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TBR News February 9, 2019

Feb 09 2019

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

Washington, D.C. February 9, 2019:” The strait of Hormuz is the kink in the hose of the Gulf’s oil supply to the world. A small amount of pressure can have a disproportionate effect, sending world crude prices soaring and starving the world’s oil-dependent economies.

At its narrowest point, between the Oman peninsula and the Iranian islands off Bandar Abbas, the strait is 20 miles wide, but the channels down which more than a third of the world’s ocean-borne oil flows – 17m barrels a day – are even more tenuous. The tanker lanes going in each direction are just 2 miles wide in parts, through the deep water off Oman and then again, further west, inside Iranian territorial waters.

This is where oil tankers are most vulnerable to an Iranian attempt to turn off the global petrol pump. It was enough for an Iranian official to simply raise the prospect of closing the strait, in retaliation for the threat of sanctions, for the world price of crude to rise to $115 (£74) a barrel. Maintained over the long term, that is costly enough to strangle any hint of a global economic recovery.

That is what makes Iranian naval action in the Gulf such a potent weapon. But it is a decidedly double-edged one, potentially more lethal to Iran than its adversaries. For, while Saudi Arabia can bypass the strait by pipeline, all of Iran’s oil terminals are west of the choke point. Iran would cut off its own lifeblood, which accounts for more than 60% of its economy.

Furthermore, the US has made clear that interruption to sea traffic in the Gulf would be a “red line”, triggering an overwhelming military response in which Iran’s nuclear facilities would be on the target lists. Until now, the US military has ruled out strikes on the nuclear programme, as the costs of starting a war with Iran outweigh the gains of setting the programme back, in defence secretary Leon Panetta’s estimation, one or two years at most. But if the US was going to war anyway over oil, that cost-benefit analysis would change.

So closing the strait outright would be – if not suicidal – an exercise in extreme self-harm for Iran. But the choice facing Tehran is not a binary one.

There is a spectrum of options falling well short of total closure; forms of harassment of the oil trade that would drive the price of crude up and keep it up, very much to Iran’s benefit, but fall short of a casus belli for war. However, exercising such options requires subtlety and fine judgment on all sides and that is by no means a given.

In a period of sustained high tension, an over-zealous Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander could seize his moment to start a war, or a nervous American captain, his vessel just seconds from Iran’s anti-ship missiles, could just as easily miscalculate. The last time Iran and America played chicken in this particular stretch of water, in 1988, a missile cruiser called the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian Airbus, killing 290 civilians including 66 children.

The shadow of Iran Air 655 hangs over the current standoff, as a reminder of how even the world’s mightiest and most advanced militaries cannot necessarily control a situation in which tensions have been allowed to escalate.

US military options

There is no doubting the overwhelming firepower at America’s disposal. The US Fifth Fleet, whose job it is to patrol the Gulf, is expected to be beefed up from one to two aircraft carriers. Meanwhile, as it has pulled its troops out of Iraq, the Pentagon has quietly boosted its army’s presence in Kuwait. The Los Angeles Times reported that it now has 15,000 troops there, including two army brigades and a helicopter unit. The US is also bolstered by the significant naval presence of its British and Gulf allies.

The Iranian military looks puny by comparison, but it is powerful enough to do serious damage to commercial shipping. It has three Kilo-class Russian diesel submarines which run virtually silently and are thought to have the capacity to lay mines. And it has a large fleet of mini-submarines and thousands of small boats armed with anti-ship missiles which can pass undetected by ship-borne radar until very close. It also has a “martyrdom” tradition that could provide willing suicide attackers.

The Fifth Fleet’s greatest concern is that such asymmetric warfare could be used to overpower the sophisticated defences of its ships, particularly in the narrow confines of the Hormuz strait, which is scattered with craggy cove-filled Iranian islands ideal for launching stealth attacks.

In 2002, the US military ran a $250m (£160m) exercise called Millennium Challenge, pitting the US against an unnamed rogue state with lots of small boats and willing martyr brigades. The rogue state won, or at least was winning when the Pentagon brass decided to shut the exercise down. At the time, it was presumed that the adversary was Iraq as war with Saddam Hussein was in the air. But the fighting style mirrored that of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

In the years since, much US naval planning has focused on how to counter “swarm tactics” – attacks on US ships by scores of boats, hundreds of missiles, suicide bombers and mines, all at once.

“Every couple of weeks in Washington you can go to a different conference on swarming,” said Sam Gardiner, a retired US air force colonel who has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College. “War games have shown that swarming, missiles and mines all together put a strain on the capacity of ships to defend themselves. Your challenge is how to protect your minesweepers from swarming techniques.”

One of the US naval responses has been to develop a new kind of fighting vessel, the littoral combat ship (LCS), tailor-made for countering Iran’s naval tactics. The LCS is sleek, small and agile with a shallow draft and high speeds, allowing it to operate along island-pocked coastlines.

At the low-tech end of the scale, the Fifth Fleet is reported to have deployed a significant number of dolphins trained to seek out mines.

Ultimately, the US response to swarming will be to use American dominance in the air and multitudes of precision-guided missiles to escalate rapidly and dramatically, wiping out every Iranian missile site, radar, military harbour and jetty on the coast. Almost certainly, the air strikes would also go after command posts and possibly nuclear sites too. There is little doubt of the effectiveness of such a strategy as a deterrent, but it also risks turning a naval skirmish into all-out war at short notice.

Iranian tactics

For that reason, most military analysts argue that if Iran does decide to exact reprisals for oil sanctions, it is likely to follow another route. Gardiner believes the most likely model will be the “tanker war” between Iran and Iraq from 1984 to 1987. The aim would be to raise insurance premiums and other shipping costs, and so boost oil prices as a way of inflicting pain on the west and replacing revenues lost through the embargo.

