Tag Archives: Geopolitics

Venezuela: US sending planes with guns, ammo and radios for President Maduro’s enemies

The weapons intercepted at Arturo Michelin airport in Venezuela from Miami on February 3, 2019. Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace.
  • Boeing 767 belonging to US freight company has made dozens of flights between Miami, Colombia and Venezuela since January 11
  • Official said materiel was ‘destined for criminal groups and terrorist actions’ and ‘financed by the fascist extreme right’ and the US government

Venezuelan authorities say a US-owned air freight company delivered a crate of assault weapons earlier this week to the international airport in Valencia to be used in “terrorist actions” against the embattled government of Nicolas Maduro.

An air freight company, 21 Air, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, operates the Boeing 767 aircraft the Venezuelans claim was used in the arms transfer. The flight originated in Miami on Sunday.

The Boeing 767 has made dozens of flights between Miami International Airport and destinations in Colombia and Venezuela since January 11, a flight tracking service shows, often returning to Miami for only a few hours before flying again to South America.

The discovery of the weapons was on Tuesday – two days after the flight landed briefly in Valencia, Venezuela’s third-largest city – as tax authorities and other inspectors conducted a routine inspection of cargo from the flight, according to a statement by the Carabobo state governor’s office.

Bolivarian National Guard General Endes Palencia Ortiz, Venezuela’s vice-minister of citizen security, said authorities found 19 assault weapons, 118 ammunition cartridges, and 90 military-grade radio antennas, among other items.

“This materiel was destined for criminal groups and terrorist actions in the country, financed by the fascist extreme right and the government of the United States,” Palencia Ortiz was quoted as saying.

The freight company, which started five years ago, operates two cargo planes, a Boeing 747 and a Boeing 767, according to the 21 Air website. The Boeing 767, a 32-year-old aircraft once flown by the now-defunct Brazilian carrier Varig, carries the registration N-881-YV and is the aircraft that landed in Valencia on Sunday.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent through its website. The mobile phone of the company’s chief executive, Michael Mendez, had a recording on Thursday afternoon that said it could not accept calls.

An Ottawa, Canada-based analyst of unusual ship and plane movements, Steffan Watkins, drew attention to the frequent flights of the 21 Air cargo plane in a series of tweets on Thursday.

“All year, they were flying between Philadelphia and Miami and all over the place, but all continental US,” Watkins said in a telephone interview. “Then all of a sudden in January, things changed.”

That is when the cargo plane began flying daily to destinations in Colombia and Venezuela and sometimes several times a day, Watkins said. The plane has made nearly 40 round-trip flights from Miami International Airport to Caracas and Valencia in Venezuela, and Bogota and Medellin in Colombia since January 11.

The most recent tracking of the aircraft showed it arrived from Medellin into Miami airport after midnight on Thursday.

The air cargo company’s website says the Boeing 767 has a payload capacity of 42 tons.

The aircraft in question has passed through many hands since Varig took delivery of it in 1987. In 2004, it was passed to GE Capital Aviation Services, a leasing company that is part of the General Electric conglomerate, according to an operator history on the planespotters.net website. Tampa Cargo, Avianca Cargo and Dynamic Airways later controlled the aircraft until 21 Air received it in 2014.

The provenance of the alleged weaponry was not apparent. And questions about who the arms shipment was destined for, if the Venezuelan version of events is true, only mounted. Delivery at a commercial airport would indicate somebody with authority there would have had a hand.

The weapons intercepted at Arturo Michelin airport in Venezuela from Miami on February 3, 2019. Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace.
The weapons intercepted at Arturo Michelin airport in Venezuela from Miami on February 3, 2019. Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace.

Venezuelan authorities displayed the weaponry they said was delivered by the 21 Air cargo plane on open-air tables draped in red cloth. Some of the rifles included stands for long-range targeting. The shipment included 15 AR-15 assault weapons, a Micro Draco semi-automatic pistol with a jumbo magazine, a Colt 7.62 rifle and two telescopic sights, the governor’s statement said.

The weapons intercepted at Arturo Michelin airport in Venezuela from Miami on February 3, 2019. Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace.
The weapons intercepted at Arturo Michelin airport in Venezuela from Miami on February 3, 2019. Photo: Venezuela Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace.

Valencia was a former manufacturing and economic hub before the collapse of the nation’s economy.

Flight records from the tracking site flightradar24.com, monitored by Watkins, indicate the 21 Air cargo plane flew at least four times to Valencia from Miami and another four times to Caracas from Miami since January 11. In many cases, the flights would head on to Bogota or Medellin before returning to Miami.

If a US entity was trying to provide arms to a Venezuelan resistance movement, it would be taking a familiar page from the history books.

The CIA operated a dummy airline, known as Air America, from the early 1950s until the mid 1970s for air operations in Southeast Asia, including airdropping weapons to friendly forces.

More than a decade later, Sandinista soldiers shot down a cargo plane taking weapons to the US-backed Contra rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government. A US Marine veteran, Eugene Hasenfus, survived the 1986 crash and told reporters he was working for the CIA, paving the way for his release and return to the United States.

Curiously, one of the figures in the Ronald Reagan administration instrumental in delivering support to the contras, former assistant secretary of state Elliott Abrams, was named by President Donald Trump late last month as his special envoy overseeing policy towards Venezuela.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Plane from Miami brought arms for ‘terrorist action’

From the Barracks to the Courtroom: US ‘Lawfare’ in Action

bolsonaro

Wayne Madsen | 18.01.2019

Somewhere along the line in recent history, some US think tank in the employ of the Central Intelligence Agency must have come up with the idea that overthrowing governments in Latin America by military coups came with bad optics for the coup plotters. Often, democratically-elected Latin American leaders were demonized by a cabal of military officers who left their barracks and laid siege to the presidential palaces. After taking control of the national radio stations, these generals would announce they had seized control of the government to “protect” the people from “communism” or some other concocted bogeyman.

Beginning in the early 2000s, another plan was devised by US national security planners ensconced in their faux academia “think tanks.” Their plan was simple: overthrow anti-American elected leaders in Latin America through the courts. In effect, lawyers and judges, not generals, caudillos, or military juntas, would carry out coups by abusing constitutional provisions and laws as a clever ruse.

Under Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, the Central Intelligence Agency relied on the old tried and true method of promoting coups via the façade of a “popular” rebellion. After the 1973 CIA-directed coup in Chile, which saw Socialist president Salvador Allende die in a hail of bullets fired from aircraft and tanks at the La Moneda presidential palace, the CIA began to look at other avenues to overthrow presidents in the Western Hemisphere.

For decades, CIA-influenced media, including the dubious Wikipedia, have insisted Allende committed suicide with an AK-47 assault rifle presented to him by Cuban leader Fidel Castro. However, nature would later provide the evidence that Allende was assassinated. The proof came in a 300-page top secret report found in the debris of the house of a former military officer. The house had been destroyed in the 2011 Chilean earthquake. The story of Allende’s “suicide” was spread around CIA-friendly media to mask the agency’s role in yet another assassination of a foreign leader. The CIA’s media manipulation was honed during its pre-eminent role in covering up the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King. For the CIA, however, assassinations were costly in terms of the agency’s public image, so some other method of dispatching targeted leaders was in order.

A formerly CONFIDENTIAL CIA “Intelligence Memorandum,” dated December 29, 1975, concluded that Latin America had to be weaned away from “Third Worldism.” The conclusion was based on the votes of certain Latin American countries that had voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. The countries were Brazil, Cuba, Grenada, Guyana, and Mexico. Eleven other countries in the Western Hemisphere abstained.

As the bloody coups in Chile, the Dominican Republic, and other countries showed, there had to be a simpler and less lethal way for the US to bring about undemocratic changes in governments in the hemisphere.

If the CIA were able to infiltrate a nation’s judiciary and law enforcement structures — the latter having already been thoroughly subsumed through CIA-financed “training programs” – it could bring spurious charges against targeted heads of state. This form of coup d’état would become known as “lawfare.”

