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27 June 2020

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Artemesia

Somebody needs to teach Chuckie Schumer how to count to six.

Leith

If anybody called me a 'Ukrainian nationalist' I would respond, although maybe not in court. Ditto for implying that Lithuanian heritage automatically gives you an anti-Putin bias. That is kinda like saying that because I have Irish ancestors that I cheered for IRA bombers way back during the Troubles. They tear him down instead of refuting his post point by point.

TTG has not responded in any namecalling. Good on him.

turcopolier

Leith

We cannot refute his recent treatment of media stories as verified truth.

The Twisted Genius

Leith,

I’m not the least bit worried about possible attempts at character assassination here. Nothing here has been more than disagreements with my writings, sometimes hyperventilating disagreements, but nothing I worry about. Although being accused of sounding like a Ukrainian nationalist stung a little. A Lithuanian nationalist I can understand, but not a Ukrainian. Clearly ancientarcher/libkez and some others do not read my postings, comments very closely along with my many earlier postings on Ukraine.

Many here seem to think Russia is a nation totally separate from the now defunct Soviet Union, that Russia is incapable or unwilling to engage in the seamier aspects of realpolitik like all other nations. Funny, Putin doesn’t ascribe to this view. A short time ago, someone posted a link to a lecture by the KGB defector, Yuri Bezmenov. It’s an excellent lecture on Soviet active measures.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLdDmeyMJls

They were good at it and used it extensively. Many are now saying its the Democrats and their allies who are the inheritors of this expertise. Remember when I first posted about the Russian concept of reflexive control? A great hue and cry arose. How dare I suggest Putin’s Russia is anything like the old USSR. For God’s sakes people! Where do you think all those KGB active measures people went when the USSR disappeared? They’re running Russia and her intelligence services. They’ve learned humility and political pragmatism since the fall of the USSR, but they didn’t forget their skills in active measures. That’s still a skill in their more humble and pragmatic foreign policy tool box.

Now back to my yard work and other projects. Don't worry. I'll be back.

The Twisted Genius

pl,

I’ve never delved that deeply into the USI-narcotics connection, but I’ve constantly seen articles on the subject. It’s ubiquitous. The investigations of Alfred McCoy first turned a spotlight on the nexus of SE Asian drug trafficking and US military and foreign policy beginning with his “The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia” in January 1972. He testified before a Senate committee concerning that subject. He followed up with an expanded edition “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade” in 2003. That book went beyond Laos and into the rise of the Af-Pak narcotics industry.

For the Contra and other Central American connection, here’s a collection of government documents including FOIA released excerpts from Oliver North’s notebooks and declassified emails, testimony before Senate subcommittees, FBI/DEA documents and Seymour Hersh investigations

https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/index.html

An example concerning Afghanistan is this 2009 House Committee on Foreign Relations Report on“Afghanistan’s Narco War: Breaking the link between drug traffickers and insurgents.”

“Another factor influenced the escalation of opium production. After the invasion, the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Special Forces put regional and local warlords and militia commanders on their payroll to undermine the Taliban regime and go after Al Qaeda operatives. Despite alliances with the opium trade, many of these warlords later traded on their stature as U.S. allies to take senior positions in the new Afghan Government, laying the groundwork for the corrupt nexus between drugs and authority that pervades the power structure today.”

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CPRT-111SPRT51521/html/CPRT-111SPRT51521.htm

Leith

Colonel Lang -

Which stories?

turcopolier

TTG

So what, media trash is still media trash no matter how much you want to talk about it. If you believed that the USG and USI were drug dealing criminals how could you stand to be associated with us? In all my time in the field and in high level posts in DC I NEVER ever saw any evidence of the USG involvement in drug dealing. It was all just BS.

