TBR News February 25, 2019

Feb 25 2019

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

Washington, D.C. February 26, 2019: “We are out of the office until February 3, 2019 ed.”


The Table of Contents

  • What happens if Mueller finds Trump fingerprints in Russia conspiracy?
  • Venezuela: US increasingly isolated as allies warn against use of military force
  • Nord Stream 2 Russian gas pipeline likely to go ahead after EU deal
  • Arctic Oil: The New Venezuela?
  • Kashmiris face uncertain future as violence escalates
  • America: ‘Indispensable Nation’ No More
  • After Putin’s warning, Russian TV lists nuclear targets in U.S.
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

What happens if Mueller finds Trump fingerprints in Russia conspiracy?

February 25, 2019

by Nathan Layne


(Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing to submit to U.S. Attorney General William Barr a report detailing his findings in the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and any links to the Trump campaign.

Mueller has been looking since May 2017 into whether U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia and whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Mueller already has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 34 people, including six associates of Trump, as well as three Russian entities.

Here is a look at possible scenarios following the completion of Mueller’s report.


Among those who already have pleaded guilty or have been convicted are: former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort; former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen; former national security advisor Michael Flynn; and former Trump campaign aides Richard Gates and George Papadopoulos. Others indicted include Trump adviser Roger Stone and Russian intelligence officers.

But the central question is whether Mueller will find that Trump himself played a role in a conspiracy with Moscow to boost his chances of winning the election or committed obstruction of justice to try to impede the Russia probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction.

If Mueller’s report reveals a willingness by Trump to collude with Russia or contains evidence of direct coordination involving the Republican president, such findings could be the starting gun for the Democratic-led House of Representatives to launch the impeachment process set out in the U.S. Constitution to remove a president from office.

Current Justice Department policy opposes bringing criminal charges against a sitting president.

Stone’s indictment points to instances in which people connected to the campaign communicated with him about Wikileaks, the website that released emails that U.S. officials have said Russians stole from Democrats to harm Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. For example, after a July 2016 release of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee a “senior Trump campaign official was directed to contact STONE about any additional releases” by Wikileaks, the indictment stated. The sentence’s wording left open the possibility that Trump himself directed the campaign official.

Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide and Republican political consultant, said any evidence that Trump was willing to work with Moscow, even without proof that he actually did that, might be enough for Democrats to draw up articles of impeachment.

“That’s impeachable for the Democrats,” Nunberg said.

The U.S. Constitution sets specific grounds for impeachment: treason, bribery or “other high crimes and misdemeanors.” If the House approves any articles of impeachment, the Senate then would hold a trial to determine whether to remove the president from office. The Senate is controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans. Only two presidents have been impeached in American history, and neither was removed.

There is also the issue of obstruction. Legal experts have pointed to Trump’s firing of former FBI director James Comey while he was leading the Russia probe, Comey’s allegation that Trump asked him to end the investigation of Flynn, and the president’s dangling a possible pardon to Manafort among other acts that may amount to obstruction of justice.

Barr, months before Trump named him as attorney general, last year wrote an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department arguing Mueller should not be permitted to investigate obstruction by the president.


Mueller’s cases against Manafort and Stone have come the closest to showing coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Manafort shared election polling data with his Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who prosecutors have said is tied to Russian intelligence. Manafort attended a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York with other campaign officials with a Russian lawyer who promised “dirt” on Clinton. Mueller also found that Stone communicated with Wikileaks and the Russian hacker dubbed Guccifer 2.0.

But Mueller’s evidence made public to date falls short of demonstrating Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia. Collusion is a non-legal term often used to describe acts that in a criminal context in this investigation likely would translate to a charge of conspiracy against the United States.

If Mueller’s report goes no further, it could set back any Democratic effort to impeach Trump. But House Democrats could proceed with their own investigations that could cause Trump ongoing political damage heading into his 2020 re-election bid.

No leniency needed for Manafort: Mueller memo

“If nothing more comes out than what is public then I think Trump could claim victory,” said Nelson Cunningham, a former federal prosecutor in New York and White House lawyer under Democratic President Bill Clinton.


Transcripts of closed court hearings this month indicated Mueller considers Manafort’s alleged lies about his interactions with Kilimnik to be “at the heart” of the probe into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

But that disclosure suggested Mueller was still trying to determine whether collusion occurred. In addition to sharing polling data, court filings show, Manafort and Kilimnik discussed a “Ukrainian peace plan,” a reference to Kremlin-friendly proposals to resolve the Ukraine conflict and end U.S. sanctions on Russia.

It is possible Mueller’s report will show that Manafort or others in Trump’s orbit conspired with Russians but there was no credible evidence Trump himself was involved or aware. While politically damaging to Trump, such a finding may not be enough to trigger an impeachment effort, though it could fuel House committee investigations.

“It’s not enough to show the Russians used their people,” said Robert Ray, who served as the second independent counsel in the 1990s Whitewater probe involving the Clintons’ business dealings, adding there would need to be proof that Trump’s people actively colluded to the point that it violated the law.

“I don’t think it occurred,” Ray said.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in New York; Additional reporting by David Morgan in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham


Venezuela: US increasingly isolated as allies warn against use of military force

Mike Pence says ‘all options are on the table’ in effort to oust Maduro while key allies warn they would oppose sending troops

February 25, 2019

by Joe Parkin Daniels in Bogotá, Emma Graham-Harrison in Caracas and Sam Jones in Madrid

The Guardian

US vice-president Mike Pence has repeated a veiled threat of military intervention in Venezuela, but Washington appeared increasingly isolated in its willingness to contemplate using force to oust President Nicolás Maduro.

Both European powers and some of Donald Trump’s key Latin American allies – all of whom have recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader – warned that they would oppose sending troops into the country.

Guaidó had for weeks insisted his movement was focused on peaceful, democratic change. But after the opposition failed in a weekend bid to defy Caracas and bring aid into the country, he called on the international community to “keep all options open”.

That hint at the use of military force won an enthusiastic response from hawks like US senator Marco Rubio, but sparked alarm elsewhere, particularly as Trump has previously mooted ordering an invasion.

Speaking at an emergency summit of regional leaders in the Colombian capital Bogotá, Pence renewed the threat of intervention, describing Maduro as “a usurper”, and calling for a global push to oust him.