The leader of the French left, Jean Luc Melenchon, recently condemned the use of lawfare against former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula, as he is popularly known, has been imprisoned since April 2018 on trumped up charges of corruption. Melenchon told the Brazilian press that “lawfare is now used in all countries to get rid of progressive leaders. This is what they did with Lula.” Melenchon added, “the judge [Sergio Moro] who condemned Lula is now a minister [minister of justice and public security] of Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil.” Lula was sentenced to 12 years in prison on politically-motivated money-laundering charges ginned up by Moro and other neo-fascists in the Brazilian judiciary. Bolsonaro, a champion of Brazil’s former military dictatorship and an admirer of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Donald Trump, has vowed to keep Lula in prison. Lula would have defeated Bolsonaro for the presidency had he been released from prison and allowed to run for political office. However, Moro and his fellow lawfare practitioners ensured that appeals to the Brazilian Supreme Court for Lula’s release were all dead-on-arrival.

Melenchon also stated “Lula has been a direct victim of accusations to destroy his work and image, built in more than 40 years of public life.” British human rights attorney Geoffrey Robertson QC echoed Melenchon in comments made to the “New Internationalist” in January 2018. Robertson cited the “extraordinarily aggressive measures” taken to imprison Lula and prevent him from running for president. Robertson cited as Lula’s enemies the judiciary, media, and “the great sinews of wealth and power in Brazil.”

Lawfare coups have been embraced by both Republican and Democratic administrations over almost two decades. The first example of a coup by semi-constitutional fiat was the February 28, 2004 forced removal from office of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. US Marines and American mercenaries escorted Aristide and his party from the presidential palace to a white plane with no other markings except for an American flag on the tail. The United States claimed Aristide voluntarily resigned his office, something that Aristide and his advisers vehemently denied. Aristide was literally tossed off the plane, along with his wife, in Bangui, Central African Republic. Through the abuse of “national emergency” provisions, the United States installed Haiti’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Boniface Alexandre, in the presidential palace. The coup began after CIA-supported rebels and narcotics-gangs seized control of northern Haiti and marched to the capital of Port-au-Prince with the intention of ousting Aristide.

The second lawfare coup was against Honduras’s president, Manuel Zelaya. Staged on June 28, 2009, the coup was approved in advance by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as leaked cables from the US embassy in Tegucigalpa attest. Coup leader Roberto Micheletti cited the Honduran Constitution and a decision by the Supreme Court as providing legitimacy for Zelaya being marched from his home in his pajamas to a waiting plane that flew him to Costa Rica. The military junta that replaced Zelaya said that his letter of resignation had been approved by the National Assembly. Zelaya declared the letter to be a forgery.

The third major lawfare coup came in 2012. Paraguay’s democratically-elected president, Fernando Lugo, was ousted in a political impeachment carried out by right-wing forces in the Paraguayan Congress and Senate, with the full support of the US-trained and equipped Paraguayan military. From Washington, Secretary Clinton moved hastily to recognize the right-wing vice president, Federico Franco, and his new right-wing government to replace the center-left government of Lugo. As with Haiti and Honduras, the Paraguayan coup was accomplished with the thin veneer of the constitution.

In 2016, it was Brazil’s turn in the lawfare arena. The impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the left-wing Workers’ Party ensured that Michel Temer, her right-wing vice president, assumed the presidency. Without Rousseff in the presidential palace, her predecessor, Lula, became fair game for the right-wing.

Next on the American hit list was Venezuela. On December 6, 2015, the US-backed rightist opposition won control over the National Assembly. The rightists immediately commenced procedures to remove progressive socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power through dubious “constitutional” means. However, the plan faltered in Venezuela. In reaction, Washington applied crippling economic sanctions on the country, something that was to be repeated by the Trump administration against both Venezuela and the democratically-elected government of President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.

Pro-democracy forces in Latin America and elsewhere no longer have to worry about sudden troop movements and tanks converging on presidential palaces, but armies of judges and lawyers armed with nothing more than constitutional provisions and criminal codes stretched to the point of incredulity.

The Role the US Played in Reversing Latin America’s ‘Pink Tide’

9/12/07 Salon Blanco: Banco del Sur.A mere ten years ago almost all countries in South and Central America had left or center-left governments in office. Now only a handful remain. How did this happen? The Real News Network speaks to CEPR’s Mark Weisbrot about how Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon might have described to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the US effort to do help bring this change about

Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES: It’s The Real News Network, I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. Less than ten years ago, Central and South America’s pink tide was at its highest point. Most of the continent had leftists or center-left governments in power. However, since 2009, more or less, when Honduras’s president Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a right-wing coup, the tide turned. And now, a conservative or center-right tide is firmly in place in the region except for the recent development of López-Obrador in Mexico. How did this undoing off the left tide happen? Of course, opponents of the pink tide say that these governments were elected or forced out of office because of their own policy failures. Another interpretation of all of this is that U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America under President George W. Bush and under President Barack Obama played a key role in reversing tide.

Now, this argument can be found in a letter from Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon, who managed Latin America policy desk for both presidents. In truth, it is actually a fictional letter about the advice of Shannon, what he might have given Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he resigned last month. This hypothetical letter was actually written by Mark Weisbrot, our next guest. Mark Weisbrot joins us now from Washington, D.C. to discuss U.S. Latin America policy managed under Latin American pink tide. Mark is the codirector of the Center for Economic Policy and Research and is the author of the book, Failed: What Experts Got Wrong About the Global Economy. Thanks for joining me, Mark.

MARK WEISBROT: Thanks for having me here, Sharmini.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Mark. Let’s start off with why you felt you had to pen this letter in order to draw attention to the undoing of the pink tide in Latin America.

MARK WEISBROT: Well, I thought it would be more interesting and readable. Most people are not that interested in the recent history of Latin America. And also, I want to emphasize that everything in there is true except for the fact that he didn’t actually write the letter. But everything he says in there, the facts are all sourced and they’re all public information. And even where it refers to positions that he took within the State Department, those are positions that were documented in the media.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Mark. In 2008, almost all of the South and Central American states had prgressive or center left governments in place. And this includes El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Brazil. Now only Bolivia, El Salvador and Venezuela and Nicaragua remain, with the last two of these, one could say Nicaragua and Venezuela, in a great deal of trouble and in crisis. So, give us a sense of what happened.

MARK WEISBROT: Well, some of it was due to the recessions that these countries experienced. So, for example in Brazil, they went into recession in 2014 and that’s when the opposition began to gain ground and eventually impeach Dilma, the president, Dilma Rousseff, who they impeached without ever actually accusing her of of a crime. And so, in all of these, countries there were various factors at play. But what I emphasize in this letter in the form of Thomas Shannon taking credit for it, is that the U.S. played a role in in most of these countries where there was a change of government.

Some of it is not well known. Obviously, some of it is. In the 2009 coup in Honduras, Hillary Clinton wrote in her memoirs that she helped ensure that the democratically elected president of Honduras did not come back to office after the coup. But in others, people don’t even know. So, for example, in Argentina the U.S. government under Obama opposed loans to the government and blocked some at the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. And this was a time when Argentina was having a balance of payments problem. So, that was important. And they did run into some economic trouble. It wasn’t severe, but I think it contributed to a close election result where the right was able to win at the end of 2015.

And also, I should say that in that in the case of Argentina they were severely hurt by a decision of a New York judge to take ninety percent of their creditors hostage and say that the government could not pay them until they paid the vulture funds. And that was very much a political decision. In fact, the judge lifted his injunction as soon as the right-wing President Macri was elected, and said it was because there was a new government that he was lifting the injunction. So, that was a major thing from the United States as well. And you can go through all of the countries. And some of it I’ve already said here on The Real News. There was a U.S. role, and of course we only see the tip of the iceberg.

