Nobody to Vote For

When I say there is nobody to vote for, I don’t just mean the familiar complaint that the candidates may be different shades of evil but are all too evil to support, that the earth’s climate does not recover one iota because some even worse policy has been averted, that sadistic bombings and humanitarian bombings actually look identical. I do mean all of that. But I also mean that candidates are campaigning as and being presented as nothing, as empty figures with no positions on anything.

What is the most common foreign policy position on the websites of Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress? Quick! It’s not hard! You got it? You’re wrong. It was a trick question. Most of their websites do not admit to the existence of 96% of humanity in any way shape or form — although one can infer that the world must exist, because so many of them express such deep love for veterans.

Numerous resources claim to fill the gap, but like private weather profiteers regurgitating federal data, they mostly just pick out bits of the almost nothing coming from the candidates and re-package it as Useful Voter Information. The Campus Election Engagement Project has nothing on Virginia’s Fifth District Congressional race, and on the Virginia race for U.S. Senate it has next to nothing.  In a nod to the existence of the earth, it tells us the candidates’ positions on the Iran nuclear agreement, plus three questions on the environment. But the fact that one of the two candidates’ whole schtick is hatred of immigrants, glorification of racism, and fascistic devotion to Trump doesn’t come up in the predictable policy questions. Nor does the duplicity of the other guy’s constant support for presidential war-making, while claiming to oppose it, make the cut.

The League of Women Voters is worse. They present seven predictable questions that they claim neither major-party candidate has answered, although they could have grabbed the answers to at least five of them from the candidates’ websites. None of the seven questions admit to the existence of a world outside the borders of the United States, apart from the fact that “immigrants” must come from somewhere. None of the questions addresses any sort of problem related to the habitability of the planet. When it comes to the Senate, the League presents answers to the same questions from three candidates. The League is, however, compelled to indirectly admit to the existence of the world and problems in it, because it explains two questions that will be on the ballot for public votes in Virginia, one related to taxes on flooded property, the other to taxes for spouses of disabled or killed participants in wars.

Then there’s BallotReady.org. This one claims a broader range of issues covered, including “Foreign Policy,” and also “Defense/Veterans.” How in the world “foreign policy” is separated from “defense” (taking the latter to be a euphemism for militarism) and how “defense” is paired with “veterans” is not explained. Each section contains a few sentence fragments, each one in quotes and linked to its source, which is usually the candidate’s website.

VoteSmart.org has 16 things it thinks you should know about a Congressional candidate. Two relate to foreign policy, and each asks — with a straight face — whether the U.S. government should commit the greatest crime imaginable: “Should the United States use military force in order to prevent governments hostile to the U.S. from possessing a nuclear weapon?” “Do you support increased American intervention in Middle Eastern conflicts beyond air support?” The answer that VoteSmart provides for each of the major-party candidates in Virginia’s Fifth is, for each question, “unknown.”

I understand that Code Pink is about to publish a voting guide that will list the dollar figures from OpenSecrets.org that incumbents have taken from weapons dealers, which is certainly useful as far as incumbents go. It will also draw on Peace Action’s scorecard for incumbents, although those have typically graded on a curve, avoiding any votes in Congress that were heavily slanted one way or the other, in order to pick out the votes most evenly split along partisan lines, and omitting anything not voted on.

The most likely place to find what scraps exist remains candidates’ own websites. In some cases, this can be augmented from speeches and interviews. Even after doing that research yourself, you will almost certainly still lack an answer to any of these 20 basic questions:

1. What would you like the U.S. discretionary budget to look like? With 60% now going to militarism, what percentage would you like that to be?
2. What program of economic conversion to peaceful enterprises would you support?
3. Would you end, continue, or escalate U.S. war making in: Afghanistan? Iraq? Syria? Yemen? Pakistan? Libya? Somalia?
4. Would you end the exemption for militarism in Kyoto, Paris, and other climate agreements?
5. Would you sign / ratify any of these treaties: Paris Climate Agreement? Convention on the Rights of the Child? International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights? International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights optional protocols? Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women? Convention Against Torure optional protocol? International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families? International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance? The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities? International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries? Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court? Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity? Principles of International Cooperation in the Detection, Arrest, Extradition, and Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity? Convention on Cluster Munitions? Land Mines Convention? Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons? Proposed treaties banning the weaponization of space and banning cyber crimes?
6. Would you halt or continue expenditures on the production and so-called modernization of nuclear weapons?
7. Would you end weapons sales and the provision of military training to any governments? Which?
8. Would you close any foreign bases? Which?
9. Would you halt or continue the practice of murder by missiles from drones?
10. Do you recognize the ban on war, with exceptions, contained in the United Nations Charter? And the ban on threatening war?
11. Do you recognize the ban on war, without exceptions, contained in the Kellogg-Briand Pact?
12. Will you end discriminatory bans on immigrants?
13. Should actual, non-military, no-strings-attached foreign aid be eliminated, reduced, maintained, or increased? How much?
14. 84% of South Koreans want the war ended immediately. Should the United States block that?
15. Should NATO be maintained or abolished?
16. Should the CIA be maintained or abolished?
17. Should the ROTC be maintained or abolished?
18. Should domestic police forces be trained by, collaborate with, and be armed by militaries?
19. Should the U.S. military pay sports leagues, secretly or openly, to celebrate militarism?
20. How large should the U.S. military’s advertising budget be, and how much should the U.S. government spend promoting the concepts of nonviolent dispute resolution and the abolition of war?
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The Earthquake in International Alliances

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

(UPDATE about the Khashoggi case, posted at end.)

America’s international alliances are transforming in fundamental ways. The likelihood of World War III is increasing, and has been increasing ever since 2012 when the U.S. first slapped Russia with the Magnitsky Act sanctions. In fact, one matter driving these changing alliances now toward unprecedented realignments is that some nations’ leaders want to do whatever they can to prevent WW III.

On October 17th, America’s Military Times bannered “Why today’s troops fear a new war is coming soon” and reported, “About 46 percent of troops who responded to the anonymous survey of currently serving Military Times readers said they believe the U.S. will be drawn into a new war within the next year. That’s a jarring increase from only about 5 percent who said the same thing in a similar poll conducted in September 2017.” Their special fear is of war against Russia and/or China: “About 71 percent of troops said Russia was a significant threat, up 18 points from last year’s survey. And 69 percent of troops said China poses a significant threat, up 24 points from last year.” The U.S. spends around half of the entire world’s military budget; and, after 9/11, has invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, and perpetrated a bloody coup turning Ukraine into a rabidly anti-Russian government on Russia’s very doorstep and even an applicant for NATO membership though, in 2009, before Obama’s coup overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected Government, even U.S. media reported that “barely 25 percent of Ukrainians favor joining NATO.” After 1991 when Russia’s anti-American Warsaw Pact military alliance ended, America’s anti-Russian NATO military alliance expanded right up to Russia’s very borders. Nonetheless, these troops aren’t afraid that the U.S. is posing a threat to Russia and maybe to China, but that Russia and China are both posing threats against America; they trust their Government; it’s what they’re taught to believe. But the reality is very different. And it involves all of the “great power” relationships — not only U.S., Russia, and China.

The precipitating event for the breakup that’s now occurring in international alliances, happened on October 2nd, when Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the leader of Saudi Arabia, went into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Turkey, and disappeared.

