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MintPress News

MintPress News
22 Feb 2024 | 4:41 pm

1. Deconstructing H.R. 3202: The Israel Lobby’s Persistent Role in Sanctioning Syria


On February 13, the U.S. House of Representatives deliberated on Resolution 3202, the "Assad Regime Anti-Normalization Act of 2023." The following day, the House passed the bill with a 389 to 32 bipartisan majority. Now, the bill moves on to the Senate, where it will most likely pass with similar bipartisan support and a ringing endorsement from President Biden once it reaches his desk.

The bill was pushed with a veneer of Syrian support represented by the advocacy of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) and the Syrian American Council (SAC) – Syrian opposition groups in the U.S. While its aims seem, at face value, to focus on humanitarian issues and a quest for accountability, the reality is much more complicated.

 

The Bill's Stated Aims

The bill was presented to the public as a tool for accountability purely targeting the Assad-led government of Syria and any of its in-country partners. The bill purports to achieve this by "Prohibiting any U.S. official action to normalize relations with any Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad, "Strengthening the human rights sanctions levied on Syria," and" Examining the Assad government's manipulation of the United Nations."

In keeping with the polite presentation of the bill, Moaz Moustafa, SETF Executive Director, said: "We are proud to see legislation that holds the Assad regime and those normalizing with war criminals accountable" as a response to the passage of the bill.

Similarly, on the House floor, House Foreign Relations Committee chairman Mike McCaul announced that "Congress is sending a message that it remains committed to justice for the Syrian people."

 

The Bill's True Aims

While the stated aims seem to be focused on accountability and human rights, the real thrust of the bill was conveniently left unmentioned in the SETF and house representatives' celebratory posts on X (formerly Twitter).

One line, deep within the 22-page bill, reads: "Section 7438 of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 is amended by striking 'the date that is 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act' and inserting 'December 31, 2032.'" This hidden line, left out of all the explainer content dished out by SETF and SAC, extends the Caesar Act, set to expire in 2024, for eight more years.

The perversely named Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 has immiserated the more than 12 million Syrian people living under the government of Syria. Since the enactment of the Act, the percentage of the Syrian population below the poverty line has reached 90%, 600,000 Syrian children's growth was stunted, and cases of anemia in pregnant and breastfeeding women saw a 60% rise.

Described as "unprecedented," as one of the "strictest and most complex collective regimes in recent history," and as the "most complicated and far-reaching sanctions regimes ever imposed," the Syrian groups pushing for Caesar's eight-year extension understandably shied away from mentioning the most crucial part of this new bill, even though they helped provide Syrian cover for its passing.

Caesar Sanctions
None of the four articles written by the SETF mention the extension of the Caesar Sanctions to 2032

As for normalization, although the bill purports to impose only a U.S. policy of wholesale rejection of normalization with the Syrian government, in reality, the bill lists several measures that would threaten a whole list of other countries wishing to restore diplomatic relations with Syria.

The bill calls on the Secretary of State to submit an annual report to Congress detailing a "strategy to describe and counter actions taken or planned by foreign governments to normalize, engage with, or upgrade political, diplomatic, or economic ties with the regime led by Bashar al-Assad in Syria." This annual report must also include "a full list of diplomatic meetings at the Ambassador level or above, between the Syrian regime and any representative of the Governments" mentioned.

The report must also include a list of any transaction of $500,000 or more between any "foreign person located in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, or Lebanon" and any "recipient in any area of Syria held by the Assad regime."

 

Sanctioning Syria: A Washington Tradition

H.R. 3202 is not the first, nor will it be the last, sanctions bill to target Syria. The economic war that the United States has been waging against Syria started long before a Tunisian banana salesman self-immolated, launching what would come to be known as the Arab Spring.

In 1973, as the October War was waging, Henry Kissinger was perfecting his shuttle diplomacy in hopes of breaking the thorn that was former Syrian President Hafez Al Assad. Kissinger tried everything in his arsenal to get the then-Syrian president to abandon the military struggle and resistance of alliances he was waging against the U.S. presence in the Middle East, particularly Israel.

Upon failing to sway Assad's Syria from supporting Hezbollah, Palestinian Jihad, Hamas, and other resistance groups, and once Syria's position was weakened by the Egyptian signing of the 1978 Camp David Accords, the ire of the U.S. State Department and Treasury, fell upon the Arab Republic.

Syria's name was written atop the inaugural "State Sponsors of Terrorism" (SST) list in 1979, along with Iraq, Libya, and South Yemen. Today, Syria remains the only inaugural member still on the list, sharing the limelight with newly added countries: Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.

A timeline showing the membership of the US State Department's State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Source | Wikipedia
A timeline showing the membership of the US State Department's State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Source | Wikipedia

For the past 45 years since Syria made it on the SST list, the sanctions have never stopped. Below is a summarized list of all the sanctions that have been progressively levied upon the country of Syria and its people:

Once the uprisings of the Arab Spring reached Syria, the trickle of sanctions became a flood, and a bevy of bills and executive orders levied an array of sanctions on multitudes of industries in Syria, all culminating in the 2019 Caesar Civilian Protection Act.

Today, Syria is the most heavily sanctioned country per capita in the world. Falling third behind only Russia (after the Ukraine war) and Iran. Syria, however, is much smaller than the valedictorian and salutatorian of U.S. sanctions and orders of magnitude worse off economically, therefore desperately tethered to the international export-import economy for its survival and more vulnerable to the damage of sanctions.

 

Who's Responsible for the Tradition of Sanctions?

Although H.R. 3202 is not the first bill sanctioning Syria, it shares a crucial element with all its predecessor bills that have targeted Syria for the past half-century: the Israel Lobby.

The 1979 bill that introduced Syria to the cruel reality of sanctions was a direct response to Syria's role in the October War of liberation waged against Israel and for Syria's unwavering support of the Palestinian resistance.

The SALSRA Act of 2003 and the Caesar Civilian Protection Act of 2019 – the second and first most robust sanctions bills imposed upon Syria, respectively – were both written by Eliot Engels, a former Democratic congressman from the Bronx.

Engels, a New York Democrat accused of tax fraud, is one of the top recipients of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) money in Congress, with a total of $1,847,342 raised from the Zionist PAC.

Eliot Engel's Campaign Fundraising Sources


Eliot Engel's Campaign Fundraising Sources
OpenSecret's profile of former Congressman Eliot Engel's campaign fundraising sources

As a member of the Arab-Israeli Peace Accord Monitoring Group, Congressional Hellenic-Israeli Alliance, and the Israel Allies Caucus, Engels is perhaps the foremost supporter of Israel amongst his Democrat peers.

One of the first bills he introduced was to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. He also wrote a resolution condemning a United Nations Security Council Resolution that condemned illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and was one of the few Democrats who broke rank and voted with their Republican peers to kill a bill that would have banned the sale of U.S. made-cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia – cluster bombs that would later be dropped on Yemeni civilians by the monarchy.

Eliot Engel saudi arabia
Eliot Engel, center, greets Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, left, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 27, 2015. Carolyn Kaster | AP

Following in Engels' footsteps, Joe Wilson, the author of H.R. 3202, also receives AIPAC money, albeit much less than the man whose work he extended by eight years.

Joe Wilson's campaign fundraising sources
OpenSecret's profile of South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson's campaign fundraising sources

Wilson, a South Carolina Republican who cut his teeth as a young aide working for civil rights opponent Strom Thurmond and later defended his legacy, has also been one of the most ardent supporters of Israel in Congress throughout his service.

Grateful for the opportunity to join my colleagues in a bicameral, bipartisan support of Israel. Thousands gathered on the National Mall to hear the collective sounds of solidarity in the 'March for Israel. March to Free Hostages. March Against Antisemitism.' #StandWithIsrael pic.twitter.com/IKjRr50qnK

— Joe Wilson (@RepJoeWilson) November 14, 2023

In an interview with AIPAC, Wilson, who also serves as the chair of the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, Global Counter Terrorism Committee member, and House Committee on Foreign Affairs member, raised the alarm about threats posed by Iran and the Houthis towards Israel and the United States. He added that he is "grateful for the military service and what America has provided for the world." So extensive is Wilson's dedication to the cause of Israel that he once bragged that a Jewish person described him as "a real mensch," Yiddish nomenclature meaning 'a person of honor.'


 

Syrian Window Dressing

Even the facade of faux grassroots Syrian support that was put forth for H.R. 3202 has shady links to account for its advocacy of regime change and rampant sanctions.

The Syrian Emergency Task Force has been widely documented to have direct funding links to the U.S. State Department and extensive ties to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and AIPAC. The group was condemned for its incessant push to get the Obama Administration to launch a Libya, or even Iraq-style invasion of Syria in order to force a regime change.