Larry Johnson

Well TTG, Twisted does not begin to describe your lack of knowledge and logic on this topic of drugs.
Probably the best source is PBS Frontline: (https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/special/cia.html)

A series of expose articles in the San Jose Mercury-News by reporter Gary Webb told tales of a drug triangle during the 1980s that linked CIA officials in Central America, a San Francisco drug ring and a Los Angeles drug dealer. According to the stories, the CIA and its operatives used crack cocaine--sold via the Los Angeles African-American community--to raise millions to support the agency's clandestine operations in Central America.

The CIA's suspect past made the sensational articles an easy sell. Talk radio switchboards lit up, as did African-American leaders like U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, who pointed to Webb's articles as proof of a mastermind plot to destroy inner-city black America.

One of the people who was accused in the San Jose Mercury-News of being in the midst of the CIA cocaine conspiracy is one of the most respected, now retired, veteran D.E.A. agents, Robert "Bobby" Nieves.

"You have to understand Central America at that time was a haven for the conspiracy theorists. Christic Institute, people like Gary Webb, others down there, looking to dig up some story for political advantage," Nieves said. "No sexier story than to create the notion in people's minds that these people are drug traffickers."

But in the weeks following publication, Webb's peers doubted the merit of the articles. Fellow journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and Webb's own editor accused him of blowing a few truths up into a massive conspiracy.

Amongst Webb's fundamental problems was his implication that the CIA lit the crack cocaine fuse. It was conspiracy theory: a neat presentation of reality that simply didn't jibe with real life. Webb later agreed in an interview that there is no hard evidence that the CIA as an institution or any of its agent-employees carried out or profited from drug trafficking.

Still, the fantastic story of the CIA injecting crack into ghettos had taken hold. In response to the public outcry following Webb's allegations--which were ultimately published in book form under the title Dark Alliance--the CIA conducted an internal investigation of its role in Central America related to the drug trade. Frederick Hitz, as the CIA Inspector General-- an independent watchdog approved by Congress--conducted the investigation. In October 1998, the CIA released a declassified version of Hitz's two-volume report.

You reference Sy Hersh. Sy is an old friend. I've known him for 40 years. He'd tell you the same thing--the USG as a major player in drug trafficking is bullshit.

likbez

@The Twisted Genius | 29 June 2020 at 03:55 PM


Many here seem to think Russia is a nation totally separate from the now-defunct Soviet Union, that Russia is incapable or unwilling to engage in the seamier aspects of realpolitik like all other nations. Funny, Putin does not ascribe to this view. A short time ago, someone posted a link to a lecture by the KGB defector, Yuri Bezmenov

Bezmenov was trying to please the new owners. Russia does not have resources to engage like USA in Full Spectrum Dominance games. Like Obama correctly said, Russia now is a regional power.

Also, why bother to do petty dirty tricks in Afghanistan, if an internal fight between two factions of the neoliberal elite, is a really bitter and dirty fight. You cannot do better than neoliberal Dems in weakening and dividing the country. Why spend money, if you can just wait.

The enormity of problems within Russia itself also excludes any possibilities of trying to emulate the imperial behavior of the USA and CIA dirty tricks. Russia does not have the printing press for the world reserve currency, which the USA still has.

And Putin is the first who understands this precarious situation, mentioning this limitation several times in his speeches. As well as the danger of being pushed into senseless arms race with the USA again by the alliance of the USA neocons and Russian MIC, which probably would lead to similar to the USSR results -- the further dissolution of Russia into smaller statelets. Which is a dream of both the USA and the EU, for which they do not spare money.

Russia is a very fragile country -- yet another neoliberal country with a huge level of inequality and a set of very severe problems related to the economy and "identity politics" (or more correctly "identity wedge"), which both EU and the USA is actively trying to play. Sometimes very successfully.

Ukraine coup d'etat was almost a knockdown for Putin, at least a powerful kick in the chin; it happened so quick and was essentially prepared by Yanukovich himself with his pro-EU and pro-nationalist stance. Being a sleazy crook, he dug the grave for his government mostly by himself.

