Brennan told everyone — and even the not-so-usually-gullible strove mightily to believe him — that the CIA had a very sensitive source with direct access to Russian President Vladimir Putin. And that is why the rump intelligence agency group of CIA, FBI, and NSA were able to “assess” that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”
It’s all about Israel. The current danger is that Trump will countenance a skirmish with Iran, in order to help Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu do well enough in the Sept. 17 election to retain power and — not incidentally — stay out of jail.
This unique article published exactly six years ago, goes a long way toward explaining the stakes involved:
Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria By JODI RUDOREN Published: September 5, 2013; printed as lede September 6, 2013
JERUSALEM — President Obama’s position on Syria — punish President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons without seeking to force him from power — has been called “half-pregnant” by critics at home and abroad who prefer a more decisive American intervention to end Syria’s civil war.
But Mr. Obama’s limited strike proposal has one crucial foreign ally: Israel.
Israeli officials have consistently made the case that enforcing Mr. Obama’s narrow “red line” on Syria is essential to halting the nuclear ambitions of Israel’s archenemy, Iran. More quietly, Israelis have increasingly argued that the best outcome for Syria’s two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, at least for the moment, is no outcome.
For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.
“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”
The synergy between the Israeli and American positions, while not explicitly articulated by the leaders of either country, could be a critical source of support as Mr. Obama seeks Congressional approval for surgical strikes in Syria. Some Republicans have pushed him to intervene more assertively to tip the balance in the Syrian conflict, while other politicians from both parties are loath to involve the United States in another Middle Eastern conflict on any terms.
But Israel’s national security concerns have broad, bipartisan support in Washington, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington, weighed in Tuesday in support of Mr. Obama’s approach. The group’s statement said nothing, however, about the preferred outcome of the civil war, instead saying that America must “send a forceful message” to Iran and Hezbollah and “take a firm stand that the world’s most dangerous regimes cannot obtain and use the most dangerous weapons.”
After years of upheaval in the Middle East and tension between Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the two leaders are now largely in sync on how to handle not just Syria, but also Egypt. Mr. Obama has not withheld American aid to Egypt after the military-backed ouster of the elected Islamist government, while Israel strongly backs the Egyptian military as a source of stability.
On Syria, in fact, Israel pioneered the kind of limited strike Mr. Obama is now proposing: four times this year, it has bombed convoys of advanced weapons it suspected were being transferred to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia that Israel considers a major threat.
It has otherwise been content to watch the current stalemate in Syria pull in what it considers a range of enemies: not only the Syrian Army and Iran, but also Hezbollah, which has thousands of fighters engaged on the battlefronts in Syria, and Sunni Islamists aligned against them.
Though Syria and Israel have technically been at war for more than 40 years, the conflict in Syria is now viewed mainly through the prism of Iran. A prolonged conflict is perceived as hurting Iran, which finances Mr. Assad’s war effort. Whether Mr. Obama follows through on his promise to retaliate for the use of chemical weapons is a test of his commitment, ultimately, to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb — as long as the retaliation does not become a full-scale intervention in Syria.
“If it’s Iran-first policy, then any diversion to Syria is not fruitful,” said Aluf Benn, editor of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “From the Israeli point of view, the worst scenario is mission-creep in Syria and America gets entangled in a third war in the Middle East, which paralyzes its ability to strike Iran and limits Israel’s ability to strike Iran as well.”
This spring, when an Israeli official called for an international response to what he said were earlier Syrian chemical attacks, he was muzzled and reprimanded for appearing to pressure the White House. Now, said Eyal Zisser, a historian at Tel Aviv University who specializes in the region, “it’s clear that Israel does not want to appear as somebody that is pushing the United States for a deep involvement.”
There are significant differences between Israel and the United States on Syria. There was widespread criticism here of Mr. Obama’s decision to delay responding to the chemical attack, with the quote “When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk” from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” becoming a common refrain. One Israeli dentist even took out a large newspaper ad promoting his implant services with a picture of Mr. Obama captioned, “He doesn’t have teeth?”
There has also been a broader debate about how best to respond to the war in Syria.
When the uprising began, many here saw Mr. Assad, who like his predecessor and father had maintained quiet on the border, as “the devil you know,” and therefore preferable to the rebels, some of whom were aligned with Al Qaeda or Sunni militants like the Palestinian Hamas faction.
As the death toll has mounted, more Israelis joined a camp led by Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, who argues that the devil you know is, actually, a devil who should be ousted sooner rather than later.
That split remains. But as hopes have dimmed for the emergence of a moderate, secular rebel force that might forge democratic change and even constructive dialogue with Israel, a third approach has gained traction: Let the bad guys burn themselves out.
“The perpetuation of the conflict is absolutely serving Israel’s interest,” said Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group.
Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, was one of several experts who said this view differs from the callous “let them all kill each other” shrug popular here during the long-running Iran-Iraq war. Rather, Ms. Wittes said, the reasoning behind a strike that would not significantly change the Syrian landscape is that the West needs more time to prop up opposition forces it finds more palatable and prepare them for future governing.
She cited dangers for Israel if the conflict continues to drag on, including more efforts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, instability in Lebanon and pressure on Jordan.
Despite those threats, Matthew Levitt, who studies the region at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Jerusalem and Washington essentially agree that “right now, there’s no good way for this war to end.”
Israeli leaders “want Assad to be punished; they’d like it to be punishing enough that it actually makes a difference in the war but not so much that it completely takes him out,” Mr. Levitt said. “The Israelis do not think the status quo is tenable either, but they think the status quo right now is better than the war ending tomorrow, because the war ending tomorrow could be much worse. There’s got to be a tomorrow, day-after plan.”
[Emphasis in bold added.]
END of Rudoren article
There is much more to this story, a pivotal juncture in Obama’s tenure when he refused to let himself be mousetrapped into open war in Syria, despite how cleverly the trap had been laid. Years later, he admitted this himself. Here’s most of “the rest of the story.”
… at the end of which is an embedded link to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnITcUQiK1Y , Ray McGovern on Israel and the Middle East, a 30-minute interview that has drawn more than 150,000 views. At minute 26:01, Ray recounts his (alas, very last) interview in the august precincts of CNN, Washington. He could not resist the temptation to confront Paul Wolfowitz and Joe Lieberman as they bemoaned Obama’s “chickening-out” on Syria.
Excerpt: “Israel has also confirmed that, during Syria’s civil war, it conducted hundreds of strikes against pro-Iranian militias and ammunition depots to prevent the transfer of missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
It has been six years since then NY Times Bureau Chief in Jerusalem, Jodi Rudoren, had a strikingly candid lede article on page 1 of the Times (on September 6, 2013), quoting senior Israeli officials admitting that their “preferred outcome” in the armed hostilities in Syria was “no outcome.” Among other advantages Israel saw in encouraging more open U.S. military involvement in Syria, was the fact that, with chaos in Syria, Israel was more easily able to disrupt the supply of arms to Hezbollah.
The die is being cast — slowly but surely — with some of the reaction/commentary a bit surprising, given the relative success Comey enjoyed earlier in his charm offensive.
Will the corporate media rise to the occasion this time? The incriminating data is out there and can be used, assuming cohones on the part of Attorney General William Barr and the President. Most important: On deck and soon at bat are the perps of the FISA felony: Comey and McCabe from the FBI; Rosenstein, Yates, and Boente from DOJ. Not to mention former CIA Director John Brennan.
The evidence abounds. In a truly Justice system, they would be put on trial. But don’t bet on it. The odds remain formidable, and the problem of the Deep State hardly new.
Here’s Woodrow Wilson a century ago:
“Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.”
And yet, the Wall Street Journal and The Hill seem to be managing, so far at least, to “speak above their breath” — at least over the Labor Day weekend. We need to watch carefully for any change in their take or tone, once the muckety mucks get back form The Hamptons.
Ursula Wolfe-Rocca has taught high school social studies since 2000. She is on the editorial board of Rethinking Schools and was the Zinn Education Project Organizer/Curriculum Writer for the 2018-2019 school year. (Originally published on March 1, 2016 by The Zinn Education Project)
[Suppressing the History of FBI violations of the Constitution Can Facilitate What Edward Snowden called “Turnkey Tyranny,” and It’s Almost Too Late (Ray’s adds a few comments after the following text of Wolfe-Rocca’s excellent article.)]
Why We Should Teach About the FBI’s War on the Civil Rights Movement
This month marks the 45th anniversary of a dramatic moment in U.S. history. On March 8, 1971—while Muhammad Ali was fighting Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden, and as millions sat glued to their TVs watching the bout unfold—a group of peace activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and stole every document they could find.
Keith Forsyth, one of the people who broke in, explained on Democracy Now!: I was spending as much time as I could with organizing against the war, but I had become very frustrated with legal protest. The war was escalating and not de-escalating. And I think what really pushed me over the edge was, shortly after the invasion of Cambodia, there were four students killed at Kent State and two more killed at Jackson State. And that really pushed me over the edge, that it was time to do more than just protest.
Delivered to the press, these documents revealed an FBI conspiracy—known as COINTELPRO—to disrupt and destroy a wide range of protest groups, including the Black freedom movement. The break-in, and the government treachery it revealed, is a chapter of our not-so-distant past that all high school students—and all the rest of us—should learn, yet one that history textbooks continue to ignore.
In recent years, current events discussions in my high school history and government classes have been dominated by names that have piled up with sickening frequency: Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland. In looking at the Black Lives Matter movement as a response to these injustices, my class came across a 2015 Oregonian article, “Black Lives Matter: Oregon Justice Department Searched Social Media Hashtags.” The article detailed the department’s digital surveillance of people solely on the basis of their use of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.
My students debated whether tying #BlackLivesMatter to potential threats to police (the premise of the surveillance program) was justifiable. Most thought it was not. But what the Oregonian did not note in the article, and what my students had no way of knowing, was the history of this story—the ugly, often illegal, treatment of Black activists by the U.S. justice system during the COINTELPRO era.
My students had little way of knowing about this story behind the story because mainstream textbooks almost entirely ignore COINTELPRO. Though COINTELPRO offers teachers a trove of opportunities to illustrate key concepts, including the rule of law, civil liberties, social protest, and due process, it is completely absent from my school’s government book, Magruder’s American Government (Pearson).
For U.S. history teachers investigating Black activism of the 1950s and 1960s, one district textbook is American Odyssey (McGraw Hill). In a section titled “The Movement Appraised,” the book sums up the end of the Civil Rights Movement: Without strong leadership in the years following King’s death, the civil rights movement floundered. Middle-class Americans, both African American and white, tired of the violence and the struggle. The war in Vietnam and crime in the streets at home became the new issue at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness.
Here we find a slew of problematic assertions about the era, plus a notable absence. Nowhere does American Odyssey indicate that, in addition to King’s death and Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement also had to contend with a declaration of war made against it by its own government.
American Odyssey is not alone in its omission. American Journey (Pearson), another textbook used in my school, similarly makes no mention of the program.
The only textbook in my district to mention COINTELPRO is America: A Concise History (St. Martin’s), a college-level, Advanced Placement history text. Limited to a single sentence, its summary and analysis is wholly incomplete: “In the late 1960s SDS and other antiwar groups fell victim to police harassment, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and CIA agents infiltrated and disrupted radical organizations.”
Why do textbook writers and publishers leave out this crucial episode in U.S. history? Perhaps they take their cues from the FBI itself. According to the FBI website:
The FBI began COINTELPRO—short for Counterintelligence Program—in 1956 to disrupt the activities of the Communist Party of the United States. In the 1960s, it was expanded to include a number of other domestic groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Socialist Workers Party, and the Black Panther Party. All COINTELPRO operations were ended in 1971. Although limited in scope (about two-tenths of 1 percent of the FBI’s workload over a 15-year period), COINTELPRO was later rightfully criticized by Congress and the American people for abridging First Amendment rights and for other reasons.
Apparently, mainstream textbooks have accepted—hook, line, and sinker—the FBI’s whitewash of COINTELPRO as “limited in scope” and applying to only a few organizations. But COINTELPRO was neither “limited in scope” nor applied only to the organizations listed in the FBI’s description.
Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover describes the goal of one arm of COINTELPRO—against the Black liberation movement—in a now-declassified 1967 document:
The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist, hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder.
The plan to “neutralize” Black activists included legal harassment, intimidation, wiretapping, infiltration, smear campaigns, and blackmail, and resulted in countless prison sentences and, in the case of Black Panther Fred Hampton *** and others, murder. This scope of operations can hardly be described as “limited.” Moreover, these tactics were employed not just against every national civil rights organization, but also against the antiwar movement (particularly on college campuses), Students for a Democratic Society, the American Indian Movement, the Puerto Rican Young Lords, and others.
One way to appreciate the wide net cast by COINTELPRO is to look at the final report of the Church Committee. In the early 1970s, following a number of allegations in the press about over-reaching government intelligence operations, a Senate committee chaired by Democrat Frank Church of Idaho began an investigation of U.S. intelligence agencies. Their 1976 report states: “The unexpressed major premise of much of COINTELPRO is that the Bureau [FBI] has a role in maintaining the existing social order, and that its efforts should be aimed toward combating those who threaten that order.”
In other words, anyone who challenged the status quo of racism, militarism, and capitalism in American society was fair game for surveillance and harassment. Rather than “limited,” the FBI’s scope potentially included all social and political activists, an alarming and outrageous revelation in a country purportedly governed by the protections of speech and assembly in the First Amendment.
Luckily, we do not need to rely on corporate textbook publishers and the FBI for our resources and curriculum. Thanks to the Media burglars ******, and their suitcases full of stolen documents, we now have access to memos from this FBI program of destruction. In my curriculum, I have pulled together documents from the FBI’s website and from the book The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States, edited by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall.
These documents reveal the FBI’s attempts to infiltrate and disrupt the Black Panthers, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Congress of Racial Equality, and others; they reveal an attempt to blackmail Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. using illegally acquired recordings of purported marital infidelities, and a suggestion that he commit suicide. They reveal campaigns of misinformation, where FBI agents planted lies in newspaper and magazine coverage of activists.
I also use the fabulous episode “A Nation of Law?” from the documentary Eyes on the Prize, which details COINTELPRO’s 1969 murder of Fred Hampton in Chicago. Hampton—a leader of Chicago’s Black Panther Party—was a young and inspiring advocate of Black liberation attempting to build a “rainbow coalition” of groups across racial lines. After months of official harassment, he was shot and killed during an FBI-sponsored police raid on his home as he slept in his bed. He was 21 years old.
Together, these resources provide students an opportunity to understand the government-sponsored war against Black activists. And though the COINTELPRO documents have long been public, it is a story that history textbooks continue to ignore, leaving students to swallow the false assertion of books like American Odyssey that the movement simply “floundered” after King’s death.
Textbook publishers’ disregard for the history of COINTELPRO is one more example of the crucial importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, a movement that lays bare the systemic dangers faced by Black people in America while simultaneously affirming and celebrating Black life. What I attempt in my classroom is a Black Lives Matter treatment of COINTELPRO, where we reveal the injustice of the program while affirming and celebrating the promise of the activists it sought to silence.
Just as Black Lives Matter activists use video footage to convince a wider public of what African Americans have long known about police brutality, teachers can use our classrooms to shine a light on history that has long been available, but systematically ignored, by our textbooks. We need a curriculum that emphatically communicates: Black history matters.
*** Fred Hampton: Please mark December 4, 2019 on your calendar — the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Fred Hampton. Civil rights attorney Jeffrey Haas, a friend of Ray’s, “has written the book” on this: The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther.
Haas knows; he was there at the outset, and doggedly pursued the case. Here is a short blurb: It’s around 7:00 a.m. on December 4, 1969, and attorney Jeff Haas is in a police lockup in Chicago, interviewing Fred Hampton’s fiancée. She is describing how the police pulled her from the room as Fred lay unconscious on their bed. She heard one officer say, “He’s still alive.” She then heard two shots. A second officer said, “He’s good and dead now.” She looks at Jeff and asks, “What can you do?” The Assassination of Fred Hampton is Haas’s personal account of how he and People’s Law Office partner Flint Taylor pursued Hampton’s assassins, ultimately prevailing over unlimited government resources and FBI conspiracy.
