MSNBC host: Disastrous foreign policy leaves the US with less 'credibility' to condemn Russia

MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan argued in a monologue Monday night that the United States would have "more credibility" to condemn the recent actions of Russia in Ukraine if it wasn't currently supporting illegal occupations by its allies around the world—and if it didn't have its own long record of carrying out brazenly unlawful invasions of sovereign countries.

"I'd just like us to be consistent in our approach to illegal invasions and occupations."

To make his case, Hasan pointed to a number of prominent examples around the world, including Israel's ongoing and brutal occupation of the Palestinian territories, which has been maintained over a period of decades with the crucial military and political backing of the U.S. government.

In 2016, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution deeming Israeli settlement activity in the Palestinian territories a "flagrant violation under international law." The U.S. abstained.

"Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza since 1967," Hasan noted in his segment. "According to the United Nations, that was also the same year Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria, effectively annexing it with a 1981 law. During his presidency, Donald Trump controversially recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel."

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"In many of these disputes," Hasan observed, "the occupying nation is an ally of the United States, with the U.S. doing very little if anything to condemn such occupations. And in the cases of the Western Sahara and the Golan Heights, we've even given the occupiers a pass."

"Oh, and let's not forget our own illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq," Hasan continued, pointing to a 2003 U.S.-led war that President Joe Biden—then a senator—vocally supported and voted for.

Watch the full segment:

The Mehdi Hasan Show Full Broadcast - Feb. 21 www.youtube.com

Addressing potential criticism that he is engaging in "whataboutism" by simply highlighting U.S. foreign policy disasters in the midst of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Hasan said he is "not trying to excuse or justify Russia's behavior."

"On the contrary, it is outrageous and illegal for Russia to try and seize territory from a sovereign neighbor," he added. "I'd just like us to be consistent in our approach to illegal invasions and occupations. Imagine how much more credibility we'd have to condemn and act against Russia in Ukraine if we didn't turn a blind eye to our allies doing the same."

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Terrell Jermaine Starr, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center and a senior reporter at The Root, was among those voicing agreement with Hasan's analysis in response to the Monday night segment, which came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the deployment of troops to two breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine.

"I share his views that America is morally inconsistent and that does undermine when the U.S. does engage in situations like what's happening now," Starr wrote in a Twitter post.

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Trump attorney says client is 'between a rock and a hard place' and entire family may plead the 5th www.youtube.com

'I remember WMDs in Iraq': Reporter calls out US official on Russian intel claims

Veteran Associated Press reporter Matt Lee grilled a State Department spokesperson Thursday over the U.S. government's refusal to provide direct evidence for its claim that Russia is planning to fabricate a mass casualty event as a pretext to invade Ukraine, an allegation that the Pentagon said is backed up by intelligence.

During a press briefing, Lee asked the State Department's Ned Price—a former CIA official—to furnish concrete proof of the government's accusation, which suggests Russia is plotting an elaborate false flag attack involving a graphic "propaganda video... depicting corpses, crisis actors pretending to be mourners, and images of destroyed locations or military equipment."

Lee said he has every reason to be skeptical of U.S. government assertions, given the lies that the Bush administration used to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

"I remember WMDs in Iraq," said Lee.

Watch the exchange: After Price outlined the U.S. government's allegations, Lee noted that the Biden administration has "shown no evidence to confirm" the alleged plot. As the New York Times reported earlier Thursday, "Officials would not release any direct evidence of the Russian plan or specify how they learned of it, saying to do so would compromise their sources and methods."

But Price insisted during Thursday's briefing that the Biden administration's decision to go public with the false flag accusation constitutes, in and of itself, evidence that Russia is planning such an operation.

"This is derived from information known to the U.S. government, intelligence information that we have declassified," Price said.

"Okay, well, where is it?" Lee asked in response. "Where is this information?"

"I just delivered it," the State Department spokesperson said.

When Lee continued to press the matter, noting that "a series of allegations and statements" is not evidence, Price accused the longtime journalist of wanting "to find solace in information that the Russians are putting out."

The exchange circulated rapidly and widely on social media, with observers applauding Lee for his persistent and straightforward questioning and arguing that Price's responses were indicative of the U.S. government's intolerance of skeptical inquiry.

"This is wild," NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, tweeted in response to the back-and-forth. "The State Department's spokesman can't comprehend why the Associated Press feels the need to distinguish between a claim and a fact, and becomes visibly offended—and then angered—by the suggestion that his claims may require evidence to be accepted as credible."

Watch the exchange.

Reporter grills US official on government refusal to prove direct evidence on Russian intel claims www.youtube.com

Here are the 9 right-wing Democrats threatening to tank their party's $3.5 trillion agenda

A group of nine conservative House Democrats on Friday threatened to torpedo a $3.5 trillion budget resolution—the cornerstone of their party's social spending and climate agenda—unless Speaker Nancy Pelosi first allows a vote on a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill that has been criticized as inadequate and potentially harmful to the environment.

"In what world is it 'moderate' to kill a $3.5 trillion agenda against the majority of your own party? It's far-right austerity."
—Zack Burley, The Climate Mobilization

In a letter to Pelosi (D-Calif.), Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia, Filemon Vela of Texas, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Ed Case of Hawaii, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Jared Golden of Maine, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, and Jim Costa of California warned that they "will not consider voting for a budget resolution until the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passes the House and is signed into law."

"With the livelihoods of hardworking American families at stake, we simply can't afford months of unnecessary delays and risk squandering this one-in-a-century, bipartisan infrastructure package," the letter reads. "It's time to get shovels in the ground and people to work."

The new letter drew immediate backlash from progressive activists. Ezra Levin, co-executive director of Indivisible, argued that "the greatest threat to [President Joe] Biden's agenda is not the Progressive Caucus or the Squad, but these conservative Democrats who want to tank it unless Pelosi accepts unpopular changes."

"Why do these conservative Democrats want Biden, Pelosi, and the Democratic agenda to fail?" Levin asked. "Do they want to be in the minority next year? Maybe they're more comfortable there."

Pelosi has said publicly that she will not permit a vote on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill until the upper chamber also approves a sweeping budget reconciliation package—a strategy endorsed by House progressives. The House is expected to end its August vacation early to take up the $3.5 trillion budget resolution, the passage of which will allow congressional committees to begin crafting a reconciliation bill that can pass without any Republican support.

"This is President Biden's agenda, this is the Democrats' agenda, this is what we ran on and we need to deliver."
—Rep. Ilhan Omar

Given Democrats' narrow control of the House, conservatives have the numbers to sink the budget resolution and progressives have the votes to defeat the bipartisan infrastructure bill—a stalemate that threatens to undercut the Democratic leadership's hopes for a smooth "two-track" legislative process.

"There are not sufficient votes to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill this month," a senior Democratic aide told Politico in response to the new letter. "This is nine. There are dozens upon dozens who will vote against the [bipartisan bill] unless it's after the Senate passes reconciliation."

Earlier this week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) announced that a majority of respondents to a survey of its nearly 100 members said they are prepared to withhold their votes from the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate approves a full reconciliation package, not just the budget resolution.

"Our caucus is clear: the bipartisan bill will only be passed if a package of social, human, and climate infrastructure—reflecting long-standing Democratic priorities—is passed simultaneously through budget reconciliation," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the CPC.

Progressives believe that delaying a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill is necessary to secure passage of the reconciliation measure, which is expected to include major investments in green energy, an expansion of Medicare, paid family and medical leave, a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, and other major Democratic priorities.

"This is President Biden's agenda, this is the Democrats' agenda, this is what we ran on and we need to deliver," Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the CPC whip, told the New York Times on Friday.

If the House sends the bipartisan infrastructure bill to President Joe Biden's desk before the Senate greenlights a reconciliation package, progressives fear that conservative Democrats will then be free to defect and tank the multitrillion-dollar legislation. Already, some self-styled moderate Democrats such as Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have voiced opposition to passing a $3.5 trillion bill.

And in their letter to Pelosi on Friday, the nine conservative House Democrats did not commit to voting in favor of the $3.5 trillion budget resolution even if the bipartisan infrastructure package passes; the lawmakers merely vowed to "consider" supporting the resolution.

"It what world is it 'moderate' to kill a $3.5 trillion agenda against the majority of your own party?" asked Zack Burley, a policy associate at The Climate Mobilization. "It's far-right austerity."

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