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Mueller Indictments: truth v lies in“The Observer View”

by Kit

Today’s Observer View focuses on the Announcement by Robert Mueller that they are indicting 13 Russians and 3 Russian companies for “interfering” in the 2016 Presidential election. It is, unsurprisingly, full of misleading language, lies by omission and just straight up lies. It is also anonymous, and since it’s impossible to imagine Jonathan Freedland ever being too ashamed to put his byline on propaganda and smears…it’s probably just a press release from the foreign office.

Let’s dive right in. Emphasis, through-out, is ours.

Although the charges levelled against 13 Russians and three Russian entities are extraordinarily serious…

FALSE: They’re not. At all. They are barely crimes, if they are crimes at all. Moon of Alabama has done an excellent breakdown of this. The primary charges of “fraud” are, essentially, that these 13 Russians did internet PR through sock-puppet accounts. This is a marketing tool as old as the internet itself, and not illegal. The British army has an entire section devoted to it. As does Israel. In fact, the Guardian reported on a massive American operation to do the same thing back in 2011.

None of this counts as foreign intervention. Three whole armies never influenced and election, but 13 Russians did.

The secondary charges of “failing to register as a foreign agent” are more serious…but only as a precedent. The idea that foreign nationals have to register as agents before expressing opinions about domestic politics is absurd. George Soros wrote a column for the Guardian last week. Barack Obama begged Scotland to vote “No”, and campaigned against Brexit. Neither of them are British citizens, or (I’m guessing) registered with Her Majesty’s government as foreign agents.

American politics are often the subject of global discussion. We’re not all registered foreign agents. Should we have to be? Isn’t that an incredibly autocratic and dangerous idea? Does that include Israeli and Saudi DNC donors?

The author feels the need to skirt around how ridiculous it is that only 13(!) Russians are meant to have swung the election, combating the highest paid and most advanced state security agencies in the world, so so will we.

…they do not directly support the central claim that Trump and senior campaign aides colluded with Moscow to rig the vote.

TRUE: This is the first true thing in the article. It could, however, be truer. For example, they could point out that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein went out of his way, during his press conference, to underline that there was no evidence that “any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity.” It was quite clearly a message – they have nothing on Trump.

But Trump is not off the hook. Far from it. His oft-repeated argument, contradicting US and British intelligence agencies, that stories of covert Russian meddling were “fake news” has been exposed as false.

FALSE: No, they haven’t. Thirteen Russians doing viral marketing is not “rigging”, or “collusion” or “hacking”. For months now we’ve heard that the FSB colluded with Trump to steal that election – something there is still precisely ZERO evidence to support – the FBI indicting some low-paid marketing shills means nothing. Actually, the very fact that – after all this time, money and effort – the only charges are about some internet PR firm means that they could find nothing else. This is the biggest fish available, and it’s not worth the bait.

The US, like other western countries, is incontrovertibly under sustained assault from the Kremlin.

FALSE: There is nothing linking the “Internet Research Agency” to the Kremlin. None of the people indicted are employees of the Russian government. That’s very basic journalism. Leaving that information out is a deliberate lie.

Why does Trump continue to defend Russia? With Trump, it is difficult to talk about credibility. What little he does retain has just measurably diminished.

MISLEADING: Trump hasn’t “defended Russia”, he has defended himself, claiming there was no collusion. He said if Russia did anything, he didn’t know about it and it didn’t swing the election. The indictments echo this sentiment, which the author concedes…

The justice department stressed that any collaboration between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the 13 named Russians was “unwitting” and that these activities did not change the election’s outcome.

TRUE: The Justice Dept. has admitted there is no evidence of collusion. In a sane world, that brings the matter to a close.

But despite Trump’s crowing about vindication, that does not mean there was no collusion. It does not mean there was no wider conspiracy. Nor does it mean there was no impact on the election.

FALSE: Yes it does. That is literally exactly what it means.

Mueller’s investigation is ongoing. He already has extensive evidence of contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. For example, the president’s eldest son sought political dirt to use against Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent, from a Russian lawyer.

FALSE: This is untrue, Trump Jr. never SOUGHT dirt, he was (allegedly) OFFERED it, but never received it or paid for it. This is in contrast to, say, Hillary Clinton’s campaign – who we know paid a foreign national (Christopher Steele) to dig up (aka, fabricate) dirt on Donald Trump. In fact Hillary Clinton paying a British spy to make up stuff is the only reason this investigation ever happened.

Mueller has obtained two guilty pleas, from Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and from a former campaign adviser. They admit lying to federal authorities about their Russian government connections.

MISLEADING: This is highly dishonest. Flynn’s “Russian connections” consisted of two meetings with the Russian ambassador, both of which happened AFTER the election. Neither of which were to do with collusion. The first was about protecting Israel from UNSC condemnations, the second about retaliatory sanctions. Once again, this was all after the election, none of it was illegal or even improper.

Trump’s former campaign chairman has been charged with crimes including money-laundering.

Totally and completely irrelevant.

Steve Bannon, his disaffected former strategist, was interviewed at length this month.

TRUE: Yes, he was. And THIS MONTH the Justice Dept. “stressed that any collaboration between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the 13 named Russians was “unwitting” and that these activities did not change the election’s outcome.” Ergo, Bannon told them nothing.

And the special counsel has yet to announce his findings concerning Russian hacking of Democratic party email systems…

MISLEADING: WikiLeaks, who published the DNC e-mails, said the e-mails were leaked, not hacked. They were very specific about that. There is no evidence of hacking at all. Also, to talk about the DNC e-mails, without referencing the blatant internal corruption they uncovered, or the DNC staffer who was killed in mysterious circumstances shortly afterwards, is blatant lying by omission.

It’s important to remember, the only PROVEN cheating in the 2016 Presidential election was carried out by the DNC. The person responsible for this cheating resigned in disgrace, only to be immediately hired by Clinton’s campaign.

