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‘The Best Interests of the People’: Ex-US Top Spy Clapper Justifies Election Interference

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Fret not, people of the over 80 countries where the US has interfered in elections – it was done in your “best interests,” according to former head of US Intelligence James Clapper.

Clapper, who famously lied about the NSA mass surveillance program before it was revealed by Edward Snowden, is back in the media spotlight, promoting his new book, Facts and Fears.

The tome promises readers "Hard truths from a life in intelligence." However, perhaps the more interesting insights are on Clapper’s reflections on the so-called Russiagate scandal and investigations into the alleged hacking of the US presidential election. 

In an interview with Bloomberg’s Tobin Harshaw, Clapper is asked about the US’ own history of election interference:
‘I guess the way I think about that is that through our history, when we tried to manipulate or influence elections or even overturned governments, it was done with the best interests of the people in that country in mind,’ he answers, noting that 'traditional reverence for human rights.'
US actions of overthrowing foreign powers has long been the subject of academic discussions and debate, with over 80 instances of it between 1946 and 2000 documented in Dov Levin’s report "When the Great Power Gets a Vote" alone.

Clapper claims he’s not simply jumping on the book-writing bandwagon, but that the loss of what he calls the “beacon of truth” is what inspired him to put pen to paper.

He says US President Donald Trump is not the problem with America, he’s just a symbol of the wider issue, “where now it’s fashionable to have alternative facts or where ‘truth is relative,’ to quote Rudy Giuliani.” 

Truth also seems to be a “relative” term for Clapper, who was caught out by Edward Snowden’s uncovering of a mass surveillance program at the NSA, something the former intelligence chief had denied to the US Select Committee on Intelligence.

The now-retired Clapper has some high hopes for his publication, saying he hopes it can in some way inform the public about the threats the US faces, “both internal and external.”

On the regrets front, there’s no surprise as to what he feels the biggest issue yet to be solved is, and that’s the “intractable problem” of Syria.

His comments come just days after President Bashar Assad told RT that Washington and its “puppets” tried, and failed, to destroy Syria – and the US military will eventually be forced out of the country.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

N. Korea Conundrum: ‘Washington Confuses Concept of Negotiation With Surrender’

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The US is essentially irrelevant to the solution of the Korean problem and, if a deal is made between the North and South, the US will be asked to leave, says Daniel McAdams, executive director of the Ron Paul Peace Institute.

Donald Trump said during a meeting with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the US capital on Tuesday that his much-anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 12 might not happen.

Both Washington and Pyongyang have previously suggested they may not be willing to hold talks unless certain conditions are met.

RT discussed the situation with McAdams, from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Daniel McAdams: It is interesting to see how Trump and his top advisers seem to be at odds with each other. I don’t know if his management style is to create chaos and see if some order comes from it or what in fact may be his style, but a few days ago you saw John Bolton bringing up the issue of the Libya scenario. I don’t believe this was an accident. This is the same Bolton who just before he was confirmed as the president’s national security adviser wrote an article encouraging the US to have a first strike against North Korea. I don’t believe that he has changed his tune in just a couple of months. Here you have him basically talking about Libya as a model for North Korea. We know what happened to Libya: Libya voluntarily gave up its weapons and was overthrown nonetheless. If that is not the red flag to the North Koreans, I don’t know what is. And they did take it as a red flag: they said: “John Bolton is not welcome here. We don’t even want to talk to the South as long as this kind of nonsense is going on.”  

RT: Where does the confusion come from?

DA: The problem is that Washington confuses the idea of negotiation with the idea of surrender. The meeting for Trump and Kim in Singapore should have been the beginning of a dialogue, of a process. Instead John Bolton and others have laid down the law: Here what you got to do. I think Bolton said: “Tell us where we should send our planes, pick up your stuff and take it away.” So, the whole idea is that you immediately surrender and we give you vague promises in the future making you very rich. If I were North Korea, particularly watching how the US tore up the Iran agreement, if you have any mind at all, you would be very skeptical…

RT: Do you think North Korea is taking the talk as seriously as they should knowing how the Trump administration behaves?

