funding for opposition groups in Syria aimed at exploiting the regime's "vulnerabilities" had begun under the Bush administration years before any supposed Syrian rejection of the Qatari pipeline proposal. The WikiLeaks documents thus contradict the alleged connection between the pipeline deal and a change in US policy toward Syria. Moreover, despite the reference to Saudi and Israeli intelligence reports that WikiLeaks has obtained, no story has been published based on those leaked documents that supports the "pipeline war" thesis.

Furthermore, the pipeline theory ignores the fact that the proposed Qatar-to-Turkey pipeline was always contingent on being able to link up with a larger proposed pipeline -- the so-called "Nabucco" pipeline going through Turkey that was designed by the EU to reduce European dependence on Russian gas. But as The Guardian reported in July 2009, the Nabucco pipeline project "has been mired in disputes and difficulties for two years, raising doubts about its viability."

For one thing, it was never clear where the supply of gas would come from. But what reduced its prospects even further was the fact that the European financial and economic slowdown of 2008-09 had caused natural gas prices to decline for the first time ever, and there was no upturn in sight by mid-2010. And gas prices in Central and Eastern Europe, the intended market for the gas, were significantly lower than those in Italy and Greece, which were the target markets for a competing pipeline plan. That caused potential sources of finance to back away from the Nabucco project.

The Shah Deniz consortium, which represented the suppliers of gas from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz gas field, was to make the ultimate decision on which plan for the pipeline from the Middle East to Europe would be chosen. And at a Black Sea Energy Conference in Istanbul in mid-November 2011 the Azeri gas consortium announced that its gas would be transported to Italy and Greece using a much shorter pipeline than had been envisioned by the Nabucco proposal.

So, long before Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with the assistance of the CIA, began shipping weapons to anti-regime armed groups in Syria in late 2011, the Obama administration could not have been thinking of regime change in Syria to save a Syria-Turkey pipeline for Qatari gas. They all knew perfectly well that there was no longer any possibility of such a Qatar-to-Turkey pipeline.

If it's not a pipeline war, why is the US intervening in Syria? The US decision to support Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in their ill-conceived plan to overthrow the Assad regime was primarily a function of the primordial interest of the US permanent war state in its regional alliances. The three Sunni allies control US access to the key US military bases in the region, and the Pentagon, the CIA, the State Department and the Obama White House were all concerned, above all, with protecting the existing arrangements for the US military posture in the region.

After all, those military bases are what allow the United States to play at the role of hegemonic power in the Middle East, despite the disasters that have accompanied that role. The degree to which the US determination to preserve its present military profile in the region is illustrated by the case of US-Qatar relations over that tiny monarchy's arming of extremist Sunni groups in Syria in 2012. The Obama administration was very unhappy with Qatar's choice of proxies in Syria, and the National Security Council discussed a proposal to pull a squadron of US fighter planes from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar as a way of putting pressure on the government over the issue, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

But the US Central Command (CENTCOM), which had moved its headquarters to Al Udeid in 2003, argued that the base was critical to its operations in the region, and that it was about to renegotiate its agreement with Qatar over the use of it. The Pentagon supported CENTCOM's opposition to any move that would disturb relations with Qatar over the issue and vetoed any such pressure on Qatar. The administration ended up doing nothing about the issue, and in 2013, the US-Qatar Defense Cooperation Agreement originally reached in 2003 was renewed for another ten years.

The massive, direct and immediate power interests of the US war state -- not the determination to ensure that a pipeline would carry Qatar's natural gas to Europe -- drove the US policy of participation in the war against the Syrian regime. Only if activists focus on that reality will they be able to unite effectively to oppose not only the Syrian adventure but the war system itself.

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Daglord
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Postby Daglord » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:50 pm

no fan of Alex & Infowars, but worth the watch.

"You're buying into all the garbage from the DeepState, Neoconservatives & Media" - Ron Paul to Alex Jones. LOL.