…which Trump publicly encouraged in 2016.

MISLEADING: That was a joke. It is intellectually dishonest to the point of absurdity to pretend other wise. Watch it. He’s joking.

Trump will have the chance to repeat his denials when, as anticipated, Mueller interviews him under oath. This interview, if it happens, could be Trump’s High Noon. There is a slight air of Gary Cooper about the tall, spare figure of Robert Mueller and an air of sleazy desperation about Trump.

This comparison is actually unintentionally apt. High Noon was released in 1952, the height of Hollywood’s “red scare” and is clearly an allegory for McCarthyism in Hollywood. The screenwriter/producer, Carl Foreman, was a former member of the Communist Party USA. He was called before HUAC and asked to name other communists, he refused, was labelled an “uncooperative witness”, blacklisted and fled to Britain. He didn’t return to the country of his birth for 30 years. His producer credit was taken off High Noon, and when his later work – Bridge on the River Kwai – won an oscar, it was not in his name.

This was McCarthyism in action. People having their livelihoods destroyed by rumor and gossip, being “tainted” by communism in the “land of the free”. Just 4 or 5 years ago the Western world looked back on this era as absurd paranoia, today suddenly it doesn’t seem so ridiculous. Today we have McCarthyism 2.0. Anonymous editorials blaming the Russians for everything and anything they can think of.

What happened to Gary Cooper, you ask? The film star to whom our anonymous Observer editor so aptly compares Robert Mueller? Well, he happily testified in front of HUAC to protect his career. Unlike Mueller, he at least had conscience enough to look ashamed of himself.

The latest indictments do not explicitly say the Russian government directed the election conspiracy, but there is plenty of reason to believe it did and that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, was personally involved.

FALSE: There is not plenty of reason to believe this, as evidenced by the total lack of sources cited to support this assertion.

Given the way Putin runs his country with an iron hand(sic), it is risible to suggest such an audacious and risky operation was mounted without his knowledge. Putin is already deeply implicated in numerous other “hybrid conflict”, cyber warfare and disinformation campaigns against European democracies, including Britain.

FALSE: This is nothing but scare-mongering. There has been no evidence collected that Russia took any part in any “cyber warfare” anywhere in Europe. Quite the opposite.

The head of French cyber security said there was “no trace of Russian hacking” on the French Presidential election – which Macron won. Youtube, Facebook and twitter all said they saw “no evidence” Russia had influenced the Brexit vote. The New York Times even had an article wondering why Russia hadn’t “hacked” the German election.

Under his leadership, Russia is actively working to undermine western democracy.

FALSE: Again, there is no evidence of this. Certainly none linked in this article, which apparently doesn’t believe in sources or citations.

It has made a mockery of international law in Ukraine.

MISLEADING: Russia’s proven involvement in Ukraine is one bloodless referendum. I would suggest the nameless author(s) of this editorial google “Iraq 2003”, “Libya 2011”, “Gaza”, “Gitmo”…you know, the usual. If Russians are “mocking” international law, the Israelis have tarred and feathered it, and the American’s took it out behind the barn and shot it in the head. This level of hypocrisy is nauseating.

It is daily involved in the callous slaughter of Syrian civilians.

This would more accurately be phrased as “It is winning a war against ISIS and other coalition armed proxies, whom we fund and train to execute regime change.” Syrians are returning to Syria, ISIS are all but beaten.

And next month, Putin will effectively steal his own presidential election. It is possible that Mueller, like High Noon’s Marshal Will Kane, will blow Trump away.

“Effectively steal” meaning, in this instance, “win”. Russians support Putin, even Shaun Walker admits that in his absurd “goodbye Russia” article.

In summary, this editorial completely misses the point of these indictments. They are not the first domino to fall, this isn’t the sign of a coming impeachment. Far from it, it’s an admission hidden in an accusation. After all this time, and all this hysteria, they have shown they have nothing. The apparent budget of the Internet Research Agency was 1.2 million dollars. The Pentagon spends that much on stationary. Is this the extent of Russian “hacking” we heard so much about?

Because foreign interference doesn’t look like 13 people with fake facebook names.

Real “Foreign interference” looks like rigged elections for underdog candidates. “Foreign interference” costs five billion dollars and has leaked phone calls to prove it. It looks like £700,000 from a billionaire foreign national to push their own private agenda. It results in military coups of democratic presidents. It looks like armed contras selling cocaine to the American public. It looks like Yemen and Honduras and Iran and Venezuela. El Salvador, Cuba and Vietnam.

This is what “foreign interference” looks like:

And this…

…how do we confront the Putin menace?

This is what dangerous, dishonest war-mongering looks like.

*

The following points are mentioned in the indictments, but never brought up by The Observer. We consider them important.

  • The Russian “interference operation” was started in 2014, well before Donald Trump announced he was running for President.
  • The Russian indictees and their “co-conspirators” are accused of campaigning for Jill Stein and Bernie Sanders as well as Donald Trump.
  • The accusations state that the Internet Research Agency held both pro- and anti-Trump protests in the same city, on the same day, after the election.
  • …they also apparently promoted black lives matter and others.

60 Comments

  1. Christopher Barclay says

    The point of the investigation is not to uncover evidence that Trump is a Russian agent. It is to induce him and others to lie, openign them up to impeachment and charges.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      And ‘lying’ can involve no more than a faulty, or even differing, recollection, immediately construed as deliberate. Beria would have admired the techniques of the US Gestapo.

  2. Matt says

    Another example of Russia lying so blatantly, that it’s mind-numbing:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/?utm_term=.5f0ec168b852

    It’s behind a paywall, so here are the key excerpts:

    A Russian oligarch believed to control the Russian mercenaries who attacked U.S. troops and their allies in Syria this month was in close touch with Kremlin and Syrian officials in the days and weeks before and after the assault, according to U.S. intelligence reports.

    In intercepted communications in late January, the oligarch, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, told a senior Syrian official that he had “secured permission” from an unspecified Russian minister to move forward with a “fast and strong” initiative that would take place in early February.