“To leaders around the world: it’s time. There can be no bystanders in Venezuela’s struggle for freedom,” he said. “We hope for a peaceful transition to democracy, but as President Trump has made clear, all options are on the table.”

But beyond the US, few appear willing embrace the prospect of violence. In Latin America, there is a painful and bloody history of US interventions, and the terrible fallout from the 2003 invasion of Iraq is another deterrent to the use of military force.

An invasion would be complicated and bloody, with a strong chance of sliding into protracted civil war. Venezuela has armed forces that are more than 300,000 strong, thousands more members of pro-government gangs or guerrilla groups, complex terrain – and a government that still has some support from international partners including China and Russia.

Brazil’s vice-president, retired general Hamilton Mourão, said on Monday that under no circumstances would his country allow the United States to intervene militarily from Brazilian territory, even though the country’s rightwing president Jair Bolsonaro has previously vowed to do “everything for democracy to be re-established” in Venezuela.

Colombian president Iván Duque, has also now ruled out intervention, according to sources in his administration. Chile and Peru were also among other regional powers opposing military action on Monday.

There was similar concern across the Atlantic, where European nations including Spain and Germany made clear they considered the deployment of troops a line that should not be crossed.

“Not every option is on the table,” the country’s foreign minister, Josep Borrell, told the Spanish news agency Efe on Sunday, in a blunt rebuke to both Guaidó and US supporters of intervention.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, insisted there could be no military solution to a political crisis.

“The origins of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela are political and institutional, hence the solution can only be a political one,” she said in a statement. “We reiterate our firm rejection and condemnation of violence and of any initiatives that can further destabilise the region.”

Ahead of the meeting of the Lima group of Latin American powers and Canada, Pence told Guaidó, attending as Venezuela’s interim president: “We are 100% with you.”

The Lima group also said credible threats have been made against the life of Venezuelan opposition leader Guaidó and his family, adding that President Nicolas Maduro was responsible for Guaido’s safety.

“We want to hold the usurper Maduro responsible for any violent action against Guaido, against his wife and against their relatives,” said Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, speaking on behalf of the group.

Pence said he would urge regional powers to freeze Venezuela’s oil assets and hand them over to Guaidó’s control. The opposition have reportedly already taken effective control of US-based refiner Citgo, one of the few remaining profitable assets of Venezuela’s state owned oil firm PDVSA.

Earlier that morning the US announced it had added four regional governors to an already long list of sanctioned Venezuelans, and Pence said that tougher measures were still to come.

“In the days ahead … the United States will announce even stronger sanctions on the regime’s corrupt financial networks. We will work with all of you to find every last dollar that they stole and work to return it to Venezuela.”

But much of Venezuela’s government and industry are already sanctioned, making it harder for Guaidó’s allies to ramp up financial pressure on the regime.


Nord Stream 2 Russian gas pipeline likely to go ahead after EU deal

Concerns had been raised over project increasing German reliance on Russian energy

February 25, 2019

by Adam Vaughan

The Guardian

Donald Tusk, the president of the European council, called it a mistake, while the US president, Donald Trump, has branded it very inappropriate and a “very bad thing for Nato”.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline to take Russian gas to Germany is arguably Europe’s most controversial energy project, drawing opposition from Ukraine, which it will bypass, and uniting the US, eastern EU states and the European commission, which fears it will undermine the bloc’s ‘energy union’ plans.

But this month a compromise deal on pipeline rules was forged by Germany and France, which should allow the scheme to proceed.

Dmitry Marinchenko, an analyst at the credit ratings agency Fitch, said the agreement was welcome. “This is a good compromise which may work for all the parties – Russia, the EU and Ukraine.”

Nord Stream 2 has been eight years in the making so far, with 434 miles of pipe out of a total of 746 laid across the Baltic Sea alongside an existing pipeline between Russia and Germany. The Russian state gas firm Gazprom and five western energy companies, Uniper, Wintershall, Shell, OMV and Engie, are behind the scheme.

The project has sparked serious geopolitical concerns and the threat of sanctions. Critics in Brussels and the US have warned it risks deepening Europe’s reliance on gas imports from Russia, which already provide about 40% of the continent’s consumption.

Germany and Russia have defended the pipeline and shown little sign of a willingness to rethink their plans. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has argued that the project does not increase its reliance on Russian gas, as Germany is also looking to increase imports of ship-borne gas from countries such as the US.

“Do we become dependent on Russia due to this second gas pipeline? I say ‘no’, if we diversify at the same time,” she said this month.

Under a deal agreed earlier in February, the pipeline must meet four EU rules, including a telecoms-style unbundling requirement whereby other suppliers be allowed access to the pipeline. However, Germany will be the ultimate arbiter of how the regulations are applied.

The final text of the agreement has not been published and it still needs to be formally approved by governments and the EU parliament, although that is expected to be given.

“I think we can safely say that the pipeline cleared a major hurdle this month,” said Tim Boersma, the director of global gas markets at the US-based Center on Global Energy Policy, after the compromise pact.

It is hard to see what would block the project now. Denmark is the only country yet to issue permits, although that is thought unlikely to be a deal breaker.

Boersma said: “One could argue that what the Danes always wanted was a European solution, and so now that there is one, they can grant permits to the project and move forward. If they do not, or not soon, the company [Nord Stream 2] has to decide to change the route of the pipeline. It has been planning accordingly but this would still mean a delay.”

The consortium behind Nord Stream 2 said the project was proceeding according to schedule, which should mean it is completed late this year. A spokesperson said the company would “refrain from speculation” on the compromise deal, given it was yet to be formally approved.

Ukraine has been one of the most vocal critics of the project, as it stands to lose out on revenues from being a “transit country” for pipelines carrying Russian gas to the rest of Europe.

Experts said that because of the new regulations for Nord Stream 2, it would be underutilised in its first few years. That means the amount of gas transported through Ukraine would not reduce as much as previously feared.

Volumes through Ukraine could fall from around 80 billion cubic metres a year to as low as 30bcm, cutting transit fees from $2.5bn to $1bn a year, according to Marinchenko.

“Germany would obviously be interested in having the [Nord Stream 2] pipeline built but it would also want to keep Ukraine as a transit country for political solidarity,” he said.

In the longer run, Nord Stream 2 is expected to give Gazprom enough excess capacity to accommodate an increase in Russian gas supplies as Europe’s domestic gas production winds down.