Allegedly, the dictator of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, had Khashoggi murdered and chopped-up inside that Consulate, within no more than two hours of his entrance there. Russia announced exactly a week later, on October 9th, that Salman had just bought Russia’s world-leading S-400 anti-missile system, for $2 billion. U.S. President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress will thus now need to determine whether to slap sanctions against Saudi Arabia for that purchase of Russian weaponry, just like the U.S. has already been threatening to do to fellow-NATO-member Turkey after its leader, President Tayyip Erdogan, likewise, recently purchased S-400s. (Trump and Congress also threatened India’s Modi this way, for its purchase of several S-400s.) But even without this Saudi S-400 purchase, some in Washington have been proposing cancellation of Saudi Arabia’s $404 billion purchase of U.S.-made weaponry, the largest armaments-sale in history, which Trump had negotiated with Salman in 2017 and which is the likeliest cause of today’s booming U.S. stock market. The news-media call it a $110 billion sale, but only the first-year of the ten-year commitment is $110 billion; the total deal is a 10-year commitment, at around $400 billion. (Though initially it had been 10 years at $350 billion, CNBC headlined nine months later, “Trump wants Saudi Arabia to buy more American-made weapons” and reported: “In the past nine months alone, the U.S. has secured $54 billion in foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia.” So, without seeing the actual signed deal, to confirm with certainty, one can assume that the total now is $404 billion.) Low-balling the amount is done in order to hide the national embarrassment of the military-industrial-complex’s now being the actual basis of America’s booming stock market.

Salman’s purchase of that $2 billion Russian S-400 could place the vastly larger $404 billion U.S. arms-sale to Saudi Arabia (and America’s consequent stock-boom and full employment) even more in jeopardy than it already is. America’s two most-core Middle Eastern allies, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (and Israel is only a distant third, and has no other option than to do whatever the U.S. Government requires it to do), could soon become no longer U.S. allies. America’s most important international alliances have never before been in such jeopardy. Turkey is likelier to re-align with Russia than Saudi Arabia is, but even if Turkey becomes the only one to switch, that would be an earthquake in international relations. If both Turkey and Saudi Arabia go, it would be an earthquake, not just in international relations, but in world history. It could happen; and, if it does, then the reality that we know today will be gone and will become replaced by arrangements that virtually no one today is even thinking about, at all.

Jamal Khashoggi, a member and champion of the Muslim Brotherhood (as is Tayyip Erdogan — which is another reason why Erdogan would be especially unlikely to relent on this matter), was a nephew of the recently deceased billionaire international-arms merchant Adnan Khashoggi; press adviser to the billionaire Saudi chief of intelligence and Ambassador to the United States Prince Turki al-Faisal al-Saud; and, more recently, a protégé of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud (who also is a Muslim Brotherhood member). Of course, he was also a columnist for the Washington Post, which makes impossible his case being ignored in the U.S.

On 4 November 2017, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, and many other Princes and billionaires, were seized by the forces of the billionaire Prince Salman, the heir-apparent to the thone of his father, King Salman al-Saud, who is the world’s only trillionaire. What’s essential to understand is that in order for any Saud Prince (such as this Crown Prince, Salman) to become King Saud (and thus to inherit his father’s trillion-dollar-plus fortune), he must first win the approval of the nation’s Wahhab clergy or “Ulema”, and so Saudi Arabia is both a monarchy and a theocracy. There has long been a global competition between two fundamentalist-Sunni groups: the Saud-funded Al Qaeda versus the Thani-funded Muslim Brotherhood. Ever since the Saud family and the Wahhab clergy agreed in 1744 to take control of all Arabs and to convert or kill all Shia, the Sauds have been (and are) anti-Shia and insist upon fundamentalist Sunni rule. Al Qaeda represents the Wahhabist and Saud view, which advocates elimination of Shiites and accepts hereditary monarchy as the power to impose Sunni Islamic law and rejects democracy; the Muslim Brotherhood represents instead the more tolerant Thani view, which accepts Shia and also accepts imposition of Islamic law by means of democracy, and not only by means of dynasty. Both Prince and King Salman hate the Shia-accepting Muslim Brotherhood, whose top funder is the competing Thani family, who own Qatar; the Thanis don’t hate democracy and Shiites and Iran enough to suit the Sauds and especially the Salmans. They’re not sufficiently anti-Iran and anti-Shiite and anti-democracy.

Khashoggi had explained why he shared the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideals: “We were hoping to establish an Islamic state anywhere. We believed that the first one would lead to another, and that would have a domino effect which could reverse the history of mankind.” He was out to save the world by making it a fundamentalist Sunni world, somehow without using terrorism to do it. Like him, the Thanis and Erdogan don’t share such extreme extremism as the Sauds demand.

Furthermore, On October 16th, Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair bannered “HOW JAMAL KHASHOGGI FELL OUT WITH BIN SALMAN”, and he wrote that Khashoggi had told him, back in March, that the reason he had turned against Prince Salman, and why the Washington Post had hired him, was what had happened on 4 November 2017: “‘When the arrests started happening, I flipped. I decided it was time to speak,’ he told me. Khashoggi subsequently landed a column in The Washington Post.” Furthermore, Khashoggi told Sherman, “The people M.B.S. arrested were not radicals. The majority were reformers for women’s rights and open society. He arrested them to spread fear. He is replacing religious intolerance with political closure.” This was the difference between Al Qaeda versus the Muslim Brotherhood.

The competition between, on the one hand, the pro-Muslim-Brotherhood Thanis and Erdogan, versus the pro-Al-Qaeda Sauds, UAE and Kuwait, on the other; is forcing the U.S. to choose between those two sides, or else even possibly lose both of them and even to go instead with Shia Islam as America’s Muslim partners. The biggest U.S. Middle Eastern military bases in the Middle East are Al Udeid in the Thanis’ Qatar, and Incirlik in Turkey. Both of those are Muslim Brotherhood Sunni territory, not Al Qaeda Sunni territory. The U.S. under Trump has been more pro-Al-Qaeda (pro-Saud) than the U.S. had been under Obama, but doesn’t want to lose those bases. (President Obama had supported the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in Egypt. But he also vetoed the congressional bill for investigating whether the Sauds had done 9/11. He wanted friends on both sides of the Sunni divide. But he killed Al Qaeda’s founding leader, bin Laden. And yet he continued being staunchly pro Al Qaeda against Russia.)

Turkey has been a U.S. ally through its membership (since 1952) in the NATO anti-Russia alliance. Saudi Arabia has been a U.S. ally since a major 1938 Rockefeller oil-discovery there, and especially since U.S. President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s switched gold for oil as the physical basis for the dollar’s value in international commerce. But for both of these till-now U.S. allies to be buying the world’s best anti-missile system from the very same country that the U.S. aristocracy has secretly been trying ultimately to conquer even after the U.S.S.R. and its Warsaw Pact military alliance and its communism all ended in 1991, is a shock, and an insult, to America’s aristocracy (the billionaires), coming from two of their most important former allies.

What is at stake now is not only the value-basis of the U.S. dollar and the continuance of America’s NATO alliance against Russia, but, more basically than either, is the full realization of the dream by Cecil Rhodes in 1877 and of George Soros today, for a unified and all-inclusive UK-U.S. empire to become ruler over the entire world — the first-ever all-encompassing global empire. Britain importantly bonded King Saud and his family to its Empire, at the time of World War I, against the Ottoman Empire. That was the Sauds’ alliance against Turkey’s empire. After World War II, U.S. became the leader of this joint UK-U.S. empire, as Rhodes had expected ultimately to happen. Ever since 2000, Erdogan has been scheming to restore Turkey’s role as the world’s primary Islamic empire, and so to squelch the Saud family’s aspirations to achieve dominance over global Islam. Ever since 1744, the Saud family has been trying to achieve that dominance as being the fundamentalist-Sunni champion against the fundamentalist-Shiite leadership since 1979 in Iran. But, now, the Sunni Sauds’ main competitor might no longer be Shiite Iran, but instead turn out to be Sunni Turkey, after all — which had been the Sauds’ main enemy at the very start of the 20th Century.

