The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. April 15, 2017; “Diplomacy is the art of negotiating and force its antithesis. America had never practiced the former and always resorted to the latter. This is clearly evident in the overreaction to an alleged Syrian gas attack in one quarter of the globe and a hysterical nuclear threat by the North Koreans in another. Instead of investigation and negotiation, the American answer is a show of violent force. While this might, in the short run, prove to be a success, it will prove to be a disaster in the long. Advocating a diplomatic solution to a problem is not acceptable to an American government that has always ruled, or attempted to rule, by military and economic force. But the advocates of such a system ought to realize that a force is one direction always results in an equal force in the other.”
Table of Contents
- China fears North Korea-US conflict ‘at any moment’
- North Korea displays apparently new missiles as U.S. carrier group approaches
- There Is No Military Solution To The North Korea Conundrum
- The Syria ‘Chemical Attack’: Cui Bono?
- ‘Top secret CIA virus control system’: WikiLeaks releases ‘Hive’ from #Vault7 series
- For Trump, a Steep Learning Curve Leads to Policy Reversals
- Leaked NSA Malware Threatens Windows Users Around the World
- Saudi banks, bin Laden companies face $4.2 billion U.S. lawsuit by 9/11 insurers
- What Does an “America-First” Foreign Policy Actually Mean?
- Hitler’s reported death
- The actual existence of Jesus
China fears North Korea-US conflict ‘at any moment’
April 14, 2017
China has warned that “conflict could break out at any moment” as tension over North Korea increases.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said if war occurred there could be no winner.
Mr Wang’s comments come as the US voices increasing concern at North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and deploys a Navy carrier group off the Korean peninsula.
China, North Korea’s only backer, fears conflict could cause the regime to collapse and problems on its border.
Mr Wang said: “One has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment.
“I think that all relevant parties should be highly vigilant with regards to this situation.”
“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage.”
Adding to Chinese unease, President Donald Trump said on Thursday that “the problem of North Korea” would be “taken care of”.
“If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”
The North Korean military responded on Friday by saying it would “mercilessly foil” any US provocation.
“Our toughest counteraction against the U.S. and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive,” read a statement from the army, reported in English by North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA.
The US president has recently demonstrated his willingness to resort to military methods. He ordered a cruise missile attack on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack, and the US military just used a huge bomb against so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan.
Washington is concerned North Korea might develop the ability to launch a nuclear weapon at the US.
Mr Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping have been in contact by phone since their summit last week in Florida, and Reuters quotes US officials as saying tougher economic sanctions against North Korea are also being considered.
China is concerned any conflict could lead to a huge refugee problem on its border with North Korea. It also fears the collapse of the North Korean regime, which would remove a buffer between China and a country with US military bases, and has thus long been wary of pushing Pyongyang too hard.
But, in a sign of growing frustration with its neighbour, it recently blocked coal imports from the North. And Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reports that the government will suspend direct Air China flights between Beijing and Pyongyang from Monday 17 April.
There is also intense speculation that North Korea could carry out a sixth nuclear bomb test or another missile launch – possibly a long-range missile – on Saturday.
Saturday marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of its first leader, Kim Il-sung.
In an interview with the Associated Press, North Korea’s Deputy Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol accused the Trump administration of “becoming more vicious and more aggressive” in its policy towards the North.
An institute linked to the North Korean foreign ministry also warned that “thermo-nuclear war may break out any moment”.
North Korea displays apparently new missiles as U.S. carrier group approaches
April 15, 2017
by Sue-Lin Wong and James Pearson
PYONGYANG/SEOUL-North Korea displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles on the 105th birth anniversary of its founding father, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday, as a nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier group steamed towards the region.
Missiles appeared to be the main theme of a giant military parade, with Kim’s grandson, leader Kim Jong Un, taking time to greet the commander of the Strategic Forces, the branch that oversees the missile arsenal.
A U.S. Navy attack on a Syrian airfield this month with Tomahawk missiles raised questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for reclusive North Korea, which has conducted several missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions, regularly threatening to destroy the United States.
Kim Jong Un, looking relaxed in a dark suit and laughing with aides, oversaw the festivities on the “Day of the Sun” at Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung Square.
Goose-stepping soldiers and marching bands filled the square, next to the Taedonggang River that flows through Pyongyang, in the hazy spring sunshine, followed by tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and other weapons.
Single-engine propeller-powered planes flew in a 105 formation overhead.
Unlike at some previous parades attended by Kim, there did not appear to be a senior Chinese official in attendance. China is North Korea’s lone major ally but has spoken out against its missile and nuclear tests and has supported U.N. sanctions. China on Friday again called for talks to defuse the crisis.
Weapons analysts said they believed some of the missiles on display were new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
The North has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike the mainland United States but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering all the necessary technology.
North Korea showed two new kinds of ICBM enclosed in canister launchers mounted on the back of trucks, suggesting Pyongyang was working towards a “new concept” of ICBM, said Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the U.S.-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California.
There Is No Military Solution To The North Korea Conundrum
April 14, 2017
by Justin Raimondo
The Daily Caller
With North Korea launching ballistic missile tests with disturbing regularity, and US officials openly talking about the possibility of a preemptive strike against the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear facilities, the question of war on the Korean peninsula is now “on the table,” as the national security wonks like to say.
It should be taken off the table, pronto.
The reason is simple: a military confrontation with North Korean despot Kim Jong-un has a 100% chance of ending in a nuclear conflagration. As retired Col. David Hunt, who served in Korea on the DMZ, told Eric Bolling on Thursday, every war game simulating a war with North Korea has ended in a nuclear conflict. For fifty years, the North Koreans have been preparing for a resumption of hostilities in a war that never formally ended. Positioned in the heights just above the demilitarized zone is a massive array of North Korean artillery pointed at Seoul, the South Korean capital, a city with 3 million inhabitants. Within six minutes, that tremendous firepower would be unleashed, and the casualties would be massive.
Of course the South Koreans are fully aware of this, which is why they would never consent to a US military strike. This is the one factor our talking heads — who blithely debate this “option” as if it were just another foreign policy issue — always leave out. They can’ imagine that the South Koreans might object to the obliteration of their country – or even that they might have a say in the matter.
The reason for the supposedly irrational behavior of the North Koreans isn’t hard to understand. Every year we conduct joint military exercises a few miles from the North Korean border, and this year they simulated a full-scale military assault. Our nuclear-capable B-1B bombers and F-22 stealth fighter jets – the world’s most lethal military aircraft — flew alongside South Korean fighters in a “mock” air raid on North Korean positions. The USS Vinson, an aircraft carrier, the USS Columbus, a nuclear submarine capable of landing special forces and hitting offshore targets, were deployed off the North Korean coast. Twenty-thousand US military personnel joined with over 300,000 South Korean troops to enact a dress rehearsal for a war Pyongyang has been preparing for since the last one ended in a truce.
Now the US is openly talking about ending that truce, with President Trump tweeting that if the Chinese don’t do something about Kim Jon-un the United States will act.
Trump thinks he can get the Chinese to rein in Pyongyang – after all, aren’t they allies? Well, no, they aren’t. The last time Beijing had any influence in Pyongyang was in 1956, when the pro-Beijing faction within the ruling Korean Workers Party acted in concert with a pro-Soviet faction to remove supreme leader Kim Il Sung from power at a meeting of the Central Committee. The attempt failed, and the dissidents were purged and later executed. The latest manifestation of a pro-Beijing faction within the leadership was centered around Kim Jong-un’s late uncle, Jang Song-thaek, Pyongyang’s liaison with Beijing via “free trade zones” set up in coordination with the Chinese. He was charged with treason and recently executed, shot to death with an anti-aircraft gun: his family was also killed.
There is no military solution to the problem of North Korea. Nor is leaving it to the Chinese going to work. There’s just one way to avoid war on the Korean peninsula, and that is by encouraging the process of North-South reconciliation that was begun some 16 years ago with the “Sunshine Policy.” That’s when South Korea’s then President Kim Dae-jung opened up talks with the North, and, in spite of US opposition, his successor traveled to the North, and met with Kim Jong-il: thousands of South Koreans followed suit, crossing over to visit long-lost relatives. Trade increased, but the thaw didn’t last long. Nixed by the Bush administration, and the coming to power in South Korea of right-winger Lee Myung Bak, the sunset of the “Sunshine Policy” was ensured.
