TBR News February 23, 2019

Feb 23 2019

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. February 23, 2019:” Comments from Pascal-

Men wish to be great and see that they are small. Men wish to be happy and see that they are miserable. Men wish to be perfect and see that they are full of imperfections. Men wish to be the object of the love and esteem of others and see that their shortcomings merit only their dislike and contempt. This situation in which he finds himself produces in him the most unjust and criminal passions imaginable, for a man conceives a deadly hatred against that truth which blames him and convinces him of his faults. He would like to crush it, and, unable to do this, he destroyed it the best he can, and in his consciousness, and that of others. He takes every precaution to hide his shortcomings both from other and himself, and cannot bear to have them pointed out or observed.

Pascal-    Pensées 743”

The Table of Contents

  • Thousands march as France’s ‘yellow vest’ protests rumble on
  • Liberté for Whom?
  • North Carolina orders new U.S. House election after ‘tainted’ vote
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

Thousands march as France’s ‘yellow vest’ protests rumble on

February 23, 2019


PARIS (Reuters) – Thousands of people marched on Saturday in Paris and other cities and dozens were arrested as France’s “yellow vest” movement staged its 15th consecutive weekend of demonstrations against the government.

Some 11,600 people joined the protests nationwide, including 4,000 in the capital, the Interior Ministry said. That was up from 10,200 last week, with 3,000 in Paris.

Demonstrations have generally got smaller since a peak in December when the French capital saw some of the worst rioting, vandalism and looting in decades.

The protests — named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists have to carry in their cars — began in mid-November over rising fuel prices and the cost of living but morphed into a broader movement against President Emmanuel Macron and his pro-business reforms.

Fourteen people were arrested in Paris, but protesters marched mostly peacefully through the capital’s wealthier neighborhoods surrounded by a heavy police presence.

Some 15 people were also arrested in the central city of Clermont-Ferrand and potentially dangerous objects were seized ahead of a march in which police said 2,500 participated.

The movement, which crystallized common complaints against taxes and high living costs rather than shared political views, has faced increased infighting as some members have sought to run in upcoming European Parliament elections.

It has, however, posed the biggest challenge to Macron’s authority since he came to office in May 2017.

His popularity has recovered from lows reached in the wake of violent clashes during protests in December after he launched a series of debates across the country aimed at reconnecting with voters particularly in rural areas.

Macron received a mostly warm welcome on Saturday at Paris’ annual farm show, taking selfies with the public and chatting with farmers as he strolled for hours among the crowd and animals.

Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and Leigh Thomas; Editing by Helen Poppe


Liberté for Whom?

French Muslims Grapple With a Republic That Codified Their Marginalization

February 23, 2019

by Murtaza Hussain

The Intercept

Yasser Louati didn’t usually permit his English students to leave class to make phone calls. On this January day in 2015, however, one asked with such urgency in her eyes that he nodded at her request and let her leave. A few minutes later, the woman walked back into the class, looking just as upset as she did when she left. As she took her seat, Yasser asked her if anything was wrong.

“There’s a been a shooting at the Hypercacher,” she said quietly, referring to the kosher supermarket chain located across the city in Paris’s 20th arrondissement.

Louati’s heart sank. All of Paris had been on edge for the past two days, following a shooting at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The assailants were still on the loose and everyone was living in fear of more violence. But the location of this attack also had a personal resonance for Louati: The Hypercacher was just a few doors down from his 6-year-old son’s school.

Suppressing his own feelings of dread, Louati pushed through the final hour of class in a daze. As soon as it ended, he put on his jacket and rushed out the door, jumped on his motorbike and sped toward the 20th arrondissement. The normally bustling district was under siege by heavily armed police. Heart racing, Louati told a police officer he had come to collect his son from a nearby school. The officer said he could pass, but only on foot.

His son and the other students had taken refuge in the school basement and remained safe. Overcome with relief, Louati picked up his son and made his way through a sea of police back to his motorbike. Climbing onto the back seat, Louati’s son, who wanted to be a police officer, asked him what a terrorist was. “It’s a very evil and bad person,” Louati replied, strapping on his helme

The attacks and the ensuing climate of fear in Paris had set Louati on edge. Like other Parisians, he was afraid of the terrorists still on the loose in his city — the Hypercacher attack was still ongoing. But Louati also had other worries: He already felt a sense of foreboding about the backlash against French Muslims that was sure to come in the aftermath. As he often did in times of anxiety, Louati stopped by a mosque on the way home with his son to pray.

When he arrived, an imam was seated on the ground at the front of the mosque, with a few congregants before him. Everyone in the mosque knew that the spate of deadly attacks that had rocked the city had been conducted by other Muslims — extremists who claimed to be acting in the name of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State — and the city was still rife with heavily armed police. French public discourse was sure to be dominated in the coming days by questions that would bear directly on the congregants at the mosque — about Islam, terrorism, and whether people like them even belonged in the French Republic.

The imam, however, seemed oblivious. “So, what do people want to talk about?” the preacher asked those assembled. None of the dazed congregants replied. Pausing a moment, the imam continued, “OK, let’s talk about the correct way to make wudu” — the ritual ablution Muslims make before prayer.

Louati was shocked by what the imam just said. “People are being killed outside, in our city, in the name of Islam, and this is what you’re talking about?” he thought with incredulity. The disconnect between the reality of what was happening outside and the bubble inside was too much. He shot a sharp glance across the room, gathered up his son, and walked out the door.

When I met Louati recently at a restaurant in Paris’s 13th arrondissement, he had just returned from teaching the same English class he was teaching the night of the Hypercacher shooting. A former airline pilot who is now 39 years old, Louati was born and raised in Paris, the son of a Tunisian father who worked as an electrician and mother who was a seamstress. Tall, with close-cropped brown hair, trimmed beard, and a youthful appearance, he dresses carefully in a suit and tie to teach, business attire draped over the frame of the pilot he had spent years becoming.