What will the U.S. do, as the collapse of its aristocracy’s dream of global conquest after the fall of communism, is now gathering force even to bring into question such key former allies of America’s aristocracy, as Turkey, and as the world’s richest family (by far), the Saud family (the owners of Saudi Arabia)?

Perhaps the Sauds are making this stunning weapons-purchase from Russia because the prominent critic of the Sauds, Saudi citizen (and nephew of the global arms-merchant Adnan Khashoggi) Jamal Khashoggi, was recorded by loads of hidden cameras and audio recording devices including the watch and cellphone of the victim Jamal Khashoggi himself, as he was being murdered and chopped-up inside the Saudi Embassy in Constantinople-Istanbul when seeking papers that were required in order for him to marry his Turkish fiancé — as the Turkish Government now claims. This is an incident that reverberates hugely against the more-than-a-century-long goal of the UK-U.S. aristocracies for those billionaires to take control over the entire world — including Russia.

Erdogan got shaken to resist the UK-U.S. alliance, when on 15 July 2016, there was a coup-attempt against Erdogan, which endangered his life. The UK-U.S.’s establishments kept the coup-attempt’s very existence almost hidden in their media for several days, because the attempt had failed and the ‘news’-media hadn’t received instructions on how to report what had just happened — the usual CIA-MI6 pipelines ‘informing’ them were probably silent, because those sources were prepared only for delivering the storyline for a successful coup, and it hadn’t been successful — it instead failed.

So, for example, UK’s Independent headlined on July 18th, “Turkey coup attempt: Rebel jets had Erdogan’s plane in their sights but did not fire, officials claim: ‘Why they didn’t fire is a mystery,’ former military officer says,” and they raised the question in their report, of whether this had actually been a coup-attempt or instead an event that had been planned by the Erdogan regime in order for him then to be enabled to impose martial law so as to eliminate his political opponents: “Conspiracy theorists are saying the attempted military coup was faked, comparing it to the Reichstag fire – the 1933 arson attack on the German parliament building used by Hitler as an excuse to suspend civil liberties and order mass arrests of his opponents.” If you then click onto that “attempted military coup was faked”, you will come to this same newspaper’s report, dated July 16th, which was headlined “Turkey coup: Conspiracy theorists claim power grab attempt was faked by Erdogan”. It’s unusual for an Establishment news-medium to provide any sort of credence to the possibility that a false-flag event has occurred, but if the empire’s intelligence services were providing no information, then even an Establishment ‘news’-medium can do such a thing — anything in order to pretend to have news that’s worthy of publishing about an important event.

But also on July 18th, yet another Establishment ‘news’-medium, Newsweek, headlined “PUTIN CALLS ERDOGAN TO VOICE SUPPORT FOR ORDER IN TURKEY” and used this event as an opportunity to publicize a statement by an expelled Russian billionaire who had actually been expelled because he had cheated Russia on his tax-returns. Newsweek hid that fact. This supposed billionaire-champion of democracy was there approvingly quoted in a passage: “Many in Russia drew parallels between Erdogan and Putin, hinting Putin may fear mutiny in his own ranks. ‘Well done Turkey,’ Putin rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky tweeted as news of the coup broke on Friday.” (That’s “Putin rival,” instead of billionaire tax-crook. Brainwashing is done that way.) Every possible anti-Russian angle to this attempted coup was pursued: the angle here was, the failed coup had been attempted for the sake of ‘democracy’.

On July 21st, Al-Araby headlined “Russia ‘warned Erdogan about coup’ moments before assassination attempt”, and reported that,

Russian intelligence warned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that factions within the army were planning a coup – possibly saving the Turkish leader’s life – Iranian state media has alleged.

Moscow reportedly received “highly sensitive army exchanges and encoded radio messages showing that the Turkish army was readying to stage a coup”, Fars News Agency said, citing Arab sources.

An unnamed Turkish diplomatic source confirmed that intelligence services “received intel from its Russian counterpart that warned of an impending coup”.

Russian spies … informed Ankara that several military helicopters were dispatched to Erdogan’s hotel to “arrest or kill him”.

The CIA edits, and on some matters, even writes, Wikipedia articles; and their article on the “2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt” says nothing at all about this advance-notice by Putin — the key fact about the event, if it’s true. They don’t even mention it as something that might have happened (and which would explain even much that Wikipedia’s article does report). Is this absence because the CIA thinks that it’s not true, or because the CIA knows that it is true and perhaps also that the CIA itself was involved in the coup-attempt and so wants to keep this fact out of their account and out of the public’s consciousness altogether?

Also on July 21st, Alexander Mercouris, who is deeply knowledgeable about international relations, headlined at his The Duran, “Why Reports of the Russian Tip Off to Erdogan May Be True”, and he presented a stunning case, which could more accurately have been headlined “Why Reports of the Russian Tip Off to Erdogan Are Almost Certainly True.”

I further have documented its extreme likelihood, headlining at Strategic Culture Foundation on August 18th, “What Was Behind the Turkish Coup-Attempt?” But, of course, Wikipedia doesn’t link to sites such as The Duran, or Strategic Culture Foundation, because a controlled news-and-information system-environment is essential to the effective functioning of any dictatorship (and also see this and this, with yet further documentation that the U.S. is no democracy, at all).

So: ever since 15 July 2016, Turkey has been veering away from the U.S. and toward Russia, in its national-security policies.

But the only major prior indication that the Sauds might do likewise was when the Sauds’ intelligence-chief, head of the National Intelligence Council, and former U.S. Ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, secretly met with Putin in Moscow on 31 July 2013 in order to try to pry Russia away from protecting the Governments of both Syria and Iran — Bandar even told Putin “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the [upcoming Sochi Winter Olympic] games are controlled by us.” Bandar also promised to buy up to $15 billion of Russian-made weapons, if Putin would abandon protection of the sovereignty of the Syrian and Iranian Governments. Putin said no. Bandar was the long-time friend of Israel who had donated heavily to Al Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks, even out of his personal account. He was especially close to both U.S. President Bushes.

The Trump arms-deal with Saudi Arabia is enormous — $404 billion over ten years — and it very much is at stake now because of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. America’s ‘news’-media hide this reality.

For example, the 16 October 2018 NPR “Morning Edition” program headlined “Trump Says He Won’t Scrap Arms Deal Over Missing Saudi Journalist” and host Steve Inskeep diminished the importance of Trump’s enormous arms-deal with Saudi Arabia. Inskeep interviewed a supposed expert on international arms-sales. He asked her about Saudi Arabia, whether they are “a really lucrative market for weapons” and she said “Arms sales aren’t this lucrative big deal for the United States,” because “arms sales are a pretty inefficient employment mechanism,” which wasn’t even relevant to answering the question that had been asked. She went on to say they’re not lucrative because “sometimes weapons are given on grant or on favorable credit terms,” but that too was irrelevant but just pointed to the fact that the U.S. taxpayer is often subsidizing those extremely lucrative — for the weapons-firms — transactions. Her answer ignored that Lockheed Martin etc. benefit just the same; only taxpayers lose when it’s subsidized. Inskeep: “You’re saying that there aren’t actually many jobs at stake?” She answered: “That’s what we’ve seen in the past.” But she again falsified, because what the econometric studies actually show is that armaments-expenditures produce less economic growth than non-‘defense’ spending does. (In fact, in the U.S., military spending actually decreases long-term GDP-growth.) Yet still, adding $404 billion to U.S. manufacturing sales in any field (‘defense’ or otherwise) is an enormous short-term boost. (Inskeep and his guest never even mentioned the amount, $404 billion in this deal; the program was geared to idiots and to keeping them such. It was geared to deceive.) Both the questioner and the ‘expert’ were geared toward hiding the basic reality, certainly not to explaining it. Trump’s largest boost to U.S. GDP thus far has been that $404 billion arms-sale he made to Prince Salman in 2017. It caused stock-values of those armaments-firms to soar, and will (unless cancelled) produce an enormous number of new jobs in the U.S. making those weapons, once the specific contracts have become finalized. But the boosts to armaments-makers’ stock values are already evident. And yet not once in that segment was it mentioned that the Saudi deal was for $404 billion of U.S.-made weapons over a ten-year period. That sale dwarfs any previous weapons-sale in history. NPR simply lied; they deceived their audience. One might say it’s instead because of incompetence on their part, but those program-hosts and producers and guests are hired and engaged and retained because they possess this kind of ‘incompetence’. It’s no mistake, and it is systematic throughout the mainstream Western ‘news’-media. It is lying ‘news’-media. So, as a result, the American public cannot understand U.S.-Saudi relations and other matters that are basic understandings by and for the aristocracy. These are propaganda-media, not news-media.