Recent political developments in South Korea hold out some hope. The impeachment of President Park Geung-hye, daughter of cold war military dictator Park Chung-hee, means that the liberal opposition will very likely come to power. The leading candidate, Moon Jae-in of the Democratic party, opposes a preemptive strike and has said “The safety of South Korea is as important as that of the United States”: he’d reopen negotiations with Pyongyang.
The Korean people are intensely nationalistic: they resent any sort of foreign interference in their affairs, which is why meddling by Beijing and Washington is widely resented. There is a way out of the Korean conundrum – if only the US will get out of the way.
The Syria ‘Chemical Attack’: Cui Bono?
April 15, 2017
by Uri Avnery
Cui bono – “who benefits” – is the first question an experienced detective asks when investigating a crime.
Since I was a detective myself for a short time in my youth, I know the meaning. Often, the first and obvious suspicion is false. You ask yourself “cui bono”, and another suspect, who you did not think about, appears.
For two weeks now, this question has been troubling my mind. It does not leave me.
In Syria, a terrible war crime has been committed. The civilian population in a rebel-held town called Idlib was hit with poison gas. Dozens of civilians, including children, died a miserable death.
Who could do such a thing? The answer was obvious: that terrible dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Who else?
And so, within a few minutes (literally) the New York Times and a host of excellent newspapers throughout the West proclaimed without hesitation: Assad did it!
No need for proof. No investigation. It was just self-evident. Of course Assad. Within minutes, everybody knew it.
A storm of indignation swept the Western world. He must be punished! Poor Donald Trump, who does not have a clue, submitted to pressure and ordered a senseless missile strike on a Syrian airfield, after preaching for years that the US must under no circumstances get involved in Syria. Suddenly he reversed himself. Just to teach that bastard a lesson. And to show the world what a he-he-he-man he, Trump, really is.
The operation was an immense success. Overnight, the despised Trump became a national hero. Even liberals kissed his feet.
But throughout, that question continued to nag my mind. Why did Assad do it? What did he have to gain?
The simple answer is: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
(“Assad” means “lion” in Arabic. Contrary to what Western experts and statesmen seem to believe, the emphasis is on the first syllable.)
With the help of Russia, Iran and Hizbullah, Assad is slowly winning the civil war that has been ravishing Syria for years, He already holds almost all the major cities that constitute the core of Syria. He has enough weapons to kill as many enemy civilians as his heart desires.
So why, for Allah’s sake, should he use gas to kill a few dozen more? Why arouse the anger of the entire world, inviting American intervention?
There is no way to deny the conclusion: Assad had the least to gain from the dastardly deed. On the list of “cui bono”, he is the very last.
Assad is a cynical dictator, perhaps cruel, but he is far from being a fool. He was raised by his father, Hafez al-Assad, who was a longtime dictator before him. Even if he were a fool, his advisors include some of the cleverest people on earth: Vladimir Putin of Russia, Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Hassan Nasrallah of Hizbullah.
So who had something to gain? Well, half a dozen Syrian sects and militias who are fighting against Assad and against each other in the crazy civil war. Also their Sunni Arab allies, the Saudi and other Gulf Sheikhs. And Israel, of course. They all have an interest in arousing the civilized world against the Syrian dictator.
A military act must have a political aim. As Carl von Clausewitz famously said 200 years ago: war is the continuation of politics by other means.
The two main opponents in the Syrian civil war are the Assad regime and Daesh. So what is the aim of the US? It sounds like a joke: The US wants to destroy both sides. Another joke: First it wants to destroy Daesh, therefore it bombs Assad.
The destruction of Daesh is highly desirable. There are few more detestable groups in the world. But Daesh is an idea, rather than just an organization. The destruction of the Daesh state would disperse thousands of dedicated assassins all over the world.
(Interestingly enough, the original Assassins, some 900 years ago, were Muslim fanatics very similar to Daesh now.)
America’s own clients in Syria are a sorry lot, almost beaten. They have no chance of winning.
Hurting Assad now just means prolonging a civil war which is now even more senseless than before.
For me, a professional journalist most of my life, the most depressing aspect of this whole chapter is the influence of the American and Western media in general.
I read the New York Times and admire it. Yet it shredded all its professional standards by publishing an unproven assumption as gospel truth, with no need for verification. Perhaps Assad is to blame, after all. But where is the proof? Who investigated, and what were the results?
Worse, the “news” immediately became a worldwide truth. Many millions repeat it unthinkingly as self-evident, like sunrise in the east and sunset in the west.
No questions raised. No proof demanded or provided. Very depressing.
Back to the dictator. Why does Syria need a dictator? Why isn’t it a beautiful US-style democracy? Why doesn’t it gratefully accept US-devised “regime-change”?
The Syrian dictatorship is no accidental phenomenon. It has very concrete roots.
Syria was created by France after World War I. A part of it later split off and became Lebanon.
Both are artificial creations. I doubt whether there are even today real “Syrians” and real “Lebanese”.
Lebanon is a mountainous country, ideally suited for small sects which need to defend themselves. Over the centuries, many small sects found refuge there. As a result, Lebanon is full of such sects, which distrust each other – Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, Maronite Christians, many other Christian sects, Druze, Kurds.
Syria is much the same, with most of the same sects, and the addition of the Alawites. These, like the Shiites, are the followers of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, cousin and son-in-law of the prophet (hence the name). They occupy a patch of land in the North of Syria.
Both countries needed to invent a system that allowed such diverse and mutually-suspicious entities to live together. They found two different systems.
In Lebanon, with a past of many brutal civil wars, they invented a way of sharing. The President is always a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni, the commander of the army a Druze, and the Speaker of Parliament a Shiite.
When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the Shiites in the south were the lowest on the ladder. They welcomed our soldiers with rice. But soon they realized that the Israelis had not come just to defeat their overbearing neighbors, but intended to stay. So the lowly Shiites started a very successful guerrilla campaign, in the course of which they became the most powerful community in Lebanon. They are led by Hizbullah, the Party of Allah. But the system still holds.
The Syrians found another solution. They willingly submitted to a dictatorship, to hold the country together and assure internal peace.
The Bible tells us that when the Children of Israel decided that they needed a king, they chose a man called Saul who belonged to the smallest tribe, Binyamin. The modern Syrians did much the same: they submitted to a dictator from one of their smallest tribes: the Alawites.
The Assads are secular, anti-religious rulers – the very opposite of the fanatical, murderous Daesh. Many Muslims believe that the Alawites are not Muslims at all. Since Syria lost the Yom Kippur war against Israel, 44 years ago, the Assads have kept the peace on our border, though Israel has annexed the Syrian Golan Heights.
The civil war in Syria is still going on. Everybody is fighting against everybody. The diverse groups of “rebels”, created, financed and armed by the US, are now in a bad shape. There are several competing groups of Jihadists, who all hate the Jihadist Daesh. There is a Kurdish enclave, which wants to secede. The Kurds are not Arabs, but are mainly Muslims. There are Kurdish enclaves in neighboring Turkey, Iraq and Iran, whose mutual hostility prevents them making common cause.
And there is poor, innocent Donald Trump, who has sworn not to get involved in all this mess, and who is doing just that.
A day before, Trump was despised by half the American people, including most of the media. Just by launching a few missiles, he has won general admiration as a forceful and wise leader.
What does that say about the American people, and about humanity in general?
‘Top secret CIA virus control system’: WikiLeaks releases ‘Hive’ from #Vault7 series
April 14, 2017
Hive, the latest batch of WikiLeaks documents exposing alleged CIA hacking techniques from ‘Vault 7’, details how the agency can monitor its targets through the use of malware and carry out specific tasks on targeted machines.
A 2015 User Guide reveals the initial release of Hive came in 2010, and describes the software implant as having two primary functions – a beacon and interactive shell. Both are designed to provide an initial foothold to deploy other “full featured tools.”
The implants communicate via HTTPS with the webserver of a cover domain. Each cover domain is connected to an IP address at a commercial Virtual Private Server (VPS) provider. This forwards all incoming traffic to what’s called a ‘Blot’ server.
The redirected traffic is examined to see if it contains a valid beacon. If it does, it’s sent to a tool handler, known as Honeycomb, where the CIA can initiate other actions on the target computer.
The user guide details the commands that are available, including uploading and deleting files and executing applications on the computer.
To hide the presence of such malware, WikiLeaks notes that the public HTTPS interface (a protocol for secure communication over a computer network within an encrypted connection) “utilizes unsuspicious-looking cover domains,” meaning those targeted would be unaware of the CIA’s interference.
