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February 2018

Part 8: From Magnitsky to Steele to Total Information War Diana West

Now for the pivot.

Recall that just as Fusion GPS was working on behalf of the DNC and Hillary campaign in 2016, it was also working on behalf of a law firm defending the Prevezon case, a money-laundering case the US government brought against Russian national Dennis Katsyv. Katsyv’s Russian lawyer was Natalia Veselnitskaya. Yes, that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the one who met with Don Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016. (Some thoughts on Veselnitskaya’s little-noticed Senate testimony here.)

The Prevezon case was based on evidence provided by ex-American Bill Browder, a British citizen who became a billionaire in Russia. This evidence would go largely “unvetted,” as we say post-“dossier.” In his deposition, the primary US investigator on the case admitted as much. So, too, did the the author of a Council of Europe special report on the death of Browder’s accountant, Sergei Magnitsky. The connection here is that Magnitsky’s miserable death in a Russian prison is the basis of Browder’s campaign to sanction “complicit” Russians, which is a basis of the Prevezon law suit. Hence, the defense team effort, assisted by Fusion GPS research, to shred Browder’s evidence.

It is an odd feature of our caricature world that even to question Browder’s Magnitsky story is to “support Putin.” There is simply no other conceivable position or consideration in the public square, as administered by the Left and kindred Right. Thus, Fusion GPS, its key credentials for functioning in that public square tarnished by its anti-Browder/”pro-Putin” research, issued a statement negating the implications of that research to profess institutional support for Browder. Describing the firm’s role as collecting facts, Fusion GPS stated: “Occasionally, the facts turn out to be helpful to people we deplore, like Vladimir Putin, or undermine people for whom we have considerable sympathy, like William Browder.”

This was a brief but fascinating insight into Fusion GPS’s confessional mindset. The firm may well have uncovered evidence undermining the veracity of the Browder story, calling into gravest question his consequential international campaign, but evidence has no bearing on Fusion GPS’s “considerable sympathy” for the man. Professing anything less is to stray from the orthodoxy, and deviations will not be tolerated. This reminds me of … a lot of things, including the sundering of facts from conclusions historically associated with ideological, especially communist, zealotry. Note Fusion GPS resident Russia-expert Nellie Ohr and her apologetics on the Ukraine Terror Famine, and other “agonizing paradoxes” of Stalin’s communist dictatorship.

Part 7: A Red Thread Through Foggy Bottom by: Diana West

Last week, Sens. Grassley and Graham sent out a “batch of letters” listing 12 questions for (1) DNC Chair Tom Perez (c/o Perkins Coie’s Marc E. Elias); (2) Hillary for America campaign chairman Robby Mook (c/o Marc Elias); (3) former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schulz; (4) former DNC Chair Donna Brazile; (5) Hillary for America chairman John Podesta (c/o Marc Elias); (6) chief strategist Hillary for America Joel Benenson.

These are the top officials whose organizations, the Democratic National Committee and Hillary for America, bought and paid for the Trump-Russia “dossier,” brokered from Kremlin sources by retired MI6 agent Christopher Steele, under contract to GPS Fusion, and, to an unclear extent, the FBI.

What the senators seem be asking, in a nutshell, is whether these DNC/Hillary officials were charter members of the anti-Trump “coup.” Hard to imagine much in the way of voluntary answers. The questions, though, crack a little light on the direction of their investigation.

Question No. 12 is an eye-opener. It lists 40 people and entities from whom the senators seek dossier-client-communications “to, from, copying, or relating to.”

These include the Fusion GPS team; Christopher Steele and British associates; one genuine “Putin-linked” Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, and his British lawyer, Paul M. Hauser; two old Clinton circle intimates, “hatchet man” Sidney Blumenthal and “shady” Cody Shearer, who, we have recently learned, prepared a second anti-Trump report, which Steele also passed to the FBI; and, of course, the DOJ/FBI group.

The senators also want to see dossier-client communications with former DCIA and Gus-Hall-voter John Brennan, heretofore clinging to the outer, darker edges of the “coup” web; also Daniel J. Jones, a former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer for Senator Feinstein. Ditto for whether the DNC/Hillary officials were communicating about the Steele “dossier” with State Department officials Jon Winer, Kathaleen Kavalec, Victoria Nuland.

