Mike Whitney — CounterPunch Feb 22, 2017
The New York Times is currently engaged in one of its most ambitious projects: Removing a sitting president from office. In fact, Times columnist Nicolas Kristof even said as much in a recent article titled “How Can We Get Rid of Trump?”
Frankly, it’s an idea that I find attractive, mainly because I think Trump’s views on immigration, the environment, human rights, civil liberties and deregulation are so uniformly horrible, they could destroy the country. But the Times objections are different from my own. The reason the Times wants Trump removed is because Trump wants to normalize relations with Russia which threatens to undermine Washington’s effort to project US power deeper into Central Asia.
Trump’s decision to normalize relations with Moscow poses a direct threat to Washington’s broader imperial strategy to control China’s growth, topple Putin, spread military bases across Central Asia, implement trade agreements that maintain the dominant role of western-owned mega-corporations, and derail attempts by Russia and China to link the wealthy EU to Asia by expanding the web of pipeline corridors and high-speed rail that will draw the continents closer together creating the largest and most populous free trade zone the world has ever seen.
This is what the US foreign policy establishment and, by inclusion, the Times are trying to avoid at all cost. The economic integration of Asia and Europe must be blocked to preserve Washington’s hegemonic grip on world power. That’s the whole deal in a nutshell.
So don’t be fooled, the Times doesn’t care any more about the suffering of immigrant families who have been victimized by Trump’s extremist policies than they do about the three million refugees that have fled America’s wars in Libya and Syria. The fact that the Times continues to mischaracterize this vast human exodus as some sort of natural disaster instead of the predictable spillover from persistent US aggression, just confirms the fact that the Times is not a reliable source of unbiased information at all. It is a political publication that crafts a political narrative reflecting the views of politically-minded elites whose strategic objectives cannot be achieved without more brainwashing, more coercion and more war.
Let’s consider, for a minute, the Times article that precipitated the current furor over Trump’s alleged connection to Russian intelligence. This is the article that’s been held up by numerous members of congress and the media as ironclad proof of Trump’s collusion with Moscow. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.
American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.” (“Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence”, New York Times)
There’s no reason to read any further, because the entire article follows this same basic pattern, that is, the article is shaped to create the impression that the Trump camp teamed up with the Russians to torpedo Hillary’s campaign. Unfortunately, the Times presents no hard evidence that the “call logs and intercepted communications (that) are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I.” even exist. Nor have they proved that anyone in the Trump camp ever communicated with people in Russia (excluding Michael Flynn, of course) let alone, collaborated to undermine the presidential election. It’s all 100% uncorroborated fluff.
So what’s going on here? Why would the Times run an article alleging impeachable offenses –which has sharpened the attacks on Trump by his critics in the media, the congress and in foreign capitals– without providing any evidence that their claims are true? None of the intelligence agents cited in the article have come forward and identified themselves (as one might expect when the charges are this serious), and as the Times admits, “The F.B.I. declined to comment.”
So they have nothing, right?
One can only conclude that the real intention of the article was to generate as much suspicion as possible –in order to damage to Trump as much as possible– without really saying much of anything, that is, to create the impression of wrongdoing without providing any proof of wrongdoing. And, in that regard, the Times certainly succeeded. It has been a very impressive smear campaign.
(By the way, in a Sunday morning interview on Fox News White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said that top intelligence officials told him that their was no collusion between Trump’s people and Russia. Priebus said that “top-level people,” in the intelligence community told him “that that story in the New York Times is complete garbage. And quite frankly, they used different words than that.”
Not surprisingly, Fox News host Chris Wallace demanded that Priebus reveal his sources, a demand that Wallace never made of the Times.)
Here’s more from the Times piece:
“The intercepted calls are different from the wiretapped conversations last year between Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sergey I. Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. In those calls, which led to Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night, the two men discussed sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia in December.”
More disinformation. So far, all we know about Flynn’s conversations was that he said that the administration would “review” the newly-imposed sanctions when after Trump was sworn in as president. There’s no evidence at all that Flynn did something illegal or in violation of the Logan Act. None. The media has used the incident to suggest that illicit activities had taken place when in fact, there is no evidence of wrongdoing at all. As far as we know, Flynn was just doing his job.