However, the pipeline faces a new rival in coming years – tankers full of supercooled gas from the US fracking boom. That would give Europe more leverage in negotiations with Gazprom.

“German authorities have been talking about liquefied natural gas for quite some time. But it is not a coincidence that one, or maybe two, of the discussed projects now seem to be moving forward,” Boersma said.

He believes there is room for both Russian gas and US LNG, despite the latter being more expensive because of shipping and liquefaction costs. “The highly politicised environment can be misleading but it is not either/or. It is and/and.”


Arctic Oil: The New Venezuela?

February 25, 2019

by Christian Jürs

The Kremlin has formed a  strategic military command to protect its interests in the Arctic. It’s part of a broader push from Moscow to establish military superiority at the top of the world. (Severny Flot- Obedinyonnoye Strategicheskoye Komandovaniye, SF-OSK)

The command comprises the Northern Fleet, Arctic warfare brigades, air force and air defense units as well as additional administrative structures.

The Russian Air Force re-opened the Temp airfield on the Kotelny Island, in October 2013  the first in a chain of similar bases all along the northern coast of Russia. The military has initiated deployment of aerospace defense units in the Arctic and construction of an early warning missile radar in Russia’s extreme north

A December 2013 order from Russian President Vladimir Putin to ramp up Russia’s military presence in the Arctic. Putin said Russia was returning to the Arctic and “intensifying the development of this promising region” and that Russia needs to “have all the levers for the protection of its security and national interests. “The new command will comprise the Northern Fleet, Arctic warfare brigades, air force and air defense units as well as additional administrative structures,” the source in Russia’s General Staff said.

The military structure, dubbed the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command, (Северная Объединенная флотом Стратегическая Команда,) is responsible for protecting Russia’s Arctic shipping and fishing, oil and gas fields on the Arctic shelf, and the country’s national borders in the north, the source said. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the military to boost its presence in the Arctic and complete the development of military infrastructure in the region with all urgent rapidity.

The Russian military has deployed  aerospace defense units in the Arctic and construction of an early warning missile radar in Russia’s extreme north, according to the commander of the Aerospace Defense Forces.

.Arctic territories are believed to hold vast untapped reserves of oil and gas. They have increasingly been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice and make energy reserves more accessible. Russia has made claims to several Arctic shelf areas and plans to defend its bid at the United Nations.

As Arctic ice has melted, companies from Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States — the five countries that have a border with the Arctic — have been rushing to secure rights to drill for oil and natural gas in places that are now accessible.

Under international law, no country currently owns the North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. The five surrounding Arctic countries, the Russian Federation, the United States (via Alaska), Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland), are limited to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) adjacent to their coasts. The waters beyond the territorial waters of the coastal states are considered the “high seas” (i.e. international waters). The sea bottom beyond the exclusive economic zones and confirmed extended continental shelf claims are considered to be the “heritage of all mankind” and administered by the UN International Seabed Authority.

Upon ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a country has a ten-year period to make claims to an extended continental shelf which, if validated, gives it exclusive rights to resources on or below the seabed of that extended shelf area. Norway (ratified the convention in 1996), Russia (ratified in 1997), Canada (ratified in 2003) and Denmark (ratified in 2004) launched projects to provide a basis for seabed claims on extended continental shelves beyond their exclusive economic zones. The United States has signed, but not yet ratified the UNCLOS.

The status of certain portions of the Arctic sea region is in dispute for various reasons. Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States all regard parts of the Arctic seas as “national waters” (territorial waters out to 12 nautical miles (22 km)) or “internal waters”. There also are disputes regarding what passages constitute “international seaways” and rights to passage along them .

As defined by the UNCLOS, states have ten years from the date of ratification to make claims to an extended continental shelf. On this basis the five states fronting the Arctic Ocean – Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Russian Federation, and the U.S. – must make any desired claims by 2013, 2014, 2006, and 2007 respectively. Since the U.S. has yet to ratify the UNCLOS, the date for its submission is undetermined at this time.

Claims to extended continental shelves, if deemed valid, give the claimant state exclusive rights to the sea bottom and resources below the bottom. Valid extended continental shelf claims do not and cannot extend a state’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) since the EEZ is determined solely by drawing a 200-nautical-mile (370 km) line using territorial sea baselines as their starting point. This point is made because press reports often confuse the facts and assert that extended continental shelf claims expand a state’s EEZ thereby giving a state exclusive rights to not only sea bottom and below resources but also to those in the water column. The Arctic chart prepared by Durham University clearly illustrates the extent of the uncontested Exclusive Economic Zones of the five states bordering the Arctic Ocean and also the relatively small expanse of remaining “high seas” or totally international waters at the very North of the planet.

Russia ratified the UNCLOS in 1997 and had through 2007 to make a claim to an extended continental shelf.

The Russian Federation  claims  a large extended continental shelf as far as the North Pole based on the Lomonosov Ridge within their Arctic sector. Moscow believes the eastern Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of the Siberian continental shelf. The Russian claim does not cross the Russia-US Arctic sector demarcation line, nor does it extend into the Arctic sector of any other Arctic coastal state. Russia also considers its exclusive control over the Northern Sea Route connecting Asia and Europe to be a “core national interest.” The U.S., among others, considers the NSR to be an international shipping lane.

On December 20, 2001, Russia made an official submission into the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (article 76, paragraph 8). In the document it is proposed to establish the outer limits of the continental shelf of Russia beyond the 200-nautical-mile (370 km) Exclusive Economic Zone, but within the Russian Arctic sector. The territory claimed by Russia in the submission is a large portion of the Arctic within its sector, extending to but not beyond the geographic North Pole. One of the arguments was a statement that Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain ridge passing near the Pole, and Mendeleev Ridge on the Russian side of the Pole are extensions of the Eurasian continent. In 2002 the UN Commission neither rejected nor accepted the Russian proposal, recommending additional research.

On August 2, 2007, a Russian expedition called Arktika 2007, composed of six explorers led by Artur Chilingarov, employing MIR submersibles, for the first time in history descended to the seabed at the North Pole. There they planted the Russian flag and took water and soil samples for analysis, continuing a mission to provide additional evidence related to the Russian claim to the mineral riches of the Arctic.[24] This was part of the ongoing 2007 Russian North Pole expedition within the program of the 2007–2008 International Polar Year.