In fact, just the day earlier, on October 15th, NPR had even headlined “Fact Check: How Much Does Saudi Arabia Spend On Arms Deals With The U.S.?” The sub-head was “President Trump says he does not want to endanger what he describes as a $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. But the actual figure is considerably lower.” They reported that, “Since Donald Trump has been president, the United States and Saudi Arabia have concluded less than $4-billion-worth of arms agreements.” No mention was made of the $350 billion figure, much less of the $404 billion one. It’s as if the agreements didn’t exist. (At the time of the signing of the ten-year arms-deal, the video, which starts with Trump signing some documents, shows that the Saud Government stated at 3:03 that the deal was for “an investment of more than $480 billion dollars” some of which was non-military, and at 3:15 it says that the deal will “provide hundreds of thousands of jobs” to the United States. Specific congratulations were given there as contracts were being handed to CEOs and Chairmen of Raytheon, General Electric, Dow Chemical, and other corporations.) Of course, the U.S. Government could have been lying, and the deal could have been different from what the PR says. But that’s not the type of lie which NPR alleged here. Anyone nowadays who trusts what either the U.S. Government or its news-media say, is trusting demonstrably untrustworthy sources — and this too is not the type of lying (their own lying) that NPR says exists. They just lie.

Saudi Arabia’s purchase now of Russia’s S-400 does indicate that the U.S. aristocracy might lose their most important foreign ally, the Saud family, and that international relations could transform in transformative ways, not just superficially. It’s only a sign, but what it signals is enormously significant — and U.S. ‘news’-media are hiding it.

The General Manager of the Saud family’s Al Arabya international TV channel that was established in order to compete against the Thani family’s Al Jazeera international TV channel, issued stark warnings to the U.S., on Sunday, October 14th. Headlining “US sanctions on Riyadh would mean Washington is stabbing itself,” he closed: “If Washington imposes sanctions on Riyadh, it will stab its own economy to death, even though it thinks that it is stabbing only Riyadh!” In between those were: The Kingdom is considering “more than 30 potential measures to be taken against the imposition of sanctions on Riyadh.” Included among them are: the price of oil “jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure.” Also “a Russian military base in Tabuk, northwest of Saudi Arabia.” More realistically, however, he threatened: “An oil barrel may be priced in a different currency, Chinese yuan, perhaps, instead of the dollar. And oil is the most important commodity traded by the dollar today.” And, he did not miss this one, either:

It will not be strange that Riyadh would stop buying weapons from the US. Riyadh is the most important customer of US companies, as Saudi Arabia buys 10 percent of the total weapons that these US companies produce, and buys 85 percent from the US army which means what’s left for the rest of the world is only five percent; [and that’s] in addition to the end of Riyadh’s investments in the US government which reaches $800 billion.

For the very first time publicly, a mouthpiece for the Saud family has now said publicly that the U.S. doesn’t control the Saudi Government; the Saudi Government controls the U.S.

If the relationship between the Saud family and the U.S. is the relationship between a dog and its tail, which is which? Perhaps Cecil Rhodes, were he to return, would be so shocked, he’d have a heart-attack and die a second time.

UPDATE: As this is being written, on October 19th, there has been speculation that the Saudi Government is planning to admit that individual(s) in it had made bad errors, which tragically ended in a botched interrogation of Khashoggi at the Consulate in Istanbul. This response would not be credible in any case, because of the long history, going back decades, of prominent potential opponents of the Saud family being inexplicably disappeared and never heard from (or about) again. For one example, the headline from this past May 30th, six months ago, remains current news, as of even today: “NAWAF AL RASHEED, SON OF PRINCE TALAL BIN ABDULAZIZ AL RASHEED, DISAPPEARED SINCE MAY 12 DEPORTATION TO SAUDI ARABIA”. And, going back to before Crown Prince Salman, to the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing ‘suspects’, all of them simply disappeared, never to be heard from (or about) again — no public trial, nothing at all. There are many such cases, of many different kinds. This is normal Saudi practice — not abnormal at all. What is abnormal is that Jamal Khashoggi had just been hired by perhaps the world’s second-wealthiest person, Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post, to write articles against the Crown-Prince son, and future heir, of overwhelmingly the world’s wealthiest person, King Salman. That’s what is different from those such prior instances.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Boycott Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Here’s Why:

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

NATO — the neoconservatives, the marketeers for firms such as Lockheed Martin and BAE — has taken over the social-media giants and much of online international ‘news’-reporting, including that of virtually all independent news-sites and blogs.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google, in recent days, delivered what might be the death-blows.

NATO’s main PR agency, think-tank, and lobbying organization, is ‘non-profit’ — a legal tax-dodge that’s financed by donations from those weapons-making firms and their supporting firms and their ‘non-profits’, so that the taxes that it doesn’t pay will need to be paid instead by the general public. Billionaires know how to avoid taxes, and they hire politicians who write the laws with all the ‘right’ loopholes for them — and only for the very richest — to use. This PR agency is called “The Atlantic Council,” and it was set up in 1961, the exact same year that U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower left office warning that “the military-industrial complex” might take control of the U.S. Well, it did so, with The Atlantic Council’s help; and, now, it is finally lowering the boom against democracy itself — at least among the U.S. and its allied nations (the governments whose weapons-manufacturing firms are in, and sell to, NATO governments). The aim is to drive up the percentage of government-expenditures there that go to pay those firms, and so to reduce the percentages that go to pay everything else. The aim, in short, is the permanent-warfare-economy. After all, firms such as Lockheed Martin and BAE sell only to allied governments. They have virtually no consumers except those governments. So: their (and their ‘charities’) basic message is ‘austerity’ — except on ‘defense’ or realistically called “aggression.” This is national ‘defense’ such as against Iraq in 2003, and against Libya in 2011 — it is instead sheer aggression. George Orwell predicted “Newspeak” — well, here it is. It’s today’s norm, so normal that the public think it’s just natural, and conservatives and even many liberals think it’s the way that ‘a free market’ ought to be.

Here was Facebook’s announcement, on October 11th:

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https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/10/removing-inauthentic-activity/

11 October 2018

Removing Additional Inauthentic Activity from Facebook

Today, we’re removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior. Given the activity we’ve seen — and its timing ahead of the US midterm elections — we wanted to give some details about the types of behavior that led to this action. Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of Groups and Pages to drive traffic to their websites. Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was. Others were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.

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Those 559 and 251 weren’t identified; none of them were. Facebook wants them to need to scream in order for them to be able to be noticed at all by the public. The announcement didn’t even say by what criteria they were measuring ‘Inauthentic Activity’ versus ‘legitimate political debate’. Their announcement did say “we look at these actors’ behavior – such as whether they’re using fake accounts or repeatedly posting spam – rather than their content when deciding which of these accounts, Pages or Groups to remove,” but unless they make public what the actual algorithms are by means of which they remove sites, no one should trust them, at all, because they can remove whatever NATO or The Atlantic Council (neither of which their announcement even mentioned) want them to remove.

