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Expert: Obama ignored surge of rightwing extremism that inspired Charleston killer

Crossposted from The Electronic Intifada

As lead author of a suppressed 2009 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report on the rising threat of rightwing extremism, Daryl Johnson was not the least bit surprised by last week’s terrorist attack on the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

On the evening of 17 June, white supremacist Dylann Roof entered the Charleston, South Carolina, church and shot dead nine African Americans after they had welcomed him into their Bible study.

“Here we go again. That was my first thought. It reminded me of the Sikh temple shooting,” Johnson told The Electronic Intifada, referring to the August 2012 attack by a neo-Nazi in Wisconsin that killed six people.

Johnson, who spent 15 of his 24-year career in government studying rightwing extremism, made headlines in 2011 when he accused DHS of gutting his unit due to a conservative uproar against the 2009 report.

Since then, Johnson says the US government has continued to ignore the growing danger posed by homegrown rightwing extremism while focusing obsessively on Islamic “jihadists.”

DHS has a total of three people analyzing non-Islamic domestic extremism, down from eight prior to the release of Johnson’s report in 2009.

In stark contrast, up to 100 analysts are employed by DHS to evaluate homegrown Islamic extremism, Johnson said. DHS did not return The Electronic Intifada’s request for comment.

This lopsided balance is reflected across federal agencies, according to Johnson, who keeps in touch with sources within DHS who tell him nothing has changed since he left.

“If you look at the government as a whole, there are thousands of counterterrorism analysts looking at al-Qaida and its affiliates versus dozens on domestic non-Islamic extremism,” Johnson said, noting that a vast majority of rightwing extremism analysts operate under the auspices of the FBI.

Johnson added that most federal law enforcement agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the US Marshal Service and the presidential protection agency the Secret Service, have no full-time analysts monitoring rightwing extremism.

White supremacist “lone wolves”

Johnson’s prophetic 2009 report predicted that the election of America’s first Black president coupled with an ailing economy would spark a resurgence in rightwing extremism, with “white supremacist lone wolves” posing “the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy – separate from any formalized group – which hampers warning efforts.”

Johnson’s report also drew attention to the danger of extremists recruiting military veterans.

Though intended exclusively for law enforcement, the report was leaked immediately after publication, generating a firestorm on the right.

Whipped into a frenzy, conservative media outlets and Republican lawmakers mischaracterized the report as an Obama administration conspiracy to smear all conservatives as potentially violent extremists.

In a stunning display of political cowardice, the Obama administration caved in to the pressure.

Within days of the leak, newly appointed DHS secretary Janet Napolitano apologized for the report and Johnson’s DHS unit was slowly disbanded over the following year, leaving behind just one analyst to assess all non-Islamic extremist threats for DHS.

Six years later, Johnson’s prescient warnings have been tragically vindicated again and again.

In 2012, US army veteran and neo-Nazi skinhead Wade Michael Page stormed into a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and fatally gunned down six worshippers.

Last year, Frazier Glenn Miller, the former “grand dragon” of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a longtime anti-Semite, killed three people outside a Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas.

Two months later, anti-government extremists Jerad and Amanda Miller killed three people in Las Vegas.

The married couple shot two police officers execution style and then draped their bodies in a Revolutionary War era flag bearing the slogan “Don’t tread on me.”

These are just a handful of the better-known instances of rightwing terrorism in recent years.

Lethal terror

The New America Foundation, a liberal think tank close to the Obama administration, has documented that 48 Americans have been killed by rightwing extremists in the US compared to 26 by so-called jihadists since the 11 September 2001.

Yet US law enforcement agencies seem more invested in entrapping Muslims in manufactured plots, harassing Palestine solidarity activists and monitoring Black Lives Matter protesters than tackling the rising tide of deadly rightwing extremism.

Dangerous denial

Meanwhile, Republican leaders predictably contorted reality to avoid labeling Dylann Roof’s violence an act of terrorism, or even racism for that matter.

US government officials are similarly reluctant to identify ideologically inspired violence committed by non-Muslims as terrorism.

Speaking at a press conference three days after the Charleston attack, FBI director James Comey told reporters that Dylann Roof’s racially motivated massacre was not terrorism because it was not a “political act.”

But Roof has been clear that his motive was to ignite a race war. One of his victims was South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, whose presence Roof reportedly requested when he entered the church.

If assassinating a Black elected official and murdering Black worshippers to start a race war isn’t enough to prove Roof’s violence was political, then perhaps his own admission is.

Roof reportedly let one churchgoer live precisely so she could inform the world what he did and why.

More evidence of Roof’s ideological motives can be found in the trove of photos he posted to his website.

The images show him embracing the Confederate flag, a notorious white nationalist symbol.

Roof is also pictured sporting a coat adorned with the flags of white minority ruled South Africa and Rhodesia, highlighting the convergence of white nationalism globally.

In case his motive still wasn’t clear, Roof posted a 2,500-word anti-Black manifesto on his website laying out his racist ideology.

Even President Obama failed to label the attack an act of terrorism, focusing instead on the issue of gun violence.

“Government officials are reluctant to call it terrorism because of the political ramifications,” former DHS analyst Johnson said. “If you’re justifying money and resources for a war on terror, then you are going to talk about al-Qaida, which comes at the expense of other forms of terrorism that might be less sensational.”

“The general public is inundated with media and government scrutiny of al-Qaida and its affiliates. It’s ingrained in the American public mind to think of terrorism as a foreign threat from people with dark skin,” he said.

“The ongoing danger is that by not labeling it terrorism it’s being perceived as something else,” Johnson added. “If you label the Charleston shooting as a hate crime, people think of it as a local issue. If you label it terrorism, it’s a national issue.”

Lopsided countermeasures

Though Johnson concedes that it is difficult to thwart lone wolf attacks, he believes there are preventive measures the US government has failed to implement. Chief among them is “counter-messaging.”

“Educating the public on these issues and that these movements are dangerous is vital,” Johnson said. He noted that “today’s white supremacist and white nationalist is an Internet junkie.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors rightwing groups, found that nearly 100 people have been murdered since 2009 by registered users of the world’s largest online hate forum Stormfront.