Order Jeff’s book for your local high school library. And here are two documentary films you might also recommend:
****** Media burglars: An exceptionally powerful resource is a film named “1971” by Johanna Hamilton, which is available via Netflix and in other outlets. Here’s one review:“An extraordinary film about one of the most important acts of civil disobedience in modern American history. “1971” offers much-needed historical context for understanding the urgent issues of surveillance and dissent in the United States.” – Professor Beverly Gage, Historian at Yale University
What follows is a short description of what the “Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI” succeeded in doing 48 years ago. On March 8, 1971 eight ordinary citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, a town just outside Philadelphia, took hundreds of secret files, and shared them with the public. In doing so, they uncovered the FBI’s vast and illegal regime of spying and intimidation of Americans exercising their First Amendment rights.
On the night of the “Fight of the Century” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, the activists, calling themselves the “Citizens’ Commission” to Investigate the FBI, picked the lock on the door to the small FBI field office. They took every file in the office, loaded them into suitcases, and walked out the front door.
Mailed anonymously, the documents started to show up in newsrooms. The heist yielded a trove of damning evidence that proved the FBI was deliberately working to intimidate civil rights activists and Americans nonviolently protesting the Vietnam War. The most significant revelation was an illegal program overseen by lifelong FBI director J. Edgar Hoover known as COINTELPRO – the Counter Intelligence Program.
Despite searching for the people behind the heist in one of the largest investigations ever conducted, the FBI never solved the mystery of the break-in, and the identities of the members of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI remained a secret. … until a few years ago.
Footnote: If you’re game for still more after watching “1971,” you may wish to view another edifying, encouraging film in the same genre: “The Camden 28.” This one is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcdWk74LQdw . It runs for 1 hour and 23 minutes.
“The Camden 28” is a 2007 documentary film about 28 members, mostly from the “Catholic Left” who were arrested on August 22, 1971 for attempting to break into a draft board in Camden, New Jersey. Because the Camden 28 were nonviolent and were altruistically motivated, they provided a much greater threat to the FBI and U.S. government: the growing religious opposition to the Vietnam war could not be written off easily as extremist, so they had to be brought down. But weren’t; there is quite a surprise ending.
“The Camden 28” was written, directed, and produced by Anthony Giacchino. In 2007, it was aired as part of PBS’s Point of View series. Critics gave the film high praise. It received an 88% “Fresh” rating on “Rotten Tomatoes” and a Writers Guild Award nomination for Best Documentary Screenplay.
Please raise your hand if you ever heard of the film. :-((
Keep your hand up if you think you know why.
Apparently, it only takes about four decades for a secret agency like the FBI to “rehabilitate” itself. And the process is greatly facilitated by the seemingly deliberate amnesia characteristic of the “liberal” media these days. Here, for example, is Eugene Robinson a regular columnist and an Associate Editor of the Washington Post and so-called “liberal political analyst” on MSNBC, gushing over the FBI in defending it from charges it committed crimes in the Russia-gate-now-become-deep-state-gate epic.
The title itself speaks volumes: “Trump has picked a fight with the FBI. He’ll be sorry.” Robinson begins: “Presidents don’t win fights with the FBI. Donald Trump apparently wants to learn this lesson the hard way. “Most presidents have had the sense not to bully the FBI by defaming its leaders … Most members of Congress have also understood how unwise it would be to pull such stunts. But Trump and his hapless henchmen on Capitol Hill, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), have chosen the wrong enemy. History strongly suggests they will be sorry. … The idea that the likes of Trump and Nunes are going to put a scratch on the FBI”! https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/messing-with-the-fbi-trump-doesnt-know-history/2018/02/01/53f94f62-0788-11e8-94e8-e8b8600ade23_story.html
Why All This?
Because we are indeed close to what Edward Snowden called “turnkey tyranny” and, as was the case 85 years ago in Germany, “liberal” commentators like Eugene Robinson are helping turn the key. The charitable explanation now, as then, is naiveté. I strain to be that charitable.
And now, with former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe joining fellow perjuror, the ineffable former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, on CNN the media/deep-state consortium, so to speak, are hell bent on lending a hand toward proving that Trump would be foolish to “pick a fight with the FBI.”
The denouement may come as early as this fall. And the outcome will go a long way toward showing who is actually running this country. In polite society, one is not supposed to utter the word “fascism,” but that’s where we seem headed.