The smoking gun

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 25/02/2018 - 2:00pm in



The consensus (except at Fox News and the White House) is that the Adam Schiff memo just released utterly destroys the Nunes Memo, which the Trumpites have been trumpeting for two weeks as proving that the FBI is corrupt. That’s certainly the way it reads to me: every single charge made by Nunes (based, please note, on documents he hadn’t seen) is clearly refuted. No, the Steele Dossier was not essential to obtaining the FISA warrant against Carter Page; the FBI was already on him. No, the source of that memo was not concealed from the FISA court; judges can read footnotes, and the DNC wasn’t specifically named because that would have been an unjustified bit of “unmasking” domestic players caught in intelligence dramas.  No, those warrants (the original and  three extensions) weren’t approved by some rogue Democratic judge, but by two GWB appointees, one GHWB appointee, and one Reagan appointee. And so on and so forth.

To my eyes, there’s a much bigger fact in the Schiff memo. It was already in the record, but I hadn’t noticed it before, and I can find only one published reference to it – from Joe Uchill at The Hill – and no published source draws what seems to me the two strong inferences: that the DNC/DCCC/Podesta hacks were carried out by or for Russian intelligence, and that the Trump campaign very likely knew that and helped cover it up.

The key background fact is that, whatever the Troll Farm was or wasn’t doing, and whether it was or wasn’t doing it in direct collusion with the Trump campaign, whoever stole three caches of Democratic emails – from the DNC, the DCCC, and John Podesta – and sent them off to WikiLeaks for posting made a decisive difference in the outcome of the election; Trump mentioned “WikiLeaks” 141 times in the last month of the campaign alone.

According to the new memo (matching facts already on the record) the FBI first became aware that Russians were messing with the election through the antics of George Papadopoulos, one of the Trump campaign’s initial team of five foreign-policy advisers. Papadopoulos (it has been reported elsewhere)  drunkenly boasted to an Australian diplomat in April of 2016 about his conversations with a skeezy London-based Maltese quasi-academic named Josef Mifsud, and the Australian passed the word along to the U.S.(That’s one reason the FBI didn’t need the Steel Dossier to get started looking into Russian election meddling; another was that the Bureau already had its eyes on Carter Page, another Trump foreign policy adviser, as a Russian asset.)

The Schiff memo points to the Statement of Offense filed by Mueller’s office when Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. He had told the Bureau that, at the time he first spoke with Mifsud (in March), he had no connection to the Trump campaign. But that turns out to be false.

Defendant PAPADOPOULOS claimed that his interactions with an
overseas professor, who defendant PAPADOPOULOS understood to have substantial connections to Russian government officials, occurred before defendant PAPADOPOULOS became a foreign policy adviser to the Campaign. … In truth and in fact, however, defendant PAPADOPOULOS learned he would be an advisor to the Campaign in early March, and met the professor on or about March 14, 2016; the professor only took interest in defendant PAPADOPOULOS because of his status with the Campaign.

But the real kicker is in that ellipsis:

Defendant PAPADOPOULOS acknowledged that the professor had told him about the Russians possessing “dirt” on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” (Emphasis added.)

The drunken boast was in April. The obscure “DCLeaks” website didn’t publish the products of the DNC hack until June, and WikiLeaks didn’t publish them until July. (The Podesta material came out even later, timed to step on the “grab ’em by the pussy” story.) If Mifsud wasn’t telling Papadopoulos the truth, or Papadopoulos wasn’t reporting accurately what Mifsud had told him, how could Papadopoulos have known in April about “thousands of emails” damaging to Clinton that weren’t published (19,000 of them) until three months later?

And unless Papadopoulos kept silent to the Trump campaign people he was trying to impress about the stuff he was blabbing to random diplomats, then the Trump people also must have known, when that stuff starting showing up on WikiLeaks, that it was the product of a Russian intelligence exploit. So when the Trump campaign spent the fall scoffing at the idea that Russia was involved in the WikiLeaks material – when Trump himself in September suggested that the hacker might have been “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” – they were knowingly helping to cover up a crime. (In the technical parlance of the federal criminal law, that’s called a “no-no.”)

Even in the unlikely event that Trump & Co. didn’t actually know what Papadopoulos knew, his agreement to the Statement of Offense pretty much clinches the answer to the question “Who did the hacks?” So let’s stop talking about whether the Troll Farm could have swung the election.

RT Interviews Ken Livingstone on Boris Johnson in Moscow

Boris Johnson has flown to Moscow to try to repair some of the damage the new Cold War has done to Anglo-Russian relations with his opposite number, Sergei Lavrov. And despite declaring himself a Russophile – and I’ll believe that claim when I see concrete evidence – Eton’s blonde ambition seems to have made matters worse. He’s declared that there’s evidence that Russia’s been interfering in the affairs of countries all over the globe.

So RT spoke to Ken Livingstone to see what he thought of it all. And the man Private Eye calls ‘Leninspart’ and makes jokes about being a ‘Leninist newt fancier’ has some very interesting things to say. They are definitely what you are not going to hear on the lamestream news or tonight on Have I Got News For You.

Livingstone states that he knows Boris very well, having fought against him in four elections. He comments that the old Etonian blonde beast (Will without intelligence! How beautiful! How free!, as Nietzsche rhapsodised) doesn’t want to be a politician. He wants to be a celebrity. And he very often doesn’t read the briefing documents his aides prepare for him. Thus he managed to get Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sentence extended by the Iranians for supposedly teaching journalism, when she was there on a holiday visiting her family.

As for the reasons behind the latest Cold War, Livingstone suggests that it’s all today with America’s failure to come to terms with the fact that China is about to overtake them as the world’s largest economy. Way back under Obama, the US tried to put together a coalition against China, because they were afraid of its growing power. Obama tried to get Russia to join their alliance, but Putin wouldn’t play ball. He had good reason. Russia does a lot of trade with the Chung Kuo, the Middle Kingdom. In pique, the Americans have decided to attack Russia and punish them for this disloyalty. Despite the fact that, as Livingstone says, a growing number of academics are pointing out there’s absolutely no truth in the allegations that Russia is manipulating other countries internal affairs.

It’s also very hypocritical. Livingstone was there in 1996 when Yeltsin, who by then he describes as ‘completely dysfunctional’ was up for re-election. Livingstone’s convinced that the election was rigged. The Communist candidate, Tsuganov, won the popular vote 54-46. But somehow Yeltsin got himself back into office. The result was his drunken antics on the international stage, the crash privatisation of the Russian economy, resulting in total meltdown and mass poverty and colossal corruption that reached all the way to the top. Livingstone states that most Russians probably found it a relief after Yeltsin to have Putin. I don’t doubt it. Putin’s another fascistic militarist, like Trump, and I’ve no doubt that the allegations of corruption around him are true. It’s why I’ve referred to him as the ‘arkhiplut’, a Russian term meaning ‘arch-criminal’. But he’s given his people stability, prosperity and national pride after the chaos of Yeltsin’s grotesque reign.

Livingstone is also pessimistic about any possibilities of change in Anglo-Russian relations. Despite Boris calling himself a ‘russophile’, Boris will probably start making speeches attacking the Russians the moment he gets back to Britain. And the situation itself will continue as long as America cannot reconcile itself to the fact that it is no longer going to be the world’s only superpower. Instead there are going to be many superpowers. But the Americans can’t accept that.

This sounds exactly right. I hadn’t heard that Obama had tried to put together an anti-Chinese alliance, but it doesn’t surprise me. It would explain why Killary also had a bitter enmity towards them, and why she was doing her best to ramp up tensions with the Chinese as well as the Russians. Counterpunch and other radical, left-wing news sites have also documented the way the Americans poured money into Yeltsin’s campaign, subsidising it to the tune of hundred of millions, if not billions, in order to get the drunk capitalist re-elected. Because Yeltsin was selling off state assets cheaply, and American multinationals wanted their ‘piece of the action’. Some of the resentment towards Putin coming from the other side of the Pond now is because Putin has stopped all that. Russia was supposed to be under America’s economic yoke, like every other country America has ‘helped’, going all the way back to the Marshal Plan. And because Putin has followed Lenin’s dictum of smashing the West’s economic imperialism at its weakest link – Russia – the Americans are furious and want to see him toppled and Russian influence combated.

There are, of course, other, personal reasons why the Americans hate Russia at the moment. Like Killary trying to fend off the fact that precious few Americans actually like her, and that she was caught fiddling the DNC’s internal elections to take the presidential nomination away from Bernie Sanders. Because she, like the men around her in the corporatist Democrats and Republicans, is the puppet of big business and very definitely in Wall Street’s pocket. So to try to distract attention from her glaring faults, she’s claiming it’s all due to Russian hacking. It wasn’t. WikiLeaks have said they got the leaked emails from a disgruntled insider. The FBI has said that the Russians aren’t interfering in America’s political affairs, or at least, no more than they usually do. The only people repeating this lie are Killary, the lamestream media, who fear losing out to alternative news media, like RT, and a group of Nazi libertarians, the Von Mises Foundation, who want everything privatised and have published eugenics ‘scientific’ racist balderdash claiming that America shouldn’t have a welfare state, because Blacks and the poor are racially inferior and undeserving.

