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Investigative journalist Gareth Porter refutes the spin and deception in claims that Iran is a nuclear threat

Is Iran really a nuclear threat? https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/iran-nuclear-threat-180423110553667.html Investigative journalist Gareth Porter dispels some of the myths surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme, by Mersiha Gadzo, 24 Apr 2018

“Iran is moving ‘very quickly’ towards production of a nuclear bomb and could have a weapon within two years,” the United Press International reported.

The quote was published in a 1984 article headlined “‘Ayatollah’ bomb in production for Iran” but it might as well have been published today.

For more than three decades Western politicians and the press have been claiming that Iran is a nuclear threat.

Israeli leaders Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres echoed this claim numerous times in the 1990s, warning that Iran would build an atomic bomb by the next decade.

In the fall of 2012, Netanyahu declared at the United Nations General Assembly meeting – with his infamous bomb cartoon – that Iran would be able to build a nuclear weapon by June 2013.

The following October, former US President Barack Obama followed with a new deadline – that Iran is a year away from making a nuclear bomb.

Most recently, the press reported earlier this month that Yossi Cohen, head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, stated he is “100 percent certain” that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

And yet, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has released eight statements over the years confirming that Tehran has been meeting its nuclear commitments fully.

In July 2015, a landmark nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was reached between Iran and the P5+1 countries: China, France, Russia, the UK, the US plus Germany, in which Iran agreed to reduce its enrichment of uranium, curbing its nuclear programme and ending decades of sanctions on the country.

While Iran has proved to be following its commitments, US President Donald Trump has found a new threat – Iran’s ballistic missile programme – and has threatened to scrap the nuclear agreement, which he has called the “worst deal ever”.

So how much of a nuclear threat is Iran?

Al Jazeera spoke with Gareth Porter, a historian, investigative journalist and author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, with more than a decade of research into the topic, to learn more.

Al Jazeera: We heard yet another claim earlier this month, this time from the chief of Mossad, that Iran is planning to build a nuclear bomb. You’ve uncovered a wealth of evidence that proves Iran is not a threat. What are some of the most important pieces of evidence?

Gareth Porter: I think the most important set of documentary evidence is the so-called “laptop” documents. Those were documents that were supposedly [smuggled out] from a covert Iranian nuclear weapons research programme in the early 2000s, but I was able to show in my book that these documents were in fact passed on to Western intelligence by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), who of course were sworn enemies of the regime.

They were considered a terrorist organisation for many years, and most importantly the MEK was working hand in glove with Israel’s Mossad during the period when these documents surfaced.

The Israelis had both the motive and the opportunity to manufacture these documents that Mossad had created, a special programme to circulate “information” about the Iranian nuclear programme to other governments and the news media of the world in 2003. That was just when these documents would have been produced.

There are multiple indications that these documents are forgeries – the most important of which are the drawings of what is alleged to be in the documents, a series of efforts to make a nuclear weapon with the Iranian Shahab 3 missile.

These drawings actually show the wrong missile warhead. It’s a missile warhead that the Iranians are known now to have abandoned by the time these drawings were supposedly brought into existence. It is the most important giveaway that these documents were not genuine; they were fake.

Al Jazeera: You have previously said that to understand Iranian policy towards nuclear weapons, one should refer to the historical episode of its war with Iraq from 1980-1988. What can you tell us about that?

Porter: If you go back to the Iran-Iraq war, what was happening for eight years was that Iraq’s armed forces were hitting both military and civilian targets in Iran with chemical weapons, which caused as many as – if I remember the figure – 110,000 serious injuries and tens of thousands of deaths to Iranians because of the chemicals dropped on them by the Iraqis.

The IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) – in charge of Iran’s defences against the Iraqi attack – wanted Ayatollah Khomeini to agree to go ahead with not just chemical and biological weapons but nuclear weapons, to have programmes to prepare the capability at least to retaliate, in order to try to deter at the very least the attacks of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq.

There were those early in the war and late in the war… who hoped that Khomeini would change his mind; and the reason that he gave in both cases is quite simple – he said Iran cannot possess or use any weapons of mass destruction because it is illegal, illicit under Islam.

He was the person in charge of the interpretation of what Islam meant for policies and laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is an extremely important and supremely convincing argument for the seriousness of the Iranian refusal to have a nuclear weapons programme… There’s no real evidence to the contrary that suggests that Iran ever had a real nuclear weapons research programme.

