Peace Activists Heckle Obama Over Nuclear War

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Obama is the de facto head of the contemptible Democrats, a hypocritical, warmongering party that keeps pretending to be "for the people". The disgusting confusion we see in the crowd is product of massive ignorance, a rotten celebrity culture, and the constant disinformation work of the whore media. 
Patrice Greanville, Editor

Dems Who Cheered On Violence Now Outraged Over Paul Pelosi Attack

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Biden Funnels MORE Money To His Donors By Hiking Medicare Prices To Record Level

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While TYT makes a big deal of the $47 MM received by Biden from Big Pharma and the private health insurance industry, in our view this only points to the fact the US Congress and most major politicos in the US are simply cheap whores. For an industry that stands to make billions in profits from such measures, "donating" $47 million to grease the hands of the requisite politicians is just a pittance, "cigarette money", as they say. Note that we present two takes on this issue, one by The Young Turks and the second by The Jimmy Dore Show. In this case, they are both on the same page, but Dore is far more reliable.
—The Editor
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The Biden Administration stealthily hiked Medicare premiums to their highest prices ever while simultaneously pushing to funnel even more money into the private health insurance industry, further privatizing the government insurance program. It’s also important to note that Biden took around $47 million on legalized bribes from health care executives during his 2020 presidential campaign. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss on The Young Turks.

"Last week, the Biden administration quietly reaffirmed its decision to enact the highest Medicare premium hikes in history right before this year’s midterm elections. At the same time, President Joe Biden is endorsing a plan to funnel significantly more Medicare money to insurance companies and further privatize the government insurance program for older Americans and those with disabilities. In effect, the higher premium increases will subsidize the larger payments to — and profits for — private insurance corporations. This comes after Biden raked in roughly $47 million from health care industry executives during his 2020 campaign. The Biden administration announced on May 27 that due to “legal and operational hurdles,” Medicare recipients won’t see their premiums lowered this year, even though that rate was originally hiked last November in large part due to the projected costs of paying for a controversial Alzheimer’s drug that Medicare now says it generally will not cover. The administration’s announcement comes as Biden officials move forward with a jolting 8.5 percent hike in payments made to private insurers operating Medicare Advantage plans next year."

Biden To Hike Medicare Premiums & Funnel Profits To Private Insurers

The Jimmy Dore Show

It’s an election year, so it might come as a surprise to learn that Joe Biden is taking this opportunity to deny Medicare recipients a promised rate cut and instead funnel additional funds to private insurers. Yet that is precisely what the President has planned to do, likely as part of the long-term plan to entirely privatize Medicare – just the thing to satisfy the health insurance companies and other healthcare industry interests that have funneled millions of dollars to Biden over the years. Jimmy and his panelists, The People’s Party’s Nick Brana, The Dive host Jackson Hinkle and American comedian Kurt Metzger, discuss Biden’s crackerjack plan to piss off seniors just before an election.


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‘Russian Propaganda’ Is The Latest Excuse To Expand Censorship

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Caitlin Johnstone

This Congressional creep is concerned about the exercise of free speech by antiwar people.

Listen to a reading of this article:

RT’s audience makes up about 0.04% of TV viewing in the UK. This isn’t about RT, it’s about the the agenda to continually expand and normalize the censorship of unauthorized speech.

“I’m concerned about Russian disinformation spreading online, so today I wrote to the CEOs of major tech companies to ask them to restrict the spread of Russian propaganda,” US Senator Mark Warner tweeted on Friday.

Since then YouTube has announced that it has suppressed videos by Russian state media channels so that they’ll be seen by fewer people in accordance with its openly acknowledged policy of algorithmically censoring unauthorized content, as well as de-monetizing all such videos on the platform. Google and Facebook/Instagram parent company Meta both banned Russian state media from running ads and monetizing on their platforms in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Twitter announced a pause on ads in both Russia and Ukraine.

“Glad to see action from tech companies to reign in Russian propaganda and disinformation after my letter to their CEOs yesterday,” Warner tweeted on Saturday. “These are important first steps, but I’ll keep pushing for more.”

For years US lawmakers have been using threats of profit-destroying consequences to pressure Silicon Valley companies into limiting online speech in a way that aligns with the interests of Washington, effectively creating a system of government censorship by proxy. It would appear that we’re seeing a new expansion of this phenomenon today.

And the imperial media are pushing for more. Articles and news segments warning of the sinister threat posed by Russian propaganda to misinform and divide western populations using the internet are being churned out at a rate that’s only likely to increase as this latest narrative management campaign gets into full gear. The Associated Press has a new article out for example titled “War via TikTok: Russia’s new tool for propaganda machine“.

“Armies of trolls and bots stir up anti-Ukrainian sentiment. State-controlled media outlets look to divide Western audiences. Clever TikTok videos serve up Russian nationalism with a side of humor,” AP warns.

“Analysts at several different research organizations contacted by The Associated Press said they are seeing a sharp increase in online activity by groups affiliated with the Russian state,” AP writes. “That’s in keeping with Russia’s strategy of using social media and state-run outlets to galvanize domestic support while seeking to destabilize the Western alliance.”

The “different research organizations” AP ends up citing include “Cyabra, an Israeli tech company that works to detect disinformation,” as well as the state-funded NATO narrative management firm The Atlantic Council.

