Sy Hersh Strikes Again: on Syria

Famed investigative Journalist dissects the chemical event in Syria’s Idlib Province on April 4 and Trump’s impulsive order to fire cruise missiles two days later – never mind that he was told the event was not caused by Syria dropping a chemical weapon.  Hersh writes about how Trump’s yes-sir generals supported “retaliation,” lest they anger the President and lose their jobs.  No profiles in courage here.


Danger:  It is left to the Russians to figure out which is worse: a President controlled by “his generals,” or a reckless President (Trump) who shoots first, and asks later for “his generals” and national security adviser to fill in behind with a concocted legend to “justify” the shooting.  With Russia threatening to target aircraft flying in Syria west of the Euphrates, Putin may also choose to shoot first, and ask later who ordered the aircraft into the air – the President, or “his generals.”  Hold onto your hat.

Ray will be writing tonight on Hersh’s typically well-sourced, groundbreaking article, for which he could not find an outlet in English. Even the London Review of Books turned him down this time.  They were happy to let Hersh keep the money, lest they be “vulnerable to criticism for seeming to take the view of the Syrian and Russia governments when it came to the April 4 bombing in Khan Sheikhoun,” according to Hersh.  For, as is well known, if the Russians and Syrians say it, it cannot be true!  And if you agree, you are a Russian puppet.  Quid est veritas?

Whether it was seeing the dead babies on social media, or an attempt – successful, it turned out – to boost his approval ratings and show he is not “in Putin’s pocket,” Trump did not wait.  VIPS sent did send him this memo on April 11 — and it turns out to have been among the first – perhaps the first – to get it right, as corroborated now by Hersh.  But there is little reason to believe VIPS memos actually reach Trump.  And, in this case, he clearly was not interested in anything that might have made him think twice, or even once, before — or even after — shooting.

Understanding Russia: the Continuum of History

An article that should be required summer reading:


Understanding Russia: the Continuum of History

By Yameen Khan (edited by Pepe Escobar)

Put Yameen Khan’s article on your reading list.  Too bad we cannot pry Mad Dog Mattis away from reading classical Greek poetry long enough to expose him to this highly readable short course in Russian history.  Mattis would be able to learn things like this: Homer wrote his epic poetry on the Trojan War 2,000 years before the Slavs in central Europe created, with the help of two priests from Macedonia, a written language able to record their own epic poetry and rich oral tradition; and that Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey were composed 2,500 years before there was anything resembling a united “Russia.”

This is one side of Russian history that is helpful to understand.  In other words, there was a pressing need to play catch-up ball vis-à-vis Russia’s European neighbors, who escaped more than two centuries of what the Russians call the Tatar Yoke – not to mention the repeated invasions from the West after the Russians finally beat back the Golden Horde.

Perhaps even more relevant, though, is the modern history of Russia, which has shown the Russians to be a brave, proud, talented people.  They have weathered the storms that the most recent millennium threw at them and have demonstrated how astonishingly good they are at playing catch-up.  Knowing something of this historical record, of the prism through which Russia looks at external dangers, and what happens when “exceptional” empires overreach might conceivably help the ignoramus political and military hacks and pundits of the U.S. Establishment.

Khan’s short article does a good job of showing how Kremlin leaders look at U.S. efforts to encircle and destabilize Russia, and how – if history is any guide – those efforts are doomed to fail.  What’s new, of course, is that this time cockroaches may be the only animal life left on this planet, if common sense does not prevail.

An Anniversary to Remember

Tomorrow (June 22) marks the 76th anniversary of Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union.  Think about it.  Does the following “shock and awe” description of the crossing of the Bug River that morning remind you of a similar attack 62 years later?  MSNBC’s Brian Williams would have waxed eloquent at the spectacle on the Bug – as he did two months ago as U.S. Tomahawk cruise missiles streaked toward Syria, and as his media colleagues did on March 20, 2003, as though they were watching celebratory fireworks over Iraq.

Khan quotes historian Paul Carell describing the moment when, at 3:15 AM on June 22nd 1941, the massive “Operation Barbarossa” over a 900-mile front got under way against Russia:


“As though a switch had been thrown, a gigantic flash of lightening rent the night. Guns of all calibers simultaneously belched fire. The tracks of tracer shells streaked across the sky. As far as the eye could see the front on the Bug was a sea of flames and flashes. … Beyond the Bug a sea of fire and smoke was raging. The narrow sickle of the moon was hidden by a veil of cloud. Peace was dead.”

