Scott Horton

Matt Taibbi on the Origins of the Russiagate Hoax

Matt Taibbi on the Origins of the Russiagate Hoax

From left, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper sit together in the front row before President Barack Obama spoke about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance in this Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, file photo at the Justice Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) ** FILE **

A New Whistleblower Exposes the ‘Cambridge Four’

This interview was recorded August 13, 2020. The computer garbled the audio terribly, but at least the auto-transcriber was able to make sense of it. The following is edited for clarity and minor mess-ups.

Scott Horton:
Alright you guys, introducing Matt Taibbi, formerly at Rolling Stone and now just doing his own thing over there at Substack. And of course, he also runs a podcast with Katie Halper called Useful Idiots, which is great. I watch it semi-regularly, at least. He’s got a brand new piece, “Our Man in Cambridge,” that goes along with this companion piece by Steve Schrage called, “The Spies Who Hijacked America.” Welcome back to the show, Matt. How are you doing, sir?

Matt Taibbi:
Good, how are you?

Horton:
I’m doing great. And you know what? I’m so glad that you’re focusing again on “Untitled-gate” here. I was pretty sad when you sort of abandoned that project for other things because I am just so curious about the origins of this gigantic Russiagate hoax, which, as my friend Dave Smith says, is as big a deal as if the accusations had been true. If everything they said about Donald Trump was true, the fact that it wasn’t is as big deal as that would have been. That’s what a crime it is that the FBI and the CIA falsely accused the president of treason for three years.

Taibbi:
Yeah, it’s funny when the story first broke in, I guess it was the end of December of 2016 when it first started becoming really a big, big deal. I remember saying to another journalist, “if this is true, it’s the biggest story ever. And if it isn’t true, it’s the biggest.” Because there was no other explanation as either as to be historic setup or, you know, historic kind of espionage tale. So it looks like the former.

Horton:
Yeah, absolutely. A lot of us knew from the very beginning. If people want to check the archives, I first interviewed Jeffrey Carr, the computer security expert, in July of 2016 about how CrowdStrike and/or the FBI don’t know who hacked into servers. The only people in the world who could know who hacked them is the NSA because they have God-like omniscient power of being able to rewind the entire internet and trace every packet wherever they want. No one else can do that. And no expert examining the server can tell you for sure who had been there, because it’s too easy to fake it. In this case, the tracks they left were so obvious, where they had references to “Iron Felix” and all these Cyrillic letters dumped in there and all this stuff. Pretty obviously, you know…

Taibbi:
From from a journalistic standpoint, the idea that we identify the source of the hack by somebody writing “Felix Edmundovich” in the code, it’s pretty ridiculous. It’s as if somebody wrote “Allen Dulles” in the middle of the Stuxnet code

Horton:
(Laughs) Right.

Taibbi:
You know what I mean? It would be very silly to think that would actually happen, you know?

Horton:
So anyway, So we have the different parts of this. And I sure would like to see your very meanest work on the hacking and leaking of those emails. I know this is a subject that you have not really focused the most on. But you know, your most recent work here, of course, is about the Steele Dossier and the group of retired old spies at Cambridge University and all of this. Steele was a part of that also, involved essentially in the framing of Page and Papadopoulos. Certainly Page. I don’t know about Papadopoulos. That’s, I guess, a different question. But anyway, so you have this new whistleblower. And so I guess I want to ask you just first of all, if you can explain who is Stephen Schrage? And why is it that it took him so long to come forward and tell the story here?

Taibbi:
Yeah, so Steven Schrage. He was a former State Department official, also was the chief of staff from Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts. He was, you know, a fairly senior official in the Romney campaign in 2008, left government after he left the Brown office in the early two-thousand-tens, decided to go into academia and ended up pursuing a doctorate under Stephen Harper, who is the central figure in the old “Spygate” narrative, right? So he was the retired quasi-retired FBI-slash-CIA person who was teaching at Cambridge. And Schrage worked for Halper, and in fact is the reason that Halper met people like Carter Page, because he invited Page to a conference in circumstances that are quite humorous. We can get into that later. But to answer your question of why it took him so long to come forward, his take on this is that he didn’t know until Halper was named in the news, which I think was in May of 2018, that any of this had had any kind of like FBI significance to it. And he felt that he was a little bit conflicted, he said. He says he felt that his best shot to bring this story forward would be to go to the authorities. He did go to the Durham investigators last year, and then he came back again this year, and he decided to go public when he became concerned that perhaps that investigation was not going to end up being effective.

Horton:
I think he kind of accidentally unearthed this old audio that…

Taibbi:
Yes. So his relationship with Halper has deteriorated over the years, Halper being his doctoral advisor. And he says that with Halper’s permission, he had begun taping exchanges with with Halper as early as 2015, so that really so that he could go back and point out to him inconsistencies in his academic advice, I think is the idea. So he has lots of tape of Halper talking, and the two of them during these conversations. And after he met with the Durham people, the first time, he went back and reviewed some of those conversations, and some of them he didn’t expect to hear anything terribly interesting. But in one of them, it was two days before the big leak involving Michael Flynn. If you remember that story, the one that was written in the Washington Post involving reporting to David Ignatius, and he’s asking Halper, “Hey, do you think would be a good idea for me to go try to work for Michael Flynn who is now the National Security Advisor?” This guy had a long record of working with Republican politicians, you know, why not? And Halper says, “No, I don’t think he’s going to be around very long.”

Horton:
In fact, let’s just put that conversation here.

Horton:
So what did we just hear?

Taibbi:
Okay. Yeah. So basically this is January 10, 2017, and that’s two days before the Washington Post came out with this story that ended up having enormous consequences because the January 12 story said that Flynn had been on the phone with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak. And as a result of that leak, which incidentally was an illegal leak of telephonic surveillance, the FBI decided to re-interview Flynn. It was a result of that re-interview that they built their false statements charge and prosecuted Flynn. So the notion that somebody would know two days before that leak happened that Flynn was in deep trouble that he was not going to be around for very long, and that “if you know how these things work,” and that his opponents and so-called enemies are going to “turn up the heat” and all that stuff, it’s very suggestive of, you know, perhaps foreknowledge that something bad was going to happen to Flynn. From Schrage’s point of view, in the way he puts it was like, “I would have thought that the last person who would have job security issues in the Trump administration would be Flynn because he one of the only people who have real experience in Trump’s inner circle.” But, you know, the tapes incident suggests otherwise.

Horton:
David Ignatius, for people who aren’t familiar, he’s widely known as the CIA’s man at the Post. One of many, I guess. But when he writes, he’s always very, you know, keyed into what the intelligence community is saying, is really sort of the Mouth of Sauron for them in that way kind of, right?

Taibbi:
I can’t speak to his background. But certainly the idea that he’s very plugged into the CIA is kind of a known thing in the business.

Horton:
And we already know, right, that James Clapper, who right up until then was the Director of National Intelligence, I forget now the context of how we know that he had ordered this hit piece in the Post and said “now is the time to take the kill shot.” So from there, it seems like Ignatius, Halper and Clapper… that’s another sort of confirmation, right that Halper really knew something and wasn’t just making a wild guess here, and that then that would mean the director of the National Intelligence was in on it as well.

Taibbi:
Yeah, well, I believe the “killshot” quote came from Flynn’s second lawyer, Sidney Powell, who talked about… who theorized the leak traveled…

Horton:
Oh, I’m sorry about that if I screwed that up. I could have swore that was what I had read, that somebody had essentially caught Clapper giving that order.

Taibbi:
Yeah, so no, it came from Powell’s court filing.

Horton: For some reason I thought that that was what Clapper had told Ignatius. “You know what, pull the trigger on that article we’ve been waiting on here.”

Taibbi:
Yeah, but she just described it as Clapper. So yeah, “Powell also referenced a purported conversation between former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Washington Post reporter David Ignatius, claiming Clapper told the reporter words to the effect of ‘take the kill shot on Flynn,’ after he reportedly obtained the transcript of Flynn’s phone calls.” And then Clapper denied it.

Horton:
I gotcha.
So, what other indications do we have other than this guy…

Taibbi:
Steven Schrage.

Horton:
Okay, and what all indications do we have of, you know, other than just the way Halper sounded on that audio, that Halper was not just doing this with his friends, but was in league with the American intelligence agencies or even British MI-6?

Taibbi:
Well, he, he didn’t know that at the time. He only found out subsequently. At least that’s his story. But, you know, if you’re putting two and two together. And remember, Powell, who was Flynn’s lawyer, had theorized that the leak had gone through the Office of Net Assessment, which is a Pentagon office that was Halper’s employer. They paid Halper enormous sums of money, like over $400,000 during this period for these mysterious reports. So the theory is that the leak goes from somebody to the Office of Net Assessment to perhaps Halper. Or at least I think that’s what’s being suggested there.

Horton:
Yeah, I mean, well, you know, the Pentagon was certainly paying him all that money all that time for something. No other apparent publications by him at that time or any other thing, right, so seems pretty cut and dry.

Taibbi:
So, no, I mean, that’s a pretty that’s actually quite a funny subplot two this whole thing is how the whole Office of Net Assessment thing works. You know, it appears to be just a way to funnel money to informants and other people who are useful to the government. And essentially what they do, and I actually talked to some people who contributed to some of these reports, the ONA will pay somebody like $50,000 for a report on say China’s position in the world right now, right? And, and what the American will do is they will call up some person in a foreign country and offer them peanuts to put together basically a bunch of text around open source material, they send it back to him, he compiles it into a big document, sends it back to the Pentagon, does basically zero work and makes probably 10 times what the highest paid journalist in the world gets paid to do that same kind of stuff. So it’s pretty amazing. It’s amazing little subplot to the whole thing.

Horton:
Although, I mean, in this case, it doesn’t even seem like he was turning in those phony reports. He was getting paid. It seems like there’s a very good chance it was for this.

Taibbi:
Well, yeah, superficially, you can make the argument and there’s a whistleblower case involving this that’s coming out right now unrelated to Schrage, but there’s somebody in the Office of Net Assessment, who was claiming essentially that these payments were exactly for that kind of activity. If you’re interested in looking for this kind of thing, for instance, you can look for a document called “China: The Three Warfares,” and that’ll be online somewhere. You’ll see Halper didn’t really write anything in it, but I think he got paid something like $47,000 for this.

Horton:
What a racket.

Taibbi:
Yeah.

Horton:
All right now, so this guy, Schrage, he coined this new term, “the Cambridge Four,” it’s not just Halper, but it’s also Richard Dearlove — and of course Dearlove, the former head of MI-6 is most famous for having compiled the Downing Street Memos about the meeting at the so-called Crawford ranch in July of 2002, about how “we’ve decided that the policy is that we’re going to war and the facts are being fixed around the policy.” That was his job there.

Taibbi:
Yeah.

Horton: So, anyway, that’s what we know about Dearlove from before. He was the head of MI-6 at the time that the British helped lie us into war. And then there’s also of course Steele, he groups into this, and so maybe that’s an opportunity to talk a little bit more about his background as well. And then there’s this other guy, Christopher Andrew, who I think is would probably be the least known of the four. And you know, in terms of the broader public in terms of his role in all of this, but you guys both make the case that these four really were kind of working together throughout 2016 to gin this thing up. I think as you put it, then something really bad happened: Trump won anyway. This was supposed to stop him. And then once Trump won, now they’re in real trouble. So do they back down? No, they double-down. Right?

Taibbi:
Exactly. Yeah. It’s funny, though a lot of people, when they look at this scandal, imagine that it was this overwhelming, devastating conspiracy that involves, you know, really intense planning and tons of resources. And I don’t really think it played out that way. I think what you have here is a group of people who had an immediate financial interest in producing research. So somebody along the line and this is the part that we don’t really know yet. Somebody got it got it into their heads in 2015 or early 2016 that the Trump campaign had some kind of untoward relationship with the Russians. And at some point, the Democrats got interested in that topic and decided that they wanted to make political hay out of it, at which point they hired Fusion GPS and instructed them essentially to really look into the Russia issue. Fusion GPS, then hires Steele who was a former officer who had been stationed in Russia and had some expertise there, ran this private investigatory firm called Orbis, but he also had a relationship with Dearlove who was at Cambridge, and Dearlove had a relationship with Halper. So the two big wings of the pre-election investigatory effort involves Steele, who is getting paid very significant sums of money to produce research suggesting that Trump had all these relations with the Russians, and then there was Halper, who was also getting paid a lot of money to do the surveillance on Trump figures. And the interesting thing here is the sort of cross-pollination between those two plotlines. One seems to be ending up confirming the other and vice-versa. Carter Page gets invited to Cambridge by Schrage, Halper and Dearlove sees him there and then a week later Carter Page appears in Steele’s reports for the first time. And nobody even knew who this guy was before that. So that’s what’s interesting about this whole thing is that a lot of the stuff that ended up in the news later on really had their roots in just a couple of characters in this British University.

Horton:
We’ll get back to Papadopoulos here in a minute, but we know now, we found out relatively recently that the FBI discounted the Papadopoulos thing right away. I think the IG report said they decided “forget the Papadopoulos, we’re going to go with this Page thing.” So they really hung the FISA warrant applications and all of that on Page and his alleged connections to the Russians. And then this ought to be the biggest scandal of all, it almost always goes unmentioned, is the CIA told the FBI, “this guy belongs to us,” and the FBI blacked that out of their FISA application and pretended to not know that. And then think about this Matt: for three years, all those leaks from all those spooks to all those newspapers and TV stations, and nobody ever leaked that “Page belongs to the agency. He’s a loyal American patriot and when he met with the Russians, he came straight to us and told us everything.” They never leaked that in three years. We only found that out this spring in the IG report, right?

Taibbi:
Yeah, absolutely. That was outrageous on multiple levels. It was outrageous that that nobody mentioned any of the news reporters that Michael Flynn had told his agency about his planned trip to the RT dinner, and seems to have done a little little bit of reporting back to the DIA during that trip. And I think what’s most outrageous is the thing that you mentioned up top, which is that in August of 2016, the FBI concluded — this is literally within weeks after they commenced this investigation — they concluded, the direct quote is, “the evidence didn’t particularly indicate that George Papadopoulos was having any kind of interactions with Russians.” So they were admitting within weeks of starting the investigation that the entire predicate for the investigation was incorrect. And was for that reason that they moved on to Page, and as you say, they suppressed the evidence that might have might have exonerated him, or or prevented the surveillance from from going forward. And there’s some stuff that Schrage has on that too, by the way. But yeah, absolutely. The scandal here is not only that they they did all that stuff, but they kept telling reporters to dig into these questions years after they’d already moved on from them.

Horton:
Right. I mean, that really goes to show how dirty it all was that they were completely over it and continued anyway. You mentioned about how it doesn’t seem like Brennan and Comey and a couple others had a big meeting and said, “Okay, we’re going to frame Trump for treason with Russia,” in this kind of over-the-top way. But the way that the conspiracy developed, essentially was that the FBI counterintelligence division and the CIA were pretending to believe this stuff, right? Like in the case of Papadopoulos , they couldn’t even pretend to believe that anymore. So they threw that out. But I know you’ve mentioned this numerous times. To me the first thing- I didn’t even finish reading the Steele Dossier when it first came out because as soon as I got to the part that said that the Russians offered Carter Page a 19% ownership stake in the Russian state government-owned oil company Rosneft, which would have been worth billions of dollars, on the successful accomplishment of him seizing control of America’s sanctions policy from the Congress and getting all the sanctions on Russia lifted, I thought that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

Taibbi:
(Laughs.)

Horton:
And I’m supposed to believe that Comey read that and was really concerned? And he had his guys go to the FISA court because of this unheard of Benedict Arnold action by this active CIA asset. And I want to be clear, not “officer.” He wasn’t a CIA officer. He was a CIA asset, literally speaking, working for the CIA, as he’s going on his regular trips to Russia to meet with business people, right?

Taibbi:
Yeah. I don’t know what the term technically would be. But yes, he was giving information to them and had been for a couple of years and was in good standing with them. So the whole thing is preposterous. Yeah, the first time I read the Steele Dossier, there were so many red flags in there, that it just read like a really ridiculous piece of fiction. To me, it reminded me a lot of the Graham Green book Our Man in Havana, which is about a vacuum cleaner salesman who becomes a spy and decides to just send pictures of giant vacuum cleaners back to the home office in London, making them think that the Cubans are building one in the jungle. And they buy it, you know, and that’s what happened here. It was a bunch of goons are sort of making up a bunch of stories, but the the irony is that, yes, it turned into a real investigation. They bought it.

Horton:
And they ruined the lives of so many people, like this lady, Svetlana Lokhova.
Have you talked to her? Tell us about that. Because I think this was one of the more harmful aspects of this. It didn’t get too much play in the media, I don’t think, but it did get played in terms of how it affected Mike Flynn in his job, or in the case against him, right?

Taibbi:
Yes. This is a very dark story and I’ve worked on this and haven’t been able to really tell all of it, but the outlines of it are as follows. In February of 2014, Michael Flynn who was then Barack Obama’s the head of the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, he visited Cambridge, and he was at an official dinner, and during that dinner he was sitting at a table where he was surrounded by two of these figures, Christopher Andrew and Richard Dearlove, and then a fourth person was this woman Svetlana Lokhova who was a doctoral candidate under Andrew. And at that dinner she showed Flynn an old postcard written by Stalin that she had uncovered during a trip to Russia to look through the old NKVD-KGB archives, and they had a conversation lasting about 10 minutes. The entire thing was supervised and surrounded by these sort of luminaries of British intelligence. And nobody said anything about it for two years. And then after all this nonsense started in the summer of 2016, suddenly Halper — who was there that night, although he wasn’t at the dinner — Dearlove, and then later also Andrew ended up sounding the alarm and saying that that Flynn had been seduced by a Russian national at that dinner. And this is something I know for a fact, which is that multiple members of the U.S. media were told by American sources that Flynn was actively having an affair with a Russian agent around that time. And if you go back and look you’ll find that at that time there were a series of news stories that started to come out in December 2016. And then in March of 2017, about Flynn’s interaction with this woman. And it all came from this idea that these these goofballs cooked up that Flynn had been seduced in that five or ten minute conversation by a Russian, because it was the only conversation with a Russian that anybody could think that he had, which is crazy.

Horton:
Yeah, and as Schrage says in his piece about this, this woman, as you just mentioned, was Andrew’s student. And he says at that time in 2014, she was a brand new mother and they just drag this woman through the mud saying that she is a spy, a honeypot, working for Vladimir Putin to suborn Mike Flynn and compromise him in all this treason. I guess you said you talked to her. This really destroyed her life to a great degree, right?

Taibbi:
Yeah, absolutely. And it was completely sociopathic on the part of all these people. And I talked to a bunch of the journalists who covered the story…

Horton:
Like who?

Taibbi:
It was all off the record. You can guess by looking at the bylines. There were only five or six major characters who covered this thing. But they all said the same thing. Basically, they were approached by Americans in late 2016. And told, you know, without any hesitation, that Flynn was having an affair with a Russian. This was this was big enough news that American reporters were flown over to London to cover it. And they dug, they tore through this woman’s personal life and they eventually put her name out there. And they never had any kind of real indication that anything had happened.

Horton:
Well, and they didn’t just pick up the phone and call DIA and say “When this guy was your boss, did you guys have any indication that he was sleeping with the enemy?” How about that for a dog that didn’t bark?

Taibbi:
Well and he had passed security clearances multiple times after that, which tells you that whatever these informants thought, they certainly didn’t raise any alarm about it for a significant period of time, for years at least. So the whole thing was was absurd on its face, and I think that a good reporter would have run run screaming in the other direction from the story because there’s just there’s no there there, you know, but they did it anyway. And what was amazing about that is that it led ultimately to the exposure of Halper because he was one of the people who alerted the FBI to this nefarious connection between Flynn and this woman. And his name eventually came out in the newspapers, but they were far more concerned about protecting the identity of Halper than they were about Svetlana Lokhova. So the whole thing was crazy.

Horton:
Yeah. And then, but, you know, it really is just like the Iraq war. You made that comparison in your writing before, where, you know, the case for the war against Iraq was about 10 or 15 points long, and every single one of them was zero.

Taibbi:
(Laughs)

Horton:
But a hawk could keep talking all day about why we have to do it. It’s just at the end of his talk, 15 times zero is still zero. None of it’s true. It’s all lies, but it’s like 15 lies. And so it’s the same kind of thing with this: people talking about, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” But it’s not smoke, it’s steam. It’s hot air. It’s all bs, but there’s so much of it, when people want to believe, there’s enough there for them to believe in. You know, we saw the way people got caught up in this. The entire cult of not the left, but the liberal sort of centrist Democratic Party types in this country, by the 10s of millions got caught up in this thing.

Taibbi:
Yeah, and I think it really speaks to, you know, kind of a problem that we have with the way we do investigative journalism in this country. There’s sort of a loophole that you can drive through with national security stories, which is if somebody from one of the spy agencies or from the FBI calls up and tells you like a shaggy dog story, but says, “Hey, I’m sorry, I got to keep my name out of this,” the newspapers will very frequently just run with that stuff anyway. So the normal fact checking process that we would go through to check all kinds of other things, we just don’t do that with this kind of story, which is one of the reasons the Iraq thing happened. Right. So it looks somebody in the military tells Judith Miller that, “Hey, we know we’ve got something just over the next hill that proves he’s got the WMDs,” but it’s a nameless, faceless source, right? That stuff ends up in the newspapers with amazing frequency. That happened over and over and over again with this Russia story. You know, they just kept driving through that loophole.

Horton:
Yep. And then of course, the other thing is, you have to have two sources. But who’s to say they’re not, you know, coming up with a list together of “here are the journalists we’re going to lie to. I’m going to call him on Tuesday. You call him on Wednesday, and we’ll have it in the paper by Thursday.”

Taibbi:
Right. Yeah, exactly. Or the classic construction of an intelligence source who tells a somebody in a congressional committee that’s like the House or Senate Intel committees. And so the congressional source tells their source to call up the reporter, and then puts the person in touch with the original source, but it’s a game of telephone. It’s not like you’re getting the story independently confirmed by another source. It’s just the same story that ran through two people. And that’s the problem that you have with these kinds of stories is that when the names aren’t made public, you can’t tell whether it’s just one narrative that’s been passed around an office, or whether it’s something that actually multiple people can confirm.

Horton:
Yeah. And we actually had the argument ad-absurdum on this sort of thing just recently with the story about the Russians paying for American scalps in Afghanistan, where the next day after the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post put out this story, on Twitter all the reporters were telling each other “my story is confirmed by his story, which is confirmed by the other story.” And yet all they say is “anonymous sources tell us.” They have no evidence and no compelling narrative whatsoever. In fact, over the next couple of weeks, as they tried to create a compelling narrative, it all completely fell apart. And no one was willing to stand by the story and so it was all dead. But Charlie Savage really thought that when Warren Strobel wrote the same thing, that “See, I’m right.” And he didn’t even know how foolish he sounded. And I pick on Charlie Savage because I used to respect him a little bit.

Taibbi:
Yeah. Actually, I often thought that he was one of the better reporters that the Times had. But you know, this is an example. That story is a prime example of how this stuff works. Who among the American press corps, is going to be able to confirm that some warlord in Afghanistan got a bag of money to go assassinate Americans? That’s an unconfirmable story. The only way we’re going to ever get to that story is, is by the Americans who actually came up with it. And it could be the same anonymous source talking to five different newspapers. So they’re not confirming each other. They’re just confirming that they heard a story.

Horton:
Yep. And in fact, one more I’m sorry, It just came to mind and is so important, I think. Although I’m not sure how much of an impact it made, but last Saturday, the New York Times in the weekend magazine ran a 10,000 word hit piece on Donald Trump, essentially by the CIA. And I gotta tell you that I bet you a third or two thirds of it is true about how completely stupid Trump is. You can’t even talk to him in pictures anymore. And all he wants to talk about is his inauguration crowd size again, and this kind of garbage. I more or less believe it. But at the same time, what the hell is going on here? Another giant hit piece with what, 15 different CIA people went and talked to this reporter for this gigantic weekend magazine expose on Trump. And all it is is CIA guys complaining about the president. Who the hell do they think they are, these people? You know?

Taibbi:
And Bernie Sanders.

Horton:
Yeah, of course.

Taibbi:
That story, right? They talked about the NIE. Yeah, and I think what bothers me is somebody who kind of grew up in this business is that there was a time period where the normal attitude of somebody who worked in the news media was to be at best distrustful of people who work for the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, to a lesser extent. It was less of a thing back then. But now it’s like these people are the biggest stars in the world, and whatever they say is like gospel. And it’s not only that they get to say whatever they want in these newspapers, basically without any pushback, that, you know, they leave these agencies and immediately get million dollar positions on television and cable news. It’s like, you know, there’s just no skepticism that’s built into the media system about about information that comes from these folks anymore. And that’s that’s really depressing.

Horton:
Yeah, well, and you can see why people believe Earth is flat, or God knows what, because the same people who told them the Earth is round are the same people who lie to them about everything. And so they don’t know where to draw the line. They don’t understand. They know that it’s not the way TV and the newspapers say. So maybe it is this Q-Anon thing. Or maybe it is Vladimir Putin. Or maybe it’s some off-the-wall explanation because whatever it is, the common narrative delivered to us daily doesn’t make sense. You know? It doesn’t hold up, and so if these are the people we have to rely on, you know, people turn their back, but then which way do they go? Next thing you know they’re having a protest burning masks, or whatever it is because they’re caught up in who knows what.

Taibbi:
Yeah. And I think you brought up a good example there with the press attitude towards the Covid coverage. We went through these amazing stages right where they they first they were they were furiously angry at anybody who went outside to protest the lockdowns. Then during the Black Lives Matter protests, these the exact same sources, the exact same op ed writers simply said that it was more important to protest than it was to worry about the pandemic. And then they went back to the first thing a few weeks after that. So what’s the ordinary news consumer supposed to think watching all this? “Should I say inside? Or if I think it’s really important, can I go outside? I have no idea.” And I think people in this business underestimate the impact of those kinds of inconsistencies.

Horton:
Well, and you know, I’m sorry, because I hate the media so much, and you’re so good at talking about that. But I wanted to touch on a couple of more details here real quick if it’s okay. The recent revelations just in the last few weeks about declassified testimony from the House and Senate hearings on this stuff, where we found out finally who Christopher Steele’s sources were after being told they were high-level Russian government employees and people who work for powerful oligarchs and all this stuff this whole time. It turns out that what now? Where did he get this stuff?