What a very wide web of subversion Question No. 12 pencils in! Whether all of these people participated in the Dossier Conspiracy remains to be seen. However, ties already criss-cross the web in the case of Clinton associates Blumenthal, Shearer and State Department official Jonathan Winer.

Why Are European Governments So Terrified of ‘Fake News’? by Judith Bergman

When Swedish authorities representing a Swedish left-wing government and media announce a project to prevent “fake news” from “decisively influencing” the 2018 elections, this ought to set off loud alarm bells among Swedes. Who determines what constitutes “fake news” anyway? Is it not the very essence of “fake news” when a media outlet refuses to report mass sexual assaults, because the perpetrators happen to be foreigners from third world countries?

A British Cabinet Office spokesperson told Sky News: “The Government is committed to tackling false information and the Government Communications Service plays a crucial role in this”. Perhaps their “rapid response fake news unit” should begin with Theresa May herself, who falsely and against all factual evidence continues to claim that Islam is a religion of peace and that ISIS is not Islamic.

Meanwhile, European citizens continue to face costly legal prosecution for refusing to accept the fake news about Islam propagated by people such as Theresa May.

“I also thought that Islam was just a normal religion, but then I read the Koran and became shocked by the hatred that exists there, the misogyny… The more Islam takes over, the more we compromise. Islam is a totalitarian ideology, which means dictatorship. So, I believe that our democratic system is in danger… I hate no people. What I hate is ideology, Islam. One can criticize fascism or Nazism, but why not Islam? Why should Islam have any protection status?” — Denny, on trial in Sweden for “incitement to hatred” for calling Islam “a fascist ideology” on Facebook. If found guilty, he faces up to two years in prison.

The Swedish government’s innovation agency, Vinnova, is financing a project led by the combined forces of Swedish mainstream media to, in the words of Vinnova, “prevent fake news and unfounded statements from spreading and playing a decisive role in the Swedish elections in 2018”. The next elections, which take place every four years, are scheduled to take place on September 9, 2018. The Swedish media giants involved in the project consist of Swedish State Television, Swedish State Radio, Bonnier, Schibsted Sverige, and NTM. Together, these media companies effectively own Swedish mainstream media in the form of newspapers, online news outlets, and state and private television and radio. The Swedish state is financing the technical aspects of the project with 1.9 million Swedish kroner ($240,000), while the Swedish mainstream media is financing the remaining project costs themselves. The “fake news” project was originally launched in October 2017.

Iran: Speaking Swedish, Acting North Korean by Amir Taheri

For the past decade, February, part of which coincides with the month of Bahman on the Iranian calendar, has been marked by febrile political activities in Iran under the Khomeinist regime. February 1 marks the anniversary of the late ayatollah’s return to Tehran after 16 years in exile. And February 11, regarded as the crescendo of the Iranian Revolution, marks the day that Shapour Bakhtiar, the last Prime Minister to be named by the Shah, went into hiding, leaving a vacuum quickly filled by Khomeini’s supporters visibly surprised by the ease with which they had won power.

There were no revolutionary battles, no dramatic ups-and-downs, and, on a personal level, no opportunity for heroic shenanigans.

The Khomeinist revolution took around four months to achieve victory, not long enough to allow a lot of people to conjure a heroic biography for themselves.

Just a year before the “final victory” on 11 February some of the mullahs who emerged as grandees of the revolution, among them Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati who now heads the all-powerful Council of Guardians of the Islamic Constitution, were kissing the Shah’s hands during audiences for clerics. Other grandees of the revolution like Hojat al-Islam Morteza Motahari were on Empress Farah’s payroll as members of the “philosophical” boutique she had set up as solace from boredom.

The revolution had not lasted long enough to establish its ideological colors.

Israel at the United Nations by Ruth King

Nikki Haley has received great and deserved praise for defying UN standards to defend Israel. Well done indeed!

The United Nations conceived with such hope, has lost its way to bias, ignorance and endless attacks on Israel. The irony here is that the finest speeches delivered there have been by Israel’s defenders.