    Prigozhin made front-page headlines last week when he was indicted by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III for bankrolling and guiding a long-running Russian scheme to conduct “information warfare” during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. He is known to have close ties to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, forged when he was a restaurateur in St. Petersburg and expanded through what became Prigozhin’s wide-ranging business empire, including extensive contracts with Russia’s Defense Ministry. Among his various enterprises, U.S. intelligence believes that Prigozhin also controls Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad. The mercenaries, employed by a company called Wagner, comprise ultranationalist Russians and military veterans, some of whom also fought in the Ukraine conflict, according to Russian news reports.

    What is clear, however, is that the attack marked the biggest direct challenge to the U.S. military presence in eastern Syria since U.S. Special Operations forces began deploying there in 2015 in support of their Syrian allies in the fight against the Islamic State. The episode also raises questions about ongoing U.S. cooperation in Syria with Russia, Assad’s primary backer in a civil war that increasingly has overlapped with the United States’ campaign against the Islamic State.

    A senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity about the sensitive issue, described the episode as “worrisome.” The official added that “it’s striking how the Russians themselves have been quick to distance themselves” from what he described as an operation “under Syrian command and in response to Syrian directive.”

    “I think [the Russians] realize just how damaging it could be to any further cooperation,” the official said.

    The recent incident took place on the night of Feb. 7-8, when a headquarters base of U.S. troops and their Syrian allies, located near a strategic oil field several miles east of the river close to the town of Deir al-Zour, was attacked by 300 to 500 “pro-regime” forces. The Americans quickly mobilized a ferocious response, including AC-130 gunships, jet warplanes and Apache attack helicopters. After three hours, the attacking force retreated, leaving behind what the U.S. military said was about 100 dead attackers. No casualties were reported among the Americans and their allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

    The Pentagon, in statements since the attack, has repeatedly said it is still investigating and has reached no conclusion on the identities of the attackers. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the incident “perplexing” and said “I cannot give any explanation” as to why a “pro-regime” force would cross the river and fire on a known SDF and U.S. headquarters.

    The Russian government has strenuously denied involvement. At the time, the Russian Defense Ministry said only that a “pro-government militia unit” had been conducting “surveillance and research” into the activities of a militant group, presumably the Islamic State, that had been firing mortars at government positions. The militia had no intention of attacking the SDF base, Russia said. Instead, it charged, the U.S. military had conducted an unprovoked attack against the militia. It also said the militia had not informed “the Russian operational group” about its surveillance plans, according to a statement carried by the Russian news agency Tass.

    A report in the Russian Kommersant newspaper quoted a military official saying that the Russian military command in Syria viewed the incident as “dangerous amateurism.”

    But as stories began to spread in both the Russian and U.S. news media that most of the dead were Russian mercenaries, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said last week that five Russian citizens might have been killed. In a new statement Tuesday, the ministry acknowledged that “several dozen” Russians were killed or wounded in the attack and that the wounded had been “provided assistance to return to Russia . . . where they are undergoing medical treatment at a number of hospitals. Russian service members did not take part in any capacity and Russian military equipment was not used,” the statement said. It referred instead to “Russian citizens” who arrived in Syria “of their own free will and for different reasons.” The ministry, it said, “does not have the authority to assess the validity and legality of Their decisions.” Russia has acknowledged that many of the attackers, who also included regular Syrian army troops and militias, were mercenaries.

    The intercepted communications show not only that was Prigozhin personally involved in planning the attack but that he had discussed it with senior Syrian officials, including Minister of Presidential Affairs Mansour Fadlallah Azzam.

    In a Jan. 24 exchange, Prigozhin said he had secured permission from an unspecified Russian minister the day before to move forward with a “fast and strong” initiative and was awaiting a decision by the Syrian government.

    On Jan. 30, Prigozhin “indicated he had a ‘good surprise’ ” for Assad “that would come between 6 and 9 February.” According to one intelligence report, he also was assured by Azzam that he would be paid for his work.

    The reports indicated an increased tempo of communications between Prigozhin and Kremlin officials during the same period, including Putin chief of staff Anton Vayno and deputy chief of staff Vladi­mir Ostrovenko, but the content of those talks is not known. The communications continued until Feb. 5 and resumed the day after the attack.

    U.S. Special Forces at the base and overhead reconnaissance had seen the attack force mobilizing west of the river at least a week before the attack, according to Mattis and Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command. They notified the Russians at that time and warned that the base would defend itself. Asked in a briefing with reporters last week to characterize the conversations, Harrigian said only that they “remained professional.”

    On the night of the attack, Mattis said, “the Russians profess that they were not aware when we called about that force that had crossed, and it came closer. They were notified when the firing began,” and the Americans were told “there were no Russians there.”

    When the attackers, using tanks and artillery, began firing in their direction, Harrigian said, the Americans struck back.

    According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Prigozhin owns a Russian company called Evro Polis, which, according to the Russian news site Fontanka, struck a deal in 2016 with the Syrian government to receive a 25 percent share of oil and natural gas produced on territory recaptured from the Islamic State. Most of those fields are on the eastern side of the Euphrates, where SDF fighters, accompanied by U.S. forces, have been advancing on the militants.

    The Prigozhin-linked mercenary company Wagner apparently provides the ground forces to help achieve that goal, working under contract with the Syrian government.

    This Prigozhin character must be having one hell of a week. First, his troll factory operation is exposed and he’s indicted by the U.S. government. A few days later, his mercenary army gets wiped out in Syria. Sheesh, cut the guy a break!

    • MLS says

      Couple of obvious questions you don’t seem to have asked yourself.

      1) Why do you frame this is an example of Russia lying? There’s no evidence presented in the article beside an unnamed intelligence source. The source could be lying. Or the WaPo could be lying. Anyone could be lying, but you see it as proof the Russians are lying. Confirmation bias much?

