Archive for the ‘Obama and the media’ category

Tom Fitton gives updates on Obama Spying Scandal, Unmasking Scandal, Rep. Adam Schiff, & Seth Rich

May 26, 2017

Tom Fitton gives updates on Obama Spying Scandal, Unmasking Scandal, Rep. Adam Schiff, & Seth Rich, Judicial Watch via YouTube, May 26, 2017

(This video covers a lot of ground and is very much worth watching. — DM)

 

Former Obama Officials, Loyalists Waged Secret Campaign to Oust Flynn

February 15, 2017

Former Obama Officials, Loyalists Waged Secret Campaign to Oust Flynn, Washington Free Beacon, February 14, 2017

File photo : Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, U.S. national security advisor, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a "hallmark of our democracy." Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg(Sipa via AP Images)

File photo : Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, U.S. national security advisor, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg(Sipa via AP Images)

“The Obama administration knew that Flynn was going to release the secret documents around the Iran deal, which would blow up their myth that it was a good deal that rolled back Iran,” the source said. “So in December the Obama NSC started going to work with their favorite reporters, selectively leaking damaging and incomplete information about Flynn.”

“After Trump was inaugurated some of those people stayed in and some began working from the outside, and they cooperated to keep undermining Trump,” the source said, detailing a series of leaks from within the White House in the past weeks targeting Flynn. “Last night’s resignation was their first major win, but unless the Trump people get serious about cleaning house, it won’t be the last.”

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The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.

Insiders familiar with the anti-Flynn campaign told the Free Beacon that these Obama loyalists plotted in the months before Trump’s inauguration to establish a set of roadblocks before Trump’s national security team, which includes several prominent opponents of diplomacy with Iran. The Free Beaconfirst reported on this effort in January.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon requested anonymity in order to speak freely about the situation and avoid interfering with the White House’s official narrative about Flynn, which centers on his failure to adequately inform the president about a series of phone calls with Russian officials.

Flynn took credit for his missteps regarding these phone calls in a brief statement released late Monday evening. Trump administration officials subsequently stated that Flynn’s efforts to mislead the president and vice president about his contacts with Russia could not be tolerated.

However, multiple sources closely involved in the situation pointed to a larger, more secretive campaign aimed at discrediting Flynn and undermining the Trump White House.

“It’s undeniable that the campaign to discredit Flynn was well underway before Inauguration Day, with a very troublesome and politicized series of leaks designed to undermine him,” said one veteran national security adviser with close ties to the White House team. “This pattern reminds me of the lead up to the Iran deal, and probably features the same cast of characters.”

The Free Beacon first reported in January that, until its final days in office, the Obama administration hosted several pro-Iran voices who were critical in helping to mislead the American public about the terms of the nuclear agreement. This included a former Iranian government official and the head of the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which has been accused of serving as Iran’s mouthpiece in Washington, D.C.

Since then, top members of the Obama administration’s national security team have launched a communications infrastructure after they left the White House, and have told reporters they are using that infrastructure to undermine Trump’s foreign policy.

“It’s actually Ben Rhodes, NIAC, and the Iranian mullahs who are celebrating today,” said one veteran foreign policy insider who is close to Flynn and the White House. “They know that the number one target is Iran … [and] they all knew their little sacred agreement with Iran was going to go off the books. So they got rid of Flynn before any of the [secret] agreements even surfaced.”

Flynn had been preparing to publicize many of the details about the nuclear deal that had been intentionally hidden by the Obama administration as part of its effort to garner support for the deal, these sources said.

Flynn is now “gone before anybody can see what happened” with these secret agreements, said the second insider close to Flynn and the White House.

Sources in and out of the White House are concerned that the campaign against Flynn will be extended to other prominent figures in the Trump administration.

One senior White House official told the Free Beacon that leaks targeting the former official were “not the result of a series of random events.”

“The drumbeat of leaks of sensitive material related to General Flynn has been building since he was named to his position,” said the official, who is a member of the White House’s National Security Council. “Last night was not the result of a series of random events. The president has lost a valuable adviser and we need to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again.”

Other sources expressed concern that public trust in the intelligence community would be eroded by the actions of employees with anti-Trump agendas.

“The larger issue that should trouble the American people is the far-reaching power of unknown, unelected apparatchiks in the Intelligence Community deciding for themselves both who serves in government and what is an acceptable policy they will allow the elected representatives of the people to pursue,” said the national security adviser quoted above.

“Put aside the issue of Flynn himself; that nameless, faceless bureaucrats were able to take out a president’s national security adviser based on a campaign of innuendo without evidence should worry every American,” the source explained.

Eli Lake, a Bloomberg View columnist and veteran national security reporter well sourced in the White House, told the Free Beacon that Flynn earned a reputation in the Obama administration as one of its top detractors.

“Michael Flynn was one of the Obama administration’s fiercest critics after he was forced out of the Defense Intelligence Agency,” said Lake, who described “the political assassination of Michael Flynn” in his column published early Tuesday.

“[Flynn] was a withering critic of Obama’s biggest foreign policy initiative, the Iran deal,” Lake said. “He also publicly accused the administration of keeping classified documents found in the Osama bin Laden raid that showed Iran’s close relationship with al Qaeda. He was a thorn in their side.”

Lake noted in his column that he does not buy fully the White House’s official spin on Flynn’s resignation.

“For a White House that has such a casual and opportunistic relationship with the truth, it’s strange that Flynn’s ‘lie’ to Pence would get him fired,” Lake wrote. “It doesn’t add up.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated in his daily briefing that “the evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable incidents is what led the president to ask General Flynn for his resignation.”

A third source who serves as a congressional adviser and was involved in the 2015 fight over the Iran deal told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration feared that Flynn would expose the secret agreements with Iran.

“The Obama administration knew that Flynn was going to release the secret documents around the Iran deal, which would blow up their myth that it was a good deal that rolled back Iran,” the source said. “So in December the Obama NSC started going to work with their favorite reporters, selectively leaking damaging and incomplete information about Flynn.”

“After Trump was inaugurated some of those people stayed in and some began working from the outside, and they cooperated to keep undermining Trump,” the source said, detailing a series of leaks from within the White House in the past weeks targeting Flynn. “Last night’s resignation was their first major win, but unless the Trump people get serious about cleaning house, it won’t be the last.”

Inside the Pro-Iran ‘Echo Chamber’

May 16, 2016

Inside the Pro-Iran ‘Echo Chamber’ Washington Free Beacon, May 16, 2016

ayatollah

A White House-allied group funded a private email listserv that pushed out pro-Iran talking points and anti-Israel conspiracy theories to hundreds of influential policy experts, government officials, and journalists during the Iran nuclear debate.

The contents of the invite-only listserv, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, could give a glimpse inside the “echo chamber” used by White House aide Ben Rhodes and allied lobbying groups to promote the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Members of the list included an Obama White House adviser, senior officials at the State Department, journalists for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and fellows at prominent think tanks.

The email forum, known as “Gulf/2000,” was originally created by Columbia University professor and former Jimmy Carter aide Gary Sick in 1993.

Since 2010, Gulf/2000’s operations have been funded by the Ploughshares Fund, a group that worked closely with the White House to promote the Iran nuclear deal.

In a New York Times article earlier this month, President Obama’s foreign policy advisor Ben Rhodes said the Ploughshares Fund was part of the administration’s spin operation to sell the public on the agreement.

“We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else,” Rhodes said. “So we knew the tactics that worked.”

Gulf/2000 is still run out of Columbia University, where it is curated by Sick. Over the last two decades, Sick built the group into the predominant email list for Gulf State policy experts across the ideological spectrum.

The vast majority of posts on the forum are news articles, but occasionally members weigh in with their own comments. Posts are pre-approved by Sick or his assistants, and insiders say the forum is “dominated” by pro-Iran talking points.

One former member, who left Gulf/2000 several years ago because “90 percent of the traffic was either useless or promoting the official lines,” said the comments that were approved for posting seemed to follow an ideological slant.

“Gary [Sick] was the moderator, and the moderator is supposed to moderate,” said the former member. “And I learned after awhile, it was quite obvious, that Gary was filtering and navigating more toward his views of the world on all these issues.”

Sick said he was unable to discuss Gulf/2000 because he was traveling for the next few weeks. He declined to answer questions by email.

Joe Cirincione, the president of the Ploughshares Fund, did not respond to a request for comment. In a column last week, Cirincione disputed allegations that the Ploughshares Fund took orders from the White House about how to sell the Iran deal.

Gulf/2000 members said the forum posts, which are supposed to focus on Gulf State policy issues, often veer into defenses of the Iranian regime or conspiracy theories about Israel. Another member, speaking on background to theWashington Free Beacon, compared the group to a pro-Iran “info-op”—military jargon for a campaign to influence policy decisions.

“The most significant forum for scholars of Iranian studies to exchange ideas and views was dominated by apologists for the Iranian regime and was dominated by people who would reflexively push back on any argument that the Iranian regime was involved in what we would call ‘malign activities’ or ‘illicit activities,’” said the member, who added that the majority of his colleagues who work on Gulf issues belong to the forum.

The Ploughshares Fund said it finances Gulf/2000 in order to “inform the debate over Iran’s nuclear program in the media and among policymakers by assessing and reporting on events, generating viable solutions and refuting false stories,” according to its annual reports. The foundation has given the email list $75,000 a year since 2010.

Gulf/2000 is linked to a larger messaging effort on the Iran deal that has been reported on by the Free Beacon and other outlets.

In October 2014, the Free Beacon published audio recordings from a since-discontinued strategy meeting between the White House and activist groups lobbying for the nuclear deal. During the session, Rhodes stressed that the agreement was “the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy.”

Last summer, the Free Beacon posted tapes from a private conference call with progressive groups organized by the Ploughshares Fund that discussed how to sell the Iran deal to congressional Democrats.

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are calling on Rhodes to testify about his comments to the Times, which seemed to suggest the administration misled the public and created an “echo chamber” in order to get the deal through.

Members of Gulf/2000 include activists and writers who worked closely with the Obama administration on Iran issues. One is Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council, a lobbying group working to repeal Iran sanctions. Another is Al-Monitor reporter Laura Rozen, who a White House aide described as her “RSS feed” on Iran in the Timesarticle. Cirincione is also on the list.

Other members have included Puneet Talwar, a senior State Department official and former advisor to Joe Biden in the Senate and White House; John Limbert, Obama’s former deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran; and Tamara Cofman Wittes, Obama’s former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

Many of the email list’s regular contributors are bloggers and academics: Jim Lobe and Marsha Cohen, writers for the anti-Israel website LobeLog; Flynt and Hillary Leverett, authors of the book “Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran”; Truthout writer Gareth Porter; and Cyrus Safdari, a commentator at Iran Review. Gulf/2000 also includes a number of current and former Iranian scholars who work at state-controlled universities or think tanks.

The Free Beacon reviewed hundreds of posts sent to the listserv between 2010 and 2015. Many contain theories about the “Israel Lobby’s” destructive influence over U.S. foreign policy and politicians, defenses of the Iranian government, and comments downplaying news stories that cast the regime in a negative light.

Although some Gulf/2000 members are strong critics of the Iranian government, particularly on human rights, many of the most active posters are vocal defenders of the regime.

“Perhaps above all, one of the greatest benefits of this [Iran] deal has been to put some limits, at least for the time being, on the Israeli Lobby and their rightwing supporters in the Congress,” wrote Farhang Jahanpour, a former dean at a state-run Iranian university, in 2013.

Other posts talked about the necessity of “breaking the power of the domestic Israel lobby” and the “neo-con cabal” that were allegedly the main threats to the Iran deal.

“The Neo-Cons have convinced themselves that no costs of human life outweigh the moral benefits they see of ridding Israel of any perceived military threat by pre-active lethal military force,” wrote David Long in January 2013.

The forum is also littered with conspiracy theories about the Israeli government and foreign affairs. In one post, retired journalist Richard Sale claimed the CIA told him that pro-Israel Christian groups were “secretly funded by Mossad.” In another, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich speculated that the Iranian-backed bombing of the 1994 AMIA Jewish community center was actually a false flag operation by the Argentine government to cover up its complicity with the Nazis.

Although Gulf/2000 is ostensibly a forum to discuss Gulf policy issues, the listserv’s fixation with “neocons” and the “Israel lobby” is not new. In 2003, a Lebanese columnist named Jihad Al Khazen published a series of lengthy posts on Gulf/2000 that purported to tell the “Biographies of the Neo-Cons.” His subjects included Bill Kristol, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, and Robert Kagan.

At the time, members also debated the correlation between “neo-cons” and Jews.

“It is certainly true that not every supporter of the [Iraq] war is Jewish, but it is definitely true that every supporter of the war with Iraq is a supporter of the most extreme Israeli right-wing. The coincidence is hard to ignore,” noted William Beeman.

Occasionally a contributor would push back on the forum’s general consensus.

“I am puzzled by the consistent tone of dismissal of any allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Iran by members of this list,” wrote one poster in 2003. “These charges are lumped together as either the baseless allegations of the US government, or worse, the product of a secret Jewish-neocon plot to discredit an Iran which would never, ever participate in terrorism.”

But a former forum member said Sick would often cut off conversations as “off-topic” when commenters tried to defend Israel against charges.

“There were clearly cases where there were things that were said about Israel, or written, posted about Israel, that were false, defamatory, absurd,” said the former member.

On March 5, 2014, the day the Israeli military announced it had intercepted an Iranian shipment of advanced rockets to Gaza, the news was greeted with typical suspicion in the forum.

“Call me a cynic, but it does seem like amazingly fortuitous timing: just when the IAEA have resisted Israel’s call to publish the claims (probably) Israel leaked, and while Bibi is tub-thumping to AIPAC in Washington ,” wrote James Spencer, a blogger for LobeLog.

“[S]omething did not jibe with this story. It is just a little bit too convenient,” agreed another poster.

“I can’t take that narrative at face value,” added Thomas Lippman, former Middle East bureau chief of the Washington Post.

“As James Spencer and Walter Posch noted the timing is suspicious, occurring as the AIPAC conference convened with Netanyahu in Washington,” wrote Charles Smith, a professor at the University of Arizona.

When the Iranian government weighed in on the arms seizure the day after the story broke, its response was similar.

“An Iranian ship carrying arms for Gaza. Captured just in time for annual AIPAC anti Iran campaign. Amazing Coincidence! Or same failed lies,” wrote Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Twitter.

Another common refrain in posts is that there is no evidence Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

“Like other counter-factual mythologies (President Obama’s birthplace, the identity of the Kennedy assassin, Jimmy Hoffa’s killer), this one seemingly will never die–at least as long as the neo-cons are alive to fan the last of its faint sparks,” wrote William O. Beeman, an anthropology professor at the University of Minnesota.

An official at an Iranian university, whose name was withheld, claimed the notion that Iran was seeking a bomb was driven by “Iranophobia.”

“Iran repeatedly has said that it doesn’t pursue the way of reaching to Atomic bomb,” said the poster. “What makes the US doesn’t believe this is exactly rooted to what Mr. Aboutalebi described it in his interview as Iranophobia.”

Posts also defend Iran against allegations of human rights violations by suggesting the claims are intended to undermine moderates or denying the charges altogether.

“[A]s the nuclear issue has become effectively – for now – insulated due to the support of Khamenei, critics are seeking to undermine Rouhani through other issues,” wrote Parsi in March 2014. “Human rights – due to the impact it has on Rouhani’s external image and the impact that can have on negotiations – appears to be one such issue.”

Other commenters were less subtle than Parsi.

“The Leveretts said it best: Ahmadinejad won those elections; get over it already,” argued blogger Safdari in December 2013.

One former member expressed concern that the influential listserv was being used to whitewash the Iranian government.

“If the Iranian regime wanted to push back on any assertion against it … it could not do a better job itself than the American academics and pundits who do it on Gulf/2000,” he said.

Rhodes is just the messenger

May 8, 2016

Rhodes is just the messenger, Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, May 8, 2016

This is the story of one young man — Ben Rhodes is his name — who aspired to become a novelist. He realized that dream, in a manner of sorts, by becoming a storyteller, and he would tell those stories at the White House, as the president’s deputy national security advisor for strategic communications.

Storyteller is too elegant a title, perhaps, for the person who sold us the tale known as the Iran nuclear deal. A profile piece on Rhodes, one of President Barack Obama’s closest advisers, by the New York Times Magazine reveals facts that we already knew, facts that led to the outrageous nuclear deal between Iran and world powers on July 14, last year:

1. The story of the elections in Iran and the victory of the “moderate” camp was a well-planned spin — an invention — to sell the nuclear deal to the American public (which opposed it) and to the world.

2. Obama desired a nuclear deal with Iran as early as 2009. He wanted it even more than the Iranians did, and was even prepared to sign such a deal with extremist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 

3. Obama upgraded Iran’s international and regional standing in order to shirk his commitments toward U.S. allies in the region, among them Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey.

4. The Obama administration exploited journalists who are “27 years old … and know literally know nothing” (in the words of Rhodes himself), having them sing the administration’s tune to the world.

Even more experienced reporters like Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic) and Laura Rozen (Al-Monitor) were relegated, at least on the Iranian issue, to “mouthpieces” for the administration.

5. Even had Iran failed to fulfill its obligations or concealed figures pertaining to its nuclear project, Obama would not have followed through on his threat to order a pre-emptive strike against it. This is according to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, whose job, according to the New York Times article, was to make sure that Israel wouldn’t attack Iran.

The giant scam, revealed by the person tasked with executing these deceitful manipulations (the same Rhodes), is nothing short of scandalous. It is testimony to how in July 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s close aide Jake Sullivan was dispatched to Muscat in Oman to coordinate the details of the interim and permanent nuclear deal with the Iranians.

The New York Times story also reveals that three months before “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected to office in the summer of 2013, Sullivan and then-Deputy Secretary of State William Burns had already met at the White House to approve the interim deal, which served as the basis for the permanent deal.

The Rhodes profile piece sheds light on things we already knew, or at the very least suspected, to have transpired during these manipulative negotiations. We witnessed the charade at Laussane from up close, in November 2013. Looking back, those talks were supposedly on the verge of collapsing, but in actuality the sides had already planned out the signing ceremony.

Rhodes is not waiting for Obama’s term in office to end to explain the roots of his boss’ worldview: the boy who grew up in Southeast Asia, in Indonesia, whose revulsion against a certain kind of global power politics was influenced by the interactions with power he had there.

As a young man, Obama, according to Rhodes, was revolted by the notion of a superpower. Thus, Rhodes explains, if someone tries tracing the origins of the idea of “leading from behind,” which Obama implemented in Libya, the answers can be found in the president’s childhood.

While the New York Times article focuses on Rhodes, he is only the executioner of policy. The person responsible for the scam is Obama. He is not the first to manipulate the media; many have done so before him. In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson “sold” Congress on the idea that the U.S. had met the challenges it faced in Vietnam, which was not the case. Other presidents, as well, such as Nixon and even George W. Bush in regard to Iraq, cynically used the media. But here we are talking about Obama — “Mr. Clean” — the man who is allegedly without flaw.

A storyteller’s festival

The New York Times piece illustrates yet again the extent to which the president is living in a virtual reality. Remember how just two weeks ago he called this the most peaceful era of human history? Now we understand that his comments have no place in the real world. Perhaps they are more befitting a storyteller’s festival.

Throughout the nuclear talks with Iran, Rhodes also gave interviews to Israeli news outlets. The New York Times article about him went online Thursday; did anyone over the weekend hear those Israeli news outlets mention even one word of what Rhodes himself has just revealed?

Of course not. After all, it’s one thing to hurt Israel — but to hurt Obama’s narrative? Heaven forbid.