Now the same game can be repeated in Belorussia as Lukachenko by-and-large outlived his usefulness, and like most autocratic figures created vacuum around himself -- he has neither viable successor, not the orderly, well defined process of succession; but economic problems mounts and mounts. This gives EU+USA a chance to repeat Ukrainian scenario, as like in Ukraine, years of independence greatly strengthened far-right nationalist forces (which BTW were present during WWII ; probably in less severe form than in Ukraine and Baltic countries but still were as difficult to suppress after the war). Who, like all xUUSR nationalists are adamantly, pathologically anti-Russian. That's where Russia need to spend any spare money, not Afghanistan.

Currently, the personality of Putin is kind of most effective guarantee of political stability in Russia, but like any cult of personality, this cannot last forever, and it might deprive Russia of finding qualified successor.

But even Putin was already burned twice with his overtures to Colonel Qaddafi(who after Medvedev's blunder in the UN was completely unable to defend himself against unleashed by the West color revolution), and Yanukovich, who in addition to stupidly pandering to nationalists and trying to be the best friend of Biden proved to be a despicable coward, making a color revolution a nobrainer.

After those lessons, Putin probably will not swallow a bait in a form of invitation to be a "decider" in Afghanistan.

So your insinuations that Russian would do such stupid, dirty and risky tricks are not only naive, they are completely detached from the reality.

The proper way to look at it is as a kind of PR or even false flag operation which was suggested by David Habakkuk:


...we are dealing with yet another of the collusive ‘information operations’ practised by incompetent and corrupt elements in the ‘deep state’ in the U.S., U.K. and Western Europe.

JP Billen

likbez: Well I suggested it may have been a false flag, but I'm more inclined to think it may have been Pakistan's ISI.

And what is your evidence for claiming that the EU and USA want to break up Russia into 'smaller statelets'? That smells a bit fishy. It would make the world a more dangerous place. I don't see or hear of sane people here or in Europe wishing for that. Maybe a few whackos? Let's hope they never get their hands on the levers of power.

Dennis Daulton

We hear more about unconfirmed reports from the mainstream media than we do about the facts of the attempted coup against President Trump. A coup which run by the Obama White House with full participation of the mainstream media. In fact since Trump took office this coup has been continued with full force by these same anonymous unconfirmed leaks which get reported as fact but weeks later are confirmed lies. I personally can’t believe anything from the mainstream media and the resist faction, in fact they all need to go to jail for what they have done. I bring this up in the context of this thread because everything that’s reported or leaked must be first thought of as apart of this coup, this has been the pattern for the last 3 and half years. If it doesn’t fit this pattern of the on going coup then we can start to consider if it’s true or not.

Yeah, Right

TTG has actually provided the nugget of information that can be used to dismiss this allegation without, apparently, realising it.

It is here, when he quoted from the NYT article:
"The crucial information that led the spies and commandos to focus on the bounties included the recovery of a large amount of American cash from a raid on a Taliban outpost that prompted suspicions."

So that vast swathe of cash represents the bounties that have been paid for the killing of American and British soldiers by the Taliban.

Okay.

Think about it.
Think about it.
Think about it.

If the payment has already been made then the deed has already been done because, obviously, that's how a "bounty" works.

So all we need ask is a simple question: has there been a dramatic uptick in fatalities amongst American and British troops?

Yes? Or no?

Because *both* of these statements can not be true:
1) Fatality rates amongst the troops have not increased.
2) The massive amounts of cash now being found in Afghanistan are the result of a bounty paid by the Russians for dead GIs.

You can have one, or you can have the other.
But you can't have both.

Barbara Ann

likbez

I hardly think paying a performance bonus for successful attacks on Coalition targets in Afghanistan is going to break the GRU's budget. There are better arguments against this story's veracity.

Regarding a possible Minsk Euromaidan and repeat of the Orange Revolution in Belarus, I would like to hear the opinion of Andrei Martyanov on this. I strongly suspect he would laugh his socks off at the prospect of any such action being permitted by Moscow.

