TBR News February 15, 2016

Feb 15 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. February 15, 2016: ”The transfer of Saudi military aircraft to Turkey for “use against ISIS” is a formula for easily-forseen disaster. Since the Saudis are the ones who recruited the Sunni ISIS people in the first place, instigating a religious war in the region, they have no intention of attacking them. On the other hand, they are determined to remove Syria’s Assad Shi’ite leader from power. Turkey is also a Sunni country and both are hoping to draw the United States into a supportive war on their side. On the other hand, Putin is supporting Assad and the Shi’ites, clandestinely arming the anti-Turkish Kurds and supporting anti Saud royal family factions in Saudia Arabia. If Saudi aircraft attack Assad’s government forces, the Russians will defend them and if a Saudi plane is shot down as a result, loud will be the frantic demands of both Turkey and Saudi Arabia for both the United States and NATO to join with them against Assad, and also it ought to be noted, against Russia. Although Turkey is a paid-for ally and Saudi Arabia sells badly-need oil to the United States, the hope that the US can be instigated into attacking the Russians is forlorn in the extreme. In this religious war, the instigators will be the ones to suffer in the end, not either the Russians nor the Americans. Most interesting to watch the scenario unfold.”


Conversations 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, 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 his Washington 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

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-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversatins with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped  and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.




Conversation No. 101

Date: Tuesday, September 2, 1997 Commenced:  12:56 PM CST

Concluded: 1:20 PM CST

GD: Hello. What’s up today?

RTC: Good morning, Gregory. Another doctor’s visit scheduled for this PM. A damned nuisance but Emily insists. I am not feeling all that well, what with my bad hip and a tendency to misjudge my feet and then falling. I should use a cane in the house but I don’t feel I am ready for a walker yet. Other than those small things, I’m fine. And yourself?

GD: I am also fine. However, dealing with your feeble-minded scumbag friends is getting to be quite a bore. Jesus, what a pack of morons and they have many allies. People like Kimmel who is outraged that a terrible person like myself is interacting with you. He thinks you’re getting gaga and might spill terrible things to me. And, of course, I am a terrible, disrespectful person who, God knows, might blow the gaff on something horrible. And poor Bill wants to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. When he gets going, it sounds like a Kirby vacuum cleaner what with all the suction.

RTC: Well, the Company people do not like you and yes, they dragged the FBI into it for the reason they are not supposed to operate inside this country. Of course we did, and do, but that is not important. You see, you are considered, as Kimmel says, a loose cannon. No one questions your intelligence, although they publicly question your sanity and character, but they can’t control you. The drill is that these people have gotten to believe that they, and they alone, have the control and the ability to control and that the rest of the peonage are stupid sheep who pay their salaries. And then you come along and rattle their cages. And they try to intimidate you and then realize that doing this only stimulates you to more noise-making so they back off and think of other ways to get at you and shut you up. They also believe that you are in possession or at least control of certain dangerous documents that could cause havoc in certain circles if you ever even hinted at them so they have to make sure you don’t commit unsocial acts. And by unsocial acts I mean shake their trees. Of course they would never just sit down and talk to you like the Army did. We used to do this in the early days but now that we basically control the media and our foreign policy, we have decided that we are far too omniscient and important to descend to actually communicating with our social inferiors. So they turn their pimps and whores loose on you and try to besmirch you to the point where no one will believe you.

GD: They could have one of these sycophants sue me, couldn’t they” Tie me up in endless and devastatingly expensive court litigation? Shut me up that way? RTC: No, Gregory, because that would codify their fears and might, horrible to contemplate, draw public attention to you. No, you have carte blanche to do as you like and they won’t interfere for fear of the publicity. But, of course, by getting into the Kennedy killing, you will be taking on a whole hog-pen of functioning idiots and fanatics. The Company or Phoebe won’t have to do a thing. Hell, we control some of them…the Farrell woman is ours…and if they attack you, why our hands are clean. I mean you will have far more trouble from these creeps that you ever would have with us. Some self-important twit has a pet theory and supporters thereof and if you dare to publish a word that questions their invented idiot shit, why they will come down upon you, screaming like a drag queen and swinging their purses. Hell, Gregory, if I were you, I would be more concerned about the Jews and the Kennedy nuts than us.

GD: The Jews?

RTC: Oh yes, the vulgar Hebrews again. See, if it gets out and accepted that our government hired all the Nazis they did, why the Jews will have to start wailing and screeching about how dare we do this to them. To them is the operative word here. I mean, how dare you contradict the needs of a Jew? Why, these are God’s very own people, aren’t they? God’s chosen ones?

GD: Well, if you believe the silly holocaust stories, one would have to believe that God chose the Jews to stand in line for the showers.

RTC: (Laughter) Ah yes, the famous showers. But you see the fact that Jews will come after you. Some because only they can moan about their fates and many  more to suck up to officialdom, an officialdom that for now at least is dominated by white Christians. It just gets worse..

GD: Well, when Kennedy was running, the Protestants swore that if he got elected, the Pope would move into the White House, or at least Cardinal Cushing. Of course this did not happen but what does the Jew hope for? Their beach blanket flag flying over the Capitol?

RTC: Certainly. They work their way into the system and rise up quickly, gaining influence as they go because they are very clever and our stupid ones get to rely on their intelligence.

GD: Poisoned intelligence. Onwards and upwards. Jesus, if the Jewish community and the art world…actually the same…ever found out what I got from Mueller before he died, and especially what I am doing with it, they would get Congress to pass a law against me.

RTC: What’s that? Something new here? GD: Yes, actually so. See, I don’t know if you are aware of it but during the war, the Germans looted billions of dollars of art from all over Europe. Hitler wanted to set up a huge museum complex in his home town of Linz and all the Nazi brass fall all over each other to gain the Fuehrer’s interest by stealing from museums, private collections, churches and so on. Billions. And after the war, people like Tommy Howe and others went around to the vast, underground caves and brought out tons of loot. The more important pieces, or the best known, were returned. At least most of them were. I know of a certain Raphael that old Frank brought back from Poland that the Gestapo bagged and Muller had hanging up in his elegant pad in Piedmont. That’s in a safe place and the Polacks will never get it back, believe me. Anyway, Mueller started selling some of this loot that your people took away from the Army after ’48. Did you know about this supplementary income?

RTC: Yes. Go on, please do.

GD: Well, Heini set up a little organization and began to peddle some of this, as I said for cash for your off the books activities. Naturally, he kept his share in front. He had a large garage in Piedmont stuffed full of it. I mentioned the Jews because most of the post-Impressionist pieces came from Jewish collectors. Of course, some of the older pieces too. I saw the Rothschild collection of gold coins before Heini sold it off and I must say it was delightful to look at. And some Russian treasures looted form Tsarskoe Selo…I mean the old Imperial Russian complex south of St. Petersburg….

RTC: In Florida?