The background for this act by the war-economy’s billionaires had already been reported at Mint Press on May 18th, “Facebook Partners With Hawkish Atlantic Council, a NATO Lobby Group, to ‘Protect Democracy’”, where Elliott Gabriel opened:

Facebook is hoping that a new alliance with the Atlantic Council — a leading geopolitical strategy think-tank seen as a de facto PR agency for the U.S. government and NATO military alliance – will not only solve its “fake news” and “disinformation” controversy, but will also help the social media monolith play “a positive role” in ensuring democracy on a global level.

The new partnership will effectively ensure that Atlantic Council will serve as Facebook’s “eyes and ears,” according to a company press statement. With its leadership comprised of retired military officers, former policymakers, and top figures from the U.S. National Security State and Western business elites, the Atlantic Council’s role policing the social network should be viewed as a virtual takeover of Facebook by the imperialist state and the council’s extensive list of ultra-wealthy and corporate donors.

Then, on October 12th, Mint Press’s Whitney Webb bannered “Facebook Purges US-Based Independent Media For Political Disinformation”, and reported that,

Notably, Facebook’s statement on the mass purge of pages was co-authored by Facebook Head of Cybersecurity Nathaniel Gleicher, who is a former White House National Security Council director of cybersecurity policy.

Twitter also banned many of the pages targeted for deletion by Facebook on Thursday, suggesting a coordinated censorship effort between the two most popular social media platforms.

Many of the pages banned had millions of likes, such as the Free Thought Project (3.1 million likes), Antimedia (2.1 million), Cop Block (1.7 million), and Police the Police (1.9 million). Several of the pages that were deleted on Thursday had been targeted by Facebook in recent months, both through new censorship algorithms and Facebook’s controversial team of “fact checkers.”

For instance, the Free Thought Project had been flagged earlier this year as “fake news” by Facebook “fact checking” partner organizations, including  the Associated Press (AP) and Snopes. In one case, a story published by the Free Thought Project was flagged as “false” by the AP. That story, which detailed the documented case of Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) being forcibly removed from a DHS migrant detention center that had once been a Walmart, was marked false because the AP asserted that the article made the claim that Walmart was housing immigrants for DHS. However, the article does not make the claim, instead accurately noting that the facility used to be a Walmart.

Censorship algorithms had also greatly affected traffic to the recently deleted pages for much of the past year. In the case of Antimedia, its traffic dropped from around 150,000 page views per day in early June to around 12,000 by the end of that month. As a reference, in June of last year, Antimedia’s traffic stood at nearly 300,000 views per day.

Also on October 12th, heavy dot com bannered “‘Facebook Purge’: List of Some Deleted Accounts on Left & Right” and listed a few dozen sites that the article’s writer had seen online screaming about having been removed.

Meanwhile, in UK’s very mainstream Daily Mail (the second-largest-circulation of all UK’s newspapers), columnist Michael Burleigh headlined on October 13th “Putin’s taking over Libya by stealth in order to point a new weapon at the West — millions of desperate migrants” and he opened:

So bloody and extensive is President Putin’s record of aggression, not least in Syria and Ukraine, that an incursion into the empty deserts of North Africa might hardly seem worth noting.

Yet the discovery that Russia is moving troops and missiles into war-torn Libya has rightly caused alarms to sound throughout the capitals of Europe.

It is a step of huge significance, and one with potentially disastrous results for Western nations.

The discovery that Vladimir Putin, above, and his government is moving troops and missiles into war-torn Libya has rightly caused alarm. Russia – this time in the form of Rosneft, the huge oil company controlled by Putin’s sinister crony Igor Sechin – is interested in a slice of Libya’s vast oil reserves, the largest in Africa

Libya has both oil and Mediterranean ports, and Russia is hungry for both.

But was it Russia that in 2011 had invaded and destroyed Libya, or was it U.S., UK, and France, who invaded and destroyed Libya — a country that like Iraq, Syria, Yemen and others which The West has destroyed, had never threatened nor invaded any of them?

Burleigh continued:

 – cause enough for concern, perhaps. Yet the real fear for European governments is this: Libya, with its porous southern borders, has become the main jumping-off point for the hundreds of thousands of African migrants now seeking to cross the Mediterranean to the shores of the EU and, in particular, Italy.

So, his own country, UK, had helped with the bombing of Libya that had caused all those ‘migrants’ (actually refugees) into Europe, but now he’s trying to blame Putin for it, as if Russia and not UK, U.S., and France were the cause of it. Doesn’t that “mislead people”?

But is the Daily Mail being strangled by Facebook, Twitter, and Google; or is it instead being done to the small-fry political sites, which aren’t owned and controlled by the aristocracies of the U.S., UK, France, and their allied aristocracies — all the aristocracies that are in NATO and promoted by The Atlantic Council?

Here is yet more from Elliott Gabriel’s excellent news-report at Mint Press on May 18th, providing background to the present purges and censorships:

The announcement, made last Thursday in a Facebook Newsroom post, explained that the social network’s security, policy and product teams will coordinate their work with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) to analyze “real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world.”

DFRLab employees include pro-war media activist Eliot Higgins (of Bellingcat fame) and Ben Nimmo — a senior fellow for information defense at the Atlantic Council, who earned infamy for his groundless accusations that actual Twitter users are Russian trolls.

Read more on Facebook

Continuing, Facebook global politics and government outreach director Katie Harbath explained:

This will help increase the number of ‘eyes and ears’ we have working to spot potential abuse on our service — enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world.”

“We know that tackling these problems effectively also requires the right policies and regulatory structures, so that governments and companies can help prevent abuse while also ensuring that people have a voice during elections. The Atlantic Council’s network of leaders is uniquely situated to help all of us think through the challenges we will face in the near- and long-term.”

The think-tank’s Digital Research Unit Monitoring Missions will also be tapped by the social network during elections and “other highly sensitive moments” to allow Facebook the ability to zero in on key locales and monitor alleged misinformation and foreign interference.”

Who is the Atlantic Council?

Hillary Clinton at the 2013 Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards (Photo: Atlantic Council)

The Atlantic Council was recently in the news for receiving a donation of $900,000 from the U.S. State Department for a “Peace Process Support Network” program to “promote non-violent conflict resolution” in support of Venezuela’s scattered opposition, with which the council enjoys very close ties. The council also advocates the arming of extremist militants in Syria (a “National Stabilization Force”) and a hard-line policy toward Russia.

Established in 1961 by former U.S. Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter, the Atlantic Council of the United States was originally conceived as a means to drum up support for the Cold War-era NATO alliance, which had formed in 1949 as the basis of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture during the post-WWII competition with the Soviet Union. Dozens of similar Atlantic Councils were eventually established throughout the NATO and Partnership for Peace states.

The council is a part of the Atlantic Treaty Association, a NATO offshoot that claims to unite “political leaders, academics, military officials, journalists and diplomats in an effort to further the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty, namely: democracy, freedom, liberty, peace, security, and the rule of law.”

In general, groups such as the Atlantic Council are meant to secure the legitimacy of U.S. policies and neoliberal economics in the eyes of world audiences and academia, whether they live in the “advanced democracies” (the imperialist center) or “developing democracies” (the post-colonial and economically exploited nations).

Mint Press — a real news-operation, instead of the fake-news operations that are being boosted by Facebook, Twitter, and Google — apparently hasn’t yet been removed by Facebook, but the permanent-war-economy is only just starting to lower the boom. And, who knows what’s next, in American ‘democracy’, now?