Furthermore, any such attempt would likely be massively counterproductive, as it would give Russia the perfect excuse for an Anschluss operation which would make Crimea's annexation look like chicken feed. In the wake of 2014 the details for such a contingency must surely have been worked out in great detail. Hey presto - an unannounced Zapad 2020 exercise and you'd have the sum of all NATO fears; Russian forces deployed right up to the Suwałki gap.

TTG, you are obviously unable to share with us any info you may have on the USG's assessment of the hypothetical possibility described above, but do you have a view on the chances of a successful color revolution being achievable in Belarus?

turcopolier

all

None of us has any "insider poop."

Yeah, Right

The more I have read on this topic the more convinced I am that this "scoop" has a simple genesis.

It is this: someone in the US military has noticed that Afghanistan has suddenly become awash with cash, and they want to know where it came from.

(And before anyone comments, I have no doubt Afghanistan has always been awash with US dollars. I am talking about a sudden, recent deluge of cash).

The CIA has made up this story about "Russian bounties" in order to explain that deluge of money.

I know it is made-up because *if* it were true *then* there must be a dramatic uptick in combat fatalities ("bounty", remember).

No such uptick has occurred.

So the CIA has had to make up this story to explain the cash now sloshing around Afghanistan.

They have done so either because:
1) They Don't Actually Know Where It Came From or,
2) They Don't Want Anyone To Know It's Their Money.

One or the other.

But not this nonsense about "Russian bounties", because in the absence of dead GIs that can not possibly be the explanation for that mountain of cash.

The Twisted Genius

Larry,

Isn't that what I said about Webb and his allegations?

"But if Gary Webb is that guy claiming the CIA is responsible for flooding Los Angeles with crack cocaine, I agree with you. That's total bullshit."

Hersh laid out Noriega's narco-trafficking and money laundering in 1986. North's White House emails subsequent to Hersh's work showed his and Poindexter's use of Noriega to support the Contras in spite of Noirga's illicit activities. This was an "active policy of laissez faire towards allies engaged in drug trafficking" as I also said earlier. Your insistence of characterizing the relationship as being either "the USG as a major player in drug trafficking" or a state of perfect grace is simplistically binary and flat wrong. We were an enabler and made the choice of "the lesser of two weevils" as Colonel Lang used the phrase.

The Twisted Genius

Yeah, Right,

You're getting wrapped around the axle over the term "bounty." The Russians are merely providing financial support to an indigenous force with the expectation that they will continue lethal attacks against US and coalition forces. This is not an unusual foreign policy, covert intelligence or military tactic. There were 22 US troops killed in 2019, the highest number since 2014. Nine have died this year. Most of those have been from Taliban attacks.

The use of the term "bounty" by the NYT was likely used to inflame and increase the outrage.

turcopolier

TTG

I know Hersh as well. A lot of his stuff is very self obsessed in its focus and sourcing.

Yeah, Right

TTG "The Russians are merely providing financial support to an indigenous force with the expectation that they will continue lethal attacks against US and coalition forces."

I'm sorry, that argument leaves me cold. Very, very cold.

If the Russian policy is to see lethal attacks against US forces then they would be supplying *arms* to the Taliban, not *money*.

After all, if you give the Taliban a wad of cash then they can do whatever they want with it. But if you give them a gun, well, let's be honest: a gun is rather limited in its application.

On the other hand if the Taliban is being given "financial support" then it is merely your supposition that this is intended to buy a lot of dead bodies.

Why, exactly, is that the only (or even likely) reason for the Russians to supply financial support to the Taliban?

There are many reasons the Russians may want to do that, first and foremost to buy influence amongst a group that in all probably will become the next government of Afghanistan.

Both you and the NYT appear intent upon reaching a very shaky conclusion constructed atop a mountain of unwarranted assumptions. And all of it - all of it - pivoting upon an single very subjective word: "expectation"


Christian J. Chuba

Here is an amazing quote from CNN's source https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/29/politics/russia-bounties-presidential-daily-briefing/index.html

"The source tells CNN that intelligence of this nature with risk to US troops should be assumed to be true until you know otherwise."

