The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. May 23, 2016:” The very close election in Austria shows that the flood of Muslim refugees now jamming into Europe is causing a public reaction by a sharp swing to the far right. Liberals and their media outlets may wail and protest but this political shift is not temporary and unless the respective governments of countries now hosting potentially violent and disruptive foreign elements take firm steps to control the influx, the certain reaction of the outraged public will be to force expulsion. We will then see a Europe firmly in far right wing hands and this will lead to the tragic death of many trees as the liberal media cranks up a hopeless campaign to reestablish more liberal ways. Their movement can easily be seen in the constant exortations in print that everyone is really the same and we should all embrace our mud-blood neighbors in an orgy of self-humiliation.”
The Müller Washington Journals 1948-1951
At the beginning of December, 1948, a German national arrived in Washington, D.C. to take up an important position with the newly-formed CIA. He was a specialist on almost every aspect of Soviet intelligence and had actively fought them, both in his native Bavaria where he was head of the political police in Munich and later in Berlin as head of Amt IV of the State Security Office, also known as the Gestapo.
His name was Heinrich Müller.
Even as a young man, Heini Müller had kept daily journals of his activities, journals that covered his military service as a pilot in the Imperial German air arm and an apprentice policeman in Munich. He continued these journals throughout the war and while employed by the top CIA leadership in Washington, continued his daily notations.
This work is a translation of his complete journals from December of 1948 through September of 1951.
When Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA¹s station chief in Bern, Switzerland, James Kronthal in 1948, he had misgivings about working for his former enemies but pragmatism and the lure of large amounts of money won him over to what he considered to be merely an extension of his life-work against the agents of the Comintern. What he discovered after living and working in official Washington for four years was that the nation¹s capital was, in truth, what he once humorously claimed sounded like a cross between a zoo and a lunatic asylum. His journals, in addition to personal letters, various reports and other personal material, give a very clear, but not particularly flattering, view of the inmates of both the zoo and the asylum.
Müller moved, albeit very carefully, in the rarefied atmosphere of senior policy personnel, military leaders, heads of various intelligence agencies and the White House itself. He was a very observant, quick-witted person who took copious notes of what he saw. This was not a departure from his earlier habits because Heinrich Müller had always kept a journal, even when he was a lowly Bavarian police officer, and his comments about personalities and events in the Third Reich are just as pungent and entertaining as the ones he made while in America.
The reason for publishing this phase of his eventful life is that so many agencies in the United States and their supporters do not want to believe that a man of Müller¹s position could ever have been employed by their country in general or their agency in specific.
Thursday, 1 December 1949
Notes made on the train.
Well, I must say there are times when one is pleasantly, even happily, surprised by the turn of events. Last evening started out with dull formality and ended up as a genuine pleasure for me.
First, we met the aunt in the drawing room. Old furniture and dim portraits of ancestors. Mine could never afford paintings. Some in solemn black, others in uniform and a number of uninteresting women in period costume.
The niece was upstairs dressing and I gathered from the aunt that she was not pleased to be entertaining the neighbor. We were sitting on very uncomfortable but expensive old chairs when the aunt smiled over my head and stood up. “Here, my dear is your fan club.”
She is not ugly at all. Rather on the short side with a long, solemn face, dark brown eyes and a very firm chin and mouth. Very decently dressed and carries herself very well. Figure? Small and certainly not fat. Couldn’t see her legs but the rest of her seemed in good proportion. Hair was pulled back into a knot at the back of her head, neatly framing her face.
I bowed, kissed her hand (a disgusting Viennese custom) and managed to introduce myself by the proper name. Remarks were made and I said some sarcastic things about a popular pianist that got a quick smile. We had about twenty minutes of social conversation and she said, “I suppose you would like to hear me play something’”
“The Bach you were assaulting the other day would be excellent.”
Up went the eyebrows. “Assaulting?”
“Oh yes, a firm, very determined effort. And I might say, successful.” An excellent evening, short though it was and with the aunt ever present.
Analysis: A young woman of character and appearance who is a very strong, almost masculine performer. She certainly understands Bach as well as Schubert, which she plays with both strength and feeling. She attended Julliard School, loves the piano but will not make a career of it, (which she certainly could) because in her family, women do not go into the professions.
She has an excellent sense of humor, very dry and sometimes sharp.
I wanted to show her how to make a transition in a Bach piece and while she very politely gave me the keyboard, I could see that, at first, she was not happy. I think I made my point and she asked me to keep on playing for her and warned me she would be equally pedantic. “Actually you are rather good,” she said and from her omnipresent aunt’s expression, I assume that this was very rare praise.
She would do very well on the concert stage but at this point, all is too soon for anything but the enjoyment of the moment.
When I come back from Florida, I have invited them to my house for a little dinner and some music afterwards. This may go nowhere, as so many new things do, but I did enjoy the evening and apparently everyone else did too. They think I am Swiss but that my German is “ever so much better than the Swiss dialect.” A bit of Munich Bavarian mixed up with military and police, all overlaid with Berliner Prussian does not sound Swiss but most Americans cannot speak their own language, let alone someone else’s.
This trip is interesting as we penetrate deeper into the southern United States. Really appalling poverty seen from the train windows and many shabby old houses, millions of very poor and equally shabby blacks, not too many automobiles. One reads about the high civilization of the pre-Civil War south but if all of that was true, the country has lost everything.
I recall (Frank G. ed.) Wisner calling (Ralph, ed.) Bunche a “saddle-colored coon” which had to be explained to me. We had such in the Ruhr after the French had quartered their own dark ones on us. I don’t ride but I know what color a saddle is and the image is entertaining.
Miami, I am told, is being filled up with illegal refugee Jews being smuggled in from the Dominican Republic and Cuba but no one seems to care very much about it. Africa above and Palestine below.
I read somewhere that there was a terrible hurricane twenty years or so ago and there was a railroad which actually ran down to Key West. There was so much damage that the tracks were ripped up and the causeways were turned into a highway. That should be an interesting scenic trip.
I am going to take up advance photography and I brought my Leica along but taking pictures from a train window is only fit for trippers. Pictures of yourself and your friends in front of the Eiffel Tower during the war. I do not wish to be photographed these days but one can never be too insistent, merely careful to avoid the possibility.
The food is acceptable on these trains but was better on the one to Colorado. After lunch, two games of twenty-one and a little chess for relaxation and then some Pascal until dinner.
Hopefully, Truman tomorrow and then back to Washington for much better food and even better music. A full report later.
Tuesday, 6 December 1949
I will write this in sections. First, general impressions of the trip.
Florida is a different sort of climate. I have been to Greece and Spain but the tropics are an entirely new world. The ocean and the beaches are magnificent and I took advantage of the time in Miami to put on a suit and get into the ocean. Salt water is sticky but the temperature is warm and a landlocked Bavarian like myself is used to still, cold lakes at best.
