New questions on Boston bombing suspects’ ties to US intelligence

Andrea Peters

The Neocons' war against Russia: CIA-supported Chechen jihadist

Information continues to come to light raising questions about the relationship between American intelligence agencies and the Tsarnaev brothers, who are suspected of carrying out the April 15 bombing at the Boston marathon.

The brothers’ parents continue to insist that their sons are innocent, with the mother claiming they were set up by the American state and “controlled” by the FBI.

US authorities have acknowledged that the Tsarnaev brothers were investigated by the FBI and CIA. However, they claim that at most the intelligence and security agencies are guilty of a “failure to communicate” what they knew about the two.

This is an echo of the “failure to connect the dots” explanation that was given for the failure of the CIA and FBI to prevent the 9/11 attacks, even though many of the perpetrators were known to these agencies and were being tracked. Despite the staggering security lapses that were acknowledged in the aftermath of 9/11, no high-level officials were fired. Robert Mueller, who headed the FBI in 2001, remains the head of the top federal police agency.

Details continue to emerge over the close surveillance by state intelligence agencies of the Tsarnaevs and their associates. In March 2011, the Russian federal security services (FSB) intercepted a call between Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers, and his mother, in which they “vaguely discussed jihad.”

Thousands protest against Kremlin regime

Andrea Peters

Activists of Pro-Kremlin youth movements take part
in a demonstration, as a response to the protest rally
against the results of the parliamentary elections and
the policies conducted by Russian authorities, in Mos-
cow December 6, 2011. (Reuters/Anton Golubev)

Thousands of people joined protests on Saturday in cities across Russia in the largest antigovernment demonstrations in nearly two decades.

In Moscow, a crowd estimated at around 50,000 descended on Bolotnaia Square, expressing outrage over widespread allegations of electoral fraud in parliamentary elections held December 4. Another 10,000 demonstrated in Russia’s second major city, St. Petersburg. Protests were also held in Sochi, Murmansk, Chita, Vladivostok, Kazan, Nizhni Novgorod, Omsk and dozens of other cities across seven time zones.

Saturday’s events followed a number of smaller demonstrations over the past week, during which hundreds of people were arrested. Despite the presence of upwards of 50,000 police and paramilitary forces at Bolotnaia Square this weekend, no one was detained. The Kremlin reportedly instructed the police not to crack down on the demonstrators lest they provoke an even broader outpouring of popular anger. In St. Petersburg, a handful of people were arrested.

The government of President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is facing a deep crisis, with the demonstrations and recent elections exposing the fragility of a regime long touted as stable and backed by a docile populace.

Support for the ruling United Russia (UR) party fell dramatically in the December 4 elections. Its candidates won only 238 out of 450 parliamentary seats, compared to 315 in 2007. Even with vote rigging—in the city of Rostov, for example, 140 percent of the registered electorate cast ballots—United Russia saw its support drop by over 14 percentage points to 49.5 percent.

Protests mounted in the immediate aftermath of the election, sparked by widespread reports of electoral fraud. The liberal opposition has predominantly led the demonstrations, with the Communist Party, the Just Russia party and various other forces lending their support once the scope of popular anger became clear. Garry Kasparov’s Solidarnost party, which embraces a pro-US and pro-market agenda, played a central role in organizing the event in Moscow over the weekend.

The media and the man with the “golden voice”

Andrea Peters

Over the past week the US media, and in particular the cable news networks, have exploited the story of Ted Williams for the most reactionary and self-serving purposes.

Now known as the man with the “golden voice,” until just a few days ago, Williams had been living on the streets of Columbus, Ohio, panhandling to survive. In an appeal to passing motorists for donations, Williams carried a sign explaining to people that he was a talented, one-time radio announcer down on his luck. A local reporter from the Columbus Dispatch asked Williams for a demonstration, which he then posted on the Internet.

This YouTube video of Williams’ uniquely rich baritone immediately went “viral,” garnering some 2 million hits. At that point, the story was picked up by the major media outlets, which have turned Williams into an overnight celebrity.

Their aim is to boost ratings and make as much money as possible out of this media-manufactured “American Dream” story, while attempting to paint themselves as somehow sympathetic to the plight of ordinary people. They have been joined by other sections of big business, which see significant financial opportunities in Williams’ “rags to riches” transformation.

Since Thursday, Williams has appeared on at least four major television programs, including morning news shows and late-night TV, recorded commercials for Kraft Foods, and been offered multiple jobs as a professional announcer. The Cleveland Cavaliers, a professional basketball team in Ohio, have offered him a permanent position. They have created a web site devoted to recruiting “the golden voice.”

Russian president defends authoritarian rule in the name of “democracy”

Vladimir Volkov & Andrea Peters

Dmitry Medvedev & Vladimir Putin

At the World Political Forum in Iaroslavl, Russia on September 10, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev outlined his views on the meaning of democracy. When taken together with his other declarations about “modernizing” the country, his latest statement underscores the right-wing and anti-democratic character of his policies, which are profoundly hostile to the working class. Medvedev’s definition of democracy is entirely in keeping with the overall rightward shift in official European politics.

Insisting that that the political system that presently exists in Russia is democratic and well suited to the country, and that nothing “needs to be radically changed,” the Russian president outlined “five signs of democracy.”

These included “the legal incarnation of humanistic values and ideals,” “the ability of the state to guarantee and support a high rate of technological development, which secures a worthy standard of living for its citizens,” “the ability of the state to defend its citizens from the dangers of criminal associations,” “a high level of culture, education, means of communication and exchange of information,” and, finally, the conviction on the part of citizens “that they are living in a democratic state.”

Declaring “representative democracy” to be unacceptable for Russia, Medvedev excluded freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the right to vote, freedom of the press, the separation of church and state and the other rights associated with bourgeois democracy from his five principles.

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