October 1, 2018

Oct 01 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. October 1, 2018: ”American government agencies – state, local, and federal — made a record 33,602 requests to read emails or gather other information sent through Google’s Gmail and other services in 2018, two thirds without warrants.

Google maintains records of all email and other communication sent through its e-mail, telephone, YouTube, and other services. It stores the information on cloud servers – a move that allows government agencies, local, state, and federal, to access information without a warrant.

Current Federal law allows government agencies to access Google’s archived email and other data, including chat logs, YouTube user information, voice messages, and blogger information without obtaining a search warrant or establishing probable cause, and Google always complies with all governmental requests for data.

The government currently can access data, including the content of emails sent or received through Gmail, because Google keeps records of all communications sent over its various services and stores the information on cloud servers, lowering the legal threshold government agencies need to access some of the data, including the name, Internet address, and telephone number of Gmail, YouTube, and other Google users.

The federal law that allows this is known as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) which says that opened email stored remotely – not on a computer’s hard drive – can be accessed without a warrant.

If the government wants to read the content of an email accessed through Gmail, hear a voicemail message sent over Google’s telephone service Google Voice, or read other private content, it must still obtain a search warrant under federal law.

However, information not sent in the body of an email or recorded in a voice message can be obtained by a simple subpoena – which does not require a government agency to show probable cause. Such information includes the name of an e-mail account holder, the IP address used when signing into and out of Gmail including dates and times, and other information you gave to Google when you created Gmail or other Google account.

Other types of information require a court order from a judge, such as the IP address of a particular email, email addresses of those you correspond with, and the web sites a person has visited.

Google does not notify users when the government demands to read subscriber’s emails or free and unfettered access to their account information.”


The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 37
  • Mommy dearest: a psychiatrist puts Donald Trump on the couch
  • Kavanaugh v Ford: the parading of sexual assault victims has to end
  • Brett Kavanaugh’s classmate says he lied about drinking
  • Ted Cruz Is Running as a Populist. Here’s His Little-Known History as a Corporate Lobbyist.
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • A CIA lucky break? How the death of the ‘Smiling Pope’ helped Washington win the Cold War


Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 37

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • Nov 7, 2017

“If you did what you’re suggesting (impose strict gun control), there would have been no difference three days ago, and you might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him, and hit him and neutralize him.”

Source: Joint press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in

in fact: Trump is slightly misstating what happened in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a shooter killed 26 people. A local resident, Stephen Willeford, grabbed a gun from his home gun safe, not his truck.

“I mean, you look at the city with the strongest gun laws in our nation, is Chicago, and Chicago is a disaster. It’s a total disaster.”

Source: Joint press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in

in fact: Chicago does not have the country’s strongest gun laws. Trump’s claim is common, but it is outdated: Chicago’s ban on handguns was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2010, and Illinois allowed people to carry concealed weapons across the state in 2013. While Chicago retains some restrictions many other states do not have, New York City and San Francisco are significantly tougher. In New York City, for example, the police department interviews all applicants for a handgun license.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won four out of four House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Republicans did not win four out of four House seats in 2017’s special congressional elections. They lost a little-noticed race in California’s 34th district, won by Democrat Jimmy Gomez.

Trump has repeated this claim 9 times

  • Nov 9, 2017

“As we all know, America has a huge annual trade deficit with China — a number beyond anything what anybody would understand. This number is, shockingly, hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Estimates are as high as $500 billion a year.”

Source: Speech at business event in China

in fact: Only Trump’s “estimate” is that high. The U.S. trade deficit with China was $310 billion last year, according to the U.S. Trade Representative. Excluding trade in services, it was $347 billion.

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

  • Nov 10, 2017

“This trip comes at an exciting time for America. A new optimism has swept all across our country. Economic growth has reached 3.2 per cent, and going higher.”

Source: Speech to the APEC CEO summit

in fact: Second-quarter GDP growth was 3.1 per cent, not 3.2 per cent; Trump habitually adds the additional 0.1 per cent.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

  • Nov 11, 2017

“And then tonight they’re having a state dinner in Hanoi. And we then go to the Philippines, which was a rough trip the last time. That was a rough presidential trip, but this won’t be.”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: Obama’s trip to the Philippines was not a “rough trip.” He made his state visit in 2014, when the president was Benigno Aquino III; they had friendly relations. Trump was mixing up this visit with something else entirely: Obama’s 2016 cancellation of a meeting with Aquino’s successor, Rodrigo Duterte, after Duterte profanely insulted him. That meeting was supposed to take place in Laos, not the Philippines itself.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“Well, look, I can’t stand there and argue with him (Vladimir Putin, about election interference). I’d rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I’d rather have him — you know, work with him on the Ukraine than standing and arguing about whether or not — because that whole thing was set up by the Democrats.”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: The accusation that Putin meddled in the U.S. election was not “set up by the Democrats.” It is the conclusion of the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus and of independent experts.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“I mean, I have an obligation — we lost, last year, with China, depending on the way you do your numbers, because you can do them a numbers of ways — anywhere from $350 (billion) to $504 billion.”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: Trump is wrong that the trade deficit with China is as high as $504 billion if you “do your numbers” a certain way; the “$504 billion” figure is simply inaccurate. The U.S. trade deficit with China was $310 billion last year, according to data from the U.S. Trade Representative. Excluding trade in services, it was $347 billion. There is a clear, accepted definition of trade deficit: the difference between the value of goods and services exported and goods and services and imported

Trump has repeated this claim 51 times

“And believe it or not, even when I’m in Washington and New York, I do not watch much television. I know they like to say — people that don’t know me, they like to say I watch television. People with fake sources — you know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don’t get to watch much television, primarily because of documents. I’m reading documents a lot, and different things.”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: “Much television” is subjective, but it is objectively false that reporters are “fake” to report that Trump likes to watch television. Trump himself regularly proves this — tweeting praise at the morning show Fox and Friends and tweeting out responses to the show as it airs. Less than a month prior to this statement, he told Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, “I watch absolutely almost all the time, even if it means TiVo or whatever device you happen to be using at the time. ”

“There’s an artificial barrier that puts in the way by the Democrats. It’s a fake barrier. There was no collusion. Everybody knows there was no collusion. I mean, you speak to these people — I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day and I respect her. She was on television the other day saying there’s no collusion. The Democrats — the Republicans come out screaming it, but the Democrats come out, and they say, ‘No, there’s no collusion.’ There is no collusion. There’s nothing.”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: Democrats, including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, have not definitively declared that there was “no collusion” between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. Rather, they have said they have not seen evidence of collusion yet. In the interview Trump was referring to, on CNN, Feinstein was asked if she has seen evidence that the Trump campaign was given Democratic emails hacked by Russia. “Not so far,” she responded.

Trump has repeated this claim 18 times

“Look, we have a $71 billion trade deficit with Mexico.”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: The U.S. trade deficit with Mexico is not that large. Counting trade in goods alone, the deficit was $64 billion in 2016, $60 billion in 2015, $55 billion in 2014 and $54 billion in 2013, according to U.S. government data; it has not exceeded $67 billion since 2007. Further, the deficit is properly assessed counting both goods and services. When trade in services is included, the 2016 deficit was $56 billion. This year’s total deficit may be bigger — the goods deficit was already $47 billion at the end of August — but when services are included, it is still highly unlikely to approach $70 billion.

