It was the best of riots. It was the worst of riots.
Coast to coast, anything goes in this madness and mayhem today.
Throngs of good people peacefully protesting in the streets over the death of George Floyd have been entirely drowned out by looters and rioters eager to twist any cause into their own private hobby horse for personal gain. But don’t get caught out mentioning the ugly element of it all — no matter how dramatic the endless footage on television might be of police cars burning, cops being murdered and storefronts being smashed open.
That makes you a racist. Yes, in this age of foolishness, you are branded some kind of racist if you want the lawless looters eliminated so that the voices of peaceful protesters can be heard.
And, Lordy Day, whatever you do, don’t go silent. You see, “silence is violence,” they tell us.
Indeed, the age of foolishness.
Across the whole World Wide Web, children and adults are bullying anyone who dares not to bow before the mob. Loyalty oaths are administered. Anyone deemed insufficiently enthusiastic is mercilessly hounded into submission.
Those who balk are branded “racists.”
“Silence is violence.”
Technically speaking, “silence” is not “violence.” In fact, the two could not be on more polar opposites of the spectrum. But in this age of foolishness, feelings are everything.
Sentio, ergo sum.
I feel, therefore I am.
It no longer matters what you say. All that matters is how others choose to interpret what you say. Or, misinterpret what you say.
The context of history is utterly irrelevant. Except when it isn’t.
For example, the historical context of a great, wise, selfless and courageous general whose people lauded him a century and a half after he was dead is totally irrelevant. His grave should be desecrated and memorials to him should be torn down.
But the historical context of a rioting looter who kills a retired cop over a pile of stolen televisions from a pawn shop should be held and cherished as Truth from God.
This, the epoch of incredulity.
Turns out, you can even burn a church and the self-appointed merchants of virtue will rush to your defense.
“Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at The New York Times blithely explained.
Rioters light St. John’s Episcopal Church across from Lafayette Square — church to every president since James Madison — on fire. First, the political press first denies the story, even as flames flicker through the windows. Then they seek to minimize it.
It was just a small fire.
Not to be outdone, the mob-sniffing Espicopal bishop of Washington, D.C. exploited the hateful arson in her parish to make a political statement and attack President Trump over his religion. Indeed, a time for fools.
The protests there began in peace. Good people gathered to protect the historical and cultural monuments that stood to memorialize a very hard and painful time from our past — a past we have all learned from. A past we have all progressed from.
But that progress only comes from remembering our past, even — no, especially — the painful parts.
By the time the political press and Washington politicians finished weaponizing the whole thing to their own political advantage, the good people were torched and looted and left for dead.
“Good people on both sides” became a rallying cry from neo-Nazi hatred. What a lie.
According to the loyalty oaths at that time, they were all evil. According to the loyalty oaths today, all the rioters are pure and good — especially when it comes to ordering pallets of bricks to be delivered to appointed street corners.
Think back to Charlottesville and just imagine if those peaceful protesters had lit a fire in the basement of a mosque or a synagogue. Would everyone from the bishop of Washington to The New York Times come running to their defense to say, it was just a building? Swallow your privilege and get over it.
Indeed, it is a season of darkness, the very winter of despair.
• Charles Hurt is opinion editor of The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] or @charleshurt on Twitter.
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U.S.: U.K. assassination attempt reveals illegal Russian chemical weapons push
A Russian covert military operation to poison a defector living in Britain two years ago revealed Moscow has violated a treaty banning the use of chemical weapons, according to a new State Department report made public Thursday. The special report on compliance with the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) concluded that Moscow had violated its…
A Russian covert military operation to poison a defector living in Britain two years ago revealed Moscow has violated a treaty banning the use of chemical weapons, according to a new State Department report made public Thursday.
The special report on compliance with the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) concluded that Moscow had violated its commitments not to use chemical arms.
“The United States certifies that Russia is in noncompliance with the CWC for its use of a military-grade nerve agent in an assassination attempt on U.K. soil,” concluded the 20-page report known, as Condition 10 (C), that is required annually under congressional legislation.
The new violation is related the attempted assassination in 2018 of Russian defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England.
Mr. Skripal, a former Russian military officer who worked as a double agent for Britain, was targeted by a Russian military intelligence hit team that used a military-grade nerve agent called novichok to try and kill him.
Mr. Skripal, his daughter and a police investigator who were stricken by the nerve agent survived. One person who came in contact with the poisoning device died after finding the device in a garbage bin.
“This attack indicates Russia retains an undeclared chemical weapons program,” the report said.
Russia has denied any involvement in the Skripal poisoning.
However, in response to the operation by Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, President Trump, in coordination with U.S. allies, ordered the expulsion of 48 Russian intelligence officers from the United States in March 2018.
The report said scientists in the former Soviet Union developed the nerve agent used in the attack as a fourth-generation weapon called “”novichoks.
“It is highly likely these agents were developed to prevent detection by the West and circumvent international chemical weapons controls,” the report said.
The new report also accuses Russia of violating the chemical weapons treaty by helping the regime of Syrian President Bashir Assad use chemical weapons against rebel positions in that country’s civil war.
U.S. officials say they have been unable to certify that Moscow provided complete nd accurate information on its chemical weapons production facilities, chemical arms development and stockpiles.
“The United States has concerns regarding Russia’s assistance to the Syrian Arab Republic regarding the regime’s use of chlorine against Douma in April 2018,” the report said, referring to a rebel-held town in Syria.
The report also said Russia also appears to be using pharmaceutical-based agents (PBAs) for “offensive purposes.”
Questions about Russian compliance with the declaration and dismantling provisions of the CWC also remain.
“In light of the March 4, 2018 assassination attempt on U.K .soil against the Skripals, it is clear that Russia did not make a complete declaration of its chemical weapons program,” the report said.
The use by Russian special forces of a derivative of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl also is mentioned in an issue in the report. Russia’s health minister acknowledged to the press that special forces troops used the fentanyl derivative in storming a theater in Dubrovka in October 2002.
Chechen terrorists had taken hundreds of people hostage in the theater and Russian forces pumped a gas into the theater as part of an assault that killed 170 people.
“The United States is concerned that Russia is pursuing these types of agents for offensive purposes, which would be a violation of Article I [of the CWC],” the report said.
Other noncompliant nations identified in the report include Iran and Burma.
Iran, the U.S. review said, has failed to comply with the CWC by not declaring its transfer of chemical weapons to Libya during its war with Chad from 1978 to 1987. The arms include sulfur-mustard artillery shells and aerial bombs. Tehran also may be pursuing “pharmaceutical-based agents (PBAs) for offensive purposes,” the report said.
A third CWC compliance concern is Iran’s stockpiling of the riot control agent CR, the irritant dibenzoxazepine. The smoke grenades containing CR are not permitted under the chemical weapons convention.
According to the report, some Iranian military facilities, including the Imam Hossein University and Malek Ashtar University, have engaged in research on chemical incapacitating agents. The Iranian research “includes a wide variety of compounds that have differing sedation, dissociation, and amnestic incapacitating effects,” the report said.
“Published Iranian papers cited the potential weapons applications of the PBAs; one specifically referenced the use of fentanyl during the 2002 Dubrovka theater hostage crisis [in Russia],” the report said.
In 2014 the chemistry department of the Imam Hossein University obtained kilograms of medetomidine from China. The chemical is a sedative that has been studied as a possible incapacitant.
Burma operated a sulfur-mustard chemical arms program in the 1980s at a facility near the town of Tonbo. The program was never declared as the CWC requires.
Talks to resolve the compliance issues with the Burmese government took place in 2013, 2015, and 2019 but were unable to convince the government to disclose its chemical arms program.
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FBI ‘mistakenly reveals Saudi official linked’ to 9/11 attackers
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has accidentally disclosed the name of a Saudi diplomat suspected of directing support to two al-Qaeda hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Yahoo News reported. The mistake about the identity of the Saudi embassy official was made in a declaration by an FBI official…
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has accidentally disclosed the name of a Saudi diplomat suspected of directing support to two al-Qaeda hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Yahoo News reported.
The mistake about the identity of the Saudi embassy official was made in a declaration by an FBI official in response to a lawsuit by families of 9/11 victims who accuse Saudi Arabia’s government of involvement in the attacks, the report said on Tuesday.
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Michael Isikoff, the chief investigative journalist at Yahoo News who was the first to notice the apparent mistake, told Al Jazeera he knew right away the disclosure was “a slip-up”.
“When I noticed that the declaration included this information, I contacted the FBI for comment. Because I knew that the justice department and the Trump administration had been going to extraordinary length to keep all of this under wraps,” he said.
“In fact, both Attorney General William Barr and the Acting Director of the National Intelligence Richard Grennell had filed motions with the court saying that any information relating to the Saudi embassy official and all internal FBI documents about this matter were so sensitive; they were state secrets, that means if revealed they could cause damage to the national security.”
9/11 attacks’ survivors take Saudi Arabia to court (1:42)
The declaration by Jill Sanborn, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, was filed in April but unsealed late last week, according to Yahoo News.
Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah was mistakenly named in the declaration, an error that Yahoo News said was also confirmed by a senior US government official.
Al-Jarrah was a mid-level Saudi foreign ministry official who was assigned to the Saudi embassy in Washington, DC in 1999 and 2000.
He was in charge of supervising the activities of Ministry of Islamic Affairs employees at Saudi-funded mosques and Islamic centres in the US, according to the report.
In a portion of the filing describing the material sought by lawyers for the families of 9/11 victims, Sanborn refers to a partially declassified 2012 FBI report about an investigation into possible links between the al-Qaeda hijackers and Saudi government officials, Yahoo News said. That probe initially focused on two individuals, Fahad al-Thumairy, a cleric, and Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi agent.
A redacted copy of a three-and-a-half page October 2012 FBI “update” about the investigation said that FBI agents had uncovered “evidence” that al-Thumairy and al-Bayoumi had been “tasked” to assist two hijackers by another person whose name was blacked out. This prompted the lawyers for the families of the 9/11 victims to refer to this individual as “the third man”.
Describing the request by the lawyers to depose that person under oath, Sanborn’s declaration said in one instance that it involved “any and all records referring to or relating to Jarrah”, according to Yahoo News.
This represented the first public confirmation that the so-called “third man” was an accredited Saudi diplomat. But all of the FBI evidence the agents had gathered about al-Jarrah and his communications about the two attackers remain under seal, the report said.
It is unclear how strong the evidence is against al-Jarrah, whose whereabouts remain unknown. But the disclosure appears likely to revive questions about Saudi Arabia’s potential links to the 9/11 plot and highlights the extraordinary efforts by US government officials to prevent internal documents about the issue from becoming public, Yahoo News said.
“This shows there is a complete government cover-up of the Saudi involvement,” Brett Eagleson, a spokesman for the families, told the news outlet. “This is a giant screw-up.”
Yahoo News said it contacted the Department of Justice on Monday, but officials notified the court and withdrew the FBI’s declaration from the public docket.
“The document was incorrectly filed in this case,” the docket now reads, said the report.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people, were Saudi citizens.
The Saudi government has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks in which al-Qaeda-affiliated men hijacked and crashed planes into New York’s World Trade Center, destroying the towering buildings and sending plumes of debris shooting through the most populous US city.
A third aircraft struck the Pentagon just outside of Washington, DC, and a fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
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