Search Results for : atlantic bridge


Atlantic Bridge Domain

Atlantic Bridge’s web presence has disappeared, as has the Charity Commission’s report on it when it had its charitable status removed. Indeed it has proved rather hard to glean information on this Fox/Werritty vehicle: it seems that William Hague was a member as were, according to Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donell, not just Fox but the two junior defence ministers Werritty met. So this shady fake charity with undisclosed finance sources really was running British foreign and defence policy.

With thanks to my informant, it appears the domain for the Atlantic Bridge website was listed to a Mr Michael Pearsall of 15 Broomfields, Longfield, Kent DA3 8BW. Now what can anybody tell me about him? The contact email for the site registration was [email protected] Presumably that email address relates to Fox’s portfolio of health before he was switched to defence? If he didn’t make any money from his worngdoing, isn’t it strange how these business consultancies and donation seeking organisations linked to him reflected his official portfolio at the time?

So Michael Pearsall, Peter Stock and ukhealthgroup.com. Let’s get digging!!

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May Intends to Appoint Liam Fox as Chancellor

A week ago an old Whitehall colleague told me that Treasury mandarins expect to be briefing Liam Fox as the new Chancellor should the Tories be re-elected – and they were not much looking forward to the experience. I did not pay much attention until today’s May/Hammond press conference, where it became evident that Hammond’s coat is on the shoogliest of pegs.

Hammond started the day being ripped to shreds by John Humphreys on the Today programme and getting the cost of HS2 radically wrong. But that hardly matters, as it is only when this happens to opposition figures that the mainstream media highlights and constant replays it.

A much more telling incident happened shortly thereafter when, standing alongside Hammond, May was three times asked directly if Hammond would continue as Chancellor, and she refused to back him, only at the third time of asking giving the most half hearted endorsement. I then realised the information I had been given was good.

Strangely, it is only the right wing media that has noted Fox’s continuing relationship with Adam Werritty. It was the Spectator which published that Werritty joined Fox on the Commons Terrace for a champagne spree to celebrate the disgraced ex-minister’s return to office. I was told by a SNP MP who witnessed it and used the phrase “brass neck”. But only the Spectator reported it, and only the Times has said that the two remain close. They reported last year that Werritty is living in Dolphin Square (I know, let’s not go there).

I have an irresistible image of what life is going to be like inside the Treasury, should Fox and Werritty have the run of it.

Of course Werritty opened a private health company when Fox was Health Secretary and a defence consultancy business when Fox was Minister of Defence. If Fox becomes Chancellor, I presume he gets to open a bank!

But on a more serious note, the prospect of Fox becoming Chancellor is truly alarming. The hard right links he forged through the now defunct Atlantic Bridge to the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Heritage Foundation give him direct access into the heart of the Trump administration, and align him with the nastiest millionaires and hedge fund managers, with the funders of climate change denial and with those who wish to abolish literally all workers’ rights and consumer protections. This article by George Monbiot is rather dense, but it is essential reading. And terrifying.

Fox appears to be confined in a locked cupboard for the duration of the election campaign. Doubtless he is waiting, like a child on Christmas Eve, to come bursting out and claim his prize once it is over.

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Matthew Gould and the Plot to Attack Iran

This is Matthew Gould, second from right, British Ambassador to Israel, who was pictured speaking at a meeting of the Leeds Zionist Federation that was also the opening of the Leeds Hasbarah Centre. The Leeds Zionist Federation is part of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, motto “Speaking Up for Israel.” A collection was made at the meeting to send packages to members of the Israeli Defence Force.

On 29 May 2011 The Jerusalem Post reported: “British Ambassador Matthew Gould declared his commitment to Israel and the principles of Zionism on Thursday”.

Remember this background, it is unusual behaviour for a diplomat, and it is important.

The six meetings between British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould and Minister of Defence Liam Fox and Adam Werritty together – only two of which were revealed by Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell in his “investigation” into Werritty’s unauthorised role in the Ministry of Defence – raise vital concerns about a secret agenda for war at the core of government, comparable to Blair’s determination to drive through a war on Iraq..

This is a detective story. It begins a few weeks ago, when the Fox-Werritty scandal was first breaking in the media. I had a contact from an old friend from my Foreign Office days. This friend had access to the Gus O’Donnell investigation. He had given a message for me to a trusted third party.

Whistleblowing in the surveillance state is a difficult activity. I left through a neighbour’s garden, not carrying a mobile phone, puffed and panted by bicycle to an unmonitored but busy stretch of road, hitched a lift much of the way, then ordered a minicab on a payphone from a country pub to my final destination, a farm far from CCTV. There the intermediary gave me the message: what really was worrying senior civil servants in the Cabinet Office was that the Fox-Werritty link related to plans involving Mossad and the British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould.

Since I became a notorious whistleblower, several of my ex-friends and contacts have used me to get out information they wanted to leak, via my blog. A good recent example was a senior friend at the UN who tipped me off in advance on the deal by which the US agreed to the Saudi attack on pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain, in return for Arab League support for the NATO attack on Libya. But this was rather different, not least in the apparent implication that our Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, was engaged in something with Werritty which went beyond official FCO policy.

I was particularly concerned by this because I knew slightly and liked Matthew Gould, from the time he wrote speeches for Robin Cook. I hoped there was nothing much in it. But then Gould’s name started to come up as professional journalists dug into the story, and reported Werritty’s funding by pro-Israeli lobby groups.

I decided that the best approach was for me to write to Matthew Gould. I did so, asking him when he had first met Werritty, how many times he had met him, and how many communications of every kind there had been between them. I received the reply that these questions would be answered in Gus O’Donnell’s report.

But Gus O’Donnell’s report in fact answered none of these questions. It only mentioned two meetings at which Fox, Gould and Werritty were all three present. It did not mention Gould-Werritty bilateral meetings and contacts at all. To an ex-Ambassador like me, there was also something very fishy about the two trilateral meetings O’Donnell did mention and his characterisation of them.

This led me to dig further, and I was shocked to find that O’Donnell was, at the most charitable interpretation, economical with the truth. In fact there were at least six Fox-Werritty-Gould meetings, not the two given by O’Donnell. Why did GOD lie? I now had no doubt that my informant had pointed me towards something very real and very important indeed.

Matthew Gould was the only British Ambassador who Fox and Werrity met together. They met him six times. Why?

The first meeting to which O’Donnell admits, took place in September 2010. O’Donnell says this was

“a general discussion of international defence and security matters to enable Mr Gould better to understand MOD’s perspective.”

O’Donnell says Werritty should not have been present. An FCO spokesman told me on 21 October that

“Mr Gould’s meeting with the Defence Secretary was arranged by his office as part of his pre-posting briefing calls.”

All Ambassadors make pre-posting briefing calls around Whitehall before taking up their job, as you would expect. But even for our most senior Ambassadors, outside the Foreign Office those calls are not at Secretary of State level. Senior officials are quite capable of explaining policy to outgoing Ambassadors; Secretaries of State have many other things to do.

For this meeting to happen at all was not routine, and Werritty’s presence made it still more strange. Why was this meeting happening? I dug further, and learnt from a senior MOD source that there were two more very strange things about this meeting, neither noted by O’Donnell. There was no private secretary or MOD official present to take note of action points, and the meeting took place not in Fox’s office, but in the MOD dining room.

O’Donnell may have been able to fox the media, but to a former Ambassador this whole meeting stunk. I bombarded the FCO with more questions, and discovered an amazing fact left out by O’Donnell. The FCO spokesman replied to me on 21 October 2011 that:

“Mr Werritty was also present at an earlier meeting Mr Gould had with Dr Fox in the latter’s capacity as shadow Defence Secretary.”

So Gould, Fox and Werritty had got together before Gould was Ambassador, while Fox was still in opposition and while Werritty was – what, exactly? This opened far more questions than it answered. I put them to the FCO. When, where and why had this meeting happened? We only knew it was before May 2010, when Fox took office. What was discussed? There are very strict protocols for senior officials briefing opposition front bench spokesman. Had they been followed?

The FCO refused point blank to answer any further questions. I turned to an independent-minded MP, Jeremy Corbyn, who put down a parliamentary question to William Hague. The reply quite deliberately ignored almost all of Corbyn’s question, but it did throw up an extraordinary bit of information – yet another meeting between Fox, Werritty and Gould, which had not been previously admitted.