He/she is saying that truth is based on the severity of the accusation. This sounds more like something a politician would say rather than a professional Intel officer.

likbez
And what is your evidence for claiming that the EU and USA want to break up Russia into 'smaller statelets'? That smells a bit fishy. It would make the world a more dangerous place.
One of distinctive features, the hallmark of neocons who dominate the USA foreign policy establishment is rabid, often paranoid Russophobia which includes active, unapologetic support of separatist movements within Russia.

The same is true about GB.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/03/06/the-long-roots-of-our-russophobia/

I think the evidence of the USA and EU (especially GB, but also Poland, Sweden, and Germany) multi-level (PR, MSM, financial, diplomatic and sometimes military) support of Islamic separatists in Russia is well known: support of separatist movements in Russia is just a continuation of the support of separatist movement within the USSR, which actually helped to blow up the USSR from within (along the key role of KGB changing sides along with a part of Politburo who deciding to privatize Russia's economy)

See

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32487081

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolution_of_Russia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_active_separatist_movements_in_Europe#Russia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_active_separatist_movements_in_Asia#Russia

Here is old but still relevant list of "who is who" in the USA foreign policy establishment in promoting separatism in Russia. You will see many prominent neocons in the list.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Committee_for_Peace_in_Chechnya#ACPC_members

The foreign policy of the USA toward Russia to a considerable extent is driven by emigres from Eastern Europe and people who were accepted to the USA before and, especially, after WWII from filtration camps. This "diaspora lobby" includes older generation of emigrants such as late Brzezinski, Madeline Allbright, as well as more recent such as Farkas, Chalupa, Appelebaum, etc. The same is true for Canada (Freeland). All of them are rabid, sometimes paranoid (Brzezinski) Russophobs. They consistently use the USA as a leverage to settle the "ancient hatred".

https://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/diaspora-communities-influencing-us-foreign-policy

A.I.S.

I find the arguments to be highly unpersuasive.

First, Russia is, generally speaking, not in the habit of paying people, in particular people they arent very fond of, for things they were going to do anyway. If you think the Talebs require Russian financial incentives to kill Americans where they reasonably can I have a bridge over the Pacific to sell you.

Secondly, while there is plently of things the Russian would want to extract payback for, using the Talebs of all people adds to much risk for too little gain. Even using the same "scheme" of offering boutnies, well,
Offering bounties to Syrian/Iraqi/Lebanese organisations for pretty much the same thing would be less risky (these organisations are farther from the Russian homeland and have less of a hostile history with russia, in addition, Iran rather then Russia would likely get blamed for it) and about as rewarding.

Third: I fully expect that Trump was not briefed on this "information". It is actually quite simple, a lot of "intelligence" goes into the US. Then you have people called analysts, who, among other frequently more interesting things, make judgement calls in what to pass on or not and if yes with what caveats. This process is repeated several times, until at some point something ends up with the US National Security council and/or the president himself.

If the analysts make the, in my opinion wholly justified decisions, that the information is somewhere between speculation and outright lies, they will not pass it further up the foodchain.

What I do not know is what types of record keeping are used in the US for the analysts, who probably have to document their decision on wether to pass certain information or not in writing probably including their reasonings, it is quite possible that one of the reasons for not sending it up the food chains was that the "foreign intelligence official" may have come from a country that wishes to increase US-Russian hostility, in particular, I would be unsurprised if the country in question was one characterized by some pretty intense fluctuations regarding its territorial size courtesy of comparable fluctuations in russian controlled territory over the centuries.

David Habakkuk

TTG:

From the description of the evolution the thinking of Christopher Steele by his co-conspirators Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch:

‘When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, the suffocating surveillance of Western diplomats and suspected intelligence officers suddenly ceased – which for a brief moment seemed like a possible harbinger of a new, less authoritarian future for Russia. But the surveillance started again within days. The intrusive tails and petty harassment were indistinguishable from Soviet practices and have continued to this day. To Steele, that told him all he needed to know about the new Russia: The new boss was the same as the old boss.’