Stormfront users have included Wade Michael Page and mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011 supposedly to halt the “Islamization” of Europe.

Charleston killer Dylann Roof was a regular commenter at another neo-Nazi website.

He also wrote in his manifesto that he was influenced by the white supremacist group the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), following the killing in Florida of unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin by vigilante George Zimmerman.

The leader of the CCC, which grew out of the White Citizens Councils opposed to desegregation in the South, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican elected officials in recent years.

While the White House has launched several campaigns to counter Islamic State, or ISIS, propaganda directed at impressionable youth, no such measures exist to counter rightwing extremism of the kind that apparently mobilized Roof and others to kill.

The Obama administration’s skewed approach was on display in February when it convened a White House summit on countering violent extremism that focused almost exclusively on Islamic fundamentalism.

It is impossible to know whether the Charleston massacre could have been prevented had federal authorities invested more resources in countering rightwing terrorism.

But denying that the problem exists and doing nothing only makes the next attack more likely.

Podcast: The Dominican Republic’s Plan to Racially Cleanse the Country of Black Haitians

The Dominican Republic is set to purge its country of hundreds of thousands of black Haitian migrants or black Dominicans of Haitian descent. The government has stripped anyone born in Haiti after 1929 of their citizenship and rendered this entire population stateless. Numerous Haitians have fled or are hiding as they wait to see what the immigration agency will do next.

Army General Ruben Paulino, who leads the immigration agency, said his agency would conduct patrols of neighborhoods with “large numbers of migrants” after June 18. Any “non-citizens,” who were unregistered, would be “repatriated.” The individuals would be loaded on buses, trucks, or ambulances—and then expelled from the country.

On the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast this week, Dr. Jemima Pierre, a professor at UCLA of African Diaspora Studies & an editor for Black Agenda Report, joins the show to talk about the Dominican Republic. She describes the history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as the United States’ role since the US once occupied the island where Haiti and the Dominican Republic are located. She details the anti-black racism that has deep roots in the Dominican Republic.

During the discussion part of the show, the show’s hosts talk about Dylann Roof’s manifesto and share thoughts on the political and media reaction to the church massacre in Charleston. They also talk about a Louisville FOP president and his vitriolic open letter directed toward Black Lives Matter activists. And the show wraps with some quick thoughts about a court ordering US officials to intercept a Guatemalan mother and her child, who were deported, and return them to the United States.

The podcast is available on iTunes for download. For a link (and also to download the episode), go here. Click on “go here” and a page will load with the audio file of the podcast. The file will automatically start playing so you can listen to the episode. And please follow the show on Twitter at @UnauthorizedDis.

Below is a partial transcript of the interview.
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Why has Israel embraced al-Qaida’s branch in Syria?

Crossposted from The Electronic Intifada

During his 2014 address to the UN General Assembly, Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “fighting militant Islam is indivisible.”

The Israeli prime minister’s crude attempts to conflate ISIS with Hamas should not be allowed to conceal an important truth: Israel aids the forces of “militant Islam” when it is considered opportune to do so.

The most egregious example of such aid in recent times has been Israel’s support for Jabhat al-Nusraal-Qaida’s franchise in Syria, as witnessed by UN peacekeeping forces stationed in the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel’s collusion with al-Qaida has been virtually ignored by the American media, with a few exceptions. For example, The Wall Street Journal reported in March that Israel has been treating wounded al-Nusra fighters and then sending them back into the Golan to battle Hizballah and the Syrian army.

Other media outlets have danced around the issue.

The Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a frequent conduit for information from official sources, mentioned, in passing, last month that “Jordan and Israel have developed secret contacts with members of the Jabhat al-Nusra group along their borders.” But he failed to elaborate.

In a video report released by Vice News in December — in which Israeli soldiers are shown transferring wounded Syrian opposition fighters to an Israeli hospital — the narrator acknowledges that the fighters could be affiliated with al-Nusra.

Israeli media has been slightly more open about Israel’s embrace of al-Qaida. The news website Ynet has posted footage of Israeli army medics treating wounded Syrian opposition fighters, noting, “It is likely that most if not all of these nationals are rebels from the rival jihadist Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups.”

This raises questions about the legality of sending members of one of the world’s most notorious and active armed extremist groups back into battle, especially since this particular group has been the primary target of a global war for more than a decade led by Israel’s greatest benefactor, the United States. (To be fair, though, the US is no stranger to backing al-Qaida and ISIS to undermine its adversaries.)

A US Defense Department spokesperson declined to comment for The Electronic Intifada about Israel’s apparent alliance with al-Qaida. The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Material aid

As Israel’s neighbors absorbed millions of displaced Syrians fleeing a war that, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has killed more than 220,000 people, the Israeli government has painted its medical care for those wounded in Syria as altruistic. But only a third of the 1,500 treated by Israel have been women and children, according to the March report in The Wall Street Journal.

The rest have been fighters who Israeli officials admit are not screened and likely belong to al-Nusra.

Once it became undeniable, Israel confessed it was treating fighters, but claimed that they were moderates.

But after al-Nusra captured and ejected UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights last August, there was no longer any doubt that al-Nusra was the dominant force among opposition fighters in the area.

Since then, Ynet has resorted to whitewashing al-Nusra’s connections to al-Qaida. Citing unnamed Israeli officials, the publication claims that al-Nusra’s members are “simply local residents who joined the organization to benefit from the logistical and financial support it offers them.”

Retired Brigadier General Michael Herzog, a former chief of staff for Israel’s defense minister, told The Wall Street Journal that “Nusra is a unique version of al-Qaida. They manage to cooperate with non-Islamist and non-jihadi organizations in one coalition … They are totally focused on the war in Syria and aren’t focused on us. But when Hizballah and Iran and others are pushing south, they are very much focused on us.”

Israeli soldiers have also been seen providing Syrian opposition fighters dominated by al-Nusra with material aid.

Dozens of interactions between Israel and opposition fighters, as far back as 2012, have been documented by the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the peacekeeping mission responsible for monitoring the 1974 ceasefire line between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights.

The UN has good reason to observe these interactions closely.

In August last year, al-Nusra detained 43 UN peacekeepers and seized their equipment, prompting the UN to evacuate many of its soldiers to the Israeli-occupied side of the ceasefire line.