In 1949, Abba Eban urged the United Nations, still housed in Lake Success, to accept Israel’s membership. His speech lasted more than two hours. He chided the U.N. for holding up Israel’s application with the lame excuse that the “refugee and resettlement” issue had to be investigated. He noted many nations which expelled and dislocated hundreds of thousands were swiftly accepted. He scolded Jerusalem’s Arab authorities for flouting the UN’s resolution declaring Jerusalem an “international city” with access to people of all faiths. He described the desecration of shrines, churches and synagogues. And he addressed the problem of refugees with data and possibilities for resettlement in other Arab nations.

Abba Eban succeeded: United Nations General Assembly Resolution 273 was adopted on May 11, 1949 admitting the State of Israel to membership in the United Nations. It was passed following the approval of UN Security Council Resolution 69 on March 4.

Abba Eban served as Israel’s representative to the U.N. from 1948 until 1959 and as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States. He became Israel’s most effective speaker in the Diaspora. With a courtly manner and perfect diction, rarely checking notes, he defended his nation with zeal and rhetorical genius. The response of the Arab states was laughable. As soon as Eban stood, the Arab representatives walked out.

When he returned to Israel in 1959 he joined the Labor party. In June 1967 Eban, then Foreign Minister, returned to the United Nations to address the Security Council following the Six Day War.

Here are excerpts from his magnificent speech which should be read in full by anyone who falsely uses the word “occupation.”

David Singer: UN Secretary-General Guterres Ignores Jordan-Palestine Nexus

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres displayed how little he knows of the history, geography and demography of Palestine when addressing the opening of the 2018 Session of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (“CEIRPP”). Established by the General Assembly in 1975 – CEIRPP was responsible for the publication in 1978 of a false narrative of the Arab-Israel conflict – “The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem 1917-1947″ (“UN Study”) – which has undoubtedly influenced United Nations thinking and decision-making.

Three examples highlight the falsity and outright bias of this UN Study:

1. Deliberately misrepresenting General Assembly Resolution 181 spoke of a “Palestinian Arab State” – when claiming:

“After investigating various alternatives the United Nations proposed the partitioning of Palestine into two independent States, one Palestinian Arab and the other Jewish, with Jerusalem internationalized.”

The actual wording of Resolution 181 stated:

“Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in Part III of this Plan, shall come into existence in Palestine….”

2. Omitting any mention of the fact that 78% of Palestine had become an independent Arab State in 1946 and been renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan.

3. Falsely alleging:

“The decision on the Mandate [for Palestine] did not take into account the wishes of the people of Palestine”

The evidence contradicting this falsehood actually sits in the United Nations own archives.

The good news about Gaza you won’t hear on the BBC Tom Gross

Donald Trump’s election as US president has meant the whole notion of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ is now very much part of a wider conversation. But for decades before the Trump era, more honest or open-minded journalists were aware that some of their colleagues often didn’t tell the whole truth about all kinds of matters, or cherry-picked what they reported. And perhaps no subject has been so misreported as the Palestinian issue.

Western media has often focused on this issue to the detriment of many other conflicts or independence movements throughout the world. The BBC, in particular, has devoted an inordinate amount of its budget and staff to covering the West Bank and Gaza in thousands of reports over the years. But you would be hard pressed to learn from the BBC’s coverage that, despite many difficulties, Gaza’s economy is also thriving in all kinds of ways.

To get a glimpse of that you would have to turn instead to this recent Al-Jazeera report from Gaza, showing footage of the bustling, well-stocked glitzy shopping malls, the impressive children’s water park (at 5.25 in the video), the fancy restaurants, the nice hotels, the crowded food markets, the toy shops brimming with the latest plush toys (at 8.39 in the video). (This video was translated into English by the excellent Middle East Media Research Institute).

The West Bank also has good quality shopping malls and other prosperous aspects to it. And while, of course, there are also many poor people in Gaza – just as there are poor people in London, New York, Washington, Paris and Tel Aviv – this prosperity among Palestinians is not just for the wealthy. Much of the population enjoys the benefits of it in one way or other. None of this is new. I have written about it several times before, for example, here in 2009 for the Wall Street Journal.