Al Jazeera: We’ve seen over the years that Iran has acted cooperatively regarding its nuclear programme. However, in the end, there’s always a new accusation that comes up.

This time the US and allies are concerned with Iran’s ballistic missile programme. Why are they focused on Iran’s programme when other countries have ballistic missile programmes as well? Have we seen any credible evidence that proves that Iran is a threat that should be carefully watched?

Porter: It’s absolutely clear that Iran has simply used ballistic missiles as a deterrent far more than any other state in the Middle East because they do not have an air force. They do not have fighter jets or fighter-bombers that could deliver any conventional weapons as a retaliation for an attack on Iran. And that has been the case since the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979.

The other major players in the Middle East, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, both have ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting Iran. This is very clearly a matter of self-defence in terms of deterrence for Iran. And I think the reason for the United States taking a position that it has, has nothing to do with the reality of the situation; this is pure politics – both international and domestic that have governed the position of US government – not just under Trump but under George W Bush and Obama as well.

Al Jazeera: Some say Iran is a threat because its leaders have allegedly stated their aim is to destroy Israel. How credible are these claims?

Porter: The Iranians have never threatened an aggressive attack on Israel. What they have said is that Israel should cease to exist as a state in which only Jews have full rights, just as South Africa had to cease to exist as a state for whites. It is the same position taken by supporters of Palestinian rights around the world.

This interview has been edited for length.

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April 25, 2018 Posted by | Iran, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The slow death of net neutrality

Net Neutrality’s Slow and Insidious Death Officially Begins Today http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/44252-urgent-demands-for-congress-to-act-as-net-neutrality-s-slow-and-insidious-death-begins  April 23, 2018By Jake JohnsonCommon Dreams | Report 

Today is the day that net neutrality’s “slow and insidious” death at the hands of the Republican-controlled FCC officially begins, and Congress is facing urgent pressure to save the open internet before it’s too late.

With Monday marking 60 days after the FCC’s net neutrality repeal entered the Federal Register, parts of the GOP-crafted plan — spearheaded by agency chair and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai — will now slowly begin taking effect, while some still need to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget.

Net neutrality backers in Congress, meanwhile, are still struggling to compile enough votes to repeal Pai’s new rules, despite the fact that they are deeply unpopular among the American public.

The Senate needs just one more vote to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to restore net neutrality protections before it can move to the House, where it would face an uphill battle. An official vote in the Senate has yet to be scheduled, but could come in the next few weeks.

In a recent Twitter thread, the advocacy group Fight for the Future warned against sensationalistic headlines proclaiming that net neutrality will immediately be gone on Monday, noting that large telecom companies will ensure that the open internet’s death is as quiet and subtle as possible in order to minimize public backlash.

“The ISPs aren’t going to immediately start blocking content or rolling out paid prioritization scams. They know Congress and the public are watching them,” the group noted. “And that’s the worst part. What will happen is over time ISP scams and abuses will become more commonplace and more accepted. They’ll roll out new schemes that appear good on their face but undermine the free market of ideas by allowing ISPs to pick winners and losers.”

 

April 25, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Conflict of interest inn the appointment of UK’s Chair of the Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Council.

GDF Watch 22nd April 2018,  Nobody is disputing her personal abilities or competence, but the
appointment of Lorraine Baldry as the new Chair of Sellafield Limited
raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest within the geological
disposal programme.

Baldry was also recently appointed Chair of the
Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Council. The Council is an
independent group of experts who advise RWM, the GDF delivery body, on how
to best progress the geological disposal programme.

RWM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) — Sellafield
Limited is also a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NDA. This means Baldry
will be advising RWM on geological disposal, while also running the company
which currently owns most of the waste destined for geological disposal and
has a very vested interest in the GDF.

Potential conflicts of interest between the NDA and RWM were raised by Minister’s own independent expert
advisors, the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) in their
most recent Annual Report in January 2018.
http://www.gdfwatch.org.uk/2018/04/22/nda-appointment-a-conflict-of-interest/

April 25, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Workers allege fraud in the clean-up operations on radioactive shipyard contamination

Workers’ Group Alleges Legislators Aren’t Doing Enough On Shipyard Radiation Contamination. Bay City News Service
SF Gate, April 16, 2018 
A public workers’ advocacy group at a rally in San Francisco today criticized Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, for allegedly failing to do enough about the cleanup of radiological contamination at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

Members of United Public Workers for Action also charged that the two legislators have failed to protect whistleblowers and called for a criminal investigation of their alleged lack of action.