Quarterly UNDOF reports since the pullback reveal an ongoing pattern of Israeli coordination with those armed groups.

According to the December 2014 report, UNDOF observed two Israeli soldiers “opening the technical fence gate and letting two individuals pass from the [Syrian] to the [Israeli] side” on 27 October. Unlike most fighters seen entering the Israeli side, these individuals were not wounded and the purpose of their visit remains a mystery.

UNDOF “sporadically observed armed members of the opposition interacting” with the Israeli military across the ceasefire line, the report states.

The next UNDOF report, released in March, notes that UN forces witnessed Israeli soldiers delivering material aid to armed Syrian opposition groups.

“During the evening of 20 January, in the area north of observation post 54, UNDOF observed two trucks crossing from the [Syrian] side to the [Israeli] side, where they were received by IDF [Israeli military] personnel,” the report states. “The trucks were loaded with sacks before returning to the [Syrian] side.”

The coordination between Israel and armed opposition groups continued into May, according to the June UNDOF report.

Israel appears determined to keep the nature of these interactions as low key as possible, something Sidqi Maqt, a Druze resident of the Golan Heights, understands better than most.

In February, Maqt was arrested by Israeli intelligence for posting photos and videos to his Facebook page of Israeli army interactions with armed opposition groups. Maqt paid particular attention to documenting encounters he believed demonstrated the Israeli army’s alliance with al-Nusra.

Released in 2012 after serving 37 years in prison for engaging in armed resistance against Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights, Maqt is once again behind bars. He has been charged with “espionage, assisting an enemy during wartime and contact with a foreign agent,” according to Al Jazeera.

On top of providing al-Nusra with material aid and punishing those who expose it, Israel has launched airstrikes almost exclusively against forces fighting al-Nusra.

On 18 January, for example, an Israeli air strike on a convoy near Quneitra killed six members of Hizballah and a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Days later, rockets landed in the Golan Heights, according to UNDOF. The Israeli army retaliated by shelling a location it said was the source of the fire.

A Syrian army official, however, told the UN that “terrorists” had fired the rockets and that the Syrian army planned to target their positions. The UN relayed this message to the Israeli army, which responded with airstrikes against two Syrian army artillery positions.

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has said that some in Syria joke, “How can you say that al-Qaida doesn’t have an air force? They have the Israeli air force.”

While Assad’s policies, including the bombardments that have devastated cities and towns forcing millions to flee their homes, have contributed to the chaos and vacuum that has enabled extremist groups to flourish in some areas, Israel’s actions on behalf of those groups grant credence to his claim.

Cheering on ISIS

Amos Yadlin, a retired Israeli general, has offered a candid explanation for Israel’s partnership with al-Nusra.

“There is no doubt that Hizballah and Iran are the major threat to Israel, much more than the radical Sunni Islamists, who are also an enemy,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “Those Sunni elements who control some two-thirds to 90 percent of the border on the Golan aren’t attacking Israel. This gives you some basis to think that they understand who is their real enemy — maybe it isn’t Israel,” he reasoned.

Hizballah, which is aligned with Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has been fighting al-Nusra in the Golan Heights with Iranian support. Given Hizballah’s growing capacity and proven willingness to defend against Israeli aggression, Israel appears to favor al-Qaida on its northern front and to view the destruction of Syria as an opportunity to incapacitate Hizballah in southern Lebanon by draining its resources in Syria.

This does not mean Israel wants Assad to fall. On the contrary, Israel prefers a region fractured into small sectarian enclaves that are too busy fighting one another to unite against it. It is for this reason that Yair Golan, the Israeli army’s deputy chief of staff, recently celebrated the conditions on Israel’s northern border as “better than ever.”

The Jerusalem Post’s security correspondent, Yossi Melman, has echoed Golan, depicting Syria’s descent into chaos and fragmentation as a strategic boost for Israel.

Gilad Sharon, son of late Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, has gone even further by arguing that an ISIS takeover in Syria would offer an opening for Israel to acquire the Golan Heights permanently.

In the event of an ISIS takeover, Sharon wrote last month, “There would be no international pressure for Israel to give back the Golan Heights either — and that’s a very good thing. The Golan will remain an important part of Israel forever.” He added that Israel could rely on the West’s so-called anti-ISIS coalition to defeat a victorious ISIS next door, allowing Israel to bask in its newly annexed territory without lifting a finger.

Israel would not necessarily “welcome the presence of the Islamic State lunatics on our border,” Sharon wrote, “but it’s certainly no worse, and may even be better, than the presence there of Hizballah, which is the Lebanese proxy of the Iranian regime.”

Naftali Bennett, Israeli education minister and leader of the ultra-nationalist party Habeyit Hayehudi (Jewish Home), appears to be following Sharon’s advice.

Speaking at the Herzliya conference, a key event in Israel’s political calendar, this month, Bennett called on Israel to invoke the threat of ISIS expansion to compel governments around the world to legitimize its annexation of the Golan Heights.

“Who do they want us to give the Golan to? To Assad? Today, it’s clear that if we listened to the world we would give up the Golan and ISIS would be swimming in the Sea of Galilee. Enough with the hypocrisy,” said Bennett, agitating for expanding the number of Israeli settlers in the Golan from 20,000 to 100,000 in the next five years.

Support for al-Qaida in Syria, then, serves at least two purposes from Israel’s perspective: sapping the strength of the foe it fears most — Hizballah — and solidifying its occupation of the Golan Heights.

In addition to sowing chaos and bloodshed, Israel’s machiavellian schemes — as its decades of meddling in Lebanon show — have a poor record of achieving their goals.

Will Israel’s “whiff from hell” weapon be used to crush US protests?

Crossposted from The Electronic Intifada

US police departments are interested in procuring the foul-smelling skunk water that Israeli forces routinely use on Palestinians, according to The Economist.

The Economist, which refers to skunk water as “a whiff from hell,” reports that the weapon “has attracted the interest of law-enforcement agencies in America which, after riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, crave better ways to scatter rioters without killing or injuring them.”