Ron Paul Urges Americans to Resist Deep State and Media Push for War on North Korea
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/peace-and-prosperity/2017/september/26/ron-paul-urges-americans-to-resist-deep-state-and-media-push-for-war-on-north-korea/



We are seeing now in regard to North Korea a replay of the type of campaign the deep state and the media used in 2001 through 2003 to stir up the American people to support the invasion of Iraq. This is the assessment of former United States House of Representatives member and presidential candidate Ron Paul in a Tuesday interview with Alex Jones on the Alex Jones Show.

In the interview focused on US foreign policy and, in particular, relations between the US and North Korea, Paul declared:
Just remember … the propagandists, the deep state and the media, convinced the American people that Saddam Hussein was a danger, They’re doing the same thing now with North Korea.

In response to this propaganda, Paul, who has served as chairman of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity since leaving the US House, says Americans “ought to wise up and just not buy into this.”



How to End the Korea Crisis
http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/september/25/how-to-end-the-korea-crisis/

The descent of US/North Korea “crisis” to the level of schoolyard taunts should be remembered as one of the most bizarre, dangerous, and disgraceful chapters in US foreign policy history.

President Trump, who holds the lives of millions of Koreans and Americans in his hands, has taken to calling the North Korean dictator “rocket man on a suicide mission.” Why? To goad him into launching some sort of action to provoke an American response? Maybe the US president is not even going to wait for that. We remember from the Tonkin Gulf false flag that the provocation doesn’t even need to be real. We are in extremely dangerous territory and Congress for the most part either remains asleep or is cheering on the sabre-rattling.

Now we have North Korean threats to detonate hydrogen bombs over the Pacific Ocean and US threats to “totally destroy” the country.

We are told that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is a “madman.” That’s just what they said about Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad, and everyone else the neocons target for US military action. We don’t need to be fans of North Korea to be skeptical of the war propaganda delivered by the mainstream media to the benefit of the neocons and the military industrial complex.

Where are the cooler heads in Washington to tone down this war footing?

Making matters worse, there is very little understanding of the history of the conflict. The US spends more on its military than the next ten or so countries combined, with thousands of nuclear weapons that can destroy the world many times over. Nearly 70 years ago a US-led attack on Korea led to mass destruction and the death of nearly 30 percent of the North Korean population. That war has not yet ended.

Why hasn’t a peace treaty been signed? Newly-elected South Korean president Moon Jae-in has proposed direct negotiations with North Korea leading to a peace treaty. The US does not favor such a bilateral process. In fact, the US laughed off a perfectly sensible offer made by the Russians and Chinese, with the agreement of the North Koreans, for a “double freeze” – the North Koreans would suspend missile launches if the US and South Korea suspend military exercises aimed at the overthrow of the North Korean government.

So where are there cooler heads? Encouragingly, they are to be found in South Korea, which would surely suffer massively should a war break out. While US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was bragging that the new UN sanctions against North Korea would result in a near-complete blockade of the country (an act of war), the South Korean government did something last week that shocked the world: it announced an eight million dollar humanitarian aid package for pregnant mothers and infant children in North Korea. The US and its allies are furious over the move, but how could anyone claim the mantle of “humanitarianism” while imposing sanctions that aim at starving civilians until they attempt an overthrow of their government?

Here’s how to solve the seven-decade old crisis: pull all US troops out of the Korean peninsula; end all military exercises on the North Korean border; encourage direct talks between the North and South and offer to host or observe them with an international delegation including the Russians and Chinese, which are after all Korea’s neighbors.

The schoolyard insults back and forth between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un are not funny. They are in fact an insult to all of the rest of us!



The UN Security Council resolution putting more sanctions on North Korea over the weekend is fueling the flames of neocon dreams of pre-emptive war. Will they actually be so insane? Bet on it.