In 2015, Louati had been briefly pushed into the spotlight. A wave of major terrorist attacks in France set off an international media fixation on a community — French Muslims — whose struggles and history had been of little interest to them before. At the time, Louati was working with Collective Against Islamophobia in France, a grassroots group focused on fighting discrimination. That November, extremists attacked the Stade de France and the Bataclan theatre, leaving 130 people dead and horrifying the country.

Louati gave an interview on CNN, his first appearance on television. The clip became notorious. The cable news hosts forthrightly blamed the French Muslim community as a whole for the attacks, demanding that Louati accept responsibility on air. To their visible frustration, he refused: “Sir, the Muslim community has nothing to do with these guys!” Louati said. “Nothing. We cannot justify ourselves for the actions of someone who claims to be Muslim.”

The interview captured a growing sentiment that French Muslims were not just a “problem,” but a possible fifth column inside the country.

While the French Republic does not compile statistics on race and religion, it is estimated that up to 10 percent of its population comes from Muslim backgrounds. France’s Muslims are mostly the descendants of the country’s former colonial territories: Algeria, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Tunisia, and Senegal. Long associated with stereotypes of social delinquency, poverty, and now extremism, French Muslims have been fighting a battle for equality in a manner similar to the U.S. civil rights movement long before the world began noticing them.

Louati’s life stands as a poignant example. As a teenager in Paris’s 94th department, the suburbs south of the city, he was awakened to politics at a young age. It was a sentiment that crystallized when Spike Lee released his biographical film about Malcolm X. “The anger I felt, and the hostility and racism that I experienced as a child, were all distilled in that film,” he recalled. “It was like I was run over by a train watching it. After the movie ended, I stood alone at the back of the theatre and cried. I couldn’t believe that a man gave up his life fighting for these things.”

Louati spent much of his life in the same city, trying to avoid the pitfalls of crime, delinquency, and drug use that plague many young men there. He did better than most, managing to get an education and train for a professional career that allowed him to travel and see something of the world outside the concrete blocks of Paris’s suburbs. Activism kept its pull on him, though, drawing him to a life of organizing that led him to give up the career he trained for.

The failures of modern France weigh on Louati. The country has become a “laboratory” for discriminatory laws targeting minorities, particularly Muslims, he says. But this isn’t the criticism of an outsider, let alone an ungrateful foreigner. “It’s because you feel French, and you are French, that you criticize France,” he said emphatically when we spoke. “If something is wrong in this house, I’m going to say it, because I belong here.”

I asked him what he would have said if people wanted to understand what led to the attacks in 2015. The shootings at the Hypercacher and Charlie Hebdo, as well as the attacks at the Bataclan, involved young men who were born and raised in the country. “When you have millions of people who are already marginalized, disenfranchised, and without community institutions that can give them answers, you create easy targets for extremists,” Louati responded. “The narrative of these groups is that France exploited and humiliated your parents, they destroyed the countries of your ancestry, and now they hate you, too. Do you want to keep trying to be like them, or do you want to take revenge?”

Over a thousand French citizens went abroad to join the militant group the Islamic State. While statistically, that’s a tiny fragment of France’s roughly 6 million Muslims, even a small number of young adults giving up their lives to join a genocidal terrorist organization should be cause for serious reflection.

“Daesh made a killing in the suburbs,” Louati said forthrightly of ISIS’s recruitment efforts in the outskirts of Paris, referring to the group’s Arabic acronym. “There’s no counternarrative to the extremists. If you want a solution, let French Muslims organize themselves and address the real issues that the terrorists are using to recruit.”

Over the course of the 19th century, France accumulated a vast colonial empire stretching across Asia and Africa. Its colonization efforts were most intense just across the Mediterranean. In 1830, the French military invaded Algeria, deposed the local Ottoman governor, and undertook a ruthless campaign to suppress a grassroots resistance movement. For more than a century, the North African country was governed as an extension of France itself. The local French colonists, known as “pied noir,” ruled Algeria as a racially privileged caste, analogous in some ways to Israeli settlers in the West Bank today. “Algérie Française” eventually came to an end in 1962, after colonial rule buckled under the pressure of a grueling revolutionary war. Over a million Algerians are believed to have been killed in the conflict.

During its time as an empire, France periodically brought young men from its colonies to provide cheap labor for its cities. In the decades following World War I, there was a particular need for manpower to rebuild industry and replace the huge numbers of working-age men killed in the fighting. Hundreds of thousands of North Africans took the opportunity to work in France, desperate to escape the grinding poverty of their colonized homelands. North African workers did the jobs that most French people balked at, laying railroad track, working in mines, and paving roads in the scorching heat. They led lives of loneliness and poverty, cut off from their families back home and crowded into tenements in the outskirts of major cities.

The meager wages the workers earned, however, were a godsend for the countries they left behind. By the time the Algerian revolution broke out, there were perhaps half a million Algerians living and working in France. In addition to building France’s industry and infrastructure, colonial soldiers from across Africa gave their lives in huge numbers to defend France in both world wars. During World War II, colonial soldiers comprised a majority of Charles de Gaulle’s Free French army, at a time when many native French people were collaborating with the Vichy regime. These sacrifices won little recognition from French society. The 1944 liberation of Paris was deliberately made a “whites only” affair.

Years of continued discrimination culminated in one of the most shocking incidents in French history. On October 17, 1961, thousands of French Arabs gathered in Paris to march in support of the Algerian independence movement. French police, under the control of Maurice Papon — a local prefect notorious for his collaboration with the Nazis during the Vichy regime — descended on the demonstrators. The police fired live ammunition into terrified crowds of unarmed protestors. Many were detained and then drowned by being thrown into the Seine. While the massacre was studiously ignored for decades in France, historians estimate that as many as 200 people were killed on that day.

In the shadow of these events, a generation of children were born in France who were the descendants of the country’s black and Arab colonial soldiers and laborers. Circumstances forced this generation to look inward: Their parents’ homelands were foreign to them, yet they found that they were not really accepted in France, either. A new wave of popular movements was born as they sought equality in the country in which they were born.

