TBR News August 13, 2016

Aug 13 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. August 13, 2016: “Hillary Clinton, in the White House, was known for violent and erratic behavior, and no one in the White House enjoyed working with her.

She was subject to sudden, and unexplained, bursts of rage during which she screamed vulgarities at staff members, was extremely rude and abusive to Secret Service agents and was known to have verbally abused her husband in front of staff members.

Questions about her sexual orientation arose and it appeared that she was jealous of her husband’s interest in women whom she also was attracted to.

At one point in time, while living in New York, Hillary, who tended to be unstable on her feet, fell down and struck the right side of her head on an object on the floor. This resulted in a blood clot in the right sphere of her brain and she was under treatment for this by a neurologist for a considerable time, and her increasingly bizarre behavior, manifested while under stress, was treated by a New York psychiatrist.

Recently, a hacker managed to get into these files and download a considerable portion of them. He has sent these around to various internet sources with the hope they will be published for the public viewing. Unfortunately, publishing filched medical records would result in serious problems for the publisher so the suggestion was made that perhaps the Wikileaks people, now located in Sweden, might find them of interest.”

Clinton’s tax returns show income hit, dubious donations

August 13, 2016


Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid put a big dent in the Clintons’ income, which went from $28 million in 2014 to just over $10 million in 2015, while the vast majority of charitable donations by the couple went to their own charity, their tax returns reveal

Former President Bill Clinton and his wife file tax returns jointly. Their 2015 filings show an income of $10.6 million, far less than the $28 million reported in 2014. Speaking fees continued to make up two-thirds of the Clintons’ income, but dropped to $6.7 million from almost $20 million in the year prior.

Clinton and her running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, released their tax returns on Thursday in an effort to pressure the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, into doing the same.

The power couple took in $3.1 million from their books, while Bill Clinton’s consulting business brought in just under $1.7 million. Documents show the Clintons paid $3.24 million in federal income taxes in 2015, with their total federal and state tax burden amounting to 43.2 percent – down from 45.8 percent in 2014.

In 2015, the Clintons reported $1,042,000 in charitable donations. Of that number, however, $1 million went to their own Clinton Family Foundation, a separate endeavor from the Clinton Foundation. Only 4 percent of their contributions went to other charities, a fact that did not escape some observers.

The Democratic presidential nominee famously told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in 2014 that she and her husband “came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt.” The former first lady moved to the Senate, where she represented New York. In 2009, Clinton became secretary of state in the Obama administration.

After resigning from the State Department in February 2013, Clinton went on the speaking circuit, charging $225,000 or more per appearance. Among the hosting organizations named in the documents were the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, and the International Deli-Dairy Bakery Association, but the former top diplomat also gave three speeches to investment giant Goldman Sachs. Clinton has refused to release the transcripts of those speeches.

Taxman chases overseas Americans and their bankers

by Muhammad Cohen

Asia Times

HONG KONG – The United States government believes that Americans abroad avoid billions of dollars in taxes and it’s trying to collect. America’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – apparently misnamed since it’s going after citizens’ external revenue – has imposed a raft of new reporting rules on US expatriates and aims to enlist foreign financial institutions in its effort to narrow the US deficit.

The IRS estimates that will collect more than US$165 billion in additional taxes from Americans overseas over the next decade through the new Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and enforcement of the Foreign Bank Account Reporting (FBAR) requirement. Critics question both the IRS’s focus and its math.

“The perspective from the IRS is that they are uncovering wealthy

tax evaders when in reality they are destroying average, hardworking people’s lives, many who have simply made errors of oversight,” American Citizens Abroad (ACA) executive director Marylouise Serrato says.

Uncle Sam will spend billions on new compliance and enforcement procedures, including hiring 600 new overseas examiners, and force banks across the globe to share records with the US government.

“If the foreign banking community states that compliance will cost them many billions, there must be a heavy cost and administrative burden on the IRS side as well,” ACA director Jackie Bugnion says. “FATCA is described by many as an administrative monster which creates such an enormous haystack that no needle will be found.”

Aside from the potential time and money to find a fraction of the $800 billion given to the wealthiest 2% of Americans through extension of their George W Bush era tax cuts, numerous US citizens and money managers believe the new requirements are an invasion of privacy, the financial equivalent of full body scanners used in airports, according to one adviser based in China who requested anonymity.

Come clean – or else

Before the government hunts for undeclared overseas holdings, Americans have one last chance to “come clean” – , in the words of IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman – under its voluntary disclosure plan, which features fines and penalties including partial confiscation of hidden assets. Americans have long been required to reveal overseas bank accounts, with taxes due on interest payments and other investment income from any source. But there were previously no penalties for failing to file the FBAR form, so many expats and accountants ignored it.

“What disturbs me most about the scare tactics that the IRS appears to be using now, with its new voluntary disclosure program, is that the people who can afford it the least are being penalized more than anyone else,” US accountant Laurence Lipsher, author of Larry’s 2011 Tax Guide for US Expats and Green Card Holders in User Friendly English, says.

ACA has compiled case histories on the high price of voluntary disclosure. Under a more lenient voluntary disclosure regime that expired last year, one citizen revealed his US$300,000 life savings in a foreign bank. Taxes and penalties due on interest amounted to US$150, but the citizen was fined US$60,000, 20% of the highest amount in the unreported account. “This is extremely abusive on the part of the IRS,” ACA’s Bugnion contends.

Fear factor

The IRS would not comment on this case or answer other questions for this article. In an interview with Fox Business News, IRS Commissioner Shulman warned, “A big part of our voluntary disclosure program is that, you come in, need to tell us what financial institutions you’ve been working with, what law firms, what other advisors you have helped to facilitate your tax evasion. Through that process, we’re getting a lot of leads, and so you should expect us in the future to be pursuing other financial institutions, other intermediaries, as well as lots of other taxpayers.”

“Why do we have a tax bureaucracy that provokes fear?” asks Lipsher, who has challenged Shulman to a debate on FATCA. “What has happened to our country when it is now easier to work with the State Administration of Taxation in China than it is with the IRS?”

As with most US economic and fiscal evils, look behind the curtain and you’ll find Phil Gramm. The former US senator from Texas was the godfather of deregulation that lay behind the Enron-led corporate crisis of the early 2000s and the 2007 collapse of global financial markets. He resigned from the senate in 2002 and reemerged in public during the 2008 presidential campaign as an economic adviser to John McCain. Frequently cited as a key architect of the 2008 economic crisis, Gramm denied there was any problem at all. “[T]his is a mental recession,” he said in a July 2008 interview, “We have sort of become a nation of whiners, you just hear this constant whining …”

Gramm preached free-market economics, tax cuts, and small government, though as a University of Texas economics professor and elected official, he had little direct experience of the private sector. His wife, Wendy, by contrast, spun in the revolving door between government appointments and corporate boards.

The senator (and spouse) from Enron

In an example of the power couple in action, Phil Gramm spearheaded legislation enabling the deregulation of energy trading. Wendy, meanwhile, chairing the agency that regulated futures markets, allowed the trading of energy futures, then joined the board of directors at Enron – the company that benefited most from her decision, collecting some $2 million for her services. As a final touch, to underscore the couple’s personal integrity and honesty, she professed complete ignorance of Enron’s financial troubles (although a member of the audit committee) but stopped accepting Enron stock options and insisted on cash payments from 1999 on.

After resigning his senate seat in 2002, Phil Gramm became a vice chairman of Swiss bank UBS, which coincidentally owned Enron’s post-bankruptcy energy trading business. Like other banks, UBS was a massive beneficiary of Gramm’s deregulatory efforts. It’s unclear precisely what Gramm does with UBS, though it seems logical that he and UBS talk about US strategy and compliance with US regulations. Be that as it may, in 2008, UBS faced charges of helping some 50,000 wealthy Americans to evade taxes. Court cases revealed UBS officers helped Americans living in the US set up overseas accounts and offshore corporations to mask their ownership.

“Everyone in Switzerland – and I live in Switzerland – was extremely critical of the UBS for setting up such stupid illegal structures to help US citizens in the United States hide assets from the US government,” ACA’s Bugnion says. UBS settled with the US government by paying $780 million and revealing 4,500 top tax cheats, and US pressure on the Swiss government effectively broke its banking secrecy laws.

Paper avalanche

UBS was helping US citizens in America evade taxes, but the remedial focus on overseas banking and investment accounts hits US expats. Virtually every American living overseas needs a foreign bank account – especially given post-9/11 fees on foreign transactions through US banks.

While destinations such as Singapore are lining up to become the new Switzerland for so-called wealth management services, US law taking effect from this year will require all banks and other financial institutions with US customers or investments to provide the US government with financial information on US citizens, including overseas credit card transactions.

“What is most astounding is that the overseas banking community anticipates that their compliance will cost them tens of billions of dollars to put the reporting system in place and then billions more every year to ensure filing compliance – way out of proportion with the estimates thrown out by the IRS of revenue from FATCA,” Bugnion says.

“I cannot possibly see the IRS being able to handle the avalanche of paperwork it is about to start receiving,” Lipsher, also the author of The Tax Analects of Li Fei Lao, a survey of tax laws across Asia for foreigners, says. “It cannot handle what it has now.”

Captured Ukrainian infiltrator testifies he planned to blow up air hub, bus station in Crimea

August 12, 2016


In a video released by the Russian security service on Friday, a Ukrainian infiltrator tells investigators that he eyed the central bus station and airport in Crimea’s Simferopol for bomb attacks.

More planned terrorist attacks in Crimea have been revealed by the Federal Security Service (FSB) after it raided a Ukrainian infiltrator group on the peninsula over the weekend. One member of the FSB and one infiltrator died in the following shootout.

FSB has now released the video of the questioning of another infiltrator who was arrested seven days prior to the weekend’s operation.

The man, Ridvan Suleymanov, told investigators he was “aimed at choosing places for planting of explosive devices and terrorist acts,” at the bus station and airport in Simferopol, the capital city of Crimea. In the video he also admitted that “civilians could die” as a result.

Suleymanov said he was recruited in Ukraine by the country’s Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense (HUR MOU) in October last year. Given the codename “Yuzef,” he was tasked with “gathering military information” in Crimea and sending it to Kiev. The infiltrator then moved to the peninsula, where he applied for a Russian passport and a job.

In July 2016 Suleymanov got the order from his contact, named as Pavel Nikolayevich, to find suitable places at Simferopol’s airport and bus station to plant Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). “Large numbers of people” as well as “easy planting possibility” were among the criteria for the right spot, Suleymanov told investigators.

“I also had to make a fake explosive device, plant it in the selected location, call the police and stay at the airport watching the actions of law enforcers,” the infiltrator went on to say. He added that he had to take pictures of the police response and send them to Pavel Nikolayevich.

On July 29 Suleymanov arrived in Simferopol and after finding a suitable place sent a respective message to his contact person. A day later he planted a fake IED, found a place to monitor the situation and contacted Pavel Nikolayevich for further instructions. Suleymanov was ordered to immediately start a conference chat and call the police.

During the conference call he heard a voice saying, “I am Ahmet Karimov, today with our brothers we are going to go from the small to the large jihad. Exactly at 12 am [we’ll] blow up the central airport of Simferopol as well as the central bus stations of Simferopol, Yalta, Sevastopol and the Kerch crossing.”

After taking five pictures, Suleymanov was arrested by Russian law enforcers. In the video released Friday, the man said it “was clear to him” that more potential attacks by Ukrainian intelligence could follow in Crimea.

Meanwhile RIA, citing own sources, said Russian intelligence had identified a mastermind of the planned attacks by the group of Ukrainian infiltrators who were captured over the weekend.

“The organizer of the planned sabotage acts on the territory of Crimea was the chief of intelligence of the 37th battalion of the 56th brigade of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense captain Vladimir Serdyuk,” the agency said, quoting its source.

In the aftermath of the foiled plot officials in Crimea have tightened the security near major infrastructure objects, in crowded places, and on the Russian-Ukrainian border.


From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2016, Issue No. 66

August 11, 2016


Last year the Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug to be used as a countermeasure against Yersinia pestis, the biological agent that causes bubonic plague. The drug was developed with funding from the Department of Defense Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP).

DoD described its research and development activities on defense against chemical and biological threats in a new 2016 annual report to Congress, which was released today under the Freedom of Information Act.

DoD’s work in this area is intended to provide “the necessary capabilities to deter, prevent, protect from, mitigate, respond to, and recover from” the use of chemical or biological (CB) agents in warfare.

“The DoD faces CB threats that are complex, diverse, and pose enduring risks to the Joint Force and Homeland,” the new report said. “The variety, origin, and severity of these threats continues to grow while resources shrink.”

DoD said it performed basic research in genetic engineering and nanoelectromechanical systems related to defense against CB threats, and supported the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, among other initiatives.

Although DoD conducts or supports clinical trials of new medications, “No individuals have been used as subjects of any CB agent tests in the U.S. since 1975,” the report said. “Human biological agent testing ended on November 25, 1969, and human chemical agent testing ended on July 25, 1975.”

But program safety is a continuing challenge. As previously reported, last year “the DoD became aware that viable Bacillus anthracis spores, believed to have been inactivated, had been shipped from a DoD laboratory. The DoD rapidly responded by implementing a moratorium on the production, handling, testing, and shipment of inactivated anthrax.”

The scope of chem/bio defense research is expected to shrink due to budget reductions. “The combination of evolving CB threats, reduced budgets, and uncertain fiscal futures forces the CBDP to focus its limited resources to address the highest priorities and greatest risks,” the report said. “This environment translates into increasingly complex program management decisions with no margins for error due to a lack of sufficient and predictable resources.”

The latest reported use of chlorine gas by Syrian government forces in the city of Aleppo is a reminder that chemical warfare is not simply a relic of a primitive past, but an actual reality today.

Private prisons save money at the expense of safety, excessively punish

August 13, 2016


Migrants convicted of immigration offenses may have hoped for the American Dream, but got the American nightmare that is privatized prisons. The Department of Justice found that private prisons are more punitive and unsafe than other federal prisons.

There are 14 prisons that are privately operated but belong to the federal system. Those are exclusively used to incarcerate low-risk criminals convicted of immigration offenses. Despite the low-risk offenders, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released findings that these private prisons are more dangerous than ones operated by the federal government with comparable inmate populations.

The report found: “With the exception of fewer incidents of positive drug tests and sexual misconduct, the contract prisons had more incidents per capita than the BOP [Federal Bureau of Prisons] institutions in all of the other categories of data we examined.”

In addition, the report claimed that the prisons visited by the DOJ all received citations by the BOP for “safety and security deficiencies.” However, the report notes that the issues noted by the BOP were quickly resolved.

When it came to other issues across the prisons operated by the three corporations running prisons for the government, they were numerous and seemingly less easy to fix. For example, the report found “contract prisons had higher rates of assaults and uses of force.” In fact, inmate on inmate assaults was 28 percent higher in contract prisons.

Despite the higher rates of assault, the inspection found the ironically named Eden detention center’s staff did not discipline inmates over half the time they were cited for disciplinary incidents.

The rate of assaults on staff was also higher in contract prisons. The report notes that one of their contract prisons was responsible for 29 percent of all assault on staff spread out over the 14 different prisons run by contractors. However, when that prison changed its personnel, “its performance had noticeably improved.”

This is particularly interesting because the inspection found that contract prisons had over twice as many grievances with staff than in BOP prisons.

Another issue is that two out of three of these corporations were housing new inmates in Special Housing Units (SHU). For everyone who isn’t into “Orange is the New Black,” the SHU is a disciplinary housing segregation that keeps prisoners in solitary confinement.

None of this comes as a surprise to the American Civil Liberties Union. Carl Takei, a staff attorney with the ACLU, told The Guardian: “This is the latest in a whole series of reports and investigations that have found very serious issues with Bureau of Prisons shadow systems of private prisons.”

“Federal officials should be reconsidering their alliance on private prisons and developing plans to begin canceling these contracts, rather than continuing this experiment,” she added.

USA wants more modern nuclear bombs in Germany: report

US President Obama said he wanted to make nuclear disarmament one of his government’s goals. But now the USA intends to modernize the atom bombs it has stationed in Germany, a media report says.

August 13, 2016


The German air force is preparing to adapt some of its Tornado warplanes to carry more up-to-date US atom bombs in light of plans by Washington to modernize its nuclear arsenal in Germany, a media report said on Saturday.

German newsmagazine “Spiegel” reported that US President Barack Obama had approved the last phase of development for a new atom-bomb model, B61-12, that is to go into full-scale production from 2020.

Washington then intended to station some of the modernized weapons at the Büchel airbase in Germany’s western Eifel region, the report said.

Cold War legacy

Experts estimate that some 10 to 20 nuclear warheads from the Cold War period are currently stored in Büchel, with German Tornado warplanes standing by to carry them if it is deemed necessary. The area is under strict protection, with some US soldiers also stationed there.

Although the German parliament in 2010 said it was in favor of having the weapons withdrawn, the then government, consisting of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc and the liberal FDP, stated that this would not happen without the agreement of Germany’s NATO allies.

The “Spiegel” report said that the US armed forces intended to modernize other elements of their nuclear arsenal as well. It said they had called on the arms industry to come up with proposals for a new generation of nuclear long-range missiles and cruise missiles by 2017.

Threat from Russia?

The plans come as Poland and Baltic states urge NATO to up its nuclear and other military deterrents in the face of what they see as Russian territorial aggression.

The plans for modernization would seem to contradict US President Barack Obama’s stated goal of nuclear disarmament, an objective he pledged to pursue at the start of his first term in office in 2009.

Germany itself has pledged not to create nuclear weapons under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

What Really Led to the Killing of Osama bin Laden?

August 11, 2016

by Seymour Hersh


It’s been four years since a group of US Navy SEALS assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election. The White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair, and that the senior generals of Pakistan’s army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were not told of the raid in advance. This is false, as are many other elements of the Obama administration’s account. The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll: would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations? He was hiding in the open. So America said.

The most blatant lie was that Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders — General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI — were never informed of the US mission. This remains the White House position despite an array of reports that have raised questions, including one by Carlotta Gall in the New York Times Magazine of March 19, 2014. Gall, who spent 12 years as the Times correspondent in Afghanistan, wrote that she’d been told by a “Pakistani official” that Pasha had known before the raid that bin Laden was in Abbottabad. The story was denied by US and Pakistani officials, and went no further. In his book Pakistan: Before and after Osama (2012), Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, wrote that he’d spoken to four undercover intelligence officers who — reflecting a widely held local view — asserted that the Pakistani military must have had knowledge of the operation. The issue was raised again in February, when a retired general, Asad Durrani, who was head of the ISI in the early 1990s, told an Al Jazeera interviewer that it was “quite possible” that the senior officers of the ISI did not know where bin Laden had been hiding, “but it was more probable that they did [know]. And the idea was that, at the right time, his location would be revealed.

“And the right time would have been when you can get the necessary quid pro quo — if you have someone like Osama bin Laden, you are not going to simply hand him over to the United States.” This spring I contacted Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the bin Laden assault from American sources: that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the SEALS to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the SEAL team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false.

“When your version comes out — if you do it — people in Pakistan will be tremendously grateful,” Durrani told me. “For a long time people have stopped trusting what comes out about bin Laden from the official mouths. There will be some negative political comment and some anger, but people like to be told the truth, and what you’ve told me is essentially what I have heard from former colleagues who have been on a fact finding mission since this episode.” As a former ISI head, he said, he had been told shortly after the raid by “people in the ‘strategic community’ who would know” that there had been an informant who had alerted the US to bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad, and that after his killing the US’s betrayed promises left Kayani and Pasha exposed. The major US source for the account that follows is a retired senior intelligence official who was knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. He also was privy to many aspects of the SEALS’ training for the raid and to the various after-action reports. Two other US sources, who had access to corroborating information, have been longtime consultants to the Special Operations Command. I also received information from inside Pakistan about widespread dismay among the senior ISI and military leadership — echoed later by Durrani — over Obama’s decision to go public immediately with news of bin Laden’s death. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

It began with a walk-in. In August 2010 a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer approached Jonathan Bank, then the CIA’s station chief at the US embassy in Islamabad. He offered to tell the CIA where to find bin Laden in return for the reward that Washington had offered in 2001. Walk-ins are assumed by the CIA to be unreliable, and the response from the agency’s headquarters was to fly in a polygraph team. The walk-in passed the test. “So now we’ve got a lead on bin Laden living in a compound in Abbottabad, but how do we really know who it is?” was the CIA’s worry at the time, the retired senior US intelligence official told me.

The US initially kept what it knew from the Pakistanis. “The fear was that if the existence of the source was made known, the Pakistanis themselves would move bin Laden to another location. So only a very small number of people were read into the source and his story,” the retired official said. “The CIA’s first goal was to check out the quality of the informant’s information.” The compound was put under satellite surveillance. The CIA rented a house in Abbottabad to use as a forward observation base and staffed it with Pakistani employees and foreign nationals. Later on, the base would serve as a contact point with the ISI; it attracted little attention because Abbottabad is a holiday spot full of houses rented on short leases. A psychological profile of the informant was prepared. (The informant and his family were smuggled out of Pakistan and relocated in the Washington area. He is now a consultant for the CIA.)

“By October the military and intelligence community were discussing the possible military options. Do we drop a bunker buster on the compound or take him out with a drone strike? Perhaps send someone to kill him, single assassin style? But then we’d have no proof of who he was,” the retired official said. “We could see some guy is walking around at night, but we have no intercepts because there’s no commo coming from the compound.”

In October, Obama was briefed on the intelligence. His response was cautious, the retired official said. “It just made no sense that bin Laden was living in Abbottabad. It was just too crazy. The president’s position was emphatic: ‘Don’t talk to me about this any more unless you have proof that it really is bin Laden.’ ” The immediate goal of the CIA leadership and the Joint Special Operations Command was to get Obama’s support. They believed they would get this if they got DNA evidence and if they could assure him that a night assault of the compound would carry no risk. The only way to accomplish both things, the retired official said, “was to get the Pakistanis on board.”

During the late autumn of 2010, the US continued to keep quiet about the walk-in, and Kayani and Pasha continued to insist to their American counterparts that they had no information about bin Laden’s whereabouts. “The next step was to figure out how to ease Kayani and Pasha into it — to tell them that we’ve got intelligence showing that there is a high-value target in the ncompound, and to ask them what they know about the target,” the retired official said. “The compound was not an armed enclave — no machine guns around, because it was under ISI control.” The walk-in had told the US that bin Laden had lived undetected from 2001 to 2006 with some of his wives and children in the Hindu Kush mountains, and that “the ISI got to him by paying some of the local tribal people to betray him.” (Reports after the raid placed him elsewhere in Pakistan during this period.) Bank was also told by the walk-in that bin Laden was very ill, and that early on in his confinement at Abbottabad, the ISI had ordered Amir Aziz, a doctor and a major in the Pakistani army, to move nearby to provide treatment. “The truth is that bin Laden was an invalid, but we cannot say that,” the retired official said. ” ‘You mean you guys shot a cripple? Who was about to grab his AK-47?’

“It didn’t take long to get the cooperation we needed, because the Pakistanis wanted to ensure the continued release of American military aid, a good percentage of which was anti-terrorism funding that finances personal security, such as bullet-proof limousines and security guards and housing for the ISI leadership,” the retired official said. He added that there were also under-the-table personal “incentives” that were financed by off-the-books Pentagon contingency funds. “The intelligence community knew what the Pakistanis needed to agree — there was the carrot. And they chose the carrot. It was a win-win. We also did a little blackmail. We told them we would leak the fact that you’ve got bin Laden in your backyard. We knew their friends and enemies” — the Taliban and jihadist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan — “would not like it.”

A worrying factor at this early point, according to the retired official, was Saudi Arabia, which had been financing bin Laden’s upkeep since his seizure by the Pakistanis. “The Saudis didn’t want bin Laden’s presence revealed to us because he was a Saudi, and so they told the Pakistanis to keep him out of the picture. The Saudis feared if we knew we would pressure the Pakistanis to let bin Laden start talking to us about what the Saudis had been doing with al-Qaida. And they were dropping money — lots of it. The Pakistanis, in turn, were concerned that the Saudis might spill the beans about their control of bin Laden. The fear was that if the US found out about bin Laden from Riyadh, all hell would break out. The Americans learning about bin Laden’s imprisonment from a walk-in was not the worst thing.”

Despite their constant public feuding, American and Pakistani military and intelligence services have worked together closely for decades on counterterrorism in South Asia. Both services often find it useful to engage in public feuds “to cover their asses,” as the retired official put it, but they continually share intelligence used for drone attacks and cooperate on covert operations. At the same time, it’s understood in Washington that elements of the ISI believe that maintaining a relationship with the Taliban leadership inside Afghanistan is essential to national security. The ISI’s strategic aim is to balance Indian influence in Kabul; the Taliban is also seen in Pakistan as a source of jihadist shock troops who would back Pakistan against India in a confrontation over Kashmir.

Adding to the tension was the Pakistani nuclear arsenal, often depicted in the Western press as an “Islamic bomb” that might be transferred by Pakistan to an embattled nation in the Middle East in the event of a crisis with Israel. The US looked the other way when Pakistan began building its weapons system in the 1970s, and it’s widely believed it now has more than a hundred nuclear warheads. It’s understood in Washington that US security depends on the maintenance of strong military and intelligence ties to Pakistan. The belief is mirrored in Pakistan.

“The Pakistani army sees itself as family,” the retired official said. “Officers call soldiers their sons and all officers are ‘brothers.’ The attitude is different in the American military. The senior Pakistani officers believe they are the elite and have got to look out for all of the people, as keepers of the flame against Muslim fundamentalism. The Pakistanis also know that their trump card against aggression from India is a strong relationship with the United States. They will never cut their person-to- person ties with us.”

Like all CIA station chiefs, Bank was working undercover, but that ended in early December 2010 when he was publicly accused of murder in a criminal complaint filed in Islamabad by Karim Khan, a Pakistani journalist whose son and brother, according to local news reports, had been killed by a US drone strike. Allowing Bank to be named was a violation of diplomatic protocol on the part of the Pakistani authorities, and it brought a wave of unwanted publicity. Bank was ordered to leave Pakistan by the CIA, whose officials subsequently told the Associated Press he was transferred because of concerns for his safety. The New York Times reported that there was “strong suspicion” the ISI had played a role in leaking Bank’s name to Khan. There was speculation that he was outed as payback for the publication in a New York lawsuit a month earlier of the names of ISI chiefs in connection with the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008. But there was a collateral reason, the retired official said, for the CIA’s willingness to send Bank back to America. The Pakistanis needed cover in case their cooperation with the Americans in getting rid of bin Laden became known. The Pakistanis could say: ‘You’re talking about me? We just kicked out your station chief.'”

Stop Treating Marijuana Like Heroin-Editorial

August 12, 2016

The New York Times

Supporters of a saner marijuana policy scored a small victory this week when the Obama administration said it would authorize more institutions to grow marijuana for medical research. But the government passed up an opportunity to make a more significant change.

The Drug Enforcement Administration on Thursday turned down two petitions — one from the governors of Rhode Island and Washington and the other from a resident of New Mexico — requesting that marijuana be removed from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. Drugs on that list, which include heroin and LSD, are deemed to have no medical use; possession is illegal under federal law, and researchers have to jump through many hoops to obtain permission to study them and obtain samples to study. Having marijuana on that list is deeply misguided since many scientists  and President Obama have said that it is no more dangerous than alcohol.

Over the years, Congress and attorneys general have deferred to the expertise of the D.E.A., which is the part of the Justice Department that enforces the nation’s drug laws. So the D.E.A. has amassed extensive control over drug policy making. It determines who gets to grow marijuana for research and which scholars are allowed to study it, for example. It has strongly resisted efforts by scientists, state officials and federal lawmakers to reclassify marijuana by rejecting or refusing to acknowledge evidence that marijuana is not nearly as harmful as federal law treats it.

Since 1968, the University of Mississippi has been the only institution allowed to grow the plant for research. This has severely limited availability. The D.E.A. now says that because researchers are increasingly interested in studying marijuana, it will permit more universities to grow the cannabis plant and supply it to researchers who have been approved to conduct studies on it. This should make it easier for researchers to obtain varieties of marijuana with varying concentrations of different compounds.

Apart from the scarcity of research-grade marijuana, the drug’s Schedule 1 status means that scientists have to obtain multiple approvals from different federal agencies like the D.E.A. and the Food and Drug Administration to conduct research. By comparison, the government makes it much easier to study opioids and other dangerous drugs that are listed on Schedules 2 to 5.

The D.E.A. and the F.D.A. insist that there is not enough scientific evidence to justify removing marijuana from Schedule 1. This is a disingenuous argument; the government itself has made it impossible to do the kinds of trials and studies that could produce the evidence that would justify changing the drug’s classification.

As the D.E.A. tiptoes toward reconsidering marijuana policies, voters all over the country are expanding access to the drug through initiatives. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use, and 25 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have legalized medical marijuana. Residents of at least five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — will vote on ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana in November, and residents of Arkansas and Florida will vote on measures to legalize medical marijuana.

The Obama administration has done the right thing by allowing state legalization efforts to proceed. But the next president could easily undo that policy. Hillary Clinton has said she supports letting states legalize the drug and removing it from Schedule 1. Donald Trump has said he is personally opposed to legalization of recreational use, but he supports medical marijuana and the right of states to set their own policies.

Removing marijuana from Schedule 1 would be ideal. Reducing research restrictions and lessening penalties for users would be a step in the right direction.

Can Russia trust Turkey this time?

August 12. 2016

by Brian MacDonald


After months of often profound hostility, the sudden rapprochement between Russia and Turkey has caught even seasoned observers by surprise. Yet, questions remain about whether it’s genuine or sustainable.

We’ve been down this road before. Whenever Turkey’s relations with its Western partners go awry, Ankara habitually looks to Moscow. Yet, there are elements among the Turkish elite that openly advocate ditching NATO and the country’s EU pipe dream in favor of a Eurasian alliance with Russia and Iran. Right now, either they are winning the argument or Turkey is again playing games.

In a perfect world, Russia and Turkey would be natural allies because they’ve a lot that unites them. Both are partially in Europe but have been historically excluded from its political and cultural core for similar reasons. Russia has been shunned because it’s regarded as too big, too powerful and too populous to cozily integrate with the likes of France and Germany, who are also fearful of seeing their own influence diluted. At the same time, in Turkey’s case, numbers and size, as well as its predominately Islamic faith, are other factors that have a major influence on its relative isolation. Additionally, former colonies of their antecedent empires, the USSR and its Ottoman equivalent, often remain hugely suspicious of these shrunken successor states.

As we know, this is a far from flawless universe and in it statecraft between Ankara and Moscow has never been very smooth. Indeed, the relationship has frequently been badly strained. And that’s why this week’s rapid diplomatic offensive has raised eyebrows.

Many Differences

To explain why, we only need to go back a few months. For some years, the Kremlin had been attempting to build bridges with Turkey. But there were two key reasons why this strategy failed. Firstly, Turkey’s NATO membership made it part of an American-led military alliance which appears to primarily exist to ‘contain’ Russia and, secondly, both governments have long disagreed on events in Damascus. Ankara wants Basher Al-Assad removed and Moscow has been trying to keep him in power, because it fears the consequences of a subsequent power vacuum.

Matters took a nasty turn last November when the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 which was carrying out a mission in Syria. Moscow imposed economic and travel sanctions in reprisal and rhetoric from both sides became heated. Indeed, some commentators even predicted a possible war. The end result was that many informed pundits claimed that so long as Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin remained in charge of their respective countries, there was little hope for resurrecting any form of positive dialogue.

Then events took over. On the night of July 15, a coup d’etat was attempted in Turkey, driven by a faction in its military. A force that has, incidentally, has long been stoutly pro-American and hostile to friendship with Russia. Indeed, in 1960, the Adnan Menderes’ administration was overthrown by the armed forces when they feared he was about to abandon NATO for improved ties with the USSR. But this time, the attempted revolt had nothing to do with Russia.

In the aftermath of the foiled putsch, western leaders notably failed to rally strongly around Erdogan. This is mostly because of domestic repressions at home against the opposition and the media. But the fact remains that Erdogan is Turkey’s elected – and very popular leader – and he presumably felt he’d receive warmer support from notional allies. That it hasn’t been forthcoming appears to have deeply upset the Turkish premier. Unless, of course, he’s bluffing. And that’s the challenge for Moscow here, to figure out whether he is or not.

Playing Games

In Russia, there are two possibilities being widely circulated. Cautious observers fear that Erdogan is playing the “Russian card” in order to achieve concessions from the West. And there are two in particular he is after. One is the implementation of a visa-free travel arrangement agreed in principle with the European Union earlier this year. The other is the repatriation of Fethullah Gulen, a self-exiled Islamic preacher whom Erdogan holds responsible for plotting the coup. Gulen resides in America and the US authorities have, so far, refused to hand him over. Thus, we have a situation where NATO’s leader might be harboring an individual who plotted the downfall of another member’s democratically-elected government.

On the other hand, Ankara is fully aware that the Americans badly need its cooperation. Turkey is strategically vital to US interests in the Middle East, both as a base of operations and through the use of its own, highly competent, military in helping to fulfill US objectives. By appearing to get intimate with Moscow, Erdogan may wish to concentrate minds in Washington. And in Brussels too, which hardly needs reminding that Turkey is the only barrier stopping the EU being overrun by migrants.

The other theory is that Turkey is genuine this time. That Erdogan is tired of Western ‘allies’ refusing to treat Ankara as an equal and constantly sniping at his leadership. With that in mind, the narrative goes, Turkey may be ready to seek new partnerships. Of course, this could also be music to Moscow’s ears.

Putin has, for some time now, being trying to promote the idea of an alternative bloc to curb American domination of the global political order. With cooperation with China steadily increasing, bringing Turkey into the mix would be the icing on the cake. Of course, Putin could be playing poker himself here. Russia’s primary concern is to maintain its own security by exerting influence in its near abroad and restraining American attempts to gain more clout and leverage there.

Can Turkey Be Trusted?

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, a pair of events resulted in mixed opinion on the degree to which Turkey might be batting straight. Its foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, suggested that Ankara may seek other options outside NATO for defense cooperation. However, he also insisted that a “a political transition in Syria with President Bashar al-Assad (in situ) was not possible,” which is contrary to Moscow’s wishes. At the same time, Cavusoglu asked Russia to carry out joint operations against ISIS, their “common enemy.”

Meanwhile, the day before, Erdogan issued an ultimatum to the US, saying it must choose between Turkey and Gulen. “Sooner or later the US will make a choice […] Either the coup-plotting terrorist FETO [Gulenist Terror Organization, term used by non-Gulenists] or the democratic country Turkey. The [US] has to make this choice,” he said. These comments lend succor to the idea that Ankara is trying to play both sides right this minute.

According to Vladimir Sotnikov, the director of the Russia-East-West Center for Strategic Studies and Analysis, the fresh talks with Ankara “give the Kremlin a new instrument for influencing the situation in the Middle East and in other strategically significant regions and it destabilizes the Western coalition against Russia.”

Moscow is now in a bind. Does it accept Turkish entreaties at face value or remain skeptical? Because there are two possible outcomes to this current dialogue: It will either smooth relations between Europe’s two conterminous half-in powers, or become a second betrayal of the country by Erdogan. Whatever the outcome, it’s fair to say that its impact will be profound.

Retreat and Delusion: Is the Islamic State Finally Collapsing?

August 10, 2016

by Christoph Reuter


Things have grown quiet in the largest city of the “caliphate,” the man from Mosul says. He had spent some time on the outskirts of the city, at times traveling only by foot, in order to pass along details from inside the Islamic State (IS), as he had often done. “When the fighting in Fallujah was still going on, there were calls from the mosque loudspeakers at least five times a day for people to join the battle. The state would triumph, the men claimed. They said they had thousands of fighters there, tons of munitions and weapons and that Fallujah couldn’t possibly fall. Ever since Fallujah did fall, there have been no more appeals.”

At the end of June, the Iraqi army, together with Sunni tribal fighters and Shiite militia members, liberated the city near Baghdad from the Islamists. It was the greatest defeat yet for IS, which has been losing on all fronts for months.

In recent weeks, people have been attacked in Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, Beirut, Nice, Ansbach and even in a regional train near Würzburg by perpetrators using bombs, automatic rifles and an ax. Indeed, this has made Islamic State appear to be stronger and more dangerous than ever before to people in the West, but the wave of terror has simply overlapped with events in the IS’ core terrain.

Mounting Pressure

The truth is that the pressure is mounting for the “caliphate,” both in Syria and Iraq. An offensive against Mosul is imminent as Kurdish-led forces approach the IS’ second stronghold, Raqqa. And in Libya, government troops are advancing in the direction of IS-held Sirte with air support from the United States. These could all be contributing factors behind the dramatic surge in the number of IS attacks recently.

The image that emerges from sources, who risk their lives to provide information from these regions, is one of a force in decline, wavering between retreat and delusion. People in various IS-held areas in Syria and Iraq uniformly report that the terror group still has a hold on the people living there. But given that control and fear are really the only instruments of dominance it has at its disposal, each subsequent military defeat represents an even tougher blow.

“The fighters appear frustrated and for the first time they look afraid,” reports one man located in an area near the city of Hawija, which is located south of Kirkuk, Iraq. “Some are already sending their families to Mosul. Among locals who joined IS earlier, many are now saying they regret it, that they were deceived or forced to join. If only the government in Baghdad would promise them amnesty, they could find a way to the army’s positions and avoid falling into the clutches of the murderous Shiite militias.”

The very people who used their power as IS members during the time of the advance in 2014 to plunder the refrigerators and microwaves from the homes of neighbors who had fled have now become refugees themselves. “In Hawija, a Daeshi” — as IS supporters are called in Arabic — “offered a whole set of furniture on the market for $20, but it was surely worth $700,” the local man explains. Some are trying to leave the “caliphate” entirely, he says, making their way north to the Kurdish regions. No one, though, is heading south. According to the man, the Shiite troops there will kill anyone who was with the Islamic State.

Increasingly Delusional

As the motley assortment of alliances between Kurdish and Shiite militias, the Iraqi army and the US Air Force recaptures one IS-held area after another, Islamic State’s omnipresent Hisba religious police are growing increasingly delusional in their efforts to maintain control. Smoking and music had long been forbidden, and woman had only been able to leave home wearing a niqab, or full face veil, and accompanied by their husband or a male relative. Now the Islamists have even prohibited people from wearing red clothing.

“Red is a celebratory color, they say, and thus forbidden,” the Mosul resident says. “And in math class at schools, the plus sign is no longer allowed to be used. It’s the Christian cross, they say. Now they have to write: ‘1 added to 1, God willing, equals 2.’ Those using the old character risk punishment. T-shirts or flags that bear a cross anywhere — the FC Barcelona emblem, for example — are now strictly prohibited.”

These measures appear to be bizarre attempts to maintain control within IS-ruled territory, even as that control dwindles due to military pressure from without. The fact is, Islamic State’s power is waning and overzealous regulations won’t help — at most they can give the impression that the group remains strong.

Blanket, uninterrupted surveillance has long been a central source of IS’ power, helping it to conquer and maintain control of vast territory. In the beginning, its fighters would extensively surveil every area that IS wanted to capture. Then they would deceive the people there about their identity and true intentions. Finally, they would crush any resistance with demonstrative, merciless cruelty.

Religion has always served the Islamic State as a propagandistic means to an end. IS leaders used Islam to attract jihadists from Chechnya or Tunisia as well as to justify its tyranny inside the areas it controls. But the system, largely copied from Saddam Hussein, only works if those with power are able to continue exercising it.

But the Islamists’ power is eroding at the moment, and it’s plain for anyone to see. As soon as IS loses control of an area, residents no longer have to remain loyal to the group. If they were truly convinced, if they actually believed in the “caliphate,” then the Islamic State could continue to exist there as a kind of phantom power.

In Afghanistan, for example, the Taliban’s resurgence is attributable to the fact that its ideology outlasted its period of rule. Once conditions became favorable for the Taliban again — in this case through a corrupt government that was defended by foreign troops — they were able to return. For the same reason, al-Qaida in Yemen has always made sure not to turn the local population against it. This may have hindered swift conquests, but it also prevented the conquered from being disappointed later on.

Islamic State, on the other hand, has never waited for the approval of locals. If it had tried to win hearts and minds rather than just overrun villages, it wouldn’t have grown as rapidly as it did in the early stages until fall 2014. But that brutal strategy is now coming back to roost.

There is no city or village in Syria or Iraq where a majority of the population is enthusiastic about the Islamic State, according to some who have fled as well as informants on the ground. Blood donations for injured fighters, for example, had to be collected by force.

Most normal residents are simply trying to stay out of the way and survive. They are afraid, plus they assume IS will disappear in the long run anyway. Local leaders and presumably many foreign jihadists remain loyal to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but there are otherwise few who continue to support the Islamic State of their own volition. Winning over local populations was never part of IS’ plan.

Against that backdrop, liberated areas in northern Syria have seen women in particular celebrate their newly won freedom in more radical ways than one might expect in their conservative surroundings. The image of 19-year-old Souad Hamidi, who beamed as she tore off her niqab, went around the world. “Look at what we’re wearing,” one woman shouts in a video. “Thank you for liberating us. Thank you that I can wear red! I will always wear red!”

Hairdressers with nothing to do for the past year or two were euphoric about the sudden flood of customers. The men wished to shave off their beards. They wanted trendy haircuts, cropped short and gelled; away with the obligatory shag of IS times. Men could be seen playing cards and backgammon on the streets again, demonstratively smoking.

A Persistent Threat

Still, Islamic State has by no means disappeared. As long as the murderous air strikes by Syrian and Russian jets continue, and Sunnis continue to live in mortal fear of Shiites, IS could still return even after a total loss of its “caliphate.”

The terrorist organization had been almost entirely defeated in Iraq once already. It went underground in 2008 and had been forgotten almost entirely by the time it suddenly resurrected itself in 2012, more dangerous than ever before. For the IS propaganda apparatus, this now serves as proof of its own invincibility. “Were we defeated when we lost the cities in Iraq and were in the desert without any city or land?” Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani recently asked in an incendiary speech. “And would we be defeated, and you victorious, if you took Mosul or Sirte or Raqqa? Certainly not!”

The Islamic State was able to regain its strength four years ago because Saddam Hussein’s former intelligence officers had joined forces with the Islamists — war professionals who rose quickly, developed a long-term strategy and shaped its tactics. IS also exploited the circumstances, including a war in Syria and politics of sectarian discrimination in Iraq that excluded Sunnis from power and public offices.

The tragedy of the Washington-led battle against IS now is the fact that it is so shortsighted in its focus on military strikes. The coalition is ignoring the underlying conditions that could make a return of the Islamic State possible later.

Only days before diplomats from dozens of countries pledged to intensify the fight against IS at a meeting in Washington in early July, US Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Moscow. His suitcase was full of concessions the US was prepared to make to Russia that would allow the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to remain in power, at least for now.

The problem is that as long as Assad continues to rule, the rebellion against him will not end. Assad’s presence will hinder any true agreement with the various opposition factions in the country — and that’s the kind of unity necessary to banish the Islamic State.

Instead, the US allows itself to be taken advantage of, time and again, by groups that are also using the fight against the Islamists for their own purposes. On July 19, American bombs killed more than 50 civilians in the northern Syrian city of Manbij, which is under IS control. The Americans had obtained the target coordinates from the Kurdish-led SDF militia, which in addition to fighting IS, is trying to drive Arabs out of the areas located between its Kurdish strongholds.

Even today, Washington’s anti-terror strategists still haven’t come to understand the inner-workings of the Islamic State. Indeed, many still consider it to be strong even at its weakest points. “Where al-Qaida was hierarchical and somewhat controlled, these guys are not,” former CIA chief Michael Hayden recently told the Washington Post. “They have all the energy and unpredictability of a populist movement.” That, however, is precisely what they do not have.

China steals FBI surveillance secrets through veteran who worked inside as spy

August 10, 2016

by Bill Gertz

Asia Times

Kun Shan Chun, who has been working with the FBI as an electronics technician for over 19 years, probably supplied Chinese intelligence with valuable counter-surveillance information that would assist the large numbers of Chinese agents operating in the United States in avoiding detection. The case is the latest black eye for the FBI.

A Chinese penetration agent operated secretly within the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and passed valuable intelligence to Beijing for at least 10 years without being detected.

The case of Kun Shan Chun was disclosed by the Justice Department Aug. 1 as part of a plea agreement involving Chun admitting he acted illegally as a Chinese government agent.

Chun, a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested in March although authorities kept the case secret until the plea bargain was announced last week.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said Chun exploited his position as an FBI technician who had access to Top-Secret information by providing “restricted and sensitive FBI information to the Chinese Government.”

No details of the information supplied by Chun to China were provided by court papers made public in the case.

However, as an electronic technician, Chun likely supplied Chinese intelligence with valuable counter-surveillance information that would assist the large numbers of Chinese agents operating in the United States in avoiding detection.

Most of China’s human and technical spying activities in the United States are carried out by the two main services, the civilian Ministry of State Security and militarily what has been called until recently the Second Department of the General Staff Department, known as 2PLA.

China’s espionage against the United States has produced several legendary coups. They included the theft during the 1990s of secrets related to all deployed nuclear warheads through recruiting American scientists at nuclear weapons labs.

A second major success was the theft of technology related to the Navy’s Aegis battle management system, built around a high-technology radar that allows warships to track targets ranging from space to on land thousands of miles away.

Chinese agents stole the Aegis technology in the late 1990s and early 2000s and quickly adapted the system to Chinese advanced warships.

The Pentagon’s latest annual report on the Chinese military stated that Beijing uses a variety of methods to gather military and dual-use technologies including cyber-attacks and exploiting Chinese nationals, such as students and researchers, who serve as procurement agents or intermediaries for Chinese officials.

“China very likely uses its intelligence services and employs other illicit approaches that violate U.S. laws and export controls to obtain key national security and export-restricted technologies, controlled equipment, and other materials unobtainable through other means,” the report said.

In addition to supporting Chinese counter-surveillance efforts, Chun as a trusted agent operating inside the FBI also could have supplied the Bureau with false and misleading disinformation about Chinese intelligence-gathering targets and priorities. Similar disinformation was supplied in the past by Chinese agents working covertly for the FBI.

Chun worked within the FBI’s largest field office in New York since 1997 as an electronic specialist at the Computerized Central Monitoring Facility, a part of the FBI’s technical division.

As a technician, Chun also would have had detailed knowledge of the FBI’s secure computer networks, information valuable to Chinese intelligence hackers who are known to target such government information systems.

Court papers made public in the case did not reveal why it took the FBI over a decade to uncover the Chinese spy. The case is the latest black eye for the FBI that is responsible for both law enforcement and domestic U.S. counterintelligence.

Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the spy case was more serious because Chun was an FBI employee and thus “the threat is all the more serious and the betrayal all the more duplicitous.”

According to court papers, Chun since 2006 worked with Chinese officials operating under cover as representatives of the Zhuhai Kolion Technology Co. Ltd., a Guangdong-based company that makes toner cartridges for copy machines. Chun was born in Guangdong Province.

Based on information outlined in the FBI complaint in the case, a European security service appears to be the first to have uncovered Chun’s meetings in Europe with Chinese intelligence handlers during a trip in July 2015 to Germany and France.

Around the same time, an FBI undercover agent was used to approach Chun, who then disclosed to the undercover FBI agent that he was willing to pass sensitive information to the Chinese government.

Chun then arranged for the undercover agent to provide sensitive information to Chinese officials

According to a court document summarizing the case, between 2011 until his arrest in March, Chun acted on behalf of one or more officials of the People’s Republic of China and “collected sensitive information from the FBI for transmittal to one or more Chinese government officials…”

The FBI’s record for halting Chinese intelligence operations in the United States has been poor.

Chun is the FBI’s first major Chinese penetration agent to be uncovered inside the FBI since the case of Katrina Leung, a long-time double agent for China who worked for the FBI between 1982 and 2002.

Leung falsely convinced the FBI she was loyal to the United State but was secretly recruited by the Ministry of State Security in 1984. She had an affair with her FBI handler, FBI Special Agent J.J. Smith, who allowed Leung to read classified documents he had taken from the FBI.

In addition to secrets, Leung was able to dissuade FBI counterintelligence officials from using other Chinese sources of information, which helped Beijing to influence American intelligence about China for years.


No responses yet

Leave a Reply