“They wouldn’t necessarily do anything immediately. If they do what they did in the tanker war, a mine would be hit and it wouldn’t be clear exactly how long it had been there. Things like that push up the price of oil. People talk about a spike in oil prices, but it might be more like a plateau,” Gardiner said.

“The answer is not to escalate. You start protecting tankers and searching for mines.”

Even if Iran decides on retaliation, there is no reason for it to be confined to an immediate response in the strait. It could target the oil price with acts of sabotage aimed at Arab state oil facilities along the southern shore of the Gulf, or western interests could be targeted anywhere around the world, months or years after the imposition of an embargo.

Adam Lowther, of the US air force’s Air University, pointed out recently on the Diplomat blog that Iran’s “ministry of intelligence and national security (MOIS), Iran’s espionage service, is among the most competent in the world”.

“Over the past 30 years, MOIS agents have successfully hunted down and assassinated dissidents, former officials of the shah’s government, and real or perceived threats to the regime. MOIS is still capable of carrying out assassinations, espionage, and other kinetic attacks against government and civilian targets. The spy service is also likely to have covert agents in the United States,” Lowther said.

Ehsan Mehrabi, an Iranian journalist specialising in military and strategic issues who recently left the country, wrote on the Inside Iran website: “I recall a famous Iranian idiom that was quite popular among the military officials: ‘If we drown, we’ll drown everyone with us’. They were pretty clear about their intention. If attacked by a western power, the war would not be contained within the Iranian borders. The entire world would become Iran’s battleground – at least this was their thinking.”

Obama administration officials believe that last year’s Washington bomb plot, in which Revolutionary Guard officials are alleged to have planned to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US by blowing up his favourite restaurant in the American capital, could have been an attempt to settle scores for some past incident.

Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA official said recently at a seminar in Washington organised by the Atlantic Council: “One of the ways Iran can hurt us which is not often talked about is Iranians’ capacity to hurt us in Obama’s war, in Afghanistan. The Iranians are already superbly placed to make the war in the Afghanistan – which is already difficult – impossible.”

All these options however represent high-risk strategies, fraught with risks of miscalculation. In the tanker war scenario, maintaining the line between war and peace would, in effect, be delegated to relatively junior officers, forced to make high-stakes decisions in a matter of seconds, the exact set of circumstances that led to the 1988 Airbus disaster. Even if Washington and Tehran remain determined to avoid an all-out war, with every passing month there is a rising chance of one breaking out by accident.”

The Table of Contents

  • Nicht gut: Nearly 85 percent of Germans see U.S-German ties as negative
  • A Cruel War on Immigrants
  • Do New York prosecutors pose the greatest threat to Donald Trump?
  • Negotiators on U.S. border security funds eye deal by Monday: lawmakers
  • ‘Presidential harassment’ may be Trump’s easiest phrase to repurpose
  • America’s bewildering imperialism
  • ‘Dangerous’ Antarctic glacier has a hole roughly two-thirds area of Manhattan, scientists warn
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations



Nicht gut: Nearly 85 percent of Germans see U.S-German ties as negative

by Ralph Orlowski

BERLIN (Reuters) – Nearly 85 percent of Germans have a negative or very negative view of U.S.-German relations, and most want to put more distance between the traditionally close transaltantic allies, a new poll showed on Friday.

Just over 40 percent of those polled view China as a better partner for Germany than the United States, the survey of around 5,000 people, conducted by Atlantik-Bruecke and the Civey institute in poll in November and December, showed.

Ties between the United States and Germany, Europe’s largest economy, have been strained since the 2016 election of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has criticised Germany repeatedly for its trade practices, defence spending and its participation in the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Germany has sought to maintain friendly ties with the United States, but senior leaders speak publicly about an erosion of trust after Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, and most recently, the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Michael Werz, senior fellow at the U.S.-based Center for American Progress and a member of the executive board of the Atlantik-Bruecke, urged Germans not to let concerns about Trump spiral into anti-American resentment.

Burkhard Schwenker, deputy chairman of the Atlantik-Bruecke, said the poll showed the need to redouble efforts to expand dialogue between the two allies at all levels.

A total of 57.6 percent of those polled want to see more distance between Berlin and Washington, and 42.3 percent consider China a better partner.

About a third of those polled said they viewed right-wing populism and protectionism as the most dangerous global crises, compared to only 1.9 percent worried about Russia, and 2.2 percent who feared the growing influence of China.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal



A Cruel War on Immigrants

Trump’s Policies Hurt People Instead of Fixing the System

by Arnold R. Isaacs

Tom Dispatch

“Make America Cruel Again.” That’s how journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Shipler has reformulated Donald Trump’s trademark slogan. Shipler’s version is particularly apt when you think about the president’s record over the last two years on refugee resettlement and other humanitarian-related immigration issues.

President Trump’s border-wall obsession and the political uproar over it have dominated the news, while the alleged dangers of illegal immigrants — whose numbers he wildly exaggerates — have dominated his rhetoric. But the way he’s altered immigration policy affects many more people than just the migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border who are at the center of the wall debate. Many of those currently or potentially harmed by his actions are not outside the law, but are in the United States legally, some with permanent residence status and others on a temporary or provisional basis. Many more, including tens of thousands of refugees who would be eligible for resettlement, are seeking entry or lawful residence through normal immigration procedures, not trying to sneak into the countr

Among those lawfully here who have been affected by Trump’s policies are nearly three-quarters of a million “Dreamers.” Brought here illegally by their parents, they have qualified to remain under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Those young people have spent well over a year not knowing if they will lose that protection under the current administration, despite strong public support and bipartisan political approval of the program’s premise that it would be inhumane and unfair to penalize young people because of their parents’ actions.