Lula was interviewed a few months ago and he said, “It took us fifty years before we found out about the U.S. role in the 1964 coup.” And so, he was saying that to answer a question about what the United States was doing in Brazil. But you can see things that they did there as well. In fact, Shannon himself, Thomas Shannon met with the leader of the coup effort, the parliamentary coup in Brazil in 2016, when the leader in the Senate in Brazil of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Aloysio Nunes, came to the U.S. just a day after the vote to impeach Dilma took place in the House and met with Shannon. So, that was a signal to everyone in Brazil that the U.S. was behind this coup.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Mark. Now you argue that of course this kind of U.S. policy had a role to play in so many countries. Now, give us some examples, for example, Haiti and Honduras and Brazil, just remind people what the U.S. policy actually did in these countries.

MARK WEISBROT: Well, Haiti is a good example because they kind of did that in broad daylight. They took the president, the elected President, in 2004, flew them out of the country on one of those rendition planes, basically kidnapped him. And they didn’t even care. That was under George W. Bush, but the effort actually began under Clinton in 2000. There was an election there and the Organization of American States observers went there and they produced a report saying that everything was good. And then they changed that and they basically had a technical objection to some of the Senate elections. And they use that, and then the U.S. government under their first Clinton, then Bush, used that as a pretext to cut off almost all international aid to Haiti which was desperately poor.

And then, they by 2004, after four years of destabilization, they were funding opposition groups and they were also telling the President, Aristide, that he wouldn’t get aid restored until he reached an agreement with the opposition. And then at the same time, they were telling the opposition, don’t reach an agreement, don’t make any agreement with him because we’re going to get rid of him. And that’s how they did it. And they overthrew the government. And that was the second time they had overthrown the Haitian government since 1991. And so, that was just one example. Obviously, there was also the Honduran coup-.

SHARMINI PERIES: Before you go there, in Haiti’s case, they had the aid of a few other nations as well, France and Canada.

MARK WEISBROT: That’s right. And they got almost all the countries in the world to cut off their aid to Haiti between 2000 and 2004. And then, in 2011, there was an election in 2010, and in 2011, United States actually use the Organization of American States to overturn the results of the first round of the presidential election. And in that case, they also threatened Haiti to accept the results or they would cut off the post-earthquake aid, which was even more desperately needed. And so, they got to choose who made it into the second round and who became president there as well. And this really devastated Haiti in so many ways. I mean, you only had like a twenty percent turnout in the last presidential election in Haiti because the people have become so disenfranchised as a result primarily of U.S. intervention.

SHARMINI PERIES: Now one could argue having a poor country like Haiti, who was was so dependent on the U.S, the U.S. Can us can flex their muscles and make sure what they want takes place in Haiti. But what about a country like Brazil?

MARK WEISBROT: Well, I think they did. Like I said, I think that signal was important. The show of support for that coup I think helped. There was another show of support when John Kerry went down to Brazil on August 5 of the same year and he held a joint press conference with the acting Foreign Minister, Jose Serra and they said talked about how great their relationship was going to be going forward. And Dilma wasn’t even removed from office yet, she was still- the Senate hadn’t voted yet to remove her from office. So, that was another signal of support. Again, we don’t know what else they did.

Actually, we do know some other things. The Department of Justice was involved in the investigation, the big corruption investigation there. And so, we don’t know what they did, how it is that they managed to get Lula put in jail while the banks, who most of laundered the billions of dollars of corruption, there were no banks or financial institutions implicated in this whole investigation. So, that’s very odd. And of course, most Brazilians think that the Department of Justice intervention in the investigation was probably political and they have good reason to believe that.

SHARMINI PERIES: And Honduras, of course Argentina, Venezuela too, but let’s just dig into the Honduras case because I think that’s also left people’s memory.

MARK WEISBROT: Yes, well in 2009 there was a coup and the president was- in June of 2009, the president was flown out of the country in the middle of night. And he was overthrown, and the first statement that came out of the White House really foretold everything that was going to happen and showed what the real position of the United States was. Because it didn’t even condemn the coup. It just said all parties should work together and try and arrive at a solution. And when a military coup happens in the twenty-first century and you don’t even say anything bad about, and they knew it was coming as well. We found that out later. So clearly, they had time to prepare a statement. And they don’t even say anything’s wrong.

That was a massive signal to everyone that they supported it. And then, as the coup proceeded and the government needed to establish its legitimacy, the United States was practically alone in supporting the election that legitimated the coup later that year. And as I said, Hillary Clinton wrote in her memoirs that she helped make sure that the elected president didn’t go back, which was what almost all of Latin America wanted. And the U.S. manipulated the Organization of American States to prevent there from being stronger actions on their part to put Zelaya back in office. And in fact, out of that came the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which the left governments created because of the U.S. manipulation of the OAS, and that includes all of the countries of the hemisphere except the U.S. and Canada.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right Mark, there’s much more to talk about because Latin America is known as a laboratory of the United States, its policies, and I’m sure we are feeling those laboratory experiments and their are reverberations throughout the world. We don’t have time to get into all of that, and we also didn’t talk about the media strategies involved in these kinds of political policy maneuvers on the part of the U.S. and how the media is used in that way or how media complies with it. But we’ll have to leave that for another time. I thank you so much for joining us today, Mark.

MARK WEISBROT: Thank you, Sharmini.

SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on the Real News Network.

© The Real News Network

The Secret Lie That Started the Afghan War and the War on Terror

Thanks to James Corbett for this important research and report detailing how a pre-planned fabrication led to the War on Terror.

How did the war in Afghanistan start? And how did NATO become involved in this conflict? These details are never discussed because they have for nearly two decades been hidden behind a shroud of secrecy. But now, after nearly two decades of lies, the remarkable truth about the secret documents that helped launch the Afghan war can finally be revealed. This is the story of The Secret Lie That Started the Afghan War.

For those with limited bandwidth, CLICK HERE to download a smaller, lower file size version of this episode.

For those interested in audio quality, CLICK HERE for the highest-quality version of this episode (WARNING: very large download).

TRANSCRIPT

Yet another surge of violence in Afghanistan, including suicide bombings by the Taliban and retaliatory airstrikes by US forces, is reminding the world once again of the fact that the Afghan war is far from over.

AMY GOODMAN: In Afghanistan, a fierce battle is continuing over the control of the strategic city of Ghazni, four days after the Taliban attacked the city, killing more than 200 people—including over 100 soldiers and police officers. Many residents have fled the city.

SOURCE: Democracy Now, August 13, 2018

CHARLOTTE BELLIS: Ghazni morphed into an urban battlefield last Friday. People were trapped for five days in their homes as thousands of Taliban fighters and Afghan soldiers fought in the streets. U.S. helicopters, drones and a B-1 bomber patrolled overhead.

SOURCE: UN: Ghazni still dangerous for all after Taliban pushed out

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Afghanistan, Taliban fighters overran a military base, killing at least 17 soldiers. They attacked the site in Northern Faryab province and claimed dozens of soldiers surrendered.
SOURCE: PBS NewsHour August 14, 2018

HEATHER NEUERT: The horrific attack is a clear effort to foment sectarian violence and hold back the Afghan peoples’ hopes for a future of peace and security. It reminds us, once again, the importance of reaching a peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The United States continues to stand with the Government of Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan and will continue to support their efforts to achieve peace and security in their country.

SOURCE: State Department Press Briefing – August 15, 2018

“Peace” and “security.” For 17 years now the American people (and the people of the world) have listened to the US State Department tell us how the American military is working to bring “peace” and “security” to Afghanistan. But this lie is self-refuting.

At 17 years, the Afghan war is now the longest war in American history, and, despite recent reports about negotiations between the US and the Taliban, the deployment of troops in the country has actually increased in the Trump era.

JUJU CHANG: Breaking news on the nation’s long war in Afghanistan: President Trump in a prime time address declaring the US must continue the fight.

DONALD TRUMP: The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable.

