Thursday 21st of October 2021

the democracy charade .....

the democracy charade .....

This week's presidential election in Afghanistan will be an elaborate piece of political theater designed to show increasingly uneasy Western voters that progress is being made in the war-torn nation after seven years of US-led occupation.

Most Afghans already believe they know who will win the vote: the candidate chosen by the United States and its NATO allies.

Voting will mostly be held in urban areas, under the guns of US and NATO troops.

The countryside, ruled by Taliban, who are often local farmers moonlighting as fighters, is too dangerous for this electoral charade. Over half of Afghanistan is under Taliban influence by day, 75% at night.

The entire election and vote-counting election commission are financed and run by the US. So are leading candidates. Ten thousand Afghan mercenaries hired by the US will police the polls and intimidate voters. US-financed Afghan media are busy promoting Washington's candidates.

The Pashtun Taliban, a fiercely anti-Communist, religious movement, is banned from the election. Pashtun tribesmen form over half of Afghanistan's population but have been largely excluded from power by the Western occupation.

Taliban vows to fight the sham election, which it calls a tool of foreign occupation. Other nationalist and tribal groups battling Western occupation, notably Gulbadin Hekmatyar's Hisbi Islami and forces of Jalaladin Hakkani, are also excluded from the election.

barack bush .....

In a speech delivered Monday to the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Arizona, President Barack Obama promised to intensify the US military engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, wind down the war in Iraq, and create a new military that would be better-equipped to wage unconventional warfare.

The speech's central purpose was to prepare public opinion for an escalation and prolongation of the US war in Afghanistan and its further expansion into neighboring Pakistan.

The president warned that the war in Afghanistan would be long and bloody, predicting "more difficult days ahead."

"The insurgency in Afghanistan didn't just happen overnight," Obama said. "And we won't defeat it overnight. This will not be quick. This will not be easy."

Obama said that diminution of the conflict in Iraq would allow the US "to refocus on the war against Al Qaida and its extremist allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan." In other words, there will be no lessening of US military violence. Whatever can be freed up from Iraq will simply be transferred to the "Af-Pak" theater.

dumbocracy in action .....

On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement on the Afghan elections. Key section:

"The United States of America remains impartial in this election. We do not support or oppose any particular candidate. Like the Afghan people we want to see credible, secure & inclusive elections that all will judge legitimate. We hope that, from top to bottom, every effort will be taken to make election day secure, to eliminate fraud & to address any complaints fairly & quickly."

Hmm. Well, let's see.

How is it not just a wee bit of interference to have James Carville, one of the Clintons' top consiglieri, acting as a campaign advisor to one of the leading candidates? Carville, who says he is working as a "private citizen" for candidate Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank official, was an advisor to Hillary Clinton in the 2008 election & has deep ties to Obama's current Afghanistan/Pakistan envoy Richard Holbrooke. Ghani & former Unocal executive turned US-puppet, Hamid Karzai, would both be acceptable to Washington, but Carville's involvement certainly raises some questions. Carville, according to NPR, "won't say whether he's being paid to advise Ghani."

Hamid Karzai's office has offered some fairly muted criticism of this arrangement. "Let's leave the decision to the Afghan people if it is better to have the advice of Afghans without the interference from the foreigners or to have foreigners advising us?" said Humayun Hamidzada, Karzai's spokesperson.

It's all phooey.

For his part, Karzai has little leg to stand on in criticizing anyone over their use of US advisors. His entire claim to power is based on US dictates, instructions & approval from Washington - oh, & his personal safety as well. Not to mention 48,000 US troops & 70,000 private contractors on the US government payroll. Remember, Karzai reportedly held talks recently with neo-con all-star Zalmay Khalilzad, his old buddy from Unocal, about Khalilzad becoming the CEO of Afghanistan (literally). After the NY Times reported the story, Karzai tried to re-spin his intentions.

So, maybe this election is in part like the Bush candidate vs the Clinton candidate. In any case, still seems like the US is calling the shots, not the Afghan people.

But, the latest presidential carpetbagger, Barack Obama, delivered a statement praising this week's presidential election in Afghanistan, calling it "an important step forward."

"Over the last few days," Obama said, "... we've seen acts of violence & intimidation by the Taliban. Yet even in the face of this brutality," millions of Afghans came out to vote.

The president reiterated that "our goal is clear" in Afghanistan, adding: "Our men & women in uniform are doing an extraordinary job."

But the news on Afghanistan does not match Obama's rhetoric. In the days leading up to the election, violent incidents were seen across the country; yet due to a media ban on reporting them, no one could know for sure how many there were. Voter turnout was low in many places, with the Taliban threatening to cut off fingers stained with tell-tale voting ink.

meanwhile .....

With record numbers of US troops being killed in Afghanistan, with Pentagon expenditures for the war skyrocketing & with little or no evidence that the US occupation is making the country more stable, safe, free or humane, a majority of Americans now say the war is not with fighting.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed for a new Washington Post-ABC News poll now say the human & economic cost of the war is too great.

Forty-seven percent say it is worth its costs.

Perhaps most significantly, passionate opposition to the war now significantly outstrips passionate support for it.

Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they were strongly opposed to the occupation.

Just 31 percent say they were strongly supportive.

But even the strategic thinking behind this long war makes no sense. The goal of disrupting, dismantling & defeating al Qaeda has almost no place in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan, where many Al Qaeda leaders are now stationed.

Petraeus admitted back in May that Al Qaeda is no longer operating in Afghanistan - we're fighting a home-grown Taliban insurgency more nationalist than religious extremist in nature. You could make the argument that a Taliban able to take over the country could usher in Al Qaeda safe havens, but the Taliban insurgents are small in number & have been unable to gain acceptance in anything other than the Pashtun areas.

This argument tends to lump the various groups we are contending with together & it suggests that all of them are equally committed to attacking the United States. In fact, most of the people we are fighting in Afghanistan aren't dedicated jihadis seeking to overthrow Arab monarchies, establish a Muslim caliphate, or mount attacks on US soil.

Their agenda is focused on local affairs, such as what they regard as the political disempowerment of Pashtuns & illegitimate foreign interference in their country.

Moreover, the Taliban itself is more of a loose coalition of different groups than a tightly unified & hierarchical organization, which is why some experts believe we ought to be doing more to divide the movement & "flip" the moderate elements to our side.

Unfortunately, the "safe haven" argument wrongly suggests that the Taliban care as much about attacking America as bin Laden does. Second, while it is true that Mullah Omar gave Osama bin Laden a sanctuary both before & after 9/11, it is by no means clear that they would give him free rein to attack the United States again (which he only ever did outside the US mainland anyway).

Protecting al Qaeda back in 2001 brought no end of trouble to Mullah Omar & his associates, and if they were lucky enough to regain power, it is hard to believe they would give us a reason to come back in force. Third, it is hardly obvious that Afghan territory provides an ideal "safe haven" for mounting attacks on the United States.

The 9/11 plot was organized out of Hamburg, not Kabul or Kandahar, but nobody is proposing that we send troops to Germany to make sure there aren't "safe havens" operating there. In fact, if al Qaeda has to hide out somewhere, I'd rather they were in a remote, impoverished, land-locked & isolated area from which it is hard to do almost anything. But even the US government doesn't claim that al Qaeda was responsible for 911 .... look at the FBI's most wanted list & see if you can spot Osama bin Laden's name.

The "bases" or "training camps" they could organize in Pakistan or Afghanistan might be useful for organizing a Mumbai-style attack, but they would not be particularly valuable if you were trying to do a replay of 9/11 (not many flight schools there), or if you were trying to build a weapon of mass destruction. In a post-9/11 environment, it wouldn't be easy for a group of al Qaeda operatives bent on a Mumbia-style operation get all the way to the United States. One cannot rule this sort of thing out, of course, but does that unlikely danger justify an open-ended commitment that is going to cost America more than US$60 billion next year?

The war in Afghanistan has cost America US$225billion thus far. Add the US$675billion that US taxpayers have shelled-out to trash Iraq, one of the oldest civilisations in the world, that never raised a finger against the yankee gangsters, & that's a cool US$900 billion that's been pumped through the mad Americans' military-industrial complex ... could have funded a lot of bank bailouts or healthcare plans with that cash.

So why are we there? Why are 42 countries around the world supporting the lunatic American disaster that is the middle east? Two three letter words folks ..... oil & gas.

Poor old Osama .... the greatest fall-guy in history .... next to western taxpayers.

mission creep .....

An election held under the guns of a foreign occupation army cannot be called legitimate or democratic. That's a basic tenet of international law.

