TB News August 19, 2016

Aug 19 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. August 19, 2016: “The current hyped anti-Russian rhetoric coming from official Washington is not a reflection of physical threats from that country but simply a pathetic, and non-effectve reprise of the cold war which started in 1948.

Russia is not really viewed as a military threat but she is seen as an ecomomic one. Russia has an enormous, and potentially very valuable, land mass. She has control of serious amounts of oil, so important to American economics and she is seen in Wasington as a real political, not military, threat to American frantic attempts to defend her position as the leader of the world.

The United States does have a huge military machine but it is obsolete in many aspects and its costs to maintain are putting a burden on the American taxpayers that is causing serious domestic problems.

America is no longer a significant producing nation and instead of maintaining its position in an economic sense, she is attempting to do so by destroying any major potential economic rival.

Hence we see CIA unrest gendered in the Ukraine, sanctions, press attacks and on and on. England was once the most powerful nation on earth but like all economic/military empires, she began to slip and much of this slippage was due entirely to rising German economic might.

England could not tolerate another rival and so the propaganda war against Germans began.

This ended in the First World War and the eventualy reduction of the once-powerful British Empire to the level of a third world country.

What goes up, always comes down.”


From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2016, Issue No. 69

August 19, 2016


Recent reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been publicly released include the following.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Considering “No First Use”, CRS Insight, August 16, 2016

Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview, updated August 15, 2016

Introduction to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), August 16, 2016

The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy, updated August 16, 2016

Airline Passenger Rights: The Federal Role in Aviation Consumer Protection, August 17, 2016

Legal Status of CEQ’s Final Guidance on Climate Change in Environmental Reviews under NEPA, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 17, 2016

U.S. Trade Deficit and the Impact of Changing Oil Prices, updated August 16, 2016

General Policy Statements: Legal Overview, April 14, 2016

Dude, Where’s My Jurisdiction? Congressional Efforts to Strip Federal Courts of Jurisdiction, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 17, 2016

The Real Origins of the Cold War

Gehlen, the father of the BND, American shill

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

On May 22, 1945, a German Wehrmacht General, Reinhard Gehlen, the former head of the German Army High Command’s Foreign Armies East, surrendered along with his key staff members to the United States military at Fischhausen in southern Germany.

Gehlen’s unit was responsible for gathering and analyzing military intelligence on the Soviet Union, His staff accomplished this by interrogating prisoners in army POW camps—captured Soviet military personnel and, in their headquarters—Soviet defectors. They also studied battlefield intelligence from captured Soviet documents, maps and code books. Further material was obtained by signals intelligence which listened to Soviet non-coded, low-level combat unit radio traffic. These methods of gathering combat intelligence are standard procedures still used by all armies.

During the war, Gehlen did not have intelligence agents in the Soviet Union. The General was not accustomed to gathering and analyzing Soviet political data. Gehlen dealt strictly with combat intelligence.

Reinhard Gehlen was born in 1902 in Erfurt, Germany, the son of a publisher in Breslau. In 1920, he joined the Reichswehr, rising slowly through the ranks as an artillery officer. In 1933 he was sent to the General Staff college, and in 1935, Gehlen became a captain, the lowest rank in the General Staff.

Except for a brief period in 1938 when he was posted to the 18th Artillery Regiment as a battery commander, Gehlen spent his entire career in the German Army as a General Staff officer. On April 1, 1942, Lt. Colonel Gehlen of the General Staff was appointed head of Foreign Armies East in the High Command of the Army (OKH), a position he held until April 9, 1945 when he was fired by Hitler.

Gehlen had microfilmed all his files before the end of the war and he offered them, plus himself and his staff, to US Army intelligence. The offer was accepted. On August 26, 1945, Gehlen and four of his closest assistants were flown to Washington for substantive talks with US authorities. Gehlen was the subject of an inter-agency struggle when Allen Dulles of the OSS, once their station chief in Switzerland during the war, and General William Donovan, commander of the agency, attempted to secure Gehlen and his files for themselves. Dulles eventually won and his assistant Frank Wisner was appointed to oversee the former head of Foreign Armies East.

The Gehlen team was based at Fort Hunt, near Washington. Gehlen began his new career by preparing a series of reports which were well received. In July of 1946, Gehlen returned to Germany, and set up shop at Pullach, a former housing project for elite Nazi officials such as Martin Bormann. Gehlen was instructed to build an intelligence agency capable of conducting the highest level surveillance of the Soviets. His microfilmed files were sold to US intelligence for $5 million. Considering that these files only contained material on Soviet military units that had long been disbanded or were no longer combat ready, Gehlen was very well paid for very cold coffee.

Since Gehlen had no experience with internal Soviet intelligence or with their foreign intelligence, he was hard-pressed to use his former army staff officers to supply the US with relevant material. In 1946, Gehlen hired Willi Krichbaum, formerly the deputy chief of the Gestapo, as his senior agent recruiter. While Gehlen had no experience with Soviet spies, the Gestapo certainly did, and Krichbaum immediately sought out to hire many of his old associates.

At the same time, Krichbaum contacted his former chief, Heinrich Müller, who was now a resident in Switzerland, and a respected and wealthy citizen. Müller was, by no means, inactive in his enforced retirement and was in contact with Krichbaum almost from the beginning of his exile. Lengthy handwritten reports from Krichbaum to Müller spanning nearly three years exist and, while Müller’s correspondence to Krichbaum is not in his files, the Krichbaum correspondence indicates without a doubt, that “Gestapo” Müller was supplying his former deputy with reams of information on prospective employees for the new Gehlen organization, as well as a flood of concise directives on the structure necessary to implement the needs of the US intelligence.

In 1946, Gehlen began the construction of his new agency, while the Soviet military machine in the East Zone of Germany was in the process of down sizing. The Second World War had proven to be a terrible economic disaster to Stalin. His troops were in the process of dismantling German factories which were still intact, ripping up the railroad system, and sending their spoils back to Russia.

The American armed forces were also being sharply reduced, since the war in the Pacific had ended in 1945. Military units were disbanded and their soldiers returned to civilian life as quickly as possible. On the economic front, businesses that had enjoyed lucrative government military contracts found themselves with empty assembly lines and tens of thousands of laid off workers.

It has been said that there never was a good war nor a bad peace. While the latter was certainly beneficial to the Soviets and permitted them to rebuild their economy, it certainly was not beneficial for either the rapidly-shrinking military or business communities in the United States.

