From Albert Camus (1913–1960), French philosopher, author, and journalist:
An intellectual? Yes. And never deny it. An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself. I like this, because I am happy to be both halves, the watcher and the watched. “Can they be brought together?” This is a practical question. We must get down to it. “I despise intelligence” really means: “I cannot bear my doubts.
Is the Trump administration and the intelligence community engaging in a psyop on the American people directed against Iran similar to the effort mounted against Saddam Hussein and Iraq? From Paul R. Pillar at consortiumnews.com:
In trying to rally American hostility toward Iran, CIA Director Pompeo and other U.S. officials are engaging in the same kind of distorted intelligence that led to the catastrophic Iraq invasion, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Although nobody knows exactly where Donald Trump intends to go with his campaign of seeking confrontation with Iran, his administration already has provided disconcerting parallels with the techniques an earlier U.S. administration used in selling its launching of a war against Iraq. Among these techniques is the cherry-picking of intelligence not to inform policy-making or to enlighten the public but instead to inculcate false perceptions among the public and thereby to muster support for a policy already chosen.
Now CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C. February 2012. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)
The parallels have become remarkably close as the Trump administration has tried to get people to believe there is some sort of cooperation and common purpose between Iran and Al Qaeda. The President made this insinuation in his speech on Iran in October. Then his CIA director, Mike Pompeo, ordered a tendentious re-exploitation of already exploited documents captured in the raid at Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Osama bin Laden.
This time the purpose was to find any possible connection between bin Laden’s group and Iran. Pompeo took the highly unusual step of giving an advance look at the selected documents to an advocacy organization: the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a leader of efforts to kill the agreement that limits Iran’s nuclear program.
FDD duly did its part in the insinuation by highlighting a single document that it depicted as suggesting some sort of Iranian assistance to Al Qaeda. This was despite the fact that the thrust of the Abbottabad documents as far as Iran is concerned is that Tehran was in conflict, not cooperation, with Al Qaeda. This remains the judgment of experts who follow the terrorist group closely.
This entire effort to manipulate public perceptions has been remarkably similar to the efforts by promoters of the Iraq War to use whatever scraps they could find to suggest that there was, in George W. Bush’s words, an “alliance” between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda that in fact never existed.
It’s time, argues James Howard Kunstler, for the investigatory tables to be turned. From Kunstler at kunstler.com:
“Contact with Russians.” Grown men and women, doubling and re-doubling down on a political fantasy, repeat this prayer hour after hour on the cable channels and Web waves as if trying to exorcise a nation possessed by the unholy hosts of Hell. But such vicars of the news as Wolf Blitzer, Rachel Maddow, Chuck Todd, and Dean Baquet (of The New York Times) only shove the country closer to a cliff of constitutional crisis.
To a certain class of people — a class that includes a lot of Intellectuals-Yet-Idiots, as Nassim Taleb has dubbed them — President Donald Trump is a figure of supernatural malignity who must be ousted at all costs. I did not vote for Donald Trump and I do not admire him; but I rather resent the dishonesty that is being marshaled against him, especially the mis-use of judicial procedure and the mendacious propagandizing of the nation in service to that end.
This is what it comes down to: General Mike Flynn, designated National Security Advisor, conferred with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak after the 2016 election about two pressing matters: a vote in the UN orchestrated against Israel, and sanctions imposed against Russia by outgoing President Obama on December 28, two weeks before the inauguration. Both these matters could be viewed as bits of mischief designed deliberately to create foreign policy problems for the incoming administration.
Flynn’s discussions with Ambassador Kislyak amounted to what are called “back channel talks.” These informal, probing communications occur all the time and everywhere in American foreign policy, especially the transitional months every four or eight years when a new president comes in. They are necessarily secret because they concern issues of high sensitivity. Every incoming presidential staff in my lifetime (going back to Dwight Eisenhower) has conducted back-channel talks with foreign diplomats in order to directly assess where things stand, minus public posturing and bloviating.
And so that is what Mike Flynn did, as incoming National Security Advisor, after an eight-year run of worsening relations with Russia under Obama that Trump publicly pledged to improve. And now he’s been charged with lying to the FBI about it. Which raises some enormous and troubling questions well beyond the simple charge, questions that suggest a US government at war against itself.
Will a fabricated nexus between al Qaeda and Iran be the basis of a US war against Iran? From Mehdi Hasan at nytimes.com:
A decade and a half ago, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush’s administration conjured up not only terrifying images of nuclear mushroom clouds but also of Saddam Hussein plotting with Osama bin Laden to attack the United States.
It wasn’t true, of course. But it helped make the case for war.
That may be why a similar lie is getting trotted out again now, except this time the target is Iraq’s neighbor, Iran.
On Oct. 13, in his statement decertifying the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump claimed that Tehran “provides assistance to Al Qaeda.” The following week, his C.I.A. chief, Mike Pompeo, went further: “It’s an open secret and not classified information that there have been relationships, there are connections,” Mr. Pompeo said at an event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neoconservative think tank. “There have been times the Iranians have worked alongside Al Qaeda.”
On Nov. 1, the C.I.A. released a new batch of nearly 470,000 files recovered in the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. But the agency did more than just release the documents to the public. It provided advance copies to the foundation’s online publication, Long War Journal. (The C.I.A. said it was common practice to distribute declassified documents to the news media and academic organizations on an embargoed basis and that the only agenda in releasing these files was “to enhance public understanding” of Al Qaeda.)
Long War Journal homed in on a 19-page document by an unidentified Qaeda official who claimed that the Iranian government had offered “Saudi brothers” in Al Qaeda “everything they needed,” including money, arms and training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, “in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.” Yet the Iranian offer, admitted the official, was never accepted by Al Qaeda — if such an offer was in fact made.
Clearly, the Russian government would not make such an announcement unless it was convinced that the prospect of war with the West was real. For some time I have emphasized in my columns that the consequence of years of hostile actions taken by Washington and its European vassals against Russia was leading to war.
It is easy to understand that the massive US military/security complex needs a convincing enemy in order to justify its enormous budget, that the crazed neoconservatives put their fantasy ideology of US world hegemony above the life of the planet, and that Hillary and the Democratic National Committee will do anything to overturn Trump’s presidential victory. However, it is difficult to understand why the European political leaders are willing to put their countries at risk for Washington’s benefit.
Yet, they do. For example, on November 13 UK PM Theresa May said that Russia was a threat to international security and was interfering in European elections and hacking European governments. There is no more evidence for these claims than there is for “Russiagate.” Yet the allegations continue and multiply. Now the European Union is organizing former provinces of the Soviet Union—Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan—into an “Eastern Partnership” with the European Union. https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/11/27/british-pm-makes-clear-eastern-partnership-created-damage-russia.html
In other words, the West is openly organizing former provinces of Moscow against Russia, declared by Prime Minister May to be a “hostile state.” Russia knows that there is no basis for the allegations against Russia and regards them as identical to the false allegations against Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi, and Assad in order to justify military attacks on Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Having convinced Russia that she is being set up for attack, Russia is preparing for war.
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