Nevertheless, the US and its NATO allies have been lauding last week's faux presidential elections in Afghanistan as both a sign of growing support for Hamid Karzai's Western-backed government and the birth of democracy in Afghanistan.

In reality, the carefully stage-managed vote in Afghanistan for candidates chosen by Western powers is unlikely to bring either peace or democracy to this wretched nation that has suffered thirty years of nonstop war.

On the contrary, American generals have intensified warnings that the military situation in Afghanistan is rapidly "deteriorating" and are calling for yet more troops in addition to the recent major manpower increase authorized by President Barack Obama. Sixty-eight thousand US combat troops, 40,000 NATO soldiers, and 75,000 mercenaries are apparently not enough.

Welcome to Vietnam Mission Creep, Part II.

traps for young players .....

The conflict that George W. Bush began, then ignored, and finally bequeathed to his successor. Barack Obama has now embraced that conflict as, in his words, 'the war we must win'. Bush might rightly view Obama's enthusiasm for pressing on in Afghanistan as a form of vindication.

Here we have a President, a new President who's run for high office derived its energy from an implicit promise to repudiate all that Bush had wrought, now endorsing the proposition that this remote, land-locked, primitive, central Asian country constitutes a US vital national security interest. The candidate who once derided the notion that the United States is called upon to determine the fate of Iraq, now expresses a willingness to expend untold billions not to mention who knows how many American lives, in order to determine the fate of Afghanistan.

What is it about Afghanistan possessing next to nothing that the United States requires that justifies such lavish attention? In Washington, this question goes not only unanswered, but unasked. Among Democrats and Republicans alike, Afghanistan's importance is simply assumed much the way 50 years ago, otherwise intelligent people simply assumed that the United States had a vital interest in ensuring the preservation of South Vietnam. Yet as then, so too today, the assumption does not stand up to even casual scrutiny. The fight in Afghanistan is essential to keeping America safe, we are told.

The events of September 11, 2001 ostensibly occurred because we ignored Afghanistan. Preventing the recurrence of these events therefore requires that we fix the place. This widely accepted line of reasoning overlooks the primary reason why the 9/11 conspiracy succeeded, namely that Federal, State and Local agencies responsible for commercial aviation failed to install even minimally adequate security measures. We weren't paying attention. Consumed with its ABC agenda, remember ABC, Anything But Clinton, consumed with its ABC agenda, the Bush Administration in those days did not have its eye on the ball, so we got soccer punched.

more on dumbocracy .....

from Crikey .....

Voting for Afghanistan. Again and again and again

Overland editor Jeff Sparrow writes:

"We should at least include a few for Dr Abdullah, don't you think?"

That's a man on a video allegedly taken during the election in Afghanistan. He's talking to a companion as they vote, again and again and again, for President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai's challenger, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, screened the footage at a press conference, alongside a swag of other evidence of electoral fraud. In one clip, Karzai supporters casually wander into the booths to ensure voters complete their ballots correctly. In another, ballots boxes are shown being filled, hours after the polls allegedly closed. Abdullah even produced a bundle of ballots still attached to their pad. Each had been completed in the same hand; each showed a vote for Karzai.

Had Dr Abdullah been standing for public office in Iran, his allegations would have been front-page news around the world. You'll remember how, in the Iranian election, claims of fraud by the Opposition led to a near universal acceptance that the vote was a fix. Yet the Mousavi campaign never produced anything like the evidence Abdullah has accrued.

The Election Complaints Commission has already received 1157 allegations of irregularities. And the allegations are not just from disgruntled candidates. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, cites a confidential report from one US observer team noting that ballot boxes have been arrived from Kandahar and similar regions filled to the brim with votes, despite very low rates of participation in those areas.

The journalist Martine van Bijlert records something similar:


I called someone from Ghazni: "How did the election go in Ghazni? Or how it did not go?" He laughed. "No, no, there was an election. It took place in the governor's guesthouse and in the compounds of the district governors, and in several houses. It's still ongoing."


I asked him what he meant. He explained that it had been decided that Karzai should win with 250,000 votes, out of an imaginary total of 340,000, Not enough boxes had been filled yet to reach that number, so the filling and counting continued.


Nearly half the polling stations in Afghanistan apparently had no independent observers, local or foreign, which left the door open for all kinds of shenanigans. The Guardian reports:

In the tatty corridors of the school, Abdullah's bodyguard was showing off his hand to journalists -- just half an hour earlier his right index finger had been dipped in supposedly indelible ink after he cast his vote.

