TBR News December 18, 2016

Dec 18 2016

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C. December 18, 2016:” The Internet has proven to be the greatest source of information since lunatic Christians burnt down the library of Alexandria. Anything being sought, be it an address or an in-depth analysis of Dead Sea scrolls, is there and is the main reason that the famous Encyclopedia Britannica has gone out of business.

At the same time, because it is open to one and all, the Internet is also a breeding ground for a legion of strange persons with a frantic desire to air their pet theses, themselves and their friends.

We see earnest discussions about the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, , the Sinister Truth about Hurricane Katrina, Tesla Death Rays used to bring down the buildings of the WTC, balanced with other information proving beyone a shadow of a doubt that Russian bombers were used. We also discover the evil plottings of the Illuminiati, a group that has been long gone, or that the Rothschild banking house had taken over the whole world. And from one source, now long  vanished, we discover that Houston was destroyed by a nuclear bomb set off by Jewish radicals or that the Fukishima disaster was really caused by an Israeli submarine, using German-made nuclear torpedos!

Yes, the Internet can entertain as well as inform.

But the fact that the Internet has many independent news sites means the diminution of the print media and the television news stations. Since these are the propaganda control for the oligarchy, there is great distress in board rooms and from them to the halls of Congress. They would like to shut off the Internet so that the stupid, and tax-paying public can only see what they are supposed to and not what might be the truth.

Obama and Cass Sunstein tried to shut down anyone who dared to interfere with the propaganda machinery but they were not successful. Even a furious Hillary and her machinery can’t do it and if they continue to try, there will be very serious public reactions indeed.”

China is a psychological problem

December 5, 2016

by Stephen Kinzer

Boston Globe

Never have Americans faced a foreign policy challenge as complex as the one China now poses. For the first time since we became a world power, we face a rival with a far greater population and, soon, a bigger economy. China has a deep history, a martial tradition, and a growing military. It is not our enemy, but over the coming years and decades, its strategic ambitions will inevitably clash with ours. That clash will shape the 21st century.

The delicacy of the US-China relationship was clearly on view after President-elect Donald Trump’s recent telephone conversation with the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen. The call showed a level of intimacy with Taiwan that violated unwritten protocol. Trump may have been signaling a change in US policy toward China. Perhaps he only wanted to defy the odd diplomatic fiction that independent Taiwan does not exist. Or it was simply a gaffe resulting from ignorance. Whatever the explanation, the episode showed how fully this relationship is now shaped by strategic competition. Big-power politics has returned to the world’s center stage.

China and the United States face looming conflict on a host of issues. With wise diplomacy, many of these differences can be managed. More difficult is the psychological challenge that China’s rise poses to

Americans. Nothing in our modern history or national psyche prepares us for anything but global dominance. Yet China’s share of world power is likely to continue growing while ours declines. Constraints on Chinese action are weakening. Trouble lies ahead if we cannot navigate creatively through these utterly unfamiliar psychic and geopolitical waters.

According to American strategic doctrine, the United States will be in danger if one country comes to dominate a large region of the world. China seems capable of doing that one day. Both our doctrine and our habit of command tell us we must limit its rise. That is a recipe for confrontation.

No war is likely soon. China’s military is far weaker than that of the United States. It is engaged in a long-term buildup that, if unchecked, will substantially increase its offensive power. This, in turn, will draw us — if we continue to insist on policing East Asia — into an escalating counter-buildup. China’s neighbors will feel pressed to take sides. Polarization will increase regional tensions.

The United States began its rise by securing a continental empire, became an overseas empire by subduing weak island nations, and then began projecting power around the world. China might follow the same path. The Chinese, like the Americans, built a giant nation by suppressing natives and expelling outsiders. Now they are starting to push into the seas, as we did more than a century ago. If they secure that foothold, they could take another leaf from our book and use their island dependencies as a springboard to global power.

The recent American election was a mixed blessing for China. Hillary Clinton was a China-basher, but rational and predictable — qualities the Chinese like. Trump is volatile. Still, his election and the carnival campaign that led to it must convince at least some Chinese that our political system is weakening, our moment passing, and our country vulnerable to a historic challenge.

Long-term peace with China requires giving its rise our fullest political and diplomatic focus — and abandoning our self-defeating preoccupation with the Middle East, where the stakes are far lower. If we defer to the reality of China’s growing power, we may be able to shape a stable relationship. Americans are not used to deferring. That is why for us, the challenge of China is psychological as well as political.

Trump aide plays down prospect of upending ‘one China’ policy

December 18, 2016


President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff on Sunday played down the prospect that Trump would revisit Washington’s decades-old “one China” policy, even though he suggested as much a week ago.

Since 1979, the United States has acknowledged Taiwan as part of “one China” but Trump prompted a diplomatic protest from Beijing after he accepted a congratulatory phone call on his election win from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan on Dec. 2.

“We are not suggesting that we’re revisiting ‘one China’ policy right now,” Trump aide Reince Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”

“He is not president right now and he’s respectful to the current president,” Priebus said.

Last Sunday, Trump himself said in an interview on Fox News Sunday: “I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

Political analysts said that Republican Trump’s call with the president of Taiwan and the comments on the “one China” policy could antagonize Beijing.

Trump also inserted himself on Saturday into another sensitive dispute between China and the United States after China on Thursday seized an underwater drone owned by the U.S. military in the South China Sea. Trump called the seizure an “unprecedented act.”

U.S. officials described the seizure as the first of its kind in recent memory. It was taken about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve it, the officials said.

Although China vowed to return the drone to the United States, Trump later tweeted that the U.S. should let China keep it.

Priebus on Sunday defended the comments on the drone, saying he does not believe Trump’s comments were provocative and that “80 percent” of Americans agree it was inappropriate for China to have seized the drone in the first place.

Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the Chinese would be able to retrieve some “pretty valuable” technical information from the drone through a process known as reverse-engineering.

McCain said the Chinese seizure of the drone was a “gross violation” of international law. McCain, a critic of Democratic President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, said the United States was not projecting enough strength in the world and said China’s move reflected that.

“Everybody is taking advantage of it, and hopefully that will change soon,” McCain said.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Julia Harte; editing by Grant McCool)

So What If It Was the Russians?

December 16, 2017

Freeman’s Weekly

This entire episode is a warning of just how rancid the American over-class has become. Is there no one left in the American elite who has some dignity, some class, some measure of perspective? Have they all descended to the level of drunken brawlers?

American elites are rushing to create a constitutional crisis as I write this, building up an immense head of steam (there was an 8,000 word article in the NY Times, fer goodness’ sake), and all for what?

Stop and think for a moment: The Russians allegedly “intervened” in a US election. But what is it they are supposed to have done?

They spilled the truth.

Yup, that was their unfathomable crime… revealing the truth. That’s not exactly a problem, is it? And if it is, what does that say about the aforementioned American overlords?

This is not a minor or ancillary point: The leaked emails were true! And what they revealed should be dinner-table conversation coast to coast. But instead (perhaps this was the deceitful purpose of this), we’re inundated with a new Red Scare. “Look over there, little girl, there are flashing lights.”

Where is the cool head that says something sensible? Perhaps like this: “Listen boys, this isn’t worth tearing the county apart over. We may not like Trump, but he cares about this country in his own way, and he’ll work four years to reach his goals. He’s not going to sell nukes to terrorists, and he’s not out to conquer the world. Let him have his turn.”

