The leak of a pirated U.S. diplomatic phone call involving plots to install new leaders in the Ukraine created an extraordinary embarrassment for the United States and illustrated the dangers of pervasive surveillance.
The call involved U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Victoria Nuland, left, one of the country's most prominent diplomats for years. She is connected to the bipartisan neo-con / neo-liberal movement that her Kagan family helps lead along with such powerful media conduits as the Washington Post.
Nuland can be heard saying "F__ the E.U." on the call to U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, right, as they ponder moves to pressure the Ukraine's pro-Russia government and the European Union in hopes of new, Western-aligned leadership for the Ukraine.
Nuland and Pyatt dismissed the prospects for dissident leader Vitali Klitschko, a former world champion heavyweight boxer, to assume a top post in the government.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Nuland said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.” Pyatt agreed.
Also, they briefly mention United Nations Secretary-Generation Ban Ki-moon, with the seeming implication he is a willing ally if not functionary in their plans to reorient the Ukraine's leadership.
"State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki acknowledged that the recording was authentic and said Nuland had apologized to E.U. officials. But U.S. officials were also quick to point the finger at Russia, which has bristled at U.S. involvement in Ukraine," the Washington Post reported. "The recording surfaced on YouTube on Thursday, just as Nuland arrived in Ukraine for talks. It was also widely viewed on a Russian-language Web site, where it appeared online along with a photo montage of Nuland, Pyatt, and opposition figures. The Russian caption reads, 'Puppets of the Maidan,' the colloquial name for Kiev’s Independence Square."
My new book Presidential Puppetry: Obama Romney and Their Masters devotes significant attention to the bipartisan role of the Nuland and the Kagan family in diplomatic affairs, especially in fostering wars and anti-Russian efforts in the Mideast and the former Soviet republics.
Nuland's husband is Robert Kagan, a think tank scholar, Washington Post columnist and one of the most prominent early advocates (beginning in the mid-1990s) of a United States war against Iraq. The Bush administration launched that war in 2003.
Nuland served during that Bush administration at the State Department. After President Obama's election she continued as the main spokeswoman for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
This week's controversy in the Ukraine arose after President Viktor Yanukovych last fall left a trade partnership with the European Union.
He said the country would join a Russian economic alliance instead. "That offer came with a $15 billion loan that U.S. and European officials came close to calling a bribe," the Post has reported.
Nuland, in the phone call, offers to arrange for Vice President Biden, right, to pressure Yanukovych to compromises.
The vice president would give an “attaboy,” Nuland said. Beltway insiders, if no one else, would note how confident Nuland was in predicting if not planning the actions of Biden, ostensibly her superior. The Drudge Report, by coincidence, circulated Feb. 7 a story that Biden was inclined to run for the presidency in 2016 because he could not foresee a reason to rule it out.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States is not trying to influence the political outcome.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise," Psaki said, "that at any point there have been discussions about recent events and offers and what is happening on the ground.”
Publicly, the United States insists that the Ukraine public should decide its internal affairs. However, Nuland made a show of handing out donuts to anti-government demonstrators in December. More important, Nuland's remarks released Feb. 6 conveyed -- as only a tape recording can do -- a tone of arrogance and other authority as a decision-maker.
The Voice of Russia radio interviewed me two times Feb. 7 on the topic. I noted to Washington-based producer-reporter Liudmila Chernova and and later to John Robles in Moscow that my opinions might be regarded as controversial by some, particularly in the United States.
But I asked fellow Americans to imagine their reaction if a Russian or Ukrainian diplomat handed out refreshments to protesters outside the White House seeking the ouster of the leadership. Would we be angry? Would we be more angry if we caught the foreign diplomats conspiring on tape to try to orchestrate with allies in Europe a new United States government?
Actually, we can readily imagine the reaction, I told Robles, by recalling what we know about the War of 1812 against Britain, which invaded the U.S. capital. One result was "The Star Spangled Banner." During the Civil War, Britain conspired with the Confederacy to defeat the United States. These histories may seem unimportant when they are somewhere else. Yet we are not going to reach correct answers unless we try to imagine some of varied circumstances from different perspectives.
More currently, the State Department complained that Russia's government is a likely suspect in the tape surveillance and its release.
