What this is

A personal blog devoted to the experiences of those who have gotten short shrift in the process of becoming legal residents and citizens of the United States. Perhaps by sharing stories and increasing public awareness of the issues, we can bring an element of humanity into the functioning of our immigration system while still preserving its essential requirement to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The First Victim



It is often said, “In war, the first victim is truth.” It applies just as much today and perhaps even more so given the many means technology now provides us to seek and find information. The information is then problematic because it is increasingly difficult to sort truth from lies, distortion from disinformation, half-truths from wholly fabricated falsehoods.
Perhaps no better example of this is the recently leaked audio recording of a conversation between Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union.


The recording is being claimed as proof that Kyiv’s new “Euromaidan” government itself hired the snipers who killed dozens in Ukraine in February. If true, this would be a world-shaking revelation. But is it?

What does the audio recording reveal to us, actually? Here are some observations:

1.       Even diplomatic meetings are today subject to unauthorized interception & retransmission. This not only threatens the freedom of diplomats to freely exchange views and information, it also makes it easy for third parties to use the released information and present it out of context. In the recording, Paet is asked by Ashton about his impressions upon returning from Kyiv a day or two after the snipers killed many in Maidan. Paet tells Ashton how he spoke with people there, including “Olga, the chief Doctor” and he then goes on to say later how “Olga” claimed that there was evidence that the snipers killing victims on both sides, were actually the same people and it was her theory that these snipers were hired by the Maidan activist government. Paet does not tell Ashton that he believes “Olga’s” claims to be true, only that they should be looked into.
2.         Many people unfamiliar with how diplomacy actually works are not aware of the subtle language and elaborate protocol diplomats use to signal each other about information that they might otherwise be able to convey directly.  In the above phone call, for instance, Ashton responds to Paet’s comment about “Olga’s” claims by stating it should be looked into. Ashton did not say she believed the claim to be true or was confirmed.
3.       For many reasons, diplomats dance with words and ideas because often they cannot reveal their personal opinions and must instead represent what their role as national spokesperson restricts them to. In this recorded phone call, it is evident to me that neither diplomat was taking the rumors being reported as being on their face true, but merely indicative of feelings and information being passed around in Kyiv during Paet’s visit there.
4.       The need for such careful language was especially driven home in the community of professional diplomats by the leaked recording of an early February intercepted phone call between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, in which Neuland infamously made the comment “F_k the EU.” Taken out of context, this information was distorted and presented by opponents of US and EU policy in Ukraine for their own purposes.

There is so much propaganda and misinformation being put out by individuals and governments today that it is increasingly difficult to sort out lies from facts. But any person interested in the truth and finding the root causes and potential answers to world problems has to dig hard and use some logic to separate truth from fiction. 

Here’s another example of what I mean. Hundreds of videos have been posted on the Internet showing protests in Ukraine over the past few months. Some showed protesters who opposed the corrupt Yanukovych regime. Others showed people opposed to the Maidan protests. Later videos showed protests opposing the new government that the Maidan revolution eventually created in Kyiv.

But who are these protesters? Many were no doubt sincere and we know this to be fact. But we also have proof that some “protesters” were in fact agitators who have made it their business to show up in multiple places with multiple identities. Like this woman, for instance:



In the case of the woman appearing in multiple instances before the camera in several roles at different times in different places in Ukraine, one can safely conclude that she has an agenda and it most likely is not to represent a true picture of her role and identity. In other words, she is an “agitprop” actor working on behalf of someone. Who? Given her acting role, I would say it is a safe bet she was hired by either the Yanukovych regime as a sort of media “titushki,” or she is employed by the Russian intelligence services in Ukraine. This person is no amateur but she is instead a professional disseminator of distortion and falsehoods.

When stakes are high, as they are in Ukraine today, the players obviously have much to lose or gain. Who are the players in Ukraine? Here are some to consider:
1.       The ordinary people of Ukraine. They represent views all over the map, but generally most just want peace and order. The question is, whose peace and whose order? They mostly want to be left alone to live comfortable, safe lives with a regular paycheck and safe streets.
2.       The elites: government employees or elected officials who stand to personally profit from either their own position in government, or from their cut of someone’s corrupt practices. This include present and past governments of Ukraine.
3.       The protesters: those activists who take to the streets to show their support or disapproval of whoever is in power. These are energized people, often very emotional about their case. They can be swayed but generally are loyal to one particular side or the other.
4.       The fanatics: these are like activists on a real mission. They are often willing to resort to violence to meet their goals. They may be willing to sacrifice their own lives and perhaps those of other people. They also tend to be unpredictable and hard to control as a group.
5.       The uniformed professionals: Police, militia, Berkut, army - whatever you call them, they mostly swore and oath and are paid to defend it. Depending upon whom it is they work for, they might be law-abiding, honorable and trustworthy, or corrupt total enemies of law and order possessing a total disdain for public safety and human rights.
As viewers of events, we generally have to look through a lot of material in our search for the basic truths of what is happening and who is behind it. How do we do find the truth? As a general rule, my professional experience in over 31 years in the American justice and military professions taught me that Occam’s Razor is a good place to start: basically it means “the simplest of competing theories is to be preferred over the more complex.” In our context it means: look for the simplest logical answer to the question “Who benefits the most from this situation?”

Let’s apply that rule to the situation in Ukraine and Crimea: Who profits and in what way?
1.       Ukrainians profit if Ukraine possesses a free, independent government which observes the rule of law and human rights, with justice and honor, and without corruption.
2.       Putin profits if Ukraine’s new government is destabilized and overthrown and one sympathetic to Moscow is reinstated.
3.       Ukrainians profit if they are given time to allow them to hold free elections and to determine who will best lead their country in the transition period.
4.       Putin profits if the Kyiv government is seen as being dangerous and run by fanatics/Nazis/anti-Semites.
5.       Ukrainians profit if they can reduce or eliminate the influence of extremists in their midst who would want to limit the rights of minorities and Russian speaking citizens of Ukraine.
6.       Putin profits if he can use Crimea as an excuse to intervene directly with military force in Ukraine.
7.       Ukraine profits if it can retain its sovereignty over Crimea and its people since it is rightfully a part of Ukraine under agreements that Russia signed in the past.
8.       Crimean extremists profit if, by cooperating with Putin, they can lay claim to the spoils and run Crimea after it is successfully partitioned from Ukraine.
9.       Ukrainian citizens in Crimea profit if they are free from harassment, intimidation and threats made by zealous fanatics seeking partition of the region from Ukraine.

I hope that by presenting some ideas and facts, I may assist the reader in devising useful tools to help them sort through the morass of confusing and contradictory information that is going around about Ukraine and Russia and Crimea today. No one’s interests are served by ignorance; similarly, someone’s ignorance serves only those others who would to use it to control them.

 UPDATE:
I just located this video of Dr.Olga Bogomolets dated February 20, 2014 in which she describes in details the sniper killings and associated wounds sustained by Maidan victims. It is interesting that she makes no mention of any claims that the new Maidan backed government was behind these killings.
video


And now regarding this same Dr. Bogomolets, we have the following breaking development:
In an interview on 3/5/2014 with a UK Telegraph reporter, Dr. Bogomolets no longer maintains she has any verified information about the identity of the snipers who killed so many in Kyiv, nor does she speculate upon who was behind them:



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