Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Korea: forgotten nuclear threats

Trump is not the first American to threaten Korea with a destruction the likes of which the world has never seen before. Commanding General Douglas MacArthur wanted to hit 25 targets in Korea and China with nuclear weapons. We now know this is real reason President Truman removed him is such haste.

If we want to understand why the government of North Korea is so bent on having the ability to nuke the United States, and why the North Korean people support this goal, we have come to grips with what should be called another American holocaust, the near complete destruction of Korea and the murder of more than 3 million civilians. Below we have reprinted a piece written by Bruce Cumings and published by Le Monde 13 years ago because it has never been more relevant.

This BBC documentary gives us a candid view of the terrible inhumanity and racism with which the IS conducted the Korean War. Years ago we retrieved it from obscurity and gave it a home on YouTube. It it the closest thing to Vietnam: American Holocaust, that we know of. A Korea: American Holocaust is a film needs to be made.

Kill Them All | BBC Documentary on Korean War

Republished from Le Monde diplomatique, December 2004:

Korea: forgotten nuclear threats

The media claim that North Korea is trying to obtain and use weapons of mass destruction. Yet the United States, which opposes this strategy, has used or threatened to use such weapons in northeast Asia since the 1940s, when it did drop atomic bombs on Japan.
by Bruce Cumings
THE forgotten war - the Korean war of 1950-53 - might better be called the unknown war. What was indelible about it was the extraordinary destructiveness of the United States’ air campaigns against North Korea, from the widespread and continuous use of firebombing (mainly with napalm), to threats to use nuclear and chemical weapons (1), and the destruction of huge North Korean dams in the final stages of the war. Yet this episode is mostly unknown even to historians, let alone to the average citizen, and it has never been mentioned during the past decade of media analysis of the North Korean nuclear problem.

Korea is also assumed to have been a limited war, but its prosecution bore a strong resemblance to the air war against Imperial Japan in the second world war, and was often directed by the same US military leaders. The atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been examined from many different perspectives, yet the incendiary air attacks against Japanese and Korean cities have received much less attention. The US post-Korean war air power and nuclear strategy in northeast Asia are even less well understood; yet these have dramatically shaped North Korean choices and remain a key factor in its national security strategy.

Napalm was invented at the end of the second world war. It became a major issue during the Vietnam war, brought to prominence by horrific photos of injured civilians. Yet far more napalm was dropped on Korea and with much more devastating effect, since the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had many more populous cities and urban industrial installations than North Vietnam. In 2003 I participated in a conference with US veterans of the Korean war. During a discussion about napalm, a survivor who lost an eye in the Changjin (in Japanese, Chosin) Reservoir battle said it was indeed a nasty weapon - but “it fell on the right people”. (Ah yes, the “right people” - a friendly-fire drop on a dozen US soldiers.) He continued: “Men all around me were burned. They lay rolling in the snow. Men I knew, marched and fought with begged me to shoot them . . . It was terrible. Where the napalm had burned the skin to a crisp, it would be peeled back from the face, arms, legs . . . like fried potato chips” (2).

Soon after that incident, George Barrett of the New York Times had found “a macabre tribute to the totality of modern war” in a village near Anyang, in South Korea: “The inhabitants throughout the village and in the fields were caught and killed and kept the exact postures they held when the napalm struck - a man about to get on his bicycle, 50 boys and girls playing in an orphanage, a housewife strangely unmarked, holding in her hand a page torn from a Sears-Roebuck catalogue crayoned at Mail Order No 3,811,294 for a $2.98 ‘bewitching bed jacket - coral’.” US Secretary of State Dean Acheson wanted censorship authorities notified about this kind of “sensationalised reporting”, so it could be stopped (3).

One of the first orders to burn towns and villages that I found in the archives was in the far southeast of Korea, during heavy fighting along the Pusan Perimeter in August 1950, when US soldiers were bedevilled by thousands of guerrillas in rear areas. On 6 August a US officer requested “to have the following towns obliterated” by the air force: Chongsong, Chinbo and Kusu-dong. B-29 strategic bombers were also called in for tactical bombing. On 16 August five groups of B-29s hit a rectangular area near the front, with many towns and villages, creating an ocean of fire with hundreds of tons of napalm. Another call went out on the 20 August. On 26 August I found in this same source the single entry: “fired 11 villages” (4). Pilots were told to bomb targets that they could see to avoid hitting civilians, but they frequently bombed major population centres by radar, or dumped huge amounts of napalm on secondary targets when the primary one was unavailable.

In a major strike on the industrial city of Hungnam on 31 July 1950, 500 tons of ordnance was delivered through clouds by radar; the flames rose 200-300 feet into the air. The air force dropped 625 tons of bombs over North Korea on 12 August, a tonnage that would have required a fleet of 250 B-17s in the second world war. By late August B-29 formations were dropping 800 tons a day on the North (5). Much of it was pure napalm. From June to late October 1950, B-29s unloaded 866,914 gallons of napalm.

Air force sources delighted in this relatively new weapon, joking about communist protests and misleading the press about their “precision bombing”. They also liked to point out that civilians were warned of the approaching bombers by leaflet, although all pilots knew that these were ineffective (6). This was a mere prelude to the obliteration of most North Korean towns and cities after China entered the war.

China joins the war

The Chinese entry caused an immediate escalation of the air campaign. From November 1950, General Douglas MacArthur ordered that a wasteland be created between the fighting front and the Chinese border, destroying from the air every “installation, factory, city, and village” over thousands of square miles of North Korean territory. As a well-informed British attaché to MacArthur’s headquarters observed, except for Najin near the Soviet border and the Yalu dams (both spared so as not to provoke Moscow or Beijing), MacArthur’s orders were “to destroy every means of communication and every installation, and factories and cities and villages. This destruction is to start at the Manchurian border and to progress south.” On 8 November 1950, 79 B-29s dropped 550 tons of incendiaries on Sinuiju, “removing [it] from off the map”. A week later Hoeryong was napalmed “to burn out the place”. By 25 November “a large part of [the] North West area between Yalu River and south to enemy lines is more or less burning”; soon the area would be a “wilderness of scorched earth” (7).

This happened before the major Sino-Korean offensive that cleared northern Korea of United Nations forces. When that began, the US air force hit Pyongyang with 700 500-pound bombs on 14-15 December; napalm dropped from Mustang fighters, with 175 tons of delayed-fuse demolition bombs, which landed with a thud and then blew up when people were trying to retrieve the dead from the napalm fires.

At the beginning of January General Matthew Ridgway again ordered the air force to hit the capital, Pyongyang, “with the goal of burning the city to the ground with incendiary bombs” (this happened in two strikes on 3 and 5 January). As the Americans retreated below the 38th parallel, the scorched-earth policy of torching continued, burning Uijongbu, Wonju and other small cities in the South as the enemy drew near (8).

The air force also tried to destroy the North Korean leadership. During the war on Iraq in 2003 the world learned about the MOAB, “Mother of All Bombs”, weighing 21,500 pounds with an explosive force of 18,000 pounds of TNT. Newsweek put this bomb on its cover, under the headline “Why America Scares the World” (9). In the desperate winter of 1950-51 Kim Il Sung and his closest allies were back where they started in the 1930s, holed up in deep bunkers in Kanggye, near the Manchurian border. After failing to find them for three months after the Inch’on landing (an intelligence failure that led to carpet-bombing the old Sino-Korean tributary route running north from Pyongyang to the border, on the assumption that they would flee to China), B-29s dropped Tarzan bombs on Kanggye. These were enormous 12,000-pound bombs never deployed before - but firecrackers compared to the ultimate weapons, atomic bombs.

A blocking blow

On 9 July 1950 - just two weeks into the war, it is worth remembering - MacArthur sent Ridgway a hot message that prompted the joint chiefs of staff (JCS) “to consider whether or not A-bombs should be made available to MacArthur”. The chief of operations, General Charles Bolte, was asked to talk to MacArthur about using atomic bombs “in direct support [of] ground combat”. Bolte thought 10-20 such bombs could be spared for Korea without unduly jeopardising US global war capabilities.

Boite received from MacArthur an early suggestion for the tactical use of atomic weapons and an indication of MacArthur’s extraordinary ambitions for the war, which included occupying the North and handling potential Chinese - or Soviet - intervention: “I would cut them off in North Korea . . . I visualise a cul-de-sac. The only passages leading from Manchuria and Vladivostok have many tunnels and bridges. I see here a unique use for the atomic bomb - to strike a blocking blow - which would require a six months’ repair job. Sweeten up my B-29 force.”

At this point, however, the JCS rejected use of the bomb because targets large enough to require atomic weapons were lacking; because of concerns about world opinion five years after Hiroshima; and because the JCS expected the tide of battle to be reversed by conventional military means. But that calculation changed when large numbers of Chinese troops entered the war in October and November 1950.

At a famous news conference on 30 November President Harry Truman threatened use of the atomic bomb, saying the US might use any weapon in its arsenal (10). The threat was not the faux pas many assumed it to be, but was based on contingency planning to use the bomb. On that same day, Air Force General George Stratemeyer sent an order to General Hoyt Vandenberg that the Strategic Air Command should be put on warning, “to be prepared to dispatch without delay medium bomb groups to the Far East . . . this augmentation should include atomic capabilities”.

General Curtis LeMay remembered correctly that the JCS had earlier concluded that atomic weapons would probably not be useful in Korea, except as part of “an overall atomic campaign against Red China”. But, if these orders were now being changed because of the entry of Chinese forces into the war, LeMay wanted the job; he told Stratemeyer that only his headquarters had the experience, technical training, and “intimate knowledge” of delivery methods. The man who had directed the firebombing of Tokyo in 1945 was again ready to proceed to the Far East to direct the attacks (11). Washington was not worried that the Russians would respond with atomic weapons because the US possessed at least 450 bombs and the Soviets only 25.

On 9 December MacArthur said that he wanted commander’s discretion to use atomic weapons in the Korean theatre. On 24 December he submitted “a list of retardation targets” for which he required 26 atomic bombs. He also wanted four to drop on the “invasion forces” and four more for “critical concentrations of enemy air power”.

In interviews published posthumously, MacArthur said he had a plan that would have won the war in 10 days: “I would have dropped 30 or so atomic bombs . . . strung across the neck of Manchuria”. Then he would have introduced half a million Chinese Nationalist troops at the Yalu and then “spread behind us - from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea - a belt of radioactive cobalt . . . it has an active life of between 60 and 120 years. For at least 60 years there could have been no land invasion of Korea from the North.” He was certain that the Russians would have done nothing about this extreme strategy: “My plan was a cinch” (12).

A second request

Cobalt 60 has 320 times the radioactivity of radium. One 400-ton cobalt H-bomb, historian Carroll Quigley has written, could wipe out all animal life on earth. MacArthur sounds like a warmongering lunatic, but he was not alone. Before the Sino-Korean offensive, a committee of the JCS had said that atomic bombs might be the decisive factor in cutting off a Chinese advance into Korea; initially they could be useful in “a cordon sanitaire [that] might be established by the UN in a strip in Manchuria immediately north of the Korean border”. A few months later Congressman Albert Gore (2000 Democratic candidate Al Gore’s father, subsequently a strong opponent of the Vietnam war) complained that “Korea has become a meat grinder of American manhood” and suggested “something cataclysmic” to end the war: a radiation belt dividing the Korean peninsula permanently into two.

Although Ridgway said nothing about a cobalt bomb, in May 1951, after replacing MacArthur as US commander in Korea, he renewed MacArthur’s request of 24 December, this time for 38 atomic bombs (13). The request was not approved.

The US came closest to using atomic weapons in April 1951, when Truman removed MacArthur. Although much related to this episode is still classified, it is now clear that Truman did not remove MacArthur simply because of his repeated insubordination, but because he wanted a reliable commander on the scene should Washington decide to use nuclear weapons; Truman traded MacArthur for his atomic policies. On 10 March 1951 MacArthur asked for a “D-Day atomic capability” to retain air superiority in the Korean theatre, after the Chinese massed huge new forces near the Korean border and after the Russians put 200 bombers into airbases in Manchuria (from which they could strike not just Korea but also US bases in Japan) (14). On 14 March General Vandenberg wrote: “Finletter and Lovett alerted on atomic discussions. Believe everything is set.”

At the end of March Stratemeyer reported that atomic bomb loading pits at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa were again operational; the bombs were carried there unassembled, and put together at the base, lacking only the essential nuclear cores. On 5 April the JCS ordered immediate atomic retaliation against Manchurian bases if large numbers of new troops came into the fighting, or, it appears, if bombers were launched from there against US assets. On that day the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Gordon Dean, began arrangements for transferring nine Mark IV nuclear capsules to the Air Force’s 9th Bomb Group, the designated carrier for atomic weapons.

The JCS again considered the use of nuclear weapons in June 1951, this time in tactical battlefield circumstances (15) and there were many more such suggestions as the war continued to 1953. Robert Oppenheimer, former director of the Manhattan Project, was involved in Project Vista, designed to gauge the feasibility of the tactical use of atomic weapons. In 1951 young Samuel Cohen, on a secret assignment for the US Defence Department, observed the battles for the second recapture of Seoul and thought there should be a way to destroy the enemy without destroying the city. He became the father of the neutron bomb (16).

The most terrifying nuclear project in Korea, however, was Operation Hudson Harbour. It appears to have been part of a larger project involving “overt exploitation in Korea by the Department of Defence and covert exploitation by the Central Intelligence Agency of the possible use of novel weapons” - a euphemism for what are now called weapons of mass destruction.

The ‘limited war’

Without even using such “novel weapons” - although napalm was very new - the air war levelled North Korea and killed millions of civilians. North Koreans tell you that for three years they faced a daily threat of being burned with napalm: “You couldn’t escape it,” one told me in 1981. By 1952 just about everything in northern and central Korea had been completely levelled. What was left of the population survived in caves.

Over the course of the war, Conrad Crane wrote, the US air force “had wreaked terrible destruction all across North Korea. Bomb damage assessment at the armistice revealed that 18 of 22 major cities had been at least half obliterated.” A table he provided showed that the big industrial cities of Hamhung and Hungnam were 80-85% destroyed, Sariwon 95%, Sinanju 100%, the port of Chinnampo 80% and Pyongyang 75%. A British reporter described one of the thousands of obliterated villages as “a low, wide mound of violet ashes”. General William Dean, who was captured after the battle of Taejon in July 1950 and taken to the North, later said that most of the towns and villages he saw were just “rubble or snowy open spaces”. Just about every Korean he met, Dean wrote, had had a relative killed in a bombing raid (17). Even Winston Churchill, late in the war, was moved to tell Washington that when napalm was invented, no one contemplated that it would be “splashed” all over a civilian population (18).

This was Korea, “the limited war”. The views of its architect, Curtis LeMay, serve as its epitaph. After it started, he said: “We slipped a note kind of under the door into the Pentagon and said let us go up there . . . and burn down five of the biggest towns in North Korea - and they’re not very big - and that ought to stop it. Well, the answer to that was four or five screams - ‘You’ll kill a lot of non-combatants’ and ‘It’s too horrible’. Yet over a period of three years or so . . . we burned down every town in North Korea and South Korea, too . . . Now, over a period of three years this is palatable, but to kill a few people to stop this from happening - a lot of people can’t stomach it” (19).

Bruce Cumings
Original text in English

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Democracy Now ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Oh, the Hypocrisy!

On Monday, Amy Goodman interviewed Steve Phillips on Democracy Now for a segment called "Billion-Dollar Mistake": Democrats Neglect People of Color While Failing to Woo White Trump Voters. Phillips is from Democracy in Color, and is the author of the New York Times best-selling book "Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority." During the interview Phillips made a comment that definitely should have sparked some discussion, given the way Democracy Now neglected people of color in the election of Donald Trump. They did this by ignoring the role of white nationalism in the election while trying all year to convince progressives to either vote for Jill Stein or stay home:
STEVE PHILLIPS: Yeah. So, the challenge the Democrats face is to focus on the math, and not on the myth, of what happened in 2016. And so, the myth is that all of these Democratic voters, all of these working-class white voters who had supported Obama, defected from the Democrats and then flocked to Donald Trump’s campaign and backed him, and that’s what the—that’s why Democrats lost, and that’s why they have to pursue them to be able to actually try to reassemble their power and get back into positions. But that’s not actually what happened, and it’s certainly not why they lost the election.

We had unprecedented—or, unprecedented in 20 years, black voter turnout drop-off. More than a million fewer black voters came out. And you had a splintering of the progressive white vote. And you had a larger increase of voters for Johnson and Stein—I sometimes call the JohnStein voters—than you did for Trump. And if you look in a place—Wisconsin is where it’s clearest. Trump got fewer voters in Wisconsin than Romney did. So it wasn’t like everybody flocked to him. It’s that the progressive votes splintered and was depressed.
I have added the emphasis. Unlike Stein, Johnson took votes away from Trump as well as Clinton. Clinton lost Wisconsin by 27,257 votes, while 30,980 WI progressives voted for Stein. That is how Trump won the election. This data is from Politico [updated 22 Nov. 2016 - PA updated 2 Dec from ] :

Candidate Count % Michigan [16] Wisconsin [10] Pennsylvania [20]
Donald Trump 61,201,031 47% 2,279,805 1,409,467 2,955,671
Hillary Clinton 62,523,126 48% 2,268,193 1,382,210 2,906,128
Difference 11,612 27,257 49,543
Jill Stein 802,119 0.7% 50,700 30,980 49,678

Given the tireless role Democracy Now played in splintering and depressing the progressive vote last year, this statement should have been met with push back or self criticism. Instead, in a hypocritical fashion, it was passed over in complete silence.

Amy Goodman had Jill Stein on Democracy Now many times before the election. Democracy Now is far and away the most available Left/Progressive media outlet in the United States, as it appears on radio, broadcast TV, cable TV, and the Internet. Its mantra was the Green Party slogan: Don't Vote For the Lesser of Two Evils. By that they meant, don't vote for Clinton and allow less progressive voters to elect Trump. As Steve Phillips noted and the chart above documents, that is exactly what happened.

This is how Democracy Now handled election year 2016:
Nothing depresses the progressive vote like asking them to "Leave Ballots Blank." Trump and Spicer should have been very happy with this line of argument, given how few Republicans are in the DN audience.

^^ This guy gets it ^^

Anybody with any political sense at all understood a vote for Jill Stein was the next best thing to a vote for Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin got it too. That is why a lot of RT air time for Jill Stein played a big role in his plans to get Donald Trump elected. Probably she got more airtime from Russia Today than she did on Democracy Now, given that the former broadcasts continuously. One thing is certain; Jill Stein received more coverage from Democracy Now than any other domestic media outlet. The eight images below represent just a tiny sample of the "About 416 results" Google finds for a search for "Jill Stein" on

We now know that the Russian government was trying to help Donald Trump win the White House. It must have known that Jill Stein had no chance of winning. Their lavish support for Jill Stein was part of their plan to get Trump elected by splintering and depressing the progressive vote.

On the other hand, Jill Stein must have known her Kremlin supporters would not be too happy with her if she was as hard on Trump as she was on Clinton, and she wasn't. Was that collusion?
It is a real shame that Cornel West didn't consider what a white supremacist disaster Donald Trump would be when he was helping Trump win by campaigning for Jill Stein. Now the hits on minorities are coming hard and fast. Last night, the Jeff Sessions Justice Department announced it is going after affirmative action in higher education, and this morning Trump announced new legislation to curb and whiten legal immigration. It is the minorities that are being hurt the most by the Trump presidency, although Cornel "no to the lesser evil" West, maybe not so much.
From that show, we have this prophetic exchange. It begins as Jealous is explaining why he was then backing Clinton after having backed Sanders earlier:
BEN JEALOUS: Well, you know, we came through a primary, and now we have 105 days to keep a madman out of the White House. And we went—you know, we know what happened in 2000. And the reality is that we cannot afford to end up with having an Iraq War because we narrowly lose the White House to somebody who should not be in there, as we did with Bush. So, the reality is, you go through a primary, you come into a convention, and you come out one campaign, in this case to hold onto the White House and keep a neofascist from becoming president.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But what do you say to those Sanders supporters who feel that, in many respects, Hillary Clinton is more hawkish when it comes to issues of foreign policy and war even than Donald Trump, in some respects?

BEN JEALOUS: If you look at the utter racism that Trump has directed towards people in this country, there is no reason to think that he will not do the same thing when he actually, you know, has his finger on the button. He clearly seems to, you know, have some sort of love affair going on with Putin. I don’t know who that gives comfort to. And he has all the personality characteristics of some of the worst dictators and tyrants we’ve seen around the world. But the reality is here that he will also destroy voting rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights. He will put in a Supreme Court that will take us back very quickly. We used to think that the Voting Rights Act pretty much was sacrosanct in this country. It’s been—you know, great damage has been done to it. This is the first presidential—and quite frankly, you know, my roots, as you know, my family, so much of it is in West Baltimore, and communities like that suffer greatly when we sort of pretend like who’s in president—who is the president does not matter.
After Trump won, it became fashionable for those that said they thought Clinton was going to win to excuse themselves by saying that everybody was sure Clinton was going to win. This is not true. Jealous wasn't sure Clinton would win. I wasn't sure Clinton would win. A lot of people of color have a less delusional read of the strength of white supremacy in America and campaigned hard to keep a madman out of the White House. The Green Party and the DN Left can't say that.

And notice how they completely discount the very thing Jealous zeros in on as the deciding difference between the two candidates - racism. To make their argument that there ain't a hill of beans worth of difference between the Clinton and Trump, they had to downplay the significance of Trump's white nationalist connections because they could show no equivalence in the Clinton camp, Instead they made a spurious argument that Clinton was actually the greater of the two evils because she was more hawkish. Ironically, they fell back onto white chauvinism themselves when they made that argument, as for example, a little later in that show when Jill Stein said:
I agree. Donald Trump is a very dangerous person. He says extremely despicable, reprehensible things. But at the same time, Hillary Clinton has a track record for doing absolutely horrific things, for expanding wars, in the likes of Libya, for example.
Trump supporters, Putin supporters, Assad supporters, Gaddafi supporters, Democracy Now, and Jill Stein are all united in calling the people's armed struggle to overthrow the Libyan dictator that ruled violently for 40 year "Hillary's War." As useful as the label is for their united political purposes, it robs the Libyan people of their agency - they made this history, not Hillary. She only opposed allowing Gaddafi to do what Assad has been allowed to do. For that they hate her. They don't want to tell the true story of a people's struggle against a fascist dictator. They would rather present it as just another Hollywood style Arab uprising led by a blonde.

In a way, it is doubly chauvinistic to call it "Hillary's War" and not "Obama's War," since as president he set the policy. Maybe even trice chauvinistic considering that even within NATO, the US was bringing up the rear with only 17% of the strike missions. A true accounting of what really happened around Libya was not in the interest of these people because they wanted us to forget about the racist Donald Trump and focus on the warmonger Hillary Clinton, and they really didn't have much to work with.

Naturally, after Bernie Sanders took a stand for Democratic Party unity in the name of defeating Trump, Trump went after him:
While Jill Stein did the same thing on Democracy Now:
Since Stein & Baraka support Putin's foreign policy in other countries, it should have surprised no one that they support his goals in the US.
No need to mention Trump's white nationalism here. The focus is on attacking Trump's main opposition. Note the singular word "party." If the Democrat Party is the "Party of War & Wall Street," what are the Republicans?
Glenn Gleenwald on DN, 31 August 2016, talks as if little has changed in Russia in the last half century. Does he think opposition to Russia today is based on anti-communism?
To me, this is one of the more remarkable things of this campaign, which is that any of us who grew up in politics or came of age as an American in the ’60s or the ’70s or the ’80s, or even the ’90s, knows that central to American political discourse has always been trying to tie your political opponents to Russia, to demonizing the Kremlin as the ultimate evil and then trying to insinuate that your political adversaries are somehow secretly sympathetic to or even controlled by Russian leaders and Kremlin operatives and Russian intelligence agencies.
According to frequent DN guest Greenwald, anyone who sees Russian interference on Trump's behalf is just playing the same old red-baiting game of McCarthyism. This is a slick twist because it hides the fact that Russia today is not the Soviet Union, it is leading a worldwide white supremacist movement and is interfering, in an imperialist manner, in the internal politics of many countries, not just the United States.
Funny they should mention that word, but in their parlance Ben Jealous, Steve Phillips and I are the bigots, not Donald Trump and his supporters.
Since they have the same target and theme, why not use Trump's words to attack Clinton?
Although Donald Trump was a DAPL investor and stood to make money from the pipeline, Democracy Now didn't expose that fact until after the election. Before the election they tried to put Hillary Clinton in a no-win situation. She could not answer their demands without losing more of the pro-energy voters Trump was courting.
The day after Steve Phillips was on Democracy Now, Amy Goodman had Jill Stein on, Tuesday, 1 August 2017, for the first time this year. Much of the discussion was about Trump, but curiously, they stayed far away from questions of racism or white nationalism with regards to his administration. It is the one thing that ties his policies together, but they would rather not go there. This is what she had to say about Donald Trump:
Yeah, I mean, Donald Trump is a symptom of a very sick political system. You know, what we see going on in the White House right now, you know, hearing—I think it was yesterday, you reported, I think, on your program that Lindsey Graham is now instructing President Trump that if he continues to harass Jeff Sessions or tries to get rid of him, that, essentially, what he was saying is that—you know, get ready for impeachment hearings. And, you know, to hear that from staunch Republicans, that they’re actually threatening him now, they’re—Lindsey Graham is also, you know, writing a bill to stop Trump from dismissing Mueller at the FBI. So, you know, people really get that Trump is a liability, he’s a disaster. You know, the sparks flying out of the White House now with the dismissal of the chief of staff and, you know, the incredible comments of the communications director—talk about, you know, communications. You couldn’t have a worse example of how not to do communications. You know, they’ve really become the laughingstock of the world, and not just the world, even, you know, in the U.S. And I think they’re becoming a big liability to Republicans. So, you know, I think Donald Trump is very clearly digging his own grave. He’s been a lame-duck president since the beginning. He’s, you know, passed absolutely nothing. He remains a grave danger, because of what the president can do, especially around the military. But, you know, he does seem to be on his way out now, which is a wonderful thing.
No Jill, I don't know. You ignored Trump's white nationalist tendencies before the election when you directed your fire at Clinton. Now you speak of "a very sick political system" without mentioning racism, while both Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions are working feverously to turn back the clock on civil rights.

Behind all the showmanship and comedy, a neo-fascist regime is consolidating power and Jill Stein comes back on Democracy Now after an eight month absence. She doesn't fill us in on all the recent achievements of the Green Party even though I thought the whole idea was to give up any chance of victory in this election so as to build that party. She doesn't come with plans on how to better build the resistance to the Trump assault, instead she has come back to disarm us by telling us he is on his way out and we can start celebrating now!

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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Monday, July 31, 2017

In racist rant, Trump endorses Freddie Gray style police murders

White nationalism put Donald Trump in the White House. He is there because he could rally sufficient support from members of the US working class who think they are better than everyone else because their skin, while not white, is lighter everyone else's. Since US capitalism got to where it is today by exploiting that delusion, and Trump has learned that lesson well, it's not surprising that after what has been the worst week of his young presidency, he turns to promoting racism as his default fallback position.

Thus ended a week in which children heard profanity from his White House, his press secretary quit, his Chief of Staff was fired, the Boy Scouts apologized for him, his top generals dissed his anti-transgender tweets, and his key campaign goal of killing the Affordable Care Act, which he calls ObamaCare for racist reasons, took a major hit. After a week like that, Trump doesn't go to Disneyland; he goes to the Van Nostrand Theatre in Ronkonkoma, New York to give a "law and order" speech on the notorious Salvadoran MS-13 gang to a group of cops. In a often practised fascist technique, he used their ugly crimes to justify what was essentially a racist rant:
They kidnap. They extort. They rape and they rob, they stomp on their victims. They beat them with clubs, they slash them with machetes, and they stab them with knives. They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields. They're animals
According to Homeland Security Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez, MS-13 was responsible for 11 murders, including two young girls in Brentwood, on Long Island in the past year. That is bad but it is far from "bloodstained killing fields." Long Island crime is at a 50 year low, but Trump needs this hyperbole because he doesn't want anyone to object when he calls them "animals." He does this repeatedly throughout this speech and it is central to the racist nature of the speech. Even the worst human that ever lived, say Adolph Hitler, is still a human being, but racism demands dehumanization. The hated people must be expelled from the human race. It's suppose to be okay because he is only talking about a despicable violent immigrant gang, but many of his supporters will apply it to all people of color. Many of his supporters want to rid the United States of any people they consider non-white, and this includes Jews, by any means necessary, and Trump knows that.

Since it is important that this end goal not be revealed too early, he has largely limited this hateful rhetoric to deporting Latinos [I know illegals from Britain and New Zealand. They are not too worried.] in the name of fighting "these MS-13 thugs" and banning Muslims, in the name of fighting "radical Islamic terrorism," another applause line from his speech.

Donald Trump may be mad but he's not stupid. He undoubtedly knows that by targeting all Muslims, he is actually strengthening the hand of the "radical Islamic terrorism" he is claiming to fight by alienating all Muslims, and he knows his attack on sanctuary cities and police policy that does not aim at deporting every undocumented Latino, gives cover and support for the growth of these gangs in the besieged communities. He's okay with that because his real target is not the gangs or the terrorists. As excuses for genocidal policy, their growth is welcomed because the real targets are those communities of color. They won't be needed in the age of uber automation. So while the fire in this speech was focused on the one gang, he clearly has a broader target in mind:
It is the policy of this administration to dismantle, decimate and eradicate MS-13 at every other — and I have to say, MS-13, that’s a name; rough groups — that’s fine. We got a lot of others.
Then he turns to the question of the method he plans to use to "dismantle, decimate and eradicate...rough groups," and after condemning these "rough guys" because:
They stomp on their victims. They beat them with clubs. They slash them with machetes, and they stab them with knives. 
Trump made a point of bragging that his guys are tougher:
But I said, hey, [ICE Director] Tom [Homan], let me ask you a question — how tough are these guys, MS-13? He said, they’re nothing compared to my guys. Nothing. And that’s what you need. Sometimes that’s what you need, right?
Another applause line. Does he mean his guys are tougher because while they also stomp on their victims and beat them with clubs, they forego machetes and knives in favor of firearms?

Then this comment gives us a clue about his final destination:
Look at Los Angeles. Look at what’s going on in Los Angeles. Look at Chicago. What is going on? Is anybody here from Chicago? We have to send some of you to Chicago, I think.
This was after he talked about how happy he was to distribute "used military equipment" to the police while bragging that he was going to "support our police like our police have never been supported before." Apparently what he meant by that was unprecedented presidential support for illegal and unconstitutional police brutality, as we were shortly to discover. But first...

What is MS-13?

The way Trump talked about MS-13, you might think it is a criminal gang that has invaded the US from El Salvador, and this is a problem that he will solve by deporting the gang members and building a wall to keep them out. The reality is quite different. The fact is that MS-13 was created in the US and only later exported to El Salvador. Writing about MS-13 in The Atlantic, J Weston Phippen says:
MS-13 was founded in Los Angeles by young Salvadoran migrants, but in the 1990s the United States deported tens of thousands of undocumented gang members back to Central America. There are now believed to be more than 70,000 members in Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
In other words, this gang problem bears the label "Made in the USA," no doubt aided by the discriminatory conditions immigrants face in the US after they have been driven out of countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador by wars and economic conditions the US had a big role in fostering. It was also aided by an earlier, less enlightened, police policy that often led to the deportation of immigrants just for reporting gang activity. MS-13 became an international gang problem because the US attempted to solve what was fundamentally a domestic problem not by imprisoning and attempting to reform the criminals, but by expelling them but leaving them free to practise their criminal ways internationally.

Trump likes to surround himself with generals because they are killers

Rodrigo Duterte, who is now the president of the Philippines, has organized civilian death squads and bragged about murdering criminals personally. Between the beginning of Duterte's "War on Drugs" on 1 July 2016 and 23 April 2017 a total of 7,080 people [some would say "animals"] have been killed by police and vigilante-style or unexplained killings. He also called Obama a "son of a whore." This is Trump's kind of guy, which is why he has overruled any human rights objections to invite him to the White House. Trump may not yet be advocating extrajudicial killings and death squads, like his new best buddy Duterte, but Friday night he took a big step down that road when endorsed the kind of illegal police abuse that can and has caused the death of those in police custody even before they are found guilty of any crime, as was the case with Freddie Gray, and many thought of Freddie Gray when they heard the president tell the police officers of the United States:
when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, please don’t be too nice. (Laughter.) Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay? (Laughter and applause.)

I have included the video so that you can hear for yourself the laughter and applause the president's suggestion of illegal police abuse provoked. Oh, how it cuts through all the BS about our honorable "law enforcement officers."

The phrase "paddy wagon" is itself a racist term that harkens back to the days before the Irish were considered "white." Paddy was a derogatory term for Irish, and the horse drawn wagons used to transport what was claimed to be a largely Irish criminal class became known as paddy wagons in the mid-1800s. After such wagons were used much in the arrest of Irish anti-draft rioters in New York City during the Civil War, the term became popularized.  Many of these laughing cops are from Irish backgrounds. Did they catch the irony of what they were laughing about? Or were they too busy thinking about Freddie Gray when they were laughing?

To recap - In case you don't know who Freddie Gray was:

Doug Donovan and Mark Puente wrote in The Baltimore Sun 23 April 2015:
When a handcuffed Freddie Gray was placed in a Baltimore police van on April 12, he was talking and breathing. When the 25-year-old emerged, "he could not talk and he could not breathe," according to one police official, and he died a week later of a spinal injury.

But Gray is not the first person to come out of a Baltimore police wagon with serious injuries.

Relatives of Dondi Johnson Sr., who was left a paraplegic after a 2005 police van ride, won a $7.4 million verdict against police officers. A year earlier, Jeffrey Alston was awarded $39 million by a jury after he became paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a van ride. Others have also received payouts after filing lawsuits.

For some, such injuries have been inflicted by what is known as a "rough ride" — an "unsanctioned technique" in which police vans are driven to cause "injury or pain" to unbuckled, handcuffed detainees, former city police officer Charles J. Key testified as an expert five years ago in a lawsuit over Johnson's subsequent death.
This is where the latest White House excuse for Trump's statement originated.

A Philadelphia Inquirer investigation into the practise in that city published in 2001 reported:
Top commanders acknowledge that rough rides are an enduring tradition in the department. The practice even has a name - "nickel ride," a term that harks back to the days when amusement-park rides cost 5 cents. An Inquirer investigation documented injuries to 20 people tossed around in wagons in recent years. Thompson was one of three who suffered spinal injuries, and one of two permanently paralyzed.
The New York Times wrote about the phrase 'rough ride':
The slang terms mask a dark tradition of police misconduct in which suspects, seated or lying face down and in handcuffs in the back of a police wagon, are jolted and battered by an intentionally rough and bumpy ride that can do as much damage as a police baton without an officer having to administer a blow.
This is the deadly illegal police "technique" that US President Trump just sanctioned!

What Trump's policy looks like on the ground

1 of 4 bars raided Saturday night
Over the weekend Suffolk County police targeted four bars they said were frequented by MS-13 gang members at about 1:15am Saturday. They have not reported the arrest of any MS-13 members as a result of these raids. In fact, only one of the five men arrested was even in the country illegally. This reveals who the real targets are, but judging by their laughter at the president's "joke," they probably enjoyed giving Long Island Latino bar patrons a rough time on a Saturday night.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Monday, July 24, 2017

Free Syria joins flags of the world on Venice Beach

For more than a year now, Punya has been bringing his world flag display and drum circle to Venice Beach. Every Sunday, he and a few volunteers put up a display of more than 200 flags in the sand. The flags represent 189 members of the United Nations and all 50 states of the United States. They also host a drum circle that plays til sunset.

A few weeks ago Punya moved the display to the north end of Venice Beach, my neighborhood, so this Sunday I bought him a new flag. I explained how it was different from the Syrian flag he already had on display. I explain that this was the flag of Syrian revolution, and is flown by those that are fighting both the Assad Regime and the Islamic State. He was happy to add it to the display.  

The flag in Syria
More Pictures of the World Flags Display on Venice Beach
Free Syria Flag

Drum Dance Pray 4 World Peace: Website  Facebook

Drum Dance Pray 4 World Peace | 29 August 2016

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for my posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Attorney Glenn Greenwald @ggreenwald joins Trump defense team

As more of the inside story of the 2016 US election is becoming known, it is becoming increasing clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin mobilized forces at his disposal to help get Donald Trump elected president of the United States. It is also becoming increasingly clear that the Trump campaign invited and supported this nefarious Russian intervention into the US election, and worked in concert with the Russian efforts.

This Russian effort, and the Trump campaign collusion with it, has long been suspected, but short on evidence available to the public. As this situation develops; this is starting to change. Of course there was the CrowdStrike report on the Russian hacking of the DNC servers, but the technical details in it are beyond the understanding of most people, and since it was paid for by the Democratic National Committee, it could easily be dismissed by its critics.

Not so easy to dismiss was the intelligence report on the Russian hacking of US election infrastructure leaked to The Intercept by Reality Winner.  In publishing the report, The Intercept summarized:
RUSSIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept.

The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.
Even less easy to dismiss has been the email chain released by Donald Trump Jr. in which he express his love for the idea that the Russian government had gathered damaging material on Hillary Clinton and was sending a lawyer to discuss the best way to get this "opposition research" to them and the best time to use it. Since that bombshell release, Trump and his supporters have been scrambling to do damage control, and a big part of that damage control has been an attempt to normalized the Trump campaign behavior vis a vis Russia. Monday morning the president tweeted out:

A day earlier, one of Trump's lawyers, Jay Sekulow was making the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit with statements like:
“There was nothing in that meeting that is illegal, against the law,” on Fox News Sunday.

“I mean, opposition research in campaigns happens all the time,” to CBS’s John Dickerson.
Earlier last week, Glenn Greenwald, one of the founders of The Intercept, reminded everyone that he is also an attorney; saying "as a lawyer, I know this really well," when he was on Democracy Now making the same arguments in defense of Trump in a segment he did with Amy Goodman called Donald Trump Jr.'s Emails Aren't a "Smoking Gun" or Evidence of Criminal Collusion.

Jay Sekulow, and other members of the Trump defense team are arguing that Donald Junior did nothing wrong in getting dirt on his opposition wherever he found it. "He did nothing wrong" and "This happens all the time." Then they claim Clinton and the Democrats did the same thing by going to Ukraine and Russia for dirt on the Trump campaign. "So what's the difference?"

Sekulow can do the Sunday talk show circuit, but he could never come on Democracy Now and peddle this crap to a progressive audience, so it's Glenn Greenwald to the rescue. He is interviewed by Amy and he makes exactly the same arguments. This is convenient for me since I can now address Trump's attorney's arguments by critiquing Greenwald. I suppose this infamous Left-Right convergence does have its advantages after all.

As Greenwald creeps up on what has emerged as the main defense argument, he says:
Now, I guess there’s some sense that it’s wrong for a political campaign to take dirt on your adversary from a foreign government. I don’t think it’s illegal at all to do that, but there’s a claim that it’s somehow sort of immoral.

And here’s what I don’t understand. The Steele dossier that everybody got excited about, that claimed that the Russians had incriminating videos of Trump in a Moscow hotel and other dirt on Trump, that came from somebody who was getting first paid by Republicans and then by Democrats, going to Moscow and getting dirt about Donald Trump from Kremlin-affiliated agents in Moscow. In other words, he went to Russia, talked to people affiliated with the Russian government and said, "Give me dirt about Donald Trump," and then, presumably, got it and put it in the memo. Similarly, there’s an amazing Politico article from January of this year that describes how allies of the Clinton campaign, including somebody being paid by the DNC, met with officials of the Ukrainian government, which was desperate to help Hillary Clinton win and Donald Trump lose, and get information incriminating about Trump from Ukrainian officials. In other words, Ukraine was meddling in our election by giving Democrats incriminating information about Trump.
In other words "nothing new to see here." Both Greenwald and Sekulow want to put us to sleep. They want us to believe that nothing new, unusual, and very dangerous happened in the 2016 US election. Now that emerging facts make denying Russian involvement unfeasible, the new line of defense is that Trump and Russia did nothing wrong or even that unusual.

The two talking points Sekulow and the Republicans have marshaled in their claim that the Democrats did the same thing are the "Steele dossier," and the "Politico article."

The Steele dossier is opposition research on Trump, much of it done in Russia, by British ex-spy Christopher Steele. As Greenwald said, he was "first paid by Republicans and then by Democrats," to go to Moscow, talk to Russians and get dirt on Trump. He went to Moscow because that's where the dirt was. Trump has done a lot of shady business deals with Russians over the years. So far the Steele dossier has held up. Many parts of it have been independently proven, and no part of it has been disproven.

The Politico article refers to a piece they ran in January that "describes how allies of the Clinton campaign, including somebody being paid by the DNC, met with officials of the Ukrainian government," accord to Greenwald. This how Jay Sekulow was using it on ABC News Sunday:
We know for a fact, as was reported extensively in an investigative journalist piece by Politico, that the Ukrainians were in direct contact (ph) with DNC officials and traded information back and forth. 
The Politico article is best used in passing reference, as these two Trump defense attorneys do here, because to go into too much detail will expose their attempts to compare a mountain to a mole hill. Remember Russian support for Trump was much more than the information to be traded at this meeting. It included all the material gathered from the DNC servers and John Podesta's email and given to Wikileaks. It included the support of Russia's extensive social media network of live agents and bots, and it included very open and active support for the anti-Clinton campaign of Jill Stein from Russian media organizations RT and Sputnik. Even Politico says of its new revelations "they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails." Even that is overstating the article's case. The first two counts in its "indictment" are:
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter...
There are good reasons why many people have questioned Trump's fitness for office; and I would remind all these Trump supporters that Ukrainian government officials retain "freedom of speech" as a human right; although I don't think their opinions have much effect on US elections. They don't even have an They also retain the right to investigate corruption in Ukraine even when it involves prominent US citizens. Was the timing of that investigation politically motivated? Possibly, but saying they forced the resignation of Manafort is playing the "blame the messenger" game. "The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation," as the Politico article states, only because the charges of corruption were well founded.

The juiciest charge the Politico article makes is that:
A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.
That sounds very sinister. Uri Freidman looked into this charge for The Atlantic, 13 July, 2017. This is what he reported:
As a paid consultant to the Democratic National Committee, [Ukrainian American political operative Alexandra] Chalupa was tasked with something unrelated to Ukraine: helping the party reach out to various ethnic groups in the United States. But during her time in that role, which ended after the Democratic convention in July, she was also immersed in a side project: investigating Paul Manafort, Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, and the work he did advising the former pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Politico reports that as part of this effort, Chalupa cultivated a network of sources in Ukraine and the United States, including “investigative journalists, government officials, and private intelligence operatives.” She “occasionally shared her findings with officials from the DNC and Clinton’s campaign” and voiced her concerns about Manafort’s Russia ties with Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly, during a meeting at the Ukrainian Embassy.
According to the Politico article this research was not used by the Clinton campaign:
A DNC official stressed that Chalupa was a consultant paid to do outreach for the party’s political department, not a researcher. She undertook her investigations into Trump, Manafort and Russia on her own, and the party did not incorporate her findings in its dossiers on the subjects...
So was Ukraine "meddling in our election by giving Democrats incriminating information about Trump," as Greenwald charges? Leaving aside the error that the Ukrainian information was about Manafort not Trump, was this "meddling?" And BTW, throughout his presentation Greenwald introduces a myriad of lawyerly like shifted definitions and alternative facts that feel too tedious to call out at every turn. Like when he says a "special prosecutor" was appointed, Mueller really is a less powerful "special counsel" that Trump can fire at will. I'm sure Attorney at Law Greenwald knows the difference. Or when he describes Chalupa as "somebody being paid by the DNC [that] met with officials of the Ukrainian government." Technically true, but about as honest as saying this blog post was written by someone being paid [for unrelated services] by a certain IT company. Some people have lives after the job. Or when he complains about "bits and pieces of information leaked through the media," when the subject at hand is an email chain made public by Donald Junior himself.

Now that Greenwald's earlier defense that "there is no evidence" of Russian meddling in our election is starting to rot, he is trying to sell us on an overbroad definition of "meddling" that is at the heart of this false parallel between Trump-Russia and Clinton-Ukraine that "has been ricocheting across right-wing media in recent days, advanced by Trump aides such as Sebastian Gorka and Sarah Sanders and commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Kayleigh McEnany," according to The Atlantic. We can now add Glenn Greenwald and Democracy Now to this distinguished company.

Answering questions put to you honestly and openly does not constitute "meddling." If I become suspicious of my partner, and go to my neighbor asking it he has seen any unusual comings and goings in my absence, and he tells me what he knows. That is not meddling. If, on the other hand, my neighbor comes to me, unsolicited, with tales of what he considers suspicious comings and goings in my absence, that is meddling. When the Russian lawyer approached the Trumps with opposition research collected by the Russian government on Clinton's activities in the US that they never asked for - that was meddling. If they did ask for it - that was collusion.

Greenwald continues on Democracy Now:
Now, I, personally, although it’s dirty, think all of these events are sort of the way politics works. Of course if you’re in an important campaign and someone offers you incriminating information about your opponent, you’re going to want it no matter where it comes from, whether it’s Ukrainian officials, whether it’s anti-Trump people in Moscow or whether it’s pro-Trump people in Moscow. So, I want to hear the standard that we’re supposed to use to assess Trump Jr.'s actions. Is it that it's wrong in all cases to get incriminating information about your opponent from a foreign government? In which case, why is it OK for the Democrats to do it with Ukrainian officials or for their investigator to go to Moscow and get dirt on Trump?
There is a big difference between going out and gathering information, and being offered information that has been gathered at someone else's expense. This is the difference Greenwald and the Trump people are trying to obscure. It is not about where the dirt comes from. It is a question of who pays to dig up the dirt so that it can be served up on a silver platter.

It's one things for a US political party to pay investigators to dig up dirt on an opponent, even if they get it in Russia or Ukraine. It's quite another thing when Russia pays "investigators" to dig up dirt on a US politician's dealings in the US, so that they can make a gift of the work product of that "investigation" to the politician's opposition. This is true even if that work product is entirely the result of legal information search methods. Hacking introduces a whole other layer. Journalists have a public interest 1st Amendment right to publish stolen emails, but political campaigns have been successfully sued for misusing mailing lists. They may not share a newspaper's protection when it comes to receiving stolen files. Greenwald continues:
Or is it some other standard that distinguishes what Trump Jr. did in this case versus what Democrats did with the Steele dossier and with Ukraine? And I just don’t see this distinction. 
If he was being paid to be Trump's lawyer I could understand why he doesn't see the distinction. Since he is apparently doing this pro bono, allow me to explain.

In one case, because Trump had shady dealings in Russia, and Manafort had shady dealings for Russian interests in Ukraine, the investigation by opposition researchers went to those places for information on those dealings. Presumably, in this case, it is the candidate that is paying the cost of collecting this opposition research, either by paying Steele's firm, or paying people to making trips and ask questions. Remember this last charge is denied by the Democrats, Greenwald still needs to prove that DNC officials talked to Ukrainian government officials about Manafort. The Politico article doesn't claim that.

In the other case, a Russian government agent representing troves of information illegally obtained about an opposition candidate, is pro-actively seeking to provide that information, for which they have paid the costs of collection, however that information was collected, and not in exchange for direct cash payment like say Steele, or some other firm a campaign might hire for opposition research, but for other considerations that can only be provided if the candidate wins.

Why Attorney Greenwald fails to see the value of information

All of Trump's defense counsel know that Donald Junior's greatest legal jeopardy in relationship to these contacts could come if he is charged with breaking campaign finance laws that make it a crime to accept anything of value from a foreign government, so Attorney Greenwald is quick to assert that there is also nothing of value to see here:
AMY GOODMAN: —breaking campaign finance laws or campaign laws that have to do with getting something of value, not necessarily financial, from a foreign entity, a state or nonstate actor.

GLENN GREENWALD: Right. And there’s, I think, a lot more lawyers and a lot more campaign finance lawyers who have said that just getting information about a candidate would not constitute something of value.
Greenwald must have not seen Oliver Stone's Wall Street. Remember Gordon Gekko: "The most valuable commodity I know of is information." This is no less true in real world politics, especially when it costs money to gather the information, but apparently that is not the case in Greenwald's world.

First Republicans and then Democrats, paid Steele to do his investigation. Did his report then "not constitute something of value?" If instead Russia had paid him, or someone like him, to investigate Trump, and then turned the "information" they got for their money over to the Clinton campaign, would not they be guilty of breaking campaign finance laws?

Fortunately, for the sake of argument, Greenwald is willing to pretend information has value:
But let’s assume that that’s true. Let’s take that theory as though it’s true. Why doesn’t it also apply then to the person working for Democrats who went to Moscow and got something of value, namely information about Trump, from Kremlin-connected people in Moscow, or Democrats, including someone working for the DNC, who got something of value from Ukrainian officials? 
Because the person who went to Moscow was "working for the Democrats," who were also presumably paying for the trip. Greenwald doesn't understand the labor theory of value. Gold buried in the ground has no value. It must be found, dug up, and refined. That takes a lot of work and that makes it very valuable. Same concept applies to information. It has no value until it is made available. Google itself is the source of very little information. It makes billions by making otherwise inaccessible information available to the world. Greenwald asks again:
Why isn’t that the same thing?
Information is valuable precisely because it costs money or labor to obtain, so it makes a world of difference whether it is US citizens or the Russian government that is paying for the collection of information, even legal research, let alone hacked files, to be used by any side in the US election.

Also there is a big difference between asking Russians to supply information about what a US politician has been up to in Russia, and asking Russians to supply information about what a US politician has been up to in the United States. The first is called research, the second is called espionage.

No evidence for the Russian hacking?

As the interview with Amy proceeds, it becomes very clear that Greenwald is not thinking like an investigative journalist, but like an attorney, and as an lawyer, what he knows very well is how to careful word a phrase to deceive while at the same time being defensible. He allows that the Donald Junior's emails represent new evidence:
It does lend some credence to the possibility that the Trump administration colluded with the Russians criminally, meaning with their hacking of the DNC and Podesta emails, if in fact the Russians did that as the intelligence agencies claim, although they’ve produced no evidence for it.
Of course, Greenwald doesn't know what the intelligence agencies have produced, he is talking about what they have made public, and even though he questions the credibility of these intelligence agencies, he seeks to limit the question to evidence made public by them.

One thing that Glenn Greenwald doesn't seem to get is that "the intelligence agencies" however you may define them, are not necessarily the sharpest tools in the shed when it comes to cybersecurity and cybercrime. We can all see what a stellar job they have done at protecting government documents from hackers that would send them to Wikileaks, and what a bang-up job they have done at rolling up hacker groups like Anonymous. That is why they so often rely on private firms that specialize in investigating cyber breaches, and hire IT contractors for more money than they are allowed to pay employees.

Sometimes fiction follows the real world, as in the case of Penelope Garcia, the FBI's quirky computer guru in the long running TV series "Criminal Minds." In the series' backstory, she got the job because she hacked the FBI computers, and then was able to trade on her expertise to turn a jail sentence into a job. This is a deal that has been struck by more than one real world hacker when caught, because they possess mad skills the FBI is badly in need of.

So while attorney Glenn Greenwald may find it opportune to stand on the narrow ground of what he might consider "evidence" produced by "the intelligence agencies," there is a wealth of evidence publically available and produced by independent investigators that know their craft well that says the Russian government was behind the hacking of the DNC servers.

The CrowdStrike report, Bears in the Midst: Intrusion into the Democratic National Committee, is probably the most compelling. Describing their work for the DNC in the report, they say:
CrowdStrike Services Inc., our Incident Response group, was called by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the formal governing body for the US Democratic Party, to respond to a suspected breach. We deployed our IR team and technology and immediately identified two sophisticated adversaries on the network – COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR. We’ve had lots of experience with both of these actors attempting to target our customers in the past and know them well. In fact, our team considers them some of the best adversaries out of all the numerous nation-state, criminal and hacktivist/terrorist groups we encounter on a daily basis. Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none and the extensive usage of ‘living-off-the-land’ techniques enables them to easily bypass many security solutions they encounter. In particular, we identified advanced methods consistent with nation-state level capabilities including deliberate targeting and ‘access management’ tradecraft – both groups were constantly going back into the environment to change out their implants, modify persistent methods, move to new Command & Control channels and perform other tasks to try to stay ahead of being detected. Both adversaries engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.
The CrowdStrike report pointed to a massive hacking effort that required hundreds of skilled operators with a lot of computing power and bandwidth, the kind of effort that pointed to a state actor. To computer industry insiders this looks like a massive effort. To those less knowledgeable about the IT industry like Donald Trump it could have just as easily been a "guy sitting on their bed who weighs 400 pounds."

This "lone hacker" theory takes the spotlight off of Russia, and so shortly after the CrowdStrike report came out, an entity using the moniker Guccifer 2.0 claimed to be the lone hacker who stole the DNC files. To prove its authenticity, it release some. Guccifer 2.0 is a fakeout. In its 15 June 2016 Update, it stated:
CrowdStrike stands fully by its analysis and findings identifying two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries present in the DNC network in May 2016. On June 15, 2016 a blog post to a WordPress site authored by an individual using the moniker Guccifer 2.0 claimed credit for breaching the Democratic National Committee. This blog post presents documents alleged to have originated from the DNC.

Whether or not this posting is part of a Russian Intelligence disinformation campaign, we are exploring the documents’ authenticity and origin. Regardless, these claims do nothing to lessen our findings relating to the Russian government’s involvement, portions of which we have documented for the public and the greater security community.
They also included this in the update:
Below are some additional links to independent articles that have been published since our original blog:
Some commentators have tried to make a big issue out of the fact that the FBI never seized all the DNC servers and inspected them themselves. These are people who have never dealt with a digital breach in the real world. You don't allow the hacker to shut you down by declaring all your servers "evidence" and quarantining them. That's what the FBI meanly does when they want to shut you down. If you have control, first you make an image of the server. That will capture every detail of the server's state after the breach. Then you fix the damage and patch the breach so that you can keep operating, while the forensic investigation is done on images, as many as you need, each a perfect copy of the server's data at the time the image was made. The charge that the DNC refused to turn over its servers to the FBI, in the middle of a presidential campaign is a herring, Republican red.

In The Intercept, 14 December 2016 Sam Biddle tried to discredit the CrowdStrike report, saying:
We should also bear in mind that private security firm CrowdStrike’s frequently cited findings of Russian responsibility were essentially paid for by the DNC, which contracted its services in June. It’s highly unusual for evidence of a crime to be assembled on the victim’s dime.
We are talking about cybercrime. It's not at all unusual for evidence of cybercrime to be assembled by a contract specialist on the crime victims dime. Usually that is the only way it is done. If Sam Biddle didn't know that, then the didn't know what he was talking about. If he did know that, he was being disingenuous. The FBI itself has used CrowdStrike, and in fact CrowdStrike was still under contract with the FBI for "unspecified services" at the time that it did the DNC investigation. TYT Network reported:
According to a US federal government spending database, CrowdStrike’s “period of performance” on behalf of the FBI was between July 2015 and July 2016. CrowdStrike’s findings regarding the DNC server breach — which continue to this day to be cited as authoritative by everyone from former FBI Director James Comey, to NBC anchor Megyn Kelly — were issued in June 2016, when the contract was still active.
The pro-Putin crowd wants to imply that because the DNC paid for the report they got the report they wanted, but it just doesn't work that way. Why work CrowdStrike throw away an excellent reputation and high dollar contracts with the FBI and Fortune 500 by producing a ginned up report? It would be impossible to make one up that could fool professionals. They aren't political and they aren't a PR firm. They make their money by finding the facts and stopping the breaches.

When CrowdStrike revised the number of artillery pieces it said were lost because of the use of Fancy Bear Android malware in tracking Ukrainian field artillery units downwards from 80% to 15%-20% in another CrowdStrike report on Russian hacking in that conflict, the pro-Putin crowd claimed that meant nothing the company ever did could be trusted. That's the way the propaganda war is played these days.

This brings me to another argument against the digital forensic investigation that the pro-Putin people like to bring up: Digital fingerprints can be faked! As if they have made a discovery that nobody doing cyber forensics ever thought of. Yes, counterfeits can be produced. They can also be discovered. Cybercriminals always try to cover their trails, and still they are caught.

What connects this blog post to the last one I published, White nationalists disrupt Santa Monica anti-racist meeting, is the worldwide struggle against white nationalism that is now developing from Santa Monica to Moscow. Those young thugs have chosen to put themselves on the side of Putin and Trump. So, sadly, has Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald. They both worked very hard to elect him by promoting progressive votes for Jill Stein, so it should not be surprising that they are now coming out to defend his presidency.

Then there are the rest of us. The fate of humanity will be determined by who wins.

Clay Claiborne

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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