A ‘self-delete’ function is described in documentation accompanying Hive, revealing that the implant destroys itself if it’s not signalled for a predetermined amount of time. Binary information regarding Hive is deleted from the host, leaving a log and configuration file containing only a timestamp.
The self-delete was known to cause issues for the developers after running into complications caused by disparities in system clocks.
WikiLeaks says anti-virus companies and forensic experts have noticed “possible state-actor” malware using similar back-end infrastructure, but were unable to connect the back-end to CIA operations.
The Hive documents released Friday may allow experts to examine this kind of communication between malware implants and backend servers, WikiLeaks says.
The CIA’s Hive project was created by its Embedded Development Branch (EDB). This branch was also responsible for projects detailed in WikiLeaks’ ‘Dark Matter’ leak, revealing the CIA’s attacks on Apple firmware.
For Trump, a Steep Learning Curve Leads to Policy Reversals
April 13, 2017
by Peter Baker
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — For President Trump, the road to changing his mind on China included a discussion with corporate executives in the State Dining Room of the White House in February. When the conversation turned to China’s currency, the executives had a simple message for the president: You’re wrong.
Mr. Trump had long insisted that China was devaluing its currency and should be punished, but the executives pushed back and told him Beijing had actually stopped. And while Mr. Trump at first resisted — as late as this month calling the Chinese “world champions” of currency manipulation — after many talks like the one in February he reversed himself, declaring this week that “they’re not currency manipulators” after all.
For any new occupant of the White House, the early months are like a graduate seminar in policy crammed into every half-hour meeting. What made sense on the campaign trail may have little bearing on reality in the Oval Office, and the education of a president can be rocky even for former governors or senators. For Mr. Trump, the first president in American history never to have served in government or the military, the learning curve is especially steep.
The past week has made that abundantly clear. He discovered that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia may not be the “best friend” he imagined and that staying out of the civil war in Syria was harder than he assumed. He acknowledged that 10 minutes of listening to China’s president made him realize he did not fully understand the complexity of North Korea. He dropped his opposition to the Export-Import Bank after learning more about it. And he said he no longer thought NATO was “obsolete.”
To be sure, Mr. Trump remains a historically unpredictable president, given to impulse, still tilting at the Washington establishment and supporting ideological measures popular with his conservative base, including legislation he signed on Thursday targeting Planned Parenthood. Even as establishment figures seek to influence him, he has not given up on his most polarizing priorities, and few can forecast where he will take his presidency. Mr. Trump is still Mr. Trump, and he believes he got to the White House by following instinct.
But he arrived at the White House surrounded by advisers who, like him, were neophytes to governing. His White House chief of staff, chief strategist, senior adviser, counselor and national economics adviser have no prior government experience of consequence. Nor do his secretaries of state, Treasury, commerce, housing or education.
At first, Mr. Trump dismissed the importance of receiving his intelligence briefing every day, arguing that he did not learn much. He figured it would be easy to ban visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries and build a border wall while forcing Mexico to pay for it. He had never heard of the congressional procedures that forced him to push for health care changes before overhauling the tax code.
But as seasoned hands got access to him, he retreated from some of his provocative promises. He delayed his vow to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem after King Abdullah II of Jordan rushed to Washington to warn him of a violent backlash among Arabs. He abandoned his intention to bring back torture in terrorism interrogations after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told him it was ineffective.
He has not appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, ripped up or renegotiated the nuclear agreement with Iran, reversed Mr. Obama’s Cuba policy or terminated his predecessor’s program permitting younger unauthorized immigrants to stay.
So much of this is new to Mr. Trump that only after he publicly accused Mr. Obama of having wiretapped his telephones last year did he ask aides how the system of obtaining eavesdropping warrants from a special foreign intelligence court worked.
The Export-Import Bank, which helps finance purchases of American exports, is a telling example. During the campaign, Mr. Trump sided with conservatives who wanted to eliminate it because the government should not finance large corporations and effectively pick winners and losers in a free-market economy. But on Wednesday, Mr. Trump embraced the bank.
“I was very much opposed to Ex-Im Bank because I said what do we need that for IBM and General Electric,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “It turns out that, first of all, lots of small companies will really be helped, the vendor companies. But also maybe more importantly, other countries give” such aid, and so “we lose a tremendous amount of business.”
Just weeks ago, in the midst of failed efforts to scrap President
Barack Obama’s health care program, he acknowledged that the issue was more involved than the repeal-and-replace mantra of a campaign rally. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” he said with amazement. Nobody except anyone who had spent any time in Washington policy making. But for Mr. Trump, never much of a policy wonk, it was an eye opener.
“As he governs, he is realizing that the campaign talk doesn’t fit neatly into governing and he needs a different approach, one that gets results,” said Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and a friend of the president’s. “So he will discard things and people that don’t work out, and those that do work, he will magnify. That’s how he became successful in business and entertainment.”
One person’s education, of course, may be another’s betrayal. To some of his supporters, the pivots suggest that Mr. Trump the outsider may have been captured by Wall Street veterans in his White House, while Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, is sidelined.
It got to the point that Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist radio show host, focused his Thursday program on defending the president against his own base. “Is Trump selling us out?” Mr. Jones asked. “And the answer is no. In fact, Trump is attempting to co-opt the establishment.”
Fred P. Hochberg, who just stepped down as chairman of the bank, said he was heartened by Mr. Trump’s reversal, noting that Ronald Reagan and Mr. Obama had also opposed the bank only to rethink their positions.
“I’ve probably never met a chief executive who didn’t have a different perspective when they occupy that chair than when they’re on the outside, whether you’re a mayor or you’re running a company,” Mr. Hochberg said. “And we ought to applaud people when they learn and they change their minds.”
In the same Journal interview, Mr. Trump described his learning process on North Korea, which is developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. When he invited President Xi Jinping of China to his Mar-a-Lago estate, Mr. Trump said he believed Beijing could simply pressure North Korea to stop its activities. Then, he said, Mr. Xi reviewed the history of China and Korea for him.
“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know, I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power over” North Korea, he added. “But it’s not what you would think.”
Mr. Trump sometimes cloaks his evolving positions by declaring victory before retreating. For instance, he had criticized NATO for not fighting terrorism and leaving the financial burden to the United States. As he met with NATO’s secretary general on Wednesday, Mr. Trump asserted that the alliance had changed.
“You look at the president’s position, where he wanted to see NATO, in particular, evolve to, and it’s moving exactly in the direction that he said,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday.
But the alliance has hardly changed in three months. Just three more members out of 28 have committed to raise military spending to target levels by next year, and the only shift in NATO’s approach to terrorism was to create a new intelligence office before Mr. Trump’s inauguration.
Karen Hughes, who was White House counselor to President George W. Bush, said no president can be fully informed about all the issues that will confront him.
“Obviously, most presidents aren’t nuclear scientists,” she said. “What is important is that the White House provide a disciplined process for the experts to present their views, which are often differing. The president’s role as the chief executive and decision maker is to listen to, question and probe the expert recommendations, then apply informed judgment to the decision.”
Leaked NSA Malware Threatens Windows Users Around the World
April 14 2017,
by Sam Biddle
The ShadowBrokers, an entity previously confirmed by The Intercept to have leaked authentic malware used by the NSA to attack computers around the world, today released another cache of what appears to be extremely potent (and previously unknown) software capable of breaking into systems running Windows. The software could give nearly anyone with sufficient technical knowledge the ability to wreak havoc on millions of Microsoft users.
The leak includes a litany of typically codenamed software “implants” with names like ODDJOB, ZIPPYBEER, and ESTEEMAUDIT, capable of breaking into — and in some cases seizing control of — computers running version of the Windows operating system earlier than the most recent Windows 10. The vulnerable Windows versions ran more than 65 percent of desktop computers surfing the web last month, according to estimates from the tracking firm Net Market Share.
The crown jewel of the implant collection appears to be a program named FUZZBUNCH, which essentially automates the deployment of NSA malware, and would allow a member of agency’s Tailored Access Operations group to more easily infect a target from their desk.
According to security researcher and hacker Matthew Hickey, co-founder of Hacker House, the significance of what’s now publicly available, including “zero day” attacks on previously undisclosed vulnerabilities, cannot be understated: “I don’t think I have ever seen so much exploits and 0day [exploits] released at one time in my entire life,” he told The Intercept via Twitter DM, “and I have been involved in computer hacking and security for 20 years.” Affected computers will remain vulnerable until Microsoft releases patches for the zero-day vulnerabilities and, more crucially, until their owners then apply those patches.
“This is as big as it gets,” Hickey said. “Nation-state attack tools are now in the hands of anyone who cares to download them…it’s literally a cyberweapon for hacking into computers…people will be using these attacks for years to come.”
Hickey provided The Intercept with a video of FUZZBUNCH being used to compromise a virtual computer running Windows Server 2008–an industry survey from 2016 cited this operating system as the most widely used of its kind.
Susan Hennessey, an editor at Lawfare and former NSA attorney, wrote on Twitter that the leak will cause “immense harm to both U.S. intel interests and public security simultaneously.”
A Microsoft spokesperson told The Intercept “We are reviewing the report and will take the necessary actions to protect our customers.” We asked Microsoft if the NSA at any point offered to provide information that would help protect Windows users from these attacks, given that the leak has been threatened since August 2016, to which they replied “our focus at this time is reviewing the current report.”
Saudi banks, bin Laden companies face $4.2 billion U.S. lawsuit by 9/11 insurers
April 13, 2017
by Jonathan Stempel and Katie Paul
NEW YORK/RIYADH-More than two dozen U.S. insurers affiliated with Travelers Cos (TRV.N) have sued two Saudi banks, companies affiliated with Osama bin Laden’s family, and several charities for at least $4.2 billion over the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The lawsuit filed late on Wednesday night in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan is the latest effort to hold entities in Saudi Arabia liable for the attacks.
Nearly 3,000 people died when hijacked airplanes crashed into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon near Washington, D.C. and a Pennsylvania field.
The 10 defendants in the lawsuit include Al Rajhi Bank 1120.SE, National Commercial Bank 1180.SE, aviation contractor Dallah Avco, the Mohamed Binladin Co, the Muslim World League, and other charities.
They were accused in the lawsuit of having “aided and abetted” the attacks through a variety of “activities in support of al Qaeda” in the years leading up to them.
“But for the assistance provided by defendants,” the lawsuit said, “al Qaeda could not have successfully planned, coordinated, and carried out the September 11th attacks, which were a foreseeable and intended result of their material support and sponsorship of al Qaeda.”
The insurers are seeking to recoup sums paid to policyholders who suffered personal, property and business injuries from the attacks.
Their lawsuit seeks at least $1.4 billion of compensatory damages, triple damages and punitive damages.
The defendants could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday, which is the start of the weekend in the Gulf.
Al Rajhi has previously said that U.S. courts have “repeatedly” dismissed similar claims against the bank, which “has no links to terrorism” and is “committed to operating at the highest levels of compliance” with applicable rules.
The Saudi government and affiliates including the Public Investment Fund, its sovereign wealth fund, have a majority stake in National Commercial Bank.
A Travelers spokesman, Matt Bordonaro, had no immediate additional comment on Thursday.
Several other lawsuits pending in the Manhattan court seek to hold Saudi Arabia liable to individuals and insurers over its alleged involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks. The Saudi government has denied such involvement.
Saudi Arabia long had broad immunity from such lawsuits in the United States, but Congress in September overrode a veto by former President Barack Obama and allowed such lawsuits to proceed.
The case is Charter Oak Fire Insurance Co et al v Al Rajhi Bank et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-02651.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, Katie Paul in Riyadh and Tom Arnold in Dubai; Editing by Toni Reinhold)
What Does an “America-First” Foreign Policy Actually Mean?
Putting the U.S. Military First, Second, and Third
by William J. Astore
What does an “America-first” foreign policy look like under President Donald Trump? As a start, forget the ancient label of “isolationism.” With the end of Trump’s first 100 days approaching, it looks more like a military-first policy aimed at achieving global hegemony, which means it’s a potential doomsday machine.
Candidate Trump vowed he’d make the U.S. military so strong that he wouldn’t have to use it, since no one would dare attack us — deterrence, in a word. The on-the-ground (or in-the-air) reality is already far different. President Trump’s generals have begun to unleash that military in a manner the Obama administration, hardly shy about bombing or surging, deemed both excessive and risky to civilians. Last week, 59 U.S. cruise missiles (value: $60 million) pummeled an airbase in Syria, a profligate response to a chemical weapons attack in that country which may yet lead to further escalation. Meanwhile, U.S. weapons are to be sold to Sunni monarchies in the Persian Gulf with less concern than ever for human rights abuses, and the Saudis will be provided with yet more of the support they demand for their devastating war on civilians in Yemen. Doubtless further military interventions and escalations across the Greater Middle East are on that classic “table” in Washington where “all options” are supposedly kept.
Most Americans believe the spin that the U.S. military is all about deterring and preventing attacks on the homeland, especially those orchestrated by “radical Islamic terrorism.” Sold as a deterrent, Washington’s national security state has, in fact, exploded into something that increasingly resembles a mechanism for permanent war. Ignorant of the most basic military strategy, impulsive and bombastic, its present commander-in-chief is being enabled by bellicose advisers and the men he calls “my generals,” who dream of ever bigger budgets. (Even Trump’s promise of a $54 billion boost to Pentagon spending this coming fiscal year isn’t enough for some senior military officers
The Realities of Trump’s New Era of Winning
Welcome to Trump’s new era of winning. It’s not really about ending wars, but exerting “global reach/global power” while selling loads of weaponry. It promises to spread or prolong chaos in Iraq, Yemen, and possibly Iran, among other countries. In the Greater Middle East, U.S.-led efforts have produced a war-torn Iraq that’s splitting at the seams. U.S. drone strikes and support for an ongoing Saudi air campaign have left Yemen lurching toward famine. Syria remains a humanitarian disaster, torn by war even as additional U.S. troops are deployed there. (The Pentagon won’t say how many, telling us instead to focus on “capabilities” rather than boots on the ground.) Further east, the never-ending war in Afghanistan is, in Pentagon-speak, “stalemated,” which means that the Taliban is actually gaining ground as a new Washington surge-to-nowhere looms. Looking west and south, Africa is the latest playground for the U.S. military’s special ops community as the Trump administration prepares, among other things, to ramp up operations in Somalia.
To Trump and his generals, an “America-first” approach to such problems actually means putting the military first, second, and third. It helps that they can’t imagine the actions of that military as destabilizing. (Possible future headline: Trump destroys Syria in order to save it.) According to General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, for instance, the country that poses “the greatest long-term threat to stability” in the Middle East is Iran, a sentiment seconded by retired general James Mattis, the secretary of defense.
You might excuse the Iranians, as well as the Russians and the Chinese, for thinking differently. To them, the United States is clearly the most destabilizing entity in the world. If you were Chinese or Russian or Shia Muslim, how might U.S. military activities appear to you?
* Expansionist? Check.
* Dedicated to dominance via colossal military spending and global interventionism? Check.
* Committed to economic and ideological hegemony via powerful banking and financial interests that seek to control world markets in the name of keeping them “free”? Check.
Wouldn’t that be a logical, if unsavory, assessment? To many outsiders, U.S. leaders seem like the world’s leading armed meddlers (and arms merchants), a perception supported by soaring military action and sinking diplomacy under Trump. Serious cuts in funding loom at the State Department, even as the Pentagon budget is being boosted (yet again). To outside observers, Washington’s ambitions seem clear: global dominance, achieved and enforced by that “very, very strong” military that candidate Trump claimed he’d never have to use, but is already employing with gusto, if not abandon.
Never Underestimate the Power of the Military-Industrial Complex
Why do Trump’s “America-first” policies add up to military first ones? Why is the Pentagon budget, along with actual military operations, surging on his watch?
More than half a century ago, sociologist C. Wright Mills offered answers that still seem as fresh as this morning’s news. In his 1958 essay, “The Structure of Power in American Society,” he dissected the country’s “triangle of power.” It consisted, he explained, of corporate leaders, senior military men, and politicians working in concert, but also in a manner that merged corporate agendas with military designs. That combination, he suggested, was degrading the ability of politicians to moderate and control corporate-military imperatives (assuming the latter even wanted to try).
“The [U.S.] military order,” Mills wrote, “once a slim establishment [operating] in a context of civilian distrust, has become the largest and most expensive feature of government; behind smiling public relations, it has all the grim and clumsy efficiency of a great and sprawling bureaucracy. The high military have gained decisive political and economic relevance. The seemingly permanent military threat places a premium upon them and virtually all political and economic actions are now judged in terms of military definitions of reality.”
For him, the danger was plain enough: the “coincidence of military domain and corporate realm strengthens both of them and further subordinates the merely political man. Not the party politician, but the corporation executive, is now more likely to sit with the military to answer the question: what is to be done?”
Consider the makeup of Trump’s administration, a riot of billionaires and multimillionaires. His secretary of state, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, may not be much of a diplomat. Indeed, he seems uninterested in the advice of career State Department personnel, but he does know his way around corporate boardrooms. Trump’s national security adviser and his secretaries of defense and homeland security are all either serving generals or recently retired ones. In Trump’s inner circle, corporate executives do indeed sit with senior military men to decide what is to be done.
Soon after Mills issued his prophetic critique of America’s power elite, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about the growing dangers of a military-industrial complex. Since then, Ike’s complex has only expanded in power. With the post-9/11 addition of the Department of Homeland Security and ever more intelligence agencies (seventeen major ones at last count), the complex only continues to grow beyond all civilian control. Its dominant position astride the government is nearly unchallengeable. Figuratively speaking, it’s the king of Capitol Hill.
Candidate Trump may have complained about the U.S. wasting trillions of dollars in its recent foreign conflicts, invasions, and occupations, but plenty of American corporations profited from those “regime changes.” After you flatten political states like Iraq, you can rearm them. When not selling weapons to them or rebuilding the infrastructure you blew up, you can exploit them for resources. Seemingly never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are an illustration of what happens when corporate interests merge with military imperatives.
While both Mills and Eisenhower warned of such developments, even they might have been startled by the America of 2017. By now, the post-draft, “all volunteer” professional military has become remarkably estranged, if not divorced, from the wider populace, a separation aggravated by an ongoing cult of the warrior within its ranks. Not only are Americans increasingly isolated from “their” warfighter military, but from America’s wars as well. These continue to be waged without formal congressional declarations and with next to no congressional oversight. Combine this with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which translated corporate money directly into political activism, and you have what is increasingly a 1% governing system in which a billionaire president presides over the wealthiest cabinet in history in what is now a war capital, while an ever-expanding corporate-military nexus embodies the direst of fears of Mills and Eisenhower.
America’s runaway military machine has little to do these days with deterrence and much to do with the continuation of a state of permanent war. Put it all together and you have a formula for disaster.
Deterring Our Way to Doomsday
Who put America’s oil under all those Middle Eastern deserts? That was the question antiwar demonstrators asked with a certain grim humor before the invasion of Iraq. In Trump’s oft-stated opinion, the U.S. should indeed have just taken Iraq’s oil after the 2003 invasion. If nothing else, he said plainly what many Americans believed, and what various multinational oil companies were essentially seeking to do.
Consider here the plight of President Jimmy Carter. Nearly 40 years ago, Carter urged Americans to scale back their appetites, start conserving energy, and free themselves from a crippling dependency on foreign oil and the unbridled consumption of material goods. After critics termed it his “malaise” speech, Carter did an about-face, boosting military spending and establishing the Carter Doctrine to protect Persian Gulf oil as a vital U.S. national interest. The American people responded by electing Ronald Reagan anyway. As Americans continue to enjoy a consumption-driven lifestyle that gobbles up roughly 25% of the world’s production of fossil fuels (while representing only 3% of the world’s population), the smart money in the White House is working feverishly to open ever more fuel taps globally. Trillions of dollars are at stake.
Small wonder that, on becoming president, Trump acted quickly to speed the building of new pipelines delayed or nixed by President Obama while ripping up environmental protections related to fossil fuel production. Accelerated domestic production, along with cooperation from the Saudis — Trump’s recent Muslim bans carefully skipped targeting the one country that provided 15 of the 19 terrorists in the 9/11 attacks — should keep fuel flowing, profits growing, and world sea levels rising.
One data point here: The U.S. military alone guzzles more fossil fuel than the entire country of Sweden. When it comes to energy consumption, our armed forces are truly second to none.
With its massive oil reserves, the Middle East remains a hotbed in the world’s ongoing resource wars, as well as its religious and ethnic conflicts, exacerbated by terrorism and the destabilizing attacks of the U.S. military. Under the circumstances, when it comes to future global disaster, it’s not that hard to imagine that today’s Middle East could serve as the equivalent of the Balkans of World War I infamy.
If Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian “Black Hand” terrorist operating in a war-torn and much-disputed region, could set the world aflame in 1914, why not an ISIS terrorist just over a century later? Consider the many fault lines today in that region and the forces involved, including Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, all ostensibly working together to combat terrorism even as they position themselves to maximize their own advantage and take down one another. Under such circumstances, a political temblor followed by a geo-political earthquake seems unbearably possible. And if not an ISIS temblor followed by major quake in the Middle East, there’s no shortage of other possible global fault lines in an increasingly edgy world — from saber-rattling contests with North Korea to jousting over Chinese-built artificial islands in the South China Sea.
As an historian, I’ve spent much time studying the twentieth-century German military. In the years leading up to World War I, Germany was emerging as the superpower of its day, yet paradoxically it imagined itself as increasingly hemmed in by enemies, a nation surrounded and oppressed. Its leaders especially feared a surging Russia. This fear drove them to launch a preemptive war against that country. (Admittedly, they attacked France first in 1914, but that’s another story.) That incredibly risky and costly war, sparked in the Balkans, failed disastrously and yet it would only be repeated on an even more horrific level 25 years later. The result: tens of millions of dead across the planet and a total defeat that finally put an end to German designs for global dominance. The German military, praised as the “world’s best” by its leaders and sold to its people as a deterrent force, morphed during those two world wars into a doomsday machine that bled the country white, while ensuring the destruction of significant swaths of the planet.
Today, the U.S. military similarly praises itself as the “world’s best,” even as it imagines itself surrounded by powerful threats (China, Russia, a nuclear North Korea, and global terrorism, to start a list). Sold to the American people during the Cold War as a deterrent force, a pillar of stability against communist domino-tippers, that military has by now morphed into a potential tipping force all its own.
Recall here that the Trump administration has reaffirmed America’s quest for overwhelming nuclear supremacy. It has called for a “new approach” to North Korea and its nuclear weapons program. (Whatever that may mean, it’s not a reference to diplomacy.) Even as nuclear buildups and brinksmanship loom, Washington continues to spread weaponry — it’s the greatest arms merchant of the twenty-first century by a wide mark — and chaos around the planet, spinning its efforts as a “war on terror” and selling them as the only way to “win.”
In May 1945, when the curtain fell on Germany’s last gasp for global dominance, the world was fortunately still innocent of nuclear weapons. It’s different now. Today’s planet is, if anything, over-endowed with potential doomsday machines — from those nukes to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
That’s why it’s vitally important to recognize that President Trump’s “America-first” policies are anything but isolationist in the old twentieth century meaning of the term; that his talk of finally winning again is a recipe for prolonging wars guaranteed to create more chaos and more failed states in the Greater Middle East and possibly beyond; and that an already dangerous Cold War policy of “deterrence,” whether against conventional or nuclear attacks, may now have become a machine for perpetual war that could, given Trump’s bellicosity, explode into some version of doomsday.
Or, to put the matter another way, consider this question: Is North Korea’s Kim Jong-un the only unstable leader with unhinged nuclear ambitions currently at work on the world stage?
Hitler’s reported death
April 15, 2017
by Harry von Johnston PhD
The two basic interpretations of the last days in Berlin come from British and Russian sources. As the first one is the source for all subsequent treatments, it will be considered first.
Following the end of the war in Europe, numerous and persistent rumors about Hitler’s disappearance were rife in Allied military intelligence circles and, as a matter of course, leaked to the press. In an effort to head off any independent investigation, British military intelligence rushed one of their young agents into the breach. Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper, a historical research student at Oxford in 1939, was seconded to MI 6 and put to work evaluating transcripts of German radio intercepts. Trevor-Roper was not fluent in the German language, either written or verbal, and his specialty was 17th century English history. Trevor-Roper’s post-war paper was probably more disruptive to historians than anything since the production of the Donation of Constantine at a point somewhat earlier in time. He claimed that he had conducted “numerous” interviews with former members of Hitler’s staff. But the fact that most of the key personnel such as Otto Günsche, Hitler’s military orderly, Heinz Linge, Hitler’s long-time valet and Hans Baur, Hitler’s chief pilot, were in Soviet custody (where they made documented statements directly opposed to Trevor-Roper’s findings), coupled with Trevor-Roper’s admitted unfamiliarity with the German language, has rendered his book The Last Days of Hitler highly suspect in factual content if not in its well-polished context. As a result of this work, a self-perpetuating series of myths have become well-established in historical circles and Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper automatically became the original source from which an army of subsequent writers copiously copied. He quickly assumed the mantel of the leading expert on the subject of Adolf Hitler and no self-respecting work on the German leader was complete without a skillfully crafted foreword by Trevor-Roper.
In due time, he was made King’s Professor of History at Oxford, and in 1979, raised to the peerage as Lord Dacre of Glanton.
On April 8, 1983, Lord Dacre, the man who believed he had a “patent on Adolf Hitler” flew to Zurich, Switzerland, at the request of newspaper publisher, Rupert Murdoch, to authenticate the now-notorious “Hitler Diaries.” Although possessed of a keen intellect and sharp wit, Trevor-Roper was also blessed with a monumental ego which overrode the basic fact that he was not fluent in German and certainly could not read a word of the old style German script that Hitler wrote.
Following the Zurich visit, which entailed a very cursory examination of unintelligible script, Trevor-Roper returned to England and solemnly announced that “I am now satisfied that the documents are genuine.”1 A subsequent thorough investigation by experts of the German National Archives quickly disclosed that the documents were not only not genuine but “crude forgeries” by “someone of limited intelligence.”2
It would be a secure assumption, following this debacle, that Trevor-Roper’s “patent on Adolf Hitler” had finally expired.
In the Last Days of Hitler, very heavy emphasis for the suicide/cremation theory is placed on statements and alleged statements from a number of SS personnel, allegedly involved in the last act.
In addition to Otto Günsche and Heinz Linge, a member of Hitler’s RSD bodyguard, Hermann Karnau, and another RSD member, Erich Mansfeld, were all alleged to have participated in the removal of Hitler and Eva Braun’s bodies from the bunker and their subsequent cremation in the Chancellery garden. Since Günsche and Linge, along with Hans Baur, the pilot, were in a Soviet prison camp and not available for interview when Trevor-Roper wrote his official report, statements attributed to them should be taken with extraordinary caution, if not skepticism.
Hermann Karnow, stated to be an SS member of the RSD was apparently interviewed by Trevor-Roper and claimed he saw Hitler’s body burning in the garden. Unfortunately, an extensive search by Dr. Marwell, then director of the Berlin Document Center, repository of SS personal records, failed to locate any Hermann Karnow or Erich Mansfeld, or “Skripczy” as Trevor-Roper also calls him. Neither of these men were in either the RSD or the SS.
It would be fair to assume that when the British official report was prepared, the SS personnel files and records were not available and no doubt Trevor-Roper may be excused his gross errors on the grounds that he was unaware that he was interviewing non-existent people.
However, there is no question of the existence of Günsche, Linge and Baur. Since they too are used as direct sources for the Viking funeral theory, let us consider recently disclosed information. In a U.S. CIC document of November 15, 1948 (Throughman report: 0933-034), Günsche stated to the senior Wehrmacht medical officer and commander of all military hospitals in besieged Berlin that “I did not see the dead Führer. Those things were done without us.”
Baur said at the same time that he had not seen the bodies either, and Linge, who is alleged to have assisted in carrying the bodies of Hitler and his wife up the bunker exit stairs said that he “did not see the body of the dead Führer.” The debriefing of these SS members following their return from Soviet imprisonment produced similar but still classified statements.
Insofar as the fate of Hermann Fegelein, whom Trevor-Roper has shot in the Chancellery on Hitler’s orders, a careful inspection of his files now located at Ft. George Meade, Maryland, depicts a somewhat different scenario than the one put forward by Trevor-Roper. According to an official CIC report of September 21, 1945, one Walter Hirschfeld, a Jewish refugee from Vienna and agent for the CIC, was in close contact with Hans Fegelein, Hermann’s father, then resident in Munich. According to the Hirschfeld report, Hermann Fegelein had been in contact with his father after the war and reported that “the Führer and I are safe and well” and that he would try to get in contact with his family if possible.
The Russian version, which appeared over twenty years later, approaches the events from a different perspective.
When Soviet troops occupied the government quarter of Berlin during the first week of May, 1945, an immediate search was made of the Chancellery complex for any traces of Hitler and his top aides.
Much of Speer’s new Chancellery was in ruins; the air raid bunker under the Chancellery garden was partially flooded by the ever-present ground water and the interior showed signs of an attempt to burn the contents by the last SS guards on the scene.
There were numerous bodies strewn about the Chancellery gardens including those of Dr. Goebbels and his wife, both of whom were badly charred. The bodies of General Hans Krebs and the six Goebbels children were found in the bunker itself.
Since the Russians had complete physical control of the Chancellery area and, if Hitler’s body had been discovered, they would have been the sole parties to disclose this. Let us consider the official Soviet pronouncements following their capture of Berlin.
May 3, 1945. Pravda: “Hitler not in Berlin.”
May 13, 1945. Pravda: “Moscow has directed the senior officers of the Red Army in Berlin to discuss nothing about the situation in the Führerbunker.”
May 26, 1945. Josef Stalin to Harry Hopkins in Moscow: “In my opinion Hitler is not dead but is hiding somewhere.”
June 6, 1945, Red Army spokesman from Marshal Zhukov’s staff: “Hitler’s body has been found and identified.”
June 9, 1945. Marshal Zhukov, accompanied by Andre Vishinski, Deputy Foreign Minister and General N. Bezarin, Soviet military commandant of Berlin, held a press conference for Western journalists. Zhukov stated that “Hitler’s fate was doubtful” and that “we did not identify the body of Hitler. I can say nothing definite about his fate. He could have flown away from Berlin at the very last moments.” (emphasis added)
To this, General Bezarin added that in his personal opinion, “he has disappeared somewhere in Europe. Perhaps he is in Spain with Franco. He had the possibility of taking off and getting away.” (emphasis added)
June 9, 1945. Red Star military publication stated that “Hitler had committed suicide two days before Berlin surrendered.”
July 17, 1945, Josef Stalin to President Harry Truman and US Secretary of State James Byrnes at the Potsdam Conference, “I believe Hitler is alive. Careful investigation by Soviet investigators has not found any trace of Hitler’s remains or any other positive evidence of his death.”
Following these often contradictory pronouncements, the Soviets lapsed into silence until 1968 when a small book entitled The Death of Adolf Hitler appeared, authored by Lev Bezymenski, a Soviet journalist and KGB official. According to the thesis of this book, the Soviets did, in fact, find the bodies of Adolf Hitler, his wife, his dogs, the Goebbels family and General Krebs. A number of photographs accompanied the official autopsy reports and among the pictures are views of what are purported to be Hitler’s bridgework and teeth, (removed from the body) as well as Eva Braun’s dental bridge and a photograph of Hitler’s favorite German shepherd bitch “Blondi.”
We shall return to these photographs and the views of the author directly but first, a brief discussion of dental forensics is in order.
In establishing the identity of human remains by dental forensics, a number of factors must be taken into account.
Firstly, photographs and X-rays of the teeth and dentition of the deceased must be prepared. Secondly, these photographs and X-rays must be compared with the actual dental records of the deceased, to include (if possible) X-rays of the deceased’s actual teeth and any dental fittings. If these two sets of data are identical, the identity of the deceased should be established to a strong certainty. It should also be stated that a specific chain of control must exist for the evidence to be valid. An actual corpse must exist and be in a controlled environment such as a morgue or mortuary. The photography and X-rays must be prepared of the body under controlled conditions and the resulting negatives and prints kept in a secure area. Also, the dental records must be original and must also be secured as evidence. The reasons for this should be as evident to the layman as they are to the professionals of law enforcement agencies and insurance companies. Without proper control exercised over the two sets of records, the opportunity for manipulation is obvious.
On the evening of April 20, 1945, following the parade of dignitaries who paid their respects to Adolf Hitler on the event of his 56th birthday, Hugo-Hannes Blaschke, a General of the Waffen-SS, Senior Dental Officer of that organization, a member of Himmler’s personal staff and Hitler’s long-time dentist, paid a brief and hurried visit to his Reich Chancellery dental office. Here, he quickly assembled and packed into cases his dental equipment and all of the dental records of his prominent patients including Albert Speer, Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Joseph and Magda Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler. These files were flown out of Berlin later that night along with SS General Dr. Blaschke and a number of other senior officials. The flight landed near Salzburg early the next morning. Blaschke’s entire file case vanished at that time and none of its contents have ever surfaced.
The Führer dentist was subsequently taken into American custody where he claimed he would make an attempt to “reconstruct Hitler’s dentition from memory.”4 The Soviet investigators probing Hitler’s disappearance tried to locate Blaschke in Berlin so that they might interrogate him under their control. When they were advised that the dentist was in American hands and available for questioning, they abruptly discontinued their search and never made any attempts to contact the dentist.5 Without dental records, identification of missing Third Reich leaders was severely hampered and a great deal depended on Dr. Blaschke’s cooperation with his American captors.
U.S. CIC interrogation files on Blaschke indicate that he appeared to be cooperative in his attempts to reconstruct Hitler’s dental records but that the results were of little value because the Führer dentist “could do very little without his records which have disappeared and cannot be located even after an extensive search.” Blaschke was eventually released from custody and died in 1957 at the age of seventy-seven without having contributed anything at all to verifying the deaths of a number of his patients. His records and X-rays are still missing.
There exist a number of X-rays which purport to have been taken of Hitler’s head. All of these were said to have been made in 1944 and early 1945 by various doctors treating Hitler for various infections of his sinuses and tonsils, following the July 20 attempt on his life. The published records of Dr. Theo Morell, Hitler’s chief doctor indicate that X-rays were taken at the Karlshof military hospital in Rastenberg, the location of Hitler’s headquarters. These films were made at the request of Dr. von Eicken, a specialist called in to treat an infected sinus. Two X-rays were taken of Hitler’s head on October 21, 1944, but proved to be “too meager” for diagnosis. Several other X-rays were taken, also at Karlshof on November 18, 1944, shortly before Hitler left the Wolfsschanze for the last time. Other X-rays were produced for Dr. Geising and were said to have been taken in Berlin in early 1945.
The U.S. National Archives has purported copies of these X-rays, none of which have the standard German military medical information on the developed films. At least one X-ray has the date “21. Oct. 44” scratched on it whereas the proper German date would be “21.Okt.44.” The date on the negative is standard U.S. military form. There are no further identifying marks on these films.
The Bezymenski book, which appeared in 1968 as noted, makes no mention of these X-rays but does show photographs of what the author purports to be the original bridgework found in what is claimed to be the badly charred and partially obliterated corpses of Hitler and Eva Braun. The author also includes a photograph of a small card purported to have been prepared on May 11, 1945 by one Kathe Heusermann, Dr. Blaschke’s technical assistant, who assisted in the manufacture of bridgework for the dentist.
To consider the Bezymenski publication as anything but crude Soviet disinformation would be a serious error for an objective historian to accept.
Like Trevor-Roper’s 1945 report, which took him only two weeks to prepare, the Bezymenski dissertation was obviously prepared to fulfill an official point of view. It should be noted that in the 1960s, Soviet writers were not free to express their views on international political matters and, in any case, like Trevor-Roper who was a member of MI 6, Bezymenski was a KGB official.
Trevor-Roper, to be sure, is a far better writer but in the end, the two books were prepared with similar goals. The Bezymenski work is easily demolished because of extraordinarily poor research. The author states that on May 9, 1945, a Soviet investigator interrogated Heusermann. A transcript of the official report disclosed that Heusermann in the company of the official found Hitler’s dental file in Blaschke’s Berlin office and then accompanied the investigators to the ruins of the Chancellery where they discovered all of Hitler’s dental X-rays and some gold crowns alleged to be destined for Hitler’s mouth.51
The author appears to be unaware that all of these records were removed from the Chancellery on the night of April 20 and that Hitler’s dental records were kept in the Chancellery dental facility and not at Blaschke’s private practice.
As has been previously noted, Soviet agents seeking Blaschke in Berlin at once abandoned their search upon learning of his detention by the United States and made no attempt to contact him although invited to do so by American authorities.
The sketch of Hitler’s dental work is accompanied by numerous notes, all in Russian, a language that Heuserman was not acquainted with in May of 1945. A further lack of familiarity with his subject emerges rather painfully when Bezymenski discusses the purported corpse of Hitler’s dog “Blondi.” The dog, of whom Hitler was extremely fond, accompanied him everywhere, even on many of his trips. In 1945, she had recently whelped and was still nursing her pups at the end of April. The official Soviet autopsy report indicates that the dog in question had a black coat with white lower extremities, worn teeth which would indicate a dog of about eight years of age and who had not been nursing at the time of death.6
Since an official Spanish police report of April, 1945, mentions a “large brown wolfhound” as part of the manifest of Hitler’s personal transport, it could be assumed that like her master, “Blondi” did not meet her end in Berlin.
In addressing the reliability of the Soviet view one must consider their previous record of producing forged anti-German documentation. Official forgery was not the sole bailiwick of Communist creative writers. Czarist secret police took a French satire on Napoleon III by Joly, made minor changes in the text and produced the well-known Protocols of the Wise Elders of Zion. Aside from period rewritings of their own history, the Soviets produced the notorious Heusinger file that attacked a former Wehrmacht General who was slated for inclusion in NATO. Original documents captured from Army Group Center during the war were liberally larded with KGB fakes designed to prove that Heusinger was responsible for the murder of Russian civilians. The added documents were, like most KGB productions, very bad, and Heusinger obtained his appointment. The Soviet apparat also produced the notorious SS camp pass for John Demjanjuk, the alleged ‘Ivan the Terrible’ and gave it to an informed U.S. agency who then used it to prosecute the former Russian citizen. That document was of such transparent falsity that it is a wonder that it was ever introduced in a civilized court of law. The then-West German criminal investigative agency to whom it was shown immediately branded it a fake although this professional opinion in no way prevented the document from being introduced at Demjanjuk’s various trials.
The notorious Hitler Diaries were concocted by the East German Stasi to raise foreign capital and it now appears that the former KGB is attempting to sell to gullible journalists what they claim are the “personal diaries of Goebbels”. This project is more extensive than the East German tour de force because the KGB has had more time to prepare it.
It is still possible that a sudden “discovery” bolstering the Bezymenski thesis could be forthcoming from hitherto closed KGB files but given the current state of German-Russian relations, somewhat doubtful.
In 1972, Dr. Reidar Sognnaes, a professor of anatomy and dental biology at the University of California, delivered a paper at a seminar on forensic science held in Scotland.7 Dr. Sognnaes strongly believed that he was now able to prove that a “positive identification of Hitler’s remains” had been made as the result of his own brilliant forensic detective work among the archives. His conclusions stemmed from a comparison of the purported Hitler head X-rays which he claimed had somehow been mislaid in the National Archives, only to be rediscovered by himself in a stunning coup in 1972, with the Bezymenski photographs and drawings in the 1968 book.
He also claimed he had searched the Blaschke CIC interrogation file and had found the dentist’s sketches from memory of the Hitler dentition. This work was also located in the National Archives. Since all of this data appeared to coincide, Sognnaes concluded that there could be absolutely no doubt that the corpse found in the Chancellery garden was that of Hitler. Parenthetically, Sognnaes (and other dental forensic specialists) concluded that the alleged burned corpse of Eva Braun was, to a certainty, not the remains of Hitler’s wife. Among other interesting facets of the Eva Braun matter is that the artificial teeth contained in what the Russians stated was Eva Braun’s bridgework found in the mouth of the very badly charred corpse would under no circumstances have withstood the heat of the cremation and would have been thoroughly melted. The Sognnaes theory is, from a logical point of view, more badly flawed than the Bezymenski one. Firstly, the X-rays in the National Archives had never been mislaid, and in fact, had been used in several publications prior to both the Sognnaes production and that of Bezymenski. The latter certainly had reference to these X-rays which were available to any researcher from 1946 onwards. Secondly, the technical information about the dental records in the Russian’s book very obviously came from the same source that Sognnaes had used, namely the files of the National Archives. The Russians based their creative writing efforts on official files and Sognnaes merely copied their end product .If one takes the previously stated criteria concerning positive identification of a body through dental forensics, it becomes immediately evident that the evidentiary chain does not now, and never did exist. The requirement of an actual body kept in a secure location has certainly not been met. The Russians have repeatedly stated that they burned the purported corpse of Hitler and scattered the ashes. The official Soviet statement that they had recovered Hitler’s personal X-rays and dental records conflicts with extensive evidence that these records were removed from the Chancellery before the occupation of Berlin. In any case, the Soviets never produced any such material in the furtherance of their claims.
Not one scrap of this material could ever be presented in a responsible court of law to support a claim of identification. There is a regrettable tendency for many authors, in treating a historical subject, to write to an idea. In doing so, they will accept any theory or any evidence, no matter how illogical or patently false, which will tend to prove their case and reject any material that would tend to disprove it.
They will, in sum, strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.
1 Robert Harris, “Selling Hitler,” New York, 1986, pps. 15-16.
2 Ibid, p. 25
3 US CIC Interrogation Reports, Dr. Hugo Blaschke, June-September 1945.
4 US CIC Report, Blaschke, 5 September 1945.
5 Bezymenski, Op.Cit, p. 54.
6 Ibid. p. 90. The real “Blondi” was four years old and a light tan in color.
7 Toland, John, “Adolf Hitler,” Doubleday, New York, 1976, p. 893; McKale, Donald, “Hitler,” Stein & Day, Briarcliff Manor, NY, 1981, p.190; Luntz, Lester, “Connecticut Magazine,” March, 1983, pps. 81-118.
The actual existence of Jesus
by Karl Kautsky
from ‘The Foundations of Chrstianity’
The traditional view sees Christianity as the creation of a single man, Jesus Christ. This view persists even today. It is true that Jesus, at least in “enlightened” and “educated” circles, is no longer considered a deity, but he still held to have been an extraordinary personality, who came to the fore with the intention of founding a new religion, and did so, with tremendous success. Liberal theologians hold this view, as so do radical free-thinkers; and the latter differ from the theologians only with respect to the criticism they make of Christ as a person, whom they seek to deprive of all the sublimity they can.
And yet, at the end of the eighteenth century the English historian Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (written between 1774 and 1788), had ironically pointed out how striking it is that none of Jesus’ contemporaries mentions him, although he is said to have accomplished such remarkable feats.
“But how shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan and philosophic world to these evidences which were presented by the hand of Omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their senses? During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, daemons were expelled, and the laws of Nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the church. But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world.”
At Jesus’ death, according to the Christian tradition, the whole earth, or at least all of Palestine, was in darkness for three hours. This took place in the days of the elder Pliny, who devoted a special chapter of his Natural History to eclipses; but of this eclipse he says nothing. (Gibbon, Chapter 15).
But even if we leave miracles out of the accounts, it is hard to see how a personality like Jesus of the gospels, who according to them aroused such excitement in people’s minds, could carry on his work and finally die as a martyr for his cause and yet not have pagan and Jewish contemporaries devote a single word to him.
The first mention of Jesus by a non-Christian is found in the Jewish Antiquities of Flavius Josephus. The third chapter of book 18 deals with the procurator Pontius Pilate, and says among other things:
“About this time lived Jesus, a wise man, if he can be called human, for he worked miracles and was a teacher of men, who received the truth gladly; and he found many followers among Jews and Greeks. This was the Christ. Although later Pilate sentenced him to the cross on the complaint of the nobles of our people, those who had loved him remained true to him. For he appeared again to them on the third day, risen to new life, as the prophets of God had prophesied this and thousands of other wonderful things about him. From his comes the name of the Christians, whose sect (phylon) has continued to exist ever since.”
Josephus speaks of Christ again in the 20th book, chapter 9,1, where the high priest Ananus is said in the time of the procurator Albinus to have brought it about that:
“James. The brother of Jesus, said to be the Christ (tou legomenou christou), together with some others, was brought to court, accused as a breaker of the law and delivered over to be stoned to death.”
These pieces of evidence have always been highly prized by Christians; for they come from a non-Christian, a Jew and Pharisee, born in the year 37 of our era and living in Jerusalem, and so very well able to have authentic facts about Jesus. And his testimony was the more valuable in that as a Jew he had no reason to falsify on behalf of the Christians.
But it was precisely the exaggerated exaltation of Christ on the part of a pious Jew that made the first passage suspect, and quite early. Its authenticity was disputed even in the sixteenth century, and today it is agreed that it is forgery and does not stem from Josephus. It was inserted in the third century by a Christian copyist, who obviously took offense at the fact that Josephus, who repeats the most trivial gossip from Palestine, says nothing at all about the person of Jesus. The pious Christian felt with justice that the absence of any such mention weighed against the existence or at least the significance of his Savior Now the discovery of his forgery has become testimony against Jesus.
But the passage concerning James is also dubious. It is true that Origen (185 to 254 AD) mentions testimony by Josephus concerning James; this occurs in his commentary on Matthew. He remarks that it is surprising that nonetheless Josephus did not believe in Jesus as the Christ. In his polemic against Celsius, Origen cites this statement of Josephus about James and again notes Josephus’ unbelief. These statements by Origen constitute one of the proofs that the striking passage about Jesus in which Josephus recognizes him as the Messiah, the Christ, could not have been in the original text of Josephus. It follows at once that the passage about James that Origen found in Josephus was also a Christian forgery. For this passage he cites runs quite differently from what we find in the manuscript of Josephus that has come down to us. In it the destruction of Jerusalem is said to be a punishment for the execution of James; but this fabrication is not found in the other manuscripts of Josephus. The passage as it occurs in the manuscripts of Josephus that have come down to us is not cited by Origen, while he mentions the other version three times on other occasions. And yet he carefully assembled all the testimony that could be got from Josephus that had value for the Christian faith. It would seem likely that the passage of Josephus about James that has come down to us is also fraudulent, and was first inserted by a pious Christian, to the greater glory of God some time after Origen, but before Eusebius, who cites the passage.
Like the mention of Jesus and James, the reference to John the Baptist in Josephus (Antiquities, XVIII, 5,2) is also suspect as an “interpolation.”
Thus Christian frauds had crept into Josephus as early as the end of the second century. His silence concerning the chief figures in the Gospels was too conspicuous, and required correction.
But even if the statement about James was genuine, it would prove at most that there was a Jesus, whom people called Christ, that is, the Messiah. It could not prove anything more.
“If the passage actually had to be ascribed to Josephus, all that critical theology would get from it would be the thread of a web that could catch a whole generation. There were so many would-be Christs at Josephus’ time and all the way deep into the second century, that in many of the cases we have only sketchy information left about them. There is a Judas of Galilee, a Theudas, a nameless Egyptian, a Samaritan, a Bar Kochba, – why should there not have been a Jesus among them as well? Jesus was a common Jewish personal name.”
The second passage of Josephus tells us at best that among the agitators in Palestine coming forward at that time as the Messiah, the Lord’s anointed, there was also a Jesus. We learn nothing at all about his life and work.
The next mention of Jesus by a non-Christian writer is found in the Annals of the Roman historian Tacitus, composed around the year 100. In the fifteenth book the conflagration of Rome under Nero is described, and chapter 44 says:
“In order to counteract the rumor (that blamed Nero for the fire} he brought forward as the guilty ones, men hated for their crimes and called Christians by the people; and punished them with the most exquisite torments. The founder of their name, Christ, was executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; the superstition was thereby suppressed for the moment, but broke out again, not only in Judea, the land in which this evil originated, but in Rome itself, to which everything horrible or shameful streams from all sides and finds increase. First a few were taken, who made confessions; then on their indications an enormous throng, who were not accused directly of the crime of arson, but of hatred of humanity. There execution became a pastime; they were covered with the skins of wild beasts and then torn to pieces by dogs, or they were crucified, or prepared for burning and set on fire as soon as it was dark, prepared for burning and set on fire as soon as it was dark. Nero lent his gardens for this spectacle and arranged the circus games, in which he mingled among the crowd in the clothing of a charioteer or drove a chariot himself. Although these were criminals who deserved the severest punishment, sympathy arose for them as being sacrificed not so much for the general good but to satisfy the rage of an individual.”
This testimony is certainly not something falsified by Christians in their favor. However, its authenticity too is disputed, since Dio Cassius had known nothing of a persecution of Christians under Nero, although he lived a hundred years later than Tacitus. Suetonius, writing shortly after Tacitus, also speaks, in his biography of Nero, of a persecution of Christians, “men who had given themselves over to a new and evil superstition” (chapter 16).
But Suetonius tells us nothing at all about Jesus and Tacitus does not even hand down his name to us. Christ, the Greek work for “the anointed,” is merely the Greek translation of the Hebrew work “Messiah.” As to Christ’s work and the contents of his doctrine, Tacitus says nothing.
And that is all that we learn about Jesus from non-Christian sources of the first century of our era.
 See e.g. Schürer, Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes in Zeitalter Jesu Christi, Vol I, 3rd edition, 1901, p 544 et seq
 Schürer, op.cit., pp 438, 548, 581.
 Alb. Kalthoff, The Rise of Christianity, London, 1907, pp. 20,21.