Trump has repeated this claim 34 times

“We have a $70 billion trade deficit with Japan.”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: “The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Japan was $54.9 billion in 2016,” says the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The deficit only approaches $70 billion — it was $69 billion — if you only count trade in goods, which Trump did not say he was doing.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“We have a $30 billion trade deficit with South Korea.”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: “The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Korea was $17.0 billion in 2016,” says the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The deficit only approaches $30 billion — it was $28 billion — if you only count trade in goods, which Trump did not say he was doing.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“I could go through a whole list. There are few countries we have a (trade) surplus with, and those countries it’s like a two-dollar surplus. It’s disgraceful.”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: The U.S. has a trade surplus with more than half of all countries. Even if you exclude the services trade at which the U.S. excels, and only count trade in goods, many of the deficits are substantial. As of September, for example, the U.S. had an $18.7 billion goods-trade surplus with the Netherlands, a $11.4 billion goods-trade surplus with the United Arab Emirates, a $10.4 billion goods-tradesurplus with Australia, and a $5.1 billion goods-trade surplus with Brazil, according to the U.S. census office, which tracks the figures.

Trump has repeated this claim 21 times

“We had the worst — our trade deals are so bad. Last year, we lost $800 billion, right? Yeah. $800, approximately. Check it. But approximately $800 billion on trade. Why?”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: The overall trade deficit was $502 billion in 2016. It was $750 billion if you count only trade in goods and exclude trade in services, but Trump, as usual, did not specify that he was talking about goods alone.

Trump has repeated this claim 30 times

“I told them (Asia-Pacific leaders) we’re going to have much tougher trade policies now, because, you know, they have barriers. We don’t. I’m not only talking about tariffs. They have non-tariff barriers, and we don’t.”

Source: Remarks to media aboard Air Force One during journey to Vietnam

in fact: “That would be an overstatement,” said Derek Scissors, an expert on U.S. economic relations with Asia at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank. He said it’s correct that the U.S. has “less extensive” non-tariff barriers than any Asian country, excluding Hong Kong, but not correct that the U.S. has no non-tariff barriers at all.


Mommy dearest: a psychiatrist puts Donald Trump on the couch

Dr Justin Frank thinks the president has an erotic attachment to his daughter and a fixation with faeces and dirt

September 30, 2018

by David Smith in Washington

The Guardian

It all begins with the mother.

This is the opening line of Dr Justin Frank’s book, Trump on the Couch, “a deep dive into the psyche” of the 45th US president which argues that a distant mother and authoritarian father are key to understanding how Donald Trump became Donald Trump: infantile, impulsive and ill-suited for office.

“Yes, we should be scared,” Frank, a clinical professor of psychiatry at George Washington University, told the Guardian. “We have to accept that he is the president and we also have to accept that he’s never going to change because he can’t. Once we accept those things, we can then figure out what to do with our fears.”

For Frank, the dynamic between infant and mother has a profound influence on a person’s psychological outlook and health. Trump’s mother was Mary Anne MacLeod, who arrived in New York from the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis in 1930. After six years as a domestic worker and nanny, she married the property developer Fred Trump and they had five children.

The otherwise garrulous president has said little about his mother. Notably, for his first few months in the Oval Office, the only photo behind his desk was of his father. His mother was added later. Yet, Frank points out, 72-year-old Trump’s gravity-defying hair is a very deliberate homage to his mum’s.

“The fact that he tries to get us to feel his anxiety and he externalises responsibility makes me feel that, as a young child, he did not feel contained or held by his mother or other caretakers,” he says. “He didn’t have a strong maternal force in his life.

“The one thing we do know biographically is that when he was two, the last child in the family was born, but when his mother went to the hospital she didn’t come home right away. She had a haemorrhage, she had four surgeries and came close to dying and there was virtually no talk about that in the family. His older siblings just went to school as if it were normal while they’re terribly worried about their mother.”

His mother’s frequent absences, Frank suggests, left Trump devoid of empathy.

“One of the things that you do when you’re feeling ignored and abandoned in some way,” he says, “is develop contempt for that part of yourself. You have the hatred of your own weakness and you then become a bully and make other people feel weak, or mock other people to make it clear that you’re the strong one and that you don’t have any needs.

“In fact, at one of his rallies recently somebody was complaining about something and he said, ‘Why don’t you go home to your mommy?’ I was struck that he must have been reading my book.”

Frank adds: “That’s why I think some of his relationships with women are not just based on sex. It had to do with a real contempt for women’s boundaries and autonomy because he’s so angry and so bereft and I think that’s so deeply unconscious.”

Fred Trump: ‘A kind of tyrant’

Trump on the Couch is the third in Frank’s series of psychoanalytic presidential profiles, following Bush on the Couch and Obama on the Couch. It draws on two years of study of Trump’s tweets, speeches, interviews and overall behaviour to conclude that he is “mentally unfit” and “psychologically unsuited” to the presidency. The approach represents a break from the “Goldwater rule”, the principle that bars psychiatrists from giving professional opinions about public figures without examining them in person.

Frank suggests that Trump’s authoritarian father was also a formative influence on his childhood in Jamaica Estates in Queens, New York.

“When his father was there,” Frank says, “he ran the house like a kind of a tyrant, where there were so many rules that everybody had to do what the father said. [Donald Trump] was, I think, frightened of his father. His father would take him aside and say, ‘You have to be strong. You have to be tough. Never apologise. Never complain. Never say you’re sorry. You have to learn to be a killer. You have to be a king.’ It’s over and over again, drilled into him.

“But it didn’t work when he went to school, and his father actually joined the school board because he thought maybe he could help control things – but he couldn’t. When he was about 10, 11, 12, Donny would sneak into New York in a delinquent way and go to shows with a friend of his. Then he saw West Side Story and that got him very excited. He decided to start buying switchblades and developed a fairly elaborate collection of large ones and his father eventually found out and just read them the riot act and made arrangements to send him off to military school.”

Trump manifests what Sigmund Freud identified as “repetition compulsion”, the author continues.

“People unconsciously repeat inner conflicts that they’ve had that didn’t get resolved when they were younger,” he says. “Trump is re-enacting his teenage impeachment fears and is now doing it with [special counsel Robert] Mueller and all these people. He was going to do everything he could to sneak into Manhattan to undermine his father to do whatever he wanted, and now he’s doing it with Mueller. Instead of being thrown out of the Jamaica Estates, he’s afraid of being thrown out of the White House.”

Frank has more than 40 years of experience in psychoanalysis but he acknowledges that he has never encountered a subject like Trump.

“He is infantile. He’s dominated by impulses, by suspicion, by a need to always win, by a fantasy that he has to do everything himself, which is what you see in children when they say: ‘Don’t help me, mommy. I’m going tie my own shoes.’ Then you wait for 45 minutes for the shoes to get tied before you can get out of the house. He’s, like, anti-dependent.”

Does he think Trump is capable of feeling love? “No. He needed his first wife, Ivana, but once they got together he really needed her to be subservient to him, like many men do. So I don’t know about love or real, deep concern for her wellbeing. Love involves being able to have ruth, as opposed to being ruthless. Being able to feel concern and care, and I just don’t think he had that.