      2) Do you understand the US is in Syria illegally and Russia are there legally? Do you understand Russia was within its rights to assist Syria in taking back Syrian territory? Do you understand the US has no right to be there and no right to be killing ANYONE “defensively” or any other way?

      3) Why is it funny? Whatever side is telling the truth we were just in a situation where US soldiers were firing on Russia soldiers/PMCs. We were a whisper away from nuclear meltdown. Next time this comes around we could all find ourselves in the middle of an escalation so rapid we’ll be dead before we know what is going on.

      Because those funny Russians it’s so funny and cool to play at demonising from your cosy armchair are a nuclear power. Once real shooting starts do you think the crazy Pentagon generals who got us into this mess are going to sit around and wait for the Russians to go to first use? No those mad fuckers will be in with the tactical nukes before you know what day it is, and Moscow will have to decide in a moment if it strikes back small or big – tacticals or ICBMs. It will choose ICBMs because it knows the US will – because it knows the US Generals are lunatics.

      And so goodbye world. Goodbye human race. Goodbye Matt.

      Stop smirking. Start worrying and praying.

      Oh yes – and you’re about five deep in questions I’ve asked you and you’ve dodged in other threads. I’m keeping a tally, don’t worry. 😀

      • Jen says

        MLS, what do you expect from Matt whose Reddit hashtag is #DownWithAssad?

        • MLS says

          Maybe the realisation that being a useful idiot for the warmongers wont save him when the bombs start falling on his smug little head?

          Troll armour isn’t radiation proof Matt and you don’t have an invite to the 1%’s bunker

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Looks like our ‘Matt’ is either a Zionazi intent on seeing that the Holy Work of the Oded Yinon Plan be achieved, and Syria dissected, amidst massive suffering (that alone makes him despicable) or a Russophobe fanatic, perhaps one of the ubiquitous Ukronazi trolls with their FANATIC hatred of Russians.

      • Matt says

        Hi MLS,

        1) I see it as the Russians lying, because contrary to their claims, the Wagner mercenary group has dealings with both the Syrian and Russian governments. The WaPo info is too specific, and it’s obvious that it’s based on intercepted communications.

        2) Of course I understand. Where in my post did I ever imply that I disagree with those statements? Because I don’t.

        3) This is a strange form of logical inversion. Who attacked whom first? It was the Russian PMCs. Who lied about what happened? The Russian government claimed that a Syrian militia was chasing ISIS when it was attacked by the big, bad ‘muricans. One problem: that area had been completely cleansed of Jihadists by the SDF and Americans. The PMC had made a deal with the Syrian government to recapture the oil fields under control of the SDF. That was the real reason. To recap: it was the Russians who started this offensive and then proceeded to lie about it. By the way, before you claim the Wagner group has nothing to do with the Russian government:

        https://www.polygraph.info/a/russian-mercenaries-in-syria/29057392.html

        Hacked emails reveal that the FSB was closely involved in recruitment operations for this supposedly “private” outfit. But subsequent investigations by the Russian independent news outlet Fontanka revealed far more connections between Wagner and the state.

        First, Wagner was allowed to use a military facility as its training base. The facility, located in Molkino in Russia’s Krasnodar region, is also home to the 10th Special Forces Brigade of the GRU (military intelligence).

        The Russian news agency RBC talked to a former mercenary who spoke about his experiences with the outfit during its first deployment to Syria in 2016. According to him, the company was well supplied. Ammunition was plentiful, and the unit, organized as a “battalion tactical group” with an estimated total strength of over 2,000 men, was equipped with modern T-72 tanks, D-30 122mm howitzers, and BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers. Pay was high and always on time.

        In addition to the generous supply of money and equipment, as well as the right to use a Russian military base, members of Wagner also received state medals typically awarded to members of the Russian armed forces. These individuals received state medals despite the fact that their activities appear to be illegal.

        ​>In addition, some sources claim Wagner troops have been transported to and from Syria on Russian military transport aircraft, and that its food and other essential supplies come from the Russian Defense Ministry. Fighters wounded in the February 7 attack have been found in Russian military hospitals in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

        This theory is also supported by reports of Evgeny Prigozhin’s involvement. He is the owner of a number of businesses that are linked to the Kremlin and a close associate of Vladimir Putin. The Washington Post reported February 22 that U.S. intelligence had intercepted communications between Prigozhin and a Syrian official, in which he claimed to have received permission from an unnamed Russian government minister to move forward with a “fast and strong” initiative which would take place between February 6-9. Prigozhin reportedly told the Syrian official that his initiative would be a “good surprise” for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Prigozhin is also linked to a company called Evro-Polis, which opened an office in Damascus in 2017. According to AP and Fontanka, Evro-Polis signed a deal with Syria’s state-owned oil company whereby it would receive 25% of any oil and gas revenues produced at facilities it recaptured from the Islamic State or rebel forces. Fontanka’s report on Wagner found that it was cooperating with Evro-Polis in 2017. Survivors of the February 7 battle claimed their mission was to take control of an oil refinery.

        Thus, how could you possibly blame the U.S. for this? It was not their fault.

        Oh yes – and you’re about five deep in questions I’ve asked you and you’ve dodged in other threads. I’m keeping a tally, don’t worry.

        Sorry about that, currently plugging through all the posts. I’ll get to those other ones in a bit.

        • Marcus says

          All that long post of yours amounts to you saying you believe the WaPo because they wouldn’t make it up. That’s your call, but it’s not evidence.

          • Matt says

            All that long post of yours amounts to you saying you believe the WaPo because they wouldn’t make it up.

            No, it doesn’t. You did not even bother reading the quoted excerpts.

            If you did, you would have seen the various independent Russian media outlets were the first to confirm information about the Wagner group being assisted by the Russian military, and about the oil contract signed between an entity representing the PMC and the Syrian government.

