Time to Investigate ‘Israelgate’

If the FBI director wants to uncover foreign meddling in U.S. elections, says Phil Giraldi, he ought to look at Israel, and specifically, NSA-designee Michael Flynn’s call, at Benjamin Netanyahu’s request via Jared Kushner, to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 22, 2016.

By Philip Giraldi

Recently there was a slight misunderstanding between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu claimed that the Trump administration had been discussing with him a plan for annexing the large Israeli settlements—illegal under international law—on the Palestinian West Bank. He told a Likud Party gathering that “on the subject of applying sovereignty, I can say that I have been talking to the Americans about it for some time.” White House spokesman Josh Raffel responded testily for the president, saying that “reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false. The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal. . . .”

Was it just another misunderstanding between two friends who also happen to be heads of state? Hardly. Netanyahu expected the White House to rubber stamp whatever he decided to do. That has been the way it has worked with Trump up until now and the assumption by Netanyahu was that it would continue to operate in the same fashion.

Score one for Trump, who also dropped a bomb on Netanyahu by opining that Israel might not be truly interested in making peace with the Palestinians. It was not a brilliant observation, but it was welcome nevertheless.

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The sideshow that is Israel’s manipulation of the United States government has recently played out largely behind the scenes while much bigger dramas were surfacing relating to the various investigations surrounding the 2016 elections. A major revelation was provided by the so-called “Nunes memo,” prepared by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, which maintained that the salacious and largely fabricated Democratic National Committee-commissioned “Steele dossier” had been used as a primary source by the FBI in obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to investigate a Trump staffer over suspicion that he was acting as an agent of Russia. This was followed by a letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), which filled in some of the blanks in the Nunes memo by providing convincing detail on the activity of former British spy Christopher Steele in making the case against Trump with the apparent collaboration of the FBI and others in the intelligence community.

And the most recent bombshell is that the Robert Mueller commission investigating the Trump campaign has finally issued an indictment in its seemingly endless investigation, naming 13 Russians and three Russian entities as being involved in conspiracy and identity theft relating to the election.

But somehow lost in the shuffle is the Israeli connection, which all started when Trump National Security Adviser designate Michael Flynn called Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, on Dec. 22, 2016. The call was made at the direction of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who, in turn, had been approached by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu had learned that the Obama administration was going to abstain on a United Nations vote condemning the Israeli settlements policy, meaning that for the first time in years a UN resolution critical of Israel would pass without drawing a U.S. veto. Kushner, acting for Netanyahu, asked Flynn to contact each delegate from the various countries on the Security Council to delay or kill the resolution. Flynn agreed to do so, which included the call to the Russians. Kislyak took the call but did not agree to veto Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed unanimously on December 23.

What exactly did Kushner seek from Flynn? He asked the soon-to-be national security adviser to get the Russians to undermine and subvert what was being done by the still-in-power American government in Washington headed by President Barack Obama. In legal terms this does not quite equate to the Constitution’s definition of treason since Israel is not technically an enemy, but it most certainly could be construed as covered by the “conspiracy against the United States” statute that the Mueller investigation has exploited against former Trump associate Paul Manafort and also in the recent Russian indictments.

Mueller’s indictment, which was publicized on Feb. 16, claims that the Russians created false U.S. personas while also stealing the identities of real U.S. people in order to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The indictment states that the goal of the entities and people identified was to both influence and disrupt the election, with some defendants posing as “U.S. people” communicating with “individuals associated with the Trump campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”

The “defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” the indictment reads, but it does not maintain that they had “any effect on the outcome of the election.” Purchases were made “to carry out those activities, including buying [$100,000 worth of] political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities.” The accused Russians are being charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

In the case of the Kislyak phone call, initiated by Kushner acting for Israel, Russia is being accused of involvement in activity that Israel engages in all the time and in the open. Israel has always been involved in U.S. elections down to the local level, most notably in promoting Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in 2012, and it has an enormous and well-funded lobby in AIPAC that interferes aggressively in American foreign and domestic policy formulation through “coordinating political activities” to benefit Israel. And the Israeli government’s propaganda arm uses its hasbara to go around the Internet with false identities to confuse and deflect stories that are critical of the Netanyahu government. They do so routinely and do not even try to hide what they are doing. Part of their agenda is to smear critics and elect politicians favorable to them.

So when will Mueller and the several congressional committees that are investigating the Russians move on to the topic of Israel to find out what a really effective foreign influencing operation looks like? Given Israel’s power over Congress, probably never.