DA: I don’t think that is the case because I think the US is essentially irrelevant to the solution of the Korean problem. And that may be one of the silver linings – the fact that the Trump administration seems to have no clue what it is doing. The North and South are clearly moving ahead. We saw the historic meeting on the border. We saw the talks progress. Moon was elected to do exactly what he is trying to do. And I think it’s actually the US interventionist neoconservatives who are isolating the US and making us irrelevant which, from the libertarian perspective, is actually very good thing. I think this will go ahead.

RT: Is the US ever going to pull out of South Korea? It’s not on the cards, is it?

DA: Things happened very quickly. Who would have thought just before December 1989 that the Wall would come down. These things do happen. Historic events do happen.…I think that the ball is in play with North and South Korea and the US is irrelevant. At some point if the deal is made between the North and South, eventually, the US will have to be asked to leave.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

Blackout: US military spent $60 million on Afghanistan power lines to nowhere

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The US military spent $60 million on a new section of power grid in Afghanistan’s northeast. It doesn’t work and may even put residents at risk, according to a report from the US government’s reconstruction watchdog.

While the power lines have been built, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that mismanagement by the Army Corps of Engineers led to the grid remaining at best useless and at worst, dangerous.

In 2013, the US Army awarded a $116 million contract to an Afghan company to build a power grid for part of northeastern Afghanistan in several phases. The mismanaged third phase of the project cost $60 million.

Before construction was due to begin, the Afghan government agreed to purchase privately held land to clear a path for power lines. This never happened, and the Afghan contractors built the lines regardless, over the heads of Afghan farmers still living on land that should have been cleared.

The contract required the company to “provide power” but did not include any provisions for actually connecting the lines to the nearest substation, rendering them useless.

Because the lines cannot be hooked up to the substation, and because residents still live under them, they cannot be properly tested, and could be potentially lethal. Furthermore, SIGAR inspectors found that many pylons along the lines are built on unsound soil and with poor quality concrete, which has begun to crumble in places.

Mismanagement along these northeastern power lines is just one of a litany of reconstruction problems identified by SIGAR. These include cases of bribery and theft of government equipment by US Army personnel, shoddily built infrastructure, and lack of maintenance at schools and hospitals.

The US Agency For International Development (USAID) twice failed to implement an electronic payments system for tax collection in Afghanistan, at a cost of $160 million. Connection and software problems between Afghan banks, as well as a lack of political support for an e-payments system, are blamed for its failure.

Another heavily redacted SIGAR report found that the Pentagon funded Afghan security forces, despite knowing that they were engaged in numerous human rights violations, including rampant child abuse. While composing the document, the watchdog interviewed 37 individuals, 24 of whom stated they knew about children being sexually exploited by the Afghan forces.

In yet another report, SIGAR found that US military personnel studied the TV shows NCIS and Cops to train the Afghan National Police (ANP) on law enforcement techniques. The watchdog found that the soldiers assigned to train the ANP often knew nothing about law enforcement.

Since 2001, the war in Afghanistan has cost the US an estimated $1.07 trillion.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

Lew Rockwell: ‘It’s About Time the US Realized it Needs to Get Out of Afghanistan’

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The US has no business in Afghanistan but it loves war and could be there for another 17 years, killing hundreds of thousands more people, according to Lew Rockwell, chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

The US State Department confirmed Tuesday that several Americans were among the victims in Saturday's attack on a hotel in the Afghan capital, Kabul, where 22 people died in the overnight siege by Taliban militants, local officials said. On Wednesday, a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb next to the office of the humanitarian group Save the Children in Jalalabad.

RT spoke to Rockwell, a political consultant who believes the US military presence is aggravating the situation in Afghanistan.

RT: The US is now ramping up the fight against the Taliban by sending new aircraft for close-air support. Do you believe that's connected to the attack?

Lew Rockwell: No, I think Trump has already talked about sending in more troops and more planes and other weapons. This is a further unfortunate back down from the campaign promises he made. He said some very good things about getting out of Afghanistan, that the US had no business there. And then of course as soon as he was elected, he has switched and he is now stepping up the war in Afghanistan. It is terrible these people were killed. I don’t think we have an idea how many Afghan civilians have been killed in the 17 years of this war, how many soldiers on both sides. It is a terrible thing. The US has no business in Afghanistan, any more than Russia did, any more than Alexander the Great did. The US has got to get out, let the Afghans run their own county.