The only notable omission from Yameen Khan’s short history is the fact that military and economic help from the United States did much to equip the Soviet forces – for which Stalin was outspokenly grateful.  That assistance helped eventually to overcome the German attacks, at horrendous cost, in battles like the five-month-plus showdown at Stalingrad (August 1942-February 1943).  In that battle, the Soviet army lost more than 1,100,000 killed; the Germans 750,000.

Their 6th Army destroyed, the Germans lost the initiative in the East and never quite recovered from having been driven back west by they believed were the “inferior” Slavs.  It was the turning point of WWII.  (Many Americans have been led to believe. on the contrary, that the turning point was the Normandy invasion 16 months later.)

In WWII, the Russians and the U.S. were allies against a great evil.  Together – and with the British and French – they prevailed.

You won’t necessarily know the following, if you depend on the New York Times for news, but President Vladimir Putin has tried to re-create that same kind of cooperative effort – this time against the widespread violence touched off by the illegal, misbegotten invasion of Iraq 14 years ago.  President Donald Trump’s expressed wish to work toward a rapprochement with Russia that would enable such cooperation has been thwarted so far by political forces determined to use an artificially demonized Putin to bring Trump down – or, at least, render him impotent.  (Surely, there are enough other reasons – far better anchored in fact – to impeach him.)

Tomorrow’s 76th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Russia would be a fitting occasion to bring to mind the victorious U.S.-Russian cooperation during WWII, and to recall also that there are still formidable common enemies to fight.  These include not only those who would destroy the Middle East, but also those who would re-introduce fascism into Ukraine, and the arms manufacturers and traders and bankers who profiteer from tension and war.

Ray on the latest from Syria

David Swanson asked Ray onto Talk Nation Radio Monday to discuss the latest escalation in Syria, with the U.S. shooting down a Syrian warplane Sunday and Russia quick to warn it will now target aircraft in Syrian airspace west of the Euphrates.  David and Ray also focused on the Russia-is-the-root-of-all-evil hysteria, the manufactured “evidence” confirming Russian perfidy, and the main reasons why so many otherwise sensible people keep drinking the Kool-Aid.  

June 18, 2017 (29 minutes)


Ray points to exceptionally good evidence – suppressed by the New York Times and co-conspirators – showing who it actually was that performed the famous hack-with-telltale-signs into the computers of the Democratic National Committee last year.  (Hint: you don’t have to be a Russian to slip in telltale signs like Cyrillic.)


Ray also explains what he believes accounts for former FBI Director James Comey’s malfeasance in telling his “folks” not to bother obtaining physical access to the DNC computers.  Why did he instruct his folks to use the forensics from a dubious commercial firm rather than have them seize the computers and do a proper independent investigation themselves?


Tune in.

Bill Binney, Coleen Rowley and Ray discuss Assange and Wikileaks

Three “formers” — Bill Binney (NSA), Coleen Rowley (FBI), and Ray (CIA) spent an hour on Brian Becker’s Loud and Clearlive radio program on June 19.  It was the 5th anniversary of the day Julian Assange ducked into the Ecuadorian embassy in London to escape attempts by “distinguished” benders-of-the-law to imprison him for some 35 years for spreading some truth around about things like war crimes.


To its credit, little Ecuador gave him a safe place to live – and work.  The UN has ruled twice that holding Assange amounts to “arbitrary detention.”  But even if it crossed the mind of UK Prime Minister Theresa May that she may not required to ape Tony Blair in keeping the UK in international-law pariah status, and even if she may wish to give Assange safe passage out of the Ecuadorian embassy, May may be simply unable to summon the courage to ask President Trump “May I?”


It is entirely conceivable that a Corbyn government, in contrast, may pay less homage to Washington and more to the UN and international law.  That government may come sooner than anyone may think.


The radio discussion focused less on Assange than on the many abuses WikiLeaks has successfully exposed to what Dr. King described as “the natural medicines of air and light … the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion” from which Justice comes.

