• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 10 januari 2015

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Posted: 09 Jan 2015 06:53 PM PST
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Harith al Nadhari, a senior AQAP ideologue, has released a new audio message praising the terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo.

A newly released audio message from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) features a top official in the group, Harith al Nadhari, praising the attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo earlier this week.
Although the audio message was not released via one of AQAP's official channels, it appears to be legitimate. The release bears the logo of al Malahem Media Foundation, AQAP's media wing.
Al Nadhari begins his roughly 5-minute message by saying the French cartoonists targeted in the attack are the "enemies of Allah's messenger, who have disbelieved in him, lied about him." They are also "the impure from among the sons of France," Al Nadhari says.
Although the audio does not include any claims of credit for the attack, al Nadhari lauds the gunmen as "mujahideen heroes." He justifies the massacre by saying that France is "among the leaders of disbelief," alleging that the nation regularly insults Islam, its prophets, and its followers. Al Nadhari addresses the French nation directly and asks, "When will you stop fighting Allah and his messenger? If you convert to Islam, that would be better for you."
Al Nadhari concludes his statement by telling the French that unless they cease their "aggression against the Muslims...you will not be blessed with security."
A separate written statement, allegedly authored by AQAP, has been disseminated via social media. The message is purportedly AQAP's claim of responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack.
However, The Long War Journal cautions that the statement's authenticity could not be immediately verified. The statement has been tweeted and retweeted by well-connected jihadists who usually promote legitimate messages, but this does not guarantee that it is authentic.
"The operation was directed by the leadership of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)," the statement reads. The targets were chosen deliberately "in retaliation for the display of the Prophet."
The authors of the release also claim that the operation was "the implementation of Sheikh Osama Bin Laden's threat" in which he warned the West against going too far in offending Muslim sensibilities. Moreover, the statement explains that AQAP delayed taking credit "for security reasons" related to the attackers.
The release outlines four messages to the West, as conveyed in the Paris attack. Firstly, violating Muslim sanctities will come at a high price. The authors say that the "punishment will be severe and be a deterrent." Moreover, Western countries will pay the price of their crimes "in their own homes." Additionally, the alleged AQAP message says that al Qaeda's policy of striking the "head of the snake" is ongoing. Lastly, the statement alleges that Inspire, AQAP's English-language magazine, has been a "resounding success," because of the attack on Charlie Hebdo. In Inspire, AQAP called for terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo and others who had supposedly smeared the Prophet Mohammed.
At least two media outlets are reporting that AQAP members have claimed responsibility for the attack. The Interceptreports that an AQAP member sent the publication a statement saying that the group "directed the operation." And theAssociated Press reports that an AQAP member says the attack was ordered "as revenge for the honor" of the Prophet Mohammed.
Such claims may be accurate, but jihadist organizations typically issue formal statements claiming responsibility for attacks, especially assaults as high-profile as the one on Charlie Hebdo.
Posted: 09 Jan 2015 02:31 PM PST
CNN affiliate in France, BMFTV, interviewed Cherif Kouachi, one of two brothers responsible for the attack on Charlie Hebdo's offices, before he was killed earlier today. A BMFTV journalist reportedly talked to Cherif via phone while he and his brother were holed up at a printing factory.
"We are just telling you that we are the defenders of Prophet Mohammed," Cherif Kouachi told the journalist, according to CNN. "I was sent, me, Cherif Kouachi, by al Qaeda in Yemen. I went there and Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki financed my trip."
Asked to explain when he met with Awlaki, Cherif said "a while ago." Awlaki was killed in a US drone strike in late September 2011.
An audio recording of BMFTV's interview with Cherif has been released online, but CNN says it has not independently verified its authenticity.
Earlier, Reuters reported that the other Kouachi brother, Said, is also suspected of having ties to Awlaki. Citing "a senior Yemeni intelligence source," Reuters reported that Said met with Awlaki during his stay in Yemen in 2011.
Said's putative meeting with Awlaki has not yet been publicly confirmed by US officials.
American officials have told the press, however, that Said is thought to have trained in an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) camp during his visit to Yemen in 2011. Citing a "senior American official" who spoke with the media,The New York Times reported that Said trained for "a few months" on small arms. CNN added that it "is also possible Said was trained in bomb making, a common jihadist training in Yemen."
The possible ties between AQAP and the terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo were reported in the first hours after the attack. "You can tell the media that it's al Qaeda in Yemen," one of the terrorists said during the assault, according to a witness cited in the press. "Al Qaeda in Yemen" is a reference to AQAP, al Qaeda's official branch in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
A French official who briefed the press shortly after the attack also claimed that the terrorists are "linked to a Yemeni terrorist network."
In the past, AQAP has explicitly threatened Charlie Hebdo and its editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed in the attack. The 10th issue of AQAP's Inspire magazine, which was released in early 2013, includes a "Wanted" poster that is headlined, "Dead or Alive For Crimes Against Islam." The poster is intended to encourage followers to shoot 11 people, all of whom have supposedly offended Islam. One of them is Charbonnier.
And in the very first edition of Inspire magazine in 2010, Anwar al Awlaki called for jihadists to attack cartoonists who had supposedly smeared the legacy of the Prophet Mohammed.
Separately, BMFTV was also in contact today with Amedy Coulibaly, who was not involved in the assault onCharlie Hebdo, but is suspected of killing a Paris police officer and holding hostages at a kosher market.
Coulibaly apparently did not mention any ties to AQAP, but did say he was a member of the Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that claims to rule over parts of Iraq and Syria as a "caliphate." Coulibaly also claimed that he had coordinated his actions with the Kouachi brothers.
It is not clear at this point if Coulibaly had any ties to the Islamic State, or was simply claiming an affiliation.
AQAP and the Islamic State are bitter rivals. The two jihadist groups have engaged in a war of words in recent months.
In mid-November, the emir of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, announced that his "caliphate" had expanded into Saudi Arabia and Yemen. In the process, Baghdadi claimed, the authority of all other existing jihadist groups had been superseded. Baghdadi's announcement was a direct, ideological attack on AQAP.
AQAP's ideologues have responded by arguing that the Islamic State is not a true caliphate and lacks the religious authority to rule as one. AQAP has also released a series of messages that are supportive of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri.

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In Solidarity With a Free Press: Some More Blasphemous Cartoons

By Glenn GreenwaldJanuary 10, 2015 "ICH" - "The Intercept" -  


Defending free speech and free press rights, which typically means defending the right to disseminate the very ideas society finds most repellent, has been one of my principal passions for the last 20 years: previously as a lawyer and now as a journalist. So I consider it positive when large numbers of people loudly invoke this principle, as has been happening over the last 48 hours in response to the horrific attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
Usually, defending free speech rights is much more of a lonely task. For instance, the day before the Paris murders, I wrote an article about multiple cases where Muslims are being prosecuted and even imprisoned by western governments for their online political speech – assaults that have provoked relatively little protest, including from those free speech champions who have been so vocal this week.
I’ve previously covered cases where Muslims were imprisoned for many years in the U.S. for things like translating and posting “extremist” videos to the internet, writing scholarly articles in defense of Palestinian groups and expressing harsh criticism of Israel, and even including a Hezbollah channel in a cable package. That’s all well beyond the numerous cases of jobs being lost or careers destroyed for expressing criticism of Israel or (much more dangerously and rarely) Judaism. I’m hoping this week’s celebration of free speech values will generate widespread opposition to all of these long-standing and growing infringements of core political rights in the west, not just some.
Central to free speech activism has always been the distinction between defending the right to disseminate Idea X and agreeing with Idea X, one which only the most simple-minded among us are incapable of comprehending. One defends the right to express repellent ideas while being able to condemn the idea itself. There is no remote contradiction in that: the ACLU vigorously defends the right of neo-Nazis to march through a community filled with Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Illinois, but does not join the march; they instead vocally condemn the targeted ideas as grotesque while defending the right to express them.
But this week’s defense of free speech rights was so spirited that it gave rise to a brand new principle: to defend free speech, one not only defends the right to disseminate the speech, but embraces the content of the speech itself. Numerous writers thus demanded: to show “solidarity” with the murdered cartoonists, one should not merely condemn the attacks and defend the right of the cartoonists to publish, but should publish and even celebrate those cartoons. “The best response to Charlie Hebdo attack,” announced Slate’s editor Jacob Weisberg, “is to escalate blasphemous satire.”Some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo were not just offensive but bigoted, such as the one mocking the African sex slaves of Boko Haram as welfare queens (left). Others went far beyond maligning violence by extremists acting in the name of Islam, or even merely depicting Mohammed with degrading imagery (above, right), and instead contained a stream of mockery toward Muslims generally, who in France are not remotely powerful but are largely a marginalized and targeted immigrant population.But no matter. Their cartoons were noble and should be celebrated – not just on free speech grounds but for their content. In a column entitled “The Blasphemy We Need,” The New York Times‘ Ross Douthat argued that “the right to blaspheme (and otherwise give offense) is essential to the liberal order” and “that kind of blasphemy [that provokes violence] is precisely the kind that needs to be defended, because it’s the kind that clearly serves a free society’s greater good.” New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait actually proclaimed that “one cannot defend the right [to blaspheme] without defending the practice.” Vox’s Matt Yglesias had a much more nuanced view but nonetheless concluded that “to blaspheme the Prophet transforms the publication of these cartoons from a pointless act to a courageous and even necessary one, while the observation that the world would do well without such provocations becomes a form of appeasement.”
To comport with this new principle for how one shows solidarity with free speech rights and a vibrant free press, we’re publishing some blasphemous and otherwise offensive cartoons about religion and their adherents:

Is it time for me to be celebrated for my brave and noble defense of free speech rights? Have I struck a potent blow for political liberty and demonstrated solidarity with free journalism by publishing blasphemous cartoons? If, as Salman Rushdie said, it’s vital that all religions be subjected to “fearless disrespect,” have I done my part to uphold western values?
When I first began to see these demands to publish these anti-Muslim cartoons, the cynic in me thought perhaps this was really just about sanctioning some types of offensive speech against some religions and their adherents, while shielding more favored groups. In particular, the west has spent years bombing, invading and occupying Muslim countries and killing, torturing and lawlessly imprisoning innocent Muslims, and anti-Muslim speech has been a vital driver in sustaining support for those policies.
So it’s the opposite of surprising to see large numbers of westerners celebrating anti-Muslim cartoons - not on free speech grounds but due to approval of the content. Defending free speech is always easy when you like the content of the ideas being targeted, or aren’t part of (or actively dislike) the group being maligned.
Indeed, it is self-evident that if a writer who specialized in overtly anti-black or anti-Semitic screeds had been murdered for their ideas, there would be no widespread calls to republish their trash in “solidarity” with their free speech rights. In fact, Douthat, Chait and Yglesias all took pains to expressly note that they were only calling for publication of such offensive ideas in the limited case where violence is threatened or perpetrated in response (by which they meant in practice, so far as I can tell: anti-Islam speech). Douthat even used italics to emphasize how limited his defense of blasphemy was: “that kind of blasphemy is precisely the kind that needs to be defended.”
One should acknowledge a valid point contained within the Douthat/Chait/Yglesias argument: when media outlets refrain from publishing material out of fear (rather than a desire to avoid publishing gratuitously offensive material), as several of the west’s leading outlets admitted doing with these cartoons, that is genuinely troubling, an actual threat to a free press. But there are all kinds of pernicious taboos in the west that result in self-censorship or compelled suppression of political ideas, from prosecution and imprisonment to career destruction: why is violence by Muslims the most menacing one? (I’m not here talking about the question of whether media outlets should publish the cartoons because they’re newsworthy; my focus is on the demand they be published positively, with approval, as “solidarity”).
When we originally discussed publishing this article to make these points, our intention was to commission two or three cartoonists to create cartoons that mock Judaism and malign sacred figures to Jews the way Charlie Hebdo did to Muslims. But that idea was thwarted by the fact that no mainstream western cartoonist would dare put their name on an anti-Jewish cartoon, even if done for satire purposes, because doing so would instantly and permanently destroy their career, at least. Anti-Islam and anti-Muslim commentary (and cartoons) are a dime a dozen in western media outlets; the taboo that is at least as strong, if not more so, are anti-Jewish images and words. Why aren’t Douthat, Chait, Yglesias and their like-minded free speech crusaders calling for publication of anti-Semitic material in solidarity, or as a means of standing up to this repression? Yes, it’s true that outlets like The New York Times will in rare instances publish such depictions, but only to document hateful bigotry and condemn it – not to publish it in “solidarity” or because it deserves a serious and respectful airing.
With all due respect to the great cartoonist Ann Telnaes, it is simply not the case that Charlie Hebdo “were equal opportunity offenders.” Like Bill Maher, Sam Harris and other anti-Islam obsessives, mocking Judaism, Jews and/or Israel is something they will rarely (if ever) do. If forced, they can point to rare and isolated cases where they uttered some criticism of Judaism or Jews, but the vast bulk of their attacks are reserved for Islam and Muslims, not Judaism and Jews. Parody, free speech and secular atheism are the pretexts; anti-Muslim messaging is the primary goal and the outcome. And this messaging – this special affection for offensive anti-Islam speech – just so happens to coincide with, to feed, the militaristic foreign policy agenda of their governments and culture.
To see how true that is, consider the fact that Charlie Hebdo – the “equal opportunity” offenders and defenders of all types of offensive speech -fired one of their writers in 2009 for writing a sentence some said was anti-Semitic (the writer was then charged with a hate crime offense, and won a judgment against the magazine for unfair termination). Does that sound like “equal opportunity” offending?
Nor is it the case that threatening violence in response to offensive ideas is the exclusive province of extremists claiming to act in the name of Islam. Terrence McNally’s 1998 play “Corpus Christi,” depicting Jesus as gay, was repeatedly cancelled by theaters due to bomb threats. Larry Flynt wasparalyzed by an evangelical white supremacist who objected to Hustler‘s pornographic depiction of inter-racial couples. The Dixie Chicks weredeluged with death threats and needed massive security after they publicly criticized George Bush for the Iraq War, which finally forced them to apologize out of fear. Violence spurred by Jewish and Christian fanaticism is legion, from abortion doctors being murdered to gay bars being bombed to a 45-year-old brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza due in part to the religious belief (common in both the U.S. and Israel) that God decreed they shall own all the land. And that’s all independent of the systematic state violence in the west sustained, at least in part, by religious sectarianism.
The New York Times‘ David Brooks today claims that anti-Christian bias is so widespread in America – which has never elected a non-Christian president – that “the University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality.” He forgot to mention that the very same university just terminated its tenure contract with Professor Steven Salaita over tweets he posted during the Israeli attack on Gaza that the university judged to be excessively vituperative of Jewish leaders, and that the journalist Chris Hedges was just disinvited to speak at the University of Pennsylvania for the Thought Crime of drawing similarities between Israel and ISIS.
That is a real taboo – a repressed idea – as powerful and absolute as any in the United States, so much so that Brooks won’t even acknowledge its existence. It’s certainly more of a taboo in the U.S. than criticizing Muslims and Islam, criticism which is so frequently heard in mainstream circles –including the U.S. Congress – that one barely notices it any more.
This underscores the key point: there are all sorts of ways ideas and viewpoints are suppressed in the west. When those demanding publication of these anti-Islam cartoons start demanding the affirmative publication of those ideas as well, I’ll believe the sincerity of their very selective application of free speech principles. One can defend free speech without having to publish, let alone embrace, the offensive ideas being targeted. But if that’s not the case, let’s have equal application of this new principle.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images; additional research was provided by Andrew Fishman


http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40666.htm

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The Attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the “Kosher Grocery Store”: Israel’s Mossad “to the Rescue”?

Global Research, January 09, 2015

Amply documented, the French Republic under the helm of president Francois Hollande is supporting as well as funding Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists.
“The forbidden truth” which the French public should address is that their government together with the US, NATO and Israel –while waging a self-proclaimed “Global War on Terrorism”– routinely provide covert support to the same terrorist entities which are the object of their “humanitarian wars” and “counter-terrorism operations”.
While the French media in chorus point to the jihadist threat to “Freedom of Expression”, not a single French media has had the courage of raising the broader issue of State sponsorship of terrorismand the insidious role of the French government and its intelligence apparatus in supporting Al Qaeda affiliated entities not only in the Middle East and Africa but also in France.
In a bitter irony, the campaign following the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo has not contributed to sustaining ”Freedom of Expression”. In fact quite the opposite. It has contributed to a new wave of media censorship.
There is a gruesome political agenda behind these attacks which must be the object of public debate. Who are terrorists? Those who commit terrorist acts or those who control and finance the terrorists?
Israel to the Rescue of the Kosher Grocery Store in Paris Vincennes
According to reports, French police have launched raids “on two separate sieges” at a kosher grocery in a Jewish neighbourhood in Paris and at Dammartin en Goële, a small town 30 km. northeast of Paris “where the Charlie Hebdo suspects have reportedly been killed” (Daily Telegraph, January 9, 2015).
Unconfirmed reports suggest that there were up to 10 hostages inside the kosher grocery.
Hours before the Jewish Sabbath, the street is usually especially crowded with shoppers – French Jews and tourists alike.
The Vincennes region of eastern Paris in which the second, grocery hostage situation is taking place has a large Jewish population. (Daily Telegraph, January 9, 2015)
Because the Jewish community is allegedly threatened, Israel was to come to the rescue of the kosher grocery store. This was confirmed in an official statement by the Israeli government.
In this regard, Prime minister Netanyahu confirmed on January 9, the dispatch of an Israeli Police SWAT team unit which would be working in liaison with its French counterparts. The Israeli SWAT unit “specialising in siege situations and rescues is on standby ready to travel to Paris to assist the French authorities resolve the siege of the kosher grocery store.” according to Haaretz (emphasis added).
It should be noted that the entire French police apparatus is mobilized. What would be the role of the Israeli police forces? Political propaganda? Bear in mind: president Francois Hollande is scheduled to make a major political statement in the wake of the police operation.
Foreknowledge of the Charlie Hebdo Attack?
The suspects were known to French intelligence.
Media and intelligence sources confirm that “the French authorities had been warned about Said and Cherif Kouachi ahead of this Wednesday’s initial attack on Charlie Hebdo” (Daily Telegraph, January 9, 2015, emphasis added), pointing to possible foreknowledge of the attacks.
If they had been duly warned, why did they not act to prevent the attack from occurring?
The Role of Mossad
In addition to the Israeli SWAT team, Prime minister Netanyahu “has ordered Mossad to provide French officials for all the assistance they need in tackling the ongoing terror situation in and around Paris” (Daily Telegraph, emphasis added). What this suggests is that Mossad agents would be operating on French soil in partnership with France’s Direction générale de la sécurité extérieure formerly known as Le Deuxième Bureau.
According to Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu, (January 9)
“[the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Paris kosher grocery store] are a microcosm of of a greater battle against jihadists …
This is a global struggle. Bringing to justice the Paris murderers is just the beginning,…
And all of them seek to destroy our freedoms and to impose on all of us a violent, medieval tyranny. They might have different names, but all of them are driven by the same hatred and blood-thirsty fanaticism.”
They bomb churches in Iraq; they slaughter tourists in Bali; they rocket civilians from Gaza; and strive to build nuclear weapons in Iran...we have to fight these enemies of our common civilization” (quoted in Times of Israel, January 9, 2015)
What the Times of Israel report fails to mention is that Netanyahu has been actively supporting Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Nusrah terrorists out of the occupied Golan heights. While coming to France’s rescue, Netanyahu does not deny his government’s support of the jihadists in Syria. The IDF top brass has acknowledged that “global jihad elements inside Syria” are supported by Israel:
Netanyahu toured the Golan Heights with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
At a lookout point overlooking the Syrian border, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan briefed Netanyahu on the presence of global jihad elements inside Syria, as well as on the work being done to fortify the Israeli-Syrian border fence. (Jerusalem Post, February 19, 2014)
Inline images 1Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Shakes Hand with an Al Qaeda Terrorist. Is the wounded terrorist an Israeli intelligence asset?
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon next to a wounded mercenary, Israeli military field hospital at the occupied Golan Heights’ border with Syria, 18 February 2014″ (ibid, emphasis added)
Ironically, the State of Israel is collaborating with the French authorities in the Charlie Hebdo counterterrorism operation, while also supporting the two main terrorist entities in Syria: the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Nusrah.
While there is no evidence of Mossad presence prior to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, it should be noted that France and Israel have a longstanding bilateral relationship in military and intelligence affairs. The fact that the Israeli government announced its intention to dispatch Mossad officials to Paris might suggest that Israeli intelligence officials were in Paris at an earlier date, prior to the January 9 official announcement by PM Netanyahu.
State Sponsorship of Terrorism
Amply documented, the French Republic under the helm of president Francois Hollande is supporting as well as funding Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists in the Middle East and North Africa in liaison with the US, NATO and Israel:
France, as part of a NATO-led coalition, has been arming, funding, aiding, and otherwise perpetuating Al Qaeda terrorists for years, beginning, on record in Libya with the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and continuing until today with NATO’s arming, harboring, and backing of Al Qaeda terrorists including the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) within and along Syria’s borders.
With the recent attack in Paris likely the work of the very terrorists France has been arming and backing across North Africa and the Middle East, the French government itself stands responsible, guilty of the continued material support of a terrorist organization that has now killed French citizens, including two police officers, not only on French soil, but within the French capital itself. (Tony Cartalucci, Global Research, January 8, 2015)
“The forbidden truth” which the French public should address is that Western governments including France, NATO and Israel –while waging a self-proclaimed “Global War on Terrorism”– routinely provide covert support to the same terrorist entities which are the object of their “humanitarian wars” and “counter-terrorism operations”.
While the French media in chorus point to “Freedom of Expression” in journalism, not a single french media has had the courage of pointing to the issue of State sponsorship of terrorism.

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And here are some not-remotely-blasphemous-or-bigoted yet very pointed and relevant cartoons by the brilliantly provocative Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff (reprinted with permission):









Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images; additional research was provided by Andrew Fishman


Robert Parry 15


CIA’s Hidden Hand in ‘Democracy’ Groups



Special Report: Documents from the Reagan presidential library reveal that two major institutions promoting “democracy” and “freedom” — Freedom House and National Endowment for Democracy — worked hand-in-glove, behind-the-scenes, with a CIA propaganda expert in the 1980s, reports Robert Parry.

Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy stress their commitment to freedom of thought and democracy, but both cooperated with a CIA-organized propaganda operation in the 1980s, according to documents released by Ronald Reagan’s presidential library.
One document showed senior Freedom House official Leo Cherne clearing a draft manuscript on political conditions in El Salvador with CIA Director William Casey and promising that Freedom House would make requested editorial “corrections and changes” – and even send over the editor for consultation with whomever Casey assigned to review the paper.
CIA Director William Casey.

CIA Director William Casey
.
In a “Dear Bill” letter dated June 24, 1981, Cherne wrote: “I am enclosing a copy of the draft manuscript by Bruce McColm, Freedom House’s resident specialist on Central America and the Caribbean. This manuscript on El Salvador was the one I had urged be prepared and in the haste to do so as rapidly as possible, it is quite rough. You had mentioned that the facts could be checked for meticulous accuracy within the government and this would be very helpful. …
“If there are any questions about the McColm manuscript, I suggest that whomever is working on it contact Richard Salzmann at the Research Institute [an organization where Cherne was executive director]. He is Editor-in-Chief at the Institute and the Chairman of the Freedom House’s Salvador Committee. He will make sure that the corrections and changes get to Rita Freedman who will also be working with him. If there is any benefit to be gained from Salzmann’s coming down at any point to talk to that person, he is available to do so.”
Cherne, who was chairman of Freedom House’s executive committee, also joined in angling for financial support from a propaganda program that Casey initiated in 1982 under one of the CIA’s top covert action specialists, Walter Raymond Jr., who was moved to President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff.
In an Aug. 9, 1982 letter to Raymond, Freedom House executive director Leonard R. Sussman wrote that “Leo Cherne has asked me to send these copies of Freedom Appeals. He has probably told you we have had to cut back this project to meet financial realities. … We would, of course, want to expand the project once again when, as and if the funds become available. Offshoots of that project appear in newspapers, magazines, books and on broadcast services here and abroad. It’s a significant, unique channel of communication” – precisely the focus of Raymond’s work.
According to the documents, Freedom House remained near the top of Casey’s thinking when it came to the most effective way to deliver his hardline policy message to the American people in ways they would be inclined to accept, i.e., coming from ostensibly independent sources with no apparent ties to the government.
On Nov. 4, 1982, Raymond wrote to NSC Advisor William Clark about the “Democracy Initiative and Information Programs,” stating that “Bill Casey asked me to pass on the following thought concerning your meeting with [right-wing billionaire] Dick Scaife, Dave Abshire [then a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board], and Co.
“Casey had lunch with them today and discussed the need to get moving in the general area of supporting our friends around the world. By this definition he is including both ‘building democracy’ … and helping invigorate international media programs. The DCI [Casey] is also concerned about strengthening public information organizations in the United States such as Freedom House. …
“A critical piece of the puzzle is a serious effort to raise private funds to generate momentum. Casey’s talk with Scaife and Co. suggests they would be very willing to cooperate. … Suggest that you note White House interest in private support for the Democracy initiative.”
The importance of the CIA and White House secretly arranging private funds was that these supposedly independent voices would then reinforce and validate the administration’s foreign policy arguments with a public that would assume the endorsements were based on the merits of the White House positions, not influenced by money changing hands.
In effect, like snake-oil salesmen who plant a few cohorts in the audience to whip up excitement for the cure-all elixir, Reagan administration propagandists salted some well-paid “private” individuals around Washington to echo White House propaganda “themes.”
In a Jan. 25, 1983 memo, Raymond wrote, “We will move out immediately in our parallel effort to generate private support” for “public diplomacy” operations. Then, on May 20, 1983, Raymond recounted in another memo that $400,000 had been raised from private donors brought to the White House Situation Room by U.S. Information Agency  Director Charles Wick. According to that memo, the money was divided among several organizations, including Freedom House and Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media attack organization.
When I wrote about that memo in my 1992 book, Fooling America, Freedom House denied receiving any White House money or collaborating with any CIA/NSC propaganda campaign. In a letter, Freedom House’s Sussman called Raymond “a second-hand source” and insisted that “this organization did not need any special funding to take positions … on any foreign-policy issues.”
But it made little sense that Raymond would have lied to a superior in an internal memo. And clearly, Freedom House remained central to the Reagan administration’s schemes for aiding groups supportive of its Central American policies, particularly the CIA-organized Contra war against the leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
In an Aug. 9, 1983 memo, Raymond outlined plans to arrange private backing for that effort. He said USIA Director Wick “via [Australian publishing magnate Rupert] Murdock [sic], may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond recommended “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.” [For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Murdoch, Scaife and CIA Propaganda.”]

Questions of Legality

Raymond remained a CIA officer until April 1983 when he resigned so – in his words – “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this” propaganda operation to woo the American people into supporting Reagan’s policies.
But Raymond, who had been one of the CIA’s top propaganda and disinformation specialists, continued to act toward the U.S. public much like a CIA officer would in directing a propaganda operation in a hostile foreign country.
Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s role in the effort to influence U.S. public opinion because of the legal prohibition against the CIA influencing U.S. policies and politics. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986.
It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond said during his Iran-Contra deposition in 1987. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic affairs “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”
As the Casey-Raymond propaganda operation expanded during the last half of Reagan’s first term, Freedom House continued to keep Raymond abreast of its work on Central America, with its attitudes dovetailing with Reagan administration’s policies particularly in condemning Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.
Freedom House also kept its hand out for funding. On Sept. 15, 1984, Bruce McColm – writing from Freedom House’s Center for Caribbean and Central American Studies – sent Raymond “a short proposal for the Center’s Nicaragua project 1984-85. The project combines elements of the oral history proposal with the publication of The Nicaraguan Papers,” a book that would disparage Sandinista ideology and practices.
“Maintaining the oral history part of the project adds to the overall costs; but preliminary discussions with film makers have given me the idea that an Improper Conduct-type of documentary could be made based on these materials,” McColm wrote, referring to a 1984 film that offered a scathing critique of Fidel Castro’s Cuba.
“Such a film would have to be the work of a respected Latin American filmmaker or a European. American-made films on Central America are simply too abrasive ideologically and artistically poor.”
McColm’s three-page letter reads much like a book or movie pitch, trying to interest Raymond in financing the project: “The Nicaraguan Papers will also be readily accessible to the general reader, the journalist, opinion-maker, the academic and the like. The book would be distributed fairly broadly to these sectors and I am sure will be extremely useful.
“They already constitute a form of Freedom House samizdat, since I’ve been distributing them to journalists for the past two years as I’ve received them from disaffected Nicaraguans.”
McColm proposed a face-to-face meeting with Raymond in Washington and attached a six-page grant proposal seeking $134,100.
According to the grant proposal, the project would include “free distribution to members of Congress and key public officials; distribution of galleys in advance of publication for maximum publicity and timely reviews in newspapers and current affairs magazines; press conferences at Freedom House in New York and at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.; op-ed circulation to more than 100 newspapers …; distribution of a Spanish-language edition through Hispanic organizations in the United States and in Latin America; arrangement of European distribution through Freedom House contacts.”
The documents that I found at the Reagan library do not indicate what subsequently happened to this proposal. McColm did not respond to an email request for comment about the Nicaraguan Papers plan or Cherne’s earlier letter to Casey about editing McComb’s manuscript. Raymond died in 2003; Cherne died in 1999; and Casey died in 1987.
But it is clear that Freedom House became a major recipient of funds from the National Endowment for Democracy, which Casey and Raymond helped create in 1983.

Financing Propaganda

In 1983, Casey and Raymond focused on creating a funding mechanism to support Freedom House and other outside groups that would engage in propaganda and political action that the CIA had historically organized and paid for covertly. The idea emerged for a congressionally funded entity that would serve as a conduit for this money.
But Casey recognized the need to hide the strings being pulled by the CIA. “Obviously we here [at CIA] should not get out front in the development of such an organization, nor should we appear to be a sponsor or advocate,” Casey said in one undated letter to then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III – as Casey urged creation of a “National Endowment.”
document in Raymond’s files offered examples of what would be funded, including “Grenada — 50 K — To the only organized opposition to the Marxist government of Maurice Bishop (The Seaman and Waterfront Workers Union). A supplemental 50 K to support free TV activity outside Grenada” and “Nicaragua — $750 K to support an array of independent trade union activity, agricultural cooperatives.”
The National Endowment for Democracy took shape in late 1983 as Congress decided to also set aside pots of money — within NED — for the Republican and Democratic parties and for organized labor, creating enough bipartisan largesse that passage was assured.
But some in Congress thought it was important to wall the NED off from any association with the CIA, so a provision was included to bar the participation of any current or former CIA official, according to one congressional aide who helped write the legislation.
This aide told me that one night late in the 1983 session, as the bill was about to go to the House floor, the CIA’s congressional liaison came pounding at the door to the office of Rep. Dante Fascell, a senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a chief sponsor of the bill.
The frantic CIA official conveyed a single message from CIA Director Casey: the language barring the participation of CIA personnel must be struck from the bill, the aide recalled, noting that Fascell consented to the demand, not fully recognizing its significance.
What the documents at the Reagan library now make clear is that lifting the ban enabled Raymond and Casey to stay active shaping the decisions of the new funding mechanism.
The aide said Fascell also consented to the Reagan administration’s choice of Carl Gershman to head the National Endowment for Democracy, again not recognizing how this decision would affect the future of the new entity and American foreign policy.
Gershman, who had followed the classic neoconservative path from youthful socialism to fierce anticommunism, became NED’s first (and, to this day, only) president. Though NED is technically independent of U.S. foreign policy, Gershman in the early years coordinated decisions on grants with Raymond at the NSC.
For instance, on Jan. 2, 1985, Raymond wrote to two NSC Asian experts that “Carl Gershman has called concerning a possible grant to the Chinese Alliance for Democracy (CAD). I am concerned about the political dimension to this request. We should not find ourselves in a position where we have to respond to pressure, but this request poses a real problem to Carl.
“Senator [Orrin] Hatch, as you know, is a member of the board. Secondly, NED has already given a major grant for a related Chinese program.”
Besides clearing aside political obstacles for Gershman, Raymond also urged NED to give money to Freedom House in a June 21, 1985 letter obtained by Professor John Nichols of Pennsylvania State University.

A Tag Team

From the start, NED became a major benefactor for Freedom House, beginning with a $200,000 grant in 1984 to build “a network of democratic opinion-makers.” In NED’s first four years, from 1984 and 1988, it lavished $2.6 million on Freedom House, accounting for more than one-third of its total income, according to a study by the liberal Council on Hemispheric Affairs that was entitled “Freedom House: Portrait of a Pass-Through.”
Over the ensuing three decades, Freedom House has become almost an NED subsidiary, often joining NED in holding policy conferences and issuing position papers, both organizations pushing primarily a neoconservative agenda, challenging countries deemed insufficiently “free,” including Syria, Ukraine (in 2014) and Russia.
Indeed, NED and Freedom House often work as a kind of tag-team with NED financing “non-governmental organizations” inside targeted countries and Freedom House berating those governments if they crack down on U.S.-funded NGOs.
For instance, on Nov. 16, 2012, NED and Freedom House joined together to denounce legislation passed by the Russian parliament that required recipients of foreign political money to register with the government.
Or, as NED and Freedom House framed the issue: the Russian Duma sought to “restrict human rights and the activities of civil society organizations and their ability to receive support from abroad. … Changes to Russia’s NGO legislation will soon require civil society organizations receiving foreign funds to choose between registering as ‘foreign agents’ or facing significant financial penalties and potential criminal charges.”
Of course, the United States has a nearly identical Foreign Agent Registration Act that likewise requires entities that receive foreign funding and seek to influence U.S. government policy to register with the Justice Department or face possible fines or imprisonment.
But the Russian law would impede NED’s efforts to destabilize the Russian government through funding of political activists, journalists and civic organizations, so it was denounced as an infringement of human rights and helped justify Freedom House’s rating of Russia as “not free.”
The Russian government’s concerns were not entirely paranoid. On Sept. 26, 2013, Gershman, in effect, charted the course for the crisis in Ukraine and the greater neocon goal of regime change in Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Gershman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and explained how pulling it into the Western camp could contribute to the ultimate defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
With NED’s budget now exceeding $100 million a year — and with many NGOs headquartered in Washington — Gershman has attained the status of a major paymaster for the neocon movement with his words carrying extra clout because he can fund or de-fund many a project.
Thus, three decades after CIA Director William Casey and his propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. struggled to arrange funding for Freedom House and other organizations that would promote an interventionist agenda, their brainchild – the National Endowment for Democracy – was still around picking up those tabs.
[For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Victory of Perception Management” and “Murdoch, Scaife and CIA Propaganda” or Robert Parry’s Lost History.]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.