Full disclosure: this writer is a former member of the Center for Political Innovation and has appeared on Caleb Maupin’s YouTube channel.
The anti-imperialist think tank Center for Political Innovation (CPI) disbanded in August 2022 after an article published on Medium accused the organization’s leader, Caleb Maupin, of sexual misconduct with members and cult-like tactics. The revelations, compiled by one or more anonymous facilitators, included statements from former CPI members that detailed Maupin’s fetish and framed the accomplished journalist’s political project as little more than a ruse to gratify his sexual needs. The article delved into Maupin’s marital life, publishing his wife’s name and picture, a private person uninvolved in CPI activities. Most CPI members were left blindsided; confused and suspicious, many questioned the purpose of this explosive public statement that seemed tailored to neutralize the controversial anti-imperialist figure and his organization.
For his efforts over the years, Maupin–a communist author, political analyst, and reporter for Russia Today–has become a target of NATO and the US empire. He was featured on a list of “Speakers who promote narratives that are consonant with Russian propaganda” [translation] released by the Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation. As the conservative magazine The Federalist described it, the blacklist amounts to unprecedented censorship: “Given that the Ukrainian government is being subsidized with billions of American dollars, this censorship amounts to American taxpayers paying the Ukrainian government billions of dollars to blacklist American citizens for thought crimes.”
Alongside Caleb Maupin were the names of many other outspoken critics of NATO and US imperialism: CIA whistleblower Ray McGovern; former UN Weapons Inspector and opponent of the US invasion of Iraq Scott Ritter; Pulitzer-prize-winning independent journalist Glenn Greenwald, who worked with whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks; and other prominent American and international dissidents. As Greenwald told Unherd in July 2022:
“War proponents in the West and other functionaries of Western security state agencies have used the same tactics for decades to demonize anyone questioning the foreign policy of the US and NATO. Chief among them, going back to the start of the Cold War, is accusing any dissidents of spreading “Russian propaganda” or otherwise serving the Kremlin. That all this is from the Ukrainians: just standard McCarthyite idiocy.”
Just two weeks before publication of the article that would end the Center for Political Innovation, Maupin and CPI hosted an anti-imperialist conference in Chicago. Maupin appeared on stage alongside a representative of the African People’s Socialist Party, whose organization headquarters had just undergone a McCarthyite raid by the FBI on flimsy allegations of receiving support and direction from a Russian intelligence officer. A viral video of the Chicago conference’s opening ceremony soon garnered the ire of Ukrainian & NATO propagandists on Twitter, and Newsweek reported disparagingly on the event and its unequivocal proclamations of solidarity with Russia, the Donetsk People’s Republic, and the People’s Republic of China.
Some voices from establishment media and NGOs expressing outrage at the conference included: former director for European Affairs at the United States National Security Council Alexander Vindman, a liberal darling from the Russiagate hearings and avowed anti-Russia hawk; senior fellow at the Atlanticist think tank Center for European Policy Analysis Olga Lautman; and Foundation for Defense of Democracies and American Enterprise Institute staff writer Ivana Stradner, a proponent of psychological warfare against Russia. Other commentators who took umbrage were Thomas C. Theiner, who had published anti-Russian propaganda for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded Euromaidan Press during the 2014 coup in Ukraine; Jason Jay Smart, who boasts on his website about his specialty in helping “political parties or leaders come to power” in Eastern Europe and Latin America; Blake Herzinger, described by Foreign Policy as a “civilian Indo-Pacific defense policy specialist and US Navy Reserve officer;” and Illia Ponomarenko, a defense reporter for the NED-funded Kyiv Post who has expressed solidarity with the neo-Nazi Azov battalion.
In terms of sexual misconduct, it should always be taken seriously. However, one should also evaluate and respond to claims of misconduct against groups or individuals opposed to the US establishment within the context of the imperialists’ vast resources and expertise in information warfare. They have proven time and again to use sexual blackmail, exaggerate allegations of sexual misconduct or assault, or fabricate and publicize heinous sex crimes in order to neutralize voices exposing and resisting imperialism. This article highlights some examples to illustrate the history of such operations.
In a 2019 multi-part series published on MintPress News, investigative reporter Whitney Webb detailed the sordid evolution of sexual blackmail operations by US intelligence agencies. In the 1930s, these operations had been traced to organized crime and ultimately ensnared the FBI head J. Edgar Hoover in scandal when photographs leaked that showed him engaging in homosexual acts, then illegal. Some investigators believe that these images originated from the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the CIA); others believe they came from mobsters. Regardless, the photos came into the possession of CIA officials, and may have served to blackmail Hoover into ignoring certain organized crime.
Webb documents how in the 1950s and 1960s, the CIA operated “Love Traps” to ensnare foreign diplomats, paying prostitutes to proposition them and later filming the sexual acts with a concealed two-way mirror disguised as a painting. CIA agent-turned-rogue Frank Terpil told investigative journalist Jim Hougan that, “CIA-directed sexual blackmailing operations were intensive in Washington at about the time of the Watergate scandal.” Some of the operations reportedly used young boys.
Jeffrey Epstein, who was imprisoned for sex trafficking before his infamously mysterious death, is credibly believed to have been an Israeli intelligence asset. His closest associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, is the daughter of Robert Maxwell, who worked closely with Mossad. South African intelligence documents obtained by the Guardian in 2015 revealed that female Mossad agents were expected to use sex as a “weapon” and to employ prostitutes for sexual blackmail operations:
A section dealing with the operational practices of Israeli field intelligence officers says Mossad puts no pressure on female agents to use sex as a “weapon” but it is expected. It adds: “If sexual blackmail or entrapment is an integral part of the mission, however, Mossad often employs actual prostitutes.
Epstein’s victims have testified in court documents that he “‘maintained damaging files on many of the young female victims’ to prevent them from cooperating with police or in civil lawsuits against Epstein and his trafficking organization” as reported by The Daily Beast. Though there is no obvious record that Epstein blackmailed his elite connections, the 2019 book Epstein: Dead Men Tell No Tales includes an interview with his purported Mossad handler who alleged that Epstein conducted blackmail operations. If true, Epstein’s parties and photo-ops with elites echo the sex parties that Hoover attended. In her investigation, Webb draws a clear through-line linking various sexual blackmail operations by intelligence agencies.
In the months leading up to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal assassination, during NATO’s illegal war on Libya, Hillary Clinton’s team at the State Department began to circulate rumors that Gaddafi was supplying his forces with Viagra to use rape as a weapon of war. According to The Independent, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch investigated the rumors but were unable to find any substantiating evidence:
Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty, who was in Libya for three months after the start of the uprising, says that, “we have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped”. She stresses this does not prove that mass rape did not occur but there is no evidence to show that it did. Liesel Gerntholtz, head of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch, which also investigated the charge of mass rape, said: “We have not been able to find evidence.”
The United Nations and Doctors Without Borders also disputed the allegation.
The Viagra claim seems to have been passed from Sidney Blumenthal to Hillary Clinton, who then passed the idea along to Jake Sullivan. Al Jazeera also reported on the rumors. Susan Rice repeated the claim in a closed-door meeting at the UN. However, US military and intelligence officials disagreed with Rice’s assessment, telling NBC News that the available evidence did not support the claim.
Despite a general consensus among those investigating the Viagra rape claims that they lacked merit and were likely fabricated, the false story continued to be used to justify NATO’s destruction of Libya. Netflix’s propaganda series How to Become a Tyrant repeated the accusation as fact in their episode on Gaddafi to depict him as a cruel dictator and not a beloved leader who provided Libyans with free universal healthcare and education and carried out the Great Man-Made River Project, making water readily available throughout Libya.
While former President Trump is hardly an anti-imperialist or paragon of truth, nor without his own credible allegations of sexual abuse, as a threat to the status quo in Washington he has nevertheless become a target by the same deep state powers protecting the imperialist uni-party establishment. The recent FBI raid on Mar-A-Lago demonstrated the US regime’s willingness to pursue Trump in ways that once would have been unthinkable to the ruling class.
The low point of the perpetration of the Russiagate hoax was the fabricated Steele dossier, named for its author, British spy Christopher Steele. This heavily-publicized dossier included the salacious “pee tape” claim of evidence that Trump asked prostitutes to urinate in front of him. Used to humiliate the then-Presidential-candidate by implying he had a fetish most Americans would view as disgusting, the FBI also “relied substantially” on the dossier in the Mueller Report, which investigated Russian interference in the 2016 US election and any grounds for impeachment of President Trump. Claims by the lead investigator Igor Danchenko were key in the FBI obtaining FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrants to “intrusively” electronically surveil Trump advisor Carter Page.
Danchenko has been indicted by Special Prosecutor John Durham for lying to the FBI during interviews on the dossier. His trial is currently slated for October 2022. Michael Sussman was a lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign indicted for concealing his connections to the campaign when tipping off the FBI about Trump’s supposed Russian connections. In May, Sussman was found not guilty of lying to the FBI when they were unable to prove that his lies had “materially” affected their investigation. Despite the acquittal, Durham’s investigation revealed that the Clinton campaign had in fact financed the creation of the dossier.
In her 2019 analysis of the sexual assault allegations against Julian Assange, Caitlin Johnstone quoted Democratic senator Chuck Schumer’s response to then-president-elect Trump’s denial of Russiagate claims: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
Sexual assault allegations against Julian Assange began just months after Wikileaks’ publication of the Collateral Murder video, with Chelsea Manning was already in prison for leaking this and other materials to Assange. The two women whose experiences form the basis of the allegations first went to the police to inquire whether Assange could be compelled to take an HIV test, not to bring charges against him. One woman, SW, said that Assange had initiated sex with her while she was “half-asleep” and not wearing a condom, while the second woman, AA, believed that Assange had damaged his condom before using it.
The Swedish prosecution ordered Assange’s arrest and notified the press that he was suspected of rape before they had even interviewed AA and after SW left the police station mid-interview upon discovering her accusation would be used to arrest Assange. She stated in texts that she was “chocked [sic] when they arrested him”, that “it was the police who made up the charges” and that they were “keen to get their hands on him.” The charges were dropped 5 days later by a prosecutor, only to be reinstated days later.
The back and forth with Swedish authorities continued. Assange stayed in Sweden for five weeks after the allegations, leaving only after being told he was not wanted for questioning. While in the UK, Assange said he would return to Sweden to face questions with the assurance that he would not be extradited to the US and to face prosecution for his journalism, but no assurance was provided. Meanwhile, INTERPOL issued a Red Notice on Assange even though his case did not meet their stated criteria, while the CIA plotted his murder or kidnapping.
Even now, after Sweden dropped all charges against Assange, the sexual assault allegations continue to be used to justify his prosecution and denigrate his status as a political prisoner. In August 2022, a prestigious Australian paper The Age lied to its readers that Assange is exaggerating and sensationalizing the intelligence plots against him and that he “spent seven years at the [Ecuadorian] diplomatic residence in London to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault and rape.”
Max Blumenthal, editor of anti-imperialist investigative news outlet The Grayzone, was not on the same Ukrainian blacklist as Caleb Maupin. But Kit Klarenburg has documented how The Grayzone has been targeted by British Intelligence. Molfar, an “open-source investigations company” funded by USAID and Ukraine’s Ministry for Digital Transformation, promoted a press release offering to reveal unsavory information about Blumenthal. Molfar also published personally identifiable information of Russian soldiers and other individuals that they view as enemies of Ukraine, even explicitly calling for vigilante murder. According to MorningStar, the press release alleged that he was being paid by Russia to spread disinformation about their Special Military Operation. Blumenthal responded, telling MorningStar, “This half-baked attempt at intimidating me for my factual journalism pales in comparison to the repression and violence meted out by the US-backed post-Maidan regime against the many Ukrainian journalists, politicians and human rights activists who have dissented against its corrupt and authoritarian rule.”
On a recent live stream discussing the assassination of Russian journalist Daria Dugin, who had been on another Ukranian list, Myrotvorets (explicitly a hitlist which updates its targets as “liquidated” after their deaths), Blumenthal noted that the attacks on dissenting journalists and public figures have become “as personal as possible.” He elaborated that he had viewed the Molfar dossier compiled on himself and observed it contained what Molfar believed to be his personal details as well as “doxes” (which may include names, addresses, phone numbers, and more) of his family members and even the employers of his family members. Blumenthal described the tactics as psychological warfare.
We will likely never know whether the document that targeted Maupin and disbanded CPI was the work of anti-Russian, pro-imperialist forces. What is clear is that psychological and informational attacks against anti-imperialists have become increasingly personal, dangerous, and intense. It is now more critical than ever for us to learn from and defend against the tactics used to silence and repress our allies so we can avoid being vulnerable to such attacks in the future.