The way to boycott Facebook, Twitter, and Google, is to NOT respond to their ads, but instead to blacklist their advertisers and all media that rely upon those giant social-media sites. There are competitors, and those need to be aggressively favored by anyone who doesn’t want to be mentally strangulated by these three giant corporations.

These media-giants want to strangle the public; so, the public needs to strangle them first.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Jamal Khashoggi: Where The Road to Damascus & The Path to 9/11 Converge

By Kristen Breitweiser, one of the four 9/11 widows – known as the “Jersey Girls” – instrumental in forcing the government to form the 9/11 Commission to investigate the 2001 attacks. Follow Kristen Breitweiser on Twitter: .

Road to Damascus Conversion: Derived from the Biblical story of Paul, the term “Damascus road conversion” is commonly used to refer to an abrupt about-face on a serious issue of religion, politics or philosophy. In this type of change, a single, dramatic event causes a person to become aligned with something he or she previously was against or support a position that he or she previously opposed. https://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-damascus-road-conversion.htm#didyouknowout

As a 9/11 widow who has spent the last 17 years fighting for accountability with regard to the 9/11 attacks that killed my husband and 3,000 others, I find the recent uproar over Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder interesting and out of character for many of those decrying his disappearance and demanding an investigation and accountability.

Frankly, 9/11 Family members keep a running list of all those in Washington who have proved by their past actions to be against U.S. victims of terrorism and in support of nations like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a nation with a long history of supporting global Wahhabist terrorism. As victims of terrorism, we are ever vigilant and watchful about all those named on our lists. We follow these folks actions, their speeches, their legislation, because we know that they are never looking out for our best interests as U.S. victims of terrorism. As a group, our institutional memory is broad and long. And we never forget.

That’s why we all happened to notice the uncharacteristic behavior of so many of those on our lists with the advent of Jamal Khasoggi’s disappearance. And it made us wonder why so many people, who had previously always blindly supported the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, were now so vociferously jumping Saudi ship.

What had caused this Road to Damascus conversion?

Take for example those who fought against the release of The 28 Pages of the Joint Inquiry of Congress(JICI) that detailed the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks for fear that The 28 Pages public release might harm the Saudi’s reputation and its very special relationship with the United States. A relationship, in large part, based on oil, weapons, money, and shared intelligence operations—things that have little to do with keeping American citizens safe. https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=27164

Regarding The 28 Pages, CIA Director, John Brennan once said, “releasing a classified section of the congressional investigation into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States would be a mistake. A reason to keep them under wraps is they contain “unvetted information” that some could use to unfairly implicate Saudi Arabia in the terror attacks.” https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/278313-cia-director-28-pages-contains-inaccurate-information

Yet, now when faced with the comparatively less significant disappearance and murder of only one man, Khashoggi (not the thousands on 9/11, the hundreds from Khobar and the Embassy bombings or the 17 U.S. sailors from the Cole), based on far less substantiated and convincing evidence from newspapers(rather than a several hundred page bi-partisan, bi-cameral Congressional Investigation’s Final Report), John Brennan is suddenly moved to hold the Saudis accountable.

On Khashoggi’s disappearance, Brennan had this to say: “It appears increasingly likely that Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was detained and killed at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. There is still much that we don’t know, but if such an audacious act was carried out, it almost certainly would have required the approval of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Khashoggi was a particular irritant to the crown prince. Khashoggi was widely known and respected inside and outside the kingdom for his literary talent, political acumen and principled opposition to Mohammed’s increasing authoritarianism and arrogance. The news reports and Turkish government accounts of Khashoggi’s disappearance from the Saudi Consulate, and the contemporaneous arrival of two planeloads of Saudis, have the hallmarks of a professional capture operation or, more ominously, an assassination. As someone who worked closely with the Saudis for many years, and who lived and worked as a U.S. official for five years in Saudi Arabia, I am certain that if such an operation occurred inside a Saudi diplomatic mission against a high-profile journalist working for a U.S. newspaper, it would have needed the direct authorization of Saudi Arabia’s top leadership — the crown prince. I am confident that U.S. intelligence agencies have the capability to determine, with a high degree of certainty, what happened to Khashoggi. If he is found to be dead at the hands of the Saudi government, his demise cannot go unanswered — by the Trump administration, by Congress or by the world community. Ideally, King Salman would take immediate action against those responsible, but if he doesn’t have the will or the ability, the United States would have to act. That would include immediate sanctions on all Saudis involved; a freeze on U.S. military sales to Saudi Arabia; suspension of all routine intelligence cooperation with Saudi security services; and a U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the murder. The message would be clear: The United States will never turn a blind eye to such inhuman behavior, even when carried out by friends, because this is a nation that remains faithful to its values.”

Really, Mr. Brennan? Never turn a blind eye? You turned two blind eyes to the Saudis for nearly 20 years as you defended them and kept the truth of their misdeeds shrouded in secrecy from the 9/11 families, the Embassy Bombing families, the Khobar Tower families, and the USS Cole families. Cover up is complicity and you have been complicit for 20 years! And now you are worried about inhumane behavior? Now, you are interested in the United States taking immediate action and imposing sanctions?

For the record, Mr Brennan—>3,000 innocent souls were brutally murdered in cold-blood on 9/11. Their massacre yielded literally tens of thousands of body parts that were recovered and returned to the victim’s family or unceremoniously incinerated at Ground Zero and/or hastily dumped in a garbage land-fill in Staten Island. http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/9-11-victims-not-left-fresh-kills-dump-families-article-1.307359  That, John Brennan, is the definition of inhumanity.

Unfortunately, John Brennan is not the only DC insider who’s pulling a road to Damascus conversion in the face of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance. As a 9/11 family member who fought with many other 9/11 family members to have the right to hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable in a court of law by getting legislation called JASTA (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act) enacted into law, I know far too many people in Washington https://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/297482-saudis-hire-lobbyists-amid-fight-over-9-11  more than willing to choose their Saudi “friends” https://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/business-a-lobbying/304019-saudi-arabia-continues-expansion-of-k-street-force instead of helping U.S. victims of terrorism get our day in court for the mass murder of our loved ones. https://28pages.org/saudi-lobbying-scandal/

Chief among those Saudi supporters who threw us under the bus was our Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama and members of his Administration. http://passjasta.org/2016/09/statement-regarding-president-obamas-veto-anti-terrorism-bill-jasta/  Obama opposed JASTA from the start. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/04/saudi-arabia-911-bill-congress/478689/  And, when JASTA earned a near unanimous vote by Congress to become law, Obama heartlessly vetoed it. Thankfully, Obama’s veto of JASTA was soundly overridden by Congress who meted out the only veto-override of Barack Obama’s entire 8-year nearly perfect Presidency. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/obama-jasta-228548 And he deserved it. And just for the record, over those 8 years, the families and survivors wrote 5 letters to President Obama asking for a dialogue with him about JASTA, all delivered by members of Congress and all completely ignored by him. President Obama even fought against the release of the 28 pages—delaying their release for years—even though he admitted to never taking the time to read them!

When asked about the victims of terrorism legislation, JASTA, and the rights of the 9/11 Families to have a path to justice to hold all those who participated in the 9/11 attacks accountable in a court of law, Obama Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, said, “while the White House was sympathetic to the concerns of 9/11 families, they objected to the bill’s “principle of undermining sovereign immunity.” https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tasneemnashrulla/house-vote-9-11-jasta-bill

In short, to the Obama Administration (who was, at the time, very focused on their Iran Deal and ensuring Saudi silence for that deal), the rights of the 9/11 families to justice for the mass murder of our loved ones, had to yield to the more noble sounding concept of state sovereignty. Funny, we were all pretty certain that any modicum of state sovereignty pretty much flew out the window on 9/11 when our homeland—i.e. our sovereign—was attacked by 19 hijackers(15 of whom were Saudi) crashing planes into buildings. Not so, for Rhodes and Obama.