What’s more interesting is the fact that Obama decided to impose the new sanctions on Russia in late December (after Trump had already been elected) knowing that Trump probably wouldn’t support the sanctions.
That seems strange, don’t you think? Why would Obama do something so disrespectful at the eleventh hour unless he had something else up his sleeve? Was Obama setting a trap to get rid of the man who was the driving-force behind better relations with Russia? (Flynn)
I don’t know, but the facts are pretty suspicious. First, Obama imposed the sanctions in late December knowing that Trump would oppose them.
Second, Obama knew that Russia would want to discuss the sanctions with Flynn, right?
Right. So was it a trap set by Obama to trip-up Flynn?
Maybe “yes”, maybe “no”. It’s hard to say. But what we know is that 17 days before Obama left office, he issued an executive order expanding the powers of the NSA “to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” (NYT)
Why does that matter?
It matters because Flynn had already had his conversation with the Russian ambassador, so if the Intel agency that illegally gathered the information wanted to escape prosecution, the best way to do that would be to spread the information around to other agencies making it impossible to hold any one agency accountable. Simply put: They were taking the precautionary step of removing their bloody fingerprints from the murder weapon.
Check this out from Zero Hedge: “According to civil rights expert and prominent First Amendment Supreme Court lawyer, Jay Sekulow, what the agencies did by leaking the Trump Administration information was not only illegal but “almost becomes a soft coup”, one which was spurred by the last minute rule-change by Obama, who intentionally made it far easier for leaks to propagate, and next to impossible to catch those responsible for the leaks…
This is his explanation:
‘There was a sea-change here at the NSA with an order that came from president Obama 17 days before he left office where he allowed the NSA who used to control the data, it now goes to 16 other agencies and that just festered this whole leaking situation, and that happened on the way out, as the president was leaving the office.
Why did the Obama administration wait until it had 17 days left in their administration to put this order in place if they thought it was so important. They had 8 years, they didn’t do it, number one. Number two, it changed the exiting rule which was an executive order dating back to Ronald Reagan, that has been in place until 17 days before the Obama administration was going to end, that said the NSA gets the raw data, and they determine dissemination.
Instead, this change that the president put in place, signed off by the way by James Clapper on December 15, 2016, signed off by Loretta Lynch the Attorney General January 3, 2017, they decide that now 16 agencies can get the raw data and what that does is almost creates a shadow government. You have all these people who are not agreeing with President Trump’s position, so it just festers more leaks.
If they had a justification for this, wonderful, why didn’t they do it 8 years ago, 4 years ago, 3 years ago. Yet they wait until 17 days left.’
One potential answer: They knew they had a “smoking gun”, and were working to make it easier to enable the information to be “leaked” despite the clearly criminal consequences of such dissemination.” (“Jay Sekulow: Obama Should Be “Held Accountable” For The “Soft Coup” Against Trump“, Zero Hedge)
It’s an intriguing twist to the larger story, but it is not one that I can independently verify. Besides, what really concerns me is the emerging alliance between the Dems, the agenda-driven media, the deep-state agencies, the all-powerful foreign policy establishment and the progressives that are desperate to get rid of Trump by hook or crook. Glenn Greenwald summed it up perfectly in a recent post at The Intercept. He said:
“I happen to think that the Trump presidency is extremely dangerous…. They want to dismantle the environment. They want to eliminate the safety net. They want to empower billionaires. They want to enact bigoted policies against Muslims and immigrants and so many others. And it is important to resist them. …(But) if you’re somebody who believes that both the CIA and the deep state, on the one hand, and the Trump presidency, on the other, are extremely dangerous, as I do, there’s a huge difference between the two, which is that Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls… But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it.” (“Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy“, Democracy Now)
In other words, if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas. Leftists should avoid the temptation of aligning themselves with groups and agencies that might help them achieve their short-term goal of removing Trump, but ultimately move them closer to a de facto 1984 lock-down police state. Misplaced support for the deep state Russophobes will only strengthen the national security state’s stranglehold on power. That’s not a path to victory, it’s a path to annihilation.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.