The expedition aimed to establish that the eastern section of seabed passing close to the Pole, known as the Lomonosov Ridge, is in fact an extension of Russia’s landmass. The expedition came as several countries are trying to extend their rights over sections of the Arctic Ocean floor. Both Norway and Denmark are carrying out surveys to this end. Vladimir Putin made a speech on a nuclear icebreaker on May 3, 2007, urging greater efforts to secure Russia’s “strategic, economic, scientific and defense interests” in the Arctic.

In mid-September 2007, Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry issued a statement:

“ Preliminary results of an analysis of the earth crust model examined by the Arktika 2007 expedition, obtained on September 20, have confirmed that the crust structure of the Lomonosov Ridge corresponds to the world analogues of the continental crust, and it is therefore part of the Russian Federation’s adjacent continental shelf. ”

Viktor Posyolov, an official with Russia’s Agency for Management of Mineral Resources:

“ With a high degree of likelihood, Russia will be able to increase its continental shelf by 1.2 million square kilometers [460,000 square miles] with potential hydrocarbon reserves of not less than 9,000 to 10,000 billion tonnes of conventional fuel beyond the 200-mile (320 km) [322 kilometer] economic zone in the Arctic Ocean ”

As of October 2013, the United States had not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and, therefore, has not been eligible to file an official claim to an extended continental shelf with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

In August 2007, an American Coast Guard icebreaker, the USCGC Healy, headed to the Arctic Ocean to map the sea floor off Alaska. Larry Mayer, director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire, stated the trip had been planned for months, having nothing to do with the Russians planting their flag. The purpose of the mapping work aboard the Healy is to determine the extent of the continental shelf north of Alaska.

The Arctic holds some 30 percent of the world’s natural gas supply, and 13 percent of the world’s oil. Royal Dutch Shell, the U.S.-based Arctic Oil & Gas Corp. and others. have made urgent representations to Washington about the necessity of their securing Arctic drilling areas and requesting a specific statement from the American government concerning area which would be under American control.

Each of the five nations with Arctic borders is allotted 200 nautical miles of land from their most northern coast.

The Canadian claim also asserts that it owns the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater mountain range located between Ellesmere Island, Canada’s most northern border, and Russia’s east Siberian coast. In 2007, Russian scientists planted a flag on the ridge to claim it as Russian territory.

Russia created the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command to protect oil and gas fields on the Arctic shelf. Unfortunately for American companies, the Pentagon has fallen behind, having only two of the icebreakers necessary to navigate Arctic waters. According to the Congressional Research Service, Russia has 25, with six powered by nuclear energy.

As Arctic ice receded and the region became strategically important, the American DOD shifted its attention back north. It released a new Arctic strategy outlining American interests in the region.

The new strategy calls for the Pentagon to take actions to ensure that American troops could repel an attack against the homeland from a foe based in the Arctic.

The Pentagon believes the Arctic is becoming contested territory, and the DOD would act to protect American interests.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Friday, November 22, 2013

I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and participate in a very important forum.  Thank you, Minister Nicholson, for your hospitality.  And I recognize as well our friend Peter Mackay for his imagination, and resourcefulness, innovation, leadership, and a driving force behind this institution.  Thank you all who have had a significant role in organizing and ensuring that this forum continues to grow and strengthen and become even more relevant as the years go by, and address, as Minister Nicholson noted, some of the great challenges and issues that face our world today and I fear will be with us for some time.

Over the years, this conference has grown into an important venue for dialogue and discussion on emerging security trends, from cyber defense to the evolving threat of terrorism.  It brings together leaders from around the world, including a U.S. Congressional delegation that has been recognized already, led by Senators John McCain and Tim Kaine.  Their presence and leadership is an important part of why this gathering has become so successful.  I am always reassured when I see members of Congress with me, or at least most of the time – it depends on the forum and the hearings.  I do want to note their presence, and I know they particularly had a quite stimulating day yesterday.  I also know they welcome the opportunity to escape Washington.  We’re glad you’re here.  To my friend John McCain, thanks for his continued leadership and presence, I know what he has meant to keep this thing going.  His being here initially, I think Peter, was of particularly importance.  Thank you to my former colleagues and senior members of Congress who help lead our country.

The growth of this forum, as has been noted, is also a tribute to the vision of Minister Nicholson’s predecessor, Peter Mackay, and to the leadership of Peter van Praagh.  The Halifax Security Forum reflects Canada’s important role as a force for peace and security.  The United States deeply values its alliance with Canada, as we share much more than a 5,000-mile border.  We share a common history, a common history of values, and many common security interests.  We fought side-by-side in Afghanistan under a NATO umbrella, and we worked together to advance peace and security in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.  Earlier today, Minister Nicholson and I signed a defense policy framework that will help guide our future cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

We also share the common interests of being Arctic nations.  Today, I want to focus my remarks on the forces that are driving dramatic changes in the world and the region’s environment, the long-term security implications of these changes, and how the U.S. Department of Defense is preparing to adapt to these 21st Century Arctic region challenges.

To fully appreciate what’s happening in the Arctic and the world, we should take a step back and consider the many dynamic shifts occurring in every region of the world.  Among them are the growing economic and geopolitical importance of the Asia-Pacific; conflict and instability across the Middle East and North Africa; the unprecedented diffusion of global economic power; new sources of and demand for energy; the rise of China, India, Brazil, and other nations; environmental degradation and devastating natural disasters; and the role of technology in closely linking the world’s people, their aspirations, and their grievances.

History is a recording of the past … it has recorded the rise of great powers, the fall of empires, and technological revolutions that have transformed the way people communicate, travel, trade, fight wars, and meet new threats and opportunities.

But the challenge of global climate change, while not new to history, is new to the modern world.  Climate change does not directly cause conflict, but it can significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.  Food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, more severe natural disasters – all place additional burdens on economies, societies, and institutions around the world.  Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is a reminder of humanitarian disaster brought on by nature.  And climatologists warn us of the increased probability of more destructive storms to come.

The Department of Defense has been aware of these challenges for many years, and we are addressing them – including through a review of our energy strategy.  DoD invests in energy efficiency, new technologies, and renewable energy sources at our installations and all of our operations because it makes us a stronger fighting force and helps us carry out our security mission.

