TBR News August 21, 2016

Aug 21 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. August 21, 2016: “The West, led by the United States, has always viewed Turkey, with its large and capable military, as an asset. The Armenian massacres were put away and forgotten and Turkey was used as a base of operations against the Soviet Union. The country has had more CIA personnel inside its borders than any other country, aside from Germany (which is packed with them). When Russia began to assist Assad in Syria in his fight against American-backed rebels, his bombing raids totally disrupted the flow of looted Syrian oil to Turkey where their President and members of his family were able to great profit from the thefts. The Russian attacks on the rebels also killed a number of CIA personnel who were in place, training them. It was then suggested by instigators that the Turks could punish Russia, a traditional enemy, for their aerial slaughter of American agents and the interdiction of Syrian oil by making a statement. That statement was to shoot down a Russian bomber and warn Russia it had gone too far. Turkey was also assured of “unconditional Western support (via Nato) in the event of Russian military intervention. Instead of sending in Russian troops, Putin clamped economic restrictions on Turkey that were extremely costly for the Turks but were insufficient to permit Nato to respond. The West did nothing but wring their hands and the once-reliable Turks began to look for allies elsewhere. Moynihan was right when he said: For a quarter of a century the CIA has been repeatedly wrong about every major political and economic question entrusted to its analysis.’

 Did Turkey’s Moves Toward Russia Provoke The Coup?

Erdogan’s move towards Putin began before the failed attempt.

August 10, 2016

by Bruno Maçães

The National Interest

It’s been almost a month since the failed coup in Turkey, yet the mystery persists. Who was behind it and why did it take place? The only hard evidence as to the intentions of the putschists is of course the statement read on television the very night of the coup, but that statement was carefully crafted to hide its origins and intentions. It appealed to the founding values of the Turkish Republic, nominally shared by all.

Then came the official theory from President Erdoǧan: the blame should be squarely placed upon the Gulen movement, directed from Pennsylvania in the United States by a reclusive cleric with whom Erdoǧan himself had been close in the past—but with whom he has broken in an increasingly ruthless conflagration. Gulen openly leads a vast network of schools and charities but is widely reputed to combine those with a secret network infiltrated deep within the state apparatus in Turkey. In 1999 Turkish television aired a secretly taped sermon where Gulen told his followers (he has disputed the authenticity of the tape): “You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power center.” To move before such time as they had gotten hold of all state power from within “would be too early, like breaking an egg without waiting the full forty days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside.”

Politically, Gulen is a strong nationalist, roughly aligned with the United States and the European Union on foreign policy. Gulenism is very much predicated on the role of education and entrepreneurship in a market-driven economy. It sees Islamic and Western values as fundamentally compatible. EU accession would solidify these elements of the Turkish regime and help coordination between different chapters of the organization across Europe. Gulen himself takes a hardline critical stance on Russia and Iran and at times has been supportive of Israel, speaking against those who take a confrontational approach. According to Aykan Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish Parliament, Gulen “is unequivocally a pro-European Union and Atlantic person, a free marketeer and a pragmatist on Israel.”

Only days later the plot thickened yet further when Erdoǧan stated in a television interview that final responsibility lay not with Gulen but with a “superior spirit” operating above him—a code word used often in the past to refer to the West. The enormity of the coup seemed to necessitate the work of an all-powerful entity and some joked that perhaps the “superior spirit” was Erdoǧan himself.

The mystery has a lot to do with a sense that the coup happened precisely when it seemed least plausible. To my knowledge, there was no hint of tension between the government and the military establishment. Earlier traumatic purges and trials had voided the political will to stir things up, so officers could not have been particularly afraid of radical changes ahead. For twenty years the Turkish Armed Forces, under different governments, has expelled hundreds of officers accused of Gulenist sympathies. The process was often repeated, but was always mostly inefficient, so developed was the movement’s ability to cover its traces. There was no indication that things would substantially change in the future. The extent of the coup and its ability to go undetected clearly show that the Gulenist network was under no clear and immediate danger of being rooted out of the army.

Erdoǧan himself was never keen on assuming that the military could have been infiltrated by forces aiming to depose him. But that does not mean that things were everywhere quiet. In the months and weeks before, Turkey had been engulfed by successive shifts in its foreign policy orientation, causing much anguish and agitation. And that’s the context in which the coup should be interpreted.

In my political visits to Ankara over the last three years I could witness the increasing level of anxiety. First, relations with Brussels were getting worse every year, something only the mutual need to address the severe refugee crisis could hide. Second, the pledge made early on in the Syrian civil war to depose Assad was coming under unbearable strain. Over the last few months, as Washington made its peace with the idea of keeping Assad in power, it was clear that Turkey would not be able to stay the course. Many people in Ankara thought that Turkey was encouraged to confront Assad and then Russia by the West only to be abandoned when it did. Former Prime Minister Davutoǧlu was replaced in part to open the way for a complete shift in Ankara’s Syria policy. Like every shift in foreign policy, this one also opened up opportunities. A rapprochement with Russia would most certainly follow if the major bone of contention between them was now removed. Davutoǧlu, incidentally, always looked very coldly towards Moscow, which is all the more remarkable as he is someone who likes to try every geopolitical possibility at least once.

Once Davutoǧlu had been replaced, Erdoǧan moved quickly to mend ties with Russia. At the end of June he apologized to Putin for the downing of a Russian bomber last year that had poisoned relations between the two countries. The apology took most people by surprise, especially because Erdogan was now claiming that Turkey never intended to shoot down the plane. Then, just three days before the coup, there were widespread reports that Turkey was withdrawing its intelligence officers from Aleppo, seemingly giving up on efforts against the regime in Syria. The succession of events, culminating in the failed coup, was hardly a coincidence.

The Russia question has always been an important one inside the Turkish military. Some of the Kemalist officers see Russia as a partner in resisting Western global hegemony. They point to the beginnings of the Turkish Republic and the support it received from the Soviet Union. Returning to the original spirit of Kemalism would mean for them a break with Western ideology and a turn towards a planned, socialist economic policy, now on the model of the developmental state. The Erdogan regime seems to have moved some distance in this direction, in which it was vehemently opposed by Gulen and his followers. Some in Ankara go so far as advocating Turkish membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, so as to more closely align its foreign policy with Russia and China. Many others remember the strong rivalry between the Ottoman and Russian empires and think that without support from Western capitals Turkey will be too vulnerable to Russian power. Countries, especially large ones, move very slowly when adapting their foreign policy to new circumstances and the intense rivalry between Turkey and Russia has deep roots in the competition between them for control over the Balkans and the Straits, as well as the corresponding Turkish aspirations for a unified Turkic world from the Adriatic to China.

