Trump was urged to seek evidence before attacking Syria

From Consortium News
April 13, 2018

In this memo to the White House, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity urge President Trump to get the evidence first before deciding to strike Syria.

Special to Consortium News

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT:  Evidence Required for Military Decision on Syria

Mr. President,

We the undersigned Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity join a number of other credible experts including former UK Ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford (this recent interview on BBC Radio Scotland), former UN weapons inspectors and former military officers who are strongly recommending that you obtain and review actual evidence from the site of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, before ordering any military action. VIPS has previously reported credible evidence indicating that anti-government forces in Syria have themselves produced and used toxic chemical agents.

Contradictory indications exist given that the video and images of victims in the locations purportedly affected by chemical weapons  came from rebel-affiliated entities known as the “Douma Revolution” and the “White Helmets” while Russian military units which later got physical access to the supposed sites and Syrian Red Crescent personnel working in the area reportedly found no indication of a chemical weapon attack.

A major question for us, as former intelligence officers with some knowledge of the operational use of misinformation and false flag actions, is what motive would the Syrian government have for making a chemical weapons attack on its own civilian population, especially at a time when it has growing popular support and is having increased military success.  Why would it risk Western ire?

Rebel fighters and their families were already being evacuated to Turkish occupied Jarabulus by air-conditioned bus. As described in more detail by Scott Ritter (here), only Salafist fighters from the “Army of Islam” (Jaish al-Islam) had refused to surrender at the time of the supposed attacks.

One must therefore consider the possibility that the supposed chlorine gas attack at Douma may have been a carefully constructed propaganda fraud. Such a fraud would have as its purpose the elicitation of precisely the kind of political pressure that now has you contemplating military action. In other words, Mr. President, this may be a bid to mousetrap you into a war that neither you nor your fellow Americans want nor need.

More expert opinion and investigation needs to be applied like that voiced by former U.N. weapons inspector in Syria, Åke Sellström, (translated from original Swedish):

 The attack may have come from Assad’s regime, but you may as well have other explanations. Toxic substances can be dispersed in many ways, for example through explosions or smoke.

– There are many poisonous substances in circulation during the battle.

If the UN were to investigate the attack, it is not enough to see recordings or hear testimony, says Sellström.

It is essential that the United States have complete and compelling evidence before taking any decisive action. We therefore strongly recommend that you await the findings of the OPCW team which is now on its way to Douma to investigate at the actual site of the alleged attack.  A competent, objective group of experts needs to conduct a thorough on-the-ground investigation and collect evidence that will either implicate the Government of Syria or exonerate it.

We have, as you have noted, been down this road before with the Iraq WMD debacle in 2003.  Let us not repeat this mistake. By launching a war in Syria, we will be entering a military and political morass involving Iran and Russia that could have fatal consequences for the entire planet, especially if any of the parties feel compelled to resort to nuclear weapons.

The American people neither want nor need another military intervention in the Middle East. History tells us that any initiative centered on the use of armed force to compel acceptable behavior will not be containable and will only propagate more violence. Please do not drain the US Treasury for a war that could lead to catastrophic and unprecedented loss of life and endanger the security of Americans everywhere.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

William Binney, former NSA Technical Director for World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of NSA’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center (ret.)

Richard H. Black, Senator of Virginia, 13th District; Colonel US Army (ret.); Former Chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon (associate VIPS)

Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) and Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research

Kathleen Christison, Senior Analyst on Middle East, CIA (ret.)

Bogdan Dzakovic, former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Graham E. Fuller,Vice-Chair, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry C. Johnson, former CIA and State Department Counter Terrorism officer

Michael S. Kearns, Captain,Wing Commander, RAAF (ret.); Intelligence Officer & ex-Master SERE Instructor

John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003

Clement J. Laniewski, LTC, USA (ret) (associate VIPS)

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael, Ph.D., former senior estimates officer, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst; CIA Presidential briefer (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council & CIA political analyst (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Peter Van Buren, US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel, US Army (ret.), former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State; Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)

Sarah G. Wilton, CDR, USNR, (ret.); Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Ann Wright, Colonel, US Army (ret.); also Foreign Service Officer who resigned in opposition to the US war on Iraq

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/04/13/trump-urged-to-seek-evidence-before-attacking-syria/

 

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It started over lunch: investigating and exposing the Iran-Contra scandal, amid news media silence

From Consortium News
April 16, 2018

The following are remarks at the memorial for Bob Parry delivered on Saturday by Brian Barger, who shared many bylines with Bob (and a drink or two) at the Associated Press, uncovering the Iran-Contra scandal, and provoking the ire of AP editors, nervous about what the two friends were finding out.