“I also don’t think he ever felt loved and I think that’s also partly why he tweets so much and has to say ‘I’m getting an A+ as president’ so often, because if he didn’t get love outside, he’s going to compensatorily love himself. ‘If don’t get love from you guys, I know I’m the best.’”

‘Unconscious incestuous fantasy

Frank devotes a chapter to the psychology of sexism and misogyny. In it he notes that Trump reportedly told the model Karen McDougal and the porn star Stormy Daniels, with whom he is alleged to have had affairs, that they reminded him of his daughter Ivanka. The psychoanalyst suggests this enabled Trump to enact “an unconscious incestuous fantasy” and use the image of his daughter as “a kind of psychological Viagra”.

Trump’s body and verbal language around Ivanka has often been unsettling.

“I think that he does have an erotic attachment to her,” Frank says, “but he leads with his unconscious so he doesn’t have to be dominated by it. If he gets it out of his system by saying it and joking about it, he doesn’t have to live with it and sit with it. It’s like releasing a pressure cooker. He has the courage of his neurosis.”

Then there is the mendacity. According to the Washington Post, Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims since taking office.

“I think that most of the time he does believe the things he’s saying,” Frank says, “because, at his deepest level, he lies to himself. The purpose of lying is to hide yourself, first, from others, but then at a deeper level to hide yourself from yourself.

“He doesn’t want to look at who he is, so what he does over time is distort reality, and lying involves changing reality and making it into one’s own wish or fantasy. That’s where the term ‘fake news’ is so important, because he hates the fact that the news functions almost for him unconsciously like a Greek chorus. Part of his lying is also to deny rules and deny regulations, to deny laws, to deny limitations. It’s rejection of learning and thinking. Rules remind him of having to accept truth.”

As for Trump’s scattergun tweeting, Frank has an unusual metaphor.

“It’s a form of what I call the faecalisation of the environment. He is covering all of us with his productions, which I think unconsciously have a faecal quality. They’re smearing things in a playpen all over the place. It’s something that we see in young children who are both exuberant and angry at the same time.”

He expands: “He talks about shithole countries, he talks about shit, he talks about dirty Mexicans, people who are dark and dirty. Those are all related to germ-phobia and related to his own fecal fantasies and issues.”

Trump is the most powerful man in the world and arguably the strangest American president of all time. Yet novelists might struggle with his shallowness and lack of hinterland: he would not necessarily make a great literary character.

Frank muses: “He’s quite two-dimensional. I don’t think I could really ever engage with him. I would not find him a good patient or subject for a novel. He doesn’t have the depth and I think that, if he were not president, I would never think twice about him.”


Kavanaugh v Ford: the parading of sexual assault victims has to end

The Senate hearing resembled nothing so much as a 17th-century rape trial. Let’s hope the grotesque spectacle enhances justice

September 3, 2018

by Catherine Bennett

The Guardian

Had it been a rehearsal, not the final hearing, notes for Brett Kavanaugh would surely have featured the suggestion, for the sake of verisimilitude, that he try to act a bit more like an actual judge. Part of the job description being, you imagine, the office holder’s ability to appear emphatic without pulling angry faces; to appear honest, without a reference from a 10-year-old; to subdue, for the sake of public faith in the judiciary, any behaviour that looks cheap, overblown, uncontrolled. And that includes sniffing.

Not the least mesmerising aspect of this allegedly brilliant jurist’s performance, at the hearing of his lifetime, was Kavanaugh’s refusal, like some wailing toddler, to submit to the offer of a tissue. In an ideal world, prosecutor Rachel Mitchell would have gone over and, sparing us all, dabbed his nose for him.

As for Trump’s verdict, on a person whose nasal quirks alone would have some of us heading for a distant tube carriage: “Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him.” Start sniffing, senators.

Supposing the judge’s delivery in response to the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford can be explained, as alleged, by his desire to please a presidential sponsor so deeply invested in tantrums, a less tribal operator might nonetheless have alternated aggressive volatility with glimpses of a more conventional “judicial temperament” of which the owner has boasted.

“That’s why,” Kavanaugh protests, “I have unanimous, ‘well qualified’ rating from the American Bar Association.” But by the end of this performance the American Bar Association was asking for Kavanaugh’s appointment to be delayed, pending an FBI investigation.

The American Beer Association, if there is one, probably felt the same way. Brewers have been trying, for years, to sell beer to women. And now here is Judge Kavanaugh, the “alumnius” (sic, in an obscene yearbook entry) of implied sexual conquests, blotchily repeating: “I like beer.” Any suspicions that extreme dedication to this beverage may have led to blackouts, during which anything might have happened, were hardly dispelled when Kavanaugh, suddenly more uppity than tragic, retorted to the female senator who’d asked if he’d ever suffered: “I don’t know, have you?”

Kavanaugh’s performance could only look more unfortunate once Ford, had, in contrast, maintained her dignity throughout a Senate hearing whose resemblance to an early ecclesiastical court is probably inevitable – since both ritualise the public sex-shaming of a violated woman by disbelieving but insatiably curious patriarchs.

More specifically, Ford’s interrogation, though it inescapably recalled the prurient public questioning of Anita Hill, and subsequently, the lawyer Ken Starr’s salacious interest in the exact sexual usage of a 22-year-old intern, featured lines that could have come directly – transcripts allow for the comparision – from a rape trial in 1612.

As performed in a new, acclaimed dramatisation, It’s true, It’s true, It’s true, drawn from contemporary records of the trial, the painter Artemisia Gentileschi, who was, like the young Christine Blasey Ford, aged 15 when attacked, had to testify, subject to torture, before an audience of derisive men, that she was not inventing the event in which her rapist pushed her into a bedroom, threw her on the bed and covered her mouth, while she struggled to escape.

Last week, Ford, now 51, a mother and a senior academic, had, like Hill and Lewinsky before her, to endure the further allegation, along with a television audience estimated at 20 million, that she amounted to nothing more than an accessory, a “new tactic” (in Kavanaugh’s words) who’d been effectively duped by more powerful figures into wrecking her life. Still, in contrast to Hill’s and Lewinsky’s half-forgotten victimisations, it may now be Ford’s achievement finally to expose the process itself to irreversible public shame.

Where Ken Starr’s career, and those of Hill’s inquisitors, somehow survived their creepy enthusiasm for public sex talk, it is now time for senators, prompted by Ford, who need to explain why, in the US, serious questions about a man’s fitness for high office should repeatedly require a woman to elaborate on sexual experiences or molestation, for the entertainment of the masses, in a roomful of hostile men.

Admittedly, the very circumstances in which Ford felt obliged to detail her story left men confessing, on social media, that they had never understood, previously, why assaulted girls and women might not disclose their ordeals in an orderly fashion. As for those whose response to any #MeToo account short of rape has been, “but it wasn’t rape”, this account of what it is to be shoved, groped and pinioned by strong, heavy, drunk men whose intention is to rape, seems also to have achieved some broader understanding of the terror that even non-raped complainants may have lived through and why it stays with them.

Maybe, even if Kavanaugh is, sniffs and all, promoted, Trump’s “I just grab them by the pussy” will sound, henceforth, a bit less locker room. Although nothing can be compensation enough for Dr Ford and her family, the excruciating spectacle also seems to have been vital for the American Bar Association to understand that an assault on that scale is, after all, something worth investigating, even 36 years on.