Interestingly though, most recently, Ben Rhodes has said this about Saudi accountability as it pertains to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance: we are presently suffering from, “A Fatal Abandonment of American Leadership with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. And that it drives home the consequences of the Trump administration’s refusal to champion democratic values around the globe.” Rhodes goes on to say, “It’s not too late to heed Khashoggi’s warnings—to understand that while Saudi Arabia is a historic partner of the United States, our interests are not totally aligned with the Saudi leadership’s, and our values are most definitely not. We should cease all support for the war in Yemen, and lead an effort to address its humanitarian crisis. We should balance our principled opposition to the Iranian regime’s nefarious behavior with a return to the diplomatic agreement that prevents that regime from obtaining a nuclear weapon. We should resume an aggressive transition away from a reliance on fossil fuels. We should support countries like Canada that have been bullied by the Saudis when they spoke out on human-rights issues. We should cease military sales until the truth about Khashoggi’s disappearance comes out, and make clear that our support going forward is not without conditions. And we could once more stand up for universal rights, even if it means inviting the opposition of those who have a very different view of justice.” https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/jamal-khashoggi-and-us-saudi-relationship/572905/

I’d just like to add a few points regarding Ben’s discussion of the “Fatal Abandonment of American Leadership” currently underway: First, the Yemen war started under President Obama. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/09/yemen-saudi-arabia-obama-riyadh/501365/ Second, any humanitarian crisis created in Yemen was largely ignored under Obama. https://theweek.com/articles/625047/obamas-odious-war-yemen  Third, military sales to the Saudis under Obama always flourished. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudi-security-idUSKCN11D2JQ And, fourth, regarding standing up for “universal rights” and “views of justice”—Obama should have chosen to stand up with the 9/11 families by supporting JASTA, rather than stabbing us in the back and vetoing JASTA. Full stop, Ben.

It’s important to highlight that, to date, not one person has been held accountable or fully prosecuted by the U.S. government for the mass murder of 3,000 people on 9/11, the injuries of thousands and the responders, many of whom are sick and dying. That’s why JASTA was so important to the 9/11 Families and all Americans. And that’s why we had hoped that a former Constitutional Law professor, scholar, and lawyer like President Barack Obama would have supported our efforts as U.S. victims of terrorism.

Notably, 17 years after the 9/11 attacks, those held at GTMO are still in the pre-trial phase of the military tribunal system. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/15/opinion/guantanamo-detainees.html And, lawyers who participate in the GTMO system privately acknowledge that the detainee cases will likely never make it to the trial phase—due in large part because of the difficulties created by the CIA’s enhanced interrogation(torture) program carried out on the GTMO detainees. https://theintercept.com/2018/03/05/guantanamo-trials-abd-al-rahim-al-nashiri/

Moreover, not one Department of Justice(DOJ) U.S. Attorney’s Office—even the famous Southern District of NY(SDNY) who can “indict a ham sandwich”—has bothered to file a single indictment against any co-conspirator connected to the 9/11 attacks. Inexplicably, 3,000 pre-meditated murders took place in downtown Manhattan a few blocks from the SDNY offices and they’ve got nothing to show for themselves when it comes to 9/11. How is that possible? Or, even acceptable? Where are the newspaper columns, editorials, articles, and op-eds about that outrage?

Of course, President Obama and his advisors were not the only ones fighting against the 9/11 Families in our plight to hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable in a court of law. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was another one of the key members of Congress who chose to side with the Saudis instead of the 9/11 Families.

Specifically, regarding JASTA and the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks, Graham was “not convinced the Saudi government was culpable even though many of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens.”They want to blame bin Laden,” Graham said about the Saudis. “All I can say is, from what I can tell, I don’t think the government of Saudi Arabia was involved here.” Graham, who said he’s in close contact with Saudi officials about the issue, warned it could destroy America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, a critical ally in the tumultuous Middle East. “This is an odd situation in the sense that 9/11 families are high on everybody’s list to take care of,” Graham said. “It comes at a time when Saudi Arabia believes that America is not a reliable ally. It comes at a time when they think they’re being blamed for things they didn’t do. All I’m trying to find is a way to move forward with a legal process that doesn’t destroy the relationship. That’s worth investing some time in.” https://www.cnn.com/2016/09/16/politics/gop-senators-9-11-lawsuit-bill/index.html

Now juxtapose that with what Graham has to say after the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi: “I’ve never been more disturbed than I am right now. If this man was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, that would cross every line of normality in the international community.” https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/10/lindsey-graham-hell-to-pay-if-saudi-arabia-killed-jamal-khashoggi.html “If they’re this brazen it shows contempt. Contempt for everything we stand for, contempt for the relationship.” https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/11/lindsey-graham-channels-john-mccain-over-missing-saudi-journalist.html

Lindsey Graham has never been more concerned with such “brazen contempt” put forth by the Saudis in connection to the disappearance of Khashoggi? Apparently, for Lindsey, it wasn’t the 3,000 dead on 9/11, and fifteen Saudi hijackers flying planes into the Twin Towers and Pentagon that triggered the end of his Saudi love affair. No, it was Jamal Khashoggi getting killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

What really speaks to the hypocrisy currently underfoot surrounding Khashoggi and the sudden out of character demands for Saudi accountability is the cross-over Congressional signatories found on two separate Senate letters.

First, the Senator Bob Corker “Unintended Consequences” letter written and signed by 28 Senators immediately on the heels of JASTA becoming law. https://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/298357-senators-eye-changes-to-9-11-bill-after-veto  The 9/11 Families considered the Corker letter as a betrayal and an act of bad faith. In short, we believed that those who signed the letter had succumbed to Saudi pressure and thrown us under the bus.

In part, the Corker letter said: We have a great deal of compassion for the families and respect their desire for justice.  We understand your purpose in drafting this legislation is to remove obstacles so those who commit or support terrorist acts in the United States face the full range of consequences of the U.S. legal system.  However, concerns have been raised regarding potential unintended consequences that may result from this legislation for the national security and foreign policy of the United States. We would hope to work with you in a constructive manner to appropriately mitigate those unintended consequences.

Yet, when it comes to Khashoggi, Corker no longer seems to worry about any unintended consequences. Rather, he is seeking very significant and fully-intended consequences. Corker has this to say: “If it turns out to be what we all think it is today but don’t know, but what we all think it is today, there will have to be significant sanctions placed at the highest levels.” He also said, “It points to the idea that whatever has happened to him, the Saudis—I mean, they’ve got some explaining to do.” Corker warned that a congressional response to the alleged killing would be “tangible,” adding: “Our relations with Saudi Arabia, at least from the Senate standpoint, are the lowest ever. It’s never been this low.” https://www.thedailybeast.com/saudi-story-about-journalist-jamal-khashoggi-doesnt-hold-up-says-bob-corker-everything-points-to-murde

Unsurprisingly, Corker is not alone in his Road to Damascus conversion. Interestingly, nine of the very same Senators who wanted to “tweak” JASTA along with Senator Corker, due to their concerns about the “unintended consequences” of the 9/11 Families holding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable, now seem to have no problem demanding an investigation and swift accountability for Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder. https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/10/politics/corker-menendez-letter-trump-saudi-sanctions-jamal-khashoggi/index.html

In part the Corker Khoshoggi letter states: The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights, which includes “torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and trial, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, and other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of person.” Therefore, we request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi. Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia. Under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, the president, upon receipt of a letter from the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, must make a determination and is authorized to impose sanctions with respect to a foreign person responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights violations against individuals who seek to obtain, exercise, defend, or promote human rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression.”

Once again, we have a group of people doing a complete Road to Damascus conversion. These same nine Senators weren’t interested in providing Saudi accountability to the 9/11 Families, yet now, they are demanding it for Jamal Khashoggi.