By Brian Barger

I remember it was a pleasure to meet Bob in 1984. The CIA was ramping up its covert war in Nicaragua. News reports from the region documented atrocities committed by President Reagan’s “freedom fighters” and their CIA handlers. Congress was starting to take notice, and was threatening to cut off US aid.

I got a call from Betsy Cohn, a Latin America scholar from Georgetown University, saying I should meet this guy from the AP. Over lunch we shared notes. I’d done much of my reporting from Central America and Miami, and Bob from Washington. We agreed there was a lot of low-hanging fruit on this story, and we talked about why there was such reluctance to cover it, particularly among the Washington press corps. We agreed that this could be a good reporting partnership.

And it was in these early days that I learned some important lessons about journalism from Bob.

It started over that lunch, when Bob politely reminded me that I’d buried the lede in a recent story that should have received wide attention – but didn’t. This was Bob Parry journalism lesson number one: Don’t bury the lede.

The story was about a blue, cloth-covered manual produced by the CIA and distributed to contra commanders in Honduras. Bob wanted a copy. So, Bob Parry journalism lesson Number Two: Be persistent. I gave it to him, and Bob produced a deeply reported piece on what thereafter was known as the CIA assassination manual. Lesson number three: Make those ten extra phone calls before calling it a day.

This was the beginning of an enduring friendship that lasted 35 years. It was also the beginning of an enduring work relationship. Over the next two years, we peeled back the story about White House aide Oliver North and the White House role orchestrating a secret war in Nicaragua.

For the rest of the story: https://consortiumnews.com/2018/04/16/it-started-over-lunch-and-ended-with-the-exposure-of-one-of-the-greatest-scandals-in-u-s-history/

Piracy: Ukraine holds Russian fishermen hostage, provokes naval conflict

From Fort Russ

April 5, 2018

By Eduard Popov, translated by Jafe Arnold –

Yesterday, April 4th, new details emerged on Ukrainian maritime border guards’ seizure of a fishing vessel from Crimea. The spokesperson of Ukraine’s State Border Service, Oleg Slobodyan, stated plainly in an interview:

“Ukraine will detain all vessels entering and leaving the ports of Crimea without Kiev’s consent.”

The grounds for such? Slobodyan explained: “Crimea is an illegally occupied part of Ukraine, therefore law enforcement will react immediately to any violations of entry and exit from the occupied territory.”

To recall, the fishing vessel “Nord”, whose registered port is that of Kerch in the Republic of Crimea, was detained on March 25th in the Sea of Azov. On board were 10 fishermen – all citizens of Russia – engaged in seine-fishing in neutral waters. The vessel was detained by Ukrainian naval border guards. Since the moment of the detention, the crew have been forbidden from communicating with the Russian Consul. The Ukrainian side has also obstructed the purchase of food, and the vessel’s reserves are coming to an end. The crew have claimed that the Ukrainians are literally trying to starve them, and there appears to be little hope that they will be freed from Ukrainian captivity.

Today, according to lawyer Alexander Rudenko, the captain of the ship, Vladimir Gorbenko, is in Kherson in an SBU Crimea unit. To clarify for readers: an absurd situation has taken shape in Ukraine in which regional authorities for the Republic of Crimea are still employed, despite Crimea’s reunification with Russia, and, in addition, a separate ministry for “occupied Crimea” has been established, whose officials are also paid. Of course, all these institutions operate on Ukrainian territory, and are a manifestation of the financial burden which Ukraine suffers as long as it refuses to accept reality.

But back to the story. “Nord” did not violate any Ukrainian or international maritime legislation, and was fishing in international waters. Let us draw attention to the fact that even long before the events of 2014, Ukrainian fisherman regularly poached in Russia’s territorial waters, but Russia never arrested or detained any Ukrainian violators.

This action by Ukrainian border guards is, in legal terms, piracy. However, Ukraine has chosen a very convenient time to attack, as Russia is afraid to take any drastic steps against Kiev and the West. Moreover, now that the West has faced the inconvenient news of the origin of the substance allegedly used to poison the Skripals, new pretexts would come in handy to accuse Russia of aggressive behavior. Any tough reaction by Russia to this seizure of a Russian vessel and barbaric imprisonment of Russian citizens would be instantly used by London and its allies for a new series of information and diplomatic attacks on Moscow.

What’s more, there are more than a few internal Ukrainian reasons for such a gross provocation against Russia. Ukraine always needs pretexts to continue to blame its eastern neighbor of aggression. The deployment of Russian troops to Ukrainian territory would, no matter what the pretext, be a gift to the Kiev regime. President Poroshenko and the Ukrainian General Staff, of course, do not expect Ukraine to defeat Russia in a real war, but any such related turn of events would help launch a full-scale political and diplomatic war against Russia and thereby provide the Poroshenko regime with a much-needed alibi in the West.

A military operation by Russia to liberate the captured fishermen would be the most desirable scenario for Kiev. It should also be remembered that in May, 2019, Ukraine is set to hold presidential elections (if they are not postponed or canceled). President Poroshenko’s approving rating, according to various opinion polls, does not exceed 6-8%. Therefore, he needs to increase his popularity, which cannot be done though improving the socio-economic situation for objective reasons as long as Ukraine’s economy continues to deteriorate. The only way for Poroshenko to stay in power is to, once again, intercept the anti-Russian card from Poroshenko’s Nazi competitors.

Russia has found itself in a difficult situation. The SBU is demanding that the fishermen renounce their Russian citizenship. Unable to take back Crimea, Ukrainian authorities are thus taking their frustration out on individual Russian citizens. In any case, the advantages are on the Ukrainian side.

However, Russia does have some levers of influence. In the summer of 2014, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers fleeing the fire of the LPR militia crossed into Russia. These UAF servicemen received medical care and food at Russia’s expense, after which they were graciously transferred, along with their weapons, back to Ukraine. They were not interned as violators of Russia’s state borders. I believe that this mercy shown by Russian authorities was a grave mistake based in a misunderstanding of the nature of the contemporary Ukrainian state, which harbors elements of a Nazi regime. No smaller of a mistake was the recognition of the so-called presidential elections in Ukraine in May 2014, which were held after the overthrow of the legitimate Ukrainian government and in conditions of outright violence against opposition. Perhaps Moscow will review some of the conceptual mistakes of its Ukraine policy. Maybe it could also take measures against Ukrainian oligarchs on Russian territory. President Poroshenko, as is well known, owns a confectionery factory in the Russian city of Lipetsk – which does not prevent him from signing laws against cooperation with the “occupier.” Ukrainian oligarchs’ property has also been left in place in Crimea. Striking at the wealth of Ukraine’s oligarchs would be a viable response to Ukraine’s reckless actions. 

Russian experts have offered various other recommendations, such as proposing that Russia withdraw from the Treaty on the Sea of Azov, which would force Ukrainian ships to be locked within a limited zone of the Sea of Azov. Yesterday it became known that Russia has decided to use warships of the Black See Fleet to prevent Ukrainian piracy in the future.

The fate of the fishermen taken hostage is likely to be decided through closed-door negotiations. I would venture to suggest that Ukraine will demand in exchange the release of those Ukrainian saboteurs who have been arrested in the Crimea, Rostov, and Volgograd regions for preparing terrorist attacks but who, in the rhetoric of Ukrainian authorities and Russian liberals (Sobchak, Sokurov, Kasparov, Navalny, etc.), are called “political prisoners.” If such an exchange takes place, this would be a victory for Ukraine, and a defeat for Russia. Unlike these Ukrainian saboteurs,the Nord fishermen did nothing illegal. If not stopped, Kiev will continue to take citizens of Russia hostage for further bargaining and blackmail. As I have said on more than one occasion, Ukraine is increasingly resembling a terrorist state. 

Eduard Popov is a Rostov State University graduate with a PhD in history and philosophy. In 2008, he founded the Center for Ukrainian Studies of the Southern Federal University of Russia, and from 2009-2013, he was the founding head of the Black Sea-Caspian Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, an analytical institute of the Presidential Administration of Russia. In June 2014, Popov headed the establishment of the Representative Office of the Donetsk People’s Republic in Rostov-on-Don and actively participated in humanitarian aid efforts in Donbass. In addition to being Fort Russ’ guest analyst since June, 2016, Popov is currently the leading research fellow of the Institute of the Russian Abroad and the founding director of the Europe Center for Public and Information Cooperation. 

https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/04/pirate-state-ukraine-holds-russian-fishermen-hostage-provokes-naval-conflict/

America and John Bolton threatened OPCW Director General – “We know where your kids are”

Global Research, April 08, 2018
TruePublica 7 April 2018
John Bolton

José Maurício Bustani is a Brazilian diplomat who was the first director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) until he was ousted after falling out with the US government in April 2002. He was Ambassador of Brazil to the United Kingdom between 2003 and 2008 and is currently Ambassador of Brazil to France.

It was the first time in history that the head of a major international organization was removed during his/her term of office. There is much controversy surrounding the reasons behind Bustani’s removal. Bustani had been negotiating with the Iraqi government, and was hoping to persuade them to sign up to the OPCW, thus granting OPCW inspectors full access to Iraq’s purported “chemical weapons arsenal”. If Bustani had succeeded, this would have placed a formidable obstacle in the path of the Bush administration’s war plans, by removing their ostensible motive. Bustani’s supporters insist this was the reason why the US forced him out.

Image result for José Maurício Bustani

In an extraordinary interview with RT today (7th April), Bustani (image on the right) tells of having his family threatened by none other than newly appointed U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton back when Bolton was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control just prior to the Iraq war that led to hundreds of thousands of casualties and the destabilisation of the region.

Bustani tells RT that he had made a proposal for Iraq to join the OPCW and it was only a shock to the Americans “because they had plans already to take military action against Iraq.”

Bustani continues:

“It was obvious that everything (chemical weapons) had been destroyed and that there was nothing left for Iraq to be accused of in terms of still possessing chemical weapons.”

Jose Bustani was then asked by the then Under Secretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton to resign. Bustani refused.

Bolton then came to the Hague to my office and he said you have to resign and I give you 24 hours. This is what we want

Bustani objected on the grounds that he was elected by all members states of the OPCW, not just the U.S.

Bustani alleges that Bolton physically threatened members of his family if he did not comply and immediately resign.

“If you don’t there will be consequences, there will be retaliation – we know where your kids are.”

Bustani confirmed that his two sons were in New York at the time and is clearly becoming uncomfortable recounting the story for this interview.

Bustani ends the interview with the words

“he is not a man you can have a dialogue with.”

https://www.globalresearch.ca/america-threatened-opcw-director-general-we-know-where-your-kids-are/5635204

Biological Warfare: U.S. dropped plague-infected fleas on North Korea in March 1952

From Medium
April 3, 2018

There is a great deal of misunderstanding between the people of the United States and North Korea. This is largely due to the lack of information the average U.S. citizen has about the suffering endured by Koreans during the Korean War, including war crimes committed by U.S. forces.

While U.S. forces carpet bombed North Korea, bombed irrigation dams, and threatened nuclear attack, their most controversial action was the use of bacteriological or biological weapons during the war.

For decades, the U.S. has strenuously denied the use of such weapons. At the same time, evidence of such use was kept from the American people. Even today, very few are aware of what really happened. Only in February 2018 was a full documentary report on germ warfare, prepared and written by mostly West European scientists, released online in easy-to-read format.

Some former Cold War researchers have maintained that China, the Soviet Union, and North Korea perpetuated a fraud in their claims of germ warfare. They rely on a dozen or so documents supposedly found by a rightwing Japanese journalist in Soviet archives. But these researchers never counted on the fact that someday the public could read documentary accounts of the biowar campaign for themselves.

The story that follows concerns one such episode, the dropping of plague-infected human fleas on a single small village. But we will see that the story itself is much larger, and includes a U.S. cover-up about Japan’s use of biological weapons in World War II, and testimony from a Marine Corps colonel about how the U.S. conceptualized its germ warfare campaign.

Excerpted from the 1952 “Report of the International Scientific Commission for the Investigation of the Facts Concerning Bacterial Warfare in Korea and China,” p. 287 (p. 325 of linked PDF)

The tale begins with an American plane flying circles over and over a small North Korean village one moonless night in Spring 1952.

Continue reading

Washington State: U.S. Navy proposes ongoing special operations warfare training at state parks, shorelines, and within cities; public comments due by March 23

From Save the Olympic Peninsula

We urgently need your help. The Navy is proposing special operations warfare training along 265 miles of Washington state shorelines and 65 state parks at launching sites, marinas, and within cities and towns.
Although the Navy has conducted SEAL training in the Northwest for the past 30 years, it intends to significantly expand operations well beyond what has been conducted in the past without providing a comprehensive environmental impact statement.
According to the Navy’s Draft Environmental Assessment, “The Proposed Action supports small-unit, intermediate and advanced cold-water maritime and land-based training activities for naval special operations personnel on selected nearshore lands and in the inland waters of Puget Sound, including Hood Canal, as well as the southwestern Washington coast. Training would start in 2018 and occur into the foreseeable future.”
The specific, long-term environmental consequences of innumerable military assault exercises to each of the public and private shoreline areas is not addressed in the Navy’s assessment.
The actual number of military personnel involved in the training exercises is also uncertain. The EA states 84 individuals will take part, but the number discussed during the Navy’s “open house” events was 504. An email from Washington State Governor Inslee’s office expressed concern about possibly more than 2,000. These trainees would be:
·       Inserting and extracting trainees
·       Launching and recovering watercraft
·       Using unmanned underwater vehicles
·       Moving on foot over the beach
·       Using observation techniques on military role players
·       Simulating building clearance
·       Firing paint pellets as simulated munitions
·       Using small unmanned aircraft systems
A March 2015 video of a presentation by the Special Operations Command to the Big Spring City Council in Bastrop, Texas, explains in detail the concept and procedures of conducting “realistic military training”.
Navy special operations soldiers with “simulated” weapons would attempt to hide from civilians for exercises lasting as long as three days at a time. Citizens using state parks, public beaches and marinas, and carrying out their daily lives in communities adjacent to marine areas would be considered “the enemy”, as the military’s object is to be able to pursue stealth activities without being observed. The possibility of inadvertent confrontations between the unsuspecting public and armed soldiers could create dangerous situations. As was mentioned in the Navy’s EA, “children could be startled”. [See Army’s Reality Game Takes a Deadly Turn, http://articles.latimes.com/2002/feb/27/news/mn-30109.]
 –
The Navy has not done a sufficient job of evaluating the potential degradation of our fragile shorelines ecosystem, the economic impacts of impeding the public’s use of state parks, and the irreparable damage to the public’s trust in the military.
Your comments, including a demand for a comprehensive environmental impact statement, should be sent to:
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest
Attention: Project Manager, EV21.AW
1101 Tautog Circle, Suite 203
Silverdale, WA 98315-1101
Via Email: nwnepa@navy.mil
Save The Olympic Peninsula works to ensure the best use of the land, the waters and the skies for generations to come. Find us at savetheolympicpeninsula.org.

Poroshenko urges ban on Russian flag worldwide

From Fort Russ

February 18, 2018 – FRN –
DNR News – by Inessa Sinchougova

[Translation correction by editor]
At the Munich Security Conference, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of trying to “destroy democracy” and stated that the Russian flag “should not be flown anywhere”.
Speaking at the 54th Conference, Poroshenko spoke out against holding a presidential election in the Crimea and restoring Russia’s powers in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. “The Nord Stream-2” is also “political expansion using energy” and it “has nothing to do with economic interests.”
“Neither politics nor business can exist separately from values. In today’s politics in Moscow there is no place for fair play. That’s why the Russian flag does not fly at the 2018 Winter Olympics.”  said Poroshenko.
The president of Ukraine also accused Russia of “unleashing a hybrid war, gradually turning into a world war.”
“The Russian flag should not be flying anywhere while Russia continues to incite a worldwide hybrid war, and Russian bullets are aimed at our symbols.” he concluded.