News Releases

Behind MSNBC’s Russia Obsession

Screen-Shot-2017-04-11-at-12.13.49-PM-1491948385AARON MATÉ, aaronmate [at], @aaronjmate

Maté recently wrote the piece “MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Sees a ‘Russia Connection’ Lurking Around Every Corner,” which states: “MSNBC, the country’s most prominent liberal media outlet, has played a key role in stoking the frenzy over Trump’s alleged involvement with Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential race — in lock step with the Democratic Party’s most avid partisans.

“Jennifer Palmieri, a senior member of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, captured the prevailing mentality when she recently urged party members to talk about the Russian ‘attack on our republic’ — and to do so ‘relentlessly and above all else.’

“And no leading media figure has done so more than Maddow. In the period since Election Day, ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ has covered ‘The Russia Connection’ — and Russia, generally — more than it has any other issue.

“The Intercept conducted a quantitative study of all 28 TRMS episodes in the six-week period between February 20 and March 31. Russia-focused segments accounted for 53 percent of these broadcasts. …

“Maddow’s Russia coverage has dwarfed the time devoted to other top issues, including Trump’s escalating crackdown on undocumented immigrants (1.3 percent of coverage); Obamacare repeal (3.8 percent); the legal battle over Trump’s Muslim ban (5.6 percent), a surge of anti-GOP activism and town halls since Trump took office (5.8 percent), and Trump administration scandals and stumbles (11 percent).”

Maté is a producer and anchor for The Real News.

* Drone Killings * Korea * Turkey * French Election

ELLEN GRADY, demottgrady6 [at]

Grady is part of the Ithaca, New York Catholic Worker movement, which has been a key part of organizing against the U.S. government killer drone assassinations program outside Hancock Air Force Base. Nine activists were arrested following a “Good Friday” action, which included activists being “crucified” on drones. See statement and pictures at

TIM SHORROCK, [currently in South Korea] timshorrock [at], @timothys
Shorrock just wrote the piece “In South Korea, War Hysteria Is Seen as an American Problem: The big issue here is the May 9 presidential election, which is expected to bring a progressive to power” for The Nation. Shorrock is spending April and May working at Gwangju’s 5.18 Archives to integrate his collection of declassified U.S.-government documents on Korea into the archive’s collection of materials on the 1980 Gwangju Uprising. In 2015, he was named an honorary citizen of Gwangju for his reporting on the U.S. role in Korea during the uprising.

CHRISTINE HONG, cjhong [at]
Hong is a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She debunks the idea that the Obama administration had a policy of “strategic patience” toward North Korea, noting that it launched cyber attacks and had massive military exercises targeting North Korea. See her interview, along with Korea scholar Bruce Cummings, on “Democracy Now.”

KANI XULAM, kani [at], @AKINinfo
Xulam is director of the American Kurdish Information Network. Many are decrying Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasing power following a referendum this weekend granting the presidency more power. Xulam has warned for years about the militarism and increasing authoritarianism from Erdogan. See news release from earlier this year: “Tillerson Praises Increasingly Authoritarian Turkey.”

JEAN BRICMONT, [in France] jean.bricmont [at], @JeanBricmont
The first round of the 2017 French presidential election is set to be held on April 23. Bricmont is author of Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War. He is also a mathematical and statistical physicist at the University of Louvain, and the co-author of Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science.

CIA Head Threatens WikiLeaks — and a Free Press

pompeo2-1492168817-540x360Glenn Greenwald writes: “Trump’s CIA Director Pompeo, Targeting WikiLeaks, Explicitly Threatens Speech and Press Freedoms.”

JESSELYN RADACK, jess [at], @jesselynradack, @xposefacts
Radack is national security and human rights director of the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts. Her recent pieces include “What Have We Done: Executive Power, Trump, and Drones?” and “Is the Vault 7 Source a Whistleblower?” ExposeFacts is a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

NATHAN FULLER, nathanlfuller [at], @nathanlfuller, @couragefound
Fuller is with the Courage Foundation, which just released a statement: “The CIA director’s recent comments attacking WikiLeaks are deeply wrong-headed, hypocritical, and alarming. That Mike Pompeo has centered his first public address on targeting journalists and publishers suggests disturbingly skewed priorities. Admitting that his own agency’s mandate is ostensibly to collect information and find the truth, Mike Pompeo is now angry that WikiLeaks has provided just that service to Americans and people around the world, publishing source documents without the government’s spin. However misguided they may be, the Director’s remarks are serious and troubling. Journalists should be standing up in WikiLeaks’ defense, as a threat to WikiLeaks’ work is a threat to the United States’ free press as a whole. Finally, Pompeo suggested that WikiLeaks should focus its attention on autocratic regimes — we agree, and in that spirit, we’re looking forward to the next Vault 7 release.” Fuller used to work with the Bradley Manning Support Network.

* Korea * Is Case Against Syria Falling Apart?

2017_0413por_CHRISTINE HONG, cjhong [at]
Hong is a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz. See her recent interview “The Overlooked Past Behind U.S.-North Korea Tensions & How South Korea Could Forge Peace” with The Real News.

GARETH PORTER, porter.gareth50 [at]
Independent investigative journalist Porter just wrote the piece “New Revelations Belie Trump Claims on Syria Chemical Attack,” which states: “Two new revelations contradict the Trump administration’s line on the April 4 attack. A former U.S. official knowledgeable about the episode told Truthout that the Russians had actually informed their U.S. counterparts in Syria of the Syrian military’s plan to strike the warehouse in Khan Sheikhoun 24 hours before the strike. And a leading analyst on military technology, Dr. Theodore Postol of MIT, has concluded that the alleged device for a sarin attack could not have been delivered from the air but only from the ground, meaning that the chemical attack may not have been the result of the Syrian airstrike.

“The Trump administration is pushing the accusation that the Assad regime was the force that carried out the highly lethal chemical attack on April 4 very hard, perhaps not so much to justify the already politically popular U.S. strike against the Shayrat airbase on April 6, but rather to buttress a new hardline policy against the Syrian regime.”

Porter’s other recent articles include “The U.S. Provided Cover for the Saudi Starvation Strategy in Yemen.” He wrote the book Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

“Mother of All Bombs Is Greed”

BBC reports: “A U.S. military strike with a weapon known as the ‘mother of all bombs’ (MOAB) killed 36 IS militants and destroyed their base, the Afghan defence ministry says.

“The most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever used by the U.S. in combat was dropped on IS tunnels in Nangarhar province.

“No civilians were affected by the explosion, the ministry said.

“Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack as ‘an inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country.'”

KATHY KELLY, [currently in NYC] FastingForYemen [at], @voiceinwild
Kelly is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She is recently back from Afghanistan, where she has spent a great deal of time the last several years. She has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

She is currently participating in a fast in front of the United Nations against the war in Yemen, see recent Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “Fast for Yemen: U.S. Bombing, Backing Saudi Destabilization, Famine.”

This morning she appeared on the program “Democracy Now” along with peace activists from Afghanistan, some of whom she has worked with.

When asked about the dropping of the “MOAB,” Kelly responded: “The mother of all bombs is greed” and went on to broadly critique militaristic and economic policy of the U.S. and other governments.

Her recent pieces include: “Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen” and “See How We Live” about her time in Afghanistan.

Does “Humanitarian Intervention” Do What Proponents Claim?

[Theodore A. Postol, professor of science, technology, and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, just did a very critical assessment of White House claims about the nerve agent attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. Postol writes: “No competent analyst would assume that the crater cited as the source of the sarin attack was unambiguously an indication that the munition came from an aircraft.” Here’s an updated version.]

International Business Times reports: “Trump Takes U-Turn on NATO.”

DAVID GIBBS, dgibbs [at]
Gibbs is professor of history at the University of Arizona, who specializes in international relations and military intervention. His most recent book is First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia from Vanderbilt University Press.

He said today: “U.S. policy is embarking on a reckless course, one that is unlikely to produce any positive results, either in terms of enhancing U.S. security or alleviating human suffering. Even if the policy is successful, regime change in Syria would only increase the ongoing chaos and humanitarian catastrophe, as the multiple rebel groups turn on each other. In general, the history of U.S. efforts at overthrowing dictators in such cases as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya has led to instability and many years of civil war, as well as new terrorist threats against the West. There is no reason to believe the situation in Syria would be any different. In addition, military interventions in Syria are sure to worsen U.S. relations with Russia, and will thus increase the risk of nuclear war.”

U.S. News reports: “Donald Trump Approves NATO Expansion as Tillerson Travels to Moscow.”

Gibbs has long scrutinized NATO, see Institute for Public Accuracy news release from 2014: “NATO: Part of Solution — Or Problem.”

Trump’s “Trojan Horse Attack” On Social Security

58ed068d16000026004d9f00Vox reports today: “Republicans are floating a tax reform plan that could threaten Social Security.” Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times just wrote about the proposal that Trump’s team “has floated as a way, ostensibly, to cut taxes on the middle class.” Hiltzik notes that: “According to the Associated Press, they’re toying with the idea of eliminating the payroll tax, which funds Social Security and part of Medicare, or cutting it drastically. This is an absolutely terrible idea, partially because it smells like a back-door way of cutting Social Security benefits. It needs to be nipped in the bud.”

NANCY ALTMAN, via Linda Benesch, lbenesch [at], @ssworks
Altman is president of Social Security Works. She just wrote the piece “Trump’s Trojan Horse Attack On Social Security,” which states: “As part of his tax package, Donald Trump reportedly is planning to propose replacing employee contributions to Social Security with general revenue. The proposal is a Trojan horse: It appears to be a gift, in the form of middle class tax relief, but would, if enacted, lead to the destruction of working Americans’ fundamental economic security.

“If Trump proposes this Trojan horse, it would be the newest shot in the ongoing Republican war against Social Security. That war has failed so far. The American people overwhelmingly support Social Security because they appreciate that it provides working families with basic economic security when wages are lost as the result of death, disability, or old age. And it does so extremely efficiently, securely, fairly, and universally. …”In the 1980s, Republicans, who had long tried but failed to cut government programs directly, discovered a new tactic. They realized that they could undermine government and eventually force cuts to spending by cutting taxes and, in their words, starve the beast. Now, Trump is making plans to use that same tactic against Social Security.

“Not only would the Trump proposal starve Social Security of dedicated revenue, it would ultimately destroy it. Social Security is not a government handout. It is wage insurance that the American people earn, as part of their compensation, and, indeed, pay for with deductions from their pay.”

Fast for Yemen: U.S. Bombing, Backing Saudi Destabilization, Famine

YemyyyU.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Justin Amash (R-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and 50 other Members of Congress just sent a bipartisan letter to President Trump calling on him to come to Congress before escalating military action in Yemen. They state: “The Trump administration is currently weighing options for direct military involvement in Yemen’s two-year-old civil war, where a coalition of military forces led by Saudi Arabia has fought against Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The Saudi coalition has conducted indiscriminate bombings and imposed a crippling blockade, provoking a dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen. This bipartisan effort also comes after President Trump showed his willingness to engage in Syrian missile strikes without Congressional authorization.”

See from Daniel McAdams: “Trump Drones Yemen More in One Week Than Obama in a Year” and Iona Craig’s piece in the Intercept: “Women and Children in Yemeni Village Recall Horror of Trump’s ‘Highly Successful’ SEAL Raid.”

MARTHA HENNESSY, marthahennessy [at]
CARMEN TROTTA, trottacarmen [at]
KATHY KELLY, FastingForYemen [at]
Hennessy, Trotta and Kelly are among 20 peace activists who are on day three of a week-long vigil and fast in front of the United Nations. They are “calling for peace and justice in Yemen, and standing in solidarity with its civilian population.” They will also be “demanding an end to U.S. complicity in a war that is taking a devastating toll on the Yemeni people.

“Ravaged by war, blockaded by sea, and regularly targeted with Saudi and U.S. airstrikes, Yemen is now on the brink of total famine.

“Yemen is currently being ravaged by a brutal conflict, with injustices and atrocities on all sides. More than 10,000 people have been killed, including 1,564 children, and millions have been displaced from their homes. UNICEF estimates that more than 460,000 children in Yemen face severe malnutrition, while 3.3 million children and pregnant or lactating women suffer acute malnutrition.The U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition is also enforcing a sea blockade on rebel-held areas. Yemen imports 90 percent of its food; because of the blockade, food and fuel prices are rising and scarcity is at crisis levels. While Yemeni children are starving, U.S. weapons makers, including General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, are profiting from weapon sales to Saudi Arabia. …

“Participants note their responsibility to ensure that the U.S.:

1. Stops all drone attacks and military ‘special operations’ within Yemen

2. Ends all U.S. weapon sales and military aid to Saudi Arabia

3. Provides compensation to those who suffered losses caused by U.S. attacks.”

See here for more information.
Background: Dennis Bernstein interview with Gareth Porter: “Aiding Saudi Arabia’s Slaughter in Yemen.”

Ben Norton: “Famine looms in Yemen, as U.S.-backed Saudi bombing intentionally targets food production.”

Former Officials Warn Trump on Syria Escalation

Screen-Shot-2017-04-11-at-7.50.16-AMThe New York Times reports: “Tillerson Warns Russia on Syria, Saying Assad Era Is ‘Coming to an End’.”

A group of prominent former intelligence and other officials have released a statement warning President Trump: “We write to give you an unambiguous warning of the threat of armed hostilities with Russia — with the risk of escalation to nuclear war. …

“We believe it of transcendent importance to prevent relations with Russia from falling into a state of complete disrepair.”

The signers include: Ann Wright, Peter Van Buren, Scott Ritter, Coleen Rowley, David MacMichael, John Kiriakou, John Brady Kiesling, Matthew Hoh and William Binney.

Read the full statement, which includes a full list of signers (members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) and their past affiliations — from virtually every branch of the U.S. national security state: “Trump Should Rethink Syria Escalation.”

Among the signers available for interviews:

PHILIP GIRALDI, ebquillen [at]
CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

ELIZABETH MURRAY, emurray404 [at], @elizabethmurra
Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.)

RAY McGOVERN, [currently in NYC] rrmcgovern [at], @raymcgovern
Former U.S. Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Spicer: “Goal is to Destabilize Syria”

SpicyGodRaw Story reports: “‘The goal is to destabilize Syria’: Sean Spicer baffles reporters with Trump’s Middle East policy.”

ANDREW COCKBURN, amcockburn [at], @andrewmcockburn
Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, Cockburn said today: “Behind the mumbling, [White House spokesperson] Spicer is basically reiterating mainstream media/neocon policy (though neocons prioritize overthrowing Assad over destroying ISIS, if they care about latter at all.)” Cockburn’s latest book is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins.

DANIEL McADAMS, dlmcadams [at], @DanielLMcAdams
McAdams is executive director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. McAdams said today: “Spicer is saying the truth inadvertently. U.S. policy has been to destabilize Syria since at least 2011.” McAdams noted WikiLeaks documents which show the U.S. seeking to destabilize Syria in 2006. See: “WikiLeaks Reveals How the U.S. Aggressively Pursued Regime Change in Syria, Igniting a Bloodbath” by Robert Naiman.

McAdams added: “There is a confluence of interests between the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel who want to either overthrow the Syrian government — or ensure an enfeebled country, possibly even partitioning it. Then there’s the whole pipeline issue.

“This has been led by the ‘neocons’ who seek to remake the Mideast while turning it into a graveyard. Sadly, you have many still gullibly accepting propaganda, as with this latest gas attack. The president launched 59 missiles against a sovereign country without providing evidence.

“It seems no matter who you vote for, the war party wins.”

See from Sam Husseini: “Is U.S. Policy to Prolong the Syrian War?

From Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton: “Is Trump Rescuing Al-Qaeda’s ‘Heartland’ in Syria?

See latest from Robert Parry at “Neocons Have Trump on His Knees,” “Where Was CIA’s Pompeo on Syria?,” “Trump’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Moment” and “NYT Retreats on 2013 Syria-Sarin Claims.”

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