The FBI Was Desperate for Somebody to Spy On The Steele dossier served up an improbable tale about Carter Page, but it would have to do. By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

Now we have it ostensibly from then-FBI Director James Comey as well as former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe that there might have been no surveillance of Carter Page without the Steele dossier. If so, that’s probably because the dossier provided the one thing the FBI lacked and was unlikely to find (because it didn’t exist): a reason to believe Mr. Page was important.

In the dossier accumulated by former British spy Christopher Steele, Mr. Page is a player. He meets secretly with Vladimir Putin’s No. 1 capo, Igor Sechin. Dangled in front of him is a gobsmacking bribe—a brokerage fee on the forthcoming privatization of a 19.5% stake in the giant Russian state oil firm Rosneft. All he has to do is arrange the lifting of U.S. sanctions, as if this were in the power of the elfin Mr. Page to deliver.

The story is implausible. Mr. Page has denied it under oath. Nothing has emerged to suggest the FBI confirmed it. Only Luke Harding, a British journalist who has written a book alleging Trump -Russia collusion, finds it inherently self-crediting. Why? Because Mr. Steele’s Russian “mole” apparently correctly anticipated the Rosneft deal that would finally be consummated in the closing hours of 2016. Even the Russian cabinet and Rosneft’s own board, Mr. Harding wrote last week at Politico.com, “only discovered the deal on December 7, hours after Sechin had already recorded his TV meeting with Putin revealing it.”

This nonsense actually points to why somebody might pluck out of the pending Rosneft deal and attach Mr. Page’s name to it. The partial sale, aimed at reducing the Russian government’s stake to 50% plus one share, had actually been conspicuously on the agenda for years. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree in 2014, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov started touting the expected proceeds in 2015, and Mr. Putin formally included them in the state budget in February 2016. CONTINUE AT SITE

The Feminist Useful Idiot By Eileen F. Toplansky

On Thursday, February 8, 2018, Tucker Carlson featured Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). The portion begins here at 20:30. The interview occurred because Macy’s has decided to unveil Muslim garb – i.e., the hijab. The brainchild of Muslim convert Lisa Vogl, the items are part of Macy’s development program, The Workshop, which “helps nurture businesses owned by minorities and women.”

In the 1999 film titled Shackled: Women, Shiren Samieh explains that “the hijab comes from the Arabic word meaning ‘curtain,'” and as such, it is intended to be “a limitation” so that women are restricted in movement, thinking, and freedom. In fact, Islamic religious leaders maintain that a woman who is not covered will excite men, and women who are uncovered lead themselves to being raped.

In fact, “Islamic law ([s]haria) requires women to cover themselves. The head covering is interpreted as a symbol of male domination by most critics – and many Muslim women, who fight for the right to dress as they please. In 1994, a 21-year-old named Katia Bengana became the first casualty of the renewed Islamist terror campaign in Algeria after refusing to cover her hair. She defended her choice even as the gun was pointed at her head.

Some apologists insist that the veil is not mandated by the religion, although they do not have anything within the sacred texts to counter the passages in which Muhammad instructed its use. In fact, verse 24:60 says that the veil is optional only for unmarried women too old to have children.

That Didn’t Take Long: #BlackLivesMatter Goes to the Olympics By Brian C. Joondeph

Calling a coin toss “racist” is stretching things. So here come the race charlatans

When everything is about race, nothing is about race. The left plays the race card as often as it plays the Nazi or gender card, its hackneyed alternative to any substantive discussion about issues and policy. It’s much like those pull-string dolls: pull the string of a liberal and hear about race, gender, skin color, or immigration status. And not much else.

Race became the National Football League theme this year, as a bunch of privileged young athletes, being paid millions of dollars for playing a game, supported by an organization worth $75 billion, found it necessary to take a knee against the National Anthem. There they were, protesting the very country leaving them on the winning end of such income inequality.

The NFL season, thankfully, is in our rearview mirror for the next six months. Ahead is the Winter Olympics. Will the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger” be replaced by “Skin color and gender – darker and more confused”?

Rick Moran, on these pages, pointed out how the diversity police have infected the Olympic games, with unnecessary commentary on the skin color and sex orientation of athletes. Hopefully, the fastest and strongest athletes are at the games, regardless of identity factors, but we shall see if the virtue-signaling NBC commentators can resist the siren song of identity politics – much as the NFL has done.