Yet any global outrage that the United States might like to generate in reaction to the surveillance is likely to be undermined in relevant quarters by the revelations that the United States is the world leader in such surveillance, thanks to its de facto control over far more Internet and satellite traffic than other countries.
Also, no country undertakes such expensive surveillance without intending to use it. Whether the materials are released publicly or simply used for private pressure or analysis is probably a matter of appearances on the world stage. Finger-pointing and moral outrage are unlikely to be effective when the United States has been caught monitoring the communications of diplomats in the United States and, far worse, all U.S. citizens in ways arguably illegal.
In this scandal, the real problem is not that Russians learned of it or even Europeans. They already know such things occur.
The big damage is that ordinary people obtained a clearer view of the operations of leaders.
So, I further noted in my interview that Presidential Puppetry devotes substantial coverage to the Nuland-Kagan family, especially in a chapter focused on the Romney campaign's 2012 advisers. One adviser was Robert Kagan, for whom I named an entire sub-chapter Fearless Chickenhawk.
Highlights include his attendance at the Bilderberg Group, which is a secret annual gathering of about 130 powerful individuals (along with a few others of more minion status) convened from Western Europe and North American. Members of the Rockefeller and Rothschild families picked the initial attendees, who first met in 1954 at the Bilderberg Hotel in the Netherlands.
The discussions and attendees are secret, but some information has seeped out, including participation by media tycoons such as past and current owners of the Washington Post who refrain from reporting on the proceedings.The meetings are usually in the Washington, DC area every four years shortly before presidential nomination conventions so that the attendees can address relevant issues in ways not publicly known but occasionally reputed to include choice of vice presidential running mates or even secret meetings with candidates unreported by the campaign media.
Here was my take on Robert Kagan:
Robert Kagan, his brother, Frederick, and their father, Donald, were at the forefront of those neo-conservative warmongers who began advocating for renewed United States warfare against Iraq in the 1990s. In 1996, Robert co-founded with Weekly Standard editor William Kristol the Project for a New American Century, which advocated for the aggressive foreign policy that the Bush administration later implemented in Iraq and Afghanistan, with disastrous results. Other founding members included a Who’s Who of the neocon movement, including former Reagan Navy Secretary John Lehman and former Bush United Nations Ambassador John Bolton.
For many years, Donald Kagan has been an eminent professor of history at Yale. His sons, Robert and Frederick, earned their undergraduate degrees at Yale before obtaining advanced degrees, serving conservative government officials, authoring books, and working at quasi-academic “think tanks.” Frederick, a former professor of military history at West Point, is credited with devising the “surge” (i.e., escalation of the war) in Iraq. Robert, a Bilderberg attendee, is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and writes a foreign affairs column for the Washington Post as a part-time contributor.
His wife, Victoria Nuland, is a longtime State Department executive who was an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and was the Bush-appointed U.S. Ambassador to NATO. The Obama administration appointed her as spokesperson for the State Department. This created the not-uncommon situation in Washington whereby a government official’s job was to influence the media while the official’s spouse or other family member was a major policy advocate in the same field.
I seek in the book to show that policy planning inevitably overlaps further with personal incentives and humanitarian and pro-democracy rhetoric.
Neither of the younger Kagans nor Nuland list military service on their biographies despite their frequent advocacy of war around the world. This fits an increasingly common pattern of thought leaders who, backed by the financial power of the military-security complex, create innovative rationales for more government military and security spending. They claim to be independent analysts. One favorite argument is that the president may authorize preventive wars or choose sides in civil wars if he finds a sufficient humanitarian basis for concern, as in Bosnia, Libya, and Syria.
Clearly, the Iraq and Afghanistan policies were humanitarian tragedies and policy follies on a historic scale. By rights, the Kagan family should end its claims of expertise and undertake selfless community service, such as helping disabled veterans at hospitals many hours a week. Instead, both Romney and Obama, to different degrees, welcomed them and their “expertise” to counsel in asserting U.S. power in the Mideast and Central Asia.
Foreign Policy, a prestigious specialty publication owned by the Washington Post, is among those who repeatedly underscore the family’s wisdom and continuing influence. Those connections also served as a reason for Romney to seek Robert Kagan’s advice.
The book segment concludes with this reflection on how the role of the Kagans can be far more important than might seem apparent from their titles, which are impressive but certainly not at the level of elected leaders.