As for BoJo, I also don’t doubt here that what Livingstone has said is correct. BoJo definitely enjoys being a celebrity. He’s appeared on Have I Got News For You, and used it as the title for one of his wretched books – Have I Got Views For You. He is ruthlessly ambitious, completely unprincipled, and absolutely bereft of any recognisable talent.

There’s a simply way to repair relations with Russia: sack Boris, and stop doing what the Americans say. This is another example of the ‘special relationship’ working against our interests and for the Americans. The Americans want Russia punished, and so our politicians act once again as their poodles and lapdogs. Just like Blair enthusiastically backed Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq. We’re trying to maintain our own failing status as a great power by riding on their coat-tails. And because America’s now in trouble and wants to hurt China and Russia, we have to follow suit.

The Special Relationship is all very well, but it’s time to assert our independence and do the right thing by refusing to toe the American line on Putin. Global peace may depend on it.

Never Mind the Titles of Her Books, the Slave Auctions Show What Hilary Really Thinks of Africans

This came to me the other night, after I’d already posted one rant about Killary. But even if it’s a bit too much coming after the earlier posts, I still think it’s a valid point worth making.

Killary was going around the world last month trying to flog her book, What Happened?, in which she tried to blame everyone else for losing the election to the orange racist. It was all the fault of RT and Putin, WikiLeaks, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, misogynist men and ‘treacherous’ women. And not because she herself was a greedy, corporatist warmonger, determined to keep Americans poor and deny them a proper welfare state, with free healthcare, because she’s in the pocket of Wall Street and the other big corporations. Nope. It had nothing to do with any of that.

Killary was Obama’s Secretary of State when he sent the bombers in to level Libya and aid the Islamist rebels in overthrowing Colonel Gaddafi. Gaddafi was a brutal dictator, no question – but under him the country was free from foreign domination. It was the most prosperous country in Africa, and its people had the benefit of free healthcare and free education. And while Gaddafi had no qualms against using the Islamists to assassinate his rivals in Africa and the Arab world, he kept them on a very short leash. They could not try to spread their warped vision of Islam in Libya, and attempts by them to interfere in Libyan politics were very definitely not tolerated. Gaddafi’s own ideology was a mixture of Arab socialism and Islam, but it was in many respects a modern, secular state where women enjoyed a greater degree of freedom and equality than elsewhere in the Islamic world.

All that was destroyed when the Islamists took over. There are now at least two parliaments in the country, which is split by civil war. And this week I’ve posted several stories about the revelation that the Islamists have been holding auctions of Black African migrants as slaves. When they haven’t massacred them, along with other Black Libyans. Whole Black towns have been massacred. One of these was Tawergha, which had 40,000 people.

But when Gaddafi was overthrown, Killary was giggling about it. ‘Yeah, we got him!’ she enthused. There are photos of her with the Islamists holding up a sword with one of them. That’ll come back to haunt America, just as the Islamists Reagan and Thatcher proudly promoted as our friends in the fight against the evil Soviet Empire morphed into al-Qaeda, and launched 9/11. The Islamists aren’t our friends, and are the enemies of every civilised person on this planet – non-Muslim and Muslim.

It also helps put the lie to the image Killary was trying to promote twenty or so years ago as a modern, non-racist woman fully comfortable with American multiculturalism. Back when her husband was doing his best to run the country according to the principles of Ronald Reagan, rather than FDR, she wrote her own book outlining her political philosophy.

It was called It Takes A Village, and was her attempt to present herself as a font of folksy wisdom. At the centre of the book was her daughter, Chelsea, and the book was about how she and Bill cared for her, and how they intended to give her nice, positive, left-ish values. It supposedly took its title from an African proverb: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, thus showing the Clinton’s collectivism and commitment to benefiting everyone. It was also, you may bet, given the title to show how anti-racist she was, how pro-Black and fully integrated into the global village Marshal McLuhan used to bang on about. Never mind the fact that Africans and western experts in African cultures have never heard of the proverb. You can imagine Hillary thinking how this would present her as the embodiment of Black ‘earth mother’ wisdom, like some of the images of the strong mothers in the projects, trying to raise their kids well in spite of grinding poverty, absent fathers and the looming threat of gang culture and violence. No doubt she also saw with the title an opportunity to get on one of the shows presented by Black female celebrities. You know, like Oprah Winfrey. Or perhaps an appearance with Whoopie Goldberg. I’m not sneering at either of these two celebs. They’re great presenters and performers, who’ve given a lot of people a lot of pleasure. The only person I’m sneering at here is Hillary. Because it looks opportunistic and very cynically calculated.

Private Eye more or less said so at the time when they reviewed the book. And I think they’re right. Hillary started her career as a ‘Goldwater Girl’, supporting the pro-Segregation candidate Barry Goldwater. In the 1990s she talked about the threat of ‘super-predators’ at the time when it was almost solely used to describe young Black men. She also framed the drugs legislation that resulted in a massively disproportionate number of Black men going to the slammer for drugs.

And now there’s the revelation that the Islamists she backed have been murdering and enslaving Blacks. And that CNN knew about it all three years ago, but kept silent, because they’re reporters were embedded with the same terrorist groups.

Which raises the question: did Hillary know? It’s hard to believe that, as Secretary of State, she didn’t. Or if she didn’t, she dam’ well should have known. She was in charge of giving them support. She would – or at least should – have been briefed about what these characters are like. It wouldn’t have been hard. There are a fair number of scholars of Islam, both Muslim and non-Muslim, who could have told her exactly what they were like, as well as ulema – Muslim clergy – who could have told her how the Islamists violate the precepts of their religion.

But clearly, she didn’t want to know. All she cared about was getting Gaddafi out. This was because he’d defied the American Empire, and was going to jettison the petrodollar for the Gold Dinar. America wouldn’t be able to use the profits from the oil industry to refinance its debts, and the whole country would go bust. Plus, the Republicans’ friends in Likud wanted Libya destroyed, along with six other African and Middle Eastern nations.

And so Killary has shown herself quite willing to turn a blind eye to the horrors committed by these monsters. Well, what could the world expect from the woman, who stood on her soapbox at the presidential debates, and raved about how happy she was to know, and go on holiday with Henry Kissinger. Yeah, Kissinger. The man who’s rightly been described as the world’s biggest unindicted war criminal, responsible for the spread of Fascism, bloodshed, mass murder and torture across Latin America and South Asia.

Never mind the title of her book. Killary has harmed Black Americans, and promoted the murder and sale of Blacks in Africa.

Susan Sarandon Attacked and Abused for Criticising Hillary

This comes from The Hollywood Reporter, and discusses an interview in the Groaniad on the 27th November 2017 with the actress Susan Sarandon. Sarandon’s no fan of Hillary Clinton, and very publicly said on interviews and talk shows that they she preferred Bernie Sanders. She criticised Killary for not backing the $15 minimum wage, for taking money from the fracking companies, and for supporting the privatisation and the wars, the costs of which have been used to deny Americans proper, affordable healthcare.

In the interview with the Guardian, she states that, had Hillary won, we would probably be at war now, and points to all the highly dodgy stuff Obama did, that people are only just finding out about.

She also talked about how she suffered terrible, misogynistic abuse from people on the left, who personally blamed her for Killary losing to the orange Fascist. She said that she had people telling her that they hoped she had her crotch grabbed, or that she was raped, as well as other abuse and death threats.

I think actually Sarandon may well be right, and that had Killary won she may well have pitched us all into another war. She’s a die-hard Russophobe, and was ramping up tensions with Putin and China before she decided that the best way to divert attention from her corruption and that of the DNC was to blame Russian hackers for WikiLeaks getting hold of the incriminating documents.

What also makes this interesting is the misogynistic abuse she received for not backing Hillary. Hillary was trying to position herself as a feminist everywoman, and that somehow a victory for her would somehow be a victory for every woman in America. If not on planet Earth. This was despite the fact that she stood for the very policies that hurt the poor, and particularly women. Like the lack of free healthcare. Women tend to work in the lowest-paid jobs, and so are particularly affected by the neoliberal policies enthusiastically embraced by the Clintons, which have made poverty worse.

However, anyone, who refused to vote for Clinton was automatically vilified as ‘sexist’ and ‘misogynist’ by Killary and her supporters. They falsely claimed that there was a group of Bernie’s supporters, the Bernie Bros, who were subjecting Killary and her gang to sexist abuse. That was a lie. And the New Labour gang over here tried to do the same with our version of Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn. There were endless articles in the Guardian and the I trying to claim that it would be sexist to vote for Corbyn, because he was Old Labour. And so represented the return of male-dominated trade unions. There was even one ludicrous letter published in one of the papers, which tried to claim that Corbyn and Bernie had to be sexist and homophobic, because they dressed in old fashioned, baggy-style clothes. That one got into ‘Pseud’s Corner’ in Private Eye. The pundits of the Graon and the I were bitterly disappointed by the lack of a female candidate in the Labour leadership elections, who stood any chance of winning. Their favourites were women like Rachel Reed, neoliberal entryists, who stood four-square behind Blair’s policies of privatisation and destroying the welfare state. These are policies that, like those in Clinton’s America, have made conditions much worse for the poor and women in particular, for exactly the same reasons. But that didn’t matter, because they were women, and so somehow voting for them was supposed to be a great feminist victory. Even if they did nothing for ordinary women, and everything for big business.

The stories about misogyny and sexist abuse from Sanders’ and Corbyn’s supporters were just lies. But I’ve no doubt that the sexist and misogynist abuse Sarandon got from Killary’s was very real. And I doubt she was the only one. Abby Martin, the very professional, incisive presenter of the Empire Files on TeleSur English, has also said in an interview that she was called a ‘traitor’ by Killary’s supporters, because she refused to vote for her. I think like Sarandon she ended up voting for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. The Killary camp also tried to explain away Hillary not winning the votes of masses of America’s women by saying that they were told not to vote for her by their boyfriends. Which Martin points out also denies women their agency. I also think it’s massively unlikely. There may well be women, who vote according to the wishes of their husbands or boyfriends. But there are also an awful lot of independent women, who won’t and don’t. And my guess is that the latter are in the majority. Also, there’s another sexist slur in there: that men were opposed to Hillary simply because of her gender, and not because of the issues. That’s true of some, no doubt, especially in the more Conservative parts of America. But I’ve also no doubt that many men didn’t vote for Killary because of her corrupt policies and her personal greed and sense of entitlement.

This piece therefore shows another dimension to Hillary and her supporters. Not only are they corrupt warmongers, who favour the rich against the poor, but they’re also hypocrites, subjecting their own opponents to the very misogynist abuse they falsely claim that they have been subject to.

Revenge Is a Rotten Way to Run a Country

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/11/2017 - 7:12am in

Looking back at the last tumultuous year, to me, one of the saddest aspects of the Trump candidacy and presidency is that both in part were built from one of the basest of human impulses: revenge.

We’re taught that ideally, the desire to run for office should reflect a commitment to public service. And we know that the reality is far too often otherwise, running to slake a thirst for power and money that overpowers the greater good.

Examine the roots of the Trump campaign and you see two men eager to use position to take revenge, to get even for insults, imagined or sometimes real, and to lash out at perceived conspiracies against them: Donald Trump himself… and Vladimir Putin.

Yet to seek elected office for revenge, to use it to get back at someone or inflict harm on them or anyone associated with them seems in some ways even worse; shabby, petty and immoral.

Examine the roots of the Trump campaign and you see two men eager to use position to take revenge, to get even for insults, imagined or sometimes real, and to lash out at perceived conspiracies against them:

Donald Trump himself…  and Vladimir Putin.

Whether or not there was active, knowing collusion, the two nonetheless joined forces to tap into decades of American fears and resentments not totally dissimilar from their own.

In Trump’s case, you don’t have to go to Vienna to figure out that much of his egotism and vainglory — and those tweets, God help us — seem aimed at getting back for slights that can go back just hours and minutes or sometimes even years. To be specific, remember the story of the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner when President Obama jokingly skewered Trump, who sat at his table in grim-faced, aggrieved silence.

Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker was in the Washington Hilton ballroom that night and wrote four years later:

“[O]ne can’t help but suspect that, on that night, Trump’s own sense of public humiliation became so overwhelming that he decided, perhaps at first unconsciously, that he would, somehow, get his own back — perhaps even pursue the presidency after all, no matter how nihilistically or absurdly, and redeem himself.”

After the election, from each man there was feigned magnanimity toward the other but it didn’t last long. Like an uncontrollable tic, Trump continues to obsess over Obama, blaming any and all problems on his predecessor. Nothing, as we know all too well by now, is ever Trump’s fault.

In Putin’s case, the resentment is more geopolitical in nature and was aimed not so much at President Obama as at Hillary Clinton, particularly her tenure as Obama’s secretary of state. Here’s what Michael Crowley and Julia Ioffe wrote in Politico during the summer of 2016, when not as much was known or had been revealed about the extent of Russian attempts to hijack the American electoral process:

Former US officials who worked on Russia policy with Clinton say that Putin was personally stung by Clinton’s December 2011 condemnation of Russia’s parliamentary elections, and had his anger communicated directly to President Barack Obama. They say Putin and his advisers are also keenly aware that, even as she executed Obama’s “reset” policy with Russia, Clinton took a harder line toward Moscow than others in the administration. And they say Putin sees Clinton as a forceful proponent of “regime change” policies that the Russian leader considers a grave threat to his own survival.

Confirming this in her book, What Happened, Hillary Clinton writes:

Our relationship has been sour for a long time. Putin doesn’t respect women and despises anyone who stands up to him, so I’m a double problem. After I criticized one of his policies, he told the press, “It’s better not to argue with women,” but went on to call me weak. “Maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman,” he joked. Hilarious.

Clinton’s call for “fair, free transparent elections” in Russia led Putin to accuse Clinton of “interference in our internal affairs.” In retrospect, both statements are soaked in irony, as Putin’s revenge has taken the form of elaborate hacks and ruses via social media designed to interfere with and subvert free elections in the United States. Not to mention the ever-increasing evidence of Trump campaign team contacts with Russian government officials and apparent “cut-outs” — third party go-betweens used to pass information or to determine the likelihood of recruitment.

Of course, by most reports, Putin takes his revenge more bluntly against enemies at home and throughout much of the former Soviet bloc; political opponents and journalists simply die or disappear. But when it comes to the internet, Russia’s techniques have been infinitely more subtle and ingenious. In many cases, the nation’s troll factories have been pitting sides against other sides with phony social media accounts that take every conceivable position on an issue.

The overall extent of these attacks is mind-blowing. The German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy reported, “While Russian Facebook ads reached up to 146 million Americans, nearly 30,000 Russian Twitter accounts produced 1.4 million tweets around Election Day.” And in early November, NBC News noted that more than 3,000 “global news outlets… inadvertently published articles containing embedded tweets by the confirmed Kremlin-linked troll accounts in over 11,000 news articles in the run-up to the 2016 election, separate exclusive reporting shows.”

Then there’s this: the Alliance for Securing Democracy’s Hamilton 68 dashboard, a web tool designed to monitor Russian disinformation, noted that as special counsel Robert Mueller’s initial indictments went down:

… Kremlin-oriented accounts on Twitter employed the four D’s of disinformation: dismiss, distract, dismay, and distort. Outside of a day of fear mongering surrounding the terror attacks in New York City, the key words of the week (Clinton, Mueller, uranium, dossier, Tony Podesta and Donna Brazile) were all efforts to shift focus to Democratic scandals, both real and imagined. More importantly, over the past three weeks, the coordinated effort of Kremlin accounts to discredit Mueller and craft a narrative of Democrat-Russia collusion has moved from fringe websites to more credible outlets. What was once a conspiracy theory is now a mainstream narrative — and that is how a Russian influence operation works.

And let’s add one more to the mix of those players who are motivated by revenge of one sort or another. Please welcome Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, the organization so beloved and touted by candidate Trump for its leaking of emails on Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.

As reported by the aforementioned Julia Ioffe, this time in The Atlantic, despite its claims to be a nonpartisan dispenser of leaked documents, WikiLeaks —  “a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked” — was constantly shooting off messages to Donald Trump Jr., offering information and advice and making requests, including that Donald’s dad, by then the president–elect, suggest that Assange be named Australia’s ambassador to the United States. I’m not making this up.

Assange’s record of animus toward Hillary Clinton is well-known. He believed she wanted him indicted for WikiLeaks’ 2010 release of 250,000 diplomatic cables and wrote in February 2016, “She’s a war hawk with bad judgement who gets an unseemly emotional rush out of killing people. She shouldn’t be let near a gun shop, let alone an army. And she certainly should not become president of the United States.”

As per Ioffe, on Oct. 3, 2016, WikiLeaks wrote Donald Jr.:

“Hiya, it’d be great if you guys could comment on/push this story…” attaching a quote from then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton about wanting to “just drone” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“Already did that earlier today,” Trump Jr. responded an hour-and-a-half later. “It’s amazing what she can get away with.”