Now it was entirely stain-free. Soon, other recent voters were testing his technique, dipping their dark purple fingers into a bottle of domestic bathroom bleach and cleaning off the ink in just a couple of minutes.

If the low-tech security measures spectacularly failed, so did their high-tech counterparts. Before the poll, Ajmal Amin Rabmal, from the information technology division of the Independent Election Commission, pledged that his computer algorithms would identify 90% of all fraud. Now the IEC has clarified that neither Rabmal nor his algorithms will actually be available to the media. You see, despite the IEC's reassuringly democratic title, its head is appointed directly by Hamid Karzai, without any legislative or judicial oversight and many Afghans quite reasonably regard it with suspicion.

In any case, given the prevailing conditions, it's difficult to see what the computers would show. As McClatchy Newspapers' Jonathan Landay explained:

When we hear percentages of turnout, when we hear percentages of votes, really, we don't know what those percentages are, because nobody knows how many registered voters there are. There's absolutely no doubt that there was fraud. There's absolutely no doubt that there was voter intimidation. The question is, to what extent? What was the extent of the vote? What was the extent of the intimidation and the fraud? These are questions that are going to be very hard to answer.

Colouring everything is, of course, the security situation. In Kandahar, another massive car bomb has just killed more than 30 people. Not surprisingly, Alex Strick van Linschoten, a Dutch academic in that city, described the turnout for the election there as "extremely low". In Helmand, where the British have been engaged in bloody combat with the Taliban, as few as 150 people were said to have voted.

Before the election, Slate's Anne Applebaum argued that the actual result of the election mattered less than a perception of fairness that would generate legitimacy for the government. That seems why Western governments have so determinedly overlooked the failures in the process, with Barack Obama, for instance, already declaring the poll a success.

Yet you can easily reverse Applebaum's argument. Discussing Iraq, Colin Powell famously invoked what he called the "Pottery Barn" rule: that is, if you break it, you own it. Afghanistan has been under occupation since 2001. Eight years is long enough for an entire generation to come to maturity knowing only the UN as the real power in the land. What are the consequences, then, if the international community lends its imprimatur to an election conducted in such a fashion?

Here's Landay again:

The problem with that is that, here in Afghanistan, when you talk, you know, to ordinary Afghans, expressions of "Well, this is a step forward, this is progress" make it sound as if, oh, the international community is endorsing this election as being successful.

And that carries very dangerous seeds for the United States and the international community, because if it turns out that in fact this election was fraught with fraud, was fraught with violence, and was in fact not legitimate, well, the United States and its partners are going to be seen as endorsing an illegitimate election and possibly even being portrayed as being a part -- part and parcel of the illegitimacy.


Jeff Sparrow is editor of Overland and author of Killing: adventures in violence (MUP)

same old, same old .....

US General Stanley McChrystal, describes the forces he commands in Afghanistan as like "a bull charging at a matador & getting weaker with each cut."

This is shorthand for "we're losing". So McChrystal has produced another 'new strategy' to get the occupation armies out of their deepening crisis which made August the worst month for soldiers getting killed since the invasion in 2001.          

But there's nothing 'new' about this strategy.

There will be another huge troop 'surge' - predicted to be an additional 20,000 - which will mean that Obama has doubled the troop deployment since becoming president.

McChrystal says the foreign armies will need to stay in Afghanistan at least another three years, adding his prediction to all the others - ranging from one year to 40 years - we've had from politicians & military leaders.

With Gordon Brown strongly hinting that he will follow Obama & announce an increase in British troop levels, the voice of the majority in Britain that opposes the war - 69 percent in the latest poll - was never clearer.

the end was the beginning...


The following article in The New York Times is a sad reflection of the state of the media in the USA. At first it could seem considerate by presenting honourable reasons for the "defeat" (the end of the war) of the full forced US political will in Afghanistan, but the article is wonky and self serving with diluted praise for the "American ideals": 


The Contradiction That Doomed America’s Mission in Afghanistan


How a series of fateful choices and lofty ambitions put Taliban defeat at odds with American victory.


It took barely two months after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 for the United States mission to point itself toward defeat.

“Tomorrow the Taliban will start surrendering their weapons,” the Taliban’s spokesman, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, announced on Dec. 7, 2001. “I think we should go home.”