Developed by Odortec, an Israeli company that specializes in scent-based weapons for law enforcement, in collaboration with the Israeli police, skunk water emits a stench that has been described as a cross between a rotting animal corpse, raw sewage and human excrement. The smell is so strong that Israeli police refuse to store the substance inside their stations.

Released at high pressure from a water cannon attached to the top of a military truck, the skunk odor sticks to walls, clothing, hair and skin for days and is impossible to wash away. Ramallah-based activist and writer Mariam Barghouti once told The Electronic Intifada’s Patrick Strickland that “the water lingers on your skin to a point when you want to rip your skin off.”

First used by Israeli border police officers in 2008, skunk water has become a fixture in villages that engage in weekly demonstrations against the Israeli wall in the occupied West Bank. It’s also frequently deployed against Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, where there is a concerted effort by the Israeli government to remove and replace Palestinian residents with Jewish settlers.

While Odortec insists skunk spray is non-toxic and even drinkable, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) warns that it “can cause pain and redness if it comes into contact with eyes, irritation if it comes into contact with skin and if swallowed can cause abdominal pain requiring medical treatment.”

Environmental terrorism

Israeli police have argued that skunk water is strictly used for crowd dispersal, but this claim is easily refuted.

Israeli forces regularly douse entire Palestinians neighborhoods in skunk water, deliberately spraying it into private homes, businesses and schools in what the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem calls “a collective punitive measure” against Palestinian villages that engage in protest against Israel’s colonial violence.

Just last month, Israeli forces were photographed chasing five-year-old Muhammad Riyad with a skunk truck at a demonstration in the West Bank town of Kafr Qaddum. The photos show Muhammad running and tripping over a pile of rocks, which sends his tiny body plunging face first into the ground, as he’s drenched in skunk water.

No Palestinian is safe from the skunk truck, not children, not their homes, not even the dead.

In 2012, Israeli forces showered a funeral procession in Hebron with skunk water, soaking mourners and the body of the deceased.

The substance is being marketed as a safe alternative to more lethal means of crowd dispersal. But since its introduction into the Israeli arsenal, Israeli forces have continued to indiscriminately injure and kill Palestinian protesters and non-protesters alike with the traditional assortment of tear gasrubber-coated steel bulletssponge-tipped bullets and live fire.

If anything, skunk water has added a new humiliating dimension to the terror Israel inflicts on Palestinians. After all, what better way to strip the subjugated and colonized of their dignity than to poison them and their surroundings with a feces-like stench so intolerable it makes someone want to rip off his or her own skin?

Exporting repression

It’s no accident that Odortec was founded by a management team at the Israeli company Flybuster, a firm that develops scent-based chemicals to repel and kill insects. Odortec simply applied Flybuster’s pesticide logic to Palestinians, who Israeli leaders have long viewed as subhuman contaminants comparable to insects.

And like most Israeli weapons, skunk water is advertised as having been “field-tested,” which almost always means that Palestinians were used as human test subjects during the development process.

According to Odortec’s website, “skunk has been field-tested and proven to disperse even the most determined of violent protests” effectively “breaking adversarial resistance.”

While Gaza serves as a playground for larger weapons, the West Bank is Israel’s preferred laboratory for testing and refining crowd control technology.

David Ben Harosh, head of the Israeli police’s department for technological development  — which partnered with Odortec to develop skunk water — stated in 2008 that skunk water was tested in “monitored exercises” in the Palestinian villages of Bilin and Nilin, which he referred to as an “experiment.”

“After each spraying an observation of the area was conducted, to check if there were casualties, to see how the demonstrators reacted,” Ben Harosh stated.

So far there has been no reported use of skunk spray outside of Palestine. But Israeli police and Odortec have been marketing the product to law enforcement agencies around the globe since its inception.

As the BBC reported in 2008, “The Israeli police force has high hopes of turning skunk into a commercial venture and selling it to law-enforcement agencies overseas.”

The Economist states, “A report this week that skunk is now being sold to American local police departments was initially confirmed by a Maryland-based company claiming to be the vendor, but then swiftly retracted. The company’s website, which offered the stuff in various-sized canisters, has since gone offline.”

Though The Economist does not identify the company, it is likely Mistral Security, a subsidiary of Mistral Group, a US company based in Bethesda, Maryland, that deals in the production and sale of military and law enforcement equipment.

The only crowd control weapon Mistral Security currently markets to US law enforcement is skunk spray, which is featured on its website in a variety of delivery systems, including canisters, grenades and bulk containers for water cannons. Mistral’s product brochure advertises skunk as ideal for controlling crowds and individuals at “border crossings, correctional facilities, demonstrations and sit-ins.”

Mistral did not to respond to inquiries about which police agencies have expressed interest in purchasing skunk water. Neither did Odortec.

However, US police departments taking repression cues from Israel is not a new phenomenon.

Under the cover of counterterrorism training, senior commanders from nearly every major American police department, including Baltimore and St. Louis, have traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement. Such trips provide Israeli companies like Odortec with the opportunity to market their technology directly to US law enforcement executives.

With the Black Lives Matter uprising challenging and exposing America’s corrupt and racist system of policing, it makes sense that US police would look to their Israeli counterparts for “field-tested” methods in breaking resistance. In this instance, the weapon in question is as rotten as it smells.

Obama gives $1.9 billion in weapons as welcome gift to Israel’s racist government

Crossposted from The Electronic Intifada

The Obama administration approved a $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel in recent days as “compensation” for the US nuclear deal with Iran, which the Israeli regime staunchly opposes.

Among the tens of thousands of bombs included in the weapons package are 3,000 Hellfire missiles, 12,000 general purpose bombs and 750 bunker buster bombs that can penetrate up to twenty feet, or six meters, of reinforced concrete.

This generous weapons gift comes in the wake of Israel’s most ferocious attack on the Gaza Strip to date, in which the Israeli army deliberately targeted civilians, including children, as a matter of policy.

The degree of firepower Israel unleashed on Gaza was so extreme that senior US military officials who participated in the illegal invasion and criminal destruction of Iraq were left stunned.

Even the Pentagon and State Department were forced to acknowledge that Israel did not do enough to avoid civilian deaths. But this did not prevent the Obama administration from rushing to provide Israel with the means to carry out more atrocities.

Bunker busters

Sadistically nicknamed the “Saddamizer,” the bunker buster bomb was originally developed by the US military during the first Gulf war to penetrate Iraqi command centers buried deep underground.

In recent years, these earth-shattering explosives have been repeatedly deployed against besieged and largely defenseless Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip.

Israel pounded Gaza with US-supplied bunker buster bombs during Operation Cast Lead, the three-week assault in the winter of 2008-2009 that killed 1,400 Palestinians, including nearly 400 children.

Obama quietly transferred dozens more bunker buster bombs to Israel in 2009 in an effort to prevent it from obstructing negotiations with Iran.

The Obama administration replenished that stockpile after yet another Israeli attack on Gaza in 2012 with a $647 million arms package that included thousands of bunker buster bombs.

Israel used those bunker buster munitions to pummel Gaza’s high rise towers and wipe out entire families as they sheltered in their homes during Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 Israeli assault that ultimately killed over 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including over 500 children.

If the past is any indication, Obama’s weapons package will enable Israel to intensify its unspeakable atrocities against civilians in Gaza, and possibly Lebanon if Israel’s saber-rattling about Hizballah is to be believed.

Asked whether the Pentagon is concerned that its weapons might be used to harm innocent people, a spokesperson, Roger Cabiness II, offered the following vague statement: “As with any security cooperation activity, the United States assesses requests from its partners on a case-by-case basis, taking into account political, military, economic, arms control and human rights conditions in making decisions on the provision of military equipment and the licensing of direct commercial sales to any country, in accordance with the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy, the Arms Export Control Act and relevant international agreements.”

Rewarding hate

Ever since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted an invitation by the Republican opposition to trash Obama’s diplomatic maneuvering on Iran in a speech to Congress, analysts have warned of a growing rift in US-Israel relations, insisting that the so-called special relationship has reached its lowest point in recent memory.

Relations apparently deteriorated further following Netanyahu’s election day campaigning, when, in a last ditch appeal to the worst inclinations of his rightwing base, he summoned the spirit of George Wallace, warning, “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out.”

In an interview with former Israeli prison guard Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama insultingly equated the creation of a Jewish settler state in historic Palestine with the African American civil rights movement, while at the same time emphasizing the importance of “preserving” Israel’s Jewish majority. He went on to criticize Netanyahu’s anti-Arab electioneering, claiming to have enacted “foreign policy consequences” against Israel as a result.

Nevertheless, the pundits’ handwringing over cracks in the special relationship has been largely unfounded.

In reality, the only penalty Obama has imposed on Israel is tepid disapproval of Netanyahu’s overt racism, which is rendered meaningless by Obama’s ongoing material support for Israel’s crimes.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu has assembled the most racist government in Israel’s history, with unabashed genocide enthusiasts occupying the most senior level positions.

Israel’s new education minister is Naftali Bennett, leader of the religious ultra-nationalist Habeyit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party who famously bragged, “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life — and there’s no problem with that.” In response to international outrage at the Israeli massacre of four children playing soccer on the beach in Gaza last summer, Bennett accused Palestinian resistance fighters of “conducting massive self-genocide” to make Israel look bad.

Israel’s new justice minister is Ayelet Shaked, the lawmaker who last June endorsed a call to genocide, which declared “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and demanded the slaughter of Palestinian mothers to prevent them from birthing “little snakes.”

Israel’s new culture minister is Miri Regev, who in 2012 helped incite a violent anti-African riot when she stood before a racist mob and labeled non-Jewish African asylum seekers a “cancer”, a statement that 52 percent of Israeli Jews agreed with. Regev later apologized, not to Africans but to cancer survivors for likening them to Black people.

Israel’s new deputy defense minister is Eli Ben-Dahan, who proudly proclaimed, “[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human,” and, “A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile, even if he is a homosexual.”

Citing a combination of religious text and the writings of far rightwing Israeli figures, Israel’s new deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely asserted Jewish ownership over all of historic Palestine, declaring, “This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologize for that.”

Earlier this month, Moshe Yaalon, who will continue to serve as Israel’s defense minister in Netanyahu’s new governing coalition, threatened to nuke Iran and promised to kill civilians, including children, in any future conflict with Lebanon or Gaza.

Unlike Obama’s hollow threats, this is not empty rhetoric. We saw this incitement play out last summer, from the burning of Muhammad Abu Khudair by Jewish extremists and “death to Arabs” mobs hunting Palestinians in the streets of Jerusalem, to the sadistic conduct and eliminationist chauvinism exhibited by Israel’s military in Gaza.

With Israeli Jewish society submerged in anti-Palestinian racism from the top down, the Obama administration has guaranteed Israel’s capacity to carry out its most destructive ambitions.

The Nation magazine’s shameful history of aiding ethnic cleansing in Palestine

Crossposted from The Electronic Intifada

In 2005, Palestinian civil society implored people of conscience around the world to stand up for justice by honoring its call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. A decade later certain segments of the US left are still debating whether this Palestinian request for solidarity is a worthy enough cause.

The Nation magazine, a bastion of progressive journalism, has been at the forefront of indecision on this issue, regularly hosting debates on whether the indigenous non-Jewish inhabitants of historic Palestine merit equal rights in their native land.

Last year, following my criticism of The Nation’s unwillingness to take a stand, I was assured by multiple sources inside the magazine that there would be an editorial meeting to discuss endorsing BDS. In the end, The Nation’s leadership decided against supporting boycott.

And so The Nation continues to hold debates on BDS, despite the growing urgency for Palestinians, whose lives are at the mercy of an increasingly fanatical regime led by people who openly promise to slaughter civilians and incite to genocide.

While The Nation celebrates 150 years as a progressive magazine committed to social justice and advocacy journalism, its record is tainted by the refusal of its leadership to take a decisive moral stand against Israeli ethnocracy, a pattern that dates back to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, in which The Nation was deeply complicit.

Indeed, The Nation assisted in Israel’s foundation as a Zionist settler state, which the magazine’s current editor-in-chief, Katrina vanden Heuvel, boasted about to the Forwardsaying, “[W]e have a great history … lobbying Truman, the UN, for the creation of the state of Israel.”

Freda Kirchwey, The Nation’s former publisher and editor, not only lobbied the US government and United Nations for the creation of a Jewish settler state in historic Palestine, she mobilized the full weight of her magazine to justify the ethnic cleansing of more than 750,000 indigenous Palestinians in 1948  — what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe — while agitating against their right to return.

Campaigning for Zionism

A review of The Nation’s coverage during the period leading up to Israel’s creation reveals a drastic shift from the inclusion of somewhat reasonable, albeit Orientalist, news reports and analyses in the 1930s to exclusively fanatical support for Zionism in the 1940s.

In 1936, for example, renowned writer Albert Viton reported from Palestine on the “Arab anti-imperialist struggle” against “reactionary” Zionists who want to establish “a Jewish state in which the Arabs, the indigenous population, will live as a minority.”

“But if a national state is to be founded here, I believe the Arabs have the most right to it. They have been living here for the last 1,200 years,” wrote Viton (“A solution for Palestine,” 26 December 1936).

Such honesty about the impacts and aims of Zionism on the ground in Palestine is totally absent from The Nation’s coverage in the subsequent decade.

In all fairness, The Nation was not alone in propagandizing for Zionism. As John Judis explains in his book Genesis, most American liberal publications at the time supported Zionism, viewing it as a morally appropriate response to the Nazi genocide of European Jews. Combined with Western anti-Muslim and anti-Arab tendencies, denying the humanity and basic rights of Palestinians was a no-brainer, especially with the Jewish Agency — the de facto representative of the Zionist project in Palestine — stage-managing the propaganda.

The Nation’s Kirchwey, in particular, “regularly exchanged information with Jewish Agency representatives in New York,” explains Judis. “These relationships were not those between journalists and sources, but between political allies.”

These relationships were reflected in the propaganda that saturated The Nation’scoverage.

Kirchwey juxtaposed what she viewed as “the leavening effect of Jewish enlightenment and social ferment in the vast lump of Arab misery and ignorance” (“The Palestine inquiry,” 12 January 1946).

Jewish contributions to “sparsely settled” and “backward” Palestine were nothing short of miraculous, according to Nation writer Philip Bernstein, who favorably likened European Jewish settlers to “the frontiersmen who cleared the wilderness and built the first settlements on the North American continent” (“The Jews of Europe: The case for Zionism,” 6 February 1943).

Preemptively excusing the ethnic cleansing to come, Bernstein added, “even if some displacement of the Arabs were necessary, this would ultimately be justified in the face of the desperate Jewish need. For there is no Arab problem in the sense that there is a Jewish problem. Fifteen million Arabs inhabit a region nearly half the size of Europe.”

Painting Arabs as Nazis

As early as 1939, Kirchwey was one of 27 writers to sign a letter condemning the British White Paper that year. Recognizing Jewish settler-colonialism in Palestine as a source of unrest, the White Paper called for limiting Jewish immigration and abandoning ethnoreligious partition in favor of a binational democratic state that secured the rights of both Jews and Arabs.

The appeal to which Kirchwey signed her name accused the British government of rewarding “Arab terrorism and gangsterism … bought and paid for by Italian fascism and German Nazism” and urged the US government to reject the paper.

Kirchwey would go on to link Arabs to Nazis and fascists at every opportunity thereafter, most notably in reports produced by the Nation Associates, a nonprofit group formed by Kirchwey to fund and publish the magazine.

Headed by Lillie Shultz, a former chief administrative officer at the pro-Zionist American Jewish Congress, the Nation Associates produced twelve widely circulated reports from 1947 to 1954 that campaigned for Zionist positions at the United Nations and the Truman administration. (Shultz went on to found a public relations firm whose primary client was Israel.)

Authored primarily by Kirchwey, the reports echoed Zionist propaganda and sought to cast Arabs as responsible for the Nazi Holocaust. The purpose of such baseless claims, according to Judis, was “to discredit Arab testimony at the United Nations.”

In the lead up to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the Nation Associates submitted a 133-page report to the UN with an entire section devoted to painting Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem and a leading figure in the Palestinian national movement, as an all-powerful agent of European Nazis and fascists. The authors went so far as to allege that the mufti was a “full partner” in the Nazi genocide of Europe’s Jews and was the primary inspiration for Adolf Hitler’s extermination campaign (“The Palestine problem and proposals for its solution,” April 1947).

Though none of these arguments withstand scrutiny, they feature prominently in Zionist propaganda against the Palestinian cause till this day.

The report also accused the Muslims of Europe and the Middle East of orchestrating mufti-directed sabotage campaigns against the Allied powers. This, of course, has no basis in reality, as the vast majority of Muslims who participated in the Second World War fought on behalf of the allied powers, including 8,000 Palestinians.

The report went on to caution against the “democratic appeal” of a binational state with equal rights for all, arguing “the Jewish population, progressive and industrialized, would be at the mercy of a backward and antagonistic Arab majority.” (Today’s liberal Zionists issue similarly racist warnings about the “demographic threat” posed by Palestinians absent a two-state solution.)

In May 1948, as mostly defenseless Palestinian towns and villages were being systematically wiped off the map by Zionist massacres and expulsions, The Nationcirculated another report to the UN, this time alleging a British conspiracy to assist surrounding Arab armies in attacking Jewish settlers. So consumed were “excitable” Arab men by their “bitter hatred of the Jews,” “the killing of Jews” had become their “sole raison d’être,” warned The Nation.

Weeks later, Kirchwey credited The Nation with pressuring the Truman administration into recognizing the state of Israel.

Ethnic cleansing as “fitting and just”

The Nation’s contribution to the Zionist project did not end with Israel’s foundation.

Soon after Palestine was emptied of its non-Jewish natives, Kirchwey embarked on a reporting trip to the region, where she published a series of dispatches that celebrated the new state of Israel and rejoiced in the removal of the land’s indigenous inhabitants.

Kirchwey was enamored with all facets of the new settler state, including the country’s first Israeli army spokesperson, Moshe Pearlman, who quit his job as a journalist for The New Statesman to run the Israeli press office. Kirchwey credited her old friend with “the creation … of a freely functioning, intelligent information service run by people who respect the virtue of facts” (“Israel at first glance,” 27 November 1948).

Reporting from Jaffa just months after Zionist militias expelled nearly all of the coastal city’s Palestinians, driving many into the sea where they crowded onto fishing boats for Gaza — Kirchwey acted as a propaganda mouthpiece for the conquerors (“Why did the Arabs run?”, 4 December 1948).

Escorted by an unnamed “man from the Israel press office,” she toured the ethnically cleansed city, heaping praise on Zionist pillagers for their supposed restraint and parroting lies about Nazis fighting alongside Palestinians:

He waved his arm at the damaged shop fronts. “What can you expect,” I asked, “especially after what went before? This was a clash between people that hated each other. Suppose the Arabs had swept into Tel Aviv? You think only a few streets of deserted small shops would have been smashed and looted?” He didn’t answer the last question. He said, “I expect Jewish soldiers to act like civilized human beings. They had captured the town; they should have protected it. They’ve done so in most places — protected both property and life.” I was more impressed by his severity than I was shocked by the damage done by the soldiers. I was later told, not by him but by someone else, that a good part of the looting in Jaffa was the work of assorted Europeans fighting in the Arab ranks — Nazis, Chetniks from Yugoslavia, and Balkan Moslem soldiers — who lingered after the defeat long enough to do some profitable marauding.

Next, Kirchwey reasoned that the removal of Palestinians was a noble endeavor because their homes were replaced with more deserving Jews.

“A good many of the undamaged houses in Jaffa and elsewhere are now being used for newly arrived Jews; so the Arab refugees unwittingly helped make a place for the Jewish refugees their leaders were so determined to keep out. This means hardship for individuals; collectively it is obviously fitting and just,” wrote Kirchwey.

As for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees forced from their ancestral lands, Kirchwey propagated the Zionist myth that their displacement was the fault of Arab leaders who advised them to flee. Palestinians had only themselves to blame, she reasoned.

Past haunts the present

Last summer, as the descendants of those refugees were obliterated by merciless Israeli bombardment, the first piece to appear at The Nation blamed Palestinians for their “suicidal” insistence on armed resistance to ghettoization and massacre.

Three years after the Nakba, the Nation Associates, along with several allied organizations, delivered a memorandum to the UN General Assembly agitating against the right of Palestinian refugees to return (“The Arab refugee problem: A plan for its solution,” 29 December 1951).

“Palestine Arabs fled from their homes at the behest of their leaders,” stated the document, which added that the Haganah — the precursor to the Israeli army that carried out the ethnic cleansing — “made every attempt to prevent the Arab exodus and pleaded with the populace to stay. These pleas were not heeded.”

The report continued, “The presence of a large Arab minority, which would be more responsive to the sentiments of the surrounding Arab states than to that of Israel, would render Israel insecure.”

In April 1954, as Palestinian refugees languished in squalid camps across the Middle East, periodically subjected to massacres by Israel and shot dead for attempting to return to their homes, the Nation Associates and allied organizations issued another report urging that development aid to the Middle East be conditioned on the acceptance by Arab states of blame for the Palestinian exodus and the forfeiture of the Palestinian right to return.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation’s current editor-in-chief, recently embraced her magazine’s “great history” of lobbying for Israel’s creation, highlighting a 2008 articleby neoconservative ideologues Ronald and Allis Radosh in World Affairs that detailed The Nation’s ultra-Zionist past while bashing the magazine’s present-day anti-occupation position.

In response to an email query from The Electronic Intifada, vanden Heuvel defended Kirchwey, writing, “Yes, former Nation editor Freda Kirchwey, like so many in the progressive community in the 1930s and ’40s, lived in the shadow of Nazism and the Holocaust. She devoted much energy to saving Europe’s most beleaguered community, the remnants of which were desperately seeking safe harbor after the worst genocidal killing in modern human history.”

Quoting from her own response to the Radoshes’ article, vanden Heuvel added, “When Kirchwey was writing, Israel was fighting for its survival; it was not engaged in a self-destructive occupation that even Israeli conservatives believe will eventually undermine its character and security.”

After some prodding, vanden Heuvel conceded that “[Kirchwey’s] views on the question of Palestine were one-sided and don’t represent what The Nation believes today, or indeed what it has believed for decades.”

The Nation has repeatedly criticized Israeli militarism and illegal occupation and has supported the right of Palestinians to statehood. Those views have been expressed in countless unsigned editorials, as the voice of the magazine, as well as in numerous articles and essays by contributors and columnists,” replied vanden Heuvel.

It is true that The Nation has staunchly opposed Israel’s occupation for decades. And the magazine does occasionally publish anti-Zionist critiques of Israel that identify Zionism as a toxic settler-colonial ideology underpinning the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

But it also provides a platform for anti-Palestinian bigots and Nakba revisionists to absolve Zionism of responsibility for fueling Israel’s ongoing dispossession of Palestinians. In a recent print feature for The Nation, liberal Israeli Zionist Bernard Avishai, who lives in the stolen home of a Palestinian expelled in 1948, attributed the premeditated mass expulsion of 50,000 Palestinians from Lydd and Ramla during the Nakba to “the fog of war” and labeled David Ben-Gurion, an architect of Palestine’s ethnic cleansing, an “admirably pragmatic” leader.

The Nation, as far as I can tell, does not publish Holocaust revisionism. Why is Nakba revisionism any less repulsive?

While it would be unfair to hold The Nation’s current leadership responsible for the transgressions of their predecessors, the magazine at the very least owes a historical debt to the Palestinians whose permanent displacement it so enthusiastically supported. Prevented from returning home by an ideology that seeks their erasure, those refugees and their descendants today live in shipping containers in Gaza and struggle to survive Bashar al-Assad’s barrel bombs and ISIS beheadings in what’s left of the Yarmouk camp in Damascus.

So long as The Nation magazine dithers on BDS while tiptoeing around the root cause of Palestinian suffering, this past will continue to haunt its present, a condition Palestinian refugees, waiting to return, know all too well.

PolitiFact denies Israeli ties to Baltimore police despite evidencete

Crossposted from The Electronic Intifada

PolitiFact, the Tampa Bay Times’ political and media accountability project, has refused to issue a correction to an article that wrongly denies, against all evidence, Israel’s role in training Baltimore police.