Apparently such people can’t survive in rulership these days.

And where is any honest soul saying, “Wow, I’m really glad those emails came out. This Hillary and her team were out of control. And if she was, who else is? We have some serious problems here.”

Has no one actually read the emails? They were damning… horribly damning. And not only to the politicians, but to the entire elite class, including nearly all major media. Does no one care? Is everyone looking at the flashing lights?

And by the way, if the Russians really did hack everyone under the sun, what about all those hundreds of billions that were supposedly spent on “keeping us safe”? Were they simply wasted? Think about this for a minute. If you were a red, white, and blue (or maybe camo) techno-marine, given those aforesaid hundreds of billions of dollars to protect the good ole USA, mightn’t you start by building systems that filtered Russian connections to Washington, DC?

If the Russians really did hack all these people, then the oceans of money thrown at the intel complex since 9/11 were wasted. Yes, I know things aren’t quite as simple as I’m putting them here, but we’re talking about incredible sums of money, and over 15 years! You’d think a few of the basics would be covered by now, wouldn’t you? And if not, were we just suckers? “Keep the yokels scared, and the money never stops.”?

This entire episode is a massive condemnation of American governance, threatening to turn into violent conflict. The people involved (on both sides of the supposed political divide) are not statesmen, are not leaders, are not even properly developed adults. They more resemble dogs fighting over scraps.

This seems an appropriate time for Americans to reconsider their devotion to this group.

Assange: Leaks Not from Russia, Insider Says Source Is Democratic Whistleblower

December 16, 2016

by Nick Bernabe

the antimedia.com

In an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said plainly that Russia was not the source of the 2016 election leaks from the DNC and other individual Democratic figures.

“Our source is not the Russian government,” Assange told Hannity.

“So in other words, let me be clear,” Hannity asked, “Russia did not give you the Podesta documents or anything from the DNC?”

“That’s correct,” Assange responded.

The interview comes at a time when U.S. mainstream media has come to a consensus — albeit without presenting any hard evidence — that Russia is not only behind the leaks that harmed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, but that Vladimir Putin personally intended the leaks to help elect Donald Trump.

These claims, first asserted by anonymous CIA and intelligence officials speaking to the Washington Post and the New York Times, have since been challenged by other intelligence officials, the FBI, and journalists.

Adding further intrigue to the mystery that surrounds the source of the leaks is former British ambassador and close associate of WikiLeaks, Craig Murray, who says the leaks actually came from a whistleblower within the Democratic Party.

“Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,” Murray reportedly told the Daily Mail on Tuesday. “The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.”

Murray claimed to have personally secured the leaks from an intermediary in a Washington D.C. wooded area near American University and said the whistleblower’s motivation for leaking the information was due to “disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.”

This is not the first time Craig Murray has made these assertions. In early November, Murray told Sputnik (Russian state-funded media) in an audio interview:

“The source of these emails and leaks has nothing to do with Russia at all. I discovered what the source was when I attended the Sam Adam’s whistleblower award in Washington. The source of these emails comes from within official circles in Washington D.C. You should look to Washington, not to Moscow.”

This leads us to the question: Who is this potential insider that leaked the information to WikiLeaks? Nobody really knows, but many conspiracy theorists have speculated that it could have been DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was murdered in Washington D.C. on July 10th, 2016. This speculation was spurred by an interview Julian Assange gave with Dutch TV in August, which seemed to hint at Rich being the source.

Adding fuel to this theory was WikiLeaks itself, which put out a $20,000 reward for information surrounding Seth Rich’s murder shortly after his death.

While the mystery surrounding who leaked the data on Democratic party figures remains unsolved — and nobody has disputed the fact that governments maliciously hack each other for political reasons — it’s clear that the only people with knowledge of the leaks to step forward publicly are disputing the media’s narrative that Russia hacked the election to benefit Donald Trump.

Is the United States facing a coup d’etat?

December 18, 2016

by Anne Machon;


I fear that soon the curtain will finally be brought down on the puppet show that passes for democracy in America, and those who for decades have been pulling the strings will come raging into the light, red in tooth and claw.

The illusion that the people really have a choice of president every four years will be irreparably shattered.

The old British truism that “it does not matter whom you vote for, the government always gets in” can also be applied to the US presidency – usually all candidates are approved and massively funded by the modern incarnation of Eisenhower’s infamous “military-industrial complex” and then assiduously supported by cheerleaders in the old corporate media, leaving the electorate with damn little meaningful choice.

This has been true from Reagan to Bush the First, from Clinton the First to Bush the Second and then on to Obama (the First?). It was supposed to have been true in the most recent election, where the elite’s choice pointed towards a contest between Bush the Third or Clinton the Second, either one of whom would have worked to the interests of Wall Street and continued the increasingly dangerous, interventionist, and hawkish global US foreign policy.

As a little aside, since when did the USA fall for the concept of inherited political power, a de facto new monarchy? But then an oxymoronic billionaire “man of the people” crow-barred his way into the contest and slashed all the strings of puppetry and privilege. Enter, stage left, the bullish, seemingly bigoted, and bemusingly successful Donald Trump.

As a Brit, currently cut adrift in a pre-Brexit Europe, I hold no brief for the dangers he may or may not pose to the much-vaunted American way of life in the good ol’ homeland. However, as I have stated before, with The Donald’s apparent determination to follow a strategy of US isolationism, to cut a deal in Syria, and effect a rapprochement with Russia, the wider world may just have dodged a nuclear bullet or at least an era of unending war.

Plus, the American people appear to have wanted a change, any change, from the hereditary privilege of the Washington elite. That change could well have come from another outsider, Bernie Sanders, if he had been given a fair chance. However, as we know from the leaked Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Podesta emails, the Democratic Party would stop at nothing to ensure the anointing of the chosen one – Clinton the Second.

So why do I think that there may be a coup d’etat looming in America’s very near future?

Trump was elected on the promise of “draining the swamp” of the Washington political and corporate elites – this is deeply threatening to the vested interests, not least the CIA, whose daily briefings have been spurned by Trump, thereby rupturing the co-dependent relationship between the president and the politically compromised intelligence agencies that has existed since 9/11 and which has caused so much global harm, starting with the ill-informed and illegal rush to war in Iraq in 2003. I shall return to the CIA later.

The American elite is facing the inauguration of a self-professed outsider who is threatening all their easily-bought privileges, one who seems more interested in cutting deals with countries than bombing them. Nor do they like his nominees to high office, especially that of Rex Tillerson, the current CEO of ExxonMobil, to the post of Secretary of State – after all, he has a track record of cutting deals too and with the Russians no less. Such a person as the top US diplomat might, gasp, help to bring to a close the new not-so-Cold War that is so important to the hawkish warmongers and their masters in the thriving US arms and security industry.

Therefore, once Trump had been declared the official Republican nominee, the establishment push-back was all too predictable. The story of “Russian hacking” was initially trailed merely as media bait to divert the press from the real story – Hillary Clinton’s potentially illegal use of a private web server while acting as Secretary of State.

Then in November WikiLeaks began to release even more damaging emails from the DNC and the Podesta files, which demonstrated quite how the Democrats had stitched up the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. The Democrats immediately cried foul – it must indeed be the Russians hacking their files and handing the information to WikiLeaks (now cast as a ‘Russian stooge’ – a move extremely useful in America’s ongoing attempts to frame the prosecution of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange as “espionage”, even though he is an Australian publisher stuck in Europe).

Unusually, Assange went on the record to say the emails Wikileaks published did not come from the Russians: the whistle-blowing site traditionally refuses to discuss its sources.

Then former UK Ambassador and WikiLeaks ally, Craig Murray, went public by saying that, while he was in Washington earlier this year, he was given files that were then published on WikiLeaks. His view is that the information came from a Democrat whistleblower with legal access – it was a leak by an insider, not a hack by an outsider.

Also earlier this week a group of former senior US intelligence officials, including the former Technical Director of the NSA, wrote an open letter to Congress explaining that, if indeed the Russians had hacked the DNC, the NSA would have been able to provide evidence to to prove this. Yet, at such a time of potential constitutional crisis, none has been forthcoming, either directly or via the CIA, even in the face of calls for the usual congressional hearings and special investigations.

So there is apparently no substantive evidence of Russian hacking during the election. However, there does appear to be some evidence around the issue of Clinton’s illegal server.

Eleven days before the American election the Director of the FBI, in the wake of the Anthony Weiner sexting case, reopened the investigation into the Clinton server scandal and published the fact, as he said, in the national interest. This caused howls of rage from the Democrats, and again “Russian hacking” was hyped in the media, thereby easily conflating the concept of the illegal server, the alleged hacks, the Russians, into one big lump of geek-speak that most people would not have the will to disentangle. Two days before the election, James Comey backed down, but the hacking seed had germinated.

Now it is coming into bloom – last week the CIA re-entered the fray, with reports about Russian hacking leaked to both the Washington Post and the New York Times. Since then, nameless “intelligence sources” and grandstanding politicians have been falling over themselves to speak to this subject, but it all remains very evidence-lite.

Plus there is apparently by no means a consensus amongst all seventeen of the US intelligence agencies with regards to the CIA’s claims. Indeed, until recently the FBI has directly contradicted them, and the FBI is in the business of pulling together evidence to prosecute a case under law.

That, now, is all changing. Only recently it was reported that the FBI is now supporting the CIA’s “beliefs”. I was puzzled about this volte face until I read this prominent op-ed by Clinton campaign manager, John Podesta, in the Washington Post where, in addition to blaming the Russians for “hacking the election” (note, no longer just the DNC emails and his own), he is attacking the FBI and its head, James Comey, and suggesting that the organisation is broken and “what’s broken in the FBI must be fixed and quickly”. Perhaps, for whatever reason, Comey can see the overturning of the election result as a real possibility now and is desperately rowing back.

In parallel, it seems that the CIA is fearful of retaliation if, against all their endeavors, Donald Trump does indeed get sworn in as the 45th president of the USA on 20th January next year. That goes some way to explaining why they are challenging the election result by pushing this line that the Russians “hacked the election”, the new headline that has morphed through the global MSM over the last couple of days from belief to established fact, with no evidence produced.

The CIA claims that Russian “hackers” were delving around in the emails of both the Democratic National Congress as well as the Republican equivalent for months before the November election. And yet only the Democrat emails were, the CIA asserts, passed on to WikiLeaks and thereby published to order to sway the election result. Where is the proof? They have produced no evidence, in the face of of expert testimony from former senior intelligence officers as well as direct assertions from WikiLeaks about the source of the DNC leaks. Indeed, the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is refusing to brief the Congressional intelligence committees, despite repeated requests from the members.

That has not stopped the global mainstream media from whipping up an imagined new truth: that the Russians “hacked the election”. And the media frenzy has grown exponentially over the last few days.

This is why I fear an American coup d’etat, possibly starting as soon as 19th December, the date when the Electoral College meets to ratify the election of Trump. All this Cold-War, anti-Russian hysteria is being used as a stick to beat the Electoral College members into ignoring their duty and vote in the way directed by the majority of the people of their state whom they are pledged to represent. Plus, who knows what juicy carrots may also have been offered?

If enough prove faithless to the electorate, then the election result will be overturned and Clinton the Second could ascend to the American throne. Even if the Electoral College does its sworn duty to the people, I fear that the CIA anti-Trump campaign may now have gathered so much momentum that the establishment may still find a way, any way possible, to stop Trump’s inauguration as president – after all we still have five weeks to get through before 20th January.

Trump is a known unknown and retains potential possibilities intriguing to the wider world. However, if the Electoral College starts a coup d’etat on Monday and against all constitutional norms the coronation of Clinton proceeds, we know all too well what lies ahead: war.

Fatal Corrections

Inside the Deadly Mississippi Riot That Pushed the Justice Department to Rein In Private Prisons

December 17, 2016

by Janosch Delcker

The Intercept

For nearly two decades, the Bureau of Prisons has contracted with a handful of private companies to incarcerate thousands of non-U.S. citizens serving time for low-level federal offenses. Held in a dozen so-called “criminal alien requirement” prisons largely concentrated in remote, rural areas, the inmates in private custody are, for the most part, locked up for immigration offenses or drug violations.

CAR facilities have been the target of sustained criticism from advocacy organizations, which argue that their existence reflects a two-tiered federal prison system that outsources a select population of inmates to contractors with a track record of abuse and neglect. In August, it seemed that years of pressure had finally paid off, when the Justice Department announced it would begin phasing out private prisons.

Under the DOJ directive, the facilities — which “do not maintain the same level of safety and security” as their BOP-run counterparts, according to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates — would see their contracts reduced or allowed to expire without renewal and the inmates in their custody transferred.

Within hours of the announcement, the stocks of industry heavyweights Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group plummeted more than 35 percent. The Department of Homeland Security pledged to undertake a review of its own reliance on for-profit detention centers, and CCA and GEO shareholders filed class-action lawsuits accusing the companies of false or misleading statements about the safety of their facilities. In October, CCA embarked on a re-branding campaign, changing its name to CoreCivic.

While advocates applauded the DOJ memo as a long-overdue step in the right direction, the momentum was short-lived.

On November 9, as it became clear that Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton in the race for the presidency, Fortune declared private prisons “the biggest (stock market) winner in Trump’s victory,” noting a 49 percent surge in CCA stock. In the weeks that followed, Trump would tap Jeff Sessions as his choice for attorney general. Not only could Sessions, a famously hardline figure on issues of immigration and criminal justice, undo the DOJ’s directive, but the plans promoted by Trump and his advisers threaten to drastically increase the number of people held by companies that have repeatedly demonstrated the conflict of profit motive when it comes to depriving people of physical liberty.

“I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons,” Trump said on the campaign trail earlier this year. “It seems to work a lot better.”

As the policies of the president-elect come into focus, it’s worth revisiting one of the incidents that prompted the DOJ’s resolve to cut ties with the industry in the first place — a deadly clash at a low-security, CCA-run facility on the outskirts of Natchez, Mississippi, that reflects how private prisons not only endanger inmates, but can also force low-wage workers from economically depressed communities into perilous circumstances.

In May 2012, inmates at Adams County Correctional Center staged a protest over a litany of grievances, including claims that men had died in custody as a result of medical negligence. Though CCA officials were forewarned that dire conditions had bred a sense of desperation in the prison, they failed to prevent the escalation that followed.

May 20, 2012, was supposed to be Deborah Temple’s last day at work before a long-awaited vacation. A resolute 48-year-old with a blond Jane Fonda haircut, Temple had worked in what she calls “men’s jobs” all her life. When the plywood mill that employed her for more than 15 years closed down, she heard rumors about a prison being built next to the highway leading out of Natchez.

By 2009, construction of the multimillion-dollar complex was complete, and CCA secured a federal contract to house inmates at the facility. “A signature on the dotted line hundreds of miles away Wednesday makes today a new day for Adams County,” cheered a local newspaper, the Natchez Democrat, noting the deal would “bring more than $1.2 million in property taxes, $1.8 million in utilities, and 400 jobs to the Natchez area.”

CCA, now CoreCivic, runs three of the country’s CAR prisons; seven are run by the GEO Group and another two by Management and Training Corp. Like many of the isolated areas where CAR prisons operate, Adams County had a poverty rate about twice the national average. When CCA hosted its job fair in Natchez, more than 3,000 people lined up for 409 jobs.

“We thought it was a federal prison … and we were under the impression that they would pay like $20 an hour,” Temple said when we met last year, in the closed bar of a casino by the Mississippi River. She was hired as a correctional officer in 2010, starting at $12.60 an hour. “Pretty good for here,” she told me. Later, she was promoted to sergeant.

By 2011, the Adams prison held more than 2,500 inmates, the majority of them from Mexico. About a third of the men were serving time for immigration offenses, such as unlawful re-entry, and 99 percent would be deported when they completed their sentence.

Until relatively recently, migrants detained at the U.S. border could often voluntarily return to their home countries without penalty. In the mid-2000s, however, federal programs like Operation Streamline ramped up criminal prosecution of unlawful border crossing, saddling people with jail or prison time prior to deportation. Between 2005 and 2013, prosecution of border offenses tripled; last year, improper entry and re-entry made up 49 percent of all federal prosecutions.

According to federal investigations into the Adams riot, a group of Mexican inmates known as the Paisas, or “countrymen,” exercised considerable influence inside the facility, where only a fraction of the employees spoke Spanish. If inmates had complaints, they would consult with their Paisa representatives, who conveyed their concerns to prison management. In the weeks leading up to May 20, tensions had apparently risen within the group. “The Paisas felt their leadership was ineffective at communicating their grievances to prison officials since their complaints had gone unaddressed for so long,” stated an FBI affidavit later filed in cases related to the incident.

The Intercept reached out to former Adams inmates who are now serving time on charges of rioting in a federal correctional facility. Responding in letters in Spanish, several described the unrest as primarily the result of conditions they felt had become increasingly dangerous and intolerable, including medical neglect, excessive use of segregation, spoiled food, a lack of interpreters, and mistreatment by staff. The Intercept is not naming the inmates who responded because of concerns about possible retaliation in their present facilities.

“The inmates tried, though no one paid attention, to discuss the poor nutrition, with food that had already expired and medical care that was scarce and so bad prisoners were getting worse and worse,” one of the men wrote. He described COs wielding time in the prison’s “special housing unit” as a threat against inmates who spoke out or as punishment for minor disciplinary infractions: “Whenever anyone complained, officers beat him and put him into segregation, the SHU, and submitted a report it had happened because of disobedience or lack of respect for an officer.”

Another former Adams inmate complained of officers using slurs like “wetback” and said inmates had died in custody because of medical malpractice. “I understand that we are paying for our mistakes, but this doesn’t mean that we cease to be human beings,” he wrote. “Here they want to treat us as animals simply for being foreigners.”

“I don’t understand why they separate us from the rest of the prisoners who are citizens of this country,” a third inmate wrote in a letter. “If we commit the same crimes and are judged under the same laws, I believe it would be just if they did not make the distinction of putting us in different prisons.”

“At our BOP-contracted facilities, every person is subject to the same rules and disciplinary procedures, which conform to BOP policy,” CCA spokesperson Jonathan Burns wrote in an email to The Intercept. Responding to the allegations, he noted that CCA “employs a robust grievance process, including an available toll-free number, through which inmates can share any concerns or complaints. We work to address these claims quickly and appropriately.”

Burns added that the company “is dedicated to providing consistent, high-quality healthcare to the individuals entrusted in our care” and “meals in CCA facilities meet or exceed required nutritional standards.”

Angélica Moreno’s brother was imprisoned at Adams, and in her view, the facility’s failure to address his deteriorating health contributed to his death. Though her brother, Juan Villanueva, was born in Mexico, he grew up in Los Angeles, where the family had moved when he was 4 years old.

In 2008, Villanueva was deported back to Mexico, a country with which he had limited familiarity. It wasn’t long before he set out to return to Los Angeles. “He was lonely,” Moreno explained. “The rest of our family is all [U.S.] citizens.”

Villanueva was arrested by a Border Patrol officer near San Diego and pleaded guilty to being a “deported alien found in the United States.” He was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison, and though he requested placement in California, the BOP sent him to the privately operated facility in Mississippi.

During his time there, Villanueva called his mother and told her he was suffering from shortness of breath. He was denied access to a physician, according to Moreno, who says a prison nurse advised her brother he had the flu.

“My mom said, ‘You should go to the doctor,’” Moreno told The Intercept. “And he said, ‘Mom, I have been going, but they just give me pain medication for the cold. But this is not just a cold, this is something else, I don’t feel good.’ So my mom was telling him, ‘Juan, please go tell them again.’”

“I’ve been going, and they don’t care,” Moreno remembers her brother insisting. “They say I am not the only one sick in there.” Only after Villanueva started coughing up blood, Moreno said, was he finally taken to see a doctor in Natchez.

Moreno’s account of the lapses in her brother’s care is supported by BOP monitoring records obtained by Nation journalist Seth Freed Wessler. Over a four-month period, Villanueva went to the prison’s clinic on six different occasions, The Nation reported, but was never granted access to a doctor. His weight dropped 25 pounds during his imprisonment. Even after nurses recorded Villanueva “vomiting up copious amounts of blood,” an order was put in for anti-nausea medication and days passed before he was finally taken to the hospital.

Villanueva had been suffering from lung cancer, which eventually spread to his brain.

A few days before the May 2012 uprising, he was transferred out of Adams to a BOP medical facility in North Carolina. His family members flew out to care for him, Moreno said, but they were prohibited from staying with him overnight in the facility. When her brother died, early on the morning of July 11, 2012, she was notified when the medical prison called their hotel room. “The cause of death was determined to be non-small cell lung cancer with brain metastasis,” the warden confirmed in a court filing.

“It just went on and on and on,” Moreno said of the delays in her brother’s care, “until he was really sick.”

Burns, the CCA spokesperson, declined to comment on Villanueva’s case. “Medical privacy laws and other conditions prohibit us from addressing specific inmates’ medical conditions,” he wrote in an email, adding:

The Adams County Correctional Center employs a wide range of medical professionals including doctors, nurses, laboratory staff, dentists and mental health professionals who see around 350 patients on an average day. As was the case in 2012, the medical department is fully equipped for routine visits and medical emergencies. The facility’s sick call system continues to be open to all inmates who are not feeling well and is conducted on a daily basis, similar to a walk-in clinic.

Burns would not provide information on how many doctors the prison employed. “CCA does not disclose specific staffing patterns due to competitive and secure operational concerns,” he told The Intercept.