But the United States refused the group’s surrender, vowing to fight on to shatter the Taliban’s influence in every corner of the country.

That same week, Washington oversaw an international agreement to establish a new government in Afghanistan that would be “by some accounts the most centralized in the world,” said Frances Z. Brown, an Afghanistan expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

This left the United States pursuing dual missions — eradicating the Taliban and installing a new, highly centralized state — that were not, at least at first, irreconcilable. But a series of choices put them increasingly at odds, engineering what became a fatal contradiction into the American effort, which President Biden announced he is ending after 20 years of war.


“Those two things set up the disaster we now find ourselves in,” Ms. Brown said.

By the end of that decade, the United States had backed itself into a mission at odds with itself: to impose a new order from the top-down while seeking to destroy a group — the Taliban, representing a crucial rural Pashtun constituency — that was building its own from the bottom up.

In essence, the United States was trying to enforce a lasting peace between Afghanistan’s factions while standing in the way of reconciliation with one of the most important ones.

It was a contradiction rooted in the ambition and idealism of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. In an aversion to the trade-offs inherent in ending civil war. And in what Michael Wahid Hanna called the Americans’ “hubris” of believing they had figured out how to overcome those trade-offs, and the decades-long slog of rebuilding a failed state, by installing a “government in a box.”

“There was this idea that they’d cracked the code,” said Mr. Hanna, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a think tank. “It’s all fantasy, and we see the results.”


Peace Without Reconciliation


Two years after the United States invaded Afghanistan, another generation-long war, halfway around the world, ended under terms typical of such deals.

Liberia, the West African republic, had been ground down by 14 years of fighting between a despised government, patchwork militias known for brutality and extortion and foreign backers. The state had effectively collapsed.

The terms of the peace aimed at two complementary goals: reconciling with the warlords and insurgents, almost regardless of their crimes, and rebuilding the state by incorporating the rebels who effectively ran much of the country already.

It was a frustrating, ugly peace. Many Liberians were condemned to live under their oppressors. Bloodthirsty killers were rewarded with government ministries. War could have easily returned any day.

Still, it gave all sides a reason to buy into peace. And it imposed a patchwork order that gradually grew, from the bottom-up, back into a functional state. Which is why the formula had long been applied to wars like Liberia’s and, seemingly, Afghanistan’s.

But the United States rejected that model from the outset, refusing even the Taliban’s modest terms of surrender: that its leader be allowed to return home after fleeing to Pakistan.


Etc, etc....


Read more:


It would take several more pages of writing to explain the duplicity and hypocrisy contained in the details of the US invasion of Afghanistan, especially after having helped Afghanistan defeat the "commies" by sponsoring the precursors of the Taliban. A socialist government would have been the "natural" way to evolve the Afghani religious "problem" by bringing in a secular political system.


Here as well, we know that Trump wanted to end this "war forever". But he got slammed by the all the warriors, including Biden, in the US empire and a creepy FAKE news was used to prevent him to achieve a decent retreat... Yes the hawks could not have the "dealmaker" Donald achieve a solution as humiliating as getting out of Afghanistan...


Now, the man of the people, Bomber Biden, and of the hawks has decided to retreat and everyone is applauding and lauding the glory of the exit WHICH HAD BEEN NEGOTIATED BY DONALD TRUMP... But we wont give him two bob for it, because the rumour had it that the Ruskies were paying the Taliban fighters for each US soldier deaths... But this was fake news as we've explained since this rumour surfaced... Nebojsa Malic recaps...




Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist, blogger and translator, who wrote a regular column for from 2000 to 2015, and is now senior writer at RT. He writes:


Fake news all along: Confidence game with ‘Russian bounties’ story shows one shouldn’t trust spies & self-serving media


Even when admitting a lie, the US establishment seeks to weaponize it further. Saying that US spies now have “low to moderate” confidence the infamous ‘Russian bounties’ story may be true is a perfect example.  

So convoluted was the phrasing of the not-quite-admission of wrongdoing on Thursday, that some media outlets – looking at you, The Hill – actually took it as proof the claim Russia had offered Taliban money to kill US troops was true! 

“The US intelligence community assesses with low to moderate confidence that Russian intelligence officers sought to encourage Taliban attacks against US coalition personnel in Afghanistan in 2019, including through financial incentives and compensation,” is how an anonymous official put it on a background call with the press.