Under the cover of counterterrorism training, senior commanders of nearly every major American law enforcement agency, including the Baltimore Police Department, have traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement, a fact that US corporate media outlets studiously avoid examining or even acknowledging.

Last week, PunditFact, which is overseen by PolitiFact, broke with that tradition, but rejected that any such relationship exists between Israel’s security apparatus and Baltimore police.

During the recent Baltimore uprising spurred by the police murder of Freddie Gray, PunditFact went after a tweet authored by the Nation of Islam Research Group, which claimed the Baltimore police received training from the Mossad (Israel’s lethal international spy agency) and Shin Bet, its internal secret police.

The Nation of Islam tweet links to a page on the Baltimore County Police Department’s website about a Krav Maga training program the agency offers to recruits. Krav Maga is the hand to hand fighting style developed by the Israeli army.

PunditFact correctly infers that “The link includes no information or evidence that county police were trained by Mossad and Shin Bet.” However it fallaciously adds, “There’s no evidence of any training ties to Israel. This claim is utterly unproven. We rate the claim Pants on Fire.”

Reality is quite the opposite. Israeli security forces have indeed provided training to Baltimore police, and there is ample evidence to corroborate it.

As I noted in my recent article on the Baltimore crackdown, Baltimore city police participated in a 2002 training junket in Israel organized by the neoconservative Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). Among the ten high-ranking US police officials to take part in the JINSA trip was John Skinner, then commander of the Baltimore Police Department’s criminal intelligence division.

“Participants resolved to begin the process of sharing ‘lessons learned’ in Israel with their law enforcement colleagues in the United States,” stated JINSA in a press release. The officers studied Israeli-style intelligence gathering, border security, crowd control and media coordination. They also met with officials from nearly every branch of Israel’s security apparatus, including a senior commander in the Israel Security Agency, otherwise known as the Shin Bet, who gave them a special briefing.

Though there is no reference to Mossad participation, it is not uncommon for US police to receive briefings from Mossad officials on these trips.

Baltimore city police returned to Israel in 2009 on a trip hosted by American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange. “Participants toured the country and met with their Israeli counterparts to exchange information relating to best practices and recent advancements in security and counterterrorism,” according to Project Interchange.

In 2007, a captain in the Baltimore County Police Department attended a training session in Israel hosted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), where he reportedly “received valued lessons from Israeli officials … about gathering human and electronic intelligence” that can “apply to investigations into organized crime and gangs.”

Denying facts

In an email to the author of the PunditFact article, Jon Greenberg, and its editor, Aaron Sharockman, I presented proof of ties between Baltimore police and the Israeli security apparatus and requested that they issue a correction. While people may debate how significant these ties are, there is no denying that they exist. But they refused to make any change on the grounds that training sessions to Israel attended by senior officials in the Baltimore city and county police departments are irrelevant.

“The onus is on [the Nation of Islam] to do the research before they make the claim,” Greenberg replied.

Sharockman elaborated that “One officer attending training that includ[es] Israeli officials does little to warrant a correction.” The Baltimore police officer who attended the 2002 JINSA trip has since retired, the Baltimore County police captain who attended the 2007 ADL trip left the force in 2012, and the 2009 press release about the Project Interchange trip is too vague on details, argued Sharockman. “So three people attended some type of seminar. Two of them don’t work for Baltimore police agencies and we know nothing about the third person. Baltimore city has close to 4,000 sworn and civilian police officials,” he contended.

I pointed out that the Baltimore police officials who participated were senior officers in charge of entire divisions and they did so as representatives of their respective police departments. Even if the officers involved have retired, the whole point of these trips is for participants to apply what they learn to their own police departments. The lessons learned from Israel are meant to outlast the career of any single officer.

Even the ADL admits as much, bragging that US police who attend its annual week-long Israeli training camp “study first hand Israel’s tactics and strategies” directly from “senior commanders in the Israel National Police, experts from Israel’s intelligence and security services, and the Israel Defense Forces” and are “taking the lessons they learned in Israel back to the United States.”

In spite of all this, Sharockman maintained, “The statement we fact-checked is inaccurate and wrong. There is nothing we need to correct based on the Tweet sent out and its all-too-clear implication.”

This of course raises questions about why, of all the social media posts to choose from, PunditFact selected a tweet with a dubious link that was authored by the research arm of an organization with little reach (it has only been retweeted 44 times as of this writing), and whose leader is regularly accused of anti-Semitism.

PunditFact casts itself as “a project of the Tampa Bay Times and the Poynter Institute, dedicated to checking the accuracy of claims by pundits, columnists, bloggers, political analysts, the hosts and guests of talk shows, and other members of the media.”

There were plenty of members of the media with far more reach whose claims about Israel training the Baltimore police were passed over by PunditFact:

Author Max Blumenthal referenced Israel’s ties to the Baltimore police department in a widely shared article published at AlterNet, which should have appeared in an Internet search looking for connections between Baltimore and Israeli security forces.

Why didn’t PunditFact look into the credible media figures voicing the very claims it sought to fact-check? Unless of course PunditFact was attempting to discredit and diminish growing awareness about Israel’s role in facilitating police militarization by linking it to Nation of Islam.

After several back-and-forth messages over email, Sharockman’s final logic-bending denialism left me stunned:

I’m a senior level editor at the PunditFact and PolitiFact – which is a part of the of Tampa Bay Times. In 2012, I spent one month as part of a fellowship working at a Russian newspaper with Russian journalists.

Do you think it’d be fair to say the Tampa Bay Times is trained by Russian journalists?

It’s an exact parallel, yet I’m guessing, I’m hoping, that you wouldn’t make such a sweeping conclusion.

Let’s extend the parallel further: If hundreds of US editors and journalists were regularly traveling to Russia on Russian-government backed junkets, meeting with Russian government information officials, praising Russian information control methods and promising to bring them back to their US newsrooms, would Sharockman so easily dismiss his own participation as isolated, irrelevant and insignificant?

In the words of PunditFact, we rate the claim that there is no correction to be made Pants on Fire.

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