Menace of hypocrisy: Neocon propagandist frets over Russia’s ‘weaponization of information’

Maidhc Ó Cathail

RT Op-Edge

November 26, 2014

There was a strong whiff of hypocrisy in the Washington air on November 13 when the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) hosted a discussion of a report entitled ‘The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture, and Money’.

The Menace of Unreality is co-authored by Michael Weiss, editor-in-chief of the Interpreter, and Peter Pomerantsev, author of a forthcoming book asserting that Putin’s Russia is a post-modern dictatorship.

Introducing the discussion, NED’s Christopher Walker noted that the US Congress-funded Endowment hadn’t been involved in the production of the report but that it does have “close ties” to Weiss’s online journal and the New York-based think tank that funds it, the Institute of Modern Russia (IMR).

In the course of their report’s self-righteous criticism of the widespread “opaqueness” about who funds think tanks, Weiss and Pomerantsev disclose, in an aside, that their work is “funded by a think tank that receives support from the family of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.” Their critique of the weaponization of money, however, neglects to mention its funder’s conviction for embezzlement and money laundering.

In Washington, Weiss and Pomerantsev were joined in the discussion of their “counter-disinformation” report by an analyst from the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neoconservative advocacy group founded by Robert Kagan and William Kristol, whose earlier Project for a New American Century had played a key role in pushing the lies that led to the US invasion of Iraq.

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Behind the USS Liberty Cover-up

Maidhc Ó Cathail
Consortium News
November 12, 2014

“The Day Israel Attacked America,” an investigation into Israel’s deadly June 8, 1967 attack on the USS Liberty at the height of the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, was aired recently on Al Jazeera America.

Directed by British filmmaker Richard Belfield, the documentary confirms not only that the attack on the U.S. Navy spy ship was deliberate — an undisputed fact long accepted by all but the most shameless Israeli apologists — but reveals, perhaps for the first time, how Tel Aviv was able to induce the U.S. government to cover up an attack that killed 34 and injured 171 of its own seamen by a supposed “ally.”

“It was especially tough for Lyndon Johnson, to date the most pro-Israeli American president in history,” the film’s narrator observed. According to Tom Hughes, the State Department’s director of intelligence and research at the time of the Liberty attack, “Johnson was in a very tough mood.”

As an indication of Johnson’s initial firm stance, Hughes recalled that Johnson briefed Newsweek magazine off the record that the Israelis had attacked the Liberty, suggesting that they may have done so because they believed that the naval intelligence-gathering ship had been intercepting Israeli as well as Egyptian communications.

A post-interview leak revealing that it was the President himself who had briefed the media about the attack on the Liberty alarmed the Israeli embassy in Washington and its friends in the major Jewish organizations, who intimated that Johnson’s Newsweek briefing “practically amounted to blood libel.”

The documentary’s narrator said declassified Israeli documents now show that “they were going to threaten President Johnson with ‘blood libel’ — gross anti-Semitism — and that would end his political career.”

“Blackmail!” retired U.S. Navy admiral Bobby Ray Inman frankly summed up Israel’s strategy to deal with Johnson. “[T]hey know if he is thinking about running again he’s going to need money for his campaign,” said Inman, who from 1977 to 1981 directed the National Security Agency, the U.S. intelligence agency under whose aegis the USS Liberty had been dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean. “So alleging that he’s blood-libeling is going to arouse the Jewish donors.”

The Israeli government hired teams of lawyers, including close friends of Johnson, the narrator added, and began an “all-out offensive” to influence media coverage of the attack, leaning on them “to kill critical stories” and slant others in Israel’s favor.

“There was a campaign mounted to see what could be done about returning Johnson to his normal, predictable pro-Israeli position,” Hughes said. “Efforts were to be made to remind the President of the delicacy of his own position, that he personally might lose support for his run for reelection in 1968.”

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Using the Holocaust to justify war on Assad

Maidhc Ó Cathail
RT Op-Edge
October 30, 2014

Since its creation after WWII, Israel and friends have been masters at manipulating emotions, endlessly invoking the memory of Hitler’s Germany as a pretext for starting further wars as in the recent Holocaust-themed propaganda against Syria’s government.

“The irony is that the Nazi holocaust has now become the main ideological weapon for launching wars of aggression,” Norman Finkelstein tells Yoav Shamir in “Defamation”, the Israeli filmmaker’s award-winning 2009 documentary on how perceptions of anti-Semitism affect Israeli and US politics. “Every time you want to launch a war of aggression, drag in the Nazi holocaust.”

If you’re looking for evidence in support of Finkelstein’s thesis today, you need look no further than the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibit of images of emaciated and mutilated bodies from contemporary Syria.

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Using the Holocaust to Justify War

Maidhc Ó Cathail
Consortium News
October 25, 2014

“The irony is that the Nazi holocaust has now become the main ideological weapon for launching wars of aggression,” Norman Finkelstein tells Yoav Shamir in “Defamation,” the Israeli filmmaker’s award-winning 2009 documentary on how perceptions of anti-Semitism affect Israeli and U.S. politics. “Every time you want to launch a war of aggression, drag in the Nazi holocaust.”

If you’re looking for evidence in support of Finkelstein’s thesis today, you need look no further than the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibit of images of emaciated and mutilated bodies from contemporary Syria.

The small exhibit, entitled “Genocide: The Threat Continues,” features a dozen images said to be from an archive of 55,000 pictures allegedly smuggled out of the country by “Caesar,” a mysterious source who claims to have defected from his job as a Syrian military photographer after having been ordered to take photos of more than 10,000 corpses.

Emphasizing the threat of an impending genocide, the reportedly conscience-stricken defector warns that a similar fate awaits the 150,000 people he says remain incarcerated by President Bashar Assad’s government.

“They’re powerful images, and viewers are immediately reminded of the Holocaust,” Cameron Hudson, the director of the museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide, was cited as saying in an Oct. 15 Associated Press report. Hudson, whose intriguing career in genocide prevention includes a stint as intelligence analyst in the CIA’s Africa Directorate, added, “They show a side of the Syrian regime that hasn’t really been really seen. You might have heard about it, read about it, but when you’re confronted with these images, they’re impossible to ignore.”

The museum’s promotion of these impossible-to-ignore, Holocaust-recalling images dates from a few months earlier, however. In his July visit to Washington that included a series of meetings with U.S. government and congressional officials, Caesar’s first stop was at the Holocaust Museum.

On July 28, Michael Chertoff, a member of the museum’s governing board of trustees, presented the purported defector to a small group of reporters and researchers. According to the Washington Post’s Greg Miller, this event was the first time that Caesar had appeared publicly to answer questions about the photos deemed by some human rights organizations as evidence of war crimes committed by Assad.

Chertoff, a co-author of the USA PATRIOT Act, hasn’t hesitated to invoke the Nazis either in support of the neoconservative-conceived “global war on terror.” In an April 22, 2007 Washington Post op-ed entitled “Make No Mistake: This Is War,” the then secretary of the Department of Homeland Security wrote, “Al-Qaeda and its ilk have a world vision that is comparable to that of historical totalitarian ideologues but adapted to the 21st-century global network.”

Commenting on the former DHS secretary’s close ties to Israel, Jonathan Cook notes in his book “Israel and the Clash of Civilizations” that Chertoff’s mother was an air hostess for El Al in the 1950s. “There are reports that she was involved in Operation Magic Carpet, which brought Jews to Israel from Yemen,” writes the Nazareth-based British journalist. “It therefore seems possible that Livia Eisen was an Israeli national, and one with possible links to the Mossad.”

Among the other members of the Holocaust Memorial Council noted for their staunch support of Israel and American interventionism are the pardoned Iran-Contra neocon intriguer Elliott Abrams and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Writing in Foreign Policy’s The Cable on April 23, 2012, Josh Rogin drew attention to Wiesel’s pointed introduction of President Barack Obama at a ceremony in the Holocaust Museum. Comparing the Syrian president and then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the perpetrators of the Nazi holocaust, Wiesel implicitly criticized Obama’s supposedly obtuse inaction, “So in this place we may ask: Have we learned anything from it? If so, how is it that Assad is still in power?”

As Rogin, a reliable media conduit for anti-Assad interventionism, pointedly observed, the speech was reminiscent of another one Wiesel gave at the opening of the museum in 1993, when he urged then President Bill Clinton to take military action in Bosnia: “Similarly, that speech came at a time when the Clinton administration was resisting getting entangled in a foreign civil war but was under growing pressure to intervene.”

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The Israel Lobby ‘In Defense of Christians’?

Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Unz Review
October 2, 2014

Having long since captured the sympathies of America’s evangelical Christians, Israel’s friends have recently been attempting to show empathy for the persecuted Christian churches of the Arab World in what appears to be a concerted effort to garner support for Tel Aviv’s regional aspirations. Only founded earlier this year, a previously obscure non-profit organization called “In Defense of Christians” suddenly attracted international headlines during its inaugural summit (Sept. 9-11). The stated purpose of the three-day Washington, D.C. gathering was to raise awareness about the plight of beleaguered Middle Eastern Christian communities whose continued existence is threatened by the advance of the Islamic State, or ISIS, and other takfiri groups.

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The Incredible Tale of Gwenyth Todd and the Naïve Neocons

By Maidhc Ó Cathail
Special Report
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
May 2013

Given the proliferation of crimes, both foreign and domestic, known to have been committed by the U.S. government in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, there is an understandable willingness among large swathes of the public to believe almost anything told them by someone claiming to be blowing the whistle on an increasingly rogue “world’s policeman.” And, as a rule, the more persecution the whistleblower appears to suffer for exposing the global cop’s transgressions, the greater the desire to believe her story—no matter how far-fetched it might be.

Earlier this year, an effort was made to interest a number of prominent alternative media outlets in just such a “whistleblower” story. According to the professional-sounding pitch, an American contractor named Gwenyth Todd, while advising the Bahrain-based U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, had single-handedly foiled a plot involving “a few select high-ranking members of the U.S. Navy” to provoke a war with Iran. “Fearing of the powers she had obstructed, and fearing for her own safety, Todd left Bahrain moving to Australia,” wrote the anonymous promoter. “For her honesty, bravery, and service, Todd has been sought after by the U.S. Justice Department for prosecution and pursued by the FBI. Nearly all in the corporate press have chosen to ignore her case.”

But not only has Gwenyth Todd’s case not been ignored by the corporate press, it has in fact been the subject of a five-page Washington Post special by “SpyTalk” blogger Jeff Stein. Moreover, Stein’s Aug. 21, 2012 piece entitled “Why was a Navy adviser stripped of her career?” uncritically touts Todd’s conspiratorial narrative solely on the basis of interviews with Todd herself and “a half-dozen Navy and other government officials who demanded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, many parts of which remain classified.” Then, six months after having her story featured by one of America’s most influential pro-Israel daily newspapers, Todd was the unlikely focus of an even more credulous Iranian state television production. In February 2013, Press TV released “Untold Truths,” a half-hour-long program that introduced her as a “Middle East specialist” and “former U.S. government consultant.” The production began with a dramatic assertion: “In 2007, the U.S. tried to wage a war against IRAN. One person stopped it. This is her story.”

In the Washington Post and Press TV versions, the alleged conspiracy to start a war with Iran is said to have occurred in Bahrain in 2007. However, in a June 2012 article, Todd’s “senior editor” at the notoriously unreliable and ostensibly “anti-Semitic” Veterans Today (VT) website—with which Todd has “long worked” and currently serves on its motley editorial board of directors—sets the narrative two years earlier, and in a neighboring country. “Gwenyth Todd of the National Security Agency, close associate of Paul Wolfowitz and Condi Rice,” wrote Gordon Duff, “back in 2005, discovered a White House plot to stage an attack on American forces in Qatar.”

Confusing matters even more, another VT colleague and enthusiastic promoter of Todd’s story, Kevin Barrett, claims in a September 2012 piece first published by Press TV, “She stopped a 2006 neocon plot to stage a false flag attack in Bahrain intended to trigger war on Iran, and had to flee for her life to Australia.”

Although Todd presents herself as an “appalled” critic of the neoconservatives and the broader Israel lobby, there are good reasons to doubt her credibility on this point as well. In a Sept. 12, 2012 radio interview with Barrett, for example, she made the extraordinary claim that 9/11 was a “setback” for the neocons because it supposedly upset their plans for regime change in Iraq. According to Todd, their plan was to restore a pre-1958 type friendly regime, ruled by Ahmed Chalabi, with Iraq then serving as a base from which to launch regime change in Iran. In that same interview, she further claimed that the neoconservative agenda for Iraq had nothing to do with Israel. As if unaware of the fact that neocon Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz had once been investigated for having passed a classified U.S. document to an Israeli government official, she proffered as evidence, “Didn’t Wolfowitz admit to having affairs with Palestinian students?”

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On tenth anniversary, Israel partisans behind Iraq War still at large

By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
March 12, 2013

Three years ago this month, I wrote a piece entitled “Who’s to Blame for the Iraq War?” to mark the seventh anniversary of the US invasion. My sole purpose in compiling a by-no-means-exhaustive list of 20 Israel partisans who played key roles in inducing America into making that disastrous strategic blunder was to help dispel the widespread confusion — some of it sown under the guise of “progressive investigative journalism” by likely crypto-Zionists — about why the United States made that fateful decision. As the tenth anniversary approaches, there is no excuse for anyone genuinely interested in the facts to deny the ultimate responsibility of Tel Aviv and its foreign agents for the quagmire in Iraq. Nevertheless, it’s an appropriate time to remind ourselves of some of the chief architects of the devastating Iraq War.

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