This situation permitted the development of the Gehlen organization and secured its position as a vital American political resource. The US had virtually no military intelligence knowledge of the Soviet Union. But the Germans, who had fought against them for four years, had. Gehlen and his military staff only had knowledge of wartime Soviet military units which were either reduced to cadre or entirely disbanded. However, this was of no interest to the senior officials of US intelligence. Gehlen was to become a brilliant intelligence specialist with an incredible grasp of Soviet abilities and intentions. This preeminence was almost entirely fictional. It was designed to elevate Gehlen in the eyes of American politicians including President Truman and members of Congress, and to lend well-orchestrated weight to the former General’s interpretation of his employer’s needs.

In 1948, Stalin sent troops into Czechoslovakia after a minority but efficient communist coup which overthrew the Western-oriented government. This act, in February of 1948, combined with the blockade of West Berlin, then occupied by the British, French and Americans in June of the same year, gave a group of senior American military leaders a heaven-sent opportunity to identify a new and dangerous military enemy—an enemy which could and would attack Western Europe and the United States in the immediate future.

To facilitate the acceptance of this theory, Gehlen was requested to produce intelligence material that would bolster it in as authoritative a manner as possible. This Gehlen did and to set the parameters of this report, Gehlen, General Stephen Chamberlain, Chief of Intelligence of the US Army General Staff, and General Lucius D. Clay, US commander in occupied Germany met in Berlin in February of 1948, immediately after the Czech occupation but before the blockade.

After this meeting, Gehlen drew up a lengthy and detailed intelligence report which categorically stated that 175 fully-equipped Soviet divisions, many armored, were poised to attack. General Clay forwarded this alarming example of creative writing to Washington and followed up with frantic messages indicating his fear that the Soviets were about to launch an all-out land war on the United States.

Although the sequence of events might indicate that Clay was involved in an attempt to mislead US leaders, in actuality, he was misled by Chamberlain and Gehlen. They managed to thoroughly frighten General Clay and used him as a conduit to Washington. He was not the last to fall victim to the machinations of the war party.

The Gehlen papers were deliberately leaked to Congress and the President. This resulted in the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. This was not a historical first by any means. Elements in England at the beginning of the 20th century, alarmed at the growing economic threat of a united Germany, commenced a long public campaign designed to frighten the British public and their leaders into adopting a bellicose re-armament program based on a fictional German military threat.

Gehlen and his organization were considered vital to US interests. As long as the General was able to feed the re-armament frenzy in Washington with supportive, inflammatory secret reports, then his success was assured.

The only drawback to this deadly farce was that the General did not have knowledge of current Soviet situations in the military or political fields. He could only bluff his way for a short time. To enhance his military staffs, Gehlen developed the use of former SS Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and Gestapo people, brought to him by Krichbaum, his chief recruiter.

At the same time, a joint British-American project called “Operation Applepie” was launched with the sole purpose of locating and employing as many of the former Gestapo and SD types now being employed by Gehlen. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all. During the course of this hunt, the prize was considered to be former SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, then in Switzerland. Contact with the former Gestapo Chief was through Krichbaum, acting on Müller’s specific instructions.

In the resulting bidding war, the Americans easily defeated the British, and the British public was spared the possible discovery of Müller appearing, under a new name, on their New Year’s Honors List instead of being made a Brigadier General of Reserve in the United States Army under a new name.

The recently uncovered files on “Applepie” are of such interest that they will be the subject of a further in-depth publication. Other document series of equal importance will include the so-called Robinson papers and a series of reports on the British use of certain former Gestapo and SD personnel in Damascus, Syria by John Marriott of the Security Intelligence Middle East (SIME). Robinson (or Robinsohn as he was known to the Gestapo officials) was a high-level Soviet agent captured in France as a result of the Rote Kapelle investigations. Robinson’s files came into Müller’s possession and reveal an extensive Soviet spy ring in Great Britain. Such highly interesting and valuable historical records should also encompass the more significant intercepts made of Soviet messages by the Gestapo from Ottawa, Canada to Moscow throughout the war. These parallel the so-called Venona intercepts which have been fully translated and are extraordinarily lengthy.

In 1948, control of the Gehlen organization was assumed by the new CIA and put under the direction of Colonel James Critchfield, formerly an armored unit commander and now a CIA section chief.

At this point, Gehlen had a number of powerful sponsors in the US military and intelligence communities. These included General Walter Bedell Smith, former Chief of Staff to General Eisenhower and later head of the CIA; General William Donovan, former head of the OSS; Allen Welch Dulles, former Swiss station chief of the OSS and later head of the CIA; Rear Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, first head of the CIA; General Edwin Sibert of US Army military intelligence and Generals Chamberlain and Clay.

American military intelligence officers were well aware that the Soviet Army threat was hollow and that the Soviets’ act of dismantling the eastern German railroad system was strong proof that an attack was not in the offing, but they were strongly discouraged by their superiors from expressing their views.

In 1954, General Arthur Trudeau, chief of US military intelligence, received a copy of a lengthy report prepared by retired Lt. Colonel Hermann Baun of Gehlen’s staff. Baun, who had originally been assigned to the German High Command (OKW) as an Abwehr specialist on Russia, eventually ended up working for Gehlen’s Foreign Armies East which was under the control of the Army High Command (OKH). Baun was an extremely competent, professional General Staff officer who, by 1953, had taken a dim view, indeed, of the creatures foisted on him by Gehlen. Baun detested Gehlen who had forced him out of his post-war intelligence position with the West. Baun’s annoyance was revealed in a lengthy complaint of Gehlen’s Nazi staff members which set forth, in detail, their names and backgrounds.

General Trudeau was so annoyed with this report that in October of 1954, he took West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer aside as Adenauer was making an official visit to Washington, Trudeau passed much of this information to the horrified Adenauer, who had spent time in a concentration camp during the war. Adenauer, in turn, raised this issue with American authorities and the matter was leaked to the press. Allen Dulles, a strong Gehlen backer and now head of the CIA, used his own connections and those of his brother, John, Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, to effectively silence Trudeau by transferring him to the remote Far East.

Trudeau’s warning to Adenauer did not have a lasting effect and on April 1, 1956, former General Reinhard Gehlen was appointed as head of the new West German Federal Intelligence Service, the Bundesnachrichtendiesnt or BND. In this case, as in so many other similar ones, virtue is certainly not its own reward.

U.S. Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business

August 19, 2016

by Lee Fang

The Intercept

The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.

Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian’s annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget.

In particular, the arms industry — both directly and through its arsenal of hired-gun think tank experts and lobbyists –  is actively pressuring NATO member nations to hike defense spending in line with the NATO goal for member states to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

Retired Army Gen. Richard Cody, a vice president at L-3 Communications, the seventh largest U.S. defense contractor, explained to shareholders in December that the industry was faced with a historic opportunity. Following the end of the Cold War, Cody said, peace had “pretty much broken out all over the world,” with Russia in decline and NATO nations celebrating. “The Wall came down,” he said, and “all defense budgets went south.”

