TBR News August 4, 2017

Aug 04 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., August 4, 2017:” Like volcanologists contemplating the underground rumblings of Yellowstone, sociologists and historians are contemplating the growing global political pressures.

That overpopulation is driving the latter is beyond a doubt and also beyond a doubt, there will be major eruptions in the near future.

Rising sea levels endanger human development near the coastal areas of the world and altered weather patterns are seriously interfering with food production.

All of this is entirely predictable but no one knows when the eruptions will happen.

But idiot bloggers rush to proclaim whatever fantasies they have dreamt up when their Prozac has worn off and politically slanted news sites point here and there.

Be entertained and be sure to stock up on food and ammunition.”

Table of Contents

  • Groupthink at the CIA
  • Conversatons with the Crow
  • ‘Classified info, influence peddling, cover-ups’: More Clinton emails brought to light
  • Congress heads into break with Republican promises unfulfilled
  • The Sport of Plutocrats
  • Jared Kushner’s Pro-Israel Bias Is Nothing New for U.S. Mideast Envoys — It’s Just the Most Blatant
  • The Marriage of Evil
  • Donald Trump backs ‘devastating’ curb of legal immigration
  • China, India struggle to put a lid on their border row involving Bhutan
  • Is India turning its nuclear focus toward China?

Groupthink at the CIA

Hating Russia and Trump is de rigueur

August 1, 2017

Philip Giraldi

The Unz review

Long ago, when I was a spear carrying middle ranker at CIA, a colleague took me aside and said that he had something to tell me “as a friend,” that was very important. He told me that his wife had worked for years in the Agency’s Administrative Directorate, as it was then called, where she had noticed that some new officers coming out of the Career Trainee program had red tags on their personnel files. She eventually learned from her boss that the tags represented assessments that those officers had exceptional potential as senior managers. He added, however, that the reverse appeared to be true in practice as they were generally speaking serial failures as they ascended the bureaucratic ladder, even though their careers continued to be onward and upward on paper. My friend’s wife concluded, not unreasonably, that only genuine a-holes had what it took to get promoted to the most senior ranks.

I was admittedly skeptical but some recent activity by former and current Directors and Acting Directors of CIA has me wondering if something like my friend’s wife’s observation about senior management might indeed be true. But it would have to be something other than tagging files, as many of the directors and their deputies did not come up through the ranks and there seems to be a similar strain of lunacy at other U.S. government intelligence agencies. It might be time to check the water supply in the Washington area as there is very definitely something in the kool-aid that is producing odd behavior.

Now I should pause for a moment and accept that the role of intelligence services is to identify potential threats before they become active, so a certain level of acute paranoia goes with the job. But at the same time, one would expect a level of professionalism which would mandate accuracy rather than emotion in assessments coupled with an eschewing of any involvement in the politics of foreign and national security policy formulation. The enthusiasm with which a number of senior CIA personnel have waded into the Trump swamp and have staked out positions that contradict genuine national interests suggests that little has been learned since CIA Director George Tenet sat behind Secretary of State Colin Powell in the UN and nodded sagaciously as Saddam Hussein’s high crimes and misdemeanors were falsely enumerated.

Indeed, one can start with Tenet if one wants to create a roster of recent CIA Directors who have lied to permit the White House to engage in a war crime. Tenet and his staff knew better than anyone that the case against Saddam did not hold water, but President George W. Bush wanted his war and, by gum, he was going to get it if the CIA had any say in the matter.

Back then as now, international Islamic terrorism was the name of the game. It kept the money flowing to the national security establishment in the false belief that America was somehow being made “safe.” But today the terror narrative has been somewhat supplanted by Russia, which is headed by a contemporary Saddam Hussein in the form of Vladimir Putin. If one believes the media and a majority of congressmen, evil manifest lurks in the gilded halls of the Kremlin. Russia has recently been sanctioned (again) for crimes that are more alleged than demonstrated and President Putin has been selected by the Establishment as the wedge issue that will be used to end President Donald Trump’s defiance of the Deep State and all that pertains to it. The intelligence community at its top level would appear to be fully on board with that effort.

The most recent inexplicable comments come from the current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, speaking at the Aspen Institute Security Forum. He began by asserting that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election before saying that the logic behind Russia’s Middle Eastern strategy is to stay in place in Syria so Moscow can “stick it to America.” He didn’t define the “it” so one must assume that “it” stands for any utensil available, ranging from cruise missiles to dinner forks. He then elaborated, somewhat obscurely, that “I think they find anyplace that they can make our lives more difficult, I think they find that something that’s useful.”

Remarkably, he also said that there is only “minimal evidence” that Russia is even fighting ISIS. The statement is astonishing as Moscow has most definitely been seriously and directly engaged in support of the Syrian Arab Army. Is it possible that the head of the CIA is unaware of that? It just might be that Pompeo is disparaging the effort because the Russians and Syrians have also been fighting against the U.S. backed “moderate rebels.” That the moderate rebels are hardly moderate has been known for years and they are also renowned for their ineffectiveness combined with a tendency to defect to more radical groups taking their U.S. provided weapons with them, a combination of factors which led to their being denied any further American support by a presidential decision that was revealed in the press two weeks ago.

Pompeo’s predecessor John Brennan is, however, my favorite Agency leader in the category of totally bereft of his senses. In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee back in May, he suggested that some Trump associates might have been recruited by the Russian intelligence service. He testified that “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind whether or not Russia was able to gain the co-operation of those individuals.”

In his testimony, Brennan apparently forgot to mention that the CIA is not supposed to keep tabs on American citizens. Nor did he explain how he had come upon the information in the first place as it had been handed over by foreign intelligence services, including the British, Dutch and Estonians, and at least some of it had been sought or possibly inspired by Brennan unofficially in the first place. Brennan then used that information to request an FBI investigation into a possible Russian operation directed against potential key advisers if Trump were to somehow get nominated and elected, which admittedly was a longshot at the time. That is how Russiagate started.

Brennan is certainly loyal to his cause, whatever that might be. At the same Aspen meeting attended by Pompeo, he told Wolf Blitzer that if Trump were to fire special counsel Robert Mueller government officials should “refuse to carry out” his orders. In other words, they should begin a coup, admittedly non-violent (one presumes), but nevertheless including federal employees uniting to shut the government down.

A lesser known former CIA senior official is John McLaughlin, who briefly served as acting Director in 2004. McLaughlin was particularly outraged by Trump’s recent speech to the Boy Scouts, which he described as having the feel “of a third world authoritarian’s youth rally.” He added that “It gave me the creeps…it was like watching the late Venezuelan [President Hugo] Chavez.”

And finally, there is Michael Morell, also a former Acting Director, who was closely tied to the Hillary Clinton campaign, apparently driven by ambition to become Director in her administration. Morell currently provides commentary for CBS television and is a frequent guest on the Charlie Rose show. Morell considerably raised the ante on Brennan’s pre-electoral speculation that there had been some Russian recruitment of Trump people. He observed in August that Putin, a wily ex-career intelligence officer, …“trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them [did exactly that] early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities… In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.”

I and others noted at the time that Putin and Trump had never met, not even through proxies, while we also wondered how one could be both unwitting and a recruited agent as intelligence recruitment implies control and taking direction. Morell was non-plussed, unflinching and just a tad sanctimonious in affirming that his own intelligence training (as an analyst who never recruited a spy in his life) meant that “[I] call it as I see it.”

One could also cite Michael Hayden and James Clapper, though the latter was not CIA. They all basically hew to the same line about Russia, often in more-or-less the same words, even though no actual evidence has been produced to support their claims. That unanimity of thinking is what is peculiar while academics like Stephen Cohen, Stephen Walt, Andrew Bacevich, and John Mearsheimer, who have studied Russia in some depth and understand the country and its leadership far better than a senior CIA officer, detect considerable nuance in what is taking place. They all believe that the hardline policies current in Washington are based on an eagerness to go with the flow on the comforting inside-the- beltway narrative that paints Russia as a threat to vital interests. That unanimity of viewpoint should surprise no one as this is more of less the same government with many of the same people that led the U.S. into Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. They all have a vested interested in the health and well-being of a fully funded national security state.

And the other groupthink that seems to prevail among the senior managers except Pompeo is that they all hate Donald Trump and have done so since long before he won the election. That is somewhat odd, but it perhaps reflects a fear that Trump would interfere with the richly rewarding establishment politics that had enabled their careers. But it does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of CIA employees. Though it is admittedly unscientific analysis on my part, I know a lot of former and some current CIA employees but do not know a single one who voted for Hillary Clinton. Nearly all voted for Trump.

Beyond that exhibition of tunnel vision and sheer ignorance, the involvement of former senior intelligence officials in politics is itself deplorable and is perhaps symptomatic of the breakdown in the comfortable bipartisan national security consensus that has characterized the past fifty years. Once upon time former CIA officers would retire to the Blue Ridge mountains and raise Labradors, but we are now into something much more dangerous if the intelligence community, which has been responsible for most of the recent leaks, begins to feel free to assert itself from behind the scenes. As Senator Chuck Schumer recently warned “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

Conversatons with the Crow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of Crowley’s first major assignments within the agency was to assist in the recruitment and management of prominent World War II Nazis, especially those with advanced intelligence experience. One of the CIA’s major recruitment coups was Heinrich Mueller, once head of Hitler’s Gestapo who had fled to Switzerland after the collapse of the Third Reich and worked as an anti-Communist expert for Masson of Swiss counterintelligence. Mueller was initially hired by Colonel James Critchfield of the CIA,  who was running the Gehlen Organization out of Pullach in southern Germany. Crowley eventually came to despise Critchfield but the colonel was totally unaware of this, to his later dismay.

Crowley’s real expertise within the agency was the Soviet KGB. One of his main jobs throughout his career was acting as the agency liaison with corporations like ITT, which the CIA often used as fronts for moving large amounts of cash off their books. He was deeply involved in the efforts by the U.S. to overthrow the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile, which eventually got him into legal problems with regard to investigations of the U.S. government’s grand jury where he has perjured himself in an agency cover-up

After his retirement, Crowley began to search for someone who might be able to write a competent history of his career. His first choice fell on British author John Costello (author of Ten Days to Destiny, The Pacific War and other works) but, discovering that Costello was a very aggressive homosexual, he dropped him and tentatively turned to Joseph Trento who had assisted Crowley and William Corson in writing a book on the KGB. When Crowley discovered that Trento had an ambiguous and probably cooperative relationship with the CIA, he began to distrust him and continued his search for an author.

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

In 1998, when Crowley was slated to go into the hospital for exploratory surgery,  he had his son, Greg, ship two large foot lockers of documents to Douglas in Wisconsin  with the caveat that they were not to be opened until after Crowley’s death. These documents, totaled  an astonishing 15,000 pages of CIA classified files involving many covert operations, both foreign and domestic, during the Cold War.

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Müller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.


Conversation No. 63

Date: Friday, February 7, 1997

Commenced:  11:55 AM CST

Concluded:  12:35 PM CST


RTC: Robert T. Crowley

GD: Gregory Douglas


RTC: Hello there, Gregory. I hope you’re feeling better than I am.

GD: You have a cold?

RTC: No, getting old. Some advice, Gregory. Don’t get old. The worst part isn’t forgetting things, it’s remembering. And knowing you are helpless to correct the present. But there still is correcting the past.

GD: Historians do that all the time. Hitler lost so Hitler was always wrong. Roosevelt won so Roosevelt was always right. Saints and sinners. It depends entirely on who wins.

RTC: True. I told you I once met Roosevelt, didn’t I? My father got me in to see him. Old and shaky, but still clever. Phony old bastard, one thing to the face and another to the back, but very shrewd in political circles. He set up a powerful movement, but as soon as he hit the floor, they started to dismantle it.

GD: Müller was filling me in on the anti-Communist activities he was involved in. McCarthy and all of that.

RTC: Well, Franklin put them all in, and Truman threw them all out. Most of them were Jewish so we were all accused of anti-Semitism, but we held all the cards then and they knew it, so criticism was muted. It wouldn’t be that way now, but times change.

GD: They always do and a smart man changes with them.

RTC: Some times the older forms are better.

GD: Yes, but people grow tired of old forms and want new ones. A revolution might mean more money and power for some and death or disgrace for others. The wheel does turn.

RTC: So it does. I wanted to give you a little background here, Gregory, about you. You see, at one time, these others wanted to set up a sort of private think tank. They wanted to call it after the oracle of Delphi. Tom Kimmel, Bill Corson, the Trento ménage, Critchfield and others. But they wanted me to be the honcho.

GD: And why you?

RTC: I have the connections with the business community. I could get big money people behind the idea. It was a sort of miniature Company if you will. Money and power. We always called it the Company because it was a huge business conglomerate. But anyway, this think tank would bring all of us lots of money. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel too happy with the make up of it. Kimmel is pompous and entirely too much obsessed with his late Grandfather; the Trentos are very lightweight, but aren’t really aware of it; and poor Bill is a perpetual wannabe, running around trying to sound like a great keeper of various unknown secrets. We tried Costello. Tom liked him because of his Pearl Harbor writings, but I never liked him. There was a screw loose in his brain somewhere. And of course being a fairy didn’t improve his objectivity. I gave up on John after his trip to Reno. He hated you, you know.

GD: My heart is breaking. I should have given him some of my old shorts to chew on.

RTC: Now do let’s be serious, Gregory. John was a spiteful person but I got the impression he thought you were much worse than he was and since he was hiding his perversions, he probably thought you could see through him. I think people get that impression: That you watch and see too much. Of course, it doesn’t help that you run your mouth and say terrible things about self-made saints. Anyway, I didn’t want John involved and then I began to have some interest in you. Of course, I couldn’t put you forward for the group because Kimmel detested you and Bill didn’t know where to turn. He liked you but always listened to others in making up his mind. When I ditched Costello and Bill knew you and I were talking, Kimmel went through the roof. He didn’t like me talking to you and spent much time getting his oafs at Justice to ring me up and tell me how terrible you were. Tom likes to get others to do his dirty work, I noticed long ago. The Trento family didn’t know you and Bill is actually afraid of you. So the private study group for profit more or less died a natural death. I wanted to include you but they did not so there it ended.

GD: I would have had no problem working with you but not with the others. Bill is a lightweight, Kimmel a gasbag and the one Trento book I tried to read was hopeless.

RTC: Yes.

GD: ‘And slime had they for mortar.’—Genesis 11:3.

RTC: Citing Scripture, Gregory? I thought the Devil did that.

GD: He does. Daily. Now we call him Pat Robertson.

RTC: Where’s your Christian charity?

GD: I sold it to buy a gun.

RTC: Yes. Well, to get back to the subject here, which is the fact that these gentlemen do not like you, but I do. They have stopped yapping about you because I told them to shut up, but no doubt they still run around behind my back and try to stab you in the back. Never to the face, but in the back.

GD: Not to change the subject, Robert, but why do you really call it the Company?

RTC: Because it’s a huge business. We are one of the most powerful businesses on the planet, Gregory. We make enormous sums of money, have established a tight and very complete control over the media, have the White House doing as we tell them to, overturn foreign governments if they dare to thwart our business ventures, and so on.

GD: Business ventures?

RTC: A generalized case in point. A left-wing nigger gets into power in the Congo. The Congo has huge uranium deposits. Will Moscow get the uranium? The Belgian businessmen come to us for help. We agree to help them and we get into a civil war and murder Lumumba. One of our men drove around with his rotting corpse in his trunk. The head of the UN starts to interfere in matters, so we have an aircraft accident that kills him very dead and stops the interference. We tell the President about the uppity nigger but not about poor dead Dag. We tell them what we want them to hear and nothing more.

GD: And the business aspect?

RTC: The drugs, of course, bring in astronomical amounts of loose money. And if some rival group cuts into the business, we get them removed. Ever read about huge heroin busts somewhere? Our rivals going down for the third time. All of this is part and parcel of the Plan.

GD: Sounds like the Templar’s Plan.

RTC: Ah, you know about this, do you? Which one of the seven dwarves enlightened you? Not Kimmel, but probably Bill.

GD: Actually no. I was speaking of the Plan of the Templars…

RTC: Ah, you see, you do know that. You knew Allen was an initiate, didn’t you?

GD: Well, not in so many words. Didn’t the Templars get disbanded for having too much money? I think they killed DeMolay…

RTC: Now don’t change the subject here. They were never really disbanded, but they went underground. Do you know how much money they had? The French only got a little bit of it. Now let me know, who told you?

GD: You did, actually. Just now. I was thinking of Umberto Eco’s excellent Foucault’s Pendulum and his discussion of the survival of the Templars.

RTC: I missed that one. Is that an old book?

GD: No. Late ‘80s, if I remember. Brilliant historical pastiche. Eco’s an Italian scholar and the book is wonderful, although I doubt very few people in America would understand a word of it. They don’t teach history in our public schools, only political correctness. You can no longer look for the chink in someone’s armor anymore because Asians are terribly offended and you dare not call a spade a spade.

RTC: Yes, yes, I know all that. Stunts the mind.

GD: It’s my impression, based on my visits to your town, that they don’t have any minds to stunt.

RTC: Don’t forget, Gregory, that I was in government service as well.

GD: There are always exceptions, Robert.

RTC: Many thanks for your kindness, Gregory. The Templars have always had money but they have been an underground power for so long, they are set in their ways. We are public and they are not, so there is a sort of joint partnership here. As I said, Dulles was taken in when he was in Switzerland. One of the Jung people, as I remember. They can open doors, Gregory, don’t ever think they can’t, but they are always out of the sunlight.

GD: Like the mythic vampires.

RTC: Custom and usage, as they say. We have common interests, believe me.

GD: Catholic group?

RTC: Not anymore.

GD: Well, I had an ancestor in the Teutonic Knights, and they really never went away. And the Knights of Malta still have some influence in Papal matters. Interesting about the Templars, though. I thought Eco was just a good story teller. Could be. Secret societies have always intrigued parts of the public. The dread Masons, for example. Of course, before the French Revolution, they had a great deal of clandestine power in France, but now I think they’re just a high class fraternal organization. Müller told me that the Nazis were obsessed with the Masons, but when the Gestapo got around to really investigating them, they found nothing sinister at all. Just a social organization and nothing more.

RTC: You know quite a bit about so many interesting things. I can see why you got on with the kraut and why the rat pack here hates you. I must ask you please not to discuss this business with anyone. I would also ask you not to put it into anything you write concerning me. The Kennedy business is bad enough, but no one would believe a word of the other business.

GD: I agree, Robert. But if I have to give up a really interesting story, can I get more information on Kennedy?

RTC: Yes, I can send you more. I did give Bill a copy of the Russian report, but nothing more. He started bragging about this, so I basically shut him down. Of course, it doesn’t really say anything, but once is enough when someone starts to leak out material they have sworn to keep silent about.

GD: And have you tested me?

RTC: I don’t need to. You aren’t trying to make points with the bosses like they are. I hate to say it because I am friendly with all of them, but they are just a bunch of useless ass kissers. You certainly are not.

GD: No, I am not. I don’t trust anyone in the establishment. My God, you ought to listen to what the Landreth people were telling me, [I want to wet myself,] that they can put me on the cover of Time magazine. Of course I really believe them and I would like nothing better than to have my picture on the cover of Time magazine. It used to be a good news magazine but now it’s worse than People Magazine which sells very well in the supermarket checkout lines. And right next to the National Enquirer which is probably written by the same people.

RTC: I think the day of the printed paper or magazine is dying. We still have our hand in on that game. We moved to television, but that is also losing out, so we are moving into the Internet. But don’t ask me about that, because I know nothing about it. We view the Internet as very dangerous because we can’t begin to control it. Set up a few people with money and push them. Hope for the best, you know. but doubtful.

GD: The Templars story is interesting, mainly because I read Eco and know something about their early days.

RTC: When the conspiracy idiots babble on about secret societies, they don’t have any idea what they’re talking about. They go on about the CFR and the Masons but they don’t know the half of it.

GD: Did you ever read Mills’ The Power Elite? Came out in ’54 and is a little out of date but very good.

RTC: Can’t say as I have. Didn’t you mention this once? No matter. I might have but years ago. Speculative?

GD: Concrete, realistic and so on. The reason why the American public is so wrapped up in conspiracy theories is because they have lost all faith in their government and most of our major institutions such as banks, the press, mainline religion and so on. I remember the so-called OPEC panic when the price of gas at the pump went up every ten minutes. There was no OPEC crisis, but just the oil companies creating a panic so they could make huge profits. Ever notice, Robert, how the price of gas at the pump soars just at the beginning of summer when everyone drives on trips and then comes down in winter when no one drives? And how the price of fuel oil drops off in summer when no one needs it but then shoots up every winter when everyone does? Tell me, are these accidents?

RTC: Of course not, Gregory, of course not.

GD: I’m surprised that people don’t pick up on this.

RTC: They won’t pick up on anything at all and what if they did? A little talk here and there and they pay the bills.

GD: And the sheep get shorn again.

RTC: Yes, if you want to put it that way. That’s why they’re there, isn’t it?

(Conclusion at 12:35 PM CST)

‘Classified info, influence peddling, cover-ups’: More Clinton emails brought to light

August 3, 2017


The latest emails obtained from the private account of Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin contain four documents with classification marks and further proof of improper ties with the Clinton Foundation, says the group that received them.

On Wednesday, Judicial Watch released 1,600-plus pages of emails that the State Department had to turn over under the group’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. The documents include 91 email exchanges that were not previously turned over to the State Department, for a total of 530 emails that were not included in Clinton’s initial 55,000-page disclosure.

“Pay to play, classified information mishandling, influence peddling, cover-ups – these new emails show why the criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s conduct must be resumed,” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.

Four emails contained materials classified as “confidential,” whose contents were redacted by the State Department under the FOIA exemption B1.4(D) as “dealing with foreign relations or foreign activities.”

This includes a March 12, 2009 memo from Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal about Northern Ireland; a February 27, 2009 memo from Ambassador Melanne Verveer about Congo; a January 22, 2010 email from Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan to to several State Department officials about a call with the foreign minister of China; and an August 20, 2010 memo about Clinton’s call with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos, sent to Abedin by State Department official Laura Lucas.

On four occasions in 2010, Clinton aide Lona Valmoro forwarded the secretary of state’s daily schedule to Clinton Foundation executives, the documents show.

A number of emails also show Clinton staff being frustrated by secure communications lines and sending files and documents via unsecured channels. Several emails from February 2010 show Abedin discussing the secure fax with Justin Cooper, the man who helped administer Clinton’s private email server, but was not a State Department employee and did not possess security clearance.

Two more exchanges show Clinton and her associates worried about appearances.

On February 26, 2010, Clinton complained to Abedin about the absence of two staffers, adding that the purpose of the photo shoot scheduled for that day was “to show a team that is diverse in every way. That won’t happen and I am worried about that.”

On April 18, 2009, Abedin told senior adviser Philippe Reines about “an encounter” Clinton had with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

“Was the encounter on camera or widely seen?” Reines asked, to which Abedin replied: “Seen by a dozen people. A photog came in and took a photo at the end.”

Judicial Watch also sought documents from the Department of Justice related to the meeting then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch had with former President Bill Clinton at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in June 2016.

However, the DOJ has refused to release the talking points Lynch sent to Public Affairs in response to press requests, claiming an exemption to protect internal deliberations.

“The Trump Justice Department and FBI need to reassure the American people they have finally stopped providing political protection to Hillary Clinton,” Fitton said, commenting on the rejection.

Congress heads into break with Republican promises unfulfilled

August 3, 2017

by Richard Cowan


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A five-week summer break might sound sweet to many people, but maybe not to the 292 Republicans in Congress who leave Washington with none of their major legislative goals achieved after six months in power alongside President Donald Trump.

With Congress due to be closed until Sept. 5, voters may ask: What happened to repealing and replacing Obamacare? Overhauling the tax code? Investing more money in job-creating infrastructure projects?

The awkward answer for Republican lawmakers and Trump is “not much.”

Despite having control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives since the November 2016 elections, Republicans have not delivered on their biggest campaign promises.

Distracted by a probe of possible ties between his campaign and Russian meddling in the election, among many other issues he tweets about, Trump has yet to propose any major legislation since his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Some Republicans fear voters will punish their party in the November 2018 elections for inaction now, and that congressional losses would make it even harder for Trump to get things done in 2019-2020, the second half of his four-year term.

Republicans’ failure to repeal Obamacare “is going to be difficult to explain to the (Republican) base,” former Senate Majority Tom Daschle, a Democrat, said in a recent interview.

There are some achievements for Republicans to point to, including the Senate confirmation in April of Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, conservative judge Neil Gorsuch.

This week, congressional Democrats and Republicans also pressured Trump into enacting a Russia-Iran-North Korea sanctions bill. Lawmakers also managed to pass bills to improve veterans’ healthcare and renew a Food and Drug Administration funding stream for reviewing drug safety.

The Senate confirmed a new FBI director and Congress also repealed 14 Obama-era regulations.

But as Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina told reporters, he and his fellow Republicans “lack traction” on major legislation. “We have not done well on the big events.”

When Congress returns in early September, Republicans want to focus on taxes. But a comprehensive tax reform initiative remains under wraps amid deep divisions in the party.

There has been no movement on legislation to finance the rebuilding of roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure.

Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who faces a possible tough re-election next year, said Trump remains popular among voters in her state, which he carried by 36 points in November.

“They’re grateful for the rollback of what we all considered onerous regulations against industry; onerous overreach by EPA (Environmental Protection Agency),” Heitkamp said of the regulations then-President Barack Obama imposed before leaving office, which Trump and Congress nullified.

Republicans want to pass a budget blueprint for the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, an action that was supposed to have been taken care of long before the summer recess.

Without the measure, Republican legislation rewriting the U.S. tax code might not advance. There are serious disagreements among Republicans about long-term spending levels, however.

Also ominous are the party’s rifts over funding the government near-term and avoiding Oct. 1 federal agency shutdowns. And there is the problem of raising Washington’s borrowing limit. Failure could trigger a historic U.S. default.

Those and other issues will be taken up next month. But in the run-up to the summer break the Senate did manage to close ranks and unanimously pass a resolution proclaiming Sept. 25 as National Lobster Day.

Reporting by Richard Cowan, Amanda Becker and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Tom Brown

 The Sport of Plutocrats

Golf Is Trump

August 3, 2017

by Robert Lipsyte


While waiting for Trump to jump the tracks, let’s savor the day when his inevitable train wreck first passed through a critical safety switch. On June 9th, President Trump alienated his true base — the reactionary rich — by driving his golf cart onto the green at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. In doing so, he committed an unpardonable sacrilege in the high church of capitalism. It was time to start counting the days until he dropped off the scoreboard.

For successful greedheads and their wannabes, golf is the most sacred of sports, the symbol of all that is retrograde and exclusionary in American life. There’s far more to golf, however, than mere inequality or a history of institutional racism and sexism. Golf is also a waste of space and water, and a sinkhole for chemicals poisoning the local aquifer. Think of all the organic vegetables that could be grown on those swards or the walking trails and wildlife sanctuaries that could be established. Think of the affordable housing that could be built on that land. There has to be a better use for the millions of dollars that will be squandered this year on overpriced golf duds and equipment, lessons, playing fees, and memberships in the latest trendy clubs (that these days often have you-know-who’s name on them in large golden letters).

Golf is marketed as a test of character — especially of those business school values of focus, perseverance, and self-improvement. A golf course is laid out as a hero’s journey.  You strike out from the tees (usually at different distances from the hole for men and women) onto a long carpet called a “fairway” that winds among natural “hazards” to be avoided: small ponds, sand traps, patches of undergrowth representing the oceans, deserts, and jungles that must be colonized or conquered on your 18-hole journey to capitalistic triumph.  (Golf nomenclature, including “par” and “lie,” which is where the ball comes to rest after a shot, is too vulnerable to mockery to be addressed here.)

The fairway, of course, leads to the green, a small, manicured area that contains the hole, the winner’s circle, the C-suite, the gated community, the Oval Office. It was onto such a green that Trump drove his cart — he looks to be in no shape to walk the course — and that is not only considered a moral crime in the world of golf, but an obvious defacement of grass meticulously preserved so a competent player can “read the green” and plan his or her final putts.

Trump is unquestionably a competent golfer, way better than average. He’s also an avid golfer and has, in the past, enjoyed the rarified company of such criminal media celebrities as O.J. Simpson and Bernie Madoff. As the Juice’s successful parole hearing was coming up recently, the former football hero told a friend, “We’ll be playing golf again soon.” Possibly as soon as October O.J. may be back home in Florida, maybe even golfing at Mar-a-Lago. (He was, after all, a guest at Trump’s wedding to Marla Maples.)

As for Madoff, long before his Ponzi scheme was busted, he was known for his oddly consistent, too-good-to-be-true golf scores. Trump, who knew Madoff from Palm Beach, crowed about refusing to invest with him and later called him “a scoundrel without par.” It takes one…

To understand golf is to understand Trump. He uses golf as a social lubricant for business, which is its most important function in American culture. Since it operates on the honor system, golf is convenient for lying cheats. As the joke goes, the difference between boastful golfers and fishermen is that golfers don’t have to produce proof. Golf jokes, invariably evoking sex or religion, are a staple of stale pale-male humor. The locker-room quip for which “golf” is an acronym — “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden” — may no longer be totally accurate but it certainly captures the sensibility of the game. And as a perfect complement to Trump’s own relentless boasts about his wealth, the most popular ranking of professional golfers has always been “the money list.” There are no batting averages in golf. It’s all about prize money and endorsement fees.

Trump is more than a golfer. He owns and operates golf courses. The Trump Golf website lists 18 “iconic” ones in “the world of Trump Golf,” stretching from upstate New York to Dubai. And yet none of the domestic ones even made the list of Golf Digest’s 100 top American courses. Despite widespread protests last year about his 2005 pussy-grabbing remarks, the U.S. Women’s Open was held this July at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, course, also the site of his green desecration. Only recently was it revealed that The Donald had threatened to sue the United States Golf Association if it dared move the event as some in the Ladies Professional Golf Association had evidently suggested.

For him, golf isn’t just a sideline presidential activity, it’s central to his plutocratic vision of his presidency and of the promoting of the Trump brand (clearly synonymous in his mind). His golf courses, after all, are considered a critical part of his family’s revenue stream, although typically, actual financial information on them is scanty and may eventually reveal less profit than he claims.

Recent American presidents have certainly sought out fortunes after their time in office, but Trump is certainly our first president to promote his fortune so centrally while there.  He has, for instance, reportedly spent 21% of his presidential time at one or another of his golf clubs, making himself a living billboard for the brand and the business.  (As he took office, the fee to join his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida doubled to $200,000.)  And it’s a business that desperately needs a presidential gold seal of approval.  The golf industry hit its financial high mark in 2003, and its numbers — golf courses, players, profits — have sagged ever since. In response, there has been a concerted effort to speed up the game for distracted millennials and to make it friendlier to women and children, while cutting costs by vigorously fighting property assessments and other tax regulations.

No wonder one of Trump’s early executive orders not only attempted to reverse Obama’s environmental progress in general but, as the Associated Press noted, called “for a review of a rule protecting small bodies of water from pollution and development,” which was “strongly supported by golf course owners who are wary of being forced into expensive cleanups on their fairways.” It seems that no future hazard is too small for our golfing president to avoid.

Duffers in Chief

Actually, it may be through golf that Trump has scored his most significant victory so far in dismantling the Obama legacy.  After all, during his first six months in office he’s probably managed to play golf far more often than his predecessor, whom he criticized repeatedly on the campaign trail for his time on the course.  (Precise comparable statistics are unavailable because Trump aides have been secretive about his golfing schedule.)  As it happens, there’s hardly been a president since William Taft who didn’t hit the links.  So let’s give Trump this: his golfing may be the most presidential, possibly the only presidential, thing he’s done so far.

Since Taft, who was criticized not only for playing badly but for playing while fat (a kind of shaming now tolerated only for Trump’s sometime pal, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie), golf has been the presidential sport of choice. Dwight Eisenhower, a good golfer, gave the game a boost when he had a putting green installed alongside the White House in 1954.

An expert on the subject, ESPN investigative reporter Don Van Natta, Jr., wrote in his 2003 book, First Off the Tee, that, despite his bad back, John F. Kennedy was the best presidential golfer. Kennedy, however, felt he had to sneak off to play because, while campaigning, he had relentlessly derided Ike for golfing too much, calling him “the Duffer-in-Chief.” (Sound familiar?)  In the end, Kennedy had to own up to his golfing habit, given rumors that his unexplained absences were not due to playing a round, but playing around.

Bill Clinton tops the “hail to the cheats” section of Van Natta’s book, with Richard Nixon, Warren Harding, and Lyndon Johnson trailing behind.  Having played with Clinton and granted him many “Billigans” (that is, “mulligans,” or replays of bad shots with no penalties), Van Natta wrote: “He followed the rules for about a hole and a half. Then he let down his guard and started taking these do-over shots, gimme putts and, at the end of the 18 holes, it took him about 200 swings to score an 82.”

Soon after the 2016 election, Golf Digest anointed Trump the all-time top presidential golfer, citing his low handicap and passion for the game. While still a college junior, he began playing at a public course near Philadelphia that he claimed was teeming with “more hustlers than any place I’ve seen to this day.” By his account, he learned a lot about gambling from golf, thinks of the sport as “aspirational,” and considers it a mistake to try to sell it as an everyman’s game. After all, people should be trying harder to get rich in order to join great golf clubs like his and earn their way onto the course and into the proud sport of the one-percenters.

Arnold (“The King”) and Tiger (“The Chosen One”)

The creation myths of golf are murky, but it seems that the modern game took root and was codified in Scotland by the seventeenth century. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century, however, that it became a fixture in American sports. By the Depression, there were more than 1,000 golf clubs in the country and one of the reigning sports superstars of the Roaring Twenties was Bobby Jones, a lawyer revered by the media and the masses both for being a southern gentleman and an amateur in a SportsWorld that was increasingly turning pro. Jones founded and helped design the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia and its most famous event, the Masters Tournament, which became the High Holy Days of the Church of Golf.

That club managed to keep black golfers off its course until 1975 when Lee Elder qualified for the Masters and had to be allowed to play. (That was the year the Justice Department and the Trump family business — of which The Donald was by then president — settled a lawsuit over discrimination in its New York rental properties.) There would be no black members at the Augusta club until 1990 and no women members until 2012 when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was invited in.

That was ten years after a feminist activist, Martha Burke, called the male-only policy “sexist.” At the time, club chairman William “Hootie” Johnson declared that the “moral and legal rights” of a private club trumped any concerns over sexism and civil rights. In the controversy that followed, CBS broadcast the 2003 and 2004 tournaments without commercials. The Masters was that important to the network and Augusta was that rich.  The sport of plutocrats indeed.

By that time, Tiger Woods, “the Chosen One,” had replaced Arnold Palmer, “the King,” as the TV presence who would make golf great again. In the 1950s and 1960s, Palmer, the handsome, charming son of a Pennsylvania golf club groundskeeper, was the leading man in the process of making golf spectatorship, if not actual participation, a national phenomenon. Palmer, who died last September, was present in 2015, along with The Donald, daughter Ivanka, and son Eric, for the unveiling of the Arnold Palmer Villa, one of eight deluxe guestrooms at the Trump National Doral Miami.

Palmer had by then long been replaced as America’s favorite golfer by Woods, the mixed-race son of an Army colonel who groomed him for his golfing future from tot-hood. Tiger was, arguably, the best golfer ever as well as one of the greatest product endorsers in all of sports. As surly as Palmer was convivial, he was protected by the golf and sports media, being its bread-and-butter, until his post-2009 decline, which seemed to be as much about a lifetime of emotional constriction and overload as his tawdry infidelity, one-car crash, divorce, and bad back.

That didn’t stop Trump from inviting him for an extended visit. Last December, at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, Tiger played a round with the President-elect, writing on his blog, “What most impressed me was how far he hits the ball at 70 years old. He takes a pretty good lash. Our discussion topics were wide-ranging; it was fun. We both enjoyed the bantering, bickering, and needling.”

Trump is reportedly an accomplished on-course trash talker, who likes to mock his male golfing partners by telling them that they should be hitting from the women’s tees. Luckily for Tiger, with all his other problems, he’s not working on any Trump golf courses, where contractors are still getting stiffed. Just recently, a South Florida judge ordered Trump Endeavor, one of his Florida corporations, to pay a Miami paint store $282,950 for work done two years ago on that Doral course with its Arnold Palmer Villa. Trump had held back payment of $34,863 on a $200,000 job. Penalties add up.  (Trump should, in fact, be credited for his lifelong efforts to increase American inequality, not just via the game of golf, but by stiffing, or underpaying, every kind of worker he’s ever hired — from waiters, bartenders, and small businesspeople to undocumented laborers.)

Meanwhile, we await the Trump train wreck, an inevitable outcome of the president’s rich-boy sense of entitlement, his jock culture need for domination, and the sad (Sad!) reality of his incompetence as a human being.

Poor Donald. Evidently nobody told him that no man can drive onto the greens, not even the plutocrat who owns them. It’s part of the DNA of the reactionary rich. So he jumped the shark, screwed the pooch. The customs of golf, like the practices of any gaudy, useless, swollen sect, are all that hold it together.

Jared Kushner’s Pro-Israel Bias Is Nothing New for U.S. Mideast Envoys — It’s Just the Most Blatant

August 3 2017

by Mehdi Hasan

The Intercept

Another week, another leak.

This time the victim was Jared Kushner. And the leaker? A daring congressional intern. Yes, an intern.


On Monday, the publicity-shy Kushner spoke in front of a group of congressional interns as part of what Wired magazine — which obtained the leaked, hour-long recording of his remarks — called “an ongoing, off-the-record summer lecture series.”

So what wisdom or insights did the 36-year-old senior White House adviser, appointed by the President of the United States to bring peace to the Middle East, offer his young and impressionable audience? Well, for starters, did you know that “not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years?” Or that there are “some people who don’t want to see and achieve an outcome of peace” in the Middle East? Were you aware that “this is a very emotionally charged situation?”

These, to borrow a line from Slate’s Joshua Keating, are “no-shit-Sherlock” observations. But, then again, should we really be surprised by the sheer vacuousness of Kushner’s statements? What else did we expect from a millionaire property developer with no knowledge of Middle East affairs and zero experience of international diplomacy who was appointed by a billionaire property developer with no knowledge of Middle East affairs and zero experience of international diplomacy?

Trump’s son-in-law not only lacks the necessary qualifications, experience and knowledge, he also lacks even the pretense of balance or objectivity. Kushner is an Orthodox Jew with “ties to Israel that are personal and religious,” according to a New York Times profile which also noted how his “family used its real estate fortune to donate millions of dollars to American Jewish and Israeli hospitals, schools and other institutions, including a few in settlements.” (“For hardline West Bank settlers, Jared Kushner’s their man,” read the headline to a recent Reuters article.)

He is also a close family friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the Kushner family home in New Jersey during Jared’s childhood and, on one occasion, even slept in his bed. (“The teenager moved to the basement that night,” reported the Times.) Kushner’s recent trip to Israel and the Occupied Territories, alongside fellow Trump administration envoy Jason Greenblatt, in which the duo berated Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas over his alleged incitement of violence against Israel, was a diplomatic disaster. “They sounded like Netanyahu’s advisers and not like fair arbiters,” a senior Palestinian official later complained.

But here’s the thing: have there ever been “fair arbiters”? From the U.S. side? Kushner, for all his many sins and flaws, is only the most extreme and egregious example of a long-standing and bipartisan trend in U.S. Middle East policy: the appointment of special envoys, negotiators and ambassadors who see themselves more as advocates and defenders of Israel than as neutral or honest brokers.

Don’t believe me? According to former State Department official Aaron David Miller, who advised six secretaries of state, U.S. negotiators, himself included, have spent decades acting “as Israel’s attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations.” Miller has admitted that he, Martin Indyk and other members of the U.S. negotiating team at the Camp David summit in 2000 brought a “clear pro-Israel orientation” to the discussions and that their “departure point was not what was needed to reach an agreement acceptable to both sides but what would pass with only one – Israel.”

Is it any wonder then that “not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years”? How can the United States claim to sponsor a peace process when it has decided in advance that it will back one side over the other?

This isn’t rocket science. “There are many reasons for America’s failure to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians but the most fundamental one is that it is a dishonest broker,” observed the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim in 2010.

To be clear: the Palestinians and their supporters are not asking for the United States to attack or even abandon the Jewish state. What they want is fairness, not favors. But thanks to a mixture of factors — US strategic interests in the Middle East; the power of the military-industrial complex; the influence of Jewish American organizations; the rise of Rapture-obsessed Christian evangelicals — they tend to get neither.

Remember how Howard Dean, while running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, was pilloried by leading members of his own party, such as Nancy Pelosi, merely for suggesting that “it’s not our place to take sides” and that “the United States needs an even-handed approach in the conflict”? The former Vermont governor had to walk back his remarks and confirm that the United States had “a special relationship with Israel.”

In the context of U.S. Middle East policy, “even-handed” is a dirty word. So too is “neutral.” Yet for the past two decades, according to polling data collected by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University, despite a clear majority of Americans offering greater sympathy for the Israelis than for the Palestinians, an equally clear majority says the United States ought to take neither side in the conflict. In 2015, for example, 66 percent of Americans thought the U.S. should “not take either side,” compared with only 29 percent who suggested the U.S. should side with Israel.

Some politicians, such as Bernie Sanders, who happens to be Jewish, agree — and are now pushing back against the pro-Israeli, pro-Likud consensus. “There will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together,” Sanders said in a CNN debate last year, adding, “If we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.”

This is the key point: You cannot make peace in the Middle East without an honest broker, and the United States is not an honest broker. But are Kushner or Trump, who once claimed “to be sort of a neutral guy” on the Israel-Palestine conflict, even listening? The presidential son-in-law told his audience of interns on Monday that he did not want to focus on the past because “we don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books.” But the past matters; facts matter. The history of U.S. policy on the Middle East is a long and shameful history of bias, partiality and favoritism; of putting Israeli interests ahead of Palestinian rights.

Previous Mideast envoys played the “peace process” game; they made the right noises about “two states for two peoples” and publicly suggested compromises on both sides while privately coordinating their “peace proposals” with Tel Aviv and providing diplomatic cover for Israeli expansionism. Kushner does not even bother to pretend. He and his family are financially and ideologically invested in the occupation and personally invested in Netanyahu.

On the eve of his inauguration, in front of a crowd of supporters, Trump turned to his son-in-law and declared: “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.” If that is the only choice before us, I guess we will have to go with “nobody” then.

The Marriage of Evil

August 4, 2017

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

A planned new route into Europe for Turkish heroin has been discovered as the result of investigations by European law enforcement agencies, to include Interpol and Europol and the American FBI. An Albanian-based group of professional drug smugglers, operating out of two Albanian ports on the Adriatic and are now planning to off-load the heroin at the small Italian seaports of Marano Lagunare or Ausa Como and move it into the mountains of southern Austria.

This group is part of the so-called “Balkan connection,” the Istanbul-to-Belgrade heroin route. The heroin originates as opium, grown in Afghanistan. As a result of a weak American military presence there, opium growing is now exceeding its pre-American occupation levels.

Kosovo is considered by European enforcement agencies as the crossroads of global drug smuggling routes. Kosovo is primarily a state of ethnic Albanians and for hundreds of years, Kosovar Albanian smugglers have been among the world’s most accomplished dealers in contraband, aided by a propitious geography of isolated ports and mountainous villages. Virtually every stage of the Balkan heroin business, from refining to end-point distribution, is directed by a loosely knit hierarchy known as “The 15 Families,” who answer to the regional clans that run every aspect of Albanian life.

The Kosovar Albanian traffickers are so successful, says a senior U.S. State Department official, “because Albanians are organized in very close-knit groups, linked by their ethnicity and extended family connections.”

The Italilan ROS agency has been conducting an intense investigation of Albanian drug smuggling and one of their official reports reads: “Albanians from Kosovo …are among the most dangerous traffickers in drugs and in arms. They are determined men, violent and prepared to go to any lengths. They are capable of coming up with men and arms in a matter of hours. They have deep roots in civil society.”

Italian investigators have reported that Italy is the most important base for these organizations and it is precisely in Milan that negotiations between the Kosovar bosses and those of the Tirana – based Albanian gangs take place. And Milan, again, is the theater in which exchanges with our own domestic crime bosses take place.

According to detectives, the “Ndrangheta receives and parcels out some 50 kilograms of heroin every day. And it is precisely by following this drug trail that the detectives have succeeded in discovering a fully fledged organization with ramifications throughout Europe: Groups have been identified that operate in France, in Switzerland, in Spain, in Germany, and in Norway. But the Albanians have a particularly aggressive attitude. On the basis of phone calls that we have intercepted, we have discovered that the drugs are not only a source of wealth but also a tool in the struggle to weaken Christendom.”

The new route, which has been uncovered by a joint international investigative effort, is from Albanian Adriatic ports, up the Adriatic to the Italian ports of Marano Lagunare or Ausa Como through Italy via the A 23, over the Nassfeld Pass into Austria and from there, through Hermagor, to the scenic lake, Weissensee in Carinthia. This lake, which has a number of small hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, is perfect for a drug distribution point because it is very private and had only one road, Number 87, which leads from Highway E66 and a direct route to Italy.

The Kosovo smugglers have recently established a connection with elements of Scientology now in the Austrian province of Kärnten. The Scientology group is reported to be FLEXIM Austria GmbH, which through its head, Christian Halper, a German citizen, have targeted the scenic lake as a headquarters. These people have been secretly purchasing property in the Weissensee area and this includes:

  • Hotel Alpenhof, Obernaggl (total about 70 hectares) – about 35 rooms – Hans Zoehrer – 5.5 M Euros:
  • Hotel Fergius, Neusach (only a few square meters of land) – 38 rooms – no price available: http://www.hotelweissensee.at/
  • Hotel Sonnenstrahl, Oberdorf, holiday apartment house (no land) – about 15 apartments – no price available:
  • Private house, Gatschach, near the post office (with over 2,000m² of land) – 1.5 M Euros:
  • Private house, Neusach (with over 2,000m² of land) – 1,8 M Euros:

The Weissensee area is very secluded and peaceful. There is only one road into the lake to the western end and no exit to the east. The lake is the summer destination of more afflunent visitors and in winter, the frozen lake is used for winter sports and the southern slopes, for skiing. The new plan is to buy up as much property as possible so as to be able to fill up the area with German Scientologists who can vote their members into local offices for better control.

Also, the large Alpenhof Hotel has been gutted and is going to be torn down. Its replacement, according to investigative reports, will have large, concealed cellars where the Albanians can repackage the Turkish heroin for transhipment to Vienna and Munich. Other smaller hotels and apartment houses have been selected to house personnel and a computer system designed to break into computers of drug enforcement agencies worldwide and have also been shut down in order to install bunks, armoured doors, electronic surveillance equipment and other unobtrusive security materials. It is interesting to note that the Scientologists hate both the Germans and the Russians who, like the Germans, have basically booted them out of their countries. While one smuggler’s route leads northeast towards Vienna, the other goes north to Munich.

From an already established distribution point located on the Hohenzollern Strasse, the heroin moves north to the German Baltic Sea port of Sassnitz. Once there, it is put onto the MV Translubeca, owned by Finnlines-Deutschland GmbH of Lübeck. Two Scientologists are crew members on this large cargo-passenger vessel, which leaves Sassnitz, DE on Sundays at 8 AM and docks at St. Petersburg, Russia, on the following Tuesday at 8 AM, where the cargo is offloaded and channeled into Russian mob hands.

Hotel Alpenhof

An Overview of Halper-controlled business:

FLEXIM Austria GmbH, is a German-based firm and  part of a an organization consisting of  FLEXIM Instrumentation BV in Holland, formed in 2000 and FLEXIM Instrumentation SARL in France , formed in 2003

FLEXIM Austria is designed to handle Austrian, Slovenian and Hungarian “business”

FLEXIM was created from Medon Measuring Systems. The managing director, Christian Halper is supported by Mr. T. Sommer  a sales engineer and Mrs. W. Neubauer for order processing. Their headquarters are located at Olbenau, in Burgenland, between Vienna and Graz.

These organizations are under the fiscal and legal umbrella of Monaco-based Quadriga Asset Management, a so-called hedge fund controlled by a former Austrian policeman named Baha

Baha claims to manage assets totaling $1.3 billion from 40,000 clients and is attempting  to expand this hedge fund which is alleged to be worth  $5 billion and is claimed to have 100,000 investors to a world-wide presence. Quadriga now has nine offices from Hong Kong to New York, run by 12 directors.

Arpad Deak is  the managing director for Quadriga in the United States and deals mainly in financial futures: currency, bonds, and stock indexes as well as commodities such as livestock, metals and grains.

In the U.S. Quadriga claims it has $50 million under management. Baha says he has to educate the market in order to get wider acceptance. Baha intends to open an investment center in New York.

List of European Scientology-Identified Connections

* AllGrund Immobilien ,Heusenstamm, Germany

* AG zur Entlastung von Führungskräft Arni, Switzerland

* Business Success Verkaufs- und Managementtraining GmbH Munich,. Austria,Slovakia and Hungary

* H. Benneck & Partner GmbH Düsseldorf, Germany

* FLEXIM Austria GmbH, Olbenau, in Burgenland, between Vienna and Graz. Hungary, Slowenia

* Kempe Immobilien Börse GmbH and KEMPE Grundbesitz & Anlagen AG Düsseldorf

* Knusperstube Bäckerei GmbH St. Gertraud (Kärnten), Austria

* Krebs Immobilien Fichtenwalde, Germany

* Lidl Dachbewirtschaftung,Gelting, Germany

* Marvan Installateur Vienna, Austria

* Perfect Nails Klagenfurt, Austria

* Gerhard Spannbauer Erfolgsvorträge Planegg, Germany

* Tock Autoscheibenservice Vienna, Austria

Donald Trump backs ‘devastating’ curb of legal immigration

The US president has described the RAISE Act as the “most significant” immigration reform in half a century. But Republicans and activists have criticized it, with some saying it reflects a “white nationalist agenda.”

August 3, 2017


US President Donald Trump on Wednesday backed efforts to overhaul legal immigration by prioritizing highly skilled workers proficient in English, while halving the number of legal migrants able to reside in the country under the “green card” program.

Under the proposal – known as the RAISE Act – put forward by Republican Senators David Perdue and Tom Cotton, the US would introduce a points-based system akin to Canada’s and Australia’s legal immigration schemes.

During the press conference at the White House, Trump said the draft legislation represents the “most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century.”

“This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and puts America first,” Trump said.

While Trump campaigned on a platform to uproot irregular migration and deport thousands of illegal immigrants from the US, he also vowed to reform the process to obtain legal residency.


However, the draft legislation has been criticized by rights groups as well as key Republican lawmakers who fear it could undermine the American economy.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that while he supports a merit-based immigration scheme, the Trump-backed plan would directly impact his home state.

“Unfortunately, other part of (the) proposal reduces legal immigration by half, including many immigrants who work legally in agriculture, tourism and service,” he wrote in a tweet.

“If proposal were to become law, (it would be) devastating to the South Carolina economy, which relies on this immigration workforce.”

‘White nationalist agenda’

The Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-discrimination group, said the plan “very much reflects a white nationalist agenda.”

“Its provisions reflect the shameful agenda of nativists and white nationalists who fear the growing diversity of our country,” it said in a statement.

Since February, when Perdue and Cotton introduced the draft legislation in Congress, the two senators have failed to find a co-sponsor. This means it is unlikely to move forward without further efforts from the White House.

In 2016, more than 1 million people gained residency in the US through the “green card” system.

‘Mother of Exiles’

The Trump administration’s stance on immigration, both irregular and legal, continues to cause controversy.

On Wednesday, senior White House aide Stephen Miller told the press that a poem written by Emma Lazarus about the “huddled masses” was “not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”

Lady Liberty, as she is often called in the US, became a figure of hope for thousands of immigrants who arrived in the US via Ellis Island in the first half of the 20th century.

The US National Park Service said the poem depicts the iconic statue “as the ‘Mother of Exiles’: a symbol of immigration and opportunity – symbols associated with the Statue of Liberty today.” Indeed, the poem was later inscribed on a plaque and placed on the statue’s pedestal.

China, India struggle to put a lid on their border row involving Bhutan

The continuing standoff between India and China along their shared border has cast a dark shadow on their bilateral relationship. It has also stoked nationalism on both sides, making it tough to resolve the issue.

August 3, 2017

by Srinivas Mazumdaru


Beijing is intensifying its warnings to Indian troops to get out of a contested region high in the Himalayas where China, India and Bhutan meet.

Chinese defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said late Thursday that Chinese armed forces had shown “utmost goodwill” and a “high level of restraint.” India should “give up the illusion of its delaying tactic” and not underestimate China’s “confidence and capability” to defend its national sovereignty and development interests, Ren said in a statement.

Chinese state broadcaster Central Television on Friday aired a video that showed a Chinese artillery unit carrying out live-fire exercises in Tibet. The report did not mention the dispute with India and said the unit has been training for three months.

For the past several weeks, Chinese and Indian troops have faced off close to a valley controlled by China that separates India from Bhutan – a close Indian ally – and gives China access to the so-called Chicken’s Neck, a thin strip of land that connects India to its remote northeastern regions.

Beijing alleges Indian forces crossed into a region known in China as Donglang, called Doklam in India, early in June and obstructed work on a road on the Himalayan plateau. Chinese officials say the Indian side’s actions infringe upon an 1890 border agreement between China and Britain, India’s colonial ruler until 1947.

India, meanwhile, claims Chinese troops entered and tried to construct a road in Bhutanese territory. Landlocked Bhutan, a small Himalayan nation tucked between the two Asian giants, is hugely dependent on New Delhi and does not have diplomatic relations with Beijing. Bhutan has said the construction of the road on its territory is “a direct violation” of agreements with China.

Although China and Bhutan have been negotiating the precise border for decades without serious incident, Bhutan this time sought help from India, which considers the particular patch of mountain to be a strategically vital territory and sent troops to the plateau to stop the Chinese workers. Both sides have failed to fix the issue since then.

The blame game

On Wednesday, August 2, China released a statement blaming India for the problem and accused New Delhi of “concocting” excuses for sending its troops to the region.

“What India has done not only severely violates China’s territorial sovereignty but also poses a grave challenge to regional peace and stability and the international order, which will not be tolerated by any sovereign state,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang was quoted by the Xinhua news agency as saying.

Beijing also rejected any role for India in the boundary issue between China and Bhutan. “As a third party, India has no right to interfere in or impede the boundary talks between China and Bhutan, still less the right to make territorial claims on Bhutan’s behalf,” the foreign ministry said. “China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate and lawful rights and interests,” it added.

India later responded to the Chinese statement by reiterating that Chinese road construction work in the disputed area “would represent a significant change of status quo” and urging “utmost restraint” by all sides.

“India considers that peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas is an important pre-requisite for smooth development of our bilateral relations with China,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday evening.

While China has repeatedly called on India to withdraw its forces, reports suggest that there hasn’t been any change in the ground situation and the two sides are continuing their standoff.

Indian military expert Nitin Gokhale was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that India was prepared for a long haul. “The decision is to stay resolute on the ground and reasonable in diplomacy,” Gokhale said.

Appearing strong

Both sides have resorted to talks behind the scenes to resolve the problem, but with little apparent progress. Ajit Doval, India’s national security adviser, visited Beijing last week for a BRICS security meeting, and held bilateral talks with China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi, who outranks the foreign minister. But a Chinese government statement on that meeting did not mention the border issue.

“Neither side feels pressure to tone down the dispute, and the political calendar in China limits flexibility on matters involving sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ryan Hass, a foreign policy analyst at Brookings, wrote in a report published by the prominent US-based think tank.

As the Communist Party of China is set to hold a once-every-five-year party congress this autumn, “there is every incentive for Chinese officials to guard against being perceived as ‘weak,'” Hass underlined.

“Similarly, for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has limited political space to unilaterally back down, given concern that such a decision could invite further pressure from China in the future, in addition to undermining the credibility of India’s security commitment to Bhutan,” the expert pointed out.

Observers say the crucial issue for both sides is to appear strong and not lose face, particularly as media outlets in both nations take a jingoistic approach and stir up hyper-nationalistic passions.

The tensions appear to have an impact on the countries’ economic ties as well, with India reportedly seemed poised to reject Chinese firm Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group’s proposed $1.3 billion takeover of Indian drug maker Gland Pharma.

“With time, though, odds favor a peaceful resolution to the standoff. Both sides have accumulated wisdom in dealing with prior standoffs, hold frequent senior-level engagements, and lack a strategic rationale to initiate war over a remote road in the Himalayas,” reckoned Brookings expert Hass.

Power struggle

Deep-seated mutual distrust has long characterized Sino-Indian relations, plagued by the legacy of the 1962 border war, India’s playing host to exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and China’s ever-deepening ties to India’s regional rival Pakistan.

Over the past decade, New Delhi has looked warily at Beijing’s strengthening economic, military and diplomatic muscle, which has let China expand its footprint and clout even in South Asia, a region India views as its strategic backyard.

China, meanwhile, has been concerned at India’s growing closeness with countries like the US and Japan. The mutual suspicions have been compounded by the competing and unresolved territorial claims between the two most populous nations in the world. The disputes have occasionally flared up, leading to minor border skirmishes.

China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, referred to informally by some Chinese as “Southern Tibet.” India, on the other hand, claims sovereignty over 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of the Aksai Chin plateau.

More than a dozen rounds of talks have failed to make substantial progress in the dispute, although there have been relatively few confrontations in recent years.

Is India turning its nuclear focus toward China?

India’s nuclear policy is now believed to be placing a greater emphasis on China instead of focusing on archrival Pakistan. But this is not to be mistaken as a shift in the nation’s nuclear doctrine, say experts

July 14, 2017

by Murali Krishnan (New Delhi)


A recent report by two top American experts that India’s nuclear strategy is targeting China has drawn mixed responses from Indian experts and academics who maintain there is no cause for alarm about the country’s nuclear position despite the changing geopolitical situation.

Published in the July-August issue of the digital journal After Midnight, the article claimed that India is busy developing a missile, which can target all of China from its bases located in southern India.

It also said that while modernizing its atomic arsenal, India has produced around 600 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium, which is sufficient for 150-200 nuclear warheads.

China, India and Pakistan are all pursuing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based nuclear delivery systems.

Like China, India’s nuclear doctrine is based on the no-first-use (NFU) concept backed by a policy of assured massive retaliation.

“China appears to have maintained a measure of ambiguity on whether its ‘no first use’ pledge will be applicable to India. An unambiguous clarification on this issue has to be sought from China,” argues Gopalaswami Parthasarthy – popularly known as G Parthasarthy – a former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan.

Shift in focus

India’s NFU policy, which was adopted in 2003, states that any nuclear attack on the country and its forces anywhere shall result in unmitigated retaliation against the aggressor.

So when the US experts claimed that India’s nuclear modernization program was placing increased emphasis on its future strategic relationship with China, it came as no big surprise.

“I think India’s focus has shifted to China sometime back, which is why India is focusing on acquiring long-range missiles and nuclear missile submarines,” Rajesh Rajagopalan, a professor in international politics specializing in nuclear weapons and disarmament, told DW.

“But possibly not to antagonize China, India has so far not built ICBM-range missiles,” he added, referring to intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which are guided ballistic missiles with a minimum range of 5,500 kilometers primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery. “ICBM development will probably happen now. But I don’t think warhead numbers indicate anything regarding who the target is,” the expert said.

Rajagopalan argued that the number of nuclear warheads cited in the article suggested a dramatic increase and there were no indicators of such a change.

Strained ties

“I think India is fast-tracking its nuclear development program because of China. Yes, we are bullish because fears have shifted and our ballistic missile development program is progressing at a feverish pace,” Happymon Jacob, Associate Professor of Disarmament Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, told DW.

For nearly a month now, Chinese and Indian border troops have confronted each other close to a valley controlled by China that separates India from its close ally Bhutan, and gives China access to the so-called Chicken’s Neck, a thin strip of land that connects India to its remote northeastern regions.

Beijing alleges Indian troops crossed into a region known in China as Donglang, called Doklam in India, early in June and obstructed work on a road on the Himalayan plateau.

“When tensions escalate, this article appears. Look, research work is different from reality. As far back as in May 1998, when we conducted a series of five nuclear bomb test explosions, the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee told then US president Bill Clinton that China was a threat. This is sensationalism, its fundamentals are shaky,” says defense expert Pravin Sawhney, editor of FORCE, a magazine on national security.

Srikanth Kondapalli, a China expert, believes India’s focus in the nuclear arena is moving away from Pakistan toward China but the shift “has not yet happened.”

“This is a speculative report. As part of the India-US nuclear deal, we agreed to place 60 percent of our nuclear plants under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards with the remaining 40 percent left for military purposes. So India has to generate nuclear weapons from these 40 percent assets,” Kondapalli told DW.

Deterrence or arms race?

The report by the US experts states that the two-stage, solid-fuel, rail-mobile Agni-2 missile, which can deliver a nuclear or conventional warhead to targets more than 2,000 kilometers away, is probably targeted at western, central, and southern regions of China.

“Obviously this can only generate ‘minimal’ nuclear deterrence. However, the ‘credible’ portion of India’s nuclear policy suggests that it has to make preparations. Hence, the solid propellant Agni missiles,” adds Kondapalli.

According to the Arms Control Association (ACA), India is estimated to have at least 520 kilograms of plutonium, enough for 100-120 nuclear devices, described as a “credible minimum deterrent.”

By comparison, China has enough fissile material for between 200 and 250 devices.  Unofficial estimates reckon that China currently has 270 nuclear warheads.

India has built its own “triad” of land, sea and air forces, all equipped with nuclear weapons, says the ACA.

“If any nuclear adversary including China attacks India, nuclear weapons are, of course, meant to deter and retaliate. That is why India’s nuclear doctrine recommends triad capability,” Chintamani Mahapatra, an academic, told DW.

India has always promoted itself as a responsible nuclear weapons state and New Delhi has made it evident that nuclear weapons are indeed the weapons of last resort. But observers say the arms race is nevertheless on.






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