Another 250,000 people face possible deportation if the administration wins its legal battle to terminate their temporary protected status (TPS), which allows those who have been displaced by natural or manmade disasters in their countries to remain in the United States. If it weren’t for court rulings blocking both the enforcement of a presidential order to end DACA and a series of directives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ending TPS for recipients from specific countries, a large majority of the one million people in those two categories would lose their legal status between now and September.

During the government shutdown, President Trump conditionally offered to extend temporary protection under DACA or TPS for another three years in return for support from congressional Democrats for his border wall. Whether any such reprieve will be part of an eventual legislative compromise on the wall remains to be seen, but even if it is, that will only further delay, not remove, the threat hanging over the lives of a million people. And the president’s switch raises a pointed question about his previous stance: if he now believes that letting dreamers and TPS recipients stay for another three years won’t endanger public safety or damage other national interests, why did he want to expel them in the first place?

A proposed change in a different set of immigration rules could take a heavy toll on still another group: lawful immigrants who are seeking the right to legal employment. As drafted by DHS, the new regulations would set much stiffer standards for the requirement that a green-card applicant be self-sufficient and not “likely to become a public charge” (that is, “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence”).

For many years that requirement was applied only to programs that extend cash assistance for income maintenance, such as welfare or Social Security disability payments. Under the proposed drastic expansion of those guidelines, immigrants could also be penalized for using food stamps, Medicaid, or various housing assistance programs.

The burden of those rules, as an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute points out, would fall most harshly on the most disadvantaged applicants. One probable outcome is that women would have a harder time “because they are less likely to be employed than men, generally live in larger households, and have lower incomes.”

Although those rule changes are not yet in effect, they have already led an unknown but significant number of low-income immigrants to forgo food stamps, Medicaid, or other benefits — assistance they are legally entitled to and badly need, but fear might jeopardize their chances for lawful permanent residence.

A Case Study in Cruelty

President Trump’s refugee policy offers perhaps the single best case study of how far he and his team have steered away from compassion. Using the law that lets the president set a ceiling for the admission of refugees, Trump has sharply reduced that annual cap, bringing it to by far the lowest level in 40 years.

That downward trend began only a week into Trump’s presidency when he issued an executive order reducing the ceiling for fiscal 2017 to 50,000 in place of the 110,000 cap originally set by the Obama administration. He then reduced the quota to 45,000 for 2018 and cut it again to 30,000 for 2019. The latest cap is lower by half than any previous one since the current refugee law took effect in 1980 — and actual arrivals have dropped even more sharply because of onerous and time-consuming new screening procedures for refugees.

In 2018, only 22,491 refugees were admitted to the country, fewer than half the number authorized. That is slightly more than one quarter of the refugees admitted during President Obama’s last year in office. It is also considerably lower than in any year since Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981, even counting the two years after the 9/11 attacks when refugee admissions dropped sharply because of more intensive screening procedures.

Trump’s cuts came even as the need for humanitarian relief was growing globally. During his first year in office, according to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, the number of individuals “forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, or generalized violence” rose from an already staggering 65.6 million to a record 68.5 million. In both years, slightly more than half of those totals were children below the age of 18. Displaced people officially designated as “refugees” — defined as those driven from their own country — climbed from 22.5 million at the end of 2016 to 25.4 million a year later.

UNHCR has not released its 2018 figures yet, but other measurements indicate that the refugee crisis is still getting worse. In a June 2018 release, the agency projected that the number of people “in need of resettlement globally” in 2019 might be 17% higher than the previous year, clear evidence that the upward trend is continuing. Another figure in its annual reports offers a startling measure of the scale of human suffering around the world and how sharply it’s increasing: 28,300 people were forced to flee their homes every day in 2016, a number that jumped to 44,400 the next year.

Those numbers may seem abstract, but they represent a lot of human misery.

Ruben Chandrasekar, executive director of the International Rescue Committee’s two resettlement offices in Maryland, notes that the Trump administration’s cutbacks on refugee admissions only heighten the suffering of people who have already lost their homes and livelihoods. Tens of thousands of refugees could have started new lives in the United States, if past ceiling levels had been maintained. Now, they face an indefinite future of “protracted displacement,” as Chandrasekar put it in a recent conversation, either in refugee camps with no certainty of adequate food, clothing, or medicine, or as non-citizens in the countries to which they’ve fled and where they live in “precarious urban circumstances,” often unable to work or enroll their children in school.

In other words, Chandrasekar added, the U.S. government “is allowing people who would otherwise qualify for resettlement to live under conditions that could kill them.”

Hurting People Who Need Help — And the Helpers

Curtailing the flow of refugees from overseas has also led, by a kind of malevolent logic, to a significant decline in assistance to refugees already in the United States. That’s because the nonprofit agencies that administer the resettlement program receive a set amount of money from the State Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement for each individual they are assigned to manage. As a result, when arrivals fall, government funding for those organizations — the two largest being the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the International Rescue Committee — automatically drops as well.

The funds those agencies get from private donors haven’t offset the shortfall in State Department payments. As a result, resources that help resettled refugees find jobs and housing, navigate the health, social service, and educational systems, and the like are shrinking or, in some places, disappearing.

In the most recent cutback, according to the International Rescue Committee’s Chandrasekar, the nine national resettlement agencies were instructed late last year to shutter 39 branch offices in communities across the country, only adding to the closings and staff layoffs of the previous two years. That doesn’t just harm refugees who are getting less service. It also harms the people who provide those services and must now do their emotionally draining work with ever fewer resources and ever more worries about growing caseloads and the possibility of being laid off themselves. In other words, Trump’s policies hurt both people who need help and those who help them, making America cruel indeed.

Fake Facts About Refugees

The Trump administration has offered two basic arguments for its refugee policies. Both are false.

The first is that refugees are potential terrorists. The title over Trump’s first directive on refugee resettlement explicitly proclaimed that rationale: “Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

Since then he and his associates have regularly sought to link refugees to terrorism, a claim not validated by either facts or logic. Refugees are more thoroughly screened than any other class of immigrants and plenty of research has shown that the vetting process, which usually lasts two to three years or longer, far from being too loose (as Trump administration officials have often suggested) has been strikingly effective in keeping out dangerous people.

Over more than four decades, not a single American has been killed on U.S. soil by someone who entered the country as a refugee. Of the million-plus refugees who arrived in the last 20 years, no more than a few dozen have been implicated in any kind of terrorism case, lethal or not. Almost none of those cases involved a violent act in this country.

There is no proven case of a terrorist sneaking into the country through the refugee resettlement process. Of the very few refugees who have been connected with terrorist crimes, many came to the United States as children or lived here for years before becoming involved in violent extremism, which means they wouldn’t have been kept out by any vetting procedure, however tight.

The argument that refugees are a drain on public funds and the national economy is also contradicted by the facts. A detailed 2017 report prepared (at the request of the White House) by the Department of Health and Human Services concluded that, from 2005 through 2014, refugees paid $63 billion more in taxes than they received in taxpayer-funded government assistance — a finding consistent, the authors noted, with comparable analyses of the costs and benefits associated with refugees and other immigrants. Department higher-ups refused to send that report to the White House. Instead, they submitted a much shorter paper that listed only the cost of refugee benefits with no mention of their tax payments and so made the case that Trump and his advisers wanted.

If the stated grounds for the administration’s actions are largely false, do such policy changes serve any valid national goal or legitimate principle?

The administration often makes the case that it is only upholding the rule of law. That is its primary justification, for example, for the effort to kick out several hundred thousand people who have been in the United States for years under the Temporary Protected Status rule. If the law says “temporary,” the government contends, that’s what it means: a status that lets people stay for some period of time but does not give them any right to remain when that interval ends.

Legally and logically, that is an unassailable proposition. Those who have gone to court to block the government’s plan are not contesting the law or the dictionary. The argument is about the facts on the ground and whether the situations in the countries involved are actually safe enough for their temporarily sheltered nationals to go home. As with any lawsuit, the courts that will rule on these cases are bound by the letter of the law. In the larger policy debate, however, there should be room to consider broader questions and ask whether the enforcement of a law is in conflict with other human values.

Even if conditions in El Salvador are now less dangerous, does that justify disrupting the lives that nearly 200,000 Salvadoran TPS recipients have developed over years, even decades, in the United States? Life in Haiti may well be safer than it was nine years ago after a catastrophic earthquake left more than a million people homeless, but does that make it right to use U.S. law to force many Haitians who found shelter in this country to choose between keeping their families together or leaving U.S.-born children here to grow up in greater security than they would have in Haiti?

Zuzana Cepla, a policy and advocacy associate at the Washington-based National Immigration Forum, tells me that she can see the logic of changing the status of TPS recipients once protection is no longer necessary. But, she adds, that does not have to mean leaving several hundred thousand people this year (or even three years from now) with only bad options: deportation back to their home countries, leaving for another country, or going into the shadows and remaining in the United States without documentation. If the sole reason to expel them is that the circumstances they fled 10 or 20 years ago have changed, she concludes, “The problem is in the program, not in the people.”

Cepla was speaking about one program, but her reasoning applies across the full spectrum of immigration issues in the Trump era. If the problem is the system, not the people, it won’t be solved by uprooting a million or more immigrants who have legally resided in the United States for years or closing the door on tens of thousands of refugees who would qualify for resettlement. The solution should be to fix the system, not punish the people.

Americans don’t need to keep shouting at each other about Trump’s border wall. They need to talk about how to reform the immigration system without needlessly damaging a great many human lives. That would be the logical and useful discussion to have. It would also be a good way to start making America decent again.


Do New York prosecutors pose the greatest threat to Donald Trump?

Separate from the Mueller inquiry, the southern district of New York’s pursuit of the inauguration committee could herald more pain for the president

February 9, 2019

by Tom McCarthy in New York

The Guardian

For almost two years, Donald Trump has laid down fire at Robert Mueller, calling the special counsel’s work a “witch-hunt”, a partisan charade and now “presidential harassment”.

The bigger threat to Trump, however, may have just walked up and tapped him on the shoulder.

Trump did not tweet about or otherwise acknowledge the revelation on Monday night that prosecutors from the US attorney’s office for the southern district of New York (SDNY) had issued a subpoena seeking a mountain of documents from his inaugural committee.

But former prosecutors and others familiar with the Manhattan-based prosecutors’ work allowed their jaws to drop at the news of the subpoena or – in the case of former SDNY chief Preet Bharara, whom Trump fired early on – their virtual eyes to bulge.

On Friday, ProPublica and WNYC reported further eye-popping news: that the inaugural committee paid the Trump International hotel in Washington a rate of $175,000 a day for event space.

The implications of the subpoena and what followed were clear,and they were all bad for Trump, worse even than the threat posed by the special counsel’s investigation of ties between his campaign and Russia, said the former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, an erstwhile member of Trump’s inner circle, once in charge of transition planning, and a former US attorney himself.

“I’ve always thought that was the much more problematic thing,” Christie told MSNBC of SDNY. “People are focused on Mueller and that’s appropriate. But people should not take their eye off the ball.”

In interviews with the Guardian, former SDNY prosecutors spelled out why investigations run out of New York of Trump-linked interests could dog the president, his family and his associates for years, including after his departure from office.

Unlike Mueller, Trump cannot as a practical matter fire the entire southern district, which comprises about 150 career prosecutors, as distinguishable from political appointees. Unlike Mueller, the southern district is not constrained in what it might investigate by a narrow authorization. And unlike Mueller, the southern district does not report, on most matters, directly to the attorney general, who is appointed by the president and who might act at the president’s bidding, though norms of justice department independence proscribe that

The SDNY is also full of lawyers who are known for being talented, independent and feisty. Alumni regularly go on to judicial appointments, top corporate posts, top justice department jobs (for example, FBI directors James Comey and Louis Freeh, attorney general Michael Mukasey) and other prominent work (Rudy Giuliani, once New York mayor, now the president’s lawyer). Wags refer to the office as the “sovereign” district of New York and joke that it’s the only US attorney’s office, of 93 nationwide, to have its own foreign policy.

“Both in terms of courtroom skill and particularly with respect to investigative and legal acumen, the southern district has long prided itself on the firepower it brings to its cases,” said the Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman, a former assistant attorney in the district.

Elie Honig, who helped dismantle the Sicilian mafia as a prosecutor with the district, echoed the observation.

“The southern district has a long history,” he said, “and a reputation, I think well deserved, of being tenacious and always seeking to take an investigation wherever it goes, including to the top of an organization.”

‘The inaugural investigation seems important’

Owing to its location in Manhattan – a global intersection for business, finance, terrorist plots and organized crime – the SDNY, which celebrated its 225th birthday in 2014, has deep experience in prosecuting the most complicated and significant cases. Those include the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, work related to the 9/11 attacks of 2001, the 1988 bombings of US embassies in Africa, organized crime and mafia cases, the Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff and major financial crimes and public corruption cases.

The Manhattan location also makes the SDNY a prime venue for prosecuting entities tied to Trump, potentially including his business, his campaign, his inaugural committee and more, said Harry Sandick, a former assistant US attorney in the district.

“Since the Trump Organization is located in New York, since many of Trump’s advisers and business partners are also located in New York and took actions in New York,” he said, “they have the ability in the US attorney’s office to look at essentially any crime that they believe may have been committed. And they can just move from one subject to another to another as they find connections.”

So far as is publicly known, the SDNY was first brought in on a Trump-related prosecution with a referral from Mueller of evidence of crimes committed by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer. The SDNY directed a raid on Cohen’s apartment and office last April, seizing documents and devices. Cohen pleaded guilty in August to violating campaign finance laws, bank fraud and criminal tax evasion, and is scheduled to begin a three-year prison sentence next month.

The Cohen case may have given rise to the investigation of the Trump inaugural committee, which prosecutors are investigating for alleged conspiracy against the US, false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, inaugural committee disclosure violations, and laws prohibiting contributions by foreign countries.

“The inaugural investigation seems important,” said Sandick. “People have long wondered why they raised more than $100m, which is twice what was raised for prior inaugurations.”

But in a sign of how extensively prosecutors have penetrated Trump’s network – and of how saturated that network is with alleged criminal conduct – the inaugural committee investigation may have a different primary source: the testimony of the former Trump aide Rick Gates, who is cooperating with prosecutors after pleading guilty last year to conspiracy and lying to the FBI. Gates was deputy chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee.

“They’re gathering large amounts of data,” said Richman of the SDNY team. “They are speaking to a broad array of witnesses, some who have already been implicated, some who are just witnesses. And I would suspect they have adequate people on the case, both at the agent and the prosecutor level, to pursue all directions.”

Prosecutors will have to make a judgment call about what potential cases to bring, said Sandick, adding: “When I was in that office, we were always taught that sometimes the most important cases you have are the ones you don’t indict. Because you made a decision that the evidence wasn’t there.

“These are professional prosecutors, it’s not an inquisition.”

The threat of a presidential move against the district, or a similar move out of the justice department, is not likely to deter SDNY, Honig said.

“I know southern district is not afraid to have a real dispute, a real disagreement with the Department of Justice and at times prevail,” said Honig. “I think the fact that southern district issued this subpoena tells you that they are able to carry on in a fairly aggressive manner.”


Negotiators on U.S. border security funds eye deal by Monday: lawmakers

February 8, 2019

by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Efforts in the U.S. Congress to resolve an impasse over border security funding intensified on Friday and were expected to continue over the weekend, as a special negotiating panel aimed to come to a deal by Monday, lawmakers and aides said.

Despite optimism among Senate and House of Representatives negotiators, contingency plans also were being made in case the talks falter.

Rather than push the Department of Homeland Security and several other federal agencies into a second partial shutdown when their funding expires on Feb. 15, the group of 17 lawmakers were preparing a stop-gap appropriations bill to keep them operating beyond that date.

That would allow more time if necessary to haggle over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion this year to help construct a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Democratic Representative Nita Lowey, a lead negotiator, told Reuters in a brief hallway interview that the bipartisan panel was “working together. I’m always optimistic.” But she added, “It will probably take a little longer” than this weekend to reach agreement.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, complained that while Democrats “talk about more money for a barrier,” they also were trying to place restrictions on how that money would be used.

Trump says a border wall is needed to block the entry of illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants. Democrats counter that at an overall wall cost of $25 billion or more, high-tech tools, such as drones, scanners and sensors would be more cost-effective and could be deployed immediately.

Republicans and Democrats in the past 24 hours swapped a series of proposals, lawmakers said. The main sticking points still had not been resolved.

“There’s multiple offers back and forth … Democrats submitted a counter-offer last night,” said Democratic Representative Pete Aguilar, another negotiator.

The two parties continued to argue over how much money should be appropriated for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, for barriers such as steel-slatted fencing.

A Republican negotiator, Representative Chuck Fleischmann, told reporters a deal could contain more than the $1.6 billion that the Senate had approved in December but substantially less than Trump’s $5.7 billion demand.

Asked about the $1.6 billion figure, Fleischmann said, “I hope it’s north of that. I wouldn’t necessarily say far north.”

Another contentious issue, lawmakers said, was Democrats’ demands for funding fewer immigrant detention beds than the Trump administration seeks. Republicans want to increase the number as part of their drive to speed immigrant deportations.

Meanwhile, according to one official familiar with the talks, Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar pushed for prohibiting border-barrier construction around some environmentally fragile areas, national parks and a SpaceX launch facility in his home state of Texas.

Even if a border security deal is reached, sparing the country another shutdown that left 800,000 federal workers without paychecks for more than a month, the border wall battle between Trump and Democrats will resume. In coming weeks, Congress will begin writing fiscal 2020 appropriations bills.

Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, has invited a few of the negotiators from both parties, as well as a handful of other House members, this weekend to discuss bipartisanship now that Democrats have wrested control of that chamber from Republicans.

They are scheduled to gather at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, Friday night and Saturday morning.

Reporting by Richard Cowan, David Morgan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Tom Brown


‘Presidential harassment’ may be Trump’s easiest phrase to repurpose

Following ‘fake news’ and ‘witch-hunt’, the president has a new favourite buzzword – and it can describe his own behaviour

February 9, 2019

by Miranda Bryant

The Guardian

Donald Trump tore into a reporter who asked him about Democrat plans to scrutinize his personal finances on Wednesday, accusing them of “presidential harassment”.

Like most of his ideas, “presidential harassment” is not actually a Trump original.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, used it in October, telling the Associated Press: “This business of presidential harassment may or may not quite be the winner they [the Democrats] think it is.”

After that, Trump used the phrase several times, including a tweet in early January attacking Democrats over the government shutdown. But this latest flurry of usage suggests it could be on its way to the presidential canon to join regular favourites “WITCH HUNT!”, “fake news!” and “sad!”

Perhaps of all his slogans, this would be the easiest to repurpose, as a way to describe Trump’s own behaviour before and during his presidency: grabbing women by the pussy, calling Elizabeth Warren ”Pocahontas” or mocking Dr Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony at a rally all sound like fantastic examples of presidential harassment.

Indeed it was once difficult to find a catchall term to describe Trump’s many different flavours of bullying behaviour and alleged sexual misconduct. But now he has provided us with one. Well, he was always good with a catchphrase.

After branding Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee, which is running the investigation, a “political hack”, Trump went on to say: “No other politician has to go through that. It’s called presidential harassment. And it’s unfortunate. And it really does hurt our country.”

Seemingly unaware of the irony of the harassment he deals out daily to other politicians, Trump blustered on. By Thursday morning, the charge had escalated – and advanced to proper noun status – with a tweet from @realDonaldTrump accusing Schiff of “Unlimited Presidential Harassment”.

Little more than an hour later, swiftly following a tweet criticising Democratic leadership in Virginia, Trump adopted the phrase again – upping the letter case once again to provide an all-caps: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! It should never be allowed to happen again!”

Like most of his ideas, “presidential harassment” is not actually a Trump original.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, used it in October, telling the Associated Press: “This business of presidential harassment may or may not quite be the winner they [the Democrats] think it is.”

After that, Trump used the phrase several times, including a tweet in early January attacking Democrats over the government shutdown. But this latest flurry of usage suggests it could be on its way to the presidential canon to join regular favourites “WITCH HUNT!”, “fake news!” and “sad!”

Perhaps of all his slogans, this would be the easiest to repurpose, as a way to describe Trump’s own behaviour before and during his presidency: grabbing women by the pussy, calling Elizabeth Warren ”Pocahontas” or mocking Dr Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony at a rally all sound like fantastic examples of presidential harassment.

Indeed it was once difficult to find a catchall term to describe Trump’s many different flavours of bullying behaviour and alleged sexual misconduct. But now he has provided us with one. Well, he was always good with a catchphrase.


America’s bewildering imperialism

February 8, 2019

by Damon Linker

The Week

America’s relations in the world are in a state of severe flux in the Trump era. The president loves to denounce NATO, but the alliance is expanding. He also delights in expressing warm feelings for Vladimir Putin at the same time that the administration’s policies often put us on a collision course with the country Putin leads. We’re preparing to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan at the same time that we’re saber-rattling with Iran and Venezuela. And Trump is preparing for negotiations with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, a man Trump once threatened with nuclear annihilation but whom he now considers a pen pal.

Despite occasional impressive efforts to make this mishmash of impulses and reactions cohere, there is very little about it that makes any kind of broader strategic sense — at least not that the president or leading members of his team have attempted to articulate. Trump has no interest in democracy promotion. He’s not a foreign policy realist. He’s reflexively hostile to alliances and treaties. There’s no sign he favors military restraint in dealing with recalcitrant rivals on the world stage. He hates some dictators (the Iranian mullahs, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Kim 18 months ago) and loves others (Putin, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Kim today). And so on and so forth through a long list of clashing words and actions.

If you hope to break the stranglehold of the bipartisan pro-interventionist consensus on foreign policy thinking in the nation’s capital and devise a more sustainable and humane alternative, then there may be cause for expressions of modest support for at least some of the Trump administration’s moves. (That’s why I’ve sometimes cautiously praised them.) But that shouldn’t blind us to just how confused the U.S. looks and sounds on the world stage — or to the deepest sources of that confusion, which go far beyond the ignorance and impulsiveness of Donald Trump himself.

Americans love to appeal to the Declaration of Independence for its robust and poetic defense of self-evident pre-political natural rights that supposedly serve as the foundation of all legitimate government. But the document as a whole is primarily a statement about national self-determination, with the appeal to rights merely one crucial link in the argument. Thomas Jefferson’s words declare a right of the people of the American colonies to decide how they will live and govern themselves. To thwart such self-government, as King George III was attempting to do with the actions enumerated at great length in the Declaration, is tantamount to tyranny.

That rallying cry has animated popular uprisings around the world ever since, from the French Revolution just a few years later to the fall of the Iron Curtain and beyond. It certainly inspired those who led the anti-colonial movements of the postwar period, when country after subjected country in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia threw off the yoke of imperialism and formerly expansionist European powers gave up their colonial ambitions.

The United States’ role in this was complicated. On one side of the ledger, it was our ideals that often inspired these movements and (eventually) shamed those who resisted them. We also played a relatively minor role in the imperial projects that led Great Britain, France, and Spain to accumulate vast empires around the world in the first place.

Yet there is considerably more to the story. America’s global game of brinksmanship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War led to us to adopt contradictory positions. Rhetorically, we insisted that countries within the American sphere of influence were free to determine their own fates, and we defended the right of countries within the Soviet sphere of influence to do the same, certain they would choose to follow the liberal democratic path if given the choice. But in our actions — in Korea, in Vietnam, in Chile, in Nicaragua, and in many other places — we were quite willing to impose our own (overt and covert) will on weaker powers if they didn’t make the “right” choices.

The U.S. did this for complex reasons as well. We saw ourselves as forging what we now call the “liberal international order,” with us very much in a leadership role, in order to fend off the threat of totalitarianism and a third, catastrophic (nuclear) world war. With those as our ultimate goals, other considerations, including national self-determination, became less pressing and sometimes even counter-productive. Surely the whole world would be better off with the threat of worldwide totalitarianism and a nuclear holocaust taken off the table. Once the liberal side of the dispute prevailed, self-determination could become the universal order of the day.

That day seemed to arrive in 1989. After the Cold War ended, we spent a little more than a decade tentatively trying to extend the liberal international order while encouraging burden-sharing among allies. The hope was that the world would slowly (or quickly) evolve in a cosmopolitan and humanitarian direction, with an ever-expanding list of liberal-democratic allies working together to keep order as the rest of the world caught up and joined us at the end of history. All good things would go together: Finally every country in the world would be free to pursue national self-determination, since they would all use their freedom to achieve the same thing, which the U.S. could happily welcome, encourage, and benefit from.

But then 9/11 happened and public opinion and the outlook of America’s foreign policy establishment grew darker. Now it appeared that the stragglers on the road to the end of history had detours in mind and were far more formidable in their recalcitrance than we’d assumed. They threatened to sow chaos. Might they even be capable of taking down the liberal international order itself with a few well-targeted attacks using weapons of mass destruction?

We had to fight back. Which meant that, once again, self-determination became something permissible only so long as it fulfilled certain conditions. If nations (or factions within nations) used their freedom to back the United States and its aims, then we would cheerfully quote Jefferson. But if they dissented, or resisted, or if people living within their borders plotted against us, then all bets were off. Then American troops or special forces or CIA operatives or armed drones would swoop in to make sure they were stopped in their tracks, self-determination be damned.

Like a behemoth surrounded by a swarm of wasps — or a superpower suffering from an acute case of collective PTSD — the U.S. has spent the past 18 years swatting at insects capable of inflicting pain but falling far short of the capacity to pose an existential threat.

But that hasn’t stopped fears that they could. For a country of control-freaks, allowing other peoples to pursue national self-determination looks like an unacceptable risk — a luxury incompatible with American security. Which means, in effect, that the nations of the world must be divided into two camps: those that are with us and those that are against us. Just as George W. Bush said we needed to do.

That is where we are — with Donald Trump haphazardly moving countries back and forth between the two camps as his ill-informed instincts (and the ideological obsessions of his advisers) dictate and demand. Meanwhile, the peoples of the world stand by, wondering whether the capricious commander in chief of the most powerful military on the planet will rain fire on their homes and their heads from the other side of the world if they fail to defer to our self-proclaimed leadership of the “free world.”

Precisely how long this arrangement can go on is anyone’s guess — but we know it can’t last forever, or anything close to it. The U.S. is indisputably in relative decline, bound to be challenged for preeminence by a lengthening list of rising powers, each one of which can and will use Jefferson’s quintessentially American principles against our own efforts at imperial domination.

We can’t control the peoples of the world; we can only protect ourselves. The sooner we learn to accept that accomplishing the latter doesn’t require trying (and failing) to achieve the former, the better.


‘Dangerous’ Antarctic glacier has a hole roughly two-thirds area of Manhattan, scientists warn

January. 31, 2019

by Brett Molina,


A large cavity has formed under what has been described as one of the world’s most dangerous glaciers, and could contribute to a significant bump in global sea levels, said NASA scientists.

A study led by the agency revealed a cavity about two-thirds the area of Manhattan and roughly 1,000 feet tall is growing under Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica.

The cavity is large enough to have contained 14 billion tons of ice, most of which has melted within the last three years, say researchers.

“(The size of) a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting,” said lead author Pietro Milillo of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a statement. “As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster.”

The study was published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances

Thwaites has been described as one of the world’s most dangerous glaciers because its demise could lead to rapid changes in global sea levels. JPL said the glacier, about the size of Florida, holds enough ice to raise ocean levels another two feet if it completely melts. It also backstops other glaciers capable to raising sea levels another eight feet.

Researchers discovered the cavity using ice-penetrating radar in NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne survey launched in 2010 to study polar ice.

Last year, the National Science Foundation and Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council launched a joint program called the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration to study the unstable glacier and its role in sea levels.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

February 9, 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. 115

Date: Saturday, December 6, 1997

Commenced: 2:11 PM CST

Concluded:  2:35 PM CST

GD: Well, I had a call from Bill late yesterday saying he never wanted to talk to me again and I knew the reason why. Of course, I did not and he just hung up on me. Do you know about this?

RTC: Actually, I do not. I suspect it’s because they know I sent you the more important papers for safekeeping. I think it was all set up that if and when I went off, all of them would come down at the request of the Langley bosses and take away anything of importance that I had. It was, I think, a sure thing. All set up. But then we started talking and this got everyone there angry. You are uncontrollable, you know, and they detest you. I’m not trying to be mean but that seems to be the way things are going here. They are now ignoring me and concentrating on you. I don’t think it’s the Mueller business that gets them in an uproar but the fact that certain material about the Kennedy business has gone west as it were. I would council you to be rather careful with all that stuff, Gregory. Don’t tell anyone what you have and believe me, they will try everything they can think of to try and find out what I sent you. They’ve already been poking around here and if they’ll do it to me, considering what I know about them, I can imagine you’ll get the business. Now by that, I don’t imply someone will shoot you but there will be attempts to break in if and when they know you’re out of the house. Your son is living with you now?

GD: Yes, he is.

RTC: This is not a nice question, Gregory, but do you trust him?

GD: Sadly, not at all. Very charming and intelligent but lies like a rug and if someone approached him with money, he would try to sell me out in a second. Sorry to say that, but it’s true.

RTC: Well, then, I know they are aware of him and the CIA offer to hire him will be the indicator. They will either turn him and get him to let them look over my papers when you’ve been lured off to some conference in DC. No, put these things away somewhere and never tell him where they are and certainly, don’t let him get a look at anything.

GD: Don’t worry. I have looked over the Kennedy business and have read through your manuscript on the CIA in Vietnam and I realize what I have. No, I put these in a very safe place and even if the entire FBI was on the case, they would never find a thing.

RTC: And they will certainly try, Gregory, so be especially careful. I haven’t been well lately and actually, I’m afraid to tell anyone about it because once they get you into a hospital, they can easily kill you or claim you’re senile and keep you away from the world until you die. Yes, they do that and with me, they would have to be careful because of what I know. I know it all, from the beginning, as I have told you and if they crossed me and I was, let’s say, living here, I could talk and if I did, there would be very serious problems for not only them but businesses and so on.

GD: Would you go public with the media? The Washington Post?

RTC: God no. The CIA has a powerful hold on the American media and, no, they would take down everything I said and send it posthaste to Langley. Print it? Never. You see, we got our hands on the Associated Press and every major and minor paper subscribes to their service. They send out news every fifteen minutes to all the major papers and the television and radio people. The news is funneled through them so we just got our hands on them so, in essence, we control the news in this country. And, of course, we have many friends at the New York Times and the Post, to mention only a few outlets. No, unless a plane crashed into the White House during the Easter Egg Roll with thousands of people present, we can cover up almost anything and also, destroy any enemy or potential enemy. They can’t do anything to you because, to be blunt, you aren’t anybody but if you had a business, or worked for a company, had relatives in business or the government, they would squeeze them and you would shut up. If we can get rid of a President, we could deal with you if you got too dangerous. Not to shoot you but start rumors and disinformation about you. We have a barrel of weasels, rats who do what they’re told. Praise this CIA friend and badmouth that CIA enemy. A Congressman gets too curious, we have a talk with him in private. If that doesn’t do any good, we uncover a terrible scandal about him and the Times or the Post has it on the front page before the next sun rises. In essence, at least when I was on board, we basically control most of this country. How? By controlling the media in that we can use it to put out cover stories, to get public support for, say, the invasion of Mexico or to put one of our bought and paid for people in Congress and then have him put onto committees where he can further our plans or sabotage any attempt to block us. That and the press is quite enough but they also put me in charge of relations with the major business factors. Ike was right when he complained about the military and industrial complex. In truth, the three of us run this country and will into the foreseeable future. If you attack any one of the trinity, they will discover a dead baby in your glove box or a box of cocaine in your desk at work.

GD: I prefer the hint of child abuse. I’ve had some of these creeps nosing around and in one case, I nailed one of these assholes by circulating a fake newspaper clipping that accused him of child molestation. I totally destroyed him and his family and I would do it again if and when. I think they are aware of this so they never some in person but send a cut out.

RTC: Absolutely. If you nail that one, they can raise their hands in horror like an old maid at a smoker and pretend ignorance. Why poor Mr. Wheatly, they would say, who could have done such evil things to him? Know him? Sorry, never heard of him.

GD: I know. I have a friend in the GRU who told me that the Russians always protected their agents but the CIA dumped them when they got found out and left them to rot in some Rumanian jail. Yes, ‘Who?’, they would say, just like you did. ‘Why what a pity’ and then back to the tennis match. I asked a CIC man once why your people didn’t have a nice sit-down like the Army did and he winked at his partner and told me the CIA would never talk to me because I hadn’t gone to Harvard. Actually, fuck Harvard and Yale. There is an old saying that you can always tell a Yale man but you can’t tell him very much. I’ve run into these establishment snobs and I have nothing but contempt for them. Clubby types.

RTC: Yes, we were overrun with them. Smoked pipes and played tennis. I know what you mean. No, they’ll never talk to you because you are beneath them. They’ll attack your back without a problem but never your face. Most of them are gutless old faggots sorry to say, but I suspect you agree with me. Well, just remember that when some grinning ape stops by and tells you he wants to be your friend, put your dogs on him.

GD: I think too much of my dogs to turn them loose on those people. If they bit one, they would have to have rabies boosters.


(Concluded at 2:35 PM CST)









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