            • Mulga Mumblebrain says

              Matt, we all know that ‘independent Russian media’ means pro-Western stooges, on the NED, State Department, Western NGO or Khodokorvsky et al pay-roll. To quote them as if they were disinterested sources renders you even more contemptible than usual.

        • MLS says

          This will surprise you but I think you are probably right about the PMCs who died having closer connection to the Russian military than was let on by the Kremlin. I said right here I believed the Kremlin was downplaying. I don’t believe the figure of “hundred”, but I think it was a major issue, whatever the numbers involved.

          But let’s just get a few things straight.

          1) The Russians using PMCs in an area of possible conflict with the US may be technically illegal but it’s not reprehensible, it’s plain good sense. They need deniability exactly because of situations like this, to avoid rapid escalation. to all out nuclear war. The guys who sign up for these operations know they are being sheep dipped and will be disowned if the SHTF. They get good wages for taking that risk. The US does the same with its PMCs for the same reason. This is partly what ISIS and related units are for (though that’s a whole new level of depraved).

          2) You admit the US is in Syria illegally but then hand wave it away. Look – this isn’t a technicality, it’s THE problem. There would not be a war or any chance of Russian/US confrontation if the illegal occupation and support for jihadists ended. Russia is there with the full support of international law to support an elected president. The question of who struck first isn’t relevant. If a guy breaks in your house and occupies your living room you are entitled to repel him. He’s not allowed to complain that you struck first in the ensuing fight. You should just fuck off back home.

          Besides, it’s moot because we can be pretty sure neither side would have struck if they had known full well they would be confronting each other directly, whatever is being said after the fact off the record. Someone fucked up is all we know, and things got damn risky for a while.

          Don’t blame Russia for the lies. Both sides lied. They had to. Because if they didn’t they would face huge pressure to escalate. Just as in the Cuban Missile Crisis, a bit of statesmanlike lying is the only way to save the world. The polite fictions were necessary and we should be damn grateful for them.

          But as long as the US remains an illegal occupying force the risk remains of it happening again, and in some way that can’t be covered up. God help us all if that should come about.

          • Matt says

            1) The Russians using PMCs in an area of possible conflict with the US may be technically illegal but it’s not reprehensible, it’s plain good sense. They need deniability exactly because of situations like this, to avoid rapid escalation. to all out nuclear war.

            They were trying to take over oilfields from an area already cleansed of ISIS. Is it right to risk nuclear war just for this?

            2) You admit the US is in Syria illegally but then hand wave it away. Look – this isn’t a technicality, it’s THE problem

            Look, I fully agree with you. But the actions of the PMC were not noble. The U.S. has helped kill loads of Jihadists, working with the SDF. The SDF isn’t some evil, foreign force. It’s native and full of decent people. If they are attacked by a bunch of PMCs just because they control oil fields, then the U.S. is morally justified to help them out, in my opinion.

            Someone fucked up is all we know, and things got damn risky for a while.

            That’s a good point. From reading numerous media reports, including translations of Russian news reports, it seems civilian members of the Syrian government, outside of the military command, worked with that Russian guy to plan the operation, who himself didn’t really coordinate with the Russian government, despite his Wagner group being partially equipped and trained by the Russian GRU.

              • Matt says

                I believe the numerous reports by the Russian independent media, complete with detailed investigative journalism that puts Western media to shame. They aren’t lying and making all this up.

                  • I went and looked at the link he posted up top and this hilarious bit caught my eye (have to share)

                    Commenting on the incident, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said: “It was self-defense. Obviously, we are not getting engaged in the Syrian civil war.

                    The US are parking a permanent garrison illegally on Syrian soil, and using that position to protect oil interests, supply “rebel” units, bomb and shell Syrian army positions and sometimes attack Russians – but (and they need to make this absolutely clear) they are not getting engaged in the civil war

                    😆

                    • Matt says

                      Hello Catte,

                      what is the point being made?

                      I am merely responding to Mikalina’s claim that “the Wagner group is a myth.”

                      Some of the links I posted do show a paper troll, i.e. the Fontanka article.

                    • Catte says

                      Where in the article is the paper trail shown? Post relevant part?

                  • Matt says

                    Sure. Here are a handful of such articles:

                    https://echo.msk.ru/news/2148834-echo.html

                    Ekho Moskvy has identified yet another Russian mercenary who died in the recent U.S. airstrikes against pro-Assad militants in Syria. Four people who knew Oleg Tereshchenko confirmed to the radio station that he perished in Deir ez-Zor on February 7. Tereshchenko’s friends say roughly 200 people died in the attack. Open-source investigators at the Conflict Intelligence Team have identified another eight Russians who were killed in the airstrikes. Meduza wrote about some of them here.

                    https://republic.ru/posts/89612

                    The “Wagner” private military company has at least 3,602 combatants on its payroll, according to data published on Wednesday by the Russian news website Republic. Journalists cannot confirm how many of these individuals are still actively working for the company, but at least one of the names in Wagner’s staff records belongs to a man from Arkhangelsk who was killed in Syria in September 2017: Evgeny Alikov — the 3,601st entry on the list.

                    How much does it cost to run such a large operation? Republic estimates that the Wagner PMC’s operating costs were as high as 17.4 billion rubles ($307.5 million) over the past 2.5 years, judging by the mercenaries’ average monthly salaries (240,000 rubles, or $4,240), the cost of food, and the compensation paid to the families of anyone killed at work (5 million rubles — about $88,300 — for each combatant). Republic’s sources say Wagner has several “private investors.” Despite Wagner’s considerable losses in a U.S. airstrike on February 7, there are reportedly no plans to dissolve the company.

                    https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/3548170

                    According to a report by the newspaper Kommersant, the pro-Assad forces came under U.S.-led airstrikes while attacking an oil refinery in Deir ez-Zor. An anonymous source told the newspaper that Moscow did not sanction the offensive, considering it “a dangerous independent action.” The attack on the oil refinery allegedly included roughly 600 mercenaries working with the “Wagner” private military company, comprising mostly Russian speakers. According to Kommersant’s source, the airstrikes killed 11 Russians.

                    https://www.rbc.ru/politics/21/08/2017/599af1569a79478d3c1775b3

                    The Russian news agency RBC talked to a former mercenary who spoke about his experiences with the outfit during its first deployment to Syria in 2016. According to him, the company was well supplied. Ammunition was plentiful, and the unit, organized as a “battalion tactical group” with an estimated total strength of over 2,000 men, was equipped with modern T-72 tanks, D-30 122mm howitzers, and BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers. Pay was high and always on time.

                    Interview with the journalist who first exposed the Wagner group back in 2013, for which he received online death threats:

                    https://meduza.io/en/feature/2017/08/30/people-think-it-doesn-t-affect-them-but-it-affects-everyone

                    Information from the Russia-based Conflict Intelligence Team:

                    https://meduza.io/en/feature/2018/02/13/a-u-s-airstrike-on-assad-s-supporters-in-syria-killed-an-unknown-number-of-russian-volunteers-who-were-they

                    • Matt says

                      Whoops, I missed an important one. An article that first revealed the contract signed between an entity representing the Wagner Group and the Syrian government, involving the former protecting the latter’s oil fields in exchange for a 25% cut of the profits from selling the oil:

                      http://m.fontanka.ru/2017/06/26/084/

                    • Catte says

                      Is there any paper trail or documentation at all that shows Wagner as having any real world existence? And more broadly, what is the point being made? No one denies there are Russian mercs in Syria, does the exact name they go under or degree of connection between them and the Kremlin matter all that much?

            • Mulga Mumblebrain says

              The USA created Daash, just as it created al-Qaeda,. And the USA allowed Daash killers to escape Raqqa, and Iraq after the obliteration of Mosul, so that theoir takfiri assets could re-group and re-train inside ILLEGALLY occupied Syrian territory. Your lies simply serve the interests of the takfiri butchers, and their creators and bank-rollers, the USA, Israel and the Wahhabist despotisms.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          After the genocidal farce of Colon Bowell and his ‘intercepted communications’ LIES re. Iraqi WMD, and NUMEROUS other instances, it takes either a mental defective or a dishonest, propaganda, troll to claim such as verification, for a screed from the KNOWN CIA disinformation sewer, the WaPo. But poor little Matt gets paid to believe the unbelievable, doesn’t he. By the word, too, I’d say.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          The Americans are in Syria ILLEGALLY, Matt, in an act of aggression, the Supreme Crime under International Law. Lying propagandists like you are complicit in the crimes they commit, the murder of Syrians inside their own country, which makes you quite despicable, with your Imperial stooge’s arrogance.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        ‘Matt’ is a hyper-active Russophobe pro-jihadist troll, clearly paid by the word. Of course he believes recidivist Western liars-he’d be out of a job otherwise.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Who pays you for your prolix Russophobe agit-prop ‘Matt’? You are omnipresent with your bilge, quoting the WaPo, seemingly not in mirth. And, in the end, you’re just another propagandist for the jihadists, nothing more despite you obvious self-regard. You are aware that the US occupation of part of Syria is against International Law, but then again the ‘Rules Based International Order’, doesn’t apply to the USA, its stooges or Israel, does it?

  3. USAMNESIA says

    Best line, ” If Russians are “mocking” international law, the Israelis have tarred and feathered it, and the American’s took it out behind the barn and shot it in the head. This level of hypocrisy is nauseating.

    Brazilian educator Paulo Freire observed that manipulation of public thinking “is an instrument of conquest” and an indispensable means by which the “dominant elites try to conform the masses to their objectives.” Everything is make believe; honesty is dangerous. Wars abroad and wars at home must be constantly stage managed to keep the pretentions alive. Our national news constantly stage manages events to conform to our convenient view of ourselves as “exceptional.” Infotainment replaces information.

    Eminent quantum physicist David Bohm summed up our dilemma perfectly. Since exploitation continues to be the essential feature of a modern society bent on accumulation of “wealth,” and its popular consumption, man is doomed to ever-increasing confusion, for he has to justify this theft to himself. “This is in fact impossible, except by continual recourse to confusion. For how else can you justify the arbitrary authority of some people over others? You can pretend that God or nature ordered it, that the others are inferior, that we are superior, etc. But once you start on this line, you can never allow yourself to think straight again, for fear that the truth will come out. You tell the child that she or he must be honest, treat people fairly, etc. Just this one point is enough to destroy the minds of most children. How can you square up the emotion of love and truth with that of plundering an enemy, stealing his wealth, murdering helpless people, and enslaving others?”

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      It is very easy, so long as you are a psychopath. Bohm obviously was not. Capitalism is psychopathy in action, so when, as now, societies are TOTALLY dominated by capitalists, it is psychopaths who are in charge everywhere, and they project their values of insatiable greed, gigantic egomania, unscrupulousness, preference for violence and absence of empathy and compassion onto society. Hence our terminal plight, and INEVITABLE end.

  4. The obvious truth has not stopped almost the entire MSM continuing to bang on about Russia with the same lying propaganda that was fed to them over a year ago. The MSM is one with the Intelligence Services. It IS government. Almost unimaginably corrupt. Boycott them and encourage everyone to do the same.

  5. MichaelK says

    I must, finally, be getting… old. Or at least it sure feels that way. I’ve heard all this crap before. Listening to members of the Washington ruling elite prattling on about ‘freedom’ ‘democracy’ and our precious ‘democracy’, makes me shake my head in disbelief. How on earth can anyone take all this cant coming from these people, seriously?

    Christ… the FBI and the CIA are the American secret police, formed to undermine democracy, at home and abroad; yet, suddenly the left and liberals think they’re heroes defending us from the Russian menace! When and how did this happen, that people began to love the ruling class’s secret police? Was the Guardian always this bad? Always this credulous? It seems to have voluntarily castrated itself… ouch! I think it lurched towards the absurd patriotic right after the Security Services turned up and demanded that they destroy the Snowden hard drives. This was a chilling example of the state terrorising a major newspaper and they caved in and bowed down to the ground, accepting the limits the state put on them.

    It was a historic moment and opportunity. The Guardian should have told the goons from the SS to fuck off and take them to court, never just… acquiesce quietly without resistance. This was an opportunity for the Guardian. Imaging the free publicity during a trial, worldwide interest, and perhaps being sent to jail for defending editorial independence and free journalism. Only the Guardian didn’t choose that course. Instead they choose to bend the knee and show their loyalty to the state, rather than to the public, journalism and democracy itself. And since then it’s been downhill all the way.

    • George Cornell says

      Yes , to remain at the Guardian you must have had a removal of conscience, total suspension of disbelief, and taken a fancy to coprophagia.

    • Peter says

      I agree, the editorial and political turn taken by the Guardian over the last few years is baffling. Hardly a day goes by without a (generally fact-free) article promoting neo-imperialist lies about Syria, Brexit, Russia, etc.

      Could by any chance the intelligence services be holding some videos of Guardian people – you know, golden showers, bondage, necrophilia, kitten strangling or whatever?

      • George Cornell says

        Maybe they do have videos starring barnyard animals but they don’t need em. Look at their Board from 3 years ago. All white, all men, all City/Oxbridge, minority-free. Then they hire Viner because she promises to be a good girl and off they go, squandering all the capital built up by decades of honest and real reporting, and replace it with 24/7 opinionism.

  6. Excellent, research, analysis and presentation. Someone has really been digging, and I learnt a few things here. But in my view Robert Mueller, looks absolutely nothing like Gary Cooper (great to see the girls knitting ) in High Noon. He doesn’t look anything like an All American hero. He looks like he is completely hating, his involvement in this total load of nonsense and lies. In fact he looks like “Death Warmed Up” in a movie that can never be made, because we will all be dead as a result of this American lunacy in provoking Russia, who have an exceedingly large number of nuclear weapons, and don’t always share the same sense of humour.

    Tony

    • George Cornell says

      I think Mueller has the demeanour and facial expression of a tattered downcast Colin
      Powell, finding out he had been had, when sent to the UN with his imaginary diagrams of Sadaam’s non-existent WMDs.

      America is skilled at corrupting those with startup integrity.

  7. Nicely written the whole Russian Election thing is a mess frankly ; Yup I think the Russians did stuff were they stupid enough to involve Trump ? unlikely as to be honest he is unstable hardly someone you could trust as an asset . But hey it probably cost less than a warship and must be worth it for demoralising the US armed forces , never mind the fact that the USA seems to be tearing itself apart over this . Putin must mark it down as a big win , who ever thought this up will be getting a big pay rise me thinks .

  8. MichaelK says

    What I find really rather depressing, is that the Guardian/Observer is supposed to represent the ‘best’ liberal/left journalism has to offer these days, compared to most of the rest. That they can accept and amplify a massive and absurd conspiracy theory about Russian collusion with the Trump campaign and stealing the US election, based on next to no real, concrete, evidence at all; but instead a great edifice of lies, conjecture and spin, is extraordinary and a disgrace. I have difficulty with them, the journalists. They are actively fanning the flames of a propaganda war aimed at outlawing Russia and preparing the ground for conflict and eventually war. Don’t they ever, for a moment, consider the consequences of all of this, WW3? When they look at their children don’t they ever wonder if it’s all worth it, the endless and complete demonization of Russia? And for what? Is ‘Western Democracy’ and our version of ‘freedom’ really worth the potential cost, turning all the cities in the northern hemisphere into burned-out deserts of ash? It’s hard to accept being lectured about morality, constantly, by people who appear to have the intellectual capacity of goldfish.

    • Yes “goodbye and thank’s for all the fish” (Apologies to Douglas Adams). But you make some good points.

      It seems to me that although the Graun’s circulation was never on a par with many Tory rags, it targeted opinion leaders in the wider community. Teachers, Students, Lecturers etc. So what has now happened is a propaganda coup for the deep state. It has turned the Guardian against its active readership, that alone is a success.

      The real corruption though is within the ranks of hacks and editors who far from fighting back appear to just be prepared to ride the swiftly depleting gravy train as hacks for hire. What they fail to realise is that their usefulness is expiring fast. This is illustrated by their mindless belief that controlling the internet and free access to opinion is a GOOD IDEA? Duh! Yes Turkey’s voting for Christmas, how to cook your own stuffed goose…

    • George Cornell says

      There clearly was an ideological takeover at the Fraudian, around the time of the Snowden affair. Since then there has been a monotonous stream of bullshit, all aimed at convincing readers that Russia is bad, we are good and no stone be left unturned to protect Israel from real and imaginary enemies, but not protecting Israel from its greatest danger, itself.

      This is a paper in which it was announced that the defining event of the 20th century was the Holocaust. Not the slaughter of more than 10 million Congolese by Leopold and his men, not the saving of hundreds of millions or even billions of lives by 20th century vaccines, not the smashing of the atom, nuclear warfare and energy, not the creation of the UN etc. But instead what suited Jonathan Freedland? So expectations should be low.

      • MichaelK says

        I think the defining ‘event’ of the 20th century was obviously those two great European wars, which escalated into a great global conflict without compare, also known as WW1 and part two, WW2. The Holocaust, terrible as it was, was not the defining event by any means. What about the mass-slaughter in China during the Japanese occupation or the gigantic war between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany? One would have to be stunningly myopic not to see the Holocaust in the broader perspective of the insanity of the two great European wars. Without WW1 it’s hard to imagine the Russian Revolution happening or the rise of the Nazis. Without the virtual collapse of the Russian and German states, the Nazis and Bolsheviks would have remained mere historical details, and without the catastrophe of WW1, WW2 probably wouldn’t have happened and therefore no Hitler in power and no Holocaust.

  9. Piccolomi says

    “The first was about protecting Israel from UNSC condemnations”.
    Why was the US government looking after the interests of a foreign state?
    Surely the fact that the US government works to further Israel’s interests rather than “America First” is far more serious than the “intervention” of Russia in the presidential election.
    The fact that most of Trump’s advisers hold joint Israeli/US passports is also a matter for serious concern, and explains the warmongering against Iran.

  10. It is worth noting that these indictments, which signify nothing, were released on Friday so giving the whole weekend for the likes of the Guardian and other WMSM to hype their falsified Russian sound and fury narrative.

    The Observer’s anonymous editorial, skilfully dissected by Kit, shows just how much false narrative can be shovelled down people’s throats over their Sunday breakfast. “How to eat your Propaganda on Toast”, it really belong in the lifestyle section!

    Also, Shaun Walker’s “Long (goodbye with) Hangover” makes the Sunday breakfast table too. The hack who presented such notable pieces as – his aversion for Russian Cheese – and “Little Green Men” meme for the phantom Russian’s in the Donbast.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/10/congealed-tipp-ex-to-odour-of-gym-russias-cheese-fakers-fail-the-taste-test

    As with Harding why anyone would give credence to an impressionable teenager who arrived in Russia at the start of the new millennium and has since earned his crust pedalling disinformation we can only but guess.

    Back to Muller, the Russian hacking of Hillary’s emails we have been told about regularly is nowhere to be seen in Mueller’s charges. In its place there is now “use of social media to sow discord.” This is just such a joke. As Kit says it is such a drop in the ocean as to signify nothing!

  11. Sav says

    The lies are massive but they get away with them because most people live under the illusion that those printing them are experts and provide critical reporting.

    Good work.

  12. Bravo! Keep on in the fight against warmongers at every turn. Universal engagement in the battle against war criminals is more important and necessary than ever before.

  13. John A says

    When I first read this editorial, I assumed it would not be open to comments. Then later I saw it was. The first half dozen comment were deleted by moderators and then there was a blizzard of ‘american bots’ praising the article.
    What amazed me was why Putin, who has reversed the shock doctrine neoliberal attack on Russia and reversed declining mortality rate, raised living standards etc., etc. in Russia and very logically has a very high approval rating, 80% or so, would need to ‘steal’ the election. The observer/guardian is mindblowing in its simplicity and assumptions that its readership are complete idiots to be drip fed any old crap about USA good, Russia bad. That paper sinks further and further into the morass of insignificance.

    • Mikalina says

      It’s part of a web of stories designed to reinforce each other aka perception management. Google any of the subjects and the establishment viewpoint will come first, second and third.

      “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

      We must realise by now that we (the people) are just as much under attack as anyone from another country – only its slow, insidious and amorphous. The end will be the same.

      Keep posting the simple truth in articles like these –

      “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent (wo/)men.”

  14. Paul says

    Steele’s urination dossier was based on what he had gleaned when Head of the Russian Desk at MI6 not very long ago. He would have needed approval to send the dossier quite apart from the Official Secrets Act. Given that MI6 is an Intelligence Agency it might be thought they knew the destination of the dossier and the use to which it might be put. Isn’t there a better case that the UK’s interference had more influence than Russia? Will Mueller Indict somebody in MI6? Will Steele ever be examined by Congress?

    • BigB says

      Paul: have you read this article from WaPo? It gives an indication of the British involvement. Such as, it was former Ambassador Sir David Wood who was instrumental in handing off the Steele Dossier to McCain. Sir Richard Dearlove was also involved, if only for ‘advice’ given at the Garrett Club to Steele and Burrows. Alex Thomson discussed the article on the UK Column. He also named Nigel Inkster and a “top official from the Cabinet Office” as potentially being involved. Given the standard of proof required: that’s more than enough to allege UK interference?
      [UK Column News – 9th February: from 11.05]

      • Paul says

        Yes BigB I have now read the WaPo article – thank you very much, it’s illuminating. NB one incident I seem to remember hasn’t resurfaced? Steele said Trump’s lawyer Cohen met a Russian Intelligence Agent at Prague airport but it was debunked when it emerged Cohen had in fact been at a Conference in Canada at the time? Steele said there had been a Cohen on a passenger list; that was enough for him to create ” a meeting”. It’s a clue as to to the way he worked.

        • BigB says

          More salient than that: the “Grassley-Graham Referral” [also linked from WaPo article] alleged that “redacted – a friend of the Clintons” (Cody Shearer?) fed Steele allegations to include in his dossier. So HRC not only paid Steele, it appears she told him what to say?

  15. Seamus Padraig says

    The sad thing is, by admitting that Trump had no connection to the 13 accused ‘election hackers,’ his accusers are offering him an easy out–with the expectation that he will pay them back by turning against Russia. Trump has already acquiesced in new arms shipments to Ukraine, and he doesn’t seem to have any problem with the Pentagon randomly attacking (among others) Russian soldiers and contractors in Syria. If there were ever any doubt, it now seems obvious that “the swamp” has successfully drained Trump. Start digging your bomb shelters, people …

    • MLS says

      Well this was always the ultimate point. Not getting Trump, but making sure Trump falls in line with the insane plan to get Russia.

      It’s hard to see how this ends. Like the Terminator they absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until they are physically incapable of moving another step. But will the world survive long enough for that to happen? Or will Russia cave rather than risk war? Without Putin at the helm I think ‘compromises’ will start and then pretty soon Russia is back in the fold with a token president and the IMF running the show. Like the rest of us.

  16. A Petherbridge says

    Thank you for another excellent article – from downunder.

  17. summitflyer says

    The picture below the heading : “This is what “foreign interference” looks like:”
    is precisely what they don’t want you to focus on .
    All bull$it as far as I am concerned .Look hear as they re-direct your attention away from real criminality.And I don’t need to go into that for most that follow this site .

Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole