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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Dennis "the Menace" Kucinich

Recently former Congressman Dennis Kucinich attempted to come to the rescue of Donald Trump. He wrote an opinion piece for Fox News titled I'm no fan of Trump's but he's got a point about wiretapping, 10 March 2017, in which he claimed:
President Trump’s assertion that his phones at Trump Tower were tapped last year has been treated as hilarious—and in some circles as beyond contempt. But I can vouch for the fact that extracurricular surveillance does occur, regardless of whether it is officially approved. I was wiretapped in 2011 after taking a phone call in my congressional office from a foreign leader.
Now, supposedly "Left" sources are citing this Kucinich tale. Today it even showed up in a  piece called The Real Russiagate by Paul Craig Roberts and Michael Hudson in counterpunch:
It seems that this has been going on for many years now. Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich has dropped a bombshell about what appears to be his own illegal surveillance under Obama’s NSC.
Once the facts behind Dennis Kucinich's wiretapping came out he only succeeded in revealing his own ties to tyranny. That counterpunch is still promoting this nonsense only serves to highlight their own subservience to Putin, and now Trump.

Those ties go back a long way. In early 2011, while he was still in congress, Kucinich traveled to Damascus and met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Assad had only killed about a thousand Syrians to that point, although thousands more of what later would become millions were already fleeing to Turkey and Lebanon. While he was there, Kucinich held a press conference for the Syrian media. According to Politico, he said of the Syrian dictator that has since destroyed his country and killed a half million of it citizens:
“President Bashar al-Assad cares so much about what is taking place in Syria, which is evident in his effort towards a new Syria and everybody who meets him can be certain of this.”
The Syrian state news outlet, SANA, reported:
The U.S. Congressman described what is taking place in terms of the meetings of opposition and independent figures who are expressing themselves and their views openly and freely as “a largely positive progress”, saying “President Bashar al-Assad cares so much about what is taking place in Syria, which is evident in his effort towards a new Syria and everybody who meets him can be certain of this.”

“President al-Assad is highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians,” said Kucinich, voicing his belief that people in Syria are seeking a real change which is up to them. …
Dennis Kucinich never planned on this press conference and later claimed that what he really meant got lost in translation. His trip to Damascus had been kept secret until he was spotted in Damascus by a CNN correspondent. Then he gave a press conference.

Bashar Assad, meets with Dennis Kucinich in Damascus on Sunday Sept. 2, 2007. (AP Photo Sana)
This was the time of the Arab Spring and the focus of world attention was on the struggle in Libya to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. The United States and NATO were enforcing a no-fly zone and carrying out airstrikes against Gaddafi's forces. Dennis Kucinich had a bill before congress calling for the US to withdraw from this fight. He was also working closely with the Gaddafi regime in support of its struggle to stay in power. Unlike the bill, this was very hush-hush. They had discussed a trip to Libya to meet with Brother Leader and other Libya officials, but Kucinich deeded it too dangerous and opted to travel to Syria instead.

This was not his first trip to Syria. He went to Damascus with a congressional delegation lead by Nancy Pelosi in April 2007. He went back again in September,  met Assad, and had high praise for him.  He said, in an interview that aired on Syrian TV,  3 Sept 2007:
President Assad showed a real desire to play a role in helping to create a peaceful settlement of the conditions in Iraq, as well as a grander approach towards creating peace.
here is a man, President Assad, who should be respected and appreciated for the role that he has played.
Kucinich was praising Syria for taking in refugees from the Iraq war, and Syrians do indeed have a very honorable history of taking in war refugees; before millions were forced to flee the war made on them by the same Assad that Kucinich spoke so highly of. At the time, Assad's security services were busy supporting networks and safe houses, transport and supplies, for the jihadist fight against the US occupation of Iraq. With Assad's help, from that time until today, those same jihadists became first al Qaeda in Iraq, and then the Islamic State.

Even after the Arab Spring protests that began 15 March 2011 started being met by gunfire from Assad's security forces, Kucinich's support for him held firm. 26 May 2011, he told Cleveland.com:
"I've read where President Assad has made certain commitments, and I would imagine that when things finally settle down, that President Assad will move in a direction of democratic reforms, he has already made that commitment from what I can see."
A week after the Assad regime killed over 1400 civilians with a sarin rocket attack in East Ghouta on 21 August 2013, Dennis Kucinch sent out a letter to 200,000 recipients that pretty much parroted the Assad line on the attack. He opposed any military response to Assad. He said "a flimsy case [was] being made to attempt to justify an attack" and "no definitive proof that Syria’s Assad knew of and directed the chemical weapons attack." He implied strongly that it was "al-Qaida, which leads the opposition" that was behind the attack, and it would be in "callous disregard for our true national interest" to come to the aid of the Syrian people. Assad would have found nothing to complain about in this letter, but Assad wasn't the foreign leader Kucinich is now claiming he was wiretapped talking to.

Kucinich and Gaddafi

Congressman Kucinich was against US support for any UN no-fly zone over Libya from the beginning, even while Gaddafi's forces were wantonly massacring civilians with his tanks, artillery and aircraft. A report from the UNHCR mission to Libya dated 6 June 2011 put the civil war death toll to that point at between 10,000 and 15,000, far ahead of those in Syria at the same time. It would eventually take 30,000 Libyan lives to settle the matter, which thanks in part to the NATO mission, is far short of the on-going carnage to date in Syria.

On 15 June 2011, Kucinich and other house members filed a lawsuit against Obama's support for NATO enforcement of the UN mission over Libya.  This was at a time when the Libyan Transitional National Council was demanding that NATO do more to stop Gaddafi's attacks on Misrata, and the ground truths of Gaddafi's violence were starting to gain attention in the western media. Five days earlier C. J. Chivers reported in the New York Times on the bombardment of Misrata with cluster bombs by Gaddafi's forces, calling it "a form of indiscriminate attack" on civilians.

UNICEF Video | 6 June 2011 | In the besieged city of Misrata, children bore the brunt.

On 16 June 2011, BBC News revealed to the world that on the long night of 21 February, Gaddafi's forces had tricked and massacred between 600 and 700 unarmed protesters in Green Square. On the 17th, BBC News reported that the International Criminal Court believed Gaddafi's forces were using rape as a weapon of war. That same day, Kucinich offered an amendment to defund US operations in Libya.

There was very little support for the Libyan revolutionaries on the US Left. Some groups like ANSWER Coalition and Workers World Party were very vocal in their support for the fascist Gaddafi regime, and there was wide support in the US peace movement generally for the Kucinich proposal, as exampled by this 16th of June appearance on Democracy Now. In her first introductory sentence Amy Goodman ignored the reality that this was principally a conflict among Libyans by seeing it as just another American war:
We turn to the war in Libya and the intensifying debate in Washington over the legality of the war.
Had Democracy Now been covering the Libyan revolt against Colonel Gaddafi prior to the UN resolution to stop his massacres, she would have never spoken of it in such chauvinist terms, and would have realized that we had no business debating the "legality of the [civil] war," only of US participation in it.

Under a Chapter 7 resolution, the United Nations authorized the use of force to protect civilians in a conflict in which Gaddafi's forces had been found to be specifically targeting them. Backers of US President Obama's support for what became a UN\NATO mission over Libya said that its legality was already covered by long established UN treaty obligations. Kucinich and his supporters held the position that any US use of force not covered by a congressional declaration of war was illegal. They also puffed up the relatively small role the US played in the conflict. In spite of the fact the US planes carried out only 17% of the NATO strike missions, the US never lost a soldier, and never had troops on the ground, they saw it as just another US war to be opposed, and looked no further. They viewed the question of protecting civilians from the Gaddafi regime as a false one, or they ignored the plight of the civilians entirely. Libya could have ended up like Syria, for all they cared; and they have done what they can since to make it sound worst than it is.

While Dennis Kucinich was making the rounds and being very vocal in his opposition to Obama's support for the UN mission on legal grounds, the plight of those civilians that mission was tasked with protecting wasn't the only thing he was keeping quiet about. Kucinich was closely coordinating his campaign with representatives of the Gaddafi regime, including soon to be indicted war criminal Saif Gaddafi, and being very hush-hush about it.

Later, after Gaddafi's file were captured, The Guardian would report:
On 22 June a letter sent to Libya's prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, by a US-based lobbyist for the regime, Sufyan Omeish, noted that Kucinich was "concerned that his personal safety in Tripoli could not be guaranteed." He preferred to conduct meetings with regime officials outside Libya. The plan was for Kucinich to meet "senior Libyan officials, including Gaddafi." The proposed trip never took place. Kucinich visited Syria instead.
That same day Linux Beach begin its focused Libya coverage with No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum and disappointed Palestinians published an Open letter to Gaddafi supporter Cynthia McKinney. McKinney was on a speaking tour and supporting the Kucinich bill.

Dennis Kucinich was acting as a virtual lobbyist for the Gaddafi regime at the time he was trying to defund the NATO enforcement of the no-fly zone that kept Gaddafi from doing what Assad has been doing for years, but since both he and the Libyans kept these talks a secret, they only came out after the regime was defeated and people got access to their files. In one notable example, as we reported at the time, 31 August 2011, Jamal Eishayyal reported in Al Jazeera/English that he found some papers in the office of Abdullah Alsinnousi, head of Libya's intelligence service that seem to document the communications of several prominent US citizens with the Qaddafi regime in the months before it was overthrown. The following information request is said to be from Congressman Dennis Kucinich:
Good Morning Gentlemen.
This is the Congressman you both spoke with. He is going to fight for us but he has asked us for evidence. I can bring whatever we can gather. If it is sensitive I will carry it, otherwise we can email it. House to vote next week on ending US involvement in Libya
[Probably referring to House Vote 493 - Rejects Authorization of Limited Military Involvement in Libya, 24 June 2011, failed 295 to 123 - ed.]

l. Any corrupt (verifiable) acts by the Opposition leaders. Include any personal motives for instance to make money or gain certain types of power.
2. Any known Al-Qaeda operating in the Opposition.
3. Any evidence of atrocities committed by the Rebel soldiers.
4. Any evidence of Civilian deaths by NATO.
5. Any evidence of arms sales to the Opposition in Benghazi or Misrata, including dates, who sold the weapons, what type and the cost of the deals.
6. Any evidence of weapons being smuggled on boats to Misrata, with dates. and type of weapons.
7. Any evidence that the uprising was a planned event prior to February 17th. Include intercepted communications, names, dates.
8. Evidence supporting that the Regime has a regular practice of hiring African military in its Pan-African units and this was not a new (mercenaries) thing just for the uprising.
9. Communications with the UK and USA prior to the UN bombings to show Regime was trying to negotiate peacefully.
10. Evidence of cease fires by the Regime or withdrawals of troops. Dates, location, description (including why cease fire broke down).
11. Evidence that before the uprising started, there were democratic projects under way, for instance a plan for elections and so forth. This shows that they were already going this way and aren't just saying that now.
l2. Evidence that The Leader had already planned to step down before the uprisings. This shows there was already a transition going on. It also helps him save face for when he does step down because it will look like that was the plan all along.
l3. A list of tribes and location known to be loyal to Regime, those pledging loyalty to Opposition, and the remaining ones that have not pledged either way. The population of each group as well, This shows that the Rebels don't have the full support of the country.
l4 .A list and description (including date and location) of humanitarian efforts by Regime since this started, or their attempts to aid the civilian population, and any efforts blocked by NATO or the Rebels.
It will be used for:
A) A lawsuit against
B) Defending Saif in the ICC
C) Publicity to reform the image of Regime.
D) To help negotiation positions
Other evidence of ongoing communications between Dennis Kucinich and the Gaddafi regime in this period has emerged, and at some point in the later half of June 2011 there were also secret telephone conversations between Kucinich and Gaddafi officials. We know this because those telephone conversations were recorded and those recordings have since been made public. These are the recordings Dennis Kucinich was referring to when he said:
I was wiretapped in 2011 after taking a phone call in my congressional office from a foreign leader.

These tapes were published by the Washington Times in 2015 after Kucinich authenticated them. The Washington Times said it got them in Libya and we have already seen how other materials documenting the Kucinich connections to the Gaddafi regime were found in Libyan state security archives. When they were released, Kucinich didn't challenge the story that these materials came from Tripoli. He didn't make the claim that they were the result Obama White House spying then, but now that he sees the opportunity to make some news while helping another fascist at the same time, he has put a new spin on the old story - and used racist logic to prove it - namely the quality was too good to have been done by Arabs! He wrote in the Fox piece:
The reporters did not say, nor did I ask, who had made the tape. But the paper’s stories referenced “secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.”

I have only my suspicions about their true provenance. The quality of the recordings was excellent on both ends of the call.
On 27 June 2011, a youth resistance group in Tripoli upload a video to YouTube about The Free Generation Movement's Project Burn:

On that same day the International Criminal Court in Case No. ICC‐01/11, issued:
a Warrant of Arrest for Mr. Muammar Qadhafi, Saif Al‐Islam Qadhafi and Abdullah Al‐Senussi for their alleged criminal responsibility for the commission of murder and persecution of civilians as crimes against humanity from 15 February 2011 onwards throughout Libya in, inter alia, Tripoli, Benghazi, and Misrata, through the Libyan State apparatus and Security Forces,
The Court found that:
following the events in Tunisia and Egypt which led to the departure of the respective presidents in the early months of 2011, a state policy was designed at the highest level of the Libyan State machinery and aimed at deterring and quelling, by any means, including by the use of lethal force, the demonstrations of civilians against the regime of Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Qadhafi (ʺQadhafiʹs regimeʺ) which started in February 2011;
modus operandi, carried out through Libya an attack against the civilian population taking part in demonstrations against Qadhafiʹs regime or those perceived to be dissidents;
although the exact number of casualties resulting from the attack cannot be known due to a cover‐up campaign implemented in order to conceal the commission of crimes by the Security Forces, there are reasonable grounds to believe that as of 15 February 2011 and within a period of less than two weeks in February 2011, the Security Forces killed and injured as well as arrested and imprisoned hundreds of civilians;
there are reasonable grounds to believe that throughout Libya and in particular in Tripoli, Misrata, and Benghazi, as well as in cities near Benghazi such as Al‐Bayda, Derna, Tobruk, Ajdabiya, murders constituting crimes against humanity were committed from 15 February 2011 until at least 25 February 2011 by Security Forces as part of the attack against the civilian demonstrators or alleged dissidents to Qadhafiʹs regime;
there are reasonable grounds to believe that Muammar Qadhafi, as the recognised and undisputed leader of Libya had, at all times relevant to the Prosecutorʹs Application, absolute, ultimate and unquestioned control over the Libyan State apparatus of power, including the Security Forces;
there are also reasonable grounds to believe that, although not having an official position, Saif Al‐Islam is Muammar Qadhafiʹs unspoken successor and the most influential person within his inner circle and, as such, at all times relevant to the Prosecutorʹs application, he exercised control over crucial parts of the State apparatus, including finances and logistics and had the powers of a de facto Prime Minister;
there are reasonable grounds to believe that Muammar Qadhafi and Saif Al‐Islam Qadhafi are both criminally responsible as indirect co‐perpetrators.
Donald Trump once did business the Muammar Gaddafi, he said the deal made him "a lot of money, if you remember." Buzzfeed reported:
Overlooking terrorism that killed Americans, including the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, Donald Trump sought investment partnerships with Muammar al-Qaddafi and the Libyan regime. He rented his Westchester estate to the dictator, tried to set up a face-to-face meeting, and took the Libyan ambassador golfing.
Saif Gaddafi was captured by the Libyans. He eventually was put on trial, sentenced to death in Tripoli, and is reported to still be held in Zintan. Muammur Gaddafi was caught fleeing his last stronghold of Sirte and killed. It has been reported that Bashar al-Assad helped by providing Gaddafi's cell phone number to French spies in return for his regime being spared the "Gaddafi treatment."

Now Dennis Kucinich is blaming Hillary Clinton's loss on FBI director James Comey. Go figure.

Why would Kucinich come to the aid of Trump? Perhaps it is enough to reprieve his long record of supporting authoritarian rulers favored by Trump. This Thursday he will be speaking at a Stop the War rally in London. This group is well known for its support of the Assad regime and we can expect Dennis Kucinich to do whatever he can to deflect blame for this latest sarin attack from Assad.

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

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