But if you look closely at the diagram of power conveyed by my book jacket above right, you'll see that there is a large hand looming over the leaders at the White House. That hand represents our nation's puppet masters. You'll see also strings. The Kagans exemplify such strings. Hence their arrogance, their power, their ability to endure no matter who is elected. As I wrote further:
Ultimately, the decision to declare war is the most serious the nation can make. That is why it was entrusted by the nation’s founders solely to Congress, the people’s most direct representatives. Timid elected representatives, dependent on the support of the war and security sectors, have gradually ceded that power to presidents, who increasingly lack any military experience and therefore cede responsibility to their panels of experts while largely confining themselves to scoring political points.
As a postscript that helps underscore the power of Washington's permanent government, the Washington Post headlined a story Feb. 11 regarding a White House state dinner to honor France's president as, D.C. royalty turns out for state dinner. The White House photo below shows President Obama delivering a toast.
Sharing in the proceedings, as indicated by the Guest List, were Victoria Nuland and her husband, Robert Kagan, Washington's faithful servants of our royalty.
Related News Coverage
OpEdNews, Ukrainian Neo-Nazis Declare that Power Comes Out of the Barrels of their Guns, Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 27, 2014. Violence in Kiev last week reached civil war-like levels. To the extent that government exists in post-coup Ukraine, it is laws dictated by gun and threat wielding thugs of the neo-Nazi, Russophobic, ultra-nationalist, right-wing parties. Watch the video of the armed thug, Aleksandr Muzychko, who boosts of killing Russian soldiers in Chechnya, dictating to the Rovno regional parliament a grant of apartments to families of protesters. Members of President Yanukovich's ruling party, the Party of Regions, have been shot, had arrest warrants issued for them, have experienced home invasions and physical threats, and are resigning in droves in hopes of saving the lives of themselves and their families. The prosecutor's office in the Volyn region (western Ukraine) has been ordered by ultra-nationalists to resign en masse. Jewish synagogs and Eastern Orthodox Christian churches are being attacked. If a democratically elected president and ruling party are so easily driven from power by armed neo-nazis, what chance do Washington's paid stooges among the so-called "moderates" have of forming a government? These are the corrupt people who wanted President Yanukovich out of office so that they could take the money instead. The corruption charge against Yanukovich was cover for the disloyal, undemocratic "moderate" schemers to seize power and be paid millions of dollars by Washington for taking Ukraine into the EU and NATO. Photo of Kiev violence by Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons.
OpEdNews, Is Ukraine Drifting Toward Civil War And Great Power Confrontation? Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 20, 2014. People ask for solutions, but no solutions are possible in a disinformed world. For those few inclined to be messengers, it is largely a thankless task. We are witnessing this today in western Ukraine where a mixture of witless university students, pawns in Washington's drive for world hegemony, together with paid protesters and fascistic elements among ultra-nationalists are bringing great troubles upon Ukraine and perhaps a deadly war upon the world. Many of the protesters are just the unemployed collecting easy money. It is the witless idealistic types that are destroying the independence of their country. Victoria Nuland, the American neoconservative Assistant Secretary of State, whose agenda is US world hegemony, told the Ukrainians what was in store for them last December 13, but the protesters were too delusional to hear. In an eight-minute, 46-second speech at the National Press Club sponsored by the US-Ukraine Foundation, Chevron, and Ukraine-in-Washington Lobby Group, Nuland boasted that Washington has spent $5 billion to foment agitation to bring Ukraine into the EU. Once captured by the EU, Ukraine will be "helped" by the West acting through the IMF. Nuland, of course, presented the IMF as Ukraine's rescuer, not as the iron hand of the West that will squeeze all life out of Ukraine's struggling economy. Nuland's audience consisted of all the people who will be enriched by the looting and by connections to a Washington-appointed Ukrainian government.