From the White House podium, Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki insisted Russia still had to explain itself, and dodged questions about congressional Democrats and their presidential candidate acting as if the claim had been 100% proven fact, back during the 2020 campaign.

Yet even the most hyper-partisan press had to concede that Thursday’s revelation amounted to “walking back” the original claim, used incessantly to accuse former President Donald Trump of insufficient patriotism or inappropriate ties to Moscow.


Biden used it repeatedly to accuse Trump of “betraying” the troops. This was later amplified by the unsourced Atlantic story accusing Trump of insulting the fallen, just to be 100% sure. The “bounties” claim also gave the neocons and hawks within the GOP a pretext to side with Democrats and block Trump’s efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan.


It didn’t matter than the director of national intelligence himself told Congress the allegation was unconfirmed, or that the top US general in Afghanistan said the military had found nothing to corroborate it. The claim was politically useful, so the corporate media intended on seeing Trump ousted from the White House went all in on it.


Yet one didn’t have to be especially clever to realize the original story was nonsense – merely sufficiently observant. First of all, it cited no sources, only phantom “officials briefed on the matter.” Secondly, it relied on an all-too-familiar set of weasel words and phrases, such as “linked to,” or “closely associated with” or “believed to have.” Buried deep inside the story was the admission that the whole thing was based on US-backed Afghan police interrogation of criminals, who spun a tale of Taliban and Russians under torture. 


Like a shawarma, the whole thing was then wrapped in the already established body of lies – that Russia was conducting a “hybrid war” against the US through fake news, hacking attacks and secret spy operations, even bringing in the “highly likely” alleged poisoning of ex-spy Sergey Skripal in Salisbury with a chemical agent – for which no evidence has been presented to this day.


A “spy fantasy,” I called it at the time. Except it was something worse: a literal con game, perpetrated upon the American public by con artists in the intelligence community, the media and political establishment circles. No doubt for the purpose of “fortifying” the election, we may find out some day. 


“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” famous American astronomer Carl Sagan used to say. So what is one to make of the “party of science” – as Democrats have styled themselves – offering no evidence whatsoever for any of their outlandish claims, and treating the assertions as proof enough? Perhaps that one ought to be far more skeptical of spies, politicians and the media peddling such self-serving accusations going forward. 


Thing is, they believe their lies have worked – for them, and in the short run, at least – so that’s not highly likely to happen, is it?


Read more:



Read from top.


Meanwhile the truth teller, Julian, is still prison...



debunked CIA bullshit replaced by unsubstantiated CIA bullshit.


BY Glenn Greenwald


Journalists, Learning They Spread a CIA Fraud About Russia, Instantly Embrace a New One...


The most significant Trump-era alliance is between corporate outlets and security state agencies, whose evidence-free claims they unquestioningly disseminate.



That Russia placed "bounties” on the heads of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan was one of the most-discussed and consequential news stories of 2020. It was also, as it turns out, one of the most baseless — as the intelligence agencies who spread it through their media spokespeople now admit, largely because the tale has fulfilled and outlived its purpose.

The saga began on July 29, 2020, when The New York Times announced that unnamed “American intelligence officials” have concluded that “a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops.” The paper called it “a significant and provocative escalation” by Russia. Though no evidence was ever presented to support the CIA's claims — neither in that original story nor in any reporting since — most U.S. media outlets blindly believed it and spent weeks if not longer treating it as proven, highly significant truth. Leading politicians from both parties similarly used this emotional storyline to advance multiple agendas.

The story appeared — coincidentally or otherwise — just weeks after President Trump announced his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020. Pro-war members of Congress from both parties and liberal hawks in corporate media spent weeks weaponizing this story to accuse Trump of appeasing Putin by leaving Afghanistan and being too scared to punish the Kremlin. Cable outlets and the op-ed pages of The New York Times and Washington Post endlessly discussed the grave implications of this Russian treachery and debated which severe retaliation was needed. “This is as bad as it gets,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Then-candidate Joe Biden said Trump's refusal to punish Russia and his casting doubt on the truth of the story was more proof that Trump's “entire presidency has been a gift to Putin,” while Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanded that, in response, the U.S. put Russians and Afghans “in body bags.”


