The Moscow Circus is back in town for an extended engagement. Democratic Party neo-liberals have abandoned the concept of debating one another to produce the most popular candidate for voters and instead have devolved into an endless stream of slander and evidence-free conspiracy theories about alleged ties to Russia. Hillary Clinton’s recent remarks smearing Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, and also 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein, have epitomized this “Neo-McCarthyism,” a strategy based on a Big Lie — that the Russian government is somehow backing one’s political opponents. No proof is required: not against Representative Gabbard, not against anyone. Clinton’s audience is pre-conditioned, over several years of anti-Russian propaganda, to simply believe these kinds of baseless claims.
The political environment has been poisoned since Clinton blamed a hypothetical Russian plot for her loss, rather than accepting electoral defeat with a bit of grace.
“This is an attack against our country. We are well beyond normal political concerns here. This is about the integrity of our democracy and the security of our nation.”
Her own campaign had already been exposed for rigging the 2016 Democratic Party primary in her favor against Bernie Sanders, glaringly anti-democratic. The exposure of Clinton’s “secret takeover” of the DNC prompted Tulsi Gabbard to resign from that organization and speak out against it. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 money-laundering scheme may have skirted campaign finance laws to the tune of $84 million.
The beauty and convenience of blaming Russia for all ills is that Russia remains an official enemy, a perpetual bad guy in a black hat,who can do nothing right. In the “Russian troll” myth, all Russians are the government of Russia, or simply “Putin,” despite no evidence ever having been produced to substantiate this assumption. We know that a “troll farm” called the Internet Research Agency is located inside Russia, and this is in fact a private company of spammers churning out cheap garbage on a wide variety of topics. A journalist might ask the reasonable question of why the Russian government would continue to use a known entity that’s appeared across Western news reports and is even cited in US government indictments for years? Is that how covert operations actually work?
Troll farms and spam-bots are in no way unique to Russia, either. Troll farms are in China, Mexico, Israel and anywhere else people spend some money on computers and cheap labor to produce social media junk. You could build a nefarious “troll farm” in your garage tonight if you wanted to. There is no barrier to entry. A “bot” is just a simple computer program to send out the junk, but which is now elevated to mythic status when the word “Russian” precedes it.
Unfortunately, for Hillary Clinton et al., her “Russian bots” slander was exposed earlier this year as a fraud, a hoax, a sham, as revealed in the NY Times and by Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept. It turns out to be ridiculously easy to fake a “Russian bot” presence and smear your political opponents, in this case one Judge Roy Moore of Alabama:
“NBC News, to smear Gabbard as a Kremlin favorite, relied on a group that it heralded as ‘experts’ without telling its audience about the major fraud which this firm just got caught perpetrating in order to, on behalf of the Democratic Party, fabricate claims of Kremlin interference in the Alabama Senate race (Greenwald).”
Fabrications. This company is “New Knowledge,” and its head, Jonathan Morgan, was actually banned from Facebook for pulling this fraud:
“That fraud was overseen by New Knowledge’s CEO, Jonathon Morgan… In other words, Morgan used his own fake Russian accounts to lie to the public and deceive the national media into believing that Kremlin-linked accounts were trying to defeat the Democratic Senate candidate when, in fact, the accounts he was citing were ones he himself had fabricated and controlled (Greenwald).”
The thoroughly debunked “Russian bots” smear against Major Tulsi Gabbard appeared in Greenwald’s piece, “NBC News, to Claim Russia Supports Tulsi Gabbard, Relies on Firm Just Caught Fabricating Russia Data for the Democratic Party.”
“Within a few days of Gabbard announcing her presidential bid, DisInfo 2018, part of the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge, found that three of the top 15 URLs shared by the 800 social media accounts affiliated with known and suspected Russian propaganda operations directed at U.S. citizens were about Gabbard.”
This was all but settled in February of 2019, until Hillary Clinton resurrected the smear last week.
But Why Attack a Current Major in the US Army National Guard?
Hillary Clinton and her neo-liberal faction represent certain interests that Rep. Gabbard vocally opposes. This conflict is direct and non-negotiable.