[…]

MARTHA RADDATZ: And while he didn’t commit to a specific number of additional troops (although he said we will see “overwhelming force”), the president has given Defense Secretary Mattis the authority to set troop levels, and Mattis has favored sending in about 4,000 more US troops.

SOURCE: Trump announces US troop increase in Afghanistan

But as the US falls deeper and deeper into the Afghan quagmire, we risk forgetting how this war was actually authorized. The public is merely reminded, in Pavlovian fashion, that:

TRUMP: 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan.

SOURCE: Trump announces US troop increase in Afghanistan

But how was that determination made? Who made it? When? And how did NATO become involved in this conflict? These details are never discussed because they have for nearly two decades, been hidden behind a shroud of secrecy. As we shall see, the entire war was waged on a false pretense, based on supposed evidence that was classified and withheld from the public.

But now, after nearly two decades of lies, the remarkable truth about the secret documents that helped launch the Afghan war can finally be revealed.

This is the story of The Secret Lie That Started the Afghan War.

You’re watching The Corbett Report.

Just one day after 9/11, while the toxic dust was still settling on Ground Zero, the North Atlantic Council—NATO’s decision-making body—met to discuss NATO’s response to the attacks.

NATO SEC. GEN. LORD ROBERTSON: On September the 12th the North Atlantic Council met again in response to the appalling attacks perpetrated yesterday against the United States of America. The Council agreed that if it is if it is determined that this attack was directed from abroad against the United States it shall be regarded as an action covered by article 5 of The Washington treaty which states that an armed attack against one or more of the allies in Europe or in North America shall be considered an attack against them all.

[…]

Article 5 of the Washington Treaty stipulates that in the event of attacks falling within its purview, each Ally will assist the Party that has been attacked by taking such action as it deems necessary. Accordingly, the United States’ NATO Allies stand ready to provide the assistance that may be required as a consequence of these acts of barbarism.

SOURCE: NATO Press Briefing September 12, 2001

The “Washington Treaty,” more formally known as the North Atlantic Treaty, is the founding document of NATO. Consisting of 14 articles, it lays out the obligations of the signatory nations to their fellow NATO members. Article 5 states that:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

That the North Atlantic Council discussed the invocation of Article 5 on September 12th, 2001, is no small matter. It had never been invoked in the history of NATO up to that point, and its invocation would commit NATO forces to whatever war the US launched in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

But who directed those  9/11 attacks? That was the question, and, as Lord Robertson indicated, it would require the US to demonstrate that the attack “was directed from abroad.”

On October 2, 2001, the US government’s official answer to that question was provided by Ambassador Frank Taylor, the United States State Department Coordinator for Counter-terrorism. On that day, Taylor briefed the North Atlantic Council on Al Qaeda’s alleged connection to the events of 9/11.

LORD ROBERTSON: This morning, the United States briefed the North Atlantic Council on the results of their investigation into who was responsible for the horrific terrorist attacks which took place on 11 September.

The briefing was given by Ambassador Frank Taylor, the United States Department of State Coordinator for Counter-terrorism.

[…]

The briefing addressed the events of 11 September themselves, the results of the investigation so far, what is known about Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda organisation and their involvement in the attacks and in previous terrorist activity, and the links between Al Qaeda and the Taleban regime in Afghanistan.

The facts are clear and compelling. The information presented points conclusively to an Al-Qaida role in the 11 September attacks.

SOURCE: Statement by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, October 2, 2001

So “clear and compelling” was Taylor’s briefing that the Council agreed to invoke Article 5 and commit NATO’s forces to the US government’s war of terror.

LORD ROBERTSON: On the basis of this briefing, it has now been determined that the attack against the United States on 11 September was directed from abroad and shall therefore be regarded as an action covered by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which states that an armed attack on one or more of the Allies in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.

I want to reiterate that the United States of America can rely on the full support of its 18 NATO Allies in the campaign against terrorism.

And, just like that, NATO members were committed to an operation in Afghanistan that sees their troops remaining in the country to this very day.

So what information did Ambassador Taylor present in that briefing? The 9/11 Commission, which would go on to deliver the official government conspiracy theory of 9/11 in its 2004 final report, still had not even been established. In fact, the establishment of such a commission was at the time still being actively blocked by the Bush Administration. And the mistranslated tape that the Pentagon would later falsely label the Osama Bin Laden “confession” tape had still not been magically “discovered” in a random house in Jalalabad. At this point, there had been no official evidence presented to the public that demonstrated that the operation was directed and coordinated from Afghanistan by Al Qaeda. Surely, then, the Taylor briefing would be filled with evidence that would put to rest any “outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th.”

. . . But there’s just one problem. The Taylor report was classified and any evidence it contained showing an Al Qaeda link to 9/11 was hidden from the public.

LORD ROBERTSON: Today’s was a classified briefing and so I cannot give you all the details. Briefings are also being given directly by the United States to the Allies in their capitals.

And so, for nearly a decade, the US government’s evidence that Al Qaeda had directed the 9/11 attacks—the very evidence that was used to launch the war on Afghanistan in particular and America’s war of terror in general—was forbidden to the public, hidden behind a cloud of official secrecy.

But then, in 2009, intelwire.com quietly posted a document online under the title “Secret Post-9/11 Briefing to World Leaders.” The document is a US State Department cable addressed to the American Embassies in the NATO countries and American allies around the world under the subject line “September 11: Working together to fight the plague of global terrorism and the case against Al-Qa’ida.” The cable is dated October 1, 2001—the day before Ambassador Taylor’s meeting with the North Atlantic Council—and instructs its recipients to brief their host countries’ government on “the information linking the Al-Qa’ida terrorist network, Usama Bin Laden, and the Taleban regime to the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93.”

The document went largely unnoticed until earlier this year, when Professor Niels Harrit wrote an article, “The Mysterious Frank Taylor Report: The 9/11 Document that Launched US-NATO’s ‘War on Terrorism’ in the Middle East,” connecting the dots between this document and the briefing that Ambassador Taylor gave to the North Atlantic Council.

HARRIT: This is a nice little story about grassroots activism, actually, and it starts in 2009 when I got an email from a Norwegian truth activist. His name is Torstein Viddal, and he sent me this PDF with a message, “Did you see this?” And I hadn’t seen this. And I opened it and read it, and it appeared to be the instructions going from the American State Department to all representations in the world—American representations in the world, embassies, consulates—about what to think and what to say about 9/11. And I did not find the contents particularly controversial (this is in 2009) because what was in there was completely in accordance with the official version. That is, nothing, basically. But it was very long and it was meticulous in instructing the recipients of this dépêche, I suppose you call it in in English, about what to do with it. Not to put it anywhere, only to use it for oral presentations.

But at that time I did not realize the importance of this document because it wasn’t until 2012 as I recall that Michel Chossudovsky came out . . . he wrote a paper about what happened in Brussels in the days after 9/11.

[…]

…So and still this document was sitting on my hard drive. But about a year ago another activist, a brilliant Danish journalist, his name is Tommy Hansen and he should be mentioned he’s a beacon on our local scene and unfortunately he passed away very recently but I want his name to be mentioned in this connection because when I was talking with Tommy I said casually that I have the dépêche which was sent to the American representations about what to say and what to think about 9/11. And he said, “Well, I would like to see that.”

Alright, so I went back home and dug it out from my archives and at that moment for the first time I looked at the date. Because according to the the email address it had been sent out on October 2nd and the document itself is dated October 1st. And then it struck me. So that, what a coincidence, because this was the same day as when Frank Taylor was giving his presentation in Brussels and about a day before all the national governments were briefed. So I started to take a closer look and then some details appeared that was striking. One thing is that Lord Robertson […] in his press conference is reading a section from this document.

ROBERTSON: The facts are clear and compelling[…] We know that the individuals who carried out these attacks were part of the world-wide terrorist network of Al-Qaida, headed by Osama bin Laden and his key lieutenants and protected by the Taliban.

There, in Lord Robertson’s own mouth at the press conference announcing the delivery of the Taylor report are the very words from the document itself. The connection is undeniable: this State Department cable contains the talking points for the briefing that Taylor delivered to the North Atlantic Council.

Crucially, if unsurprisingly, the document presents absolutely no proof or evidence establishing a link between Al Qaeda and 9/11. After spending a full 15 pages talking in generalities about terror, about the US government’s officially-sanctioned history of Al Qaeda, and of previous attacks linked to Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, the document finally arrives at “Part III” purporting to demonstrate Al Qaeda’s involvement in the attacks. But Part III begins by admitting that the investigation into the attacks is “still in the early stage” and that “[t]here are still gaps in our knowledge.” It then goes on to detail circumstantial “evidence” that would not even rise to the level of warranting an indictment, let alone a conviction in a court of law.

After asserting without evidence that several of the alleged hijackers had been identified as “known Bin Laden associates” without clarifying the source of that identification, let alone how their identities and status as hijackers had been determined, we are then told that “Bin Laden and his associates seemed to be anticipating what we could only identify as an important event or activity.” Finally, the document talks about how the incident is “tactically similar to earlier attacks” because it involved planning and a desire to inflict mass casualties.

And that is it. That is the sum total of the evidence that both the document itself and Lord Robertson, evidently reading notes from Taylor’s briefing, calls “clear and compelling.”

HARRIT: This is in my mind with no doubt simply the legal basis for 18 years of perpetual war in the Middle East. This is the basis for for NATO’s activation of Article 5. And so what is in the document and what is the evidence? What is the evidence which Lord Robertson calls clear and compelling none there’s absolutely no evidence in that paper. It’s free for everyone to see and I’m sure you will present it to your audience.

All of this is in keeping with what we have long known about the war on Afghanistan: It was not waged in response to the 9/11 attacks, but was in fact prepared well in advance. Al Qaeda and the events of September 11th were nothing more than a convenient pretense for the US government to justify their illegal invasion and occupation of a key geostrategic landmass in South Asia.

In 1997, just four years before the NATO invasion, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote that “For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia[…]Now a non-Eurasian power is preeminent in Eurasia—and America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.”

Specifically, Brzezinski pinpointed Afghanistan and its neighbours—an area he called the “Eurasian Balkans”—as the most geopolitically significant region to control for its gas and oil reserves and mineral deposits. He argued that some form of extended American military intervention in the region would be necessary, warning that a global consensus on its foreign policy imperatives would be impossible “…except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat.”

Later that year, a senior delegation from the Taliban came to the United States for meetings with Unocal about securing the rights for a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan across Afghanistan. In 2002, it was revealed that the United States had been negotiating with the Taliban to secure those oil interests, and that American negotiators had told the Taliban that they had a choice: “You have a carpet of gold, meaning an oil deal, or a carpet of bombs.” Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, a former Pakistani foreign secretary revealed to the BBC that a senior American official had told him in mid-July of 2001 that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.

When the Bush administration came into office, its first substantive national security decision directive, NSPD-9, called for “military options against Taliban targets in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control, air and air defense, ground forces, and logistics” and was presented to the president on September 4, 2001, seven days before 9/11.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Although this National Security Presidential Directive was originally a highly classified document, we arranged for portions to be declassified to help the Commission in its work, and I will describe some of those today. The strategy set as its goal the elimination of the al Qaeda network. [. . . ] And it ordered the leadership of relevant U.S. departments and agencies to make the elimination of al Qaeda a high priority and to use all aspects of our national power — intelligence, financial, diplomatic, and military — to meet this goal. [. . .]

And it directed the secretary of defense to — and I quote — “ensure that the contingency planning process include plans: against al Qaeda and associated terrorist facilities in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control-communications, training, and logistics facilities; against Taliban targets in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control, air and air defense, ground forces, and logistics; to eliminate weapons of mass destruction which al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups may acquire or manufacture, including those stored in underground bunkers.”

SOURCE: September 11 Commission: National Security Council

DONALD RUMSFELD: Dr. Rice has stated that she asked the National Security Council staff in her first week in office for a new presidential initiative on al Qaeda. In early March, the staff was directed to craft a more aggressive strategy aimed at eliminating the al Qaeda threat. The first draft of that approach, in the form of a presidential directive, was circulated by the NSC staff in June of 2001, and a number of meetings were held that summer at the deputy secretary level to address the policy questions involved, such as relating an aggressive strategy against Taliban to U.S.-Pakistan relations.

“By the first week of September, the process had arrived at a strategy that was presented to principals and later became NSPD-9, the President’s first major substantive national security decision directive. It was presented for a decision by principals on September 4th, 2001, seven days before the 11th, and later signed by the President, with minor changes and a preamble to reflect the events of September 11th, in October.”

SOURCE: RUMSFELD 9/11 COMMISSION TESTIMONY MARCH 23, 2004

The invasion of Afghanistan was not about Al Qaeda. It was not the response of the US government to the “evidence” connecting the Taliban to Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda to 9/11 that was missing from Ambassador Taylor’s report. It was a geopolitical gambit in search of a justification. And the events of 9/11 were the justification that the US used to sell NATO, and the world, on the war in Afghanistan.

Worse, 9/11 was the excuse for the entire war of terror itself, the complete transformation of the Middle East that is taking place thanks to American military might. The Taylor report was a blank check drawn on the events of that day. A check that is still being cashed.

HARRIT: This is the legal and the moral foundation and political foundation for the launch of the uninterrupted destruction of the Middle East. That’s what it is. The 18 years of wars.

We have refugees running all over the the highways in Europe. Europe is going down for the load of refugees and migrants, and it all started there. It all emerges from this single document, legally, morally, and politically. That’s why this document is important. It is the Achilles heel like Building 7 is the Achilles heel of the destruction of the World Trade Center.

So you may you may be cynical. OK, then you can be cynical about everything. But if there is any moral left in our Western society, then light should be shined on this document because this document is the legal and—I’ll say it again—the legal and the moral basis for launching of the NATO wars in the Middle East. And that’s something, I think.

17 years of warfare and bloodshed. 17 years of attack and counter-attack. 17 years of tears and shattered lives. 17 years of lies. And all of it based on the foundational lie of 9/11, and this virtually unknown document.

But now the truth of this deception is in our hands. And it is only by exposing that deception that we can ever hope to derail the wars waged in its name, and stop the death and destruction it has wrought.

Niels Harrit Exposes the Terror War Lie

Thanks to James Corbett for this important interview and report detailing how a pre-planned fabrication led to the War on Terror.

Prof. Niels Harrit is interviewed to discuss the mysterious “Frank Taylor report” that launched 17 years of NATO destruction in the middle east. He connects the dots with a little-known declassified document and exposes the lie that has resulted in the deaths of untold millions.

Please watch the full report for links and supporting documents: The Secret Lie That Started the Afghan War

CLICK HERE for the mp3 audio of this conversation.

By way of clarification on the question of the dates, from the Corbett Report user comments:

NES says:

I don’t get the significance of the document in question, dated 10/1 and released on 10/2 to be talking points for involved NATO countries. I’ve listened to the report 4-times now. Below I’ve listed the main points noted in the report. While I get the build-up of deceit that lead to the invasion of Afghanistan (usual), I do not ‘get’ the document’s connection as evidence. It sounds like a dating issue but I cannot identify that significance as seen by Harrit, et al.

1. Taylor — 10/02 briefing North Atlantic Council

2. Robertson – 10/02 clear and compelling speech calling for Article 5 and supported by the dated 10/01 document created for talking points only.

3. No official evidence by 10/02 but denial by Bush about “outrageous conspiracy theories” by the public.

4. No evidence to launch an attack against Afghanistan yet was launched.

5. 2009–IntelWire posted the 10/01 document about the 9/11 briefing which was given to world leaders and created by the US State Dept. Document dated 10/01

6. Cable instructing host countries to be briefed on several terrorist connections, Afghanistan, Bin Laden, 9/11 attack, crash of UA #93

7. Harrit writes an article 3/18 Mysterious Frank Taylor Report connected this document with the briefing of Ambassador Taylor gave North Atlantic Council on 10/2.