Nice young ladies sunning themselves on the beach and some pleasant flirtations but then down to see Truman.
The drive down to Key West was spectacular, driving along over the waters of the Caribbean on the old railroad bridges. Key West is a naval base with neat white barracks.
The President has what he calls a “working holiday” and said that he could never have afforded a place like that even as a senator. Take what you can from every situation.
I was introduced as a Swiss expert from the CIA and no one paid any attention to me. I bought a very nice white suit in Miami and an expensive Panama hat that one can roll up and pass through a ring. It would have cost me a month’s salary in the old days.
I met Truman twice privately and once with a group of his friends. He wore a terrible shirt with short sleeves that looks like a modern painting but is called “Hawaiian” and would frighten a horse.
Ate meals in a naval dining room. The food was good and the fresh fish excellent, especially one called pompano. Aside from intelligence matters and some self-advertising, I went out on a navy boat to take a trip to see an old brick fort out in the Caribbean where important political prisoners were once kept. Some fishing and a good deal of beer drinking. The navy people let me steer the boat from up on the bridge.
Nice young men, polite officers and steering a boat is not that easy. With a car, one merely moves the wheel and with a plane, the same, but the boat will tend to stray from its course and one has to be constantly observant and watch the compass. As there are no points of reference in the ocean, the compass is very important to watch.
I went around without a shirt most of the time and have acquired a very nice tan that should impress my neighbor. Unfortunately, I am getting very thin on the top of my head so it got rather burned and now is scabby looking but it is passing quickly.
Now, on to business.
- was very friendly from the beginning and I find him pleasant to work with. We spoke generally at first and then he asked me for my comments on various personalities of the Reich, especially Hitler. He asked me repeatedly if Hitler died in Berlin. He said when he was at Potsdam in 1945, the Russians told him, and Stalin too, that they did not believe the British story at all. I told him what I knew and then we went on to discuss more important matters.
- is concerned about the Russians. The Army and the CIA (whom he calls the “Criminal Idiots Association”) are telling him daily that Stalin is going to attack us and that we must attack him first. T. has no intentions of doing this. I told him that in my professional opinion, there would be no military attack. I had actual figures with me showing the reduction in Soviet forces in Germany and their destruction of the railroad system there to rebuild their own.
Neither the Army (using faked material from Gehlen) nor the CIA (using faked material from their own strange sources) have told him any of this but I know he believes me and not them. I did warn him that Stalin would use infiltration and not tanks.
We talked about the CIA’s bribery in the Italian elections and Pash’s murder attempt on Togliatti. He approved the bribery but deplored the assassination attempt and said he wanted nothing to do with such vicious behavior. He complained bitterly that the CIA, whom he put together to keep him privately informed on foreign intelligence, was obviously pursuing its own course and repeatedly lies to him.
I gave him quite an earful of my inside observations. We discussed how they had put devices on his own phones and told him that they had tried to do this to me but my people were much better than theirs and the attempt failed. I also said that we were listening to them! This he thought was very funny but wanted me to keep him fully informed.
Conversation then turned to Hoover and the FBI. Since Hoover is an ally, I spoke well of him and his men, calling them real professionals as opposed to the rank and somewhat crazy amateurs of the CIA. He agreed but does not like Hoover who he said had “the dirt” on “everyone on the hill and used it when he had to.” I must keep in mind that Truman is basically honest and finds such treachery repulsive.
I then talked about the atom bomb programs and Truman told me some stories.
We had no such bombs at the end of the war. And we did not have enough enriched uranium to build them. This ore is mined in the Belgian Congo and the Belgians control it. The Russians, who have no such resource, tried to threaten the Belgians and then attempted to persuade them to nationalize the mines and give them the ore.
Our good friends the British then got all of the supplies from the Belgians (probably with charity money they got from us) and had over three thousand tons of the ore. Naturally, they would not give this to us, but Truman to his credit, forced them to do so under threat of excluding them from any kind of aid program and forcing them to repay their enormous wartime loans to us. They caved in, first trying to sell us their ore at a huge profit and finally, when Truman got really forceful, giving the ore to the U.S.
They are now working on a bomb-making program here. By simulating an atomic explosion to warn the U.S. that he had a bomb, Stalin started a genuine atomic race with us. He is normally quite clever but in this case, he overplayed his hand.
From this thesis, I was able to discuss Soviet espionage with Truman. I said that the actual Soviet spy networks in this country were nowhere near as large as the public thought. A dozen or so handlers and perhaps thirty or forty actual paid spies.
There were, I said, hundreds of communist sympathizers who supplied the American spies with information but these were not real spies but sources. Hoover, to his credit, kept his eye on this bunch in spite of strict direct orders from Roosevelt to stop watching his Soviet friends. The FBI knows almost everything about the Soviet agents and is picking them off one by one.
Truman says he knows this but the problem is also political. As we all know, Roosevelt permitted hundreds of communist activists into his regime and Truman has to be very careful about attacking them. The New Deal is still a potent political force and Truman doesn’t want to be seen pursuing them. This is all understandable and to me, acceptable, because he wants to root them out entirely. It is merely a question of how to do it without him getting the blame.
It was then that I brought up McCarthy. Truman hates the man. He calls him a fairy and a drunk. Just like Churchill, I told him, and just as dangerous. I told T. that I had a connection with M. through Georgetown and I suggested, very carefully at first, that I could supply M. with inside facts that he could use in public to enhance his career and create an atmosphere of conspiracy and fear. Before T. could object, and I could see it in his face, I pointed out that McCarthy was a Republican (I have joined the Democrat Party) and that as an opponent of Truman, the President could put a very large distance between them. He tentatively agreed but said he did not want to start a Spanish Inquisition here.
I agreed but said that if the public believed that there were spies everywhere, there would be arrests made and the actual informants and suppliers of secret information would have to go underground and be very careful indeed! This Truman quickly agreed was a good idea.
It was at this point that I brought up the British. I said that even if Stalin lost his eyes in this country, the British were here to help him out. I pointed out that England has, in essence, lost the war. She has no empire, no navy, no merchant shipping and no gold reserves. She hates us for having demoted her to a third rate bankrupt country. Also, I said that I had a great deal of factual information that their intelligence agencies were riddled with homosexual Marxists and that any information their agents could extract from us especially in the atomic area, would go to Whitehall first and to Moscow second.
I had prepared a number of easily assimilated files for him to read through. These were constructed so that he didn’t have to take them with him and risk some snoop finding them in his quarters.
It took him nearly an hour to read through them and at the end, he seemed to be very receptive to my suggestions that the British agents in this country should be watched carefully, prevented as much as possible from any critical access to atomic secrets, and when possible, fed with disinformation.