What was missing from this media orgy of indignation and militaristic demands for retaliation was an iota of questioning of whether the story was, in fact, true. All they had was an anonymous leak from “intelligence officials” — which The New York Times on Thursday admitted came from the CIA — but that was all they needed. That is because the vast majority of the corporate sector of the press lives under one overarching rule: 

When the CIA or related security state agencies tell American journalists to believe something, we obey unquestioningly, and as a result, whatever assertions are spread by these agencies, no matter how bereft of evidence or shielded by accountability-free anonymity, they instantly transform, in our government-worshipping worldview, into a proven fact — gospel — never to be questioned but only affirmed and then repeated and spread as far and wide as possible.

That has been the dynamic driving the relationship between the corporate press and the CIA for decades, throughout the Cold War and then into the post-9/11 War on Terror and invasion of Iraq. But it has become so much more extreme in the Trump era. As the CIA became one of the leading anti-Trump #Resistance factions — a key player in domestic politics to subvert the presidency of the 45th President regarded by media figures as a Hitler-type menace — the bond between the corporate press and the intelligence community deepened more than ever. It is not an exaggeration to call it a merger: so much so that a parade of former security state officials from the CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS and others was hired by these news outlets to deliver the news. The partnership was no longer clandestine but official, out in the open, and proud.


The first goal this story served was to weaponize it in the battle waged by pro-war House Democrats and their neocon GOP allies to stop Trump's withdrawal plan from Afghanistan. How, they began demanding upon publication of the CIA/NYT story, can we possibly leave Afghanistan when the Russians are trying to kill our troops? Would that not be a reckless abdication to the Kremlin of this country that we own, and would withdrawal not be a reward to Putin after we learned he was engaged in such dastardly plotting to kill our sons and daughters?

In late June, this alliance of pro-war House Democrats — funded overwhelmingly by military contractors — and the Liz-Cheney-led neocon wing announced amendments to the military budget authorization process that would defund Trump's efforts to withdraw troops from either Afghanistan or Germany (where they had been stationed for decades to defend Western Europe against a country, the Soviet Union, that ceased to exist decades ago). They instantly weaponized the NYT/CIA story as their primary argument. 

The record-breaking $740 billion military budget was scheduled to be approved by the House Armed Services Committee in early July. In a joint statement with Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) on June 29 — the day the NYT story appeared — Liz Cheney proclaimed that “we remain concerned about Russian activity in Afghanistan, including reports that they have targeted U.S. forces.” One of the Democrats’ most pro-war House members, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), announced on July 1 (three days after the NYT story) his own amendment to block any troop withdrawal from Germany, citing “increasing Russian aggression.” 

On July 1 and 2, the House Armed Services Committee held its hearings and votes — I watched all fourteen hours and reported on it in a series of articles and a 90-minute video report— and it not only approved this massive military budget but also both amendments to bar troop withdrawal. Over and over, the union of pro-war Democrats and Cheney-led neocon Republicans steamrolled the anti-war faction of left-wing and right-wing war opponents (led by Congressmembers Ro Khanna (D-CA), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL)), and repeatedly used the Russia bounty story to justify continuation of the longest war in America's history. This little speech from Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) was illustrative of how this CIA story was used all day:


(see video)


The U.S. media was somehow more militaristic and blindly trusting about this CIA story than even this pro-war union of lawmakers. That the CIA’s leaked claim to The New York Timesshould even be questioned at all — given that it was leaked anonymously and was accompanied by exactly zero evidence — is not something that even crossed their journalistic minds. 

These people who call themselves “journalists” do not view pronouncements from the U.S. security state as something that prompts skepticism let alone requires evidence before believing. The officials who run those agencies are their friends, partners and colleagues — those they most revere — and their every utterance is treated as Gospel. If — after watching them behave this way the last five years without pause — you think that is an exaggeration, watch this short video compilation produced by The Daily Caller to see for yourself how they instantly converted this CIA "Russia bounty” leak into proven fact that nobody, least of all them, should question:


(see video)


As usual, the media figure most loudly and dramatically enshrining the CIA leak about Russia as Proven Truth was the undisputed Queen of demented conspiracy theories, jingoistic rhetoric, and CIA propaganda: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. 

Over and over, she devoted melodramatic segments to denouncing the unparalleled evil of Russian treachery in Afghanistan (because the U.S. would never pay bounties to kill Russian soldiers in Afghanistan), at no point pausing her histrionics for even a second or two to wonder whether evidence ought to be presented before telling the millions of #Resistance liberals who watch her show that she is vouching for the truth of this story.


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