- Gabbard has taken a stand to end America’s unconstrained series of “regime change wars” across the world. This is the empire in operation, and it is what the Clintons helped institute over decades. It’s their legacy and business model.
- Tulsi Gabbard’s opposition to illegal wars touches on arms sales to Middle East tyrannies, thus affecting the weapons industries: the Military-Industrial-Complex.
- The CIA and National Security establishment are clearly on board with imperial aggression, and these are powerful allies of Clinton with motivation to support propaganda that can discredit Major Gabbard and her message.
- Gabbard’s Stop Arming Terrorists Act directly implicated US officials for arming terrorists in the first place, potentially rising to the level of Treason in the case of “aid and comfort” to Al Qaeda in Syria.
- Rep. Gabbard resigned from the Vice Chair position in the DNC in 2016 because it was obvious that Hillary Clinton was rigging the primary election against Bernie Sanders. While Gabbard spoke out against this corruption of the democratic process, Bernie Sanders has been conspicuously silent, going so far as to endorse and campaign for Clinton after the humiliating spectacle of election-rigging against him.
- Gabbard is running a grassroots campaign and not taking any dark money from corporations or PACs. Her positions are therefore not for sale, as opposed to most of the other candidates who do not face slander and libel from establishment figures.
- Gabbard specifically endorsed Medicare for All, Glass-Steagall, a $15 minimum wage, free college, paid leave, and she opposes cash bail, private prisons, nuclear power, and she wants to slash the military budget to pay for improvements domestically and eliminate off-shore elite tax loopholes.
One of their favorite slanders is the “Assad apologist” smear. After Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama illegally armed insurgent terrorists inside Syria for years, Rep. Gabbard decided to travel there and ask questions, including interviewing the actual President of Syria, Bashar al Assad. Much of the Western reporting about Syria had come directly from the insurgents, the “activists say” journalism model, and most of it had been deception, often sloppy deception, but that didn’t stop Western media from repeating the Jihadist propaganda as long as it demonized the government side.
Barack Obama green lit a partnership with Jihadist terrorists. The US President went so far as to tell Erdoğan of Turkey to have an “inclusive” strategy that welcomed “foreign extremists” into the US-backed Syrian war effort. The US State Department then directly funded and gave cameras to the “White Helmets” of Syria, who are made up primarily of former Jihadist fighters and who directly worked with Jabhat al Nusrah — the Syrian Al Qaeda franchise.
Tulsi Gabbard has been constantly under attack for revealing this dirty war in Syria, a war that used genocidal terrorists as proxies so long as they attacked the government forces there. This conflict goes to the heart of the “war on terrorism” and which side the US is actually fighting on. Major Gabbard signed up for the military as a result of the presumed Al Qaeda terror attacks of September 11, 2001. It seemed clear back then who the bad guys were. On this question she is resolute. Others in Washington not so much.
Google Inc. went so far as to suddenly freeze Gabbard’s advertising account for a few crucial hours when the entire country was searching for information about her during the first Democratic Party debate. She faces a coordinated, multi-pronged attack, and this is a propaganda war against US democracy, against a candidate whom they cannot control. Gabbard immediately sued Google for blatant election interference, but if she continues filing lawsuits against those who libel and slander her then she’ll end up appearing litigation-happy. That would be yet another smear to lob at her in the Clinton-friendly corporate-controlled mass media.
America is ruled through propaganda, not facts. Political statements don’t have to be true to rally the teams to hate and point fingers without understanding. Van Jones called it a “very dangerous game,” but it may be more business as usual, just another day in the empire. A sizable chunk of the public buys into Big Lies because they are convenient and less work than research and thought. That’s the ugly truth. Too many Americans can’t tell the heroes from the villains, the vital from the trivial.
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Joe Giambrone has written for Foreign Policy Journal, International Policy Digest, WhoWhatWhy, OpedNews, Counterpunch, and elsewhere. He is the author of several books, including the recently released DEMIGODS, a tale of enduring injustice in the modern superhero world.