As tends to happen whenever a consensus begins to form that a certain category of speech must be purged from the internet, imperial spinmeisters are already working to expand the definition of “Russian propaganda” which must be purged from the internet to include independent anti-imperialist commentators like myself.

Imperial narrative manager Robert Potter has a thread on Twitter currently calling for me and other anti-imperialist content creators to be labeled “State-Affiliated Media” on Twitter and ideally de-platformed across all western social media, in my case solely because RT is one of the many outlets who occasionally choose to republish some of my blog posts for free.

I am not as Potter claims “an OP Ed columnist for Russia Today.” I don’t work for RT, I don’t write for RT, I don’t submit articles to RT, and I’ve never been paid by RT or the Russian government. RT is just one of the outlets who sometimes avail themselves of my longstanding invitation for anyone who wants to to republish my work free of charge. That RT editors would find my daily rants against western imperialism agreeable is not scandalous or conspiratorial but normal and self-evident.

Yet for agents of imperial narrative control like Potter (who ironically works directly for the US State Department but thinks my posts should be labeled “State-Affiliated Media” by Twitter), even this is enough to justify complete silencing. I will not be in the slightest bit surprised to see a great deal more of these efforts as the new cold war continues to escalate.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate, an empire-loyal NGO ostensibly focused primarily on fighting racism and prejudice, has published a report accusing Facebook of failing to label Russian propaganda as such 91 percent of the times it occurs. The CCDH decried Mark Zuckerberg’s “failure to stop Facebook being weaponized by the Russian state”. (sic)

NOTE: This Tweet was mysteriously deleted.

This sudden narrative management thrust has also seen RT taken off the air in nations like Australia, Germany and Poland, with pressures mounting in France and the UK to follow suit.

This despite the fact that all western powers would have to do to eliminate RT completely is simply start allowing leftist and anti-imperialist voices to be heard on mainstream media platforms. It would immediately suck up RT’s entire foreign audience as people who’d previously needed to look outside the mainstream for sane perspectives gravitate toward media made with much better funding and a higher level of talent.

But of course we all know that’s never going to happen. The imperial media aren’t going to subvert RT by platforming voices who dispute the empire’s narratives no matter how badly they hate it, because the exact reason they hate RT is because it disputes the empire’s narratives. They’re not worried about Russian propaganda operations, they’re worried about someone else running interference on their own propaganda operations.

RT’s audience makes up about 0.04% of TV viewing in the UK. This isn’t about RT, it’s about the the agenda to continually expand and normalize the censorship of unauthorized speech. That’s what it was about when they were pretending it was about the need to fight Covid misinformation before that, and when they were pretending it was about the need to fight domestic US extremism before that, and when they were pretending it was about the need to defend election security before that, and when they were pretending it was about the need to fight Russian propaganda the first time before that one cycled back around again.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world. Humans are storytelling creatures, so whoever can control the stories the humans are telling themselves about what’s going on in the world has a great deal of control over the humans. Our mental chatter tends to dominate such a large percentage of our existence that if it can be controlled the controller can exert a tremendous amount of influence over the way we think, act, and vote.

Mark Warner (D-VA) : Always putting the interests of the oligarchy above the Constitution.  Sadly, he's the norm, not the exception. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The powerful understand this, while the general public mostly does not. That’s all we’ve been seeing in these attempts to regulate ideas and information as human communication becomes more and more rapid and networked. An entire oligarchic empire is built on the ability to prevent us from realizing at mass scale that that empire does not serve us and inflicts great evil upon our world. The question of whether our species can awaken to its highest potential or not boils down to whether our dominators will succeed in locking down our minds, or if we will find some way to break free.

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at  or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is , so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on , following my antics on throwing some money into my tip jar on  or , purchasing some of my , buying my books  and . For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, . Everyone, racist platforms excluded,  to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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This is a dispatch from our ongoing series by Caitlin Johnstone

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Caitlin Johnstone is a brave journalist, political junkie, relentless feminist, champion of the 99 percent. And a powerful counter-propaganda tactician. 


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New Evidence Reveals That Senator John McCain and Other High-Ranking Vietnam War POWs May Have Lied to the American Public About Being Tortured


by Paul Benedikt Glatz
CovertAction Magazine

Collusion by the White House, the Pentagon, and the mainstream media resulted in disparagement, denial, and suppression of eyewitness testimony confirming that most POWs were actually well-treated by their North Vietnamese captors (in contrast to the brutal torture and death often meted out to North Vietnamese POWs by U.S. forces).

The U.S. flag flies above the POW/MIA flag. 24 Oct 2019
 A bipartisan bill —the National POW/MIA Act, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, requires the POW/MIA flag to be flown with the American flag at certain memorials and federal buildings, including the White House and the U.S. Capitol, to honor unaccounted for servicemen and servicewomen from across more than 50 years of wars and conflicts. (Getty Images)

Among the few memories that most Americans still retain of the Vietnam War—now nearly 60 years in the past—one of the most vivid centers around the torture suffered by Senator John McCain at the hands of his brutal Vietnamese captors while a prisoner of war in Hanoi’s Hoa Lo prison (AKA The Hanoi Hilton).
This story has been told, retold, and continually burnished countless times by admiring media interviews and a flood of books and memoirs, including several by McCain himself.

