TBR News February 4, 2019

Feb 04 2019

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

Washington, D.C. February 4, 2019:” Daily Presidential Tracking Poll

February 4, 2019

The Rasmussen Reports

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 45% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty-four percent (54%) disapprove.

The latest figures include 34% who Strongly Approve of the job Trump is doing and 44% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -10. .

Now that Gallup has quit the field, Rasmussen Reports is the only nationally recognized public opinion firm that still tracks President Trump’s job approval ratings on a daily basis.

If your organization is interested in a weekly or longer sponsorship of Rasmussen Reports’ Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, please send e-mail to beth@rasmussenreports.com .



The Table of Contents

  • Trump: I ‘set the table beautifully’ for next border wall fight with Democrats
  • State of disunion: Democrats must not give in to Trump’s hateful speech
  • The Empire in Collapse
  • Four Reasons I’m Cautiously Optimistic About the Democratic Party in 2020
  • A third of Himalayan ice cap doomed, finds report
  • Ukraine’s far right is growing increasingly violent – why aren’t local Jews concerned?
  • Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine
  • Afghanistan Wars: Drugs for Fun and Profit
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

 Trump: I ‘set the table beautifully’ for next border wall fight with Democrats

Trump indicates he will declare national emergency on 15 February as Pentagon sends 3,750 more troops to Mexican border

February 3, 2019

by Edward Helmore in New York

The Guardian

Donald Trump claimed in an interview broadcast on Sunday to have “set the table beautifully” for the next stage of his confrontation with congressional Democrats which caused the longest government shutdown in US history.

Trump indicated that to secure funding for a wall on the border with Mexico, he will declare a national emergency on 15 February, the deadline for funding talks initiated after the 35-day shutdown, the longest in US history.

It came as the Pentagon announced it was sending a further 3,750 more troops to the border to put up another 150 miles (240km) of concertina wire and provide other support for customs and border protection. The additional personnel will increase the total number of active-duty troops by seven-fold on the Mexican border, to 4,350.

In the interview with CBS Face the Nation, the president attempted to portray the shutdown that ended last month without funding for his wall as a victory over Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker.

Talks between the White House and congressional Republicans and Democrats are not expected to produce a bill containing the $5.7bn Trump wants for a wall. The president this week told the New York Times the negotiations were a “waste of time”. On Sunday a key Republican participant, Alabama senator Richard Shelby, told CNN’s State of the Union that without a Trump-Pelosi truce, “the chances of us reaching an agreement are slim”.

Trump is therefore set to declare a national emergency over what he claims is a crisis at the southern border, allowing him to find funds in military and other budgets.

Such a move would almost certainly get tied up in the courts. Among Republicans, it has also provoked worries about setting a precedent regarding the use of executive power that future Democratic presidents might follow when pursuing liberal goals.

“On the 15th we have now set the table beautifully because everybody knows what’s going on because of the shutdown,” Trump said. “People that didn’t have any idea – they didn’t have a clue as to what was happening, they now know exactly what’s happening.”

Trump added: “I don’t like to take things off the table. It’s that alternative. It’s national emergency, it’s other things and you know there have been plenty national emergencies called. And this really is an invasion of our country by human traffickers…”

The president repeated his assertion that without a border wall the US is subject to vast lawlessness, including “human trafficking … drugs and gangs and criminals pouring in.”

Most independent observers have cast doubt on Trump’s claims. Most on both sides of America’s partisan divide concluded that the shutdown was a victory for Pelosi, who kept her party in line and forced the president to end the shutdown he provoked without achieving his aim.

On CBS, Trump accused his political rival of being “very bad for our country”.

“She knows that you need a barrier,” he said. “She knows that we need border security. She wanted to win a political point. I happen to think it’s very bad politics because basically she wants open borders. She doesn’t mind human trafficking…”

Interviewer Margaret Brennan warned Trump that he would still have to deal with the speaker over border and immigration issues, a national emergency notwithstanding.

Pelosi has, after all, offered the president more than $1bn for border security: just not for building a wall.

“Excuse me?” Trump asked. “She’s – she’s costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars because what’s happening is when you have a porous border, and when you have drugs pouring in, and when you have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi who don’t want to give proper border security for political reasons, she’s doing a terrible disservice to our country.

“We’re going to have a strong border. And the only way you have a strong border is you need a physical barrier. You need a wall. And anybody that says you don’t, they’re just playing games.”

State of disunion: Democrats must not give in to Trump’s hateful speech

Pelosi’s party must not be distracted by the president – or corporate voices on their side. Inequality is pulling the US apart

February 4, 2019

by Robert Reich

The Guardian

Donald Trump says his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening will be about “unification”. But Trump discussing the state of the union is like pyromaniac discussing lighter fluids. His goal is, and has always been, disunion.

The man thrives on divisiveness. It’s how he keeps himself the center of attention, fuels his base and ensures that no matter what facts are revealed, his followers will stick by him.

There’s another reason Trump aims to divide – and why he pours salt into the nation’s deepest wounds over ethnicity, immigration, race and gender.

He wants to distract attention from the biggest and most threatening divide of all: the widening imbalance of wealth and power between the vast majority, who have little or none, and a tiny minority who are accumulating just about all.

“Divide and conquer” is one of the oldest strategies in the demagogic playbook: keep the public angry at each other so they don’t unite against those who are running off with the goods.

Over the last four decades, the median wage has barely budged. But the incomes of the richest 0.1% have soared by more than 300% and the incomes of the top 0.001% (the 2,300 richest Americans), by more than 600%. The net worth of the wealthiest 0.1% of Americans almost equals that of the bottom 90% combined.

This grotesque imbalance is undermining American democracy.

“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,” Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern concluded a few years ago, after analyzing 1,799 policy issues that came before Congress. Lawmakers respond to the demands of wealthy individuals and moneyed business interests.

No secret here. In fact, Trump campaigned as a populist – exploiting the public’s justifiable sense that the game is rigged against them. But he never attacked the American oligarchy and his divide-and-conquer strategy as president has disguised his efforts to make it even stronger.

His tax cuts, his evisceration of labor laws, his filling his cabinet and sub-cabinet with corporate shills, his rollbacks of health, safety, environmental and financial regulations: all have made the super-rich far richer, at the expense of average Americans.

Meanwhile, he and his fellow Republicans continue to suppress votes. Last week, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell denounced Democratic proposals to increase turnout, even calling the idea of making election day a federal holiday “a power grab”. Of course, it was a power grab – for the people.

Sitting behind Trump’s left shoulder Tuesday night when he delivers his state of the union will be a Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who refused to blink when Trump closed the government in an attempt to fund his wall at the Mexican border.

Has Trump met his match? The real question is whether, and to what extent, Pelosi and other Democrats will also unblinkingly take on America’s increasing concentration of wealth and power.

In recent weeks, senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both eyeing the White House, have with 29-year-old freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for sharp increases in taxes on the super-rich. Democratic presidential hopefuls are also proposing to expand access to health insurance by creating Medicare for all.

Polls show strong public support but the corporate Democrats who bankroll much of the party are not happy with this drift to the putative “left”.

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor now considering a presidential run as a Democrat, warns that when you try to redistribute wealth, you get “Venezuela”. Howard Schultz, the billionaire former Starbucks chief executive who is considering an independent bid, calls Warren’s plan “ridiculous”.

Trump, along with the Republicans and perhaps some corporate Democrats, would rather opponents focus on the ethnic, racial and gender differences he uses to divide and conquer.

But Democratic leaders and candidates appear to understand that the largest threat to the state of the union – one that trumps all others, rendering it all but impossible to address anything else – is the deepening divide of wealth and power between the many and the few.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good


The Empire in Collapse

Because of the growing, and serious, public discontent that had been manifested during the course of the Vietnamese War from 1950 through 1973, the American governmental establishment resolved to take steps to recognize, infiltrate and neutralize any significant future national anti-government actions.

Once the most powerful nation, the United States is rapidly losing its premier position in the international sphere while at the same time facing a potential serious anti-government political movement developing in that country. The number of unemployed in the United States today is approximately 97,000,000. Official American sources claim that employment is always improving but in fact it is not. Most official governmental releases reflect wishful thinking or are designed to placate the public

This situation is caused by the movement, by management, of manufacturing businesses to foreign labor markets. While these removals can indeed save the companies a great deal of expenditure on domestic labor, by sharply reducing their former worker bodies to a small number, the companies have reduced the number of prospective purchasers of expensive items like automobiles.

The U.S. government’s total revenue is estimated to be $3.654 trillion for fiscal year 2018.

  • Personal income taxes contribute $1.836 trillion, half of the total.
  • Another third ($1.224 trillion) comes from payroll taxes.

This includes $892 billion for Social Security, $270 billion for Medicare and $50 billion for unemployment insurance.

  • Corporate taxes add $355 billion, only 10 percent.
  • Customs excise taxes and tariffs on imports contribute $146 billion, just 4 percent
  • The Federal Reserve’s net income adds $70 billion.
  • The remaining $23 billion of federal income comes from estate taxes and miscellaneous receipts.
  • The use of secret offshore accounts by US citizens to evade U.S. federal taxes costs the U.S. Department of the Treasury well over $100 billion annually.

By moving from a producing to an importing entity, the United States has developed, and is developing, serious sociological and economic problems in a significant number of its citizens, and many suffer from serious health problems that are not treated.

It is estimated that over 500,000 American citizens are without any form of housing. Many of these people either are living on the streets, in public parks, living in cars or in charity shelters. There are at present over 200,000 family groups in America with over 300,000 individuals involved and 25% of the total are minor children.

Over 80,000 individuals are permanently without any residence. Many of these have physical disabilities such as chronic alcoholism or drug addiction. Many are classified as having severe mental disorders.

About 50,000 of these homeless individuals are military veterans, many of whom have serious physical or mental problems. One of the most common mental disorders is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Governmental treatment for these individuals is virtually non-existent.  Approximately half of this number are either black or Latin American (“Hispanics” in official designation.)

Of the total number of the homeless individuals, approximately 10% are female.

Official but private, estimates are that there over 500,000 youths below the age of 24 in current American society that find themselves homeless for periods lasting from one week to a permanent status.

Over 100,000 of this class are young people who are defined as being homosexual. Those in this class find themselves persecuted to a considerable degree by society in general and their peer groups in specific.

Approximately 50% of this homeless population are over the age of 50, many of whom suffer from chronic, debilitating physical illnesses that are not treated.

Drug deaths in the U.S. in 2017 exceeded 60,000.  Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involved prescriptions. Opioids are a class of strong painkillers drugs and include Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin which are synthetic drugs designed to resemble opiates such as opium derived morphine and heroin. The most dangerous opioid is Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid painkiller 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. The increasing demand for these drugs is causing them to be manufactured outside the United States.

Suicide is the primary cause of “injury death” in the United States and more U.S. military personnel on active duty have killed themselves than were killed in combat last year.

The growing instability of American families is manifested by the fact that:

  • One out of every three children in America lives in a home without a father.
  • More than half of all babies are being born out of wedlock for women under the age of 30 living in the United States
  • The United States has the highest child abuse death rate in the developed world.
  • The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world although the numbers have declined in recent years due to the use of contraceptives.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate and the largest total prison population in the entire world. The criminal justice system in the United States holds more than 4,166,000 people in 1,719 state prisons, 102,000 in federal prisons, 901,000 in juvenile correctional facilities, and 3,163,000 in local jails. Additionally, 5,203,400 adults are on probation or on parole.

The number of people on probation or parole has increased the population of the American corrections system to more than 9,369,400 in 2017. Corrections costs the American taxpayer $69 billion a year.

There are a huge number of American domestic and business mortgages, (67 million by conservative estimate) which have been sliced up, put into so-called “investment packages” and sold to customers both domestic and foreign. This problem has been covered up by American authorities by cloaking the facts in something called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System)

This results in the fact that the holders of mortgages, so chopped and packed, are not possible to identify by MERS or anyone else, at any time and by any agency. This means that any property holder, be they a domestic home owner or a business owner, is paying their monthly fees for property they can never own.

Another festering problem consists of the official loans made to students in colleges and universities in the U.S. the predatory nature of the $90 billion student loan industry. These so-called student loans are the most serious economic problem faced today by American university students.

This problem arose due to federal legislation originating in the mid-1990s which effectively removed basic consumer protections from student loans, thus permitting extensive penalties and the methodology for enforced collection.

Because of the highly inflated cost of higher American education, very few students from high school can afford university education. The new college graduate has, on average, a student loan in excess of $20,000 and students attending graduate programs have average debts of over $40,000.

America today has seriously failing public school systems. Upper economic class Americans are able to send their children to expensive private schools and avoid the exceedingly incompetent public systems. The average American lower school graduates are only a step above illiteracy and their lack of knowledge of world affairs is quite unbelievable.

A small number of extremely wealthy men control and operate all of the major American print and television media.

Each of the few very powerful, rich men have their own reasons for deciding what qualifies as news.

But the public in America now gets its news, without cost, from various internet sites and the circulation number of major print news has dropped dramatically. This has forced the internet editions of the print news media to erect what they call “paywalls.” This permits a very limited number of articles to be read or downloaded before the system demands money for the use of additional material.

The major print media in America is faced with imminent bankruptcy and are making frantic efforts at attempts to prevent free news sites from being aired on the internet.

Government surveillance of the American public is very widespread and at the present time, almost every aspect of an American citizen, or resident, is available for official surveillance. This includes mail, television viewing, telephone conversations, computer communications, travel, ownership of property, medical and school records, banking and credit card transactions, inheritances and other aspects of a citizen’s daily life.

This is done to circumvent any possible organization that could contravene official government policy and has its roots in massive civil resistance to governmental policy during the war in Vietnam. The government does not want a reprise of that problem and its growing surveillance is designed to carefully watch any citizen, or groups of citizens, who might, present or future, pose a threat to government policy.

Another factor to be considered is the current American attitudes towards racial issues. There has always been prejudice in the United States against blacks. In 1943 there were bloody riots in Detroit and Los Angeles, the former aimed at blacks and the latter against Mexicans. Since then, there has been chronic racial prejudice but it has been relatively small and very local. Also, there is growing anti-Semitic prejudice in American but this is officially ignored and never is mentioned in the American media. Much of this growing problem is directed at the brutal actions of Israel against Palestinians. Israelis have an undue influence in the American political scene. The very far right so-called neo-cons are almost all Jewish and most are Israeli citizens. Also, the middle-level ranks of American CIA personnel are heavily infiltrated by Israelis and it is said that any secret the CIA has is at once passed to Israel and that countries needs are assuming importance in CIA actions.

The attitudes of the working class Americans were inflamed during the last presidential elections by Mr. Trump who catered to them and encouraged rebellious attitudes. By speaking against Central American illegal immigrants, Mr. Trump has caused a polarization of attitudes and the militant right wing in America, currently small in number but well-organized and potentially very dangerous, has begun to make its views very well known in public demonstrations.

This movement has played into the hands of far-right American political manipulators.

It is their intention to clandestinely arm these groups and use them to cause violent public confrontations with the far left groups.

By causing this potential violence, the manipulators intend to use the American military to move into unstable area to, as they say, ‘establish law and order’ while in reality, they will use martial law to firm up their basic control of a potentially fractious public.

It is then intended, according to information, to incorporate organized, para-military groups into a sort of domestic Federal police force. These people will not be punished for their actions but rewarded and utilized to ensure further right-wing control of the country.

Four Reasons I’m Cautiously Optimistic About the Democratic Party in 2020

February 3, 2019

by Shaun King

The Intercept


The 2016 elections — all of them — were painful. Democrats failed to take back the House and Senate and lost the presidency to a bigoted fraudster. I don’t intend to relitigate the whole thing here, but those losses, as well as key defeats in local and state races across the country, have caused real harm to legions of everyday Americans.

Some people blame the losses on Russia — and that’s ridiculous. Others make it out like the hacking and interference had no impact at all — and that’s ridiculous too. The Democrats lost for dozens of reasons, but the hacking and interference was damn sure one of them. It was a major distraction during the campaign. My fear was that it would also be such a distraction for the Democratic Party moving forward that the party would ignore all of the substantive changes it needed to address.

Don’t get me wrong, I think election interference is a huge deal. The safety and integrity of our elections is no small thing, but since the losses of 2016, Democrats have needed to find a way to walk and chew gum at the same time. There’s good news here: I see four things happening right now that makes me cautiously optimistic about the future of the Democratic Party.

Embracing Progressive Ideas

A few years ago, if you supported “Medicare for All,” you were probably either a hippie, a Bernie supporter, or both. Today, polls show that 70 percent of Americans like it, and mainstream Democrats are finally embracing it publicly. When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez began talking about how essential it is that the United States embrace a “Green New Deal,” on Day 1 her idea only had support from a few of her closest allies in government. In just a few weeks’ time, you’d now struggle to find a Democrat who doesn’t support it. Speaking of Ocasio-Cortez, she’s got the entire country talking about finally making the ultrarich pay their fair share of taxes. And a few years ago, I struggled to find a single mainstream Democrat talking about ending cash bail or decriminalizing weed — now those are basic talking points for presidential candidates.

I’m glad about all of this, but here’s why I’m cautiously optimistic. It’s easy as hell to talk about your bold policy choices when your party doesn’t have the power to enact them. I just want to make sure the Democrats don’t lose their nerve when it matters most.

Candidates Hiring Diverse Staff

One key reason why presidential candidates are so often tone deaf on issues of race and class is because their senior staffs are often primarily made up of white men. Democrats have completely changed this for the upcoming primaries. Julián Castro hired an amazing black woman, a highly skilled organizer named Maya Rupert, as his campaign manager. Kamala Harris announced that her campaign manager will be Juan Rodriguez, who also ran her Senate race in 2016. In Kirsten Gillibrand’s new staff, she announced six new hires — four of them are women. Of those six, two are African-American and one is Latina. This is a big deal. These early candidates are not just setting the tone for the candidates who will follow them, they are building teams that will actually be able to skillfully advise them on how to reach the entire nation.

Race Barriers Fall in Senate

I have long railed against the lack of diversity of Senate Democrats’ senior staffs. It’s still a serious problem, but it’s getting so much better. When Alabama’s Doug Jones was elected, he appointed the Senate’s first African-American chief of staff, Dana Gresham. Of course it’s embarrassing we had to wait this long. Thankfully, Sen. Elizabeth Warren just hired Anne Reid as her new chief of staff; an Obama administration alum, Reid became the first black woman to serve in this role for any Senate Democrat. She wasn’t the only black woman in that role for long. Gillibrand just hired Joi Chaney to serve in the same role for her office. Yes, I am celebrating the fact that we went from zero African-American chiefs of staff for Democrats to three — because it’s trending upward.

Competitive and Healthy Primaries

The 2016 Democratic presidential primaries were weird. A dozen serious candidates should’ve jumped in there to run, but they were either flagged off or chose not to, in order to make room for Hillary Clinton. I ultimately think that that was actually bad for Clinton. In the end, two people who nobody thought stood a chance, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, ignored the chatter and ran anyway. Sanders shocked the world and won 20 states, but a robust, competitive nationwide primary — with a normal number of candidates — would’ve been better for the winner. In 2008, Barack Obama beat out a who’s who of Democrats to win the nomination and went into the general with a ton of momentum. In some ways, that’s what Donald Trump actually did on the Republican side in 2016.

The upcoming Democratic primaries are going to be altogether different from the previous ones. Clearly, it appears that we will have a healthy number of candidates running. Already, with Warren, Harris, and Tulsi Gabbard in the race, it appears that the primary will set a record for the number of women running. Not only that, but this cross-section of candidates is already on pace to be the most ethnically diverse ever as well. These candidates look more like America. And with Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, now in the race, we have the first openly gay candidate to run for president. Whoever wins is going to have to fight in all 50 states to do so. And again, that’s going to be good for their chances at defeating Trump in 2020.


A third of Himalayan ice cap doomed, finds report

Even radical climate change action won’t save glaciers, endangering 2 billion people

February 4, 2019

by Damian Carrington Environment editor

The Guardian

At least a third of the huge ice fields in Asia’s towering mountain chain are doomed to melt due to climate change, according to a landmark  report, with serious consequences for almost 2 billion people.

Even if carbon emissions are dramatically and rapidly cut and succeed in limiting global warming to 1.5C, 36% of the glaciers along in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya range will have gone by 2100. If emissions are not cut, the loss soars to two-thirds, the report found.

The glaciers are a critical water store for the 250 million people who live in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region, and 1.65 billion people rely on the great rivers that flow from the peaks into India, Pakistan, China and other nations.

“This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,” said Philippus Wester of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (Icimod), who led the report. “In the best of possible worlds, if we get really ambitious [in tackling climate change], even then we will lose one-third of the glaciers and be in trouble. That for us was the shocking finding.”

Wester said that, despite being far more populous, the HKH region had received less attention than other places, such as low-lying island states and the Arctic, that are also highly vulnerable to global warming.

Prof Jemma Wadham, at the University of Bristol, said: “This is a landmark piece of work focused on a region that is a hotspot for climate change impacts.”

The new report, requested by the eight nations the mountains span, is intended to change that. More than 200 scientists worked on the report over five years, with another 125 experts peer reviewing their work. Until recently the impact of climate change on the ice in the HKH region was uncertain, said Wester. “But we really do know enough now to take action, and action is urgently needed,” he added.

The HKH region runs from Afghanistan to Myanmar and is the planet’s “third pole”, harbouring more ice than anywhere outside Arctic and Antarctica. Limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels requires cutting emissions to zero by 2050. This is felt to be extremely optimistic by many but still sees a third of the ice lost, according to the report. If the global rise is 2C, half of the glaciers are projected to melt away by 2100.

Since the 1970s, about 15% of the ice in the HKH region has disappeared as temperatures have risen. But the HKH range is 3,500km long and the impact of warming is variable. Some glaciers in Afghanistan and Pakistan are stable and a few are even gaining ice, most probably due to increased cloud cover that shields the sun and changed winds that bring more snow. But even these will start melting with future warming, Wester said.

The melting glaciers will increase river flows through to 2050 to 2060, he said, pushing up the risk of high-altitude lakes bursting their banks and engulfing communities. But from the 2060s, river flows will go into decline. The Indus and central Asian rivers will be most affected. “Those areas will be hard hit,” said Wester.

Lower flows will cut the power from the hydrodams that generate much of the region’s electricity. But the most serious impact will be on farmers in the foothills and downstream. They rely on predictable water supplies to grow the crops that feed the nations in the mountains’ shadows.

But the changes to spring melting already appear to be causing the pre-monsoon river flow to fall just when farmers are planting their crops. Worse, said Wester, the monsoon is also becoming more erratic and prone to extreme downpours. “One-in-100 year floods are starting to happen every 50 years,” he said.

The Hindu Kush Himalaya mountain belt is home to 250m people and a further 1.65bn rely on its rivers

The new report highlights how vulnerable many mountain people are, with one-third living on less than $1.90 a day and far away from help if climate disaster strikes.

Political tensions between neighbouring nations such as India and Pakistan could add to the difficulties. “There are rocky times ahead for the region. Because many of the disasters and sudden changes will play out across country borders, conflict among the region’s countries could easily flare up,” said Eklabya Sharma, the deputy director general of Icimod.

Hamish Pritchard, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey and not part of the report, said it is “a substantial piece of work” that takes due note of the uncertainties resulting from the limited snowfall and ice measurements in the high mountains.

He said glaciers currently provide an essential buffering role as their meltwater flows into the rivers during the summer, which is when water is in greatest demand downstream and periodic droughts have the deadliest impacts on populations. “Take the ice away and those people are exposed to serious water stress and the consequences of that are local, regional and potentially global, in terms of conflict and migration,” he said.


Ukraine’s far right is growing increasingly violent – why aren’t local Jews concerned?

2018 was a horrible year for attacks on minority groups. With elections looming, 2019 may be even worse – and many say the government is aiding and legitimizing extremists

February 4, 2019

by Michael Colborne


KIEV – They were huddled in the corner of an underpass: Two young women who had just been running down the street screaming for help.

They were soon surrounded by medical staff and a few police officers. Their faces red and teary, looking like they could barely see, the two women had just been pepper-sprayed by far-right extremists after an attempted march in the Ukrainian capital to commemorate victims of transphobic violence.

“Attempted,” because the far right didn’t let the march of no more than 50 people take place last November.

With smoke bombs in hand, a mob of some 200 far-right extremists gathered around the marchers, shouting abuse like “Get lost, faggots.” The thin line of police officers protecting the marchers decided to cancel the event before it even started. They forced the participants into the metro and even made every single one of them pay for a ticket – the ubiquitous blue Kiev metro zheton.

It was a scene witnessed firsthand in the Ukrainian capital by Haaretz, with your correspondent attacked in two separate incidents after the march was canceled.

It is a scene that, unfortunately, has become a not-uncommon sight across Ukraine over the past year. A number of observers, from human rights activists to local journalists and researchers, tell Haaretz that the extremists’ violence and vigilantism has been enabled and tolerated for far too long by Ukraine’s authorities.

They also warn that 2019, with both presidential and parliamentary elections set to take place in Ukraine, won’t be the end of far-right violence there.

Almost five years after the Maidan Revolution that ousted corrupt, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych – and led to Russian-led and Russian-backed forces instigating a still-hot war in the country’s east – Ukraine’s far right made a name for itself in 2018 with a string of violent incidents.

There was International Women’s Day last March, when at least four left-wing feminist activists were attacked by far-right extremists in Kiev. One police officer at the rally reportedly told one of the activists, “I am not going to fucking protect you.”

On April 20, extremists from the neo-Nazi C14 (aka Sich) celebrated Hitler’s birthday by burning down a Roma camp in Kiev, and chasing and attacking Roma families with rocks and pepper spray. Police only opened a case against the notoriously violent Ukrainian group – which, despite being named after the neo-Nazi “14 words” slogan and referred to as a neo-Nazi organization by former members and extremism scholars, insists it isn’t a neo-Nazi group. It is even suing a Ukrainian media outlet for labeling its members neo-Nazis after a video was published of the attack.

In June, another nationalist group, Sober and Angry Youth, stabbed and killed 24-year-old David Pap during an attack on a Roma camp near Lviv, western Ukraine. The neo-Nazi group posted a video of the attack online, calling it “A Small Report on a Gypsy Safari.” Eight members of the group, all but one under the age of 18, were arrested and currently await trial.

These and other attacks on Roma drew international media attention and condemnation, with the assaults peaking last June, says Vyacheslav Likhachev, a Kiev-based expert on right-wing groups in Ukraine and Russia.

But there have still been attacks. In one case last October, a leading member of C14 posted a video on Facebook of what he called a “purge of Gypsies at the capital’s railway station” – a “purge” that reportedly had the cooperation of local police and received positive media coverage.

Increasingly mainstream

“Jews can defend themselves. The far right goes after people who can’t defend themselves,” says Dolinsky.

Josef Zissels, chairman of the Jewish Confederation in Ukraine, confirms there has been an increase in anti-Semitic acts of vandalism since 2014. But, Zissels adds, it has come without an increase in violence against Jews. He argues this is evidence that many of the actions are the result of Russian provocations – though he admits there is little “hard evidence” to support that claim.

Ukraine’s most violent far-right groups might have only recently started to attract international attention. But they are far from new since the country declared its independence in August 1991.

“For the first 20 years of Ukrainian independence, far-right groups had been undisputedly marginal elements in society,” Likhachev wrote in a report he authored for independent NGO Freedom House in May 2018. “But over the last few years the situation has changed.”

That change, Likhachev and other observers have argued, is the manner in which far-right organizations have gained a measure of legitimacy since the Maidan protests, which ended in bloodshed in February 2014.

Far-right groups have been able to take advantage of the ongoing war with Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine to present themselves as “patriots,” their rhetoric and messages increasingly becoming part of the mainstream.

“What’s changed in the last year is that they’ve become more violent,” says Volodymyr Ishchenko, a sociologist and lecturer at Kiev Polytechnic Institute, adding that violence is at the core of everything they do. “If they’re not fighting, they need to do something,” he says, noting that far-right figures have been used as what Ishchenko calls “muscle for hire,” with little to no connection to political ideologies – as in the case of murdered civil rights and anti-corruption activist Kateryna Handziuk in Kherson last year.

Handziuk was sprayed with a liter of sulfuric acid by far-right extremists outside her home last July. The 33-year-old died from her injuries last November, and police detained five men over the attack. However, before her death the activist questioned whether the police really wanted to catch the culprits.

Despite their reputation for violence, some of these groups are still being treated as part of Ukraine’s mainstream – something human rights advocates warn is a threat to the country’s democratic values. One local council district in Kiev signed a memorandum of cooperation with an organization led by a high-ranking member of C14 – the same individual who led the October raids on Roma outside of Kiev’s main train station.

“Concluding agreements with groups that are implicit in violent activities, or at least associated with them,” is also a threat to the rule of law in Ukraine, Matthew Schaaf from Freedom House told Haaretz.

Legitimate political players

Even when they’re not formally cooperating with local authorities, far-right figures have gained a measure of day-to-day acceptance as legitimate political players in Ukraine.

At a rally of political parties in Kiev last October to advocate for electoral reform, Serhii Filimonov, the local head of the far-right political party National Corps, gave a speech as members of the Azov movement’s National Militia milled around in their matching blue camouflage jackets – one with a large SS tattoo on his neck. Azov, originally created as a battalion in 2014 to fight Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine, is now a three-pronged movement composed of the original battalion – now an official Ukrainian National Guard regiment; the National Corps political party; and the National Militia, a paramilitary group that says it “polices” the streets.

Filimonov is no stranger to violence; he is a soccer hooligan who spent his teen years as part of C14. He also led one of the Roma attacks in 2018 and was involved in a high-profile attack on black fans at a Champions League soccer match in Kiev in 2015.

Ironically, the far-right party Filimonov was representing at the rally for electoral reform doesn’t always appear to be in favor of democracy. In 2015, a senior member of National Corps’ leadership board described democracy as “irresponsible behavior.” Another senior National Corps leader recently shared a Facebook post, originally written during the Maidan protests in 2013, which suggested only those “ready to defend their country with arms” should have the right to vote.

The mainstream acceptance of figures like these has come from some of Ukraine’s most pro-Western figures. For example, Ukraine’s Detroit-born health minister, Ulana Suprun, caused some controversy in a Facebook post last December when she thanked C14 for their “services” in a dispute with a high-ranking heart surgeon long accused of corruption. She has also appeared alongside C14 leaders in photographs posted on social media.

Others defend the actions of C14 and other vigilantes for attacking symbols of pro-Russianness – like the orange-and-black St George’s Ribbon that is now banned in Ukraine. Meanwhile, swastikas and other illegal far-right imagery spray-painted throughout the Ukrainian capital remain untouched, even if they’re far fewer in number than other cities in Eastern Europe like Sofia.

Friends in high places

Some of the most dangerous far-right figures have long been suspected of having connections with Ukraine’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The Azov movement, for instance, has long been assumed to be under the protection of Ukraine’s powerful interior minister, Arsen Avakov.

Likewise, C14 has long been rumored to be linked to Ukraine’s security service, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). C14’s leader, Yevhen Karas, has been accused of having connections to Ukraine’s intelligence services since the times of the Maidan revolution. A former high-ranking member of C14, Dmytro Riznychenko, alleged that Karas received a tip from the security services – then aligned with Yanukovych – in February 2014 that there would be a police assault on protesters. In turn, Karas encouraged his group to leave Maidan Square and take refuge in the nearby (and temporarily abandoned) Canadian Embassy.

Karas himself even admitted in 2017 that he and other far-right figures receive tip-offs from Ukraine’s security services. The C14 leader was also seen at the private ceremony in Kiev in January commemorating Ukraine’s newly independent Orthodox Church, alongside high-ranking Ukrainian government and state officials.

Other far-right figures continue to occupy positions of considerable influence. Vadym Troyan, a onetime member of the neo-Nazi Patriot of Ukraine group once headed by Andriy Biletsky – the National Corps’ current leader – is deputy minister of internal affairs. And the head of one of Ukraine’s police departments, Sergey Korotkikh, is a Belarusian citizen and extremist who cut his teeth in a notorious neo-Nazi gang in Moscow, and was given Ukrainian citizenship by President Petro Poroshenko in 2014 for his participation in the Azov Battalion.

Still, there’s no chance Ukraine’s far right is about to match the most dire predictions of Kremlin propaganda – whether that be violently seizing power in Ukraine or eking out a victory at the ballot box. With both presidential and parliamentary elections taking place this year, the far right’s numbers are easy to scoff at: One recent poll showed both the National Corps and its leader and presidential candidate, Biletsky, polling at less than 1 percent (Biletsky finally announced at the party’s recent conference he wasn’t going to take part in the presidential election after all). And even the most critical observers of the far right doubt it has the capacity to seriously mount anything like a coup d’état in Ukraine.

But that doesn’t mean the far right is about to go away. Likhachev tells Haaretz he doesn’t think the relatively “low-level intensity” of attacks in the latter part of 2018 will continue into 2019.

Ironically, that is because of the level of strife that currently exists between some far-right groups. Despite efforts by the National Corps to rally far-right extremists around Biletsky, the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party insisted on naming its own presidential candidate, Ruslan Koshulynsky. The two parties are now at odds, with each even hosting separate marches on January 1 to honor Stepan Bandera – the wartime Ukrainian nationalist and Nazi collaborator whose forces committed war crimes against Poles and Jews.

“Given the political situation,” says Likhachev, “I expect physical attacks to increase.”

Violence and intimidation

The far right might also be able to have an impact on some parliamentary races later this year, says Kiev Polytechnic Institute’s Ishchenko. While he doesn’t think the far right can pose a significant challenge to results on the national level, he argues that far-right forces could be mobilized by local elements to try to influence results through violence and intimidation in single-member district races.

Other observers echo these concerns. In a preliminary election violence risk assessment last December, the United States Institute of Peace – an independent institute funded by the U.S. Congress – has warned that there is a significant risk of far-right groups physically threatening “voters and candidates, ethnic or religious minorities, and left-wing, LGBTQ or human rights activists.”

If they do, they might be able to take advantage of newfound positions as apparently neutral, state-sanctioned election observers. In a meeting on January 11, Ukraine’s electoral commission gave Azov’s National Militia permission to act as official observers in March’s presidential elections.

While USIP’s assessment stresses that the biggest potential threat to Ukraine’s elections is Russian interference – and that the risk of “mass violence” remains low – the authors nonetheless warn that there is “a significant risk that post-election protests [could] turn violent as supporters of the losing candidate express their anger at real or perceived election fraud, premature victory declarations, or the refusal to concede defeat.”

As the country’s political scene heats up in advance of the first round of presidential elections at the end of March, Ukraine will be the focus of increased international attention. But more incidents of far-right violence will also likely draw attention to the way Ukraine’s violent far right has been tolerated and enabled since 2014.

“The [Ukrainian] government has the responsibility to provide security and hold people accountable under the law,” says Freedom House’s Schaaf. “What we’ve seen is very weak enforcement of the law, and weak enforcement of democratic values.”

And even if Ukraine’s Jews haven’t borne the brunt of the far right’s violence since 2014, the Ukrainian Jewish Committee’s Dolinsky isn’t sanguine about what the future might bring. Ukraine’s government, he says, has made common cause with the nationalist far right – adopting its rhetoric, enabling its leaders and letting them operate with relative impunity.

And even if the most extreme figures on the far right have shied away from overt anti-Semitic rhetoric and acts of anti-Semitic violence, Dolinsky notes, it is only because the far right has chosen to focus on perceived “pro-Russian” enemies, like leftists and more vulnerable minorities. Ukraine’s Jews are still on the far right’s list of enemies, says Dolinsky.

“Jews don’t play that important a role; we are not a resource for elections,” says Dolinsky. “But nationalists are. The government knows what they’re doing.”


Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine

July 4, 2018

by Asa Winstanley

The Electronic Intifada

Israeli arms are being sent to a heavily armed neo-Nazi militia in Ukraine, The Electronic Intifada has learned.

Azov Battalion online propaganda shows Israeli-licensed Tavor rifles in the fascist group’s hands, while Israeli human rights activists have protested arms sales to Ukraine on the basis that weapons might end up with anti-Semitic militias.

In a letter “about licenses for Ukraine” obtained by The Electronic Intifada, the Israeli defense ministry’s arms export agency says they are “careful to grant licenses” to arms exporters “in full coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government entities.”

The 26 June letter was sent in reply to Israeli lawyer Eitay Mack who had written a detailed request demanding Israel end all military aid to the country.

Azov’s official status in the Ukrainian armed forces means it cannot be verified that “Israeli weapons and training” are not being used “by anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi soldiers,” Mack and 35 other human rights activists wrote.

They had written that Ukrainian armed forces use rifles made in Israel “and are trained by Israelis,” according to reports in the country.

The head of the Israeli arms export agency declined to deny the reports, or to even discuss cancellation of the weapons licenses, citing “security” concerns.

But Racheli Chen, the head of the agency, confirmed to Mack she had “carefully read your letter,” which detailed the fascist nature of Azov and the reports of Israeli arms and training.

Israeli rifles in Ukraine

The fact that Israeli arms are going to Ukrainian neo-Nazis is supported by Azov’s own online propaganda.

On its YouTube channel, Azov posted a video “review” of locally produced copies of two Israeli Tavor rifles

The rifles are produced under licence from Israel Weapon Industries, and as such would have been authorized by the Israeli government.

IWI markets the Tavor as the “primary weapon” of the Israeli special forces.

It has been used in recent massacres of unarmed Palestinians taking part in Great March of Return protests in Gaza.

Fort, the Ukrainian state-owned arms company that produces the rifles under license, has a page about the Tavor on its website.

The Israel Weapon Industries logo also appears on its website, including on the “Our Partners” page.

Starting as a gang of fascist street thugs, the Azov Battalion is one of several far-right militias that have now been integrated as units of Ukraine’s National Guard.

Staunchly anti-Russian, Azov fought riot police during the 2013 US and EU-supported “Euromaidan” protests in the capital Kiev.

The protests and riots laid the ground for the 2014 coup which removed the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych

When the civil war began in eastern Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists, the new western-backed government began to arm Azov. The militia soon fell under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian interior ministry, and saw some of the most intense frontline combat against the separatists.

The group stands accused in United Nations and Human Rights Watch reports of committing war crimes against pro-Russian separatists during the ongoing civil war in the eastern Donbass region, including torture, sexual violence and targeting of civilian homes.

Today, Azov is run by Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s interior minister. According to the BBC, he pays its fighters, and has appointed one of its military commanders, Vadym Troyan, as his deputy – with control over the police.

Avakov last year met with the Israeli interior minister Aryeh Deri to discuss “fruitful cooperation.”

Azov’s young founder and first military commander Andriy Biletsky is today a lawmaker in the Ukrainian parliament.

As journalist Max Blumenthal explained on The Real News in February, Biletsky has “pledged to restore the honor of the white race” and has advanced laws forbidding “race mixing.”

According to The Telegraph, Biletsky in 2014 wrote that “the historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the white races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led untermenschen.”

At a military training camp for children last year, The Guardian noticed that several Azov instructors had Nazi and other racist tattoos, including a swastika, the SS skull symbol and one that read “White Pride.”

One Azov soldier explained to The Guardian that he fights Russia because “Putin’s a Jew.”

Speaking to The Telegraph, another praised Adolf Hitler, said homosexuality is a “mental illness” and that the scale of the Holocaust “is a big question.”

An Azov drill sergeant once told USA Today “with a laugh” that “no more than half his comrades are fellow Nazis.”

An Azov spokesperson played that down, claiming that “only 10-20 percent” of the group’s members were Nazis.

Nonetheless, the sergeant “vowed that when the war ends, his comrades will march on the capital, Kiev, to oust a government they consider corrupt.”

After Azov’s founder Andriy Biletsky entered parliament, he threatened to dissolve it. “Take my word for it,” he said, “we have gathered here to begin the fight for power.”

Those promises were made in 2014, but there are early signs of them being fulfilled today.

This year the battalion has founded a new “National Militia” to bring the war home.

This well-organized gang is at the forefront of a growing wave of racist and anti-Semitic violence in Ukraine.

Led by its military veterans, it specializes in pogroms and thuggish enforcement of its political agenda.

Earlier this month, clad in balaclavas and wielding axes and baseball bats, members of the group destroyed a Romany camp in Kiev. In a YouTube video, apparently shot by the Azov thugs themselves, police turn up towards the end of the camp’s destruction.

They look on doing nothing, while the thugs cry, “Glory to the nation! Death to enemies!”

Israel’s military aid to Ukraine and its neo-Nazis emulates similar programs by the United States and other NATO countries including the UK and Canada.

So obsessed are they with defeating a perceived threat from Russia that they seem happy to aid even openly Nazi militias – as long as they fight on their side.

This is also a throwback to the early Cold War, when the CIA supported fascists and Hitlerites to infiltrate from Austria into Hungary in 1956, where they began slaughtering Hungarian communist Jews and Hungarian Jews as “communists.”

Recent postings on Azov websites document a June meeting with the Canadian military attaché, Colonel Brian Irwin.

According to Azov, the Canadians concluded the briefing by expressing “their hopes for further fruitful cooperation.”

Irwin acknowledged receipt of an email from The Electronic Intifada, but did not answer questions about his meeting with the fascist militia.

A spokesperson for the Canadian defense department later sent a statement claiming that their “training of Ukrainian Armed Forces through Operation Unifier incorporates strong human rights elements.”

They said Canada is “strongly opposed to the glorification of Nazism and all forms of racism” but that “every country must come to grips with difficult periods in its past.”

The spokesperson, who did not provide a name, wrote that Canadian training “includes ongoing dialogue on the development of a diverse, and inclusive Ukraine.”

The statement said nothing about how alleged Canadian diversity training goes down with the Azov Battalion.

Also part of Colonel Irwin’s meeting was the head of Azov’s officer training academy, an institution named after right-wing Ukrainian nationalist Yevhen Konovalets.

Konovalets is one of the group’s idols, whose portrait frequently adorns its military iconography.

Konovalets was the founder of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which later allied itself to Nazi Germany during its invasion of the Soviet Union.

The OUN took part in the notorious 1941 Lviv massacre, when the Nazis invaded Soviet territory.

During the pogrom, thousands of Jews were massacred in the now-Ukrainian city.

US aid to Nazis

Canada is of course not the only NATO “ally” to be sending arms to Ukraine.

As Max Blumenthal has extensively reported, US weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, and training have been provided to Azov.

Under pressure from the Pentagon, a clause in the annually renewed defense bill banning US aid to Ukraine from going to the Azov Battalion was repeatedly stripped out.

This went on for three straight years before Democratic lawmaker Ro Khanna and others pushed it through earlier this year.

For his trouble Khanna was smeared in Washington as a “K Street sellout” who was “holding Putin’s dirty laundry.”

Despite the ban finally passing, Azov’s status as an official unit of the Ukrainian armed forces leaves it unclear how US aid can be separated out.

In 2014, the Israel lobby groups ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center refused to help a previous attempt to bar US aid to neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine.

Attempts by some in Congress to bar US military aid to Nazis in Ukraine may explain military aid from Israel.

Israel’s “deepening military-technical cooperation” with Ukraine and its fascist militias is likely a way to help its partner in the White House, and is another facet of the growing Zionist-White Supremacist alliance.

Israel has historically acted as a useful route through which US presidents and the CIA can circumvent congressional restrictions on aid to various unsavory groups and governments around the world.

In 1980s Latin America, these included the Contras, who were fighting a war against the left-wing revolutionary government of Nicaragua, as well as a host of other Latin American fascist death squads and military dictatorships.

It also included the South African apartheid regime, which Israeli governments of both the “Zionist left” and Likudnik right armed for decades.

As quoted in Andrew and Leslie Cockburn’s book Dangerous Liaison, one former member of the Israeli parliament, General Mattityahu Peled, put it succinctly: “In Central America, Israel is the ‘dirty work’ contractor for the US administration. Israel is acting as an accomplice and an arm of the United States.”

Amid an alarming rise in anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism, Israel now appears to be reprising this role in eastern Europe.


Afghanistan Wars: Drugs for Fun and Profit

It ought to be recognized that part of the so-called Afghan opium pipeline runs through the United Arab Emirates on its way to Kosovo where it is refined into heroin and shipped up into Europe.

Opium crops located in Afghanistan, over 95% of the world’s opium production, is protected by US CIA people and elements of the American military who have made themselves responsible for the bulk of the illegal heroin markets worldwide.

There is a deliberate effort to convince the bulk of the public that opium in Afghanistan  is a Taliban operation but in fact it is not

An ‘Afghanistan Opium Survey’ details the ongoing and steady rise of Afghan opium production. In stated: “In 2016, opium production had increased by approximately 25 times in relation to its 2001 levels, from 185 tons in 2001 to 4800 tons in 2016.”

In 2011 a US MI report had stated, very clearly, that US military convoys operating from Pakistani ports were specifically used to ship both raw opium and refined heroin out of that country and to South American ports.

And then there are the origins, and development of the CIA’s modus operandi.

In what is called the Golden Triangle area, during the Vietnam war, when the CIA imposed a food-for-opium scheme on Hmong tribesmen from Laos — complete with a heroin refinery at the CIA headquarters in northern Laos and the set-up of nefarious Air America to export the raw gum opium by CIA-owned aircraft, to Columbia where it was, and is, being refined into heroin.

During its involvement with the war in SEA, the CIA used the Hmong groups to counter the activities of the Pathet Lao groups. The Hmongs used the profits from their opium productions to live on. The CIA protected the opium trade and very soon, realizing the profits to be made from it, expanded their control over the opium-growing business.  The Hmong were very important to CIA operations and the CIA was very concerned with their well-being. The CIA began to export raw opium from the north and east of the Plain of Jars to Long Tieng and later, during the height of the Vietnam wars, began to take a great interest in the very large and successful Afghanistani opium fields.

A Pakistani intelligence report based on Pashtun sources, most specifically indicates that the controlling factor in the opium production is not Muslim but American.

According to Pakistani government intelligence, the CIA is heavily involved with al-Quaeda and IS and introduced them into Afghanistan for guerrilla actions so as to be able to convince Washington to increase the number of American troops into that country to protect the highly profitable opium fields.

If one looks at a map showing the locations of the known opium fields in Afghanistan and then looks at another map showing US military units in place, the two are nearly identical.

Russian intelligence is well aware that the US CIA and the Pentagon are secretly supporting the Saudi-raised Sunni IS, a branch of which is now very active in Afghanistan.

It is very well known that a major portion of Afghanistani gum opium is taken over by CIA people and most of it is shipped to Columbia.

A portion of this opium goes to Kosovo where it is also refined and then shipped up through Germany to Russia. This annoys the Russians who have made a strong effort to put a halt to something that killed over 50,000 Russians last year from heroin overdoses.

Here we have an interesting situation.

Russia, with good reason, objects to having heroin smuggled into her country and attempts to put a stop to it.

The United States, a country that, via its agencies, is heavily involved in the international drug trade, objects to this attitude.

Therefore, in addition to all Russia’s oil and gas which America badly needs, the US has an excellent motive for making Russia a handy enemy.

Enemies are necessary to stimulate public support for more profitable (to some at least) small wars.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

February 3, 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 publications.


Conversation No. 6

Date: Sunday, March 31, 1996

Commenced: 8:35 AM CST

Concluded: 8:47 AM CST

GD: Hello, Robert. Did you get in touch…or did Corson get ahold of you?

RTC: No, actually, Gregory, I was in touch with him. What do you tell Bill to get him so rattled?

GD: Nothing particularly.

RTC: Did you mention drugs by any chance?

GD: Actually, no but he did.

RTC: He initiated the conversation on that subject?
GD: Yes. About three days ago. He asked me what I knew about allegations, get that, allegations, that the CIA has some involvement with drugs.

RTC: Keep going.

GD: I detect some unhappiness.

RTC: You do but it’s not aimed at you. Let me get this clear here. Bill initiated a conversation with you about drugs? Am I correct there?
GD: Absolutely. He wasn’t very subtle about it, either.

RTC: Try to remember exactly what he said.

GD: He started out…he said that there were rumors being spread that the CIA was connected in some way with large scale drug smuggling. He wanted to know if I had been talking about it and if I had, where had I gotten the information. I asked him to be specific and he got coy with me. He did say, and I recall this very clearly because it was only a few days ago, he asked me if you and I had talked about it.

RTC: And…?

GD: What do you think? What we say goes no place, not even a hint. I told him that you and I had never discussed this….

RTC: Thank you…

GD: Yes, and then I asked him if I should bring this up to you. I said I would tell you Bill was asking about this. He got very agitated then and told me not to say a word to you because he didn’t want to upset you.

RTC: (Laughter) Oh, well, you did a good job. But was he explicit in his comments about drugs? I mean the who-what-why and when?
GD: No, he actually told me nothing but he wanted to know what I personally knew and if I knew anything, where did I get it?

RTC: That figures.

GD: And I mentioned the KMT General and his flight to Switzerland. He jumped on that and asked me if I got that from you. I told him Kimmel told me.

RTC: (Laughter) Sweet Jesus. That’s putting the cat in the hen house. What did he say to that?
GD: He sounded like he was having an asthma attack.

RTC: I’ll bet he was. You turned it back on him, didn’t you?
GD: I think so. I wonder why he thinks I’m stupid?
RTC: People underestimate you.

GD: Yes, and at the same time they are overestimating themselves. What’s this all about, if I dare ask?

RTC: Drugs are a very sensitive issue with certain departments of the CIA. Very sensitive. It’s well known you and I talk and they are frantic to find out what we’re talking about. Of course if they tapped our phones, they might find out but by Bill asking you that, it’s obvious they have not tapped our phones. If I caught them playing their stupid games with either of us, they would be better off to move to Iceland and fish for flounder or whatever. No, that was a fishing expedition. That I know certain things is bad enough but that I talk to you, the author of the evil Müller books, is something else. No, they wouldn’t dare tap my phone. If they did, as I said, there would be blood running all over certain office floors when the hit men left. No, they’re guessing and the Kimmel business was a shrewd hit. I think he’s into this. He views you as an interesting but unstable person to whom one ought not to be at home when you call.

GD: I have always been civilized with Kimmel and, I think, very helpful in giving his family any papers that  might help them about the Admiral.

RTC: Never expect gratitude from such as them, Gregory, and never turn your back on them either. Drugs? Fine. Tell me something, Gregory, where does heroin come from?

GD: The Salvation Army kitchens?
RTC: Be serious.

GD: Heroin comes from opium just as cocaine comes from coca plants.

RTC: Wonderful. And where do we find opium, or rather where does it come from?
GD: The sap of opium poppies. Found in Turkey in places but now getting under control there and mostly in Afghanistan.

RTC: You get a big ‘A’ on your card. Yes, Gregory, opium comes from Afghanistan

And who is very powerful in that country?
GD: The CIA?

RTC: Funny. Who?

GD: The Taliban.

RTC: Yes and do you know who founded that organization of cut throats and killers? We did so they could make trouble for the Soviets. And we trained them and armed them, Gregory which was a terrible mistake.

GD: You should read history, Robert. A poor, tribal area with savage guerrilla people who will fight any occupying power and when they kill them off, they will fight each other.

RTC: That was a first class mess there. Yes, they went after Ivan and then took our weapons and training methodology and took over the country. A nest of vipers.

GD: And all yours.

RTC: Don’t rub it in. There will be serious trouble there, mark my words.

GD: My bet is that they’ll go after Pakistan and when they take over that country…by the way, doesn’t Pakistan have nuclear weapons?
RTC: Oh God, I am so happy I’m retired. Ah, but the drugs. Yes, to be clear on it, I ask you another question. Where do all the drugs in the States come from?

GD: China white heroin comes to this country from, obviously, China. The Chinks smuggle it into Canada using cargo containers that dock on Vancouver Island. That’s one source I know about personally. The bulk of the rest comes up from Mexico.

RTC: Yes, but it isn’t processed there.

GD: No, in Columbia. And smuggled into Mexico via Chaipas and up to our border and the veins of the needy.

RTC: How do you know these things?

GD: Never mind.

RTC: And is there a question here, Gregory?
GD: Of course, Robert. We know about opium, or yen shee as the Chinks call it, being grown in Afghanistan and we know it’s processed into heroin in Columbia. The obvious question is how the stuff gets from a land-locked country to Columbia?  The answer is that someone, or some group, transports it there. By boat? By aircraft?
RTC: Both. Boat from Pakistan and plane from Afghanistan itself.

GD: Yes. And who does this? The Afghanistan navy?

RTC: No there is a special branch of the Company involved in this and has been for decades. A large part of our secret budget comes from this. Of course, we do not sell it but we do supply those who both refine it and eventually sell it.

GD: Where and when do you get your cut?
RTC: After it’s refined in Columbia. You see, we also own the refining facilities which we lease out.

GD: And cocaine?
RTC: Well, if we do one, we can always do the other.

GD: Jesus wept. And why would Bill get his withered balls into such an uproar?

RTC: They don’t want you to get your hands on this. It’s bad enough for you to talk about prominent Nazis working for us let alone this drug business. Be very careful where you put your feet, Gregory. You are dealing with a minefield and I will have to ring off now because I have to talk with Bill. No offense but he has to be told to go and lie down in the corner or I’ll lock him in his cage.

GD: Why I thought he was your friend.

RTC: Bill is useful but Bill has an exalted opinion of himself and it’s time I let the air out of his balloon. So I do appreciate this talk and even more your handling of the subject. We don’t need to discuss this and if Tom the Arrow shirt boy gets onto this with you, keep your mouth shut and change the subject. Oh and do tell me if he does.

GD: Absolutely. I hope I gave Bill the right answers.

RTC: In this business, Gregory, there are no right answers.

GD: Yes. We have only the quick and the dead.

(Concluded at 8:47 AM CST)








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