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Daglord
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Postby Daglord » Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:15 pm

here we go again... there goes privacy.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION LOBBYING HARD FOR SWEEPING SURVEILLANCE LAW
https://theintercept.com/2017/09/29/trump-administration-lobbying-hard-for-sweeping-surveillance-law/

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The Trump administration is pushing hard for the reauthorization of a key 2008 surveillance law — section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA — three months before it sunsets in December.

To persuade senators to reauthorize the law in full, the Trump administration is holding classified, members-only briefings for the entire House and Senate next Wednesday, with heavy hitters in attendance: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, NSA Director Mike Rogers, and FBI Director Christopher Wray will give the briefings, according to an internal announcement of the meetings provided to The Intercept and confirmed by multiple sources on Capitol Hill.

Section 702 serves as the legal basis for two of the NSA’s largest mass surveillance programs, both revealed by Edward Snowden. One program, PRISM, allows the government to collect messaging data sent to and from foreign targets, from major internet companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. The other, UPSTREAM, scans internet backbone sites in the U.S. and copies communications to and from foreign targets.

Both programs ostensibly only “target” foreigners, but likely collect massive amounts of Americans’ communications as well. And despite persistent questioning from members of Congress, the Obama and Trump administrations have repeatedly refused to provide an estimate of how many domestic communications the programs collect. Civil liberties advocates have long warned liberal defenders of the program under President Obama that one day the surveillance apparatus may fall into the hands of a president with little regard for rule of law or constitutional protections.

Privacy activists have also raised concerns about how the data is shared with law enforcement, and routinely used for purposes unrelated to national security. The FBI frequently conducts “backdoor searches” on the data during ordinary criminal investigations, which allows them access to Americans’ communications without having to get a warrant.

According to a 2014 letter the Obama administration sent to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, the FBI frequently queries FISA 702 data, and the number of those backdoor searches is “substantial.” And before the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the government has compared the frequency of these searches to the frequency of making Google searches, according to documents obtained by the ACLU and reported on by The Intercept in April.

Privacy and criminal justice advocates have also expressed alarm that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and even Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have access to the data.

It is unclear whether the Senate will pass a reauthorization of Section 702 without reforms, but the prospect of a “clean reauthorization” is likely to face serious resistance in the House. The House has twice passed legislation defunding warrantless “backdoor” searches, but both times the measures gained no traction in the Senate and were stripped out by leadership.



[spoiler]
Streamed live on Oct 5, 2017 - Sec. 702 of the FISA Court Amendments is set to sunset at the end of the year. Congress is scrambling to find a way to give the Intelligence Community a way to continue spying on Americans in the name of "fighting terrorism." Their new bill of choice is the Orwellian-sounding USA LIBERTY Act. The CATO Institute's Patrick Eddington joins today's Liberty Report to discuss.

Factions forming as Congress attempts to curb U.S. spy power
https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/factions-forming-as-congress-attempts-to-curb-us-spy-power/2017/10/06/b0477c64-aa98-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html?tid=ss_fb&utm_term=.b4d9f1eafa67

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Schisms are brewing on Capitol Hill over a new bipartisan effort to limit the authority and extend the timeline of the National Security Agency’s ability to monitor the communications of suspected foreign agents abroad, as key members refuse to endorse the proposal.

The NSA data collection program under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has long inspired divisions between privacy advocates and national security hawks, over where and how collected data will be disseminated and used by various government agencies. But as lawmakers look toward a looming, end-of-year deadline to reauthorize the program, both privacy champions and advocates for the intelligence community are finding fault in the new House Judiciary Committee proposal. It requires the FBI to seek a warrant before asking to view Americans’ emails and phone call records collected under Section 702 authority, relevant to criminal cases.

The disagreement is narrow, but critical to a Section 702 extension, which the intelligence community has identified as its top legislative priority for 2017.

In the House Judiciary Committee’s bill, searches of the NSA database are unlimited in national security cases. But if the FBI wants to query the database for the communications of a U.S. person related to a criminal case, it must first seek a warrant before it can review the results.

