Obama’s ratings tumble in Germany, Russia in wake of NSA spying, Ukraine crisis

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Revelations of the National Security Agency’s global spy program, together with civil strife in Ukraine has severely damaged Barack Obama’s popularity among Brazilians, Germans and Russians, a major US polling agency reported.

Thanks to a series of global scandals, the United States in general, and its commander-in-chief in particular, have suffered a drop in favorability among the majority of countries polled by Pew Research.

“In 22 of 36 countries surveyed in both 2013 and 2014, people are significantly less likely to believe the US government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens,” the report said.

Spring 2014 Global Attitudes Survey, Pew ResearchSpring 2014 Global Attitudes Survey, Pew Research

Among privacy-loving Germans – many of whom have even refused to allow the Google Maps car to film their homes – Obama’s reputation nosedived when it was revealed that the NSA was collecting communication metadata not only on average Germans, but also on Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose personal mobile phone had been hacked by US intelligence.

Germans’ confidence in Obama sunk to 71 percent, 17 points down from 2013.

Tensions between NATO’s two biggest members escalated this month German authorities arrested a Defense Ministry official suspected of passing secrets to the US. This shocking incident came just one week after the arrest of a German intelligence officer who worked as a double agent for the Americans.

German authorities took the unprecedented step of ordering the expulsion of the Berlin CIA station chief.

“Revelations that Washington systematically reads both Americans’ and some foreigners’ emails and listens in on their telephone conversations appears to have significantly damaged Obama’s approval in only one European Union country: Germany,” Pew reported.

Brazilians’ confidence in the first black American leader dropped from 69 percent in 2013 to 52 percent presently.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was also the victim of NSA snooping on her personal communications, expressed her anger at those revelations by canceling an official visit to Washington in October.

Finally, Russia, which is watching neighboring Ukraine teeter on the edge of full-blown civil war, sees an American hand provoking the situation behind the scenes, especially after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich decided against signing as association agreement with the European Union in favor of stronger ties with Moscow.

The decision by sparked a violent showdown in the capital Kiev, which has led to nationwide civil strife that continues today.

“Russian faith in Obama, already quite low in 2013, is down 14 points (to 15 percent), a likely casualty of the Ukraine confrontation,” Pew said.

Meanwhile, America’s once invincible reputation for protecting individual liberties has suffered a major reality check following damning revelations about the extent of NSA surveillance from whistleblower Edward Snowden, presently living in Russia, where he has been granted asylum.

Belief that the US government respects personal freedoms plummeted 25 points in Brazil to 50 percent over the last year; 23 points in Germany to 58 percent; 20 points to 40 percent in Russia; and 11 points to 69 percent in France. Meanwhile, even the United Kingdom, a trusted ally, appears to have experienced a chilling effect by America’s recent naughtiness, dropping 10 points to 65 percent.

Germany expels Berlin CIA chief

US drone strikes have also struck a negative chord among allies and enemies alike, including in NATO member states like Britain, France and Spain. In 37 of 44 surveyed countries, half or more of the public expressed disapproval of drone attacks.

German-American friendship at crossroads, Berlin leaning toward Moscow?

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As a never-ending stream of spy scandals put Washington-Berlin relations under unprecedented strain, Germans are increasingly asking themselves whether the country should be blindly following the US.

A recent poll for Der Spiegel showed that up to 57 percent of Germans would like Berlin to conduct policies more independent from the US, and an Op-Ed article by the publication asked more bluntly: “Germany’s Choice: Will It Be America or Russia?”

This question, previously unimaginable for Berlin, show just how deeply the US spy scandals are shattering German politics.

An unceasing row of intelligence scandals, that started over a year ago with revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have revealed that the US has been eavesdropping Germans, Chancellor Angela Merkel included, for years now.

The grandeur of the American eavesdropping effort against NATO allies forced German politicians to give the alliance with Washington a second thought.

The continuation of the spy scandals has put German elite in an “either/or” position, when they should either turn a blind eye on the current state of things and remain American protégé or dash away from American chokehold.

Though US Secretary of State John Kerry has told German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier that Washington and Berlin remain “great friends” despite the new spying scandal that rocked bilateral relations in recent two weeks, Germans themselves feel the friendship went wrong.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) , in Vienna, on July 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Jim Bourg)US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) , in Vienna, on July 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Jim Bourg)

Ever since the creation of the post-WWII West Germany in 1949, the country remained in the orbit of American foreign policy, not least because of a large number of American bases deployed in the country. After reunion with the East Germany in 1990, relations did not change a jot over the next two decades.

According to Der Spiegel, Chancellor Angela Merkel would probably like to distance herself from the scandal if Americans stop putting her in awkward situations, such as tapping her phone.