Washington Post, At least 25 killed as Ukraine protests explode into chaos, Will Englund, Feb. 18, 2014. The European Union calls for an emergency session after the crisis in Kiev takes a violent turn, injuring more than 240 people. Deadly clashes between protesters and police in Kiev on Tuesday led to a fire-lit nighttime assault by Interior Ministry troops on the main protest encampment at Independence Square, in what may be a dramatic and irreversible turn in Ukraine’s months-long political crisis. The 28-nation European Union on Wednesday called a meeting of foreign ministers to decide on its response, including possible sanctions, the Associated Press reported. Sanctions could include travel bans targeting the Ukrainian leadership and asset freezes. After weeks of relative calm, trucks and tents burned, molotov cocktails smashed against police shields and banners illuminated by the flames whipped in the strong breeze. At least 25 people were reported killed and 240 injured in the latest flare-up of protests that began last fall after President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a trade deal with Europe and turned to Russia for financial help. For background, see speech by Victoria Nuland at the US-Ukraine Foundation on Dec. 13, 2013 where she describes how the United States has spent $5 billion on the Ukraine in recent years to help it achieve "its European aspirations."
PaulCraigRoberts.org, US and EU Are Paying Ukrainian Rioters and Protesters, Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 17, 2014. A number of confirmations have come in from readers that Washington is fueling the violent protests in Ukraine with our taxpayer dollars. Washington has no money for food stamps or to prevent home foreclosures, but it has plenty of money with which to subvert Ukraine. As I reported on February 12, Washington Orchestrated Protests Are Destabilizing Ukraine, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, a rabid Russophobe and neoconservative warmonger, told the National Press Club last December that the US has “invested” $5 billion in organizing a network to achieve US goals in Ukraine in order to give Ukraine the future it deserves. Nuland is the Obama regime official who was caught red-handed naming the members of the Ukrainian government Washington intends to impose on the Ukrainian people once the paid protesters have unseated the current elected and independent government. What Nuland means by Ukraine’s future under EU overlordship is for Ukraine to be looted like Latvia and Greece and to be used by Washington as a staging ground for US missile bases against Russia.
Washington Post, U.S. diplomat apologizes for profane remarks on E.U. in leaked phone call, Anne Gearan, Feb. 6, 2014. Victoria Nuland dismissively referred to slow-moving European efforts to address the crisis in Ukraine. The top U.S. diplomat for Europe apologized Thursday for comments about the European Union that were — to put it lightly — undiplomatic. “F--- the E.U.,” Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said in a private telephone call that was intercepted and leaked online. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki acknowledged that the recording was authentic and said Nuland had apologized to E.U. officials. But U.S. officials were also quick to point the finger at Russia, which has bristled at U.S. involvement in Ukraine. The recording surfaced on YouTube on Thursday, just as Nuland arrived in Ukraine for talks. It was also widely viewed on a Russian-language Web site, where it appeared online along with a photo montage of Nuland, Pyatt, and opposition figures. The Russian caption reads, “Puppets of the Maidan,” the colloquial name for Kiev’s Independence Square. A State Department file photo shows Nuland at right.
Lawfare, What a Bunch of Babies! Benjamin Wittes, Feb. 8, 2014. Is it just me or is everyone being infantile about the fact that Russia bugged some US diplomatic communications. The State Department is reaching for the smelling salts because, gasp!, they’re spying on us. Meanwhile, Angela Merkel has the vapors because Victoria Nuland said “fuck the EU” in the intercepted call. “Absolutely unacceptable,” says Merkel — who doesn’t seem to mind if the calls of US, as opposed to her own calls, get intercepted but minds very much if they use any salty language in those calls. Look, there’s really only one serious question here: Why were two State Department officials talking about matters that could cause an international incident on an unsecured line?
BBC, Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call, Staff report, Feb. 7, 2014. An apparently bugged phone conversation in which a senior US diplomat disparages the EU over the Ukraine crisis has been posted online. The alleged conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, appeared on YouTube on Thursday. It is not clearly when the alleged conversation took place. Here is a transcript, with analysis by BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus, who says: "Overall this is a damaging episode between Washington and Moscow. Nobody really emerges with any credit. The US is clearly much more involved in trying to broker a deal in Ukraine than it publicly lets on. There is some embarrassment too for the Americans given the ease with which their communications were hacked. But is the interception and leaking of communications really the way Russia wants to conduct its foreign policy ? Goodness. You don't need your own listening station to be clear about Russia's intentions. Russia, he said, "must interfere in Ukraine" and the authorities there should use force against the demonstrators.