Another memory of the war, still believed by millions of Americans, is that hundreds or even thousands of American soldiers classified as MIA (Missing in Action) are actually being held and tortured in secret North Vietnamese POW camps, callously abandoned by our government and desperately praying to be rescued—preferably in a Hollywood-style rescue by Chuck Norris or Sylvester Stallone, who starred in the spate of Commie-hating blockbuster movies inspired by their plight.

This belief is continually reinforced by POW/MIA flags which fly at every post office, and a ready supply of new books and movies, such as the 2018 release of the film M.I.A. A Greater Evil.

But both memories of the Vietnam War are false memories. However passionately believed, they were cynically manufactured fantasies implanted in all-too-willing American minds for political purposes.

How and why these counter-factual beliefs were so successfully foisted on the American public is the subject of the new myth-shattering book by Tom Wilber and Jerry Lembcke, Dissenting POWs: From Vietnam’s Hoa Lo Prison to America Today (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2021).

Wilber is the son of a dissenting POW, Walter “Gene” Wilber, who is featured in the book, and has contributed to the award-winning documentary film The Flower Pot Story by Ngọc Dũng. Lembcke is a distinguished sociologist from College of the Holy Cross who has written a number of books debunking popular myths about the Vietnam War.

The two start their book by noting that the dominant war hero image of the POW—who endured torture and resisted service to enemy propaganda—was to a large extent created by high-ranking men like McCain who were captured early in the conflict.

McCain’s oft-told story of ill-treatment and torture is contradicted by Nguyen Tien Tran, the chief prison guard of the jail in which McCain was held. In a report by The Guardian, “[Tran] acknowledged that conditions in the prison were ‘tough, though not inhuman’. But, he added: ‘We never tortured McCain. On the contrary, we saved his life, curing him with extremely valuable medicines that at times were not available to our own wounded’. . . . [H]e denied torturing him, saying it was his mission to ensure that McCain survived. As the son of the US naval commander in Vietnam, he offered a potential valuable propaganda weapon.”

Most of the others promoting a heroized image of U.S. POW’s were graduates of service academies and came from privileged backgrounds. They included a) James Stockdale, who ran for Vice President in 1992 as the running mate of Ross Perot; b) Robinson Risner, a double recipient of the Air Force Cross, the second highest military decoration for valor; and c) Jeremiah Denton, who went on to become the first Republican Senator from the state of Alabama and a close ally of President Ronald Reagan.

A diehard reactionary and imperialist warmonger to the bitter end, McCain cast a long and sinister shadow on US domestic and foreign affairs.

John McCain fit well with this group because he was also academically privileged and his family included high-ranking military officers like his father, Jack, who was an admiral and the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

With post-war military careers at stake, these high-ranking officers played up the alleged barbarity of the North Vietnamese, demanded resistance to interrogations from other captives, and threatened so-called deviants with disciplinary charges after release to the U.S.

The Nixon administration advanced their credibility and status in a desperate ploy to stir up support at home for an unpopular conflict abroad; and further concocted a story—announced in a press conference by Defense Secretary Melvin Laird on May 19, 1969—that 1,300 American soldiers deemed “missing in action” were believed to be prisoners of war.

The unaccounted for would now publicly be described as “POW/MIA,” implying that any serviceperson missing in Vietnam could also be a prisoner of war. This transformed the war from a political issue into a humanitarian one, trading public support for sympathy. It didn’t matter why we were there in the first place: Our boys were there, and by God were we going to do anything to get them home.

Hollywood quickly cashed in on the revenge mood against Vietnam with chauvinist vehicles like Rambo, promoted by and starring Sylvester Stallone, a mediocre but opportunistic actor who specialises in US exceptionalist mythology. Stallone spent several years during the Vietnam War as a girls' athletic coach at an American school in Switzerland. He did not serve in the military because of a student deferment and later a medical deferment.

Suddenly, the public image of Vietnam looked very different. The very real footage of brutalized Vietnamese bodies, wailing children, and napalmed villages was traded for a fantasy—all of the violence that had been done in Uncle Sam’s name was now being done to him.

The POW issue soon became a cause célèbre. In the early 1970s, millions of “POW bracelets” were sold by a student group called VIVA (Voices in Vital America), each branded with the name of a missing American serviceman.
These shiny nickel bracelets were spotted on the wrists of celebrities like Sonny and Cher—who had often before dressed like hippies—and Sammy Davis, Jr, and allegedly Princess Grace of Monaco put in an order for two bracelets.
The silver bracelets could even be spotted on the fashion runway, where models with an interest in political activism took to wearing them. A New York Times profile from the day quotes a model named Astrida Woods, who said she was “dissatisfied” with her life as a model and felt the urge to give back. “I began to do some work with Ralph Nader, and now [wearing the bracelets]. It’s a way to contribute something.”

Many U.S. GIs and pilots, however, reported being humanely treated during their captivity, with access to adequate food, recreation facilities and reading material.

Wilber and Lembcke conclude that “instances of brutal treatment” were “less common than [has been] purported” and that evidence of systematic torture drawn from visitor reports, POW statements, and oral histories was scant.

Those POWs who questioned the war were dismissed by the military for their supposedly “weak personal character” and “lack of education and backgrounds in broken and poor families,” a typical case of “psychologizing the political.”

These men were in turn stigmatized and then forgotten by the public amidst the manufactured concern about POW/MIAs who were supposedly brutalized and then kept in captivity and abandoned by their government.