The provision is inspired by concerns that with no restrictions on law enforcement officials’ access to Americans’ information in such a database, the FBI could exploit its contents to aid money-laundering investigations, tax fraud, murders, or other federal crimes without an explicit national security bent.

While Section 702 authority permits surveillance of foreign agents believed to be outside the United States, American citizens and U.S. residents can also end up being monitored if they are in communication with the target.

But the restriction is too great for the intelligence community and its advocates, who fear any limitation on their ability to search and review information contained in the database could negatively affect national security investigations.

The intelligence community is asking for a straight extension of the FBI’s current, unfettered authority to query the database. It also wants that extension to be permanent.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Thursday that it is likely to be impossible for Section 702 intelligence-gathering and querying authority to get through Congress without some limitations or changes, declining to endorse the ones in the House Judiciary Committee’s bill.

In an interview Thursday, Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam B. Schiff (Calif.) also said that some limitations to protect privacy and improve transparency would be necessary. But he disagreed with the House Judiciary Committee’s approach of limiting searches, instead urging that if the concern was that information might be improperly used for criminal cases, it would be better to simply limit the admissibility of such communications as evidence in criminal court — much like evidence obtained through warrantless searches is often excluded.

“We want law enforcement and the intelligence community to be able to make queries of the database in a way that protect the country,” he said. “If we’re concerned about this vein turned into a grand database that can be used to prosecute people for unrelated things, then we ought to look more to excluding the use of the contents in nonnational security cases rather than preventing the searches from taking place.”

It will not simply be left to officials of the House Judiciary and House Intelligence committees to iron out their differences on the front or back end. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) — both of whom sit on both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees in their chamber — are expected to release a bill soon that is more deferential to the intelligence community than the House Judiciary’s bill. Privacy advocates Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are also expected to weigh in on the other end of the spectrum, with a bill requiring warrants for any and all queries of the database.

Back in the House, the Freedom Caucus is also starting to discuss its approach to a Section 702 reauthorization in meetings, though the group has not yet taken a stand on how it will vote.

Its leader, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is already raising concerns related not just to the central debate about “where does national security and going after terrorists infringe on the rights that are constitutionally protected,” as he said, but also related to the intelligence community’s internal practice of “unmasking” of U.S. persons, that Meadows believes “infringed on our Fourth Amendment rights” against unlawful search and seizure.

Unmasking became a buzzword earlier this year, after Nunes accused Obama administration officials of improperly revealing the identities of U.S. persons picked up in foreign surveillance reports, intimating that at least one of those persons was affiliated with President Trump. According to NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers, only about 20 members of the agency are permitted to approve requests to “unmask” the identities of U.S. persons who are picked up in Section 702 and other surveillance of foreign agents overseas, and only certain government officials privy to those reports can make an unmasking request. If the unmasking request is deemed critical to understanding the nature of the intelligence, the identity of that U.S. person is unmasked only to the requesting party.

The House Judiciary bill also changes the procedure by which unmasking requests are made. But given those concerns, Meadows suggested he wants to see even more protections for how information on Americans’ communications is accessed, endorsing the idea of “look[ing] at warrants and the admissibility of evidence” — a combination, effectively, of both the House Judiciary Committee’s and Schiff’s proposals.

“It’s making sure we go after the bad guys but that we don’t have a dragnet that pulls in U.S. citizens with constitutionally protected privilege,” Meadows added.

Meadows guessed, however, that it would still be a few weeks before the Freedom Caucus officially weighs in on the Section 702 debate and the House Judiciary Committee’s bill.

“When I tell you I’ve got the votes to stop it, I want to make sure I’ve got the votes to stop it,” he said.

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In this video, Luke Rudkowski of WeAreChange gives you the latest breaking news on Henry Kissinger visiting the White House advising U.S President Donald Trump, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and others exposing corruption in the media industry, the U.S.A Liberty act and of course a lot more.



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