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.




Who Wants War With Iran?

The consequences of a U.S. war with Iran would be devastating, so why is Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley indicting Iran in a recent missile fired at a Saudi airport? It would appear the war propaganda campaign is ramping up.

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Shortly before Christmas, President Donald Trump was the beneficiary of some surprisingly good news and glad tidings. On Dec. 17, Vladimir Putin called to thank him and the CIA for providing Russia critical information that helped abort an ISIS plot to massacre visitors to Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Dec. 18 found polls showing Trump at his highest in months. Stocks soared 200 points at the opening bell in anticipation of pre-Christmas passage of the Republican tax bill. The Dow has added a record 5,000 points in Trump’s first year.

And the Russiagate investigation may have busted an axle. Though yet unproven, charges are being made that Robert Mueller’s sleuths gained access to emails from the Trump campaign illicitly. This could imperil prosecutions by Mueller’s team, already under a cloud for proven malice toward the president. Recall: Daniel Ellsberg, who delivered “the Pentagon Papers” to The New York Times, walked free when it was learned that the White House “Plumbers” had burgled his psychiatrist’s office.

With things going Trump’s way, one must ask: What was UN Ambassador Nikki Haley doing in early December at what looked like a prewar briefing at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in D.C.?

Looming behind Ms. Haley was part of what was said to be an Iranian missile fired at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

Though the rocket had Iranian markings, it was not launched from Iran, or by Iranians. Houthi rebels, for two years victims of a savage war waged by the Saudis—using U.S.-made planes, missiles, bombs, and drones—say they fired it at the Riyadh airport in retaliation for what the Saudis have done to their people and country. If so, it was a legitimate act of war.

Indeed, so great is the Yemeni civilian suffering from a lack of food and medicine, and from malnutrition and disease, Trump himself has told the Saudis to ease up on their air, sea, and land blockades.

As there is no evidence as to when the Houthis acquired the missile, or where, the question arises: What was Ms. Haley’s motive in indicting Iran? Was this part of a new propaganda campaign to drum up support for America’s next big Mideast war? There are reasons to think so.

Ms. Haley went on: “It’s hard to find a conflict or a terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it.” But Iran is Shiite, while al Qaeda, which allegedly brought down the twin towers with the help of 15 Saudi nationals, is Sunni. So, too, are ISIS, Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in Somalia and Islamic Jihad. Most Mideast terrorist groups are Sunni, not Shiite.

As for these Mideast “conflicts,” which did Iran start? We started the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. NATO started the war in Libya. The U.S. helped trigger the horrific Syrian civil war by arming “rebels.” Only when President Bashar Assad looked like he was about to fall did Russia and Iran intervene on his side.

As for the “Shiite crescent,” from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut, who created it? Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was Sunni dominated. It was the Americans who overthrew him and brought Shiite power to Baghdad.

In Syria, it was U.S.- and Sunni-backed “rebels,” allied at times with al Qaeda, who drew Iran and the Shiite militias in to save Assad.

And the Israelis called the Shiite Hezbollah movement into being by invading and occupying South Lebanon in 1982. As Yitzhak Rabin ruefully said, “We let the Shia genie out of the bottle.”

Are we now to fight a new Mideast war against a larger enemy than any of the others we have fought, to clean up the bloody mess we made of the region by our previous military interventions? Before we march, with Ms. Haley as head cheerleader, Trump should consider the likely consequences for his country, the Middle East, and his presidency.

A war in the Persian Gulf would send oil prices soaring and stock markets plummeting, even as it would split us off from our major allies in Europe and Asia. The Airbus-Boeing deal to sell Iran 300 commercial aircraft would be dead.

While the U.S. would prevail in an air, naval, and missile war, where would the troops come from to march to Tehran to “democratize” that nation? Do we think a bloodied revanchist Iran would be easier to deal with than the one with which John Kerry negotiated a nuclear deal?

Would Hezbollah go after U.S. soft targets in Beirut? Would Iraqi Shiite militias go after Americans in the Green Zone? Would the Shiite majority in Bahrain and the oil-rich northeast of Saudi Arabia rise up and rebel?

And who would our great fighting Arab ally be? Jared Kushner’s new friend: a 32-year-old Saudi prince who has become famous for putting down $500 million each for a chateau near Versailles, a yacht on the Riviera, and a painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of a new book, Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever and previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. Both are available from the AFP Bookstore. 

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