AP via Times of Israel, Russia denies leaking tape of US official’s ‘f*ck the EU’ comments; Germany’s Merkel calls American diplomat’s disparaging remarks ‘absolutely unacceptable,’ Staff report with AP, Feb. 7, 2014. An aide to Russia’s deputy prime minister, who was among the first people to post a video online containing a bugged phone call between two US diplomats, says neither he nor the Russian government played a role in leaking the tape. Dmitry Loskutov told the Associated Press by phone on Friday that he was surfing a social networking website on when he came across the video, in which the top US diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland disparages the European Union. He said his decision to repost the video had no connection to his work for the Russian government. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Moscow’s apparent role in publicizing the video was “a new low in Russian tradecraft.” At right, Ukraine President Victor Yanukovych.
Washington Post, A quick guide to the people in the call on Ukraine, Terri Rupar, Feb. 6, 2014. Who Victoria Nuland is discussing in her phone call about the situation in Ukraine. In the call, Nuland, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and State Department spokeswoman, was dismissively referring to slow-moving European efforts to address political paralysis and a looming fiscal crisis in Ukraine. But it was the blunt nature of her remarks, rather than U.S. diplomatic calculations, that seemed exceptional. Nuland also assessed the political skills of Ukrainian opposition figures with unusual candor and, along with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, debated strategy for their cause, laying bare a deep degree of U.S. involvement in affairs that Washington officially says are Ukraine’s to resolve.
OpEdNews, Washington Destabilizes Ukraine -- Only Washington Knows Best, Paul Craig Roberts, left, Feb. 7, 2014. Dr. Paul Roberts, assistant treasury secretary under President Reagan and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has long advocated conservative policies and in recent years has sharply criticized military solutions. The control freaks in Washington think that only the decisions that Washington makes and imposes on other sovereign countries are democratic. Currently Washington is working overtime to overthrow the governments of Syria, Iran again, and Ukraine. Washington has also targeted Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Brazil, and in its wildest dreams the governments of Russia and China. Ukraine has a democratically elected government, but Washington doesn't like it because Washington didn't pick it. The Ukraine, or the western part of it, is full of Washington-funded NGOs whose purpose is to deliver Ukraine into the clutches of the EU, where US and European banks can loot the country, as they looted, for example, Latvia, and simultaneously weaken Russia by stealing a large part of traditional Russia and converting it into US/NATO military bases against Russia.
Voice of Russia, Blaming Russia is natural in US – Andrew Kreig, John Robles, Feb. 10, 2014. Recent comments of a leaked conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in which Nuland said “F-the EU” are causing quite a resonance worldwide. Victoria Nuland is not just a simple diplomat according to Andrew Kreig a Washington based author and analyst. In an interview with the Voice of Russia he points out Ms. Nuland’s background and connections to the Bilderberg Group and chickenhawks in Washington. Her husband Robert Kagen is a long-time Bilderberg antagonist, of first the USSR and Russia, and he along with Nuland are “puppet strings” propagating war and the agenda of a secret government.
Washington Post, NSA collects less than 30 percent of phone records, Ellen Nakashima, Feb. 7, 2014. The agency is unable to keep pace with the explosion in cellphone use, officials say, contradicting popular perceptions that the government is sweeping up virtually all domestic phone data.
Washington Post, Former State Dept. expert pleads guilty in leak to Fox, Ann E. Marimow, Feb. 7, 2014. Government adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim was accused of providing classified information on North Korea to a reporter. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim admitted sharing information from a top-secret intelligence report on North Korea with Fox chief Washington correspondent James Rosen. Investigators in the case also targeted Rosen, calling him a possible “co-conspirator” to obtain a search warrant for his personal e-mail.
Washington Post, ‘Unacceptable’: Germans upset by U.S. diplomat’s gaffe, Anthony Faiola, Feb. 7, 2014. Reacting to a not-so-diplomatic remark on the E.U., Chancellor Merkel defends the efforts of its foreign policy chief. Germans were already smarting from revelations that U.S. intelligence listened in on the phone conversations of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Then came Nulandgate. On Thursday, a video was posted on YouTube in which Victoria Nuland, the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, disparagingly dismissed European Union efforts to mediate the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine by bluntly saying, “F--- the E.U.” On Friday, Merkel, through press attache Christiane Wirtz, described the gaffe as “absolutely unacceptable,” and defended the efforts of Catherine Ashton, the E.U.’s foreign policy chief.
OpEdNews,The Propaganda Olympics, Walter Brasch, Feb. 7, 2014. For Vladimir Putin, the winter Olympics is not about sports or international camaraderie. It's a carefully orchestrated propaganda opportunity to try to showcase the nation's athletes and show the world a Russia that, even with its great culture and arts, may exist only in the imaginations of those who believe in restoring the country's previous grandeur. Sochi itself is not typical city for a winter Olympics. It's a sub-tropical city of about 340,000, located along the Black Sea. Its selection by Russia was to let the world believe that the country in winter is not Siberia but a resort, suitable for tourists.
Washington Post, New electronic ‘eyes’ can track your every move, Craig Timberg, Feb. 6, 2014. A powerful new generation of surveillance tools — able to track every vehicle and person for several hours in an area the size of a small city — is rolling out. More eyes in the sky for police Power station attack raises concerns.
Executive Intelligence Report, Western Powers Back Neo-Nazi Coup in Ukraine, staff report by the Lyndon LaRouche organization, Feb. 7, 2014.
War In Syria News
Reuters, Six hundred Syrians flee besieged Old Homs in aid convoy, Dominic Evans, Feb. 9, 2014. Six hundred people left the besieged ruins of rebel-held central Homs on Sunday, escaping more than a year of hunger and deprivation caused by one of the most protracted blockades of Syria's devastating conflict.
Daily Mail, The last moment of the British jihadist who blew himself up to free Syrian rebels: UK fighter drove truck full of explosives in prison suicide attack, Staff and wire reports, Feb. 9, 2014. Abu Suleiman al-Britani blew himself up outside Aleppo jail, it is claimed. Believed to have driven truck packed with explosives into prison gates. Hundreds of rebels stormed in behind him -- freeing up to 300 inmates.
Al-Monitor, Syrian opposition groups fail to capture Aleppo prison, Alaa Halabi, Feb. 7, 2014. Contrary to media reports, opposition gunmen failed to capture the Aleppo Central Prison. Gunmen from the Islamic Front and Jabhat al-Nusra had declared the start of a battle to “liberate the prison.” The prison was the heaviest so far. From the attackers’ side, a jihadist paper announced the killing of Saifullah al-Chichani, who led the unit that stormed the prison. He had led an army of about 500 Chechen fighters until the end of 2013, when he pledged allegiance with his force to Jabhat al-Nusra.
Guardian, Evidence of 'industrial-scale killing' by Syria spurs call for war crimes charges, Ian Black, Jan. 20, 2014. Senior war crimes prosecutors say photographs and documents provide 'clear evidence' of systematic killing of 11,000 detainees. Syrian government officials could face war crimes charges in the light of a huge cache of evidence smuggled out of the country showing the "systematic killing" of about 11,000 detainees, according to three eminent international lawyers. The three, former prosecutors at the criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone, examined thousands of Syrian government photographs and files recording deaths in the custody of regime security forces from March 2011 to last August. Most of the victims were young men and many corpses were emaciated, bloodstained and bore signs of torture. Some had no eyes; others showed signs of strangulation or electrocution. The 31-page report, which was commissioned by a leading firm of London solicitors acting for Qatar, is being made available to the UN, governments and human rights groups. Its publication appears deliberately timed to coincide with this week's UN-organized Geneva II peace conference, which is designed to negotiate a way out of the Syrian crisis by creating a transitional government. Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is shown at left.
New York Times, Under U.S. Pressure, U.N. Withdraws Iran’s Invitation to Syria Talks, Michael R. Gordon, Somini Sengupta and Alan Cowelljan, Jan. 20, 2014. Under intense American pressure, the United Nations on Monday withdrew an invitation to Iran to attend the much-anticipated Syria peace conference, reversing a decision announced a day earlier. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose decision to invite Iran had threatened to unravel the Syria talks less than 48 hours before the scheduled start, issued a statement on Monday rescinding the invitation. The United States had said it was surprised by the invitation because Iran had not agreed to conditions for the talks, to be held on Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
Washington Post, Book World: ‘HRC,’ inside Clinton’s State Dept. and the political machine, Liza Mundy, Feb. 6, 2014. Deeply reported and ably written by journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, the book [HRC, shown at left] is a step-by-step recounting of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, but it’s also a revealing window into the le Carré-like layers of intrigue that develop when a celebrity politician who is married to another celebrity politician loses to yet another celebrity politician, and goes on to serve the politician who defeated her. Loyalty: such a rich and complex word. It emerges as a theme through the book. In this way, the book tells a number of stories. It is the story of Hillary Clinton’s foray into global diplomacy as well as management of a vast bureaucracy; and of her resurrection from the setback and mistakes of 2008. The authors describe her State Department leadership as strong but not dazzling: a “workmanlike enhancement of diplomacy and development” with “deliverables” that were real but not high-profile — no “marquee peace deal,” for example. But she elevated the stature of State, which lost influence to the CIA and Pentagon during the years when two wars dominated the foreign policy landscape.
Main Justice, Supporting Cast in Christie Scandals: Former New Jersey Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Mary Jacoby, Feb. 6, 2014. When Chris Christie took office as New Jersey governor in 2010, he staffed his administration heavily with former prosecutors from the US Attorney's office he ran as a George W. Bush appointee from 2002 to 2008. It's an extraordinary development that many of those former federal prosecutors are now popping up as players in the scandals now swirling around the governor.
WND, Ayers dishes details on relationship with Obama; Confronts claims that parents paid president's way through Harvard, Jerome R. Corsi, Feb. 6, 2014. Editor’s note: This is third part of a three-part series based on an interview with former Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers after his debate with Dinesh D’Souza. In the first part, Ayers suggest Dinesh D’Souza would take a plea bargain on his indictment for alleged violations of election laws. In the second part, Ayers affirmed he wrote Obama’s “Dreams from My Father” before denying it. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with WND, former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers insisted Barack Obama is a moderate politician whom he barely knew as a resident of his Chicago neighborhood. At the conclusion of his debate with Dinesh D’Souza at Dartmouth College Jan. 30, Ayers repeatedly criticized Obama.
FireDogLake, Homeless: The New Normal, Tina Braxton, Feb. 6, 2014. One day, a young man of about 20 walked up to me on the street and asked me for some change. “I’ve got nothing I can spare,” I told him, “I’m homeless.” Two homeless people in winter jackets. The homeless look just like everyone else. The kid was amazed. “Really?” he asked, tilting his head to the side and studying me carefully. “I would never have thought so. "You look perfectly normal.” “I am normal,” I assured him. “I have human DNA, just like you. But I am homeless. Looks have nothing to do with it.”
OpEdNews, The Propaganda Olympics, Walter Brasch, Feb. 7, 2014. For Vladimir Putin, the winter Olympics is not about sports or international camaraderie. It's a carefully orchestrated propaganda opportunity to try to showcase the nation's athletes and show the world a Russia that, even with its great culture and arts, may exist only in the imaginations of those who believe in restoring the country's previous grandeur. Sochi itself is not typical city for a winter Olympics. It's a sub-tropical city of about 340,000, located along the Black Sea. Its selection by Russia was to let the world believe that the country in winter is not Siberia but a resort, suitable for tourists.
Washington Post, European body calls for less U.S. influence over Web, Anthony Faiola, Feb. 12, 2014.Stung by spying scandal, European Commission says U.S. should have less power over the Internet.
National Press Club, Reporters Without Borders will publish the World Press Freedom Index 2014, staff report, Feb. 11, 2014. Press conference on World Press Freedom Index 2014 on February 11, 2014. The report will be introduced by Reporters Without Borders USA Director Delphine Halgand highlighting the significant trends, rises and falls of countries in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index. Panelists of the discussion will include: James Risen, Honey Al Sayed (Syria), and Huong Nguyen (Vietnam). The World Press Freedom Index that Reporters Without Borders published every year since 2002 measures the level of freedom of information in 180 countries. It reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations and netizens enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect and ensure respect for this freedom. Reporters Without Borders is the largest press freedom organization in the world with almost 30 years of experience. Thanks to its unique global network of 150 local correspondents investigating in 130 countries, 12 national offices (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, USA) and a consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO, Reporters Without Borders is able to have a global impact by gathering and providing on the ground intelligence, conducting cybersecurity workshops, and defending and assisting news providers all around the world.