Mouaz Moustafa (left) stands with Mike Pompeo, second right, and Joe Wilson
Mouaz Moustafa (left) stands with Mike Pompeo, second right, and Joe Wilson, right, at an event condemning the Syrian government. Source | Twitter

As journalist Max Blumenthal documented for Mondoweiss magazine, SETF has publicly celebrated a donation of $1 million from Cuba regime change organizations in a post on their website that has since been removed.

As for the neocon-aligned 501 (c) Syrian American Council (SAC), a more bloodthirsty front organization for regime change war could not be found. In 2018, as a response to the now debunked Douma chemical attacks, the SAC urged President Trump to "follow through on his tweets Sunday morning, and to take immediate action against this tyrannical regime…by grounding Assad's air force."

In 2017, the SAC publicly lamented Trump's refusal to continue the Obama administration CIA funding program of Jihadist terrorists in Syria, claiming that the $1 billion a year program "was always too weak to tip the scales."

 

Syrian Civilians: Not an American Priority

After the death toll of Palestinian children in Gaza reached a staggering 12,000, skepticism arises when observing the Permanent U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas, vetoing a fourth U.N. Security Resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. It becomes evident that the U.S. establishment's concern for the lives of the Syrian people, let alone non-Israelis in the Middle East, is dubious at best.

United Nations Security Council in NY, USA
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield raises her hand in opposition to a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, February 20, 2024. Photo | Yomiuri Shimbun via AP

Likewise, anyone listening to U.S. special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, characterize the suffering of the Syrian people as part of a geostrategic policy to transform Syria into "a quagmire for the Russians," akin to the U.S. experience in Vietnam can comprehend the true motivations behind H.R. 3202 and preceding bills imposed on Syria.

Lastly, observers noting the statements of Dana Stroul – Democratic co-chair of the bipartisan Syria Study Group (2018-2020), former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East (2021-2023), and current researcher at WINEP – discussing the "rubble" that the U.S. intends to keep Syria in and the "leverage" it plans to maintain over Syria, grasp that the policy of sanctioning Syria and obstructing reconstruction has long been endorsed by the bipartisan consensus in Washington. The driving force behind these detrimental policies has consistently been neoconservative regime change proponents and individuals affiliated with pro-Zionist think tanks.

Biden official Dana Stroul in 2019: via military occupation, US "owns" Syria's "resource-rich" "economic powerhouse" region. And via sanctions, it can "preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back", leaving Syria in "rubble." pic.twitter.com/WmZSfvXrKR

— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) June 13, 2021

In an interview with Joshua Landis, one of the few Independent U.S. experts on Syria, Landis shared his opinion on the crass and transparent language used by the likes of Jeffrey and Stroul, telling MintPress,

They're saying that even if we don't succeed in getting rid of Assad.. At least we lock [Syria] into a stalemate… A stalemate that denies Iran and Russia a strategic Victory."

In describing the U.S.' long-term goals in Syria to MintPress, Landis evokes the Arabic word for swamp or mustanka'a. "The long-term goal of America is to deny Syria as a strategic asset that's got some money, and that can help [Russia and Iran], and so keep it as poor as possible and make it mustanka'a," Landis concluded.

 

Long Term Damage

The Anti-Assad Regime Normalization Bill is the latest in a series of measures that the U.S. has taken against the Syrian people for the crime of winning a regime-change war imposed upon them.

The U.S. hypocrisy on the global stage is now clearly evident to all who wish to see it. While the U.S. condemns and sanctions Venezuela for barring an opposition leader convicted of treason from running in the upcoming election, it supports and even provides IMF loans for Pakistan even after the latter ousted its democratically elected leader who chose neutrality in the Ukraine war.

The U.S. system of rules-based order that has prevailed since 1945 with the establishment of the Bretton Woods Institutions is slowly unraveling. The dollar's strength is waning, and the bite of U.S. unilateral sanctions has become duller over the years, as evidenced by the failure of the Russian sanctions regime.

While the U.S. will undoubtedly succeed in causing another generation of Syrian kids's growth to be stunted, and while it will succeed in bringing more Syrian families below the poverty line during the coming eight years of Caesar Sanctions, it is all the while wrecking any semblance of credibility it might still have on the global stage, and – most unfortunate as Joshua Landis surmised while sharing his thoughts on the new bill – losing its identity along the way.

Through much of American history, America believed that a stronger middle class made democracy and contributed stability in the world. But with this promiscuous use of sanctions, America is betraying its own values to lift people into the middle class. And now by trying to drive them into poverty, and using sanctions as a central instrument of its foreign policy, it's creating deeper anger, and impoverished people who are less educated, and less capable of competing in the modern world. In theory, all this is to promote democracy or Justice … but of course it's not going to do that. It's just going to make people more desperate, more Islamist, and more available to radical ideologies."

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Hekmat Aboukhater is a Syrian American investigative journalist reporting from France, the U.S., and Syria. Hekmat hosts the WhatTheHekmat Podcast and the Conversations With Dissidents show. He has written for The Grayzone and Al Mayadeen. Follow him on X @WhatTheHekmat.

The post Deconstructing H.R. 3202: The Israel Lobby's Persistent Role in Sanctioning Syria appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
21 Feb 2024 | 4:25 pm

2. From Courtroom to Conspiracy: Alan Dershowitz’s Ties to Epstein’s Blackmail Network


On January 9, MintPress News probed a newly unsealed tranche of documentation on official police investigations into and civil lawsuits leveled against Jeffrey Epstein – specifically, papers mentioning Alan Dershowitz. At that time, the veteran Zionist legal activist had been mooted as Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu's top pick to defend Tel Aviv at the International Court of Justice in a case brought by South Africa over the Gaza genocide before almost immediately being dumped due to wide-ranging public backlash.

That Netanyahu considered Dershowitz a viable candidate for the role at all spoke volumes. Both about Tel Aviv's total lack of self-awareness and qualms over negative publicity, but also Dershowitz's intimate connections to Israel's darkest recesses. His role in defending notorious serial rapist Harvey Weinstein in court, and negotiating Epstein's extraordinary 2008 Non-Prosecution Agreement, are well-known. Yet, obvious questions about whether and how these activities centrally placed him in a web of intelligence-connected blackmail intrigue have never been asked.

When the fresh batch of Epstein files dropped last month, Dershowitz – about whom allegations of pedophilia have abounded for many years – was quick to boast of how his name appeared 137 times in the material while claiming the contents fully exonerated him of any wrongdoing. Even if true – and, as MintPress News' previous investigation outlined, that is far from certain – certain documents could point to Dershowitz's complicity in and knowledge of a very different sexual criminality.

 

'Leave It Alone'

The origins of Dershowitz's longrunning friendship with Epstein – or the version he "likes" to tell – are revealed in a July 2019 New Yorker longread. Per Dershowitz, he was introduced to Epstein by his close associate, Lady Rothschild, Lynn Forester. In 1996, she suggested he meet an "interesting autodidact." As an individual with "an enduring fascination with fame, society, and wealth," he eagerly accepted the invitation.

Epstein flew to Martha's Vineyard and visited Dershowitz, bringing a bottle of champagne. "The two men found common interests," The New Yorker recorded, talking about "science…academia…Harvard." They became close friends, and in September of that year, Epstein introduced Dershowitz to his "mentor," billionaire Leslie Wexner. Details of Epstein's purported wealth management business remain sketchy today, to the point some question if it existed in the first place and how, given the distinct lack of a typical paper trail. Wexner was his only named "client."

Epstein and Dershowitz traveled to Wexner's 300-acre estate in Ohio to celebrate their host's fifty-ninth birthday. Other guests included astronaut turned senator John Glenn and former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Dershowitz's assessment was that he served as Epstein's "intellectual gift" to Wexner. Epstein was ever-keen to patronize and be perceived as a patron to academia, particularly Harvard, where Dershowitz taught law from 1964 to 2013. He, sometimes with Wexner, funded new buildings and research programs at the University while serving on assorted advisory boards there.

Accordingly, many eminent figures in academia, science and technology have been linked to Epstein, rousing suspicions they were among his VIP "clients," for whom he arranged sexual encounters with underage victims. In explaining why the billionaire was treated so leniently in 2008, then-Florida District Attorney Alexander Acosta, who oversaw the prosecution, claims he was told Epstein "belonged to intelligence" and thus was above his pay grade. State authorities were instructed to "leave it alone" as a result.

Intensive investigations into Epstein and his personal and professional networks by MintPress contributor Whitney Webb amply suggest that the "intelligence" to which he "belonged" was Israel's Mossad. In her landmark, two-part work One Nation Under Blackmail, she concludes Epstein sexually compromised luminaries within U.S. politics, technology, science, and finance, with Mossad and the Zionist cause the "most likely beneficiaries of his blackmail schemes." This connivance went some way to furthering Tel Aviv's domestic and foreign policy goals.

Speaking to MintPress, Webb says Dershowitz "maintains never having known of Epstein's deviant sexual behavior and crimes, and apparently overlooked his obvious affiliations with intelligence and organized crime, possibly because they shared a devotion to Zionism." She adds that Dershowitz avowedly didn't investigate "any red flags around Epstein," as they were introduced by Lady Rothschild, a member of the family's influential banking dynasty via marriage:

Dershowitz's account of his introduction to Epstein suggests he deferred to Rothschild's power and influence, over his own judgment. Some have observed how Dershowitz's perspective is affected by issues about which he is very emotional, like Zionism. He has shown vindictiveness toward those who have publicly challenged his Zionist leanings, such as Norman Finkelstein, and even taken quotes of an Epstein victim far out of context in an attempt to brand them as anti-Semitic."

 

'Credibility Enhanced'

In this context, Dershowitz's dealings with Virginia Guiffre (nee Roberts), who accused him and Epstein of sickening offenses, take on an acutely sinister character. Meanwhile, his already dubious denials of knowing about "Epstein's deviant sexual behavior and crimes" before and during their extended time as close confidantes are rendered all the more dubious.

In December 2014, Giuffre sued Dershowitz, claiming Epstein arranged for him to rape her at least six times, starting from when she was just 16. The legal action dragged on until November 2022, when Giuffre abruptly dropped the suit, contending she may have mistakenly misidentified her rapist. In the intervening time, parallel suits Giuffre brought against Epstein's "madam" Ghislaine Maxwell and British Royal Prince Andrew, who also allegedly assaulted her, were settled in her favor to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Several files released in January pertain to Giuffre's jettisoned legal action, and a case her lawyers brought against Dershowitz after the Harvard law professor tried to have them both disbarred for their pro bono support of her while launching a "massive public media assault on [their] reputation and character." In September 2015, the unsealed records show that Dershowitz argued in court submissions that, in suing him for defamation, Giuffre's lawyers "somehow waived" attorney-client privilege with Giuffre.

Dershowitz resultantly filed a motion to compel them "to produce documents" and any material in their possession related to their client. In other words, he was determined to get his hands on sensitive, private information and communications involving his accuser, typically protected from legal disclosure. The presiding judge ultimately rejected these demands, condemning Dershowitz's cynical effort to overturn one of the "oldest recognized privileges" in U.S. law for his own benefit.

Undeterred, Dershowitz subpoenaed Giuffre to provide a sworn deposition, as the defamation action against him was ongoing. On the stand, she was relentlessly blitzed with queries concerned with compelling her to reveal information protected by attorney-client privilege and repeatedly invited her to waive those rights. In every instance, she declined. Giuffre's lawyers' action was eventually settled for an undisclosed sum in April 2016.

One might conclude Dershowitz was guilty as sin, desperately flailing to ascertain any dirt his accuser and her attorneys might have on him before defending serious accusations in court. This reading may well be accurate – although an alternative or even complementary interpretation could be that the Zionist legal apparatchik sought to identify what Giuffre knew more generally about Epstein's pedophilic conspiracy in order to warn his friend and client. And perhaps Mossad, their clandestine sponsor.

This suspicion is somewhat reinforced by a glaring, never hitherto acknowledged contradiction. Throughout January 2015, while being sued by Giuffre for sexual abuse, Dershowitz repeatedly took to mainstream U.S. TV news networks, including ABC, daring her to reiterate her allegations against him publicly on the same channels so that he could sue her for defamation. When she failed to appear, the Harvard legal professor charged Giuffre's silence greatly undermined her credibility, demonstrating her allegations were libelous and untrue.


Yet, in late 2019, a recording of an ABC News anchor leaked, in which she openly discussed how a planned 2015 interview with Giuffre didn't go ahead due to direct pressure from her superiors – and none other than Dershowitz himself. He subsequently acknowledged the veracity of that account several times, contemporaneously telling NPR he "did not want to see [Giuffre's] credibility enhanced by ABC." Again, this is extremely sinister behavior. Was Dershowitz simply attempting to protect himself, or Epstein – and the wider blackmail intrigue?

 

'Frequent Guest'

As Whitney Webb tells Mintpress, Epstein was not the only "powerful Zionist accused of sexual misdeeds" in Dershowitz's professional and social milieu. Harvey Weinstein, a veteran Hollywood film producer, was in October 2017 accused of industrial-scale rape, assault, harassment, and other non-consensual sexual conduct spanning a 30-year period. By the time of his arrest in May the next year, more than 80 women in the film industry had accused him of heinous acts.

In the intervening time, it was revealed that Weinstein had availed himself of the services of Black Cube, a private intelligence company founded by former Mossad operatives, to surveil, influence, and intimidate his litany of accusers and journalists investigating his shocking history of sex abuse, in order to suppress the scandal. A veritable army of "ex" Israeli spies and chaos agents, often using false identities, collected a wealth of sensitive information on dozens of individuals, including their personal sexual histories.

For example, one Black Cube operative, working undercover as a women's rights supporter, approached film star Rose MacGowan, who was assaulted by Weinstein in a hotel room at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, claiming they were interested in hiring her for a formal dinner speech. Their conversations were secretly recorded and then shared with Weinstein. And perhaps Dershowitz, who represented the serial rapist in his February 2020 trial, which landed the disgraced mogul in jail for 23 years.

Webb adds that Weinstein was connected to Black Cube by another powerful Zionist and Epstein associate – former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak. Barak has since denied having any connection whatsoever with the company or its associates. Yet, he has a private intelligence firm staffed by "ex"-Mossad operatives all of his own – Toka. In late 2022, it was announced that the company had innovated tech capable of hacking into and altering both recorded and live CCTV footage.

DershandBarak
Then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak poses with Alan Dershowitz at a 2014 pro-Israel event at Mar-a-Lago

It is deeply disturbing that Toka has mastered this abstruse art, and one can only wonder why. In the Occupied Territories, CCTV footage has frequently been used to save falsely accused Palestinians from jail. Even more sinister answers may lie in Barak's extremely close and long-running friendship with Epstein. It has been reported that the former Israeli premier was a "frequent guest, almost a fixture" at the billionaire pedophile's expansive New York mansion before his mysterious death, reportedly by suicide, in 2019.

Immediately before that fateful day, Barak approached Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist and senior counselor to Donald Trump, asking them to assist in a PR blitz to exonerate Epstein. He may well have had more cynical, self-interested motivations, too. He is said to have once joked to his friend that the pair had "nothing to worry about" and they were "safe" from repercussions. In what context they reportedly made those remarks isn't certain, although Giuffre claims Barak raped her.

She has also accused wealthy Victoria's Secret owner Leslie Wexner, whose Foundation paid Barak hundreds of thousands of dollars from 2004 to 2006 for just two research papers, one of which wasn't completed. In January 2021, Israel's High Court rejected a petition to investigate these payments formally. Whether this financing had another, darker purpose entirely is an open and obvious question.

Multiple witnesses and victims alike have claimed Epstein's many lavish residences were equipped with hidden cameras and microphones, used to record sexual assaults and rapes by politicians and high-profile figures he courted. At least one source contends this footage, along with other incriminating material, was collated in personalized dossiers on Epstein's clients for the purposes of blackmail. The billionaire's eventual capture and the risk his powerful paymasters could, in turn, be exposed to means that Mossad would likely be wary about funding such a real-life operation again.

The CIA is known to have concocted numerous plots to forge sex tapes implicating foreign leaders. Toka's tech would provide an alternative means of achieving this same Mephistophelian end, with enhanced layers of plausible deniability and little risk of public exposure. And if that were to happen, Alan Dershowitz would almost inevitably be on hand to secure Barak and his underlings' sweetheart sentences.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist and MintPress News contributor exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. His work has previously appeared in The Cradle, Declassified UK, and Grayzone. Follow him on Twitter @KitKlarenberg.

The post From Courtroom to Conspiracy: Alan Dershowitz's Ties to Epstein's Blackmail Network appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
21 Feb 2024 | 3:14 pm

3. Unraveling Bill Gates’ Global Web of Influence, with Tim Schwab


Editor's Note: Dear Readers, MintPress News' YouTube channel was recently demonetized, and many of our videos made age-restricted. We would greatly appreciate your support by becoming a member of our Patreon page so that we can continue to bring you important stories like this one. Much of the work that we do is supported by viewers like you.

There are few people on Earth richer or more influential than Bill Gates. For many years, the former Microsoft CEO was the planet's most wealthy individual and used his power to corner and monopolize as much of the tech industry as he could. From there, Gates has moved to become perhaps the most powerful man in global health, agriculture and education.

And yet, for all of his power and prestige, Gates is rarely scrutinized in our media. The Seattle native has been careful to cultivate an image of a well-meaning nerd who uses his wealth for good. Our guest today on the "MintCast" is an exception to that rule, being one of the few investigative journalists to critically examine Gates' power and influence. Tim Schwab is an award-winning investigative journalist based in Washington, D.C. His reporting has been published in outlets such as The Nation, The Columbia Journalism Review, The Baffler and Jacobin magazine. His latest book, "The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire," was published in November.

Today, Schwab joins "MintCast" co-host Alan MacLeod to discuss Gates' origin story, how he uses his enormous wealth to negatively influence public health and education policy, his connections to disgraced child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, and to ponder whether there is ever such a thing as a good billionaire.

Gates' influence on health policy became evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he used his funding connections to Oxford University to pressure the institution into their groundbreaking vaccine, telling them that only by partnering with a private corporation could they achieve their goals. Almost as soon as Oxford partnered with AstraZeneca, the latter announced that they would fall dramatically short of the vaccine production figures they had promised, leading to a massive dearth of vaccines for people worldwide, causing untold suffering.

The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire Tim SchwabSchwab also told MacLeod today about the extraordinary influence that Gates' billions had over the World Health Organization (WHO). As he wrote:

One reason that the WHO didn't have the expertise or capacity to manage the pandemic is that its authority had been eroded by the rise of the Gates Foundation. Gates has far more money than the WHO and has taken over key functions of its work. The foundation had also become the second-largest funder of the WHO, which allowed it to shape what the organization worked on and what it didn't."

Few know about Gates' negative influence on global health, however, partially because the media rarely report on it. This is down in no small part to the hundreds of millions of dollars he and his foundation have lavished upon newsrooms across the United States and around the world. Gates is a major funder of many of the most well-known and influential outlets globally, including The New York Times, CNN, NBC, The Atlantic, NPR, PBS, the BBC, Al-Jazeera, El País and Le Monde. MintPress, however, will continue to hold the powerful to account, even if corporate media refuse to do their job.

Listen to or watch the full interview exclusively with MintPress News, and don't forget to subscribe.

MintPress News is a fiercely independent media company. You can support us by becoming a member on Patreon, bookmarking and whitelisting us, and subscribing to our social media channels, including YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.

Subscribe to MintCast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud.

Also, check out rapper Lowkey's video interview/podcast series, The Watchdog.

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Unraveling Bill Gates' Global Web of Influence, with Tim Schwab appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
20 Feb 2024 | 4:30 pm

4. NCRI Exposed: Israel Lobby-Linked Group Tied to Illegal Settlements and Campus Censorship


Even as Israel pounds Gaza into rubble, carrying out what has been described as a genocide in the process, many of its supporters are attempting to change the subject, instead decrying a supposedly new wave of dangerous antisemitism across American universities.

Their evidence for this is a new report from the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI). Entitled "The Corruption of the American Mind," the study alleges that Middle Eastern funding of U.S. universities has helped unleash a torrent of anti-Jewish hatred. Yet, as we shall see, not only does the report contain numerous methodological issues, but the NCRI itself is deeply connected to the Israel lobby, as well as the U.S. national security state, and regularly publishes thinly sourced reports in service of Israeli interests and U.S. imperialism.

 

Campus Propaganda Wars

The NCRI report claims that American universities have accepted billions of dollars from authoritarian countries and that those institutions that accepted Middle Eastern cash saw 300% more antisemitic incidents than those that did not. U.S. universities, they conclude, are hotbeds of Jew-hatred. The report bemoans a:

[M]assive influx of foreign, concealed donations to American institutions of higher learning, much of it from authoritarian regimes with notable support from Middle Eastern sources, reflects or supports heightened levels of intolerance towards Jews, open inquiry and free expression."

The study was widely cited in the media, particularly by pro-Israel partisans eager to change the subject from Israel's bombing of Gaza. Bari Weiss, for example, wrote that "the explosion of antisemitic hate" on campuses had been "fueled by Middle Eastern money." As she explained:

[F]or several decades a toxic worldview—morally relativist, anti-Israel, and anti-American—has been incubating in 'area studies' departments and social theory programs at elite universities. Whole narratives have been constructed to dehumanize Israelis and brand Israel as a 'white, colonial project' to be 'resisted.'"

The clear implication in both the NCRI study and Weiss' report is that domestic opposition to Israeli (or other Western nations') actions cannot be organic. Instead, it must be funded by nefarious foreign actors – a notion that, as we shall see – is a central recurring theme in the NCRI's work.

 

Shady Connections

The Network Contagion Research Institute describes itself as "the world's foremost expert in identifying and forecasting the threat and spread of misinformation and disinformation across social media platforms." Yet its connections to a wide range of controversial organizations raises questions about its neutrality. For one, the primary funder of its $1.7 million budget is the Israel on Campus Coalition, a group that describes its mission as to:

[U]nite the many pro-Israel organizations that operate on campuses across the United States by coordinating strategies, providing educational resources, sharing in-depth research, and increasing collaboration."

"We envision the American college campus as a place where…the anti-Israel movement is marginalized, and where the entire campus community appreciates Israel's contributions to the world," the Israel on Campus Coalition writes on the "about us" section of its website.

If it were not apparent enough that this is a nakedly pro-Israel propaganda group fighting a war on America's college campuses, the Israel on Campus Coalition is, in turn, bankrolled by the Jewish National Fund, a group that works hand-in-hand with the Israeli Defense Forces and builds illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land.

Israel on Campus Funding

The NCRI has also partnered with (i.e., was financed by) the Charles Koch Foundation and the Open Society Foundation – groups that have been involved in funding regime change operations abroad.

It has also collaborated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL is a group in the United States that, under the guise of fighting anti-Jewish racism, has long acted as a semi-official spying agency for Israel. Throughout its long history, it has infiltrated or surveilled virtually every progressive American organization, including Greenpeace, the NAACP, the United Farm Workers, the AFL-CIO, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), and a host of leftist Arab- and Jewish-American organizations. It even spied on figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela and was known to be passing much of the information on to the Israeli government.

An internal FBI memo noted that the ADL was very likely breaking the Foreign Agents Registration Act by acting as an arm of the Israeli state. Indeed, the memo alleged that the group was almost certainly secretly funded by Tel Aviv. In 2019, the ADL announced it was partnering with the NCRI to "produce a series of reports that take an in-depth look into how extremism and hate spread on social media – and provide recommendations on how to combat both."

The ties to the ADL go even deeper. NCRI co-founder Joel Finkelstein started the organization while holding down a job as a research fellow at the ADL and continued to work at both organizations simultaneously for nearly two years, further blurring the line between the two.

Joel Finkelstein Bio

Meanwhile, NCRI lead intelligence analyst Alex Goldenberg is a former fellow at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the primary and most influential Israel lobbying group in the United States. Richard Benson, the NCRI's director of European operations, was formerly chief executive of Community Security Trust (CST), a British Israel lobby group with deep ties to the Israeli state. The CST compiled a secret list of "extreme" (i.e., anti-Zionist) Jewish groups and sent it to the U.K. government and successfully lobbied to block Palestinian activists from being allowed to enter Great Britain.

Many key figures of the NCRI's leadership team also have close links to the U.S. national security state. This includes its CEO, Adam Sohn, who served as Florida Governor Jeb Bush's communications director before becoming vice president of the Koch Foundation.

Paul Goldenberg, meanwhile, was a senior figure in the Department of Homeland Security and led its attempts to counter extremism and radicalism at home. He was appointed by President Obama and reappointed by President Trump as a senior advisor to the DHS. Today, he is a strategic advisor to the NCRI.

The NCRI's strategic advisory council also includes two senior military figures: Loree Sutton, a former brigadier general in the U.S. Army, and (formerly) John Allen, a retired four-star Marine Corps general who was commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Other contributors to NCRI reports include Kelli Holden, a 28-year CIA veteran who rose to become chief of counterintelligence operations at the agency, and Brian Harrell, whose previous roles included Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, Department of Homeland Security and Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security, U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

 

Flawed Methodology

In short, then, the NCRI has deep connections to both the Israel lobby and the U.S. national security state, making its pronouncements on the issue of Israel's war on Gaza and the rise of pro-Palestine solidarity particularly questionable. However, the methodology the group used in their report is equally questionable.

Firstly, the group derived its numbers on antisemitic incidents by amalgamating hard-to-compare data from multiple organizations, including the ADL. But, as MintPress documented in November, the ADL's figures on antisemitic incidents are deeply flawed, as the organization counts pro-Palestine rallies calling for ceasefires as instances of anti-Jewish hatred. Virtually any opposition to the state of Israel's policies is treated as problematic, as the ADL does not only consider anti-Zionism to be antisemitism but, as its CEO Johnathan Greenblatt said: "anti-Zionism is genocide." "Every Jewish person is a Zionist…it is fundamental to our existence," Greenblatt brazenly added.

The NCRI report highlights what it sees as the nefarious influence of money from foreign dictatorships but does not consider whether opposition to Israel could be organic and a natural response to the Israeli government. Moreover, while the headlines concentrate on Middle Eastern money, among the top sources for foreign cash in universities are the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Bermuda and Canada – hardly the destinations many would consider when reading the key findings.

In addition, the lead author of the report is a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, an institution that grew out of a proposal from the first director of the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad.

Even pro-Israel sources have panned the NCRI report. As the conservative Jewish News Syndicate noted, the study "mix[ed] incompatible data," "[did] not present a single example of how undocumented money was spent in a way to impact antisemitism," and concluded that "the impact on campus is 'complex and multiply determined,' which is shorthand for 'we couldn't prove our case.'"

 

Targeting Alternative Media

In another attack on pro-Palestine voices, the Network Contagion Research Institute was also the prime source for a recent Washington Post investigation claiming that conspiracy theories about Hamas' October 7 attack are gaining momentum online. As the Post wrote:

Oct. 7 denial is spreading. A small but growing group denies the basic facts of the attacks, pushing a spectrum of falsehoods and misleading narratives that minimize the violence or dispute its origins."

Yet the article did not attempt to distinguish between wild and untrue assertions and factual reporting from independent media outlets like The Electronic Intifada and The Grayzone, which has shown that much about the Israeli narrative, including the infamous "40 beheaded babies" hoax, was demonstrably untrue. By doing so, the article lumps Electronic Intifada and The Grayzone in with far-right Holocaust deniers. This is particularly egregious since the article's writer, Elizabeth Dwoskin, is a Nakba denier who claimed that before 1948, there was no Palestine and that the area merely consisted of a few "desert bedouins without a sense of national identity."

Despite the Post's dubious claims and lack of hard evidence, Electronic Intifada has already been attacked by groups using the article to limit its reach online. Newsguard – a news rating site and browser plug-in – recently contacted Electronic Intifada and appears to be pushing for the site to be de-ranked and demoted in search results, labeling it an untrustworthy news source, thereby limiting its impact online.

Newsguard purports to be a private and independent company. But it is, in fact, even more connected to the U.S. national security state than the NCRI. On its board of advisors sits the former Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, former Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and ex-CIA Director, Michael Hayden. MintPress News has documented Newsguard's ties to the national security state and has also been targeted by the organization.

Ali Abuminah, the co-founder and executive director of the Electronic Intifada, spelled out the point of these hit pieces and why groups like the NCRI would collaborate with them. "Articles like this in establishment or semi-official outlets like the Washington Post will be used by lobby groups to pressure social media companies to censor us or limit our reach," he said, adding:

There is a whole censorship-industrial-complex, in which governments, think tanks funded by governments and arms manufacturers and big tech companies aim to control what we all say and see online, under the banner of fighting supposed disinformation. They label anything that challenges official narratives to be 'disinformation.' And when you start to break through and challenge their hold on the official narrative (as we have clearly been doing) they come for you."

 

Disinformation About Disinformation

The Network Contagion Research Institute claims that it has "no political agenda." Yet, studying their reports, it becomes clear that they are most interested in investigating the deeds of enemy states. One analysis, for example, published in the wake of October 7 claimed that Iranian state actors were carrying out a disinformation campaign around Israel's bombardment of Gaza, amplifying antisemitic tropes and slogans.

This was far from the only Israel interference the NCRI has run. Another from last year claimed that the vast majority of tweets opposing Zionism were antisemitic, sharing "identical hateful tropes," and that Israel was accused of human rights abuses online far more than any other country in the world – a claim the researchers felt was unfair.

 NCRI Reports Network Contagion Research Institute

A third contended that Instagram is flooded with pro-Palestine bots. A chief piece of evidence, they claimed, was that messages such as "Free Palestine" were often the top comment underneath posts that had little or nothing to do with the war.

The NCRI has also pointed the finger at Washington's chief political enemies. In a report titled "A Tik-Tok-ing Timebomb: How TikTok's Global Platform Anomalies Align with the Chinese Communist Party's Geostrategic Objectives," they claimed that "TikTok systematically promotes or demotes content based on whether it is aligned with or opposed to the interests of the Chinese Government." Meanwhile, they have also alleged that Russia was creating a "disinformation ecosystem" to pin the blame for global food insecurity on the West.

It is telling that the NCRI consistently echoes the Washington line on these issues and appears far less interested in studying hateful content that Israelis or Americans put out against their enemies nor government-backed disinformation networks emanating from those countries. One would only have to look at official statements put out by both endorsing genocide. Furthermore, both countries employ huge troll armies to influence online debate. In the U.S. case, the Department of Defense alone has at least 60,000 workers attempting to police narratives and influence online discussions. But the network of Western fact-checkers and disinformation experts that has sprung up in the past few years never seems particularly interested in investigating, perhaps because they belong to the same broad team.

The NCRI proclaims that its mission is: "to track, expose, and combat misinformation, deception, manipulation, and hate across social media channels." However, when studying the group's funding, key figures and its history of attacking alternative media and defending the state of Israel, it often seems like that is exactly what it is producing itself. If the NCRI wanted to catalog disinformation being spread online, they could start by looking closer to home.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post NCRI Exposed: Israel Lobby-Linked Group Tied to Illegal Settlements and Campus Censorship appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
16 Feb 2024 | 7:37 pm

5. The Threat of All Out War: Yemen Nears the Tipping Point As US Airstrikes Intensify


In the courtyard of Yemen's famous Al Shaeb Mosque, guards of honor stood at attention accompanied by the melody of military music as the funeral ceremony of Yemeni marines killed in the latest round of U.S. and UK strikes commenced. The mourners, many of whom traveled from the countryside to attend, walked alongside a long convoy carrying the bodies of 17 victims as it made its way through the streets of Sana'a. Mourners held aloft photos of the deceased or thrust their rifles into the air while chanting slogans condemning the United States. Several banners peppered the crowd, emblazoned with the label given to those who gave their lives in what many view as a struggle in defense of Palestine: "Martyrs on the road to al-Quds (Jerusalem)."

Seventeen pickup trucks ensconced in green drapes bore the bodies. They were escorted by family members alongside thousands of mourners leaving Sana'a for the hometowns of the victims who hailed from various regions of Yemen. The scene unfolded last Sunday when thousands of angry Yemenis took to the streets of Sana'a and other cities to hold a funeral for those killed by the attacks. "Retribution against American soldiers… We will not abandon our revenge," some mourners proclaimed.

In Bani Matar, 70 kilometers west of Sanaa towards the Hodeida Road, the mothers of Ziad Ajlan and Hashem Al-Sawari watched the convoy from a rooftop as it carried along the bodies of their sons. Ziad and Hashem were not involved in the fighting; they were among a number of civilians killed in attacks launched by the U.S. Navy on the Yemeni mainland one week ago. My son was martyred on the road to al-Quds," Ziad's mother said proudly. "We will not be broken, and we will not abandon Gaza."

U.S. and British officials maintain that their attacks target "Houthi" military positions – ammunition stores and missile launch sites, but the reality of the ground tells a different story. Yemeni civilians say they are blind and indiscriminate and often leave civilians maimed or killed. Assuming the U.S. and UK are acting in good faith, it is clear that their intelligence information is lacking. A truck belonging to a farmer carrying plastic pipes was targeted in an airstrike outside the city of Saada last week. It is believed that the pipes were mistaken for missiles.

This story has repeated itself ad nauseam throughout Yemen since the end of December when the multinational "Operation Prosperity Guardian" (OIR) was launched in a thus-far failed attempt to protect ships linked with Israel from Ansar Allah. This week alone, as many as 40 strikes were launched by the U.S. and the UK, most targeting the coastal city of Hodeida.

Yemen Israel Palestinians US
Coffins of Asnar Allah fighters killed in the U.S.-led strikes on Yemen are transported during a mass funeral in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 10, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP

 

The Fog of War

The danger of Washington's attacks on Yemen's mainland lies not only in exposing civilians to danger but has the potential to spark retaliatory measures taken by Ansar Allah should pressure from the public and family members of victims continue to mount.

On December 29, when U.S. forces killed 10 Yemeni sailors aboard three ships in the Red Sea, Ansar Allah refrained from retaliating. But when American and British bombs peppered mainland Yemen the next month, striking major cities with over 100 precision-guided missiles, leaving civilians dead and maimed, Ansar Allah reacted, carrying out a barrage of retaliatory attacks.

Some Yemeni officials have even hinted that two U.S. Navy Seals that the U.S. government claims drowned while boarding a boat smuggling weapons into Yemen were actually killed in combat. It is not known whether the soldiers were killed in attacks by Ansar Allah ballistic missiles or drones or during a failed commando operation as the U.S. claims, but what is clear is that the U.S. is covering its losses and information about the deaths of the Seals has been highly politicized.

In fact, many of the details surrounding hostilities between the U.S. and Ansar Allah have been cast in a heavy fog of war, and it will likely be years before the truth is revealed. What is certain is that Ansar Allah has caused direct material damage to U.S. military vessels, targeting numerous times with advanced missiles and drones launched. In the wake of every such attack, a statement was issued, reaffirming Ansar Allah's right to take revenge for those killed in American and British bombing raids.