Resentment against the EU accession process converted many old socialists, nationalists and Islamists into sympathizers of a deep ideological and foreign policy realignment. Turkey was always prone to view the accession process as the sacrifice of a large part of its identity, something that could perhaps be entertained if the benefits were substantial. They never looked substantial enough and now that some have already been collected through greater economic integration, they may start to look paltry. Ironically, if Russia was in the past the source of Western influences within the Ottoman Empire, it is now an important agent pulling Turkey away from the West. Already in 2002 General Tuncer Kilinç of the National Security Council suggested that Turkey should forge a new alliance with Russia and Iran against Europe. At the time this was still a new idea, unpalatable for midst, but that is no longer the case today. Once relatively marginal figures advocating for such a realignment came closer to the mainstream, slowly coalescing around a specific intellectual movement: Eurasianism. As many have pointed out, this seems to complete the strategic square of possibilities for Turkey. Traditionally, when discussing questions of national identity, Turkish intellectuals pointed to one of three directions: to Islam to the South, Europe to the West and the Turkic countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia to the East. After the end of the Cold War a fourth group appeared identifying Russia to the North as main pull for Turkish geopolitics.

The increasing signs that Erdogan was mulling a new great alliance with Moscow and Tehran set off the alarms. Was this the immediate reason for the failed coup? Turkish journalists have for a few months commented in private that the Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet that shot down the Russian bomber was a rogue unit operating outside the chain of command. They were told to keep silent, but on the night of the coup the early news that as many as six F-16 had begun flying over Ankara at very low altitude and with their transponders turned off sounded like a confirmation. In what must be one of the most remarkable facts about the coup, we know that one of the pilots aboard the rebel fighters the night of the coup was in fact the pilot who shot down the Russian plane in November 2015.

The maneuver back then certainly derailed the rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow, but only for a few months. When it was resumed a month ago, there must have been a sense among sectors of the army, mostly associated with the Gulen movement, that time was running up. A number of the implicated officers knew that the coup would endanger Turkish chances of accession to the European Union, but they must have thought that the chances were even lower if nothing was done. Was this the motivation for the coup attempt? There are strong reasons to think so. In a way, then, President Erdogan may have a point when he says that the attempt was inspired by a “superior spirit.” Europe and the United States had nothing to do with it, but the idea of Turkey as part of the Western world may have been the inspiration for the coup plotters.

As a final twist, we should mention the reports about a direct Russian role the night of the failed coup. Fars news agency of Iran (closed linked to the Tehran government) quoted diplomatic sources in Ankara as saying that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization received intelligence from its Russian counterpart that warned of an impending coup. Russia is uniquely placed to have access to intercepted communications from its intelligence bases in the Syrian province of Lattakia. The same sources said that the shift in Erdogan’s foreign policy in the weeks before the coup ultimately saved him, as it is not clear the Russians would provide him with the prized intel otherwise. In a press conference on July 21 the Kremlin denied any prior knowledge of the failed coup.

Bruno Maçães is a nonresident scholar at Carnegie Europe. He is a former Europe minister in Portugal

 Bombing at wedding party in southern Turkey kills at least 50

August 21, 2016

by Osman Orsal


Gaziantep, Turkey-At least 50 people were killed on Saturday when a suspected suicide bomber detonated his explosives among people dancing on the street at a wedding party in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, about 40 km (25 miles) from the Syrian border.

President Tayyip Erdogan said it was likely that Islamic State militants carried out the late-night attack, the deadliest bombing this year in Turkey, which faces threats from militants at home and from Syria.

Just weeks ago, Erdogan and his government survived an attempted coup, which Ankara blames on U.S.-based Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen. He has denied the charge.

Islamic State has been blamed for other attacks in Turkey, often targeting Kurdish gatherings in an effort to inflame ethnic tensions, and the deadliest previous one was last October at a rally of pro-Kurdish and labor activists in Ankara when suicide bombers killed more than 100 people.

Saturday’s wedding party was for a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, it said, and the groom was among those injured. The bride was not hurt, one local official said.

Celebrations were ending at the traditional henna night party, when guests have decorative paint applied to their hands and feet. Some families had already left when the bomb went off but women and children were among the dead, witnesses said.

Blood and burns marked the walls of the narrow lane where the blast hit. Women in white and checkered scarves cried, sitting crosslegged outside the morgue waiting for word on missing relatives.

“The celebrations were coming to an end and there was a big explosion among people dancing,” said 25-year-old Veli Can. “There was blood and body parts everywhere.”

The local governor’s office said in a statement 50 people were killed in the bombing, and more wounded were still being treated in hospitals around the province.

“We want to end these massacres,” witness Ibrahim Ozdemir said. “We are in pain, especially the women and children.”


Hundreds gathered for funerals on Sunday, some weeping at coffins draped in the green color of Islam, local television images showed. But other funerals would have to wait because many of the victims were blown to pieces and DNA forensics tests would be needed to identify them, security sources said.

In Gaziantep, the chief prosecutor’s office said they had found a destroyed suicide vest at the blast site.

Three suspected Islamic State suicide bombers killed 44 people at Istanbul’s main airport in June.

Violence has also flared again this week in the largely Kurdish southeast. Ten people were killed in bomb attacks, mostly police and soldiers, in an escalation that officials blamed the PKK.

Turkey began air strikes against Islamic State last July, in the weeks after a peace process with the PKK collapsed and it also began targeting PKK targets in northern Iraq.

Just a half an hour away from Gaziantep is the border town of Kilis which has been repeatedly hit by rockets and shelling from Islamic State territory, killing civilians on some days.

On Sunday, ruling AK Party lawmakers as well as Erdogan himself emphasized that they see Islamic State as no different to the Kurdish separatist PKK and the group led by Gulen, all three classified by Turkey as terrorist organizations.

(Reporting by Reuters TV, Dasha Afanasieva, Daren Butler and Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Patrick Markey and Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Dominic Evans)

Russia could use Incirlik airbase ‘if necessary’ – Turkish PM

August 21, 2016


Ankara wouldn’t mind it if Russia used the Incirlik airbase for its anti-terror missions against Islamic State terrorists in Syria, Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim hinted on Saturday, but acknowledged that no such requests have been made.

“Turkey opened Incirlik airbase to fight Daesh [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL] terrorists. It is being used by the US and Qatar. Other nations might also wish to use the airbase, which the Germans are also now using,” Yildirim told reporters on Saturday, as quoted by Anadolu news.

“If necessary, the Incirlik base can be used,” the PM said when asked if Moscow could share the airfield as well. At the same time, he firmly denied recent media reports claiming that Moscow has been pressuring Turkey to lease Incirlik to the Russian air force, saying “this information is not correct.”

Amid unsubstantiated reports that Washington might be moving its nuclear arsenal out of Turkey and into Romania, which Bucharest has already denied, Izvestia Daily fueled the rumors by reporting that Russia might soon move into the Turkish base.

Given the recent rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara, the Russian publication cited upper house member Igor Morozov as saying that “it just remains to come to an agreement with Erdogan that we get the NATO base at Incirlik as [our] primary airbase.” According to the MP, Incirlik would give Moscow a strategic advantage and provide for a swifter conclusion to Russia’s anti-terrorist operation in Syria.

Meanwhile, Yildirim expressed doubt that Moscow would actually need to use the Turkish airbase, pointing out that Russia’s forces already have two local airbases from which to launch missions in Syria, and that being 100-150 kilometers closer to their targets would not provide any strategic advantage.

Most of Russia’s warplanes that carry out airstrikes on terrorists are based at the Khmeimim base in Syria and, since recently, Iran’s Hamadan base. The country’s Aerospace Forces also use airbases in Russia for long range strategic missions. Russia launched its anti-terrorist air campaign in Syria on September 30, 2015, at the request of Syrian President Assad.

However, if Moscow does indeed ask permission to use the Incirlik airbase, it would most likely tip the balance of Turkey’s defense strategy away from NATO, of which it has been a key member for decades.

“It seems to us that NATO members behave in an evasive fashion on issues such as the exchange of technology and joint investments. Turkey intends to develop its own defense industry and strengthens its defense system,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Sputnik earlier this week.

“In this sense, if Russia were to express interest, we are ready to consider the possibility of cooperation in this sector,” the FM added.

Closer military cooperation between Ankara and Moscow was made possible after Turkish President Recep Tayip Ergodan met with “his friend,” Russian President Vladimir Putin, earlier this month. The meeting provided an opportunity for the leaders to improve bilateral relations between the two countries that hit rock bottom last November when Turkey’s Air Force shot down a Russian military jet over Syria.

Ankara’s apology and change of heart was likely prompted by the seemingly lukewarm support for the current Turkish president and government expressed by the US and its allies in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt last month.

Fearing for the safety of the US’ nuclear arsenal in Turkey, a Washington DC-based think tank released a report on Monday urging American lawmakers to remove US nukes from the region.

Turning up the heat on Tuesday, EurActiv claimed that US forces have already begun to move their nuclear weapons from the Incirlik base in Turkey to the Deveselu base in Romania – a report that the Romanian Foreign Ministry has officially denied.

As Washington remains silent on the issue, Foreign Policy published an article entitled “No, the US Is Not Moving Its Nukes From Turkey to Romania” citing nuclear weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis, who pointed out that relocating the deadly arsenal is not possible, as Romania lacks the required infrastructure to provide safe storage for the bombs.

Under NATO’s nuclear-sharing agreement reached during the Cold War in the 1960s, in order to deter a perceived threat from the Soviet Union, some NATO allies were authorized to store the B61 nuclear gravity bombs on their territories, while others committed to maintaining aircraft capable of delivering them. Open source estimates suggest that approximately 150-200 US “non-strategic nuclear weapons” are deployed in NATO countries including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

It’s time for the EU to stop membership talks with Turkey

Turkey wants to become an EU member in just a few years, but the gap between the two sides is growing ever larger. DW’s Christoph Hasselbach thinks it’s time to be realistic and end this disgraceful charade.

August 21, 2016

by Christoph Hasselbach


You could laugh about it if it wasn’t so serious: Turkey’s EU Ambassador Selim Yenel told Germany’s “Die Welt” newspaper that he wanted his country to be a full European Union member by 2023 – the Turkish Republic’s centennial year. Which Turkey will it be?

The country’s founder, Kemal Ataturk, established a secular state in 1923. The current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is willing to put religion ahead of everything else. The current Turkey is undergoing a political purge – the media is being suppressed, and according to Germany’s interior minister, the country is making common cause with Islamists and terrorists. This country wants to have a regular seat at the table in Brussels?

Schröder, Blair and Chirac were in favor of membership

Such a concept sounds strange today, but that was not always the case. The leaders of the three most important EU nations – Germany’s Gerhard Schröder, Britain’s Tony Blair and France’s Jacques Chirac (a conservative!) – were promoting accession around the turn of the millennium.

In 2005, the then 25-member bloc gave the green light for accession talks. It was clear back then: “The goal of the talks is membership.”

But it also stated in the text that the EU should only vote in favor of accession if the candidate was viable economically and politically.

That is less the case today. And one of the most important arguments against membership has not changed. A country of nearly 75 million people that could, in a few years, overtake Germany as the most populous nation in the EU would have visa-free work and travel for its citizens throughout the bloc. Taking this point against the backdrop of the current migration debate in Europe, it is clear how absurd it is to give Turkey full EU membership. Any European government that backed today what Schröder, Blair or Chirac called for ten years ago would be finished politically.

That means Turkey does not come close to fulfilling the membership requirements, Europe does not want Turkey, and Erdogan himself has made it clear he does not find membership that important.

Europe feels obligated

Nonetheless, the negotiations continue and according to the recent refugee deal, they will be expedited.

What kind of farce is this? The answer is simple: Turkey can apply immense pressure on the EU. Europe feels guilty because they proposed Turkey’s accession in a much different time, under much different circumstances, and because of the current refugee agreement with Ankara, they feel obliged to act.

But that is simply not a reason. The EU should not just suspend accession talks; they should halt them entirely. Full membership would never come into question even if Turkey unexpectedly met all conditions. A close relationship, yes, by all means offer it; it is not about all or nothing. But the resulting demands of Turkey’s full membership would fracture the EU immediately. Even the mere prospect of a full membership only fuels political extremism in the EU countries. Therefore, it is time to clear the table and end this disgraceful charade once and for all.

Judge orders Clinton to answer email server questions from Judicial Watch

Federal judge stops short of requiring Democratic presidential nominee to submit to sworn deposition amid lawsuit by conservative watchdog organization

August 20, 2016

by Lauran Gambino

The Guardian

New York-A federal judge has ordered Hillary Clinton to answer written questions about her use of a private email server while at the state department in response to a lawsuit by a conservative watchdog group, though he declined to make her submit to a sworn deposition.

District court judge Emmet Sullivan said Clinton must reply in writing to questions posed by the group, Judicial Watch, about why she set up a system to conduct state department business, a decision that led to an FBI investigation and has haunted the Democratic nominee’s campaign for over a year.

The judge said the group failed to demonstrate that an hours-long deposition was necessary to clarify why Clinton set up the private server, as opposed to seeking the information “through other, less burdensome or intrusive means such as interrogatories”.

“Judicial Watch’s argument that a deposition is preferable in this case because of the ability to ask follow-up questions is not persuasive,” Sullivan wrote. “Given the extensive public record related to the clintonemail.com system, a record which Judicial Watch has acknowledged, Judicial Watch will be able to anticipate many follow-up questions.”

Judicial Watch made a name for itself by dogging former president Bill Clinton, and has now filed a number of lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act (Foia) seeking records from the state department about Hillary Clinton’s time spent as the nation’s top diplomat.

Judicial Watch’s president, Tom Fitton, praised the judge’s decision in a statement. “We are pleased that this federal court ordered Hillary Clinton to provide written answers under oath to some key questions about her email scandal,” he said. “We will move quickly to get these answers. The decision is a reminder that Hillary Clinton is not above the law.”

The decision means Clinton will probably not have to step away from the campaign trail to sit for an interview with some of her fiercest critics, but ensures that the controversy will continue to follower her throughout the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

Judicial Watch has until 14 October to submit questions to Clinton, who must respond within 30 days, according to the decision.

Separately, Sullivan approved Judicial Watch’s request to depose John Bentel, a senior state department aide who has since retired, due to “contradictory evidence” about the extent of his knowledge of Clinton’s server and email practices. However, he declined the group’s request to depose Clarence Finney, a state department official handling Foia requests.

In July, the FBI closed its investigation into Clinton’s email server after she sat for a three-hour interview. Director James Comey said that while she and her staff had been “extremely careless” in their handling of emails, a handful of which contained classified information at the time, the FBI would not recommend prosecutors seek charges in the case.

The judge also ordered the federal government to begin releasing the “thousands of work-related emails” that the FBI said it had recovered in its investigation.

Clinton has apologized for setting up the server, maintaining that the decision was a “mistake” and not an attempt to obfuscate her actions or skirt reporting laws. She also noted that this was the practice of her predecessors, though the law was tightened by the Obama administration.

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that former secretary of state Colin Powell was said to have advised Clinton to use a personal email account. The report was based on notes from the FBI handed over to Congress.

In a statement, Powell’s office said he wrote Clinton an “email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department” while also noting that “at the time there was no equivalent system with the department”.

More than half of Clinton Foundation’s major donors would be barred under new rule

August 19, 2016

by Rosalind S. Helderman, John Wagner and Anu Narayanswamy

Washington Post

More than half of the Clinton Foundation’s major donors would be prevented from contributing to the charity under the self-imposed ban on corporate and foreign donors the foundation said this week it would adopt if Hillary Clinton won the White House, according to a new Washington Post analysis of foundation donations.

The findings underscore the extent to which the Clintons’ sprawling global charity has come to rely on financial support from industries and overseas interests, a point that has drawn criticism from Republicans and some liberals who have said the donations represent conflicts of interest for a potential president.

The analysis, which examined donor lists posted on the foundation’s website, found that 53 percent of the donors who have given $1 million or more to the charity are corporations or foreign citizens, groups or governments. The list includes the governments of Saudi Arabia and Australia, the British bank Barclay’s, and major U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola and ExxonMobil.

The foundation’s announcement drew skepticism Friday from the right and the left as critics wondered why the Clintons have never before cut off corporate and overseas money to their charity — and why they would wait until after the election to do so.

The restrictions would be more stringent than those put in place while Clinton was secretary of state, when the foundation was merely required to seek State Department approval to accept new donations from foreign governments — permitting the charity to accept millions of dollars from governments and wealthy interests all over the world. They would also be stricter than the policy adopted when Clinton launched her campaign that placed some limits on foreign government funding but allowed corporate and individual donations.

Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator who was a leading surrogate for Clinton’s rival in the Democratic primary race, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), said the restrictions were a good step but should be imposed immediately.

“In my opinion, and in the opinion of lots of Americans, this should have been done long ago,” she said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted Friday that the Clintons’ continued acceptance of those dollars during the presidential campaign is a “massive, ongoing conflict of interest.”

Others questioned why Clinton had now decided that the foundation should rule out donations that she apparently thought were acceptable during her tenure as the country’s top diplomat. “Is it ok to accept foreign and corporate money when Secretary of State but not when POTUS???” Donald Trump Jr., son of the Republican nominee, tweeted Thursday night.

Clinton Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian said that the limits would be imposed “to avoid perception issues while ensuring the people who depend on our programs continue to be served.”

Minassian did not directly answer questions about why the restrictions would be tighter than they were when Clinton was at State. As for why they would not be imposed until after the election, he said that the foundation did not want to presume the outcome and that taking action “before then would needlessly hurt people who are being helped by our charitable work around the world.”

Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Clinton’s campaign, said the constraints on the foundation while Clinton was secretary of state already went beyond legal requirements but the foundation submitted to “even more rigorous standards” when Clinton declared her candidacy and “is pledging to go even further if she wins.”

“At each step, the standard set by the foundation has been unprecedented, even if it may never satisfy some critics,” he said.

The announcement of the new restrictions appeared to be a response to an ongoing political headache for Hillary Clinton, who has faced months of damaging criticism of her State Department tenure amid controversies over her use of a private email server and allegations that foundation donors received special access.

Citing the release of emails showing top Clinton aides responding to requests for meetings with donors, Donald Trump has accused Clinton of creating a “pay to play” climate in her agency — a charge she has denied.

Nearly half of likely voters, 47 percent, said they were bothered a lot by the foundation’s acceptance of money from foreign countries while Clinton was secretary of state, according to a Bloomberg News poll in June. That’s similar to the 45 percent of voters who were bothered by Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.

The new policy was devised by Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton, and approved at a foundation board meeting Thursday, according to a foundation official.

As part of the changes, Bill Clinton agreed that he would step down from the board of the organization if his wife was elected and would do no more fundraising for the group. Chelsea Clinton would remain on the board for a transition period. However, her name, as well as Hillary Clinton’s, would be dropped from the charity’s title, which would revert to the Clinton Foundation from its current formal name, the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

The new donation restrictions would not apply to the Boston-based Clinton Health Access Initiative, which began as part of the foundation but is now a separate organization. In a statement, the initiative said its board will meet soon to discuss its policies.

Founded by Bill Clinton in 1997, the foundation has grown into a $2 billion enterprise that funds health-care, education and environmental initiatives around the world. It has also drawn scrutiny, with critics charging that the charity offered an opportunity for corporations and foreign interests to curry favor with a secretary of state seen as a likely future occupant of the Oval Office.

If Clinton wins, imposing the new restrictions could prove awkward in some cases. For instance, a ban on foreign donations could get in the way of the foundation’s long reliance on Frank Giustra, a Canadian mining magnate who has committed more than $100 million and sits on the board of directors. In addition to direct donations to the foundation, Giustra runs a Canadian-based branch of the charity known as the Clinton-Giustra Enterprise Partnership.

If Clinton won in November, Giustra would spin the organization into “an independent entity to continue this important work, and maintain CGEP’s life-changing partnerships around the world,” he said in a statement Friday. A foundation official said the Canadian group would no longer use the Clinton name.

The announcement of the new rules is unlikely to defuse the foundation as a potent campaign issue.

Critics seized on the fact that the restrictions would go into effect only in November, if Clinton was elected, meaning donors could race to give money before the deadline — but in time to curry favor with a Democratic nominee who is leading in the polls.

The left-leaning columnist Jonathan Chait wrote on the website of New York magazine Friday that the new policy is an “inadequate response to the conflicts of interest inherent in the Clinton Foundation” and demonstrates that Clinton “has not fully grasped the severity of her reputational problem.”

Even with the restrictions, he noted, wealthy individuals would have the opportunity to use foundation donations as “chits.” “Ultimately, there is no way around this problem without closing down the Clinton Foundation altogether,” he wrote.

The foundation is not required by law to disclose its donors, but it has published those names since Clinton was nominated to be secretary of state by President Obama. The disclosure was required under an ethics agreement she negotiated with the Obama administration, as was the requirement that new foreign government donations be submitted to the State Department for vetting. If questions arose, the agreement allowed for the White House to weigh in.

Those rules allowed the foundation to accept millions of dollars while Clinton was in office from seven foreign governments that had already been giving, including nations with which the United States has had complicated relations, such as Qatar and Oman. Foundation officials also later acknowledged that it had accepted a $500,000 donation from Algeria without receiving permission from the State Department, as required by the agreement.

The policy was questioned during Clinton’s confirmation hearing by then-Sen. Richard L. Lugar (R-Ind.), who called on the foundation to bar all foreign donations, not just those from governments. “The Clinton Foundation exists as a temptation for any foreign entity or government that believes it could curry favor through a donation,” he said then.

In an interview Friday, Lugar said the new proposal demonstrated that the Clintons had learned lessons from her time as secretary and were now taking the correct steps to ensure no perception of a conflict.

Lugar, who lost a Republican primary in 2012 and has not endorsed Trump or Clinton, said the Clintons should not shutter the foundation. “I believe, as do many others, that it has done a great deal of good in helping people throughout the world,” he said.

Scott Clement contributed to this report.

The Justice Department Is Done With Private Prisons. Will ICE Drop Them Too?

August 18 2016

by Alice Speri

The Intercept

The Justice Department’s announcement on Thursday that it would seek to end the use of private contractors to run its federal prisons was a monumental one that quickly sent private prison stocks plunging and drew praise from dozens of human and civil rights groups that for years had been denouncing abuse and neglect in private facilities.

In a memo explaining the decision, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote that private prisons “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources,” “do not save substantially on costs,” and “do not maintain the same level of safety and security” as facilities operated by the Bureau of Prisons.

But as the criminal justice community began to take stock of the news, many also expressed hopes that the DOJ would not be the only government agency to cut ties with the private companies, which also operate state prisons and immigration detention centers.

In particular, advocates directly called on the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement — which is responsible for holding a growing number of detainees with pending immigration cases or awaiting deportation — to end its multimillion-dollar relationship with the private corrections industry.

A spokesperson for ICE did not specifically comment on the impact of the Justice Department’s announcement on its own relationship with private prison companies but said the agency “remains committed to providing a safe and humane environment for all those in its custody” and “provides several levels of oversight in order to ensure that detainees in ICE custody reside in safe, secure, and humane environments and under appropriate conditions of confinement.”

While the Justice Department’s decision is set to impact 13 privately run federal prisons and some 22,660 prisoners, the potential impact of a similar decision by ICE would be considerably more significant for the agency. The ICE spokesperson said that 46 of the agency’s facilities are operated by private contractors. While the immigration detention population fluctuates, private contractors oversee a daily average of 24,567 detainees — out of the average 33,676 held in ICE detention each day. As of 2014, the immigration detention population had jumped 47 percent over the prior decade. Immigration advocates say that growth is both unjustified by public safety needs and sets the stage for neglect and abuse.

“As of today, the Bureau of Prisons’ two-decades experiment with private prisons is finally beginning to come to an end,” David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, told The Intercept, calling the decision “historic.” “We hope that ICE and the states will follow the lead of the Justice Department.”

Grace Meng, a Human Rights Watch senior researcher focusing on immigration issues, called the DOJ’s announcement “incredibly exciting news.” “This should prompt Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stop their use of private immigration detention facilities, run by the same companies,” she added, while also noting that “focus on private companies shouldn’t remove scrutiny from county jails and other ICE facilities that are also rife with problems.”

States have traditionally taken the federal Bureau of Prisons as a model for best practices, but for ICE, severing ties would be a logistical feat of immense proportions. ICE’s contracts with private companies can be difficult to track as they are often executed through local county government — a decentralized approach to the privatization of detention that has also made these facilities harder to monitor.

But according to ICE’s numbers, more than 70 percent of its detainees, on average, are living in privately run facilities, where unsafe and abusive conditions have been amply documented. By comparison, the federal prison population in privately run facilities never exceeded 16 percent and the state prison population in such facilities is around 6 percent.

“In terms of percentage, ICE is the agency that has the biggest share of its prisoners and detainees in private prisons,” said Fathi, also noting that while the federal prison population has decreased quite significantly in recent years, “the same is not true of the ICE detainee population.”

“It’s definitely going to be harder for them,” he said.

Hard or not, corrections operators are obligated to guarantee a number of protections, regardless of law enforcement needs, Meng noted.

“The assumption that ICE can’t do this is completely false, because the fact that the detention system is as large as it is now has not been historically true,” she said. “There’s an inflated sense of how many people actually need to be in detention at any given time. What we have seen is there is a huge number of people who should not be there at all: children, families, people who are not a current threat to public safety, who have really strong claims to release.”

Details on the exact cost of privately run immigration detention are also opaque, but as immigration detention spending as a whole skyrocketed from $700 million in 2005 to more than $2 billion today, so did revenues for the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, by far the two largest private companies operating immigration detention facilities.

According to a report released last year by the Center for American Progress, federal contracts, including those from the Bureau of Prisons and ICE, jumped from 39 percent of CCA’s total revenues in 2005 to 44 percent — $724.2 million — in 2014. That year, ICE contracts alone made up 13 percent of CCA’s revenue — $221 million. Similarly, federal contracts rose from 27 percent of the GEO Group’s revenues in 2005 to 42 percent in 2014, with ICE accounting for 15.6 percent of the pie.

Just days ago, details emerged about about a four-year, $1 billion contract ICE awarded to CCA to house Central American asylum seekers in Texas.

Jonathan Burns, a spokesperson for CCA, wrote in a statement to The Intercept that federal prisons make up only 7 percent of the company’s business, adding that the DOJ’s report had “significant flaws.”

“The findings simply don’t match up to the numerous independent studies that show our facilities to be equal or better with regard to safety and quality, or the excellent feedback we get from our partners at all levels of government,” he wrote. “We value our partners, and we will continue to work with them, both through the types of management solutions we’ve provided for more than three decades, as well as new, innovative opportunities we’ve been exploring in recent years in a proactive effort to meet their evolving needs.”

In a statement to The Intercept, a spokesperson for the GEO Group wrote, “While our company was disappointed by today’s DOJ announcement, the impact of this decision on GEO is not imminent.”

“Notwithstanding today’s announcement, we will continue to work with the BOP, as well as all of our government partners, in order to ensure safe and secure operations at all of our facilities.”

But as they are slated to lose millions and wield significant lobbying power, it’s unlikely that private prison companies will go without a fight.

“Their stock is dropping like a stone. I’m sure they’re not happy and I’m sure they’ll complain they’re being unfairly treated, but the fact is, there is abundant evidence that private prisons are not as safe and not as secure and the services they provide to prisoners are inferior,” Fathi said. “Certainly the government has every right to decide that their services are no longer needed.”

Update: Aug. 18, 2016

This story has been updated to include statements from ICE, CCA, and the GEO Group provided after publication.

Correction: Aug. 18, 2016

An earlier version of this story misstated the timing of an ICE detention contract awarded to CCA; the story has been updated to correct the error.

Christ the Essene

by Harry von Johnston. PhD


The Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea scrolls are a collection of over 900 religious and secular texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 that consist of biblical manuscripts from Jewish religious sources as well as political writings of the period. These documents were found in a series of twelve caves around the site known as Wadi Qumran near the Dead Sea, in what is now the West Bank, iinitially by the Bedouin people and later by trained archeologists.

The initial discovery, was by a  Bedouin shepherd, Muhammed Edh-Dhib, his cousin Jum’a Muhammed and Khalil Musa, and was made between November 1946 and February 1947. The shepherds discovered seven scrolls housed in jars in a cave at what is now known as the Qumran site.

Edh-Dhib’s cousin noticed the caves, but edh-Dhib himself was the first to actually fall into one. He retrieved a handful of scrolls, which were later identified as the Isaiah Scroll, Habakkuk Commentary, and the Community Rule, and took them back to the Bedouin camp to show to his family.

None of the scrolls were destroyed in this process, despite popular rumor. The Bedouin kept the scrolls hanging on a tent pole while they figured out what to do with them, periodically taking them out to show people. At some point during this time, the Community Rule was split in two. The Bedouin first took the scrolls to a dealer named Ibrahim ‘Ijha in Bethlehem. ‘Ijha returned them, saying they were worthless, after being warned that they might have been stolen from a synagogue. Undaunted, the Bedouin went to a nearby market, where a Syrian Christian offered to buy them. A sheikh joined their conversation and suggested they take the scrolls to Khalil Eskander Shahin, “Kando,” a cobbler and part-time antiques dealer.

The Bedouin and the dealers returned to the site, leaving one scroll with Kando and selling three others to a dealer for GBP7 (US$29 in 2003). The original scrolls continued to change hands after the Bedouin left them in the possession of a third party until a sale could be arranged. Arrangements with the Bedouin left the scrolls in the hands of a third party until a profitable sale of them could be negotiated.

That third party, George Isha’ya, was a member of the Syrian Orthodox Church, who soon contacted St. Mark’s Monastery in the hope of getting an appraisal of the nature of the texts. News of the find then reached Metropolitan Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, better known as Mar Samuel.

After examining the scrolls and suspecting their antiquity, Mar Samuel expressed an interest in purchasing them. Four scrolls found their way into his hands: the now famous Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule, the Habakkuk Pesher (a commentary on the book of Habakkuk), and the Genesis Apocryphon. More scrolls rapidly surfaced in the antiquities market, and Professor Eleazer Sukenik and Professor Benjamin Mazar, Israeli archaeologists at Hebrew University, soon found themselves in possession of three, The War Scroll, Thanksgiving Hymns, and another, more fragmented, Isaiah scroll .

Four of the Dead Sea scrolls went up for sale eventually, in an advertisement in the June 1, 1954, Wall Street Journal. On  July 1, 1954, the scrolls, after delicate negotiations and accompanied by three people including the Metropolitan Museum, arrived at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. They were purchased by Professor Mazar and the son of Professor Sukenik, Yigael Yadin, for $250,000, approximately $2.14 million in 2014, and brought to Jerusalem.

The texts are of great historical and religious significance and include the earliest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents, as well as preserving evidence of great diversity in late Second Temple Judaism. They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean, mostly on parchment, but with some written on papyrus and bronze.

These manuscripts have been dated to various ranges between 408 BCE and 318 CE. Bronze coins found on the site form a series beginning with Hyrcanus 1 (135-104 BCE) and continue without a gap until the first Jewish revolt (66–73 CE) The scrolls are traditionally identified with the ancient Jewish  cult.  .

The Dead Sea scrolls are traditionally divided into three groups: “Biblical” manuscripts (copies of texts from the Hebrew Bible), which comprise roughly 40% of the identified scrolls; Other manuscripts (known documents from the Second Temple Period like Enoch, Jubilees, Tobit, Sirach, additional psalms, etc., that were not ultimately canonized in the Hebrew Bible), which comprise roughly 30% of the identified scrolls; and “Sectarian” manuscripts (previously unknown documents that shed light on the rules and beliefs of a particular group or groups within greater Judaism) like the Community Rule, War Scroll, Pesher on Habakkuk and the Rule of the Blessing, which comprise roughly 30% of the identified scrolls.

In 1947 the original seven scrolls came to the attention of Dr. John C. Trever, of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), who compared the script in the scrolls to that of The Nash Papyrus, the oldest biblical manuscript then known, and found similarities between them. In March, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War prompted the move of some of scrolls to Beirut, Lebanon, for safekeeping.

On April 11,1948, Miller Burrows, head of the ASOR, announced the discovery of the scrolls in a general press release.

Early in September 1948, Mar brought Professor Ovid R. Sellers, the new Director of ASOR, some additional scroll fragments that he had acquired. By the end of 1948, nearly two years after their discovery, scholars had yet to locate the original cave where the fragments had been found. With unrest in the country at that time, no large-scale search could be undertaken safely. Sellers attempted to get the Syrians to assist in the search for the cave, but he was unable to pay their price.

In early 1948, the government of Jordan gave permission to the Arab Legion to search the area where the original Qumran cave was thought to be. Consequently, Cave 1 was rediscovered on January 28, 1949, by Belgian United Nations observer Captain Phillipe Lippens and Arab Legion Captain Akkash el-Zebn.

The rediscovery of Cave 1 prompted the initial excavation of the site from  February 15 to March 5, 1949 by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities. The Cave 1 site yielded discoveries of additional Dead Sea Scroll fragments, linen cloth, jars, and other artifacts.

Cave 3, which contained the period references to Jesus,  was discovered on  March 14, 1952 and eventually yielded 14 manuscripts including Jubilees and the curious copper scroll, which lists 67 hiding places of valuable assets of the Essenes, mostly buried underground, throughout the Roman province of Judea (now the state of Israel). According to the scroll, the secret caches held astonishing amounts of gold, silver, copper, aromatics, and manuscripts.

The Essenes were known to be a wealthy cult.

These scrolls from Cave 3 were the specifically the product of Essene Jews living in Jerusalem, who hid the scrolls in the caves near Qumran while fleeing from the Romans during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

The scroll in question was found by an amateur archeologist from Syria in May of 1952 and was sold by him, through a dealer in antiques named John Meanen, a former CIA operative based in Brooklyn, New York. Mr. Meanen sold the scroll in 1955 to a Heinz von Hungen, MD who collected rare Catholic artifacts, among other valuable historical objects.  The scroll was subject to forensic testing as to age and then photographs were sent to three different experts in the Nabataean language. The scroll itself was on a parchment and testing on this and on the ink along with the text itself, dated this at close to about 50-55 CE. This is the only period reference to Jesus. From the translated text it is set forth that Jesus was born, not in Bethelhem but in Alexandria, Egypt and that his father was Jewish and his mother Egyptian. He had two older brothers, one of whom later became a member of the Essene cult when the family moved to Judea. As a member of the Essenes, Jesus was called ‘Bar Nasha’ or the son of man. Jesus took this name when he joined the ranks of the Essenes.

Translation from the original Nabataean of significant portion of the scroll from Cave 3

1) Of this Jesus we compile this recording of his wonderous deeds and his gathering many into the fold.

(2) He was born in Alexandria, the son of Yossef and that his mother was a woman of Egyptian parentage and that he had two brothers with him. Joseph and his family then removed themselves to the land of Caanan in the second year of the Prefect Aquila and prospered.

(3) Jesus then being young but of a strong religious cast, (blessing) was taken into the Brotherhood by his elder brother Jacob who instructed him and became his greatly loving partner and there did prosper greatly, becoming a great leader of the people and one who sought to expel the heathen (unbelieving) sons of Rome from the land.

(4) That Jesus, not being ill-favored and most eagerly was welcomed by the society and loved (taken to their souls and bodies) then by many.  He was given the name of ‘Bar Nasha’ (son of man). In the ritual bathing, he proved to be mighty and much beloved indeed and this because of the inspiration and teaching of John who was himself a much beloved person.

(5) And Jesus, not being ill-favored, was a most inspired (wonderous) preacher and went amongst the multitude and spoke with great and moving spirit about the brotherhood, causing many to come to its fold with joy and pleasure. And when age came upon him, Jesus went out into the land, preaching to the people and was himself greatly loved.

(6) In the rule of Felix, the time had come to throw off the Roman yoke (enslavement) and Jesus, and many others, did prepare a great undertaking against these Romans but they were betrayed by one Judas to the Romans and these came upon them suddenly and with great force. Many were siezed but a few eluded the Roman police (soldiers) and removed to the secret place.

(7) Jesus was one of these and with him came Cephas, a most beautiful young man who was much beloved, of Jesus, who accompanied him to his secret place and loved him greatly.

Summation of traslation:

Jesus father, Yossef,was born in Alexandria in 41 BC under Ptolemaeus XV Philopator Philomētor Caesar and in the seventh year of his rule (June 23, 47 BCE – August 23, 30 BCE), Jesus was born, also in Alexandria,  under Gaius Iulius Aquila,  Prefect of the Province of Egypt (10-11 CE). Jesus’ leading an Essene rebellion and his subsequent rapid departure from Jerusalem was under the Procuratorship of Antonius Felix (52 to 58 CE) in Judea. Jesus’ older brother, fellow Essene and Jesus’ lover was Jacob (or James.)

I assume, without fear of contradiction, that there were no children from this union.

Most current Biblical scholars generally believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John  and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus’s first followers had previously been followers of John.

John the Baptist is also mentioned by Jewish historian Josephus. Some scholars maintain that John was influenced by the semi-ascetic Essenes, who expected an apocalypse and practiced rituals corresponding strongly with baptism.

The baptism story has its roots in the extensive nude ritual bathing practiced by all the Essenes.

There also is mention of a younger, handsome man whom Jesus  called Cephas, meaning “stone” in Aramaic and which is translated to “Peter.” Jesus said he would build his future church on this young man. References to him can be found in the Gospels and he is described as wearing scanty or no garments at all and associating very closely with Jesus. He was at the Mount of Olives putsch  episode and ran away, naked, from the Romans.

This scroll was written by the Essenes residing at Khirbet Qumran. They composed many of the historically important  scrolls and ultimately hid them in the nearby caves during the Jewish Revolt, sometime between 66 and 68 CE. The site of Qumran was eventually destroyed and the scrolls were never recovered by those that placed them there.

Josephus mentions the Essenes as sharing property among the members of the community, as does the Community Rule.

During the excavation of Khirbet Qumran, two inkwells and plastered elements thought to be tables were found, offering evidence that some form of writing was done there. More inkwells were discovered in nearby loci.

Several Jewish ritual baths were discovered at Qumran, which offers evidence of an observant Jewish presence at the site.

Pliny the Elder writing after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE describes a group of Essenes living in a desert community on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea near the ruined town of ‘Ein Gedi.

Parchment from a number of the Dead Sea scrolls have been carbon dated. The initial test performed in 1950 was on a piece of linen from one of the caves. This test gave an indicative dating of 33 CE, plus or minus 200 years, eliminating early hypotheses dating the scrolls to the mediaeval period.

Since then, two large series of tests have been performed on the scrolls themselves. The results were summarized by VanderKam and Flint, who said the tests give “strong reason for thinking that most of the Qumran manuscripts belong to the last two centuries BCE and the first century CE.”

Analysis of handwriting, known as palaeography, was applied to the text on the Dead Sea scrolls by a variety of scholars in the field. Major linguistic analysis by Cross and Avigad dates fragments from 225 BCE to 50 CE. These dates were determined by examining the size, variability, and style of the text. The same fragments were later analyzed using radiocarbon date testing and were dated to an estimated range of 385 BCE to 82 CE with a 68% accuracy rate.

The scrolls were further analyzed using a cyclotron at the University of California, Davis, where it was found that two types of black ink were used: iron-gall ink and carbon soot ink. In addition, a third ink on the scrolls that was red in color was found to be made with cinnabar. There are only four uses of this red ink in the entire collection of Dead Sea scroll fragments.The black inks found on the scrolls that are made up of carbon soot were found to be from olive oil lamps. Gall nuts from oak trees, present in some, but not all of the black inks on the scrolls, was added to make the ink more resilient to smudging common with pure carbon inks. Honey, oil, vinegar and water were often added to the mixture to thin the ink to a proper consistency for writing. In order to apply the ink to the scrolls, its writers used reed pens.

Approximately 85.5 – 90.5% of these scrolls were written on parchment made of processed animal hide known as vellum papyrus (estimated at 8.0 – 13.0% of the scrolls), and sheets of bronze composed of about 99.0% copper and 1.0% tin for approximately 1.5% of the scrolls. For those scrolls written on animal hides, scholars with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, by use of DNA testing for assembly purposes, believe that there may be a hierarchy in the religious importance of the texts based on which type of animal was used to create the hide. Scrolls written on goat and calf hides are considered by scholars to be more significant in nature, while those written on gazelle or ibex are considered to be less religiously significant in nature.

In addition, tests by the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Sicily, have suggested that the origin of parchment of select Dead Sea scroll fragments is from the Qumran area itself, by using x-ray and particle induced x-ray emission testing of the water used to make the parchment that were compared with the water from the area around the Qumran site.

The Dead Sea scrolls that were found were originally preserved by the dry, arid, and low humidity conditions present within the Qumran area adjoining the Dead Sea. In addition, the lack of the use of tanning materials on the parchment of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the very low airflow in the Qumran caves also contributed significantly to their preservation.

Some of the scrolls were found stored in clay jars within the Qumran caves, further helping to preserve them from deterioration. The original handling of the scrolls by archaeologists and scholars was done inappropriately, and, along with their storage in an uncontrolled environment, they began a process of more rapid deterioration than they had experienced at Qumran.[ During the first few years in the late 1940s and early 1950s, adhesive tape used to join fragments and seal cracks caused significant damage to the documents.

The Government of Jordan had recognized the urgency of protecting the scrolls from deterioration and the presence of the deterioration among the scrolls. However, the government did not have adequate funds to purchase all the scrolls for their protection and agreed to have foreign institutions purchase the scrolls and have them held at their museum in Jerusalem until they could be “adequately studied”.

In early 1953, they were moved to the Palestine Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem and through their transportation suffered more deterioration and damage. The museum was underfunded and had limited resources with which to examine the scrolls, and, as a result, conditions of the “scrollery” and storage area were left relatively uncontrolled by modern standards.

The museum had left most of the fragments and scrolls lying between window glass, trapping the moisture in with them, causing an acceleration in the deterioration process. During a portion of the conflict during the 1956 Arab-Israeli War, the scrolls collection of the Palestinian Archaeological Museum was stored in the vault of the Ottoman Bank in Amman, Jordan. Damp conditions from temporary storage of the scrolls in the Ottoman Bank vault from 1956 to the Spring of 1957 lead to a more rapid rate of deterioration of the scrolls. The conditions caused mildew to develop on the scrolls and fragments, and some of the fragments were partially destroyed or made illegible by the glue and paper of the manila envelopes in which they were stored while in the vault.

By 1958 it was noted that up to 5% of some of the scrolls had completely deteriorated. Many of the texts had become illegible and many of the parchments had darkened considerably.

Until the 1970s, the scrolls continued to deteriorate because of poor storage arrangements, exposure to different adhesives, and being trapped in moist environments. Fragments written on parchment (rather than papyrus or bronze) in the hands of private collectors and scholars suffered an even worse fate than those in the hands of the museum, with large portions of fragments being reported to have disappeared by 1966.In the late 1960s, the deterioration was becoming a major concern with scholars and museum officials alike. Scholars John Allegro and Sir Francis Frank were some of the first to strongly advocate for better preservation techniques.Early attempts made by both the British and Israel Museums to remove the adhesive tape ended up exposing the parchment to an array of chemicals, including “British Leather Dressing,” and darkening some of them significantly.

In the 1970s and 1980s, other preservation attempts were made that included removing the glass plates and replacing them with cardboard and removing pressure against the plates that held the scrolls in storage; however, the fragments and scrolls continued to rapidly deteriorate during this time.

In 1991, the Israeli Antiquities Authority established a temperature controlled laboratory for the storage and preservation of the scrolls. The actions and preservation methods of Rockefeller Museum staff were concentrated on the removal of tape, oils, metals, salt, and other contaminants. The fragments and scrolls are preserved using acid-free cardboard and stored in solander boxes in the climate-controlled storage area.

Since the Dead Sea scrolls were initially held by different private parties during and after the excavation process, they were not all photographed by the same organization nor in their entirety.

And because the contents of a number of the known scrolls were, at the least, very controversial, contrary to Christian opinions, and damaging to their public image, there has been some considerable control over publication of any such revisionistic material.

At the time of their writing the area was transitioning between Greek and Roman dominance. The Jewish Qahal (society) had some measure of autonomy following the death of Alexander and the fracturing of the Greek Empire among his successors. The country was long called Ιουδαία or Judæa at that time, named for the Hebrews that returned to dwell there, following the well documented diaspora. Most scholars believe the Jews actually redacted the Biblical stories due to the pressures of losing their ethnicity in Babylon, and picked up the square script there.The majority of Jews never actually returned to Israel from Babylon and Persia according to the Talmud, oral and archeological evidence.

Most of the Dead Sea scrolls are currently under the ownership of the Government of the state of Israel, and housed in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum.

The official ownership of the Dead Sea scrolls is disputed among the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Israel, and the Palestinian Authority

A list of known organizational ownership of Dead Sea Scroll fragments:

Azusa Pacific University Number held 5

Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago 1

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary 1

Rockefeller Museum – Government of Israel ca 15,000

The Schøyen Collection owned by Martin Schøyen 60

The Jordan Museum – Government of Jordan 25

Approximately 30 other scrolls, or portions of scrolls, are in private hands, having been purchased early on through various antiquarian organizations and individuals. Many of the contents of these privately-held scrolls are presently unknown.






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