But as German intelligence agency the BND has found out, the Americans never calmed down and continued spying, this time sneaking documents of the investigation of NSA intelligence activities in Germany, Der Spiegel said.

“If it is confirmed that the spying activities against the BND also targeted the work of the NSA investigative committee, it will be an unprecedented assault on the parliament and our democratic institutions,” Der Spiegel cited Thomas Oppermann, parliamentary leader of the SPD.

Last Wednesday Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, indicated that German-American relations had hit a new low, mentioning “profound differences of opinion” between Berlin and Washington. Next day the CIA’s station chief in Germany was asked to leave the country.

The abovementioned Körber Foundation study revealed another interesting fact: approximately equal number of Germans sees their country cooperating the most in the future with either the US or Russia.

For nearly a quarter of a century since the reunion of the country, Germans have actually not questioned which side they are on.

But two things that have been growing on over the last year sort of “awakened” Germans from quiescence.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin chat at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Pedro Ugarte)German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin chat at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Pedro Ugarte)

The first is the NSA spy scandal that emerged in June 2013 and is still unwinding, which opened eyes of ordinary Germans being under constant surveillance from the US intelligence agencies.

The second one is the spreading civil war in Ukraine and economic sanctions against Russia promoted by Washington for alleged “support to Ukrainian separatists.” While for the US any sanctions Moscow would mean little economic losses, for Germany Russia is a major economic partner and cutting ties with Moscow would mean multibillion missed profit, hundreds of thousands of jobless citizens and giant losses for the economy in general.

Der Spiegel, a magazine that is well-informed on domestic policy, said: “Germany can no longer avoid the question of which side it supports.”

BOMBSHELL: Obama Was Trying to Silence Fox News Within 24 Hours of Benghazi [VIDEO]

Although the State Department has released tens of thousands of pages of documents to the House committee investigating the Benghazi attack and Obama administration public position statements about it after the fact, Congressman Darrell Issa says that they are relying on the sheer volume of that information to disguise the fact that they are not releasing key documents that could incriminate President Obama or members of his administration.

The latest example of this sleight-of-hand comes from a comparison of two copies of the same email chain detailing efforts to silence or at least respond to Fox News reports that the administration knew early on that the September 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic mission and nearby CIA annex were the result of terrorism and not, as administration spokespeople claimed, a response to an anti-Islamic video.

On the copy of the email provided to congressional investigators, almost all the names of the email’s recipients had been redacted by the State Department. On the copy provided to watchdog group Judicial Watch, the names were not redacted and indicate that senior level administration officials were part of the media damage control efforts.

Did President Obama know that the attacks were an act of terror but lie about it in order to get re-elected in 2012? He would certainly not be the first politician to act so. Would such dishonesty rise to the level required for impeachment? That seems highly unlikely.

That being the case, why isn’t the State Department being more forthcoming with regard to this investigation? If President Obama truly has nothing to hide aside from some election cycle media spin, he should order his administration to comply fully with all congressional requests for information and put this scandal behind him.

WHAT THE MILITARY DID WHILE BENGHAZI POST BURNED

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Closest assets were 600 miles away

WASHINGTON (AP) — One by one, behind closed doors, military officers explained what they did and didn’t do the night the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, burned.

Together their 30 hours of testimony to congressional investigators gives the fullest account yet of the military’s response to the surprise attacks that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans the night of Sept. 11, 2012, and early the next morning.

Transcripts of the interviews, with some names and classified information blacked out, were released Wednesday

The nine officers, including retired Gen. Carter Ham, then the head of the military’s U.S. Africa Command, described making on-the-fly decisions with only sparse information about the crisis unfolding at a diplomatic post and the nearby CIA compound.

None of them was in Benghazi. The closest? Some were 600 miles away in Tripoli, the Libyan capital; others gave orders from command headquarters in Germany or Washington.

They did not witness what went on in the White House or at the State Department. Ex-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others have testified about Benghazi. More hearings are coming.

The nine officers shed light on the nature of the attacks; speculation that the military was ordered to “stand down” from helping Americans; suggestions that the U.S. should have rushed jets or a special operations team to Benghazi; and early misperceptions that the attack began as a protest over an anti-Islam video.

Some lingering questions about the Benghazi attacks and what the officers told the House Armed Services Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this year:

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DID MILITARY LEADERS INITIALLY BELIEVE THE TROUBLE RESULTED FROM A STREET PROTEST?

Some heard that, some didn’t; nothing was clear about events on the ground at first.

One of the earliest reports came from Ambassador Chris Stevens, who told his deputy in a phone call cut short: “We’re under attack.”