Taibbi:
From a Washington-based analysts from the Brookings Institution named Igor Danchenko, who didn’t live in-country. He did travel to Russia for the story, but in an affidavit the FBI released where they interview him, he says he didn’t have any contact with any senior intelligence or any intelligence officials, that part of his M.O. was to drink heavily with the sub-sources that he talked openly about his sub-sources trying to monetize their relationship with him. It’s absurd that anybody ever took any of this stuff seriously. And if you read the FBI’s interview with this guy, you realize he was just kind of selling wolf whistles the whole time. He was openly going around telling people they can make money by giving him information. And they guessed what he wanted and gave him some information, but it’s not reliable.

Horton:
Can you refresh my memory on when it was the FBI had created… It must have been right away, or early in the investigation, when they got the Steel Dossier in the summer of 2016, they created this big spreadsheet where they crossed everything off the list as possibly being reliable information, or found that anything in there that was true, had been published in the Washington Post two days before and so we know that that was where they got it, the little kernels of truth here and there. Because that was even before they had gone to the FISA court, or at least back the second time or something, right?

Taibbi:
I’m not sure exactly when they did that process. I know that in the IG report, the Horowitz report, they talked about doing an analysis of how much of the original reporting in the Steele reports can be trusted, and the conclusion they essentially came to is that the true stuff in here has already been publicly reported. So (laughs) I don’t think they found anything original that turned out to be right in the report.

Horton:
Now, so the part about this that is to me the most interesting is the very few sporadic reports… And somewhere in the back of my head, I think you had mentioned in this, in some of your “Untitled-gate” reporting, that some of these contacts with the informants and the Trump people went back even to 2015. I can’t remember if that involved Halper or Papadopoulos. But also I don’t know the role of the Misfud and who originally put Misfud on the case of Papadopoulos. I guess the most I know about the Papadopoulos thing is from Michael Tracy’s interview with him where he talks about how he went and got this job and how immediately they were trying to set him up and figure out a way to put pro-Russian words in his mouth or some kind of thing. But who exactly was Misfud? And what was his role in this? And beginning when? I guess are to me the biggest questions. And same for Halper. What was the very first time that they started this put-on?

Taibbi: We don’t really know. My theory about how this began early-on was was based on some things that I heard a couple of years ago that I haven’t been able to really suss out since. We know for sure that by late July of 2016, that people were actively trying to approach both Papadopoulos and Page. Schrage’s account, you know, this is the guy that I’m talking to now, in his telling basically, they don’t start getting interested in Page until the second week of July 2016. And that’s basically when Dearlove runs into Page at this conference at Cambridge. And suddenly it seems like everybody’s interested in Page and any other Trump contacts. But the question of Misfud is really still one of the outstanding mysteries of this whole thing. Like where is this guy? Who is he? It’s pretty clear that the even the FBI didn’t believe that he was actually a Russian agent. He was in the U.S. briefly. I believe it was January of 2017 and released, interviewed and let go. So he couldn’t possibly have ever really been a suspected Russian spy. And yet they constructed the entire investigation based on the idea that he was one. So the whole thing doesn’t make any sense. I mean, it seems like it was much ado about nothing from the start.

Horton:
And, you know, this is not concrete. But I think the timeline is pretty indicative of a set-up here where Assange announced on I think June 14, that “Yeah, we’ve got some Hillary emails coming out here soon,” this kind of thing. And that gave the CIA three days heads up to come up with this Guccifer crap to try to sort of insinuate, you know, Russian, I guess, Cyrillic letters as part of it from from Guccifer’s thing. Wikileaks never published that stuff, but it’s sort of like with the Flynn accusations with this woman. “Well, it could be true… Men and women do have sex sometimes,” or something. So yes, it could be true that these emails all come from the same source, it sort of seems that way. And then that was right around the same time, the beginning of summer 2016. Seems like they decided “Whatever we can do to bring up the word Russia in the context of Trump, we’re going to try to do that, and blame them for the sabotage of Hillary Clinton.”

Taibbi: Yeah. The other time was really interesting. I have to admit that that’s part of the story that I haven’t looked at a whole lot. To be honest, the reason I haven’t is because my technical chops are not so hot in terms of being able to assess who is and who could have and who maybe didn’t try to hack the DNC, but certainly the all the release testimony that came out, suggests they had, they never had anything like a concrete indication that there was any kind of relationship between the Russians, this hack, Guccifer and Julian Assange. They never concretely established any of that. It was all a series of pretty thin assumptions. Obviously, the other amazing thing about that is that they never interviewed Assange about it, which tells you that they weren’t interested in the answer or, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know what that means.

Horton:
Yeah, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the language in the Muller report where some lawyer somewhere said “No, we have to go ahead and admit that we have nothing here.” And so they say they believe the Russians did the hack, but they don’t demonstrate that. And then they admit they can’t demonstrate a chain of custody to WikiLeaks. You know, after three years of “the Russians gave it to WikiLeaks,” Robert Mueller admitted that he had no causal chain, sorry.

Taibbi:
Yeah, there’s just mountains of testimony and investigation of the question of you know, whether or not there was foreknowledge or whether or not there was a relationship there, but they’ve never actually come up with anything that proves any of that story. And also, that was all going on independently of these of these other two prongs of the story with Steele and the spying. Like, I don’t know, to what degree that they might have been connected. But, you know, either way, it was all seemingly pretty absurd.

Horton: Yeah. You know, the whole thing about the Logan Act, we’re now and this is where Joe Biden comes in, is that Biden apparently was the one who brought up “Hey, maybe we can use the Logan Act as an excuse against Flynn here.” And Sally Yates at DOJ also said, “Oh, yeah, when I read the transcripts of the conversation between Flynn and Kislyak, and then I knew what he had said to the FBI, I thought ‘Oh, no! Now the Russians have compromised him because he’s breaking the Logan Act and lying about it, and so now they’ll have this over him.'” Even though the Logan Act might as well not even exist at all. And in this context, we’re not talking about a businessman from Houston making a separate deal with the UAE or something like that. We’re talking about the designated incoming national security adviser of the president elect of the United States, not in the summer, we’re talking about after the election, after the Electoral College has voted. This guy is the designated national security adviser. I mean, they might as well bring up child abuse or whatever. They’re just pretending to have a legal pretext at that point, right?

Taibbi: Yeah, especially in the context of all the other stuff that was going on with that investigation. The fact that they investigated Flynn for all these other things. They have this whole absurd Crossfire Razor sub-investigation that had come up dry. They were recommending, the people on that case were recommending that they give it up. And, you know, some folks didn’t want to, and they decided to hold on to the idea of of dirtying Flynn through this preposterous interpretation of this call to Kislyak. And the crime here, the idea that the Logan Act was violated is far less serious crime than the actual one, leaking the telephonic communication which is a felony, and that definitely happened. And you’re absolutely right that the Logan Act, even if it was something that we were ever going to prosecute, and we never have, it was not intended to cover the incoming national security adviser who was weeks away from taking power and essentially was telling the Russian ambassador, “Hey, you know, don’t overreact. Chill out.”
Like, that’s really what happened. So the whole thing was absurd.

Horton: Yeah, I mean, that is such an important point too. What was the secret big deal communication here is he was saying, “Don’t overreact in a tit for tat over Obama’s new sanctions, because after all, he’s on his way out. And we want to strike a better note.” And, you know, this goes back to what you’re saying about Flynn at DIA. This was a three star general, who was the head of the DIA and had this whole, you know, years-long liaison relationship with the Russian military. Not that he was a traitor supported by them. He was an American three star General, who had a pretty good relationship with some powerful people in the Russian military, which is the kind of thing that all other things being equal, and no Russiagate hoax involved, is the kind of thing that all Americans ought to celebrate. And think of it, probably the best thing about this kook, Mike Flynn, who after all, is sort of a Michael Ledeen co-author, Iran hawk, nutball, who said a couple good things about Syria one time. He said a couple of good things about Russia, but is otherwise a pretty dangerous character. And yet, he gets along with the Russian military. That ought to be a bright spot in the mind of all 7 billion people in the world. Isn’t that what we want, for America and Russia to get along, no matter what?

Taibbi: Absolutely, and I think a lot of the genesis of the Democratic Party frustration and the Obama administration frustration with Flynn was that he had had an open disagreement with that administration about some pretty serious strategic questions that among other things involved the Russians. Flynn was the subject of some reporting by Sy Hersh. And essentially was going public with this idea that the Obama administration was making a mistake by trying to make allies of so called moderates in Syria, who was saying we’re not really moderates, they were more like al Qaeda, and that the preferable way to go was to team up with the Russians to to combat those kinds of extremists. And, you know, there was disagreement about that. But I could understand both the arguments for both sides of that. But the notion that he was doing something that was treasonous is crazy. It was a strategic idea that he had that you could agree with or disagree with it, but it’s certainly not outside the pale of normal behavior.

Horton: And Susan Rice pretended — again going along with this narrative that it must be treason. She said that she had a conversation with Flynn, where he should’ve just humored her. What an idiot this guy. But instead he decided to get in an argument with her about how, “Nah, Russia’s fine. Russia’s no big deal. It’s China that we’ve got to worry about.” And then Rice said, “When I heard that I thought, ‘Oh no, it must be true. He really is a traitor under the control of some foreign power, because how could any American think that?'” Actually, a lot of people think that. I’m not one of them. But that’s a point of view. In fact, Trump said, “I went and talked with Henry Kissinger. And I said, ‘Henry, I think we ought to get along with Russia because the real enemy is China.’ And Henry Kissinger told me ‘You’re right, Trump go with that.'” So he’s supposed to be the longest gray beard of all. This is a strategic question: Which side of the Sino-Russian split are you on? We’re all Richard Nixon playing Risk here. Only when Trump and Flynn do it, it’s high treason.

Taibbi: Yeah, it’s amazing. I think some of that comes from Americans not having a real clue about what Russia is, you know, Russia is a geographically massive country with a pretty big military. But economically, it’s like somewhere between Italy and South Korea. It’s not a major power, it’s got very, very serious internal problems. It’s nowhere near the level of geopolitical rival that the Chinese are. Now you could say that they have a terrible government. And you could say that Putin is not a good leader. And I certainly have been very critical of him in the past. But I wouldn’t put Russia in the same category as, say, China in terms of the size of the rivalry there.

Horton: I know you lived there for many years and that kind of thing. For most of us, Russia is a place in our imagination. We don’t really know anything about it. And on one hand our government, say John McCain for example, who said “Oh, come on, Russia is a gas station with a border. It’s not even a country at all.” Obama ridiculed them and said, “Russia is a regional power at best.” But then they turn around and say, “Actually Russia’s intelligence agencies are responsible for the election results of every country everywhere in a world where we don’t like how they turn out. And they’re about to take over and conquer all of Eastern Europe again, like back in the bad old days.”

Taibbi: Right. I mean, in 2012, Obama was essentially saying the Russia “is the gnat on the bottom of an elephant,” which I thought was a pretty good description, having lived there. The old description of the Soviet Union, that I think Henry Kissinger said, was that “Russia is Upper Volta with rockets.” You know, it’s a country with a big military, it’s powerful in that sense. It certainly exerts a lot of influence on the countries that are on its borders, but internationally, it’s just not this chaotic juggernaut that they’re making it out to be in the press. And it doesn’t have anywhere near the economic power of China.

Horton: Alright, so then one last thing here is about the effect of this have on Trump. Say, for example, if they had never cooked up this Russiagate thing in the first place. And the President had been free to pursue this Russia policy in the same way that any other president would have been. I mean, for that matter, Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev, when he was the, you know, Supreme Leader of the Soviet Union and General Secretary of the Communist Party, and all of these things. And so, nevermind the opportunity costs of just what could have been in terms of progress, but just think of how backwards everything is going. You know, I interviewed Branco Marcetic from Jacobin magazine last week about all the anti-Russia positions that Trump has taken over and over again, and to a great degree, even in his own words, to protect himself from these attacks. “They keep accusing me of being soft on Russia. Well I’m not soft on Russia. I’ve done this, this and this.” Including he’s pulling troops out of Germany, but he’s moving them to Poland, which is even worse. And, you know, I’m sure you’ve got something to say about what might have been here if we, if our government was not caught up in this crazy narrative that they themselves have generated about Russia here.

Taibbi: Yeah. You know, I was not a fan of Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for him. I don’t think I’ll be voting for him again, but the the degree to which all of this handicapped his presidency and all the things that happened, particularly during the transition period, when there are all these leaks, was about Flynn or about the pee tape, or handing Trump the Steele report. He entered the presidency basically from day one facing a DEFCON 5 emergency. And you know, I would argue that this is a person who, under the best circumstances would have had a difficult time doing a great job because he probably, you know, he doesn’t have the experience and it would have been a rough ride anyway. But with this going on, I think it was inexcusable. What the press and all these these creatures in the intelligence services did to handicap the presidency — I get not liking Donald Trump, but this is also the country you know, that suffered when all this took up all of our time for three years. You know, it was was really ridiculous. And so yeah, you’re right on that.

Horton: There’s got to be some kind of accountability. I can’t imagine someone publishing Jane Mayer again, for example, or David Corn. We’re going to continue to use people who, you know went so far out on the limb with this garbage? — and boy there’s exhaustive list of them. I guess I should say exhausting.

Taibbi: There’s a long history of failing upward in the journalism business, right? Like the people who were the most wrong on Iraq tended to get promoted upward. I mean, look at who’s editing The Atlantic magazine right now. You know, people like Jonathan Chait and the editorial page editor of the Washington Post who got so much wrong. I mean, basically Judy Miller was the only one who paid. Everybody else kind of got away with it. And that’s another thing. We talked about this earlier, that’s the thing: that the public sees the stuff. You know, people in journalism think that the audiences aren’t paying attention, but they do pay attention. When we screw things up there has to be some kind of reckoning, or else we lose our credibility.

Horton:
Although, you know, what you talk about in your book, about all the different “silos” of information, you can see that there are huge swathes of the liberal side who still believe in this stuff because they were never made to confront the failure of the story when it all came out. They kind of had a narrative that “well, Bob Muller gave an old man rambling testimony to the Senate,” but they didn’t break down here’s what the report actually said about all that stuff that we said. They just let it go. And so you see on Twitter, of course, but really everywhere you see Democrats still believe that, in the words of recent rando I saw that, “Vladimir Putin sure got his money’s worth with Trump.” As Nancy Pelosi said, just in the recent Afghanistan scalp story, that “all roads lead back to Putin.” She said the same thing during the impeachment. They really still believe this stuff.

Taibbi: I know. You know, there was a woman who recently resigned from MSNBC, Ariana Pekary, and she wrote a note publicly saying part of the reason she she quit is because she had come to the conclusion or she quoted one of her co-workers basically saying that, “we’re not in the business of informing, we’re in the business of comforting our audiences.” So, you know, they believe the Russia thing, and there’s news that comes out that contradicts it, they just don’t put it out there because they know it’s going to upset their audiences. So they just allow them to kind of wallow in their ignorance, which is, I think a disservice.

Horton: Alright, well, listen. Thank you so much for coming back on the show, Matt. It’s always great talking to you and reading your great journalism.

Taibbi: Thanks Scott.

Horton: The book is Hate Inc., and you’ve got to subscribe at Substack — which, by the way, can I ask you a favor? Is there a way that I can get you to turn off the paywall on “Our Man in Cambridge,” for a couple of days so we can link to it at Antiwar.com?

Taibbi: (Laughs.) I’ll try, yeah. I’ll ask the Substack guys to do that.

Horton: We ran “The Spies Who Hijacked America” by Steven Schrage there as our Spotlight the other day and I’d like to Spotlight “Our Man in Cambridge” as well.

Taibbi: Okay.

Horton: But you gotta subscribe. He’s independent from Rolling Stone, now at Substack.com. And of course you can follow him on Twitter and all those great things. And again, his show is called Useful Idiots with Katie Halper. And thank you again. Appreciate it.

Taibbi: Alright, thanks. Take care.

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.

Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

The Breonna Taylor Tapes

The Breonna Taylor Tapes

Guilty murderer Jon Mattingly

If this one hadn’t gone viral, the “law” would have buried innocent slain victim Breonna Taylor‘s heroic boyfriend Kenneth Walker under the prison for attempting to murder a cop.

Now the tapes of his interrogation have been released. As NBC News explains:

Walker was interviewed just hours after the shooting. He waived his rights to an attorney and emotionally recalled the chaotic night, saying he shot once at what he believed was an intruder before officers opened fire. Days later, the 27-year-old was indicted for attempted murder of a police officer and assault. …

At 4 a.m., hours after the raid, PIU Sgt. Amanda Seelye introduces herself to Walker.

She and her colleague Sgt. Chad Tinnell explain to a tearful Walker that their team is like “internal affairs.”

“We investigate officer-involved shootings,” Seelye says. “We’re here just to try to find out what happened.”

“I’m scared about what to say,” Walker says.

She encourages him to sign the Miranda rights waiver and talk.

“It would be good for you to sign this and then we can get you, get your statement and then we can leave you alone,” she tells Walker. He’s compliant, later also providing his iPhone passcode when Seelye asks for it.

Six days later, Seelye testified before the grand jury that indicted Walker. In a two-minute statement, she described the shooting but did not tell the members of the jury that Walker thought the noise at the door was an intruder.

Do you see what’s going on there? In the name of Internal Affairs — implying that she is investigating the crime of the cops’ murder of his girlfriend, rather than his one defensive round fired — PIU Sgt. Amanda Seelye encourages the innocent heroic victim to admit he fired a shot. Then she went and testified for the prosecution at the grand jury and did not tell the whole truth that he was legitimately afraid for his life and was defending himself — or at least that he even claimed so. They then indicted him in-part based on her description of his admission!

Read the rest of the story to see how the same investigators fed the proper defensive answers to the murderer cop to keep him on the safe side of self-implication:

“That’s kind of like what I was getting to because of your positioning, you know, initially when you’re shot — and then rightfully so, you’re returning fire,” says Vance [Seely’s partner, while she’s standing right there].

“Mm-hmm,” Mattingly responds.

“But you know you just said you made a conscious decision, you know, ‘I’m now injured I need to move, so they can protect themselves and me as well,’” says Vance. “And then — I don’t want to put words in your mouth …”

“No, that’s it,” says Mattingly.

Vance also offers that the apartment’s layout made it a “difficult” location.

“You’ve got to nearly 20 years of police experience, would you, would you say that the positioning of that apartment, made it extremely difficult?” asks Vance.

Mattingly replies, “It wasn’t ideal.”

None of the people responsible for murdering this young woman will go to prison. Not the judge who signed the warrant who no one would even think for a moment could ever possibly conceivably be held accountable in any way whatsoever for his actions — ever, not the cops who pretended to believe the innocent dead young woman possessed “contraband” drugs at her home, not the “Internal Affairs” cop who framed the surviving victim and perjured herself before the grand jury against him, nor her partner who conspired with the guilty murderer to frame his answers in the most exculpatory way. None of them will be held accountable ever. You know it and I know it and boy do they know it.

And you wonder why people riot.

By the way, according to her family’s lawsuit against the city of Louisville, they have credible reason to believe that her death was the result of a city government conspiracy to seize her ex-boyfriend’s land for a big new urban renewal project by trying to tie him to the commission of some drug “offences.” You know who should be surprised by that? Absolutely no one.

Coming Apart at the Seams

Coming Apart at the Seams

It doesn’t have to be this way

America is burning. Quite literally. The most destructive riots in America in a very long time have hit more than two dozen cities, as opportunistic thieves and arsonists hijack massive peaceful protests and acts of peaceful civil disobedience sparked by the senseless murder of a man named George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25. The riots are a tragedy not just for those who have lost or been hurt – a few were even shot during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday – but for the protesters’ cause which is their righteous anger at unaccountable police violence running rampant through our society. The enemy is the state, but the rioters only make others feel grateful for the enemy’s protection. What is the sense in destroying the property and endangering the lives of innocent people? There is no sense in it, it’s mob-action stupidity and will almost certainly guarantee that the “great silent majority” of Americans continue to side with the “thin blue line” against them.

Even worse it provides the excuse for the further use of emergency tactics by police and could end up being cited to put the U.S. military on American streets. Already at least eight cities have declared curfews and almost one-third of American states have called out the national guard. The president has threatened to send in U.S. army forces as well. So much for limiting abusive police power.

And such limits are long overdue. Please go sign up for the afternoon email alert from the Free Thought Project site. You will see that every single day – virtually with no exceptions ever – Americans are killed by police. In a major proportion if not majority of these cases, the cops’ violence is obviously completely unwarranted. For example, Austin police murdered an innocent man just the other day. Note, as always, the local media spin on behalf of the cops against an innocent dead citizen, “officer-involved,” “shoot at.” There are thousands more.

Take the case of Breonna Taylor, a young, heroic EMT, slain in her own home by Louisville police on a paramilitary SWAT Team night raid on the wrong home, looking for evidence of supposed contraband violations by a man who had already been taken into custody in another location. For weeks the cops, in conspiracy with the compliant local news, smeared the innocent dead young woman as a “suspect” and her boyfriend as an attempted murderer of the heroic police. In fact, the boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was the brave hero as well as innocent victim in the situation. These cops, pretending to be Navy SEAL Team 6 at war, did not announce their identities as police as they smashed down the door with a battering ram. Walker shot one officer in the leg. The cops then all opened fire, hitting Ms. Taylor 8 times, killing her.

Listen to the 911 call. After the cops apparently temporarily withdrew, Walker called the police for help, still unaware that it was the police who had committed the murder. Weeks later, after the story finally achieved wide publicity, the charges against Walker were dropped. Just another case of collateral damage in the tragedy-farce of the war on drugs.

It isn’t just the drug wars. America’s militarized war on guns is the same way. Even when not killed in paramilitary night raids like what happened to a young man named Duncan Lemp in Maryland last month, tens of thousands of Americans, maybe more, mostly poor and racial minorities, have been captured and locked in cages like animals not for using a firearm in any criminal way, but simply for having one when the state had commanded otherwise. Of course the alleged possible presence of firearms at a suspect’s location is the primary excuse for the use of deadly paramilitary teams in “no-knock” raids in the first place.

Another major problem beyond prohibition is the doctrine of “qualified immunity” for all law-enforcement officers, which after having been invented out of whole cloth by activist judges, has now evolved into an almost-blanket protection for murderous cops, serving as a license to kill and an always-get-out-of-jail-free card. For you to kill there must be no choice. For them it must only be “reasonable.” And reasonable means whatever they say. The suspect made a “furtive” movement! Blast him! He reached to pull up his sagging pants – “waistband!” Dead man. Two weeks paid vacation. Cops can even outright steal money from innocent people and the judges serve only as their accomplices. When they murder their own loved ones while off the clock, their partners only cover for them.

The same right-leaning patriots who are railing against police enforcement of the Covid lockdowns have got to ask themselves how they would feel if a cop did this to their father.

And what if it was almost certain they would all get away with it too?

In this case the cop who had his knee on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, has actually been fired and arrested, but only after the massive outcry, and almost certainly because of it. Even then, Chauvin, the cop seemingly most-responsible out of the three who were holding Floyd down, was only charged with little-old third-degree murder which carries a light sentence even if he’s convicted, which is unlikely anyway. The prosecutors had every incentive to “do something” like arrest him now to calm people down, but they also have every incentive to botch the case and let the killers all go free later on. In the charging documents the accusers themselves open up reasonable doubt in the form of autopsy results that say it was not damage to Floyd’s neck that killed him, indicating that it was the prone position of the victim as well as pressure to his back that made the difference instead. While far less than reasonable doubt, with the other men not charged, it’s almost certainly enough wiggle room for a cop to squeeze through.

The rest of America should try look past the stupidity and destruction of the riots in response to police violence and demand a serious change now. We need an end to all drug and gun prohibition, a permanent ban on all SWAT Team night raids, to shutdown the military’s 1033 and Homeland Security’s militarization of local police programs and federal militarized Joint-Task Forces, and most of all we need a massive new consensus to force the Supreme Court to overturn their made-up, Old World-style, qualified immunity doctrine. If government is above the law, then it is not law at all, only edicts of tyrannical men.

This is an emergency. These changes must be made immediately.

In the midst of all the virus, lockdown, police state and economic crises, take note, this society is in no position whatsoever to impose its “benevolent empire” on the rest of the world. We’re still a million miles from perfecting our own union. If it is to hold together at all, factions will need to do a better job learning to see things from others’ point of view. If no one can agree on what is to be done, let us then at least agree on what to stop. Roll back this government and let freedom reign instead. There’s no need to fight over our differences if we can be free to maintain them.

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.

Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

America, We Have To End the Wars Now

America, We Have To End the Wars Now

The Coronavirus Crisis Makes It Clear

Can anyone think what our society might have spent six and a half trillion dollars on instead of 20 years of war in the Middle East for nothing? How about the trillion dollars per year we keep spending on the military on top of that?

Invading, dominating and remaking the Arab world to serve the interests of the American empire and the state of Greater Israel sounds downright quaint at this point. Iraq War II, as Senator Bernie Sanders said in the debate a few weeks ago, while letting Joe Biden, one of its primary proponents, off the hook for it, was “a long time ago.” Actually, Senator, we still have troops there fighting Iraq War III 1/2 against what’s left of the ISIS insurgency, and our current government continues to threaten the launch of Iraq War IV against the very parties we fought the last two wars for. This would almost certainly then lead to war with Iran.

The U.S.A. still has soldiers, marines and CIA spies in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and only God and Nick Turse know where else.

Worst of all, America under President Donald Trump is still “leading from behind” in the war in Yemen Barack Obama started in conspiracy with Saudi then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman back in 2015. This war is nothing less than a deliberate genocide. It is a medieval-style siege campaign against the civilian population of the country. The war has killed more than a quarter of a million innocent people in the last five years, including at least 85,000 children under five years old. And, almost unbelievably, this war is being fought on behalf of the American people’s enemies, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). These are the same guys that bombed the USS Cole in the port of Aden in 2000, helped to coordinate the September 11th attack, tried to blow up a plane over Detroit with the underpants bomb on Christmas Day 2009, tried to blow up another plane with a package bomb and launched the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, France since then. In fact, CENTCOM was helping the Houthi regime in the capital of Sana’a target and kill AQAP as late as January 2015, just two months before Obama stabbed them in the back and took al Qaeda’s side against them. So the war is genocide and treason.

As Senator Rand Paul once explained to Neil Cavuto on Fox News back before he decided to become virtually silent on the matter, if the U.S.-Saudi-UAE alliance were to succeed in driving the Houthi regime from power in the capital city, they could end up being replaced by AQAP or the local Muslim Brotherhood group, al-Islah. There is zero chance that the stated goal of the war, the re-installation of former dictator Mansur Hadi on the throne, could ever succeed. And yet the war rages on. President Trump says he’s doing it for the money. That’s right. And he’s just recently sent the marines to intervene in the war on behalf of our enemy-allies too.

We still have troops in Germany in the name of keeping Russia out 30 years after the end of the Cold War and dissolution of the Soviet Empire, even though Germany is clearly not afraid of Russia at all, and are instead more worried that the U.S. and its newer allies are going to get them into a fight they do not want. The Germans prefer to “get along with Russia,” and buy natural gas from them, while Trump’s government does everything in its power to prevent it.

America has expanded our NATO military alliance right up to Russia’s western border and continues to threaten to include Ukraine and former-Soviet Georgia in the pact right up to the present day. As the world’s worst hawks and Russiagate Hoax accusers have admitted, Trump has been by far the worst anti-Russia president since the end of the last Cold War. Obama may have hired a bunch of Hitler-loving Nazis to overthrow the government of Ukraine for him back in 2014, but at least he was too afraid to send them weapons, something Trump has done enthusiastically, even though he was actually impeached by the Democrats for moving a little too slowly on one of the shipments.

We still have troops in South Korea to protect against the North, even though in economic and conventional terms the South overmatches the North by orders of magnitude. Communism really doesn’t work. And the only reason the North even decided to make nukes is because George W. Bush put a gun to their head and essentially made them do it. But as Cato’s Doug Bandow says, we don’t even need a new deal. The U.S. could just forget about North Korea and it wouldn’t make any difference to our security at all.

And now China. Does anyone outside of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps really care whether the entire Pacific Ocean is an American lake or only 95% of it? The “threat” of Chinese dominance in their own part of the world exists only in the heads of hawkish American policy wonks and the Taiwanese, who should have been told a long time ago that they are on their own and that there’s no way in the world the American people or government are willing to trade Los Angeles and San Francisco for Taipei. Perhaps without the U.S. superpower standing behind them, Taiwanese leaders would be more inclined to seek a peaceful settlement with Beijing. If not, that’s their problem. Not one American in a million is willing to sacrifice their own home town in a nuclear war with China over an island that means nothing to them. Nor should they. Nor should our government even dream they have the authority to hand out such dangerous war guarantees to any other country in such a reckless fashion.

And that’s it. There are no other powers anywhere in the world. Certainly there are none who threaten the American people. Our government claims they are keeping the peace, but there are approximately two million Arabs and Pashtuns who would disagree except that they’ve already been killed in our recent wars and so are unavailable for comment.

The George W. Bush and Barack Obama eras are long over. We near the end, or half-way point, of the Trump years, and yet our former leaders’ wars rage on.

Enough already. It is time to end the war on terrorism and end the rest of the American empire as well. As our dear recently departed friend Jon Basil Utley learned from his professor Carroll Quigley, World Empire is the last stage of a civilization before it dies. That is the tragedy. The hope is that we can learn from history and preserve what’s left of our republic and the freedom that made it great in the first place, by abandoning our overseas “commitments” and husbanding our resources so that we may pass down a legacy of liberty to our children.

The danger to humanity represented by the Coronavirus plague has, by stark relief, exposed just how unnecessary and therefore criminal this entire imperial project has been. We could have quit the empire 30 years ago when the Cold War ended, if not long before. We could have a perfectly normal and peaceful relationship with Iraq, Iran, Syria, Korea, Russia, China, Yemen and any of the other nations our government likes to pretend threaten us. And when it comes to our differences, we would then be in the position to kill them with kindness and generosity, leading the world to liberty the only way we truly can, voluntarily, on the global free market of ideas and results.

That is what the world needs and the legacy the American people deserve.

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of the 2019 book, The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.

Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

The New Cold War With Russia Is All America’s Fault

The New Cold War With Russia Is All America’s Fault

The following is the text of a speech Scott gave to the King County, Washington Libertarian Party, February 29, 2020.

According to Rep. Jason Crow, Russian President “Vladimir Putin wakes up every morning and goes to bed every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.”

But that’s not true. There’s no real reason to believe that Putin means us any harm at all. The new Cold War with Russia is all America’s fault.

See, at the end of the last Cold War the American foreign policy community, led by the neoconservatives, adopted a doctrine of global dominance. This was as Charles Krauthammer put it in 1990, the U.S.’s “Unipolar Moment” and opportunity to remake the world our way and keep it that way. They call it leadership, hegemony, preeminence, predominance or even Full Spectrum Dominance. No really, it’s all for their own good though. Keeping the peace; protecting the sea lanes; enforcing the global rules-based liberal international order.

Dick Cheney’s Defense Department’s post-Iraq War I, “Defense Planning Guidance” from 1992 defined the doctrine for the new decade and into the new millennium: The U.S. must remain the single dominant power on the planet, and must maintain enough military power to prevent any possible strategic rivals, such as Germany, Japan, Russia or China, from even considering an attempt to challenge U.S. power.

The George Bush Sr. Years:

On February 9, 1990, President George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker, as well as West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, promised Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev that if the USSR would withdraw their troops and allow German reunification under America’s NATO military alliance, they would not expand it “one inch eastward” beyond that.

Of course they lied about it since, at various times claiming this pledge either never happened or doesn’t count because it wasn’t in writing. But last year the records were posted at the National Security Archive at George Washington University’s website. You can read the writing yourself.

But then Bill Clinton started expanding NATO in his second term. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were brought in 1999.

Clinton and his advisers said that Russia wouldn’t mind. Maybe they’ll join! They created the NATO-Russia Council with a promise toward further integration. But then the Kosovo war of 1999 ended all that talk for good. Of course inviting Russia into NATO, creating essentially a one-world white army of the North, would have also been a disaster, but the alternative our government has chosen has hardly been better.

Many Cold War hawks such as Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Perry, George Kennan, who had coined the containment policy back in the 1940s, and his rival Paul Nitze who favored the more aggressive policy of Soviet “rollback,” the Butcher of Asia, Robert S. McNamara, who later confessed to war crimes in Japan, Korea and Vietnam, and Robert Gates, the former director of the CIA and later defense secretary all warned Clinton not to do it. As Kennan told the New York Times:

“I think it is the beginning of a new Cold War. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.

“Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

“Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are – but this is just wrong.”

On top of the insult and danger of Western incorporation of former Warsaw Pact states into the NATO alliance, was the “shock therapy” economic policy of the “Harvard Boys,” Larry Summers, Jeffrey Sachs, David Lipton and Robert Rubin which totally destroyed the Russian economy. Instead of being a good sport at the end of a world-historical peaceful victory, the U.S. under Bill Clinton just kept kicking them while they were down. All at once the “Harvard Boys” abolished all subsidies and price controls in the formerly completely Communist economy, induced hyper-inflation, destroying all available capital for real investment and used “voucher” and “loans for shares” schemes that handed over entire industries to connected gangsters who mostly just liquidated it all and ran. The consequences for the economy and civilian population were beyond severe. Life expectancy fell by double digits across the country. The congressional testimony of former Wall Street Journal reporter Anne Williamson explains the full scale of the tragedy and how they got away with it.

The U.S. also rigged the Russian presidential election of 1996 with billions of dollars in last minute loans for passing out bribes and a massive and sophisticated propaganda and ballot box stuffing campaign. Is that “ancient history”? This scheme of course contributed to the rise of Vladimir Putin, whom Yeltsin named Prime Minister in 1999. He then resigned and named Putin to replace him as President on New Years of the year 2000. Putin has since isolated, exiled and replaced America and Israel’s favored Russian oligarchs with his own.

The George W. Bush years:

Vladimir Putin was the first foreign leader to call George W. Bush on September 11th to offer his condolences and full cooperation, including the use of Russia’s “northern route,” into Afghanistan through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and the use of former Soviet bases in those countries. Putin is said to have spent considerable political capital facing down critics on his right in politics and the military to do so.

Bush turned right around three months later and announced American withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and plans to put defensive missiles in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic. Attempting to avoid the obvious, the president claimed these were to protect Poland from ballistic missile attack from Iran. When Bush said this at a NATO or G-8 meeting in Europe – sorry, I couldn’t find it but do remember – the others all busted out laughing in spite of themselves.

Bush’s government also launched a project of what are called the Color-Coded Revolutions, primarily against Russian-leaning states in their near-abroad. These are essentially U.S. coup de tat’s disguised as fake “revolutions” backed by the CIA, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and friendly supposedly private NGOs like Otpor. This trend got started in the Bill Clinton years with mixed success in Albania in 1996, Montenegro and Croatia in 1997, Slovakia and Armenia in 1998 and Serbia in 2000. Bush brought the successful Serbian template to Georgia with the Rose Revolution in 2003, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, the failed Denim Revolution in Belarus in 2005, the short-lived Tulip Revolution in Tajikistan in 2005, the failed Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005, and disastrous Green Revolution in Iran during Obama’s presidency in 2009.

The Bush government also continued further NATO expansion in violation of his father’s promise, bringing seven more countries into the alliance: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. He tried very hard to include Ukraine and Georgia but Germany and France refused to allow it.

NATO membership is a war guarantee. The people in charge act as though it’s just an invite to a fancy cocktail party for powerful international government socialites. But as Pat Buchanan, former ardent Cold Warrior in the bad old days, likes to point out, the U.S. used to draw the line at the Elbe river half way across Germany. The threat was that if the Soviets invaded West Germany, threatening France, the Netherlands and the other Western democracies, we would go to war to stop them. Now America has moved that line 1200 miles to the east to Russia’s very western border with the Baltic states. There’s no real reason to fear it, but if Russia did decide to reconquer Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia, our politicians have signed us up to fight a war to defend them from a power that could in fact destroy our entire civilization permanently in one afternoon if it came down to it. Nevermind our Monroe Doctrine in the sense that the Russians must feel the same way about their near-abroad as Americans do, but the Doctrine itself actually promises to stay out of European affairs if they will stay out of our hemisphere in return. That part always goes unmentioned, doesn’t it?

The short Georgia War of August 2008 could have turned into a real war. Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili – victor of the U.S.-backed Rose Revolution of 2003 – was incentivized to take bigger risks due to U.S. military support and vague security assurances the Bush government had given his government that spring. He launched an attack on the breakaway province of South Ossetia, then enjoying full autonomy and protection by Russian peacekeepers under a deal that had been brokered by our European Union allies. The Russians, suffering casualties in the initial assault, quickly struck back, destroying Georgia’s invading force and securing South Ossetia’s independence from Georgia.

Vice President Cheney proposed missile strikes agianst the Russian troops coming through the tunnels under the Caucasus Mountains. Luckily, the much wiser George W. Bush had decided better than to listen to Cheney by that late date.

Imagine, Georgia, this tiny, weak nation in the southern Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian Seas, being included in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. You thought Turkey was pushing it. But what value could Georgia possibly add to the American alliance, other than to get the people of this country into the worst kind of trouble over issues that are absolutely none of our business?

Putin gave a speech to a NATO meeting in Bucharest in April 2008, telling the Western leaders that, “The claim that this process [of bringing as many of Russia’s neighbors into the West’s military alliance as possible] is not directed against Russia will not suffice. National security is not based on promises.”

As Putin elaborated in an interview with Oliver Stone, whether America’s motives are truly just centered around corporate welfare or not, the position the U.S. is putting him in requires him to respond to the heightened threat. Soon thereafter he claimed in his annual address to the Duma an entire new generation of heavy MIRV (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle) missiles, one of which could kill every major city in Texas; nuclear-powered cruise missiles with essentially unlimited range for evading U.S. defenses; virtually undetectable nuclear torpedoes for destroying American coastal cities and major ports; and hypersonic delivery vehicles which completely skew the balance of Mutually Assured Destruction by reducing the amount of time that policy makers have to decide whether to go to nuclear war from 15 or 30 minutes to perhaps less than five.

The primacy project didn’t create a permanent state of dominance and security. Instead we got endless new liabilities with nothing real to show for it, and a new nuclear arms race, which it looks like we’re losing.

Obama Years:

First of all the Obama government continued NATO expansion by adding Albania and Croatia to the alliance.

He also made a chump out of Russian President Dimitry Medvedev by lying him into supporting the Libya resolution in the UN Security Council. Obama’s government claimed they were only going to launch a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Benghazi in Libya’s east, and then used the resolution as cover to launch a nine-month long regime change war on behalf of the Libyan veterans of Iraq War II – those who had fought for al Qaeda in Iraq there: the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and Ansar al Sharia, who have helped turn the country into a free-fire zone in the decade since.

If you know nothing, you’ll fall for anything. Even libertarians, often times blind to history and context, see these problems through TV and John McCain’s eyes. For example, the crisis in Ukraine in 2014. “Freedom is being threatened by Russian aggression!” the narrative went, which could not have been further from the truth. It was a battle over spheres of influence. Ours is the entire sphere. Theirs is inside their own borders only, and even then only for the time being. As National Endowment for Democracy head Carl Gershman threatened in the Washington Post in September of 2013, just as the U.S.-backed Ukrainian Maidan movement was getting started, “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, in, say, Canada. The Russians, after having won the Cold War had begun incorporating all of Latin America into the Warsaw Pact and then even used neo-Nazis to do a street putsch against the government in Ottawa, then helping them launch a war against the people of Vancouver, BC for refusing to recognize the new coup junta and threatening to overthrow the government in Washington D.C. next.

Right. We’d go to war over it. Those crazy, liberty-hating Russians though? They’ll just have to learn to get used to it.

Now, it is certain that the very worst things that Russia has done in this century has been their involvement in the wars in Ukraine and Syria. But it is important to note that first of all, in both cases the U.S. started it, not Russia. In Ukraine Putin sent deniable special operations types into the eastern Donbass region to help defend it. Like that or not, what they did not do was invade the country with any conventional force or take any territory in the east. When the Donbass region held a referendum and voted to ask to join the Russian federation in 2015, Putin refused. He would help them to maintain their autonomy from the hostile regime in Kiev only. More than ten thousand people were killed in the 2014-2015 war there – there is still some fighting – but the vast majority of these were Ukrainian civilians and militia fighters killed by the Kiev government, not pro-regime Ukrainians killed by Russian invaders. Nevermind the truth. The narrative is what counts on TV. Except in this case there’s hardly even a narrative at all. Just the endlessly repeated slogans “Russian aggression” and “Russian seizure of Crimea” without any explanation or context.

Well here is some context on the subject of Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014: Russia won the Crimean Peninsula away from the Turks back in the 1780s, when America was still under the Articles of Confederation. It is part of Russia like New York is part of the U.S.A.. The only reason it was under Ukrainian control at all was because Soviet First Secretary and Premier Nikita Khrushchev gave it to them by decree in 1954 in order to shore up Ukrainian support for his rise to power after the death of dictator Joseph Stalin. At that point it made no difference since they were all answerable to the Kremlin first. The population is something like 60% Russian, 14% Turkic Tatars and 25% Ukrainian, and in the generation between the fall of the Soviet Union and the events of the last decade, Crimea had maintained a great deal of autonomy from the central government in Kiev. After the 2014 coup, three former Ukrainian presidents signed a letter demanding that Russia be expelled from the naval base at Sevastopol where they had maintained a naval presence on lease on after the end of the Cold War. Instead Putin ordered his men to leave their bases and take control of the Peninsula. Not a single person was killed. Two warning shots were fired and that was it. A referendum was quickly held, and better than a super-majority of the people of the peninsula voted to join the Russian federation. Later independent polling confirmed the results.

Putin later joked in a speech by way of explanation that:

“[L]et me say too that we are not opposed to cooperation with NATO, for this is certainly not the case. For all the internal processes within the organization, NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way round.”

Again, when the eastern Donbass region tried to join Russia, Putin said no. The U.S. and its clients were threatening Russia’s vital interest in the warm water naval port at Sevastopol on the Black Sea. That’s the only reason they moved there. The status quo had held for 23 years since the red flag came down. The Russians were happy to lease the port and otherwise stay out. It was the U.S. that forced a change in the situation, and it blew up in their face.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend you-all look up and check out the clip of Foreign Affairs editor Gideon Rose on the old Stephen Colbert show bragging about the Kiev coup; about how easy it was and how we’re stealing this important strategic asset away from Russia while Putin is distracted with the Sochi Olympics so he can’t do anything about it. This was similar to Victoria Nuland and Geoffery Pyatt’s leaked discussion about getting the regime change all settled before Putin could figure out how to react. Just as in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan, the hawks’ hubris is unparalleled and is constantly their undoing.

And on Russia’s role in Syria: the various armed uprisings against the Assad regime in 2011 and 2012 would have been quickly destroyed by the regime there if the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Israel had not intervened on behalf of the supposed revolution, which was very quickly dominated by the jihadist followers of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s group from Iraq War II. Instead, U.S. and allied intervention on behalf of the bin Ladenites, motivated primarily by an animus against the Assad regime for its alliance with Iran, led directly to the rise of the Islamic State, which conquered western Iraq in 2014 and raised the real threat in 2015 that a combined assault against Damascus by advancing terrorist forces could lead to a fall of the regime. Only then, after Barack Obama, David Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan and John Kerry’s treason threatened a final victory for al Qaeda and/or ISIS in the capital city, did Russia finally enter the war in 2015. There’s no excusing the massive civilian so-called collateral damage inflicted on the people of Syria by the Russian air force flying on behalf of their government, but again, none of this would have happened if the U.S.A. and its allies didn’t create such a dangerous situation in the first place. If you listen to them now, the hawks are all screaming that Russia has returned to the Middle East after 25 years, but since it’s their fault, we shouldn’t listen to them. Half the time the same people boast that the Russians can’t afford it and that we like to see them bogged down in an expensive fight far from home. By the way, all three major chemical attacks blamed on Bashar al Assad’s government, in 2013, 2017 and 2018 were all hoaxes perpetrated by the bin Ladenites to try to increase U.S. support for their cause. In the latter two cases they got it.

Trump Years:

Donald Trump ran, for one thing, on the promise that he wanted to “get along with Russia.” Not that he had any real idea what issues divided the U.S. and Russia or what should be done about them. He simply possessed the completely pedestrian insight that the Evil Empire ceased to exist more than a generation ago, and that his predecessors’ failures to forge a peaceful coexistence and partnership with Russia by this late date should be placed at their own feet. He has also parroted former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s advice that the U.S. should seek partnership with Russia to divide them from and use them against China – getting the answer half-right for the wrong reason. But when Trump hired Paul Manafort, the lobbyist for foreign states who had worked for the previous, Russian-backed President, Viktor Yanukovych, in March 2016, they panicked. Nevermind that Manafort if anything was serving American interests attempting to persuade Ukrainian President Yanukovych and his Party of Regions to lean toward the U.S. and EU and away from Russia, they had a narrative to run with: Trump doesn’t just want to get along with Russia, he wants to give them the keys to the entire castle! Collusion!

Now I really don’t know what you know, so let me tell you, Russiagate was just a big fake hoax. CIA Director Brennan and FBI Director Comey and their underlings knew that the entire story of Russian interference and Trump Campaign “collusion” was nonsense. The investigation was the end in itself.

After the leaks about Russia’s supposed hack of the DNC emails failed to stop Trump’s election, the CIA and Democrats – I know this sounds so crazy it sounds like I’m the one who’s crazy, but really, check my facts in the New York Times – they wanted to have acting CIA Director Mike Morell brief the Electoral College that Trump cheated with the Russians to win and so they should throw the election to Hillary, or at least to the House of Representatives which could then name House Speaker Paul Ryan or former Secretary of State Colin Powell to take his place. That of course went nowhere. Someone must have finally told them those electors come from the state parties, not the D.C. suburbs, and there’s no way in the world they were going to give Trump’s win to anyone else. Then three days before his inauguration came the completely fake and stupid “intelligence assessment,” which is a made-up thing, written by a quote “hand-picked by Brennan” few, in place of a real National Intelligence Estimate, and which contained exactly zero substance whatsoever. This was followed by the leaking of the completely fake and stupid Christopher Steele Dossier alleging Trump’s full subordination to Russia and its goals going back for years. Of course the basis for the story was that the FBI’s Comey had warned Trump about the fake accusations against him in the first place.

After Trump fired Comey, the leaders of the Department of Justice plotted to try to invoke the 25th Amendment and get the cabinet to vote to remove him from power. Once they were sure they would fall short if they tried it, they settled on the plan to just pretend to investigate the fake plot for another two years. If they couldn’t get rid of him, they could at least “reign him in,” as FBI officials told CNN.

Amazingly, they kept this lie going for just short of three years; well, dozens of them: The DNC and Podesta email hacks, which they have never proven were done by Russia and later admitted they have no proof of a chain of custody to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange; Manafort’s supposed handling of Trump for Putin, which of course was never prosecuted because it was not true; George Papadopoulos and rumored stolen emails, which was revealed to all be an FBI/CIA set-up in the first place; Carter Page’s alleged deal to lift Russia sanctions – Yeah sure, the Russians promised someone with no pull inside the Trump campaign a 19% ownership stake in Gasprom, the giant Russian government-owned oil firm, if only he would seize control of America’s sanctions policy for them. It turned out in the end that Page was actually a CIA asset whom the agency had told the FBI was a solid guy and no traitor at all, which the FBI censored from their FISA search warrant application against him, alleging a pretended belief that he was an agent of the Kremlin in order to keep the investigation going. Then there was Senator Sessions’s substanceless meetings with the Russian ambassador in his office and at a public speech, Gen. Mike Flynn’s call with the Russian ambassador, which was spun as treason for Russia when in reality he was asking a favor of them on behalf of Israel – oops; endless snipe hunts for pee tapes which even Steel’s source admitted was made up; the big nothing Trump Tower meeting that we were told for years was the certain key to lock up the President’s son for treason, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen’s non-existent trip to Prague to arrange for the Russian Facebook ad campaign that in fact was not run by the Russian government at all, was not aimed at influencing the election and flatly did not do so; the Russian plot to hack Vermont’s power grid and C-SPAN TV; the “PropOrNot” blacklist of good journalists; the secret server communicating with Russian intelligence that was just a Trump Hotels spam bot; the Russians’ supposed invention of the Black Lives Matter movement to stir up those otherwise perfectly contented survivors of state violence; weaponized cricket chirps at the U.S. embassy in Cuba – yeah, no, really, the U.S. government said the Russians and Cubans were using a mind control beam weapon that was causing all sorts of terrible psychosomatic effects on the poor State Department victims therein; the Russian hacking of all the state parties’ voter rolls was an obvious joke long before they admitted it. You can go ahead and start with a scoff when the reports are coming from the Department of Homeland Security. They just want some attention. Then there was the Russian GRU’s alleged intervention in Brexit, in French, German and EU Parliamentary and other elections throughout Europe, and Putin’s supposed influence looming behind Trump’s choice of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for the Secretary of State job, and then later arranging his eventual firing. Virtually all of these were eventually walked back or abandoned, with another few thousand dishonest claims and smears against everyone who knew better along with them.

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller could have let it be known from at least near the very beginning of his appointment as Special Council in 2017 that their investigation was not pointing to the fact that the President of the United States was guilty of treason in league with the Kremlin to destroy our democracy and all. As Bob Woodward explained in his 2018 book, Fear, Trump told his lawyer to give Mueller’s team every scrap of paper from the 2016 campaign, no problem, not a thing to hide in the world. Just as Woodward understood and the Department of Justice must have, this meant that from the very beginning there was nothing there to find. They could have made that most important part of the story clear in a reasonable amount of time after that. Instead we got 1,000 leaks from the spies and the feds for another two years trying to make us believe it was all true. When Buzzfeed somehow crossed the line by falsely claimed that Bush had instructed his lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, Mueller quickly put out a press release denying that was true. But whether the sitting president was guilty of High Treason, of past and current subordination to the most dangerous foreign power on the planet? Sorry, you’ll just have to wait and wonder and watch TV speculate for a couple years until we get back to you.

And “reigning Trump in” has worked, in spades. As Tulsi Gabbard pointed out in a great piece in The Hill last week, Trump doesn’t have the intelligence or the strength to stand up to the National Security State’s onslaught. Desperate to prove what a traitor he’s not to the foreign policy establishment, Trump betrays the American people and his promise to end the recent era of enmity and work things out with Russia. Instead he’s overseen the addition of Montenegro and Macedonia to NATO; sent more American troops and equipment to Poland and the Baltics, including provocative military exercises and parades within just yards of the Russian border; and where Obama, the first black president to support a Nazi coup, was afraid to arm the regime forces who attacked their countrymen in the eastern Donbass region for fear of a real escalation into war with Russia, Donald Trump has gone ahead and sent arms to Ukraine’s Nazi-infested armed forces – sniper rifles, armed boats, RPGs and Javelin anti-tank missiles, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars worth of non-lethal equipment like Humvees, night vision goggles, radars and armor, along with training and joint military exercises. All this just incentivizes more violence after the major Minsk II peace deal has already been signed, calm is mostly reigning and talks continue.

If you can believe it, the House of Representatives of the United States of America actually recently impeached President Trump over allegedly holding up part of this arms deal for a few days until he could generate some bad PR for ex-Vice President Biden who we know was intimately involved in the 2014 coup and whose son got an in-name-only job at a major Ukrainian gas company in the aftermath for a cool $85,000 per month – that’s a million dollars per year – which he blew on crack and sex workers while cheating on his wife and dead brother’s widow at the same time. But anyway, holding up that arms deal was really bad, the Democrats thought, worse than genocide in Yemen, worse than doubling down on a lost war in Afghanistan and much worse than picking a fight with Russia, which is what he’s actually been doing.

Under Trump the U.S. Navy has stepped up its presence in the Black and Baltic seas and armed U.S. frigates in the Baltic with medium range cruise missiles that reduce first strike warning times, which of course makes the Russians’ launch-on-warning trigger finger itch that much worse.

And worst of all Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and threatened to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty and let New START expire next year.

Then again, when he proposes negotiations for a grand new nuclear deal between the U.S. and Russia, the media slam him as naïve and dangerous and only proving once again what an treacherous agent of the dastardly Vladimir Putin he is.

An important note about the INF Treaty: The MK-41 missile launchers Obama installed in Romania and Poland are supposedly for firing defensive missiles, but they also fit medium range Tomahawk cruise missiles. So the U.S. broke at least the spirit of the INF Treaty first, just as with the ships in the Baltic Sea. Russia then developed some new missiles that were probably also in violation – but were only being used for deployment near Russia’s frontier with China. But guess what? That’s why the U.S. wanted out of the treaty too, so they could deploy medium range missiles against China. So instead of saying, hold on now, and trying to negotiate a continuation, this important Reagan-era treaty that kept medium range nuclear missiles out of Europe for 30 years is now dead.

Perhaps worst of all is Trump’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review which, like Trump’s official National Security Strategy, announced a return to “great power competition,” specifically citing the Russian “threat” and called for the development and deployment of more low-yield, “usable” nuclear bombs and missiles (more on those in a minute), announced that the United States will not seek ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and even denounces the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which of course America signed back in 1968, promising to abolish our nuclear weapons stockpile completely, but has always ignored anyway.