8. 2009–Harrit connects the Norwegian document find of the US State Dept directives to speakers about 9/11 for talking points, again it was dated 10/01.

9. 2012–Chossudovky publishes article about what happened in Brussels in the days after 9/11.

10. 2017–Danish activist Hansen and Harrit share the 10/01 document of concern when that same day Taylor was giving his speech in Brussels. Robertson reads a section from the 10/01 document in his speech.

11. Document provides no proof of Al-Qaida’s connection and nothing but circumstantial evidence–as always!

Based on all the preceding evidence–Brzezinski’s pin-pointing Afghanistan 4-yrs earlier as a resource to invade, the obvious gas pipeline interests going on long before the document was produced, the meeting in TX to force US oil interests onto the Taliban, as well as the statement by the Pakistan Secretary about the US threatening an invasion of Afghanistan in 07/01 and Bush’s NSPD-9 outlining military moves against Taliban targets presented on 9/4/11, I’m at a loss about the document in question.

Thanks, in advance, for any clarity you can lend.

  • manbearpig says:

    I too was confused and listened to the video several times before finally referring to Niels Harrit’s article where everything was crystal clear.

    From Niels Harrit’s article:

    “…The conclusion is inescapable – this dispatch IS the Frank Taylor report. It is the manuscript that served not only as the basis for Frank Taylor’s presentation, but also for the briefings given by US ambassadors to the various national governments. Identical presentations were given in all 18 capitals on 3 October, four days before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan…”

    and was also the doc from which Robertson partly read, if I’ve understood correctly…

    “…Tellingly, a section of this dispatch is copy-pasted into Lord Robertson’s statement on 2 October…”

    globalresearch.ca/the-mysterious-frank-taylor-report-the-911-document-that-launched-us-natos-war-on-terrorism-in-the-middle-east/5632874

The Real Russian Interference in US Politics

If Russia were trying to interfere in U.S. domestic politics, it wouldn’t be attempting to change the U.S. system but to prevent it from trying to change Russia’s, argues Diana Johnstone.

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was ostensibly a conflict between two ideologies and two socio-economic systems.

All that seems to be over. The day of a new socialism may dawn unexpectedly, but today capitalism rules the world. At first glance, it may seem to be a classic clash between rival capitalists. And yet, once again an ideological conflict is emerging, one which divides capitalists themselves, even in Russia and in the United States itself. It is the conflict between American unipolar dominance and a multipolar world.

The defeat of communism was brutally announced in a certain “capitalist manifesto” dating from the early 1990s that actually proclaimed: “Our guiding light is Profit, acquired in a strictly legal way. Our Lord is His Majesty, Money, for it is only He who can lead us to wealth as the norm in life.” The authors of this bold tract were Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who went on to become the richest man in Russia (before spending ten years in a Russian jail) and his business partner at the time, Leonid Nevzlin, who has since retired comfortably to Israel.

Loans for Shares

Those were the good old days in the 1990s when the Clinton administration was propping up Yeltsin as he let Russia be ripped off by the joint efforts of such ambitious well-placed Russians and their Western sponsors, notably using the “loans for shares” trick.

In a 2012 Vanity Fair article on her hero, Khodorkovsky, the vehemently anti-Putin journalist Masha Gessen frankly summed up how this worked:

The new oligarchs—a dozen men who had begun to exercise the power that money brought—concocted a scheme. They would lend the government money, which it badly needed, and in return the government would put up as collateral blocks of stock amounting to a controlling interest in the major state-owned companies. When the government defaulted, as both the oligarchs and the government knew it would, the oligarchs would take them over. By this maneuver the Yeltsin administration privatized oil, gas, minerals, and other enterprises without parliamentary approval.”

This worked so well that from his position in the Communist youth organization, Khodorkovsky used his connections to get control of Russia’s petroleum company Yukos and become the richest oligarch in Russia, worth some $15 billion, of which he still controls a chunk despite his years in jail (2003-2013).

His arrest made him a hero of democracy in the United States, where he had many friends, especially those business partners who were helping him sell pieces of Yukos to Chevron and Exxon. Khodorkovsky (image below), a charming and generous young man, easily convinced his American partners that he was Russia’s number one champion of democracy and the rule of law, especially of those laws which allow domestic capital to flee to foreign banks, and foreign capital to take control of Russian resources.

Vladimir Putin didn’t see it that way. Without restoring socialism, he dispossessed Khodorkovsky of Yukos and essentially transformed the oil and gas industry from the “open society” model tolerated by Yeltsin to a national capitalist industry. Khodorkovsky and his partner Platon Lebedev were accused of having stolen all the oil that Yukos had produced in the years 1998 to 2003, tried, convicted and sentenced to 14 years of prison each. This shift ruined U.S. plans, already underway, to “balkanize” Russia between its many provinces, thereby allowing Western capital to pursue its capture of the Russian economy.

The dispossession of Khodorkovsky was certainly a major milestone in the conflict between President Putin and Washington. On November 18, 2005, the Senate unanimously adopted Resolution 322 introduced by Senator Joe Biden denouncing the treatment of the Khodorkovsky and Lebedev as politically motivated.

Who Influences Whom?

There is an alternative view of the history of Russian influence in the United States to the one now getting constant attention. It is obvious that a Russian who can get the Senate to adopt a resolution in his favor has a certain influence. But when the “deep state” and the corporate media today growl about Russian influence, they aren’t talking about Khodorkovsky. They are talking about alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. They are seizing, for example, on a joking response Trump made to a reporter’s snide question during the presidential campaign. In a variation of the classic “when did you stop beating your wife?” the reporter asked if he would call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “stay out” of the election.

Since a stupid question does not deserve a serious answer, Trump said he had “nothing to do with Putin” before adding, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Many Trump opponents think this proves collusion. Irony appears to be almost as unwelcome in American politics as honesty.

When Trump revoked his security clearance earlier this month, former CIA chief John Brennan got his chance to spew his hatred in the complacent pages of The New York Times. Someone supposed to be smart enough to head an intelligence agency actually took Trump’s joking invitation as a genuine request. “By issuing such a statement,” Brennan wrote, “Mr. Trump was not only encouraging a foreign nation to collect intelligence against a United States citizen, but also openly authorizing his followers to work with our primary global adversary against his political opponent.”

As America’s former top intelligence officer, Brennan had to know that (even if it were true that Trump was somehow involved) it is ludicrous to suggest that Trump would have launched a covert intelligence operation on national television. If this were a Russian operation to hack Clinton’s private server it would have been on a need-to-know basis and there is no evident need for Trump or his campaign team to have known.

Besides, Clinton’s private server on the day Trump uttered this joke, July 27, 2016, had already been about nine months in possession of the Department of Justice, and presumably offline as it was being examined.

Since Brennan knows all this he could only have been lying in The New York Times.

The Russians, Brennan went on, “troll political, business and cultural waters in search of gullible or unprincipled individuals who become pliant in the hands of their Russian puppet masters.”

But which Russians do that? And who are those “individuals?”

‘The Fixer-in-Chief’

To understand the way Washington works, one can focus on the career of lawyer Jonathan M. Winer, who proudly says that in early 2017 the head of the Carnegie Endowment, Bill Burns, referred to him as “The Fixer-in-Chief.” Let’s see what the fixer has fixed.

Winer served in the Clinton State Department as its first Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Law Enforcement from 1994-1999. One may question the selectivity of Bill Clinton’s concern for international law enforcement, which certainly did not cover violating international law by bombing defenseless countries.

In any case, in 1999 Winer received the State Department’s second highest award for having “created the capacity of the Department and the U.S. government to deal with international crime and criminal justice as important foreign policy functions.” The award stated that “the scope and significance of his achievements are virtually unprecedented for any single official.”

After the Clinton administration, from 2008 to 2013, Winer worked as a high-up consultant at one of the world’s most powerful PR and lobbying firms, APCO Worldwide. As well as the tobacco industry and the Clinton Foundation, APCO also works for Khodorkovsky. To be precise, according to public listings, the fourth biggest of APCO’s many clients is the Corbiere Trust, owned by Khodorkovsky and registered in Guernsey. The trust tends and distributes some of the billions that the oligarch got out of Russia before he was jailed.

Corbiere money was spent to lobby both for Resolution 322 (supporting Khodorkovsky after his arrest in Russia) and for the Magnitsky Act. APCO president Margery Kraus is a member of the Institute of Modern Russia, which is headed by Khodorkovsky’s son Pavel, with the ostensible purpose of “promoting democratic values” – in other words, of building political opposition to Putin.

When John Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, allowing Hillary to prepare her presidential campaign, Winer went back to the State Department. Winer’s extracurricular activities at State brought him into the public spotlight early this year when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) named him as part of a network promoting the notorious “Steele Dossier,” which accused Trump of illicit financial dealing and compromising sexual activities in Russia, in a word, “collusion” with Moscow.

By Winer’s own account, he had been friends with former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele since his days at APCO. Back at State, he regularly channeled Steele reports, ostensibly drawn from contacts with friendly Russian intelligence agents, to Victoria Nuland, in charge of Russian affairs, as well as to top Russia experts. Among these reports was the infamous “Steele dossier,” opposition research on Trump financed by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

But dirt seemed to pass the other way too. According to a Feb. 6 Washington Post story, Winer passed on to Steele the story of Trump being urinated on by prostitutes in a Moscow hotel with Russian agents allegedly filming it for blackmail material. The Post says the story was written by Cody Shearer, a Clinton confidante. A lawyer for Winer told the paper that Winer “was concerned in 2016 about information that a candidate for the presidency may have been compromised by a hostile foreign power. Any actions he took were grounded in those concerns.” Shearer did not respond to a request for comment from Consortium News. (Full disclosure: Cody Shearer is a member of the advisory board of the Consortium for Independent Journalism, which publishes Consortium News, and has been asked to resign.)

All this Democrat paid-for and created dirt was spread through government agencies and mainstream media before being revealed publicly just before Trump’s inauguration. The Steele dossier was used by the Obama Justice Department to get a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. 

Winer and the Magnitsky Act

Winer played a major role in Congress’s adoption of the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012” (the Magnitsky Act), a measure that effectively ended post-Cold War hopes for normal relations between Washington and Moscow. This act was based on a highly contentious version of the November 16, 2009 death in prison of accountant Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky as told to Congress by hedge fund manager Bill Browder.  According to Browder, Magnitsky was a lawyer beaten to death in prison as a result of his crusade for human rights.

However, as convincingly established by dissident Russian film-maker Andrei Nekrasov’s investigative documentary (blacklisted in the U.S.), Magnitsky was neither a human rights crusader, nor a lawyer, nor beaten to death. He was an accountant jailed for his role in Browder’s business dealings, who died of natural causes as a result of inadequate prison care. The case was hyped as a major human rights drama by Browder in order to discredit Russian tax fraud charges against himself.

By adopting a law punishing Magnitsky’s alleged persecutors, the U.S. Congress acted as a supreme court judging internal Russian legal issues.

The Magnitsky Act also condemns legal prosecution of Khodorkovsky. Browder, on a much smaller scale, also made a fortune ripping off Russians during the Yeltsin years, and later got into trouble with Russian tax collectors. Since Browder had given up his U.S. citizenship in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes, he had reason to fear Russian efforts to extradite him for tax evasion and other financial misdeeds.

It was Winer who found a solution to Browder’s predicament. As Winer wrote in The Daily Beast:

When Browder consulted me, he wanted to know what he could do to hold those involved in the case accountable. As Browder describes in his bookRed Notice, I suggested creating a new law to impose economic and travel sanctions on human-rights violators involved in grand corruption. Browder decided this could secure a measure of justice for Magnitsky. He initiated a campaign that led to the enactment of the Magnitsky Act. Soon other countries enacted their own Magnitsky Acts, including Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and most recently, the United Kingdom.”

Meanwhile, Russian authorities have been trying for years to pursue their case against Browder (image on the right). Putin brought up the case in his press conference following the Helsinki meeting with Trump. Putin suggested allowing U.S. authorities to question the 12 Russian GRU military intelligence agents named in the Mueller indictment in exchange for allowing Russian officials to question individuals involved in the Browder case, including Winer and former U.S. ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul, among others. Putin observed that such an exchange was possible under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty signed between the two countries in 1999, back in the Yeltsin days when America was posing as Russia’s best friend.

But the naïve Russians underestimated the craftiness of American lawyers.

As Winer wrote, “Under that treaty, Russia’s procurator general can ask the U.S. attorney general … to arrange for Americans to be ordered to testify to assist in a criminal case. But there is a fundamental exception: The attorney general can provide no such assistance in a politically motivated case (my emphasis). I know this because I was among those who helped put it there. Back in 1999, when we were negotiating the agreement with Russia, I was the senior State Department official managing U.S.-Russia law-enforcement relations.”

The clever treaty is a perfect Catch-22. It doesn’t apply to a case if it is politically motivated, and if it is Russian, it must be politically motivated. (The irony is that Mueller’s indictment of 12 GRU Russian military intelligence agents appears to be more a political than a legal document. For one thing, it accused the agents of interfering in a U.S. election but never charges them under U.S. electoral law.)

On July 15, 2016, Browder’s Heritage Capital Management firm registered a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice accusing both American and Russian opponents of the Magnitsky Act of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); adopted in 1938 with Nazis in mind.

As for Russian lawyers attempting to bring their case against the Act to the U.S., the Heritage Capital Management brief declared:

While lawyers representing foreign principals are exempt from filing under FARA, this is only true if the attorney does not try to influence policy at the behest of his client. By disseminating anti-Magnitsky material to Congress, [lawyer Natalia] Veselnitskaya is clearly trying to influence policy and is therefore in violation of her filing requirements under FARA.”

Veselnitskaya was at the infamous Trump Tower meeting in the summer of 2016 to lobby a possible incoming Trump administration to oppose the Magnitsky Act. A British music promoter, not a spokesman for the Russian government, offered dirt on Clinton in an email to Donald Trump Jr. No dirt was apparently produced and Don Jr. saw it as a lure to get him to the meeting on Magnitsky. Democrats are furiously trying to prove that this meeting was “collusion” between the Trump camp and Russia, though it was the Clinton campaign that paid for opposition research and received it from foreigners, while the Trump campaign neither solicited nor apparently received any at that meeting.

The Ideological Conflict Today

Needless to say, Khodorkovsky’s Corbiere Trust lobbied hard to get Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act. This type of “Russian interference intended to influence policy” goes unnoticed while U.S. authorities scour cyberspace for evidence of trolls.

The basic ideological conflict here is between Unipolar America and Multipolar Russia. Russia’s position, as Putin made clear in his historic speech at the Munich security conference in 2007, is to allow countries to enjoy national sovereignty and develop in their own way. The current Russian government is against interference in other countries’ politics on principle. It would naturally prefer an American government willing to do the same.

The United States, in contrast, is in favor of interference in other countries on principle: because it seeks a Unipolar world, with a single “democratic” system, and considers itself the final authority as to which regime a country should have and how it should run its affairs.

So, if Putin were trying to interfere in U.S. domestic politics, he would not be trying to change the U.S. system but to prevent it from trying to change his own.

U.S. policy-makers practice interference every day. And they are perfectly willing to allow Russians to interfere in American politics – so long as those Russians like Khodorkovsky, who aspire to precisely the same unipolar world sought by the State Department. Indeed, the American empire depends on such interference from Iraqis, Libyans, Iranians, Russians, Cubans – all those who come to Washington to try to get U.S. power to settle old scores or overthrow the government in the country they came from and put themselves in power. All those are perfectly welcome to lobby for a world ruled by America.

Russian interference in American politics is totally welcome so long as it helps turn public opinion against “multipolar” Putin, glorifies American democracy, serves U.S. interests, including the military industries, helps break down national borders (except those of the United States and Israel) and puts money in appropriate pockets in the halls of Congress.

*

This article was originally published on Consortiumnews.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. The memoirs of Diana Johnstone’s father Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness, was published by Clarity Press, with her commentary. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr. She is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization  (CRG). 

Russia Is Buying Gold: Will It Save Russia From Dollar Sanctions? End of Dollar Hegemony?

Interview with Peter Koenig


Putin-gold

REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn

The German newspaper “Die Welt” announced that Russia actively seeks to get rid of dependency on the US dollar by purchasing gold and selling the bulk of the Moscow-owned US Treasury bonds.

According to political advisor and author James Rickards, cited by the newspaper, the Russian government pursues “a strategic plan” aimed at protecting the country from “dollar sanctions” by building up Russia’s gold reserves.

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Sputnik: The author of the article for “Die Welt” called gold ‘a perfect investment’ for Russia in the face of US sanctions. How much does this assessment correspond to reality? If it is true, why?

Peter Koenig: Yes, Mr. Zschäpitz, from the German “Die Welt“, quoting James Rickards, makes some good points.

The fact that Russia is stocking up on gold is not new. They have been doing this for years, especially during Mr. Putin’s leadership and more so since the imposition of the totally illegal sanctions that are based on falsehood and fabricated reasons in the first place – and continue on fabricated reasons, mostly by the US and the UK.

And to add injury to insult, the Swiss bank Crédit Swiss has just frozen roughly 5 billion dollars of money linked to Russia to avoid falling out of favors with Washington and risking sanctions. This is of course further increasing pressure on Moscow to de-dollarize as quickly as possible. Washington must know, of course, what these “sanctions” do. They are talking to Russian Atlantists – or Fifth Columnists – of whom there are still too many in Russia. And the sanctions against Russia are also propaganda-speak “we still command the world”.

These sanctions call for de-dollarization – which is already happening, and this on a rapidly increasing scale, as Mr. Zschäpitz points out. At the same time as Russia is buying gold, Russian dollar reserves have been reduced drastically over the past years.

They were replaced by gold and the Chinese Yuan (Renminbi) – since about two years the Yuan has been an officially recognized reserve currency by the IMF. The accumulation of gold, has made Russia the world’s fifth largest gold owner. They have increased their gold holdings from less than 500 tons in 2008 to almost 2000 tons in July 2018, including the latest purchase of 26 tons in July 2918.

The Russian Ruble today is covered twice by the value of gold. The ruble is no fiat currency like the dollar-based western monetary system, including the euro. The ruble is a solid currency, despite contrary western propaganda. When the western media demonizes the Russian currency as having lost 50% of its value due to sanctions – it is a manipulated half-truth. The 50% loss of value as compared to what? – Compared to the US dollar and other western currencies? With a western de-linked economy – a 50% devaluation, or any devaluation is irrelevant.

Being decoupled from the dollar, Russia will no longer be vulnerable to western sanctions – and no longer needs the western economy – which is already almost the case today. Russia has embarked on an effective “Economy of Resistance”.

As President Putin pointed out already years ago, the sanctions are the best thing that happened to Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. They forced Russia to rehabilitate and boost her agricultural production for food self-sufficiency, and likewise with the industrial sector. Today Russia is not only food-autonomous, but is by far the world’s largest wheat exporter; and Russia has developed a cutting-edge industrial park, no longer dependent on ‘sanctioned’ imports from the west.

And take this – as Mr. Putin pointed out, Russia will be supplying the world exclusively with organic food!

All of this confirms that investing in gold as a reserve currency and in Yuan, is a move away from the western dollar economy – and towards economic sovereignty. Besides, Russia has had for years a Yuan-Ruble swap agreement with the Central Bank of China, a sign of close economic and trade relations.

By the way – China has also been on a gold-buying spree for years. The Chinese Yuan is also covered by gold, plus by a solid national economy. Therefore, sanctions or ‘Trump’s tariff war’ have also only limited effect on China, if any. They serve more western anti-Yuan propaganda, alleging that tariffs and sanctions may weaken the yuan, thereby discouraging countries to buy yuans for their reserve coffers. It is a fact that the Yuan is rapidly replacing the dollar as a reserve currency.

Besides, both Russia and China are part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – the so-called SCO – and along with 6 other countries the SCO encompasses already close to 50% of the world population and controls about a third of the globes GDP. – Dependence on the west is no longer necessary.

Sputnik: The author also speaks about the growing importance of gold. What effect could its increased role have in the international financial system?

PK: It is half-secretly speculated that as a last-ditch effort to save the dollar, the US may return to some kind of a gold standard, thereby massively devaluing the dollar – and the US international debt – all those dollars currently still in many countries’ treasuries as reserves.

Having alternatives to dollars in a country’s reserve coffers, like gold and yuans, is of course a great defense mechanism. On the other hand, if such a move back to a kind of gold-standard by Washington, introduced by the FED and the US Treasury-controlled IMF, would take place – it would most likely boost the market value of gold – a good thing for those who have converted their reserves into gold.

Those who would suffer from such a move are as always, the poor countries, those that are highly indebted by IMF and World Bank loans, and may now be asked to pay back their debt in gold-convertible dollars.

Sputnik: What will happen to the dominance of dollar? What impact could it have on the US position on the world arena?

PK: It would most likely accelerate the fall of the dollar, meaning the end of US-dollar hegemony. It would probably also trigger the fall of the US economy which depends so much on the dollar hegemony – on being able to pressure countries into their following by ‘sanctions’.

I’m not a believer in gold as a sustainable ‘currency-alike’ in the long-run – because gold is also vulnerable to high-stakes manipulation and speculation. I more believe in a country’s economy as the true backing of a country’s currency. This is already happening in China, where the currency in circulation is backed by its strong economy. It may be soon, or is already, the case in Russia.

The use of gold, in my view, is but a temporary measure, and will last as long as the world still believes in the godly and historic and ancient powers of this precious metal. Today only about 10% of the available gold is for industrial use, the rest is “reserve money” and for pure speculation. If the world discovers that there is about 100 times more paper gold – gold derivatives – in circulation than physical gold – this miracle perception of gold may disappear. If all the derivative-paper gold would be cashed in at once – guess what would happen?

So, gold is good for now, but a temporary solution, in the longer run to be replaced by the actual strength of a country’s economy.

Sputnik: Amid US sanction policy, there have been calls for switching to national currencies in trade and ditch dollar. How efficient is this approach?

PK: Very efficient.

This is already happening. Russia and China are for years no longer trading in dollars but in local currencies, or even in gold, or in the case of China in gold-convertible yuan, especially for trading hydrocarbons, oil and gas. So are largely India, Iran, Venezuela and other countries that are eager to escape the dollar- hegemony with sanctions.

I think one of the ways out of the nefarious neoliberal globalization, is returning to sovereign country economies, with local currencies and satisfying local market needs. External trade with friendly nations, that share similar cultural and ideological values.

This is what China has done. China opened its borders to the west gradually in the mid-eighties, when she was self-sufficient in alimentation, health, education and shelter. And this practice is paying off until today. It is very difficult – if not impossible – to pressure China into anything – political or monetary – as Trump may soon find out – or knows already. China is fully autonomous and controls the Asian market, doesn’t really need the west in the long.

What Mr. Putin said, about the sanctions being the best thing that happened to Russia – for achieving economic sovereignty – which is really the key, goes in the same direction.

So yes, local production for local markets wit local currencies and trading with friendly nations – i.e. the SCO nations and nations participating in President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the future.

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Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.