The Taliban is, we call them the Taliban, which means “the students”. That is just the name for Pashtun people, the majority of people in Afghanistan and in Pakistan as well. I think we need to get out, let people run their own lives, stop killing, stop all the weapons, stop all the terrible things the US empire does: stir up trouble in order to make itself seem needed. [It’s] very bad.  

RT:Is the Afghan government capable of handling security without US support?

LR: No, they can’t. The Afghan government itself said that it would only last a few months if the US pulled out. There is a hint that the Afghan government, maybe they are to go with the US troops and have new people come in. Why is the US killing all these people, spending trillions of dollars on Afghanistan to have a very unpopular government in power? What is that? It’s just typical imperialism; it’s like ancient Rome, Babylon, the British or many others. The only answer is – to get the heck out.

RT:The hotel siege is the latest reminder of the continuing toll paid by Washington in the Afghan War. Why aren't there any tangible signs of resolution?

LR: I think the US likes the war. The US likes being at war all over the place, all over the Middle East, all over other areas in the Far East. They love being at war. They love spending the money; they love the military industrial complex; they love all the trouble they cause. And they say, “That just shows American needs to be there because there is so much trouble and so many people being killed.” But actually it shows the opposite – the US needs to get out of Afghanistan, get out of Syria, get out of every other single foreign country it’s in and do what Trump promised – put America first. How about taking care of America, a lot that needs to be done here at home, leave other peoples alone, leave other countries alone, stop killing people all over the world and expecting to be loved for it.

RT: The Intercontinental Hotel is one of the most protected areas in Kabul. How much of a setback is this for the Afghan government? 

LR: It is probably is a setback, it is where CIA people stay, for example. We are not going to hear that mentioned. They just talk about the Afghan ally. A lot of very important civilian US officials stay there. This is a real setback and no matter how much they promise they are going “to change anything,” “it is going to be better,” “it is going to be safer,” of course, it’s not. And the people of Afghanistan don’t like being occupied. A lot of Americans have a tough time understanding that they don’t like foreigners occupying them, installing a government they hate and running their lives, they don’t like it. We need to have a peace talks with the Taliban, I have no question that they would like to have peace talks with us that we could get out and let the Afghans handle their own lives in their own country. That is the only solution. The US can be there another 17 or 18 years, kill hundreds of thousands more people, mostly civilians, of course. They can do many terrible, horrible things. It is about time we stop that stuff.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

‘US Govt Undermines Democracy’ Seeking More Control Over Social Media

It’s preposterous that the US government purports to tell Americans what they are allowed to read on social media, says Daniel McAdams, executive director of Ron Paul Institute. He adds that it undermines US democracy.

Technology and social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and Google have been in the hot seat before US Congress intelligence committees. They were grilled on day two of hearings into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election in 2016. Lawyers for Twitter, Google, and Facebook testified that the amount of Russian-linked content on their platforms was relatively small. But was that what the Senators wanted to hear?

RT asked Daniel McAdams, executive director of Ron Paul Institute whether Senators are pushing the firms to get in line with US foreign policy.

“It’s preposterous that the US government purports to tell the American people what they are allowed to read, what they are allowed to consume on social media,” he said.

McAdams cited Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) who said during the grilling “How do we know that isn’t going to undermine our democracy?” McAdams argues: “Our democracy is based on us having the widest range of information possible with zero government involvement. They are the ones that are acting like totalitarians; they are the ones acting like anti-American; they are the ones that are undermining our democracy.”

In his view, the US government wants to gain more control over social media, which still remains “very democratized” while they “don’t like people thinking outside the lines and coloring outside the lines.”

As to whether the tech companies will bow to the pressure coming from the Senators, in McAdam’s view they ultimately will.
But the reason the Senators are so angry is that there is no 'there' there. Senator (Mark) Warner, who’s gone to California, Silicon Valley, how many times they twisted arms, browbeat, smacked these people around: 'You better find evidence of Russian collusion in our elections.' He can’t find it. So instead of coming back and saying: 'You know, I am barking up the wrong tree.' He yells at the companies: 'Why don’t you find the stuff,' so that they have the conclusion first and then they look for the evidence afterward. It just shows how desperate they are getting that they can’t find anything. Even the accounts they claim are 'Russia-linked,' what does that mean? Does that mean that is associated with the Russian government or just Russian people? I am an American – I am not an 'American-linked,' when I go on the internet. I am an individual.
Watch full interview here: