Israel Lobby Orgs Grab Covid-19 CARES Act Funds for Itself, IDF Facilities, and Sketchy Israeli Companies

Israel lobby organizations such as the Zionist Organization of America ($2-5 million), Friends of the IDF ($2-5 million) and the Israeli American Council ($1-2 million) are grabbing huge 100% forgivable loans from the CARES Act PPP program.

According to SBA data released on Monday, Israeli’s Bank Leumi has doled out a quarter to a half billion dollars under the PPP program, despite being called out for operating in the occupied West Bank.

Leumi has given sweetheart deals to fellow Israeli companies Oran Safety Glass (which defrauded the US Army on bulletproof glass contracts) and Energix, which operates power plants in the occupied Golan Heights and West Bank.

This exchange took place today on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal.

This video clip with additional information is available on IRmep’s YouTube Channel.

Grant F. Smith is the author of the new book The Israel Lobby Enters State Government. He is director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy IRmep in Washington, D.C. which co-organizes IsraelLobbyCon each year at the National Press Club.

Charlie Savage, NYT, CIA Climb Down From Russia Bounties Hoax

The headline blares that it’s a big “administration” conspiracy to play up doubts and play down proofs of the bounties plot, but the text itself reveals that it’s the National Intelligence Council that did the new review and that even the CIA, the agency out in front on this story, has only “medium” or “moderate” confidence on the reality of the plot. Meanwhile DoD and NSA both still say they give it low confidence and cannot verify.

You gotta appreciate the desperate spin of the Times reporters and their editors here:

“A memo produced in recent days by the office of the nation’s top intelligence official acknowledged that the C.I.A. and top counterterrorism officials have assessed that Russia appears to have offered bounties to kill American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, but emphasized uncertainties and gaps in evidence, according to three officials.”

Oh how cynical of the National Intelligence Council to “emphasize” doubts instead of running with wild unverified claims! Their anonymous sources assure us that the memo “was intended to bolster the Trump administration’s attempts to justify its inaction” over the alleged Russian interference. But intelligence officials tell the New York Times lots of things.

I buried the lead nearly as badly as they did, but here it is before they go meandering off saying nothing and refusing to acknowledge the importance of the following admission:

“The memo said that the C.I.A. and the National Counterterrorism Center had assessed with medium confidence — meaning credibly sourced and plausible, but falling short of near certainty — that a unit of the Russian military intelligence service, known as the G.R.U., offered the bounties, according to two of the officials briefed on its contents.

“But other parts of the intelligence community — including the National Security Agency, which favors electronic surveillance intelligence — said they did not have information to support that conclusion at the same level, therefore expressing lower confidence in the conclusion, according to the two officials. A third official familiar with the memo did not describe the precise confidence levels, but also said the C.I.A.’s was higher than other agencies.”

So Charlie Savage admits that his whole stupid story is based on a medium-confidence conclusion of the CIA against the views of the NSA and DoD. I wonder if he noticed the same people gave the story to the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post at the same time as an obvious attempt to use their stenography in a plot to prevent Trump from considering an “early” withdrawal from Afghanistan.

And then check out this from Scott Ritter’s piece at ConsortiumNews.com:

“’Afghan officials said prizes of as much as $100,000 per killed soldier were offered for American and coalition targets,’ the Times reported. And yet, when Rukmini Callimachi, a member of the reporting team breaking the story, appeared on MSNBC to elaborate further, she noted that ‘the funds were being sent from Russia regardless of whether the Taliban followed through with killing soldiers or not. There was no report back to the GRU about casualties. The money continued to flow.’

“There is just one problem — that’s not how bounties work.”

…And they will keep on jerking that rusty old chain.

Afghanistan and the Endless War Caucus

From The American Conservative:

Barbara Boland reported on the House Armed Services Committee’s vote to impede withdrawal of US from Afghanistan:

The House Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday night to put roadblocks on President Donald Trump’s vow to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, apparently in response to bombshell report published by The New York Times Friday that alleges Russia paid dollar bounties to the Taliban in Afghanistan to kill US troops.

It speaks volumes about Congress’ abdication of its responsibilities that one of the few times that most members want to challenge the president over a war is when they think he might bring it to an end. Many of the members that want to block withdrawals from other countries have no problem when the president wants to use US forces illegally and to keep them in other countries without authorization for years at a time. The role of hard-liner Liz Cheney in pushing the measure passed yesterday is a good example of what I mean. The hawkish outrage in Congress is only triggered when the president entertains the possibility of taking troops out of harm’s way. When he takes reckless and illegal action that puts them at risk, as he did when he ordered the illegal assassination of Soleimani, the same members that are crying foul today applauded the action. As Boland explains, the amendment passed by the committee yesterday sets so many conditions on withdrawal that it makes it all but impossible to satisfy them:

Crow’s amendment adds several layers of policy goals to the US mission in Afghanistan, which has already stretched on for 19 years and cost over a trillion dollars. As made clear in the Afghanistan Papers, most of these policy goals were never the original intention of the mission in Afghanistan, and were haphazardly added after the defeat of al Qaeda. With no clear vision for what achieving these fuzzy goals would look like, the mission stretches on indefinitely, an unarticulated victory unachievable.

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75 Years Ago: When Szilard Tried To Halt Dropping Atomic Bombs Over Japan

As this troubled summer rolls along, and the world begins to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the creation, and use, of the first atomic bombs, many special, or especially tragic, days will draw special attention. They will include July 16 (first test of the weapon in New Mexico), August 6 (bomb dropped over Hiroshima) and August 9 (over Nagasaki). Surely far fewer in the media and elsewhere will mark another key date: July 3.

On July 3, 1945, the great atomic scientist Leo Szilard finished a letter/petition that would become the strongest (virtually the only) real attempt at halting President Truman’s march to using the atomic bomb – still almost two weeks from its first test at Trinity – against Japanese cities.

We rarely hear that as the Truman White House made plans to use the first atomic bombs against Japan in the summer of 1945, a large group of atomic scientists, many of whom had worked on the bomb project, raised their voices, or at least their names, in protest. They were led by the great physicist Szilard who, among things, is the man who convinced Albert Einstein to write his famous yes-it-can-be-done letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, setting the bomb project in motion.

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Fourth of July Musings: The Curse of Exceptionalism and the Perils of Patriotism

From Scheerpost:

Once again, this Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate – to the unwitting militarist racist tune that is the “Star Spangled Banner” – more than just the nation’s Independence Day. Though most folks will, if at a reasonable social distance, focus more on the backyard beer and brats, U.S. jingoism and exceptionalism will invariably be on the menu.

That last sentiment, particularly amidst the COVID-19 and mass protest-exposing era of forever war at home and abroad, deserves a closer and critical look. For exceptionalism is truly a national disease that ravages American bodies and democratic institutions alike. This malignancy must be named and shamed in pursuit of precisely the “participatory patriotism” the holiday purports to celebrate. As the (late) man said, “Always look to the language;” so let us begin there:

A shining “City upon a Hill;” possessed with the power to “begin the world over again;” imbued with a “Manifest Destiny;” destined to “make the world safe for democracy;” representing, ultimately, a singularly “indispensable nation.” These are the self-styled musings from a country with a near-clinical collective Messiah complex. So diagnosed, the United States, predictably, would never countenance competition from any another power claiming even a fraction of similar self-righteousness. Indeed, in the past, the US has gone to war – hot or cold – with others who dared.

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