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TBR New May 31, 2019

May 31 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. May 31, 2019: “Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for May 31:”There is an in-house rumor that Trump wants the CIA to start planting containers of poisoned water along the US side of the Mexican border to kill off illegal border-crossers. He is reported as saying ”If I can’t get the wall, I’ll find another way to keep the trash out of America.” Isn’t that a wonderful thing to hear from our President? What will be next? Issue baseball bats to thump on the stomachs of pregnant women?”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Mueller intended to break Democrats’ impeachment stalemate
  • Tide of Public Opinion is Turning in Assange’s Favor
  • Who’s really losing out in the tariff war
  • NSA targeting system now deployed along Mexican border, leaked docs reveal
  • What diplomacy? Here are 36 countries the US has bullied this week
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • The Watchbird is Watching You!

 

Mueller intended to break Democrats’ impeachment stalemate

In an extreme example of narrowcasting, masked by the careful legalistic language, Mueller was speaking directly to Pelosi in his recent public comments

May 31, 2019

by Walter Shapiro

The Guardian

Unless they are on a secret Washington dinner party circuit, there are no hints that Robert Mueller and Nancy Pelosi are friends.

Sure, they overlapped 20 years ago with Mueller serving as US attorney for the northern district of California and Pelosi in her second decade representing San Francisco in Congress. And, like all prominent Washington public officials, they shared TV green rooms when Mueller was FBI director and Pelosi was on her first circuit as House speaker.

Despite their differing persona, these two past-normal-retirement-age figures born in the early 1940s boast important affinities. In a political age defined by corrosive cynicism, they both share an old-fashioned belief in institutions whether they are Mueller’s justice department or Pelosi’s House of Representatives.

That institutional faith pinpoints Mueller’s target audience for his nine-minute coda to this tenure as special counsel. In an extreme example of narrowcasting, masked by the careful legalistic language, Mueller was speaking directly to Pelosi.

His implicit message: my institution (the justice department) cannot indict a sitting president. But your institution (the House) can vote to impeach Donald Trump and mandate a Senate trial for obstruction of justice and possible other “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

Much of Mueller’s statement served as an explanation of the constraints that he felt because of a justice department legal interpretation that he cannot indict a sitting president. As Mueller bluntly put it: “A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy.”

Then Mueller, in the same procedural step-by-step tone of a legal indictment, went on to deliver one of the most important sentences of his tenure as special counsel: “The constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”

Mueller could not have been clearer about impeachment if he had stepped before the cameras with a scarlet I pinned to his suit.

Up to now, the debates over impeachment roiling the House Democratic caucus have either been political (“It will cost us seats in 2020”) or moral (“How can we tell our grandchildren that we did nothing in the face of Trump’s lawless behavior?”).

But Mueller, in his subtle, understated fashion, tried to break this Democratic stalemate. He offered a new argument and perhaps the only one that could possibly trump Pelosi’s hard-won political caution. What Mueller was saying, in effect, was that the constitution and the institutional legitimacy of Congress as an independent body require commencing impeachment hearings.

Of course, Mueller’s understanding of institutional imperatives means that he would be about as reluctant an impeachment witness as a straight-arrow cop testifying in a police corruption scandal.

Mueller’s other message to Pelosi on Wednesday was to try to convince her not to compel his congressional testimony. He broadly hinted that he would answer all questions with boring-for-television lines such as: “You will find my answer on page 84 of the second section of my report.”

There is a common misunderstanding about an impeachment inquiry. The dominant impression seems to be that the House judiciary committee would open hearings on a Tuesday, vote out an impeachment resolution on a Wednesday and have it pass the House on a party-line vote (plus anti-Trump GOP apostate Justin Amash) on Thursday. Then, a week later, Mitch McConnell and company would find Trump “not guilty” in the Senate.

But impeachment hearings can and should be as deliberate as the Mueller inquiry itself. Unlike 1974, when the Richard Nixon impeachment hearings built on the earlier dramatic public testimony of the Senate Watergate committee, this time around the House judiciary committee’s efforts would need to be both investigative and prosecutorial. Witnesses such as the former White House counsel Don McGahn and Hope Hicks, the former communications director, would have a hard time dodging congressional subpoenas for a constitutionally sanctioned impeachment hearing no matter how ardently Trump claimed executive privilege.

Mueller had a narrow mandate, but there are no such limitations on impeachment hearings.

Trump’s shameless profiteering in the White House, with some of the money coming from foreign sources, may well violate the “emoluments clause” of the constitution. His conduct in office also raises grave national security questions from secret meetings (with no American note-takers) with Vladimir Putin to Jared Kushner’s dubious top-level access to secret documents.

Mueller may be faulted for being too punctilious in his fidelity to justice department rules and precedents. But he followed what he saw as the path dictated by integrity to the end. Now it is up to Pelosi also to transcend politics – and do what the constitution demands.

 

Tide of Public Opinion is Turning in Assange’s Favor

Corporate media & some politicos who opposed Assange after the 2016 election have radically changed their tune, favorably influencing public opinion after the Espionage Act indictment of the WikiLeak‘s founder

May 27, 2019

by Joe Lauria

Consortium News

The indictment of Julian Assange under the Espionage Act has profoundly affected press coverage of the WikiLeaks founder, with much of the media turning suddenly and decisively in his favor after  years of vilifying him

The sharp change has also come from some politicians, and significantly, from two Justice Department prosecutors who went public to express their dissent about using the Espionage Act to indict Assange.

To the extent that public opinion matters, the sea-change in coverage could have an effect on the British or Swedish governments’ decision to extradite Assange to the United States to face the charges.

Used to Be a Russian Agent

Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election establishment media, fueled by the Mueller probe, has essentially branded Assange a Russian agent who worked to undermine American democracy.

Focusing on his personality rather than his work, the media mostly cheered his arrest by British police on April 11 after his political asylum was illegally revoked by Ecuador in its London embassy.

Assange’s initial indictment for conspiracy to intrude into a government computer was portrayed by corporate media as the work of a “hacker” and not a journalist, who doesn’t merit First Amendment protection.

But the superseding indictment under the Espionage Act last Thursday has changed all that.

Rather than criminal activity, the indictment actually describes routine journalistic work, such as encouraging sources to turn over sensitive information and hiding a source’s identity.

Since the Trump administration has crossed the red line criminalizing  what establishment journalists do all the time, establishment journalists have come full-square against the indictment and behind Assange.

Leading liberal outlets, who until Wednesday openly despised  Assange, began on Thursday to make 180 degree turns in their editorials, commentaries and news reports.

An editorial in The New York Times called the indictment “a marked escalation in the effort to prosecute Mr. Assange, one that could have a chilling effect on American journalism as it has been practiced for generations. It is aimed straight at the heart of the First Amendment.”

“The new charges focus on receiving and publishing classified material from a government source. That is something journalists do all the time. … This is what the First Amendment is designed to protect: the ability of publishers to provide the public with the truth.”

The Times praised Assange’s work:

“Mr. Assange shared much of the material at issue with The New York Times and other news organizations. The resulting stories demonstrated why the protections afforded the press have served the American public so well; they shed important light on the American war effort in Iraq, revealing how the United States turned a blind eye to the torture of prisoners by Iraqi forces and how extensively Iran had meddled in the conflict.”

‘Profoundly Disturbing’

Former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger wrote:

” I find the Trump administration’s use of the Espionage Act against him profoundly disturbing. … Whatever Assange got up to in 2010-11, it was not espionage. … Imagine the precedent if the Trump administration gets away with this. Israel and India have extensive nuclear weapons programmes – each protected by ferocious domestic official secrets acts. Think of the outcry if the Netanyahu or Modi governments attempted to extradite a British or US journalist to face life in jail for writing true things about their nuclear arsenals.

Assange is accused of trying to persuade a source to disclose yet more secret information. Most reporters would do the same. Then he is charged with behaviour that, on the face of it, looks like a reporter seeking to help a source protect her identity. If that’s indeed what Assange was doing, good for him.”

The New Yorker‘s Masha Gessen, wrote: “The use of the Espionage Act to prosecute Assange is an attack on the First Amendment. … It stands to reason that an Administration that considers the press an ‘enemy of the people’ would launch this attack. In attacking the media, it is attacking the public.’

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the Democratic Party booster, who probably had more influence than any commentator in drumming up the Russiagate conspiracy and Assange’s alleged role in it, on Thursday launched into an astounding defense of the imprisoned publisher.  On her program she said:

“The Justice Department today, the Trump administration today, just put every journalistic institution in this country on Julian Assange’s side of the ledger. On his side of the fight. Which, I know, is unimaginable. But that is because the government is now trying to assert this brand new right to criminally prosecute people for publishing secret stuff, and newspapers and magazines and investigative journalists and all sorts of different entities publish secret stuff all the time. That is the bread and butter of what we do.”

Nick Miller, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, said:

“On the face of it this indictment covers a lot of practices that are standard to investigative journalism: appealing for information, encouraging a source to provide documents that are not publicly available, reporting classified information you believe is in the public interest and the public has a right to know. …It may be that prosecutors can argue Assange was not acting as a journalist. But they would, by doing so, make the line separating journalism from espionage wafer-thin, and much more dangerous to approach, even in the public interest.”

Politicians Too

The indictment for espionage also caused a number of politicians to back Assange. Two U.S. candidates for president and another senator spoke out in his favor. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeted:

Bernie Sanders

✔  @SenSanders

Let me be clear: it is a disturbing attack on the First Amendment for the Trump administration to decide who is or is not a reporter for the purposes of a criminal prosecution. Donald Trump must obey the Constitution, which protects the publication of news about our government

ACLU

✔  @ACLU

BREAKING: For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges under the Espionage Act against a publisher for the publication of truthful information. This is a direct assault on the First Amendment. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/23/us/politics/assange-indictment.html …

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said in a statement: “Trump should not be using this case as a pretext to wage war on the First Amendment and go after the free press who hold the powerful accountable everyday.”

“This is not about Julian Assange,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement. “This is about the use of the Espionage Act to charge a recipient and publisher of classified information. I am extremely concerned about the precedent this may set and potential dangers to the work of journalists and the First Amendment.”

In Assange’s native Australia, Sen. Rex Patrick said:

“The United States government’s decision to charge Australian citizen and publisher Julian Assange with new espionage offences relating to receiving and publishing classified US government information raises a grave threat to freedom of the press worldwide, and must be viewed so by the Australian government,” he said

“The Australian government should be active not only in providing consular support to Mr Assange, who is an Australian citizen, but also outspoken in making representations to the British government against allowing Mr Assange to be extradited to the United States on charges that so obviously constitute a grave threat to press freedom.”

Bob Carr, a former Australian foreign minister, said:  “While it appears capital punishment does not apply in this case, the US, by seeking extradition for offences that might attract a 175 years imprisonment, could be testing the tolerance of its allies and partners. I think this changes the game almost as much as if capital punishment were the penalty.”

Carr said Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, “needs to protect herself from the charge that she’s failed in her duty to protect the life of an Australian citizen.

“Therefore I would imagine that Dfat (the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) will provide her with talking points to conversations with her British, Swedish and indeed American counterparts.

“Not to do so would leave the minister exposed to withering criticism that they did not take all appropriate action that might have made a difference, mainly before the British court makes a decision.”

Extradition Made Harder

The Trump administration appears to have gone too far in its Espionage Act indictment, eliciting not only media pushback, but perhaps complicating its extradition case.  The British home secretary may now not want to been seen sending a suspect to a country that has clearly criminalized journalism.

Miller, in the Herald, wrote:

“By bringing espionage into the picture the US have also made their extradition work much, much harder. Assange’s lawyers may try to argue that he is being extradited for his political opinions (which is not allowed), or for conduct that would not be a crime in the UK (ditto). This last is a very interesting question. The UK’s Official Secrets Act may be even harder to stretch to cover Assange’s actions then the US Espionage Act.”

The Intercept reported:

“The uproar could make it easier for Assange’s lawyers in the U.K. — where he is currently serving a 50-week jail term for violating bail — to argue that he is wanted in the United States primarily for embarrassing the Pentagon and State Department, by publishing true information obtained from a whistleblower, making the charges against him political in nature, rather than criminal.”

It is not clear why the U.S. released its superseding indictment when it did. It had until a June 12 deadline to do so. The U.S. government also had the option of a loophole in its extradition treaty with Britain, providing for a waiver to the “doctrine of speciality.”

That would have allowed the U.S. to ask Britain to waive the provision that the UK would have to know all the charges against a suspect before an extradition decision would be made, thereby not permitting the U.S. to add more charges once Assange was on U.S. soil. One possibility is that the U.S. asked Britain for the waiver and it was refused.

Personal Attacks Continue

The liberal news outlets who are now finally defending Assange’s activity because the indictment opens themselves to legal jeopardy could not, however, refrain from taking potshots at him.

The Times, for instance, admitted its role in cooperating with WikiLeaks, and thus its potential criminal liability, given the new circumstances.  But the paper tried to wriggle out of it by calling Assange “a source” rather than “a partner.”

If Assange were merely a “source” he would not deserve the protection the Times implies he now merits as a journalist when they compared his activity to “something journalists do all the time.”  Either he is a source or a reporter. If he’s a reporter then the Times is  just using another reporter’s work but treating him as a source. If he’s only a source then he does not merit First Amendment protection.

Maddow said:

“Despite anyone’s feelings about this spectacularly unsympathetic character at the center of this international drama, you are going to see every journalistic institution in this country, every First Amendment supporter in this country, left, right and center, swallow their feelings about this particular human and denounce what the Trump administration is trying to do here. Because it would fundamentally change the United States of America.”

And  Gessen added:

“Assange is a fundamentally unappealing protagonist. He keeps terrible political company. He is, apparently, terrible company himself. In his writing and interviews, he comes across as power-crazed and manipulative. Most important, when he published leaked classified documents, he shared information that exposed people to danger. He is the perfect target precisely because he is unsympathetic. One has to hold one’s nose while defending Assange—and yet one must defend Assange.”

Senator Warren also found it necessary to blast Assange. She said, “Assange is a bad actor who has harmed U.S. national security — and he should be held accountable.”

Unmasking Informants

Rusbridger said: “We fell out, as most people eventually do with Assange. I found him mercurial, untrustworthy and dislikable: he wasn’t keen on me, either.” Significantly, Rusbridger pointed out that, “All the collaborating editors disapproved of him releasing unredacted material from the Manning trove in September 2011.”

First, Assange’s revelation of the names of sources and informants in its publications forms a major part of the superseding indictment.  But the indictment does not spell out any law that Assange violated by doing this. It is illegal in the U.S. to unmask a covert intelligence agent, as happened in the Valerie Plame case, but not to reveal a source or informant.

Second, there is no evidence that anyone was ever harmed by the uncovering of these names.

Third, most importantly as far as Rusbridger is concerned, is that he completely omits his newspapers’ role in the affair. Rusbridger was the Guardian editor when two of his reporters, David Leigh and Luke Harding, in their February 2011 book WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, published a password to unpublished and un-redacted WikiLeaks files containing the names of informants in files that only intelligence agencies and governments could decrypt. That led Assange to publish the files with their names in September 2011 so that the sources could seek safety.

The personal attacks on Assange and what kind of person he is has never been relevant. What is relevant is that he’s a journalist who has been persecuted and now indicted for practicing journalism, a fact that mainstream journalists have finally woken up to.

Comment: Concerning the New York Times, one can truthfully say: Once a newspaperman, always a whore.

 

Who’s really losing out in the tariff war

For sectors such as agriculture, “in the best of circumstances, it may take years to renegotiate contracts again,” said one economist.

May 30, 2019,

by Erik Sherman

NBC News

As the saber rattling continues between Washington and Beijing, some sectors of the American economy have been hit harder than others. But with the threat of additional tariffs on $325 billion of Chinese imports, a wider swath of industries in the U.S. will begin to feel the pain — as will consumers.

Tariffs in the ongoing trade war with China have already scored victims. Among them are the customers of Marker Construction, a home-building company in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“We’ve seen a price increase of at least 15 percent with anything that involves steel,” company president Peggy Marker told NBC News. The increased price of nails, screws, metal framing, and reinforcement rods now get passed on to her commercial clients, driving up project costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“They have to estimate with the worst-case scenario and then wait and see what happens,” Marker said. “Now that there’s a deal on the table with Mexico and Canada, that may help settle down the market as well,” she added, referring to the recent agreement for the U.S. and its neighbors to drop tariffs on imported aluminum and steel.

As part of his “America first” policy, President Donald Trump said he would protect the U.S. metals industries — but those promises appear to have fallen flat. While domestic makers of steel and aluminum did see a short-lived improvement in their revenues, the relatively small number of jobs gained by that industry were far more than offset by the slowdowns in companies in construction, manufacturing, and other areas in which rising metal prices and reduced availability had a negative impact.

“The price peaked in July or August last year, has been steadily falling since, and hit a plateau two or three months ago,” said Stephen Schober, chief executive officer of Metal Supermarkets, a supplier of small-quantity metals to local fabricators, hobbyists, maintenance operations, and municipal works yards.

Meanwhile, farmers face a more dire future. China has reportedly temporarily halted all purchases of American soybeans, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

“Soybeans are our number one export to China,” said Dan North, chief economist with Euler Hermes USA. Shipments went “basically went to zero a few months ago” and prices are now at an 11-year low.

“It certainly will be a boost if those tariffs get removed, but I wouldn’t expect a bounce back to the high levels of before,” said North.

Farmers are the biggest losers under the tariff wars — and they may never be made whole, even with current special subsidies. “Agricultural contracts are long-term contracts,” said Hamid Mohtadi, a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. When China imposed retaliatory tariffs on soybeans, buyers there turned to Brazil, another major producer of the crop.

“In the best of circumstances, it may take years to renegotiate contracts again,” Mohtadi said. “Other agricultural products will not fare much better.” And China is now even less likely to put all its eggs in one basket as it previously did with the U.S.

So far, the problems have largely gone unnoticed by consumers, as the real pressure has been on intermediary products rather than consumer goods. Prices have not increased enough for end-users, as companies have absorbed the increases.

The fourth tranche of tariffs on Chinese goods could change all that. Products in the next round include major categories in which imports play a big role in consumer spending.

“You have to look at [the impact] in terms of imports,” said Tom Runiewicz, associate director at business information provider IHS Markit. “Computers and electronics are almost $190 billion. That is almost 34 percent of what we consume for computers and electronics.” Twenty-eight percent of other electrical equipment comes from China.

About 45 percent of apparel and textile sales in the U.S. is imported from China. So is one-quarter of all furniture sold. “All the stuff you buy at Target, Walmart, probably even Ikea, a lot of that inexpensive stuff comes from China,” Runiewicz said.

The retail industry has not been shy about the amount of cost that will be passed on to consumers. Nike and Adidas were in a group of 173 footwear companies that signed an open letter saying the proposed increased tariffs on shoes alone “will add $7 billion in additional costs for our customers, every single year.”

Walmart, Home Depot, and Macy’s have also addressed the impact of tariffs on their bottom line. Earlier this month, Walmart said higher tariffs will result in increased prices for consumers even with the company’s efforts to ease the pain by working with different suppliers and different countries.

Home Depot announced last week that it has already seen a $1 billion hit from higher tariffs, and that the newest round of increases will mean another $1 billion in annual cost of goods increases to the company. Whether it will pass those along is yet to be seen.

 

NSA targeting system now deployed along Mexican border, leaked docs reveal

May 31, 2019

RT

A top-secret NSA targeting system which dramatically increased the civilian death toll in Afghanistan and Iraq has made its way back home, according to leaked documents boasting of its use on the US-Mexico border.

The RT-RG targeting system, which sucks up and processes hundreds of millions of phone and internet records per day in order to “find, fix and finish” enemy combatants, has been deployed on the US’ southern border since 2010, according to documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

When NSA agents gave a presentation at the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) in 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration, one of 21 law enforcement agencies with a presence at the center, dropped everything to get its hands on an RT-RG of its own.

While the NSA praised the system for boosting the military’s kill-count in Afghanistan and Iraq, the documents show it gave soldiers a false sense of certainty, leading to an explosion in civilian casualties following its deployment. Most of those kills – 90 percent, in one five-month period of airstrikes – were not the intended targets. For such a flawed system to be placed in the hands of domestic authorities already prone to itchy trigger-fingers is unsettling.

“Many called it an industrialization of warfare,” Kristian Berg Harpviken of the Peace Research Institute Oslo told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. “The rapid turnaround made it harder to insure the quality of the intelligence, and the large number of operations meant that civilian injuries increased accordingly.”

Norway was the “guinea pig” in Afghanistan for the international intelligence-sharing that became a key aspect of RT-RG, which featured several levels of security clearance depending on how trusted a partner nation was. In the domestic arena, that graduated access has been used to share intel between the many agencies working out of EPIC.

Low-level law enforcement officers weren’t the only ones who had to be kept out of the upper echelons of the NSA’s data trove, the courts couldn’t find out about it either. Cases built on the program had to be rebuilt using so-called “parallel construction,” since the secret, and possibly illegal, methods used to collect intelligence on a suspect could not be revealed without jeopardizing the case. Fortunately, the DEA has a whole division dedicated to parallel construction from NSA intel, charmingly nicknamed the “Dark Side.”

While the initial targets of the program were Mexican drug cartels, the NSA’s approach to data collection meant everyone in San Antonio’s data ended up in their clutches.

The iron law of “mission creep,” combined with the Trump administration’s focus on illegal immigration, means it is highly likely RT-RG is also being used to sniff out people-smugglers, if not the migrants themselves. And while US law may have been mutilated to retroactively legalize the NSA’s intrusive surveillance programs after they were exposed in the Snowden leak, international law maintains that Mexican citizens still have privacy rights, which the RT-RG program seriously violates.

 

What diplomacy? Here are 36 countries the US has bullied this week

May 31, 2019

RT

It’s been a busy few days for American diplomacy, with three dozen nations ending up at the receiving end of threats, ultimatums and sanctions this week alone. And it’s only Friday.

Mexico is the latest target, slapped with 5 percent tariffs on each and every export, gradually increasing to 25 percent until it stops the flow of Latin American migrants into the US, thus fulfilling one of President Donald Trump’s election promises. Most of those migrants aren’t even from Mexico.

On the other side of the world, India is reportedly about to be forced to face a choice: ditch the purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems or face sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA, Washington’s go-to cooperation enforcement instrument).

Turkey is facing a similar ultimatum: abandon S-400s (something Ankara has repeatedly refused to do) or lose access to the F-35 fighter jet program. This threat was repeated on Thursday by Kathryn Wheelbarger, US acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Ankara has already invested some $1.25 billion into the super-expensive American fighter, but with a lot of its parts being made in Turkey, it’s still an open question who would be the bigger loser.

The entire European Union could be facing punishment if it tries to trade with Iran using its non-dollar humanitarian mechanism to bypass the American embargo. Having worked hard on the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, which has repeatedly been confirmed to be working, EU member states are not ready to ditch trade at Trump’s whim – and US Special Representative to Iran Brian Hook on Thursday reaffirmed the threat of CAATSA sanctions.

Cuba, the rediscovered scapegoat of the Trump administration’s newfound anti-socialist drive, is being called out for supporting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. On his Thursday visit to Canada, US Vice President Mike Pence said Ottawa must stop Havana’s “malign influence” on Caracas’ affairs – despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s meek objections that it could play a “positive role” in settling the crisis there.

That’s 32 countries bullied, threatened or sanctioned in one day (counting the 28 EU members). Years’ worth of gunboat diplomacy, packed into a busy few hours in Trump’s signature “my way or the highway” style.

Mentioning Iran (which was “almost certainly” behind a recent inept attack on oil tankers near the Persian Gulf), China (which dares to buy Iranian oil), Russia (which has “probably” restarted low-yield nuclear tests) and Venezuela (where the ouster of its elected president is the only result of long-awaited talks with the opposition that Washington will accept) – is almost an afterthought. There’s hardly a week passing without the Trump administration churning out half-a-dozen accusations and threats against one or all of those – and this week, the gears were grinding as hard as ever.

American influence, built up over decades, is undeniable: even its adversaries depend on the US dollar and are arguably at the mercy of its myriad military bases all over the globe. Trump and his hawkish inner circle have been more than willing to spend that credit by shouting at everyone to get in line.

In the worst-case scenario, he is dragging the world into devastating wars. In the best case, he is throwing that influence away, showing allies and rivals alike that an ugly divorce could be the only way out of this abusive relationship.

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Kevin Ryerson

Channeling is a process where a fraud or loon (the “channeler”) claims to be invaded by a spirit entity which speaks through said channeler. Kevin Ryerson is one of the more familiar of these, after being featured in an ABC miniseries in 1987 hosted by Shirley MacLaine in which MacLaine has conversations with spirits through Ryerson. Of particular note is the spirit “John”, an alleged contemporary of Jesus, who spoke through Ryerson – interestingly not in Aramaic but in some sort of faux Elizabethan English – and told MacLaine that she (MacLaine) is a co-creator of the world with God, thus confirming MacLaine’s brand of subjectivist egotheism. MacLaine, who has never been accused of being among the brightest bulb on the New Age circuit, was understandably excited.

Ryerson, who bills himself as an  “author, lecturer, award winning consultant , expert intuitive, futurist and trance channel in the tradition of Edgar Cayce”, has been in the game for a while now. Currently, he seems to be mostly channeling one Atun-Re, an ancestor of Nubian descent and an Egyptian Priest who lived during the time of Akhnathen, and he offers Tele-Readings for a fee well above your usual last-page horoscope readers. He has previously served as board member of the Intuition Network and vice-president of the Berkeley California Society for Psychical Studies, as well as faculty at the “Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), Omega Institute, Findhorn Foundation, Interface, Lily Dale Assembly, Philosophical Research Society, Learning Annex, and the Whole Life Expos” (we mention these for future reference). According to himself, he also “works extensively with medical doctors, scientists, parapsychologists and other professionals to add perspective and insight to various topics including physics,health, nutrition, biochemistry, geology and business,” though he is somewhat short on the details of that work. Ryerson is also the author of Spirit Communication: The Soul’s Path, coauthor of Future Healer (with Ron Henry, ND) and author of the foreword to C. Norman Shealy’s The Future Healer. James Redfield is a fan, and covered Ryerson in The Tenth Insight.

Diagnosis: Probably a serious loon, though there are alternative interpretations of his business model. Ought to be reasonably harmless, but a shocking number of people is apparently impressed by his nonsense.

Jon Rappoport

Jon Rappoport is a deliriously insane “independent researcher” and blogger. According to his bio, he “has lectured extensively all over the US on the question: Who runs the world and what can we do about it?” For the last decade, however, he has “operated largely away from the mainstream” because, as he puts it, “[m]y research was not friendly to the conventional media.” Indeed. His independent research encompasses “deep politics, conspiracies, alternative health, the potential of the human imagination, mind control, the medical cartel, symbology, and solutions to the takeover of the planet by hidden elites.”

He is, for instance, a germ theory denialist, and in his post “Germ theory and depopulation” (discussed here) he argues that “[i]n general, so-called contagious diseases are caused, not by germs, but by IMMUNE SYSTEMS THAT ARE TOO WEAK TO FIGHT OFF THOSE GERMS” (yes, the capitalization is in the original). Indeed, “GERMS ARE A COVER STORY. What do they cover up? The fact that immune systems are the more basic target for depopulation and debilitation of populations.” The main tool is of course vaccines, which are weapons the nefarious powers that be use to kill off, well, it is a bit hard to see, partially because Rappoport’s post is mostly all-caps from there. At least HIV is a cover story as well.

He has a similar screed on flu vaccines on whale.to if that’s the kind of stuff you fancy reading. It is barely grammatical, but at least he gets his enthusiastic anger across rather well.

Currently Rappoport seems to write on various topics for InfoWars. Recently, for instance, Rappoport and InfoWars dubbed Rep. Tim Murphy’s bill seeking to reform the way the government addresses mental health services a “diabolical legislative package,” since Rappoport thought the legislation would require almost all children to take “psychiatric meds,” and that the bill will ultimately give the federal government “a monopoly of the mind.” Yeah, that’s the way he rolls.

Diagnosis: Hysterically crazy; and his influence is probably not quite as limited as his level of crazy should suggest

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

May 31, 2019

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 out 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 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 publication.

 

Conversation No. 39

Date: Monday, September 30. 1996

Commenced: 12:23 PM CST

Concluded: 12:47 PM CST

RTC: Gregory?

GD: Yes, Robert. I am letting you know that I got a letter from Critchfield today.

RTC: Excellent! What did he say?

GD: If you know the score, a great deal and if you don’t, it’s still interesting. Shall I read it to you?

RTC: Not on the phone. Can you copy it and send it to me at home?

GD: He says that you spoke well of me and that you said I was a former intelligence employee, just as you said he would. He is very eager to get ahold of me to find out what I know about Mueller and who told me.

RTC: Oh, he’s a very alarmed person, Gregory. They all are.

GD: He did mention that his ex-CIA friends were all in a tizzy. Some believed me and other said that none of it could be true.

RTC: That’s typical, Gregory. We always had members who laughed at everything. You could tell them today was Monday and they would say, “Well, that remains to be seen.” How did he leave it?

GD: He is most insistent that I call him at home.

RTC: But be careful of that, Gregory. He’ll tape you. He wants to find out what you know about Mueller….have you mentioned Kronthal yet?

GD: I haven’t responded to the letter, Robert, but when we talk, I will.

RTC: He’ll ask you if Corson told you this. Say that he did not. Say that Mueller did. Also tell him that the Company terminated Kronthal because he was a faggot and was being blackmailed by the Russians. Got that?

GD: I do.

RTC: This might prove to be very interesting. Be sure you tape him. Do you have the equipment for that?

GD: I do indeed, Robert.

RTC: And be very accurate about Gehlen. No interesting stories.

GD: Robert, please give me some credit, won’t you? I’ve been doing this sort of crap for years now and I haven’t put my foot into it yet.

RTC: No, but I’ve never seen you in action.

GD: You will. I have had dealings with the CIA before. My God, what a bunch of idiots. They have two approaches, Robert and only two. They tell you that you’re in very serious trouble but they can help you or they say they want to be my friend. As far as the latter is concerned, I’d much rather try to fuck a rabid bulldog than trust one of them. They couldn’t talk a Mongoloid idiot out of a candy bar. Now, on the other hand, the Russians I know are far better. I’ve never had a bad word from any of them. I would say that the average Russian KGB person, but on a higher level, is far more intelligent and savvy than any CIA person I’ve ever met.

RTC: Ever been to Russia?

GD: Once. As a tourist, of course. I have a nice picture of myself sitting in their headquarters, reading a local paper under a picture of Lenin.

RTC: Are you serious?

GD: Certainly I am. I met one of their leaders when he and I were in Bern. He was a trade delegation person at their embassy of course. And they do know how to feed you. I got rather fond of smoked sturgeon and really good Beluga caviar, all washed down with a first class Crimean wine.

RTC: Who was your friend there?

GD: He’s in the First Directorate but somehow I seem to have forgotten his name. He was on the idiot tube during the Gorbachev problem a few years ago.

RTC: Stocky? Sandy hair? Thinning?

GD: I believe so.

RTC: My God. If I gave you a name would…

GD: No, I would not. Besides, I’m not a spy, Robert. Don’t forget, I’m an analyst, a scenario writer, not a spy. Besides the sturgeon, I enjoy dissecting a complex problem and arriving at a simple answer. It’s not popular with most people, Robert, but it’s almost always right.

RTC: Such vanity.

GD: I prefer to call it a realistic appraisal of facts, Robert.

RTC: Could I see the picture?

GD: I’ll show it to you in person but I would prefer not to send it to you by mail. It might get lost.

RTC: Yes, these things do happen.

GD: I will certainly speak with Critchfield and I will tape the conversation for you. Do you want a copy of the tape?

RTC: No, just play it for me so I can hear what the shit has to say. I’d like you to get him to talk about the Nazis who worked for him. You know Jim liked the Nazis and hired a fair number of them. Grombach made out a list after the war so they could track some of the war crimes boys who might be in POW cages. They called it the Crowcrass List. Jim got his hands on it and used it to recruit from. I told him once this could come back to haunt him if the Jews ever found out about it but Jim just said the Jews were loud-mouthed assholes, his exact words, and Hitler missed the boat when he left any alive.

GD: Do you want me to get him to say that?

RTC: Now that’s an interesting idea, Gregory. Would you?

GD: Why not? I really knew Gehlen, as I’ve said, in ’51. He told me once that his famous report that the Russians were planning to attack western Europe in ’48 was made up because the U.S. Army, who were paying him, wanted him to do this. He said he lied like a rug and that no German intelligence officer would ever believe a word of it. He said the Russians had torn up all the rail lines in their zone and they could no more move troops up to the border than crap sideways. He said that this was designed to scare the shit out of the politicians in Washington so the Army, which was being sharply reduced in size, would be able to rebuild. That meant more money from Congress and more Generals got to keep their jobs. He said it worked like a charm and even Truman was terrified. I assume that’s the real beginning of the Cold War, isn’t it?

RTC: That’s a very good and accurate assessment. Jim told me that Gehlen was a pompous ass whom Hitler had sacked for being a champion bullshit artist but he was very useful to our side in frightening everyone with the Russian boogeyman. It’s all business, isn’t it?

GD: Marx said that. The basis of all wars is economic.

RTC: Absolutely, Gregory, absolutely. But talk about the Nazi SS men he hired, if you can. My God, they say it was like a party rally up at Pullach. If we can get him to admit that he, and others, knew what they were hiring, I’ll have him over the proverbial barrel and then I can have some leverage over him. Why, you don’t need to know.

GD: I don’t care, Robert. From his letter, I would agree he is a gasbag with a bloated opinion of himself. He should never have written that letter because I can see right through it. He’s afraid I know too much and if I knew Mueller, he’s even more frightened Mueller might have said things about him. You know, Robert, if you dance to the tune, you have to pay the piper eventually.

RTC: Do keep the letter and try to get him to put more down on paper.

GD: I will try but I don’t think he’s that stupid. We’ll try the tape and see what I can pry out of him. Mueller got me a list of names working for Gehlen and some background on them. I agree that they hired some people who are going to haunt them if it ever gets out.

RTC: Well, you have a problem there. Your publisher is not big enough to reach too many people and a bigger one would be told right off not to talk to you. I also might suggest several things to you. If anyone tries to come to visit you, and they want to bring a friend, don’t go for it.

GD: Are they planning to shoot me?

RTC: No. The so-called friend would be a government expert. They would examine any documents you had and if there was the slightest hint that you were sitting on something you had no business having, they would go straight into federal court, testify that these papers were highly sensitive and classified and get a friendly judge to issue a replevin order. That means they would send the FBI crashing into your house and grab everything sight. If you had a Rolex it would vanish along with any loose cash and, naturally, all the papers. And one other thing, if you get a very nice offer from some publisher you never heard of, just begging you to let them publish, be warned that they would take the manuscript, send it to Langley and if Langley thought it was dangerous, give you a contract to publish it along with a token payment. Of course they would never publish it but since they paid you and had a contract to publish, you could never find another publisher. They’d get a court order in record time, blocking it. Just some advice.

GD: Thank you. But I never let these morons into my house. Oh, and I have had such invites but once you talk to these jokers, you can see in a few minutes that they know nothing about Mueller, the Gestapo or anything else. They read a book and think they are an expert but most post war books are bullshit written by the far left or by Jews and are completely worthless from a factual point of view. No, it takes me only a few minutes to figure them out and then, suddenly, my dog is tearing the throats out of the Seventh Day Adventists on the front porch and I have to ring off. I don’t know why these Mongoloids don’t find someone with an IQ larger than their neck size. That is a chronic disappointment. There’s no challenge there, Robert. It’s a little like reading Kant to a Mongoloid. Such a waste of my time and so unrewarding when you find they pissed on the rug.

RTC: That should do it for now, Gregory. Keep me posted.

GD: I’m going out of town for a few days but will get back with you next week.

 

(Concluded at 12:47 PM CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

The Watchbird is Watching You!

May 31, 2019

by Christian Jürs

The government intelligence agencies and their allied private contractors now regularly accesses all emails, chats, searches, events, locations, videos, photos, log-ins and any information people post online with a warrant, which the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court always  grants secretly and without being ever made public.

And the revelation of Prism, a secret government program for mining major Internet companies, states that the government now has direct access to Internet companies’ data without a warrant.

Every company impacted – Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Skype, PalTalk and AOL – publically deny knowing about the program or giving any direct access to their servers. These denials are intented to bolster public confidence in their services because in reality, all of these entities cooperate fully with requests for customer information.

Google is the supplier of the customized core search technology for Intellipedia, a highly-secure online system where 37,000 U.S. domestic and foreign area spies and related personnel share information and collaborate on investigative missions.

And there is absolutely nothing one can commit to the Internet that is private in any sense of the word

In addition, Google is linked to the U.S. spy and military systems through its Google Earth software venture. The technology behind this software was originally developed by Keyhole Inc., a company funded by Q-Tel http://www.iqt.org/ , a venture capital firm which is in turn openly funded and operated on behalf of the CIA.

Google acquired Keyhole Inc. in 2004. The same base technology is currently employed by U.S. military and intelligence systems in their quest, in their own words, for “full-spectrum dominance” of the American, and foreign, political, social and economic spheres.

However, Internet Service Providers and the entertainment industry are now taking Internet monitoring to a whole new level….

If someone download copyrighted software, videos or music, all Internet service providers (ISP)  have the ability to detect this downloading.

The vast majority of computer surveillance involves the monitoring of data and traffic on the Internet. In the United States for example, under the Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act, all phone calls and broadband Internet traffic (emails, web traffic, instant messaging, etc.) are required to be available for unimpeded real-time monitoring by Federal law enforcement agencies., to include the FBI, NSA, the CIA and the DHS.

There is far too much data on the Internet for human investigators to manually search through all of it and so automated Internet surveillance computers sift through the vast amount of intercepted Internet traffic and identify and report to human investigators traffic considered interesting by using certain “trigger” words or phrases, visiting certain types of web sites, or communicating via email or chat with suspicious individuals or groups. Billions of dollars per year are spent, by agencies such as the Information Awareness Office, NSA, and the FBI, to develop, purchase, implement, and operate systems such as Carnivore, NarusInsight, and ECHELON to intercept and analyze all of this data, and extract only the information which is useful to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. One flaw with NSA claims that the government needs to be able to suck up Internet data from services such as Skype and Gmail to fight terrorists: Studies show that would-be terrorists don’t use those services. The NSA has to collect the metadata from all of our phone calls because terrorists, right? And the spy agency absolutely must intercept Skypes you conduct with folks out-of-state, or else terrorism. It must sift through your iCloud data and Facebook status updates too, because Al Qaeda.Terrorists are everywhere, they are legion, they are dangerous, and, unfortunately, they don’t really do any of the stuff described above.

Even though the still-growing surveillance state that sprung up in the wake of 9/11 was enacted almost entirely to “fight terrorism,” reports show that the modes of communication that agencies like the NSA are targeting are scarcely used by terrorists at all.

Computers can be a surveillance target because of the personal data stored on them. If someone is able to install software, such as the FBI’s Magic Lantern and CIPAV, on a computer system, they can easily gain unauthorized access to this data. Such software can be, and is   installed physically or remotely. Another form of computer surveillance, known as van Eck phreaking, involves reading electromagnetic emanations from computing devices in order to extract data from them at distances of hundreds of meters. The NSA runs a database known as “Pinwale”, which stores and indexes large numbers of emails of both American citizens and foreigners.

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