“We started calling it an attack from inception,” said Army Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson, who was at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. “We never referred to it as anything else.”

Another military official in Tripoli, whose name was withheld, said he wasn’t sure how to interpret that word — “attack” — at first.

He had heard about protesters who scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo earlier that night. “It could be, you know, vandals are attacking,” he said.

Retired Vice Adm. Charles “Joe” Leidig Jr., deputy commander of AFRICOM, said he was awoken in the night at his headquarters in Germany with word that “there had been protesters, and they had overrun the facility in Benghazi.”

But Ham, who was alerted while visiting the Pentagon, said he heard no mention of protesters.

So he’s sure he didn’t pass on anything like that when he informed Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, of the attack. Dempsey and Panetta personally took word to President Barack Obama at the White House.

Speaking for the Obama administration, then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on Sunday talk shows five days later and suggested the attacks were born from regional protests against an anti-Islamic video. The administration later recanted that position but never thoroughly articulated what they believe happened. Republicans say Obama soft-pedaled a terrorist attack to protect his re-election.

Over the two days when the attacks were occurring, there was “very, very little discussion that I can recall about why did this happen.” Ham said. “There just wasn’t time for that, frankly.”

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WAS A FOUR-MAN TEAM HEADED FOR BENGHAZI ORDERED TO STAND DOWN?

Technically, no, the team was not ordered, as some have asserted, to stand by as militants attacked Americans 600 miles away. But they were told not to go to Benghazi and instead to stay and protect personnel in Tripoli. In hindsight, the attacks were over by then, anyway.
The special operations officer leading that team and the commander who gave him the order both told investigators that it was the right decision.

The team, led by Gibson, was in Tripoli to help train Libyan special forces. When the Benghazi attack began, Gibson’s first duty was to protect the embassy in Tripoli amid fears that it also would be targeted. He helped evacuate the staff to a classified, more-secure location. Once he felt they were safe on the morning of Sept. 12, Gibson was ready to rush to Benghazi to help.

One Libyan plane carrying a six-man U.S. security team already had taken off. Gibson wanted his group on the second chartered flight. He called the special operations command center for Africa to say they were heading to the airport.

He was told, “Don’t go. Don’t get on that plane.”

“Initially, I was angry,” he recalled. “Because a tactical commander doesn’t like to have those decisions taken away from him. But then once I digested it a little bit, then I realized, OK, maybe there was something going on. Maybe I’m needed here for something else.”

Rear Adm. Brian Losey, who gave the order, said he needed Gibson’s team in Tripoli in case trouble started there.

Although some Republican lawmakers have suggested the team might have helped repel attackers in Benghazi, their flight would have arrived after the final assault that killed two CIA contractors.

Losey dismissed the notion that the foursome could have been much help in Benghazi, where Americans already were moving to the airfield for evacuation with the aid of Libyan forces and the U.S. security team from the first plane. Losey noted that Gibson’s group consisted of a communications specialist, a medic and a weapons operator with his foot in a cast.

“That’s not a security team,” Losey said. Sending them in “didn’t make a lot of sense.”

Gibson said if his group had flown to Benghazi, their flight would have crossed paths with the first plane as it returned bearing wounded Americans. Because they stayed, his medic was there to meet two seriously injured people at the Tripoli airport. The medic is credited with saving one’s life.

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RIGHT OR WRONG, WASN’T THAT AN ORDER TO “STAND DOWN”?

Not according to Losey and Gibson.

Civilians might say that Losey ordered Gibson to stand down from his race to the scene. But Losey and Gibson say in their military parlance, standing down means ceasing operations.

“It was not a stand-down order,” Gibson said. “It was not, ‘Hey, time for everybody to go to bed.’ It was, you know, ‘Don’t go. Don’t get on that plane. Remain in place.'”

“It was never an order to stand down,” Losey said. “It was an order to remain in place and continue to provide your security role in Tripoli.”

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DID CLINTON GIVE A “STAND DOWN” ORDER, AS SOME REPUBLICANS HAVE THEORIZED?

“No,” said Losey.

“I never received any orders from the secretary of state or heard of any orders from the secretary of state,” said Leidig, also based in Stuttgart, Germany.

“No,” said Ham, who commanded the Africa operations. “And we would not receive direct communications from the secretary of state.”

Ham said no one else ordered him to stand down, either, and no one tried to stop him from helping the Americans in Benghazi any way he could.

“The conversation really was more along lines of, you know, ‘What do you need? What can we do?'” he said. “And every request for forces that I asked of the secretary of defense was approved.”

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WHAT DID THE MILITARY DO TO HELP?

Following the first report of trouble about 9:40 p.m. local time on Sept. 11, officials began looking for military planes that could head to Benghazi for evacuations. None would be available for hours.