Hague replied to Corbyn that:

“Our ambassador to Israel was also invited by the former Defence Secretary to a private social engagement in summer 2010 at which Adam Werritty was present.”

Getting to the truth was like drawing teeth, but the picture was building. O’Donnell had completely mischaracterised the “Briefing meeting” between Fox, Werritty and O’Donnell by hiding the fact that the three had met up at least twice before – once for a meeting when Fox was in opposition, and once for “a social engagement.” The FCO did not answer Corbyn’s question as to who else was present at this “social engagement”.

This was also key because Gould’s other meetings with Fox and Werritty were being characterised – albeit falsely – as simply routine, something Gould had to do in the course of his ambassadorial duties. But this attendance at “a private social engagement” was a voluntary act by Gould, indubitable proof that, at the least, the three were happy in each other’s company, but given that all three were very active in zionist causes, it was a definite indication of something more than that.

That furtive meeting between Fox, Werritty and Gould in the MOD dining room, deliberately held away from Fox’s office where it should have taken place, and away from the MOD officials who should have been there, now looks less like briefing and more like plotting.

My existing doubts about the second and only other meeting to which O’Donnell does admit make plain why that question is very important.

O’Donnell had said that Gould, Fox and Werritty had met on 6 February 2011:

“in Tel Aviv. This was a general discussion of international affairs over a private dinner with senior Israelis. The UK Ambassador was present.”

There was something very wrong here. Any ex-Ambassador knows that any dinner with senior figures from your host country, at which the British Ambassador to that country and a British Secretary of State are both present, and at which international affairs are discussed, can never be “private”. You are always representing the UK government in that circumstance. The only explanation I could think of for O’Donnell’s astonishing description of this as a “private” dinner was that the discussion was far from being official UK policy.

I therefore asked the FCO who was at this dinner, what was discussed, and who was paying for it? I viewed the last as my trump card – if either Gould or Fox was receiving hospitality, they are obliged to declare it. To my astonishment the FCO refused to say who was present or who paid. Corbyn’s parliamentary question also covered the issue of who was at this dinner, to which he received no reply.

Plainly something was very wrong. I therefore again asked how often Gould had met or communicated with Werritty without Fox being present. Again the FCO refused to reply. But one piece of information that had been found by other journalists was that, prior to the Tel Aviv dinner, Fox, Gould and Werritty had together attended the Herzilya conference in Israel. The programme of this is freely available. It is an unabashedly staunch zionist annual conference on “Israel’s security”, which makes no pretence at a balanced approach to Palestinian questions and attracts a strong US neo-conservative following. Fox, Gould and Werritty sat together at this event.

Yet again, the liar O’Donnell does not mention it.

I then learnt of yet another, a sixth meeting between Fox, Gould and Werritty. This time my infomrant was another old friend, a jewish diplomat for another country, based at an Embassy in London. They had met Gould, Fox and Werritty together at the “We believe in Israel” conference in London in May 2011. Here is a photo of Gould and Fox together at that conference.

I had no doubt about the direction this information was leading, but I now needed to go back to my original source. Sometimes the best way to hide something is to put it right under the noses of those looking for it, and on Wednesday I picked up the information in a tent at the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s cathedral.

This is the story I was given.

Matthew Gould was Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Iran, a country which Werritty frequently visited, and where Werritty claimed to have British government support for plots against Ahmadinejad. Gould worked at the British Embassy in Washington; the Fox-Werritty Atlantic Bridge fake charity was active in building links between British and American neo-conservatives and particularly ultra-zionists. Gould’s responsibilities at the Embassy included co-ordination on US policy towards Iran. The first meeting of all three, which the FCO refuses to date, probably stems from this period.

According to my source, there is a long history of contact between Gould and Werritty. The FCO refuse to give any information on Gould-Werritty meetings or communications except those meetings where Fox was present – and those have only been admitted gradually, one by one. We may not have them all even yet.

My source says that co-ordinating with Israel and the US on diplomatic preparation for an attack on Iran was the subject of all these meetings. That absolutely fits with the jobs Gould held at the relevant times. The FCO refuses to say what was discussed. My source says that, most crucially, Iran was discussed at the Tel Aviv dinner, and the others present represented Mossad. The FCO again refuses to say who was present or what was discussed.

On Wednesday 2 November it was revealed in the press that under Fox the MOD had prepared secret and detailed contingency plans for British participation in an attack on Iran.

There are very important questions here. Was Gould really discussing neo-con plans for attacking Iran with Werritty and eventually with Fox before the Conservatives were even in government? Why did O’Donnell’s report so carefully mislead on the Fox-Gould-Werritty axis? How far was the FCO aware of MOD preparations for attacking Iran? Is there a neo-con cell of senior ministers and officials, co-ordinating with Israel and the United States, and keeping their designs hidden from the Conservative’s coalition partners?

The government could clear up these matters if it answered some of the questions it refuses to answer, even when asked formally by a member of parliament. The media have largely moved on from the Fox-Werritty affair, but have barely skimmed the surface of the key questions it raises. They relate to secrecy, democratic accountabilty and preparations to launch a war, preparations which bypass the safeguards of good government. The refusal to give straight answers to simple questions by a member of perliament strikes at the very root of our democracy.

Is this not precisely the situation we were in with Blair and Iraq? Have no lessons been learnt?

There is a further question which arises. Ever since the creation of the state of Israel, the UK had a policy of not appointing a jewish Briton as Ambassador, for fear of conflict of interest. As a similar policy of not appointing a catholic Ambassador to the Vatican. New Labour overturned both longstanding policies as discriminatory. Matthew Gould is therefore the first jewish British Ambassador to Israel.

Matthew Gould does not see his race or religion as irrelevant. He has chosen to give numerous interviews to both British and Israeli media on the subject of being a jewish ambassador, and has been at pains to be photographed by the Israeli media participating in jewish religious festivals. Israeli newspaper Haaretz described him as “Not just an ambassador who is jewish, but a jewish ambassador”. That rather peculiar phrase appears directly to indicate that the potential conflict of interest for a British ambassador in Israel has indeed arisen.

It is thus most unfortunate that it is Gould who is the only British Ambassador to have met Fox and Werritty together, who met them six times, and who now stands suspected of long term participation with them in a scheme to forward war with Iran, in cooperation with Israel. This makes it even more imperative that the FCO answers now the numerous outstanding questions about the Gould/Werritty relationship and the purpose of all those meetings with Fox.

There is no doubt that the O’Donnell report’s deceitful non-reporting of so many Fox-Gould-Werritty meetings, the FCO’s blunt refusal to list Gould-Werritty, meetings and contacts without Fox, and the refusal to say who else was present at any of these occasions, amounts to irrefutable evidence that something very important is being hidden right at the heart of government. I have no doubt that my informant is telling the truth, and the secret is the plan to attack Iran. It fits all the above facts. What else does?

Please feel free to re-use and republish this article anywhere, commercially or otherwise. It has been blocked by the mainstream media. I write regularly for the mainstream media and this is the first article of mine I have ever been unable to publish. People have risked a huge amount by leaking me information in an effort to stop the government machinery from ramping up a war with Iran. There are many good people in government who do not want to see another Iraq. Please do all you can to publish and redistribute this information.

UPDATE A commenter has already pointed me to this bit of invaluable evidence:

“My government absolutely agrees with your conception of the Iranian threat and the importance of your determination to battle it.” Dealing with the Iranian threat will be a large part of my work here.” Gould said.

From Israel National News. It also says that he will be trying to promote a positive atmosphere between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, but the shallowest or the deepest search shows the same picture; an entirely biased indeed fanatical zionist who must give no confidence at all to the Palestinian Authority. He must be recalled.

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Gould and Fox-Werritty Schemed for Attack on Iran

Gus O’Donnell’s report deliberately omitted evidence that Werritty and Fox were scheming with British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould to prepare the diplomatic ground for a military attack on Iran.

O’Donnell listed two meetings between Fox, Werritty and Gould. But he left out a key meeting of the three, before Fox became Secretary of State for Defence, while Fox was still in opposition. The fact that the three had met before casts a whole new light on their three subsequent meetings, of which O’Donnell mentions only two.

This is what O’Donnell says of one Gould/Fox/Werritty meeting, in para 6 of his report:

This leaves a meeting between Dr Fox and Matthew Gould, the then UK Ambassador Designate to Israel in September 2010. I understand that this was a general discussion of international defence and security matters to enable Mr
Gould better to understand MOD’s perspective of the security situation in the Middle East. Mr Werritty was invited to attend as an individual with some experience in these matters. As a private citizen, however, with no official locus, it was not appropriate for Mr Werritty to have attended this meeting. Dr Fox has since acknowledged this.

It is a lie by omission for O’Donnell to leave out the fact that the three had met up before. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has refused to answer the following questions:

When and where did Gould meet Fox and Werrity while Fox was shadow Defence Secretary?
What position did Gould hold at the time?
There are very strict protocols for officials meeting and briefing opposition front bench spokesmen. Were they met?
In what capacity was Werritty there?
What was discussed and was the meeting minuted?

This is the FCO’s official response to my questions:

Mr Gould’s meeting with the Defence Secretary was arranged by his office as part of his pre-posting briefing calls. Mr Gould was not aware of likely attendance at that meeting in advance; nor does he recall the nature of any introductions made.

As noted in the Cabinet Secretary’s recent report, this was a general discussion of international defence and security matters to enable Mr Gould better to understand MoD’s perspective of the security situation in the Middle East. No classified material was discussed at this meeting.

We are not aware of any record of the meeting having been taken. This is quite normal for routine pre-posting meetings of this kind.

Mr Werritty was also present at an earlier meeting Mr Gould had with Dr Fox in the latter’s capacity as shadow Defence Secretary.

The conference which both Mr Gould and Mr Werritty attended in Israel in February this year was the latest in the series of annual Herzliya Conferences. A programme and other documents related to the conference can be found on the Herzliya Conference website. As noted in the Cabinet Secretary’s report, Mr Gould also attended a private dinner with the Defence Secretary, Mr Werritty and senior Israelis in the margins of that conference, at which there was a general discussion of international affairs.

Why were the facts in bold omitted from Gus O’Donnell’s report?

The programme is worth looking at: nobody could accuse the Herzilya conference of balance in its agenda or its participation.

But to return to the detail. The FCO is quite wrong to describe Gould’s meeting with Fox as a “routine pre-posting briefing meeting.” This is in fact another deliberate lie. Brieifngs for even the most senior Ambassadors on their pre-posting briefing tours are not normally at Secretary of State level. Liam Fox did not meet any other British Ambassadors to give them pre-posting briefing. And when an Ambassador does call on the Secretary of State for Defence, there would always be a private secretary in attendance in case any action points arise. Not only was there no private secretary, but I am told by an inside source this meeting was not in Fox’s office but in the MOD dining room.

Not a “routine pre-posting briefing meeting” at all then.

O’Donnell omits the Herzilya Conference but includes the dinner. Again, what O’Donnell says is quite extraordinary to any FCO insider:

6 February in Tel Aviv. This was a general discussion of international affairs over a private dinner with senior Israelis. The UK Ambassador was present.

The idea that the Secretary of State for Defence can have, together with the British Ambassador to a country, a “Private dinner” with officials of that country is just plain nonsense. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office refuse to say who the “Senior Israelis” with Fox, Gould and Werritty were. They also refuse to say who paid for that dinner.

My information is that the reason that dinner is characterised as “Private” is that it included senior Israeli military and Mossad representatives and that the subject of discussion was preparing the diplomatic ground for a military attack on Iran.

Matthew Gould is British Ambassador. He represents this country at all times and every utterance he makes on diplomatic or policy questions to an official of his host country is “official”. We are entitled to know:

Who paid for the dinner?
Which senior Israelis were at that dinner in Israel on 6 February 2011 with Gould, Fox and Werritty?
What was discussed?

O’Donnell omits the fact that Gould, Fox and Werritty were plotting from before Fox became Secretary of State. O’Donnell mentions only two of the four meetings between all three that we know about. He separates those two meetings by seven paragraphs, does not mention Gould by name at the second reference, and gives deliberately false characterisations of those meetings. This is misdirection on an epic scale.

Werritty visited Iran to meet opposition groups while Gould was serving in the Embassy there. Atlantic Bridge, the Fox-Werritty fake charity, was operating in the US when Gould was serving in the British Embassy in Washington with specific responsibility for US-Iranian relations.

Both O’Donnell and the FCO have listed only meetings at which Fox, Gould and Werritty were all three present. They have refused to say how many times Gould met Werritty without Fox, or how many telephone conversations or written or electronic communications there have been between Gould and Werritty.

I started this investigation on a tip-off. The FCO’s confirmation that Gould met Werritty and Fox while Fox was still in opposition confirms that some of what my informant says is true. An overwhelming mass of circumstantial evidence and the government’s lies, misleading statements and refusal to clarify some very simple facts, leaves me convinced that the truth has been found.

Werritty received such large amounts of Zionist lobby funding because he was, with Fox, promoting an attack on Iran – an agenda in which Matthew Gould had got himself wrapped.

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World’s Thinnest Whitewash

My mole told the truth – the delay was the reformating of a four page A4 report (merely 2,700 words) to spread it super-thinly over ten pages, using line spacing, large font and paragraph breaks.

It is a work of breathtaking insouciance. It brushes over Werritty’s meetings with other defence ministers on the pretext that, as this was in the context of Atlantic Bridge, that makes it OK! In fact, that is precisely what makes it unacceptable.

It also mentions only the Fox-Werritty meeting with Matthew Gould, UK Ambassador to Israel, in the MOD and fails to mention that they met him at least once again in Israel, or to answer a single one of the questions I asked about how this meeting was set up or what other contacts Gould had with Werritty.

The statement that the Cabinet Office were unaware of Werritty’s existence is a downright lie. Also interesting that it makes no mention of other government departments, particularly the FCO. And no mention at all of Werritty’s Israel Lobby funding or Mossad.

This is less whitewash, more transparent bollocks.

My investigation continues…

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Fox

I remember the gay-baiting student Liam Fox as active in the banning of a Gay Society at Glasgow University Union in the early 1980’s. As President of Dundee University Students Association, which at the time had close ties with our Glasgow counterparts in the Scottish campaign against the NUS, I tried to change their mind, and that was my first memory of the odious little bigot.

Being sick in bed this weekend and paying little attention to the news, I had presumed that Fox’s “ex-flatmate” Adam Werritty was of his own age, a flatmate from students days or impecunious early employment. I also presumed that Werritty had been Fox’s best man back in a similar period. I am surprised to find that the 40 year old Fox picked up the 24 year old Werritty at a meeting in Edinburgh Unversity only ten years ago, shortly after that Werritty moved into his flat, and after they had known each other just four years, Werrity was apparently Liam’s closest buddy on earth and became his best man.

Fox accommodated Werritty in taxpayer funded accommodation and around the best man period was funding him on his MPs expenses – before the “Atlantic Bridge” fake charity wheeze. Fox was found by the expenses scandal investigation to have “overclaimed” over £20,000 in mortgage payments and was forced to pay it back. It is unclear why Fox was not prosecuted. He also charged mobile phone bills of over £17,000 to the taxpayer. There must now be an investigation of how many of those calls were to Adam Werritty.

The fact that when Liam Fox was shadow health secretary, Werritty ran a health consultancy, and when Fox became defence secretary, Werritty became a defence consultant, tells you all that you need to know about this relationship. Tory attempts to fog the big picture by focusing on what exactly was discussed at individual meetings are irrelevant. I commend this Telegraph article by James Kirkup, who deserves a prize for best use of the phrase “by coincidence”.

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In the World of Truth and Fact, Russiagate is Dead. In the World of the Political Establishment, it is Still the New 42

Douglas Adams famously suggested that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. In the world of the political elite, the answer is Russiagate. What has caused the electorate to turn on the political elite, to defeat Hillary and to rush to Brexit? Why, the evil Russians, of course, are behind it all.

It was the Russians who hacked the DNC and published Hillary’s emails, thus causing her to lose the election because… the Russians, dammit, who cares what was in the emails? It was the Russians. It is the Russians who are behind Wikileaks, and Julian Assange is a Putin agent (as is that evil Craig Murray). It was the Russians who swayed the 1,300,000,000 dollar Presidential election campaign result with 100,000 dollars worth of Facebook advertising. It was the evil Russians who once did a dodgy trade deal with Aaron Banks then did something improbable with Cambridge Analytica that hypnotised people en masse via Facebook into supporting Brexit.

All of this is known to be true by every Blairite, every Clintonite, by the BBC, by CNN, by the Guardian, the New York Times and the Washington Post. “The Russians did it” is the article of faith for the political elite who cannot understand why the electorate rejected the triangulated “consensus” the elite constructed and sold to us, where the filthy rich get ever richer and the rest of us have falling incomes, low employment rights and scanty welfare benefits. You don’t like that system? You have been hypnotised and misled by evil Russian trolls and hackers.

[Whether Trump and/or Brexit were worthy beneficiaries of the popular desire to express discontent is an entirely different argument and not one I address here].

Except virtually none of this is true. Mueller’s inability to defend in person his deeply flawed report took a certain amount of steam out of the blame Russia campaign. But what should have killed off “Russiagate” forever is the judgement of Judge John G Koeltl of the Federal District Court of New York.

In a lawsuit brought by the Democratic National Committee against Russia and against Wikileaks, and against inter alia Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Julian Assange, for the first time the claims of collusion between Trump and Russia were subjected to actual scrutiny in a court of law. And Judge Koeltl concluded that, quite simply, the claims made as the basis of Russiagate are insufficient to even warrant a hearing.

The judgement is 81 pages long, but if you want to understand the truth about the entire “Russiagate” spin it is well worth reading it in full. Otherwise let me walk you through it.

This is the crucial point about Koeltl’s judgement. In considering dismissing a case at the outset in response to a motion to dismiss from the defence, the judge is obliged to give the plaintiff every benefit and to take the alleged facts described by the DNC as true. The stage of challenging and testing those facts has not been reached. The question Koeltl is answering is this. Accepting for the moment the DNC’s facts as true, on the face of it, even if everything that the Democratic National Committee alleged happened, did indeed happen, is there the basis for a case? And his answer is a comprehensive no. Even the facts alleged to comprise the Russiagate narrative do not mount up to a plausible case.

The consequence of this procedure is of course that in this judgement Koeltl is accepting the DNC’s “facts”. The judgement is therefore written entirely on the assumption that the Russians did hack the DNC computers as alleged by the plaintiff (the Democratic National Committee), and that meetings and correspondence took place as the DNC alleged and their content was also what the DNC alleged. It is vital to understand in reading the document that Koeltl is not stating that he finds these “facts” to be true. Doubtless had the trial proceeded many of them would have been challenged by the defendants and their evidentiary basis tested in court. It is simply at this stage the only question Koeltl is answering is whether, assuming the facts alleged all to be true, there are grounds for trial.

Judge Koeltl’s subsequent dismissal of the Russiagate nonsense is a problem for the mainstream media and their favourite narrative. They have largely chosen to pretend it never happened, but when obliged to mention it have attempted to misrepresent this as the judge confirming that the Russians hacked the DNC. It very definitely and specifically is not that; the judge was obliged to rule on the procedural motion to dismiss on the basis of assuming the allegation to be true. Legal distinctions, even very plain ones like this, are perhaps difficult for the average cut and paste mainstream media stenographer to understand. But the widespread failure to report the meaning of Koeltl’s judgement fairly is inexcusable.

The key finding is this. Even accepting the DNC’s evidence at face value, the judge ruled that it provides no evidence of collusion between Russia, Wikileaks or any of the named parties to hack the DNC’s computers. It is best expressed here in this dismissal of the charge that a property violation was committed, but in fact the same ruling by the judge that no evidence has been presented of any collusion for an illegal purpose, runs through the dismissal of each and every one of the varied charges put forward by the DNC as grounds for their suit.

Judge Koeltl goes further and asserts that Wikileaks, as a news organisation, had every right to obtain and publish the emails in exercise of a fundamental First Amendment right. The judge also specifically notes that no evidence has been put forward by the DNC that shows any relationship between Russia and Wikileaks. Wikileaks, accepting the DNC’s version of events, merely contacted the website that first leaked some of the emails, in order to ask to publish them.

Judge Koeltl also notes firmly that while various contacts are alleged by the DNC between individuals from Trump’s campaign and individuals allegedly linked to the Russian government, no evidence at all has been put forward to show that the content of any of those meetings had anything to do with either Wikileaks or the DNC’s emails.

In short, Koeltl dismissed the case entirely because simply no evidence has been produced of the existence of any collusion between Wikileaks, the Trump campaign and Russia. That does not mean that the evidence has been seen and is judged unconvincing. In a situation where the judge is duty bound to give credence to the plaintiff’s evidence and not judge its probability, there simply was no evidence of collusion to which he could give credence. The entire Russia-Wikileaks-Trump fabrication is a total nonsense. But I don’t suppose that fact will kill it off.

The major implication for the Assange extradition case of the Koeltl judgement is his robust and unequivocal statement of the obvious truth that Wikileaks is a news organisation and its right to publish documents, specifically including stolen documents, is protected by the First Amendment when those documents touch on the public interest.


These arguments are certainly helpful to Assange in the extradition case. But it must be noted that the extradition request has been drafted to try to get round the law by alleging that Wikileaks were complicit in the actual theft of documents by Chelsea Manning. Judge Koeltl does not address this question as he was presented with no evidence that Wikileaks had contact with the “hackers” prior to their obtaining the documents, so the question did not arise before him. In the extradition request, the attempt is to argue that Assange encouraged and abetted Manning in obtaining the material. This is supposed to be a different argument.

In fact this attempt to undermine the First Amendment has no merit. Cultivation of an insider source is a normal part of journalistic activity, and encouraging an official to leak material in the public interest is an everyday occurrence in such cultivation. In the “Watergate” precedent, for example, the “Deep Throat” source, Mark Felt of the FBI, was cultivated and encouraged over a period by Woodward. In addition to which, Manning’s access to the documents could not be characterised as “theft”. Leaking of official secrets by an insider is a very different thing to a hack from outside.

And in conclusion, I should state emphatically that while Judge Koeltl was obliged to accept for the time being the allegation that the Russians had hacked the DNC as alleged, in fact this never happened. The emails came from a leak not a hack. The Mueller Inquiry’s refusal to take evidence from the actual publisher of the leaks, Julian Assange, in itself discredits his report. Mueller should also have taken crucial evidence from Bill Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, who has explained in detail why an outside hack was technically impossible based on the forensic evidence provided.

The other key point that proves Mueller’s Inquiry was never a serious search for truth is that at no stage was any independent forensic independence taken from the DNC’s servers, instead the word of the DNC’s own security consultants was simply accepted as true. Finally no progress has been made – or is intended to be made – on the question of who killed Seth Rich, while the pretend police investigation has “lost” his laptop.

Though why anybody would believe Robert Mueller about anything is completely beyond me.

So there we have it. Russiagate as a theory is as completely exploded as the appalling Guardian front page lie published by Kath Viner and Luke Harding fabricating the “secret meetings” between Paul Manafort and Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy. But the political class and the mainstream media, both in the service of billionaires, have moved on to a stage where truth is irrelevant, and I do not doubt that Russiagate stories will thus persist. They are so useful for the finances of the armaments and security industries, and in keeping the population in fear and jingoist politicians in power.

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Muellergate and the Discreet Lies of the Bourgeoisie

This cartoon seems to me very apposite. The capacity of the mainstream media repeatedly to promote the myth that Russia caused Clinton’s defeat, while never mentioning what the information was that had been so damaging to Hillary, should be alarming to anybody under the illusion that we have a working “free media”. There are literally hundreds of thousands of mainstream media articles and broadcasts, from every single one of the very biggest names in the Western media, which were predicated on the complete nonsense that Russia had conspired to install Donald Trump as President of the United States.

I genuinely have never quite understood whether the journalists who wrote this guff believed it, whether they were cynically pumping out propaganda and taking their pay cheque, or whether they just did their “job” and chose to avoid asking themselves whether they were producing truth or lies.

I suspect the answer varies from journalist to journalist. At the Guardian, for example, I get the impression that Carole Cadwalladr is sufficiently divorced from reality to believe all that she writes. Having done a very good job in investigating the nasty right wing British Establishment tool that was Cambridge Analytica, Cadwalladr became deluded by her own fame and self-importance and decided that her discovery was the key to understanding all of world politics. In her head it explained all the disappointments of Clintonites and Blairites everywhere. She is not so high-minded however as to have refused the blandishments of the Integrity Initiative.

Luke Harding is in a different category. Harding has become so malleable a tool of the security services it is impossible to believe he is not willingly being used. It would be embarrassing to have written a bestseller called “Collusion”, the entire premiss for which has now been disproven, had Harding not made so much money out of it.

Harding’s interview with Aaron Mate of The Real News was a truly enlightening moment. The august elite of the mainstream media virtually never meet anybody who subjects their narrative to critical intellectual scrutiny. Harding’s utter inability to deal with unanticipated scepticism descends from hilarious to toe-curlingly embarrassing.

In general, since the Mueller report confirmed that $50 million worth of investigation had been unable to uncover any evidence of Russiagate collusion, the media has been astonishingly unrepentant about the absolute rubbish they have been churning out for years.

Harding and the Guardian’s story about Manafort repeatedly calling on Assange in the Ecuador Embassy is one of the most blatant and malicious fabrications in modern media history. It has been widely ridiculed, no evidence of any kind has ever been produced to substantiate it, and the story has been repeatedly edited on the Guardian website to introduce further qualifications and acknowledgements of dubious attribution, not present as originally published. But still neither Editor Katherine Viner nor author Luke Harding has either retracted or apologised, something which calls the fundamental honesty of both into question.

Manafort is now in prison, because as with many others interviewed, the Mueller investigation found he had been involved in several incidences of wrongdoing. Right up until Mueller finalised his report, media articles and broadcasts repeatedly, again and again and again every single day, presented these convictions as proving that there had been collusion with Russia. The media very seldom pointed out that none of the convictions related to collusion. In fact for the most part they related to totally extraneous events, like unrelated tax frauds or Trump’s hush-money to (very All-American) prostitutes. The “Russians” that Manafort was convicted of lobbying for without declaration, were Ukrainian and the offences occurred ten years ago and had no connection to Trump of any kind. Rather similarly the lies of which Roger Stone stands accused relate to his invention, for personal gain, of a non-existent relationship with Wikileaks.

The truth is that, if proper and detailed investigation were done into any group of wealthy politicos in Washington, numerous crimes would be uncovered, especially in the fields of tax and lobbying. Rich political operatives are very sleazy. This is hardly news, and if those around Clinton had been investigated there would be just as many convictions and of similar kinds. it is a pity there is not more of this type of work, all the time. But the Russophobic motive behind the Mueller Inquiry was not forwarded by any of the evidence obtained.

My analysis of the Steele dossier, written before I was aware that Sergei Skripal probably had a hand in it, has stood the test of time very well. It is a confection of fantasy concocted for money by a charlatan.

We should not forget at this stage to mention the unfortunate political prisoner Maria Butina, whose offence is to be Russian and very marginally involved in American politics at the moment when there was a massive witchhunt for Russian spies in progress, that makes The Crucible look like a study in calm rationality. Ms Butina was attempting to make her way in the US political world, no doubt, and she had at least one patron in Moscow who was assisting her with a view to increasing their own political influence. But nothing Butina did was covert or sinister. Her efforts to win favour within the NRA were notable chiefly because of the irony that the NRA has been historically responsible for many more American deaths than Russia.

Any narrative of which the Establishment does not approve is decried as conspiracy theory. Yet the “Russiagate” conspiracy theory – which truly is Fake News – has been promoted massively by the entire weight of western corporate and state media. “Russiagate”, a breathtaking plot in which Russia and a high profile US TV personality collude together to take control of the most militarily powerful country in the world, knocks “The Manchurian Candidate” into a cocked hat. A Google “news search” restricts results to mainstream media outlets. Such a search for the term “Russiagate” brings 230,000 results. That is almost a quarter of a million incidents of the mainstream media not only reporting the fake “Russiagate” story, but specifically using that term to describe it.

Compare that with a story which is not an outlandish fake conspiracy theory, but a very real conspiracy.

If, by contrast, you do a Google “news search” for the term “Integrity Initiative”, the UK government’s covert multi million pound programme to pay senior mainstream media journalists to pump out anti-Russian propaganda worldwide, you only get one eighth of the results you get for “Russiagate”. Because the mainstream media have been enthusiastically promoting the fake conspiracy story, and deliberately suppressing the very real conspiracy in which many of their own luminaries are personally implicated.

Furthermore – and this is a truly tremendous irony, which relates back to the cartoon at the start – only two of the top ten news results for “Integrity Initiative” come from the Western corporate media.

And this next fact comes nearly into the “too good to be true” category for my argument. Those two MSM mentions, from Sky News and the Guardian, do not complain of the covert anti-Russian propaganda campaign that is the Integrity Initiative. They rather complain that it was an alleged “Russian hack” that made the wrongdoing public!! You could not make it up, you really could not.

According to the mainstream media, it is not Hillary Clinton’s fault for conspiring with the DNC to cheat Bernie out of the nomination, it is Russia’s fault for allegedly helping to reveal it. It is not the British government’s, or their media collaborators’, fault for running a covert propaganda scheme to dupe the public of the UK and many other countries, it is the Russians’ fault for allegedly helping to reveal it!

Which brings us full circle to the DNC leak that sparked Muellergate and the claims that it was the Russians who lost Hillary the election. Robert Mueller repeats the assertion from the US security services that it was Russian hackers who obtained the DNC emails and passed them on to Wikileaks. I am telling you from my personal knowledge that this is not true.

Neither Mueller’s team, not the FBI, nor the NSA, nor any US Intelligence agency, has ever carried out any forensic analysis on the DNC’s servers. The DNC consistently refused to make them available. The allegation against Russia is based purely on information from the DNC’s own consultants, Crowdstrike.

William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA (America’s US$40 billion a year communications intercept organisation), has proven beyond argument that it is a technical impossibility for the DNC emails to have been transmitted by an external hack – they were rather downloaded locally, probably on to a memory stick. Binney’s analysis is fully endorsed by former NSA systems expert Ed Loomis. There simply are no two people on the planet more technically qualified to make this judgement. Yet, astonishingly, Mueller refused to call Binney or Loomis (or me) to testify. Compare this, for example, with his calling to testify my friend Randy Credico, who had no involvement whatsoever in the matter, but Mueller’s team hoped to finger as a Trump/Assange link.

Randy Emerges From His Evidence Session Displaying A Great Taste in Reading Material

The DNC servers have never been examined by intelligence agencies, law enforcement or by Mueller’s team. Binney and Loomis have written that it is impossible this was an external hack. Wikileaks have consistently stressed no state actor was involved. No evidence whatsoever has been produced of the transfer of the material from the “Russians” to Wikileaks. Wikileaks Vault 7 release of CIA documents shows that the planting of false Russian hacking “fingerprints” is an established CIA practice. Yet none of this is reflected at all by Mueller nor by the mainstream media.

“Collusion” may be dead, but the “Russiagate” false narrative limps on.

I should add it seems to me very probable Russia did make some efforts to influence the US election. I worked a a British diplomat for 20 years and spent a lot of time trying to influence political outcomes in the country in which I was posted, in Eastern Europe and in Africa. It is part of the geopolitical game. The United States is of course the world leader by a long way in attempting to influence elections abroad, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to that effect in countries including Ukraine, Georgia, Ecuador and Venezuela recently, and pretty well everywhere in Africa. It is a part of normal diplomatic life.

Mueller uncovered some high level influence-broking meetings. This is what states do. He uncovered some sleazy deals. This is what rich people do. He uncovered some US $110,000 of Facebook ad spending from Russia targeted on the USA, some of which promoted sex toys, some of which was post-election, but some of which was apparently trying to assist Trump against Clinton. Compared to the amount the USA pumps into similar arms length assistance to Putin opponents in Russia alone, it was negligible. That this tiny bit of Facebook advertising crucially impacted the US $13,000,000,000 PR campaigns of the candidates is a ludicrous proposition.

That every country stay out of every other country’s politics is arguably desirable. It is not however the status quo, and the United States is in the worst position of all to complain.

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When is a British Person Not British?

The attitude to immigrants which is betrayed by the stripping of citizenship from Shamima Begum is truly appalling. A British citizen, born in the UK, is deemed to be a citizen of another country they have never seen, because their immigrant parents came from there. To refuse to accept first generation Britons are Britons, as in Windrush, was bad enough. To claim that second generation Britons are not British, but rather citizens of where their ancestors “came from”, is racism pure and simple.

Begum is not a sympathetic figure. Savid Javid could not have found an easier target for his macho display of vindictiveness, guaranteed to win plaudits from the bigots whose votes Javid needs for his looming Tory leadership bid. Javid knows full well his decision will eventually be overturned by the courts, but he has already achieved his political objective of personal self-aggrandisement.

I do not know everything Begum has personally been doing in Syria and to what extent she has been culpable in any of the crimes of the Saudi backed jihadist group Daesh, originally launched by the CIA as a counterweight to Shia influence in Iraq. Begum, as with other members of the ISIS community in Syria, ought initially to be subject to any legal proceedings by the Syrian authorities on behalf of the Syrian people against whom such dreadful crimes were committed. If of no interest to the Syrian justice system or once any sentence has been completed, she should be returned to the UK and then subject to investigation as to whether any UK crimes were committed. All these processes need to take into account that she arrived in Syria as a minor, has been subject to indoctrination, and may well have severe mental health issues.

In a situation where the government is falling over itself to bring members of the UK-funded jihadist support group the White Helmets to the UK, having no claim to British citizenship; in a situation where jihadist activity in Syria was entirely dependent on finance, supplies and air support from the US, UK, and its Gulf State allies; in a situation where the Royal Navy had evacuated the Manchester bomber en route back to the UK after his Western backed terrorist jaunt in Libya; in a situation where the Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge terrorists all had extensive pre-existing relationships with the British security services; in all these circumstances, the decision to crack down to general applause on a bewildered East London child is a sickening example of the lack of ethics in modern politics.

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Where They Tell You Not to Look

At the very beginning of the of the Skripal incident, the security services blocked by D(SMA) notice any media mention of Pablo Miller and told the media not to look at Orbis and the Steele dossier on Trump, acting immediately to get out their message via trusties in the BBC and Guardian. Gordon Corera, “BBC Security Correspondent”, did not name the source who told him to say this, but helpfully illustrated his tweet with a nice picture of MI6 Headquarters.

MI6’s most important media conduit (after Frank Gardner) is Luke Harding of the Guardian.

A number of people replied to Harding’s tweet to point out that this was demonstrably untrue, and Pablo Miller had listed his employment by Orbis Business Intelligence on his Linkedin profile. That profile had just been deleted, but a google search for “Pablo Miller” plus “Orbis Business Intelligence”, without Linkedin as a search term, brought up Miller’s Linkedin profile as the first result (although there are twelve other Pablo Millers on Linkedin and the search brought up none of them). Plus a 2017 forum discussed Pablo Miller’s Orbis connection and it both cited and linked to his Linkedin entry.

You might think that any journalist worth his salt would want to consider this interesting counter-evidence. But Harding merely tweeted again the blank denials of the security services, without question.

This is an important trait of Harding. Last year we both appeared, separately, at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Harding was promoting a book and putting the boot into Wikileaks and Snowden. After his talk, I approached him in an entirely friendly manner, and told him there were a couple of factual errors in his presentation on matters to which I was an eye-witness, and I should be very happy to brief him, off the record, but we could discuss which bits he might use. He said he would talk later, and dashed off. Later I saw him in the author’s lounge, and as I walked towards him he hurriedly got up and left, looking at me.

Of course, nobody is obliged to talk to me. But at that period I had journalists from every major news agency contacting me daily wishing to interview me about Wikileaks, all of whom I was turning down, and there was no doubt of my inside knowledge and direct involvement with a number of the matters of which Harding was writing and speaking. A journalist who positively avoids knowledge of his subject is an interesting phenomenon.

But then Harding is that. From a wealthy family background, privately educated at Atlantic College and then Oxford, Harding became the editor of Oxford University’s Cherwell magazine without showing any leftwing or rebel characteristics. It was not a surprise to those who knew him as a student when he was employed at the very right wing “Daily Mail”. From there he moved to the Guardian. In 2003 Harding was embedded with US forces in Iraq and filing breathless reports of US special forces operations.

Moving to Moscow in 2007 as the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, others in the Moscow press corps and in the British expatriate community found him to be a man of strongly hawkish neo-con views, extremely pro-British establishment, and much closer to the British Embassy and to MI6 than anybody else in the press corps. It was for this reason Harding was the only resident British journalist, to my knowledge, whose visa the Russians under Putin have refused to renew. They suspected he is actually an MI6 officer, although he is not.

With this background, people who knew Harding were dumbfounded when Harding appeared to be the supporter and insider of first Assange and then Snowden. The reason for this dichotomy is that Harding was not – he wrote books on Wikileaks and on Snowden that claimed to be insider accounts, but in fact just carried on Harding’s long history of plagiarism, as Julian Assange makes clear. Harding’s books were just careful hatchet jobs pretending to be inside accounts. The Guardian’s historical reputation for radicalism was already a sham under the editorship of Rusbridger, and has completely vanished under Viner, in favour of hardcore Clinton identity politics failing to disguise unbending neo-conservatism. The Guardian smashed the hard drives containing the Snowden files under GCHQ supervision, having already undertaken “not to even look at” the information on Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact the hard drives were not the only copies in the world does not excuse their cravenness.

We know, of course, what MI6 have fed to Harding, because it is reflected every day in his output. What we do not know, but may surmise, is what Harding fed back to the security services that he gleaned from the Guardian’s association with Wikileaks and Snowden.

Harding has since made his living from peddling a stream of anti-Assange, anti-Snowden and above all, anti-Russian books, with great commercial success, puffed by the entire mainstream media. But when challenged by the non-mainstream media about the numerous fact free assertions on behalf of the security services to be found in his books, Harding is not altogether convincing. You can watch this video, in which Harding outlines how emoticons convinced him someone was a Russian agent, together with this fascinating analysis which really is a must-read study of anti-Russian paranoia. There is a similar analysis here.

Perhaps still more revealing is this 2014 interview with his old student newspaper Cherwell, where he obvously felt comfortable enough to let the full extent of his monstrous boggle-eyed Russophobia become plain:

His analogies span the bulk of the 20th century and his predictions for the future are equally far-reaching. “This is the biggest crisis in Europe since the Cold War. It’s not the break-up of Yugoslavia, but the strategic consensus since 1945 has been ripped up. We now have an authoritarian state, with armies on the march.” What next?

“It’s clear to me that Putin intends to dismember Ukraine and join it up with Transnistria, then perhaps he’ll go as far as Moldova in one way or another,” Harding says. This is part of what he deems Putin’s over-arching project: an expansionist attempt to gather Russo-phones together under one yoke, which he terms ‘scary and Eurasian-ist’, and which he notes is darkly reminiscent of “another dictator of short stature” who concocted “a similarly irredentist project in the 1930s”.

But actually I think you can garner everything you want to know about Harding from looking at his twitter feed over the last two months. He has obsessively retweeted scores of stories churning out the government’s increasingly strained propaganda line on what occurred in Salisbury. Not one time had Harding ever questioned, even in the mildest way, a single one of the multiple inconsistencies in the government account or referred to anybody who does. He has acted, purely and simply, as a conduit for government propaganda, while abandoning all notion of a journalistic duty to investigate.

We still have no idea of who attacked Sergei Skripal and why. But the fact that, right from the start, the government blocked the media from mentioning Pablo Miller, and put out denials that this has anything to do with Christopher Steele and Orbis, including lying that Miller had never been connected to Orbis, convinces me that this is the most promising direction in which to look.

It never seemed likely to me that the Russians had decided to assassinate an inactive spy who they let out of prison many years ago, over something that happened in Moscow over a decade ago. It seemed even less likely when Boris Johnson claimed intelligence showed this was the result of a decade long novichok programme involving training in secret assassination techniques. Why would they blow all that effort on old Skripal?

That the motive is the connection to the hottest issue in US politics today, and not something in Moscow a decade ago, always seemed to me much more probable. Having now reviewed matters and seen that the government actively tried to shut down this line of inquiry, makes it still more probable this is right.

This does not tell us who did it. Possibly the Russians did, annoyed that Skripal was feeding information to the Steele dossier, against the terms of his release.

Given that the Steele dossier is demonstrably in large degree nonsense, it seems to me more probable the idea was to silence Skripal to close the danger that he would reveal his part in the concoction of this fraud. Remember he had sold out Russian agents to the British for cash and was a man of elastic loyalties. It is also worth noting that Luke Harding has a bestselling book currently on sale, in large part predicated on the truth of the Steele Dossier.

Steele, MI6 and the elements of the CIA which are out to get Trump, all would have a powerful motive to have the Skripal loose end tied.

Rule number one of real investigative journalism: look where they tell you not to look.

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Our Enemies Lie Before Us

William Wallace did not turn to Andrew Murray at Stirling Bridge and say “I am not fighting alongside you, I hear you’re hard on your tenants.”

A declaration of interest. At the SNP conference in Glasgow in March I was feeling very down. Having been rejected at candidate vetting by the SNP leadership, and the fact leaked to the press with resulting brouhaha, I was effectively cold-shouldered at what was a very managed loyalist mass rally. I spent a lot of time on my own and people I knew were positively walking away to avoid me.

As regular readers know I am bipolar, and I know that when I am severely depressed my perception can be wrong. But in the SNP club a few weeks later a very sensible gentleman told me he and his wife had been appalled at the way I was treated at the conference. I am pretty confident it was not a distorted perception.

Anyway, I was sitting on my own in the conference hall when Michelle Thomson came and sought me out, sat with me and chatted to me. I have no doubt that her motive was simple personal kindness. I should add that the next day Chris Law did much the same.

In Scotland we have had five days of Michelle being treated by the media as though she were the Yorkshire Ripper. The BBC, who never once managed to ask Jim Murphy about the Henry Jackson Society, have been on 24 hour Thomsonwatch, including aggressive doorstepping a la Sky News.

I am not going to set out the detail of the case here, but highly recommend that you read Wings on the distortion of the issues, and Lallands on the legal position. Both are excellent, but to me neither quite clearly delineates the most essential point.

To preface that point, let me restate that Michelle is not under investigation, and her own role is unclear.

The key point is that at no time was any vendor selling their house ripped off. This is not a case of distressed people dispossessed, and the attempts by media and politicians to make it appear that way are tendentious.

The worst that allegedly happened is this. A and B are in cahoots. Mr Smith sells his property to A for an agreed market price. A then sells to B for market price plus 20 grand. The bank gives a mortgage for this, but A quietly gives the extra 20 grand back to B under the table.

The fraud is on the mortgage company which has been tricked into giving a higher mortgage than it otherwise would have. The fraud in no way harms the original vendor. The fraud does not even harm the mortgage company provided the mortgage is paid – and there is no accusation of default. What the mortgage company has lost is that it has as security an interest over a property with a false value.

But again, unless there were a default, it has actually helped the mortgage company too as in the weird world of banking its larger loan is an asset not a liability on its books.

So it is a fraud, but not one perpetrated on poor vendors. It is a trick played on the ludicrous banking system. Clever, dishonest but not morally outrageous. I repeat again, there is no evidence or even legal accusation that Michelle Thomson was involved in any of this. But in any case it is nowhere near as immoral as starting an illegal war with consequent deaths of millions of people. Lets get a grip.

I have never claimed to be perfect. All of us have done things wrong in our past. For me the Independence referendum campaign transcended all that. It was a millenarian movement, a time when people envisaged a world renewed and more just. That phrase about living in the first days of a better nation carried enormous resonance. It was the defining moment of my own life despite coming in its Autumn. Those of us in the frontline of the Yes campaign underwent a kind of emotional rebirth. Sins were wiped clean. It was a sacramental experience, and will lead on to that better world in an Independent Scotland in short time.

It sparked England’s chance for change with Corbyn.

I don’t care what mistakes people made before the Yes campaign. By dedicating themselves to that social movement, they wiped the slate clean.

Which leads me on to Tommy Sheridan. Neither Tommy nor Michelle will thank me for lumping them together, given the very different circumstances. But the continued shunning of Sheridan by pro-Independence organisations from Rise to the SNP is ludicrous.

Most ludicrous of all is the language parroted by the left about Sheridan, that “A space containing Tommy Sheridan is not a safe space for women.” You find it here in the comment by Edward Bonobo. You find it in this article by Tommy Ball. I have had it repeated to me several times.

One answer to this is that it is even more dangerous to be in organisations that teach members to parrot catchphrases, as opposed to think.

In what way precisely is proximity to Tommy Sheridan dangerous to women? If it were true that he has a Svengali like irresistible sexual appeal – which appears to be the nub of the accusation as far as I can make out any sense from Tommy Ball’s article – then surely there is not a woman in Scottish politics not warned against it by now? Is it not rather demeaning to women to argue they would not be capable of protecting themselves from Tommy Sheridan? What precisely about being in the same “space” as Tommy Sheridan is unsafe for women? What does “space” mean in this context? Room, meeting, city? The argument about “safe space” is clearly a nonsense.

I do not know the truth about the sexual shenanigans of which Tommy was accused by Murdoch. Nor do I in the least care if they were true. I have done all that kind of stuff. Often before tea. I do know that Sheridan was jailed for perjury, and that Coulson lied in court at the same trial but the judges ruled that it was OK for Coulson to lie, but not for Sheridan. I know there are allegations that Sheridan pressured other people to lie for him. I do not know if it is true, but I have had so many friends – of both sexes – ask me over the years to give them an alibi for marital infidelity I am not shocked by that. I am afraid to say that in my younger days I have asked that myself.

None of which explains the sheer hatred and bile poured out at Sheridan. This is a man who liberated poor families from the destitution and humiliation of warrant sales, who led the anti-poll tax campaign, who sparked the Murdoch phone-hacking revelations and has been repeatedly arrested and even jailed outside Faslane – trying to make the world a “safer space” for everyone. This tribute is undoubtedly true:

You supported individuals in the community; both in parliament and in the street, you were able to use your undoubted powers of oratory to press home your cause; you led the Scottish Socialist Party to considerable electoral success; and your contributions to the anti-poll tax campaign and the abolition of warrant sales will become part of the fabric of Scottish social and political history.

It was said by Lord Bracadale as he sentenced him to three years in prison for perjury in the Murdoch case.

Tommy Sheridan proclaims his innocence, but in any event he has undoubtedly made mistakes in life. But his achievements are very important, and the continued vindictiveness of the sex-negative feminists and their followers on the Left is extreme. Tommy has been to jail. Is offender rehabilitation only something the political classes claim to believe in because they don’t actually expect to meet any ex-convicts in their sphere of life? The attempt to dress the vicious vindictiveness up as warding off a present danger to women from Tommy Sheridan is intellectually ludicrous.

I shared a platform with Tommy Sheridan at Caird Square, Dundee on Sunday. I was not asked to speak until the gloaming, when 95% of those attending had gone home, but I accepted that and got on with it because I will do anything, anywhere to promote the cause of Independence. The SNP boycott of the event because Tommy was there cannot possibly be helpful if Independence is really the aim.

The Independence movement has a vast and powerful army arraigned against us. The entire British state, their corporate masters, the transatlantic neo-cons, both state and corporate media, the security services. For God’s sake, we need to be absolutely united if we are to reach our goal.

We need all of us. We must value all of us; as people, not robots. We should not be trying to project some corporate media image of a totally fake and hypocritical groomed perfection.

We have tremendously powerful enemies. We only have each other.

Our enemies lie before us. We should not look askance at our allies.

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The Blair-Bush Letters

If anybody is surprised that key letters between Tony Blair and George Bush on launching the invasion of Iraq have gone missing, they have not been paying attention. On both sides of the Atlantic, the Obama and Cameron regimes have consistently and continually covered up the crimes of their predecessors, from launch illegal wars of aggression to instituting programmes of torture and extraordinary rendition and murder.

The motive in both cases is the same. Not only are the senior politicians in all mainstream parties members of the same “club”, committed to the same neo-conservative principles and indebted to the same corporate paymasters. But also these crimes involved the active complicity of thousands of senior members of the establishment, in the armed services, the secret services, the diplomatic services and other public servants. To come clean would take down thousands of people still in public service. or in other high places. In the UK, for example, war criminals Sir Richard Dearlove now master of Pembroke College Cambridge and Sir Mark Allen of Shell are only two who would have to go to jail. I am sorry to say that I am convinced that some people I know and like myself, ought to be sentenced. Not that it will happen.

When a state embarks on illegal war and systematic torture and murder, as a state, the ramifications go extremely wide. Literally thousands of highly placed people are implicated. There is nothing short of political revolution which would bring justice.

It is fascinating how far even the “liberal” media will and will not go in reporting these crimes. The murder part is almost entirely left out – it is well documented, for example, that scores of rendition flights went to Uzbekistan, including many from the CIA black base in Szymano-Szczytny in Mazuria, Poland. But it is almost never noted that not one person who was rendered to Uzbekistan ever emerged alive. They were all murdered.

The astonishing disparity of wealth in the UK – with just nine families owning as much as the poorest 15 million in the country – has now reached the point where, together with the crimes described above and the takeover of all main parties by the same neo-con philosophy – I have become, for the first time in my life, a political revolutionary. I have, unexpectedly, lost my faith in the ability of the currently constituted “democratic” system to provide a fair society. That seems to be because the extreme and escalating concentration and control of capital coincides with the extreme and escalating concentration and control of the media. That media control seems, despite the availability of alternative new media, to have sufficient power of influencing people to grant untrammeled hegemony over society to the wealthy.

Working on the Voltairian basis that il faut cultiver le jardin, I shall continue to work for Scottish independence on the grounds that smaller polities have a greater chance of resistance, a kind of theory of political asymmetric warfare, and that for cultural reasons there has been a less complete neo-con takeover of political debate there.

To return to Chilcot, there is a sense in which it is good that he has not yet reported. Chilcot is holding out to be able to include the Bush-Blair correspondence, which offers conclusive proof that the “WMD” meme was a knowing lie to justify a vicious and pre-determined war. The recent Tory pressure for early publication is for publication without these documents. Much better to wait and get the actual proof.

The idea that two heads of state corresponding on taking their states to war can be “private” and kept from their people, is so outrageous that the fact it is stated at all is, in itself, sufficient evidence of the media control being as complete as I assert. It is a laughable proposition. Besides which, if these were private letters, why were Sir David Manning and Sir Christopher Meyer delivering them at public expense? Can we charge Blair for this service? Meyer and Manning don’t come cheap. It was, incidentally, Sir David Manning who brought back to No. 10 the request from the White House that I be sacked as British Ambassador in Uzbekistan for kicking up a fuss internally over extraordinary rendition.

After careful consideration of the Rome Statute, I am convinced that an independent Scotland will be able to refer Blair to the war crimes tribunal at the Hague, and I am determined to make sure that this happens.

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On being asked to do the decent thing

‘…the army officer is left with the revolver on his desk and asked to do the decent thing. I picked it up and started shooting at the bastards’

A review of Murder in Samarkand by Norrie MacQueen, University of Dundee

This book had a difficult birth. This was nothing to do with the writing process ‘ Murray possesses an easy and fluent style. The problems came from the endless wrangles between the author and his former employers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about what could and could not be offered for public scrutiny. It is a book that Whitehall would dearly have liked to bury: the story of Murray’s pyrotechnic two years as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the post-Soviet Central Asian state of Uzbekistan and the Foreign Office’s cack-handed operation to rid itself of this turbulent diplomat.

Putting right the dysfunctional and ineffective mission that he inherited as his first (and, as it

turned out, emphatically his last ambassadorial posting) would have been a formidable task on its own. But Murray’s restless energy was also directed at building the previously neglected commercial and trade side of the embassy’s work. And, most dramatically, he began a high profile crusade against the hideous human rights abuses (including, charmingly, the boiling alive of political opponents) of the sinister President Islam Karimov and his ruling clique. Karimov, like other post-Soviet leaders in the region, had glided effortlessly from communist hack to enthusiastic western ally. By playing up a barely discernable ‘Islamist challenge’ and offering tracts of the country for American military bases, Karimov’s brutal kleptocracy had been given a free hand to plunder the country’s economy and destroy all internal opposition. Instead of being named and shamed as the vicious despot he undoubtedly is, he was lauded as a key ally in the ‘war on terror’.

The consequence of Murray’s outspoken public speeches, angry diplomatic telegrams and face-to-face conflicts with venal and violent officials was the implacable enmity of his American counterparts in Uzbekistan. The word was passed from Tashkent to Washington and then on to London that the ambassador was not merely off-message but out of control. The Foreign Office and allegedly Downing Street itself, in the raw-nerved atmosphere of the invasion of Iraq, were ready to respond to these transatlantic concerns. The vehicle of this response was a dossier of official complaints against Murray’s personal and professional conduct designed to force his resignation. They were complaints which seemed for the most part to be grossly exaggerated or utterly trivial when they weren’t simply mendacious.

Though the accusations faltered and fell in the absence of credible evidence and in the face of the formidable support he was able to muster, the campaign against him caused his emotional and physical breakdown. Though he returned briefly to Tashkent after the worst of the affair seemed to be over, it should perhaps have been clearer to him than it appeared to be that he would have no future in the diplomatic service. Another series of wrangles with the FCO over his attacks on the regime soon followed. These led to threats of dismissal and, eventually, a reasonable severance package which he had no real option but to accept. His spirits soon rallied, however, and he was to brighten one of the dullest general elections in memory when he ran an obviously doomed but highly colourful campaign against his one-time boss, the then

foreign secretary Jack Straw in his Blackburn fiefdom.

Murray perhaps cannot be wholly absolved of all responsibility for the situation he found himself in. He was by any standards an unconventional ambassador, and not just because of his state school and Dundee University background. In fact the FCO is not as Eton and Oxbridge-dominated as it once was. Murray’s insistence that nothing had changed in this respect does however provide one of his more amusing images. On the doomed attempt to get him to go quietly, he observed ‘…the army officer is left with the revolver on his desk and asked to do the decent thing. I picked it up and started shooting at the bastards’. Although his approach to his job was intentionally informal and relaxed, one doesn’t have to be a Whitehall stuffed-shirt to suspect that it may also have been careless and incautious at times. His penchant for young local women (which, it has to be said, comes across in the book as more Benny Hill than James Bond) was freely admitted, openly pursued and usually alcoholassisted. Inevitably this provided hostages to fortune. And even those in the diplomatic service who shared his revulsion for the Karimov regime may have felt his head-down, glovesoff attacks on it to be unwise.

But if he can be faulted for misjudgement and naivety, he certainly can’t be accused of personal cowardice or lack of moral integrity. He is a brave if flawed individual, a genuine original, and his book has a multiplicity of qualities. It provides an intriguing view of the consequences of Russia’s decolonization of its Asian empire ‘ one of the less explored aspects of the end of the cold war. It offers a snapshot of the front-line of British diplomacy during a phase which is unlikely to be recalled with much pride. Perhaps most importantly, it skewers the hypocrisy and moral absurdity which underlies so much of the ‘war on terror’. It is also a very accessible, often funny and always exhilarating read.

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The Professor of Repression

From Harpers Magazine

S. Frederick Starr, Uzbekistan’s friend in Washington (May 24, 2006).

A year ago this month, security forces in Uzbekistan killed hundreds of protesters in the town of Andijan. Human rights groups and journalists reported that the crowd was overwhelmingly unarmed and had come out to protest corruption and poor economic conditions. ‘The scale of this killing was so extensive, and its nature was so indiscriminate and disproportionate, that it can best be described as a massacre,’ Human Rights Watch said in a study of the events at Andijan.

The regime of Islam Karimov sought to justify the carnage by saying that the demonstration was organized by Islamic militants seeking to overthrow the government (an argument the Uzbek government knows is music to the ears of the Bush Administration). Last week the Karimov regime sought to prove its case by staging the U.S. debut of a short video on the Andijan crackdown. The event was sponsored by the Hudson Institute and the Central Asia Caucasus Institute (CACI) at Johns Hopkins University, and co-hosted by CACI director Professor S. Frederick Starr. An account at EurasiaNet.org said that Starr ‘sought to undermine the credibility of several independent news accounts . . . alleging journalists deliberately falsified their stories. ‘I think they were lying . . . of course they had an anti-government agenda,” he said.

It was all in a day’s work for Starr, who is perhaps the Karimov regime’s most outspoken advocate in Washington’a regime that once tortured a political prisoner to death with methods that included the use of boiling water and then arrested his elderly mother when she complained. He also speaks fondly of several other despotic governments in central Asia, a region he views almost exclusively through the prism of American geopolitical interests and with little interest in issues like human rights and corruption.

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