From such bitter nonsense, revenge unleashed, electors are swayed and empires fall.

Revenge, as the saying goes, is a dish best served cold. Putin the ex-KGB colonel apparently is taking his time, coolly mastering an operation effectively waging a cold cyberwar not only against the United States but Western nations in general.

As for Trump (who refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong and who for whatever reasons will never criticize Putin) and right-wing media outlets like Fox News and Breitbart (which are further spreading the fake news ginned up by Russian bots), if they think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, they are — surprise! — deluded.

Revenge is an ugly urge and a foul underlying basis for politics and government. It fogs the mind, disrupts equilibrium, crushes rational thought and too powerfully motivates our worst instincts. Further, at a time when fundamentalists and nativists seek to rule the land, revenge is distinctly, you should excuse the word, unchristian. That it has so infected the body politic, bursting to the surface after years of festering along with its helpmates bigotry, spite and ignorance, is a sad commentary on the state of the nation.

Revenge, another saying goes (or resentment or holding a grudge) is a poison you drink, hoping the other person will die. But in our current political nightmare, the poison affects us all: It envenoms and corrupts those who imbibe and while doing so murders society and democracy.

This is an emergency. We must find an antidote and fast.

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Julian Assange’s Hatred of Hillary Clinton Was No Secret. His Advice to Donald Trump Was.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/11/2017 - 6:09am in

Last Updated: Friday, Nov. 17, 9:55 a.m.

The revelation that WikiLeaks secretly offered help to Donald Trump’s campaign, in a series of private Twitter messages sent to the candidate’s son Donald Trump Jr., gave ammunition to the group’s many detractors and also sparked anger from some longtime supporters of the organization and its founder, Julian Assange.

One of the most high-profile dissenters was journalist Barrett Brown, whose crowdsourced investigations of hacked corporate documents later posted on WikiLeaks led to a prison sentence.

Brown had a visceral reaction to the news, first reported by The Atlantic, that WikiLeaks had been advising the Trump campaign. In a series of tweets and Facebook videos, Brown accused Assange of having compromised “the movement” to expose corporate and government wrongdoing by acting as a covert political operative.

Brown explained that he had defended WikiLeaks for releasing emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee, “because it was an appropriate thing for a transparency org to do.” But, he added, “working with an authoritarian would-be leader to deceive the public is indefensible and disgusting.”

He was particularly outraged by an Oct. 21, 2016 message, in which Assange had appealed to Trump Jr. to let WikiLeaks publish one or more of his father’s tax returns in order to make his group’s attacks on Hillary Clinton seem less biased. “If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality,” the Assange-controlled @Wikileaks account suggested. “That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source, which the Clinton campaign is constantly slandering us with.”

A screenshot of a direct message from the WikiLeaks Twitter account to Donald Trump Jr.

As Brown pointed out in another tweet, it was all-caps exasperating that Assange was in this case “complaining about ‘slander’ of being pro-Trump IN THE ACTUAL COURSE OF COLLABORATING WITH TRUMP.”

The journalist, an Intercept contributor, whose work had been championed by WikiLeaks, also shared a link to a Reddit AMA conducted two days after the election in which WikiLeaks staff, including Assange’s longtime collaborator Sarah Harrison, had denied point-blank that they had collaborated with the Trump campaign.

“The allegations that we have colluded with Trump, or any other candidate for that matter, or with Russia, are just groundless and false,” the staffers wrote then. “We were not publishing with a goal to get any specific candidate elected.”

It is not surprising that Brown felt personally betrayed by Assange, since, as he explained on Facebook Tuesday night, “I went to prison because of my support for WikiLeaks.” Specifically, Brown said, the charges against him were related to his role in “operations to identify and punish members of the government and members of private companies that had been exposed by Anonymous hackers of my acquaintance, via email hacks, as having conspired to go after Assange, to go after WikiLeaks.”

That sort of activism, dedicated to making public secret wrongdoing, Brown argued, is very different from “colluding with an authoritarian presidential campaign backed by actual Nazis while publicly denying it.”

“Plainly,” he observed with bitterness, “the prospect of a Clinton in the White House was such an unimaginable nightmare scenario that all normal standards of truth and morality became moot and it became necessary to get people like Sebastian Gorka into the White House to establish order.”

Before his private messages to Trump Jr. were leaked, Assange himself had categorically denied that he or WikiLeaks had been attacking Hillary Clinton to help elect Donald Trump. “This is not due to a personal desire to influence the outcome of the election,” he wrote in a statement released on November 8 as Americans went to the polls.

Even though Assange had by then transformed the WikiLeaks Twitter feed into a vehicle for smearing Clinton, he insisted that his work was journalistic in nature. “The right to receive and impart true information is the guiding principle of WikiLeaks — an organization that has a staff and organizational mission far beyond myself,” Assange wrote. “Millions of Americans have pored over the leaks and passed on their citations to each other and to us,” he added. “It is an open model of journalism that gatekeepers are uncomfortable with, but which is perfectly harmonious with the First Amendment.”

The same morning, WikiLeaks tweeted an attack on Clinton for not having driven her own car during her decades of public service.

For Brown, and others who have been critical of Assange for using the platform of WikiLeaks to fight his own political and personal battles, his secret communication with the Trump campaign was damning because it revealed that he had been functioning more like a freelance political operative, doling out strategy and advice, than a journalist interested in obtaining and publishing information, concerned only with its accuracy.

James Ball, a former WikiLeaks volunteer who has described the difficulty of working for someone who lies so much, was also appalled by one post-election message to Trump Jr., in which WikiLeaks suggested that, as a form of payback, it would be “helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to DC.”

That request for payback, on December 16, 2016, came three weeks after Trump’s father had called on the British government to make his friend Nigel Farage its ambassador. “This should be it, game over, end of it, for anyone who tries to suggest Assange looks out for anyone except himself,” Ball observed on Twitter. “That’s his cause, and plenty of good people have been played, badly.”

There was also criticism from journalists like Chris Hayes of MSNBC, a network Assange accused of being, along with the New York Times, “the most biased source” in one note to Trump Jr. Pointing to a message from WikiLeaks sent on Election Day, advising Trump to refuse to concede and claim the election was rigged, Hayes asked how, exactly, offering that sort of political advice squared with the organization’s mission to promote transparency.

A screenshot of a Nov. 8, 2016 DM to Donald Trump Jr. from WikiLeaks.

Still, many of Assange’s most vocal supporters stuck with him, calling even secret communication with the Trump campaign to undermine Clinton entirely consistent with his vision of WikiLeaks as a sort of opposition research group, dedicated to “crushing bastards” by finding dirt in the servers of powerful individuals or organizations.

As Raffi Khatchadourian explained in a New Yorker profile of the WikiLeaks founder in 2010, “Assange, despite his claims to scientific journalism, emphasized to me that his mission is to expose injustice, not to provide an even-handed record of events.” To Assange, Khatchadourian wrote, “Leaks were an instrument of information warfare.”

One steadfast Assange ally was Kim Dotcom, founder of the shuttered file-sharing site MegaUpload, who helped fuel a conspiracy theory that the DNC emails had not been hacked by Russia, but provided to WikiLeaks by a young Democratic staffer named Seth Rich, who was subsequently murdered. Alluding to another entirely unsubstantiated allegation — that Clinton had once suggested killing Assange in a drone strike — Dotcom said that the WikiLeaks founder was merely part of a crowdsourced political operation that had successfully defeated the greater evil.

As it happens, one of the anti-Clinton rumors that WikiLeaks had urged Trump Jr. to “push” in an October 3, 2016 message was a tweet linking to that unsubstantiated allegation in an unsigned blog post citing anonymous sources. The blog post includes no documentation of the allegation, but the WikiLeaks tweet linking to it, which Trump Jr. told Assange he did share, included an excerpt from the blog post in which the type was styled to look like a leaked document.

Earlier in the campaign, the WikiLeaks Twitter feed had also shared video from 2010 of a Fox News pundit, Bob Beckel, calling for Assange’s assassination, with a caption that incorrectly identified him as a “Hillary Clinton strategist.”

Beckel did not work for Clinton. He served in the State Department during the Carter administration, three decades before Clinton was secretary of state, and then ran Walter Mondale’s failed campaign for the presidency in 1984.

While WikiLeaks has undoubtedly facilitated the release of information that is both true and important, it is Assange’s Trump-like willingness to traffic in such unsubstantiated rumors, conspiracy theories, and innuendo not supported by evidence that undermines his claim to be a disinterested publisher, not a political operative.

This willingness to traffic in false or misleading information was very much in evidence during his work on behalf of Trump, and it is a consistent feature of Assange’s advocacy for other people and causes.

During the final week of the Brexit campaign last year, Assange tried to undermine the credibility of a witness to the savage murder of a pro-European Union member of parliament, Jo Cox. In the immediate aftermath of the assassination, Brexit supporters like Assange were concerned that a wave of sympathy for the murdered MP could sway the vote. So they set out to contest evidence that the killing had been politically motivated.

To that end, the WikiLeaks Twitter feed drew attention to the fact that one witness to the killing — who said he had heard the attacker shout “Britain First!” — might have belonged to a racist political group, the British National Party, whose membership rolls WikiLeaks had obtained. Within hours of the murder, WikiLeaks also shared a link to a conspiratorial post from the pro-Brexit Breitbart U.K., which speculated that the witness might have lied about what he heard as part of a feud among far-right racist groups.

The next day, British police confirmed that the attacker told the arresting officers he was a “political activist” and had indeed shouted pro-Brexit phrases, including “Britain First,” during the murder.

More recently, during the separatist protests in Catalonia he supported, Assange was forced to delete several fake or misleading images he had shared on Twitter — including one photograph he mistakenly said showed the head of Spanish military police kissing a flag at a demonstration, and another of Spanish police officers struggling with Catalans, which had been digitally altered to insert a Catalan independence flag.

A screenshot of a fake image Julian Assange shared and later deleted.

In the final months of the 2016 presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter feed promoted not just its new publications, but also frequently referred to tabloid rumors — like old chestnuts about Hillary Clinton’s supposed “role in the death of White House counsel Vince Foster” — and wild conspiracy theories about her campaign chair taking part in bloody satanic rituals.

We know now that, from late September on, Assange was also privately using that account to urge the candidate’s son to hype the mostly anodyne emails stolen from the account of campaign chair, John Podesta, as crucial evidence of Clinton’s unfitness for office. And it certainly looks like the campaign took his advice.

On October 12, 2016, just 15 minutes after Assange told Trump Jr. that a new batch of Podesta emails had been released, with “many great stories the press are missing,” his father tweeted a complaint accusing “the dishonest media” of ignoring “incredible information provided by WikiLeaks.”

In the same message, Assange urged Trump Jr. to share a link he provided to the email database — — so “you guys can get all your followers digging through the content.” Two days later, Trump Jr. shared that link.

Despite the constant claims from Assange and the Trumps that the emails stolen from Democrats implicated Clinton in scandal and corruption, it is important to keep in mind that the WikiLeaks method of encouraging Trump supporters and Reddit trolls to scour the documents for evidence of malfeasance did not, in fact, uncover any such evidence.

Instead, the hacked emails were used to reverse-engineer preposterous conspiracy theories, like the imaginary pedophilia scandal called Pizzagate, which WikiLeaks was still treating as real two months after the election.

This is the real tragedy and menace of the public and private collaboration of WikiLeaks with Trump. An organization with a sterling reputation for providing the public with accurate information about secret government and corporate activities was used to launder conspiracy theories that helped elect a racist, sexual predator president of the United States.

That might be a terrific result for people like Julian Assange, who see a dysfunctional, discredited White House as a way to undermine what they see as the real evil empire. For Americans condemned to live under Trump, particularly the most marginalized who, as Noam Chomsky has observed, will suffer the most from his cruelty, it is a far more troubling outcome.

Update: Nov. 16, 2017, 8:55 a.m.

Some supporters of Julian Assange have argued that the October 21 direct message that so infuriated Barrett Brown — in which Assange argued that it would be good for the Trump campaign to allow WikiLeaks to publish one or more of Donald Trump’s tax returns — merely showed the publisher trying to obtain private material of public interest. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the proposal, explicitly presented as a way for WikiLeaks to seem to be less “pro-Trump,” would have compromised the organization’s principles, by disguising material released by a political campaign as a leak obtained from a whistleblower.

It is also important to remember what was happening in the news at that time. Three weeks before WikiLeaks solicited Trump’s tax information, an anonymous source mailed three pages from Trump’s 1995 tax return to The New York Times, which published an analysis showing that Trump had used entirely legal means to avoid paying federal taxes. Had the Trump campaign provided WikiLeaks with another old return, it is possible that the organization could have published tax information that would not have damaged Trump politically, but would have misled its readers into believing that the organization was working to undermine Trump as well as Clinton.

After Trump took office, a page from his 2005 tax return, showing that he had paid millions in taxes that year, was mailed anonymously to David Cay Johnston. The reporter speculated that the source could have been Trump himself, seeking to undercut the widespread assumption that there is embarrassing information contained in the more recent tax returns he broke with precedent to keep secret. “Donald,” Johnston told Rachel Maddow, “has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it’s in his interest.”

It is also worth noting that this offer to help Trump came less than two weeks after The Washington Post had thrown the campaign into crisis, by revealing that the candidate had boasted of sexual assault in comments recorded during the taping of an “Access Hollywood” episode in 2005. The recording caught Trump saying that, “when you’re a star,” you can “do anything” to women, even “grab them by the pussy.” WikiLeaks released its first batch of emails hacked from Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, less than an hour after that report was published.

Editor’s Note: Nov. 17, 2017, 9:55 a.m.

Because of the phrasing of the original headline, this piece was mischaracterized as an Intercept editorial. The headline has been changed to clarify that it is a news article reflecting the author’s analysis.

Top photo: Julian Assange addressed the media from the balcony of Ecuador’s London embassy in May 2017.

The post Julian Assange’s Hatred of Hillary Clinton Was No Secret. His Advice to Donald Trump Was. appeared first on The Intercept.

Consortium News: Why No Probe of ‘Israel-Gate’?

‘Michelle’, one of the great commenters to this blog, sent me a link to this article by Robert Parry last week. I hadn’t really had time to read it and post it up until now. But the question it raises is acutely relevant. Since Killary lost the election to Trump, the Western media and political-industrial class has been baying that it’s all the Russians’ fault. That Vladimir Putin and RT are spreading ‘fake news’ all over America and the rest of the western media. They’re interfering in our politics. Just this morning the British press reported that Theresa May had joined the attack, claiming that Russia was the biggest threat to western democracy. Or some similar rubbish that sounds like something from the Cold War.

There’s no evidence that the Russians have been trying to interfere in American politics any more than usual. And May has very good, personal reasons for trying to deflect attention away from her on to a perceived Russian threat. Her government is in meltdown, with 40 of her MPs having signed a ‘no confidence’ letter against her. If they find eight more Tories to add their signatures, then May has to give herself up for re-election as the head of her party.

Hence the fear, and the determination to seize on a spurious Russian threat to western democracy in order to distract people from how precarious her ‘strong and stable’ government is. Quite apart from its horrific policies that are privatising the NHS, education, destroying the welfare state and killing the unemployed and disabled through benefit sanctions.

In fact, it isn’t the Russians who have repeatedly and blatantly interfered in American politics. It’s the Israelis, as Robert Parry shows. Parry was the reporter, who revealed many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s. This was Reagan’s dirty little secret about how he was allowing the Contras in Nicaragua to support their war against the Sandinistas by exporting drugs to America’s ghettoes. And how, in order to secure the release of US squaddies taken hostage in Lebanon, he sent a shipment of armaments to Iran.

Parry’s article discusses the way that both the Democrats and the Republicans prostrate themselves before AIPAC, the big Israeli lobbying group in America, and solicits donations from millionaires and billionaires like Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the proprietor of a chain of casinos, and makes no secret of the fact that he is ‘Israel first’. And congress has repeatedly issued invitations for Netanyahu, whom I’ve heard described by at least one Jewish academic as ‘that b***ard Netanyahu’ to address them. They’ve invited him over three times, the same number as Winston Churchill.

Anyone who steps out of line and does not kowtow to the Israel lobby is duly punished. They’ll be vilified as ‘anti-Semites’, even if they are decent people, who are disgusted by anti-Semitism. Parry gives an example of two Republican politicos, Paul Findley and Charles Percy, both from Illinois, when they tried to open negotiations with the PLO in the early 1980s. The Israel lobby responded by donating handsomely to their opponents, so that both were defeated, Findley in 1982, Percy two years later. Findley later published a book about his experiences in 1985, entitled They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby. It was then comprehensively trashed in the pages of the New York Times by Adam Clymer, who denounced it as ‘one-sided’.

After that, American politicians were much less likely to confront the Israel lobby. Parry notes how Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both visited Israel, Obama in 2008, Romney in 2012, in order to secure Netanyahu’s blessing.

Israel was also involved in the October Surprise. This was the deal Ronald Reagan made with the Iranians to stop Jimmy Carter being re-elected. At the time, the new Islamic revolutionary regime had Americans in Iran captive as hostages. Carter was negotiating for their release, but Reagan arranged for arms to be sent to the Ayatollahs to keep the hostages captive for longer. This was to present Carter as ineffectual and incompetent, and allow Reagan to win the election.

And it worked.

The Israelis were also in on Reagan’s dirty little deal. The Israeli president, Menachem Begin, and many other leading Israeli politicos and officials hated Carter, because he had brokered the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt. As part of the deal, Israel had been forced to hand back the Sinai to Egypt. Begin was afraid Carter would push for Israel to retreat back to its 1967 border, and would recognise a Palestinian state. So he connived with Reagan to scupper Carter’s chances at re-election.

Israel’s part in these manoeuvring was later revealed by Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli intelligence official, who had been part of the negotiations. So the Israelis then did their level best to discredit him in turn. And in the same decade, the Israelis also mounted internal spying missions in America. One of these involved Jonathan Pollard, who fed the Israeli spooks highly sensitive American documents.

Parry’s article also describes how the Americans themselves manipulate and interfere in other countries’ politics, often for regime change, using the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID – the US Agency for International Development. It was these agencies which were responsible for the ‘Maidan Revolution’ in the Ukraine, which ousted the pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Victor Yanukhovych.

He also describes how the Neocons collaborated with the Likudniks in 1996 to secure Netanyahu’s re-election in Israel, and how the same politicos and apparatchiks turned instead to the policy of regime change. Instead of negotiating with Arab governments, they were to be overthrown. By 1998 the Project for the New American Century, led by the neocons William Kristol and Robert Kagan, were putting pressure on Bill Clinton to invade Iraq. Five years later, they got their wish, and a new president, George Dubya Bush, launched the invasion. He also states that it was due to Israel that Barack Obama decided to ally with the Sunni forces in the region, including those fighting Assad in Syria. Which makes America ally with al-Qaeda. Parry then brings the story up to last year’s election, when Clinton and Trump both presented themselves as pro-Israel. Both Clinton and Trump attacked Iran as the prime supporter of terrorism in the world, even though it’s actually the Sunni kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states.

He then goes on to discuss the lies spread by US intelligence and the Clintonite wing of the Democrats that it was the Russians, who hacked into the computers at the Democratic National Convention to leak the incriminating documents. In fact, WikiLeaks have repeatedly denied that they received the documents from the Russians.

The article concludes

The U.S. intelligence community also has accused the Russian government of raising doubts in the minds of Americans about their political system by having RT, the Russian-sponsored news network, hold debates for third-party candidates (who were excluded from the two-party Republican-Democratic debates) and by having RT report on protests such as Occupy Wall Street and issues such as “fracking.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making opening remarks at a joint White House press conference with President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, 2017. (Screenshot from White House video)

The major U.S. news media and Congress seem to agree that the only remaining question is whether evidence can be adduced showing that the Trump campaign colluded in this Russian operation. For that purpose, a number of people associated with the Trump campaign are to be hauled before Congress and made to testify on whether or not they are Russian agents.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other establishment-approved outlets are working with major technology companies on how to marginalize independent news sources and to purge “Russian propaganda” (often conflated with “fake news”) from the Internet.

It seems that no extreme is too extreme to protect the American people from the insidious Russians and their Russia-gate schemes to sow doubt about the U.S. political process. But God forbid if anyone were to suggest an investigation of Israel-gate.


All of this is demonstrably true. And there’s probably more, if you want to look for it. The other year the Israel lobby brought down a Black, Green party politico by presenting her as an anti-Semite and funnelling money into her opponents when she dared to criticise the Israel lobby.

We’ve also seen it in this country, where Al-Jazeera caught various members of the Tory party conspiring with officials at the Israeli embassy to remove awkward members of the Tory party. And there is the continuing witch hunt and vilification as anti-Semites people in the Labour party, like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and Mike from Vox Political, because they dared to criticise Israel for its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians.

These smears have nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism. Those smeared in the Labour party have, by and large, been decent, anti-racist, men and women. Very many of them, like Walker and Greenstein, are self-respecting Jews. Those smeared included the secular as well as the Torah-observant and even devoutly Orthodox. Many of them have been victims themselves of anti-Semitic violence and abuse.

I’ve blogged before about how the British comedian, Alexei Sayle, who’s the son of Jewish Communists from Liverpool, has remarked on how most of those accused of anti-Semitism by the Israel lobby are Jewish. Well, you can expect that. The last thing Israel and its cheerleaders want is for ordinary Brits and Americans, whether Jewish or not, to realise that Judaism does not equal Zionism, and that to many Jews Zionism is an abhorrent blasphemy.

So decent anti-racists are vilified in Britain and America, and Russia misrepresented as the new threat to democracy, by a corrupt and desperate corporate political class trying to find a scapegoat for its increasing popularity. While a complicit media looks the other way, preferring to join in the creation of a new Cold War, rather than reveal Israel’s very real interference in American and western politics.

Four Viral Claims Spread by Journalists on Twitter in the Last Week Alone That Are False

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/11/2017 - 1:30am in

There is ample talk, particularly of late, about the threats posed by social media to democracy and political discourse. Yet one of the primary ways that democracy is degraded by platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is, for obvious reasons, typically ignored in such discussions: the way they are used by American journalists to endorse factually false claims that quickly spread and become viral, entrenched into narratives, and thus, can never be adequately corrected.

The design of Twitter, where many political journalists spend their time, is in large part responsible for this damage. Its space constraints mean that tweeted headlines or tiny summaries of reporting are often assumed to be true with no critical analysis of their accuracy and are easily spread. Claims from journalists that people want to believe are shared like wildfire, while less popular subsequent corrections or nuanced debunking are easily ignored. Whatever one’s views are on the actual impact of Twitter Russian bots, surely the propensity of journalistic falsehoods to spread far and wide is at least as significant.

Just in the last week alone, there have been four major factually false claims that have gone viral because journalists on Twitter endorsed and spread them: three about the controversy involving Donna Brazile and the Democratic National Committee, and one about documents and emails published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. It’s well worth examining them, both to document what the actual truth is, as well as to understand how often and easily this online journalistic misleading occurs.

Viral Falsehood #1

The Clinton/DNC agreement cited by Brazile only applied to the general election, not the primary.

On Wednesday, Politico published a blockbuster accusation from Brazile’s new book: that the DNC had “rigged” the 2016 primary election for Hillary Clinton through an agreement that gave Clinton control over key aspects of the DNC, a claim that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., endorsed on CNN. The Clinton camp refused to comment publicly but instead contacted their favorite reporters to publish their response as news.

The following day, NBC published an article by Alex Seitz-Wald that recited and endorsed the Clinton camp’s primary defense: Brazile was wrong because the agreement in question (a copy of which they provided to Seitz-Wald) applied “only to preparations for the general election” and had nothing to do with the primary season. That defense, if true, would be fatal to Brazile’s claims, and so DNC-loyal journalists all over Twitter instantly declared it to be true, thus pronouncing Brazile’s accusation to have been fully debunked. This post documents how quickly this claim was endorsed on Twitter by journalists and Democratic operatives, and how far and wide it therefore spread.

The problem with this claim is that it is blatantly and obviously false. All one has to do to know this is read the agreement. Unlike the journalists spreading this DNC defense, Campaign Legal Center’s Brendan Fischer bothered to read it, and immediately saw and documented how obviously false this claim is:

The NBC article that was originally used to spread this claim now includes what amounts to a serious walk-back, if not outright retraction, of the DNC’s principal defense:

DNC and Clinton allies pointed to the fact that the agreement contained self-justifying lawyer language claiming that it is “focused exclusively on preparations for the General,” but, as Fischer noted, that passage “is contradicted by the rest of the agreement.” This would be like creating a contract to explicitly bribe an elected official (“A will pay Politician B to vote YES on Bill X”), then adding a throwaway paragraph with a legalistic disclaimer that “nothing in this agreement is intended to constitute a bribe,” and then have journalists cite that paragraph to proclaim that no bribe happened even though the agreement on its face explicitly says the opposite.

The Clinton/DNC agreement explicitly vested the Clinton campaign with control over key matters during the primary season: the exact opposite of what journalists on Twitter caused hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people to believe. Nonetheless, DNC-loyal commentators continue to cite headlines and tweets citing the legalistic language to convince huge numbers of people that the truth is the exact opposite of what it actually is:

Viral Falsehood #2

Sanders signed the same agreement with the DNC that Clinton did.

To make the Clinton/DNC agreement appear benign and normal, the claim was quickly and widely circulated that Bernie Sanders had also signed the same agreement with the DNC as Clinton had. This, too, was false — in the most fundamental way possible.

Simply put, the agreement Sanders signed with the DNC — which the Sanders camp appears to have provided ABC News in order to debunk the claim — did not contain any of the provisions vesting control over the DNC that made the Clinton agreement cited by Brazile so controversial. As ABC News put it (emphasis added):

A joint fundraising agreement between the Bernie Sanders campaign and the Democratic National Committee — obtained Friday by ABC News and signed at the start of the primary campaign for the 2016 presidential election — does not include any language about coordinating on strategic decisions over hiring or budget, unlike a fundraising memo between the Hillary Clinton team and the DNC.

It’s possible that had Sanders wanted to invoke his funding arrangement with the DNC, and then signed a second agreement, it might have included similar control provisions. But it’s also possible that it would not have. We’ll never know, because it never happened. What we actually know for certain — what exists in reality — is that Sanders never signed any agreement with the DNC that contained the control provisions that were given in 2015 to the Clinton campaign. In other words, the provisions cited by Brazile in her “rigging” allegation did not exist in any contract signed with the DNC by the Sanders campaign.

Needless to say, a tiny fraction of those who were exposed to the original falsehood (Sanders signed the same agreement as Clinton) ended up seeing this fundamental reversal, because the journalists who promoted the original falsehood felt no compunction, as usual, to provide the less pleasing correction.

Viral Falsehood #3

Brazile stupidly thought she could unilaterally remove Clinton as the nominee.

Yesterday, the Washington Post published an article reporting on various claims made in Brazile’s new book. The headline, which was widely tweeted, made it seem as though Brazile delusionally believed she had a power which, obviously, she did not in fact possess: “Donna Brazile: I considered replacing Clinton with Biden as 2016 Democratic nominee.” The article said Brazile considered exercising this power after Clinton’s fainting spell made her worry that Clinton was physically debilitated, and her campaign was “anemic” and had taken on “the odor of failure.”

Brazile — as a result of her stinging criticisms and accusations of Clinton, Obama, and the DNC — is currently Public Enemy No. 1 among Democrats in the media. So they seized on this headline to pretend that she claimed the power to unilaterally remove Clinton on a whim and then used this claim to mercilessly vilify her — the chair of Al Gore’s 2000 campaign, last year’s interim head of the DNC, and a long-time Democratic Party operative — as a deluded, insane, dishonest, profiteering, ignorant fabulist who lacks all credibility.

But the entire attack on Brazile was false. She did not claim, at least according to the Post article being cited, that she had the power to unilaterally remove Clinton. The original Post article, buried deep down in the article, well after the headline, made clear that she was referencing a complicated process in the DNC charter that allowed for removal of a nominee who had become incapacitated.

The Post then amended its story to reflect that she made no such absurd claim in her book, but rather noted that “the DNC charter empowered her to initiate replacement of the nominee” and that “if a nominee became disabled, she explains, the party chair would oversee a complicated process of filling the vacancy that would include a meeting of the full DNC.” The Post then added this note to the top of the article:

Journalists on Twitter spent hours yesterday mocking, maligning, and attacking the reputation of Brazile for a claim that she simply never made — all because a tweeted headline, which they never bothered to read past or evaluate, made them think they were justified in doing so in order to malign someone who has, quickly and bizarrely, become one of the Democrats’ primary enemies.

Viral Falsehood #4

Evidence has emerged proving that the content of WikiLeaks documents and emails was doctored. 

Last year, from the time WikiLeaks began publishing emails and documents from the DNC and John Podesta’s email inbox, Clinton officials and their media supporters have constantly insinuated, and sometimes outright stated, that the WikiLeaks documents were frauds because they had been altered. What was most notable about this accusation was how easily it would have been proven had it really been true. All anyone had to do was show the actual, original email that they sent or received, and then compare it to the altered WikiLeaks version, and that would have been proof that the WikiLeaks archive was unreliable.

But that never happened. Never once did any of the dozens of Democratic Party operatives who sent or received the emails published by WikiLeaks point to a single specific case of an alteration — something that, obviously, they would have eagerly done had they been able to. As Politico noted last year (emphasis added):

Clinton’s team hasn’t challenged the accuracy of even the most salacious emails released in the past four days, including those featuring aides making snarky references to Catholicism or a Bill Clinton protégé describing Chelsea Clinton as a “spoiled brat.” And numerous digital forensic firms told POLITICO that they haven’t seen any proof of tampering in the emails they’ve examined — adding that only the hacked Democrats themselves could offer that kind of conclusive evidence.

Similarly, when PolitiFact tried last year to fact-check the Clinton campaign’s claims that the documents were doctored, they noted: “The Clinton campaign, however, has yet to produce any evidence that any specific emails in the latest leak were fraudulent.”

Nonetheless, the desire to believe this persisted. And this week, Associated Press published a report that countless journalists seized upon to claim that proof finally had emerged that the WikiLeaks documents had been altered. The claim in the AP report is incredibly simple and limited. It does not involve any claim that WikiLeaks altered any documents, or that any of the emails it published were frauds; rather, the claim is that Guccifer, on one of the documents that he published, placed a “confidential” watermark that did not appear on another version:

The first document Guccifer 2.0 published on June 15 came not from the DNC as advertised but from Podesta’s inbox, according to a former DNC official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The official said the word “CONFIDENTIAL” was not in the original document .

Guccifer 2.0 had airbrushed it to catch reporters’ attention.

There are so many reasons to question whether this actually happened. To begin with, the fact that one version of the document is without a “confidential” watermark doesn’t mean no version has one; it’s common to add watermarks of that sort for different purposes and different recipients. Moreover, AP’s only basis is an anonymous source claiming the document had been altered, along with the version that lacks the watermark. This is very far from proof that Guccifer “airbrushed it to catch reporters’ attention.”

But let’s assume for the sake of argument that Guccifer did, in fact, add a “confidential” watermark to this document to entice journalists to view the document as more appetizing. This does not remotely justify the claim that any of the documents and emails published by WikiLeaks were materially altered and were thus unreliable.

First, Guccifer adding a watermark to a document he circulated does not mean that any of the emails published by WikiLeaks in its archive was altered. It’s long been known that Guccifer altered the documents’ metadata to hide its path, but nobody ever tried to cite that as proof that anything published by WikiLeaks was fraudulent (indeed, PolitiFact cited Guccifer’s alteration of metadata when concluding there was no evidence that the WikiLeaks documents themselves had been altered).

Second, this has no bearing on the content of the emails or documents themselves published by WikiLeaks, which, to date, nobody has demonstrated have been altered in the slightest. Third, if it were the case that any of the emails or documents published by WikiLeaks were fraudulent, it would still be incredibly easy to prove: All anyone would have to do is produce the original and show how the WikiLeaks version was altered. Why — a full year after WikiLeaks began publishing these documents — has nobody done this, despite the overwhelming incentive that exists to expose this?

In sum, evidence that the content of any of the WikiLeaks emails was altered is nonexistent, while there is overwhelming reason to believe none has been (beginning with the fact that, as easy it would be to do so, no proof has been provided after all this time). Nonetheless, as a result of journalists’ conduct on Twitter this week, the false claim that emails and documents in the WikiLeaks archive were proven to be altered is now viral and will remain fixed in people’s belief system forever:

There’s no way to prove the negative, that no emails or documents published by WikiLeaks were altered. But one should demand actual evidence before affirming this claim. And despite the ease of providing that proof, and the long period of time that has elapsed, none has been provided. But, unsurprisingly, that did not stop the claim that it had been proven from going viral this week on Twitter — all based on the tenuous claim that Guccifer added a “confidential” watermark to one of the documents he circulated.

It can certainly be menacing for Russian bots to disseminate divisive messaging on Twitter. But it’s at least equally menacing if journalists with the loudest claim to authoritative credibility are using that platform constantly to entrench falsehoods in the public’s mind.

The post Four Viral Claims Spread by Journalists on Twitter in the Last Week Alone That Are False appeared first on The Intercept.

HIGNFY Spreads More Lies about Russian Interference in American Election

The Beeb really does seem as determined as possible to spread as much Tory and right-wing American lies as they can, even if it brings us closer to a needless war with Russia.

Mike has already commented yesterday on the Beeb’s highly biased reporting of the sexual abuse scandal now engulfing parliament. The Beeb has seized on the Kelvin Hopkins story, and has been banging on about this, while casually ignoring the even bigger scandal about the number of Tory MPs, who sexually harass staff. Hopkins was briefly a member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet before retiring to the backbenches. He is accused of harassing Ava Etamadzadeh, to whom he allegedly sent an inappropriate message, and held his body close to hers when they shrugged. The major question here is whether Corbyn knew about the allegations when he appointed Hopkins to the shadow cabinet.

The Beeb has been endlessly promoting this story, with Corbyn stopped in the street by a Beeb reporter. And Laura ‘Arnalda Mussolini’ Kuenssberg, who tweeted thirteen times about the allegations but has made no mention of the far greater number of Tory MPs accused of sexual harassment.

While it’s unclear if Corbyn knew anything about Hopkins, the MPs has been suspended from the party and the Labour whip withdrawn. Unlike the Tory party, where Theresa May certainly knew about the unwelcome attentions 36 of her MPs were foisting on their staff in a weekly reported nicknamed ‘the Ins and Outs’. So far, none of the MPs accused have been suspended and they are not being investigated. The only casualty so far seems to have been Michael Fallon, who resigned from his role as Defence Secretary. But Kuensberg wasn’t interested in this, preferring – as good Tory propagandist – to continue harping on about Hopkins instead.

Then last night the Beeb decided it was going to retail once again Killary’s lies that she lost the election due Russian hacking and meddling in the US election on Have I Got News For You. They reported that Trump’s aides Papadopoulos and Paul Manafort were arrested for their corrupt links with Russia and Ukraine.

This is debatable. I can’t comment on Papadopoulos, but the FBI file on Manafort only mentions Ukraine. It doesn’t mention Russia.

The show also claimed that all the files that incriminated Hillary, showing her corrupt dealings in the Democrat party and her connections to Wall Street, were also released through Russian hacking.

They weren’t. As WikiLeaks themselves have said, and indeed the former British diplomat who took custody of the documents for them, the information was leaked by a disgruntled Democratic insider. Russia had nothing to do with it.

Now there’s probably a big story there about Manafort’s connections with Ukraine. Ronald Reagan patronised and supported the ex-pat Ukrainian organisations during the Cold War, giving their leaders posts in the various anti-Communist propaganda departments. These organisations and their leader, Vladimir Stetso, were former Nazi collaborators with a virulent hatred of Jews. Just as the current ruling Ukrainian coalition contains fully paid up, unreconstructed Nazis from the Pravy Sektor.

But we ain’t supposed to know about them. It might put us off the lie that the Maidan Revolution of 2012 was entirely spontaneous and democratic, instead of being stage-managed by Obama’s State Department under Victoria Nuland, George Soros, and the National Endowment for Democracy, which took over the CIA’s task of engineering ‘regime change’ when the Agency became too notorious for fomenting coups.

As for Killary, when in government she was one of the most hawkish members of Obama’s team, and was needlessly ramping up tensions with Russia and China. And the people backing her story about how it was due to the Russians, rather than her own venality and colossal lack of sympathy for the American people, are another bunch of sordid Nazis. They include the Von Mises Society, which is dedicated to privatising the state and destroying what little is left of American welfare provision. They also used to subscribe to eugenics and pseudoscientific racism. That means, they published a series of pamphlets and other literature intended to demonstrate that Blacks were thicker than Whites, and that America should not set up a welfare state, because this would simply be a waste of money. If people were poor, it was because they were biologically unfit. Particularly Blacks.

This is the kind of people, who are promoting Hillary’s lies about the Russians stealing the American election. And the Beeb seems happy to repeat this garbage, even if it means creating another wretched Cold War of the time that dam’ nearly destroyed the world the last time under Reagan.

I don’t know why the Beeb is actually doing this, apart from the issue of right-wing bias within the Corporation. Possibly its part of the whole Atlanticist mindset, which permeates much of the British governing class since America superseded us as a world power after the Second World War. We can only be a major force on the world stage by riding on America’s coat-tails. Everything they do, we have to follow. One British ambassador was told by his superiors in the Foreign Office that his job in Washington was to get up the Americans’ backside and stay there. And so Blair enthusiastically joined Bush in invading Iraq, creating the ‘dodgy dossier’ and lying about weapons of mass destruction in order to do so. And certain NATO generals were predicting that by May this year we would be already fighting Putin’s forces in the Baltic States.

That fortunately hasn’t happened, but I wonder if the generals, civil servants and politicians, who promoted this feel disappointed.

As it stands, it certainly looks like the Beeb are keen to defend Killary, even to the point of lying about Russian involvement and ratcheting up the Cold War a further notch or two.

And showing further that you cannot trust the Beeb to tell the truth about either the Labour party or the real state of affairs in eastern Europe.

The Humanist Report: Killary Gets Rough Reception in Wales

Which the American presenter pronounces as ‘Welch’ and ‘Welsh’, confusing the term for its people with the name of the country itself. But you can forgive him that because (1) he’s foreign, and (2) he loves the people of Welsh for standing up to Her Highness and telling her how it really was. And he also likes Matt Free of Channel 4 News for also asking Killary tough questions, which American pundits avoid.

As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, Killary, who seems to think going around with a mass-murdering creature like Henry Kissinger is a badge of honour, has been going up and down on the Earth promoting her book like crazy. It’s called What Happened, and is basically her attempt to blame everyone but herself for her massive failure to win the election against a colossal moron like Donald Trump. She was Down Under a few weeks ago, giving the Aussies the benefit of her wisdom. Then she was over here, at the South Bank Centre, the Cheltenham Literary Festival and then Swansea University across the border, to receive an honorary degree. The Uni decided to grant her the honour for her work promoting women’s and children’s rights around the world. As the presenter here states, presumably they didn’t get the message that she voted for the Iraq War.

But all did not go smoothly for Kissinger’s fangirl. The students at Swansea actually booed her. And one young woman, a biochemistry student, Kirsty Lloyd, called out to her ‘Bernie would’ve won. He would’ve beaten Trump.’ Which he would have. He was in the lead against her in the polls, until she, Debbie Wasserman Schulz of the Democratic National Convention, and Donna Brasile, Clinton’s main woman in her team, managed to steal the presidential nomination from her.

Lloyd said afterwards

“Hillary Clinton cheated Bernie Sanders of his nomination. And all those drone strikes, which kill women and children are illegal contradict the reason she is being given a doctorate – which is for doing things for women and children all over the world. The main thing she’s done for women and children is kill them in drone strikes.”

And things didn’t get better when she was being interviewed by Matt Free. He reminded her that her share amongst women went down 1 per cent from 44 per cent under Obama to 43. Hillary then tried to rebut this by saying that it was only White women who became disillusioned with her. Overall she won amongst women. And she lost because gender is not yet a powerful factor in American elections as race is. The commenter on the Humanist Report states that this could only be the response of an American politician, who sees everything in terms of identity politics. He also points out that it’s also terribly insulting to Barack Obama, as it implies that he only won the election because he was Black.

Free goes on to make the point that she lost partly because of her background. She’d already been in office – sort of – as the First Lady with Bill Clinton, and so her membership of a political dynasty worked against her. And people didn’t like her as they saw her as an establishment candidate, in an age of revolution.

At which point Hillary goes off and drones on about how she led in all the debates, and was seen as the more intelligent, winning candidate. When he asks her, Clinton responds that she lost partly because of Steve Dromey and Russian ‘interference’.

The Report’s presenter again points out here how Killary has contradicted herself. She says she takes full responsibility for her failure, but then immediately blames other people. He also states that it’s great to see how people in the rest of the world don’t follow American pundits in fawning over their guests, asking easy questions. He liked the way Free made her squirm. He states that you don’t see politicians like Hillary pop up elsewhere in the world, because everywhere she’s seen as another sleazy, corrupt politician like all the others. Largely because of the dodgy dealings of the Clinton Foundation. But you do find politicians like Bernie Sanders appearing in other countries, like Jeremy Corbyn in Britain.

The presenter clearly makes some great points, though he and Free on Channel 4 could have challenged her about the so-called ‘interference’ from the Russians. They didn’t lose her the election. They were trying to interfere in the American election, but no more than they usually do. Crucially, they didn’t leak the incriminating emails to WikiLeaks. Those came from a Democratic insider disgruntled at her corruption.

As for her being the better candidate over Trump, he points out that Trump was trailing behind her and faced worse challenges than she did. In Utah a Mormon, Republican establishment candidate went independent to challenge Trump. And Trump faced another Republican challenger elsewhere, who took more votes away from him than Jill Stein did Hillary.

Hillary, her arrogance, corruption, and entitlement is responsible for her failings, not other people.

Except in one instance: the Electoral College. This swung overwhelmingly for Trump, despite the fact that Killary had three million votes more than he did at the popular level. And the College is an anti-democratic measure put into America’s bizarre and byzantine electoral system in the 19th century in order to give some political power to the southern, slave-holding states. If America was a genuine democracy, it would have vanished a long time ago. But it’s enshrined in America’s constitution, and so is preserved as part of the great wisdom of the patrician founders of the American political system. Who were all patricians with a real fear of power being grabbed by the White peasants and proles, let alone Blacks. They set up the Constitution to keep power in the hands of the monied, and so have built into the system the political paralysis that is stifling the forces for real change that America needs.