Making News/Faking News: Mainstream News Manipulation

How disinformation corrupts democracy


On June 15, 2017, All Souls Church on Lexington and 80th and the Big Apple Coffee Party co-sponsored talks by Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media, Culture & Communication at NYU, and Ray.  Each spoke for 17 minutes.  A lively Q & A followed, moderated nimbly by Margaret Kimberley of the Black Agenda Report.


Ray from start to minute 17:15

Mark Crispin Miller from 17:15 to 35:05

Q and A to end (minute 58:00)

Will Trump Face Obstruction of Justice Charge?

Brian Becker of “Loud and Clear” asked Jim Kavanagh* ( and Ray to place some context around the dump-Trump campaign now gathering steam – accusing him of obstruction of justice.
June 15, 2017 (17 minutes – you can begin at minute 1:07)

Obstruction of justice seems to have edged out “collusion” with the Russians, as the preferred path among leaders of a new GWOT campaign, at least for the nonce.  It almost seems as though the leaders of this campaign decided to dust off the earlier-used-but-then-unceremoniously-discarded acronym for the “Global War on Terror,” and morph it into a slogan for their effort to “Get Wid of Trump.”

Mirable dictu, the obstruction charge dominated the Sunday talk shows yesterday and got page-one treatment in the NY Times and Washington Post this morning.  (In contrast, if you’re interested in less important things – like war with Russia – you must turn the pages to A10 in the Times and A9 in the Post to read about a challenge to Russia that matters, the U.S. shoot-down yesterday of a Syrian warplane in Syria.)

Brian Becker led off with the obstruction story, providing an easy lead into what the ins and outs of the issue and the key dramatis personae – former FBI Director James Comey and his old pal and mentor, former FBI Director Robert Mueller – special prosecutor investigating matters in which Comey credibility and future is at stake, since he played a major role in them.  Yes, you read that right.

Since this issue is key – and, thank goodness, susceptible of a common-sense, non-lawyerly approach – Ray rang some changes on that theme during the interview with Becker and Kavanagh, and then again later that day during a panel discussion on Making News/Faking News, sharing speaking chores with Professor Mark Crispin Miller, at an event co-sponsored by All Souls Church, and the Big Apple Coffee Party.  (See next posting.)


The following day, Ray found the thrust of his remarks mirrored – and better said – by Byron York of the Washington Examiner, who reports the opinion of a “Hill lawyer”:

It’s somewhat ironic, no? I mean, the whole purpose of the special counsel is to have a prosecutor from outside the government and outside of the normal chain of command because inherent conflicts render the Justice Department incapable of handling it. So, now the special counsel is a close friend (mentor/mentee relationship) with the star witness, who by his own admission leaked the memos at least in part to engineer the appointment of a special counsel. Only in Washington. You can’t make this stuff up.

Former FBI Special Agent and Division Counsel Coleen Rowley has observed both Muller and Comey up-close-and personal.  She enjoyed relatively free access to the pages of the New York Times until a couple of weeks ago, when she sent the op-ed editors a draft to which they never replied.  The essence of it can be found at:  With respect to conflicts of interest, Rowley also notes that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – like Comey – previously worked for Mueller and that the two are close – posing yet another possible conflict.

When James Comey was nominated to be head of the FBI, the Times did oblige Rowley by publishing an op-ed with specific suggestions as to what questions the Senators should ask him.  That, too, if worth a re-read:

Staying Downtown: Thanks to Catholic Worker hospitality in the Bowery, Ray was again staying in the Bowery – this time in the room where Dorothy Day’s lived and worked.  On Thursday he did the interview by phone from there – thinking all the while about how she identified “the filthy rotten system” as the main problem.  A gutsy woman, Dorothy; I do think her spirit gave me a nudge or two.


Such people are often pushed to the margins during their lives, and then named saints once they can no longer cause trouble. When folks would call Dorothy a “saint,” she would reply forcefully, “Do not dismiss me so easily.”  No matter.  The Catholic hierarchy in New York and their friends in the Vatican are hell-bent, so to speak, to canonize her.


*(Jim Kavanagh also is a Fordham graduate; his father taught at Fordham Law School at the same time as Ray’s.)

The “soft coup” under way in Washington

Yesterday, David Stockman posted a brief précis of the “soft coup” under way in Washington – which is as much a function of Trump Gang ineptness as it is of the implacable opposition of those – right and left – who are determined to get rid of the President.  (The text is also included below.)


The Little Putsch That Could … Beget a Great Big Coup

By David Stockman, June 16, 2017


Bull’s eye!

“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice … You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people!”

The Donald has never spoken truer words but also has never sunken lower into abject victimhood. Indeed, what is he waiting for­– handcuffs and a perp walk?

Just to be clear, “he” doesn’t need to be the passive object of a “WITCH HUNT” by “they”.

If Donald Trump had any kind of presidential strategy and propensity to take command, he would have had all the intercepts of Russian chatter gathered up weeks ago. He would then have had them declassified and made public, even as he launched a criminal prosecution against Obama’s hit squad­-John Brennan,

Susan Rice and Valerie Jarrett for illegally unmasking and leaking classified information.

Such a course of action would have crushed the Russian interference hysteria in the bud.

At bottom, the latter was a rearguard invention of the Deep State and Democratic partisans. They became literally shocked and desperate for a scapegoat early last fall by the prospect that the unthinkable was happening.

Namely, the election by the unwashed masses of an outsider and insurrectionist who could not be counted upon to serve as a “trusty” for the status quo; and whose naïve but correct instinct to seek a rapprochement with Russia was a mortal threat to the very modus operandi of the Imperial City.

Moreover, from the very beginning, the Russian interference narrative was rooted in nothing more than standard cyber noise from Moscow that pales compared to what comes out of Langley (CIA) and Ft. Meade (NSA). And we do mean irrelevant noise.

After all, it didn’t take a Kremlinologist from the old Soviet days to figure out that Putin did not favor Clinton, who had likened him to Hitler. And that he welcomed Trump, who had correctly said NATO was obsolete, that he didn’t want to give lethal aid to the Ukrainians, and had expressed a desire to make a deal with Putin on Syria and numerous other areas of unnecessary confrontation.

So let’s start with two obvious points. Namely, that there is no “there, there” and that the president not only has the power to declassify secret documents at will but in this instance could do so without compromising intelligence community (IC) “sources and methods” in the slightest.

The latter is the case because after Snowden’s revelations in June 2013, the whole world was put on notice and most especially Washington’s adversaries­–that it collects in raw form every single electronic digit that passes through the worldwide web and related communications grids. It boils down to universal and omniscient SIGINT (signals intelligence), and acknowledgment of that fact by publishing the Russia-Trump intercepts would provide new knowledge to exactly no one.

Nor would it jeopardize the lives of any American spy or agent (HUMINT); it would just document the unconstitutional interference in the election process that had been committed by the US intelligence agencies and political operatives in the Obama White House.

Yes, we can hear the boxes on the CNN screen harrumphing and spinning noisily that declassifying the “evidence” would amount to obstruction of justice! That is to say, since Trump’s “crime” is axiomatic (i.e. his occupancy of the Oval Office), anything that gets in the way of his conviction and removal therefrom amounts to “obstruction”.

Given that he is up against a Deep State/Dem/Neocon/ mainstream media prosecution, the Donald has no chance of survival short of an aggressive offensive of the type described above.

But that’s not happening because the man is clueless about what he is doing in the White House and is being advised by a cacophonous coterie of amateurs and nincompoops. So he has no action plan except to impulsively reach for his Twitter account.

That became more than evident­-and more than pathetic, too­-when earlier this morning he tweeted out an attack on his own Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. At least Nixon fired Elliot Richardson (his Attorney General) and Bill Ruckelshaus (Deputy AG):

“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt”

So alone with his Twitter account, clueless advisors and pulsating rage, the Donald is instead laying the groundwork for his own demise. Were this not the White House, it would normally be the point at which they send in the men in white coats with a straight jacket.

Indeed, that’s essentially what Donald’s ostensible GOP allies on the Hill are actually doing. RussiaGate is self-evidently a witch-hunt like few others in American political history. Yet as the mainstream cameras and microphones were thrust at one Congressional Republican after another yesterday afternoon following Donald’s outburst quoted above, there was nary an echo of the agreement.

Even Senator John Thune, an ostensible Swamp-hating conservative, had nothing but praise for Special Counsel Robert Mueller while affecting an earnest confidence that he would fairly and thoroughly get to the bottom of the matter.

No he won’t!

Mueller is a card-carrying apparatchik of the Deep State, who was there at the founding of today’s surveillance monster as Director of the FBI in the aftermath of 9/11. Since the whole $75 billion apparatus that eventually emerged was based on a vastly exaggerated threat of global Islamic terrorism that doesn’t exist, Russia had to be demonized into order to keep the game going­-a transition that Mueller fully subscribed to.

So he will “find” extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election and bring the hammer down on the Donald for seeking to prevent it from coming to light. The clock is now ticking and his investigatory team is being loaded up with prosecutorial killers who have proven records of thuggery when it comes to finding crimes that make for the fame and fortune of the prosecutors­-even if the crime itself never happened.

To wit, Mueller’s #1 hire was the despicable Andrew Weissmann. The latter had led the fraud section of the department’s Criminal Division, served as general counsel to the F.B.I. when Mueller was its director, and, more importantly, was the driving force behind the Enron task force the most egregious exercise in prosecutorial abuse and thuggery since the Palmer raids of 1919.

Meanwhile, as we said the other day, the GOP elders especially could also not be clearer about what is coming down the pike.

They are not defending Trump with even a modicum of the vigor and resolve that we recall from the early days of Tricky Dick’s ordeal, and, of course, he didn’t survive anyway.  Instead, it’s as if Ryan, McConnell, et al. have offered to hold his coat, while the Donald pummels himself with a 140-character Twitter Knife that is visible to the entire world.

So there should be no doubt. A Great Big Coup is on the way. But here’s the irony of the matter.

Exactly four years ago in June 2013, no one was seriously demonizing Putin or Russia. In fact, the slicksters of CNN were still snickering about Mitt Romney’s silly claim during the 2012 election campaign that Russia was the greatest security threat facing America.

But then came the Syrian jihadist false flag chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013 and the US intelligence community’s flagrant lie that it had proof the villain was Bashar Assad.

To the contrary, it subsequently became evident that the primitive rockets that had carried the deadly sarin gas, which killed upwards of 1500 innocent civilians, could not have been fired from regime-held territory; the rockets examined by UN investigators had a range of only a few kilometers, not the 15-20 kilometers from the nearest Syrian base.

In any event, President Obama choose to ignore his own red line and called off the bombers. That, in turn, paved the way for Vladimir Putin to step into the breach and persuade Assad to give up all of his chemical weapons commitment he fully complied with over the course of the next year.

Needless to say, in the eyes of the neocon War Party, this constructive act of international statesmanship by Putin was the unforgivable sin. It thwarted the next target on their regime change agenda­-removal of the Assad government in Syria as a step toward an ultimate attack on its ally, the Shiite regime of Iran.

So it did not take long for the Deep State to retaliate. While Putin was basking in the glory of the 2014 winter Olympics at Sochi, the entire apparatus of Imperial Washington­–the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy, the State Department and a long string of Washington funded NGOs­-was on the ground in Kiev midwifing the putsch that overthrew Ukraine’s constitutionally elected President and Russian ally.

From there, the Ukrainian civil war and partition of Crimea inexorably followed, as did the escalating campaign against Russia and its leader.

Indeed, given the Stalin-era animosity between the Russian-speaking Donbas and Crimean regions of the confected state of Ukraine and the virulent anti-Russian populations elsewhere­ – including descendants of the Nazi collaborators with Hitler during WWII­ – there could have been no other outcome. And that was especially the case after Washington designated “Yats”, a neo-Nazi sympathizer named Arseniy Yatseniuk, as the guy to takeover the Ukrainian government at the time of the Kiev uprising.

So as it turned out, the War Party could not have planned a more fortuitous outcome­ – especially after Russia moved to protect its legitimate interests in its own backyard resulting from the Washington-instigated civil war in Ukraine, including protecting its 200-year old Naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea. The War Party simply characterized these actions falsely as acts of aggression by a potential sacker of the peace and territorial integrity of its European neighbors.

There is nothing like a demonized enemy to keep the $700 billion national security budget flowing and the hideous Warfare State opulence of the Imperial City intact. So why not throw in an allegedly “stolen” US election to garnish the case?

In a word, the Little Putsch in Kiev is now begetting a Great Big Coup in the Imperial City.

This is a history-shattering development, but don’t tell the boys and girls and robo-machines on Wall Street.

Pathetically, they still think its game on.