In 1983, discontent over labor discrimination, policy brutality, and a spate of hate crimes against Arabs and Africans led to the organization of the largest anti-racism protest in French history. More than 100,000 people participated in the March for Equality and Against Racism, moving by foot across hundreds of miles from Marseille to Paris. For the first time in France’s history, the country’s minorities were forcing the nation to pay attention. In a statement, the organizers said, ”We want to show that the French and immigrants can live together, in spite of their differences, in an integrated society.”

Abdelaziz Chaambi was one of the organizers of the March for Equality and Against Racism. Now in his late 50s, he has a heavy build and short graying hair and stubble. He immigrated to France from Tunisia as a 12-year-old. Chaambi dedicated his life to the cause of France’s minorities after his brother was murdered in a racist attack when they were both young. I spoke with Chaambi in Vénissieux, a suburb of Lyon marked by a stretch of concrete high-rises and industrial buildings. He carried himself with the unmistakable energy and determination of someone who had been organizing for decades. He periodically stopped to press stickers advertising CRI — Coordination Against Racism and Islamophobia, an activist group he helped found — onto concrete pillars.

“For a long time, minorities in France wanted to assimilate their identities completely. People straightened their hair and wanted to look and dress the way that white French people did,” Chaambi told me, sitting in a sandwich shop near Lyon’s Perrache train station. “But over the years, they realized that whatever they did, they were only considered ‘bougnoule’ by the rest of society” — a racist term for North Africans and blacks.

The 1983 March for Equality and Against Racism began in Vénissieux, after the police shooting of a young man named Toumi Djaidja, who decided to organize the march from his hospital bed. Over three decades later, many of the same grievances that led to the march remain. Unemployment and poverty in Vénissieux are rampant, with up to a third of population living under the poverty line. Along with families and young people walking to school, drug dealers roam between stretches of apartment blocks.

In 2005, riots broke out in cities across France. The triggering event was the deaths of two boys who were killed after reportedly being chased by police officers in Paris. But their deaths were only the spark igniting the long-simmering anger of young “banlieusards” across the country. Decades of discrimination, alienation, and police violence had turned the suburbs into a tinderbox. In Vénissieux and other suburbs across France, young men burned cars and attacked police officers in scenes that were broadcast around the world.

Given the extent to which Islamic radicalism today has become a focus of security officials in France, it’s notable how little the riots in 2005 had to do with religion. Though the anger of the demonstrations intensified after the reported teargassing of a mosque by police, the riots themselves were a generic expression of pure rage and despair. For people like Chaambi who have been watching and warning about conditions for years, they did not come as a surprise.

“In France, there isn’t a door for young people born here to integrate into society,” he told me. “The riots in 2005 were about the frustration of people who have lived their whole lives without equal rights, dignity, access to jobs or proper housing. They were a warning sign to the rest of society that things were getting unbearable for people in the suburbs.”

Over the past year, French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to create a “French Islam” that is structured and controlled under the guidance of the state. Not a single person I met in France thought that this was a good idea; most tended to view the plan as either a patronizing intrusion into their personal lives or a surreptitious expansion of the police state. Without popular support, it’s hard to see how such a plan could ever be implemented.

While I was around Vénissieux with Chaambi, he made a point of letting me know how much he identifies the cause of France’s Arabs and Africans with the civil rights struggle of black Americans. (He boasted of meeting former Black Panther activist Angela Davis during a visit to Paris.) His years of activism are a living monument to the longevity of France’s own civil rights struggle.

“There was a black president in America, but people are still fighting against discrimination, police violence, and white supremacy. We are fighting against the same things here, and we feel very close to the struggle of black people in America,” Chaambi said as we drove out of Vénissieux. As we passed, rows of families and young children in backpacks wound their way through corroded apartment buildings and old shopping plazas.

“In France, there are some people who feel like they’re superior and we’re inferior, therefore their job is to ‘civilize’ us,” he said. “We don’t accept this, and the young people especially don’t appreciate this kind of attitude toward them. What they need is hope for a better life, but also to be recognized, acknowledged, and respected in French society for who they are, not what someone else wants to force them to be.”

A half-hour train ride north from the opulence of central Paris, the suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis — the 93rd district, or the “neuf trois,” as it’s known colloquially — is the poorest district in France. The area includes the neighborhood of Saint-Denis. Aside from attending matches at Paris’s Stade de France, which is seated near the district, most people in the city seem to avoid Saint-Denis. When I asked Louati and a few other non-locals to give me a ride there, they repeatedly demurred. Eventually, I took the RER train — a commuter rail — to head out on my own.

On the main streets of the district and around the central train station, smoke wafted from skewers of meat being grilled by young men over shopping carts. Blankets laid out on the sidewalks displayed hats, scarves, and cellphone accessories for sale. The clothing stories, bakeries, butcher shops, and restaurants stretched out across the city center buzzed with activity. Along the riverbank, a memorial plaque honored the victims of the 1961 massacre — a monument to a tragedy that occurred some miles away, in central Paris.

For a brief moment in 2015, Saint-Denis seemed like it had become the gateway connecting Europe to the violence then roiling Iraq and Syria. As coordinated attacks struck central Paris, a separate group of attackers set out to target the Stade de France, the massive circular football stadium located in Saint-Denis that plays host to major international matches. The would-be assailants had their eye on a friendly football match between France and Germany. Among the thousands in attendance was then-French President François Hollande. The three suicide bombers, however, failed to execute their plan as intended. Their vests detonated before they could penetrate the massive crowds. One innocent bystander outside the stadium was killed — a 63-year-old chauffeur who had been dropping off spectators running late to the match.

Over the next few days, France continued to reel from the series of rapid-fire attacks and attempted plots. Hundred had been killed and wounded. A massive dragnet swept over the country to find the plotters. Five days later, a massive police operation focused in on a residence in central Saint-Denis. Three militants had hidden out in a small, tan-colored apartment building sitting above a cellphone store on a busy pedestrian street. Police flooded the area, and a massive standoff ensued. Over the next few hours, central Saint-Denis was a war zone. Over 5,000 bullets were fired by police, in an attempt to flush out or kill the attackers.

After several hours, the siege came to an end when one of the suspects detonated a suicide vest. Three people were found dead inside, including the attack’s mastermind, Belgian-born Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, and his cousin Hasna Ait Boulahcen, 26.

The building on the Rue du Corbillon where the fatal standoff took place is boarded up and abandoned today. The other tenants inside, as well as the shops below, were evicted following the raid and have yet to return. Covered in graffiti — some of which protests the lack of compensation for the evictees — the building is not out of sight on some quiet residential street. Instead, it stands out like a scar in the middle of one of the district’s busiest shopping streets. Pedestrians mill around the bombed-out structure, chatting and shopping. On a Saturday morning, panhandlers selling purses and jackets laid out their merchandise outside its boarded-up windows.

The attackers killed in the building were not from Saint-Denis, but rather had rented an apartment there from an unwitting landlord to use as a hideout. Nonetheless, the area has taken on a reputation as a den of extremism.

For Sihame Assbague, Saint-Denis is just home. She was born in France to a family from Morocco and grew up in and around Paris. Several years ago, she moved to Saint-Denis. When I met her in the district on a Saturday morning, the streets were packed with people shopping and drinking coffee in cheap cafes. The ornate ancient gothic cathedral, bearing the name of the district, towered over the area, though inside it was mostly empty. On a side alley, a small mosque — just a few houses and trailers merged into a single structure — was packed with congregants and children attending weekend Arabic classes.

In Assbague’s telling the image of the suburbs in the rest of France is one of pure delinquency, which fails to account for the despair felt by young men and women growing up in a world of segregation, discrimination and lack of opportunity.

“When people get to a certain age, and it dawns that there’s no opportunity for them, it’s a turning point,” she said. “There is a difference between what they thought their life was going to be like and what the reality is that becomes very hard to accept.”

Like many people from the area, Assbague is frustrated with the international’s media fixation on Islam, which she says makes invisible the social pathologies that tend to lead people into extremism.

“We are talking about young men with histories of delinquency and very recent religious practice at most. Contrary to what one tends to read about them, they are more likely to have spent their time in prison cells rather than mosques,” she said, referring to French media reports about the terrorists’ criminal backgrounds and apparently flexible religious practices. “No one talks about what happens in prison or what leads people there, instead they focus on demonizing the religion of more than five million French. Muslims are killed when terrorist attacks happen too. They’re scared of being hurt when they go out, just like anyone else. The first woman who was killed by the terrorist in Nice was wearing a headscarf.”

The physical distance between Seine-Saint-Denis and central Paris is just a short train ride. But the subtle psychological barriers — as well as the effect of policing on young people in the area — are huge. A kind of apartheid separates lavish central Paris from the great poverty that is so close by.

In March 2017, Mamadou Camara, then 18 years old, was returning from a school trip to Brussels with his class. Pulling into Paris’s Gare du Nord station, he and two other boys, both African and Arab, were taken aside from their class and searched. They were frisked and made to open their luggage in full view of everyone in the packed station, over the protestations of their teacher. Camara lives in the neighborhood of Épinay, just west of central Saint-Denis, where random encounters like this with police are a daily fact of life. But to be humiliated even on a class trip in the middle of Paris was too much. With the help of their teacher, he and the other two boys filed a lawsuit for racial profiling.

Camara is tall and lanky, his short hair neatly trimmed into a geometric design. He has golden ear piercings and was wearing a tracksuit when we met in a library at Épinay. Outside, groups of men smoked cigarettes and drank coffee on a Friday morning. Soldiers armed with assault rifles also milled around the neighborhood, while sirens could be heard in the distance. Camara grew up around this area. He was shy when we first met, but opened up and became more animated as he described what life is like in the area.

“I’m used to being stopped and searched, but not in front of my class in the middle of the city,” Camara said. “That was too much.”

Camara was born in Mali but left with his family for France when he was 1 year old. He grew up in Saint-Denis, though for years his family sent him to a school outside the district in hopes that the quality of education would be better. When getting to school became too difficult, he started attending one of the high schools in the area. After he and the other two boys filed the lawsuit with the help of their teacher, the police in Épinay tended to leave him alone a bit more.

“I’m used to being profiled, because I grew up with it. But I don’t want my brothers to have to have the same experience,” he added, referring to his two younger brothers, both adolescents. “I really like France, actually — it’s my home and I feel at home. There’s some racism, but the thing I really like about this country in the first place is that there are so many different people living here together. We just need to stand up for our rights, and things will be OK.”

In mid-2015, a police official working at the Orly Airport south of Paris invited Ismail Difallah for a coffee in the main terminal. For over a decade, Difallah, who was born in France to Algerian parents, had worked at the airport in various roles, most recently in security. Over six feet in height, he is built like a security guard — tall and thickset — yet he is also gregarious and frequently sports the sort of smile that can be disarming.

On the day they met, the police official had an offer for him. “After making some small talk, he asked me if I would ‘work’ for them in the airport,” Difallah told me when I met him.

The police official was inviting Difallah to become an informant for the government — something that happens to huge numbers of Muslim men in Europe and the United States. The job, such that it is, wasn’t always so difficult. In most cases, it entailed meeting with a handler periodically and giving them information about people in one’s network. In some extreme cases, it could involve working on entrapment cases and stings of people that the authorities target.

Difallah quietly let the officer know that he wasn’t interested. “I told them I already have a job, so I’m fine,” Difallah said.

He went back to work, though for a while the conversation left a bad taste in his mouth. Within a few weeks, however, he had largely forgotten it. The next time the conversation popped into his head was at the end of the year, when Difallah needed to get his security clearance renewed to continue working at the airport. He applied, as he had done routinely for more than a decade. This time, however, things didn’t work out.