He asked me to prepare a paper for him on how this could be accomplished and I am very pleased to have been able to pull up a file with the exact program set forth, clearly and very accurate in all respects.
Truman said, when he had finished reading it, “Well, we are certainly getting our money’s worth with you, General. I am impressed with this.”
At the second meeting, we talked about less important matters.
He asked me about the Jews in Germany. I told him my views and he said that he was being pressed by the Zionists to give huge sums of money to the state of Israel. He said he had let them talk him into recognizing the government of that country in 1948 but he was now having some regrets about having done this. T. states that this has permanently destabilized the Middle East and that the reign of terror instituted by the Zionists in their desire to eject all the Arabs from their homes was repulsive to him
He stated that on many occasions, he had personally blocked the clandestine shipment of arms from this country to Israel, something I learned about from Hoover.
However, T. stated that the Jews were very influential in this country. They have money, have a big hand in the banks, the newspapers and certainly in the motion picture industry, and he does not want to antagonize them. He said that his lack of immediate support of their new country by giving huge sums of cash to them resulted in very serious political problems in the last election. They went to Dewey and got him to promise this golden shower if he was elected. But Truman went to the people and beat Dewey so now the Zionists are back again with their hands out.
- had a business partner once who he holds in high regard and this man was material in persuading T. to recognize the new state. The President is certainly not an anti-Semite but will not be extorted.
Several of his associates have pointed out that most of the traitors and Soviet spies were Jewish but he wants absolutely nothing to do with this business and very sternly warned me not to go down this path at all. I have no intentions of doing so and reassured him about this.
At this point in time, I have the President’s attention and at least a tentative approval of my ideas. I have permission from him to expand my staff and more of my people will be brought over here to assist me.
We both agree that the CIA is not to know of any of this and I am to report directly to him. Also, he expressed gratitude to me for warning him about the spying on him and would like my man to keep checking his office for any telephone problems. I said if we caught anyone trying this again, I would have the man buried in the woods somewhere and Truman laughed and did not object.
Let us see to our shovels!
Note: On Wednesday, I will be having my musical neighbor and the aunt over for a small dinner and perhaps I can show off my own keyboard accomplishments. I have given some thought about my neighbor and in fact I find that when I start thinking about a woman more than once, I am interested.
We will see where this goes.
From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2016, Issue No. 45
May 23, 2016
SOME STATE SECRETS CASES MAY STAY SECRET
A definitive accounting of the number of lawsuits in which the U.S. Government has invoked the state secrets privilege cannot be provided because some of those cases may be too sensitive to acknowledge or disclose, the Department of Justice told Congress in newly released correspondence from 2013.
“Some matters involving classified or sensitive information may need to be litigated under seal, and thus it should be noted that it may not be possible or appropriate for the Department to indicate the precise number or names of matters in which the Attorney General has approved the Department’s defense of an invocation of the [state secrets] privilege,” DoJ wrote in response to a question for the record from Rep. Jerrold Nadler following a June 2012 House Judiciary Committee hearing.
The Department’s answers to questions for the record from Rep. Nadler and others were released last week under the Freedom of Information Act. They did not appear in the published record of the June 7, 2012 House Judiciary Committee hearing because they were transmitted by DoJ too late to be included. The full exchange of questions and answers is available here.
When a lawsuit involving state secrets raises credible allegations of government wrongdoing, it is DoJ policy to refer the allegations to the Department’s Inspector General. However, DoJ rejected Rep. Nadler’s request to identify whether or how often such cases had been referred.
“The Department’s policy is not to disclose referrals made to Inspectors General regarding possible misconduct of employees of other agencies or referrals to the Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Consistent with that policy, we could not provide the number of cases, if any, that may have been referred to an IG pursuant to the Department’s policy on the state secrets privilege,” DoJ wrote.
In 2011, the Department produced its first periodic report to Congress on the use of the state secrets privilege. “We expect a second report to be submitted in the near future,” DoJ told Rep. Nadler. But no second report has been made available to date.
DoJ did not evade all of Rep. Nadler’s questions, however.
The Congressman asked: “Can a judge disagree with the executive branch’s decision as to whether the privilege is properly invoked?” And DoJ replied: “Yes. Reynolds provides that “[t]he court itself must determine whether the circumstances are appropriate for the claim of privilege.” See 345 U.S. at 8.”
DoJ also indicated that the Attorney General approved the assertion of the state secrets privilege in six acknowledged cases between 2009 and 2013. One of the those cases, Roule v. Petraeus in the Northern District of California, has not been widely recognized as a state secrets case.
In that proceeding, Walter Roule, a pseudonym for a covert CIA employee, alleged that he had been the object of employment discrimination because his wife was a foreign national of Asian ethnicity.
The CIA moved to dismiss the case in July 2012 after then-CIA Director David Petraeus formally asserted the state secrets privilege. “I make this claim of privilege in my capacity as the Director of the CIA and after deliberation and personal consideration of the matter. My judgment in this matter necessarily rests on my knowledge of the vulnerability of our sources and methods, my experience, and the advice of other CIA professionals,” DCIA Petraeus wrote. The case was dismissed by stipulation of the parties.
Rep. Nadler reintroduced a bill last March to establish standards by which courts could evaluate government assertions of the state secrets privilege (H.R. 4767, the State Secrets Protection Act). But the legislation has not moved out of subcommittee.
THE RICO STATUTES, AND MORE FROM CRS
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee rejected two amendments to improve authorized public access to reports of the Congressional Research Service. However, unauthorized public access remains robust.
The latest Congressional Research Service reports include the following.
RICO: A Brief Sketch, May 18, 2016
Federal Reserve: Legislation in the 114th Congress, May 19, 2016
U.S.-EU Data Privacy: From Safe Harbor to Privacy Shield, May 19, 2016
Earthquake Risk and U.S. Highway Infrastructure: Frequently Asked Questions, May 19, 2016
Framing Spectrum Policy: Legislative Initiatives, May 18, 2016
The EMV Chip Card Transition: Background, Status, and Issues for Congress, May 17, 2016
Abortion and Family Planning-Related Provisions in U.S. Foreign Assistance Law and Policy, May 17, 2016
Federal Student Aid: Need Analysis Formulas and Expected Family Contribution, May 18, 2016
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Five-Year Program for Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing: History and Proposed Program for 2017-2022, May 18, 2016
Public Health Service Agencies: Overview and Funding (FY2015-FY2017), May 19, 2016
Waiting in Queue: Options for Addressing the Airport Screening Line Conundrum, CRS Insight, May 18, 2016.
Despite its recognition that CRS has provided “tremendous value” to Congress, the Senate Appropriations Committee rejected a proposed $7.4 million increase in the CRS budget for 2017.
