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Posts Tagged ‘Katharine Gun’

The Untold Story of the Trump-Ukraine ‘Scandal’: The Routine Corruption of US Foreign Policy – Consortiumnews

Posted by M. C. on September 28, 2019

This fundamental corruption of U.S. foreign policy, which includes overthrowing elected governments, is matched only by the corruption of a political system that exalts partisan political power above all else. Exposing this deep-seated and longstanding corruption should take precedence over scoring partisan scalps, whether Biden’s or Trump’s.

By Joe Lauria

The most crucial aspects of the Trump-Ukraine “scandal,” which has led to impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, are not being told, even by Republicans.

Trump was very likely motivated by politics if he indeed withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Kiev launching an investigation into Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden, though the transcript of the call released by the White House between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelinsky does not make certain such a quid-pro-quo.

But what’s not being talked about in the mainstream is the context of this story, which shows that, politics aside, Biden should indeed be investigated in both Ukraine and in the United States.

We know from the leaked, early 2014 telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland, then assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, that then Vice President Biden played a role in “midwifing” the U.S.-backed overthrow of an elected Ukrainian government soon after that conversation.

That’s the biggest crime in this story that isn’t being told. The illegal overthrow of a sovereign government.

As booty from the coup, the sitting vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, soon got a seat on the board of Ukraine’s biggest gas producer, Burisma Holdings. This can only be seen as a transparently neocolonial maneuver to take over a country and install one’s own people. But Biden’s son wasn’t the only one.

A family friend of then Secretary of State John Kerry also joined Burisma’s board. U.S. agricultural giant Monsanto got a Ukrainian contract soon after the overthrow.  And the first, post-coup Ukrainian finance minister was an American citizen, a former State Department official, who was given Ukrainian citizenship the day before she took up the post.

After a Ukrainian prosecutor began looking into possible corruption at Burisma, Biden openly admitted at a conference last year that as vice president he withheld a $1 billion credit line to Ukraine until the government fired the prosecutor. As Biden says himself, it took only six hours for it to happen.

Exactly what Biden boasted of doing is what the Democrats are now accusing Trump of doing, and it isn’t clear if Trump got what he wanted as Biden did.

Threats, Bribes and Blackmail

That leads to another major part of this story not being told: the routine way the U.S. government conducts foreign policy: with bribes, threats and blackmail.

Trump may have withheld military aid to seek a probe into Biden, but it is hypocritically being framed by Democrats as an abuse of power out of the ordinary. But it is very much ordinary.

Examples abound. The threat of withholding foreign aid was wielded against nations on the UN Security Council in 1991 when the U.S. sought authorization for the First Gulf War. Yemen had the temerity to vote against. A member of the U.S. delegation told Yemen’s ambassador: “That’s the most expensive vote you ever cast.” The U.S. then cut $70 million in foreign aid to the Middle East’s poorest nation, and Saudi Arabia repatriated about a million Yemeni workers.

The same thing happened before the Second Gulf War in 2003, as revealed by whistleblower Katharine Gun (who will appear Friday night on CN Live!). Gun leaked an NSA memo that showed the U.S. sought help from its British counterpart in signals intelligence to spy on the missions of Security Council members to get “leverage” over them to influence their vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq.

In 2001 the U.S. threatened the end of military and foreign aid if nations did not conclude bilateral agreements granting immunity to U.S. troops before the International Criminal Court.

More recently, the U.S. used its muscle against Ecuador, including dangling a $10 billion IMF loan, in exchange for the expulsion of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from its London embassy.

This is how the U.S. conducts “diplomacy.”…

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One Flow Chart Perfectly Sums Up the Truth About U.S ...




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A New Film Blows the Whistle on War –

Posted by M. C. on September 3, 2019


Official Secrets, co-written and directed by Gavin Hood,  is one of the best movies ever made about investigative reporting and whistle-blowing—a film in a league with All the President’s Men and Snowden.

Like the 1976 Watergate classic starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and Oliver Stone’s 2016 drama about exposure of the National Security Agency’s clandestine mass warrantless surveillance program, the U.K.-set Secrets is based on a true story.

The film is about Martin Bright, a reporter with The Observer (played by Matt Smith), and Katharine Gun, a translator for the British government (played by Keira Knightley). Gun is responsible for what Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg called “the most important and courageous leak I have ever seen. No one else – including myself – has ever done what Gun did: tell secret truths at personal risk, before an imminent war, in time, possibly, to avert it.”

In early 2003, during the lead-up to the U.S. attack on Iraq, Gun came across an email from a shadowy National Security Agency official named Frank Koza. It revealed U.S. plans to spy on U.N. Security Council members in order to blackmail them into voting for a resolution approving a military offensive against Baghdad. The resolution was seen as key to providing the strike with a fig leaf of legitimacy from the international community for a war based largely on the dubious proposition that Saddam Hussein possessed “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

In the movie, Gun had already begun doubting President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s pretext for assaulting Iraq. She is shown yelling at the television, such as when David Frost interviews Blair and she shouts “bloody liar!” at the screen. (Secrets enhances its verisimilitude by intercutting news clips with the actors’ dramatizations.)

To further complicate matters, Gun’s presumably Muslim husband Yasar (Palestinian actor Adam Bakri) is a Turk with a sketchy immigration status. The troubled translator surreptitiously prints out Koza’s message, and wrestles with her conscience as she tries, Hamlet-like, to decide what to do.

When the hard copy of Koza’s email is leaked to the The Observer, it ignites an internal fight. The British Sunday newspaper has been co-opted by the Blair government: In exchange for preferential treatment, including high level access, the liberal-leaning Observer has favored war, giving Blair “left cover” for attacking Iraq.

But journalists Bright and Ed Vulliamy (Rhys Ifans) of The Observer’s sister newspaper, The Guardian, a daily, argue for publishing the nefarious scheme. “You’re the press, not a PR agency for Blair,” Vulliamy insists to cautious editors.

After Vulliamy tracks Koza down, The Observer’s management relents and publishes Bright’s report in a March 2, 2003, front-page article headlined, “Revealed: U.S. Dirty Tricks to Win Vote on Iraq War.” All hell breaks loose: Gun is charged with violating the Official Secrets Act, which prohibits disclosure of confidential state information. She becomes a cause célèbre and is defended by Ben Emmerson (Ralph Fiennes), a human rights attorney in the William Kunstler/Michael Ratner tradition.

At nearly two hours long, Official Secrets raises a number of philosophical and political issues.  Following a private screening, Hood agreed with my observation that the film is of a piece with his 2007 Rendition and 2015 Eye in the Sky. The South African filmmaker referred to these features as his “trilogy,” as all three focus on different disturbing aspects of the post-9/11 “war on terror.”

Rendition dramatized the U.S. intelligence community’s pernicious policy of shipping terrorism suspects off to overseas black op sites to be tortured and imprisoned, absent being found guilty of any crimes. Eye challenged the ethics, accuracy, and efficiency of drone warfare…

If the press is the “fourth estate,” the cinema is arguably the “fifth estate.” By combining mass entertainment, drama, and first-rate acting with a true tale of an ordinary woman who stood up to the powers-that-be, Official Secrets indicts Blair, Bush, and other mass murderers in the court of public opinion—at a theater near you.

Official Secrets opens nationwide August 30.

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