An unmanned drone already in Libya was quickly sent to survey the situation at the diplomatic post. Nighttime darkness limited its usefulness.

Two military members — both from Special Forces — were in the six-man team that flew from Tripoli to Benghazi around midnight and aided with the defense and evacuation of the CIA base.

An Air Force C-17 transport plane flew the Benghazi evacuees from Tripoli to Germany the night of Sept. 12, about 24 hours after the attacks began.

A U.S. anti-terror team sent from Spain arrived in Tripoli after the evacuees had gone.

Two military teams — one in Croatia and the other in the U.S. — prepared to go but, as the situation changed, weren’t brought to Libya. They would have arrived too late.

Not until the morning of Sept. 12 was the 31st Fighter Wing in Aviano, Italy, ordered to get four F-16 jets and four pilots ready to respond if needed. The call to Benghazi never came.

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WHY DIDN’T THEY SCRAMBLE THE F-16 FIGHTERS?

Military leaders decided early on that jets armed with 500-pound bombs were unsuited for the chaotic crisis in an urban area.

“Ultimately, it was my decision that said no, not the right response in this circumstance,” Ham said.

He didn’t have anyone on the ground to provide target information for airstrikes. He didn’t want to harm innocent people or risk inflaming more Libyans to join the attack. He believed some militants had missiles capable of downing a plane.

“Had I made a different decision, had strike aircraft deployed, we don’t really know what the outcome would have been,” Ham said. “Maybe it would have been positive, but maybe it would have got shot down. Maybe it would have killed civilians.”

Brig. Gen. Scott Zobrist, then the wing commander at Aviano, had similar worries. He said that, even if called right away, it would have taken 20 hours to get jets to Benghazi from the base in Italy normally used for training flights.

Pilots would have to be recalled from their homes, bombs loaded onto planes, the 1,000-mile route planned. The jets would need refueling along the way, which meant coordinating with tanker planes stationed in England — something that typically takes days to plan.

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COULD THE MILITARY HAVE DONE MORE?

Perhaps.

In hindsight, Ham said, he should have reached out to his Libyan contacts and other U.S. officials to get Americans evacuated from Benghazi faster. That might have saved the two lives that were lost hours after the first attack at the diplomatic post.

While the evacuation from Benghazi was being planned by the embassy and the CIA, Ham said, he switched his focus toward gearing up a possible hostage rescue mission, because the ambassador was still missing.

Meanwhile, surviving U.S. personnel were gathered at the CIA base in Benghazi. Ham said he believed they were relatively safe. He and other military leaders said they weren’t told that the CIA compound already had come under gunfire and rocket-propelled grenade attacks in the middle of the night.

The U.S. security team that arrived at the Benghazi airport after midnight was detained by Libyan officials for several hours. That delayed the evacuation, Ham said, and “allowed sufficient time for the second attack to be organized and conducted.”

During that attack, around 5 a.m., mortar fire killed two CIA security contractors on the roof and wounded other Americans.

Less than an hour later, the evacuation of all American personnel from Benghazi began.

___

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata and Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.

DOJ refuses to pursue criminal investigation of CIA spying on Senate staffers

The Department of Justice has officially ended its criminal probe concerning allegations of spying and document stealing involving the United States Senate and the Central Intelligence Agency.

On Thursday this week, a DOJ spokesperson confirmed to McClatchy that the Justice Dept. won’t pursue any further its investigation into whether Senate Intelligence Committee staffers took classified documents from a secure facility, nor a related probe concerning allegations that the CIA spied on those same congressional workers.

“The department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation,” spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement sent to the news agency.

Earlier this year in March, the CIA alleged that Senate staffers working on a controversial, yet-to-be-published report concerning the agency’s use of torture tactics after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks had improperly removed classified documents from a protected site and brought them illegally to their Capitol Hill offices. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee working on that report, in turn fired back and said that the CIA has been secretly monitoring the computer use of lawmakers and staff members involved.

During an unannounced speech on the floor of Congress that month, Feinstein said she had “grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the US Constitution.”

There is“no legitimate reason to allege to the Justice Department that Senate staff may have committed a crime,”Feinstein said, adding that she viewed the CIA’s request for an investigation as a“potential effort to intimidate this staff.”

PUSHING UKRAINE TO THE BRINK

These puppets have only been in office for a couple months and they’re already giving away the farm

by MIKE WHITNEY | COUNTERPUNCH | JULY 9, 2014

“The unipolar world model has failed. People everywhere have shown their desire to choose their own destiny, preserve their own cultural identity, and oppose the West’s attempts at military, financial, political and ideological domination.”