What’s it all about?

Well it ain’t the threat of Soviet Communism, dead and gone 30 years now.

And it ain’t “Russian Aggression” which exists only in the minds of their aggressive accusers. Russia’s GDP last year was 3 trillion dollars. When you include the VA and the energy department’s care and feeding of the nuke stockpile, the U.S. spends a trillion dollars per year on the military. Russia spends $60 billion. We have more than a million-man army spread throughout the world. They have 750,000 and they almost all stay home, except special operations types in Ukraine and those and some air power in Syria, where, again, the U.S. has provoked their intervention through irresponsible policies in the first place.

The Russians have one broken down old diesel-powered aircraft carrier. America has 11 nuclear-powered carrier battle groups throughout the world at all times, 20 carriers overall. The U.S. has more than 3 times the amount of military aircraft as the Russians when including the U.S. air force and navy.

But Congressman Schiff says we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.

And there is no reason to believe that Vladimir Putin is dumb enough to try to make the same old mistake and invade and occupy foreign territory at all. What does he need from the eastern European states that he cannot trade for – other than possibly a defensive “land cushion” to their west to protect them from American aggression?

It’s the money. As Richard Cummings did such a great job of explaining in his 2007 article “Lockheed Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” the 1990s-era U.S. Committee To Expand NATO was a project of Lockheed Vice-President Bruce Jackson. The whole thing was just meant to be a racket for selling jets either directly to the eastern European states, or failing that, to force the American taxpayer to pick up the tab for them.

A fun anecdote about that: back in the spring of 2014, Harper’s magazine reporter Andrew Cockburn reported that he had a source who had been at a big party at Crystal City outside of Washington, D.C. – an area heavy with military contractors and lobbyists – the night it was announced that the Russian sailors were leaving their bases and seizing the Crimean Peninsula. They all started laughing and cheering and celebrating. Forget patrolling peasants in Afghanistan, a massive buildup against the renewed Russian Threat was exactly the conflict these men were looking for; threatening the future of our entire species so they don’t have to get real jobs.

You’ll note that the Navy and Air Force are more concerned with implementing their Air/Sea Battle doctrines in East Asia, while the Special Operations Command is doubling down in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya and on into West Africa.

It’s all in the game. The entire U.S. military is, as they themselves call it, a “self-licking ice cream cone.”

Full-Spectrum Dominance is a government program; as such it is the means and the end in itself. And so it goes.

Nukes.

The elephant in the room here of course are the hydrogen bombs, otherwise known as thermonuclear fusion bombs or “strategic” nuclear weapons. One of these in the high kiloton or low megaton range can kill your entire city in a single shot.

Barack Obama pushed a massive appropriation toward revamping the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal as well as a complete overhaul of the entire industry; all the factories and national laboratories too. They started by saying the project would cost 1 trillion dollars. Now it’s 1.75 trillion. We’ll be lucky if it’s only 3 or 4 trillion dollars by the time their done. (This after spending almost 6 trillion on the current arsenal during the last arms race with Russia in the 20th century.) A recent article in Defense One said:

“Modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal is Pentagon leaders’ top priority. The Pentagon, in its fiscal 2021 budget request, asked Congress to approve [another] $28.9 billion to maintain its existing weapons and buy new intercontinental ballistic missiles, [a new generation of] stealth bombers, submarines, cruise missiles, warheads and communications equipment. The Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration has requested $15.6 billion for its nuclear weapons projects.”

Much of the time, if you listen to the DC wonks talk about it, the nukes just go without saying. Of course everybody knows that both sides are armed to the teeth with them still, but so then they just seem to get left out, leaving entire plans and discussions about war revolving around the idea that we could really just fight a conventional war with Russia like in some fun fantasy of a junior tank officer or a stay-at-home PlayStation general.

But both sides still have about 2,000 nuclear and thermonuclear bombs deployed, with approximately another 6-7,000 each in reserve. This is still way down from the height of the arms race the last time around in which both sides built up nuclear weapons arsenals in the tens of thousands of bombs.

Possibly even more dangerous than the multi-megaton city-killers are the new dial-a-yield bombs, capable of being detonated at “usable” low-yield strengths in the 10s or even single digit kilotons. They also come with new and improved proximity fuses that make them far more accurate. This might sound like an improvement, but at the same time it makes the actual use of these weapons seem far more plausible to the men in control of them. It was only just announced a few weeks ago that the first of the new generation of these weapons have been deployed on U.S. submarines.

The Americans have a theory that Russia’s new military doctrine in Europe is to “escalate to de-escalate” – that is, in the event of war, to use one small nuke to dissuade any further escalation by our side. But the U.S. wants them to know that that won’t work: the U.S. will escalate back, not disengage. To drive this point home a story was recently leaked about a war game earlier this month which included the use by Russia of a low-yield nuke under their new doctrine. So in the simulation, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper immediately nuked them right back. Hans Christianson from the Federation of American Scientists says this leak was also a public relations stunt to get Congress to fund the new submarine-launched low-yield cruise missile they want to develop.

(In Andrew Cockburn’s book Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall and Catastrophic Legacy, he describes how the former Secretary of Defense, filling in as the president while playing Continuity of Government games in the 1990s, would always blow up the world, every chance he got. Even when the game was designed to provide off ramps from full Omnicide, he still went for it every time.)

In real life, this type of exchange, beginning with so-called tactical nukes, would almost certainly devolve into general nuclear war and the destruction of the northern hemisphere and the starvation of billions more, as a war simulation carried out by Princeton University demonstrated last year. Any people who survived would have been set back centuries. Even an extremely “limited” nuclear war, such as between India and Pakistan, could kill as many people as all who died in World War II in a single day. The soot from the fires, rising high above the clouds where it cannot be rained out, could be enough to darken our sunlight enough to cause nuclear winter, massive global crop failures and the deaths of billions.

And for what? To keep Russia from occupying Tallinn or Vilnius, cities most Americans have never heard of and certainly would never have signed up to be wiped off the face of the earth over?

In another recent DoD exercise, Russia nukes first and the U.S. responds by nuking their ally Belarus. Who comes up with this stuff?

If you want to know how crazy America’s nuclear weapons policy really is, please read The Doomsday Machine by the great Vietnam War whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers. He was also a nuclear war planner and has some serious things to tell you in there. For example, back in the ’50s, the one and only nuclear war plan said that in the event of a crisis with the Soviets, in, say, West Berlin, the U.S. would nuke every single city in the Soviet Union and China. Though that was revised somewhat in the Kennedy years, anecdotes since that time are not reassuring. Old “Iron Ass” Dick Cheney was said to be astonished and disturbed when seeing a simulation of a U.S. nuclear war against Russia which included scores and scores of strikes on Moscow, long after it would have ceased to exist. Every service wants two cracks at every target because what if the first shot is a dud? Better make it three air force gravity bombs, two ICBMs, two Tomahawk cruise missiles and a couple of sub-launched Polaris missiles at this one radar station on the edge of town, just to be sure. And every new weapon invented and deployed is added to the list while the old ones remain. Year after year it adds up to just comic book-crazy scenarios such as nuking cities full of people and then the empty craters over and over and over again. As Ellsberg recounted, when he left his first viewing of Dr. Strangelove, he and a RAND Corporation college said to each other, that wasn’t satire; it was a documentary.

It seems crazy and alarmist to even consider. After all, what could we really have to fight about with Russia now that’s more important that all the crises of the first Cold War era? But it is crazy. And that’s why we should be alarmed. And we should do everything we can to shout down those ignorant TV-slogan repeating myna birds in our communities who have climbed on board the bandwagon on this.

It’s no different than the demonization of any of the U.S. government’s enemies here and around the world: virtually the entire popular narrative is fake.

Of course the older generation is used to hating Russia and the young have been sold a line of garbage about “Russian aggression” throughout Eastern Europe, and of course the Russiagate hoax and Putin inflicting Trump upon our land.

But the U.S.A., not Russia, is the World Empire. And it shouldn’t be. Primacy in the Old World is a Fool’s Errand. This is the middle part of North America. Our supposed limited constitutional republic should never have tried it. And while it’s possible that economic catastrophe could end the era of attempted predominance before a nuclear war does, it seems like the more responsible course would be to recognize the self-destructive nature of our current policy and just call it all off now while we’re ahead.

In truth, neither Russia nor Germany nor anyone else has any interest whatsoever in starting a war in Eastern Europe. It is the U.S.A. which has picked this fight.

Of course in the current political climate any statement or position that contains anything better than the most overly simplistic, “other side”-bashing, fearmongering point of view is spun from on high as not just “pro-Russian,” but also “obviously-secretly-controlled-by-Russia” because what other explanation for someone not believing the hype could there possibly be?

But that’s why the current political climate must change. Already the most recent false accusations about Russia’s supposed support for both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have fallen flat amongst all but those most determined to believe it about the other side. But last week, as the writer Matt Taibbi noted, Trump’s approval rating went up, while Sanders cleaned up in Nevada the day after the smear story was launched. Of course the entire story was later walked back, like all the rest of them.

America’s relationship with Russia is the single most important matter facing humanity. We all deserve policies that will bring an end to the current system which requires a perpetual nuclear sword hanging over all of our necks while tragic proxy conflicts are waged against innocent people and the threat of a real war breaking out is higher than at any time since the early 1980s, if not the early 1960s.

This essential issue is one where libertarians can lead by telling the truth and demanding an end to this insane game of militarism and global hegemony so that we can truly live in peace and prosperity together.

Thank you very much.

Iraq War IV?

Iraq War IV?

The U.S.A. has been bombing Iraq for 29 years. And it looks like it’s not over yet:

Iraq War I: January—February 1991 (aka The Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, liberation of Kuwait)

Iraq War I 1/2: February 1991—March 2003 (The rest of Bush I, Bill Clinton years, economic blockade and no-fly zone bombings)

Iraq War II: March 2003—December 2011 (aka Operation Iraqi Freedom, W. Bush’s invasion and war for the Shi’ite side)

Iraq War III: August 2014—December 2017 (aka Operation Inherent Resolve, the war against the Islamic State, which America had helped to build up in Syria but then launched this war to destroy, on behalf of the Shi’ite government in Baghdad, after ISIS had seized the predominately Sunni west of the country in the early summer of 2014 and declared the Islamic State “Caliphate”)

Iraq War III 1/2: December 2017—January 2020 (The “mopping-up” war against the remnants of ISIS which has had the U.S. still allied with the very same Shi’ite militias they fought Iraq War II and III for, but are now attacking)

Iraq War IV: Now—?

In 1953, the American CIA overthrew the elected prime minister of Iran in favor of the Shah Reza Pahlavi who ruled a dictatorship there for 26 years until in 1979 a popular revolution overthrew his government and installed the Shi’ite Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in power.

So in 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s government gave Iraq’s Saddam Hussein the green light to invade Iran, a war which the U.S. continued to support throughout the Ronald Reagan years, though they also sold weapons to the Iranian side at times.

But then in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait in a dispute over debts from the recent war with Iran, with some encouragement by the U.S. government, leading to America’s Iraq War I, aka the first Gulf War or Operation Desert Storm at the beginning of 1991.

They said it was a quick and easy war, except in the aftermath, again with the encouragement of the U.S. government, the Iraqi majority Shi’ite population in alliance with the Sunni Kurds in Iraq’s north rose up to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s secular, Sunni Arab-dominated dictatorship.

But then President Bush Sr. changed his mind and let Saddam Hussein keep his attack helicopters and enough tanks to crush the uprising, leading to the deaths of more than 100,000 people.

Why did Bush Sr. change his mind? Because the Iraqi “traitors” among the Shi’ites who had chosen religious sect over ethnic and national sect during the 1980s, and had fled to Iran and fought on their side in the Iran-Iraq war, especially the Badr Brigade of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, had begun to come across the border from Iran to lead the revolution. The Americans realized they were reversing the 1980s policy of supporting Iraq’s Baathist regime to contain the Iranian Shi’ite revolution and were now importing it into Iraq. So Bush Sr. choked and called it off.

Next, protecting the Shi’ite and Kurdish population the U.S. had just encouraged and betrayed became the excuse for the U.S. to maintain it’s newly expanded military presence in Arabia. It was declared that the U.S. and UK, and originally France as well, would have to maintain “no-fly zones” over northern and southern Iraq for the duration, which were the occasion for hundreds of bombings throughout the 1990s.

At the same time they maintained the pre-war economic blockade against the country in the name of making the people so weak and desperate that they would rise up and overthrow the Hussein government for the U.S. now after their one chance had been spent. Hundreds of thousands of people were deprived to death.

The U.S. military presence in Arabia to wage this half-state of war against Iraq then became the major motivation for bin Laden and his associates, who had fought with U.S. support against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, to turn against the United States, which they did, beginning with the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993.

But Israel’s government, and the American neoconservative movement which was closely associated with it, was more concerned about Iran.

In 1996, neoconservative David Wurmser and his associates Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and a few others advised then-incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the best way to weaken Iranian influence in Syria and southern Lebanon would be to “focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.” Their friend the Iraqi exile and criminal Ahmed Chalabi, whose “Iraqi National Congress” had its headquarters in Tehran, said it was going to be great. The new Iraq will help America dominate Iran, cut off Hamas and Hezbollah and build an oil and water pipeline to Haifa!

When the consequences of staying in Saudi Arabia after Iraq War I came on September 11, 2001, the U.S. government, led by President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives they had appointed to high office, took the opportunity to launch Iraq War II to overthrow Saddam Hussein in March 2003.

But it did not work out like the neocons had promised.

Instead, essentially all they had done was pick up right where the Bush Sr. government left off. Less than a year into the occupation, the Shi’ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani demanded one-man, one-vote democracy. This led directly to the rise of the also-Iranian-backed Shi’ite United Iraqi Alliance, who, under American supervision, wrote Iraq’s new constitution in late 2004 and won total control over the new parliament in the “purple-finger” elections of January 2005.

The Bush government was happy to deal with the Alliance’s Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and Da’wa Party. Every Prime Minster since then has been from these two parties. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s military worked hand in glove with SCIRI and their militia, the Badr Corps. This was the very same Iranian-backed militia that had been living in Iran since 1980 and had fought on their side in the Iran-Iraq war; the very same men whose presence among the Shi’ite uprising against Hussein in 1991 had caused Bush’s father to withdraw support for the revolution. Now the U.S. was putting them directly in power.

In 2004 the U.S. launched the “El Salvador Option,” empowering the Badr Brigade to hunt down and torture and murder the leaders of the growing Sunni-based insurgency. General David Petraeus used SCIRI’s Badr Brigade as the core of the new Iraqi Army, and during the “surge” of 2007–2008 helped them win their civil war, giving them total dominance over the capital city of Baghdad and the central government of Iraq, while pushing the Sunni-based insurgency, and ultimately the predominately Sunni western parts of the country into the arms of al Qaeda in Iraq, aka the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).

But in the middle of all this, they realized their mistake. The Israelis had already decided to play their own game with the Iraqi Kurds. The Saudi king was angry and had been financing the Sunni insurgency against the U.S. and the Shi’ite parties in the war. So the Bush administration decided to launch what they called “the Redirection.”

This was the plan to put the U.S. back on the side of its client Sunni kingdoms in Arabia, allied with Israel, Jordan and Turkey against the newly expanded Shi’ite alliance of Tehran, Damascus, Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon and now Baghdad, to try to somehow make up for the war they had just fought for the Shi’ite government in Iran that they all hated so much.

So that’s why Obama worked with Saudi and other regional allies to back al Qaeda in Iraq in Syria’s uprising against the Iranian-allied Baathist regime in Damascus. He wasn’t a secret Muslim terrorist from Kenya. He was George W. Bush.

However, instead of simply creating a bin Ladenite emirate in eastern Syria that would focus on moving west against the Assad government in Damascus, the Iraqi-led faction of al Qaeda in Syria, ISIS, decided to move east and conquer all of predominately Sunni western Iraq in June 2014. They then declared the establishment of a new bin Ladenite Islamic State straddling the old border between Iraq and Syria.

The “Islamo-fascist caliphate” of George W. Bush’s most ridiculous propaganda and Osama bin Laden’s wildest dreams had come to life – thanks to Bush’s Iraq War II and Obama’s overt action in Syria.

Though they resented the Shi’ites, the establishment of the Sunni-bin Ladenite Islamic State caliphate in Iraq was too much. A sort of Islamist Khmer Rouge, ISIS threatened America’s oil interests in Kurdistan and the Shi’ite regime in Baghdad as well as being an overall “embarrassment” for the Obama government.

So they launched Iraq War III in 2014–2017 to help the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Iraqi government and its paramilitary militias destroy the radical Sunni state they had built to spite the Iranian-Shi’ite regional alliance they had fought Iraq War II for.

Iranian influence in Syria was also only increased during this time as U.S. and allied support for the bin Ladenites necessitated the Assad regime’s turning to Iran and Hezbollah for defense against them, turning Syria from an Iranian ally to a dependent.

Which brings us to the recent conflict. More than 5,000 U.S. troops remain in country fighting Iraq War III 1/2 against what’s left of the ISIS insurgency in western Iraq. It is doing so in cooperation with the Shi’ite-dominated Baghdad government and its paramilitary forces such as the Badr Brigade, Katib Hezbollah and Asaib Al al-Haq.

But over the past six months or so the Israelis, with the cooperation of the U.S. have been launching air strikes against some of these militias. However, when one militia fired rockets at U.S. bases in response on December 27, killing a contractor and wounding two American soldiers, this was labeled the first day in history and pure “Iranian aggression,” though it is unknown whether Iran’s forces were truly involved in the attack.

The U.S. then attacked Katib Hezbollah bases, killing approximately 25 and causing a massive reaction among the major Shi’ite parties and leaders in the country and a controlled semi-riot at the U.S. embassy. No lives were truly threatened but this was clearly seen as a threat of a future Benghazi-type assault on the American embassy there.

In response, on January 3, Trump escalated massively by ordering the killing of the second or third most powerful man in Iran, Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Qods Force – essentially their special operations command. Apparently, graffiti implicating Soleimani at the scene of the riot turned into his death warrant. (Endless accusations in the media that Iran and Soleimani were responsible for the deaths of 600 American soldiers in Iraq War II are false.)

It turns out that the protest was led in part by Hadi al-Ameri – the head of SCIRI’s Badr Brigade and member of the ruling coalition in parliament! And now his old close associates David Petraeus and Barack Obama are pretending not to know him.

Ironically, as Patrick Cockburn pointed out, this is all happening right when Iran and Soleimani’s reputation were at a low ebb in Iraq due to the Qods Force helping to organize a lethal over-reaction to the recent protest movement breaking out among the Shi’ites there. That’s over now.

Iran’s response may have come already in the form of the Iraqi Parliament’s vote on Sunday to expel U.S. forces (and file an official complaint against the U.S. at the United Nations).

If Ayatollah Khamenei is smart he’ll take this political victory as good enough and avoid further escalation of the violence, which could cost the U.S., Iraq and Iran all terribly: the U.S. has tens of thousands of troops and a zillion dollars’ worth of equipment within Iranian missile range in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi, Oman and UAE, as well as economic targets of unquantifiable value all up and down the west side of the Persian Gulf.

At the same time, the U.S. has enough firepower to completely decimate Iran, even without using nuclear weapons, if it came down to a real war. (By the way, is there anything in the world that Ayman al Zawahiri would like to see more than a U.S. war against the mullahs of Iran other than his own rear end on Pharaoh Sisi’s throne in Egypt?)

Mutually assured destruction has kept the relative peace thus far, but Americans should insist that the U.S. military leave Iraq immediately. Iraq War III is over. The “territorial caliphate,” as Trump calls it, has been destroyed and Baghdad’s sovereignty over western Iraq restored. If our best Iraqi allies that we’ve helped win two major wars in the last 17 years are such bad guys that we want to bomb their leaders, then now must be the perfect time to quit this war once and for all.

The U.S.A. has no real reason to fight Iran or their and our Iraqi friends. They do not threaten the American people. They only stand in the way of American political and military dominance over the Middle East. That ship has already sailed. If people are sad that Iran has increased its power and influence over the region in the past 20 years, they need to take that up with George W. Bush and Joe Biden. But there’s nothing we can do about it now.

Again, the U.S. has only a few thousand troops in the country to help these same Shi’ite forces fight against what’s left of AQI/ISIS. We do not have anything like the forces necessary to turn around and fight against the Shi’ite army and militias even if we had a good reason to do so.

Trump claims he ordered this killing to have the last word. To “stop a war not to start one.” As reckless as this is, it does seem to accurately reflect his intention. Secretary of State Pompeo immediately started calling for a time-out on Twitter, insisting that the U.S. was intent on “de-escalating” the conflict from here on.

On Sunday afternoon, Iran announced they were withdrawing from more of the restrictions in the 2015 nuclear deal the U.S. left two years ago. Even if they quit the whole deal now, it would mean little since they are still within the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA. However, we can expect the usual suspects to pretend to believe that they are embarking on a new nuclear weapons program starting presently.

But so far there is still no real crisis other than what our government has made.

Twenty-nine years of bombing one country is enough. Starting Iraq War IV out of spite over the results of Iraq Wars II and III would be the height of folly and assuredly an unmitigated disaster.

Instead, let’s call the whole thing off and bring our troops home.

Cross-posted at Antiwar.com.

The IRS or The Libertarian Institute?

The IRS or The Libertarian Institute?

Friends,

We should be so lucky to somehow know that the government has only wasted all the money they’ve stolen from us over the years, rather than doing something horrible to someone with it.

America’s completely insane and criminal income taxation system has one good loophole going for it: you can deduct donations to not-for-profit 501(c3) charitable institutions like The Libertarian Institute from your yearly round of extortion by the IRS.

The Institute is growing. We’ve got a great site with a great bunch of writers and podcast hosts. We’ve published four great books and are working on four more to be published in 2020 right now.

We also plan on hosting an event or two in the next year so we can get to know you all personally and get to growing our great movement for the new decade.

The Bush and Obama eras are long-gone now. Whether Trump is reelected or not, the turn of the 2020s is definitely a milestone and beginning of a whole new time period.

The Bush-Clinton centrist consensus is in smoking ruins. The left and the right are moving further toward socialism and nationalism.

Those of us who put freedom first have alot of work to do to show the American people that it is liberty which holds the key to our prosperity and continued peaceful future together.

At The Libertarian Institute we are working hard to set the best example we can for what libertarians care about, what we’re for and against, and what the truth is.

And we’d like to thank you for your support.
https://libertarianinstitute.org/donate

Scott Horton
Sheldon Richman
Pete Quinones
Kyle Anzalone
The Libertarian Institute

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

This is all wrong. The entire war on terrorism, and every bit of the suffering, spending and lost liberty that has come with it, has been an unnecessary evil.

At the time of the September 11, 2001 attack which got this new era of war started, the enemy in Afghanistan numbered only 400 men. Their closest acolytes spread across the region, another few hundred. The George W. Bush administration could have negotiated their extradition. Short of that, special operations forces and the CIA Special Activities Division paramilitaries could have made short work of the small number of al Qaeda fighters, including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri, if only they’d been allowed to. The whole mess could have been over by New Year’s Day.

Instead, regime change was declared in Kabul and Baghdad, and later Tripoli, Sana’a and Damascus. The combination of Bush’s Iraq War II and Barack Obama’s half-regime change in Syria even led to the creation for three years of the “Islamic State” Caliphate of W. Bush’s old war propaganda and bin Laden’s wildest dreams in the lands where the Baathists used to rule; another regime which had to be changed.

Broadly defined, those fighters, not necessarily international terrorists, but fighters declared loyal to al Qaeda and its Islamic State spinoff, now number somewhere in the low tens of thousands from West Africa to Pakistan. Some war on terrorism.

Nevermind a counterfactual where a hero like Ron Paul or Harry Browne, or even the horrible Al Gore had won the presidency in the year 2000. If only George W. Bush had not hired Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the neoconservatives, but instead had relied on the man the American people assumed would be running his foreign policy, his Secretary of State, Gen. Colin Powell, none of this would have happened.

Of course in real life Powell clicked his heels and lied the American people into war with Iraq anyway. But there’s little doubt that if Jr. had picked a run-of-the-mill VP and Secretary of Defense, and that they had kept the crazies in the basement, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Bush Sr.’s Iraq War I in 1991 would have advised the son the same way he had told his father before: Don’t go to Baghdad.

Without the destabilization of the region wrought by the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003-2011, including the rise of “al Qaeda in Iraq” and its veterans coming home to countries like Libya and Syria in the aftermath, there’s little reason to think that there would have been major uprisings in those countries for Bush’s successor Obama to arm and support.

Powell and Bush would’ve still probably wanted to stay on and expand the mission in Afghanistan, but contrary to some of the narratives spun in the new Afghan Papers release, there’s no reason to think any of it would have gone any better if the U.S. kept its eye on the ball and not gone off to invade Iraq. Afghanistan’s problems were never going to be fixed with infantry divisions either way.

But more than a million Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians and Yemenis would not have been killed. Nor would the more than 4,500 American soldiers who have been killed in the wars outside of Afghanistan in that time. Tens of thousands of Americans have been wounded. No one knows how many on “the other” side.

More than six trillion dollars would not have been diverted to such wasteful, destructive ends. Just two.

Another major consequence for the U.S. has been the exacerbation of enmity and resentment between American political factions. Much of our current state of tension can be traced back to the fight over invading Iraq in 2003 and the torture the Bush administration used to generate the lies to justify that war. Families were torn apart over partisan loyalty to horrible, dishonest men. It may be hard to remember or describe accurately now, but the stress was real. “How could fully half the population of this country not want to fight against Saddam Hussein who attacked us on 9/11?! — filthy liberal traitors!” thought a hundred-million or so Americans. “How in the world can you-all be so stupid?!” screamed the other half back at them. Abortion, gay marriage and other major cultural fault lines seemed like nothing in comparison at the time.

The entire edifice of the Homeland Security state erected around Washington since 2001 never had to be. The liberty lost to these institutions in this era will likely never be regained. In the late 1990s, when the Bill Clinton administration tried to institute new “Know your customer” regulations requiring banks to turn over records on all of their depositors to the feds on a regular basis, there was a huge outcry and the program was rolled back. But in the era of the War on Terrorism such regulations amounted to nothing but a footnote on massive power grabs such as the PATRIOT Act and the FBI, CIA and NSA’s legal and illegal domestic spying programs.

Millions of people have been made to suffer the worst indignities at the hands of TSA goons at our airports.

Hundreds of Americans have been entrapped by government informants into bogus declarations of loyalty to terrorists and fake terrorist plots just to keep your family afraid while watching the nightly news.

In short, the American war on terrorism, in a mirror image of the tactics of our asymmetric enemies, has amounted to one big suicide attack itself. Our government lashes out in unreasoned violence and succeeds only in destroying everything it claimed it was here to protect.

This is what bin Laden wanted. He said it repeatedly back before the turn of the century. He would provoke the U.S. into the Afghan trap, destabilize the region, break America’s bank, collapse our empire and force us out the hard way, just the same way the CIA had helped them to do to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan a generation before. Bush, Obama and Trump’s wars in the Arab countries have just been icing on the cake. The U.S. has turned the entire region upside down and created open spaces for bin Ladenite militias to fight, where states used to be, for a thousand miles in every direction.

And as the current chief administrator of America’s attempted military hegemony in the Middle East might complain, we, the American people, get absolutely nothing out of it whatsoever.

Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan’s governments created this monster, Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton’s governments turned them against us, then W. Bush and Barack Obama’s governments exploited their violence in order to make matters a hundred times worse.

Now, three years into Trump’s presidency, despite all his talk about how invading the Middle East was the “worst decision ever,” the commander in chief has only escalated every single one of the wars, excepting Pakistan: in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and on down into West Africa. And there’s no end in sight.

One of the worst parts of it all is that our government committed so much of this violence in the name of liberty and self-government, which has only helped to discredit the very best of what America truly does have to offer the world, if only we would live up to our ideals and show the rest of humanity what it looked like.

Instead, we got the whole dang century off on the wrong foot.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The American people can change it. As powerful as the war machine is, the question really all just comes down to public consensus. As this era comes to an end and a new one begins: do we believe in the government’s bogus narratives still, or don’t we anymore? Liberals, leftists and progressives care more about their own victimhood politics or they care more about what’s happening to others? Conservatives just love to kick Arab ass or they’re sick and tired of seeing good people die in no-win wars based on lies?

Government and TV cannot dictate the answers to these questions. It is up to the public to get it right and make it clear that this is what matters the most to us.

At some point power will have to give in. What will it take to make them?

Here at Antiwar.com, we’ve been doing our part for 25 years, bringing you the truth behind all of America’s wars. Please join us by supporting our efforts at Antiwar.com/donate. Antiwar.com is a 510(c3) not-for-profit organization that relies on your support to do our important work. And you can write off your donations on your income taxes! What more can I say, besides, Thank you. It means everything.

Cross-posted at Antiwar.com.

Pensacola: Blowback Terrorism: The problem isn’t ‘radical Islam’

Pensacola: Blowback Terrorism: The problem isn’t ‘radical Islam’

Florida Senator Rick Scott is lost in the dark. After Friday’s deadly Afghan war-style “green on blue” attack by a Saudi air force officer at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, the senator issued a statement calling the shooting an act of terrorism, and stating that this was the case, “whether this individual was motivated by radical Islam or was simply mentally unstable.”

First of all, “terrorism,” means the use of violence against civilians in order to provoke a political reaction. But these targets were all members of the U.S. Navy, not civilians. The three killed are Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters. This is a tragedy, but it’s not really terrorism.

Then again, of course, the real question about terrorism is not about the victims, but about the motives of the perpetrator, Saudi Air Force Second Lieutenant Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani. And here is where the Florida senator misses the point. The possibilities as he presents them are that the attack was motivated either by “radical Islam” or “mental instability.” But perhaps the perp’s belief in his religion hadn’t changed at all, in terms of degrees of devotion or in beginning to prefer a different, stricter Islamic doctrine. And maybe he wasn’t mentally ill either. After all, there was a shooting at the navy’s Pearl Harbor base in Hawaii the day before, and all indications are that that shooter’s motives were purely personal.

As long as the senator is speculating, why should religion or mental illness be considered the most likely explanations at all? Maybe al-Shamrani had gambling debts. Maybe he was blackmailed into it by an unknown party. (At least 10 other men were taken in for questioning, at least one of whom is alleged to have recorded the attack with his phone camera.) …

Maybe he was mad about American foreign policy.

That’s what he said his motive was: [Errors in original.]

“I’m not against you for just being American, I don’t hate you because your freedoms, I hate you because every day you supporting, funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity. I am against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil. What I see from America is the supporting of Israel which is invasion of Muslim countrie, I see invasion of many countries by it’s troops, I see Guantanamo Bay. I see cruise missiles, cluster bombs and UAV.

“Your decision-makers, the politicians, the lobbyists and the major corporations are the ones gaining from your foreign policy, and you are the ones paying the price for it.

“What benefit is it to the American people to suffer for the sake of supporting Israel?

“Do you expect to transgress against others and yet be spared retribution?

“How many more body-bags are American families willing to receive?

“For how long can the US survive this war of attrition?

“The US Treasury spend billions of dollars, in order to give Americans a false sense of security .

“The security is shared destiny

“You will not be safe until we live it as reality in pleastain, and American troops get out of our lands .”

No wonder American papers and news stations are so reluctant to quote the whole statement. For Republicans, Democrats, spies, soldiers, Zionists and their media myna birds, “Mohammed made him do it” is surely a preferable explanation to “Uh, this is all our fault.”

But al-Shamrani’s statement doesn’t have anything to do with “radical Islam.” (Notably, though Twitter deleted his statement, the replies remain, and seem to uniformly consist of denunciations of the attack and the attacker by other Muslims.) Whatever this man’s sect and degree of devotion, this attack was political. As others have noted, some of the phrases in the screed have been borrowed directly from Osama bin Laden and Anwar Awlaki’s statements (though so far he is said to have no established ties to terrorist groups.) This would include the reference to the “war of attrition” that bin Laden had wanted to initiate against the U.S. since the early 1990s. That wasn’t about radical Islam targeting unbelievers either.

It’s fighting them over there that causes them to fight us here. It always has been.*

The perpetrators of virtually every single terrorist attack against the U.S., beginning with Egyptian Islamic Jihad/proto-al Qaeda’s assassination of Rabbi Kahane in New York City in 1990, have cited their wanting revenge for, and desire to play a role in a war that the United States started here on Earth. Before September 11th, al Qaeda’s leaders cited the presence of U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia which were being used to attack other Muslim countries such as Iraq, support for Israel’s occupations in Palestine and (then) Lebanon, support for Saudi kings and Egyptian military despots, theft of Arab oil resources at artificially low prices, and support for other nations’ oppression of Muslim minorities. The plan was to attack us to provoke an overreaction. As the great intelligence beat reporter James Bamford explained,

“Ayman al-Zawahiri argued that al-Qaeda should bring the war to ‘the distant enemy’ in order to provoke the Americans to strike back and ‘personally wage the battle against Muslims.’ It was that battle that bin Laden and Zawahiri wanted to spark [with the 9/11 attacks]. As they made clear in their declaration of war ‘against Jews and Crusaders,’ they believed that the United States and Israel had been waging war against Muslims for decades. Now their hope was to draw Americans into a desert Vietnam, with bin Laden in the role of North Vietnamese president Ho Chi Minh.”

Twelve years after the humiliation of “America’s mayor,” Rudy Giuliani by Rep. Ron Paul in a 2007 Republican Party presidential debate, when Paul explained the truth about the terrorists’ motives for attacking the United States, the argument has still not been won. That is, of course, because the same people who are responsible for these policies, including the government’s handmaidens in the major media, are the same ones in charge of diagnosing and confronting the problem now. But that’s just how it works. The worse they fail, the more job security they have in the future, at least until the trillions of dollars spent becomes too many and retrenchment becomes unavoidable.

But it’s no mystery. You could ask Robert Mueller, James Comey and the FBI about it. Their agent, James Fitzgerald, told the 9/11 Comission in long-since forgotten testimony about al Qaeda that,

“I believe they feel a sense of outrage against the United States. They identify with the Palestinian problem, they identify with people who oppose repressive regimes, and I believe they tend to focus their anger on the United States.”

Apparently the FBI brass considered this intelligence pure gold because they went on to use America’s interventionist policy in the Middle East as their main talking point when grooming and entrapping idiots by the hundreds into fake terrorism plots across the country since that time. Never has an FBI informant enticed his mark into a violent plot by converting him to Salafism or Wahaabism or by condemning Americans’ freedom, such as it is. That wouldn’t work. Playing on their victims’ need for cash and sympathy for dead civilians seems to be their winning formula instead.

Donald Trump ran for office claiming to oppose America’s “stupid” Middle East wars. He continues to complain that “USA should never have been in Middle East.” Yet all he’s done is escalate every single one of the wars Bush and Obama left him, and has withdrawn from none. His government continues to threaten Iran’s Shi’ite mullahs with war as well, something no one in the world would like to see happen more than Ayman al Zawahiri, other than perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu. In the name of deterring attacks from Iran, Trump has recently sent 3,000 more U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia.

American civilians and enlisted men may continue to be slaughtered, but the foreign policy hawks can go ahead and relax. Secretary of Defense Esper, speaking at the Reagan Defense Forum in Simi Valley, said the attack would not affect the presence of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia “at all.”

Trump has also nearly snapped his own spine bending over backwards to please Netanyahu’s Likud Party and its American supporters. They’re even talking now about a new official defense pact between our countries.

It should be no surprise at all that the Pensacola attacker’s second-to-last tweet was a retweet of a Times of Israel reprint of the text of Trump’s speech announcing the moving of America’s embassy to Jerusalem and his “recognition” of that entire city as the capital of Israel, thereby precluding the possibility that the eastern part of the city would someday be the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

The first blowback terrorist attacks attributable to that terrible policy change happened almost immediately when gunmen attacked targets in Kenya and Mali and cited the Jerusalem move as the motive.

President Trump, obsequious as ever before the Saudi royals and the Israelis and American-Israeli lobby, will only continue to make things worse.

*I cover this topic in more detail in my book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan.

Reprinted from Anti-War.com.

Looking Ahead to New Institute Published Books

Looking Ahead to New Institute Published Books

Building on the great success of Fool’s ErrandNo QuarterThe Great Ron Paul and Coming to Palestine, the Libertarian Institute will be publishing at least three new books in the new year:

I am hard at work on my new book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, my take on every U.S. conflict in the Middle East since 1979.

our executive editor Sheldon Richman is working on a great new compilation of his essays on libertarianism, titled What Social Animals Owe to Each Other: Essays on Individualism as the Basis of Social Cooperation.

our good friend Thomas R. Eddlem is now hard at work editing and preparing another great posthumous work of our hero and co-founder, the late, great William Norman Grigg, titled, The Stolen Life of Christopher Tapp, about the terrible false conviction and imprisonment of that innocent man by authorities in the state of Idaho. (As with No Quarter, all proceeds from this book will go directly to Will’s family, of course.)

and our new managing editor Pete Quinones is working on a reexamination of the 1993 ATF-FBI siege and massacre at Waco, Texas.

This is the work that we are dedicated to at the Libertarian Institute. But it’s all a bit easier with your support.

And we’re a 501c3 tax-exempt not-for-profit organization, so you can write it off on your income taxes! Donate today!

Death and Taxes? How About Life and Liberty? Join us as we build a better Institute.

Death and Taxes? How About Life and Liberty? Join us as we build a better Institute.

On a shoestring budget since our founding in 2016, we have done our best to hold the line on libertarian principle while prioritizing the fight against the government’s worst depredations first.

In 2017 we published our director Scott Horton’s acclaimed book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan.

While the broader libertarian movement and our Libertarian Institute family lost our hero Will Grigg in 2017, this year we proudly published a posthumous collection of his best articles of this century in No Quarter: The Ravings of William Norman Grigg. It’s a fitting legacy for a great man and heroic defender of freedom.

We also just published Coming to Palestine, Institute co-founder and executive editor Sheldon Richman’s excellent collection of pieces written over a span of 30 years, offering the definitive libertarian take on the Israeli occupation of Palestine and The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004-2019, a wealth of insight and analysis from Dr. Paul — and Scott — covering the War on Terror, monetary policy, the rise of the surveillance state, and much more.

Also, Scott’s definitive analysis of the American empire’s disastrous adventures before and after 9/11, Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism will be published in early 2020, in time to inform the foreign policy discussion during the presidential election season.

Not only that but director Gus Cantavaro is producing a documentary featuring Scott essentially taking the viewers through the new book, in other words, all of America’s Middle East wars since 1979.

Also in 2020, Sheldon Richman will be putting out at least two more great collections of his best articles over the decades. And we’ll be publishing another posthumous book by the great Will Grigg, The Stolen Life of Christopher Tapp, Will’s great work over the years exposing the corrupt prosecution and imprisonment of that innocent man by the state of Idaho, which is currently being edited by Thomas R. Eddlem.

Also, last summer we decided to make Pete R. Quinones, aka Mance Rayder, our new managing editor. His great articles and podcast Free Man Beyond the Wall have already proven to be a great contribution to the Institute and the website.

Compared to inside-the-beltway think tanks that use their huge budgets and fancy offices to churn out academic policy wonkery that nobody reads, supporting the Libertarian Institute is a tremendous way to invest in relevant, timely work by real libertarians that actually gets noticed.

But we want to do even more — if you help us reach our year-end goal of $50,000, we plan on:

—Bringing on more talented writers and hosts

—A brand new website design, improved community tools, and a regular mailing list

—An ever growing archive of the greatest libertarian written works, personalities, and podcasts

—Official Libertarian Institute events in the Austin area

—And don’t forget Scott’s debate with William Kristol at the Soho Forum May 11th, 2020

Your help is what keeps us going, so we ask, will you become a supporter?

Mind the Gap: A Strategy For Saying Libertarian Things

Mind the Gap: A Strategy For Saying Libertarian Things

The Tenth Amendment Center’s Michael Boldin calls it “the Horton rule.” (It is my rule, but I didn’t name it that.) It goes like this: Because libertarians are so dang good on everything — better than the left on things the left is good on (e.g.: gays, drugs, cops, wars) and better than the right on the things they’re good on (e.g. markets, guns, debt, taxes) — that means that when trying to influence regular people, that we always have the opportunity to attack the left from the left and the right from the right in order to show them the path to freedom. Why come at them from their opposite view when we already have so much in common? Better is to agree with them, but then just ask for a little bit of consistency. If you really like sound money, you have to oppose war. If you really oppose cops, you have to support the right to own firearms. Stuff like that.

To develop the idea a little bit further, another approach that in my experience can be very effective is to mind two important “gaps” in American political life:

First is the gap between the truth and the government and media’s established narratives about the causes of America’s worst public crises, (e.g.: terrorism, the boom and bust cycle, the inflated cost of housing, medical care and higher education, the heroin and methamphetamine epidemics, immigration, race relations, etc., etc.) Whether they’re lying or not, the dominate narratives about the causes of these problems are essentially false.

The second gap is between the truth and what is morally right. In other words, in almost all these cases what our government is doing is worsening, not alleviating, these very real problems that are causing people to suffer.

The silver lining is that this gives us an opportunity. These gaps in political reality are essentially no different than having a massive hole in the marketplace where important business is being done. To mix a couple metaphors, they are the elephant in the room and we are the only ones who aren’t blind to the whole nature of the animal. Being libertarian means understanding the real causes of these problems: blowback, inflation, price-distorting subsidies and entitlements, prohibition, etc., etc. And it means that, properly understanding natural rights and the the non-aggression principle, we are best at understanding just how wrong these policies are, how badly they hurt the people they supposedly are meant to help and how things should be instead.

Here’s another example. Corruption in America is the single biggest issue that no one with any power or influence will ever broach beyond persecuting some nobody like Martha Stewart over a small stock trade. And yet every one of us who aren’t in on it recognize this fact as a massive problem. The papers say that the governments America installed in Afghanistan and Iraq are now ranked as the most corrupt in the world. Yeah, right. Not more corrupt than the U.S.A. that did it to them. Our government spends 4.75 trillion dollars per year. From the arms manufacturers to Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Israel, Big Banking and Insurance; the more regulated and connected to the government the industry is, the more corruption they bring. But here most of the corruption is “legal.” What the great libertarian economic historian Robert Higgs calls “participatory fascism” is just the perfectly legitimate neo-liberal “mixed” and “democratically regulated” economy to them. But we libertarians understand the degree of the problem, the true cause of the problem and the solution to it too.

So we need to mind these gaps in the narrative and morality and we need to attack the right from the right and the left from the left; but how?

Well here’s a simple four-stage outline-type standard formula for going about it. It’s not supposed to be perfect, just a good rule of thumb:

1: Explain how and why you agree with the person you’re talking to as much as possible about the public policy crisis they’re concerned about. (e.g.: terrorism, the boom and bust cycle, the inflated cost of housing, medical care and higher education, the drug epidemics, immigration, race relations, etc., etc.)

2: Explain that even though they think the cause of the problem is (Islam, the excesses of capitalism, greed, recreational drug use, too much or too little enforcement at the border, prejudice, etc. etc.) that

3: (While remembering to go after the left from the left and the right from the right) Actually we libertarians have thought this through a bit and it turns out that the real cause of the problem is (blowback, artificially low interest rates, the welfare state, prohibition, subsidies and draconian punishments for immigrants as well as destructive U.S. policies in places like Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela and Bolivia, prohibition pitting white police against poor blacks, etc. etc.)

4: And so that’s why the best answer is to (stop the foreign intervention that causes terrorism, stop tinkering with the money supply that causes the bubbles and crashes, stop regulating the economy which really means protecting established firms at competition and their customers’ expense, end the welfare state that drives up prices so high that you need it, stop creating destructive black markets in drugs by repealing restrictions on use and trade in currently controlled-substances, stop launching Latin American coups and subsidizing and prohibiting immigration which induces new arrivals to come and then inflicts punishment on people for doing so, etc. etc.)

There is no need for any libertarian to sacrifice their principle in order to move toward others’ positions for the purposes of explaining our position to them. Whoever they are, they already have a libertarian view or two. It’s our job to tap into that understanding while essentially just asking them to be true to themselves rather than making them feel like they’re being asked to change their whole conception of who they are to some other kind of person.

If you like your identity, you can keep it. We just want to show you that it doesn’t have to be this way. We could be free. And everything would be better.

The Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton (Obama was just Hillary)-post-Cold War consensus has been completely shipwrecked by the wars, financial and refugee crises their centrist, supposedly “moderate” neo-liberal/neoconservative policies have caused. The simple fact that Donald J. Trump defeated Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton in one year is all the proof ones should need of that. But in response, Americans are moving further to the socialist left and nationalist right. This is unfortunate and unnecessary. The libertarians are here. We’re centrists too, but we’re not moderate. We’re radically in favor of peace and liberty and radically opposed to America’s world empire and growing police state. Our philosophy does hold the answers to what everyone agrees is ailing America. We don’t have to compromise one bit to be able to show the population at large that there finally is an option to agree on to stop our government’s very worst policies that are doing so much to disrupt and divide our society against itself.

The Rule of Law or CIA Coup?

The Rule of Law or CIA Coup?

It’s pretty obvious.

Americans should support the impeachment and removal of President Donald Trump, but not for Ukrainegate. In fact, they should oppose his impeachment on Ukrainegate grounds completely.

Trump’s real offense is waging an un-authorized, unconstitutional, illegal, treasonous and for-real genocidal war against the human beings of Yemen. His war crimes in Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Iraq have at least taken place in conflicts supposedly authorized by Congress, making the legal cases against actions there somewhat more complicated.

But in Yemen, no law, only presidential orders, have authorized our militaryspiesarms merchants and mercenaries to “lead from behind” in this disastrous war of the so-called “Saudi-led coalition” against the civilian population there.

The previous Yemen war, the CIA and air force drone war against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which began in 2009, the lawyers argued, was legal under the Authorization to Use Military Force against the group that attacked the United States on September 11th 2001. They were, after all, involved in the attack, and had previously bombed the USS Cole in 2000. Of course that drone war only backfired, empowering the al Qaeda enemy by radicalizing the local population. It turns out a 500-pound bomb isn’t a “scalpel” in real life, like they say in Washington.

But this is not that war. This is the war that President Barack Obama and then-Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman started back in March 2015. It’s not a war against AQAP at all. In fact, from the very beginning it’s been a war for AQAP and their allies against their deadly enemies, the Houthi movement of Zaidi Shi’ite tribes from the north of the country who seized the capital city of Sana’a at the end of 2014. The Houthis had been helping the U.S. to fight against AQAP.

Strikes against AQAP have continued as well, mostly to bad effect. But even the blowback from that failed policy amounts to nothing compared to the gains al Qaeda has made from fighting on what is now America’s side in the war, mostly due to their association with the mercenary forces of the United Arab Emirites, a major partner in the U.S.-led coalition.

By the time Obama switched to their side in the war, AQAP had also inspired the Ft. Hood massacre, attempted to blow up a plane over Detroit, launched an attempted bomb attack on a U.S. cargo plane and massacred the staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, France in January 2015.

That same January, Obama’s undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Gen. Michael Vickers, announced that the U.S. was working with the new regime against al Qaeda. Just two months later, Barack Obama betrayed the Houthis and sided with al Qaeda against them.

The AUMF does not cover that.

And let’s get it straight. America is the “Superpower”; Saudi Arabia is our client state. Obama didn’t have to do anything. In fact, to hear his war cabinet tell it, they can barely remember starting the war at all.

Robert Malley, Obama’s coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf Region, recently wrote (get this):

“Why the U.S. got entangled in this war — and why a president so determined to keep the country out of another Mideast military mess nonetheless got caught in this one — makes for a painful a story. [sic] In March 2015, Saudi Arabia came to the U.S. with a request for support in a campaign it vowed to conduct regardless. After that, and although events took place a mere four years ago, memories blur. In our conversations, many former U.S. officials found it hard to recall what precisely the Saudis asked for, what specific commitments the administration made in response, and when certain types of assistance started to flow. Some, including one of us who attended the deliberations, recall a deeply ambivalent president who greenlighted U.S. support but insisted it be confined to the defense of Saudi territory and not extend to the war against the Houthis. Others don’t recall hearing about that instruction, and struggle to reconcile it with what the U.S. actually did during the war — including refueling coalition sorties and replenishing weapons stocks.

[laugh track]

“Yet all agree the decision ultimately came without much debate. The reason, at bottom, was straightforward: Here was a partner (Saudi Arabia) seeking help in restoring a government (that of President Hadi) the U.S. regarded as legitimate and a loyal ally in the war against al-Qaeda. That government had been toppled by an insurgent group (the Houthi or Ansar Allah); although the extent of its ties to Iran was debatable and debated, their existence was indisputable. Plus, all this came at a time when relations between Washington and Riyadh already were deeply damaged by disagreements over the Obama administration’s response to the Arab uprisings and, even more so, its negotiations over a nuclear deal with Tehran. As Riyadh saw it, doing nothing would mean permitting control by a Hizbollah-like organization of its southern border, ensconcing a perpetual threat. Rebuffing the Saudi request at any time likely would have provoked a serious crisis in Saudi/U.S. bilateral relations. Doing so while the U.S. was seeking a landmark agreement with the kingdom’s sworn enemy could have brought them to breaking point. That was a risk even a president skeptical of the wisdom of Saudi policies and willing to call into question elements of the relationship was not prepared to take.

Poor helpless President of the United States of America. Unlike, say, Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the Houthis’ “existence was indisputable.” What could Obama possibly do at that point than stab them, his actual anti-al Qaeda allies, in the back and take MBS and Ayman al Zawahiri’s side against them? It’s high treason His Royal Highness wants, it’s high treason he gets.

So this treasonous war is unauthorized and therefore un-Constitutional. It’s also a war that is in violation of the War Powers Resolution, and not only technically speaking. Lo and behold the unbelievable fact that both houses of the U.S. Congress have voted to invoke the War Powers Resolution, demanding an end to the war. They even passed the same version at the same time and sent it to the president’s desk earlier this year. He ‘vetoed’ it. So the unauthorized, unconstitutional, treasonous war is also in the narrow sense, illegal.

But what’s this about genocide? That could fall under the War Crimes Act. That’s exactly what it is.

The strategy of the U.S.-Saudi campaign has been to target Yemen’s water, electric and sewage systems, hospitals, markets and farms – where they bomb the grain silos, flocks of sheep in the field, irrigation systems and whatever else they can target to destroy the basic infrastructure supporting the lives of the civilian population, especially in the north of the country. During the last world’s worst cholera outbreak in history before the current one, the U.S.A. and their Saudi friends bombed the cholera hospitals just to be sure to kill as many babies as possible.

All the while the U.S. Navy helps the Saudis and UAE keep the place under blockade, preventing virtually all international trade, and limiting the availability of humanitarian aid.

The most powerful nation in world history, barely hiding behind its proxy, is decimating the poorest, weakest country in the Middle East.

Yemen is not a country that ever attacked us or threatened us. Even the Houthis’ anti-American slogans were only adopted to embarrass their then-enemy and later-ally, dictator Abdullah Saleh, for being so close to the George W. Bush administration in the 2000s.

As referenced above, the Houthis were helping the Obama government fight al Qaeda at the time he started bombing them. And he only did it to “placate the Saudis” over their unease about the possibility of a new (absolutely out of the question) American slant back toward Iran while negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.

The latest numbers from the group ACLED Data have it that over 100,000 people have been killed in the violence of the war, while the UN recently said that more than 133,000 additional people had died in the war due to deprivation (starvation, otherwise easily treatable diseases, etc.). This includes 85,000 children under 5 years old, many thousands of whom died of cholera. That is, they vomited and defecated themselves to death.

[Insert mental image of a young child you know and love dying that way and you being absolutely unable to do anything about it here.]

From the very beginning it was known that this very poor country was heavily dependent on foreign food imports for their survival and that the state of war would immediately propel masses to famine. And so it has.

So you see, the war is un-authorized, unconstitutional, illegal, treasonous and genocidal all at the same time. It is as bad as Iraq War II at least. When the whole thing is finally over, we are virtually certain to find that the “excess death rate” for the Yemeni people during this time equates to over a million dead.

But Donald Trump could have stopped the war almost three years ago. He could stop it right now with one simple phone call to the secretary of defense. Instead he crows about how much money “we’re” making helping Saudi’s government kill.

This is the same reason why I have supported impeachment and removal against George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama before Trump: war crimes.

Not only should Trump be removed from office for this wanton murder, he should have to share a Supermax cell with his buddy Barack Obama for the rest of their lives over it too.

That would be the law and justice being applied to the powerful equally like in the theories they teach us in high school civics class about how our system is supposed to work.

But folks. Come on now. That is not what this current impeachment scandal is at all. America’s secret police, formerly under John “Jabhat al Nusra” Brennan, are leading a coup against the elected leader of the national government. Cry as they might about how uncouth Trump is, the real motive for the entire Russiagate setup was their fear that he might actually mean some of the good things he said about “getting along with Russia,” his disregard for the NATO alliance and unwillingness to continue America’s indefinite catastrophe in the Middle East.

Isolationism!

Like the fools who believed in him, all the hawks took what Trump said at face value and went crazy. Treat the Palestinians “fairly”?! Red Alert! DEFCON 1! Treason Summit!

But Trump has escalated every single one of the wars he inherited from Barack Obama in 2017. He’s done everything the Israelis want. But it’s just not enough. Trump doesn’t believe in America’s divine mission to dominate the planet earth – er, “lead” it – until the end of time. He doesn’t demand the rest of us do either. His terrible trade policies also are “disruptive” to our system of permanent alliances around the world. That is why the “deep state” is out to get him.

After failing to stop Trump’s inauguration with their false accusations that he conspired with the Russians to steal the 2016 election, and chucking the possibility that they could get his cabinet to overthrow him by invoking the 25th amendment, the feds settled on a project to “reign him in” at the very least by dragging out the fake Russia caper as long as they could.

Once the special council threw in the towel after another year of false Russiagate accusations, they switched to Plan B. Now that it’s clear that the “whistleblower” Eric Ciaramella, formerly worked for Brennan, this entire thing should be cancelled. It doesn’t matter that Trump was caught acting unethically with the Ukrainians, the presumption must be that Ciaramella was acting as a spy for the CIA against the elected president, sent there to find something, anything that could be used against Trump to take him down. Wait around a little while. It won’t take long.

(Isn’t it funny how most of the media still won’t say the man’s name, Eric Ciaramella, after it’s already been published. Isn’t their job now to either confirm it’s true or not that he’s the one who started this? Oh, no, they just love and want to protect whistleblowers now, right? That must be what’s behind all the recent fawning coverage of Chelsea Manning’s current sacrifice in federal prison.)

Opposing the U.S. coups in Ukraine in 2004 and 2014 and U.S. support of any kind for their Nazi-infested military forces, and being absolutely against Joe Biden and everything about him, and his scumbagcrackhead son and their roles in Ukraine after the last coup, I am therefore also very dubious about just what a terrible crime it is supposed to be that Trump would hold up this “vital” aid to Ukraine under these or any other circumstances. This is the narrative, you’ve noticed: Americans – you – owe Ukraine’s government loyalty forever. To fail to give them the weapons they need to restart the horrible war against their countrymen in the east would be an unpardonable sin and so-forth. Call it another clue as to what is really going on around here.

To allow the CIA this win – after they’ve gotten away with using torture to lie us into war in Iraq and their presumption to challenge the authority of the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee by spying on her and attempting to have the Department of Justice prosecute her staffers for investigating that torture; after the revelations of their lawless NSA-like spying on Americans in the Vault 7 leak; after their supporting al Nusra in Syria for 4 years leading to the rise of the Islamic State “caliphate” and Iraq War III; after they lied that the president of the United States was a guilty traitor who stole the 2016 election with the help of the Kremlin – would be no victory for justice at all.

After racking up a president’s head as a trophy for their wall (a second?), just think what these monsters would be like then.

It’s pretty easy to tell when there’s a CIA coup going on. When they openly boast about it, as former acting CIA director John McLaughlin recently did, then you should be on the right side of it, against.

Any real effort to hold all politicians accountable for their crimes under the equal rule of law should be welcomed and supported. We’ll believe it when we see Obama’s indictment right next to Trump’s.

Cross-posted at Antiwar.com.

To End the Wars, Attack the Right From the Right

To End the Wars, Attack the Right From the Right

Sadly, the antiwar and anti-national security state inclinations of American liberals and progressives have weakened since the days of President George W. Bush. Partisan incentives during Barack Obama’s presidency combined with the FBI-CIA-Democratic Party-media plot to falsely accuse President Trump of high treason with the Russians, or at least terribly insufficient patriotism, for the last 3 years have done much to confuse liberals about where they should stand. There’s no question that many great leftist writers and readers out there have stayed great, but overall the numbers tell a sad story. One might wonder though if liberal voters’ hearts are really in it outside of current circumstances. It seems the general presumption still stands that, while Democratic politicians and appointees love war, their voters do not.

But that’s okay either way. We currently have a Republican president. Attacking America’s interventionist foreign policy from the left would not be likely to do much good anyway. It’s the rank and file right that is still seen as supporting a “muscular” foreign policy. But what if they don’t?

The convenient thing about being libertarian is that we’re better than the left and the right on the things they’re actually good on (e.g. drugs, gays and cops; gold, guns and taxes). This gives us the opportunity to meet our interlocutors halfway while simply asking for a little consistency. Attack the left from the left and the right from the right. Let them be right, just now even more right than before. The Tenth Amendment Center’s Michael Boldin calls this “the Horton rule” (not to be confused with Horton’s Law, which is about how none of this ever works).

If we have the slightest hope of building on the recent U.S. withdrawal from northeastern Syria, we must attack the right from the right. As I argued in a speech I gave a year ago for the Committee For a Responsible Foreign Policy in Washington, the most important thing we can do is give Trump the right impression so that when he imagines the great mass of Americans out there past his oval office window, he knows his base supports him in seeking peace with the “rogue states” such as North Korea and removing U.S. forces from the Middle East, where he correctly says we “never should have been.”

Trump doesn’t believe in peace, it’s just that he doesn’t really believe in the mythology of America’s “global mission” either. He needs to know that his supporters feel the same way about it.

But how can regular people be heard on this issue? We have the answer.

In this recent news piece about how the Syrian Kurds didn’t need the U.S. to protect them anymore anyway, Matt Lee of the AP writes:

“[Trump] has told aides that the chants of ‘Bring them home!’ from his rally crowds, including one in Minnesota earlier this month, are evidence that the decision is popular with his base – a key demographic as he heads into the 2020 election.” [Emphasis added.]

There you have it. This is the most important thing antiwar libertarians, conservatives, Republicans and especially 21st century Middle East war veterans can do for this next year. Show up. Make sure “Bring them home!” gets shouted out and chanted at every event. Not just Trump rallies, but Republican campaign events of every kind.

No more nation-building.

No more policing the world.

No more on no-win counterinsurgency wars that don’t protect the security of the American people.

No more wasting trillions of dollars which causes economic damage that increases popular support for socialism.

No more betraying the troops by allowing the establishment to continue to waste their lives this way.

No more undermining the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights in the name of the emergency.

Bring them home!

A new right-leaning group, BringOurTroopsHome.usled by Afghan war combat vet Dan McKnight, is already spreading around the country at a wildfire’s pace, including the launching of new chapters in more than 20 new red states outside of its founder’s Idaho within their first 10 months. They join the antiwar veterans movement alongside Concerned Veterans of America, Veterans For Peace, About Face: Veterans Against the War, VoteVets, and Iraq Veterans Against the War. And they have the incumbent President’s own words to invoke and support when stating their case that 18 years of this is enough. Their movement has the potential to serve as the greatest antiwar force in our society.

In Wyoming, State majority whip, representative and navy veteran Tyler Lindholm is leading their efforts against Rep. Liz Cheney with WYBringOurTroopsHome.com. Cheney is trying to decide whether she wants to be speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives or a senator. They’d like to see her get a real job instead. McKnight says that their opposition to Cheney has been “incredibly well received in the ultra conservative state of Wyoming.” A defeat for Cheney, proud heir to every one of her father’s most despicable crimes and would-be instigator of further international crises in the future, would be a terrible setback for the war party and a major victory for those who have had enough of her ilk making things so much worse.

He also says that other states are about to formally launch BringOurTroopsHome chapters: Ohio, Oregon, California, Arizona, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Montana and Colorado. And they’re just getting started. The official launch of their new chapters is being planned around an event they’re hosting in Washington, D.C., November 12-13. (Details will soon be posted at the Antiwar.com blog.)

Groups like this are helping to make the reality impossible to avoid: there’s just not enough support among the people to keep the disastrous Middle East wars going any longer.

America has so many wars going now, Trump could order withdrawals from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Niger, Chad and the rest of the Middle East and Africa; another one every couple of months until election day. He’d be Trump the Great, sure to win reelection. According to our Constitution, ending wars is one area where the president certainly has absolute authority. And what a great way to judo-jam the Democrats in 2020: by making them embrace and defend George W. Bush’s continuing wars in the face of a Republican Party seeking to end them. Let them explain that to their progressive base in an election year: “Withdrawal is dangerous! Precipitous! Eighteen years is just too soon! But just a couple more might do the trick!”

How will the liberal media channels play it when “Bring them home” becomes a regular chant at Trump and other GOP rallies? Of course they’ll decry it as irresponsible “isolationism,” but the reality that those Trump crowds are full of war veterans and that the NPR, MSNBC and CNN studios are most decidedly not, will be inescapable. (CIA officers don’t count.)

Andrew McCarthy at the National Review warns Trump that the Senate could turn on him in the impeachment scandal if he keeps up the bad behavior, such as pulling out of northeastern Syria. This goes to show where the establishment’s priorities are, but in reality, they wouldn’t dare — as long as the GOP base made it clear that they supported him in doing the right thing.

This is not a call for naïve hope or loyalty to any politician, but for the smartest politics we can play with the hand we’ve been dealt. We don’t have the power. But the war party must maintain some important narratives to keep their gravy train rolling on. After all, if the GOP base is the last major bastion of popular American support for intervention outside of Washington, D.C., and that is taken from them, who do they have left? No one outside of the special interests and halls of the powerful politicians themselves. (Think of the tragedy if our narrative instead does not catch on, and “let’s go be tough and macho and kick Muslim butt” is perceived as the Trumpian base’s consensus instead.)

For liberals and progressives, if Republican voters and even some Republican politicians are striking an antiwar note, that obviously does not really mean you should have to support intervention just to spite them. When 2020 Democratic candidates start calling withdrawal irresponsible at their events you should start chanting “Bring them home!” too. What are they going to do, shout you down with “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”? Even if so, wouldn’t it be worth it to force them to expose their true priorities in such an obvious way? By all means, throw down the gauntlet. Draw a line in the sand. Make them take a stand. The antiwar right could be very useful to you in this as well. Instead of rallying around a Clintonian foreign policy (a sure loser), use non-interventionist Republicans as a cudgel against Democratic candidates to put or keep them on the right path. Tell them they better get to the left of Rand Paul and Donald Trump on war right now or they’re through. How can they argue with that?

What if the left- and right-wing bases of both parties chanted “Bring them home!” at every major rally this campaign season, supporting the candidates when they swear to end the wars and demanding that they had better get it right when they don’t?

We could force the media and the parties to deal with that reality for the next year, straight. The consensus has changed. The people want the wars over now. It’s as simple as that. We just have to explain it to them in the only language they can understand: electoral politics.

Enough of this terrible waste and destruction already.

Right?

Let’s put in the work. We can make a difference if we have our priorities straight.

Scott Horton is director of the Libertarian Institute, editorial director of Antiwar.com, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editor of the 2019 book The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004–2019. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.

Scott’s TwitterYouTubePatreon.

Reprinted from Antiwar.com.

Coming to Palestine by Sheldon Richman

Coming to Palestine by Sheldon Richman

The Libertarian Institute is proud to announce the publication of our latest book, Coming to Palestine, by our heroic executive editor, Sheldon Richman.

In this incredible volume of essays, collected over 30 years, Sheldon Richman exposes the true history of Israeli dispossession of the Palestinians. Coming to Palestine turns the typical story most Americans have been told about Israel’s founding on its head. It is a ringing endorsement of reason, freedom, peace, and toleration in Palestine and Israel.
We know you’re going to love it.
Fighting the Last War

Fighting the Last War

Reprinted from Antiwar.com.

America is still fighting the last war. I admit to having a bit of the same problem. I’m now working on a new book to follow-up my previous one about the war in Afghanistan. The tentative title is Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism. [You are cordially invited to participate in a fundraiser for the project here.] The biggest problem with writing this book now is that the times have changed. The terror wars may all still be raging, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Mali, but the government’s main attention has been turned back toward great power competition with Russia and China.

The neocons’ declared “unipolar moment” is over. America’s relative power is in decline, in no small measure due to the horrible waste and destabilization wrought by the Middle Eastern terror wars in the first place. In response to this, the empire is frustrated, lashing out at the closest things they have to near-peer competitors, accusing them of aggression and declaring an intent to fully renew the old Cold War. Nixon may have ended the previous Cold War with China 45 years ago and Reagan and Bush Sr. the Cold War with the USSR even before it finally dissolved 30 years ago, however, the two independent nations remain the greatest excuse for the special interests at the heart of the American empire to exploit to the ends of the earth and cash in bigtime in the process.

One need not be a supporter of Manuel Noriega, David Koresh, Saddam Hussein, Mullah Omar, Ali Khamenei, Abdullah Saleh, Mohammed Morsi, Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar al Assad, Ismail Haniyeh, Slobodan Milosevich, Eduard Shevardnadze, Viktor Yanukovych, Nicolás Maduro, Xi Jinping, or Vladimir Putin to see that the designated enemies of the American state and their motives might not always be all that they were originally cracked up to be.

In the case of Russia, it’s clear that despite every negative thing they have done from the end of the Soviet Union to this day, 99 percent of the problems between our nation and theirs are our government’s fault. The Bill Clinton administration started us down this road when they betrayed George Bush Sr. and James Baker’s promise not to expand America’s NATO military alliance east as long as the Russians would withdraw and allow Germany to be reunified under Western dominance. Clinton was warned that since the U.S. had no true intention to integrate Russia into NATO as an ally, as some had proposed, the eastern expansion of the alliance would only provoke Russia to respond. Then, as George Kennan, the former State Department “gray beard” and original author of the Cold War-era containment policy, predicted in 1998, the Russian reaction would be transformed into the excuse for the provocation:

“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.

“What bothers me is how superficial and ill-informed the whole Senate debate was. I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime. … It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are – but this is just wrong.”

George W. Bush and Barack Obama only made it worse with their continued expansion of the alliance right up to Russia’s western border in the Baltics and their multiple U.S. NED-backed “color-coded revolutions” against Russia-friendly leaders as far away as the southern Caucasus Mountains and two coups in Ukraine, in 2004 and 2014. The latter of these resulted in the Russian seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea and a bloody war launched by Kiev against pro-Russian groups in the east of the country who refused to accept the rule of the new junta. For the sin of helping these people defend themselves from American and U.S.-backed Nazino kidding Nazi – forces, we are supposed to believe that Russia now has designs on re-conquering all of Eastern Europe like the bad old days.

It was nothing but good news to the corrupt arms dealers of D.C.’s Chrystal City. Some trumped up crisis with Russia? Hooray! they shouted. It’s good for the army and the air force, and it’s good for their suppliers.

Even worse, Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to pursue the missile defense scam, and now Trump, interested in introducing medium range nuclear weapons into the Pacific, has torn up the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, which had previously seen the banishment of thousands of missiles from the European theater.

President Trump, effectively “reined in” from his campaign promises to prioritize a positive working relationship with Russia, due to the Russiagate Hoax, has also accepted the addition of Macedonia and Montenegro to the NATO alliance. What good they are supposed to be in World War III is undetermined. Perhaps like Colorado and Nebraska they are designated to be the “nuclear sponge” meant to absorb the worst effect of an H-bomb war, thus sparing our betters on the coasts.

It’s also no mystery that the Russians stayed out of the U.S. and allied-orchestrated catastrophe in Syria until the end of 2015, when al Qaeda and the Islamic State began to truly threaten the existence of the Ba’athist regime there. The very same men and women who now cry that Russia has returned to the Middle East for the first time since the Cold War are the ones who promoted U.S. support for those pretended “moderate” terrorists from 2011-2017 and have only themselves to blame.

The same is essentially true in the case of China, which has yet to be provoked into doing anything so stark as seize territory that essentially belonged to them anyway, as the Russians did in Crimea, unless you count some uninhabited rocks in the South China Sea. Is 100 percent of the Pacific Ocean an American lake, or only 95 percent? The fate of the world hangs in the balance.

The U.S. previously encouraged the right wing of the Chinese Communist Party to abandon the evils of Maoism for a more productive fascist model which our leaders now claim threatens us. But they are still our second largest trading partner. They’re also armed with enough hydrogen bombs to destroy your hometown and mine. These reasons alone should be enough for our nation to want to do everything possible to cooperate and get along with them for all of our long-term future.

Mostly, the Chinese are guilty of being a more credible enemy for TV than the Iranian regime and their speed boats. Didn’t you hear? Spooked by U.S. capabilities displayed in Iraq War I in 1991 and Bill Clinton’s intervention in the Taiwan Straits Crisis of 1996, China has embarked on a threatening new strategic buildup called “Anti-Access/Area Denial.” In other words, they are prioritizing defensive measures to keep the U.S. at bay. Though some experts seem to think that U.S. allies could adopt similar doctrines to defend themselves, that’s just too bad, because the new Cold War against China is good for our navy and marines, and their suppliers. You have “A2-AD?!” Well, we’ve got Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons doctrine to build and maintain at high cost to counter it.

Who cares if your boat can even float? Is it expensive? The navy wants it. Who cares if your plane can even fly? The navy, air force and marines all want it. Who cares if you can even use a thermo-nuke without committing the gravest act of genocide against innocent civilians? The Pentagon, Department of Energy and all their most dependent contactors have decided that what the U.S.A. needs is more H-bombs and sooner. Their proposal for a new generation of nuclear weapons and the complete reinvention of America’s nuclear weapons industry went from a cool trillion dollars to 1.7 without anyone batting an eye. If we live to see the project completed, we’ll be lucky to see it come in at less than 4 trillion dollars in the end. Just don’t make ’em mad.

Poor SOCOM and JSOC, they’re left with only Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Mali, Tunisia, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. I’m sure they and their suppliers will make do somehow.

Back when the war party was first inventing the containment policy in the Harry Truman years, they beat down Robert Taft and the Old Right’s arguments against the establishment of NATO with the specter of the most dangerous threat of all: Communism. This was no ordinary Russian empire we’re dealing with, which we could live with. Even after the death of Joseph Stalin, this particular menace “changed everything,” supposedly necessitating what could otherwise never be justified: indefinite alliances and military mobilization.

Those who remember that betrayed Cold War promise that America could someday soon again become a “normal country in a normal time,” once Communism was defeated, may be fading away, but regardless, the American people are already sick and tired of the wars in the Middle East. We certainly don’t want to pick whole new unnecessary fights with countries who can actually hit back and make it really hurt.

Note:

I am beginning a fundraiser today to make an advance of sorts on my new book, Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism. Anything you might to do help support would be greatly appreciated.

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.

Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

Antiwar.com: Now What?

Antiwar.com: Now What?

Reprinted from Antiwar.com.

The question, “Now what?” seems appropriate today.

First of all, R.I.P. Justin Raimondo. As Tom Woods said, Justin was the soul of this site. Despite popular misunderstanding, he was not the editor or webmaster (that’s me, Jason Ditz and Eric Garris, all of whom remain on the job for you here), but was very much the editorial director as well as head columnist of Antiwar.com. By the example of Justin’s Behind the Headlines pieces the standard was set for what we (the libertarian movement, the antiwar movement, the site itself) knew, what we opposed and in what order.

He wrote the true history of American foreign policy in the first two decades of the 21st century: Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, the new Cold War with Russia, the naval “pivot” to Asia. He debunked the lies behind it all, large and small, throwing cold water on the spin of global democratization at gunpoint, and specialized in cracking the case on the smaller lies that make up the war party’s larger narratives: the assassinations of Rafik Hariri and Alexander Litvinenko, the bogus case for war against Gaddafi, al Qaeda’s false flag sarin attacks in Syria, the “poisoning” of Viktor Yushchenko and the FBI-CIA Russiagate plot against Trump as a few of many examples.

There is no question in my mind that in the Bush years especially, Justin was the most important writer in America. I’m far from the only one who was impatiently waiting around for midnight to hit refresh and devour the latest Behind the Headlines piece three times a week like it was a watermelon in the Sahel. What other writer can you say that about?

And Justin gets the credit for teaching the masses – including myself – the truth about that mysterious and troublesome sect, the neoconservatives, in the W. Bush years. Jim Lobe and many other experts knew the story, of course, but it was Justin who finally popularized the term “neocon” for the people, and accurately too. This unique species of Republican were not just hawks, but a bunch of ex-communist revolutionary nutballs with a particular affinity for Israel’s Likud Party, and an agenda all their own. From his book Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, through his thousands of columns for Antiwar.com, Justin had those bastards clear in his sites from the very get go; the “Axis of Kristol,” had to be stopped if America was to ever have peace, he wrote.

Justin Raimondo was a patriot. Through his many different political phases and mood swings, he never lost site of what truly mattered most: the attempt to preserve America as a limited constitutional republic with the freedom of its own its only political priority. Nuts to these Trotskyites! We want revolution in one country; the American Revolution, with its dedication to the rights of man and the principle that government exists only to serve the people, not the military-industrial-complex and partisans of foreign nations with vastly divergent interests from our own.

This is the founding creed of this website. We cannot be free as long as our government is a world empire slaughtering innocent people overseas. Permanent U.S. “primacy,” “dominance” or “hegemony” over the Old World and the rest of the Americas does not in fact protect our freedom. It necessarily requires the transformation of our society here at home into a corrupt, authoritarian police state – and a bankrupt one at that.

That’s how I ended up here at Antiwar.com, though I’ve come to regard the tragic American mass-suicide aspect of the process as the lesser part of the evil of our wars. The pain and the grief suffered by millions of innocent foreign people at the hands of the United States of America in the last two decades of this phony war on terrorism makes our self-inflicted problems pale in comparison.

For example, take the ongoing genocide that America, Saudi Arabia, UAE and their other allies have been perpetrating against the people of Yemen for the last four years. Early estimates of the dead are already in the hundreds of thousands, but are guaranteed to rise into the millions by the time the “excess deaths” from this time period are all accounted for.

Though unremarked upon on American TV, the war is every bit as real and horrific as Iraq War II or the “civil” war in Syria, and is every bit as much the U.S.’s responsibility, despite all the hype you hear about the “Saudi-led” coalition. America is the empire, Saudi is our satellite, and “leading from behind” is still genocide when it’s a deliberate campaign of starvation against desperately poor and defenseless people. This is the true history of the world. It can never be reversed. This is a thing about us now; a thing the U.S.A. has done, and to people who never attacked us or threatened us in any way.

That is why this libertarian-run site has always prioritized allying with and publishing writers from a very broad range of political opinions as long as we’re all working to debunk the lies of the war party and bring the era of American attempted-global dominance to an end. We can all argue about everything else later once we’ve put a stop to the genocide. Nothing else matters. Comparatively.

So Antiwar.com will remain. Our fearless leader Eric Garris and diligent news director Jason Ditz will continue to bring you a page every day with everything you need to know and in order of importance, as always. And Eric Garris and I will continue to collect and review all the opinion pieces in the world (or so) in order to bring you the best anti-interventionist views we can find.

I will try my best to write a regular column and step into the role of editorial director, though, as thankfully you all know already, I’m no born talented writer the way Raimondo was, and I don’t know nearly as much. Besides, I have my own ways about things. So I will never try to step into Justin’s shoes so much as just try to make sure that someone is holding down the role of our head writer declaring this is who we libertarians are, this is what we believe in, these are the lies that we don’t believe in, this is what we care about and in what order.

It’s seems like a whole new era is really just beginning, marked in many ways, the passing of Justin not least among them. We are living far in the future now. The Bush and Obama eras are long gone. The 2020s loom. There’s a presidential election next year, and something tells me it won’t be an Obama-Romney snoozer either. There may even be a libertarian for a Libertarian Party candidate this time around, who knows?

It’s a hell of a responsibility. I’ll try do my best for you-all. I’m certain that Antiwar.com is the most important project in the world that I could ever be a part of. So if we need a head writer I guess I’ll have to be it. I did have a whole rant about Bizarro World I used to do on my show on Free Radio Austin back in the Clinton years before I ever read Raimondo. So either it’s just that obvious, or maybe the key to foreign policy genius? I guess we’ll see. Break out the popcorn.

Over at the Libertarian Institute we just published the heroic Will Grigg’s book, No Quarter: The Ravings of William Norman Grigg, and are hard at work on The Great Ron Paul: The Scott Horton Show Interviews 2004-2019, which should be done in just a few weeks. Then my partner at the Institute, and Antiwar.com contributor, the wonderful Sheldon Richman, is publishing a collection of essays entitled Why Palestine Matters, featuring pieces he’s written going back 30 years, and including the great series he did for the Institute and Antiwar.com last year. I am now also at work on another book of my own, tentatively titled Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, which is sure to take me another few months at least. So my articles here will probably be quite irregular at best, but I will do what I can. After that I anticipate making this column my highest priority, or among them at least.

On behalf of all of us here, thank you to everyone for their kind words regarding the loss of Justin this week. You should know that we appreciate it very much.

Now let’s end these damned wars.

Scott Horton
editorial director
Antiwar.com

Scott Horton is editorial director of Antiwar.com, director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio on Pacifica, 90.7 FM KPFK in Los Angeles, California and podcasts the Scott Horton Show from ScottHorton.org. He’s the author of the 2017 book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. He’s conducted more than 5,000 interviews since 2003.

Scott’s Twitter, YouTube, Patreon.

Mueller Report: It Was All a Bunch of Nothing

Mueller Report: It Was All a Bunch of Nothing

Update: so no strangers around here get the wrong idea: Trump should be in the Supermax with Barack Obama for genocide in Yemen. Neither I nor the Institute have any partisan favor for or even against him. Just the same bias against all presidents, especially in wartime. But truth matters, etc.

———————–

The Mueller Report is here.

The CIA and FBI swung at the king and missed. Now what?

From the very beginning they’re lying, claiming the whole thing began when the Australian ambassador Alexander Downer claimed that Papadopoulos was running his mouth about Russia and emails, which we already know is not true.

Page 1-2: Claims Russia did the hacks, claims Trump campaign expected to benefit from the leaks, but “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

The fact that they made this a criminal investigation in search of a crime and let it drag on for two years before clearing the elected president of High Treason is alone proof of an illegal FBI plot against Trump as presidential candidate, president-elect and president of the United States. If the counter-reaction to this putsch attempt is not as severe as the whole fake scandal in the first place, then it’ll be a damn shame. The news though is that the primary victim happens to be the most powerful man in the world right now, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

They say they substituted “coordination” for “collusion” as their deliberately overly broad term to describe essentially any activity, rather than only focusing on that which could be criminally prosecutable conspiracy. So don’t gimme any shit about how, “Oh well it’s only about what they can prosecute, not all of what they know,” like we’ve been hearing the last few weeks.

By page 10 it’s clear that not Papadopoulos, Page, Sessions, Flynn, Kushner, Trump Jr. or any other American ever came anywhere near “colluding” with the Russians. The whole obvious hoax is now proven to be so.