GD: Now, Robert, not in Florida, in Russia. The Communists changed it to Pushkin…Let me go on. And items from monasteries all over Europe, especially from Italy after Mussolini fell from power in ’43 and the Germans occupied the country. Von Senger did rescue the very valuable,,. priceless…library from Monte Cassino before Roosevelt ordered it bombed to powder. But a lot of other art loot went to Germany indeed. Anyway, Heini found out I was an art-restorer at one time and knew a good deal about the subject so we got along just fine although I must admit when he took me to his storage facility and turned on the lights, I very nearly had an involuntary bowel movement on the spot. If the Russians, the Italians, the French or the Poles ever saw what was there, there would be a sound like an approaching freight train. Jesus, the uproar, the demands, and on the part of the Jews, wails of possessive anguish. Everyone else would fade away before their wrath…and their demands. No, when Heini died, I made sure the storage warehouse was cleared out and secured elsewhere. You see, his second wife knew nothing about any of this because he didn’t burden her with the knowledge. And if she found it, naturally, she would try to sell it and then these people would come down, howling with rage and armed with legal papers. We couldn’t have that so I executed Heini’s very firm request. Do you know how Mexicans keep the flies out of their bedrooms, Robert?

RTC: Not offhanded but I am certain you will enlighten me.

GD: Oh, always, Robert. Simple. They shit in the hall.

RTC: (Laughter) So very incorrect.

GD: Ah, but so accurate, Robert. In the hall. In huge, festering heaps. Fly nurseries. So we removed what attracts flies and other vermin. Anyway, the post-Impressionist junk started getting sold off, discreetly here and there. Of course the easily recognizable pieces are a different matter although a great amount of things from Catherine the Greats’ palace were relatively easy to peddle, I wouldn’t want to be too public about things from Warsaw or Rome, or even Florence. And art is entirely subjective. The picture I spoke of earlier by Raphael is a portrait of someone who looks like a raging faggot dressed in a loose blouse and looking for all the world as if he just left a Castro Street bathhouse after an evening of bumbusting. But effeminate men were the ideal when Raphael worked. Now, we have Jackson Pollock who used to spread art canvas on his garage floor, climb up a ladder and toss the contents of various cans of paint he scrounged from the neighbors at yard sales or from the public dump, toss them here and there while giggling to himself. Then, when the enamels dried, he would cut the canvas into sections, mount the sections on stretchers, stick idiot names on each and sell them to the pea brained who considered them art. Now that Pollock is dead, the prices are rising beyond all belief. I personally think Claude Monet and Singer Sargent were the last really good artists of our time. Nowadays, some orange-haired pimp splatters paint all over a canvas and the tasteless rich rush to buy it. It’s better for the dealers if the artist is dead. Probably if he died of an overdose of heroin in a male bathhouse. It takes about a century to winnow the wheat from the chaff and then the trashy art and equally trashy writing falls away and a few beautiful works emerge. Of course, by that time, the idiots are all mooning after someone who plops his hairy ass down on a pallet and then sits on a canvas. Moon over Miami, which, along with Skokie and most of Westchester County is where all the trash ends up. Ah, one must be careful, Robert. For example, I know about a certain cartouche from the Amber Room. Yes. The Prussian state eagle in amber. Heini liked it and so do I.

RTC: Do?

GD: We don’t need to go into semantics. We’ve been going into Semitics all morning here.

RTC: (Laughter) Yes, absolutely. And if they get it into their heads that sacred Jewish treasures are in the hands of the unbelieving, and worse, these treasures are actually worth money, my God, you will have mobs of livid Hebrews chanting in front of your house.

GD: That’s what fire hoses are for, Robert. To put out fires and also to clean off trash from the sidewalks. Anyway, I suppose you don’t know it but I have bank accounts all over Europe and very nice properties in Germany, France and Italy and all filled with lovely pieces. Oh, if I had to depend on selling books, none of that would have happened. And I do enjoy occasional forays into the world of fine art. I really ought to say successful forays because I always return from the hunt with a full game bag or, in my case, more money to enjoy in my retirement years.

RTC: But supposing they are listening to this? Couldn’t someone go to banks and ask about your accounts? GD: Robert, I had ten different passports and more passable identities than you could guess at. The Foggybottom freaks tried for years to find out whatever negative they could about me so they could nail me and they had to give up. As an aside, one of their investigators started in on me with all the smarmy subtlety of a fart in a spacesuit and I lured him to a site  loaded with illegal products and the local authorities, whom I tipped off, nailed him as he was carrying what he thought was devastating  evidence against me in sealed boxes, but actually was something entirely different, out to his car. He screamed for help but it didn’t do him any good. Lost his job, his house and got four years in the can for it. Oh my, did I laugh at that one.

RTC: Gregory, naughty boy. Ah, the State people are such  mindless assholes anyway.

GD: I sent him sympathy cards from time to time. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. What? Fuck them all, Robert. And I would burn the paintings before I gave any of them back, believe it.

RTC: I would tend to believe that, Gregory. I should imagine you are entirely capable of such an act. What they don’t know, they can do nothing about, right? GD: Oh yes, right. And you can visit me any time at my nice villa in Italy. Partially paid for, one might guess, with the profits from selling looted Italian art. Oh, and Russian and Polish as well. And Heini kept meticulous records which I have and if your people, or anyone else, ever tried to push me, records I would gleefully publish. My, oh my, the American museums, the private collections, the major art auction houses  and so on, would be so wonderfully compromised. I love it…

RTC: Yes, but they don’t

GD: No, Robert they really don’t. Most of them are so stupid they couldn’t find either end of themselves in a dark room. You doubt me? Look at some of their children. Either end, Robert, either end. These punks always have to buy new pants because they keep wearing out the knees crawling around on the floor like Mongoloids, while in pursuit of the contents of the cat’s latrine.

RTC: Now, now, you might be speaking about my people.

GD: The ones who harassed you? The ones who harassed Angleton? Those friends? The ones who come to see you and support you now that you have retired? Those friends, Robert?

RTC: Ah, well you have a point there, Gregory. And to use one of your crude expressions, fuck them all. And if they ever find out that I have had my Greg ship off sizzling papers to you, they would certainly renew old friendships.

GD: Wouldn’t you enjoy having so many old friends crowding into your house, Robert? They would shit on the floors and steal anything of value and after molesting your wife and the cat. No, you should follow in my footsteps and leave sleeping dogs, or pigs, lie, Right? GD: Yes, I reluctantly have to agree with you. Could I have a nice Rembrandt for my living room, Gregory? If and when I die, Emily could have a useful farewell gift.

GD: There were three of his and they have all been sold. How about a Picasso? There are dozens of those. I hate to have to look at Picasso. Or Klee. Or Miro. ‘Oh, Myron! Buy the Picasso! It matches the drapes!’

RTC: (Laughter) Where is the taste with these people? GD: Up the ass, Robert, up the ass. Along with that wondrous zucchini Aunt Bella shoplifted from the supermarket last month. And always remember, Robert, that Malthus was right and when we run out of food and water, we can start eating each other. I believe the French perfected this technique some time ago but then both parties lived to tell about it. Given some of the fatties I’ve seen waddling around town here, if famine ever strikes, they had best barricade themselves in the root cellar with a shotgun because some of these jiggling lovelies would feed a family of six for a month. Well, it will be back to the caves for the survivors and what will a Picasso be worth then?