“This is the largest eco-fraud in the United States,” group member Steve Zeltzer told a crowd of about 30 supporters in front of the Federal Building.

“Why are most of the politicians silent?” he said.

The claimed fraud concerns the U.S. Navy’s former contract with Tetra Tech EC of Pasadena to remove contamination, including radioactive soil and materials, from about 500 acres of the former shipyard slated for development for industry, offices and housing.

 A preliminary investigation by the Navy concluded in September that there was evidence of data manipulation or falsification on soil samples taken from two parcels after the cleanup of those sections was supposed to have been completed. The two parcels make up about 40 percent of the property.

The Navy said that 49 percent of the soil samples for one parcel were suspect and 15 percent were suspect for the other parcel.

A second review of the information by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and two state agencies in December revealed more widespread alleged falsification.

 The EPA review concluded that a total of 97 percent of the samples in one parcel and 90 percent in the other were suspect. The two agencies joining the EPA were the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and Department of Public Health.

“In summary, the data analyzed showed a widespread pattern of practices that appear to show deliberate falsification, failure to complete the work in a manner required…or both,” John Chesnutt, a regional EPA Superfund manager, wrote to the Navy on Dec. 17, 2017.

Chesnutt’s letter was made public last week by Washington, D.C.-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility after that organization obtained it in a Freedom of Information Act request.

……….The Navy began investigating Tetra Tech in 2012 after learning that some purported soil samples came from outside the cleanup locations.In 2016, according to a Navy fact sheet, former cleanup employees additionally alleged that potentially contaminated soil samples were swapped for clean samples, potentially contaminated soil was placed in open trenches in other areas around the shipyard, misleading data reports were prepared and computer data was tampered with to indicate lower levels of radiation. https://www.sfgate.com/news/bayarea/article/Workers-Group-Alleges-Legislators-Aren-t-Doing-12839607.php

April 18, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

International experts unsure on origin of last year’s radioactive cloud over Europe

Experts fail to find origin of nuclear pollution cloud over Europe https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-nuclearpower-accident/experts-fail-to-find-origin-of-nuclear-pollution-cloud-over-europe-idUSKBN1HN1UH,Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, OSLO (Reuters) – International experts have not been able to find what caused a cloud of radioactive pollution that spread over Europe last year and prompted fears of a nuclear leak, Swedish authorities said on Monday.

April 18, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

For years, Insiders Doubted SCANA’s Ability to Manage Nuclear Project

Insiders Doubted SCANA’s Ability to Manage Nuclear Project, PowerMag, 04/12/2018 | Aaron Larson Santee Cooper executives doubted SCANA Corp.’s ability to properly manage the V.C. Summer nuclear expansion project for years before the project was ultimately abandoned in July 2017, according to an article published by The Post and Courier, a Charleston, S.C., newspaper.Santee Cooper—a state-run utility—partnered with SCANA as owners of the project; SCANA holds a 55% stake in the facility while Santee Cooper holds a 45% share. Yet, even as Santee Cooper insiders lamented SCANA’s “ineptitude,” the utility failed to raise red flags with state lawmakers or ratepayers and continued to pour money into the project.

According to The Post and Courier story, Santee Cooper leaders did prod SCANA to hold contractors responsible, and SCANA’s then-CEO Kevin Marsh did respond by complaining to Westinghouse and CB&I—the contractors on the job at the time—but little improvement was made. Santee Cooper’s vice president of nuclear energy reportedly called SCANA’s team “a status quo group.”

For years, Santee Cooper allegedly tried to convince SCANA to hire an outside firm to manage the project. It wasn’t until CB&I negotiated its way out of the project that SCANA finally agreed to bring in Bechtel Corp. to do a project audit at a cost of more than $1 million. But even then,

Santee Cooper insiders felt SCANA was resistant to the process and restricted access to at least some engineering and scheduling documents. However, The Post and Courier reported that a SCANA spokesperson refuted that claim. The audit was ultimately completed.