Camp Rats?

The ranks of the POW dissenters included Lt. Col. Edison Miller, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart from California who spent six years in captivity after his fighter plane was shot down over North Vietnamese skies on October 13, 1967.

A contemporary described Miller, a Californian who flew previously over Korea, as a “first-rate pilot with a zeal for combat but an independent sort.”

John McCain falsely accused Miller of being a turncoat because he appeared in North Vietnamese propaganda.

In his 1999 best-selling book Faith of My Fathers, McCain wrote about Miller as one of two “camp rats”—the other being Tom’s father Gene, who had been executive officer of a squadron of F-4s when he was shot down over North Vietnam on June 16, 1968.

McCain said both “had lost their faith completely.”

“They not only stopped resisting but apparently crossed a line no other prisoner I knew had even approached,” McCain wrote. “They were collaborators, actively aiding the enemy.”

Miller told the Orange County Register in response to these charges that McCain hadlied about me … The attacks on my character and integrity are totally without merit or justification. I did stand up and say the war was wrong. I would speak against the war, but I never spoke against my country. And I gave up no secrets.”

McCain accused Miller of receiving eggs, bananas and other delicacies to eat from camp guards. Miller says, however, that he never saw eggs during his internment and that McCain was never in a position to see the food brought to him.

McCain further claimed that Miller turned him into a North Vietnamese guard when McCain tried to befriend him, and that the guard then beat McCain. Miller said: “I never ratted out a fellow American. McCain has fabricated and exaggerated his experience for political advantage.”

Miller’s anti-war views had been sharpened in conversation with Navy Commander Robert Schweitzer, a captive from 1968 to 1973 who died a year after his release while still on active duty in San Francisco.

Schweitzer felt that, because the U.S. had never declared war, there could not legally be any North Vietnamese prisoners of war, only “Americans detained by a foreign power,” Miller said.

A tape of a conversation between Miller and Schweitzer was played for other prisoners, who heard not only an anti-war message but a challenge to the legality of the U.S. military action in Vietnam.

In 1970, when Miller and Gene Wilber were interviewed on national television, Wilber called for an immediate U.S. troop withdrawal “so that the Vietnamese can solve their own problems.”

U.S. journalists at the time, however, did not take their interview seriously, regarding it rather as a North Vietnamese propaganda show.

The two men along with Schweitzer continued to write protest statements and together with fellow dissenters met with American peace activists visiting North Vietnam, including actress Jane Fonda and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

Empathy for the War’s Victims

Most dissenting POWs came from a working-class background.
James A. Daly, an African-American infantryman from the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, for example, was raised in poverty by a single mother.

His 1975 book, Black Prisoner of War, describes his three years of jungle confinement after his capture by North Vietnamese soldiers and the South Vietnam-based National Liberation Front (NLF), followed by a two-month trek north to Hanoi on the Ho Chi Minh trail where he experienced what it was like to be on the receiving end of U.S. ordnance.

Bob Chenoweth, from a white working-class family in Oregon, similarly developed an empathy for the Vietnamese people and a distaste for the racist views of most Americans toward the Vietnamese.

A helicopter crew member, before he was shot down and captured, Chenoweth said he “couldn’t see how U.S. forces could possibly be helping the Vietnamese given the attitude that GIs had, viewing them as ‘subhuman’ and disparaging them as ‘gooks and dinks.’”

Chenoweth and other of his contemporaries authored anti-war statements, wrote messages to GIs asking them to follow their consciences, sent letters to politicians, and recorded tapes to be aired via Radio Hanoi.

Higher ranking POWs responded by trying to isolate the dissenters from other American prisoners while charging them with participating in a conspiracy against the United States.

One of the dissidents, Abel Kavanaugh, committed suicide as a result of the intense pressure and prospective stigma of a dishonorable discharge only a few months after coming home from Vietnam.

Charges against the POW dissidents were eventually dropped, Wilber and Lembcke believe, so as to not jeopardize the hero-prisoner story with too much attention on dissent and through a possible exposure of inconsistencies in the accusers’ own prison biographies.

Fear of Communist Infiltration

A critical trope in Cold War America was the fear of communist infiltration and internal subversion through brainwashing and mind control.

This trope was fortified by a CIA propaganda effort that depicted Korean War POWs who defected to the North Korean and Chinese side as having been brainwashed in interrogation.

Most of these defectors were in fact African-Americans who did not want to return to the Jim Crow South, while others were attracted by communist ideals or saw the U.S. war as immoral.[1]

The stereotype of the brainwashed POW of the Korean War turned collaborator and traitor because of his weak character would become the backdrop for the discrediting of the dissident POWs of the Vietnam War.

Tough guy reporters like Mike Wallace were almost always also careerists who knew what narrative they were supposed to push. Or, as is often the case, they were as brainwashed as the ordinary American.

In an appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Gene Wilber was grilled on whether he had given in to the enemy to make antiwar statements. That he had acted on his own “conscience and morality” was drowned out by host Mike Wallace’s implications of collaboration and opportunism.

When he was subsequently invited to the White House POW reception, Wilber found his hotel room broken into and marked with accusations of treason when he returned from the reception.

In the summer of 1973, James Stockdale charged Wilber and Edison Miller with collaborating with the enemy, mutiny, and inciting personnel to insubordination. However, military judges found insufficient evidence to prosecute the case, and Wilber and Miller instead received letters of censure for their failure to meet the standard expected of officers.

Hollywood Revisionism

POW films starting from this time focused on returnees’ estrangement with their families and society and were told as stories of spousal infidelity, representing both individual drama as well as a sense of “home-front betrayal.”

These films were part of a post-war revisionism, which included a spate of films that contributed to the legend of American servicemen left behind in Vietnam.

In the 1980s, a new subgenre emerged focused on Vietnam veterans heroically taking on the task of returning to Indochina and liberating the left-behind POWs, who had been betrayed on the home front and abandoned by the U.S. government.

The POWs were depicted as victimized and emasculated captives who needed to be rescued by individualist heroes and whose honor as Americans was to be restored.

This image, Wilber and Lembcke argue, fits the post-war efforts to psychologize the once political conflicts of the Vietnam War and to depict the veteran as a victim and loser.

More of a heroized image and the POWs’ endurance of torture was revived with the 1987 film, The Hanoi Hilton, which starred Michael Moriarty, Ken Wright and Paul Le Mat as U.S. POWs who defy their captors while enduring brutal treatment at Hanoi’s Hoa Lo prison (aka The Hanoi Hilton).

This film meshed particularly well President’s Ronald Reagan’s characterization of the Vietnam War as a “noble cause,” fought by noble men, with the POW dissenters by implication being ignoble.

Persistence of the Hero-Prisoner Story

In their quest to comprehend the persistence of the hero-prisoner story, Wilber and Lembcke take their readers back to American colonial history and the captivity narratives emerging during that time.

These stories are about a complex mix of violence against captives, temptations to stay with their captors, the ideal to remain loyal with their fellow colonists, and their Christian beliefs.

Such tensions and correlations between the Self and the Other were critical in the making of an American identity. The wars in Korea and Vietnam and the POW experiences there can be understood as a new chapter of this identity-making process. Here, too, Americans must prove their will and ability to endure the brutality of a racialized Other.

A wrench in the story, however, is revealed in the autobiographical accounts of POW-heroes like Stockdale, Denton, and Risner. They wrote about fasting as a way of enforcing self-discipline and self-assurance, sometimes with a religious subtext.

More bizarrely, they also wrote about self-mutilation—the deliberate infliction of physical wounds on themselves that would be visible during filmed interviews.

The aim was to make it appear to other POWs (and to the U.S. public) that they had been tortured. One officer wrote of how he purposely damaged his vocal apparatus so he could not be forced to make propaganda statements. In addition to some high-ranking officers attempting to portray themselves as heroes by means of self-mutilation, Wilber and Lembcke also noted that they tried to keep political literature and news of dissent back home away from other POWs, fearing that these would enhance critical positions on the war and against their authority within the prison population.
Moreover, these ranking officers often despised the more humane view of the Vietnamese displayed by other prisoners, including an interest in their language and culture, and an understanding of why they were fighting back against an invasion of their country by the most powerful military force in the world.

Bringing Back Forgotten Dissenters

Wilber and Lembcke’s book helps restore these forgotten POW dissenters to their rightful—and honored—place among the large and diverse Vietnam generation of dissidents, draft resisters, oppositional GIs, veteran activists, deserters, and all those who supported them.

The book also shows that, despite all destruction and death brought by the invaders from the sky, North Vietnam maintained a moral superiority through oftentimes fair treatment of the captured Americans. This was in stark contrast to the more systematic adoption of torture methods by USAID and CIA-trained police under the Operation Phoenix and like-minded programs.

The POW/MIA flag that flies today over the White House is intended to honor the men who endured captivity; however, it continues to perpetuate a distorted understanding of a war that was as abominable as it was unjust, and helps to advance a dangerous nationalist ideology that will lead to future Vietnams.

  1. See Clarence Adams, An American Dream: The Life of an African American Soldier and POW Who Spent Twelve Years in Communist China (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007).

Paul Benedikt Glatz is the author of Vietnam’s Prodigal Heroes: American Deserters, International Protest, European Exile, and Amnesty (Lexington Books, 2021).  Co-Authors: Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine. He is the author of four books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019) and The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018). He can be reached at: jkuzmarov2@gmail.comSteve Brown is a member of the Editorial Board of CovertAction Magazine.

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Colombian death squads, Israeli arms dealers, and Soviet emigre cultists


by Yasha Levine

So I recently started exploring the secret Israeli op designed whip up Zionism among secular and out of touch Soviet Jews — all in the hopes of triggering a big immigration wave to the newly ethnically cleansed lands of Eretz Yisrael. All sorts of people got zapped by this new messianic nationalist religion — and a few of them (and their children) went on play significant roles in Israeli and Zionist politics, weaponizing their Soviet identity to add a notch to the extremist politics of their adopted new extremist ethno-state.

I was looking through some notes and I realized I stumbled onto one of these weird characters years ago — thirteen years, to be exact.

Back in Moscow in 2007, I got an email from an Israeli attorney with a request to meet at a kosher restaurant run by Chabad. He wanted to talk to me about a client who had recently been in the news in Russia, Israel, and Colombia — a certain gun runner and mercenary by the name of Yair Klein.

Klein had been grabbed and thrown in jail in Moscow, the result of some kind of arms deal gone wrong. And the attorney was peddling his story, hoping I would write about the evil forces arrayed against his innocent — or to be precise, “innocent” — client. I took the bait and met with the guy and was quickly drawn into a shady world of Israeli-Russian-Colombian business and politics — a world that included Soviet Zionist zealot by the name of Avigdor Eskin.


Avigdor Eskin

Avigdor Eskin is not a household name, but he’s sorta infamous in Israeli politics.

He was born in Moscow, converted to Zionism as a teenager and left for Israel in the 1970s. Once in the Holy Land, he was drawn to the then-fringe-but-now-mainstream Israeli right of Meir Kahane — the FBI snitch and founder of Jewish Defense League who got his start in the “Save Soviet Jews” movement by bombing Soviet offices in New York.

Like Kahane, Eskin has been on the genocidal/total ethnic cleansing side of the “Palestinian Question” and has opposed any concessions, no matter how tiny, to the Palestinian side. “There is only one way to restore peace and that is the transfer of the Arab population to Arab countries,” he said back in the 1980s.

His biggest claim to fame was an invocation of a kabbalistic death curse he made in 1995 against Yitzhak Rabin for signing the meager Oslo Accords with Yassir Arafat. The curse was proclaimed outside of Rabin’s official residence, and the stunt was part of a larger wave of fear and anger being whipped in Israel against any sort of perceived peace. And…the curse worked. A month later, Rabin was assassinated by a young religious extremist.

Eskin is still proud of what he did and proud of the assassin who pulled the trigger. “We won,” he told Haaretz. “Look, the fact is that it worked: We halted the Oslo process and that’s what matters. It could have been a destructive process that would have brought ruin upon the Jewish people.”

Yep, the Israeli op to bring Soviet Jews into the Zionist faith worked like a charm. The Holy Land got some real quality Soviet converts to work with!

Today, Eskin — like the previous convert to Zionism I wrote about — is a beloved guest on Russian state media. He’s tapped for his expertise on Israeli and post-Soviet issues — from Russia to Armenia to Ukraine to Azerbaijan. He’s also accused by some of his old acquaintances of being a Shin Bet agent and of previously working for the KGB — which to be honest, doesn’t really surprise me.

Anyway, I figured I’d rescue another piece of my writing from the Internet’s gaping memory hole. I think you’ll enjoy this one.

—Yasha Levine

Yair Klein: Russia's "Other" Viktor Bout

Weapons, Cocaine, Israelis and Oligarchs


By Yasha Levine • The eXile • March 28, 2008

Two weeks ago, while all eyes were focused on the case of international arms dealer Viktor Bout, I spent about five hours at the Moscow City Court watching the appeal case of another accused arms smuggler, Yair Klein. Known as Israel’s most famous arms smuggler, Klein has been fighting extradition to Colombia, where he was tried in absentia in 2001 and sentenced to a 10-year prison term.

Klein was arrested in Moscow last August on an Interpol warrant as he boarded a plane to Tel Aviv. Now he stood just one court decision away from being shipped off in cuffs to Bogota, where he’d rot away in some mosquito-swarmed dungeon.

Given the international profile of the case, and the brouhaha involving Bout, there were surprisingly few reporters present at Klein’s appeal hearing. Other than a ponytailed Colombian journalist and two female staffers from the Colombian embassy, I had the pews all to myself as Klein was brought into the courtroom, shackled and under guard. The Israeli’s 64 years showed in the splotches on his bald head and hands, but you would never guess his age by his muscle mass index. His solid beefy build was visible even through his baggy sweater and cargo pants. After six months in a Russian jail, he was still built to harm, and he seemed in good spirits, smiling and joking with the young female interpreter brought in at his own expense.

Klein is no Viktor Bout, but he is one of the better-known figures in the shadowy world of international arms dealers. Over the course of his career, Klein has equipped and trained some of the most notorious paramilitary outfits out there—from Nicaraguan death squads to the child armies of Sierra Leone. And he’s never been shy about it. Klein has openly explained his activities in pretty much every media format: articles, radio programs, TV interviews, documentaries, and self-made promotional videos. Klein and his merry band of Israeli mercenaries even appeared in a 1989 PBS documentary boasting of their activities in Central America, including working with the Nicaraguan Contras, a CIA creation that was known primarily for massacre-and-run operations in poor defenseless villages.

I first became aware of Klein’s case in December 2007, when I received a call from Mordechai Tzivin, Klein’s Israeli lawyer, asking me to meet him at the kosher restaurant inside Moscow’s Bolshaya Bronnaya synagogue. He phoned me because I had written a few things for Ma’ariv, Israel’s second-largest circulation daily. So he figured I might be useful in raising his client’s profile. I met Tzivin for dinner in a corner table, where he explained the case to me in between taking calls on his two cell phones, barking the whole time in English, Hebrew, and broken Russian, depending on which phone he was shouting into.

During our conversation, Tzivin boasted of his long and deep connections in Russia dating back to the Yeltsin years, when he managed to get a couple of Israelis off the hook for illicit diamond exports (one of them was pardoned personally by Yeltsin). He cursed the Israeli government for not doing enough to help his client. “They are abandoning a decorated war hero,” Tzivin complained. “Israel never does this! There is something going on behind the scenes.” He was sure that some kind of deal had been cut, something funny was going on. But what?

Yair Klein was born in British-occupied Palestine in 1943, the son of hardcore Zionist settlers. He is a member of the Ariel Sharon Generation, a tough Jewish warrior type. A veteran of the IDF’s special forces, Klein fought in the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, and was part of the 1972 team that rescued dozens of hostages held captive in a Libyan plane at Lod airport in Tel Aviv.

Klein entered the mercenary business in the early 80s, when he founded a private security firm called Spearhead. The timing was perfect. Israel soon invaded south Lebanon and Spearhead landed its first major contract training and supplying basic army gear to the Phalangists, the notorious Lebanese Christian militia responsible for shooting up the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. The attack left hundreds of Palestinians dead and tarnished Israel’s reputation around the world. According to a 2007 interview Klein gave on Colombian TV, his infant firm made $2 million from that deal alone. He was off and running.

In the mid and late 80s, Klein made a number of trips to Colombia to arm and train local drug cartel militias. These militias formed the basis of the right-wing paramilitary death squads who squared off against the FARC guerillas (who were at the time being armed by Klein’s Russian-Jewish competitor, Viktor Bout) and sometimes the Colombian government. One of Spearhead’s Colombia employees, Lt. Col. Amatzia Shuali, later explained the company’s role in Colombia to American public television: “Yair mentioned the Contras. I think here it’s the same thing: the Americans won’t interfere directly. We are willing to do it.” (Klein maintains that Bogota was aware of his business activities.)

Klein’s training activities had a big and bloody impact on Colombia. Local human rights activists accuse Klein of singlehandedly turning inept cartel goons into highly efficient death squads. Bogota, which at first turned a blind eye to the right-wing militias, were forced to finally take action when government officials started getting knocked with alarming regularity and professionalism. In 1989, the shit hit the fan when a promotional video showing Klein and other Spearhead employees training drug cartel militias was leaked to the public, causing a PR disaster for Klein—and for Israel. Spearhead was operating under an Israeli government license, putting Israel on the hook. A subsequent investigation by the Colombian government exposed Klein’s ambitious plans to set up a “freedom fighter” training camp on the island of Antigua. Along with a diploma, every graduate would be sent back to Colombia with his very own machine gun.

Klein and several other former Israeli officers fled as they were charged in Colombia. The government of Israel acknowledged Klein’s activities and punished him with fines. While Klein got away with a slap on the wrist, one of his associates was discovered dead not long afterwards, shot and stuffed into the trunk of his car, after he’d complained of being tailed by Mossad agents. It appears as if this associate took the fall for Klein’s operation.

But even all this bad press didn’t put a damper on Spearhead’s activities. In the mid 90s, Klein was reported to have operated in the lucrative and gory business of blood diamonds: Sierra Leone and Liberia. The details, as always, are murky and hard to verify, but one of Klein’s few known transactions in Africa involved an attempt to trade a military helicopter in exchange for access to a Sierra Leone diamond mine. He was later arrested in Freetown on charges of supplying the rebel Revolutionary United Front with weapons and was served a death sentence. He got out in 16 months, cleared of all charges. (It’s rumored that he was sprung out of prison in a joint Israeli-American black op.)

His most recent deal, involving armored vehicles, brought him to Moscow in the summer of 2007, and from there, to jail, where he’s been sitting ever since.

Over his long and extraordinary career, Klein has always been able to count on powerful friends to get him out of trouble. But something had changed by the time of his latest arrest.

From the moment he was dragged to a Moscow prison, the Israeli government has treated Klein as if they’d washed their hands and wanted nothing more to do with him. The Israeli embassy in Moscow refused to provide Klein with even the most basic citizen services: no embassy representatives came to visit him in jail, nor was he provided with an interpreter. At the appeal hearing, Klein claimed unfair treatment, including unlawfully restricted access to the telephone, newspapers and his attorney.

According to his attorney Tzivin, Klein believes the CIA is to blame for his predicament. “It’s possible America is leaning on Israel to give him up to the Colombians so they could have a trophy in the War on Drugs,” explained Tzivin. Israel, which relies heavily on American aid, may have agreed and cut Klein loose as a favor to the CIA and the DEA. Tzivin was adamant that Israel would never otherwise sit back and allow Russia to extradite the Israeli war hero.

CIA or not, the reality is that Israel and Colombia have their own growing trade ties that could justify a decision to leave Klein out to dry. Just a week before Klein’s appeal, Israel’s Prime Minister Shimon Peres hosted Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos at his residence in Jerusalem. Referring to the 1950s, when Colombia shipped weapons to Israel in defiance of an international embargo, Peres said: “In recent years the situation has come full circle, and Israel is able to repay Colombia in kind.”

Repay indeed. In early March, Israel supplied Bogota with drone aircraft, arms, ammunition and electronic equipment for use in combating the country’s drug lords (and guerrillas). Israel also has plans to refurbish Colombia’s aging air force. Neither side wants Klein running around smearing Colombia and gloating about his own invincibility. It’s not hard to see how his extradition is a win-win situation for everyone except him: Israel can develop its newly profitable relationship with Colombia, and Colombia gets a wanted criminal. Even Russia looks good, coming off as a law-abiding country that plays by the rule of law, a responsible member of the international community.

The 64-year-old Klein, meanwhile, will be stuck in some foul hole, getting some very late-in-life Spanish lessons as he struggles to survive until release.

Whoever was putting the screws to his client, Tzivin’s job was to find a way around it and beat the extradition. To do so, Tzivin planned to dust off some old personal favors owed to him in Russia. He also had what he thought might be a secret weapon.

I didn’t think I could be shocked by much after hearing all the details of Klein’s case, but I was wrong. Midway through our meal at the kosher restaurant, we were joined by a tall orthodox Jew sporting a long raggedy beard and dressed in a top hat and black trench coat who had just flown to Moscow from Tel Aviv. He was introduced to me as Avigdor Eskin—as I later realized, one of the most notorious fringe-characters in Israel, famous for having staged a ceremonial death-curse against the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin just a month before he was assassinated. Eskin was jailed for four months after the assassination for incitement to terrorism and blamed by many for the murder.

In the half-hour since I was introduced to the world of Yair Klein, things just kept getting weirder.

Eskin, the man who put a death curse on Yitzhak Rabin. (The site Caviar Diplomacy gushes: "Israeli political scientist, publicist and public figure.."

Born in Moscow in 1960, Avigdor Eskin escaped to Israel as a teenager and drifted toward Arab-bashing extremists like Meir Kahane. After a string of brushes with the law as a young man, Eskin emerged as a prominent far-right wacko in his own right. In 1995, enraged by Yitzkak Rabin’s signing of the Oslo Accords with Yassir Arafat, Eskin made a public show of laying a kabalistic curse on the Prime Minister. He led a ceremony in front of the prime minister’s house, and intoned a curse: “Angels of destruction will hit him. He is damned wherever he goes. His soul will instantly leave his body … A disaster he has never experienced will beget him and all curses known in the Torah will apply to him. I deliver to you, the angels of wrath and ire, Yitzhak, the son of Rosa Rabin, that you may smother him. Put to death the cursed Yitzhak. May he be damned, damned, damned!”

According to Kabala tradition, the curse supposedly became active 30 days after the incantation. True to the curse’s power, Rabin was shot exactly 32 days later by Yigal Amir, an extremist settler steeped in the ideology of people like Eskin.

In 2007, Eskin was arrested in Israel for wiretapping the offices of Israel’s most powerful ultranationalist extremist, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister. The reason for wiretapping Lieberman was to get information on his powerful associate, the one-time Russian metals oligarch Michael Chernoy, who had to flee Russia for Israel, where he lost his vast metals holdings to RusAl oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Israeli police found evidence that Deripaksa had hired Eskin to spy on his old associate so that he could smear him with damning kompromat, or “compromising material.”

Eskin was still serving time in Israel for his wiretapping crime when he was recruited to help Klein. It’s not clear how Eskin got out of jail for a crime that serious. If Tzivin is right, Klein still has some powerful people on his side. Eskin was the go-to man, as he’s known for his ties to Russia’s political and business elite. So Tzivin brought Eskin to Russia to help him work their Russian contacts on behalf of Klein.

Turns out, Eskin wasn’t much help. A few weeks after he arrived in Moscow, on December 31, the Russian General Prosecutor’s office announced that Klein would be extradited to Colombia, no matter what trump cards Tzivin thought he had up his sleeve.

At the hearing on March 12, the judge rejected Klein’s appeal. Klein had wanted his lawyers to argue that his extradition was a CIA conspiracy, but his counsel refused and stuck to arguments more easily proved: 1) that Colombia’s statute of limitation on Klein’s crimes had expired; and 2) that Colombia couldn’t guarantee his safety once he was extradited back. To prove the second point, his lawyers cited a UN report that accused Colombia of serious human rights violations. The Russian prosecutor had a field day with that.

“Well, the UN has criticized Israel for human rights abuses in the same breath as they criticized Serbia and Chechnya. You cannot take that seriously,” he said with a smirk.

As the judges retired to their chambers to decide the case, Klein jumped up and started ranting about the CIA to his attorneys. I caught only snatches of his outburst: “Rockets … missiles bought to arm Taliban fighters in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets … The CIA … Americans … The judge needs to know.” But his lawyer cut him off.

As the judge read off the court’s decision in Russian, Klein remained in suspense. The young interpreter he hired failed to keep up with the judge’s pace and gave up trying to translate. Klein learned of his fate from his lawyer only some time later, after the court session had been adjourned.

“That was bullshit!” Klein’s Russian lawyer cried. “There was no way the judges could have typed up that statement in an hour. It had already been prepared.”

Klein has one more chance to appeal the decision with Russia’s Supreme Court. His attorneys have already filed the request. But Tzivin may have already tapped all of his connections and played his trump cards. The bottom line is, this strange and incredibly story looks like it’s coming to a bad and quiet end for Yair Klein. As he struggles alone, forgotten and shunned by his home country and the various spy agencies who once used his services, one can only hope that his epitaph isn’t summed up with the cheap ol’ “crime doesn’t pay” homily.

Yasha Levine is a Russian-American investigative journalist and author. Levine, who was born in the Soviet Union, is a former editor of Moscow-based satirical newspaper The eXile. He has written the book Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet which was published in 2018.

So you know. This is the Wikipedia whitewashed description for Eskin. Compare it with what you just read: "Avigdor Eskin (born 26 April 1960) is Russian-Israeli conservative journalist and political activist. Born in Moscow in the Soviet Union, Eskin emigrated to Israel where he became involved in right-wing politics. He currently resides in Jerusalem."
—The Editor
—The Editor

This article was published in Issue #285 of The eXile, March 2008.

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