- Vladimir Putin

“While the human politics of the crisis in Ukraine garner all the headlines, it is the gas politics that in many ways lies at the heart of the conflict.”

- Eric Draitser, Waging war against Russia, one pipeline at a time, RT
What does a pipeline in Afghanistan have to do with the crisis in Ukraine?

Everything. It reveals the commercial interests that drive US policy. Just as the War in Afghanistan was largely fought to facilitate the transfer of natural gas from Turkmenistan to the Arabian Sea, so too, Washington engineered the bloody coup in Kiev to cut off energy supplies from Russia to Europe to facilitate the US pivot to Asia.

This is why policymakers in Washington are reasonably satisfied with the outcome of the war in Afghanistan despite the fact that none of the stated goals were achieved. Afghanistan is not a functioning democracy with a strong central government, drug trafficking has not been eradicated, women haven’t been liberated, and the infrastructure and school systems are worse than they were before the war. By every objective standard the war was a failure. But, of course, the stated goals were just public relations blather anyway. They don’t mean anything. What matters is gas, namely the vast untapped reserves in Turkmenistan that could be extracted by privately-owned US corporations who would use their authority to control the growth of US competitors or would-be rivals like China. That’s what the war was all about. The gas is going to be transported via a pipeline from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to the Arabian sea, eschewing Russian and Iranian territory. The completion of the so called TAPI pipeline will undermine the development of an Iranian pipeline, thus sabotaging the efforts of a US adversary.

The TAPI pipeline illustrates how Washington is aggressively securing the assets it needs to maintain its dominance for the foreseeable future. Now, check this out from The Express Tribune, July 5:

“Officials of Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan are set to meet in Ashgabat next week to push ahead with a planned transnational gas pipeline connecting the four countries and reach a settlement on the award of the multi-billion-dollar project to US companies.

“The US is pushing the four countries to grant the lucrative pipeline contract to its energy giants. Two US firms – Chevron and ExxonMobil – are in the race to become consortium leaders, win the project and finance the laying of the pipeline,” a senior government official said while talking to The Express Tribune.

Washington has been lobbying for the gas supply project, called Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (Tapi) pipeline, terming it an ideal scheme to tackle energy shortages in Pakistan. On the other side, it pressed Islamabad to shelve the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline because of a nuclear standoff with Tehran…

According to officials, Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will lead a delegation at the meeting of the TAPI pipeline steering committee on July 8 in Ashgabat.

…At present, bid documents are being prepared in consultation with the Asian Development Bank, which is playing the role of transaction adviser. The documents will be given to the two companies only for taking part in the tender.

Chevron is lobbying in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to clinch a deal, backed by the US State Department. However, other companies could also become part of the consortium that will be led either by Chevron or ExxonMobil.” (TAPI pipeline: Officials to finalise contract award in Ashgabat next week, The Express Tribune)
So the pipeline plan is finally moving forward and, as the article notes, “The documents will be given to the two companies only for taking part in the tender.”

Nice, eh? So the State Department applies a little muscle and “Voila”, Chevron and Exxon clinch the deal. How’s that for a free market?

And who do you think is going to protect that 1,000 mile stretch of pipeline through hostile Taliban-controlled Afghanistan?

Why US troops, of course, which is why US military bases are conveniently located up an down the pipeline route. Coincidence?

Not on your life. Operation “Enduring Freedom” is a bigger hoax than the threadbare war on terror.

So let’s not kid ourselves. The war had nothing to do with liberating women or bringing democracy to the unwashed masses. It was all about power politics and geostrategic maneuvering; stealing resources, trouncing potential rivals, and beefing up profits for the voracious oil giants. Who doesn’t know that already? Here’s more background from the Wall Street Journal:

“Earlier this month, President Obama sent a letter to (Turkmenistan) President Berdimuhamedow emphasizing a common interest in helping develop Afghanistan and expressing Mr. Obama’s support for TAPI and his desire for a major U.S. firm to construct it.

…Progress on TAPI will also jump-start many of the other trans-Afghan transport projects—including roads and railroads—that are at the heart of America’s “New Silk Road Strategy” for the Afghan economy.

The White House should understand that if TAPI isn’t built, neither U.S. nor U.N. sanctions will prevent Pakistan from building a pipeline from Iran.” (The Pipeline That Could Keep the Peace in Afghanistan, Wall Street Journal)
Can you see what’s going on? Afghanistan, which is central to Washington’s pivot strategy, is going to be used for military bases, resource extraction and transportation. That’s it. There’s not going to be any reconstruction or nation building. The US doesn’t do that anymore. This is the stripped-down, no-frills, 21st century imperialism. “No nation for you, buddy. Just give us your gas and off we’ll go.” That’s how the system works now. It’s alot like Iraq –the biggest hellhole on earth–where “oil production has surged to its highest level in over 30 years”. (according to the Wall Street Journal) And who’s raking in the profits on that oil windfall?

Why the oil giants, of course. (ExxonMobil, BP and Shell) Maybe that’s why you never read about what a terrible mistake the war was. Because for the people who count, it really wasn’t a mistake at all. In fact, it all worked out pretty well.

Of course, the US will support the appearance of democracy in Kabul, but the government won’t have any real power beyond the capital. It never did anyway. (Locals jokingly called Karzai the “mayor of Kabul”) As for the rest of the country; it will be ruled by warlords as it has been since the invasion in 2001. (Remember the Northern Alliance? Hate to break the news, but they’re all bloodthirsty, misogynist warlords who were reinstated by Rumsfeld and Co.)

This is the new anarchic “Mad Max” template Washington is applying wherever it intervenes. The intention is to dissolve the nation-state in order to remove any obstacle to resource extraction, which is why failed states are popping up wherever the US sticks its big nose. It’s all by design. Chaos is the objective. Simply put: It’s easier to steal whatever one wants when there’s no center of power to resist.

This is why political leaders in Europe are so worried, because they don’t like the idea of sharing a border with Somalia, which is exactly what Ukraine is going to look like when the US is done with it.

In Ukraine, the US is using a divide and conquer strategy to pit the EU against trading partner Moscow. The State Department and CIA helped to topple Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych and install a US stooge in Kiev who was ordered to cut off the flow of Russian gas to the EU and lure Putin into a protracted guerilla war in Ukraine. The bigwigs in Washington figured that, with some provocation, Putin would react the same way he did when Georgia invaded South Ossetia in 2006. But, so far, Putin has resisted the temptation to get involved which is why new puppet president Petro Poroshenko has gone all “Jackie Chan” and stepped up the provocations by pummeling east Ukraine mercilessly. It’s just a way of goading Putin into sending in the tanks.
But here’s the odd part: Washington doesn’t have a back-up plan. It’s obvious by the way Poroshenko keeps doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. That demonstrates that there’s no Plan B. Either Poroshenko lures Putin across the border and into the conflict, or the neocon plan falls apart, which it will if they can’t demonize Putin as a “dangerous aggressor” who can’t be trusted as a business partner.

So all Putin has to do is sit-tight and he wins, mainly because the EU needs Moscow’s gas. If energy supplies are terminated or drastically reduced, prices will rise, the EU will slide back into recession, and Washington will take the blame. So Washington has a very small window to draw Putin into the fray, which is why we should expect another false flag incident on a much larger scale than the fire in Odessa. Washington is going to have to do something really big and make it look like it was Moscow’s doing. Otherwise, their pivot plan is going to hit a brick wall. Here’s a tidbit readers might have missed in the Sofia News Agency’s novinite site:

“Ukraine’s Parliament adopted .. a bill under which up to 49% of the country’s gas pipeline network could be sold to foreign investors. This could pave the way for US or EU companies, which have eyed Ukrainian gas transportation system over the last months.

…Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was earlier quoted as saying that the bill would allow Kiev to “attract European and American partners to the exploitation and modernization of Ukraine’s gas transportation,” in a situation on Ukraine’s energy market he described as “super-critical”. Critics of the bill have repeatedly pointed the West has long been interest in Ukraine’s pipelines, with some seeing in the Ukrainian revolution a means to get access to the system. (Ukraine allowed to sell up to 49% of gas pipeline system, novinite.com)
Boy, you got to hand it to the Obama throng. They really know how to pick their coup-leaders, don’t they? These puppets have only been in office for a couple months and they’re already giving away the farm.

And, such a deal! US corporations will be able to buy up nearly half of a pipeline that moves 60 percent of the gas that flows from Russia to Europe. That’s what you call a tollbooth, my friend; and US companies will be in just the right spot to gouge Moscow for every drop of natural gas that transits those pipelines. And gouge they will too, you can bet on it.

Is that why the State Department cooked up this loony putsch, so their fatcat, freeloading friends could rake in more dough?

This also explains why the Obama crowd is trying to torpedo Russia’s other big pipeline project called Southstream. Southstream is a good deal for Europe and Russia. On the one hand, it would greatly enhance the EU’s energy security, and on the other, it will provide needed revenues for Russia so they can continue to modernize, upgrade their dilapidated infrastructure, and improve standards of living. But “the proposed pipeline (which) would snake about 2,400 kilometers, or roughly 1,500 miles, from southern Russia via the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and ultimately Austria. (and) could handle about 60 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year, enough to allow Russian exports to Europe to largely bypass Ukraine” (New York Times) The proposed pipeline further undermines Washington’s pivot strategy, so Obama, the State Department and powerful US senators (Ron Johnson, John McCain, and Chris Murphy) are doing everything in their power to torpedo the project.

“What gives Vladimir Putin his power and control is his oil and gas reserves and West and Eastern Europe’s dependence on them,” Senator Johnson said in an interview. “We need to break up his stranglehold on energy supplies. We need to bust up that monopoly.” (New York Times)

What a bunch of baloney. Putin doesn’t have a monopoly on gas. Russia only provides 30 percent of the gas the EU uses every year. And Putin isn’t blackmailing anyone either. Countries in the EU can either buy Russian gas or not buy it. It’s up to them. No one has a gun to their heads. And Gazprom’s prices are competitive too, sometimes well-below market rates which has been the case for Ukraine for years, until crackpot politicians started sticking their thumb in Putin’s eye at every opportunity; until they decided that that they didn’t have to pay their bills anymore because, well, because Washington told them not to pay their bills. That’s why.

Ukraine is in the mess it’s in today for one reason, because they decided to follow Washington’s advice and shoot themselves in both feet. Their leaders thought that was a good idea. So now the country is broken, penniless and riven by social unrest. Regrettably, there’s no cure for stupidity.

The neocon geniuses apparently believe that if they sabotage Southstream and nail down 49 percent ownership of Ukraine’s pipeline infrastructure, then the vast majority of Russian gas will have to flow through Ukrainian pipelines. They think that this will give them greater control over Moscow. But there’s a glitch to this plan which analyst Jeffrey Mankoff pointed out in an article titled “Can Ukraine Use Its Gas Pipelines to Threaten Russia?”. Here’s what he said:

“The biggest problem with this approach is a cut in gas supplies creates real risks for the European economy… In fact, Kyiv’s efforts to siphon off Russian gas destined to Europe to offset the impact of a Russian cutoff in January 2009 provide a window onto why manipulating gas supplies is a risky strategy for Ukraine. Moscow responded to the siphoning by halting all gas sales through Ukraine for a couple of weeks, leaving much of eastern and southern Europe literally out in the cold. European leaders reacted angrily, blaming both Moscow and Kyiv for the disruption and demanding that they sort out their problems. While the EU response would likely be somewhat more sympathetic to Ukraine today, Kyiv’s very vulnerability and need for outside financial support makes incurring European anger by manipulating gas supplies very risky.” (Can Ukraine Use Its Gas Pipelines to Threaten Russia, two paragraphs)
The funny thing about gas is that, when you stop paying the bills, they turn the heat off. Is that hard to understand?

So, yes, the State Department crystal-gazers and their corporate-racketeer friends might think they have Putin by the shorthairs by buying up Ukraine’s pipelines, but the guy who owns the gas (Gazprom) is still in the drivers seat. And he’s going to do what’s in the best interests of himself and his shareholders. Someone should explain to John Kerry that that’s just how capitalism works.

Washington’s policy in Ukraine is such a mess, it really makes one wonder about the competence of the people who come up with these wacko ideas. Did the brainiacs who concocted this plan really think they’d be able to set up camp between two major trading partners, turn off the gas, reduce a vital transit country into an Iraq-type basketcase, and start calling the shots for everyone in the region?

It’s crazy.

Europe and Russia are a perfect fit. Europe needs gas to heat its homes and run its machinery. Russia has gas to sell and needs the money to strengthen its economy. It’s a win-win situation. What Europe and Russia don’t need is the United States. In fact, the US is the problem. As long as US meddling persists, there’s going to be social unrest, division, and war. It’s that simple. So the goal should be to undermine Washington’s ability to conduct these destabilizing operations and force US policymakers to mind their own freaking business. That means there should be a concerted effort to abandon the dollar, ditch US Treasuries, jettison the petrodollar system, and force the US to become a responsible citizen that complies with International law.

It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen, mainly because everyone is sick and tired of all the troublemaking.

‘Second CIA spy in Germany': Berlin raids Ministry of Defense

German authorities have carried out a raid on the residence of a defense ministry official suspected of passing secrets to the US, just one week after the arrest of a German intelligence officer who worked as a double agent.

Officials from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday that residential and office premises of the staff of the Federal Ministry of Defense in Berlin were searched on “initial suspicion of activity for an intelligence agency.”

According to the German newspaper Die Welt, a soldier of the Bundeswehr is suspected of committing espionage. The individual was said to have made “intensive contacts” with alleged US intelligence officials and was under the surveillance of the Military Intelligence (MAD) some time ago.

“When sufficient evidence existed, the case was handed over to the federal prosecutor,” security sources told the paper.

The news comes just one week after a 31-year-old German intelligence official was arrested on suspicion of spying for a “foreign power” since 2012. German media reported the double agent, who has not been identified, worked on behalf of the CIA..

Meanwhile, the United States has not denied allegations that the German intelligence officer arrested earlier was passing secret files to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Reuters)U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Reuters)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on Monday following the initial spy investigations, declaring, “It would be a clear contradiction of what I consider to be trusting co-operation” with the United States.

Americans admit to recruiting German spy

Relations between Berlin and Washington, representatives of NATO’s two largest members, were already strained after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden last year released documents showing that the NSA was conducting wide-scale surveillance on German citizens’ communications – up to and including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cellphone.

US Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Friday following news of the first case. A German official who spoke on condition of anonymity told AP that Emerson was at the ministry again on Wednesday, although the reason for the latest meeting was not publicly announced.

UK Military’s Secret Plan to Train Syrian Rebels to Topple Bashar al-Assad

General Sir David Richards’ bid for 100,000-strong force had support from US heavyweights but was shelved as too risky

The British military drew up a secret plan two years ago to train a 100,000-strong Syrian rebel force aimed at toppling president Bashar al-Assad.

The plan was the brainchild of General Sir David Richards, then chief of staff. The military regularly draws up contingency plans for all kinds of scenarios, but this one was considered more seriously than most and widely circulated – including to Downing Street and senior US military staff. It was shelved as being too risky.

The Ministry of Defence declined to confirm or comment. But according to the BBC, Richards proposed an international coalition to vet and train an army of moderate Syrian rebels at bases in Turkey and Jordan for about a year.

It would then march on Damascus, with air cover from western forces and Gulf allies. The plan was drawn up at a time of strong support in the UK and US governments for intervention in the Syrian civil war by arming and training the rebels. Among prominent supporters in the US were then secretary of state Hillary Clinton, then defence secretary Leon Panetta and David Petraeus, who served as the head of the CIA as well as the head of US central command and the coalition forces in Afghanistan.

But Barack Obama, who had devoted much of his presidency to getting US troops out of Iraq, opposed the prospect of becoming caught up in another Middle East conflict – particularly arming rebels from hardline militant groups hostile to the US.

Any chance of British involvement was finally scuppered when MPs voted against action in August last year.

Lord Richards’ proposal was aimed at ending a civil war estimated to have cost more than 100,000 lives.

Two years on, Obama – worried about increased instability in the region – has had a rethink as hardline militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is taking over swaths of Iraq and parts of Syria. He has asked Congress to approve $500m (£291m) in funding to train Syrian rebels.

Monzer Akbik, from opposition group the Syrian National Coalition, told the BBC: “A huge opportunity was missed and that opportunity could have saved tens of thousands of lives actually and could have saved also a huge humanitarian catastrophe.

“The international community did not intervene to prevent those crimes and at the same time it did not actively support the moderate elements on the ground.”

GOVERNMENT STOPS GLENN GREENWALD FROM PUBLISHING HIS BIG SNOWDEN REVELATION

GOVERNMENT STOPS GLENN GREENWALD FROM PUBLISHING HIS BIG SNOWDEN REVELATION

But Others Will Release ALL of the Snowden Documents to Prevent a War

by WASHINGTON’S BLOG | JULY 1, 2014

It’s been a dramatic day for whistleblowing news.

A month ago, Glenn Greenwald announced that he was going to publish his biggest story yet: the names of those the NSA has been spying on.

Earlier today, Greenwald tweeted that he would finally publish the story tonight at midnight.

8 hours later, he tweeted:

After 3 months working on our story, USG [the United States government] today suddenly began making new last-minute claims which we intend to investigate before publishing
Many responded that it’s a trap, and that the government is dishonestly and illegally censoring Greewald.

At the same time, Cryptome announced that all of the Snowden documents will be released in July … supposedly in order to avert a war.

As the Daily Register notes:

All the remaining Snowden documents will be released next month, according t‪o‬ whistle-blowing site ‪Cryptome, which said in a tweet that the release of the info by unnamed third parties would be necessary to head off an unnamed “war”.‬

‪Cryptome‬ said it would “aid and abet” the release of “57K to 1.7M” new documents that had been “withheld for national security-public debate [sic]“.

The site clarified that will not be publishing the documents itself.

***

“July is when war begins unless headed off by Snowden full release of crippling intel. After war begins not a chance of release,” Cryptome tweeted on its official feed. “Warmongerers are on a rampage. So, yes, citizens holding Snowden docs will do the right thing,” it said.

“For more on Snowden docs release in July watch for Ellsberg, special guest and others at HOPE, July 18-20: http://www.hope.net/schedule.html,” it added.