The 130-page report dated February 5, 2016, provided a scathing assessment of the situation. ……http://www.powermag.com/insiders-doubted-scanas-ability-to-manage-nuclear-project/

April 14, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Navy downplays radioactive soil in San Francisco’s Bayview 

EPA letter reveals Navy’s downplay of radioactive soil in SF’s Bayview http://abc7news.com/realestate/epa-letter-reveals-navys-downplay-of-radioactive-soil-in-sfs-bayview/3335396/, 
A letter the EPA sent to the U.S. Navy in December reveals the Navy far understated just how much radioactive soil needs to be cleaned up at the Hunters Point Shipyard., by Kate Larsen, Thursday, April 12, 2018 SAN FRANCISCO (KGO)
A letter the EPA sent to the U.S. Navy in December reveals the Navy far understated just how much radioactive soil needs to be cleaned up at the Hunters Point Shipyard.This week, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility published a letter to the Navy. In it, the EPA says they found 90 and 97 percent of the soil samples on two major land parcels suspect compared to the Navy, which only recommended resampling 15 and 49 percent of those samples.
RELATED: Neighbors outraged after toxic soil confirmed in SF’s Bayview

“They’re dodging the truth,” said Bradley Angel, Executive Director for Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. “But it’s time for accountability and better cleanup.”

Angel has been working on the shipyard cleanup for more than a decade.

“This federal superfund site, one of the most contaminated sites in the nation is our San Francisco Bay, not just Bayview Hunters Point. It’s leaking into the Bay,” Angel added.

It was clear  that nobody wanted to answer questions,” said Michelle Pierce, Executive Director for Bayview Hunters Point Community Advocates.On Wednesday night, she attended what she thought would be a presentation and question-answer session from the Navy, but that never happened.
RELATED: Radioactive spill cleared in Antioch

“They had a corner station, a desk set up with a laptop and you could do a video public statement and that’s what they called giving public comment,” Pierce told ABC7 News.

Pierce also says City Hall needs to take interest in the health of the Bayview Hunters Point community, not just the transfer of the contaminated land for more housing.

Supervisor Malia Cohen said Thursday that she’ll be introducing a hearing to look into ongoing allegations of mismanagement and false tests.

April 14, 2018 Posted by | environment, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

EPA Letter Reveals New Problems with Hunters Point Radiation Data

 NBC NewsAgency finds nearly all of the radiation data that it reviewed is ‘suspect.’   By By Liz Wagner and Mark Villarreal, Apr 9, 2018  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nearly all of the radiation data collected on two large parcels of land at the Hunters Point Shipyard is problematic.

The data was collected by Navy contractor Tetra Tech over a 12-year period. The Navy hired the company to clean up radiation at the superfund site in San Francisco.

In January, Navy officials found nearly 50 percent of the company’s data may have been falsified. But the new information from the EPA shows the extent of the potential fraud is actually much worse.

A December 2017 letter sent by the EPA to the Navy – and obtained by a Washington D.C. advocacy group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) – explains that on about 40 percent of the shipyard, the EPA found between 90 percent and 97 percent of Tetra Tech’s radiation data looked “suspect.”

That number is much higher than what the Navy reported publicly earlier this year.

“Hunters Point is unfolding into the biggest case of eco-fraud in U.S. history,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who obtained the EPA document under the Freedom of Information Act. “What makes these findings so remarkable is that the Navy was on notice for years that it had a major data meltdown on its hands yet is still trying to cook the books.”

Officials are working on a plan to re-test the shipyard to make sure it’s safe, but that process has taken months.

The superfund site is slated to be developed into parks, offices and homes, including a considerable amount of affordable housing. Dr. Veronica Hunnicutt, chair of Hunters Point Citizens Advisory Committee, the group appointed to oversee development at the shipyard, says she’s fed up.

“The Navy and the EPA are not moving this along figuring out what they need to do,” she said. “Get the land cleaned up and get it back to the developer. Nothing has happened.”…….https://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/EPA-Letter-Reveals-New-Problems-with-Hunters-Point-Radiation-Data-479214633.html

April 11, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Journalists, bloggers to be scrutinised by U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Homeland Security to Compile Database of Journalists, Bloggershttps://biglawbusiness.com/homeland-security-to-compile-database-of-journalists-bloggers/  By Cary O’Reilly – Bloomberg Government April 5, 2018

  • Seeks contractor that can monitor 290,000 global news sources

• ‘Media influencer’ database to note `sentiment’ of coverage


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the world and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.”