The reflexive ease with which Kavanaugh’s supporters rejected Ford’s account suggests, however, that in one part of Trump’s constituency, an American’s sacred right to grope is fast acquiring the status of an amendment. If Kavanaugh’s name stays uncleared, his promotion marks the moment when Trump’s free pass on sexual molestation is extended to all Republican dignitaries, including those legislating on women’s physical autonomy.

What other messages, critics of Kavanaugh ask, does his appointment send to impressionable young people? There are so many. But if you thought Trump had voided the word “presidential” of all meaning, take a look at what he’s done to “judicial temperament”.


Brett Kavanaugh’s classmate says he lied about drinking

October 1, 2018

BBC News

A Yale classmate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says the judge lied under oath about his “heavy” drinking habits.

Charles Ludington said that he was “deeply troubled” by the judge’s “blatant mischaracterisation”.

Mr Kavanaugh has denied ever drinking to the point of memory loss – most recently during last week’s testimony before a Senate committee.

The FBI is inquiring into allegations of sexual assault by Mr Kavanaugh.

The new inquiry has delayed a final vote on Judge Kavanaugh, who if confirmed is likely to tip America’s highest court in favour of conservatives.

What did the classmate say about Mr Kavanaugh?

Prof Ludington, who teaches at North Carolina State University, said he had seen Judge Kavanaugh slurring his words and staggering after excessive alcohol consumption while at Yale.

The professor also said Judge Kavanaugh “was often belligerent and aggressive” when drunk.

“I can unequivocally say that in denying the possibility that he ever blacked out from drinking, and in downplaying the degree and frequency of his drinking, Brett has not told the truth.”

He noted that it was not Judge Kavanaugh’s drinking habits in college that worried him – it was the fact that he made questionable statements under oath.

“If he lied about his past actions on national television, and more especially while speaking under oath in front of the United States Senate, I believe those lies should have consequences,” Prof Ludington said.

The professor plans to speak with the FBI on Monday, according the New York Times.

His statement contradicts another Yale classmate – former NBA player Chris Dudley – who told the Washington Post he “never, ever saw Brett Kavanaugh black out” from alcohol consumption.

What is the FBI investigating?

Prof Ludington and Mr Dudley are among several of Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates who have recently spoken out about his behaviour at Yale.

The discussion around the top court nominee’s drinking habits forms part of the FBI inquiry, which is expected to be completed within a week.

US media report that the FBI spoke with Ms Ramirez, who accuses Judge Kavanaugh of exposing his genitals to her during a college party, on Sunday.

Opposition Democrats have accused the administration of trying to limit the scope of the inquiry, amid media reports that Judge Kavanaugh’s third accuser – Julie Swetnick – would not be interviewed.

Mr Trump has denied imposing any restrictions, saying he wanted the FBI “to interview whoever they deem appropriate”.

Despite this, NBC news quoted a White House official as saying restrictions remained in place, adding that as the FBI is carrying out a background – not a criminal – investigation, the White House decides the parameters of the probe.

The most senior Democrat on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, has sent a letter urging the White House to release the written directive sent by President Trump to the FBI launching the investigation.

Although the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday approved Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, it was conditional on a new inquiry into what it said were the “credible allegations” facing him.

As the investigation is not a criminal one, the FBI will not say whether it believes the allegations are true.

Who are Mr Kavanaugh’s accusers?

The first woman to come forward with allegations against Mr Kavanaugh was psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford. She testified at a hearing last week that he tried to remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and covered her mouth at a house party in 1982, when she was 15 and he was 17.

In response to her testimony, Judge Kavanaugh said he had never assaulted her or anyone else. He accused Democrats of politicising the process and harming his family and good name.

Two other women have also come forward: Ms Ramirez, who attended Yale at the same time as Mr Kavanaugh, says he exposed his genitals to her during a college drinking game.

Ms Swetnick says she went to house parties attended by Mr Kavanaugh in the early 1980s, where she said he and his friends had tried to “spike” girls’ drinks. He has denied both accusations.

As the investigation is not a criminal one, the FBI will not say whether it believes the allegations are true.

On paper, US President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, has an impeccable legal pedigree and is seen as a safe pair of hands in Washington.

But the allegations of sexual misconduct which have emerged during Senate confirmation hearings have cast a shadow. He denies the allegations.

A Yale law school graduate, he was born in Washington DC, and has served since 2006 on the influential US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, ruling on some of the nation’s most high-profile cases.

He worked previously as White House lawyer and adviser under George W Bush.

In the 1990s, he worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated then President Bill Clinton, helping draft the report urging the Democrat’s impeachment.

He was also a clerk to the man he is due to replace on the Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who is to retire later this year.

As an ideological conservative, he would be expected to push the court to the right on a number of issues including business regulation and national security.

Judges are appointed for their lifetime, and as Mr Kavanaugh is relatively young at the age of 53, he could serve for decades to come.

The US Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter on contentious laws and disputes between states and the federal government, and rules on such issues as abortion, the death penalty, voter rights and immigration policy.

Mr Kavanaugh is Mr Trump’s second Supreme Court appointment, out of nine judges. The court already has a 5-4 conservative majority, but his appointment could shift the bench further to the right than under Mr Kennedy, who occasionally sided with the four liberal justices in the court.

The president said of him on the day of his nomination: “Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.

“There is no-one in America more qualified for this position and no-one more deserving.”

Presentational grey line

Where does he stand on key issues?

The nominee himself described his judicial philosophy as “straightforward”.

“A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law,” he said. “A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

Some of his previous rulings give an idea of his opinion on a range of important matters.


Mr Kavanaugh has not expressed outright opposition to Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalised abortion nationwide, but he has given some indications of where he might stand.

Last year, the DC Circuit Court ruled that an undocumented immigrant teenager in detention was entitled to seek an abortion.

Mr Kavanaugh objected, saying that her right to have an abortion was “based on a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong: a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in US government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand”.

He argued the teenager needed an adult sponsor (as her parents were not available) with whom to discuss her decision.

He did, however, write in his dissent to the ruling that the court must recognise Roe v Wade and another abortion rights case “as precedents we must follow”.

Executive power

Mr Kavanaugh argued in a 2009 article that presidents should be shielded from criminal investigations and civil lawsuits while in office. That could be a red flag to Democrats – indicating that if the special counsel investigation into Mr Trump’s alleged campaign ties to Russia finds its way to the Supreme Court, he would not support action against Mr Trump before his term is up.


He is pro-second amendment – the constitutional right to bear arms. In 2011, he objected when the DC Circuit Court upheld a ban on most semi-automatic rifles in the district. He argued that, because most handguns are semi-automatic, and are protected by a previous Supreme Court ruling, semi-automatic rifles should benefit from the same protection.

The environment

Mr Kavanaugh has issued rulings and dissents against Obama-era environmental regulations, including efforts to curb air pollution from power plants and greenhouse gases.



Ted Cruz Is Running as a Populist. Here’s His Little-Known History as a Corporate Lobbyist.

October 1 2018

by  Lee Fang

The Intercept

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, locked in a heated battle for re-election, is once again touting his credentials as an anti-establishment populist, claiming to voters that he has taken on K-Street, the proverbial corridor of Beltway corporate influence-peddling.

Not so long ago, however, in a largely forgotten chapter in his meteoric political career, Cruz was a card-carrying member of the swamp.

And, as part of his lobbying, he worked for some of the most well-known companies in the world. Cruz was once retained by Google to influence a high-profile government investigation led by his former colleagues in the Texas Attorney General’s Office, helping the Silicon Valley giant squash an inquiry that the company had abused its market power to undermine competitors.

The lobbying was done while Cruz worked for the mega law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, before his first campaign for elected office. Though his public profile with the firm focused largely on his work as a litigator, Cruz was also listed as a member of the firm’s lobbying division.

During that time, Cruz was a board member and state chair of an advocacy group called the Hispanic Alliance for Prosperity Institute. The now-defunct group was run by corporate lobbyists to mobilize grassroots support for industry priorities, primarily on energy, health care, and telecom issues. Records show that Cruz’s nonprofit — which was funded by the financial giants AIG and Goldman Sachs, according to an online archive of its website — pressured Congress to enact the 2008 law known as Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that bailed out big banks at the public’s expense.

In his political career, Cruz has presented himself as a populist — fighting against big business and moneyed interests. In his first campaign for Senate in 2012 and during his 2016 presidential campaign, Cruz projected an image as a firebrand populist to rail against bailouts and political corruption. Cruz argued that he was compelled to run for office over frustration that “career politicians in both parties get in bed with the lobbyist and special interest.”

Cruz’s image on the campaign trail contrasts sharply with his years of climbing through the ranks of the political establishment. Cruz’s work for George W. Bush is well-known. He served as a campaign legal adviser, then gained appointments in the Bush administration at the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. In 2003, Cruz was appointed as Texas’s solicitor general by the state’s then-Attorney General Greg Abbott. Cruz used the position to argue cases on a range of hot-button issues, including gun rights and redistricting, before the Supreme Court, earning acclaim among conservative activists.

Years later, Cruz re-emerged as a tea party darling, appearing at events to denounce former President Barack Obama’s domestic policy program. He successfully ran in 2012 as an insurgent candidate for the U.S. Senate.

The years between Cruz’s stints in government — after he left the solicitor general’s office in 2008, but before his first run for elected office — have received little attention.

During that period, Cruz served as a partner at the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a position that earned him as much as $1.5 million a year. At the firm, he worked on traditional litigation, representing, for instance, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Shandong Linglong Tire Co., a Chinese tire manufacturer, in court as an attorney. But he also worked to influence his former colleagues in government.

Cruz was listed as a practice group member of the Morgan, Lewis & Bockius lobbying division, a team known as the “Washington Government Relations & Public Policy” practice group. The team was advertised as a collection of attorneys and lobbyists with “alumni from both Republican and Democratic administrations, who focus on helping clients anticipate—and succeed amid—legislative and regulatory change and heightened Congressional oversight.”

His deep connections to the Texas Attorney General’s Office and experience with antitrust issues from his work during the Bush administration brought at least one major client matter to the firm. In July 2010, Texas announced that it would open an inquiry into the business practices of Google, charging that the firm had unfairly demoted the search rankings of smaller competitors to undercut their business. The state filed “civil investigative demand” to the Mountain View, California-based tech company requesting documents. Cruz was retained to help influence the potentially explosive investigation from his former employers in the attorney general’s office.

The following month, a team of in-house attorneys from Google, its longstanding law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Cruz traveled to Austin to meet with Abbott’s staff to discuss the investigation. In an email dated August 23, 2010, Wilson Sonsini partner Renata Hesse emailed an antitrust attorney at Texas Attorney General’s Office, alerting her that Cruz would be among the Google attorneys visiting her office.

The meetings continued as Google worked to respond to inquiries from the antitrust office. According to schedule logs obtained by Yahoo! News, Cruz attended three other meetings with the Texas attorney general’s staff to discuss the Google investigation.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office eventually closed its investigation without bringing charges. But the office also shared the documents it gathered from the inquiry with the Federal Trade Commission, which was quietly pursuing its own major antitrust inquiry into Google. A memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal prepared by FTC staff shows that federal investigators cited documents obtained in the Texas probe 28 times in their report recommending a federal antitrust investigation of the internet search giant.

In the end, however, Google again prevailed — by exerting tremendous political influence. The company retained lobbyists and set up meetings with administration officials at least 280 times during Obama’s first term. Google co-founder Larry Page and former Google chair Eric Schmidt met with senior administration officials to discuss the antitrust probe, among other high-level contacts made to influence the FTC. Despite the memo recommending an investigation, the FTC closed the probe in exchange for Google volunteering to change some of its business practices.

It was during this time — between his stints in government — that Cruz was affiliated with the nonprofit called the Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute, serving as a board member and state chair. The organization was founded by Manuel Lujan, a veteran of the George H.W. Bush administration and a registered lobbyist. The Hispanic Alliance engaged in a wide range of political advocacy tied directly to its corporate donors, a practice that earned it suspicion from critics as an “astroturf” lobbying front set up to provide business interests with the facade of genuine grassroots support.

The Hispanic Alliance, for instance, received financial support from the Coca-Cola Company while helping to lobby against taxes on sugary drinks. The group was listed as a supporter for “Energy Citizen” rallies against federal legislation on fossil fuel companies while receiving funding from the American Petroleum Institute, an oil industry trade group. Similarly, the Hispanic Alliance, which received funding from telecommunication firms, joined a coalition calling for the repeal of an excise tax paid by cellphone firms. (Cruz’s office did not respond to repeated inquiries from The Intercept about his former clients or his role at the Hispanic Alliance.)

During the 2008 financial crisis, the Hispanic Alliance played a role during the debate over the government rescue of failing financial firms — pushing for a bailout for big banks whose dicey investments had collapsed using public coffers. In September of that year, as the stock market rapidly plunged from bad bets on subprime mortgages, Congress debated a $700 billion bailout package. On September 29, the first vote on the bailout legislation in the House of Representatives failed, sending the market into even more turmoil.

The Hispanic Alliance sprung into action. “Hispanic Alliance severely censures the failure of Congress to enact the economic rescue,” reads a press release sent on October 1. “Both parties in both Chambers can not continue to waste time – they must approve a new measure of Economic Rescue, and they must do it this week,” said Jose Niño, co-president of the Hispanic Alliance, in the release.

Massive pressure from major financial institutions and fear of continued market collapse spurred lawmakers to act, finally approving the bank bailouts two days later.

Cruz’s affiliation with the Hispanic Alliance was proudly displayed in several profiles of Cruz before his rise to the Senate. Cruz’s professional biography on his former Morgan, Lewis profile similarly touted his ties to the group. Since then, however, the group has faded from biographical sketches.

Meanwhile, as Cruz campaigns for re-election decrying the influence of special interests, he has received over $600,000 from corporate-controlled political action committees, including $6,000 from Google’s PAC.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

October 1, 2018

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The  small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of  highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by  DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton  conspired to  secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files our of the agency. Crowley did the same thing  right before his own retirement , secretly removing thousands of pages  of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley , Crowley told Douglas  that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.