Shoot, I lost it, but it’s in here somewhere that Papadopoulos was also investigated for representing Israel without registering, though that seems to have been a setup too. [Update: I was thinking only of the Israeli who gave him a suspicious stack of money that he dropped off with a lawyer, sensing a set-up. But a friend tells me that toward the end of his interview with Michael Tracey, it is really a reference to him working with Douglas Feith at Hudson, the former deputy secretary of defense for policy 2001-2005, a man who Col. Larry Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, said — distinguishing him from the rest of the neocons in the first W. Bush term (other than Wurmser) — was an “agent of influence” for the Israeli government. It’s also a fact that he’s been investigated by the FBI for passing secrets to Israel and to Iranian agent and neocon manipulator Ahmed Chalabi. So, okay. Looking forward to that part of it. Still only halfway through as of this update.]

Now, on to the claims of the Internet Research Agency “attack on our democracy(!)” by way of Facebook and Twitter.

“Ties.” This is the holy grail MUELLER REPORT. “Widely reported ties.”

Gareth Porter already completely debunked the idea that the INR program was anything but business or that it affected the election at all.

The following sloppy bullshit was debunked by the Italian journalist, Stefania Maurizi. The timing was a coincidence. They’d finally finished preparations is all.

Update: later on they seem to contradict themselves and concede the point:

Page 5. Pretending that Mifsud was “connected” to Russia, when it’s already clear that that’s bullshit.

Page 12, throwing a bone to the kooks with this one:

This “fewer than every negative proved” claim will surely mean ongoing truthery from Maddow and Schiff and the boys starting later today if I’m not already late.

So far at least don’t even try to prove the INR was working on behalf of the Russian state. Then they hit us with this giant pile of nothing:

August 2017? Am I supposed to be impressed by this garbage? There were trillions of tweets and Facebook posts — uh, actually during the election season. Assuming the validity of Mueller’s claims here, that still doesn’t amount to a damn thing.

Is the whole report like this? Yeesh.

Another admission that they cannot prove IRA worked for Putin’s government at all. It would be completely unsurprising if there was something to it but instead they just link to the New York Times.

Sans the massive begged question about Russian government involvement and motivations regarding actually helping to accomplish the election of Donald Trump, much less proving that it actually had that effect, the entire IRA section could simply be describing a campaign to make money. Trump voters click on dumb shit more. Don’t they? Or is Occum’s Razor now the equivalent of assuming too much?

Wow. Facebook posts saying what American partisans already think “may have reached” 126 million people. But “United Muslims of America” and “Don’t Shoot Us” sure don’t sound like pro-Trump groups to me. Oh, but see, that’s how they getcha is by doing incoherent, contradictory shit that makes no sense!

If this was a Russian govt. op to elect Trump, they sure weren’t trying very hard.

I always hate the use of that term “gaslighting” — it makes adults sound helpless and stupid and un-responsible for their own stupidity. So I guess we’ll have to call this “attempted gaslighting”:

Do I have to spell this out? This means that the whole story that IRA intended to affect the election at all is obvious stupid bullshit. Thanks.

Ah. Do I really have to read this whole thing?

Then: assertions that GRU did the hacks, references back to previous evidence-less indictment. It is possible that this part is true. I’m too ignorant to judge the Bill Binney explanation myself. So I hold open the possibility. But here they just want to redact all this stuff in the name of “Investigative Techniques” being revealed. And we’re just supposed to use our imaginations to conclude that there must be some proof behind the blackout and it’s just too bad they can’t show us. But of course they can. Could. Go ahead. Burn the source. Fuck it. This is kinda important, right? If it’s not important enough for them to be straight with us all about it, so why should we believe any of their claims at all?

And no, dummy, that doesn’t count for their _lack of a claim_ against Trump that they were clearly seeking. They had to finally put up or shut up about that so they dropped it because it was bullshit. Two years later.

…. Claims that GRU was dcleaks and Guccifer 2.0. Again, no evidence offered.

This sounds reasonable but note that they are admitting they cannot prove who these people are if they have to reach for a “tends to indicate” on this point. I thought we already KNEW it was the GRU behind both personaes? So what in the dang heck then Bobby?

(Daniel Lazare throws cold water on the whole “Guccifer 2.0 gave all the stuff to Assange” narrative. Pesky timelines.)

Heh. Wishful thinking on the liberals in Trump years. Also, what does this have to do with anything?

So dcleaks and Guccifer 2 are both the GRU but the former is easy and comes to Assange, but Guccifer was playing hard to get and Assange had to go and pester him/them about giving him stuff since he had so much more prominence? That’s kinda funny don’t you think?

Oh. Huh? What? The crux of the matter? Prove it? Well. Yeah. I mean, I could tell you. But then I’d have to kill you.

Again, possible, sure, but unproven. And is it not a little weird that plain old fishing emails were the Russian military computer spies’ most effective angle of attack? Highly sophisticated and yet so very simple.

Jeez. Too bad Julian Assange is locked up away from the internet today. Sad coincidence I guess. (Yes they took his internet away months ago, but he’s in jail now.)

Claims of hacks of state offices, parties and officials, again no evidence provided, references to other evidence-less claims by the FBI and DHS. Safe to assume someone just chanted Fancy Bear and that would be enough to satisfy this kangaroo court.

Nothing in here about Crowdstrike and the lack of investigation of the DNC server? Iron Felix and all that?

Uh-huh. And this was two days before you just said dcleaks ever tried to contact Assange. Okay.

And a month before the big upload?

As Caitlin Johnstone points out here, Mueller does not accuse Assange of knowingly working with the Russians, only that he worked with Guccifer 2.0 who the feds claim was a covert front for the Russians. The report does not allege that Assange knew or should have know that. (Assuming the part about Guccifer is even true, which remains just an unproven claim by the government.)

Sidebar: NYT reads faster than me. As always worst case interpretations only allowed. In this case:

The report detailed dramatic conflicts within the White House. When Mr. Trump learned of Mr. Mueller’s appointment, he slumped in his chair and said: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”

That doesn’t mean anything. They leave it there like we must interpret that as an admission of guilt, as him facing the certain doom of being found out for his crimes. But the whole rest of the story negates that in every way.

Try being “charitable” for one second and the simpler explanation is clearly that he’s going to be starting his presidency under the cloud of suspicion of a criminal investigation for what amounts to at least-lower case-t treason, in the common understanding anyway, even though he knew he didn’t do it.

This of course assumes the story that he even ever said that is true at all, which is a huge assumption for argument’s sake only.

They go on about Trump being angry at Sessions for recusing himself and allowing Mueller to be appointed. And again, the obvious reason why was because he knew he was innocent of the charges and yet his own appointee was siding with the FBI’s trumped up putsch against him. Of course.

Media, liberals, CIA, FBI making me defend a sitting president. It’s disgusting. Unforgivable.

Update: I’m still not at that part, but another story has more, and it’s just like I said:

“Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency,” Trump said, according to the report.

“It takes years and years and I won’t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

Back to the report. Only barely 1/8 into yet…

Trump-Cohen conversations redacted, innocence presumed.

pp. 57-59 Corsi information; goes nowhere… Meant nothing, plus “no corroboration.” Thanks guys.

Again with the debunked claim that the Podesta release was timed to the Access Hollywood tape. And what difference would that make anyway? Without unproven claims and begged questions: nothing.

Then a strange story about a guy(?) sent Wikileaks warning and a pw for a site claiming that Trump was tied to Russia (Jeez, not by way of Wikileaks?) and then Assange outed the site to Trump Jr. who seemed to have no idea what ties to Russia the guy could be talking about.

P. 61: Yes Trump was asking around about Hillary’s still-missing 30,000 emails, but no, this didn’t have a thing to do with Russia, his crack about it at that speech notwithstanding, Mueller decided. Yeah, since that was obviously a joke at her expense, rather than a secret message to his Commie KGB handlers who hadn’t thought of that yet, or had they now again or what?

P. 61: A Florida huckster tried to pawn fake Hillary claims off on Stone for a price. Stone told him no and left. Mueller found no tie between the huckster and the big Russian attack on our democracy which was like Pearl Harbor and 9/11 and Kristallnacht.

p. 62: Finally evidence Saddam was going to give poison gas to Osama. I just knew it!

63- Peter Smith a GOP activist(?) type, doesn’t seem like a big player, went hunting for the missing 30,000. No evidence of Russia ties, though word of possible attempt to see if Russians had them. Even if so, no evidence that was at Trump request or indication of “collusion” or “coordination,” just opposition research. No FSB or GRU in sight.

Smith’s computer seemed to have Podesta attachments two days early, however this was debunked by the Mueller investigators. Just a left over date in the metadata from when Wikileaks prepared them. What would that mean anyway, if he’d gotten them a little early? Next.

Smith supposedly claimed to be in contact with Russian hackers. “The investigation did not identify evidence that such meetings occurred.” Next.

A Dem Senate staffer also tried to find the missing 30,000. She tried to get Eric Prince to help her. She also did not succeed.

Sorry I’m going so slow. Here’s some Greenwald.

Oh, I had read past this I guess, or not gotten to it yet. Greenwald:

Mueller said they were “brief, public and nonsubstantive.” Concerning the much-hyped change to GOP platform regarding Ukraine, Mueller wrote that the “evidence does not establish that one campaign official’s efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican platform was undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia,” and further noted that such a change was consistent with Trump’s publicly stated foreign policy view (one shared by Obama) to avoid provoking gratuitous conflict with the Kremlin over arming Ukrainians.

Okay. IV: Russia and the Trump team:

p 67 They investigated Trump’s dealings on the Moscow tower project going back to at least 2013. They quote Trump associates Sater and Cohen daydreaming about Putin himself at some Trump tower ceremony at length… to what end? Nothing. It doesn’t mean anything. Cohen talked to a Russian businesslady about setting up a meeting, but he insisted it would have to be an official invite to the campaign. Then nothing happened.

Since Cohen, ahem, had no connections to the Russian government to contact, he emailed the Kremlin’s press secretary’s website’s info@.ru.etc. link. Next.

Cohen finally reached a lady the PR office. They talked about the building. It went nowhere.

It goes on like this for a while. Cohen and Sater have no Russian connections at all so they accomplished nothing.

They continue searching for anyone who knows anyone with any influence over there. Baby Jesus help me, I’m still only 1/8 of the way through with this. Yall should probably just read that Greenwald link and call it a night.

Okay, on to Papadopoulos: Starts with standard story Misfud came back to UK from Russia! and then told Papadopoulos that he had some stash! Then Papadopoulos said that to the Australian guy. Mueller looked for evidence Papadopoulos had told anyone at the campaign about this fake garbage obvious set up. No. Then, guess what? Papadopoulos and Misfud tried — did they — to arrange a meeting with “the Russian government.”

“That meeting never came to pass.”

Misfud introduced him to a lady who was supposedly a former student of his. She was not Putin’s niece. Papadopoulos thought maybe she’d arrange a meeting between him and the Russ ambassador to the UK. But that didn’t happen.

He sent a message to the campaign co-chair saying hey I think I have a connection and can set up a high level meeting — this all would be perfectly legitimate if it had actually gone anywhere anyway — and then the campaign co-chair said sounds good, since we don’t have any other established communications going on right now or anything like that, but let’s wait till we meet with UK, France, Germany, our great allies first.

Again, wholly exculpatory. Next.

(Also, is anyone is Misfud’s family going to sue over the name of this fine MI-6 agent who innocently framed-up Papadopoulos for humanitarians reasons being falsely dragged through the mud here as a Russian traitor to the UK himself? They’ve got some mean libel laws over there, you know. He knew the deal when he signed up, I guess.)

So then Papadopoulos brought this up at the photographed meeting with Trump and Sessions, and, since they did not have any other Russian connections to exploit on the matter, sounded positive about the possibility of a future meeting with Putin or maybe they didn’t, depending on whose testimony you believe, apparently.

More about further attempts by Papadopoulos to arrange a meeting through Misfud and not-Putin’s niece. Whatever happened to the emails?

(Thank God I quit Twitter. But according to Michael Tracey, the Cargo Cult remains in full force over there. Lack of facts never stopped them before.)

(Tracey’s 2 hour interview of Papadopoulos here.)

Okay, finally on page 89 Misfud claimed to know Russ had some emails. Later Popadopoulos told someone in the campaign he’d heard so. His “Russia-related communications with campaign officials continued”! He was trying to set up a meeting that never happened by passing on paraphrased invitations to meet from whom? They don’t say. Russia! Again this puts the lie to the idea that there were any real lines of “collusion” or “cooperation” between the campaign and the Russians at all. There is no indication that the Mueller team even believed that somehow obtaining those supposed Hillary emails was the purpose of his mission at all. That came up way later, and is not implied in all the writing about his further attempts to establish contact between the two parties, even at the part where he’s offering to go himself and off the record if the campaign preferred it (this was supposedly to Lewandowski on his last day anyway).

No meetings took place. Papadopoulos was fired.

Papadopoulos met with a guy name Millian who said he represented some Russian voters in New York. After that nothing happened. They met a couple more times, making no deals.

And that’s the end of the Papdopoulos section.

Carter Page: — Lemme guess, he won a 19% ownership stake in a Russian state-owned oil concern as his commission for helping to get some sanctions lifted! Right? No? Oh.

Says Russian spies had approached him for years, so not related to Trump campaign action in the first place, and “the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.”

Carter Page helped write some speeches. One of which was for the centrist, Nixon-founded, Center for the National Interest which publishes The National Interest foreign policy website (not to be confused with Phil Giraldi’s group, the Council for the National Interest).

End Page section already. The CIA and FBI pretended to believe the Steele Dossier’s claims about Page to get their FISA warrant to tap the whole damn campaign. Then they tell us nevermind.

As David Stockman likes to point out, if the feds were really worried about Carter Page they could/should have gone straight to Trump to warn him that this guy was hanging around the edges of his campaign. That they did not is proof right there the whole thing was a set up to get Trump, not protect the U.S. from “Russia,” whoever that is.

The FBI had their informant Stefan Halper on the case from early on — maybe long before Misfud met Papadopoulos. Was he not reporting back to them that Papadopoulos and Page were nobodies with no power and no connections? Was he reporting the opposite? What did Comey know and when did he know it about the fact that he had his men lie to the FISA judges about his need to pursue this further? Halper’s name is not in the document.

Here Mueller makes a big deal about Kushner approaching the head of CNI in order to “interact about Russian issues” and get advice like: form an advisory group.

Then CNI hosted Trump’s speech, the one where he was introduced by OG Straussian neocon, DPG ’92 co-author, Hamid Karzai-chooser, former ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, current head negotiator with the Taliban (bad guy; very centrist, not a Russian traitor; just like the “Soviet-born(!)” leader of CNI, Simes.)

They invited the Russian ambassador to the speech. You know, just how like if you were not begging the question and assuming Trump’s treachery, would be the perfectly wonderful and respectable and forward-looking for the betterment of all of mankind-type thing of a thing to do. Handshakes went down. It was obvious to Simes that Trump was meeting the Russian ambassador for the first time. No plots that Mueller could find. After two years of waiting to tell us he found nothing.

…Okay. Then what happened?

Well Sessions may have sat next to Kislyak at a dinner but no one remembers seeing that happen. But it was on a chart. And “Kislyak also does not appear in any of the photos from the event that the office obtained.” Next.

Sessions met with Khalilzad. Neither party represented Russia at the meeting, evidently.

Simes recalls that he instigated all Russia conversations with Kushner and that Kushner never asked him to set up a back channel of any kind. He also advised Kushner to back off Russia issues for now since the fake news was in the press and so heat was on. Again, totally exculpatory….

And it’s a complete indictment of the FBI putsch at play here. From the very beginning they were undermining real chances for a “reset,” with Russia. But what patriot could wish to pursue such treason in the first place?

p.108 footnote 651: Some Russian banker claimed to have a message from Putin. Kushner instructed Manafort and Gates to “pass” since “A lot of people come claiming to carry messages. Very few are able to verify. For now I think we decline such meetings.” Again this implies that there is no ongoing relationship and the Trump group is in no hurry to establish one.

p. 109 Simes, from CNI, not a Russian agent, tells Kushner he has dirt on Bill Clinton’s Russia corruption from the 90s that he learned from the CIA —Redacted for privacy— Kusher says, big deal, “old news.” I like this for making the blood-soaked monster Bill Clinton look bad, but why is this even in here? Because Simes was born in the USSR? Chrissakes.

End Sessions/Simes/CNI part. What’d we learn? Nothing happened.

Oh wow, now the big Trump Tower meeting that we’ve known for many months, if not more than a year, that Kushner texted his aid to call him so he could leave since it was nothing. Can’t wait to find out how much nothing really went down there that day! Tell me more about the Crown Prosecutor and his role in the election!

Okay so the son of a real estate developer hired an entertainment lawyer to offer incriminating evidence against Hillary from the Russian Crown Prosecutor — that does not exist, and hasn’t since the Reds took over in 1917. Jr. took the bait for the meeting, but there was nothing to it. There is no evidence Trump knew of the meeting. Cohen, contrary to news claims — Greenwald points the finger at Carl Bernstein on this one, for shame — did not testify that he knew Trump knew.

At the meeting, whatshername the Russian lady made claims about not emails but Hillary and other Democrats making money off of some undefined illegal scheme. She provided no evidence then immediately turned to the Magnitsky act. They said don’t call us, we’ll call you and left. Such high treason.

Even if you believed the worst bullshit about that story it still never amounted to more than attempted opposition-data collection, not collusion, not cooperation, not conspiracy, not a damn thing.

[The Mueller report I want to read is the one where he fesses up to his scores of FBI frame-up jobs of worthless idiots who never posed a terrorist threat in a million years but took his narcs’ money to say they loved Osama so Bush could have his Orange Alerts and scare your momma into supporting Iraq War II. But I guess that’ll have to read Trevor Aaronson in the meantime on that.]

Anyways…

p 116 footnote 713 Mueller takes special care to debunk Phillip Bump in the Post for implying that Trump changed the topic of an upcoming speech from Hillary to national security after the meeting, since it was the Pulse massacre that changed it, and he went on to trash Hillary as planned in another speech soon after.

Wacka, wacka, wacka …

He texted two different aides to call him to give him an excuse to leave.

One may get the idea that the author of this part of the report at least, is starting to identify with his victims.

Here’s another important part of this big stinking supposed conspiracy shot to hell:

Okay, on to the GOP arm Ukraine platform change fake story which has been long debunked but anyway:

It was stopping a proposed change demanding arms rather than rolling anything back, it was J.D. Gordon, a campaign advisor who held it back since he figured it was against Trump’s position. “The investigation did not establish that Gordon spoke to or was directed by the candidate [OR RUSSIA] to make that proposal.”

Gordon and Sessions gave speeches. Kislyak was there. More exculpatory lack of conspiring broke out:

And better:

Kislyak invited Gordon for tea. He said no thanks.

Kislyak stopped by Sessions’s office. Whoever doubted Sessions’s innocence on this? It was always obviously regular business:

Manafort polling data. Got nothing:

So Manafort’s guy Gates says:

In other words, no KGB plot here either.

In August 2016, Kilimnik, “Russian-tied,” the Ukrainian former employee of John McCain at the International Republican Institute, tried to convince Manafort to talk to Trump about a peace plan for eastern Ukraine that would have recognized more influence for Russia there. No exchange. No offer. Just, “Hey we should do this with no commitment by Manafort at all. Okay….

Then, Manafort briefed Kilimnik on his strategy for the campaign. Then they talked about how some Ukrainians owed him some money. No collusion. No conspiracy. Just business among political gangster types as usual.

As Trump was sworn in Kilimnik is still bringing up the peace plan. Manafort evidently has no leverage with Trump at this point anyway. They make it sound nefarious, or at least redundant and annoying, but still it seems to just amount to interested parties on both sides just seeking a reset. It might look bad to a Washington Post reporter who assumes all her own conclusions about the big bad Russiagate plot it’s obviously a part of. But without that, it’s nothing. (The plan, to make the Donbass region an “autonomous” zone within Ukraine, with their formerly elected leader Yanukovich as their first PM seems reasonable, regardless of its origin. Since, you know, Obama’s Nazis have made it impossible for them to really rejoin the union under Kiev, while Russia has _already turned down_ the East’s request to join the Russian Federation. But anyway.)

And there, see, Manafort didn’t even bring it up to Trump, and Kilimnik kept bringing it up, directly to the Department of State for a year and a half after Trump took office. So, even in Mueller’s debunking they make it all sound like maybe it’s some attempted cloak and dagger stuff, but nope, just lobbying, for peace.

I was prepared to find that there was some kind of something with Kilimnik and Deripaska here but no. No Putin. No election interference. No deal of any kind.

Post-Election, Transition Period Contacts:

Oh my God! I mean, Oh.

They had _no preexisting contacts._ Struggled to connect. Oy.

Here’s your giant treason plot you retards. Kushner needed to verify a congratulations note from Putin, but to authenticate it he needed to contact the ambassador. You know, good old Ambassador Whatshisname. I bet that one dude knows it.

Putin complains to banker friend — from the Alpha bank, the one that was supposedly part of this treason all along — that he has no contact with the Trump team.

A Russian named Dimitriev asked George Nader to introduce him to Trump people. It didn’t happen.

So notorious Blackwater/Xe/Academi mercenary leader Erik Prince shows up.

The Russian Dimitriev asks Nader to arrange contact due to the “need for reconciliation between the United States and Russia.” He comes to New York, is not introduced to anyone on the Trump team.

Prince and Nader and Dimitriev in the Seychelles.

Just before the inauguration Nader convinces Prince to meet Dimitriev in the Seychelles. Looks like Prince may have had the chance to discuss it with Bannon or other Trumpians, but no proof of that. Bannon denied it.

So they meet.

You don’t say, huh?

Ruskie thought the Blackwater thug was a nobody and the meeting a waste of time.

Prince briefs Bannon: This Dimitriev guy is connected, says he was interested in “improving relations” between the U.S. and Russia — get it?! Improving. Major treason here. No wonder the Marshall of the Supreme Court was going to have Bannon executed for treason.

Seriously though:

Bannon didn’t care at all vs Bannon says he doesn’t remember discussing it at all and oh well because there’s no proof either and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference anyway. Unless you’re begging the question and just dying to believe meeting with Russians to improve relations is a commie plot to attack your stupid democracy, then it’s nothing, and again, never went anywhere anyway.

Oh no. You don’t say. Turns out Kislyak ain’t so influential in the first place after all.

Kushner asks the Russian ambassador if they can use the secure line at the Russian embassy to communicate with Moscow, since they have no other means of secure communication. Kislyak “quickly rejected the idea.”

After that Kushner quit talking to him since he decided Kislyak didn’t have much influence in the first place. So then Kislyak arranged for him to talk to a banker named Gorkov. Kushner says their meeting was just about politics. Gorkov’s company says it was about business. Seems plausible Kushner would have pushed them for some cash, but it remains unproven. This is also way late in the game and only goes to show, again, the lack of any previous arrangements along these lines.

So Aven, the guy from Alpha Bank, tries to get this guy Richard Burt, a former ambassador to arrange contact since they don’t have any. Burt goes to Simes at CNI. He says no, there’s too much media spin over the currently non-existent relationship and he doesn’t want to be seen as a go between type at all.

Every one of these sections ends with some boring old let-down.

Now finally on to Carter Page. Wasn’t his Russia espionage the basis for the FISA warrant and all this investigation in the first place? Oh well, nevermind yall. Not sorry.

Mueller claims that Kilimnik claims that Page claimed in December 2016 to speak for Trump during a trip to Moscow. Kilimnik evidently didn’t believe this was so and emailed Manafort, telling on him.

At a December 9th dinner Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich met Page at a dinner and said something about helping start some “dialogue” between “the United States and Russia,” and possibly future “cooperation” between the two national governments of these countries. Cue scary music.

Perhaps Russia truthers here would want to say, yeah but see, think about what terrible things that might mean! But this is the report. If there was anything beyond the face value talk of getting along a bit better it would be in here. But they aren’t. That’s it.

The implications aren’t vast. They aren’t anything at all.

Okay, now Michael Flynn (who belongs in prison for war crimes in Afghanistan, but who’s counting?):

Same story we already know: In December 2016, Flynn asked Kislyak not to react to Obama’s new sanctions since they were being inaugurated into power in another month. He said alright then. So far so good. This is the designated national security adviser to the president-elect. This is fine. It also completely negates the idea that the Russians were controlling, blackmailing, extorting or even influencing the Trump team at all. Otherwise the call would have been from Kislyak to Flynn telling him the new sanctions better not get enforced next month. But it wasn’t.

Kislyak called Flynn but Flynn didn’t call him back right away. First he called his buddy/co-author/transition team member/certifiable insane neocon lunatic Michael Ledeen and then KT McFarland at Mar-a-Lago. The consensus was that Flynn should tell Kislyak to withhold a reaction since it would only make matters worse. So that’s what he did. Bannon, Preibus knew beforehand. Later McFarland briefed Trump and others and that commie rat traitor Siberian Candidate Trump:

Then the story of Flynn asking Kislyak to have Russia veto or delay the Egyptian UNSC resolution condemning the expansion of Israeli Jewish-only colonies on the Palestinians’ West Bank. But it was Trump’s call to al Sisi that got the vote postponed.

Then other nations reintroduced the resolution. Flynn again worked on Kislyak who told him no. Russia voted for the resolution.

Isn’t it an interesting thing that there’s nothing in here about what Israeli officials were speaking to which Trump campaign and transition team types about this question? That wouldn’t count as meddling with the sitting government’s foreign policy or anything because Israel can do whatever they want.

They promise more on Flynn later.

End Section:

Image result for we ain't found shit

Next section:

“Did not involve the commission of a federal crime” seems to apply to everything above. If there’s campaign finance related things going on that they, what?, know about but cannot prove, then they haven’t mentioned it until now. Update: p. 180. Oh this is a reference to the Trump Tower meeting where they did not in fact get any dirt on Hillary Clinton from the nobody losers they met with. Campaign finance violation? Why not call it mail fraud?

But on the rest: i.e. “collusion” i.e. whether or not the President is a guilty compromised traitor for the Kremlin — or whether anyone having anything to do with his campaign either is or was — the answer is a clear “No, stupid. What are you, stupid?”

Now back to the IRA trolls. Mueller claims some of them contacted Trump people but has not yet demonstrated that. Then he says:

Not guilty. “Did not identify evidence.” Very not guilty.

A man who had nothing at all to do with the campaign was convicted of helping the IRA trolls use U.S. bank accounts.

Again they reiterate claims from the previous Netyksho indicment, claiming the GRU was behind the DNC, DCCC and Podesta hacks. Claims GRU source for Wikileaks’ Podesta emails.

A few pages redacted — I bet that’s where the big treasonous plot must be!

But no. Mueller: In case we forgot to mention that the entire collusion narrative was all a big stupid hoax enough times to get it through your thick skulls:

Big accomplishment. A couple of nobodies under arrest for resisting arrest.

Then they say hey “collusion” really isn’t in the law, however “conspiracy” means the same thing so we looked at that. The investigation “did not establish” that any such thing took place.

Okay. Next.

Ukraine, not Russia. And nothing to do with Trump.

Gen. Flynn repping for Erdogan, not Putin.

In terms of Russia, they couldn’t even mount a FARA case against a single one of these clowns. They just didn’t have one. It just wasn’t true.

Papadopoulos was investigated for acting as an agent of Israel. As noted above, this was not just over the obvious frame-up of the Israeli handing him a pile of cash, referred to in his book and interview with Michael Tracey, but as he explained later in that same interview, seemed to have more to do with his work for Douglas Feith at the Hudson Institute. Ain’t that something? No charges.

This seems like just about a smear. After climbing all the way down from conspiracy to conspire with the Commies, now we get the lousy nothing Trump Tower meeting was criminal in what way? — a campaign finance violation? A “thing of value” — non-existent dirt from the non-existent “Crown Prosecutor” had no value and the meeting was just a bust. And Mueller says right there that he can’t prove what they did was criminal at all. (There were some false stories in the press about a “donation” being arranged at this meeting, but it’s already debunked and is not mentioned is this report.) But, like that Johnstone guy Greenwald fought with on D-Now the other day, we’re supposed to all just say, “Aha! See?! A campaign finance violation without any money really means ‘collusion,’ and ‘evidence was not sufficient’ merely means that WE ALL KNOW IT’S TRUE HE’S GUILTY ANYWAY, DUH!”: total vindication for the crazy people.

In other words, yes that’s bullshit because then we might have to prosecute the Democrats too.

Another major concession to reality: And funny:

Obstruction:

Here Papadopoulos’s lies are detailed. He started talking with Misfud after he joined the campaign, not before like he said. Well he was off by a few days. They say it was a lie. Maybe it was.

He supposedly lied about talking to “Putin’s niece” who wasn’t, Polonskaya too.

They say they talked to Misfud at a D.C. hotel and that Papa’s BS timetable messed up their interview of Misfud. They claim to be suspicious of Misfud’s explanations and omissions. So that’s why they charged Papadopoulos with lying. No indication here that they sought any further contact with this mystery man who supposedly had so much to do with the beginning of this whole story.

Flynn:

Flynn should have been more truthful about his talks with Kislyak, where the worst things he did was fail in his attempts to pressure Russia for Israel. Cough.

Cohen:

He lied about the timing of some Trump Tower things that never came anywhere near compromising Trump in a plot with the Russian state.

Sessions: didn’t lie. His meetings with the Russian ambassador had nothing to do with Trump campaign stuff. So he was not charged with anything.

So that’s the end of Volume I. There was no crime for Trump to obstruct an investigation into.

In the meantime, here’s Peter Van Buren on the obstruction bs. But he links to this summary of the 10 supposed possible instances listed here, if you want the Cliff’s Notes.

No specific mention of the Steele Dossier at all so far, though some of its claims are debunked. (Love this NYT story: the Steele Dossier was a Russian Plot too! No wonder it was all bullshit! They were trying to trick us into believing things that weren’t true! The bastards almost succeeded too.)

Volume II:

They say “Well, we know we couldn’t indict a sitting president but since he sure as hell could be indicted later, we went ahead and did a full investigation on his ass,” so don’t gimme no Dem nonsense about how they couldn’t investigate all they wanted to whatever conclusion they wanted, including recommending impeachment and/or later indictment and prosecution.

Trump tells Comey “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, letting Flynn go. He’s a good guy.” Well “see your way clear to” before the primary verb sure sounds like he’s saying under the rules, not please do something illegal. For all we know Trump knew nothing about Flynn’s working for the Turks or any side accusation here. So pressure yes, to break the law, no. Next.

Trump wanted Sessions to not recuse himself from the investigation. He wanted an attorney general who would protect him. But that’s not in quotes. (Update: later it is.) Even if it was, the implication obviously is protect him from this giant fake FBI persecution campaign against him based on cooked up garbage. Not protect him from the truth. That’s only the case if you assume your conclusion and you’re wrong because you’re stupid and believe what the CIA and FBI claim about people.

Then, Comey,

Get it? Assume his guilt and this is further guilt. But if you presume the innocence of the accused, then this is an innocent man asking men who he knows know he’s innocent to goddamn say so to the American people. (He was innocent. See Volume I above.) The director of the FBI told him he was not under investigation but refused to do so publicly, even when asked by Congress. Firing him over it was a mistake, since it led to an obstruction investigation where there wasn’t one before, but it was clearly not criminal. This scandal is boring and stupid.

Very obstructiony-like right? More like that:

Trump told Sessions to resign. He did. Trump didn’t accept it.

Trump told his guy White House Council McGahn to fire Mueller. Which he did have the power to do. McGahn didn’t do it. It’s implied that he threatened to resign first. (Update: no, they explain later that he prepared to but then Trump dropped it.)

Trump asked his old campaign manager Lewandowski to pass a message to Sessions telling him to say that Trump had done nothing wrong and that the investigation should now be about future election security. Lewandowski didn’t do it.

Trump supposedly deleted a line from a press statement by Jr. admitting that the Trump Tower meeting was with someone who had “information helpful to the campaign.” His public statement.

Trump tried again to get Sessions to “unrecuse.”

When the McGahn story above leaked Trump tried to make him deny it.

Trump praised Manafort and Flynn who did not implicate him in anything. Not that they had anything. (See Volume I above.)

Trump called Cohen a rat after he started working for Mueller. This one sounds the worst out of all of them, tweeting that maybe Cohen’s family would have some legal problems and things. Still where’s the corrupt intent when there was no plot for Cohen to snitch about and Trump of course knew that?

Let’s have an understatement contest. You go ahead first:

This is just bullshit. You’re either charged or not. True billed or no billed. “We ain’t gots nuthin’ really but you know maybe if he wasn’t president we could keep looking until we found something.” After all this. What a joke:

Then they explain obstruction law. Intent matters. They have none because there was no underlying crime.

Then they rehash every unproven claim against Trump in the media being leveled at the times of the election. Not that they’re vouching for these claims, you understand, and it’s certainly not to debunk them, but just so you remember the context of the times. Fun. And they rehash all the Flynn Kislyak stuff again…

So after Flynn told Pence and others that he didn’t discuss Kislyak the FBI pretended to believe that now Flynn was totally pnwed by the Russians since they knew otherwise too. Just presume that Flynn would now turn his every act over to their control over this supposed compromising fact.

Mr. Flynn you don’t want us to tell that you had asked us to not retaliate over Obama’s sanctions when you were the designated national security adviser to the president-elect of the United States. You know, because of the Logan Act or something. Now give us the codes!

So see they had to move to protect the republic!

The Logan Act reference is another tell. They knew they were full of shit and taking the opportunity to reach for excuses to act here. The Logan Act, forbidding private Americans making U.S. government foreign policy, has never been successfully prosecuted in U.S. history. It obviously could not apply here. Trump had won the election. It was Flynn’s right and obligation to begin talking to the Russians and everybody else about the near term future. Again, only if you beg the question and use all the other parts of your stupid theory to make each other seem true does this add up to a thing. Flynn should have told the whole truth all along. But the feds’ fake concern is clearly just that.

On and on about Trump asking Comey for loyalty at dinner. No specific request even if true.

Yeah Trump and his guilty conscience about all this treason he committed:

Then on and on they go about what Trump knew and when about Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador.

Priebus said he thought Trump wanted to fire Flynn anyway. The Times had previously claimed so as well, saying Trump got mad as hell that Flynn interrupted a conversation between him and Theresa May and some other things.

Says here Sessions recused himself not because of accusations about his meetings with Kislyak, but just the fact that the investigation was into the campaign that he was a part of. Makes sense. Tough shit for Trump though. Which is why he flipped out.

Can’t say I feel very bad for a president complaining that a fake investigation is “disrupting his ability to govern.” That’s the silver lining. …

DNI Coats says Trump asked him to tell Comey to convince him to drop the thing.

Then-CIA Director Pompeo remembers that happening in general but not specific. (Heh.)

NSA Director Mike Rogers says Trump called and complained about the thing but didn’t order him to do anything other than possibly refute some public stories.

Without question-begging about Trump’s guilt, this is just fine. He was not asking them to lie. He knew they knew the truth. He wanted them to say so. But of course investigations must “run their course.”

See what I mean?

More on the Trump calls to Comey. Not obstruction. Just asking him to say publicly what he’d been told privately, that he was not under investigation. But Comey refused.

Again, motive obvious:

More Brady Material:

Trump fired Comey with the blessing/recommendation of the top two at the DoJ.

And this then became the predicate for the obstruction investigation. More arrested for resisting arrest-type nonsense.

Even though,

He knew firing Comey wouldn’t end the investigation. Bannon, Christie, McGahn and others had all already told him so. He was just mad Comey wouldn’t clear him in public. Again, that McCabe and the others the pretended to believe that firing Comey itself was obstruction was no less of a bullshit excuse for an investigation then the legendary global espionage of 19% Rosneft owner Carter Page.

See and that’s what Mueller thinks too:

More about the president’s innocence:

Then an attack based on bullshit about the Tower deal that never was.

And another based on Trump being interested in Wikileaks’ releases.(?)

Followed by another acquittal in the same paragraph. “Sought information about them,” since he didn’t have any. Oh well, whatever man.

More Trump not worried about being caught but being unfairly persecuted.

This sounds about right:

So now they rehash, at greater length, Trump’s un-obeyed orders to fire Mueller. Trump said. McGahn ignored. Trump let it drop.

Then the Lewandowski thing again. Tell Sessions to announce that it’s all about the future now since Trump’s innocent. Lewandowski was going to but didn’t have the chance. He gave it to Rick Dearborn, a deputy chief of staff, who let it drop.

Trump criticized Sessions to the NYT.

Trump told Priebus to fire Sessions. Then he changed his mind and let it drop.

Oh please. Now it’s obstruction to obstruct an obstruction case based on the firing of the FBI director who was complicit in launching the whole giant fake investigation in the first place.

If this was because Trump was guilty of conspiring with the Russians to steal the election, then this would look pretty bad. But he didn’t. He was trying to obstruct bullshit, not justice.

Now the Trump Tower meeting thing again. Trump is claimed to have edited a public statement by Jr.. … Don’t care. Next.

The following doesn’t mean anything. Flynn flipped, pleaded guilty, cooperated, did not implicate the president in any crimes — since they had not conspired to commit any together in the first place, you see.

Then they go on at length about Trump’s public praise of Manafort and the dangling of possible pardons and such. This, next to the pseudo-threats against Cohen, seems like the most obstruction-like part of this rap, and yet, what’s the underlying crime Trump would need to be seeking to prevent investigation of, for criminal intent to be present? There’s not one.

Remember when U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said that I. Lewis “Scooter” “Saddam is Seeking A-Bomb Parts” Libby “threw sand in his eyes,” preventing the success of the investigation into who broke the law by leaking the CIA officer lady’s name?

Yeah well Mueller doesn’t say anything like that because there was no underlying crime or offense to investigate, just an investigation in search of a crime that never happened.

Mueller also finds reason to doubt corrupt motives on Trump’s part even in the dangling of a pardon for Manafort:

To think that at least some major Democrats like AOC and Warren are trying to invoke this report as a basis of impeachment is beyond embarrassing and stupid.

They’re just like the GOP kooks in 2003 and 2004 screaming about how the search teams just haven’t had enough time to find Saddam’s warehouses full of VX, sarin and anthrax and his advanced nuclear weapons program quite yet.

On to Cohen again:

Oh huh. It turns out that Cohen did not go to Prague to meet “the Russians!” like I claimed over and over again.

The human/”journalist” Greg Gordon disgraced forever. How could a grown man let other men use and abuse him this way? How can McClatchy continue to employ him? How can any of his peers look him in the face and not bust out laughing?

Anyways, same story again. They tried to move forward on negotiating a deal for the Tower. It never went anywhere. There’s nothing in here to indicate the Russian president did a thing to intervene in this process for or against Trump’s benefit in any way.

Makes for a fun story maybe: Putin hooks up Trump on zillion dollar deal, Trump lies, is owned for life by the Kremlin! Didn’t happen that way. No Putin. No deal. Lies by Cohen that amount to nothing at all.

Now, Hush money for hos. Cohen paid them. Obviously Trump was in on it. Supposedly the money was campaign money, but that’s not clear. Also as PVB says, “hush money” is just a slander for a non-disclosure agreement. Oh well. Next.

My old friend Jason Leopold should have stuck to his FOIA suits. Him and sources just don’t get along.

Trump being the president doesn’t give him legal advantage here. Mueller says the opposite.

And the law stipulates, there does not have to be an underlying crime:

But conversations took place which led to no action.

Because Trump’s people refused to carry out his crazier demands, they are not charged with obstruction:

First Trump was mad about Comey refusing to admit publicly that he wasn’t under investigation. Then, after he was, on obstruction…

Again at worst guilty of considering resisting arrest, when the whole underlying crime was bullshit.

Almost done…

Legal defenses.

The White House Office of Legal Council tried to claim that if it was a constitutional power, like firing the FBI director, that it would violate his Article II authority, whereas if there was something outside of that, like suborning perjury, that would still be prosecutable.

Mueller says that is not the law.

So don’t say that they would have indicted but for these presidential constitutional loopholes. It’s not the case.

And also they interpret the law very broadly:

Etc. like that for a while, including saying that even intent may not be relevant.

I don’t know guys. Maybe Mueller just didn’t have enough authority to charge under the strict application of the law. Maybe his legal team just didn’t have their shit together.

…….They go on like that for a while.

More deliberately broad setup here

Now to constitutional defenses against indictment or at least finding of a criminal predicate for the Congress to elaborate on if they choose:

Again, Mueller teams finds these claims lacking. Their reasoning is just elaborated on here. This all makes perfect sense. He’s just a lousy president after all. Not royalty.

And then after all that they serve up this ridiculous bullshit. We just don’t know if we have a case here or not. Our grand jury is closing down. But we refuse to report a no bill. Maybe he is guilty after all. Who could ever determine? They’re just not sure.

A perfect ending to a perfect hoax.

(Oops, I didn’t read the appendices, but I guess maybe I should have.)

FPF #254 – Close Call in the South China Sea

FPF #254 – Close Call in the South China Sea

On FPF #254, I discuss a close call between US and Chinese Navy ships. The US ship was conducting a ‘freedom of navigation’ mission in waters claimed by China. The Chinese ship carried out maneuvers that brought it very close to the US ship. I review the history of the US and Chinese tensions over the region. I explain how similar operations for the US turned deadly. 

Links

Moderate Rebels – Idlib

FPF #254 – Close Call in the South China Sea

The Great Ron Paul, Smeared Again

So a staffer working for Ron Paul made a terrible mistake today and tweeted out a picture which included very ugly stereotype caricatures of Jews, blacks and I’m not sure who-all. They deleted it immediately after followers replied pointing out the caricatures at the bottom. But the vultures at the Hill, Reason and other places pounced.
So here’s some things about that:
Again, the staffer deleted it immediately and then tweeted out an explanation that Dr. Paul does not tweet himself — which is obvious to anyone who follows him on Twitter, like myself: the only Tweets from that account are virtually always links back to material published elsewhere, rather than the actual man interacting with people himself.
There are factions of liberals mostly, but including some leftists and libertarians as well, who are determined to paint Ron in a negative light, especially as some cranky old Jesse Helms-type mean-old-racist white guy. But that is just horseshit. Anyone with the slightest acquaintanceship with Dr. Paul’s career, or especially who knows him personally, knows that he is a kindly old gentleman, as simple as that. He’s a doctor, not a lawyer. He’s still married to the same lady he’s been with since they were 16, with no scandals whatsoever. And he is just not the kind of guy who mumbles hateful things about anyone under his breath or secretly harbors racial resentments against minorities.
The situation is much like when people try to convince themselves and each other that Mr. Rogers must have had a secret dark evil side because who could possibly really be such a decent person in real life? But it wasn’t true. He was exactly the man he appeared to be.
Ron Paul really is like Mr. Rogers: decent above all else.
Earlier in Dr. Paul’s political career, 40 years ago, he might have had more of a conservative-nationalist point of view on things like relations with China, but none of his writings then, or in all the decades since, betray the slightest hint of hate or contempt for racial minorities of any kind. It’s just not there.
In the late eighties and early nineties some deliberately insensitive columns were published in Ron Paul’s newsletter. It was part of some libertarians’ strategy to try to recruit parts of the populist right by sounding more like them. It clearly went way too far in many ways. Except everyone already knows that Ron Paul, who was back to practicing medicine at the time, did not write those articles and later expressed what was obviously genuine regret about it, when, for example, he talked about how bad he felt about an attack on Rep. Barbara Jordan that was published in the newsletter because of how sincerely he liked her from their time in office together in the previous decade. This was a bigger error than the one that took place today, but in neither case is it slightly plausible that some secret mean old Ron somehow let the mask slip and revealed his true, dark self. It’s completely absurd.
It’s obvious why dishonest liberals hate Dr. Paul so much: he’s to the right of them and yet is way better on cops, prisons and wars than anyone they can even think of on their side, thus showing them for the hollow hypocrites that they are. True, liberal-hating leftists should be able to see right through these attacks.
And the libertarians who smear their greatest champion over stupid stuff like this? What can one say about them?
It should be assumed that besides the dishonest media attackers and other vultures, will be honest people who have an honest concern, even if they got it from some jerk. There was a mistake made, the kind of one that could really make people question their trust in Dr. Paul’s great moral example as a fighter for truth and freedom for all people. As self-appointed, uninvited, outside PR advisor, I think Dr. Paul should add an apology to his explanation about what happened. Again, not to pander to dishonest enemies, but to make his thoughts and feelings on these matters clear to honest folks who want to know. His true opinions are the right answers anyway. So there’s no need to “give an inch,” but do take the opportunity to make this a teachable moment for the movement and for outsiders as well.
I would also urge a retirement of the nearly meaningless phrase “cultural Marxists,” who the cartoon that caused the trouble this morning was criticizing. Like “the Globalists,” this term is far too overly broad and poorly defined. Not for decades have any of scores of different factions of leftists, much less all of them, called themselves by this title. It is only used by detractors to conflate and accuse vast numbers of different factions of leftists, many with very different agendas from each other, of somehow secretly coordinating together to wage war on American society by encouraging… what exactly? PC? Legal pot? Outlawing micro-aggressions? Protesting against killer cops? Lobbying for easier divorces? Nationalizing the wheat fields? No one knows because there’s really no such thing. Dr. Paul himself routinely talks about the importance of getting along with progressives and others of principle on the left, many of whom are great on the wars — our essential allies, in fact — and want to see society changed for the better in many of the same ways as we libertarians do. Precision in language is especially important on things like this. Social Justice Warriors are annoying. They are not a threat. And though loud, they do not represent the agendas of everyone on the left. Overly-obnoxious demands for politeness? Meh. If that’s Marxism in 2018, we should consider ourselves very lucky.
Here’s most of my speech I gave last Saturday about the greatness of Dr. Paul and why we should seek to emulate his bravery. Unfortunately the beginning part with some of the best pro-Ron stuff didn’t make the recording. I’ll update if better video surfaces.

FPF #254 – Close Call in the South China Sea

Blame Wilson

This article originally ran at Antiwar.com, April 23, 2005.

“[America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.
She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.
She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.”
-John Quincy Adams 1821

Woodrow Wilson’s decision to bring the United States into Europe’s “Great War” (1914-18) wasn’t made in 1917. In fact, his agents had already reached an agreement with the governments of England and France to involve the U.S. in the autumn of 1915. He then spent all of 1916 campaigning for reelection on the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” When Wilson, who had already invaded Mexico, Nicaragua, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, finally got Congress to declare war against the Central Powers on April 8, 1917, based on the ridiculous Zimmerman Telegram, the renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans, and trumped up charges of atrocities against the Belgians, he didn’t just get more than 100,000 Americans killed, he solidified the last century’s turn toward warfare and totalitarianism that eventually killed over two hundred million people. So says Jim Powell, author of Wilson’s War: How Woodrow Wilson’s Great Blunder led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin and World War II. Perhaps he left the Cold War, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the wars against terror and Iraq out of the book’s title for brevity’s sake.

Powell makes a compelling argument that by the time the U.S. got involved, World War I was a stalemate. Peace was sure to break out soon. The soldiers on all sides were sick, freezing, and in various states of mutiny.

The Russians in particular had been devastated, many of their soldiers were without weapons, and their luck on the battlefield was running out. The commanding generals were so incompetent that Czar Nicholas II left the capital to lead the war from the front. What little existed of a modern economy was being ruined. Primarily due to his refusal to withdraw from the war, Nicholas II was deposed in a popular uprising on March 15, 1917. As soon as the U.S. Congress declared war less than a month later, Wilson began applying diplomatic pressure and paid the Russians $325 million to continue the fight. An Anglophile to the core, Wilson didn’t care about the fate of the Russians. His concern was in keeping German forces split along two fronts. The payoff worked: Russia’s provisional prime minister Aleksandr Kerensky kept the Russians involved in the war.

Finally, on their fourth try, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and his sidekick Leon Trotsky seized power. As Powell says in the book,

“If Russia’s Provisional Government had quit the war and negotiated peace with Germany in early 1917, we might never had heard of Lenin. He would have returned home to find Russians celebrating the end of the war. Soldiers would have been returning home and the process of reviving the economy would have begun … Finally of course, the Czar was gone, and the Russian army would have been there to defend the Provisional Government, virtually ruling out prospects for a Bolshevik coup.

Alexander Kerensky and some others in the Provisional Government wanted Russia to stay in the war, and maybe they would have prevailed if they had decided on their own. But relentless diplomatic pressure from Britain and France, and diplomatic pressure and bribes from Woodrow Wilson, helped assure that the virtually bankrupt Provisional Government would stay in the war.”

Wilson’s intervention led to the creation of the Soviet Union, the Cheka, KGB, Red Terror and Operation Keelhaul. Because of him, Joseph Stalin inherited a dictatorship; next came Lend-Lease, the Gulag Archipelago, Cold War, nuclear arms race, Korean and Vietnam wars, the Contra “freedom fighters,” and the Afghan Mujahidin.

Though the Germans were more interested in seeking a negotiated peace than the Allies led by Britain and France, the Western battlefield was still on French soil. Without the help of conscripted American soldiers it is much more likely that the Allies would have negotiated sooner and demanded less vengeful terms. And vengeful terms they were: Clause 231 and 232 of the Treaty of Versailles forced the Germans to accept blame for the entire war, and to “make compensation for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allied and Associated Powers and to their property during the period of belligerency of each as an Allied or Associated Power against Germany by such aggression by land, by sea, and from the air, and in general all damage.” This amounted to an open ended claim for German reparations. These articles were to be enforced by “measures as the respective Governments may determine to be necessary in the circumstances.” This, as all school children presumably know, caused the German Government to turn on the printing presses, leading to terrible hyperinflation and the complete destruction of the German economy.

Wilson’s handler, Colonel Edward Mandell House, had tried to send an ambassador to Versailles, and keep Wilson at home. At least that way a diplomat would have had the excuse that he had to follow instructions from the boss back home. Wilson, however, insisted on “playing his role” on the “world stage,” and at Versailles, this advantage was lost – he was the boss. He supposedly thought he could restrain the hateful impulses of the British and French. If he had had details in mind for just peace terms, it might have been different. Instead he was thoroughly dominated by the French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and the British foreign secretary Lord Edward Grey.

One wish of Wilson’s was granted: he had demanded that the German Kaiser resign. He would only accept surrender from a “democratic government,” presumably meaning one like his. Due to this decision, the German democrats who had opposed the war were discredited for being those responsible for signing the terrible treaty. The opposition took all the heat, rather than the people who got the country into the war in the first place.

The series of maneuvers Hitler used to seize power were difficult enough as it was. Without the destruction of the German economy by the demands of massive reparations and the discrediting of the moderate factions, Adolph Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers’ Party would never have been able to seize power. Hitler’s entire propaganda program was based on the idea of punishing the “traitors of 1918” (those who signed the Versailles treaty), and restoring dignity to a country so humiliated by the aftermath of the first world war. Wilson enabled the rise of Nazi Germany and its bloody fruition, World War II – 50 million individuals killed, the master race, the holocaust, the American Empire and the Bush family fortune.

Wilson’s blunder also paved the way for our current conflicts in the Middle East. With the overwhelming victory of the Allies, made possible by US involvement, the British Empire expanded by over a million square miles. The French were able to greatly expand their territories as well. The current nation-states of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and what was then called Palestine were drawn on a paper napkin by Winston Churchill [actually the napkin thing is incorrect -ed.] with no regard for local populations at all. On top of all this, Lord Grey’s successor, British foreign secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour, issued his famous “declaration,” in the form of a letter to Lord Lionel Rothschild declaring the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…” This has been, and will continue to be, a cause of major problems for the West, and the United States in particular, to say nothing of the people who live there.

The common refrain that “if only the Versailles treaty had been ratified by the U.S. Senate and we had participated in the League of Nations everything would have been great,” is as old as Wilson himself:

“This is the Covenant of the League of Nations that you hear objected to, the only possible guarantee against war. I would consider myself recreant to every mother and father, every wife and sweetheart in this country, if I consented to the ending of this war without a guarantee that there would be no other. You say, ‘Is it an absolute guarantee?’ No; there is no absolute guarantee against human passion; but even if it were only 10 percent of a guarantee, would not you rather have 10 percent guarantee against war than none? If it only creates a presumption that there will not be war, would you not rather have that presumption than live under the certainty that there will be war? For, I tell you, my fellow citizens, I can predict with absolute certainty that within another generation there will be another world war if the nations of the world do not concert the method by which to prevent it.”

Consider the unlimited arrogance of this man, who could send a hundred thousand people to their deaths, set up millions more for the same fate, and then blame those who would preserve America’s independence for the consequences of the first part of his program by their refusal to go along with the rest of it.

Woodrow Wilson’s presidential legacy consists of central banking, national income taxes, the destruction of the separation of powers, the Palmer raids, massive expansion of the national government’s power and the worst slaughter of Americans since 1865. No wonder he’s George W. Bush’s hero. Let’s hope the consequences of the foreign adventures of our current megalomaniac-in-chief are not as harmful as those of his predecessor.

Republished with permission from Antiwar.com

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