“While the increase requested in fiscal year 2017 includes support for 22 additional full-time equivalents that purports to improve service to Congress, bringing on board new employees in the midst of this budget stagnation may not be a practical or cost-effective solution to optimize service,” the Committee wrote last week.
Instead of increased resources, the Senate Committee told CRS to tighten its belt.
“The Committee directs CRS to examine ways in which the internal structure of the organization may be improved to meet the challenges of the ever-changing Congressional environment and provide a report to the Committee on a proposed restructuring within 120 days of enactment of this act. The report should include recommended changes to staffing, pay levels, the management structure, technology, and research priorities in order to create and support the workflow, products, and services that best meet Congress’ needs.”
Shake-up in Israeli politics prompts ‘seeds of fascism’ warning
May 23, 2016
by Luke Baker
JERUSALEM-A military affairs commentator interrupts his broadcast to deliver a monologue: I’m alarmed by what’s happening in Israel, he says, I think my children should leave.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak warns of “the seeds of fascism”. Moshe Arens, who served as defense minister three times, sees it as a turning point in Israeli politics and expects it to cause a “political earthquake”.
The past five days have produced tumult in Israeli politics, since conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unexpectedly turned his back on a deal to bring the center-left into his coalition and instead joined hands with far-right nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, one of his most virulent critics.
Lieberman, a West Bank settler, wants to be defense minister. So on Friday, Netanyahu’s former ally and confidant, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, resigned and quit Netanyahu’s Likud party in disgust.
After a weekend to digest the developments, which are expected to be finalised in an agreement between Netanyahu and Lieberman on Monday to form the most right-wing government in Israel’s 68-year-old history, commentators have tried to put it in perspective and found themselves alarmed.
Arens, who has served as defense minister, foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, and is one of Netanyahu’s early political mentors, said the machinations would have far-reaching repercussions.
“Yaalon’s ouster is likely to be a turning point in Israel’s political history,” he wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper. “A political earthquake is in the offing. It may take a little time, but it is coming. The law of unforeseen consequences is at work.”
The decision to jettison Yaalon in favor of Lieberman was all too much for Roni Daniel, a veteran military affairs commentator on Channel 2.
“I cannot urge my children to stay here, because it is a place that is not nice to be in,” he said in his monologue, going on to name a number of far-right politicians.
By bringing the Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) party into the fold, Netanyahu strengthens his coalition from 61 to 67 seats in the 120-member parliament.
Lieberman’s brand of politics — pro-settlement, wary of peace negotiations, tough on the Palestinians — sits far more comfortably with Netanyahu and his right-wing partners than the center-left does.
But it means there is no countervailing voice in the government, and the person in charge of defense — the most important portfolio in Israel after the prime minister — is a civilian with little military experience.
At a time when the command of the Israel Defense Forces is already at odds with the government over policies it feels are too hard-line, Lieberman’s appointment risks creating more tension between the political leadership and the military. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are on edge too.
“What has happened is a hostile takeover of the Israeli government by dangerous elements,” Ehud Barak, Israel’s most decorated soldier and a former defense minister following his spell as head of government, told Channel 10 TV.
Israel has been “infected by the seeds of fascism”, he said, adding that it should be “a red light for all of us regarding what’s going on in the government.”
Netanyahu sought to quell the rising criticism at a new conference on Sunday, describing himself as in charge and as having the nation’s interests at heart.
“I’m looking out for the country’s future. I have proved that as prime minister. I hear a lot of voices; many things are said in politics,” he said.
“Ultimately, it’s the prime minister who directs everything together with the defense minister, with the chief of staff, and apparently I haven’t done such a bad job during my years as prime minister — that’s the way it is going to be now.”
Some allies leapt to Netanyahu’s defense, saying the appointment of Lieberman was a sound decision and that he would offer “fresh thinking” as defense minister, but the focus of commentary was on the broader direction that Israel is taking.
A DECADE IN POWER
Netanyahu has held power for more than 10 years, spread over four terms. In that time, politics has moved steadily to the right, with his coalition now hinging on support from Orthodox religious and ultra-nationalist parties.
There has been no progress in efforts to negotiate peace with the Palestinians, with Netanyahu saying Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not the right partner because he rejects Israel’s demand to recognize it as a Jewish state.
At the same time, the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek for their own state together with Gaza, continues apace.
Ties between Israel and the United States, its closest ally, have become strained, with Vice President Joe Biden saying last month that the U.S. administration felt “overwhelming frustration” with the Israeli government.
For Daniel, who is regarded as a stalwart of the right, something has changed fundamentally.
“It’s over. I will not persuade my children. They will decide where they want to live. But if that once looked like a terrible tragedy to me, today it doesn’t,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller,; Editing by Timothy Heritage)
Israel: The rise of the new ‘messianic elite’
Appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as defence minister suggests a change of elite within Israeli politics, analysts say.
May 22, 2016
by Ben White
If there’s one thing everyone across the political spectrum in Israel agrees on, is that it was an audacious move. After intensifying speculation that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, would strengthen his coalition by bringing in Isaac Herzog and the Zionist Camp, the Likud leader turned around and announced a deal with hard-right former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
That deal saw Lieberman offered the position of defence minister, whose incumbent, Moshe Ya’alon, resigned both his post and place in the Knesset. In parting shots, Ya’alon declared he had lost trust in Netanyahu, and warned that “extremist and dangerous elements” had “taken over Israel and the Likud Party”.
The tumultuous events, likened to the plot of a television drama, have prompted as many questions as answers. According to Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf, Ya’alon’s resignation is less significant than “his decision to come out publicly against Netanyahu and the hard-right”.
In a television interview on Friday, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak echoed Ya’alon’s concerns, claiming that Israel has been “infected by the seeds of fascism”. For Sheizaf, all of this shows “that there is growing opposition to Netanyahu inside and around the security establishment” – opposition that could, at some point, coalesce into an electoral challenge.
Tensions between Ya’alon and Netanyahu came to the surface in March, when Israeli soldier, Elor Azaria, was caught on video executing a wounded Palestinian alleged attacker in Hebron. While Ya’alon was clear in his condemnation, Netanyahu, under political pressure from the populist hard-right elements within his own coalition, muddied the waters with a supportive telephone call to Azaria’s father.
Weeks later, the two senior Likud men were publicly divided again over Major General Yair Golan’s remarks on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when he drew parallels between Germans in the 1930s to modern-day Israeli society. Netanyahu slammed the speech, but Ya’alon made a pointed defence of the right of senior army officials to express their views.
Mouin Rabbani, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, believes Ya’alon paid for the support he gave to those members of the Israeli security establishment who, in recent months, “sought to counter-balance the more extreme tendencies of the Israeli political class”, so as not to “further inflame the situation in the occupied territories”.
For Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport, the “deeper meaning” of Ya’alon’s departure is “a change of elites” within Israeli politics, symbolised by Ya’alon’s replacement in the Knesset, Yehuda Glick. Glick, a notorious radical activist within the ‘Temple Mount’ movement, is “representative of this new, religious and messianic elite”.
The appointment of Ya’alon’s successor, meanwhile, has prompted concern in many quarters. Lieberman’s views are well-known: He has advocated a full takeover of the Gaza Strip, lives in a West Bank settlement near Bethlehem, and frequently questions the ‘loyalty’ of Palestinian citizens.
Yet, on the other hand, one could also expect Lieberman to take a different approach once ensconced in the defence ministry, compared to when he was in opposition. As Haaretz’ Barak Ravid asked, “Which Lieberman will enter the defence ministry?”
Ravid described Lieberman as “one of the most intelligent people in Israeli politics”, who will understand that “his conduct towards the chief of staff and [Israeli] army generals will be under a public and media magnifying glass”.
Daoud Kuttab, Palestinian journalist and former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, expects that there will be “a mini-honeymoon in the first months of Lieberman’s reign as defence minister to deflate the local and international opposition”.
Ultimately, however, Kuttab told Al Jazeera, “We are seeing a right-wing, hardline settler in a direct position to continue the oppression against Palestinians and [deny] them their inalienable rights.”
Rapoport agrees that no one should “underestimate the dangers” posed by Lieberman. “It could begin with small things, from reducing the number of work permits to closures of Palestinian areas – things that in and of themselves are not very dramatic, but which can significantly affect the atmosphere in the West Bank.”
On the diplomatic front, it is hard to see how Lieberman’s arrival in government will do anything to help revive an already comatose peace process.
One Palestine Liberation Organization official, for example, declared that what was “already an extremist government” will now “get even more extreme”, and “block any horizon for peace”.
Regionally, Rabbani pointed out, “There has been a serious initiative in the works to renew Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, led by Egypt and enjoying both Arab and international support, and according to various reports Palestinian Authority endorsement, as well.”
This initiative, however “in large part, hinged” on Netanyahu bringing the Zionist Camp into the coalition.
Now, with Lieberman in, Netanyahu has “embarrassed his regional and international allies, particularly Egypt’s Sisi”, who just last Tuesday expressed support for a renewal of peace efforts.
While observers assess prospects for change in Israeli policy, one man – Netanyahu – is driven by a determination to solidify a status quo – that of his own power. With a coalition that has grown from 61 to 67 seats in the Knesset, and a new budget recently approved, ‘King Bibi’ now looks set to be prime minister at least until the next scheduled election in 2019.
Germany sees rise in right-wing violence
The German government says political violence reached a new high in 2015 as the country saw a massive influx of migrants. German ministers have previously promised to crack down on hate crimes.
May 23, 2016
Violent, politically-motivated crime in Germany with a right-wing motive rose more than 40 percent last year, according to annual crime statistics released Monday. Authorities recorded 1,485 such crimes in 2015, up from 1,029 the previous year, reported The Associated Press.
Politically motivated crimes by members of hard-left and right groups rose almost 20 percent, the data revealed, with almost 40,000 criminal reports made.
Monday’s statistics revealed the highest figures since 2001, when the German government began publishing separate statistics about politically motivated crime.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the sharp rise was “threatening social development” in the country.
Offenses targeting homes for asylum seekers more than quadrupled to 923, with acts of violence against those homes increasing to 177 from 26 the previous year.
Twenty politically-motivated attempted homicides were committed, which included attacks on several refugee accommodation centers. Previously, Germany’s police chief has spoken of his fears of rising anti-refugee violence.
Crime up generally
Germany saw more than 1.1 million refugees claim asylum in 2015, more than any other European country. While many Germans have welcomed those fleeing war and persecution, there has been strong opposition from a vocal minority, and concerns over increasing anti-foreigner violence.
The data also revealed that 402,741 people foreigners failed to register with authorities last year, more than doubling from 156,396 the previous year.
The Interior Ministry said there was an even bigger increase in the broader category of “hate crimes,” which includes offenses that are of a racist or anti-Semitic nature or that target people because of their religion. They rose 77 percent to 10,373 from 5,858 the previous year.
Complaints of rape and sexual assault have fallen, along with the number of sexual offenses against children.
In total, more than 6.3 million crimes of all types were reported. Germany remains a comparatively safe country, but de Maiziere said there were alarming trends in crimes by foreigners and burglaries.
Beaten but not broken, Austria’s far-right will come back for more
The huge support for anti-immigrant, anti-EU candidate Norbert Hofer is part of the dangerous new political landscape in Europe
May 23, 2016
by Julia Ebner
Austria’s nerve-racking head-to-head race between the two most contrasting political figures it has ever seen has finally come to an end. Supporters of the independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen breathed a sigh of relief as his victory over far-right FPÖ (Freedom party) candidate Norbert Hofer was announced. These elections have clearly shown that “every vote counts”. The final results were entirely dependent on the 700,000 postal ballots that could only be counted today. As an Austrian national and a serial absentee voter based in the UK, I felt for the first time that my ballot paper might make a difference.
The fact that Van der Bellen won only by the slightest of margins over his far-right opponent suggests that he will not have an easy time representing Austria for the next six years. He will face the profound divisions that have emerged in a country where the middle ground seems to have vanished entirely during the past few months, leaving behind the most polarising election that we have ever seen.
Since the second world war, Austria’s political mandates had been strongly dominated by the country’s two mainstream parties: the social democrats of SPÖ and the Christian conservatives of ÖVP.
Despite rising frustration levels about the government’s failure to implement ample social reform packages promised since 2006, anti-establishment votes had been the exception rather than the norm before this election. A few years ago, professing support for the far-right party FPÖ would have raised eyebrows, it has now become socially acceptable. The party’s landslide victory in last month’s first round of voting gave public legitimacy to what many far-right voters had previously kept within their polling booths, and did not dare to bring up in dinner table discussions.
But how could almost half of my home country’s population give preference to a rightwing gun enthusiast who defends the xenophobic Pegida movement over a green economics professor who stands up for human rights? Hofer was a “nobody” until some months ago, and his CV, contains nothing noteworthy, and certainly does not provide sufficient explanation for his success.
The vote reflects deep societal changes as well as a desperate desire for change across all social classes and educational backgrounds. In recent years Austria has seen a toxic combination of rising grievances over ingrained corruptness and the idleness of elected politicians, as well as anxiety over the number of immigrants who have arrived recently, and their perceived links to Islamist extremism.
