Who Downed Russia’s Metrojet Flight 9268?




Was it ISIS – or somebody else?

Kolavia-Flight-400x240First they said the downing of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 was most likely due to Russia’s “notorious” regional airlines, which supposedly are rickety and unreliable. The Egyptian government denied that terrorism is even a possibility, with Egyptian despot Abdel Fatah al-Sisi proclaiming:

When there is propaganda that it crashed because of Isis, this is one way to damage the stability and security of Egypt and the image of Egypt. Believe me, the situation in Sinai – especially in this limited area – is under our full control.

However, it soon came out that the person in charge of Sharm el-Sheikh airport, where the Russia plane had landed before taking off again, had been “replaced” – oh, but notbecause of anything to do with the downing of the Russian passenger plane! As the Egyptian authorities put it:

Adel Mahgoub, chairman of the state company that runs Egypt’s civilian airports, says airport chief Abdel-Wahab Ali has been ‘promoted’ to become his assistant. He said the move late Wednesday had nothing to do with media skepticism surrounding the airport’s security. Mahgoub said Ali is being replaced by Emad el-Balasi, a pilot.

Laughable, albeit in a sinister way, and yet more evidence that something wasn’t quite right: after all, everyone knows the Egyptian government does not have the Sinai, over which the plane disintegrated in mid air, under its “full control.” ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the crash hours after it occurred, is all over that peninsula.

Still, the denials poured in, mostly from US government officials such as Director of National Intelligence James “Liar-liar-pants-on-fire” Clapper, who said ISIS involvement was “unlikely.” Then they told us it couldn’t have been ISIS because they supposedly don’t have surface-to-air missiles that can reach the height attained by the downed plane. Yet that wasn’t very convincing either, because a) How do they know what ISIS has in its arsenal?, and b) couldn’t ISIS or some other group have smuggleda bomb on board?

The better part of a week after the crash, we have this:

Days after authorities dismissed claims that ISIS brought down a Russian passenger jet, a U.S. intelligence analysis now suggests that the terror group or its affiliates planted a bomb on the plane.

British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said his government believes there is a ‘significant possibility’ that an explosive device caused the crash. And a Middle East source briefed on intelligence matters also said it appears likely someone placed a bomb aboard the aircraft.

According to numerous news reports, intercepts of “internal communications” of the Islamic State/ISIS group provided evidence that it wasn’t an accident but a terrorist act. Those intercepts must have been available to US and UK government sources early on, yet these same officials said they had no “direct evidence,” as Clapper put it, of terrorist involvement. Why is that? And furthermore: why the general unwillingness of Western governments and media to jump to their usual conclusion when any air disaster occurs, and attribute it to terrorism?

The answer is simple: they didn’t want to arouse any sympathy for the Russians. Russia, as we all know, is The Enemy – considered even worse, in some circles, than the jihadists.  Indeed, there’s a whole section of opinion-makers devoted to the idea that  we must help Islamist crazies in Syria, including al-Qaeda’s affiliate, known as al-Nusra, precisely in order to stop the Evil Putin from extending Russian influence into the region.

In a broader sense, the reluctance to acknowledge that this was indeed a terrorist act is rooted in a refusal to acknowledge the commonality of interests that exists between Putin’s Russia and the West. The downing of the Metrojet is just the latest atrocity carried out by the head-choppers against the Russian people: this includes not only the Beslan school massacre, in which over 700 children were taken hostage by Chechen Islamists, but also the five apartment bombings that took place in 1999.

The real extent of Western hostility to Russia, and the unwillingness to realize that Russia has been a major terrorist target, is underscored by the shameful propaganda pushed by the late Alexander Litvinenko, and endorsed by Sen. John McCain, which claims that the bombings were an “inside job” carried out by the Russian FSB – a version of “trutherism” that, if uttered in the US in relation to the 9/11 attacks, is routinely (and rightly) dismissed as sheer crankery. But where the Russians are concerned it’s not only allowable, it’s the default. A particularly egregious example is Russophobic hack Michael D. Weiss, who, days before the downing of the Russian passenger plane, solemnly informed us that Putin was “sending jihadists to join ISIS.” Boy oh boy, talk about ingratitude!

This downright creepy unwillingness to express any sympathy or sense of solidarity with the Russian people ought to clue us in to something we knew all along: that the whole “war on terrorism” gambit is as phony as a three-dollar bill. If US government officials were actually concerned about the threat of terrorist violence directed at innocent civilians, they would partner up with Russia in a joint effort to eradicate the threat: that this isn’t happening in Syria, or anywhere else, is all too evident. Not to mention our canoodling with “moderate” Chechen terrorists, openly encouraging them to carry on their war with Putin’s Russia. Our “war on terrorism” is simply a pretext for spying on the American people, and most of the rest of the world, and cementing the power of the State on the home front, not to mention fattening up an already grotesquely obese “defense” budget.

With the belated admission that the downing of the Russian passenger jet was an act of terrorism, we are beginning to hear that this a tremendous blow to Putin’s prestigeat home – something no one would dare utter about Obama’s or Cameron’s “prestige” if the Metrojet had been an American or British passenger plane. They say it’s “blowback” due to Russia’s actions in Syria, with the clear implication that it’s deserved. And yet, according to US officials and the usual suspects, the Russiansaren’t hitting ISIS so much as they’re smiting the “moderate” Islamist head-choppers – the “Syrian rebels,” as they’re known — who are being funded, armed, and encouraged by the West.

If that’s true, then what kind of blowback are we talking about – and from which direction is it coming? Given this, isn’t it entirely possible that Metrojet Flight 9268 was downed by US-aided –and-supported “moderates,” who moderately decided to get back at Putin?


You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert andDavid Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

The Many Faces and Lies of Hillary Clinton

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE - OCTOBER 5: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks about gun violence and stricter gun during a townhall meeting at Manchester Community College Monday October 5, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

For four years she was Obama’s loyal secretary of state. Her critics call her an interventionist, her admirers tough-minded. What kind of president would she be?   The worst?

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Hillary Testifies And Caught Lying About Emails Stack By Mrs Brooks


Excerpts from FP – The Hillary Clinton Doctrine

On Jan. 13, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave what turned out to be a remarkably prescient speech in Doha, Qatar. “The region’s foundations are sinking into the sand,” she warned. If you do not manage to “build a future that your young people will believe in,” she told the Arab heads of state in the audience, the status quo they had long defended would collapse. The very next day, Tunisia’s dictator was forced to flee the country. Almost two weeks later, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians thronged Cairo’s Tahrir Square demanding that then-President Hosni Mubarak step down. Over the following week, Clinton and her colleagues in the Barack Obama administration engaged in an intense debate over how to respond to this astonishing turn of events. Should they side with the young people in the streets demanding an immediate end to the deadening hand of autocratic rule, or with the rulers whom Clinton had admonished, but who nevertheless represented a stable order underpinned by American power and diplomacy?

The young national security aides whom Obama depended on heavily for advice, including Denis McDonough, Ben Rhodes, and Samantha Power, saw the Arab Spring as a supreme opportunity for a president who had often spoken about “the arc of history” to align himself with the forces of change.

Secretary Clinton thought they were naive. She told her deputy, James Steinberg, that she saw no reason to believe that the Tahrir crowd would or could govern Egypt in Mubarak’s absence. She was close to the Mubaraks, and especially to the president’s wife, Suzanne. And, most decisively, recalls Dennis Ross, then the National Security Council senior director for the Middle East, “Her feeling was that Mubarak has been a friend for 30 years, and if you walk away from your friends, every other ally in the region is going to doubt your word.” Even Ross, a hard-headed realist, thought Clinton was putting too much stock in her old friends. Mubarak, he told her, “is blind to what’s going on, and it’s going to get worse.”

On Jan. 28, at a national security meeting in the White House Situation Room, Clinton pushed back against those who urged Obama to put himself on the right side of history. Two days later, she went on NBC’s Meet the Press to make her case to the public, commending Mubarak as a source of regional stability and calling for an “orderly, peaceful transition to real democracy.”

The debate pitted hope against caution and young against old: then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Vice President Joe Biden sided with Clinton. The president chose hope. On Feb. 1, he stated publicly that the “orderly transition” of which his secretary had spoken “must begin now.” Several days later, Egypt’s military deposed Mubarak, ushering in a brief era of euphoria in the Arab world — and in the White House.

This episode matters today, of course, because Hillary Clinton is seeking to become the first secretary of state since James Buchanan to ascend to the presidency. Several different narratives about her tenure have begun to cohere. Among Republicans prepared to say anything to discredit her, the most salient event from her time in office is the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, which allegedly demonstrates that she was asleep at the switch, self-absorbed, indifferent to the welfare of her own diplomats, and so on. One investigation after another has shown that these claims are preposterous. The far more serious claim, advanced most recently by, of all people, Vice President Joe Biden, is that Clinton was an ”interventionist” — all too inclined to believe that “we just have to do something when bad people do bad things.”

A President Hillary Clinton would almost certainly be more confident about the utility of force than President Obama has been (or a President Biden would have been). She was the most enthusiastic of all of Obama’s senior civilian advisors about the counterinsurgency plan his generals proposed for Afghanistan in 2009; she helped persuade a very reluctant commander in chief to bomb Libya to prevent atrocities there. Clinton is a Cold War-era patriot who believes unambiguously that America is a force for good in the world. At the same time, it’s clear from conversations I had this summer with most of her senior staff members, as well as White House officials and outside advisors, that Clinton is a cautious figure who distrusts grandiose rhetorical formulations, is deeply grounded in the harsh realities of politics, and prefers small steps to large ones. Her belief in the use of American power has less to do with the humanitarian impulse to prevent injustice abroad than with the belief that only coercion works with refractory nations and leaders.

Is that good or bad? Perhaps that depends on how one thinks about how the Arab Spring turned out. Clinton is proud of her role — she tells the story in her memoirs at great length — because she thinks history has vindicated her judgments. Egypt quickly spun into a maelstrom of confusion and political incompetence, and has now emerged as a harsher dictatorship than it was in 2011. The hope that Obama offered, above all in his first year in office, often seemed untethered to the grim realities of the world, putting his rhetoric at odds with his actions. Clinton’s optimistic vision is less soaring, less idealistic, less transformative in its goals. Perhaps that will turn out to be well suited to our own diminished expectations of America’s ability to shape the world beyond its borders.

On one of her first trips abroad, in April 2009, Clinton went to London with Obama for the meeting of the G20 group of nations. Obama was about to hold his first meeting with Hu Jintao, then China’s president, and he informed Clinton that he was going to tell Mr. Hu that he was prepared to visit China that fall for a state visit on the margins of the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Clinton suggested he withhold the offer. The president then turned to Jeffrey Bader, then his chief national security aide for Asia, who urged him to do just as he planned — which Obama then proceeded to do. Afterwards, Bader told me, Clinton pulled him aside — in order, he assumed, to instruct him never again to contradict her before the president. In fact, she said, “I just want to explain my thinking to you,” Bader says. “The essence of it was leverage to her mind. A presidential visit is a big deal, and you don’t give it away lightly.”

Bader had supported Obama during the campaign, and he subscribed to the collective view of the Obama camp that Clinton was petty and vindictive. He was startled to find, as many people are when they meet Clinton privately, that she was considerate and warm. He also realized that she thought about diplomacy largely in transactional terms. “She’s an immensely pragmatic person,” Bader says. “She is not an ideological person. She’s a deal-maker. Her attitude is: How can we get this done?”

Virtually everyone I spoke with who has worked closely with Clinton speaks of her this way. Philip Gordon, Clinton’s former assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasia and later a national security advisor to Obama, says, “Obama is, instinctively, not liberal, but almost revolutionary. Clinton is instinctively more conservative.” He uses the example of America’s relationship with Russia. Clinton was always on the bleak side of the spectrum of opinion about what could be gained from the “reset,” though she was eager to explore the possibilities. The corollary of the reset was the need to reassure Eastern European allies and preserve NATO solidarity. Clinton, as Gordon puts it, “was quite happy to be the guardian of the corollary.”

The temperamental difference between the president and his secretary of state was foreshadowed in a famous exchange during a campaign debate in July 2007. They were asked whether as president they would be prepared to meet “without preconditions” with the leaders of rival states including Iran and North Korea. “I would” said Obama. Clinton said that she would not; the next day, she called Obama’s answer “irresponsible and frankly naive.” As I reported at the time, the Obama team found the exchange “orienting.” He was a different kind of Democrat, free from Cold War protocols and prepared to take the first step to break the paralytic grip of rivalry. Yet it turned out to be telling for Clinton as well. For her, there was nothing artificial about state rivalry, nothing that could be overcome by acts of mutual understanding. Rivalry was to be managed, not transcended.

And yet this presents an incomplete picture. Bruce Jentleson, a political scientist who worked as a senior advisor to the State Department’s Policy Planning director from 2009 to 2011, says that in Clinton, “you see elements of 20th century thinking and 21st century thinking.” Clinton sought to consistently redefine America’s national interest to include not just classic geopolitical calculations but the economic and institutional development of other states. She made the status of women a central concern of her tenure. She sought to transcend the simple-minded distinction between “hard” and “soft” power by adopting the term “smart power,” to describe a form of statecraft that combined development, diplomacy, public-private partnerships and, yes, military power. One of her signal initiatives was the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, an effort to re-think the organization of the State Department in order to harmonize all of these elements. The exercise generated a great deal of noise and a few modest outcomes: State now has officials directly responsible for “cross-cutting” issues including energy, women’s rights, and information technology.

It’s an unusual combination. Clinton thinks about the relationship between states pretty much the way Henry Kissinger does. But she thinks about America’s global agenda pretty much the way Barack Obama does. This sounds like a contradiction, but could also be regarded as an adaptation to a world in which the United States faces both rival states, as it long has, and a new class of problems without borders.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba (L) and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan during a tri-lateral aside the 67th UN General Assembly in New York, September 28, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C yellow teeths) meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba (L) and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan during a tri-lateral aside the 67th UN General Assembly in New York, September 28, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)


Governments and NGOs: Germany Spied on Friends and Vatican

Efforts to spy on friends and allies by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, were more extensive than previously reported. SPIEGEL has learned the agency monitored European and American government ministries and the Vatican.

Radarkuppeln stehen am 07.05.2015 in Bad Aibling (Bayern) auf dem Gelâ°nde der AbhËrstation des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND). Die Dienststelle sei weder f¸r die â¹berpr¸fung der US-Suchkriterien noch f¸r die Sichtung der Treffer zustâ°ndig, sagte der Dienststellenleiter am Donnerstag vor dem NSA-Untersuchungsausschuss des Bundestages. Foto: Angelika Warmuth/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

The BND’s listening station in Bad Aibling, Bavaria: In addition to spying on friends, German intelligence also monitored Oxfam, Care International and the Red Cross. Radarkuppeln stehen am 07.05.2015 in Bad Aibling (Bayern) auf dem Gelâ°nde der AbhËrstation des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND). Die Dienststelle sei weder f¸r die â¹berpr¸fung der US-Suchkriterien noch f¸r die Sichtung der Treffer zustâ°ndig, sagte der Dienststellenleiter am Donnerstag vor dem NSA-Untersuchungsausschuss des Bundestages. Foto: Angelika Warmuth/dpa +++(c) dpa – Bildfunk+++

Three weeks ago, news emerged that Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), had systematically spied on friends and allies around the world. In many of those instances, the BND had been doing so of its own accord and not at the request of the NSA. The BND came under heavy criticism earlier this year after news emerged that it had assisted the NSA in spying on European institutions, companies and even Germans using dubious selector data.

SPIEGEL has since learned from sources that the spying went further than previously reported. Since October’s revelations, it has emerged that the BND spied on the United States Department of the Interior and the interior ministries of EU member states including Poland, Austria, Denmark and Croatia. The search terms used by the BND in its espionage also included communications lines belonging to US diplomatic outposts in Brussels and the United Nations in New York. The list even included the US State Department’s hotline for travel warnings.

The German intelligence service’s interest wasn’t restricted to state institutions either: It also spied on non-governmental organizations like Care International, Oxfam and the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva. In Germany, the BND’s own selector lists included numerous foreign embassies and consulates. The e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and fax numbers of the diplomatic representations of the United States, France, Great Britain, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and even the Vatican were all monitored in this way. Diplomatic facilities are not covered under Article 10 of Germany’s constitution, the Basic Law, which protects German telecommunications participants from such surveillance.

The initial revelations came after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Chancellery, which is in charge of overseeing Germany’s intelligence agencies, informed the Bundestag’s Parliamentary Control Panel, which is responsible for applying checks and balances to intelligence efforts, in mid-October that the BND had been surveilling the institutions of numerous European countries and other partners for many years.

In October 2013, Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned spying on her mobile phone by saying, “Spying among friends? That’s just not done.” Apparently these words didn’t apply to the BND.