(.Concluded at 1:20 PM CST)

In Syrian war, a bigger role for Russian strategists

February 15, 2016

by Miriam Krouny


While Russian fighter planes pound rebel positions on the battlefield in Syria, Russian military strategists are playing a far more subtle role in support of President Bashar al-Assad.    Several sources – on both sides of the battle lines – have told Reuters in interviews conducted over the past two months that Russian advisers have been involved in drawing up plans to secure Damascus, Assad’s seat of power.

Those interviewed by Reuters, including non-Syrian military officials fighting alongside Assad’s forces, said Russia’s plans to buttress Damascus involve weakening rebel forces in the south of the country between the capital and Jordan. The aim is to reduce the rebels’ chances of launching a major offensive.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond to written questions for this article. Russia has said it has no ground troops in Syria beyond those protecting its bases. Russia does concede it has trainers and advisers on the ground, but only in an educational and advisory capacity.    Russia’s influence in military planning is already evident, rebel fighters and the non-Syrian military officials say.

They say Russian experts played a major role in a Syrian army offensive at the turn of the year in the western coastal province of Latakia, home to the Alawite population of which Assad is part.

That offensive helped pave the way for the Syrian army to push toward the Turkish border, cutting the insurgents’ supply lines from Turkey.   DEGREES OF INVOLVEMENT    The extent of Russian involvement on the battlefield is disputed, however.

Two military officials, neither of them Syrian but both fighting alongside the Syrian army, said Russian officers and military experts had helped in the planning and directed the offensive in Latakia.

According to their account, the Russians were in charge of artillery fire and provided artillery cover, not just air strikes. “The coast battle was theirs,” said one of the sources.

A Syrian military source, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters in Damascus last week, said the Russians were partners, but he denied they had a leadership role.

“The Russian role in participation, in planning and executing military operations is being reinforced all the time. It is participation, not management,” said the source.

“The Russians take part in the ground and air planning, but at the end, the Syrian officers are the ones who know the land, the fronts, the geography better.”

Insurgents interviewed by Reuters, including a local commander from the Ahrar al-Sham group, also said that Russian troops took part in the fighting.

Moscow says that its main goal in Syria is to target hardline Islamist groups which pose a global threat, including to Russia.

Islamic State commander Abu Omar al-Shishani is a Chechen. He is believed to be leading thousands of fighters most of them from Chechnya and Central Asia.


Pro-government sources say the Russian role has expanded to include facilitating local ceasefires in rebel-held areas around Damascus, with the aim of creating a secure buffer around the capital.     Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation Ali Haidar described the process as purely Syrian even if there had at times been Russian help.

“The truth is that since the presence of the Russians on Syrian land, they can play the role of mediator in some areas,” he said at his offices in Damascus. “The Russians make contact (with militants) when they can, of course – in Douma and other areas,” he said, in reference to an area east of Damascus.    “Sometimes it is the militants who request mediation by the Russians,” he said. Those wishing to relocate wanted guarantees of safe passage to rebel strongholds, and those wishing to stay wanted to be sure they wouldn’t be killed later on, he said.    According to the non-Syrian sources interviewed by Reuters, Russian advisers orchestrated two deals in which hardline Islamist fighters were evacuated from the south toward areas their groups control in the northern and central provinces.

One of the non-Syrian military sources said the Russians worked “in the shadows” to facilitate the ceasefire deals. In some cases the Russians operated as guarantors for the deals.

Dozens of cars left southern towns of Syria in December carrying fighters from Nusra Front with their families to the northern province of Idlib which is under control of an alliance of rebels including Nusra Front.    Weeks later a convoy left Hajar al-Aswad and Yarmouk camp areas near Damascus  carrying fighters and families from Islamic State to the group’s stronghold of Raqqa.

A second source who was informed of the deals said the fighters were given safe passage. The aim was to empty these areas of hardline Islamists so clearing the way for the government to strike deals with the remaining rebels.

“The Russians want all the battles to be focused in the north, they want the south and Damascus and the coastal line all neutralized. Ultimately they are working toward achieving a wider political solution,” said the source.

The Syrian government and its allies accuse the opposition and the insurgents of blocking efforts to end the fighting and reach a political deal.

(Additional reporting by Tom Perry in Damascus, Reuters reporters in Moscow; editing by Janet McBride)

Turkey ‘won’t let’ Azaz, Syria, fall to Kurdish militia, shells YPG targets for 3rd day

February 15, 2016


Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu said on Monday Ankara will not allow the town of Azaz in northern Syria to fall to the Kurdish YPG forces and promised the “harshest reaction,” if the group attempts to re-take the city.

“YPG elements were forced away from around Azaz. If they approach again they will see the harshest reaction. We will not allow Azaz to fall,” Davutoglu told reporters aboard his plane bound for Ukraine, Reuters reported.

He said the Turkish military would render Syria’s Menagh air base “unusable” if YPG forces do not retreat from the area, which they previously captured from Islamist militants. He warned the YPG not to move east of its Afrin region or west of the Euphrates River.

Turkish security forces hit Kurdish militia targets in Syria for the third day in a row Monday. A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said the strikes came after a border security outpost was attacked in the morning.

“Today our border security outpost in the Hatay area at the Syrian border was attacked. Retaliation shots were fired in return,” spokesman Tanju Bilgic told reporters.

News has also come in that missiles hit a children’s hospital, a school and other locations in Azaz, according to a medic and two residents who were cited by Reuters. A Turkish security official has blamed Russia for the incident, saying seven missiles struck a hospital, killing more than 14 people.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that Turkish strikes on Syrian territory breach the UN Security Council’s resolution, and called on Ankara to cease immediately the ongoing “military provocations.”

Starting February 13, Turkish artillery amassed on the border with Syria is hitting on a massive scale the Syrian residential areas recently freed from the terrorists by government and Kurdish forces,” the Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement said. “There are multiple reports of people killed and injured among the civilians; the infrastructure and residential buildings have been destroyed.”

“In the meantime, according to incoming information, the Turkish side continues to indulge an unlawful infiltration of fresh armed jihadi and mercenary groups into Syria, set to reinforce Jabhat Al-Nusra, Islamic State and other terrorist groups’ units who suffered casualties in the battle.”

Kurdish YPG militia and moderate units of the Free Syrian Army re-took the town of Azaz earlier in February, previously held by Al-Nusra Front militants.

On Saturday, the Turkish Army launched a massive shelling attack on Kurdish targets near the city of Azaz in northwest Syria, including an air base recently retaken from Islamist rebels. It also hit Syrian forces across the border, according to media reports.

Speaking on Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu threatened Syrian Kurds with military action, saying that if there is a threat to Turkey, “we will strike the PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party] like we did Qandil,” referring to a violent bombing campaign waged by Turkey against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) in its Qandil mountain stronghold in northern Iraq.

Later in the day, the Syrian government sent an official letter to the UN, strongly condemning Turkish actions and describing it as supporting terrorist groups.

In addition, Turkish artillery bombarded the towns of Maraanaz, al-Malikiyah, Minagh, Ain Dakna and Bazi Bagh, which are home to the civilian population,” the complaint addressed to the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council said.

The letter added that 12 trucks mounted with heavy machine guns and carrying around 100 fighters entered Syrian territory from Turkey through the Bab al-Salam checkpoint on Saturday. The claim was later denied by the Turkish government.

Washington and Paris have called on Turkey to cease its massive artillery bombardment against Kurdish targets and de-escalate tensions on all sides.

We are concerned about the situation north of Aleppo and are working to de-escalate tensions on all sides,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. “We have also seen reports of artillery fire from the Turkish side of the border and urged Turkey to cease such fire.”

Referring to comments from US State Department spokesman John Kirby, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said Ankara is “shocked” by remarks from Washington that put Turkey in the same basket as the Kurdish YPG group. Kirby urged both Turkey and the Syrian Kurds to focus on tackling a “common threat” from Islamic State militants.

Bilgic added Turkey will not seek permission to fight against “any terrorist organizations.”

The French Foreign Ministry also urged Turkey to halt the artillery strikes on Kurdish areas in Syria.

“France is worried about the deteriorating situation in the region of Aleppo and the north of Syria. We call for the cessation of all bombardments, those of the regime and its allies on the entire territory and those of Turkey in the Kurdish zones,” Paris said in a statement.

Turkish forces accused of ‘mass murder’ in southeast

The Turkish army has been accused of committing “mass murder” in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Cizre by the leader of one of the country’s major political parties. Tom Stevenson reports from Istanbul.

February 12, 2016


Turkish security forces are currently locked in a  brutal campaign against militants in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces, and have instituted round-the-clock military lockdowns in regional cities, including central Diyarbakir, Cizre, and Sirnak.

The accusations refer to an operation carried out on February 7 when security forces raided a building in the Cudi neighborhood of Cizre where dozens of wounded people were sheltering in the basement. Initial news reports from the state television broadcaster suggested that 60 people had been killed in the operation. The precise number of casualties is still unclear, with initial reports ranging from 10 to 30 to more than 60 killed.

“We believe that they have carried out a mass murder in Cizre and to cover it up they disclose it gradually everyday,” said Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), on Thursday.

“They committed a massacre but they cannot announce it. They are scattering the dead bodies into side streets and ruined houses as if the dead bodies were already there,” Demirtas added.

DW spoke to HDP MP Faysal Sarıyıldız, who has been in Cizre for the past two months, about the Cizre basements. According to Sarıyıldız, the death toll may be higher even than the upper estimates in the initial press reports.


He described how dozens of wounded had been trapped in three separate basements in the city by the security forces curfews, unable to receive medical treatment or even food from the outside.

“We knew there were more than 30 trapped in the first basement, and that seven had already died,” Sarıyıldız told DW from Cizre, over the sound of gunfire. “Then there were another 110 in two other buildings. Since the army attacked these buildings we have seen 70 bodies, 39 from one of the basements and 31 from the two others, but frankly we believe that even more may have been killed,” he said, adding that based on the evidence some sort of incendiary device may have been used “because many of the bodies were burned – they were totally unrecognizable they had been burned so badly.”

Sarıyıldız said that he had personally seen nine of the burned bodies, and was conducting a fuller investigation but that he was currently being denied access to the state hospital by the Turkish army.

The office of the Cizre governorate was not available to comment on the incident.

The Firat news agency, a Kurdish news wire with links to the PKK, reported the response of Meliha Aktaş, the mother of Rohat Aktaş – one of the people trapped in the Cudi basement – to the news of the attack.

“They destroyed the basement where our children sought refuge, we haven’t heard from our kids for the past week. We don’t know if they’re dead or alive. I don’t want my children to die in that basement,” she said.

“I call upon the prime minister; what would you do if your children were in that basement and you couldn’t hear from them?”

Although Turkey’s Interior Minister Efkan Ala today announced a “successful conclusion” of military operations in Cizre, 24-hour enforced lockdowns remain in place.

Upping the ante

Following the Cudi basements attack, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called an emergency security meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and other leading cabinet ministers.

In its response to the operation, the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), the umbrella organization of the Kurdish armed resistance, including the PKK, issued a statement in which it described the events in Cizre as showing a “genocidal mentality,” and called for increased “resistance” against state forces.

Meanwhile Diyarbakir’s besieged Sur district also experienced further deadly clashes, with three Turkish soldiers and one alleged PKK militant killed on Thursday. On February 10, hundreds marched in Diyarbakir at the funeral of Mohamed Bulak, a 16-year-old boy whom residents claim was killed by security forces.

According to the independent Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, the conflict has already claimed the lives of more than 224 civilians since mid-August.

The Turkish army claims to have killed more than 700 “terrorist separatists” since December.

Leaking across borders

Experts say that the conflict in the southeast is likely to exacerbate the crises in the wider region.

“Radicalization in southeast and the pressure of security policies co-exist simultaneously, however, there is an asymmetrical relation between security forces and trench groups,” said Mehmet Alkış, a specialist on Kurdish politics in the Middle East region at Istanbul’s Marmara University.

“In these conflicts, parties sometimes try to escalate conflicts and strengthen their positions. Government officials have declared that the campaign will continue in other cities and that may well lead to an even greater reaction and escalation of the conflict of all round,” Alkış told DW.

The conflict in Turkey’s southeast is connected to that in the wider Levant region, and has seen an increase in the severity of the violence that may be linked to that in Syria and Iraq. Alkış argues that peace will be hard to come by in Turkey so long as the government maintains its position on the Syrian Kurdish movement in the Syrian civil war.

“Now, both sides take a position with regard to the power configurations in the region. If Turkey can be persuaded by international actors to coexist with the Syrian Kurdish PYD, a peace process and ceasefire will start again, if not the conflict and tension in the southeast will be escalated.”

Syria conflict: France urges end to Turkish assault on Kurds

February 14, 2016


France’s foreign ministry has urged Turkey to end its assault on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

In a statement (in French) it said it was “worried about the continued worsening of the situation”.

On Saturday, Turkey began shelling the militia, which it says is linked to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The fighters, the YPG militia based in Syria, have rejected Turkey’s demand to leave areas it has seized, saying Islamists would return if it left.

Turkey’s assault is a new thread in an already-complex conflict that has drawn in competing regional powers.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insisted on Sunday that Turkey “will not permit the [Kurdish militia] to carry out aggressive acts”.

“Our security forces gave the necessary response and will continue to do so,” Mr Davutoglu said.

Syria has also condemned the Turkish action as a violation of its sovereignty and asked the UN Security Council to intervene.

France also called on the Syrian regime and its allies to stop their bombardments “across the whole of the country”.

France said priority should be given to implementing an agreement reached in Munich this week on ceasing hostilities, and the fight against so-called Islamic State (IS) group.

Almost five years of civil war in Syria have led to the deaths of more than 250,000 people. More than 11 million people have been displaced.

A mini world war rages in the fields of Aleppo

February 14, 2016

by Liz Sly

Washington Post

KILIS, Turkey — Across the olive groves and wheat fields of the northern Syrian province of Aleppo, a battle with global dimensions risks erupting into a wider war.

Russian warplanes are bombing from the sky. Iraqi and Lebanese militias aided by Iranian advisers are advancing on the ground. An assortment of Syrian rebels backed by the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are fighting to hold them back. Kurdish forces allied both to Washington and Moscow are taking advantage of the chaos to extend Kurdish territories. The Islamic State has snatched a couple of small villages, while all the focus was on the other groups.

Ahead of a supposed pause in the hostilities negotiated by world powers and due to be implemented later in the week, the conflict seems only to be escalating. Turkey joined in over the weekend, firing artillery across its border at Kurdish positions for a second day Sunday and prompting appeals from the Obama administration to both Turks and Kurds to back down.

Syria’s civil war long ago mutated into a proxy conflict, with competing world powers backing the rival Syrian factions almost since the earliest days of the armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.

But perhaps never before have the dangers — or the complications — of what amounts to a mini world war been so apparent as in the battle underway for control of Aleppo.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev warned of the risks at a security conference in Munich on Saturday, saying that the world had already descended into “a new Cold War.”

“There’s a spiral of insecurity here that is not being managed,” said Salman Shaikh, a political consultant whose Shaikh Group is engaged in mediation efforts in the Syrian war. “What we are seeing is a classic, really complicated balance-of-power struggle that could become a very dangerous situation.”

For now, the focus of the fighting is the rural hinterland of Aleppo, a landscape of rolling farmland dotted with villages and towns that are steadily being pulverized by the relentless Russian bombardments. Residents said the intensity of the strikes has increased since the announcement of the cease-fire agreement, perhaps as Russia and its allies seek to maximize their gains ahead of its possible implementation.

Defeating the rebels here would enable the government to encircle and eventually crush the rebels in their stronghold in the eastern portion of the city of Aleppo, perhaps inflicting a decisive blow to the five-year-old rebellion against Assad’s rule.

But more is at stake than the outcome of Syria’s war. The Aleppo offensive is affirming Moscow’s stature as a dominant regional power across the heart of the Middle East. The advances by Shiite Iraqi and Lebanese militias are extending the sway of Iran far beyond the traditional Shiite axis of influence into Sunni areas of northern Syria. Although Syria’s army is claiming the victories, rebels, military experts and videos by the fighters themselves say almost all of the advances are being made by the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, the Iraqi Badr Brigade, Harakat al-Nujaba and other Iraqi Shiite militias that are sponsored by Iran.

Meanwhile, the Aleppo countryside is emptying. Tens of thousands of people have streamed north to the Turkish border to escape the airstrikes, where they are being blocked by a Turkish government that is hosting 2.5 million Syrian refugees.

They tell stories of entire villages being crushed and communities displaced. Mohammed Najjar, a resident of the town of Marae at the heart of the contested rural area, said that barely 5 percent of the town remained behind. His extended family had lost 15 houses just since the Aleppo offensive began two weeks ago, he said, speaking by telephone from the border area after he fled Marae last week.

Emile Hokayem of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said that driving people out of their homes has long been part of the Syrian government’s strategy.

They’re depopulating areas of people whose loyalties are impossible to recover,” he said. “It’s a much cheaper and easier way to occupy territory than by trying to win hearts and minds. They’re simply going to push people out so that there is no insurgency.”

For Turkey, the biggest concern is that the vacuum along its borders will be filled by Kurds, whose dreams of independence have been brought closer by the chaos in Syria.

The People’s Protection Units, or YPG, have already been taking advantage of U.S. airstrikes in eastern Syria to expand a Kurdish enclave there. Now they are taking advantage of the Russian airstrikes around Aleppo to extend eastward from Afrin, another Kurdish enclave. The stated Kurdish goal is to link the two enclaves into one extended Kurdish territory that would span more than half of Turkey’s border with Syria.

The Kurdish expansion has caused friction between Washington and Ankara because Turkey regards the YPG as an affiliate of the Turkish Kurdish organization known as the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and Turkey. But the United States does not regard the YPG as a terrorist group and has worked closely alongside it in the fight against the Islamic State.

Now, fighters with an alliance of Kurds and Arabs led by the YPG are closing in on the border town of Azaz, which controls the biggest Turkish gateway into Syria. Turkish artillery opened fire Saturday and again Sunday against two villages and an air base recently captured by the advancing Kurds — in retaliation, a Turkish military statement said, for shells fired by the YPG that landed on a military base inside Turkey.

Vice President Biden telephoned Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday to urge Turkey to halt its shelling. He emphasized “the imperative for de-escalation in the area,” according to a White House statement Sunday. Separately, a State Department statement called on the Kurds “not to take advantage of a confused situation by seizing new territory.”

Within hours of the appeals, the Kurds seized another northern Aleppo village, Ain Daqna, and Turkey resumed its bombardment.

There is no mood in Turkey for a war in Syria, but the risk of an unintended escalation is real, said Faysal Itani of the Washington-based Atlantic Council. Tensions between Russia and NATO member Turkey are already sky-high following Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet last November, and any miscalculation could quickly trigger a Russian response.

Turkey is under immense pressure,” he said. “It has a quasi-Kurdish state emerging on its border, and the groups it championed are being destroyed.”

Saudi Arabia also has talked of sending troops to Syria, prompting some speculation that the kingdom may be preparing to support a Turkish incursion. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Sunday, however, that Riyadh would send special forces only if the United States decides ground forces are needed for the fight against the Islamic State. “So the timing is not up to us,” he said during a news conference in Riyadh.

Zakaria Zakaria contributed to this report.

20 nations join major military manoeuvre in Saudi Arabia

February 15, 2016


Riyadh (AFP) – Armed forces from around 20 countries were gathering in northern Saudi Arabia Sunday for “the most important” military manoeuvre ever staged in the region, the official news agency SPA reported

The “Thunder of the North” exercise involving ground, air, and naval forces sends a “clear message” that Riyadh and its allies “stand united in confronting all challenges and preserving peace and stability in the region”, SPA said.

Saudi Arabia is currently leading a military campaign against Iran-backed rebels in its southern neighbour Yemen. Last December, it also formed a new 35-member coalition to fight “terrorism” in Islamic countries.

Sunday’s announcement also comes as the kingdom, a member of the US-led coalition targeting the jihadist Islamic State group, said it has deployed warplanes to a Turkish air base in order to “intensify” its operations against IS in Syria.

SPA did not specify when the military exercise will begin or how long it will last.However, the agency called it the “most important and largest in the region’s history” in terms of the number of nations taking part and the weaponry being used.

Twenty countries will be taking take part, SPA said.

Among them are Saudi Arabia’s five partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as Chad, Egypt, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal and Tunisia, it added.

A Saudi source said on Thursday that members of the new “anti-terrorism” coalition will gather in Saudi Arabia next month for its first publicly announced meeting.

Riyadh has said the alliance would share intelligence, combat violent ideology and deploy troops if necessary.

Oregon militia standoff: the 23 men and two women facing felony charges

Federal prosecutors filed conspiracy charges against 25 people, including Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan, who come from 10 states

February 15, 2016

by Sam Levin

The Guardian

The rightwing occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge unravelled after police arrested protest leader Ammon Bundy and four other key members of the anti-government militia.

On the 41st day of the standoff, the final four occupiers surrendered, and federal prosecutors announced that they had filed felony charges against a total of 25 people associated with the armed occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge.

The group of 23 men and two women – who are all facing the same federal charge of conspiracy to impede officers through “force, intimidation and threats” – hail from ten states across the US and have a wide range of prior involvement in conservative activism and criminal activity. From a convicted murderer to a shock-jock radio host to several key figures in the anti-government movement in the west, here are the 25 facing criminal prosecution – plus details on the ones who got away.

Ammon Bundy, 40, Emmett, Idaho

Ammon Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose 2014 standoff with the federal government paved the way for the Oregon occupation. Ammon immediately emerged as the leader of the Malheur group when the standoff began 2 January, arguing in speeches from the refuge that the federal government had no authority to control public lands in rural Harney County.

He was arrested on a highway outside of the occupation on 26 January and remains in jail in Portland, but he continues to release statements defending his actions as a constitutionally protected protest against government overreach.

Ryan Bundy, 43, Bunkerville, Nevada

Ryan Bundy is Ammon’s older brother and was also present at the occupation from the start. He was a less prominent public figure than his brother, but appeared to play a major role in planning and organizing protest actions – at one point travelling outside of the refuge to recruit other supporters and helping destroy part of a government fence to protest federal restrictions on cattle grazing.

He was taken into custody during the same police confrontation that resulted in his brother’s arrest, and he was in the car driven by protest spokesman LaVoy Finicum, whom police shot and killed.

Shawna Cox, 59, Kanab, Utah

Shawna Cox, one of two women facing charges in the federal government’s conspiracy case, was also in the car with Finicum and Ryan Bundy before she was arrested 26 January. Cox, a close family friend of the Bundys, frequently acted as a spokeswoman for the occupation. She is a mother of 12 and one of the few defendants officials have released on house arrest as the case moves forward.

Ryan Payne, 31, Anaconda, Montana

Ryan Payne was another high-profile militia leader, who was arrested after he reportedly exited Finicum’s truck and surrendered just before the fatal shooting. He had helped coordinate community meetings outside of the refuge. Payne was also very active in Cliven Bundy’s standoff in 2014.

After his arrest last month, Payne “claimed to have an absolute duty to prevent the federal government from continuing to manage lands … [and] claimed a right to use force to oppose an unlawful arrest”, according to court records.

Brian Cavalier, 44, Bunkerville, Nevada

Brian Cavalier, who often goes by the name “Booda”, was the fifth person arrested in the highway confrontation. When the Guardian visited Cliven Bundy last year, Cavalier described himself as the family’s bodyguard and said he was willing to do whatever was necessary to protect the Bundys if federal officials returned.

Pete Santilli, 50, Cincinnati, Ohio

Pete Santilli, a rightwing radio host and vocal defender of the Bundys, was the first to report that Ammon Bundy may have been arrested. He delivered the news live on his YouTube stream, which he had used throughout the occupation. Soon after Bundy was arrested that evening, Santilli himself was taken into custody on the same conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors allege that Santilli participated in the protests, but his attorneys and civil liberties advocates argue that he was a journalist with free speech rights.

Joseph O’Shaughnessy, 45, Cottonwood, Arizona

In a separate arrest the night of 26 January, Joseph O’Shaughnessy, another regular presence at the refuge, was also taken into custody. He told the Guardian during the first week of the occupation that he was with a group called the North American Coalition of Constitutional Militias and that he was acting as a neutral party aimed at preventing violence.

Prosecutors have used social media videos to argue that he was directly involved in the occupation, citing one video in which he states: “We need every patriot in this country to come out here and and support the message.”

Jon Ritzheimer, 32, Peoria, Arizona

The final arrest on the first night police took militia leaders into custody was of Jon Ritzheimer, a key militia leader who was home in Arizona and allegedly turned himself in to his local police department. Ritzheimer, a prominent anti-Islam activist, often stood guard at the entrance to the refuge, but was most known for his bizarre Facebook video rant about donated dildos.

He posted a Facebook video of his daughters crying before he turned himself in.

Duane Ehmer, 45, Irrigon, Oregon

Duane Ehmer, one of the few occupiers from Oregon, was arrested at an FBI checkpoint one day after the Bundy brothers were taken in. Ehmer was one of the most frequently photographed protesters at the refuge, often seen riding his horse Hellboy while carrying a large American flag.

These guys are just normal, everyday people,” he told the Guardian during the first week of the occupation. Ehmer was also one of the few released while awaiting trial. After his arrest, his horse was “held in a safe location”.

Jason Patrick, 43, Bonaire, Georgia

In the chaotic day after the arrest of the Bundy brothers and death of Finicum, Jason Patrick, a regular presence at the occupation, briefly emerged as the militia’s new de facto leader. The role, however, was short lived. Like Ehmer, Patrick was arrested at an FBI checkpoint while leaving the refuge. At the start of the occupation, he offered journalists guided tours of the refuge.

Patrick also faced charges in August 2014 of “making terrorist threats” after he “threatened to kill everyone” inside a municipal court building in Georgia, according to prosecutors.

Dylan Anderson, 34, Provo, Utah

Dylan Anderson was also arrested one day after Finicum was killed. Prosecutors say he was also known by his nickname “Captain Moroni” – a reference to a military leader in the Book of Mormon. He was at the refuge from the start of the occupation, according to prosecutors.

Kenneth Medenbach, 62, Crescent, Oregon

Kenneth Medenbach was added to prosecutors’ conspiracy case when a federal grand jury issued a formal indictment. His claim to fame, however, came two weeks earlier when he was arrested while driving a stolen government vehicle outside of the refuge and into the local town of Burns.

Jeff Banta, 46, Yerington, Nevada

Jeff Banta was one of the final four occupiers who refused to leave for two weeks after the rest of the militia members surrendered, were arrested or escaped without consequence. Banta and the three other holdouts were indicted by a federal grand jury in the conspiracy case before they ultimately surrendered.

Sandra Anderson, 48, Riggins, Idaho

Sandra Anderson was thrust into the national spotlight during the final 24 hours of the standoff as she refused to surrender and made bold statements during live-streamed phone calls as the FBI closed in on the holdouts. “Please don’t let us die in vain,” she shouted on the YouTube stream broadcast to tens of thousands of people. She eventually surrendered without incident and appeared in court in tears the following day.

Sean Anderson, 47, Riggins, Idaho

Sean Anderson is Sandra’s husband and another final holdout whose dramatic comments received widespread attention in the final hours of the occupation. “We are not surrendering, we’re turning ourselves in,” he said at one point during a live-streamed phone call. He eventually walked out holding an American flag.

David Fry, 27, Blanchester, Ohio

David Fry was the final occupier at the refuge, and after the three other holdouts surrendered, he initially refused to stand down during tense negotiations that were broadcast live on YouTube. He repeated his claims that he was willing to die for his anti-government protests and also noted that he was having suicidal thoughts, sparking fears on the outside that the occupation would end with more bloodshed. After an hour of charged debate with mediators on the phone, he turned himself in.

Fry initially received media attention when he filmed himself using the federal government’s computers at the refuge.

Blaine Cooper, 36, Humboldt, Arizona

Blaine Cooper was a very outspoken militia leader at the start of the occupation, but disappeared from public view in its final weeks. Cooper reappeared when he showed up for the recent funeral of Finicum in Utah. When a reporter asked him why he had not been arrested or indicted, he responded: “Lucky, maybe.”

Cooper’s luck ended on the final day of the occupation when he was arrested in Utah – as one of nine additional people charged as the standoff came to a close. Cooper was previously present at confrontations with the government at the Nevada Bundy ranch and Sugar Pine mine in Oregon early in 2015.

Neil Wampler, 68, Los Osos, California

Neil Wampler, a retired woodworker, was at the occupation from the beginning and told the Guardian that he was also present at Cliven Bundy’s standoff. Wampler became less friendly with reporters after the Oregonian reported that he was convicted of second-degree murder in the killing of his father in 1977. The paper reported that Wampler was armed at the refuge and was barred from possessing firearms due to the murder conviction.

Corey Lequieu, 44, Fallon, Nevada

Corey Lequieu, who was at the refuge from the beginning, told the Guardian in a recent phone interview that he left just after Finicum died. Though he managed to leave the occupation without being arrested, officials later apprehended him in Nevada.

At the refuge, it appeared that Lequieu was frequently involved in the group’s “security” team. In an earlier interview at the standoff, he said he would not be surprised if the occupation dragged on for months, saying, “This isn’t going to happen overnight.”

Jason Blomgren, 41, Murphy, North Carolina

Little is known about Jason Blomgren, who appears to have stayed out of the news for the occupation. Notably, it appears he was arrested in Bunkerville, Nevada, which is where the Bundy ranch is located.

Darryl Thorn, 31, of Marysville, Washington

Occupation member Darryl Thorn also appears to have skirted attention until his arrest on the final day of the standoff. He was reportedly arrested in Bend, Oregon.

Eric Flores, 22, Tulalip, Washington

Eric Flores was arrested in his hometown of Tulalip, Washington on the last day of the standoff. He appears to be the youngest person charged in the federal conspiracy case.

Wesley Kjar, 32, Manti, Utah

Wesley Kjar was another individual added to the federal case at the end of the occupation. He appeared in federal court in Salt Lake City.

Geoffrey Stanek, 26, Lafayette, Oregon

Geoffrey Stanek was one of the last of the 25 to be arrested. When officials announced the nine new indictments on the final day of the standoff, prosecutors initially redacted his name, because he was still at large. He was arrested near Portland the following evening.

Notably, many of the most high-profile women of the militia – some of whom the Guardian interviewed in the first week of the standoff – are also not listed in the charges.

Melissa Cooper, wife of arrested militiaman Blaine Cooper, was one of the main cooks at the refuge headquarters. She wrote on Facebook that her husband was arrested and subsequently told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he was apprehended in front of their children, saying: “It was traumatic for them.”

It appears that there are also no charges against Debra Carter Pope, a 61-year-old Fallon, Nevada, resident who was one of the main cooks alongside Cooper. She is the fiancee of Lequieu. Reached by phone after his arrest, she declined to comment.

Oregon Public Broadcasting also wrote about the women of the occupation and interviewed another protester named Kristi Jernigan, who said she was not worried about being arrested: “God would not ask me to do something if he wasn’t going to protect me.”

Stanek spoke to the Guardian during the first week of the occupation, saying he had arrived with friends. “I really strongly believe in what we’re doing,” he said, adding: “It’s really good not just to give back to the community, but to open their eyes and say, ‘This is their land.’”

Travis Cox

Officials revealed on Friday that the final occupier charged was Travis Cox, who is named in the latest indictment. As of late Friday, however, he had not yet been apprehended and no information was available about his identity.

The ones who got away

Despite the long list of people charged, some have pointed out that other known members of the occupation have avoided arrest and prosecution. Mel Bundy, another brother of Ammon and Ryan, was at the occupation at the beginning, but it appears that he left fairly early on. He has not been charged.

Brandon Dowd, a black occupier profiled by the Guardian, has not been named in the federal indictment. But he was recently arrested on an unrelated warrant in a theft case.

Phone software bug ‘eavesdrops and makes premium calls’

February 15, 2016

by Chris Baraniuk


A software bug can enable scammers to eavesdrop on phone conversations and make high-cost calls on other people’s lines, security experts have shown.

The problem affects voice-over-internet-protocol (Voip) phones, commonly used by businesses.

Just by running a couple of lines of code on a website visited by the phone user, the researchers demonstrated how premium-rate calls could be made.

A security expert said such bugs could make “millions” for the perpetrators.

By exploiting the fact that Voip phones and desktop computers are connected to the same internet network at many organisations, attackers are often able to access the phones themselves and operate them without the owner becoming aware.

“It’s incredibly easy to do,” said security researcher Per Thorsheim, who was involved in the demonstration by fellow researcher Paul Moore.

‘Pay to be eavesdropped’

Mr Thorsheim explained that the phone could be compromised if the user visited a web page containing a couple of lines of Javascript web code

This code was designed to launch the attack on a device made by phone hardware manufacturer Snom.

“It will charge you a pound a minute and I will listen to whatever is being said close to your phone – you will be paying me to be eavesdropped,” he told the BBC.

Mr Thorsheim added that it was relatively easy to update the phone’s security settings to prevent this.

However, he pointed out that most companies would probably not go to that trouble, as the phones operated perfectly well without making the security changes.

Prof Alan Woodward, a security expert at the University of Surrey, said it was a “significant problem” and pointed out that by using online tools he was able to find many examples of phones that could be accessed using the method.

“The one we do know where it’s being used a lot is premium-rate scams,” he told the BBC.

“They use your phone to dial a premium-rate number. There’s a lot of that going on – we’re talking millions being made out of that.”

Widespread issue

The practice of using phone lines paid for by companies to make expensive calls for little or no fee is thought to be increasingly common, according to research by security consultancy Nettitude.

In a report last year, it said that the UK was particularly badly affected.

Prof Woodward said the issue was similar to other flaws found in internet-connected devices and warned that with the rise of the Internet of Things, similar tricks were likely to become more and more common.

“It’s a huge wake-up call to anybody who’s building devices with embedded software,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Snom said that the firm was investigating the issue.

GOP Frontrunner: ‘Bush Lied, People Died’:– and isn’t Donald Trump right?

February 15, 2016

by Justin Raimondo


Pardon me while I sit back and enjoy the panic of the Republican – and media – elites as the GOP frontrunner takes up that old left-wing antiwar slogan: “Bush lied – people died!” That’s the essence of what Donald Trump said at Saturday’s South Carolina GOP presidential debate when moderator John Dickerson – who smirked his way through the entire debate – asked Trump if he still thought George W. Bush should be impeached as he supposedly said in a long ago interview:

George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.”

DICKERSON: “But so I’m going to – so you still think he should be impeached?”

TRUMP: “You do whatever you want. You call it whatever you want. I want to tell you. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.”

The storm of booing from that crowd, which seemed mainly to consist of members of the Lindsey Graham Ladies Home Garden Club, conjured in my memory another signal moment in the history of GOP presidential debates: when Ron Paul said that the 9/11 attacks were “blowback” resulting from half a century of propping up Arab despots in the Middle East. Remember how everyone declared that Paul was finished: that by saying the un-sayable he had forever dashed all hopes of making a political impact on the Republican party and that he was now consigned to the margins? What happened, however, was nothing of the sort: instead, that moment of speaking truth to power catapulted him to national prominence and was instrumental in creating a national movement that lives and grows to this day.

On Sunday morning, the same tired old pundits who gleefully predicted Paul’s ruination are even more enthusiastically forecasting Trump’s demise, albeit with a note of caution (because they’ve been saying he’s doomed for months now). There was Bill Kristol, who ceaselessly agitated for war – and whose subsidized magazine retailed the lies that led to that disaster – predicting that Trump would be badly hurt if not summarily drummed out of the race by “responsible” Republicans. Here he demands Republicans shun Trump and that other candidates pledge not to support him if he wins the nomination.

But of course there’s plenty of evidence George W. Bush and his neoconservative Rasputins lied us into war. To begin with,let’s look at members of his cabinet who wanted to go after Iraq first, with Osama bin Laden a mere afterthought:

At a National Security Council meeting immediately after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld declared that “Why shouldn’t we go against Iraq, not just al-Qaeda?” Wolfowitz chimed in by characterizing Iraq as a “brittle, oppressive regime that might break easily” and that regime change was “doable.” Obsessed with the theories of neoconservative crackpot conspiracy theorist Laurie Mylroie, who insisted Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, both Wolfowitz and Kristol’s Weekly Standard pushed this “theory” in order to justify the Iraq war. Clearly, from their perspective, “weapons of mass destruction” had nothing to do with it: that was just a pretext to implement their agenda of war in the Middle East.

The neoconservatives in the Bush administration suppressed CIA analysts who said there was little evidence of WMDs in Iraq, or any indication Saddam Hussein intended to build them. Vice President Dick Cheney and his top aide, the soon-to-be-indicted-and-convicted Scooter Libby, exerted maximum pressure on intelligence officials to come up with the desired conclusions, and personally traveled to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to make sure such dissent was crushed and analysts echoed administration talking points.Those talking points were manufactured in what one magazine aptly called a “Lie Factory” – the Office of Special Plans, a parallel intelligence-gathering agency set up by the neoconservatives in the administration that fed Congress and the media “factoids” which were later proved to be false. Again, these lies were mostly centered around the Laurie Mylroie conspiracy theory that pointed the finger at Saddam Hussein as being responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The “special planners” spread the story that Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers, had met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague: a total fabrication. The Special Plans brigade – headed up by Abram Shulsky, a scholarly expert on the politics of the philosopher Leo Strauss, who believed in the necessity of telling “noble lies” – was the conduit that funneled fabrications authored by Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress into the US intelligence stream. While Judy Miller heralded Chalabi’s lies on the front page of the New York Times, the OSP was landing them on George W. Bush’s desk.

One major and quite brazen example of lies in the service of the War Party’s agenda was the “16 words” controversy originating in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech, in which he said: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” The White House later disavowed this statement, saying it “should never have been included” in the speech. The reason: the documents on which they were based turned out to be forgeries, and crude ones at that. (I outed the authors of the forgery here.) And yet the “16 words” were included in Bush’s speech, over CIA and State Department objections. This is the clearest evidence that Bush – who had seen the classified National Intelligence Estimate – consciously lied and manipulated the “evidence” to suit his preconceived agenda.

That the cries of outrage over Trump’s accusations are coming from the very same people who peddled the Bush administration’s lies is hardly shocking. Bill Kristol avers that “no responsible Democrat” believes we were lied into war by Bush and his neocon advisors, but this is hardly the case. Indeed, congressional Democrats pushed for an investigation of the intelligence that the Bushies proffered as “evidence” of Iraqi WMD, but the probe was scotched for political reasons – i.e. they, like the Republicans, had nothing to gain from demonstrating how easily they were taken in. As I wrote back in 2005:

[Then Republican National Committee chairman] Ken Mehlman was on Meet the Press Sunday morning, invoking the Select Senate Committee Report [.pdf], the Silbermann-Robb report, and – laughably – the Butler report as evidence that we should all move along, there’s nothing to see here. The argument from authority is a favorite debating tactic of the neocons, second only to smearing their opponents as “anti-Semites.” You have to dig deep down in the archives and retrieve news articles as well as the texts of these various official and definitive-sounding ‘reports’ to realize that they say no such thing – and that, furthermore, an explicit political decision was made in the case of the SSCI report and the Silbermann-Robb whitewash not to address the question of manipulated intelligence. No ordinary American has the time or inclination to do that kind of research, however, and that is what they are counting on – just as they counted on this same conceptual lethargy to deliberately create the widespread impression that Iraq was behind 9/11.”

The Republicans in Congress had no interest in allowing an investigation of the Bush administration’s deliberately misleading public statements claiming there were WMDs in Iraq, and the Democrats were equally squeamish about the subject – after all, why would you want to reveal to the public how you were bamboozled into going along with the biggest foreign policy disaster since Napoleon’s invasion of Russia?

And so it was never investigated. Yet the resentment of how the lies of the neocons destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, in the Middle East and here in this country, has long been boiling beneath the surface – only to burst through, last Saturday, in the midst of the Republican debate.

Oh, it’s a “conspiracy theory,” they’re saying: it’s politically unwise, they aver; it’s just another example of Trump’s rudeness and crudeness. These same pundits, who gave us weekly forecasts of The Donald’s imminent implosion, are so distanced from what the American people really think that they actually believe their own bloviations.

They are in for a rude awakening – and the ruder the better.

If Trump continues to win primaries and his ascent in the polls is uninterrupted, this is the end of the War Party’s influence in the GOP. And when even Medea Benjamin can acknowledge Trump’s contribution to the education of the American people on the causes of the Iraq war – although she was singing a far different tune during the debate – can the rest of the politically correct Left be far behind? In a match-up with Hillary Clinton, who fulsomely supported the war, Trump will have the upper hand on this important issue. Indeed, this will be a perfect opportunity for those Sanders supporters who despise Hillary and her coin-tossing super-delegate fixers to exact their revenge and cast their lot with Trumpian populism. And revenge, as libertarians all know, is what politics is all about.

To those know-it-all pundits who declared that voters don’t care about foreign policy and that therefore we won’t be hearing much about it this election year: how does it feel to be proven so wrong so decisively? Indeed, it may turn out that America’s global empire is the pivotal issue in this contest, underscoring my argument that the American people are sick unto death of perpetual war – and have been unable to do anything about it because they’ve never been given a choice between interventionism and minding our own business.

This debate brought out many other aspects of Trumpism that are direct appeals to the dreaded “isolationist” sentiments of the American people the foreign policy “experts” have lived in fear of lo these many years. Trump thinks we can actually get along with Vladimir Putin, an idea that seemed to horrify debate moderator John Dickerson; he challenges our bipartisan policy of arming Syria’s head-chopping Islamist rebels – “We don’t even know who these people are!” – and while he’s bad on the Iran deal, unlike his rivals he hasn’t pledged to “rip it up on Day One.”

The significance of Trump’s foreign policy “heresy,” as liberal commentator Jonathan Chait characterized it, is that his views are only “heretical” inside the Washington Beltway. Out here in the real world, they’re the conventional wisdom. I’ve been saying this for ages, and now that the rise of Trump is underscoring how distanced the elites are from the rest of us, the chattering classes – to their horror – are beginning to realize it, too.

So now I say to you: whatever you think of The Donald – and I don’t count myself among his supporters – let’s just kick back and enjoy the sheer beauty of this moment when the neocons, their “liberal” doppelgangers, and indeed all of “respectable” society melts down over the GOP frontrunner’s “heretical” foreign policy views.

No responses yet

Leave a Reply