Moreover, for years, many of these Senators didn’t seem to care too much about the human rights of the Yemeni citizens getting slaughtered by U.S. bombs and ammunitions. They all seemed ok with signing off on lucrative arms packages-even in the face of report after report after report of human rights atrocities taking place in Yemen and Syria at the hands of the Saudis. http://time.com/4528393/yemen-saudi-arabia-strike-wedding/ The nine Senators who signed both the Khashoggi letter and the JASTA “Unintended Consequences” letter are: Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, Ben Cardin, Jeff Flake, Jeanne Shaheen, Chris Coons, Jeff Merkely, Mark Udall, and Jim Risch.

Which begs the obvious question: Who was Jamal Khashoggi and why has his disappearance and alleged murder triggered this unprecedented, and out of character response from so many in Washington DC?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question makes the many statements and support currently being given by so many in Washington even more incomprehensible. Because Jamal Khashoggi was no Mother Theresa.

First, let me be crystal clear—>Jamal Khashoggi was not merely a journalist working for the Washington Post.

Additionally, Jamal Khashoggi was not just an outspoken critic of current Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Simple research reveals a much more colorful background of Jamal Khashoggi. https://spectator.us/2018/10/jamal-khashoggi/

To start, a person should read the Chicago Tribune article from 2004 that talks about Jamal Khashoggi being recruited by Adel Batterjee http://historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=adel_abdul_jalil_batterjee  in the 1980’s to get the “scoop of a lifetime.” That assignment was to go with Batterjee to Afghanistan and hang-out with the CIA/Saudi mujahideen fighting against the Soviets. The article is long and very well-researched. I highly suggest you take the time to read it because it details very clearly and specifically why and how Jamal Khashoggi knew so much about al Qaeda, the CIA, the Saudis, and much of the financing, funding, and organizing of Bin Laden that led to the 9/11 attacks. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-0402220496feb22-story.html

Next, I would encourage you to read some of Jamal Khashoggi’s opinion pieces from the Daily Star. Notably, do not read the ones cherry-picked by David Ignatius.  Read some of the others that include some fairly fiery words from Khashoggi: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2002/Jan-07/108710-combating-extremism-must-be-for-islams-sake-not-americas.ashx and http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2002/Jan-15/108152-examining-the-state-of-the-great-saudi-american-meltdown.ashx and  http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2002/Jan-23/109014-us-combat-of-terrorist-financing-is-exasperating-the-saudis.ashx and http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2002/Sep-17/101910-where-islam-is-concerned-the-world-has-become-colorblind.ashx  and http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2003/Feb-22/110816-why-saudis-are-unruffled-by-us-call-for-reform.ashx and http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2003/Jan-27/109765-bring-back-the-occupation.ashx

Also, please note that in one of the leading books written about the 9/11 attacks, Lawrence Wright’s, “The Looming Tower,” Jamal Khashoggi is portrayed by Wright as a “friend” of Bin Laden. Khashoggi is not a “journalist” who reports on bin Laden. Rather he is described as Osama Bin Laden’s friend. And the Bin Laden/Khashoggi friendship apparently spans more than a decade—from Afghanistan, to Pakistan, to the Sudan.

In addition, also note that Jamal Khashoggi was closely connected to Prince Turki al Faisal. Prince Turki was the head of Saudi intelligence for more than 20 years. Interestingly, he resigned from his post 10 days before 9/11. Probably more interestingly, Turki is the man who allegedly brokered the deal with Bin Laden back in 1998 where, in exchange for money and support, Bin Laden would not attack the Saudi Royal Family. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/563318/posts  Some believe that this agreement paved the way for the 9/11 attacks and various intelligence agencies around the globe “looking the other way” or “turning a blind eye” to al Qaeda’s actions in the lead up to 9/11. http://historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=turki_bin_faisal_bin_abdul_aziz_al_saud Notably, Prince Turki al Faisal was also one of the first named defendants in the 9/11 Families’ litigation. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/mar/02/september11.politics  He was dismissed from the case years ago due to grounds of sovereign immunity.

Moreover, Jamal Khashoggi was also closely connected to Prince Alaweed bin Talal who was held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel last year by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Additionally, reporting also links Talal to the 9/11 attacks. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/11390705/Saudi-princes-supported-al-Qaeda-before-911-claims-twentieth-hijacker.html and https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/05/world/middleeast/pre-9-11-ties-haunt-saudis-as-new-accusations-surface.html and https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-03-20/alwaleed-reveals-secret-deal-struck-to-exit-ritz-after-83-days

Finally, there is Khashoggi’s family connection to Adnan Khashoggi, the notorious Saudi arm’s dealer at the center of the CIA’s Iran-Contra fiasco back in the 80’s. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/adnan-khashoggi-dead-saudi-arms-dealer-playboy-pleasure-wives-billionaire-lifestyle-wealth-profit-a7778031.html

Just because Jamal Khashoggi was around during the original days of al Qaeda’s creation, knew how all the Islamic charities were set up and how al Qaeda funds moved around the world, was a friend of Bin Laden’s for at least two decades, was very connected to Saudi intelligence and quite possibly, (like his Uncle Adnan) worked with the CIA, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Jamal Khashoggi was a bad actor.

But, I’m someone who believes that you judge a man’s character by the company he keeps which is why I find the current uproar over what happened to Jamal so curious.

One last fact to mention: the timing of Khashoggi’s disappearance when taken in connection with the 9/11 Families’ litigation. Last Friday, something very notable happened in the 9/11 litigation against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For the first time ever, the Department of Justice stood on the side of the 9/11 Families and publicly committed to finally releasing three large tranches of formerly secret documents that we believe connect the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the 9/11 attacks. This is the biggest development we have had in our over 16 years of litigation.

In a time when news lasts about as long as a minute, why has the story of Jamal Khashoggi dominated headlines for more than a week? Was Jamal Khashoggi ever questioned by the FBI at any time before or after the 9/11 attacks? If not, why not? Was Jamal Khashoggi ever employed by the CIA? Was Jamal Khashoggi ever deemed an asset of the CIA? When did Jamal’s employment for Saudi intelligence come to an end? Was Jamal Khashoggi a joint asset between the GIA and the CIA? Did Jamal Khashoggi ever have any contact with the 9/11 hijackers or anyone in the support network of the 9/11 hijackers inside the United States? And, why did it take 15 Saudi assassins to kill Jamal Khashoggi? Doesn’t that seem a bit like overkill? And, is it just a coincidence that there were 15 Saudi hijackers on 9/11? Why would Jamal Khashoggi willingly go to the Saudi Consulate in Turkey—especially given his alleged sour relationship with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman? What would inspire him to go there? And what was the entreaty MBS allegedly made to Jamal more than one month ago about anyways? Was it made in earnest? What was Jamal Khashoggi really doing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul?

In many ways, Jamal’s behavior reminds me of former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger when he got caught stealing and destroying top secret national security documents from the National Archives so many years ago. None of it makes any sense.

As someone who has fought for nearly 20 years to hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable for its alleged role in the 9/11 attacks, l applaud this newly found “mission of many” to hold the Saudis accountable—even if it is inspired by the disappearance, alleged murder and dismemberment of a man like Jamal Khashoggi.

Better late than never.

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Talk Nation Radio: Mark Dworkin on Navy Jet Noise Over Washington State

Mark Dworkin is, together with Melissa Young, an award-winning documentary film director, and the director of an important new film called Plane Truths. You can find Mark and Melissa at movingimages.org and this movie at planetruths.org. Plane Truths looks at the increased activity at the U.S. Navy base on Whidbey Island in Washington state — activity that is making life unbearable for locals and wildlife — collateral damage in the ever increasing militarization of society.

Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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