It’s seeking a contractor that can help it monitor traditional news sources as well as social media and identify “any and all” coverage related to the agency or a particular event, according to a request for information released April 3.

The data to be collected includes a publication’s “sentiment” as well as geographical spread, top posters, languages, momentum, and circulation. No value for the contract was disclosed.

“Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers,” according to the statement. DHS agencies have “a critical need to incorporate these functions into their programs in order to better reach federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners,” it said.

The DHS wants to track more than 290,000 global news sources, including online, print, broadcast, cable, and radio, as well as trade and industry publications, local, national and international outlets, and social media, according to the documents. It also wants the ability to track media coverage in more than 100 languages including Arabic, Chinese, and Russian, with instant translation of articles into English.

The request comes amid heightened concern about accuracy in media and the potential for foreigners to influence U.S. elections and policy through “fake news.” Nineteen lawmakers including Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month, asking whether Qatar-based Al Jazeera should register as a foreign agent because it “often directly undermines” U.S. interests with favorable coverage of Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria.

The DHS request says the selected vendor will set up an online “media influence database” giving users the ability to browse based on location, beat, and type of influence. For each influencer found, “present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.”

A department spokesman didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment.

Responses are due April 13. Seven companies, mainly minority- or women-owned small businesses, have already expressed interest in becoming a vendor for the contract, according to the FedBizOpps web site.

— With assistance from Daniel Snyder

To contact the reporter on this story: Cary O’Reilly in Washington atcoreilly@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Loren Duggan atlduggan@bgov.com; Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com; Theresa Barry attbarry@bgov.com

April 9, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties | 1 Comment

No wonder that nuclear company AREVA changed its name (to ORANO): former director indicted for corruption.

Le Monde 7th April 2018, Acquisition of Uramin: the former director of the Areva mines indicted for  “corruption” The former director of the Areva mines has been indicted in Paris for “corruption” in the investigation of the acquisition of the mining company Uramin in 2007.

Areva, now Orano, had paid 1.8 billion euros to acquire the Canadian Uramin, but the exploitation of the three deposits
of the company in Namibia , South Africa and Central Africa had proved much more difficult than expected. The operation had turned into a financial chasm and had forced Areva, at the end of 2011, to provision 1.5 billion euros.
http://www.lemonde.fr/police-justice/article/2018/04/07/rachat-d-uramin-l-ex-directeur-des-mines-d-areva-mis-en-examen-pour-corruption_5282269_1653578.html

April 9, 2018 Posted by | France, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Pressure on assistant professor to downplay dangers of nuclear power

Hokkaido METI bureau requested changes to nuclear energy part of high school lecture https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180407/p2a/00m/0na/017000c  (Mainichi Japan) SAPPORO – High-ranking officials from the local bureau of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) requested that an assistant professor change an October 2017 lecture to high school students pointing out the dangers of nuclear power, it has been learned.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, Japan | 1 Comment

Recovery of poisoned former Russian spy should help the police investigation

Sergei Skripal poisoning: Former Russian spy recovering rapidly, hospital says, ABC News, 7 Apr 18 The hospital treating former Russian spy Sergei Skripal says he is no longer in a critical condition and his health is improving rapidly, more than a month after he was poisoned with a nerve agent in England.

Key points:

  • Mr Skripal’s recovery could help British police solve the case, an affair diplomats have compared with Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie mysteries
  • His daughter Yulia is also recovering well, issuing a statement yesterday thanking people for their help
  • Moscow has asked for an explanation as to why Mr Skripal’s niece was denied a British visa to take Yulia to Russia

Mr Skripal, 66, who as a colonel in Russian military intelligence betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s foreign spy service, was found slumped unconscious on a bench in the city of Salisbury along with his daughter Yulia on March 4.

Britain blamed Russia for the poisoning, the first known offensive use of such a nerve agent on European soil since World War II.

Moscow denied any involvement and suggested Britain had carried out the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.

After weeks of no reported change in his condition, the hospital confirmed that Mr Skripal, who had been treated under heavy sedation, was now making fast progress………

A British judge said last month that the attack might have left them with compromised mental capacity, with an unclear effect on their long-term health.

The hospital did not say whether either Mr Sergei or his daughter would suffer long term effects……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-07/sergei-skripal-poisoning:-former-russian-spy-recovering-rapidly/9628922

 

April 6, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Sergei V. Skripal poisoned by nerve agent on door handle – sophisticated attack, but no proof of the perprtrator

Poisoned Door Handle Hints at High-Level Plot to Kill Spy, U.K. Officials Say, NYT, By ELLEN BARRY and DAVID E. SANGERAPRIL 1, 2018 LONDON — British officials investigating the poisoning of Sergei V. Skripal, a former Russian double agent, believe it is likely that an assassin smeared a nerve agent on the door handle at his home. This operation is seen as so risky and sensitive that it is unlikely to have been undertaken without approval from the Kremlin, according to officials who have been briefed on the early findings of the inquiry……..

Because the nerve agent is so potent, the officials said, the task could have been carried out only by trained professionals familiar with chemical weapons. British and American officials are skeptical that independent actors could have carried out such a risky operation or obtained the agent without approval at the highest levels of the Russian government  .
…… Four weeks after the assassination attempt, British and American officials are turning to the question of whether President Vladimir V. Putin himself was aware of, or ordered, the attack.

They say there is no evidence so far of his direct participation, but the Russian president, a former K.G.B. officer, is skilled at hiding his communications.

Russia has denied involvement in the poisoning, and in the election hack.

……. Some experts have expressed caution about assuming that

Mr. Putin approved the attack. Its timing was awkward, coming too late to help him much in last month’s election, and casting a diplomatic shadow over Russia’s hosting of the 2018 World Cup.

And the Kremlin’s embrace of proxy forces in recent years has opened the door to freelancing from other power centers, like security agencies or the country’s military intelligence, which may not share their plans in detail.

………Russia on Saturday also released a list of questions addressed to Britain, France and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which will hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the Skripal poisoning.

The questions scrutinize the British claim that the nerve agent originated in Russia, noting that an antidote was provided to the Skripals within hours of their poisoning, and questioning whether British scientists had produced Novichok nerve agents in their own laboratories. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/01/world/europe/russia-sergei-skripal-uk-spy-poisoning.html

April 4, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

The world should be outraged at the silencing of Julian Assange

Daniel Ellsberg’s decision to release the Pentagon Papers was an act of valor—his actions saved countless lives. He was a whistleblower who changed the course of history and curtailed an ongoing genocide which ended up preventing the needless dissolution of American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians alike. The publishing of the Pentagon Papers is a prime example of the critical part a free press plays in keeping governments in check and exposing the corrosive nature of consolidated power. This is why the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights enshrines the rights to free speech and of a free press in the United States Constitution. 

Tyrants throughout history have targeted journalists and reporters for a reason.

On Wednesday afternoon, Julian Assange, who has been forced into self-imprisonment at the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to ward off prosecution from the United Kingdom and the United States, had his internet access cut off. Assange is our generation’s Daniel Ellsberg; WikiLeaks—the online publication he started—has been invaluable in letting the public know about the malfeasance of their elected officials and highlighting the duplicity of governments throughout the world. In an era where mainstream journalists have been turned into a corporate-state propagandists, WikiLeaks stands out in their dogged pursuit of truth and exposing deep-seated corruption and graft.

Where Is the Outrage About Julian Assange’s Silencing? https://www.truthdig.com/articles/where-is-the-outrage-about-julian-assanges-silencing/ 3 April 18, Teodrose Fikre / The Ghion Journal 

On October 12, 1969, Daniel Ellsberg copied a secret dossier with the intention of disclosing the truth about the Vietnam War. The Pentagon Papers were a chronicle of events that recorded the scope of operations in Vietnam and beyond—details which were being withheld from the American public. The Vietnam War was built on the foundation of lies; we were rushed into the war using the Gulf of Tonkin as a false flag and defending freedom as a pretext to further the interests of the defense-financial complex. The truth eventually caught up to the lies of politicians and bureaucrats; Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later admitted the Gulf of Tonkin attack never took place.

The Gulf of Tonkin set the stage for a decade of continuous half-truths and outright lies as the US government suppressed information from the citizenry and kept falsifying records. This coordinated campaign of governmental disinformation prolonged a war that led to the deaths of 58,200 Americans and snuffed the lives of over 2 million Vietnamese people. It was this pernicious operation of deceit—intent on keeping the public in the dark—that prodded Ellsberg to act. After presenting the findings of the Pentagon Papers to authorities in government only to be met with a wall of silence, he decided to inform the press. The firestorm of controversy that was created after The New York Times published the Pentagon Papers and the ensuing outcry from the public played a large part in bringing an end to the Vietnam War.