“They told me that we can’t give you the clearance now,” Difallah told me at a home in the suburbs, not far from the airport. “I asked them why, and they just said they didn’t have any information for me.”

His mind started racing, trying to think back to figure out why he was suddenly being rejected. The only thing that sprang to mind was the conversation with the officer, but he had no way of finding out if that was the real reason for his denial. A denunciation to the local prefect, by a police officer or even another citizen, could be enough to land him on a secret list, like the notorious S-File, that would make him ineligible for a clearance. As many was 20,000 people are believed to be in the S-File database, which can lead to surveillance, prevention of travel, or difficulties getting work.

Suddenly, deprived of the ability to work with no explanation, Difallah’s life was thrown into turmoil. He got a lawyer in an attempt find out what information the state may have used to have his clearance pulled. Due to the opaque nature of France’s system of secret evidence and security listings, however, his legal efforts found no success. Difallah has still not gotten his job back. For now, he is working as a private bus driver to make ends meet. “I’m just tired,” he told me, resignation in his voice. “Honestly, I am tired.”

One of the quirks of liberal democracies is that, during periods of crisis, they have the ability take on the attributes of authoritarian states. In its effort to confront terrorists after 2015, this is what the French government has done. Immediately after the attacks, France instituted a nationwide state of emergency. The measure allowed security forces to conduct warrantless raids, shut down private institutions, and restrict the movements of targeted people.

While drastic measures were widely seen as necessary to roll up the extremist networks responsible for the wave of attacks, it soon became clear that the dragnet was catching far more than just terrorism suspects. By mid-2016, nearly 3,600 warrantless raids had been carried out across the country. Only six resulted in terrorism charges.

Macron campaigned on a pledge to end the state of emergency. The promise was kept, but only by a sleight of hand. Although the state of emergency was lifted in 2017, its most draconian measures were institutionalized into a new anti-terrorism law called Strengthening Homeland Security and the Fight Against Terrorism. The state of emergency is now permanent.

In an office just off central Paris’s opulent Place de la Concorde, a human rights attorney named Emanuel Daoud is fighting a lonely battle to push back against France’s creeping authoritarianism. Daoud’s office — adorned with upbeat modern art, in juxtaposition to the subject matter of his cases — sees a steady stream of petitioners who have found themselves caught in the dragnet of France’s counterterrorism policies. The volume of casework is such that the office buzzes with activity, even late into the night.

When I visited his office, Daoud told me that the use of secret evidence, blacklists, and denunciations have gradually built an atmosphere of fear in the suburbs and beyond. He singled out the S-File. “The maintenance of secret lists like the S-File — created in part through the use of private denunciations — is taken from the practice of the Vichy regime in World War II, though the consequences of being placed on such a list are ultimately different,” he told me. “There is a general climate of fear and paranoia being created by these measures that is expanding beyond just minority groups living in the suburbs.”

In a meeting with a former high-level French intelligence official, Daoud was told that the state of emergency had only been useful as a counterterrorism tool for a few weeks after the 2015 attacks. After the perpetrators and their network had been rolled up, the draconian measures mostly stayed in place for political reasons.

As Daoud sees it, there is an inexorable shift toward less freedom in France. This is signified in part by the shift in oversight of civil liberties from the judiciary toward the executive, or as the French call it, the administrative. What this means in practice is that local prefects, like the one that denied Difallah his security clearance without explanation, will gain more power to put people on lists or deny them their rights without legal challenges. This dynamic is likely to continue, even if no more attacks happen. If there is more terrorism, Daoud warns of a wider possible breakdown in social cohesion.

“After November 2015, people feared and expected that there would be physical attacks against Muslims and their institutions,” Daoud said. “For the most part, that didn’t happen, and the far-right activists who tried to engage in attacks were intercepted by security forces. This was positive. But it’s an increasingly fragile balance, however, and it’s in danger of breaking.”

A situation like this is particularly claustrophobic for people like Difallah. Trapped between an insidiously expanding security state and the multiple threats posed to French Muslims by terrorism, he has no other place to turn if France becomes unwelcoming. Despite losing almost everything in his personal life over the past three years since his clearance was denied, like most other people I met, he said he found it cathartic to be able tell his story. He tried to explain how the targeting by the police over a lifetime, culminating in the loss of his job, has made him feel like an outsider in the city where he was born.

“I’m 38 years old; I don’t know the country of my parents. I’ve been to Algeria maybe one month in six years,” he said. “Yes, I’m Muslim, but I’m French, and I feel tired of trying and failing to prove this.”

In 2015, the French novelist Michel Houellebecq released a book called “Submission.” The novel depicted a near future in which France is ruled by an Islamist government, which comes to power at the head of a coalition created during the 2022 elections. In Houellebecq’s satirical alternate history, an exhausted France eventually decides to lay down in the face of its supposedly virile and determined Muslims. The new French president is a suave intellectual with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood who quietly begins a program of socially re-engineering the country and reorienting it toward the Middle East. Meanwhile, the suburbs become the site of violent gun battles between right-wing activists and young Arab and African youths, which the French media expeditiously choose to ignore.

Louati didn’t like the book.

“French elites have always had fantasies about civil war and purging people of ‘impure blood’ from the country,” he told me one evening at a mall in the southern Paris suburb of Thiais. On a Sunday night, the mall food court was bustling, mostly with young people and families of Arab and African background. A French rap song pumped out of an Adidas store full of shoppers. “When you are Muslim and French, society pushes these two identities to collide,” Louati told me. “Islam isn’t considered a normal religion of France the way that Catholicism, Protestantism, or Judaism are – even though many of our grandparents were fighting the Nazis to free this country while others were collaborating with Vichy.”

By morbid coincidence, Houellebecq’s novel was released on the day of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015. Those killings marked the start of a cycle of terrorist attacks and government reprisals that began to crystallize a certain image of Muslims as a security threat — or even a fifth column within the French Republic. To say this view is blinkered would be an understatement.

“In the public imagination, the image of a French Muslim remains the disenfranchised youth of suburbs,” said Olivier Roy, a French political scientist and specialist on political Islam. “The reality is that over the past generation, they’ve seen the creation of an educated middle class and professional class, which, due to lack of representation, is mostly ignored. There’s a discrepancy between the public perception and sociological reality. In a sense, it’s normal for the extreme right in France to use cliches about Muslims, but the problem is the clichés are also used by the left, too.”

In France, it’s common to see tributes to African-American freedom fighters like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. Due to the country’s revolutionary history, the French have a love of egalitarianism that often draws it into competition with the United States. Until France can learn to fulfill the rights of its own minorities — whose efforts helped build the modern nation and who, for the past several decades, have waged a civil rights struggle of their own — its troubles are not going to reach a conclusion.

“France owes people like us its freedom,” said Yasser Louati, passion in his voice as he packed up his belongings. The bistro, Belle-Epine, was set to close. “These kids you see around, Africans and Arabs, whether people like it or not, they’re French. We’re not foreigners or guests who are going to accept being treated as though we’re just lucky to be here. Maybe some of the elites of France don’t like us. But they’re going to have to respect us.”


North Carolina orders new U.S. House election after ‘tainted’ vote

February 21, 2019

by Andrew Hay and Gabriella Borter

(Reuters) – North Carolina’s elections board on Thursday ordered a new election for a U.S. House seat after officials said corruption surrounding absentee ballots tainted the results of a 2018 vote that has embarrassed the Republican Party.

The bipartisan board’s 5-0 decision came after Republican candidate Mark Harris, confronted by days of evidence that an operative for his campaign orchestrated a ballot fraud scheme, called for a new vote in the state’s 9th Congressional District.

“It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted,” Harris said on the fourth day of the hearing in Raleigh, the state capital.

Elections Board Chairman Bob Cordle said “the corruption” and “absolute mess” with absentee ballots had cast doubt on the entire contest.

“It certainly was a tainted election,” Cordle said. “The people of North Carolina deserve a fair election.”

The race is the country’s last unsettled 2018 congressional contest, and the outcome will not change the balance of power in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.

But evidence of ballot fraud by the Harris campaign turned the tables on the Republican Party, which has accused Democrats with little evidence of encouraging individual voter fraud in races such as the 2016 presidential election.

Harris’ request for a new vote came as a surprise after he spent months trying to fend off a rerun. He led Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes out of 282,717 ballots cast on Nov. 6, but elections officials refused to certify him the winner because of allegations of irregularities in the vote.

The pastor capitulated after his son testified he had warned his father of potential illegal activity by Republican political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless.

North Carolina law requires that a new primary nominating election also be conducted in the district, which covers parts of Charlotte and the southeast of the state. Republicans have held the seat since 1963.


It is unclear whether Harris, 52, will run again. He told the board he was recovering from an infection last month that led to sepsis and two strokes, and said his illness led to memory lapses during the hearing that made him realize he was not prepared for the “rigors” of the proceeding.

North Carolina’s Democratic Party said the hearing laid bare the Harris campaign’s “illegal scheme to steal an election.” McCready wasted no time in tweeting to supporters to donate to his campaign for the new election.

“Today was a great step forward for democracy in North Carolina,” he tweeted.

If Democrats pick up the seat, they would widen their 235-197 majority in the House after taking control of the chamber from President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans in the November elections.

State Republicans said they respected Harris’ decision to resolve a “tremendously difficult situation.”

“The people of North Carolina deserve nothing less than the full confidence and trust in the electoral system,” party Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement.

Earlier on Thursday, Harris said he had known Dowless was going door to door on the candidate’s behalf to help voters obtain absentee ballots, a process that is legal. Harris said Dowless assured him he would not collect the ballots from the voters, which would violate state law.

But residents of at least two counties in the district said Dowless and his paid workers collected incomplete absentee ballots and, in some instances, falsely signed as witnesses and filled in votes for contests left blank, according to testimony at the hearing.

Harris campaign officials said they did not pay Dowless to do anything illegal, and Dowless maintained his innocence.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York and Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

February 23, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Conversation No. 114


Date: Wednesday, December 1,1997

Commenced: 11:22 AM CST

Concluded: 11:55 AM PST


RTC: Good morning to you, Gregory. I wanted to have a little talk with you about your books and other matters. Do you have some time now?

GD: Oh, certainly.

RTC: Some people I know of are getting very unhappy with you and your books. The books about Mueller and us. I don’t tell you about some of this but over the past six-eight months I have been contacted, both in person and on the phone, concerning you and your activities. First of all, your detractors have advised me that you are a criminal, a crook, a convict, a dope addict, a mental case, a spy for some foreign country and many other sins of commission. Naturally, I have taken notes and, even more important, I have taken down names and such other information as telephone numbers and, when I can find them, home addresses. And poor Emily has been spoken to about my contacts with you. She has no idea what we talk about and, as is usual with CIA wives, she knows very little about my activities when I was with the Company. Oh yes, a female FBI agent, so sympathetic, came and talked with her about what a thoroughly evil and crazy person you were and warning her to try and keep me away from you. Of course Emily told me all about it and gave me the woman’s card. And two days ago, another wonderful person got in touch with my son, Greg, and told him the same things. The new theme is that old Crowley is getting nuts and perhaps he might be institutionalized for his own good. Greg was horrified because he has mailed boxes of sensitive documents to you in Wisconsin and Greg tends to be somewhat conventional. I think they want to find some nice, discreet way to shut me up. They have given up on you, of course. Kimmel told Bill that you were arrogant, self-important and very dangerous and has warned him to keep away from you.

GD: Yes, well Bill told me my son could get a job with the CIA as you know….

RTC: Of course. And that would be to have him fill in a ten page questionnaire that would let them al know more about you. According to Kimmel, you have used more aliases than the Manhattan phone book. You have at least a dozen passports and have lived in Europe where, they darkly hint, you have somehow fallen into the clutches of the KGB…

GD: Actually, the SVR. Same organization but a different name. A rose by any other name Robert.

RTC: Yes. A thoroughly sinister person. They are so concerned about me that they constantly warn my son and my wife about your evil ways and beg both of them to not only report anything they hear to the really sympathetic agents or former co workers or their wives. And if that fails, perhaps I will fall down the back stairs or on my rare appearances outside this place, be run over by a drunken cab driver while walking in a large shopping mall.

GD: (Laughter) Or how about a dead elephant falling on your head after accidentally being chucked out of an Air America cargo plane on its way to deliver three tons of raw opium to Manhattan drug refiners?  That might happen. I would keep away from doctors, Robert, unless you are really sick and then try to get them to make house calls.

RTC: Yes, I am aware of all of that. Used to do it.

GD: I think something ought to be done about all of this. What about doing the book on Kennedy?

RTC: I’ve thought about that, Gregory, and I ought to warn you about some of the pitfalls. I’ve told you before that we have a wonderful and very effective disinformation branch and they are even now gearing up to try to convince people not to listen to you or read your books. Of course they have to be careful because you have the reputation for savage personal attacks on people who get in your way so right now, they are after the Mueller material but if you get into Kennedy, then you will have a hornet’s nest come down around your ears. Why? Because in order to keep the sheep from getting curious about the wrong things, we set up a wonderful disinformation machine, complete with retired local policemen, librarians of all kinds, professors of philosophy from jerkwater community colleges and former Marine Corps Master Sergeants who were in the quartermaster section and never heard a shot fired in anger.

GD: And don’t forget Wolfe

RTC: Do spare me, Gregory. I just had lunch and reptiles so soon after feeding make me ill. Yes, Wolfe. Typical. A nobody in a nothing position but he can say he is an employee of the National Archives. Sounds impressive but he has nothing to say and can’t access any records you couldn’t get by just going there. He and hundreds of his kind are right in our pocket. That one gets a pat on the head and a pen set but a few others, key information peddlers, get a check on some unknown charity from time to time and perhaps a job for their airhead daughter or son. That’s how it works. We really don’t have to lay out much money on these fools because they come, panting, to us, begging for that pat on the pointy head and the nice pen set. The CIA  buys them by the gross and I think they’re made in China in a slave-labor factory.

GD: (Laughter) Napoleon once said, concerning the Legion of Honor, ‘With such baubles, men are led.’

RTC: It seems to work. Believe me, we have armies of these people on tap and most of them are pathetic creeps, desperate to be recognized for the brilliant thinkers they are not and never could be. But anyway, Gregory, they are now after you and your writing but I have the feeling I ought to have pity on them. As I said, if and when you get into the Kennedy business, you will kick over a hornet’s nest of vicious, stupid and fanatical idiots. And while some of them are ours and part of our disinformation program, the rest are crazies, entirely on their own. But if you, or anyone else, dare to express opinions different from their very own precious ones, they will screech like banshees and gang up on you. One fat old crazy up in Minnesota who teaches philosophy has decided that some powerful organization used sabot shells on Kennedy. They had real used bullets, but them into a case and shot Jack in the melon and the case fell off.

GD: The Germans had sabot artillery shells but I doubt if anyone used these on a 6.5 piece. Did you put him up to such shit?

RTC: No. His uncle is a retired Company man and he is looking for instant fame and fortune.

GD: The uncle? I thought you people were supposed to keep quiet.

RTC: Sorry, the nephew. Whatever. At any rate, beware the questioned cultist and believe me, the Kennedy business has turned into a cult. My God, reading over their psychotic trash gives me acid stomach. Still, they serve a purpose. They sprouted so much underbrush that the real facts will probably never come out. And if you publish even a portion of what I sent you, the howling will begin.

GD: I know how to deal with them, Robert. Make fun of them. Most of them are laughable, pathetic creeps and if you take them seriously, you empower them so the best course is to hold them up to public ridicule. You know, I have a really neat method of dealing with the official creeps and the unofficial ones.

RTC: And…?

GD: Oh yes. And you publish something really awful and then, in the foreword, you praise the slob for all his help with your work. Or, even better, publish something deadly and say they wrote it. I’ll bet this does real wonders for their careers, not to mention their small but vicious circle of friends or family. Imagine some assistant AG writing a piece for some gay newspaper claiming he has come out of the closet and is so proud of it. Or something in defense of pedophilia. Or one fellow I dealt a deadly blow to was supposed to have some awful pictures of Lyndon Larouche in a nut house and was writing a book about it. I got his letterhead, copied it on the notice of the new book and also printed up an envelope. Looked so real, Robert, And when I wrote up the advert, I personally addressed it to about a thousand people, including major newspapers and so on and actually flew to his hometown and mailed the things. For the correct postmark of course.

RTC: (Laughter) And what happened?

GD: Actually? His car was set on fire. Someone broke all the big windows in his store. Someone sent him boxes of decaying and smelly animal insides. His business collapsed, his wife left him and he eventually checked into a cheap motel and offed himself with a bottle of sleeping pills. Now the shit is up with Jesus, playing gin rummy with the angels.

RTC: Do you really believe that?

GD: Oh, I know he’s dead but about the angels, no, I don’t believe there are such entities. Once the lights go out, I don’t think there is an upwards path you take, bathed in glorious light and at the top stand your entire long-dead family, waving and smiling at you.  I wonder how they might look, Robert. Clothed in shining glory? Rotting flesh dripping from grinning skulls? Looking like they never did alive  with bigger tits, a smaller nose, really clear skin instead of looking like someone put out a fire on their face with an icepick, and not walking on their hands and knees?

RTC: Have you ever discussed such negative sentiments with a priest?

GD: Robert, of course not. I’m hedging my bets. No, I know about the congregation of Kennedy nuts and it might be fun to plant my number ten shoe in their number one size scrotum. But the women are worse than the men…that is if there is much of a gender difference. You people have so many nutless wonders working for you.  The women have hairy bowed legs, bad teeth, sagging breasts and hate everyone but their pet Budgie, Mr. Tweety. They get rabid over the stupidest things and shriek with rage if you make fun of their sacred and supportive icons. And the men are mostly prissy busybodies who are laboring under the total misapprehension that are really somebody in particular. Which, of course, they aren’t. Probably a lot of vegetarians represented there with a few dozen Scientologists, Christian Scientists and Jesus freaks thrown in the mix to offset the thick of neck and tiny of brain. And in the men, the brain isn’t the only tiny thing. Jesus, if it weren’t for the common turkey baster, half these shrimp dicks could never father pinhead children. And don’t  knock pinhead children, either. You can give them haircuts in a pencil sharpener and save so much money. And when they get older and housebroken, why your people can recruit them. Put them in charge of the Havana office. Or was that the Sterling Chemical people? I think so.

RTC: Now, it isn’t that bad, Gregory. You know that.

GD: I don’t. Actually, it’s worse. I started out in life, Robert, trusting people and believing everyone was a gentleman or a lady. Of course I had the opportunity of growing up in the second richest community in the country. The children of senators, heads of business empires and the like were my school friends. I was taught manners as a child and always used them. But then, as I got out into the world, I discovered, to my horror, that Jonathan Swift was right and the Yahoos ruled. Oh yes, read ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and discover the world. You take care of the weak and persecuted and destroy the vicious and predatory. Physically or by other means. I detest pedophiles because they ruin the lives of relatively innocent little children and creeps who do that should be publicly castrated with those dull scissors we got in kindergarten and then burned alive. No, you would have never recognized me as a child. I was a very well-behaved, educated person and nice to know, at least reading over my childhood school reports. Ah, but now, I am known as Lord Satan by the boobery, the idiots and the syphilitic cretins that infest this otherwise pleasant planet. And mark this, Robert. Too many people, too little food. And the water will run out and the ice of the world will melt, the oceans rise and Boston will be nothing but a wet dream. I really do hope, Robert, that these catastrophes happen in my life so I can have something to enjoy besides my books and music. There are intelligent, decent people here but they are lost in the jungle of knuckle-draggers.

RTC: Something awful must have happened to you at some point in your life to have given you such a really ugly view of the world.

GD: I think that goes without saying. I told Heini Mueller once that I always pay back my enemies and the flip side of that is that if people leave me alone, why let them go their shambling way to the knackers without any assistance or encouragement from me. Mueller was a good man, Robert, and you knew him. Not many people like that around and probably never were. You see, they outnumber us by a ratio of about a thousand to one. Is that why you like to talk to me, Lord Satan, chief evildoer and disrespecter of vested authority?

RTC: Yes, there aren’t too many like you around, Gregory. Some would say Thank God, like Kimmel, but I enjoy your attitudes and I must say I agree with them, at least mostly.

GD: And I have a perverse sense of humor, Robert. Very perverse. A live-in girlfriend used to pilfer my shampoo and put the empty bottle back on the shelf. I then got angry because when I wanted shampoo, there was only an empty bottle, I filled it with hair remover and she later used it and had to wear a wig for months and when she wasn’t, her short hair made her look like a bull dyke.

RTC: (Laughter) An object of terror.

GD: An object of shame and derision, Robert. Did I ever tell you about the great fake fingerprint game?

RTC: Perhaps you might have, Gregory, but my memory is not what it used to be.

GD: I was at a gun show once and someone had a sheaf of old FBI fingerprint cards from the ‘30s. Bank robbers, car thieves and the rest. I bought about twenty of them for a dollar apiece. Then I had zincs made for me by my print shop…

RTC: Zincs?

GD: Well a reverse negative that is etched in zinc and you use it for rubber stamps. Anyway, I had a number of zincs of the fingerprints of terrible anti-social people so I went to a shop that dealt in theatrical things and bought a bottle of liquid latex and some spirit gum. I painted the latex into the zinc and hey! Presto! I had a perfect copy of the felonious fingerprint. Take a pair of rubber surgeon’s gloves, cut out the new print, use the spirit gum to put it down onto the glove in the right place and then you have the makings of a huge joke. Imagine, if you will, doing something very anti-social and even downright evil and wearing these gloves. Touch every surface in sight. Ah, later the prints are lifted and sent off to the FBI for identification. Wonderful. Some technician screams ‘a fifteen pointer…”

RTC: A what?

GD: Fifteen points are fifteen points of identification, Robert. Can’t go any higher unless the perp’s severed hand was found in the woman’s snatch. Anyway, they run these wonderfully clear prints through the system. Amazement, two weeks later, to discover they belonged to Ronald Mung, convicted bank robber and serial flasher. No question at all. One problem. Herr Mung has been dead since the second Roosevelt administration . Confusion rampant. I never hear about this but I have a good imagination. Are they going out to Holy Cross boneyard and dig Mung up and charge him with aggravated mopery? Serial bicycle-seat sniffing? What? Issue a warrant for a very dead man?

RTC: Of  course not. The Bureau would never talk about it and tell the local cops that they could not make any kind of identification but they would keep the prints on record. Phoebe never makes mistakes. Tell me, Gregory, did you ever tell Kimmel about this?

GD: Of course. I like my fun.

RTC: I can imagine his response.

GD: Yes, it doesn’t take a Republican to figure that one out. Just another example of my anti-social and mentally disturbed behavior. These people have absolutely no sense of humor and when they get an idea in their heads, that is if, they cling to it like a mama monkey with a dead baby. No imagination, Robert, no sense of humor. And if it isn’t in the little book, it can’t have happened.

RTC: (Laughter) I can just hear the stink when the prints of a long dead car thief show up in some unexpected place. They would never know what to do.

GD: No, if it isn’t in your book, the little book they all carry for guidance and instruction, it can’t exist and if it can’t exist, it doesn’t.

RTC: Did you really do that business with the fingerprints?

GD: Oh, a number of times, Robert, but we don’t need to burden you with useless details.


(Concluded at 11:55 AM PST)




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