Last year, energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements such as tactical solar gear at combat outposts in Afghanistan saved roughly 20 million gallons of fuel – taking 7,000 truckloads worth of fuel off the battlefield.  Over the same period of time, U.S. Air Force innovations and more efficient route planning saved $1.5 billion.  By 2025, private-sector investments on DoD installations will be generating 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy.  That’s enough to power 750,000 homes – 50 percent more power than the Hoover Dam.  And because we know that climate change is taking place, we are assessing our coastal and desert installations to help ensure they will be resilient to its effects.  Planning for climate change and smarter energy investments not only make us a stronger military, they have many additional benefits – saving us money, reducing demand, and helping protect the environment.   These initiatives all support President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which outlines how the United States will work with the international community in addressing these serious global challenges.  This plan also helps prepare our nation for the effects of climate change and lays out how we will work to reduce carbon emissions.

America’s energy security has also been strengthened through new domestic energy exploration technologies in North America.  Natural gas, in particular, promises cheaper fuel with lower carbon emissions across the continent.

As energy sources evolve, and the global demand for energy increases amid a changing climate, as nations see this and plan for this they will shift their strategic priorities, placing more and more emphasis on new sources of energy from new frontiers, including the Arctic.

Climate change is shifting the landscape in the Arctic more rapidly than anywhere else in the world.  While the Arctic temperature rise is relatively small in absolute terms, its effects are significant – transforming what was a frozen desert into an evolving navigable ocean, giving rise to an unprecedented level of human activity.  Traffic in the Northern Sea Route is reportedly expected to increase tenfold this year compared to last year.

Over the long-term, as global warming accelerates, Arctic ice melt will lead to a sea level rise that will likely threaten coastal populations around the world.  But it also could open up a transpolar sea route, a possibility that has been discussed since the USS Nautilus made its historic submerged crossing of the North Pole many years ago.

As the Arctic changes, it creates new opportunities – and new challenges – that will shape the region for decades to come.  With Arctic sea routes starting to see more activities like tourism and commercial shipping, the risk of accidents increases.  Migrating fish stocks will draw fishermen to new areas, challenging existing management plans.  And while there will be more potential for tapping what may be as much as a quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas, a flood of interest in energy exploration has the potential to heighten tensions over other issues – even though most projected oil and gas reserves in the region are located within undisputed exclusive economic zones.

Despite potential challenges, these developments create the opportunity for nations to work together through coalitions of common interest, as both Arctic and non-Arctic nations begin to lay out their strategies and positions on the future of the region.

Earlier this year, the United States joined many of these nations, releasing its National Strategy for the Arctic Region – emphasizing responsible Arctic stewardship and strengthening international cooperation.  Secretary of State Kerry visited Sweden earlier this year to attend the ministerial session of the Arctic Council – which Canada now chairs, and which the United States will chair in two years.

The United States’ interests in the Arctic encompass a broad spectrum of activities, these activities include supporting responsible environmental policies and safe commercial and scientific operations.

The United States takes its responsibilities as an Arctic nation very seriously, and the United States military has extensive experience operating in the Arctic.  Alaska is home to more than 22,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, as well as nearly 5,000 Guardsmen and reservists.  DoD’s Arctic capabilities include ski-equipped C-130s and nuclear submarines, which have all been operating in the polar regions for more than 50 years.  In 2009, the U.S. Navy released an Arctic roadmap, and in 2011, a realignment of combatant commands simplified our command and control arrangements in the Arctic.

Today, I am announcing the Department of Defense’s first Arctic Strategy, this strategy is to help guide our efforts going forward.  This strategy supports President Obama’s national strategy for the region, and reflects America’s desire to work closely with allies and partners to promote a balanced approach to improving human and environmental security in the region.

The Arctic is a region of established nation-states.  Engagement and cooperation with Canada and the other Arctic nations – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden – is a cornerstone of our strategy.  Arctic nations have publicly committed to work within a common framework of international law and diplomatic engagement.

As President Obama has said, “the Arctic region is peaceful, stable, and free of conflict.”  Our goal is to help assure it stays that way.  Ultimately, we envision a secure and stable Arctic, where all nations’ interests are safeguarded, and where all nations work together to address problems and resolve differences.

DoD has focused on eight points to accomplish its objectives.

First, we will remain prepared to detect, deter, prevent and defeat threats to our homeland and we will continue to exercise U.S. sovereignty in and around Alaska.

Second, we will work with both private and public-sector partners, including the state of Alaska, Federal agencies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, to improve our understanding and awareness of the Arctic environment so that we can operate safely and effectively.  This is the first new frontier of nautical exploration since the days of Ericsson, Columbus, and Magellan, and it provides a clear opportunity to work together to ensure we have accurate observations, maps, and models of the Arctic’s atmospheric, oceanic, and sea ice conditions.

Third, we will help preserve freedom of the seas throughout the region, to ensure that the Arctic Ocean will be as peacefully navigated as other oceans of the world.  These activities will be carried out within existing frameworks of international law, which provide a comprehensive set of rules that govern the rights, the freedoms, and the uses of the world’s oceans and airspace – including the Arctic – as well as mechanisms for peacefully resolving disputes.

Fourth, we will carefully evolve our Arctic infrastructure and capabilities at a pace consistent with changing conditions.  DoD will continually re-evaluate its needs as activities in the Arctic increase, as we balance potential Arctic investments with other national security priorities.  We are beginning to think about and plan for how our Naval fleet and other capabilities and assets will need to adapt to the evolving shifts and requirements in the region.

Fifth, we will continue to comply with our existing agreements with allies and partners, while also pursuing new avenues of cooperation, as we work all of us together to meet shared security challenges.  By taking advantage of multilateral training opportunities with partners in the region, we will enhance our cold-weather operational experience, and strengthen our military-to-military ties with other Arctic nations.  This includes Russia, with whom the United States and Canada share common interests in the Arctic, creating the opportunity to pursue practical cooperation between our militaries and our nations and promote greater transparency.

Sixth, we will be prepared to help respond to man-made and natural disasters in the region.  Our support will extend not only to civil authorities in Alaska and around its coast, but also to cooperation with allies and partners through humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Seventh, we will work with other agencies and nations, as well as Alaska Natives, to protect the environmental integrity of the Arctic.  DoD will use existing capabilities to help address safety-related challenges, including international search-and-rescue missions as well as incident and disaster response.  We will work closely with our Canadian partners on emergency response operations that help save lives.

And eighth, we will support the development of the Arctic Council and other international institutions that promote regional cooperation and the rule of law.  DoD will work with the Department of State as we participate in new initiatives like the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable and the recent meetings of the Northern Chiefs of Defense.  These engagements will help strengthen multilateral security cooperation throughout the region, this will ultimately help reduce the risk of conflict.

All of these approaches are informed by DoD’s global responsibilities and strategic interests, budget limitations, and shifts in both the Arctic environment and the geostrategic landscape.

DoD’s Arctic Strategy is a long-term endeavor – and our efforts to implement it will unfold over years and decades, not days and months.  Even as we grapple at home with near-term challenges, including steep, deep, and abrupt defense budget reductions and continued budget uncertainty, this kind of long-range thinking is vital for our future.  Like always, it requires that we closely align our resources and long-term investments with our national security objectives.  As shifts occur in the strategic landscape, the United States and its allies must be prepared to adjust their defense institutions and capabilities to meet these new challenges.

The effects of climate change and new energy resources are far-reaching and unpredictable … demanding our attention and strategic thinking.  While the opening of the Arctic will create unprecedented challenges, it will also create historic opportunities.  It could open up new avenues for commerce and establish new areas for cooperation between nations in the interests of all the people of the world.   But this won’t happen on its own.

We must wisely manage these 21st century possibilities.  In order to realize the full potential of the Arctic, nations must collaborate and build trust and confidence through transparency, cooperation, and engagement.

It is the responsibility of every Arctic nation – and all nations who have interests there – to work together to build a peaceful and secure region.

Throughout human history, mankind has raced to discover the next frontier.  And time after time, discovery was swiftly followed by conflict.  We cannot erase this history.  But we can assure that history does not repeat itself in the Arctic.

We remember the words of explorer Frederick Cook.  After many attempts to discover the North Pole – and after believing he had found it – he wrote: “It occurred to me … that, after all, the only work worthwhile, the only value of a human being’s efforts, lie in deeds whereby humanity benefits.”

That is why we look to the Arctic – this new frontier – to help make a better world for all mankind.

Thank you.


Kashmiris face uncertain future as violence escalates

Violence has increased in Kashmir following a terrorist strike that killed more than 40 Indian troops. The Indian army has scaled up operations in the region, and locals are increasingly worried amid rumors of war.

February 25, 2019

by Rifat Fareed (Srinigar)


On Sunday afternoon, Rubeena Rashid, 35, was sitting at home with her two daughters in the Turigam village of Kulgam in India-administered Kashmir, when the rattle of gunfire resounded through the air.

“After the recent bombing, whenever there is gunfire or any other noise, we get scared,” she said. “When we heard the first gunshots, we ran to our neighbor’s house. We are afraid and unsure of what’s going to happen.”

The gunfight on Sunday confirmed her fears. At least six people were killed, including Aman Thakur, an officer of the Indian army, along with five insurgents.

Tensions have increased in Kashmir’s border areas after  terrorists attacked an Indian military convoy on a highway in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14. In the incident, a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into a military bus, killing at least 40 Indian paramilitary troops.

The strike was one of the largest attacks in Kashmir’s three-decade history of violence. Members of the insurgent group Jaish-e-Muhammad claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Indian government, which feels that Islamabad is sheltering insurgents, has warned Pakistan of consequences. Pakistan has also threatened to respond to any military attack, adding to fears that the current violence may lead to a full-blown war.

In the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, Indian authorities have launched a massive crackdown against separatist leaders in the region, who are demanding either autonomy for Kashmir or the region’s inclusion into Pakistan. According to the police, more than 200 separatists have been arrested in the last three days.

“I fail to understand such an arbitrary move,” Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, told DW. “Under what legal grounds are the arrests justified?” she said, adding that the Indian government was trying to quell public anger, but since many separatist leaders have been killed in the past, the step would be counterproductive.

Officials have also withdrawn security measures for prominent Kashmiri separatist leaders. The move has been criticized over fears it could “trigger law and order problems” if any one of them is attacked. Separatist parties in the region enjoy a lot of public support.

Abdul Gani Bhat, a senior leader of the separatist party, Muslim Conference, told DW that Pakistan and India needed to find a solution to the conflict.

“Peace should be given a chance, and the ceasefire should be followed,” said Bhat, whose security was recently withdrawn.

“India and Pakistan can never afford a war. Taking dialogue forward is in the interest of the two countries. They should proceed with realism, foresight, and accommodation. If this happens, the clouds of panic will disappear,” he said

Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also said that the Indian authorities were trying to divert attention from Kashmir’s political problem. “We will continue our struggle despite their [the Indian government’s] oppressive measures,” he told DW.

Fears of war

Meanwhile, the Indian government has deployed 10,000 additional forces to the region, where more than 600,000 soldiers are already stationed. Police have also received orders to stay prepared. “We have been asked to remain prepared for any situation,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

The governor of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik, said that added security measures were being put in place for India’s general election in April. He also appealed for people to remain calm.

But concern has been noticeable among residents since the government issued several advisories asking its departments to supply grain and ordered the police to remain alert for possible disruptions in law and order. Hospitals were also advised to stock up on medicines and surgical equipment in case of an emergency.

Locals flooded markets, gas stations and pharmacies to hoard supplies. “There are rumors that something is going to happen in the coming days,” said 50-year-old shopkeeper Yaqoob Najar.

“The way the two countries [India and Pakistan] are at loggerheads, a military escalation on the border would not surprise us. We are just caught in this bloody war where everything is uncertain,” he said.

“There is a lot of tension. We fear more violence and a military backlash,” Faheema, a resident of the area, told DW. A family member of hers was killed in a gunfight on February 18.

No peace in sight

For now, peace seems to be a long way off. According to Vijay Kumar, an adviser to the region’s governor, “continuous action” against militants is the “duty of government.”

Rahul Bedi, a security analyst based in New Delhi, told DW that violence could increase. “This sort of activity is going to accelerate, despite it being winter when the activity of militants would normally be low,” he said, adding that he feared an escalation. “After Pulwama, there have been two major encounters. I feel militancy might see a spike,” he said.

Hameeda Nayeem, who heads the Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies, told DW that news channels in the area were creating a kind of “war hysteria.”

The analyst added that the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was using the deaths of soldiers for electoral purposes. Mass arrests and use of force would only lead to more militancy, she concluded


America: ‘Indispensable Nation’ No More

Rather than seeing ‘far into the future,’ American elites have struggled to discern what might happen next week.

February 22, 2019

by Andrew J. Bacevich

The Amereican Conservative

“Only those of us who were born under Queen Victoria,” wrote Ronald Knox, “know what it feels like to assume, without questioning, that England is permanently top nation, that foreigners do not matter, and that if worst comes to the worst, Lord Salisbury will send a gunboat.” Knox offered this trenchant observation, redolent with irony and perhaps tinged with regret, not as a policymaker or strategic thinker, but from the vantage point of a clergyman. From the 1920s through the 1950s, Monsignor Knox was the most famous and influential Catholic priest in all of Great Britain. As such, he entertained a distinct perspective on what actually qualifies as permanent and what merely offers the appearance.

While perhaps using different terms—our preference is for dispatching nuclear aircraft carriers rather than gunboats—Americans born after World War II came into adulthood imbued with precisely the same sentiment about their own country. From the mid-1940s onward, the primacy of the United States was assumed as a given. History had rendered a verdict: we—not the Brits and certainly not the Germans, French, or Russians—were number one, and, more importantly, were meant to be. That history’s verdict might be subject to revision was literally unimaginable, especially to anyone making a living in or near Washington, D.C.

If doubts remained on that score, the end of the Cold War removed them. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism, politicians, journalists, and policy intellectuals threw themselves headlong into a competition over who could explain best just how unprecedented, how complete, and how wondrous was the global preeminence of the United States.

Choose your own favorite post-Cold War paean to American power and privilege. Mine remains Madeleine Albright’s justification for some now-forgotten episode of armed intervention, uttered 20 years ago when American wars were merely occasional (and therefore required some nominal justification) rather then perpetual (and therefore requiring no justification whatsoever).

“If we have to use force,” Secretary of State Albright announced on morning television in February 1998, “it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.”

Back then, it was Albright’s claim to American indispensability that stuck in my craw. Yet as a testimony to ruling class hubris, the assertion of indispensability pales in comparison to Albright’s insistence that “we see further into the future.”

In fact, from February 1998 down to the present, events have time and again caught Albright’s “we” napping. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and the several unsuccessful wars of choice that followed offer prime examples. But so too did Washington’s belated and inadequate recognition of the developments that actually endanger the wellbeing of 21st-century Americans, namely climate change, cyber threats, and the ongoing reallocation of global power prompted by the rise of China. Rather than seeing far into the future, American elites have struggled to discern what might happen next week. More often than not, they get even that wrong.

Like some idiot savant, Donald Trump understood this. He grasped that the establishment’s formula for militarized global leadership applied to actually existing post-Cold War circumstances was spurring American decline. Certainly other observers, including contributors to this publication, had for years been making the same argument, but in the halls of power their dissent counted for nothing.

Yet in 2016, Trump’s critique of U.S. policy resonated with many ordinary Americans and formed the basis of his successful run for the presidency. Unfortunately, once Trump assumed office, that critique did not translate into anything even remotely approximating a coherent strategy. President Trump’s half-baked formula for Making America Great Again—building “the wall,” provoking trade wars, and elevating Iran to the status of existential threat—is, to put it mildly, flawed, if not altogether irrelevant. His own manifest incompetence and limited attention span don’t help.

So the nation today finds itself in an interesting predicament. The media elites that drive the national conversation have reached the conclusion that nothing surpasses in importance Trump’s removal from office. The midterm elections that returned the Democrats to power in the House have heightened expectations of the Trump era coming to an end. This has injected into the early maneuvering for the 2020 presidential election a palpable sense of urgency. Sensing opportunity, candidates rush to join the competition. The field promises to be a crowded one.

Among progressives, the presence of women, people of color, and at least one gay person in the race suggests that something of epic importance is about to unfold. Maybe so. But here’s one thing that’s likely to be missing: any serious assessment of the costs and consequences of recent policies formulated pursuant to the insistence that the United States is, as Monsignor Knox put it, “permanently top nation.”

The gatekeepers of the orthodoxy, united in denouncing Trump, will not permit any such assessment. So the coming campaign will no doubt be entertaining. In some respects, it may also be enlightening. But in all likelihood, it will leave untouched the basic premises of U.S. policy—the bloated military budget, the vast empire of bases, the penchant for interventionism, all backed by the absurd claims of American exceptionalism voiced by the likes of Madeleine Albright and her kindred spirits.

When Ronald Knox was born, Queen Victoria presided over an empire on which the sun never set. By the time he died during the reign of Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter, that empire had vanished. Funny how quickly these things can happen.


After Putin’s warning, Russian TV lists nuclear targets in U.S.

February 25, 2019

by Andrew Osborn


MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian state television has listed U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, and said that a hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes.

The targets included the Pentagon and the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland.

The report, unusual even by the sometimes bellicose standards of Russian state TV, was broadcast on Sunday evening, days after President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was militarily ready for a “Cuban Missile”-style crisis if the United States wanted one.

With tensions rising over Russian fears that the United States might deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe as a Cold War-era arms-control treaty unravels, Putin has said Russia would be forced to respond by placing hypersonic nuclear missiles on submarines near U.S. waters.

The United States says it has no immediate plans to deploy such missiles in Europe and has dismissed Putin’s warnings as disingenuous propaganda. It does not currently have ground-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles that it could place in Europe.

However, its decision to quit the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty over an alleged Russian violation, something Moscow denies, has freed it to start developing and deploying such missiles.

Putin has said Russia does not want a new arms race, but has also dialled up his military rhetoric.

The Pentagon said that Putin’s threats only helped unite NATO.

“Every time Putin issues these bombastic threats and touts his new doomsday devices, he should know he only deepens NATO’s resolve to work together to ensure our collective security,” Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said.

Some analysts have seen his approach as a tactic to try to re-engage the United States in talks about the strategic balance between the two powers, for which Moscow has long pushed, with mixed results.

In the Sunday evening broadcast, Dmitry Kiselyov, presenter of Russia’s main weekly TV news show ‘Vesti Nedeli’, showed a map of the United States and identified several targets he said Moscow would want to hit in the event of a nuclear war.

The targets, which Kiselyov described as U.S. presidential or military command centers, also included Fort Ritchie, a military training center in Maryland closed in 1998, McClellan, a U.S. Air Force base in California closed in 2001, and Jim Creek, a naval communications base in Washington state.

Kiselyov, who is close to the Kremlin, said the “Tsirkon” (‘Zircon’) hypersonic missile that Russia is developing could hit the targets in less than five minutes if launched from Russian submarines.

Hypersonic flight is generally taken to mean traveling through the atmosphere at more than five times the speed of sound.

“For now, we’re not threatening anyone, but if such a deployment takes place, our response will be instant,” he said.

Kiselyov is one of the main conduits of state television’s strongly anti-American tone, once saying Moscow could turn the United States into radioactive ash.

Asked to comment on Kiselyov’s report, the Kremlin said on Monday it did not interfere in state TV’s editorial policy.

Additional reporting by Tom Balmforth and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Dan Grebler


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

February 25, 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. 69

Date:  Saturday February 22,1997

Commenced:  2:05 PM CST

Concluded: 2:40 PM CST


RTC: Good morning, Gregory…or rather good afternoon.

GD: It’s a bit later in the day. Am I interrupting anything?

RTC: Oh, no, not at all. I finished lunch two hours ago. How is the day going with you?

GD: It goes after a fashion. Did you, or have you, ever read C. Wright Mills’ book, ‘The Power Elite?’ Came out in ’54.

RTC: I have skimmed it before for certain. The groups that control?

GD: Yes. It’s a little dated as to specifics but quite good in the abstract. The abstract being that our society is controlled by certain groups of men with specific interests, mostly economic but often economic and political.

RTC: Well, that’s basically true, Gregory. I mean the concept is obvious and it is certainly not a domestic product by any means.

GD: No, no, I realize that. I mean that a town is not run by the city councils or selectmen but by, let’s say, a small group consisting of, well, a local judge, a real estate developer, a retired military officer. That sort of combination but there are other permutations of course.

RTC: But this is not a surprise to you, is it?

GD: No, of course not, Robert but let us say that Congress is like the local council. Only a front for the real power brokers.

RTC: I have had a close connection with such groups here for years. Yes, they fluctuate and change but in the end, small groups run everything. How does it go from my own experience? Well, let’s say there is a cocktail party out on the Hamptons. Many rich people there, a small orchestra, drinks served and groups of the rich and powerful chatting about their children, their boats or their horses or the last trip to Paris or Rome. Florence if they are cultured. And then a few of the guests, all men, drift off to the library where the door is locked and they sit around in comfortable chairs, drinks in hand or perhaps a very expensive cigar or two. And then after some casual comments about life in general, they get down to specifics about how things are supposed to happen. You spoke of Guatemala to me once. You said your uncle was in the business didn’t you?

GD: Yes and my father’s family was connected with Grace and United Fruit. Or Levi and Zentner. Yes.

RTC: And when Guzman wanted to nationalize the banana plantations and spend the money on the stupid peasants, why the business interests got together over cigars and brandy and worked out a plan. Then one of them brought it to one of us. And then we discovered a terrible Communist plot, directed from Moscow of course, to set up a Soviet Republic in Central America. The president was solemnly informed of this vile business and gave his OK for counter measures. In essence, we supplied the weapons and expertise and the unfriendly government was overthrown and replaced with a friendlier one.

GD: And the new head of state realized that the Guzman plan was very good and tried to implement it.

RTC: Yes, you’re right and so we shot him and put another and more pliable man in place there. And the United Fruit people gave money to the right people or perhaps hired a few Company relatives and another blow for freedom was stuck.

GD: And if the Russians did not exist, they would have to be invented. We had the evil Spanish in Cuba, the wicked Nazis who were going to invade this country and rape all the women in Peoria and then the even more evil Stalin and his gangs of liberal Jewish spies in America who also wanted to invade this country but this time planning a mass rape in New Orleans.

RTC: Cynical, Gregory, but true. Just think of how profitable such an undeclared war can be. Hundreds of millions for the CIA, unaccountable of course, and lots of very profitable contracts for military hardware that will never be used.

GD: I knew Gehlen, don’t forget, and he personally told me about his faked 1948 report about a pending Russian attack on Europe.

RTC: The opening guns of the Cold War, Gregory. And we and the military could expand and so could the economic sector. We could quietly shoot our enemies and blame it on national security while the money flowed in from patriotic taxpayers.

GD: And Mills was right.

RTC: He belabored such an obvious issue, Gregory. Of course there are power elites everywhere at all times. I’m sure there are such in every country and inside those countries, in all major businesses and domestic political machinery. Why this should surprise you astonishes me.

GD: It actually doesn’t but I wanted to use the subject to ask you who runs the show now? It’s not 1954 anymore.

RTC: And we don’t live in Kansas, either, thank God. Now? My God, it changes…is in a constant flux. At this moment, I couldn’t tell you but perhaps fifteen years ago I could have. I mean if you were to take an Uzi and snuff out a whole library of cigar smoking plotters, they would be replaced by others within a few days. You’d run out of ammunition in the end. Besides, a few clever pragmatists are easier to deal with that a Congress full of idiots and thieves. Don’t you agree?

GD: I’d say you need both.

RTC: Only at appropriations time do we need Congress to refill the empty treasure chests. The rest of the time, we depend on the power people to help out. I mean… Gregory, you could contain all the world’s really important secrets in a notebook you kept in your pocket. But we have to justify acres of offices, safes, burn centers, a vast army of experts, analysts , agents in Tasmania, code machines and the like. To get the money, we need the excuse, and the excuse is secrecy. You know, Harry Truman set us up in business because he did not trust the intelligence input from the Army. We were a small handful of experts to advise him and now we run the country the way we feel it ought to be run. The president is a nuisance to be coddled and conned. We give him the information he needs for his purposes, regardless of how silly and utterly fake it might be. It’s just a game played with spoiled children, Gregory, and nothing more.

GD: Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

RTC: Oh, no, Gregory, not nothing. Look at our budget and you won’t say nothing.

GD: And don’t forget the profit from the drugs, either.

RTC: Most uncalled for, Gregory. We are all American capitalists, and if there is a need, we fill it, even if, I must say, we have to create the need first.

GD: Money talks…

RTC: No, Gregory, in this country, as in most others, money rules and you ought not to ever forget that.

GD: I don’t. One of my grandfathers was a banker as I have told you. I can’t imagine him talking the way we do, however.

RTC: In what way is that?

GD Pragmatic cynicism.

RTC: If the shoe fits, my friend, wear it.


(Concluded at 2:40 PM CST)




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