Conversation No. 2

Date: Friday, February 9, 1996

Commenced: 9:11 AM (CST)

Concluded: 9:38 AM (CST)

GD: Robert.

RTC: Good morning, Gregory. How are you doing today?

GD: Functioning. Yourself?

RTC: Good days, bad days. I have to be careful in the bathroom because I sometimes lose my balance.

GD: Put in some grab irons.

RTC: Better said than done. I have some advice for you Gregory. Don’t get old.

GD: Do I have a choice?

RTC: We know the alternative. Have you heard back from your publisher?

GD: He’s too patient with me, I must say. He wants to see something about flying saucers but I have a diary entry for Müller that covers this subject and I want to put it in there. His cousin was involved in the Roswell business and Roger actually saw one of the American ones out at Moffitt Field once. Actually climbed up on it.

RTC: Oh the hysteria of it all.

GD: I remember very clearly. At least three sightings a week. I created one of them at least.

RTC: How so?

GD: Oh we made a fake saucer out of balsa and silver paper, mounted two pulse jets at the rear and set it up for radio control.

RTC: Did you put little green men in it?

GD: No. The pilot area was covered with a plastic salad bowl upside down, but it really wasn’t very big. We took it down to the beach on a really hot day in July and flew it from one cliff to another. Right past a beach full of fat people getting sunburns. It was a distance of…oh say about 1000 feet give or take. To me, it wasn’t realistic but we put some noisemakers inside the jet pipes and it made a shitawful noise. High whistling and farting noises. Anyway, I was on one headland and my friend was on the other. We flew it fairly slowly in a straight line and believe me, the beach was packed. Right at the surf level but about 300 feet up in the air. God, you never heard so much shrieking and yelling in your life.

RTC: You always seem to have such a bizarre sense of humor, Gregory. Do you still do things like that?

GD: No. At my age, people get stuck into nut houses doing that but at the time, I did enjoy it. I remember once we carved the dorsal fin of a Great White out of a Styrofoam boogie board, mounted an underwater motor at the base with the control antenna running up to the top. Jesus, it was a huge fin at that. And of course we painted it up right. That was about the time that ‘Jaws’ came out. And this time we took it down to an even bigger beach…..do you know the California coast by any chance? I could be more specific

RTC: No, not really. Go on.

GD: It was the Fourth of July and hot as shit and the beach and the surf were jammed with intercity types. There was a pier that ran out well past the surf at the northern end of the beach so we took a rented rowboat with the fake fin and the radio control equipment and rowed right under this pier. It was a big pier with a road on it and all kinds of shops along the sides so there was certainly room under it. Anyway, we put the fin in the water, turned on the motor and aimed it towards the beach. It was a little hard to direct what with the surf and all but with a few tries, we got it fine. Ran it towards the beach and then paralleled it just out past the surf line. Jesus H. Christ, Robert, you couldn’t imagine the havoc. Screaming we could hear under the pier and everyone stampeded out of the water. We ran it back and forth a few times and then headed out to where a bunch of twits were fishing and again panic reigned supreme. Little outboard jobbies fleeing in terror in all directions. I mean given the size of the fin, what was supposed to be underneath it must have been the size of the Titanic. We saw a Coast Guard boat coming so we just aimed it out to sea and opened it up. Lost the whole rig but I didn’t feel like trying to get it back. If we’d been bagged, I would have got at least ten years out of it. But probably for contaminating the beach. I’ll bet there were six inches of shit floating in the surf.

RTC: Your escapades always entertain me, Gregory. But what do you know about real saucers? I don’t mean toys.

GD: The Germans developed one during the war and flew it. That I do know. Habermohl, Meithe and some wop.

RTC: Yes, true enough. And after the war we got the plans and one of the engineers. The Russians got a prototype and another scientist.

GD: Bender tells me the one he saw at Moffitt was made in Canada.

RTC: Yes, by the A.V. Roe Company. Called it AVRO.

GD: He said they had used it as a high altitude recon craft and it had USAF marking on it.

RTC: They let him see it?

GD: Been out of service for some time and he had some friend in the Navy who got him in.

RTC: Well, those were the legit ones. There really were others, you know.

GD: Russian?

RTC: No. We have no idea where they came from. Radar picked up flights around the moon that never came from down here. And the Roswell business was true enough. That’s where we got transistors, you know. But the sightings came at a sensitive time. The Korean War, the Cold War and so on. Great national fears. Remember the Orson Wells program?

GD: On Halloween of ’38. Mercury Theater radio show. I heard it as a kid. Of course I read Wells’ book and knew it was just a show.

RTC: A lot of others did not, believe me. It caused an enormous national panic. Hundreds dead, people killing themselves and their children, fleeing into the countryside and so on. I’m, surprised they didn’t lynch Orson. But he infuriated old Hearst with his movie….

GD: Citizen Kane.

RTC: Right and old Hearst blackballed Orson and ruined his career. But because of the huge flap over this, Truman decided to keep serious accounts about the sightings out of the papers and they minimalized it and made fun of the whole thing. But they were real enough.

GD: Given the huge number of systems out there, from a mathematical point of view, there isn’t any question superior entities do exist. Why would they bother with our planet? To watch the pink monkeys running around killing each other? Investigate Elvis concerts?

RTC: Well, most of the legit sightings came around the period when they were all testing A-Bombs so maybe that got the little green men interested.

GD: Did the Company have anything to do with all of this?

RTC: No. We had the U-2 business but not the saucers. The real ones. They were strictly military. No weapons but did carry cameras. These were used in various places because they were impossible to intercept but not as stable a camera platform as the U-2. The Russians knew all about these and when the strangers showed up, they thought they were ours and we thought they were theirs. We had several secret conferences about these at the time to try to clarify this.

GD: Any authentic reports of landings or abduction of humans?

RTC: Not that I remember. Mostly what we could call recon passes. The Roswell one was a fluke. Lightning was supposed to have hit one of their ships and brought it down. Don’t forget that Roswell was in a very sensitive military area at the time.

GD: Did they recover bodies?

RTC: As I understand it, they did but I can’t give you any more than that. What did Müller have to say about these?

GD: That they were both domestic and from somewhere unknown. I’ll include this passage when I do the journals or diaries.

RTC: Journals sounds more authoritative. Diaries sounds like something a little girl keeps about her pets or boyfriends.

GD: I think you’re right.

RTC: When are they coming out?

GD: They’re in German and the handwriting is terrible. And his wife is terrified that I’ll somehow identify her or the children. I won’t but she is not sure of that. Some of your friends will not be happy when this comes out but so what?

RTC: So what. And after that? After the journals?

GD: I don’t know. Any ideas?

RTC: Well, we can always think about the Kennedy killing. I can give you some material on that that could produce a best seller.

GD: For example?

RTC: Now, Gregory, everything in its own good time. First things first. Finish up with the Müller business and then on to other things. One of these days, we’ll have to jerk Jim Critchfield’s chain a little. I can’t stand that man. His wife, Lois, used to work for me and when we were shortening staff, I got her a job with Jim but we both wish I hadn’t. Jim is a first class asshole and a sadist of sorts. I think we can do a number on him as they say.

GD: Well, if you want to off him, I’m not your man. I’ve truly done in a few in my life but I prefer the typewriter to the gun. I do have an Irish friend who is a hit man but only political. He worked for your people in Ireland. He led the team that did Mountbatten in ’79.

RTC: Oh, I know about that. They caught one man.

GD: The man who planted the bomb on the boat but not my friend. A very interesting story.

RTC: Are you planning to use it? He’s still alive I take it?

GD: Oh yes, and doing fine in the private sector. And, most important, a very good friend. If I do anything, I’ll talk to him first. It’s not only OK but a real duty to fuck your enemies but never your friends.

RTC: Well, in time I can tell you our part in that one but let’s wait awhile. Every day is not Christmas, is it?

GD: That would be nice. Christmas every day. By the way, I read in the Post that it was so cold in DC the other day that a Senator was seen with his hands in his own pockets.

RTC: (Laughs)

GD: Did I ever tell you the one about the man who asked his girl friend to put her hands into his pocket? No?

RTC: Not that I recall.

GD: Anyway, she said ‘I feel silly doing this,” and he said, “If you put them any further down, you’ll feel nuts.”

RTC: Gregory, so soon after breakfast. Don’t you know any refined jokes?

GD: Limericks?

RTC: God no. The last time you got off on those we were an hour on the phone and Emily wondered why I was laughing so much. You must know thousands of them. How can you remember so much?

GD: It’s a curse, believe me.

RTC: Bill said you have a phenomenal memory.

GD: I can remember everything but dates and figures. No pre-natal memories.

RTC: The shrinks are useless, Gregory. We hired weird people like Cameron and you would be astonished at the pure crap they peddled on everyone.

GD: You know, I think most of them went into the game because they started reading up on their own psychosis and went on from there. Freud used to bang his sister when he wasn’t smoking Yen Shee….

RTC: You mean opium?

GD: Yes. Coleridge loved it too but Xanadu is all he had to show for it. Oh, I was digging into the Elmali business. The Greek coins. Now there’s a funny story for you. The Bulgarians forged up thousands of the rarest old Greek coins and sold them to the sucker brigades for millions. Cash for operations. Like the Stasi doing the Hitler Diaries.

RTC: You were into that one, weren’t you?

GD: I did all the detail work for Wolfgang and let Connie Kujau do the writing. Old Billy Price gave them a million dollars for the Hitler diary I turned out. I mean I did the research and Connie did the writing. Now that would make a nice book.

RTC: Was if profitable for you?

GD: Oh God, yes. Very. They still can’t account for millions of marks.  But I really enjoyed watching the phonies and experts like Irving and Trevor-Roper get shit on their bibs. God, such a frenzied drive to get their names into print. Irving is such a brainless fuck that I can’t believe it. One of these days, Dave will really start believing his own lies and then he’ll get caught. ‘Irving’s been in hiding since early last fall when his picture first appeared on the Post Office wall.’

RTC: Costello admired him.

GD: Don’t forget, I met Costello. If he admired Irving, Irving must have a huge cock.

RTC: Now, now, I liked Costello.

GD: Brittle and vituperative without a reason or an excuse. I didn”t have much use for him but he was a better writer than Irving.

RTC: I’ll agree. But John tried.

GD: What an epitaph!

RTC: Do I detect professional jealousy here, Gregory?

GD: No. You know how Costello died, don’t you?

RTC: There is somewhat of a mystery about that. There is a story going around that the Russians did him because he had discovered something sinister on his last trip to Moscow. What have you heard?

GD: John died of AIDS on a flight from Spain to Miami. Found him dead in his seat.

RTC: Gregory, come now. Where did you get that canard?

GD: It’s not a canard. Miami is in Dade County, Florida. When someone dies like that, the local coroner gets the body and has to do a post on it. I used to do posts so I have some knowledge. Anyway, I called the coroner’s office there, talked shop with a technician and got him to pull the initial death certificate and the final report. Costello had a raging lung infection only caused by HIV and died from it. Not open to debate at all. Since these are public records, I sent my new friend the money and he got official copies and sent them off to me. When I told Kimmel and Bruce Lee about this, Lee was very irate and, true to form, Kimmel refused to believe me. I can understand why Kimmel was negative because I can never be right but Lee’s reaction was interesting. And, of course, Tom has a penchant for young men. He made a very strong pass at the son of a Swedish farmer I know. He likes to teach basketball to the small ones. Playing doctor is more like it. If the Russians ever find out about his secret lusts, they will bag him for sure. I wonder if they already have?

RTC: Why speculate?

GD: I’m a curious person, Robert. Why did the dog not bark in the night? Lee told me sinister forces got Costello and poisoned him with shellfish. The official autopsy report shows differently. I sent him a copy of the reports and he was not happy.

RTC: Regardless of the truth of this, Costello was a very competent historian, don’t you think?

GD: Costello alive didn’t particularly impress me. I talked with him in Reno, as you know, for about three hours and I’ve had more enlightening conversations with the hairlip who grooms my dogs.

RTC: How are your dogs?

GD: Being dogs. Actually, Robert, I am a firm believer in Frederick the Great’s sentiment. He said that the more he saw of people, the more he loved his dogs. I told Tom Kimmel that and he got huffy about it.

RTC: Tom is a decent sort, although your comments about nice young men are not a surprise. We used to call Tommy the Arrow Shirt Kid,  but I agree he’s conventional.

GD: How can you be a good intelligence officer and be conventional? I’m not at all conventional and you yourself said I would have been your best agent. Or were you just flattering me?

RTC: You have talent.

GD: Ah, my Russian friends have said the same thing but we don’t need to discuss that aspect, do we?

RTC: That might be interesting.

GD: Not to the author of the ‘New KGB.’ You did write that, correct?

RTC: We had some help from Joe Trento.

GD: I wouldn’t admit that to anyone. You should have used my literary abilities. Trento is of the mistaken impression that he’s important and articulate.

RTC: We didn’t know you then but you probably would have done a much better job at that.

GD: Truth pressed to earth will rise again.

RTC: That’s….?

GD: Mary Baker Eddy. Actually, it’s Latin. I could give it to you in Latin but what the hell? Oh, well, another day and another fifteen cents. How’re your family?

RTC: Doing fine, thank you for asking. And yours?

GD: My evil sister is still alive but all the rest of them have gone off to play cards with Jesus. If it’s true that when you die you have a great burst of glowing light and then you get to meet all your dead relatives, I think I’ll try to postpone the inevitable and find some place where they aren’t. Like Monaco.

RTC: Sam Cummings and Monaco. Do you know about Sam?

GD: A Limey who ran Interarmco and sold to the wrong people. That’s a no-no for one of your people. And safe in Monaco. Sometime I’ll talk to you about Jimmy Atwood and his Merex gun operation but not now.

RTC: Always promises. I’m going to have to cut this short Gregory because I have to do a little maintenance work upstairs and Emily keeps reminding me about this in a nice way. If you talk to Bill, ask him to call me, would you? His wife is not doing too well and it’s hard to get a hold of him.

GD: Of course. And be good.

RTC: At my age, there isn’t much reason not to.


(Concluded at 9:38AM CST)


A CIA lucky break? How the death of the ‘Smiling Pope’ helped Washington win the Cold War

September 28, 2018

by Neil Clark


The sudden death of Pope John Paul I, exactly 40 years ago today, stunned the world. The ‘Smiling Pope’ had only served for 33 days. His demise and replacement by John Paul II marked an important turning point in the old Cold War.

The year 1978, as I argued in a previous op-ed, was the year today’s world was made.

There was nothing inevitable about the ascendancy of Reagan and Thatcher, the rise of groups like Al-Qaeda and IS, and the downfall of the Soviet Union. The neoliberal, neoconservative world order and its associated violence came about because of key events and decisions which took place 40 years ago. The Vatican was at the heart of these events.

The drama which unfolded there in the summer of 1978 would have been rejected as being too far-fetched if sent in as a film script. In a space of two and a half months, we had three different Popes. There was no great surprise when, on August 6, the first of them, Pope Paul VI, died after suffering a massive heart attack. The Supreme Pontiff, who had served since 1963, was 80 and had been in declining health. But the death of his much younger successor, John Paul I, a radical reformer who wanted to build a genuine People’s Church, has fuelled conspiracy theories to this day.

Cardinal Albino Luciani, the working-class son of a bricklayer (and staunch socialist), from a small town in northern Italy, was a Pope like no other. He refused a coronation and detested being carried on the sedia gestatoria – the Papal chair. He hated pomp and circumstance and pretentiousness. His speeches were down to earth and full of homely observations, with regular references to popular fiction. He possessed a gentle humor and always had a twinkle in his eye. He was by all accounts an incredibly sweet man.

But there was steel there, too. Luciani was determined to root out corruption, and to investigate the complex financial affairs of the Vatican’s own bank, and its connection to the scandal-hit Banco Ambrosiano.

While he had declared communism to be incompatible with Christianity, his father’s egalitarian ethos stayed with him. “The true treasures of the Church are the poor, the little ones to be helped not merely by occasional alms but in the way they can be promoted,” he once said. At a meeting with General Videla of Argentina, he made clear his abhorrence of fascism. “He talked particularly of his concern over ‘Los Desaparecidos’, people who had vanished off the face of Argentinian earth in their thousands. By the conclusion of the 15th minute audience the General began to wish that he had heeded the eleventh-hour attempts of Vatican officials to dissuade him coming to Rome,” noted David Yallop in his book ‘In God’s Name’.

One cleric, Father Busa, wrote of John Paul I: “His mind was as strong, as hard and as sharp as a diamond. That was where his real power was. He understood and had the ability to get to the centre of a problem. He could not be overwhelmed. When everyone was applauding the smiling Pope, I was waiting for him ‘tirare fuori le unghie’, to reveal his claws. He had tremendous power.”

But John Paul I never lived to exercise his “tremendous power.” He was found dead in his bed on the morning of September 28, 1978. The official story was that the ‘Smiling Pope’ had died from a heart attack. But it wasn’t long before questions were being asked. John Paul I was only 65 and had appeared to be in fine health. The fact that there was no post-mortem only added to the suspicions. “The public speculation that this death was not natural grew by the minute. Men and women were heard shouting at the inert form: Who has done this to you? Who has murdered you?” wrote David Yallop.

David Yallop revealed that on the day of his death, the Pope had discussed a reshuffle of Vatican staff with Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot, who was also to be replaced. Yallop claimed that the Pope had a list of a number of clerics who belonged to the Freemasons, membership of which was strictly prohibited by the Church. The most sinister of these Masonic lodges was the fiercely anti-communist Propaganda Due (P2), which held great influence in Italy at this time, being referred to as a “state within a state.” The murky world of P2, and its leaders’ links with organized crime, the Mafia and the CIA is discussed in ‘In God’s Name’.

Another writer, Lucien Gregoire, author of ‘Murder by the Grace of God’, points the finger of blame squarely at the CIA. He notes a seemingly strange coincidence, namely that on September 3, 1978, just 25 days before the Pope himself died, Metropolitan Nikodim, the visiting leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was later revealed to have been a KGB agent, fell dead at John Paul’s feet in the Vatican after sipping coffee. He was only 48. Gregoire says that the CIA dubbed John Paul I ‘the Bolshevik Pope’ and was keen to eliminate him before he presided over a conference the Puebla Conference in Mexico. “Had he lived another week, the United States would have been looking at a half a dozen mini-Cubas in its back yard,” he writes.

While there’s no shortage of suspects if you believe that John Paul I was murdered, it needs to be stressed that despite the contradictory statements made about the circumstances of his death, and the strange coincidences, no evidence has yet been produced to show that his death was not a natural one. What we can say though is that there will have been quite a few powerful and influential people in Italy and beyond who were relieved that the ‘Smiling Pope’ had such a short time in office.

His successor, the Polish Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, who took the name ‘John Paul II’ as a homage to his predecessor, made it clear that investigating the Vatican’s financial activities and uncovering Freemasons was not a priority. As a patriotic Pole, his appointment was manna from Heaven for anti-communist hawks in the US State Department. “The single fact of John Paul II’s election in 1978 changed everything. In Poland, everything began… Then the whole thing spread. He was in Chile and Pinochet was out. He was in Haiti and Duvalier was out. He was in the Philippines and Marcos was out,” said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, John Paul II’s press secretary.

The way that Pope John Paul II spoke out against what he regarded as communist repression, not only in his native Poland but across Eastern Europe and beyond, saw him being toasted by the neocon faction. It might not have been just words either, which helped undermine communist rule. There was a rumor that ‘God’s Banker’ Roberto Calvi, who in 1982 was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London, had sent $50mn to ‘Solidarity’ in Poland on behalf of the Pope.

In May 1981, John Paul II was shot and wounded by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca. Neocons in the US promoted the narrative that it was a communist plot (organized by Bulgaria), but Sofia denied involvement. In 1985, Agca’s confederate, Abdullah Catli, who was later killed in a car crash, testified that he had been approached by the West German BND spy organization, which promised him a large sum of money  “if he implicated the Bulgarian secret service and the KGB in the attempt on the Pope’s life.”

Martin Lee, writing in Consortium News, also notes that in 1990, “ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman disclosed that his colleagues, under pressure from CIA higher-ups, skewed their reports to try to lend credence to the contention that the Soviets were involved. ‘The CIA had no evidence linking the KGB to the plot,’ Goodman told the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

In 2011, a new book entitled ‘To Kill the Pope, the Truth about the Assassination Attempt on John Paul II’, which was based on 20 years of research, concluded that the CIA had indeed tried to frame Bulgaria, in order to discredit communism.

The great irony of course is that after the Berlin Wall came down, Pope John Paul II became a strong critic of the inhumane ‘greed is good’ model of capitalism which had replaced communism. In Latvia, he said capitalism was responsible for “grave social injustices” and acknowledged that Marxism contained “a kernel of truth.” He said that “the ideology of the market” made solidarity between people “difficult at best.” In Czechoslovakia, he warned against replacing communism with materialism and consumerism.

Having enlisted the assistance of the Vatican in helping to bring down ‘The Reds’, the neo-liberals and neo-cons then turned on the Church. The Church survived communism, but it hasn’t fared too well under consumerism. The Vatican is nowhere near as influential as it was in 1978. The US, meanwhile, unconstrained by a geopolitical counter-weight, threw its weight around the world after 1989, illegally invading and attacking a series of sovereign states.

One can only wonder how different things might have been if the ‘Smiling Pope’ had lived.

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