On May 19, the day before the riot, the Adams assistant chief of security, John Vanek, appears to have received information from an inmate informant about plans being orchestrated to bring the prisoners’ complaints before the warden.

“Its more serious than you think,” the informant wrote in a text message reviewed by The Intercept. “Tomorrow will be 2 meetings at 1200 pm all heads of states with his group, to [listen] to demands. At 6pm all states will meet at big [rec yard] who don’t go will be punish we talk about 1600 inmates.”

The informant later forwarded the exchange to Alex Friedmann, the managing editor of Prison Legal News and associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center, who provided the messages to The Intercept. Friedmann began work as an advocate for prisoners’ rights after serving time in a CCA facility in the 1990s. The messages are also referenced in two federal investigations into the riot, one conducted by the BOP and the other by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

“They will present to the warden all the changes to be make and if not [comply] will burn the place down,” the informant’s text message continued. “I was in 3 meetings tonight and trust me is The real deal. I saw the paper with all demands and goes from medical, kitchen food, programs recreations and laundry. The new rep [said] warden dont accept the demands he will order all workers to stop. Will be a pacific demonstration but if the staff [interfere] will get ugly. Get ready is serious.”

The BOP and OSHA reports indicate that details of the plan were passed along the same night to CCA officials. According to the OSHA investigation, on the night of May 19, the assistant chief of security texted the prison’s warden, Vance Laughlin, warning of a mandatory meeting the inmates had planned for the following day. The BOP after-action report notes that “the administration learned approximately 1,700 Mexican national inmates planned to conduct a group meeting the morning of May 20.”

The informant’s messages also suggested that inmates had compiled a “black list” of staff they no longer wanted to work at the Adams facility, including Catlin Carithers, a 24-year-old correctional officer. FBI affidavits related to the incident mention the existence of the alleged list, though they do not include Carithers by name. In legal filings, CCA acknowledged only that “an inmate told a facility employee that it was serious” and that “3 unnamed COs were on a black list and any officer that disrespected an inmate would be punished.”

When Warden Laughlin arrived on the morning of May 20, he spoke to several inmate reps but did not find indicators that “a prison disturbance was brewing,” according to the OSHA investigation. Around lunchtime, Carithers was asked to report to the facility, though he had not been scheduled to work that day.

For lunch that Sunday, typically called “chow,” the kitchen served chicken. “Chicken is usually a crazy day, everyone wants chicken,” Temple recalled. However, “chow went pretty smooth.” Afterward, she went out to the parking lot to smoke a cigarette. Inside, a procedure called “open move” began, when inmates could move freely between their housing units, the recreation yards, and the gym. Upon entering the yards, the men broke into groups and began holding meetings.

Out in the parking lot, Temple heard the voice of a colleague, Peggy Stevens, on her radio. “We had just gotten through chow,” Stevens told The Intercept, when she noticed a group of inmates escorting one of the old Paisa reps, apparently against his will. “I asked him what he was doing, and he said, ‘They’re making me go to SHU,’” Stevens said. According to the BOP after-action report, Paisa members believed the reps had alerted the administration of their plans and were trying to remove them from the yard. Stevens called Central Control and asked the security systems operators to close the internal gates along the facility’s central corridor, known as Main Street. When Temple returned from the parking lot, she found Main Street crowded with men, many wearing sunglasses or head wraps in an attempt to disguise their identity.

Sometime later, a large group of inmates made their way to a gate below the building that housed Central Control, where they demanded to speak to Warden Laughlin. They did not comply with orders to disperse echoing over the intercom system.

Though Temple had not been trained to respond to high-risk situations, she said, she joined a member of CCA’s “special operations response team,” or SORT, on the roof of the Central Control building. Up there, she had a view of the prison grounds. It was around 2:30 p.m., according to OSHA, when Carithers arrived at the facility. He joined Temple on the roof, while their colleague ducked inside to change into his tactical gear. “Don’t let Cat go crazy, play gung ho,” Temple recalled the SORT member saying before leaving.

As the temperature climbed to 88 degrees, Carithers, who had also received SORT training, opened a bag and showed Temple different types of tear gas grenades. They put on gas masks.

Though accounts differ on what prompted the order to deploy tear gas, once the officers on the rooftops began using gas against the crowd below, the tenor of the protest changed. “After the deployment of tear gas is when the disturbance became violent,” the OSHA investigation stated. Temple had the same recollection. “That’s when it started going crazy.”

In letters to The Intercept, inmates convicted of participating in the riot accused administrators of escalating the situation by giving the order to deploy tear gas. “It was the officials who initiated the dispute, attacking prisoners on orders from the captain. That’s when the population rebelled,” wrote one man. “The real culprits were the administration who did not give importance to the complaints and suggestions of prisoners, creating a critical situation for both inmates and officers.”

On the roof, Temple realized the tear gas wasn’t doing much good. Men on the ground were throwing the canisters back toward them, along with stones, soda cans, and kitchen trays. “Cat looks like the guy from the Matrix,” she thought as she watched Carithers dodge projectiles. Then, she remembers, she saw a head come into view off the edge of the building. The FBI later concluded that inmates had piled up lunch carts from the dining hall and used them to reach the roof.

“The next thing I knew was there were two inmates standing in front of us,” Temple said. One man, holding a boat paddle the kitchen staff used to stir food, told her to tell management “to give us what we want” and nobody would get hurt, Temple recalled. Before she could reply, the second man started to hit her with an industrial buffet pan. She said she tried to defend herself, but the younger man outmuscled her. Temple blacked out, collapsing onto a grating on the roof.

Rebecca Scott and her husband, Robert Scott, both correctional officers, watched the fight unfolding above them. They were hunkered down with a third officer in a “safe zone” off Main Street, a cage into which employees can retreat when they feel unsafe. According to the FBI, one of the inmates on the roof had thrown down a set of keys and other equipment. “We got to get out of here,” Rebecca remembers thinking.

They unlocked the cage and had to use a hole under the fence to try to get to one of the housing units along Main Street. “Central, please let us in, please let us in,” Rebecca remembers screaming. But the gate remained shut. “On the radio, they said, ‘We can’t open the gate,’” she told me.

The next thing she remembers was her husband lying on the ground, his head bleeding. Later, the FBI showed the Scotts a video recorded by a nearby security camera. According to Robert, a group of inmates who gained access to the area with a key hit him with a broom handle, a mop handle, and a commercial cookie sheet. While Rebecca tried to defend her husband, the attackers broke three of Robert’s ribs and fractured his skull. “It seemed like forever,” he told me.

Peggy Stevens, who had been stationed with another CO on the roof of a housing unit when the chaos broke out, was among several officers held hostage during the disturbance. She was taken to a recreation yard, where Stevens said that inmates instructed her to relay messages over her radio to prison management. She emphasized numerous times during our interview that there were inmates who protected her during this time. Indeed, according to OSHA, “several of the officers told stories of being protected from harm from other inmates by inmates during the disturbance.”

“They said the warden wouldn’t listen to them. Their complaints were mainly about medical and the food,” Stevens recalled. “They said the warden had promised to meet with them over and over and he wouldn’t meet with them. That’s what they said: Maybe the warden would listen now.”

When Temple regained consciousness, her gas mask had been pulled off and she was lying on the roof of the prison. Her nose was broken, the skin around her eyes swollen. Tear gas filled the air around her. She pulled up the shirt of her uniform and used the fabric to cover her nose and mouth.

To her right, Temple could see Carithers, lying with his head facedown.

“Catlin,” she remembers calling out. “Just lift your hand up if you can hear me!”

No response.

“Just tell me something!”

Carithers didn’t move.

Temple’s keys and radio were gone. The inmates must have taken them, she thought, but they had overlooked the phone in her pocket. She called Central Control and told them Carithers wasn’t responding — someone had to get them off the roof. In the late afternoon Mississippi heat, she started praying.

Around 5 p.m., a reporter for a Jackson TV station received a call from a man who said he was an inmate at the Adams facility. He sent her cellphone photos from inside the prison gates. “They always beat us. We just pay them back,” the TV station reported him saying. “We’re trying to get better food, medical (care), programs, clothes, and we’re trying to get some respect from the officers and lieutenants.”

Around the same time, Temple and Carithers were extracted from the roof of the Central Control building, according to the BOP report. Temple recalled the sound of helicopters in the distance, then a large shadow that blocked the light. She recognized the voice of a co-worker. “Cat is hurt real bad,” she said he told her. “We have to get you down.” After Temple was transferred to an ambulance, she overheard someone say that Carithers wasn’t going to make it.

A few miles farther north, Josey Carithers, Catlin’s younger brother, got a call on his cellphone. It was Catlin’s fiancée, who was frantic. She’d heard from an acquaintance there had been a riot at the prison and Catlin was hurt. Josey called the two hospitals he knew in Natchez. His brother wasn’t at the first; when he reached the receptionist at the second, she told him it’d be best if the whole family came in. Catlin had died of blunt force trauma.

“All through these years, me and my friends at the bus stop … we would talk about somebody losing a child and you just don’t know how they can deal with it,” Brenda Carithers, the brothers’ mother, told me. “I have always said, I would probably either kill myself or go to the nuthouse. … But by the grace of God we’ve gotten through it.”

In a wrongful death lawsuit later filed against CCA, the Carithers family argued that the company “maintained a less than adequate staff,” “was underequipped,” “did not properly train its officers,” and “created a dangerous atmosphere for the correction officers by depriving the inmates of basic needs and treating them inhumanely.” A district court judge dismissed the claim under Mississippi’s Workers’ Compensation Act, which immunizes employers against allegations of recklessness and negligence.

Temple believes Carithers died saving her life. “That’s the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with,” she told me. She went to the hearings of some of the men involved in the riot, which ultimately left some 20 employees and prisoners injured. “I don’t have any pity,” she said. “I think they should get the harshest sentence they can get. But I am not the judge. God is the judge of all evil, so I’ll let him handle it.”

Two men eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges, and a third pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Many others were convicted on charges of rioting in a federal correctional facility.

Early last year, I sat with Robert and Rebecca Scott at the kitchen table in their trailer, under two crucifixes and a framed drawing of Jesus. The right half of Robert’s face was paralyzed; he said his skull fracture went undiagnosed for more than a year.

“They complained about chow all the time,” he said of the inmates at the Adams facility. “But we had no control over that. We had no control over medical.” The Scotts believe the prison could have prevented what happened. “If they actually cared anything about us and our safety and all they would have locked it down,” Rebecca said.

Early on the morning of May 21, after the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s special operations group joined CCA’s SORT to storm the facility, Adams was placed on lockdown, which wouldn’t be lifted for another three months.

Four days later, John Vanek, the assistant chief of security, received a message from his informant inside the prison. “Why you don’t hear me on friday night when I tell you that situation are no good?” the man asked. “Saturday night I send you a very serious and disturbe email, and I [expect] by that that you have the swat ready and all in place.”

“I [said] to you, all they want is talk to the warden to [listen] to they request to help people that are very sick and can’t get treatment,” he continued. “All it takes is to [listen] to them and have a calm and pacific talk, but no you closed the yard and send exactly who I [said] are on the hit list to start the mess.”

In the BOP’s after-action report, officials offered similar admonishment of CCA’s apparent disregard for warning signs inside the facility. “The specific disturbance can be directly attributed to actions taken by the administration leading up to the event,” the report’s authors concluded.

“ACC [Adams County Correctional Center] administration did not grasp the severity and degree of the Mexican national inmates’ intent to orchestrate a meeting with approximately 1,700 Mexican national inmates and to escalate the situation to include violence toward staff if their demands were not met,” the report continued. “Had the ACC administration understood the inmates’ intentions, a preventative lock down could have been initiated.”

When asked about attempts by prisoners to raise their concerns with the warden, CCA spokesperson Jonathan Burns responded:

Responsibility for the 2012 disturbance at Adams County Correctional Center lies solely with the inmates who instigated and participated in this disturbance. CCA professionals along with state and local law enforcement responded bravely and maintained public safety, which was never threatened during the disturbance.

Judith Greene, the director of Justice Strategies, a nonprofit research organization focused on criminal justice and immigration policy, offered a different perspective. “When prisoners are not getting proper medical care, and when they die, what would you expect to happen next?” she said. “Prisoners have only one way of drawing attention to these kinds of severe problems, which is uprisings.”

Villanueva was not the only prisoner to receive inadequate medical care at the Adams facility. In 2011, the year before the riot, two other Adams inmates died in the wake of substandard care, according to The Nation. Between 2007 and 2015, the magazine reported, BOP monitors recorded the deaths of 34 inmates who had received deficient medical treatment at CAR prisons — 14 occurred at facilities operated by CCA.

Like Adams, other CAR prisons have erupted in protest over poor medical services. In 2008 and 2009, men imprisoned at Reeves County Detention Center in Texas set fire to the facility after an epileptic inmate suffered a fatal seizure in an isolation cell. In 2011, inmates at Big Spring Correctional Center attacked employees, reportedly distressed over their response to a medical emergency that resulted in an inmate’s death. And in 2015, prisoners staged a two-day riot at Texas’s Willacy County Correctional Center to protest medical neglect, resulting in the prison’s closure.

According to Greene, medical services and staffing are the two primary areas where private prison companies tend to cut corners, because that is “where they can squeeze money for themselves and their shareholders out of the contract.”

“These prisons are chronically understaffed,” she noted, describing high turnover and subsequent failure on the part of companies to fill open positions. “Both of those problems lead to more violence in the prisons, more contraband in the prisons, more escapes. All kinds of operational problems that go into the staffing scheme.”

Staffing was a common grievance among the former Adams correctional officers I interviewed. “We were working so short-handed,” Peggy Stevens said. “It was pretty bad. Because people were quitting left and right, you know — just not satisfied and getting screwed around.”

Robert Scott described CCA’s efforts to present a picture of professionalism when the time came for BOP inspections. “Audits: That’s when you could do all the overtime you wanted. They wanted to wax the floor, paint everything on the outside and on the inside,” he said. “That was the only time that this prison ran with any security personnel in place.”

While several Adams COs assigned to work the day of the riot had called out on unscheduled leave, according to OSHA, CCA met its minimum staffing requirements, with 43 security staff on shift duty and 2,537 inmates.

This past November, following the Justice Department’s announcement that it would wind down private prisons, the Department of Homeland Security advisory council subcommittee convened to assess the agency’s reliance on privately run detention centers released its findings. Sixty-five percent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees are held in for-profit facilities, largely operated by the same cast of corporations responsible for CAR prisons.

In the lead-up to the report, rights groups submitted dozens of declarations from immigrants held in for-profit facilities across the country. While ICE detainees are not held for punitive reasons — they are awaiting the outcome of civil immigration proceedings and include asylum seekers and families with children — the declarations reflected similar patterns of neglect and lack of accountability described by inmates and staff at Adams.

While the DHS advisory council subcommittee recognized the concerns raised, its report was premised on the assumption that “fiscal considerations, combined with the need for realistic capacity to handle sudden increases in detention, indicate that DHS’s use of private for-profit detention will continue.” The broader DHS advisory council actually rejected this conclusion, voting to move away from private detention, but as is the case for federal private prisons, efforts toward more publicly operated models have an uncertain future. Immediately deporting 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants, as Trump has promised to do upon taking office, would require a massive expansion of what is currently a strained and inhumane detention apparatus. Already, in the months since the Justice Department’s memo, news has emerged of two CCA/CoreCivic facilities closed by the BOP that have sought new contracts with ICE to hold immigrant detainees.

The one-lane road that leads to the house where Catlin Carithers grew up meanders through hills overgrown with pine trees. It is lined with trailers, many of them deserted, and small Baptist churches.

When I pulled up the driveway, a low winter sun cast shadows across a pond next to the house. Six cars, some decades old, were scattered across the yard. Josey Carithers was living in a trailer on the property; inside, I sat around a table with him and his parents.

His father, Hugh Carithers, told family stories: how Catlin “never met a stranger,” how he accidentally set his lawnmower on fire; how he adopted a dog Hugh found in the woods (“must be half-coyote”).

Unlike his brother, Josey is reserved. Born 10 months apart, the two were close growing up; they attended school in a neighboring county and had only each other for company. After Catlin’s death, Josey handled the funeral arrangements and tried to take care of his parents.

A short drive from the house, we visited the graveyard where Catlin was buried. The door to the white chapel was bolted; the church had closed down weekly service because there weren’t enough donations to keep it running. At the far end of the cemetery, I could see a tall marble headstone.

“They paid for his funeral expenses, which took a lot of the burden off of us,” Hugh said of CCA. The company also held a memorial inside the prison. A band made up of employees played and Damon Hininger, CCA’s president and CEO, flew in from Tennessee.

About a month after Catlin’s death, a Facebook user posted to the company’s page, “What is CCA doing for Correction Officer Catlin Carithers Family?” CCA responded quickly, posting a statement within a few hours. “We have been in constant contact with his family. We are assisting them in every way that we can.”

“They said they would call and be in touch,” Josey said, “but after we buried him, there was no contact.”

The Root of the Matter

December 18, 2016

by Harry von Johnston, PhD


The root cause of all warfare are economics. Whether it is the seizure of a weaker tribe’s grazing land or the destruction of a rival power’s production capacity, war, to elaborate on Clausewitz, is a logical extension of political and economic aims. War launched against an unpopular head of state or a political system is war commenced solely for economic gains; the common rationale of a holy crusade is merely window dressing for popular historians to postulate.

The hatred engendered against Hitler by the American and British official propaganda machinery before the outset of World War II was due more to the success of Hitler’s barter system than to his personal dislike of Jews or threats to putative democracies in Central Europe.

Stripped of her colonies and gold reserves after the First World War, Germany had to incur massive, interest-bearing loans with both the United States and England to pay for needed imports. When Hitler came to power, he paid off the existing loans and instituted a barter system in which, for example, Germany would trade locomotives to Argentina for their beef and wheat. Previously, both countries had borrowed money from international banks at high-interest rates to pay for their respective imports.

The barter system, therefore, represented a serious threat to international banking interests thatcomplained loudly and effectively to their respective governments, demanding intervention and relief. Many economists referred to a boycott of German products, which was instituted in the United States and England as economic warfare, as indeed it was. The British were past-masters in creating economic warfare and experts in ruining the currency of their rivals by flooding the marketplace with counterfeit currency. During the American Revolutionary War, the British dumped so many counterfeit Continental notes into the economy that American currency became virtually worthless, and the phrase, “not worth a Continental” became common. Angered by French support of the American Revolution, the British counterfeited adulterated gold French Louis coins.

As a means of economic retaliation against Napoleon for his support of a French-dominated continental system which excluded England, the British counterfeited French assignats and franc notes. Napoleon retaliated by forging British currency. Later in the same century, the US federal government forged Confederate money in huge quantities.

The Soviet forgery of American currency in the 1930s, on the other hand, was not designed to destroy the US economy. Rather, the counterfeit gold certificates were manufactured to pay their agents. Since many of these agents were highly placed and expensive members of the Roosevelt Administration, Stalin’s experts concentrated on the manufacture of $100 gold certificates. As the duplication of official US banknote paper was a problem, smaller denomination bills were bleached and over-printed.

At the outbreak of World War II, economic advisors to the leaders of England and the United States urged their respective governments to forge German marks and flood the international market which would cause a collapse of confidence in that currency and, therefore, create tremendous inflation in Germany. The British did counterfeit German military scrip but used the blank reverse for propaganda messages. These were scattered by aircraft over Germany where their impact on the population was nil, but the impact on German leadership was considerable.

Exactly who in the Third Reich initiated the program for the counterfeiting of British currency is not known. One man, Alfred Naujocks, an SS-Sturmbannführer (or Major) in the SD, has taken credit for the inception of the plan in 1940. Naujocks was a longtime acquaintance of Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the SD and it was Heydrich who initially authorized the reproduction of British pound notes. The initial code name for the operation was “Andreas.”

It has been stated that the original purpose of “Andreas” was to falsify pound notes and drop them over England to create economic havoc. However, a more believable scenario, and one supported by period documents, is that the SS leadership envisioned the possibility of raising funds for their organization.

The SS was an official branch of the NSDAP and its funding came from the Party coffers, although the Waffen-SS  drew on government funding for much of its military requirements. One of Himmler’s best assets in this economic struggle was his complete control of the KZ (or concentration camp system). Based on the institutions introduced by Lord Kitchener in South Africa during the Boer War to control the civil population, the KZ system encompassed a wide spectrum of inmates, ranging from professional criminals, communists, and political opponents of the government, including Jews and other ethnic and religious groups.

At the beginning of the war, there were 21,300 concentration camp inmates, housed in six camps. During the course of the war, the total number of inmates rose to over 400,000 lodged in an enormous network of camps scattered throughout Europe and the East. SS General Oswald Pohl and his deputy Richard Glücks organized a huge, free labor pool which would provide a major source of revenue for the SS. It was this system of forced labor that the SD turned to when “Andreas” was superseded by “Bernhard.” The “Andreas” attempts to forge British notes floundered in technical problems and contributed to personality conflicts within the RSHA.

The proper paper was nearly impossible to initially produce since, unlike the original, it did not properly fluoresce under ultraviolet light. Also, a proper numbering system proved extremely difficult to develop. In 18 months, “Andreas” had only produced a half-million pounds worth of counterfeit notes, many of which, however, were authenticated by the Bank of England when submitted by unsuspecting Swiss banks. Personal rivalry between Heydrich and Naujocks created so many problems that “Andreas” was eventually terminated

“Bernhard” was named for the new head of the scheme, SS-Hauptsturmführer Bernhard Krüger of the SD. Krüger, born in Reise, Saxony on November 26, 1904, was a specialist in forging documents and was assigned to Section VI F4 of the RSHA where his section assembled a large library of foreign documents of all kinds which were copied for intelligence operations.

.The second project, “Bernhard,” began only after Heydrich was assassinated by British agents in the summer of 1942. At that time, SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Dörner of the RSHA began to assemble a team of specialists from the ranks of concentration camp inmates. This initial cadre was originally constituted at Oranienburg concentration camp north of Berlin, and on August 23, 1942, it was permanently established at Blocks 18 and 19 at nearby Sachsenhausen camp.

Major Krüger promised his inmate workers good housing, better and regularly served meals, no physical abuse, tobacco, newspapers, good clothing, and packages from outside sources. Most importantly, he assured them of survival. In return, he required full cooperation in the counterfeiting projects and the maintenance of strict security.

By the end of 1942, the 200-pound-pressure Stentz Monopel Type 4 press was moved to Sachsenhausen from its former location in the Berlin forgery center. Aside from the manufacture of the highest quality intaglio plates, the most important factor in the production of undetectable counterfeit pound notes was reproduction paper. British notes were printed on a high rag content paper and manufactured by the Portal, England firm of Laverstoke, which had been producing this paper for the Bank of England since the first quarter of the 18th century.

Paper used in the production of American currency was a 17- pound bond manufactured for the U.S. Treasury by the Crane Company. As the SD turned its attention to the counterfeiting of American currency in 1943, the same German firms that duplicated the Portal paper, Spechthausen and Schlichter, and Schall, successfully duplicated the Crane paper.

The counterfeit paper for pounds had to have not only the correct texture and appearance, but had to be properly and exactly watermarked and fluoresce with the exact shade as the original paper. The Germans solved the latter problem by a careful analysis of water used in the preparation of the original British paper.

The actual manufacturing of the pound note plates was preceded by a thorough study of thousands of original examples of the British pound in German hands. The Bank of England had 156 identifying points on their plates and the forgers were able to duplicate every one of them.

Copying the lettering and numbering of the original currency presented few serious problems to Krüger’s experts, but the vignette of Britannia, common to all denomination pound notes, proved to be extremely difficult to copy—a similar problem which had occurred with the portraits on American currency. On the pound notes, the vignette consisted of a crown-surmounted wreath enclosing a seated Britannia holding a spear in her left hand and a floral spray in her right. However, constant reworking eventually produced an exact copy. The correct numbering system for the pound notes was developed by German mathematicians, and the numbering system for the U.S. bills came from American published sources. As the British used German-made ink for their currency, this aspect of the project presented no problems.

The first run of counterfeit pound notes inspected by senior officials at the RSHA in Berlin was declared a technical success, but lacked the overall visual appearance of original, circulated currency. This was solved by the addition of Soloman Somolianov, a highly competent forger, to the Sachsenhausen crew. Somolianov, a Russian Jew, specialized in the forgery of British pound notes and was successful in adding the proper patina of age to the new pounds and later, U.S. dollars.

After the notes had been printed and aged, they were sent to the RSHA and SS-Oberführer Walter Schellenberg, head of Section VI of the RSHA and SD foreign intelligence, distributed the British pounds to various outlets—many of which are still officially unknown.

For many years the old rhyme, “A Pound’s a Pound the World Around,” recalled the preeminence of British currency throughout the world. The final product of “Bernhard” had been tested by passing it through the Swiss banking system and through them eventually pronounced genuine by the Bank of England. Armed with these bonafides, Schellenberg’s agents glutted the world’s currency markets with over 300 million British pound notes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pounds, in varying degrees of perfection.

First-class quality notes that defied any detection were used to purchase gold, jewels and safe currency through neutral banking systems, while lower quality notes were used for less exacting customers such as Tito’s partisans from whom the SS purchased huge amounts of weaponry supplied to the Yugoslavs by British and American clandestine services.

In early 1943, full-scale production of U.S. currency began at Sachensenhausen. First, the $100 gold certificate was printed, followed by the $50 and $20 dollar silver certificates. Although specific information on the amount of U.S. bills counterfeited by “Bernhard” from 1943 has never been released by the U.S. Treasury Department, a conservative estimate based on German documents and other information puts the overall total at $50 million.

As the Soviet Army approached Berlin in 1945, the unit at Sachsenhausen was moved to Mauthausen in the Ostmark on March 12, 1945 and again on March 21, to Redl-Zipf, north of Salzburg.

Finally, on April 24, Krüger ordered the prisoners transferred to Ebensee where they were liberated by the Americans. Krüger had kept his word to the inmates and at one point, in November of 1943, had secured official permission from Berlin to award twelve War Service Medals and six War Service Crosses, 2nd Class without Swords, to more deserving counterfeiters. They were permitted to wear their decorations inside the camp area and since most of them were Jewish, the attitude of the camp commandant can only be imagined.

The liberated “Bernhard” people were free to follow whatever course they chose. There is reason to believe that a number of them continued their artistic endeavors but under different management.

Soviet and American intelligence agencies were extremely eager to locate Bernhard Krüger. Their interest had to do with American dollars.

As retreating SS units threw huge sums of counterfeit pounds into Austrian lakes and streams, the acres of floating and waterlogged notes put an effective end to the usefulness of the once-mighty British pound. It is interesting to note that not a single American bill has ever been identified as a counterfeit of the Sachsenhausen project.

The Soviets and Americans were eager to locate not only the finished U.S. bills but the plates and paper as well. Since the “Bernhard” people and their baggage fell into American hands, the Soviets ran a poor second in the race. They only managed to locate some of the workers but none of their products. Neither the plates, paper, nor German documentation relating to the counterfeiting of American money ever officially surfaced. It is noted that large sums of dollars suddenly appeared in the Mid-East as funding for various U.S. intelligence operations in Lebanon controlled by Haj Amin-El Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem. Many of the funds were in $100 dollar gold certificates.

The Germans were not the only country to liberally finance their intelligence agencies and assist their countrymen in building personal fortunes through the use of counterfeit currency. The basic difference is that the Germans did not manufacture their own currency.

This form of economic warfare has certainly not ceased with the downfall of the Third Reich. The Iranian government has, by all serious accounts, been forging nearly perfect U.S. $100 bills which have circulated throughout the world and caused the U.S. Treasury Department to issue newly formatted bills. The U.S. Treasury Department will eventually recall all outstanding older bills and carefully inspect them before making exchanges.

In 1984, over 2,000 extremely rare, nearly mint condition, ancient Greek silver coins, dating from 465 BC, were unearthed near Elmali in Turkey. The hoard of coins, in violation of Turkish law, quickly circulated into the international marketplace, and many coins sold for huge sums of money. Discovering that their national treasures had apparently been looted, the irate Turkish government forced the return of most of the horde through legal and diplomatic means. The British Museum inspected some of the rarer specimens and concluded that the entire collection had been recently manufactured at the Bulgarian State Mint in Sofia by that country’s intelligence agency to raise much-needed Western currency. Following this revelation, the value of rare Greek coins toppled as quickly as the British pound had fallen in 1945.

The irony of the “Bernhard” operation is that their 5 pound counterfeits are now worth more on the collector’s market than they were during the war.





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