Daniel Ellsberg’s decision to release the Pentagon Papers was an act of valor—his actions saved countless lives. He was a whistleblower who changed the course of history and curtailed an ongoing genocide which ended up preventing the needless dissolution of American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians alike. The publishing of the Pentagon Papers is a prime example of the critical part a free press plays in keeping governments in check and exposing the corrosive nature of consolidated power. This is why the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights enshrines the rights to free speech and of a free press in the United States Constitution.

Tyrants throughout history have targeted journalists and reporters for a reason. Napoleon Bonaparte, a savage dictator, once noted that four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets. He said this because he knew that journalists can awaken a slumbering public from sleep and rally them against repressive regimes. A free press is the last line of defense between liberty and despotism. The founders of our republic, in the hopes of preventing America from traveling down the path of authoritarianism, made the rights of a free press sacrosanct for this exact reason. Sadly, our nation is living proof that all revolutions eventually devolve to the very tyranny that gave birth to them.

Bureaucrats and elected officials in government learned the wrong lessons from the Pentagon Papers. Instead of being transparent and reducing corruption in governance, authorities decided to cloak themselves in darkness, methodically target whistleblowers for prosecution and intimidate journalists in order to prevent them from doing their jobs. All this is taking place in a backdrop where corporations have initiated a hostile takeover of government; by weaponizing their wealth, globalist oligarchs have effectively turned public servants and technocrats into their enforcers and security guards.

In an environment where billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Rupert Murdoch own more than 90 percent of the media content and the way it is disseminated to the public, reporters and journalists in corporate media have to be mindful of keeping their checks as much as they are fearful of getting a knock on the door from subpoena bearers. This systematic war against free press metastasized after the heinous attacks of 9/11; the US government—yet again using national security as a pretext—made it a priority to silence dissent within government and neutralize aggressive reporting against its excesses. As western powers piously preach about freedom and democracy throughout the globe, they are steadily dismantling both domestically.

On Wednesday afternoon, Julian Assange, who has been forced into self-imprisonment at the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to ward off prosecution from the United Kingdom and the United States, had his internet access cut off. Assange is our generation’s Daniel Ellsberg; WikiLeaks—the online publication he started—has been invaluable in letting the public know about the malfeasance of their elected officials and highlighting the duplicity of governments throughout the world. In an era where mainstream journalists have been turned into a corporate-state propagandists, WikiLeaks stands out in their dogged pursuit of truth and exposing deep-seated corruption and graft.

It is this defiance in seeking truth and bringing light to criminality that has earned WikiLeaks in general, and Julian Assange specifically, scorn and contempt from autocrats in D.C. and throughout European capitals. It is at once amusing and vexing to hear public officials take to the podium to lecture tinpot dictators about good governance and respecting a free press while they target whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and harass reporters like Julian Assange and Glenn Greenwald who dare give voice to them. This quest to silence free speech and neuter a free press is a bipartisan campaign and a bilateral initiative. Both sides of the aisle in D.C. and a multitude of supposedly “democratic” governments throughout the world are stepping up efforts to eradicate the rights of journalists and truth-tellers alike.

April 4, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties | 1 Comment

USA Commerce Department sanctioned seven Pakistani companies – alleges links to nuclear trade

Axios 29th March 2018,  The Commerce Department this week sanctioned seven Pakistani companies for
alleged links to nuclear trade. Their place on an “Entity List”
requires them to obtain special licenses to do business with the U.S. This
move follows other U.S. penalties against Pakistan, including a successful
push to put Pakistan on a “gray list” of countries not doing enough to
stem terrorist financing and a freeze on all U.S. security assistance to
Pakistan.

But Commerce’s action should not be seen as part of the
existing campaign to pressure Pakistan to crack down harder on terrorists.
Why it matters: Commerce’s move does underscore Washington’s concerns
about Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation record — even as nuclear
watchdog groups cite improvements in Pakistan’s nuclear security.
https://www.axios.com/nuclear-security-worries-drive-latest-us-penalties-on-pakistan-1522259525-d5bea2f2-a2aa-47e6-a5e8-b376e8e3853a.html

April 2, 2018 Posted by | Pakistan, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment