TBR News August 23, 2016

Aug 23 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. August 23, 2016: “We live in an interesting age. Mutual spying on everyone, no secret safe, the US run by immoral business and banking entities, thefts, murders, swindles, and most especially, lies, abound. The up-coming presidential elections will reach new levels of charater assassination aided and abetted by a controlled media that does as its owners dictate and truth is never an issue. Massive and growing unemployment is studiously ignored and someone yesterday asked me an interesting question. He wondered why the United States, a supporter of Israel and disrupter of the political scene in the Middle East, has never been attacked by Muslim radicals? Our borders are porous and we have a large Muslim population in the United States. France, England, Germany have been attacked but never the United States, or Israel. The Saudis’ had a false attack in order to show they actually had never started IS and condoned its train of psychotic murders but nothing has ever been done to American interests or citizens. This is, I think, a valid observation indeed.”

Commentary: Evidence points to another Snowden at the NSA

August 22, 2016

by James Bamford


In the summer of 1972, state-of-the-art campaign spying consisted of amateur burglars, armed with duct tape and microphones, penetrating the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Today, amateur burglars have been replaced by cyberspies, who penetrated the DNC armed with computers and sophisticated hacking tools.

Where the Watergate burglars came away empty-handed and in handcuffs, the modern- day cyber thieves walked away with tens of thousands of sensitive political documents and are still unidentified.

Now, in the latest twist, hacking tools themselves, likely stolen from the National Security Agency, are on the digital auction block. Once again, the usual suspects start with Russia – though there seems little evidence backing up the accusation.

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In addition, if Russia had stolen the hacking tools, it would be senseless to publicize the theft, let alone put them up for sale. It would be like a safecracker stealing the combination to a bank vault and putting it on Facebook. Once revealed, companies and governments would patch their firewalls, just as the bank would change its combination.

A more logical explanation could also be insider theft. If that’s the case, it’s one more reason to question the usefulness of an agency that secretly collects private information on millions of Americans but can’t keep its most valuable data from being stolen, or as it appears in this case, being used against us.

In what appeared more like a Saturday Night Live skit than an act of cybercrime, a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers put up for bid on the Internet what it called a “full state-sponsored toolset” of “cyberweapons.” “!!! Attention government sponsors of cyberwarfare and those who profit from it !!!! How much would you pay for enemies cyberweapons?” said the announcement.

The group said it was releasing some NSA files for “free” and promised “better” ones to the highest bidder. However, those with loosing bids “Lose Lose,” it said, because they would not receive their money back. And should the total sum of the bids, in bitcoins, reach the equivalent of half a billion dollars, the group would make the whole lot public.

While the “auction” seemed tongue in cheek, more like hacktivists than Russian high command, the sample documents were almost certainly real. The draft of a top-secret NSA manual for implanting offensive malware, released by Edward Snowden, contains code for a program codenamed SECONDDATE. That same 16-character string of numbers and characters is in the code released by the Shadow Brokers. The details from the manual were first released by The Intercept last Friday.

The authenticity of the NSA hacking tools were also confirmed by several ex-NSA officials who spoke to the media, including former members of the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit, the home of hacking specialists.

“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom,” one former TAO employee told the Washington Post. “The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.” Another added, “From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legitimate.”

Like a bank robber’s tool kit for breaking into a vault, cyber exploitation tools, with codenames like EPICBANANA and BUZZDIRECTION, are designed to break into computer systems and networks. Just as the bank robber hopes to find a crack in the vault that has never been discovered, hackers search for digital cracks, or “exploits,” in computer programs like Windows.

The most valuable are “zero day” exploits, meaning there have been zero days since Windows has discovered the “crack” in their programs. Through this crack, the hacker would be able to get into a system and exploit it, by stealing information, until the breach is eventually discovered and patched. According to the former NSA officials who viewed the Shadow Broker files, they contained a number of exploits, including zero-day exploits that the NSA often pays thousands of dollars for to private hacking groups.

The reasons given for laying the blame on Russia appear less convincing, however. “This is probably some Russian mind game, down to the bogus accent,” James A. Lewis, a computer expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, told the New York Times. Why the Russians would engage in such a mind game, he never explained.

Rather than the NSA hacking tools being snatched as a result of a sophisticated cyber operation by Russia or some other nation, it seems more likely that an employee stole them. Experts who have analyzed the files suspect that they date to October 2013, five months after Edward Snowden left his contractor position with the NSA and fled to Hong Kong carrying flash drives containing hundreds of thousands of pages of NSA documents.

So, if Snowden could not have stolen the hacking tools, there are indications that after he departed in May 2013, someone else did, possibly someone assigned to the agency’s highly sensitive Tailored Access Operations.

In December 2013, another highly secret NSA document quietly became public. It was a top secret TAO catalog of NSA hacking tools. Known as the Advanced Network Technology (ANT) catalog, it consisted of 50 pages of extensive pictures, diagrams and descriptions of tools for every kind of hack, mostly targeted at devices manufactured by U.S. companies, including Apple, Cisco, Dell and many others.

Like the hacking tools, the catalog used similar codenames. Among the tools targeting Apple was one codenamed DROPOUTJEEP, which gives NSA total control of iPhones. “A software implant for the Apple iPhone,” says the ANT catalog, “includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact-list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell-tower location, etc.”

Another, codenamed IRATEMONK, is, “Technology that can infiltrate the firmware of hard drives manufactured by Maxtor, Samsung, Seagate and Western Digital.”

In 2014, I spent three days in Moscow with Snowden for a magazine assignment and a PBS documentary. During our on-the-record conversations, he would not talk about the ANT catalog, perhaps not wanting to bring attention to another possible NSA whistleblower.

I was, however, given unrestricted access to his cache of documents. These included both the entire British, or GCHQ, files and the entire NSA files.

But going through this archive using a sophisticated digital search tool, I could not find a single reference to the ANT catalog. This confirmed for me that it had likely been released by a second leaker. And if that person could have downloaded and removed the catalog of hacking tools, it’s also likely he or she could have also downloaded and removed the digital tools now being leaked.

In fact, a number of the same hacking implants and tools released by the Shadow Brokers are also in the ANT catalog, including those with codenames BANANAGLEE and JETPLOW. These can be used to create “a persistent back-door capability” into widely used Cisco firewalls, says the catalog.

Consisting of about 300 megabytes of code, the tools could easily and quickly be transferred to a flash drive. But unlike the catalog, the tools themselves – thousands of ones and zeros – would have been useless if leaked to a publication. This could be one reason why they have not emerged until now.

Enter WikiLeaks. Just two days after the first Shadow Brokers message, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, sent out a Twitter message. “We had already obtained the archive of NSA cyberweapons released earlier today,” Assange wrote, “and will release our own pristine copy in due course.”

The month before, Assange was responsible for releasing the tens of thousands of hacked DNC emails that led to the resignation of the four top committee officials.

There also seems to be a link between Assange and the leaker who stole the ANT catalog, and the possible hacking tools. Among Assange’s close associates is Jacob Appelbaum, a celebrated hacktivist and the only publicly known WikiLeaks staffer in the United States – until he moved to Berlin in 2013 in what he called a “political exile” because of what he said was repeated harassment by U.S. law enforcement personnel. In 2010, a Rolling Stone magazine profile labeled him “the most dangerous man in cyberspace.”

In December 2013, Appelbaum was the first person to reveal the existence of the ANT catalog, at a conference in Berlin, without identifying the source. That same month he said he suspected the U.S. government of breaking into his Berlin apartment. He also co-wrote an article about the catalog in Der Spiegel. But again, he never named a source, which led many to assume, mistakenly, that it was Snowden.

In addition to WikiLeaks, for years Appelbaum worked for Tor, an organization focused on providing its customers anonymity on the Internet. But last May, he stepped down as a result of “serious, public allegations of sexual mistreatment” made by unnamed victims, according to a statement put out by Tor. Appelbaum has denied the charges.

Shortly thereafter, he turned his attention to Hillary Clinton. At a screening of a documentary about Assange in Cannes, France, Appelbaum accused her of having a grudge against him and Assange, and that if she were elected president, she would make their lives difficult. “It’s a situation that will possibly get worse” if she is elected to the White House, he said, according to Yahoo News.

It was only a few months later that Assange released the 20,000 DNC emails. Intelligence agencies have again pointed the finger at Russia for hacking into these emails.

Yet there has been no explanation as to how Assange obtained them. He told NBC News, “There is no proof whatsoever” that he obtained the emails from Russian intelligence. Moscow has also denied involvement.

There are, of course, many sophisticated hackers in Russia, some with close government ties and some without. And planting false and misleading indicators in messages is an old trick. Now Assange has promised to release many more emails before the election, while apparently ignoring email involving Trump. (Trump opposition research was also stolen.)

In hacktivist style, and in what appears to be phony broken English, this new release of cyberweapons also seems to be targeting Clinton. It ends with a long and angry “final message” against “Wealthy Elites . . . breaking laws” but “Elites top friends announce, no law broken, no crime commit[ed]. . . Then Elites run for president. Why run for president when already control country like dictatorship?”

Then after what they call the “fun Cyber Weapons Auction” comes the real message, a serious threat. “We want make sure Wealthy Elite recognizes the danger [of] cyberweapons. Let us spell out for Elites. Your wealth and control depends on electronic data.” Now, they warned, they have control of the NSA’s cyber hacking tools that can take that wealth away. “You see attacks on banks and SWIFT [a worldwide network for financial services] in news. If electronic data go bye-bye where leave Wealthy Elites? Maybe with dumb cattle?”

Snowden’s leaks served a public good. He alerted Americans to illegal eavesdropping on their telephone records and other privacy violations, and Congress changed the law as a result. The DNC leaks exposed corrupt policies within the Democratic Party.

But we now have entered a period many have warned about, when NSA’s cyber weapons could be stolen like loose nukes and used against us. It opens the door to criminal hackers, cyber anarchists and hostile foreign governments that can use the tools to gain access to thousands of computers in order to steal data, plant malware and cause chaos.

It’s one more reason why NSA may prove to be one of Washington’s greatest liabilities rather than assets.

About the Author

James Bamford is the author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America. He is a columnist for Foreign Policy magazine.


From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2016, Issue No. 70

August 23, 2016


The Department of Defense is devoting increased attention to what it calls “identity activities,” which seek to identify individuals who may pose a threat on or off the battlefield.

“Identity activities are a collection of functions and actions that appropriately recognize and differentiate one person or persona from another person or persona to support decision making,” according to a new DoD publication on the subject.

“Establishing and characterizing the identity of persons of interest, known adversaries, and other relevant actors across time and space is an operational imperative that improves a commander’s full understanding of the OE [operational environment].” See Identity Activities, Joint Doctrine Note 2-16, August 3, 2016, Unclassified.

The growing need to identify individual adversaries corresponds to the rise of anonymous, dispersed and concealed threats, DoD said. “Global disorder is increasing while the comparative US military advantage has begun to erode.”

“Because VEOs [violent extremist organizations] and TCOs [transnational criminal organizations] prefer to conduct operations by, with and through the populace, while maintaining a level of anonymity by blending in, employment of identity activities to separate adversaries from civilians and assist in positively identifying threat actors and their networks increases in significance.”

Paradoxically, identity is not a constant. “Identity is not static…. [It] is the culmination of multiple aspects of an entity’s characteristics, attributes, activities, reputation, knowledge, and judgments — all of which are constantly evolving.”

Accordingly, collection of a range of identity-related data is desired, including biographical, biological, behavioral, and reputational information.

“The breadth of identity information, if analyzed and navigated expertly, can be used confidently to make positive identifications across time and space, identify and assess patterns and anomalies, and better anticipate the capability and intent of actors of interest,” the DoD document said.

Once acquired, such data is retained for future reference.

“While some identity information (e.g., attributes contained on an identity credential) can be used immediately at the point of collection, most collected data and materials are sent to authoritative data repositories or local, regional, or reachback facilities or laboratories for appropriate processing and exploitation.”

The potential for misuse of this data was not explicitly addressed, but identity activities are likely to encounter legal and policy barriers, DoD acknowledged.

These barriers include US statutory limitations on the collection of information regarding US persons, as well as foreign laws affecting DoD operations abroad. “HN [host nation] law governing an individual’s right to privacy could significantly affect how and what identity activities can be employed during a military operation; limiting certain uses, requiring specific handling conditions for identity information, and/or restricting the means of collection.”

“Identity activities” is a new term in the DoD lexicon, and it does not appear in the latest (February 2016) edition of the official DoD dictionary (although “identity intelligence,” one of its components, is listed).

The rise of identity activities is presented as a DoD response to the changing security threat environment.

“As conflicts continue to become more irregular and asymmetric in nature, the need to identify, deter, deny, and degrade an adversary’s mobility, anonymity, and access to the populace and enabling resources increases in significance,” the DoD document said.

15k new Hillary emails discovered as evidence of Clinton Foundation pay-to-play scheme grows

August 22, 2016


The FBI has found nearly 15,000 emails that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton never turned over after she left office. Some show that foreign officials tried to curry favor with the State Department by donating millions to the Clinton Foundation. The existence of the 14,900 messages was revealed during a court hearing on Monday. Judicial Watch, a conservative foundation that promotes integrity in government, has been seeking to release those emails, all of which were found on one computer disc that includes emails and attachments sent directly to or from Clinton or in which she was included at some point in the email chain. Monday’s court hearing was to determine the schedule by which the new emails will be released.

Also on Monday, Judicial Watch released 725 pages of State Department documents, including 20 email exchanges in which Clinton was a participant. More than a dozen of them added further evidence of a pay-to-play scheme in which foreign officials donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation and its Clinton Global Initiative in exchange for access to the State Department.

In one of the message chains, the Clinton Foundation’s Doug Band emailed Clinton’s aide at the State Department, Huma Abedin, about a “good friend of ours,” Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain. He was “asking to see her,” Band wrote in June 2009.

The crown prince had already asked to see Clinton through “normal channels,” Abedin replied. “I asked and she doesn’t want to commit to anything.”

Two days later, Abedin wrote Band that Clinton was able to meet with Crown Prince Salman, and that he should let the Bahraini royal know if he sees him. “We have reached out thru official channels,” she added.

Salman is “essentially a foreign head of government” who “couldn’t get a meeting through official channels” so “he had to go through the Clinton Foundation’s Doug Band to get a meeting with Mrs. Clinton,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told C-SPAN during an interview Monday morning. Salman, through the Crown Prince’s International Scholarship Program, donated more than $32 million to the Clinton Global Initiative between 2005 and 2010, while the Kingdom of Bahrain donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Bahrain Petroleum gave an additional $25,000 to $50,000, Clinton Foundation documents show.

“I don’t know if Band was acting as a foreign agent; maybe he should have been registered [as such], I don’t know,” Fitton said. “It raises the question whether public office was illegally used to benefit a private entity or private individual.”

Clinton has consistently defended her use of a private email server to conduct official business, in part because previous secretaries of state did so. She reportedly told the FBI during a three and a half hour interview in early July that her predecessor at the State Department, Colin Powell, “counseled” her at a private dinner to use a private email account rather than a governmental one, according to FBI notes of that interview that were handed over to Congress last Tuesday.

Over the weekend, however, Powell denied that the conversation happened.

“The truth is she was using it (her personal email) for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did [during my term as secretary of state],” Powell told Page Six on Saturday. “Her people have been trying to pin it on me.”

The Judicial Watch president also noted that two current members of the Obama cabinet, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, have both sought to avoid Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requirements, with Carter using a private email server, even after the Clinton scandal broke, and Johnson receiving waivers to access personal emails via government computers despite security concerns.

“You know, the government doesn’t want you to know what they’re doing, and that’s true Republican or Democrat administration,” Fitton said. “And the widespread use of email and other internet media like text messaging is a challenge because the government officials know there are ways of keeping things from us, so we just have to keep on tracking it.”

The Department of State has known about  the newly revealed emails at least since August 5, which is when the FBI finished turning over all its material related to its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, the Washington Post reported. The agency officially closed its case against Clinton on July 7.

The State Department has yet to sift through all the documents to determine if any will be held back or redacted due to either their personal nature or for security reasons. On top of that, some emails may be duplicates of previously released ones. The agency has promised to begin releasing the messages in weekly batches beginning on October 14. They will also provide a status update so that District Judge James E. Boasberg can determine which ones would need to be produced under Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.

Shoot First

Coast Guard Fired at Migrant Boats, European Border Agency Documents Show

August 22, 2016

by Zach Campbell

The Intercept

On a smuggler’s boat from Turkey two years ago, 19-year-old Rawan watched the passengers start to panic as a Greek coast guard vessel approached them head on, circling twice. Rawan heard two gunshots ring out from the Greek patrol. Fearing arrest, the driver of Rawan’s boat, a Turkish fisherman, turned the vehicle around to flee back to Turkey. Then Rawan heard more shots.

When the bullet hit her in the lower back, at first she felt nothing. Then, Rawan says, it felt like fire.

Rawan’s husband had made it to Germany a year earlier; both were fleeing their home in Damascus, Syria. Rawan and 12 other Syrians were headed for the Greek island of Chios on a small fiberglass boat, much faster than the inflatable dinghies that many refugees use for the 5-mile crossing.

Before the shots, Rawan heard “stop” blare over a loudspeaker on the coast guard vessel. She and four others were in the forward compartment of the boat, and more people were sitting in the back near the outboard engine. Rawan’s father-in-law, Adnan Akil, was also shot in the lower back, and Amjad A., another Syrian refugee who asked that only his first name and last initial be used, was shot in the shoulder.

Akil says he clearly remembers the chain of events leading up to the shooting. One officer had a pistol, the other had a submachine gun. Akil, Rawan, and other witnesses say they heard one officer shoot in automatic bursts. “We were shouting and screaming for the driver to stop,” remembers Braa Abosaleh, another Syrian refugee who was on the boat that day.

When the driver didn’t stop, the coast guard rammed their boat from the back right side. Akil and Rawan remember the driver stopping the boat, pretending he was going to surrender. As the officers put down their weapons and approached, the driver fired up the engine again and turned back toward Turkey. This time, the coast guard shot directly at the fleeing boat.

Finally, after the second round of shots, the driver stopped. From just outside the front compartment, Abosaleh watched a coast guard officer board their boat and scuffle with the driver. Abosaleh says the officer beat the driver with the butt of his pistol before handcuffing him, an account confirmed by Rawan. The wounded were transported to the hospital and the rest of the refugees were taken to a hotel in Chios city for interrogation.

report of damages from the March 2014 incident would later document a total of 16 bullet holes in the boat, centering on the front compartment.

Sitting on a couch in her apartment in northern Germany last month, Rawan nervously rolls one cigarette after another. She walks with a limp from the shooting. She insists on only publishing her first name; her family in Syria still doesn’t know she was shot. Rawan says the coast guard officers threw her and the others wounded into their boat “like animals.”

After the shooting, one of the coast guard officers involved was arrested. According to court reports, he admitted finishing a clip of 30 bullets and reloading before continuing to shoot. In court, the two other officers aboard blamed him, saying he acted on his own and not on orders from his superior. The shooting was treated as an isolated event.

Less than a month later, a Greek court ruled that the coast guard officers, including the one arrested, did nothing wrong; they were shooting to stop a suspected smuggler.

Yet a collection of incident reports from Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, obtained by The Intercept, reveals a broader Greek and European tactic of using weapons to stop boats driven by suspected smugglers — and injuring or killing refugees in the process. (In the Greek islands, Frontex operates alongside the coast guard, patrolling the sea border with Turkey. In many cases, the information in these documents was reported to Frontex by the Greek coast guard as part of their joint operations.)

The documents, which were meant to be redacted to shield operational details but were inadvertently released by Frontex in full, reveal multiple cases of firearms use against boats carrying refugees (The Intercept has elected to publish the unredacted versions to demonstrate how refugees’ lives were endangered during these incidents). The reports span a 20-month period from May 2014, two months after the Chios shooting, to December 2015. Each case of firearms use — even if it resulted in someone being wounded — was described as part of the standard rules of engagement for stopping boats at sea.

Chios is a small, sleepy island of 50,000 people just 5 miles from the Turkish coast. The island has long been one of the key points for refugees crossing to Greece from Turkey. At the beginning of 2015, when the most recent surge in crossings began, the city’s main park was used for improvised refugee housing, and many residents came to volunteer and offer food. Now, one of the island’s three established refugee camps is located next to that park, in the center of the city.

Members of the coast guard here describe being overwhelmed by refugee arrivals, while coping with a lack of resources and proper training. According to U.N. statistics, over 100,000 refugees passed through Chios in 2015 — twice the local population of the island.

“It’s very difficult to stop a [fast boat],” explains one active coast guard captain currently working in the Greek islands. He spoke on the condition of anonymity about the protocol for intercepting smuggler boats coming from Turkey.

“You go near the boat, you say stop with your hands or with an air horn,” he says. If they don’t stop, “sometimes we shoot the engines.” He adds that the shooting only happens “when it is safe to do so.”

“If it’s not safe,” he says, “we let them go.”

There are two types of boats that refugees typically use to get from Turkey to the Greek islands. The most common are slow inflatable dinghies that are overloaded, often with more than 50 people. These boats putter across the Aegean, barely above water, with small, strained engines that often break down before reaching shore. The inflatable boats do not usually have a smuggler on board; rather, smugglers give one refugee a free ride across in return for piloting.

The faster boats, like the one that carried Rawan, are made of wood or fiberglass and are often driven by local fisherman who work with smuggling networks and make multiple trips in a day. According to the accounts of refugees in Chios, Lesbos, and on the Greek mainland, as well as the Frontex incident reports, these boats, if confronted by the coast guard in Greek waters, will typically try to flee back to Turkey. This is when the shootings happen.

Frontex officers must abide by the same rules of engagement as police in the host country where they are operating. Greek law divides weapon use into four categories: shooting for intimidation, shooting against objects, shooting to immobilize, and shooting to kill. According to the rules of engagement for Greek coast guard officers, as well as Frontex officers working in Greece, shooting to disable a vehicle is legal if it is done to prevent someone from illegally entering or exiting a country, if they have a firearm.

The coast guard captain refuses to speak about specific cases. But every time the coast guard stops a boat, he says, officers are in direct communication with their command centers on land. If officers are in pursuit of a fast boat, the orders to shoot come from their superiors. And in extreme cases, he says, officers are connected directly with the operational center in Piraeus, Greece’s largest port and the headquarters of the coast guard.

Later on the day that Rawan and the two other refugees were shot, the mayor of Chios city issued a press release commending the coast guard for its work. When asked about the shooting by journalists, the Chios coast guard justified the use of weapons, saying that the boat’s driver had shot at officers first.

There is no evidence that the driver shot at the coast guard, however. He was arrested for smuggling and was not charged with attacking police or possession of a weapon. While the four witnesses interviewed about the shooting are critical of the driver for not stopping sooner, they all say that he never had a gun nor fired at the coast guard.

After an investigation, the national coast guard headquarters in Pireaus also determined that the driver had not shot at the coast guard. Three days after the shooting, coast guard Rear Adm. Vasilis Siettos told journalists that “only the port authorities used weapons.”

Weeks later, the case was closed when the court concluded that the officers had correctly followed protocol.

After the shooting, Rawan, Amjad, and Akil were taken to the general hospital in Chios to be treated, where they stayed for two weeks. Doctors’ reports from Germany and Sweden, where the three were eventually given asylum, as well as from the hospital in Chios, confirm that the injured refugees were released from the hospital in Chios with bullets still in their bodies. All three victims speculate that the hospital responded to pressure from the coast guard, who, they say, didn’t want evidence of the shooting in Greece.

Neither press officers nor the director of the Chios general hospital would comment on the case or clarify why the decision was made not to remove the bullets. The German doctor who eventually saw Rawan can only speak for her case but says that she should have been treated in Chios, including removal of the projectile.

A coast guard investigator, Despina Piranyan, visited the wounded refugees multiple times at the hospital. Once, she came with Vasilis Eleftheriou, one of the coast guard shooters, who was not charged. The three refugees say Eleftheriou came to apologize for the shooting.

Amjad and Akil say the investigator pushed them to state that the driver of their boat had a gun and shot first. Braa Abosaleh recalls a similar conversation with the investigator in the hotel where the other refugees were being interrogated.

“She was trying to make us believe that [the driver] had guns,” Abosaleh remembers. Abosaleh describes the driver as just “a poor old man” trying to make some money. “We didn’t have any weapons on the boat.”

Reached by phone, Piranyan acknowledged the case and confirmed visiting the victims in the hospital but would not comment further. The Greek coast guard refused to discuss its rules of engagement, the practice of shooting engines, or this specific case. Regarding the shooting in Chios, a press officer said the case was “under judicial investigation.” The officer would not clarify what, exactly, the coast guard was investigating after two years.

Giorgios Pagoudis, a journalist in Chios who has written about this incident and others like it, says that while these types of shootings don’t happen every week, they are not uncommon.

“Normally they shoot out the engine,” he explains, “but there were many refugees next to the engine.”

In Chios, the coast guard stated that the refugees’ boat rammed its vehicle multiple times, not the other way around. Here, it’s the word of refugees against the word of police. Reports in local media show photos of both boats, neither clear enough to distinguish evidence of ramming from either side.

Six months after the Chios shooting, a similar event took place near the island of Pserimos. According to the Frontex report describing the event, the driver was about to drop off a boat full of people. When the coast guard came, the driver attempted to flee back to Turkey.

The report says that the coast guard first fired warning shots and then shot at the boat’s engine to immobilize it. The official write-up describes two injured migrants on board but does not mention that they had been shot by the coast guard. One of the men was shot in the head, near his right temple.

The man, Belal Tello, was also a refugee from Syria. Abdulrahman Tello, Belal’s brother, cared for him after he was shot. For a year after the shooting, Belal was unable to speak or move but was slightly responsive. According to his brother, the bullet caused Tello substantial brain damage. Belal slipped into a coma and died last December.

Coast guard reports following the event also stated that 12 refugees aboard were hidden from view when the officers shot. Like the case in Chios, a Greek court later declared that the coast guard officers involved were following the rules of engagement.

Izzat, another refugee from Syria, who only gave his first name, was below deck in a compartment with four others when the coast guard started shooting. The other eight people were lying down on the boat’s deck. At first, Izzat says, it was impossible to tell if the coast guard was shooting in the air or at the boat. Then he realized two people in the compartment had been hit, and that he was covered in blood.

“The sound of the bullets was so near,” Izzat says, “and the strange thing is that the bullets were being shot at the boat’s compartment, not at the front of the boat or the bottom.”

Izzat yelled for help when he realized that people had been hit. Bilal Tello, he says, wasn’t moving. When the coast guard officers boarded his boat, they transported Bilal and the other injured man for medical care.

As with the Chios shooting, Izzat says the driver of his boat never rammed the coast guard. “There was never any contact between the two boats,” he says.

Michael Bakas, a local politician in Lesbos, a neighboring Greek island, blames the ongoing injuries and deaths on a coast guard that is overwhelmed, underfunded, and badly trained. Despite that, he also says the frequency of incidents has decreased since the Greek government switched from conservative to left in the 2014 elections.

“A lot changed when the old government switched over in January 2015,” Bakas says. “Before then, they were using a policy from 10 years ago, when the shipping minister, who controls the coast guard, openly admitted to summary deportations and the abuse of asylum seekers.”

Still, Bakas says, management of the sea border is fundamentally different than a land border. According to international law, anybody can present themselves at a border to apply for asylum. Because those applications can’t be processed on the water, he says, the asylum seekers must be taken back to land and given the chance to apply. “For me, they shouldn’t stop anyone. But if people are talking about closing borders, they must take care of them,” he says. “Especially if they are in an overloaded boat.”

The only options, Bakas says, are to take asylum seekers to Greece, or return them to Turkey, which would contravene international and European law. “There is no legal way to stop them from crossing that respects their human rights,” he adds.

Frontex, through its press office, acknowledges that these shootings have, in multiple cases, caused the injury and death of refugees aboard smuggler boats, though it would not provide information on the number of such cases. Nor would it clarify who on board a Frontex ship makes the decision to shoot.

The agency maintains that the purpose of shooting is not to prevent boats from crossing the sea border, but to stop the smugglers. The effect, however, appears to be the same.

This month, the European Parliament voted to expand Frontex’s mandate, using the agency as a foundation of the European Border and Coast Guard, an EU-wide border police with partial sovereignty over Europe’s national border police. Now, Frontex will be able to enter a European country to manage its borders as the agency or European Council deem necessary, including without the permission of that country. Agency press officers refused to answer whether the practice of using firearms to stop boats would continue as Frontex expands its operations.

Many residents of Chios quietly acknowledge these shootings, but either justify them as a necessary evil or say nothing for fear of retribution from the coast guard. Few are willing talk about the shootings on the record.

A nurse at the Chios city hospital who was on duty when Rawan and other refugees received treatment agreed to speak about the incident, but only if not identified by name. “The woman shot near her kidney was a very serious case,” he says, referring to Rawan. “She was almost paralyzed.”

All of the refugees in the Chios case were granted asylum in Europe, and perhaps as a result, are willing to talk about what happened. Others in more precarious situations were not willing to share their experiences. Rawan, now in a small industrial city in northeast Germany, points out the irony of refugees fleeing war in Syria and then getting shot by Europeans. Still, she and the others say they are lucky to have made it to Europe alive.

Outside the hospital, on the edge of the island that faces Turkey and half a mile down the street from another one of Chios’s refugee camps, the nurse says that the coast guard in Chios was also lucky. Because had refugees been killed, he says, “there would have actually been an investigation.”

Even then, however, he doubted such an investigation would lead to anything more than a conclusion that the coast guard acted properly.

These are not new problems on Chios; the nurse said that before 2015, the shootings, abuse, and summary deportations were even more common. “It’s a small island. We’ve got years of testimonies from refugees, and some port police have acknowledged these practices, quietly,” he said. “Everyone here knows this happens.”

Christ the Essene

by Harry von Johnston. PhD

Homosexuality by Christians

Nearly all Christian denominations hold a variety of views on the issues of sexual orientation and homosexuality, ranging from outright condemnation to complete acceptance. Not all members of a denomination necessarily support their own church’s views on homosexuality. In accordance with the traditional values of Abrahamic religions, most Christian denominations teach that homosexual relationships and sexual acts are sinful.

These denominations include the Roman Catholic Church which has about 50% of the world’s Christians, the Eastern Orthodox churches which include about 12%,and some mainline Protestant denominations, such as the Methodist churches, Reformed Church in America,the American Baptist Church, as well as Conservative Evangelical organizations and churches, such as the Evangelical Alliance, the Presbyterian Church in America[ and the Southern Baptist Convention. Many Pentecostal churches such as the Assemblies of God,as well as Restorationist churches, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, also take the position that homosexual sexual activity is immoral. The latter churches include about 10% of the world’s Christians.

The Bible references homosexuality several times, but the extent to which it discusses homosexuality and whether it condemns it have been variously interpreted. Some religious denominations believe that the passages that directly or indirectly refer to homosexuality condemn it or its practice, while others have disputed their interpretations.

Passages like one in Leviticus prohibiting “lying with mankind as with womankind” and like the story of Sodom and Gomorrah have been popularly interpreted as condemning homosexuality, as have several Pauline passages.

Scholarly debate over the interpretation of these passages has focused on placing them in proper historical context, for instance pointing out that Sodom’s sins are historically interpreted as being other than homosexuality, and on the translation of rare or unusual words in the passages in question.

Some Evangelical Biblical scholars interpret Genesis 19:5 as indicating that homosexual activity led to the destruction of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Other Biblical passages that some interpret as addressing the issue of homosexual behavior include Romans 1, I Corinthians 6:8–10, and Jude 1:7; the relevant portion of Romans 1 reads as follows:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men … For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” (Romans 1:18a, 21–27)

The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah does not identify homosexuality as the sin for which they were destroyed. Most interpreters find this story, and a similar one in Judges 19, actually condemn the violent rape of guests, rather than homosexuality as the reason for the destruction, but the passage has historically been chronically misinterpreted within Judaism and Christianity as a punishment for homosexuality due to the interpretation that the men of Sodom wished, in some convoluted interpretations, to rape the angels who retrieved Lot.

‘Convoluted interpretations’ are a hallmark of Biblical writings.

Lot’s subsequent sexual activities with his own daughters in the back of a cave is seldom mentioned, nor are the children produced by this activity.

Biblical interpretation is extremely selective.

An objective reading of the current Biblical passages more than confirms this thesis.

Denominations that oppose homosexuality in any form include the Eastern Orthodox Church and some mainline Protestant denominations, such as the Methodist churches, Reformed Church in America, the American Baptist Church, as well as Conservative Evangelical organizations and churches, such as the Evangelical Alliance,the Presbyterian Church in America and the Southern Baptist Convention. Many Pentecostal churches such as the Assemblies of God,as well as Restorationist churches, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, also take the position that homosexual activity is immoral and its practitioners should be isolated and punished.

Their firm belief is that their “constitution” is the Bible and that all public teaching and practice must align itself with the Bible, since it is by their beliefs, God’s word. (II Timothy 3:16)

The Christian churches, its cults and sub-cults, have a multitude of opinions based on “tradition,” “reason” and “experience.”  The Christian churches, however, subordinates tradition, reason and experience to what they wish to believe is sacred scripture.

From a Christian perspective, all “truth” is valid, only to the extent that it conforms to their organization’s concept of what they wish to believe is the sole Word of God.

The Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church and most Evangelical and fundamentalist churches do not sanction same-sex sexual relations and in fact wish to prevent and punish them if practiced even by non-church members.

All Orthodox jurisdictions have taken the approach of welcoming people with “homosexual feelings and emotions,” while encouraging them to work towards “overcoming its harmful effects in their lives,” but not allowing the sacraments to people who seek to justify homosexual activity.

The Roman Catholic Church views any sex activity not related to procreation and not undertaken by a married couple as sinful. These views do not only concern homosexuality but any sexual activity that can not result in reproduction.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is opposed to same-gender sexual practices and relationships on the grounds that “sexual intimacy belongs only within the marital relationship of a man and a woman.”

Liberal Christians tend to regard the Bible as the record of human doings, composed of humans encountering their concept of the  divine within their specific historical context. They often interpret passages of the Bible as being less a record of actual events, but rather stories illustrating how to live ethically in relation to God.

Many American Christians believe that marriage is defined by the union of a man and a woman, and that any sexual act outside of the marriage relationship is inherently sinful. Most American members of the Christian Right consider homosexual acts as sinful and think it should not be accepted by society. They tend to interpret biblical verses on homosexual acts to mean that the heterosexual family was in some way created by God and that same-sex relationships contradict God’s design for marriage and violate His will. Christians who oppose homosexual relationships sometimes contend that same-gender sexual activity is unnatural, evil and the product of the machinations of Satan himself.

Christian objections to homosexual behavior are often based upon their, or most especially, their minister or sect leaders’ interpretations of the Bible. As these interpretations can range from the lunatic to the serious, concepts are widely varied.

Some Christians believe that the book of Leviticus contains prohibitions against male-male sexuality.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states “men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies … must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” They oppose criminal penalties against homosexuality.

The Catholic Church requires those who are attracted to people of the same sex to practice chastity, because it teaches that sexuality should only be practiced within marriage, which it regards as permanent, procreative, heterosexual, and monogamous. The Vatican distinguishes between “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” and the “expression of a transitory problem”, in relation to ordination to the priesthood; saying in a 2005 document that homosexual tendencies “must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.”

A 2011 report based on telephone surveys of American Catholics conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 56% believe that sexual relations between two people of the same sex are not sinful.

In opposing interpretations of the Bible that are supportive of homosexual relationships, conservative Christians have argued for the absolute reliability of the Bible, and the meaning of texts related to homosexual acts, while often seeing what they call the diminishing of the authority of the Bible by many homosexual authors as being ideologically driven. Of course it follows that their own defense of the total accuracy of extant and heavily propagandized texts would also be ideologically driven.

However, many other historians and Biblical scholars who are not homosexual or sympathetic to them also question, strongly, the Bible as anything but a work that bears no relationship to historical reality.

An increasing number of Christians believe that marriage is the union of two people and that homosexual behavior is not inherently sinful.

Some Christians and many historians believe that many Biblical passages have been, at the least, carelessly or deliberately, mistranslated or that these passages do not refer to homosexual orientation as currently understood.

Liberal and conservative Christian scholars, accept earlier versions of the texts that make up the Bible in Hebrew or Greek. However, within these early texts there are many terms that modern scholars have interpreted differently from previous generations of scholars.

There are concerns with copying errors, forgery, and biases among the translators of later Bibles. They consider some verses such as those they say support slavery or the inferior treatment of women as not being valid today, and against what they feel is the will of God present in the context of the Bible. They cite these issues when arguing for a change in theological views on sexual relationships to what they say is an earlier view. They differentiate among various sexual practices, treating rape, prostitution, or temple sex rituals as immoral and those within committed relationships as positive regardless of sexual orientation. They view certain verses, which they believe refer only to homosexual rape, as not relevant to consensual homosexual relationships.

In short, the Bible, as it exists today, is a work that was cobbled together from old Jewish religious texts and the writings of early Christians designed to support their beliefs. The Bible has been translated from the original Greek into different languages and extensively rewritten over the years to suit then-current religious thinking until it bears little resemblance to the original Greek writings.

There has always been  a theory amongst many Bibilical scholars that the Gospels, not one of which are of the period of Jesus’ ministry, are all based on a single original period document, that was suppressed by early Christian leaders and is no longer extant.

German theologians have called this the “Q” or Quelle document. (quelle=source)

In the nineteenth century, Evangelical Christians invented their own hagiology

that included the Rapture, the Battle of Armageddon, speaking in tongues and numerous other fictional events. None of these events are to be found in the Bible but these omissions in no way prevents Evangelical Christians from believing they do.

‘Armageddon’ is actually purported by some Christian sects to be an actual battle. According to Pentecostal fanciful interpretations, the Bible states that Armageddon will be a battle where God finally comes in and takes over the world and rules it the way it should have been ruled all along. After this vaguely-defined battle of Armageddon, Pentecostals firmly believe that there will follow 1000 years of peace and plenty which, according to their lore and legend, will be the sole lot of their sect and no other religion.

The actual scene of the fictional battle is referred to by Pentecostals as being clearly set forth in Revelation 16:14-16. It is not. The specific citation reads, in full:

“14. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

“15. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

“16. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”

This very brief mention of Armageddon has given rise to the elaborate but entirely fictional legend of the so-called Final Battle between the forces of good and evil. There is no mention in Revelations 16: 14-16 whatsoever of Parusia or the second coming of Jesus, the apocryphal Anti-Christ, the Rapture or the many other delightful inventions designed to bolster the Pentecostal elect and daunt their adversaries.

These adversaries consist of all other branches of the Christian religion with especial emphasis placed on Jews and Catholics. The Pentecostals also loathe Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, and an endless list of anyone and everyone whose views clash with theirs such as scientists and any academic who views the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin and Gregor Mendel as anything but tissues of lies. The earlier, original cult of Christianity did not initially expand beyond a small group of poor and illiterate Jews until several hundred years after the purported lifetime of Jesus and then it spread rapidly in a remarkably tolerant Roman Empire until it became the dominant state religion.

As a religion, Christianity has shrunk in recent decades past, until its adherents are either traditionalists without zeal or zealots without tradition.

Much has been made of a purported resurgence of evangelical Christianity in the United States and its numbers have been placed by various American media organs at an astonishing 65% of the American public. The actual figures, about 5% of the total American population, clearly do not reflect these propagandistic fictions.

But the Christian Right has made strong, undercover, efforts to promulgate laws that would elevate them to national power. One of these ploys is called the Biblical Law. The implementation of Biblical Law is central to the mission of building what they consider to be the “Kingdom of God” on earth. The way to get to Biblical Law is through politics. Therefore, God’s law as seen by man and manifested in the Bible should govern. References to the Ten Commandments are more than symbolic. It reflects a belief that the Bible, not the Constitution, represents the final legal authority.

1) The federal government should recede into the background through massive tax cuts. This concept has more than one benefit. As money available for corrupting so-called “entitlements” dries up, there will not be funding for welfare leeches, birth control programs, support for the army of illegal aliens now flooding out country and the notorious Social Security give-aways.

2) Christian churches should be mandated to take over responsibility for welfare and education by so-called faith-based initiatives and school vouchers. By these means, “True Christians” can establish a firm control over the education of American youth. They are determined to instill what they term Christian Values in American youth and by this means insure a growing body of young Christians, ready, willing and able to assume leadership positions in a Christian United States.

3) Capitalism is the sole reason that America is now the greatest nation on earth and the Christian Community firmly believes that this engine of national success and power should be freed of current regulations that harmfully restrict America’s major corporations in achieving their maximum growth potential. We are therefore opposed to so-called “environmental” rules and regulations, restrictive and repressive work safety regulations, involvement by the Federal government in civil rights matters. We must first and foremost introduce and secure legislation to halt devastating personal injury lawsuits against blessed Corporate America.

4) The U.S. Constitution should conform to Biblical Law.

The Constitution Restoration Act of 2004, introduced into both houses of Congress on February 11, 2004, included the acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law by an official in his capacity of executing his office.

This is another firm and ascending attempted step in the establishment of a “true Christian society” in America.

Turkey recalls ambassador to Austria as row deepens

Turkey has accused Austria of being supporter of terrorism and a center of Islamophobia. The two countries relations have sharply deteriorated since last month’s failed coup attempt.

August 22, 2016


Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Austria amid a growing spat between the two countries, state-run “Anatolia News Agency” reported on Monday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (pictured) accused Austria at a press conference of being a center of racism and Islamophobia that supports Kurdish terrorist groups, adding Turkey would “review its relations” with Austria.

“Unfortunately, the foundation for our bilateral relations and cooperation to continue as normal has disappeared,” Cavusoglu said.

Turkey also summoned the Austrian charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry in Ankara.

The two countries have been in a tit-for-tat dispute in the weeks following the failed coup attempt in Turkey last month.

In the wake of the coup, senior Austrian officials have criticized the state of democracy in Turkey and massive purges, while saying Turkey’s EU accession should be halted.

In Ankara, such statements have been interpreted as a lack of support for a democratically elected government.

“During the coup and afterward, instead of supporting Turkey they have done the exact opposite,” Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu also slammed a prohibition on pro-democracy protests by Turks in Austria, noting that authorities had allowed pro-Kurdish demonstrations against Turkey.

There have been a number of recent demonstrations in Vienna organized by Kurdish organizations against Turkey, which have led to clashes with Turkish nationalists.

Turkey says the protests are organized by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) supporters, which the EU and Turkey considers a terrorist organization.

Another row was sparked recently when a news ticker headline at the Vienna airport said Turkey allowed sex with children under the age of 15, a claim Ankara strongly denied. That prompted Turkey to summon the Austrian charge d’affaires to the foreign ministry.

Nicholas Kristof: War Crimes Enabler

He wants US intervention – on the side of Islamist head-choppers

August 22, 2016

by Justin Raimondo


We all saw the little Syrian boy in besieged Aleppo, wiping blood from his forehead, covered in dust and clearly in shock. How could we help it? Practically every newspaper in the country printed his photo, along with a caption blaming the Syrian military and/or the Russians for his plight. The video is all over the Internet. By the way, little Omran Dagnish is still alive, and is fine physically. But there’s another little boy, a prepubescent child, who hasn’t been dignified with a name, who is also a victim of this war – and he’s dead, beheaded by US-backed Islamist rebels of the “al-Zenki” movement. And the rebels didn’t try to hide this atrocity: they filmed it and put it on the Internet.

These are the people who are defending Aleppo, the rebels we are being told are fighting for “freedom” against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and those dastardly Russians.

The video of Omran went “viral,” while the video of the nameless beheaded boy didn’t. Why is that?

The US media isn’t very interested in publicizing the latter atrocity – because in the information war to provoke US intervention in Syria on behalf of head-chopping Islamists, some children are more equal than others.

And make no mistake: the propaganda campaign is now in full swing, being pushed by the same media outlets openly campaigning for Hillary Clinton – who is on record as calling for funding of Islamist groups in Syria and overthrowing Assad. If she is elected, we’re very likely to see a full-scale US intervention, with US forces openly and aggressively confronting not only Syrian government forces but also facing off with the Russians.

The New York Times, which makes no bones about its political sympathies in this presidential contest, has unleashed well-known “humanitarian” Nicholas Kristof in the effort to gin up sympathy for the “moderate” rebels and force Washington’s hand. He babbles on about the death of his dog and the sympathy he received when he wrote about it, and then writes: “If only, I thought, we valued kids in Aleppo as much as we did our terriers!”

Not that he’s trying to manipulate us or anything.

“For five years the world has been largely paralyzed as President Bashar al-Assad has massacred his people, nurturing in turn the rise of ISIS and what the U.S. government calls genocide by ISIS. That’s why I argued in my column a week ago that President Obama’s passivity on Syria was his worst mistake, a shadow over his legacy.”

More than half of those killed in the Syrian civil war were massacred by the rebel forces, none of whose depredations are so much as mentioned by Kristof. And who, exactly, is “nurturing” ISIS – isn’t it the Saudi, Qatari, Kuwaiti, and other pro-head- chopper Muslim states in the Gulf? In the Kristofian lexicon, you’re “nurturing” ISIS if you fight them and prevent them from taking over your country. As for President Obama’s alleged “passivity,” if only it were so! Under his regime, US taxpayer dollars financed and “nurtured” Islamist rebels who valorize Osama bin Laden and want to turn Syria into an Islamist theocracy. Kristof’s complaint is that he didn’t send them enough money, guns, and sharper knives to chop off the heads of yet more nameless boys.

Yes, this is “humanitarianism,” Kristof-style.

While the political class demands that Obama “do something,” ordinary Americans oppose yet another Middle East war. They showed that the last time the Washington-New York know-it-alls ginned up a wave of war hysteria over the alleged “poison gas” episode, in which Assad’s forces supposedly crossed the “red line” and used gas on “their own people.” Except, as Seymour Hersh showed, they did no such thing: indeed, it was the rebels who used and are no doubt still using poison gas. In any case, when Obama announced we were going to intervene, the congressional phone lines lit up as tens of thousands called in to register their protest. One by one members of Congress previously committed to war or on the fence backed down – as did the President.

But the War Party doesn’t take “no” for an answer. No sirree, when the warlords of Washington deem it their “duty” to “liberate” some unfortunate country, they’ll not be denied by those peasants in flyover country. Kristof addresses these impudent peons in his column, one of whom had the temerity to suggest that “There is nothing in our constitution that says we are to be the savior of the world from all the crazies out there.” Kristof’s answer is more manipulative rhetoric with no basis in reality:

“I agree that we can’t solve all the world’s problems, but it doesn’t follow that we shouldn’t try to solve any. Would it have been wrong during the Holocaust to try to bomb the gas chambers at Auschwitz? Was President Bill Clinton wrong to intervene in Kosovo to avert potential genocide there? For that matter, was President Obama wrong two years ago when he ordered airstrikes near Mount Sinjar on the Iraq-Syria border, apparently averting genocidal massacres of Yazidi there?”

Let’s take these “arguments” one by one:

1) Auschwitz – Is Kristof really saying that Assad is Hitler? If so, he has broken Godwin’s Law, and has therefore automatically lost the argument. What’s going on in Syria is in no way, shape, or form equivalent to what occurred at Auschwitz, as Kristof knows full well.

2) Kosovo — Yes, President Bill Clinton was wrong to intervene in Kosovo: by doing so he created a gangster state that is today the heroin capital of Europe and whose “President” has been credibly charged with trafficking in human organs. The remnants of Kosovo’s besieged Serbian population live in terror, and the country is rife with a virulent ultra-nationalist movement that threatens its neighbors and the peace of Europe.

3) Yazidis — The idea that the Yazidis were under the threat of “genocide” is comparable to the entirely imaginary “genocide” that was supposedly averted by US intervention in Libya – and both have resulted in making the situation worse. In fact, as I pointed out at the time, when US troops arrived on the scene of the supposed “genocide” that was occurring on Mount Sinjar, they were met with cries of “We want to stay!”:

“Several thousand Yazidis remain on the mountain, a senior United States official said, but not the tens of thousands who originally were believed to be there. Some of the people who remain on Mount Sinjar indicated to American forces that they considered the mountain to be a place of refuge and a home, and did not want to leave, a second United States official said.”

Some “genocide”!

This is the Kristof Method: refer to past hoaxes in order to validate the latest hoax. The big problem for him and his comrades in the Weepy Liberals for Perpetual War camp is that, these days, we can fact-check your ass.

Syria was never a Jeffersonian republic where peace and prosperity reigned: it’s in a rough neighborhood. Yet it wasn’t until the Saudis and the rest of the Islamist states in the region began funding and arming Salafist and al Qaeda-like insurgents – and the US joined in with aid to head-chopping “moderates” – that the country exploded and sent out swarms of refugees who are now flooding Europe. Our Israeli allies have openly said they prefer the Islamists to Assad and his Iranian allies: they’ve been plotting and scheming to overthrow the Syrian Ba’athist regime for many years. And now the hypocritical “liberals” of Kristof’s ilk have taken up the interventionist war cry –in the name of “the children,” no less!

As our “moderate” Islamists on the CIA payroll behead children, crucify Christians, and turn Syria into a killing field, “liberals” of the Kristofian persuasion, who preen in print over their own alleged moral superiority, are just as responsible as the Islamists who beheaded that child and held up his severed skull in triumph. In short: for all his self-righteous moral posturing, Kristof is an enabler of war crimes.

We have intervened quite enough in Syria, thank you. It’s time to defund those head-chopping Islamists, restore diplomatic relations with Assad’s government, and work with the Russians to drive out the Islamists and keep them out.

That’s the only path to peace in Syria.


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