Now, Cody argued, Russia “is resurgent” around the world, putting pressure on U.S. allies. “Nations that belong to NATO are supposed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks. “We know that uptick is coming and so we postured ourselves for it.”

Speaking to investors at a conference hosted by Credit Suisse in June, Stuart Bradie, the chief executive of KBR, a military contractor, discussed “opportunities in Europe,” highlighting the increase in defense spending by NATO countries in response to “what’s happening with Russia and the Ukraine.”

The National Defense Industrial Association, a lobby group for the industry, has called on Congress to make it easier for U.S. contractors to sell arms abroad to allies in response to the threat from Russia. Recent articles in National Defense, NDIA’s magazine, discuss the need for NATO allies to boost maritime military spending, spending on Arctic systems, and missile defense, to counter Russia.

Many experts are unconvinced that Russia poses a direct military threat. The Soviet Union’s military once stood at over 4 million soldiers, but today Russia has less than 1 million. NATO’s combined military budget vastly outranks Russia’s — with the U.S. alone outspending Russia on its military by $609 billion to less than $85 billion.

And yet,  the Aerospace Industries Association, a lobby group for Lockheed Martin, Textron, Raytheon, and other defense contractors, argued in February that the Pentagon is not spending enough to counter “Russian aggression on NATO’s doorstep.”

Think tanks with major funding from defense contractors, including the Lexington Institute and the Atlantic Council, have similarly demanded higher defense spending to counter Russia.

Stephen Hadley, the former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush now serving on the board of Raytheon, a firm competing for major NATO military contracts, has argued forcefully for hiking defense budgets and providing lethal aid to Ukraine. Hadley said in a speech last summer that the U.S. must “raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine,” adding that “even President Putin is sensitive to body bags.”

The business press has noticed the development. The Washington Business Journal noted that “if anyone is benefiting from the unease between Russia and the rest of the world, it would have to be Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp,” noting that the firm won a major contract from Poland, which is revamping its military in response to Russia. Roman Schweizer, an analyst for the defense industry with Guggenheim Securities, predicted last year that U.S. arms sales would continue to rise, particularly because “eastern NATO countries will increase procurements in the wake of continued Russian activity in Ukraine.”

At the Defence Security Exposition International, an arms dealer conference held in London last fall, contractors were quick to use Russia and rising defense budgets to hawk their products. “The tank threat is … much, much more closer to you today because Putin is doing something” in eastern Ukraine, a shoulder-fired-rocket touting representative from Saab told Defense One.

“Companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have pledged to increase the share of exports in their overall revenues, and they have been seeking major deals in East and Central Europe since the 1990s, when NATO expansion began,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy. Hartung noted that as some nations ramp up spending, U.S. firms will be “knocking at the door, looking to sell everything from fighter planes to missile defense systems.”

“Russian saber-rattling has additional benefits for weapons makers because it has become a standard part of the argument for higher Pentagon spending — even though the Pentagon already has more than enough money to address any actual threat to the United States,” he said.

Russia rehearses swiftly moving military hardware to Crimea

August 19, 2016

by Andrew Obborn


Moscow-Russian naval and land forces have practiced swiftly moving military hardware and troops to annexed Crimea as part of a logistics exercise which foreshadows much larger war games there next month, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

The training exercise comes at a time of heightened tension between Russia and Ukraine after Moscow accused Kiev of sending saboteurs into the contested peninsula to carry out a series of bombings. Kiev has flatly denied that.

President Vladimir Putin flew into Crimea on Friday where he planned to hold a meeting of his Security Council.

The Defence Ministry said in a statement issued late on Thursday that Sergei Shoigu, the defense minister, had observed part of the training exercise which took place in the Russian port of Novorossiisk.

It said specialized logistic troops had cooperated with Russian Railways and the country’s merchant fleet to rehearse moving troops, armor and technical equipment to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Vessels from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet had also taken part, including a submarine, a large landing ship, mine-sweepers and an unspecified number of guided missile cruisers. Around 2,500 troops and up to 350 armored vehicles had also been involved.

Shoigu had observed how quickly logistics troops were able to organize the loading of armored vehicles and landing troops onto a large landing ship and how quickly they could re-arm a mine-sweeper and a submarine, the ministry said.

“Training on how to destroy groups of saboteurs and how to repel underwater attacks was carried out,” said the ministry.

“Sergei Shoigu rated highly the logistic troops’ actions and the fact that they were able to rapidly organize the movement of significant amounts of hardware to Crimea.”

It said the exercises, which also took place in a number of other locations, began on Aug. 16 and would end on Aug. 20.

Russia’s main military exercise for this year – Caucasus 2016 – is due to take place next month and will also involve Crimea and Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

The Russian army’s Red Star newspaper in January quoted Colonel-General Alexander Galkin as saying the exercise would check combat readiness and test how air, sea and land forces collaborated together.

(Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova/Lidia Kelly;Editing by Alexander Winning)

 Russian Black Sea Fleet carries out missile attacks on terrorist targets in Syria – military

August 19, 2016


The Russian Defense Ministry has said Black Sea Fleet warships have launched three cruise missile strikes on terrorist targets in Syria. A terrorist command post and munitions production site were destroyed.

“As a result of the strikes a command post and a terrorist base near the village of Dar Taaza as well as a production site of mortar ammunition and an arms depot in Aleppo province were destroyed,” the ministry said in a statement.

The rockets, targeting Al-Nusra Front sites, flew over unpopulated areas, the Russian military added.

“To ensure the safety of civilians the missile flight corridor was planned over an uninhabited area.”

On Monday, Russia launched tactical naval drills in Mediterranean and Caspian waters. The warships taking part in the exercise engaged in live artillery and missile fire “under simulated battlefield conditions.” The Mediterranean force includes two fast attack guided missile craft, both armed with Kalibr-NK cruise missile complexes equipped with eight missiles each.

On October 7, 2015, four Russian Navy warships in the Caspian Sea fired a total of 26 missiles at positions in Syria held by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL). The missiles traveled some 1,500km and eliminated 11 targets.

This week, Russian long-range Tu-22M3 bombers delivered their first airstrikes from an Iranian airbase against terrorists in Syria. The planes hit IS targets as well as Al-Nusra Front facilities in Aleppo, Deir-ez-Zor and Idlib provinces.

The strikes have eliminated five major terrorist weapons depots and training compounds in the area as well as three command posts and a significant number of terrorists, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that terrorists had shelled residential areas in Aleppo, with Syria’s Sana media news agency reporting that the attack resulted in civilian deaths.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday supported a proposal from the UN Syria envoy to conduct 48-hour weekly ceasefires to deliver humanitarian relief to Aleppo residents. The first such truce could be held next week.

“Any kind of humanitarian pause and ceasefire would give a bit of time for the population, which has been suffering not only during the past weeks, but also for four years,” Ingy Sedky, from the International Committee of the Red Cross, told RT.

Obama’s policy failed to contain Syrian crisis

On August 20, 2012 President Obama called the use of chemical weapons by Syria’s Assad regime a “red line.” Four years on with the Syrian war still raging, DW asked three scholars to assess Washington’s Syria policy.

Ausugt 19, 2016


DW: How would you describe and rate Obama’s Syria policy over the past four years?

Robert Ford: The Obama administration has been unable to contain the Syrian crisis as it had hoped. Syrian refugees were the majority of those who flooded into Europe in 2015, causing new political tensions inside the EU, a vital American partner. Syrian extremists helped organize and execute terror attacks in France, Belgium and Germany, all US allies; the “Islamic State” helped inspire American extremists in California who killed a dozen people. The US for nearly two years has been bombing inside Syria and there is no end in sight, despite progress on the ground. The administration’s big claim of success, the destruction of Syrian government chemical weapons capabilities, is limited; the Syrian government continues to use chlorine gas with impunity.

The most likely prospect is continued fighting, and more refugees, until the Syrian government on one side and extremist elements within the larger Syrian opposition all agree to a ceasefire. That ceasefire appears far away and will only result in a de facto unstable partition of Syria.

In its last five months in office, the Obama administration is unlikely to shift its tactics or its strategy very much. The new US administration will confront an “Islamic State” (IS) which is slowly losing territory but is also preparing to return to the insurgency from which it sprang in 2014. Meanwhile, the former al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria is stronger than ever, and Russian bombs and Iranian-backed militias in Syria along with what is left of the Syrian army cannot defeat it and the rest of the Syrian opposition.

Gordon Adams: The Obama policy has not reversed the trend in Syria. But it could not change much. Basically, the US has very little leverage over the players – the Turks, the Iranians, the Saudis, Bashar al-Assad, the Russians, Hezbollah, among others. What the US lacks in Syria is leverage. So almost regardless of what Obama had done, the crisis would have progressed the way it did.

Andrew Bowen: President Obama’s initial assessment that Syria could be kept in a box proved to be a miscalculation. It’s not so much this miscalculation, but his overall aversion to being drawn into new wars in the Middle East which has driven Obama not to take any pro-active action to resolve Syria’s civil war.

Obama reluctantly was about to take action on his “red line” remark and was very content to be able to pull back from the rhetorical trap he placed himself in. The president has treated Syria as a challenge that could be delegated to largely lackluster diplomacy. The refugee challenge was largely left to Europe and Syria’s neighbors. Obama watched with passive disinterest as Russia moved last fall to militarily shore up President Assad’s regime while Iran continued to entrench itself in Syria.

What alternative path could Obama have taken?

Robert Ford: There are two alternative paths that could have been taken. One might, perhaps, have changed the war. The other would not have changed it much.

  1. The Obama administration could have stayed entirely silent, not urged Assad to step down in August 2011, and remained an observer. This would not have changed Turkish/Saudi/Qatari behavior nor would it have changed Russian/Iranian behavior. The war, the destruction, the refugee flows and the rise of extremist elements all would have occurred even with the US entirely out of the conflict.
  2. The Obama administration could have decided in autumn 2012 or early 2013 to strongly back moderate elements in the armed opposition in return for those armed opposition groups avoiding sectarian behavior and reaching out politically to elements of Syrian society still backing Assad. This would have meant much larger material and cash assistance so that the moderate groups could have successfully competed with the al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front (remember, the Islamic State didn’t exist in 2012 or early 2013) for recruits.

The failure to step in strongly in 2012 or early 2013 gave al Qaeda and other relatively well-funded hard line groups a big advantage in recruitment. The Obama administration’s failure to enforce the “red line” in a meaningful way that stopped ALL Syrian government chemical weapons attacks further fueled extremist recruitment. The State Department specifically warned of that risk. The White House ignored that counsel.

Gordon Adams: There were no good alternatives. A no-fly zone would have enmeshed the US in the war without providing a prospect of success. The “moderate” opposition scarcely existed, so more arms and training would not have accomplished much. An airstrike over the chemical weapons would not have taken down Assad, not without an invasion, which would have been counter-productive. Only cooperation with the Russians, who have real leverage in Syria, might have accomplished something, but even that is doubtful.

Andrew Bowen: Obama had a number of opportunities to more robustly train and arm moderate opposition fighters. The president could have taken robust military action to cripple President Assad’s Air Force in the wake of his “red line” remark. He was presented numerous times with “no-fly zone” options both in the north and the south which he didn’t take.

Obama never wanted to match active diplomacy with credible force if diplomacy failed. As a result, both Moscow and Tehran have never taken Obama’s words and intentions seriously and don’t see much consequence if these talks fail. As a number of senior regional officials have noted, it’s now a race to see how much that can be gained before a new administration enters office in Washington who may push back. Even if a President Clinton wants to take more action, Obama’s leaving her a poor hand to play.

Obama’s “hands-off” policy leaves the US four years later with a stalemate that has not only produced one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and a vacuum space for IS to thrive. It’s also enabled Russia and Iran to set the tone of the conflict and the terms of the settlement.

Robert Ford was the US ambassador to Syria (2010-2014) and to Algeria (2006-2008). He is currently a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute.

Gordon Adams is professor emeritus of US foreign policy at American University and a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center.

Andrew Bowen is a global fellow in the Middle East Program of the Wilson Center.

The interviews were conducted per email by Michael Knigge.

 Ukraine may impose martial law if eastern fighting worsens: Poroshenko

August 19, 2016

Daily Times

KIEV: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday he did not rule out introducing martial law and a new wave of military mobilisation if the conflict with pro-Russian separatists worsened. Poroshenko made his comments as fresh tension with Russia over Crimea reignited fears that a fragile ceasefire deal hammered out in the Belarussian capital Minsk in February 2015 could collapse following the deadliest month of fighting in a year. “If the situation escalates in the east and in Crimea we don’t rule out the possibilities (that) we will be forced to introduce martial law and announce a (further) mobilisation,” Poroshenko said in a televised speech from the western Lviv region. Poroshenko did not make clear what introduction of martial law might mean, and whether he was talking about martial law in the whole country or only in some parts.

Ukrainian law stipulates that martial law is passed through a presidential degree that needs to be approved by parliament. It could include restrictions of the moveement of people, banning political parties and certain institutions and public gatherings.

Japan eyes fighter drone, seeks record defense budget

August 19, 2016

by Nobuhiro Kubo


TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan aims to develop a prototype drone fighter jet in two decades with private sector help in a technology strategy that focuses on weapons communications and lasers, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The plan will be announced this month when the Defense Ministry also unveils its request for a record budget of 5.16 trillion yen (£39 billion) for fiscal 2017, as tension rises in the East China Sea and North Korea steps up its missile threat, government officials with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The military technology plan calls for first developing an unmanned surveillance aircraft in the next decade and then an unmanned fighter jet 10 years later, the document showed.

The rise of 2.3% over this year’s budget of 5.05 trillion yen marks the fifth successive annual increase sought by the ministry, which is keen to stiffen Japan’s defenses as North Korea upgrades its ballistic missile technology.

However, one security analyst said the spending was insufficient. “The security environment surrounding Japan is severe, due to neighboring North Korea and China,” said Takashi Kawakami, a security expert at Japan’s Takushoku University.

“I personally think it’s not enough.”

Japan will this month formally unveil budget requests for its defense and other ministries for the year ending March 2018.

The defense ministry’s request covers the 100 billion yen cost to upgrade Japan’s PAC-3 missile defense system, said one government source, who declined to be identified, as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Such an upgrade would roughly double the missile system’s range to more than 30 km (19 miles), other sources have said.

The budget proposal also includes the cost of production of the Block IIA version of the  system being jointly developed with the United States to shoot down missiles at higher altitudes, the source added.

The ministry will also allocate budget funds to acquire an upgraded version of the F-35 stealth fighter, made by U.S. company Lockheed Martin Corp, the source said.

The budget request also includes the cost of strengthening the coast guard in the southern islands of Miyakojima and Amami Oshima to allay worries over China’s more assertive activities in the East China Sea, said the source.

Tension mounted this month after a growing number of Chinese coast guard and other vessels sailed near disputed islets in the East China Sea.

Japan, China and South Korea are in talks to hold a meeting of their foreign ministers next week.

(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo; Writing by Kaori Kaneko and Linda Sieg; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie)

 The NSA Leak Is Real, Snowden Documents Confirm

August 19, 2016

by Sam Biddle

The Intercept

On Monday, a hacking group calling itself the “ShadowBrokers” announced an auction for what it claimed were “cyber weapons” made by the NSA. Based on never-before-published documents provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Intercept can confirm that the arsenal contains authentic NSA software, part of a powerful constellation of tools used to covertly infect computers worldwide.

The provenance of the code has been a matter of heated debate this week among cybersecurity experts, and while it remains unclear how the software leaked, one thing is now beyond speculation: The malware is covered with the NSA’s virtual fingerprints and clearly originates from the agency.

The evidence that ties the ShadowBrokers dump to the NSA comes in an agency manual for implanting malware, classified top secret, provided by Snowden, and not previously available to the public. The draft manual instructs NSA operators to track their use of one malware program using a specific 16-character string, “ace02468bdf13579.” That exact same string appears throughout the ShadowBrokers leak in code associated with the same program, SECONDDATE.

SECONDDATE plays a specialized role inside a complex global system built by the U.S. government to infect and monitor what one document estimated to be millions of computers around the world. Its release by ShadowBrokers, alongside dozens of other malicious tools, marks the first time any full copies of the NSA’s offensive software have been available to the public, providing a glimpse at how an elaborate system outlined in the Snowden documents looks when deployed in the real world, as well as concrete evidence that NSA hackers don’t always have the last word when it comes to computer exploitation.

But malicious software of this sophistication doesn’t just pose a threat to foreign governments, Johns Hopkins University cryptographer Matthew Green told The Intercept:

The danger of these exploits is that they can be used to target anyone who is using a vulnerable router. This is the equivalent of leaving lockpicking tools lying around a high school cafeteria. It’s worse, in fact, because many of these exploits are not available through any other means, so they’re just now coming to the attention of the firewall and router manufacturers that need to fix them, as well as the customers that are vulnerable.

So the risk is twofold: first, that the person or persons who stole this information might have used them against us. If this is indeed Russia, then one assumes that they probably have their own exploits, but there’s no need to give them any more. And now that the exploits have been released, we run the risk that ordinary criminals will use them against corporate targets.

The NSA did not respond to questions concerning ShadowBrokers, the Snowden documents, or its malware.


The offensive tools released by ShadowBrokers are organized under a litany of code names such as POLARSNEEZE and ELIGIBLE BOMBSHELL, and their exact purpose is still being assessed. But we do know more about one of the weapons: SECONDDATE.

SECONDDATE is a tool designed to intercept web requests and redirect browsers on target computers to an NSA web server. That server, in turn, is designed to infect them with malware. SECONDDATE’s existence was first reported by The Intercept in 2014, as part of a look at a global computer exploitation effort code-named TURBINE. The malware server, known as FOXACID, has also been described in previously released Snowden documents.

Other documents released by The Intercept today not only tie SECONDDATE to the ShadowBrokers leak but also provide new detail on how it fits into the NSA’s broader surveillance and infection network. They also show how SECONDDATE has been used, including to spy on Pakistan and a computer system in Lebanon.

The top-secret manual that authenticates the SECONDDATE found in the wild as the same one used within the NSA is a 31-page document titled “FOXACID SOP for Operational Management” and marked as a draft. It dates to no earlier than 2010. A section within the manual describes administrative tools for tracking how victims are funneled into FOXACID, including a set of tags used to catalogue servers. When such a tag is created in relation to a SECONDDATE-related infection, the document says, a certain distinctive identifier must be used:

The same SECONDDATE MSGID string appears in 14 different files throughout the ShadowBrokers leak, including in a file titled SecondDate-3021.exe.

All told, throughout many of the folders contained in the ShadowBrokers’ package (screenshot below), there are 47 files with SECONDDATE-related names, including different versions of the raw code required to execute a SECONDDATE attack, instructions for how to use it, and other related files.

After viewing the code, Green told The Intercept the MSGID string’s occurrence in both an NSA training document and this week’s leak is “unlikely to be a coincidence.” Computer security researcher Matt Suiche, founder of UAE-based cybersecurity startup Comae Technologies, who has been particularly vocal in his analysis of the ShadowBrokers this week, told The Intercept “there is no way” the MSGID string’s appearance in both places is a coincidence.


This overview jibes with previously unpublished classified files provided by Snowden that illustrate how SECONDDATE is a component of BADDECISION, a broader NSA infiltration tool. SECONDDATE helps the NSA pull off a “man in the middle” attack against users on a wireless network, tricking them into thinking they’re talking to a safe website when in reality they’ve been sent a malicious payload from an NSA server.

According to one December 2010 PowerPoint presentation titled “Introduction to BADDECISION,” that tool is also designed to send users of a wireless network, sometimes referred to as an 802.11 network, to FOXACID malware servers. Or, as the presentation puts it, BADDECISION is an “802.11 CNE [computer network exploitation] tool that uses a true man-in-the-middle attack and a frame injection technique to redirect a target client to a FOXACID server.” As another top-secret slide puts it, the attack homes in on “the greatest vulnerability to your computer: your web browser.”

One slide points out that the attack works on users with an encrypted wireless connection to the internet.

That trick, it seems, often involves BADDECISION and SECONDDATE, with the latter described as a “component” for the former. A series of diagrams in the “Introduction to BADDECISION” presentation show how an NSA operator “uses SECONDDATE to inject a redirection payload at [a] Target Client,” invisibly hijacking a user’s web browser as the user attempts to visit a benign website (in the example given, it’s CNN.com). Executed correctly, the file explains, a “Target Client continues normal webpage browsing, completely unaware,” lands on a malware-filled NSA server, and becomes infected with as much of that malware as possible — or as the presentation puts it, the user will be left “WHACKED!” In the other top-secret presentations, it’s put plainly: “How do we redirect the target to the FOXACID server without being noticed”? Simple: “Use NIGHTSTAND or BADDECISION.”

The sheer number of interlocking tools available to crack a computer is dizzying. In the FOXACID manual, government hackers are told an NSA hacker ought to be familiar with using SECONDDATE along with similar man-in-the-middle wi-fi attacks code-named MAGIC SQUIRREL and MAGICBEAN. A top-secret presentation on FOXACID lists further ways to redirect targets to the malware server system.

To position themselves within range of a vulnerable wireless network, NSA operators can use a mobile antenna system running software code-named BLINDDATE, depicted in the field in what appears to be Kabul. The software can even be attached to a drone. BLINDDATE in turn can run BADDECISION, which allows for a SECONDDATE attack.

Elsewhere in these files, there are at least two documented cases of SECONDDATE being used to successfully infect computers overseas: An April 2013 presentation boasts of successful attacks against computer systems in both Pakistan and Lebanon. In the first, NSA hackers used SECONDDATE to breach “targets in Pakistan’s National Telecommunications Corporation’s (NTC) VIP Division,” which contained documents pertaining to “the backbone of Pakistan’s Green Line communications network” used by “civilian and military leadership.”

In the latter, the NSA used SECONDDATE to pull off a man-in-the-middle attack in Lebanon “for the first time ever,” infecting a Lebanese ISP to extract “100+ MB of Hizballah Unit 1800 data,” a special subset of the terrorist group dedicated to aiding Palestinian militants.

SECONDDATE is just one method that the NSA uses to get its target’s browser pointed at a FOXACID server. Other methods include sending spam that attempts to exploit bugs in popular web-based email providers or entices targets to click on malicious links that lead to a FOXACID server. One document, a newsletter for the NSA’s Special Source Operations division, describes how NSA software other than SECONDDATE was used to repeatedly direct targets in Pakistan to FOXACID malware web servers, eventually infecting the targets’ computers.

A Potentially Mundane Hack

Snowden, who worked for NSA contractors Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton, has offered some context and a relatively mundane possible explanation for the leak: that the NSA headquarters was not hacked, but rather one of the computers the agency uses to plan and execute attacks was compromised. In a series of tweets, he pointed out that the NSA often lurks on systems that are supposed to be controlled by others, and it’s possible someone at the agency took control of a server and failed to clean up after themselves. A regime, hacker group, or intelligence agency could have seized the files and the opportunity to embarrass the agency.

Team Hillary to End Evil Worldwide

America the inexorable

August 16, 2016

by Philip Giraldi


I had the misfortune of watching a recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. For those who are not familiar with the show, it is an HBO weekly one hour long feeding frenzy consisting of a series of rapid fire overwhelmingly progressive half-truths cheered relentlessly by a select audience that is constantly engaged in hooting and jeering while giving the pollice verso to any designated victim who finds himself targeted by a smug Maher. The episode I saw was filmed on July 29th, shortly after the conclusion of the Democratic convention. Guests included Matt Welch of Reason magazine, Alex Wagner of The Atlantic, Professor Cornel West and former Congressman from Massachusetts gay activist Barney Frank. The episode can be seen on HBO on demand for those who have that service and bits of it are also available on YouTube.

Openly expressed hatred of Donald Trump by a mainstream media that has de facto become part of the Hillary Clinton campaign is one of the more interesting aspects of the current electoral cycle. One might therefore have expected that the Real Time ridiculing of Trump would be a constant, driven mostly by Maher himself but also picked up on with some alacrity by the others. Even though I knew in advance that the show would be blood sport targeting Trump, I had tuned into the program because I have a great deal of respect for Cornel West who, to me, maintains some of the best traditions of the old and now nearly dead type of liberalism that was such a powerful force in America in the 1950s and 1960s. West is genuinely anti-war and pro-people and not afraid to stick by his guns when confronted by the powerful, metaphorically speaking. He recently went to bat for the Palestinians while serving on the Democratic platform committee and on the Maher program dared to mention the repression taking place on the West Bank, which produced a stone faced response from the progressive-except-for-Israel Maher.

To his credit West, when asked his opinion of Hillary Clinton, opined that she had vast experience in government but is completely lacking in integrity, an assessment that was poorly received by Maher, who had spent the early part of the show eulogizing the Democratic candidate. So to hear what else West had to say I put up with Frank’s blathering and Maher’s invective as well as the occasional interjections by Welch and Wagner, who played secondary roles in the proceedings.

Inured to hearing a load of old codswallop I was nevertheless really blown away by Barney and Maher’s launch into an explanation of something that had occurred at the Democratic National Convention. For those who have not seen it, the July 28th prime time speech by Hillary national security adviser General John Allen is positively Strangelovean, pledging to rid the world of “evil” and declaring that “America is great because America is good.” Reportedly intended to bolster the Dems national security credentials and possibly to welcome into the fold disenchanted neocons, it is as red blooded, American-exceptionalism-laden a presentation as anyone is likely to witness anywhere, replete with a backdrop consisting of a stage full of American flags. It is available online and is highly recommended to anyone who doubts that Hillary and her entourage are as nutty as fruitcakes in their own way, more than eager to assume the mantle of American global military dominance without any hesitation or reservations.

When Welch and Wagner expressed surprise at the Democrats embracing such a chauvinistic display, Frank explained emphatically though somewhat oddly that the speech by Allen and the rhythmic chanting of U-S-A U-S-A by the audience that accompanied it were all due to Donald Trump, who has embraced that vicious thug and “one of the worst men in the world” Vladimir Putin. The highly charged nationalistic Democratic crowd reaction was per Franks both a warning about Trump and a direct challenge to Putin to keep his hands off those wonderful little democracies springing up everywhere in Eastern Europe. Trump’s “encouragement” of Putin, per Franks, has made the United States complicit in Putin’s “brutality” and the Democrats were responding to that challenge.

When Cornel West attempted to object to the militarism implicit in the Allen speech and interject the failed project represented by Libya into the discussion Maher and Frank made sure that everyone understood that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was also a “horrible dictator” and thug who fully deserved to be overthrown and subsequently killed by having a bayonet inserted in his anus. If Hillary Clinton had been present she might have added with a laugh, “We came, we saw, he died.”

So this is what passes for progressive thought on war and peace as seen by the Democratic Party of Hillary Clinton, Barney Frank and Bill Maher. I would prefer to describe it as Democratic Party Derangement Syndrome. And, of course, there is a back story to it all that Maher chose to avoid. The chanting of U-S-A was apparently organized by Hillary’s team on the Democratic National Committee, which clearly connived at rigging the nomination process in favor of Clinton before focusing on marginalizing and silencing Bernie Sanders’ supporters at the convention. That the “Bernies” would stage a significant and disruptive demonstration on the convention floor was particularly feared. There were white noise speakers placed inside the hall to make incomprehensible unauthorized chanting while Bernie supporters had their signs taken away from them before entering the venue. It has also been reported that many Bernie delegates coming back to the convention hall on the second day found that their seats had disappeared, being replaced by blocked off reserved seating where no one was actually allowed to sit.

When Allen got well into his speech and his message became clear, Bernie supporters began to chant “No More War.” The technicians running the light and sound for the event immediately followed their instructions and killed the lights and microphones in the area where the chanting was coming from so that the media present around the floor would be unable to film the disruption. Meanwhile Clinton’s team converged and surrounded the Bernie supporters, holding up previously distributed USA signs to block the protesters from camera view while themselves chanting “U-S-A” to drown the dissidents out. By some accounts, Hillary’s people in the hall were supplemented by an organized group of counter-demonstrators who were in this case responding to instructions on what to do if anyone attempted to disrupt the proceedings. If all of that is true it was a shameful episode, reminiscent of what was done to Ron Paul at the 2012 Republican Convention in Tampa.

And there is also a bit of a back story on retired Marine Corps General John Allen. Allen, one recalls, became mired in the same security investigation regarding the mishandling of classified information that brought down philandering CIA Director and former General David Petraeus. And, ironically, Allen’s own path to an early retirement was the result of an email problem, curiously reminiscent of the issues that have plagued the woman he has so enthusiastically endorsed for President of the United States of America.

Allen reportedly became heavily involved with someone else’s wife, in this case Tampa socialite Jill Kelley. Kelley, an “honorary ambassador” to U.S. Central Command, hosted numerous parties at her waterside mansion for the CENTCOM and U.S. Special Operations Command senior officers, including both Allen and Petraeus. While subsequently serving in Afghanistan as commander in chief, Allen’s many hundreds of “inappropriate emails” to Kelley cost him both his job and his expected nomination to become the commander of U.S. military forces in Europe (EUCOM).

The investigation of Allen’s email contact with Kelley did not result in any formal charges by the military but he was forced to resign his commission in February 2013. Obama subsequently rewarded the feckless Allen with an appointment as Special President Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant in 2014, a position he held until October 2015. He was largely unsuccessful in that role, witnessing on his watch the conquest of much of Syria and Iraq by ISIS. He now has a sinecure position at the Brookings Institution in its Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, and apparently came to Hillary’s attention when he rounded up a group of military retreads who were willing to support her for president.

Bill Maher’s Real Time is certainly real, but it is symptomatic of everything that is wrong with the American media. It has plenty of one-liner joking, laughter and mugging for the camera but is astonishingly light on content and heavy on pretense. In the episode I watched, it largely consisted of saying Donald Trump followed by either a laugh line or an expression of disgust. Serious discussion regarding what Trump is saying about out of control immigration, endless wars in the Middle East and why a reset of relations with Russia is imperative appear to be of no interest.

The Donald Trump candidacy might well be regarded as a joke by many of the punditry but Hillary Clinton is arguably worse in that while The Donald has undeniably said terrible things she has actually been the driving force behind some horrific policies, most notably regarding Libya and Syria. And then there is her persistent dishonesty and readiness to lie to conceal her mendacity. She continues to dissimulate about her emails, saying in a recent interview that “Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.” That is a lie from top to bottom and one has to wonder why Real Time with Bill Maher doesn’t seem interested in giving a little equal time to that story if only as a brief respite from his incessant pillorying of Donald Trump.

U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds

August 19, 2016

by Scot J. Paltrow


New York-The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced.

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.

As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”

Disclosure of the Army’s manipulation of numbers is the latest example of the severe accounting problems plaguing the Defense Department for decades.

The report affirms a 2013 Reuters series revealing how the Defense Department falsified accounting on a large scale as it scrambled to close its books. As a result, there has been no way to know how the Defense Department – far and away the biggest chunk of Congress’ annual budget – spends the public’s money.

The new report focused on the Army’s General Fund, the bigger of its two main accounts, with assets of $282.6 billion in 2015. The Army lost or didn’t keep required data, and much of the data it had was inaccurate, the IG said.

“Where is the money going? Nobody knows,” said Franklin Spinney, a retired military analyst for the Pentagon and critic of Defense Department planning.

The significance of the accounting problem goes beyond mere concern for balancing books, Spinney said. Both presidential candidates have called for increasing defense spending amid current global tension.

An accurate accounting could reveal deeper problems in how the Defense Department spends its money. Its 2016 budget is $573 billion, more than half of the annual budget appropriated by Congress.

The Army account’s errors will likely carry consequences for the entire Defense Department.

Congress set a September 30, 2017 deadline for the department to be prepared to undergo an audit. The Army accounting problems raise doubts about whether it can meet the deadline – a black mark for Defense, as every other federal agency undergoes an audit annually.

For years, the Inspector General – the Defense Department’s official auditor – has inserted a disclaimer on all military annual reports. The accounting is so unreliable that “the basic financial statements may have undetected misstatements that are both material and pervasive.”

In an e-mailed statement, a spokesman said the Army “remains committed to asserting audit readiness” by the deadline and is taking steps to root out the problems.

The spokesman downplayed the significance of the improper changes, which he said net out to $62.4 billion. “Though there is a high number of adjustments, we believe the financial statement information is more accurate than implied in this report,” he said.


Jack Armstrong, a former Defense Inspector General official in charge of auditing the Army General Fund, said the same type of unjustified changes to Army financial statements already were being made when he retired in 2010.

The Army issues two types of reports – a budget report and a financial one. The budget one was completed first. Armstrong said he believes fudged numbers were inserted into the financial report to make the numbers match.

“They don’t know what the heck the balances should be,” Armstrong said.

Some employees of the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), which handles a wide range of Defense Department accounting services, referred sardonically to preparation of the Army’s year-end statements as “the grand plug,” Armstrong said. “Plug” is accounting jargon for inserting made-up numbers.

At first glance adjustments totaling trillions may seem impossible. The amounts dwarf the Defense Department’s entire budget. Making changes to one account also require making changes to multiple levels of sub-accounts, however. That created a domino effect where, essentially, falsifications kept falling down the line. In many instances this daisy-chain was repeated multiple times for the same accounting item.

The IG report also blamed DFAS, saying it too made unjustified changes to numbers. For example, two DFAS computer systems showed different values of supplies for missiles and ammunition, the report noted – but rather than solving the disparity, DFAS personnel inserted a false “correction” to make the numbers match.

DFAS also could not make accurate year-end Army financial statements because more than 16,000 financial data files had vanished from its computer system. Faulty computer programming and employees’ inability to detect the flaw were at fault, the IG said.

DFAS is studying the report “and has no comment at this time,” a spokesman said.

(Edited by Ronnie Greene.)

 Justice Department to phase out private prisons citing safety concerns

August 18, 2016


In a few years there will be no private prisons in the US. Following a damning report that found the institutions neither safe nor secure, the Justice Department says it will phase them out.

“This is the first step in the process of reducing – and ultimately ending – our use of privately operated prisons,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said in a statement on Thursday, according to The Washington Post. The process may take up to five years.

The US government has contracts with 14 private prisons which, under the new policy, officials are being instructed not to renew. Existing contracts will be allowed to expire over the next five years.

“They do not save substantially on costs and … they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said explaining the decision.

The decision comes on the heels of a critical report from the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General which found “contract prisons incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable [Bureau of Prisons’] institutions.”The report found that “contract prisons confiscated eight times as many contraband cell phones annually on average as the BOP prisons,” the prisons “had higher rates of assaults, both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff,” and improperly housed “new inmates in Special Housing Units (SHU)” normally used for disciplinary or administrative segregation.”

Yates said the goal of the Justice Department was to ensure “consistency in safety, security and rehabilitation services by operating its own prison facilities.” She said the agency has about 195,000 inmates in bureau and private prisons down from a high in 2013 of approximately 220,000.

The Justice Department began contracting with private prisons after the federal prison population increased by 800 percent between 1980 and 2013. Between fiscal years 2011 and 2014, the Bureau of Prisons increased its spending on private prisons from $562 million to $639 million.

The two largest private prison contractors are Geo Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

Ninety percent of the 1.6 million US prison inmates are held in state-run prisons.

The announcement also comes just days after it was revealed the Obama administration had bypassed public bidding laws to seal a $1 billion deal CCA for a four-year contract to build a detention facility for asylum seekers in Texas.

According to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) it was a “unique” deal between the government and a private prison company because it provides “a fixed monthly fee for use of the entire facility regardless of the of the number of residents,” of $20 million a month.

Christ the Essene

by Harry von Johnston. PhD

   The Book of Revelations

The so-called ‘Book of Revelations’ was most certainly not written by the apostle John but by John of Patmos, a Greek eccentric who most certainly did not live during the stated, or actual, lifetime of Jesus. John of Patmos was an eccentric hermit, living on what is now the Greek island of Patmos and contemporary historical reference briefly dismisses him as a lunatic. No one subsequently has been able to understand a word of what he wrote, and his confused and mystic writings easily lends themselves to all manner of interpretations by various dimwitted and obsessed religious fanatics.

When Martin Luther prepared the Protestant Bible in German, he discarded Revelations, and other books then found in the Latin Bible, as being ‘unworthy and filled with nonsense.’

Patmos is in the Eastern Mediterranean. Patmos is very small and it is where John was purportedly exiled for his Christian beliefs late in the reign of Domitian. The time of John is toward the end of the First Century of the Christian era.

Patmos, like the other Dodecanese islands, is the result of ancient volcanic activity. And, like the others, it is small, only twenty-five miles in circumference (ten miles long and six miles wide at the widest point) with a mostly mountainous total area of fifteen square miles. Near the center of the island, Skala is the island’s modern commercial center and port.

Patmos is on the route between Rome and Ephesus.

Populated today by some 2500 people who make their living from sponge diving and tourism, Patmos was largely deserted during the Middle Ages due in part to its vulnerability to Aegean pirates. It’s earliest inhabitants, however, included Dorian and, later, Ionian settlers. In Roman times it served as a locale for exiled political dissidents, and was also considered a place for lunatics. But one reads in the Book of Revelations that John identified himself as “I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance,” was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 1:9 NRSV).

There is very little likelihood that John of Patmos was the author of the Gospel of John.

The Acts of John, a 5th-century work supposedly by the apostle’s scribe, although because of its very late appearance, a totally false attribution, contains many eccentric and often very humorous invented legends about his time on Patmos.

Christians were persecuted in Ephesus by the Roman emperor Domitian.  Tradition states that John was exiled to Patmos in that persecution of 95 CE., though there seems to be no evidence of it being a penal colony. However, there is considerable period material that had Patmos as a lunatic colony to where incurables were sent by the Roman authorities to remove them from the public.

He lived in a cave with his scribe Prochoros, now called the Cave of the Apocalypse.   Prochoros was one of the seven deacons ordained by the Apostles and later became the bishop of Nicodemia. Tradition states the John died in 104 CE. at the age of 99 and was buried in Ephesus.

The Romans used the island as a penal settlement to which they sent political agitators and others who threatened the peace of the empire (Tacitus Annals 3.68; 4.30; 15.71). According to Eusebius, John was banished to Patmos by the Emperor Domitian, CE 95, and released 18 months later under Nerva (HE III.18.1; 20.8-9).

According to the New Testament account, John the Apostle was purported to be the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of James. They originally were stated to be fishermen and fished with their father in the Lake of Genesareth.

He was first reported to be a disciple of John the Baptist, and later one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ.

He is presently revered as a saint by all branches of Christianity that revere saints.

The Roman Catholic Church commemorates him on December 27.

The Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates him on September 26, and also remembers him on May 8, on which date Christians used to draw forth from his grave fine ashes which were effective for healing the sick.

John has traditionally held to be the author of five books of the New Testament, including the Gospel of John, but  most scholars dispute this.

Catholic/Orthodox tradition says that he and the Virgin Mary moved to Ephesus, where both eventually died. Most scholars question this belief, in the main because of  the extremely advanced age which Mary would have reached by this period in time.

Some believe, however, that there is support for the idea that John did go to Ephesus, but certainly with no involvement with the Virgin Mary,  and from there wrote the three epistles sometimes attributed to him.




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