This has given rise to some quite comical, yet dangerous, political figures who have been competing for the most innovative propaganda tools: between dental technician HC Strache who has dabbled in rapping, billionaire Frank Stronach who created his own “Best of Frank” app and 82-year-old Richard Lugner who featured himself as a clown holding his 25-year-old younger Playboy-model wife on his campaigning posters.
Maybe we should have taken these warning signs more seriously. What not long ago was perceived as a political clown-show has now given rise to an entirely new, potentially dangerous political landscape that could have serious implications not only for Austria, but for Europe as a whole. The significance of the huge support for anti-immigrant and anti-Europe candidate Norbert Hofer goes far beyond the borders of my arguably irrelevant home country.
The European parliament president Martin Schulz warned in early May that Hofer’s victory would “change Europe’s character”. The Europe that my history books taught me about – one that had reinvented itself based on the values of human dignity, solidarity and equality – becomes ever more distant and unreal in the light of these election results. Even if we are safe from the far-right until the next elections, Hofer is already making plans to support far-right leader Heinz Christian Strache in the general elections scheduled for 2018. “The efforts in this elections are not lost but they are investments in the future,” he wrote in a recent Facebook status.
The Big Breakthrough
Americans are rejecting imperialism – on both sides of the political spectrum
May 23, 2016
by Jason Raimondo
As Bob Dylan put it, “the times they are a changing!” – and that is certainly the case when it comes to the debate over US foreign policy this election season. A recent article in the Boston Globe, summarizing the observations of a group of Brown University students who tracked the foreign policy discourse of the candidates, underscored what is happening on both sides of the partisan divide:
“As we watched, Republican voters rejected every candidate who favored their party’s traditional hardline foreign policies, including Lindsey Graham, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio…. Trump, the presumptive nominee, has broken with foreign policy dogma on a host of issues. He asserts that decades of foreign wars have not been good for the United States – hardly a traditional Republican view.”
The Democratic party, too, is experiencing what these youthful observers describe as a “foreign policy identity crisis”:
“Clinton, the likely nominee, is an activist by nature and supports escalation from Afghanistan to Syria to Ukraine. Her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, has condemned her ‘very aggressive policy of intervention’ and said he does not believe the United States should be ‘the world’s policeman.’ Yet though Sanders effectively pushed Clinton further left in terms of domestic policy, he was unsuccessful in changing her deeply held foreign policy views.”
The two parties are undergoing a process of “role reversal,” as these students put it, right before our eyes. Trump is now attacking “trigger happy Hillary,” while Mrs. Clinton is parrying these thrusts with accusations that “dangerous Donald” lacks the steadiness of an Establishment politician who sticks with the familiar script that casts America in the role of “the indispensable nation” destined to police the world.
With the fall of the Soviet Union and the evaporation of the international communist movement as a credible threat to US national security, American conservatives have been steadily moving – in fits and starts – back to their historic position of nonintervention in the affairs of other nations. Neoconservatism was an anomaly, a tangent occasioned by the alleged necessities of the cold war: its life was prolonged by the 9/11 attacks, but as the effect of that signal event wore off, and as the country exhausted itself in a futile (and losing) military campaign to make the Middle East into an Arabic version of Kansas, the rebellion against the neocons gathered strength and finally triumphed. No matter what the fate of Trump’s candidacy, and in spite of his other controversial views, he has succeeded in overthrowing the old GOP foreign policy orthodoxy and replacing it with what he calls a policy of “America First.”
And while this inward-looking nationalism has its problems and contradictions, the direction the Right seems to be moving is an unmistakable victory for anti-interventionists: the terms of the foreign policy discourse have been shifted in a fundamental way, and – much to the neocons’ chagrin – there is no going back.
On the left, too, the anti-interventionists are on the offensive. Although they have not succeeded in overthrowing the Establishment – thanks to a rigged primary system, Mrs. Clinton has all but clinched the nomination – Sanders has directly challenged Clintonian interventionism and he is taking his fight all the way to the Democratic party national convention. Sanders’ critique of the bipartisan foreign policy “consensus” springs from the same roots as Trump’s: correctly perceiving an economic and even a spiritual crisis on the home front, Bernie wants America to come home and concentrate on solving our domestic problems – which threaten to overwhelm us even as we go marching off to “liberate” the world.
This turmoil is cause for optimism – and, indeed, in researching this column, I took at look back at one of my old columns, “The Case for Optimism,” in the course of which I wrote the following:
“To be sure, the military-industrial complex gets rich off our wars, but the fact is that their rising stock values are making the rest of us poorer – and, increasingly, the American people (and people all over the world, for that matter) are well aware of it. Which brings us to the third major factor limiting the War Party’s future prospects: technological advances that make the acquisition of knowledge much easier.
“It used to be that we had to rely on government officials and their journalistic camarilla for information about America’s far-flung military interventions: back in 1914, for example, very few Americans could place Sarajevo on a map, and even fewer knew of the complex political and social factors that led to the fateful assassination of an Austrian archduke in that city, an event that eventually dragged us into the Great War. It was easy to fool the people into believing a conflict that would destroy European civilization at its zenith was really a war to ‘make the world safe for democracy.’
“Today the job of the war propagandist is much harder, and the reason is the Internet. While most Americans still probably couldn’t place Sarajevo on a map, they could easily choose to do so with a few keystrokes – and therein lies the big problem faced by warmongers these days.”
The case for optimism has never been stronger. The War Party is beleaguered, besieged, and beside itself with panic because the American people are finally waking up. A lot of this is due to the Internet – and the existence of Antiwar.com has played a part in all this.
For twenty years we’ve been debunking the lies of the War Party and building up a slow but steady momentum on behalf of a real movement to change American foreign policy. And now the big breakthrough is coming, with a real mass rebellion against the bipartisan “consensus” that insists America’s proper role is to police the world. With our country facing a growing internal crisis, and the foreign wars we’re engaged in turning into disasters on every front, the American people are rising up and demanding an end to the Empire.
The part Antiwar.com plays in all this is key – because the voters don’t necessarily have the facts on hand. Ordinary folks don’t have the time or the inclination to research what’s really going on in Syria, or what the facts are about who’s paying the lion’s share for NATO. They have jobs, families, lawns to mow and kids to take to soccer practice – they don’t have time to become foreign policy experts!
So when some bought-and-paid for “expert” is cited in the media as being absolutely certain that some tinpot despot has “weapons of mass destruction,” or that Vladimir Putin is definitely plotting to march on Paris tomorrow, they may be skeptical of the need for Uncle Sam to intervene – but they don’t know enough to contest “expert” opinion. This is how the Beltway crowd pulls the wool over people’s eyes every time.
New poll shows Trump beating Clinton in general election
May 22, 2016
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been given a boost by a new poll showing the presumptive Republican nominee winning November’s general election against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
An ABC News/ Washington Post poll published on Sunday shows Trump with a two percent advantage over Clinton with registered voters in a hypothetical general election matchup.
According to Langer Research, Trump’s “enhanced competitiveness reflects consolidation in his support since his primary opponents dropped out.”
This is a big turn of events for Clinton, who was found to be nine percent ahead of Trump in March’s poll. A CNN poll conducted at the beginning of May gave the former Secretary of State an even greater lead of thirteen percent.
While positive news for the Trump campaign, it is tarnished by the fact that such a slim advantage falls within the 3.5 point margin of error.
However, this is now the fifth poll since the end of the April to put the billionaire ahead of, or tied with, Clinton.
The findings are also echoed in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll published on Sunday which shows that Clinton’s 11 percent lead over Trump has narrowed to a mere 3 percent, 46 to 43.
This is in stark contrast to a potential battle between Bernie Sanders and Trump, which found the former with a 15 point margin, 54-39 percent.
The ABC/Washington Post poll also shows that 58 percent of Americans think Trump is “unqualified to be president,” while 76 percent believe he “doesn’t show enough respect for those he disagrees with.”
While Clinton supporters may find some solace in this, it won’t come as welcome news that the presumptive Democratic nominee has something in common with her Republican archrival. When Clinton’s “unfavorable” rating is combined with Trump’s, the two, together, are the most unpopular likely candidates for a presidential election since the ABC/Post election polls began. Hillary is disliked by 53 percent of Americans, while 60 percent disapprove of The Donald.
On the other hand, Bernie Sanders was found to be “unfavorable” by only 38 percent.
However, when respondents were asked who they expect to win, regardless of whom they support, Clinton has a ten percent advantage over Trump – 50 to 40.
One aspect of the findings that may leave Democrats particularly worried is that Trump has a 13 percent advantage over Clinton among independents.
This is a reversal from the March findings, which showed Clinton leading by 9 among the grouping.
In a tight race, independents could decide who is elected as 45th president of the US in November, and if Trump can hold onto this lead, the Republicans may just take back the Oval Office.
The ABC News/Washington Post poll was based on a sample of 1,005 people from across the country, including 829 registered voters, all of whom were surveyed between May 16 and 19.
The WSJ/NBC News poll was conducted between May 15 and 19 with a sample of 1,000 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
EgyptAir Was Aware of Threats to Security, Including One Scribbled on Plane
May 21, 2016
by Declan Walsh, Nour Youssef and Kareem Fahimay
New York Times
CAIRO — In an eerie coincidence, the EgyptAir jetliner that plunged into the Mediterranean on Thursday was once the target of political vandals who wrote in Arabic on its underside, “We will bring this plane down.”
Three EgyptAir security officials said the threatening graffiti, which appeared about two years ago, had been the work of aviation workers at Cairo Airport. Playing on the phonetic similarity between the last two letters in the plane’s registration, SU-GCC, and the surname of Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, some workers also wrote “traitor” and “murderer.”
The officials, who were interviewed separately and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the airline’s security procedures because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said the graffiti had been linked to the domestic Egyptian political situation at the time rather than to a militant threat. Similar graffiti against Mr. Sisi, a former general, was scrawled across Cairo after the military ousted the elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013.
Since then, the airline has put into effect a variety of new security measures in response to Egypt’s political turmoil, jihadist violence and other aviation disasters like the crash of a Russian plane that killed 224 people in October. EgyptAir has fired employees for their political leanings, stepped up crew searches and added extra unarmed in-flight security guards. Three such guards died in Thursday’s crash of Flight 804.
Whether those moves were sufficient remained an open question on Saturday as experts pored over data emitted by the plane in its final minutes for clues as to what had brought it down. The French air accident investigation authority confirmed that the data showed that several smoke alarms had been activated while the plane plunged toward the sea.
But they cautioned that the signals, sent by a monitoring system on board the Airbus A320 jetliner, did not offer enough information to conclude what had caused the crash.
“These are not messages that enable us to interpret anything,” said Sébastien Barthe, a spokesman for France’s Bureau of Investigations and Analysis. “If there is smoke, it means that there is potentially a fire somewhere, but it doesn’t tell us where the fire is, and it doesn’t help us establish whether it is something malevolent or something technical.”
In an audio message released Saturday, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the official spokesman of the Islamic State and the head of a unit dedicated to external attacks, denounced the American-led military campaign against the group but did not mention the EgyptAir crash.
EgyptAir’s security procedures last came under scrutiny in March when a passenger on a domestic flight pretended to be wearing an explosive vest and forced the plane to land in Cyprus. The crisis was resolved within hours when the man, later determined to be psychologically troubled, surrendered. The Egyptian authorities were quick to post surveillance videos that they said showed he had been searched before boarding the flight.
Among the 66 people on Thursday’s flight from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris were three EgyptAir in-flight security personnel — one more than the normal team of two for reasons that were not entirely clear.
EgyptAir security guards differ in several respects from the undercover air marshals who travel on American airlines. The Egyptian guards are unarmed and wear an understated uniform consisting of a dark blazer and a white shirt. When called on, they help crew members deal with unruly passengers. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds and earn a moderate wage of about $400 a month.
Normally, one security officer sits in the first economy row, behind business class, and the other is at the rear of the aircraft, two members of an EgyptAir crew said. During stopovers at foreign airports, the security officers are usually responsible for searching the workers who clean the plane and checking the credentials of all crew members or employees who board. They do not monitor the baggage handlers who load the plane’s hold.
Security officials said those procedures would have applied to the EgyptAir plane during short layovers it made at two African airports — in Tunis and the Eritrean capital, Asmara — in the days before the crash. But the procedure is different in Paris because European airports do not permit EgyptAir security officials to search local cleaning workers, a source of disgruntlement among Egyptian officials who feel they are being discriminated against.
Colleagues described the security guards who died in Thursday’s crash — Walid Ouda, Mohammed Farag and Mahmoud el Sayed — as professionals who had exhibited no signs of unusual behavior. They described Mr. Farag as a lighthearted man who was often teased by friends for not having married, while Mr. Ouda cut a more taciturn figure and was polite to a fault.
Friends and relatives also presented a uniformly untroubled picture of the pilot, Capt. Mohamed Shoukair, 36, and his co-pilot, Mohamed Mamdouh Assem, 24. An EgyptAir pilot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media, said he had worked with both and described them as professional aviators who had not exhibited any mental or social problems. At 24 years old, Mr. Assem was the average age of many co-pilots at the airline, he said.
EgyptAir crew members have been subjected to much stricter security measures since the crash of the Russian jetliner in October, said the pilot, who described the procedures before that crash as lax. The new procedures include personal searches that have prevented crew members from smuggling cigarettes or currency, he said.
The graffiti about Mr. Sisi occurred several times for about two years after Mr. Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, was removed as president in July 2013. At the time, it was taken as a sign of the country’s bitter political divide rather than a directed threat against the plane.
Nonetheless, over that period, EgyptAir fired a number of employees, mostly members of the ground staff, who were presumed to be sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood, security officials said. Similar purges took place in other companies in Egypt at the time.
More recently, fears of terrorism have tightened security at regional airports, including Tunis, where the Airbus A320 had traveled just before its trip to Paris, the pilot said. Foreign flight crews face new restrictions on their movement and are now prevented, for example, from leaving the plane to buy items in the duty-free shop, he said.
EgyptAir flights headed to Europe also face added scrutiny under a European Union program known as SAFA, or Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft, which allows for spot inspections of airplanes at European airports and penalties for violations.
Although Egyptian society has been divided in the turmoil that followed the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, there has been a tangible sense of national solidarity since Thursday’s crash. Images of grieving relatives have dominated news coverage. As the official crash investigation starts, many Egyptians have reacted furiously to any suggestion that the airline crew bore any responsibility.
Ezzat Shoukair, a cousin of the captain, said he was distressed by some of the coverage.
“Don’t listen to the lies people have been saying since the crash,” he said, starting to weep as he spoke. “We just want to know where his body is. Otherwise, where will those who miss him go when they want to visit him?”
US Supreme Court overturns black man’s death sentence over jury-rigging
Judges have ruled in favor of a black Georgian man who was on death row for murdering an elderly white woman in 1986. Prosecutors had excluded black members from the jury during his trial nearly three decades ago.
May 23, 2016
The Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to 48-year-old Timothy Tyrone Foster, who was convicted of killing a 79-year-old retired school teacher, Queen White, in 1986.
Prosecutors could appeal against the verdict.
Judges, in a 7-1 ruling, reached the conclusion that the state lawyers “were motivated in substantial part by race,” leading to the exclusion of black members from the jury. Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative and the only black member in the court, voted against Monday’s decision.
Speaking in Washington, Chief Justice John Roberts said evidence from the trial “plainly belie the state’s claim that it exercised its strikes [the removal of a potential juror] in a ‘color blind’ manner.”
Foster was 18 years old when he broke into the house of the elderly Queen White. He broke her jaw, sexually molested and strangled her, before robbing her house.
During Foster’s trial nearly 30 years ago, state lawyers refused to include four black members as part of the jury. Only white jurors were selected for the panel, which ultimately sentenced Foster to death.
Foster’s lawyers did try arguing against the jury selection at the time, but managed to get access to the prosecution’s notes only in 2006. The documents revealed a strong bias against black people in the jury pool. Despite the proof, courts in Georgia consistently rejected Foster’s claims of discrimination.
A US law passed in 1986 makes it illegal to take race into account while selecting jurors for a trial.
The Tarnished God
by Harry von Johnston, PhD
The personality of Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill could very well be a subject of interest to an alienist who, by definition, is a physician who treats mental disorders. There is a saying that the world is governed with very little sense and there are times when one could add to this statement that it often has been governed by lunatics.
Churchill was born in 1874 and died in 1965. His father was Randolph Spencer-Churchill, a son of the Duke of Marlborough. The first Duke was John Churchill, one of England’s most capable military commanders, who died without male issue in 1722 and the title was given to one of his nephews, a Spencer. As a courtesy, the Spencer family was allowed to add Churchill to its name, separated by a hyphen. Winston always wanted to believe that he was a gifted military leader in the mold of the first Duke but his efforts at generalship were always unqualified disasters that he generally blamed on other people. This chronic refusal to accept responsibility for his own incompetent actions is one of Churchill’s less endearing qualities.
Randolph Churchill died early as the result of rampant syphilis that turned him from an interesting minor politician to a pathetic madman who had to be kept away from the public, in the final years of his life. His mother was the former Jennie Jerome, an American. The Jerome family had seen better days when Jennie met Randolph. Her father, Leonard, was a stock-market manipulator who had lost his money and the marriage was more one of convenience than of affection.
The Jeromes were by background very typically American. On her father’s side, Jennie was mostly Irish and on her mother’s American Indian and Jewish. The union produced two children, Winston and Jack. The parents lived separate lives, both seeking the company of other men. Winston’s psyche suffered accordingly and throughout his life, his frantic desire for attention obviously had its roots in his abandonment as a child.
As a member of the 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars, in 1896 Churchill became embroiled in a lawsuit wherein he was publicly accused of having engaged in the commission of “acts of gross immorality of the Oscar Wilde type.” This case was duly settled out of court for a payment of money and the charges were withdrawn. Also a determinant factor was the interference by the Prince of Wales with whom his mother was having an affair.
In 1905, Churchill hired a young man, Edward Marsh (later Sir Edward) as his private secretary. His mother, always concerned about her son’s political career, was concerned because Marsh was a very well known homosexual who later became one of Winston’s most intimate lifelong friends. Personal correspondence of March, now in private hands, attests to the nature and duration of their friendship.
Churchill, as Asquith once said, was consumed with vanity and his belief that he was a brilliant military leader led him from the terrible disaster of Gallipoli through the campaigns of the Second World War. He meddled constantly in military matters to the despair and eventual fury of his professional military advisors but his political excursions were even more disastrous. Churchill was a man who was incapable of love but could certainly hate. He was viciously vindictive towards anyone who thwarted him and a number of these perceived enemies died sudden deaths during the war when such activities were much easier to order and conceal.
One of Churchill’s less attractive personality traits, aside from his refusal to accept the responsibility for the failure of his actions, was his ability to change his opinions at a moment’s notice.
Once anti-American, he did a complete about-face when confronted with a war he escalated and could not fight, and from a supporter of Hitler’s rebuilding of Germany, he turned into a bitter enemy after a Jewish political action association composed of wealthy businessmen hired him to be their spokesman.
Churchill lavishly praised Roosevelt to his face and defamed him with the ugliest of accusations behind his back. The American President was a far more astute politician than Churchill and certainly far saner.
In order to support his war of vengeance, Churchill had to buy weapons from the United States and Roosevelt stripped England of all of her assets to pay for these. Only when England was bankrupt did Roosevelt consent to the Lend-Lease project, and in a moment of malicious humor, titled the bill “1776” when it was sent to Congress.
Hitler’s bombing of England was not a prelude to invasion, but a retaliation for Churchill’s instigation of the bombing of German cities and Churchill used the threat of a German invasion to whip up pro-British feelings in the United States. Threats of invasion by the Germans, in this case of the United States, have been cited by such writers as Weinberg as the reason why Roosevelt had to get into the war. Neither the Germans nor the Japanese had even the slightest intention to invade the continental United States and exhaustive research in the military and political archives of both countries has been unable to locate a shred of evidence to support these theories.