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Are False Stories About Russia/Afghanistan Pushing for War?

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Independent investigative reporter Gareth Porter just published the piece “How the Pentagon failed to sell Afghan government’s bunk ‘Bountygate’ story to U.S. intelligence agencies” at The Grayzone, which summarizes his findings thus: “Another New York Times Russiagate bombshell turns out to be a dud, as dodgy stories spun out by Afghan intelligence and exploited by the Pentagon ultimately failed to convince U.S. intelligence agencies.” [Also see 2017 article — “Should Media Expose Sources Who Lied to Them?” — by Sam Husseini for the media watch group FAIR.]

MATTHEW HOH, matthew_hoh at riseup.net
Hoh resigned in protest from his State Department position in Afghanistan in 2009 over the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama administration; he also served in Iraq with the Marines. He has recently been featured on two accuracy.org news release: “Is Big Media Echoing Accusations to Demonize Russia and Continue Afghan War?” and “Inconvenient Facts: U.S. Killed Russians in Syria and Afghanistan.”

Hoh said today: “I think it is all more of the same: anonymous, unverifiable and evidence free accusations that have blatant domestic political beneficiaries, breathlessly exclaimed by a press which cheerleads constantly for U.S. foreign policy, as well as U.S. intelligence and military agencies, without regard for or acknowledgment of the vast catalogue of lying by those same intelligence and military agencies for political and institutional purposes. The question that should be asked by everyone is why should any of these institutions or individuals be believed.

“If these accusations of Russian bounties are true, than rather than reporting and responding to them as a chain of Russian conspiracies in Afghanistan against a benevolent and passive United States they should be understood for what they are: the consequences of U.S. war in Afghanistan, not only for the last 19 years, but the last 40 years, as well as the eternal consequences of waging these unending wars in the Muslim world.

“These too are the consequences warned of in the 1990s as the United States and NATO expanded its military presence eastward towards the Russian border. The Doomsday Clock is now at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been to midnight since its inception in 1947. The people of the world are trapped in-between the 6,000 active and armed nuclear weapons of the United States and Russia, and further surrounded by climate change, pandemic, and exploitative neo-liberal economic policies. Meanwhile, both U.S. political parties utilize these accusations, and resulting tensions with Russia, for their own political benefit, while politicians, retired generals, the weapons industry and other elements of the $1.2 trillion annual war machine are using these well timed accusations to destroy peace attempts in and U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as justify $15 billion aircraft carriers, $2 billion bombers and $10 million tanks, along with a plan to spend $1.5 trillion on new nuclear weapons, resume nuclear testing and put weapons in space.”

Biden Advisor an “Apologist for Torture,” an Architect of “Kill Lists”

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JEFFREY KAYE, jeffkaye at sbcglobal.net, @jeff_kaye
Author of Cover-up at GuantanamoKaye said today: “According to former Obama senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, putative Democratic Party candidate for president Joe Biden picked a ‘superstar‘ when he appointed ex-CIA Deputy Director and White House attorney Avril Haines to head his national security and foreign policy team.

“No matter how much Obama/Biden administration officials praise her, Avril Haines’ role always seems to be making the unpalatable palatable, whether it’s prettifying companies like [data mining] contractor Palantir, agencies like the CIA, policies like ‘targeted killing,’ or war criminals like current CIA chief, ‘Bloody’ Gina Haspel.

“During Haspel’s contentious Senate confirmation, the Trump administration turned to Haines to legitimate Haspel, whose crimes included helping destroy CIA torture tapes, as well as participating in an unspecified management role at more than one CIA black site. Haines called Haspel ‘intelligent, compassionate, and fair.’ But that wasn’t all that Avril Haines has done for the CIA. She also participated in an ‘accountability board’ inquiry into CIA interference in the Senate investigation of CIA torture. She, of course, found no wrong-doing by the CIA.

“Haines claims to find torture immoral, yet she supports known torture official Haspel. Additionally, she was a White House lawyer when the UN Committee on Torture condemned the Obama-supported Army Field Manual on interrogations for using methods of interrogation, including sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation, that can cause psychotic reactions in prisoners, raising serious concerns of U.S. current use of torture. Did Haines agree with the Obama administration’s decision to defend the condemned techniques?

“We don’t know, as many questions haven’t been asked in the rush to anoint her a ‘superstar’ appointment. One anonymous progressive leader told The Daily Beast, ‘Being where any decent person should be on a few issues doesn’t cancel out an endorsement of torturers.’ It is sad that in 2020 ‘the leader of a progressive nonprofit that works on national security issues’ would fear ‘professional reprisal’ for daring to criticize Biden’s choice!

“The problems with Haines don’t stop with her shady connections to torture. It’s known that Avril Haines was Obama’s CIA deputy director. But most of the public doesn’t know she was also Obama’s direct advisor in constructing his targeted assassination ‘Kill List’ policy.

“Haines supposedly made Obama’s drone assassination program more transparent and less liable to kill innocents. But a 2016 ACLU examination of the policy Haines helped construct concluded it fell ‘far short of the standards for transparency and accountability needed to ensure that the government’s targeted killing program is lawful under domestic and international law.’ In particular, the Haines-influenced policy relied on ‘looser, law-of-war standards that govern conduct in war, rather than the more protective rules that apply under international human rights law.’

“Avril Haines is presented as a humane, intelligent and compassionate alternative to the typical white male elite that run the CIA and other such agencies. But her record is clear. She is an apologist for torture operations. She helped create kill lists for the CIA and U.S. Special Forces. She is not an alternative to the barbarism of the Trump administration, but a dire predictor of Biden’s obeisance as president to an out-of-control national security establishment.”

Inconvenient Facts: U.S. Killed Russians in Syria and Afghanistan

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ABC reports Thursday: “Top intel officials brief Pelosi, congressional leaders on reported Russian bounty on U.S. troops.”

The Daily Beast reported in 2018: “Report: U.S. Forces Killed More Than 200 Russian Fighters in Syria Attack.”

Excerpts from Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA [PDF is here], a Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Tim Weiner:

The CIA’s biggest gun running mission was its global pipeline to the mujahideen, the holy warriors of Afghanistan, who were fighting the 110,000-man Soviet army of occupation. It began under Jimmy Carter in January 1980. Because it was Carter’s idea, Casey did not embrace it wholeheartedly—not at first. But soon he saw the opportunity at hand. “I was the first chief of station ever sent abroad with this wonderful order: ‘Go kill Soviet soldiers,’ ” said Howard Hart, who arrived as the chief in Pakistan in 1981. “Imagine! I loved it.” It was a noble goal. But the mission was not to liberate Afghanistan. No one believed that the Afghans could actually win. From the start, the Saudis matched the CIA’s support for the rebels, dollar for dollar. The Chinese kicked in millions of dollars’ worth of weapons, as did the Egyptians and the British. The CIA coordinated the shipments. Hart handed them over to Pakistani intelligence. …

The Soviets were trying to build a natural-gas pipeline from Siberia into Eastern Europe. They needed computers to control its pressure gauges and valves. They sought the software on the open market in the United States. Washington rejected the request but subtly pointed to a certain Canadian company that might have what Moscow wanted. The Soviets sent a Line X officer to steal the software. The CIA and the Canadians conspired to let them have it. For a few months, the software ran swimmingly. Then it slowly sent the pressure in the pipeline soaring. The explosion in the wilds of Siberia cost Moscow millions it could ill afford to spare. The silent attack on Soviet military and state engineering programs went on for a year. …

The CIA’s Afghan operation was now a $700-million-a-year program. It represented about 80 percent of the overseas budget of the clandestine service. Armed with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, the Afghan rebels were killing Soviet soldiers, downing Soviet helicopter gunships, and inflicting deep wounds on the Soviet self-image. The CIA had done what it set out to do: to give the Soviets their Vietnam. “One by one we killed them,” said Howard Hart, who had run the mission to arm the Afghans from 1981 to 1984. “And they went home. And that was a terrorist campaign.”

MATTHEW HOH, matthew_hoh at riseup.net
Hoh resigned in protest from his State Department position in Afghanistan in 2009 over the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama administration; he also served in Iraq with the Marines. On Monday, he was featured on an accuracy.org news release: “Is Big Media Echoing Accusations to Demonize Russia and Continue Afghan War?

Is Big Media Echoing Accusations to Demonize Russia and Continue Afghan War?

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The New York Times on Friday published a piece titled: “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.”

The following analysts are scrutinizing this story:

MATTHEW HOH, matthew_hoh at riseup.net
Hoh resigned in protest from his State Department position in Afghanistan in 2009 over the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama administration; he also served in Iraq with the Marines.

He said today: “This is not the first time Russia has been accused of trying to harm U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. In 2017 and 2018 accusations were that Russia was supplying weapons to the Taliban were loudly repeated by the U.S. press, however, when put on record about such accusations, senior U.S., Afghan and NATO officials admitted there was no evidence to back such claims. In fact, the only confirmation of Russian involvement militarily in Afghanistan was the provision of 10,000 weapons to the Afghan government in 2016 by the Russians.

“This is more a story of the abdication of journalistic standards and critical practice than it really is about the war in Afghanistan. That nearly all corporate-owned media in the U.S. are simply repeating the claims of anonymous officials, claims that are made without any evidence, just demonstrates U.S. corporate media has become a public relations tool of the U.S. government. After corporate media’s willingness to repeat the baseless and unfounded claims, lies really, made by the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump in justifying U.S. war in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and now throughout Africa, it is no surprise they would go along, willingly and enthusiastically, with anonymous statements made without evidence, once again, in order to justify war in the Muslim world, to increase tensions with Russia, and to stoke Pentagon and military industry budgets. It should be noted nearly all the experts quoted in print or appearing on television/radio to speak about these claims are retired generals who are on the boards of military companies or residents of think tanks that receive funding from the U.S. government and/or the military industry.

“This has always been the nature of U.S. war in its imperial form, with false accusations supported by an excited media to create the domestic political support for war, or continued war. This is true of U.S. wars in Vietnam, Central America, the Spanish American War, the acquisition of Hawaii, the Mexican American War, U.S. support for the British Opium Wars, and, for hundreds of years, wars of genocide against the Indigenous people of this land.

“Of course, these dangerous accusations come at a time when peace efforts have reached a point in Afghanistan not seen since the early 1990s. Such an attempt to stop efforts to end a war with a continued value to the U.S. military industry, and elements within the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, should be expected.”

Hoh, a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy, who is also a 100 percent disabled veteran, has written extensively about U.S. wars for the last decade and has conducted hundreds of media interviews. See an appearance on CSPAN last year discussing the war in Afghanistan. His pieces include “Authorizations for Madness; The Effects and Consequences of Congress’ Endless Permissions for War,” “And the Armies That Remained Suffer’d: Veterans, Moral Injury and Suicide” and “Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies.”

SCOTT HORTON, via ed at scotthorton.org, @scotthortonshow
Horton is author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan and editorial director of Antiwar.com. He said of the recent reports: “The NYTWSJ and Washington Post stories all rely only on anonymous officials’ claims. These sources did not even describe the nature of the supposed intelligence to the reporters, much less prove their case. The journalists who wrote the articles have all cited each other as ‘confirming’ their stories on Twitter, when they all are still only repeating the same hearsay. (In a later follow-up, the Times added a few details, but still no reason to believe.)

“The timing is of course very suspicious due to impending negotiations with the Taliban and current negotiations with Russia, on U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and nuclear arms.

“After the intelligence agencies lied directly to the American people about Iraq’s unconventional weapons, Libya’s impending genocide, Syria’s ‘moderate rebel’ terrorists and especially the late-Russiagate hoax, every claim they make should be considered an outright lie until proven otherwise.

“Russia has supported U.S. efforts in Afghanistan since 2001. If they are now trying to give our government an excuse to stay bogged down in that no-win quagmire, then what does that say about our current occupation there in the first place?

“In 2017, the army admitted that there was no evidence for claims by officials to the media, such as CNN, that Russia was supplying weapons to the Taliban. War veteran journalists at Task and Purpose handily debunked those claims as well.

“There is no reason at all to believe the current accusations are any more credible.”

Others critics cited examples of U.S. policy killing or targeting Russians in Syria and in Afghanistan.