This was, apparently, the figure who MI6 judged fit to head their Russia Desk, and whose analyses were regarded as serious among people in the State Department, CIA, FBI, DOJ etc. LOL.

As to Simpson and Fritsch, they were supposed to be serious journalists. LOL again.

A curious thing is that Tom Catan once was.

He wrote a good long investigative piece in the ‘Financial Times’, back in 2004, about the death of Stephen Curtis, one of the fourteen mysterious incidents in the U.K., which according to Heidi Blake of ‘BuzzFeed’, American intelligence agencies have evidence establishing that they were the work of the Russian ‘special services.’

(As, according to the ‘Sky’ report you and Colonel Lang discussed, the supposed attempt to assassinate Sergei and Yulia Skripal is supposed to be.)

What Catan established is that, at the time his helicopter was blown out of the sky, Curtis, lawyer both to the Menatep oligarchs and Berezovsky, had started ‘singing sweetly’ to what was the the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

And what he was telling them about the activities of Khodorkovsky and his associates would have been ‘music to the ears’ of Putin and his associates.

As with the deaths of Berezovsky and Patarkatsishvili, which also feature in Ms. Blake’s farragos, at the precise time they died, it was precisely Putin and his associates who had the strongest possible interest in keeping them alive.

Ironically, she inadvertently demonstrates a crucial element in this story – the extent to which not only British, but American, intelligence/foreign policy/law enforcement agencies ‘got into bed’ with the members of the ‘semibankirshchina’ of the ‘Nineties who refused to accept the terms Putin offered.

(See https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/heidiblake/putin-global-assassination-campaign-berezovsky-london . Note, in the link, ‘putin-global-assassination-campaign-berezovsky-london.’)

Unfortunately, I cannot provide a link to the Catan article, as it is no longer available on the web, and when I put my old link into the ‘Wayback Machine’ version, I was told it was infected with a Trojan.

But I can send you a copy, if you are interested.

Leith,

Of course, no ancestry – be it Lithuanian, or Polish, or Ukrainian, or whatever – ‘automatically’ produces bias.

A prescient early analysis of Putin, which brings out that the notion that his KGB background meant that he wanted conflict with the West is BS, is the 2002 paper ‘Vladimir Putin & Russia’s Special Services.’

It was published by the ‘Conflict Studies Research Centre’, which was what the old ‘Soviet Studies Research Centre’, which did ‘open source’ analysis for the British military at Sandhurst became, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The actual name of ‘Gordon Bennett’, who wrote it, is Henry Plater-Zyberk. They were a great, and very distinguished, Polish-Lithuanian noble family.

(See https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/96481/02_Aug_4.pdf .)

In quite a long experience of refugees to these islands from the disasters of twentieth-century European history, and their descendants, I have found that sometimes the history is taken as a subject of reflection and becomes a source of insight and understanding not granted to those with more fortunate backgrounds.

At other times, however, people become locked in a trauma, out of which they cannot escape.

JP Billen

likbez: Your wiki references seem to say dissolution of Russia if it comes will come from within and not from external sources. Your wiki ref on Chechnya and the ACPC is no longer valid since Chechnya became peaceful years ago when Putin figured out how to deal with it by a) subsidizing Imams, b) isolating the radicals by a divide & conquer strategy, and c) no occupation but an iron fist when needed. The West could learn a lot from that. The British Raj used to do something similar but they seem to have forgotten how.

The remainder of the references you claim as evidence of the west wanting to dismember Russia seem pretty incredulous. I suspect a bit of paranoia on the part of the Kremlin. It beggars belief to think that anyone would want to split up Russia other than ethnic minorities within Russia who want more independence. But I think Putin is doing a good job of co-opting any resistance movements.

J

Colonel,


It appears that there was strong push-back by both NSA and Gina on un-vetted raw intel, backing White House claims that Trump was never briefed.

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