On January 31, the Ansar Allah announced that the American destroyer, the USS Gravely, was hit by several anti-ship missiles. In the wake of the attack, US Central Command (CENTCOM)  announced that the Gravely had shot down an advanced anti-ship cruise missile. Later, reports emerged that the destroyer in question and other Western military assets in the area had failed to intercept the missile until it got within "4 seconds from hitting the U.S. warship."

On January 25, Ansar Allah said that it had clashed with American destroyers in the Gulf of Aden and Bab al-Mandab for two hours. One U.S. Navy vessel was directly hit after a failed interception attempt, according to Ansar Allah, who have been improving their capabilities since 2014, after a failed Saudi-led and U.S.-backed bombing campaign left the country in tatters.

This undated photograph released by CENTCOM shows the vessel that was being boarded by US Navy Seals near Yemen in a raid that saw two commandos go missing

 

Manufacturing Consent

Although President Joe Biden has repeatedly claimed that the United States does not seek to expand the war in the Middle East, the actions of the US military are undoubtedly making the situation in the Red Sea more tense. In the wake of American airstrikes targeting Hodeida on Thursday – for the ninth time that day alone, Ansar Allah Armed Forces spokesperson Brigadier Yahya Saree revealed that the group would take "further measures" within its legitimate right to self-defense in response to the repeated U.S.-UK aggression. In the same statement, Saree announced that the Barbados-flagged British Bulk Carrier ship, the LYCAVITOS, was targeted by naval missiles while sailing in the Gulf of Aden, raising questions about the actual deterrence factor of America's escalatory approach.

Prior to that, the leader of Ansar Allah, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the revolution that the U.S.-backed Yemeni government in 2014, confirmed that any escalation on Ansar Allah's part would be against Israel and to confront American and British aggression and would not target the interests of ordinary Westerners. The comment came in response to claims circulated in the media that Ansar Allah could sabotage a network of underwater internet cables that run through the Red Sea. "We do not plan to target submarine cables, and we have no intention of doing so, and what is reported in the media is a lie aimed at distorting our humanitarian position on the war on Gaza," he said. Many Western media outlets promoted the claim, raising fears over the safety of infrastructure critical to the functioning of the Western Internet and the transmission of financial data. Yemen is strategically located, as internet lines connecting entire continents pass near it.

Airstrikes and claims that internet access may be cut off may be the tip of the escalatory iceberg, according to the government of Sana'a. The Minister of Information, Daifallah al-Shami, held a press conference on Thursday announcing that they have information that the UAE is seeking to recruit agents from multiple foreign nationalities in cooperation with Al-Qaeda and ISIS to target ships in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea in order to confuse and distort operations carried out by Ansar Allah in support of Gaza. According to al-Shami, the move is supported by the U.S.

 

"we will not abandon Gaza"

Contrary to what is being promoted in much of the Western media, which has taken the line that Ansar Allah's Red Sea blockade has nothing to do with the ongoing genocide in Gaza, a review of the targets of Ansar Allah's attacks makes their motivations clear. On October 19, Ansar Allah fired drones and missiles at Israel's southern Eliat Port. In mid-November, the naval forces seized an Israeli ship headed towards occupied Palestine. Shortly after, Ansar Allah publically announced that the Israeli-linked ship would not be allowed to pass through the Baba al-Mandab Strait. Later, they announced that the ban on shipping would extend to all vessels attempting to reach Eliat Port. All of these measures were in support of a single, repeatedly declared goal, which was to pressure Israel to stop its war on Gaza and allow food and water to enter the besieged strip.

With visible sadness and anger, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi enumerated in a televised speech on Tuesday the reasons that motivate Yemen to continue operations to prevent international navigation supporting Israel in the Red Sea – the continued mass killing of the Gazans, renewed American support for Israel, including with lethal weapons and the use of internationally banned weapons against civilians in Gaza, including white phosphorus.

Al-Houthi said that "the Yemeni military's retaliatory strikes in the Red Sea had proven to be effective as it led to the almost complete closure of the port of Umm al-Rashrash (the name of Eliat before Israel annexed it), and all food supply chains to Israel that were passing through the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab stopped by 70%, and prices in the Israeli market rose by 30-50% after ships were forced to divert course through the Cape of Good Hope." Israel, he noted, was one of the largest beneficiaries of maritime trade, with imports in 2022 reaching to $133 billion "thanks to the Red Sea."

Responding to those who question the feasibility of Ansar Allah's position, Al-Houthi said that "Yemeni operations have caused repercussions for ship insurance," noting that insurers are now refusing to insure ships heading towards the ports of occupied Palestine. "Not only that," he added, "but insurance companies require Israeli and American ships to pay additional amounts of up to 50%."

"Our operations at sea led to a decline in Israel's total imports of products by 25% during the past months," Al-Houthi said, "The Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry admitted that the Red Sea operations harmed its trade relations with 14 countries."

Amid threats of escalation and even whispers of a Western-led ground invasion of Yemen, Ansar Allah has reiterated its commitment to its mission. Mobilization, military training, demonstrations, and other activities will be continued as long as the aggression against Gaza continues, it has reaffirmed, saying that operations at sea will continue until Israel "allows food and medical supplies and the delivery of basic needs into Gaza." "The U.S. and UK will not achieve their goals through aggression against our country, and the only solution is to stop the aggression and deliver food and medicine to the people of Gaza," Al-Houthi vowed.

Feature photo | In this image provided by the Ministry of Defence, an RAF Typhoon aircraft takes off to conduct further strikes against Ansar Allah targets in Yemen from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, Feb. 3, 2024. Jake Green | Ministry of Defence | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sana'a. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post The Threat of All Out War: Yemen Nears the Tipping Point As US Airstrikes Intensify appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
16 Feb 2024 | 4:46 pm

6. How Arab States Are Helping Israel Commit Genocide


Palestine's Arab neighbors seem to have taken a bold stance on Israel's genocide of Gaza in a public show of solidarity with Palestinians. But behind those strong words, states like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE are quietly assisting Israel.

These four nations are working together to circumvent the actions of one of the few regional actors who are challenging Israel concretely: Yemen's Ansar Allah. In a bid to alleviate pressure on Israel from the Ansar Allah (a.k.a the Houthi) blockade of the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan have established land corridors, ensuring cargo destined for the apartheid state arrives safely in Israeli hands.

According to Hebrew Channel 13, Israeli-linked cargo ships arrive in the UAE to unload goods. Trucks then transport these goods through UAE and Saudi highways to Jordan. They eventually reach Israel via the Jordan River Crossing.

German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd announced that it was working with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to create a land route "bypassing the Houthis," which connects ports in the UAE and the Saudi port of Jeddah facilitating cargo movement to Israel through the Suez Canal.

Egypt has also joined the effort, operating container ships from its ports to the Israeli port of Ashdod, further supporting the land bridge initiative and assuring Israeli commerce is not interrupted amid its genocidal campaign in Gaza.

But that is just the start of their complicity.

Take Turkey, for example. Around 40% of Israel's energy needs are met by an oil pipeline running through Turkey. President Erdoğan could simply shut the flow of oil off to Israel, which would shut down the economy and the military assault in days. But he continues not to do so, despite offering strong condemnation of Israel in words. 

Morocco, meanwhile, is building a military intelligence base for Israel near its border with Algeria. The site will be utilized for collaboration for military training, intelligence and security.

Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems also recently announced the establishment of two weapons factories in Morocco, helping to diversify Israel's weapons production capabilities, as activists in other countries shut the factories down.

In 2021, Morocco also signed the Abraham Accords – a normalization treaty with Israel that Bahrain and the UAE had already agreed to. The Emirates has long been a hub for Israeli intelligence, and it is now well established that the two nations aid each other on intelligence matters.

Moreover, last year, Edge Group, a UAE state-owned corporation, invested $14 million in Israeli drone manufacturer Highlander Aviation. So the Israeli police employ their airspace management system, which was tested by the Israeli Air Force.

The relationship between the UAE and Israel has grown now that Elbit Systems established an entire subsidiary organization – Elbit Systems Emirates – in order to establish what it called "long term cooperation" with the UAE military.

Meanwhile, despite its rhetoric, Saudi Arabia has been quietly collaborating with Israel for some time. The Saudi-backed group Affinity Partners owns a stake in the Israeli company Shlomo Group.

During the conflict in Gaza, the Shlomo Group contributed trucks and military equipment to the Israeli military's Shaldag and Maglan units, as well as food packages to the IDF.

Saudi Arabia is well-known to be one of the Israeli intelligence industry's best customers. Saudi security forces have used Israeli tech provided by NSO Group and Cellebrite to spy on people and hack their phones, including for the infamous murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

These states could do so much besides empty rhetoric to help the people of Palestine and blunt the Israeli attack on Gaza, including arms embargoes, sanctions on trade and travel, and halting the military and intelligence collaborations.

The people of the Arab world are dead against the genocide in Gaza and collaborating in it. They have come out in mass across their countries protesting Israel's war and have even vowed to march through their borders to Gaza to defend their Palestinian brethren.

But it is clear, for these leaders – their actions speak louder than their words.

Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh.

The post How Arab States Are Helping Israel Commit Genocide appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
16 Feb 2024 | 2:18 pm

7. Israeli Peace Activist Calls For Sanctions, No-Fly Zone On Israel


Israel's latest refusal to accept the Palestinian offer for a cease-fire and prisoner exchange demonstrates again that it only wants to continue the killing. Furthermore, the latest cold-blooded assault on Palestinians in Rafah – most of whom are displaced, having had to escape their homes in other parts of the Gaza Strip, presents an urgent need for the international community to intervene. The purpose of the intervention is to force Israel to comply with terms that will make it impossible for it to continue the killing. An absolute guarantee for the safety and security of Palestinians must be put in place and monitored by the international community.

All the negotiations so far began with the assumption that the Palestinians had to disarm and release hostages. However, it is time to change the equation. Since Israel is the aggressor, the source of the violence and has shown an insatiable appetite for killing Palestinians, the demand must be for Israel to disarm and release the thousands of Palestinians held in its prisons. Furthermore, Israel must immediately lift the siege on Gaza and allocate billions of dollars necessary to rebuild and rehabilitate the Gaza Strip and its people.

While the main focus since October 7, 2023, has been on Gaza, Israel's crimes against humanity continue throughout all of Palestine. In the Naqab, in Hebron, and throughout the West Bank, in Jerusalem, in Lyd, Yafa and Ramle, and all the way to Northern Galilee, Palestinians are living in a state of terror. Afraid for their lives, not daring to leave their homes, fearful for their children's lives and unable to communicate their fears because the Israel intelligence services are listening.

Therefore, any agreement must include demands that will improve conditions for Palestinians throughout all of Palestine. Israel must remove barriers and checkpoints that inhibit free movement for Palestinians. Settlers must be disarmed, and the authority of the Israeli military, police, and intelligence service to arrest, torture, and kill Palestinians must be curtailed.

Israel must be forced to accept these conditions; it cannot be left to the Israeli government's will.

Until such time that Israel demonstrates that these conditions are met, there should be sanctions against the Zionist State. An arms embargo must be placed, and any party, state or otherwise, breaking the embargo must be penalized. There must be a no-fly zone declared over the Gaza Strip so that Israel can no longer endanger the lives of the Palestinians living within it. Israeli diplomatic missions must be closed down, and representatives of Israel in other countries must all be sent back home.

If the world is serious about ending the killing of Palestinians and allowing those who survive to rehabilitate and live free, then severe measures must be taken. Israel must be forced to comply with these conditions or be punished. Israel must pay for its crimes, and the heavier the cost, the more chances there are of compliance.

Miko Peled is a MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are"The General's Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine," and "Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five."

The post Israeli Peace Activist Calls For Sanctions, No-Fly Zone On Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
14 Feb 2024 | 4:31 pm

8. Super Bowl Propaganda: Patriots’ Robert Kraft’s Ties to Israel Explained


Amid the fast-paced action that saw the Kansas City Chiefs win their third championship in five years, Americans tuning in to watch the Super Bowl were met with a barrage of unusual propaganda.

Nestled between the typical ads for cars and beer were two bizarre messages: one from the Foundation to Combat anti-Semitism (FCAS) and the other from the State of Israel itself. Both were intimately related to the ongoing slaughter in Gaza and trying to draw attention away from Israeli war crimes.

 

Targeting Black Americans

The FCAS commercial features Clarence B. Jones, the former advisor to Martin Luther King, who drafted his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. The message is that there is a growing tidal wave of racist intolerance in America and that we must all come together to oppose anti-Semitism — the commercial ends by telling people to visit the website StandUpToJewishHate.com.

Super Bowl ads do not come cheap, and its $7 million for 30-second air time price tag was footed by the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots NFL franchise, Robert Kraft. Kraft (net worth: $11 billion) made his fortune in the paper and packaging business and has deep ties to the state of Israel, including donating hundreds of millions of dollars to pro-Israel groups and funding pro-Israel candidates in U.S. elections. He even enjoys a close relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

We are asking all Americans to stand up to hate and not be silent. Millions of people saw our ad during the Super Bowl and we have one question: how will you stand up? #StandUpToJewishHate # pic.twitter.com/uA6cRi5aaL

— Stand Up to Jewish Hate # (@StandUp2JewHate) February 12, 2024

Kraft married his wife in Israel in 1962 and has reportedly made over 100 visits to the country, including leading dozens of PR missions there, bringing celebrities and sports stars with him. He also maintains a network of charities across Israel.

In December, he pledged a gigantic $100 million to the FCAS. This was, Forbes reported, to "educate the public about the rise in antisemitic incidents and further develop the relationship between the Black and Jewish communities." Considering its content and invocation of Dr. King, it seems clear that the Super Bowl ad was part of Kraft's plan to target the Black community.

Black Americans are far more progressive on Palestine than the rest of the population. Many Black leaders, as well as movements such as Black Lives Matter, have allied themselves with the Palestinian cause, seeing parallels and connections between the oppression of Palestinians abroad and the treatment of Black Americans at home.

A December poll by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace found that 28% of the Black population favored an immediate ceasefire, as opposed to 20% of white Americans. Only 5% of African Americans wanted the U.S. government to show "unwavering support" to Israel, versus 23% of the white population.

 

Funding anti-anti-Semitism

In Kraft's view, therefore, the Black population's outlook is a problem. The billionaire sports owner founded the FCAS in 2019 amid growing domestic and international opposition to the state of Israel's apartheid policies in Palestine. He announced the move at a lavish ceremony in Jerusalem, where he was presented with the Genesis Prize – an Israeli government-backed award given to individuals who most aid the Jewish state.

After the ceremony, he had lunch with his friend, Prime Minister Netanyahu. Kraft had previously supported Netanyahu by attending his speech to Congress in 2015. "Israel does not have a more loyal friend than Robert Kraft," Netanyahu said.

Kraft was awarded the $1 million Genesis Prize for his efforts in philanthropy and "combating anti-Semitism." Yet his views on what does and does not constitute anti-Semitism are contentious, to say the least.

Benjamin Netanyahu Robert Kraft
Benjamin Netanyahu and the New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft pose for a photo in Jerusalem, June 20, 2019. Sebastian Scheiner | AP

In the wake of the historic wave of protests across the U.S. calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East, he appeared on MSNBC to denounce those taking part as supporters of terrorism. "It's horrible to me that a group like Hamas can be respected and people in the United States of America can be carrying flags or supporting them," he said, clearly equating supporting Palestinian rights with terrorism. "Hamas is preaching the eradication of all Jewish people from the Earth," he added.

Thus, while the FCAS claims to be standing against lies and racism, its founder continues to spread his own disinformation in service of the Israeli project.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, he also opposes the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a grassroots campaign to peacefully bring economic pressure on the state of Israel to stop its oppression and occupation of its neighbors. Kraft sees BDS as a form of anti-Jewish racism, lumping it in with attacks on synagogues or the growing threat from the far-right.

"My vision is to work to end the violence against Jewish communities. To counter the normalization of anti-Semitic narratives that question Israel's right to exist, disguised as part of legitimate debate on campuses and in the media," he said, thereby hinting that the FCAS will attempt to insert themselves into college campuses nationwide and pressure the media to take (even) more pro-Israel stances.

 

The Israel Lobby's Financier

Kraft is one of the Israel lobby's chief benefactors, donating millions of dollars to various groups throughout his life. In 2022, for example, he gave $1 million to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) super PAC. AIPAC works to push pro-Israel policies across the U.S. and insert pro-Israel language into as many pieces of legislation as possible.

He also funds the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces – a group that raises money to help Israeli soldiers, even as they carry out war crimes in Palestine, Syria and beyond. Other pro-Israel groups, he has given sizeable donations to include:

  • American Friends of the Israel Museum
  • American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center
  • The Anti-Defamation League
  • The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis
  • The Jewish Agency for Israel
  • The Jewish National Fund
  • StandWithUs
  • The Israel Project

Through his organization, Touchdown in Israel, Kraft regularly organizes propaganda trips to Israel for former NFL players, no doubt hoping they will become advocates of the Jewish state.

Arguably the most influential way in which Kraft influences American public life, however, is his consistent funding of right-wing Democrats standing against progressives and advocates for justice in Palestine.

In 2021, for example, he donated $5,800 to Congresswoman Shontel Brown in her contentious face-off against progressive Nina Turner and another $2,900 to her reelection. Brown was a little-known but strongly pro-Israel candidate standing against a democratic socialist, national co-chair of Bernie Sanders' 2020 election campaign, and an outspoken critic of Israel's policies.

Vast amounts of pro-Israel money flowed into Brown's campaign, helping her to defeat Turner. In her acceptance speech, Brown praised Israel and later thanked the Jewish community for "help[ing] me get over the finish line."

Kraft has also given money to pro-Israel Democrats, including David Cicilline; Juan Vargas; Ted Deutch; Jake Auchincloss and Ritchie Torres.

His actions, donations and public pronouncements have drawn condemnation from some who have followed them. Sports journalist Dave Zirin, for example, recently wrote that:

He appears to think that any criticism of Israel is inherently antisemitic. For Kraft, it is Jews like myself, rabbis, and Holocaust survivors calling for a ceasefire and a free Palestine that are part of the problem. And Kraft seems to think that opposition to Israel, the IDF, and the AIPAC agenda is antisemitism."

 

Israel on TV

Super Bowl viewers were subjected to another pro-Israel ad in between the action, this one directly funded by and representing the Israeli government.

"To all the dads," the voiceover says, as images of wholesome fatherhood activities play on the screen, "The funny ones, the silly ones, the strong ones, the adventurous ones. To all the dads held in captivity by Hamas for over 120 days, we vow to bring you home."

On the surface of the ad, the Israeli government was sending a message to Israeli fathers still in Hamas custody. That message was that they were working to bring them home (by spending millions of dollars to air the message on American TV during the Super Bowl.)

The reality, however, is that this was an attempt to sway the American public into identifying with Israel, suggesting that this could happen to any of their fathers' too.

Israel ran an ad during the Super Bowl vowing to "bring all their dads home" in reference to the Israeli captives being held in Gaza.

But what about the dads in Gaza who have suffered the worst grief imaginable at the hands of Israel's genocidal campaign? pic.twitter.com/JerxiRHkKy

— The Cradle (@TheCradleMedia) February 13, 2024

Many viewers felt that what they saw amounted to little more than expensive disinformation. "I'm sorry, is Israel seriously airing a SOB STORY PROPAGANDA AD during the SUPER BOWL while SIMULTANEOUSLY BOMBING THE REFUGEES AT RAFAH???????" wrote one viewer on Twitter.

Nevertheless, the Super Bowl was the most-watched American telecast ever, reaching over 123 million viewers. Some say you cannot put a price on that sort of publicity, but apparently, you can, and that price is $7 million. Propaganda it might be, but in America, money talks. And both Robert Kraft and the government of Israel certainly have a lot of it to spend.

Feature photo | Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds the NFL Super Bowl trophy during a meeting with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in Jerusalem, June 20, 2019. Sebastian Scheiner | AP

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post Super Bowl Propaganda: Patriots' Robert Kraft's Ties to Israel Explained appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
12 Feb 2024 | 1:49 pm

9. How Britain is Helping Israel to Bomb Gaza, with Matt Kennard


Editor's Note: Dear Readers, MintPress News' YouTube channel was recently demonetized, and many of our videos made age-restricted. We would greatly appreciate your support by becoming a member of our Patreon page so that we can continue to bring you important stories like this one. Much of the work that we do is supported by viewers like you.

The MintPress podcast, "The Watchdog," hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. "The Watchdog" goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

Even after more than 100 days of genocidal attacks on Gaza, the Israeli assault continues to rage. The onslaught itself is very well documented by courageous Palestinian journalists who risk their lives daily. However, the role of Western governments in all this is not nearly as widely reported.

One outlet that has tried to buck this trend is Declassified UK, which has constantly shone a light on the activities of Great Britain and the United States in enabling the genocidal attack.

Joining "The Watchdog" today to talk about this issue is returning guest Matt Kennard, a writer and investigative journalist for Declassified UK. Kennard has broken several stories about secret British collaboration and support for Israeli actions, which he will discuss today. Previously, he worked as a reporter for The Financial Times and was a fellow and a director of the Center For Investigative Journalism in London. His latest book is "Silent Coup: How Corporations Overthrew Democracy."

Even with the war in Iraq, Kennard noted, the Bush and Blair administrations spoke the language of freedom and democracy. But the Israeli government constantly announces its intent in plain language to ethnically cleanse Gaza of more than two million Palestinians. "And yet still, our governments don't say a word of criticism against it," he said, adding:

And not only our governments but the oppositions in both the U.S. and the U.K… So there is no mainstream anti-genocide party. And that's a wake-up call for all of us. We need to change the system from top to bottom. This is a red line. If we don't make it a red line, we lose our humanity."

On October 13, the U.K. government announced it was deploying a wide range of military assets to the Eastern Mediterranean area, including spy planes and 1,000 troops. From its military bases in Cyprus, the British military has been flying large numbers of supply flights to Israel, helping sustain the Israeli attack. As Kennard noted, in December 2020, the U.K. government signed a secret military agreement with Israel that likely commits it to "defending" the apartheid state if it comes under attack.

Britain's military hub in the region is RAF Akrotiri, a vast, sprawling military compound in southern Cyprus. It is not only the center of British imperialism in the Mediterranean but is also home to more than 120 U.S. airmen and hosts of spies from the N.S.A. From there, both countries project their power across the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa.

But even as the British government supports Israel, the Israeli state is attempting to penetrate and interfere in U.K. politics. In 2019, Alan Duncan revealed that he was blocked from becoming Middle East Minister in Theresa May's cabinet at the behest of the Israelis because of his mildly pro-Palestine positions. The Conservative Friends of Israel – which acts as a front group for the Israeli state – wields enormous power within the party, including the ability to make and break political careers.

The Labour Party is also deeply connected to Israel, to the point where Israeli lobbyists have funded 40% of Keir Starmer's shadow cabinet. This kind of "entrenched espionage" eats away at and makes a mockery of the idea of British democracy, Kennard told Lowkey today.

Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.

The post How Britain is Helping Israel to Bomb Gaza, with Matt Kennard appeared first on MintPress News.

MintPress News
10 Feb 2024 | 12:49 pm

10. TikTok Chinese Trojan Horse Run By Former CIA


TikTok is once again under public scrutiny. The video-sharing platform is the subject of a Senate hearing into child safety online.

Republican Senators were quick to paint it as a nefarious Chinese plot to take down America. But apart from some blatantly racist questions, Senator Tom Cotton asked its Singaporean CEO Shou Zi Chew. A much bigger issue with TikTok is being swept under the rug that MintPress has previously investigated: that it is increasingly controlled by the US national security state.

Since 2020, TikTok has spent more than $1.5 billion moving its data and security operations to Texas, where it has partnered with CIA-cutout company Oracle. It has also hired dozens, if not hundreds, of US national security state officials to control and oversee its trust and safety, security, and content moderation departments, giving these former spooks and spies extensive control over how the platform functions and what the world sees in our feeds.

Take, for example, TikTok's head of European data public policy, Jade Nester. Before being recruited to TikTok, Nester was a high official in Washington, serving as the Director of Internet Policy for the State Department. Or what about Ryan Walsh, the company's escalations management lead for trust and safety? Until 2020, Walsh was the State Department's senior advisor for Digital Strategy. Part of his job, according to his own resume, included "advanc[ing] supportive narratives" for the U.S. and NATO online. Since MintPress reported on that, Walsh has wiped that piece of information from his Linkedin, and we just so happened to get banned from TikTok.  Coincidence? Perhaps

If that's not spooky enough for you, let's take Greg Andersen. Before he became Feature Policy Manager at TikTok, he worked on "psychological operations" for NATO itself. Just like Walsh, Andersen removed that information from his resumé after we broke the story.

There are also a number of "ex-"CIA agents working for TikTok. Among them is Beau Patteson, who advises the company on threats from extremists. But until 2020, Patteson was a targeting analyst at the CIA, helping to choose who would be killed in CIA drone strikes around the world. Now he just decides who will be removed from the platform.

Far from its stereotype as an anti-American platform, TikTok works closely with the US government to ensure Washington's narratives are heard throughout the world. In 2022, for example, it announced it was deleting more than 320,000 accounts spreading pro-Russian messaging and was placing warning labels on Russian state-controlled media. Western state-run media did not get the same treatment.

And so, while senators and corporate media pundits alike complain about Chinese-controlled media, remember that, under the surface, something very different is happening. The US government is trying to take control over TikTok, further blurring the line between big tech and Big Brother.

Mnar Adley is an award-winning journalist and editor and is the founder and director of MintPress News. She is also president and director of the non-profit media organization Behind the Headlines. Adley also co-hosts the MintCast podcast and is a producer and host of the video series Behind The Headlines. Contact Mnar at mnar@mintpressnews.com or follow her on Twitter at @mnarmuh.

The post TikTok Chinese Trojan Horse Run By Former CIA appeared first on MintPress News.

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