TBR News January 1, 2018

Jan 01 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 1, 2018: “Happy New Year!”


Table of Contents

  • Its dreams of a caliphate are gone. Now Isis has a deadly new strategy
  • Iran protests continue for fifth day, at least 10 killed
  • More deaths in Iran as protests continue 
  • California rings in new year with broad legalization of marijuana
  • Wilderness of Mirrors: Documents Reveal the Complex Legacy of James Angleton, CIA Counterintelligence Chief and Godfather of Mass Surveillance
  • Bitcoin investors will crawl back to gold when crypto-craze uncertainty creeps in
  • Gold vs. Bitcoin
  • Record-breaking big freeze grips much of North America
  • World War II Fact: America Accidently Killed Its Own Troops with Mustard Gas



Its dreams of a caliphate are gone. Now Isis has a deadly new strategy

Territorial losses in Syria and Iraq mean Islamic State militants are igniting bloody sectarian insurgencies elsewhere

December 30, 2017

by Hassan Hassan

The Guardian

Its much-vaunted caliphate has gone, crushed by the might of Russian, Syrian and US warplanes, Iran-backed militias, Kurdish forces and armies launched by Damascus and Baghdad. But while 2017 might have seen the end of Islamic State’s dream of ruling over its twisted vision of an ideal society, the year ended with an ominous sign that its deadly international campaign against the many people and faiths it sees as spiritual foes has gathered new energy.

Last Thursday, dozens of civilians in Kabul were killed in a suicide attack that targeted a Shia cultural centre in the Afghan capital. The assault was the latest in persistent attacks by an affiliate of Isis, which has proved to be resilient despite a relentless campaign against it in recent months.

According to the Isis-linked Amaq news outlet, three blasts were detonated at the compound, which also houses a news agency. A bomber then blew himself up among crowds in the Tebyan cultural centre. At least 41 people were killed and 90 others were injured.

The attack comes despite an intensifying campaign by the US and Afghanistan to uproot the twin threats emanating from Isis and the Taliban, especially since Donald Trump took office in January. Striking inside the Afghan capital, despite the surge in security and military measures, has also raised fears about the enduring ability of the group as the caliphate it once established in Iraq and Syria has collapsed.

In April, the US even dropped the “mother of all bombs” on an Isis base in Afghanistan, an indication of the ferocious campaign against it. But this relentless campaign failed to root it out. In recent months, experts and officials pointed to a successful effort by the Isis affiliate to build roots for itself inside the capital, recruiting dozens of local members, including children.

In Afghanistan, Isis has done so much with so little. In Libya, for example, the group had hundreds of local battle-hardened fighters with experience stretching back to the early years of the Iraq war and who played a pivotal role in early Isis efforts in Syria in 2014, but its fortunes have dwindled over the past two years.

The Afghanistan affiliate, in contrast, has competition from resurgent Taliban militants who have deeper links to the country, but it has managed to deepen its presence. Striking inside the capital suggests that the group has successfully evolved from a largely foreign-led organisation to an increasingly localised one.

Aside from its persistence in Afghanistan, the nature of Thursday’s attack is a harbinger of what is to come as Isis loses its caliphate in Iraq and Syria. In its statement about the assault, the Isis media outlet claimed that the cultural centre was bankrolled and sponsored by Iran. “The centre is one of the most notable centres for proselytisation to Shiism in Afghanistan,” the statement added. “Young Afghans would be sent to Iran to receive academic studies at the hands of Iranian clerics.”

Isis has sought to tout itself as the defender of Sunnis across the region and the choice of words in its statement is designed to drive that message. The sectarian theme is likely to be the group’s main focus in the coming years, as it retreats from a caliphate to an insurgency. The sectarian narrative helps the group present a “contiguous ideology” from Afghanistan to Syria, in place of the caliphate it seems to have lost; its message to its followers is that the victims of its attack were potential soldiers in the army that Iran is forming everywhere.

Presenting itself as the last line of defence against Iran will ensure that its localised operations have a general regional theme, even as it has lost the global caliphate. This has been a recurrent theme since its rise in 2014, but the group has increasingly focused on sectarianism, not just against the Shia but also against Christians and other religious minorities.

The group’s attack inside Iran in June was designed to achieve this objective and attacks that it portrays as directed against Iranian interests, such as the one in Kabul, serve a similar purpose. By doing so, it seeks to tap into a market in which even al-Qaida and the Taliban cannot compete with the same vigour, as they tend to focus on a relatively less sectarian struggle in their rhetoric. In October, suicide bombers linked to the group killed at least 57 worshippers in a Shia mosque in Kabul. Isis’s sectarian focus makes its persistence even more troubling for the country and the wider region. A day after the Kabul assault, the group also claimed responsibility for a militant shooting on a church in Cairo, killing about a dozen people, one of several attacks targeting Coptic civilians and churches in the country in recent years.

The lesson from such attacks is that the group can still be deadly regardless of its contraction in Iraq and Syria. Indeed, its territorial demise might even exacerbate insurgencies elsewhere, if militants safely flee the battlefields to fill up the ranks of affiliates in other countries. Reports of militants escaping the collapsing caliphate have emerged recently. Earlier this month, for example, Agence France-Presse reported that French and Algerian fighters travelled to Afghanistan from Syria to join the Isis branch there. Similar trends were reported in Egypt and Libya. An African Union official also warned this month that many of the 6,000 who had travelled to Syria in 2014 may be returning home.

Such fighters could replenish and revitalise insurgencies scattered across the region in a way they could not when the group’s focus was its core in Iraq and Syria. The branches of Isis that sprung up remained limited in size and some weakened as the pool of militants had been small. This could change as former fighters make their way out of Syria and Iraq to countries in the region, where it is easier to link up with existing affiliates than if they travelled to their homelands, such as in Europe and Britain. The group thrives on polarisation and religious minorities present it with soft targets to turn people against each other. These targets also enable it to recast itself in opposition to al-Qaida and other Islamist groups. In addition to political stagnation and persistent conflicts, sectarianism will continue to provide the group with growth opportunities in a region beset with ever deepening divisions and amid the increasing role of Iran in the Middle East.

The group hopes the narrative will maintain its appeal among those who see Iran as the usurper of their lands and the domineering sectarian power in the region. The territorial demise of the caliphate might reduce threats against the west, but for the immediate region, where it can move more easily, Isis will continue to exploit social divisions and political stagnation to regroup and entrench itself.

Hassan Hassan is co-author of Isis: Inside the Army of Terror and a resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy


Iran protests continue for fifth day, at least 10 killed

December 31, 2017

by Michael Georgy


DUBAI (Reuters) – Anti-government demonstrations continued for a fifth day in Iran on Monday, after 10 people were killed during the biggest protests since the pro-reform unrest of 2009.

Video posted on social media showed crowds of people, some chanting “Death to the dictator!”, walking through the streets. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the footage. The Fars news agency reported on “scattered groups” of protesters in the capital Tehran and said a ringleader was arrested.

The continuation of protests poses a challenge for clerical leaders as well as President Hassan Rouhani who appeared on TV on Sunday to call for calm, saying Iranians had the right to criticize authorities but must not cause unrest.

“The government will show no tolerance for those who damage public property, violate public order and create unrest in society,” Rouhani said. Hundreds of people have been arrested, according to officials and social media sites.

Unsigned statements on social media urged Iranians to demonstrate again in Tehran and 50 other towns and cities.

State TV said armed demonstrators had tried and failed to seize police and military bases. The intelligence ministry said “rioters and agitators of public-unrest” had been arrested, ISNA news agency reported.

“Some armed protesters tried to take control of some police stations and military bases but they met strong resistance from security forces,” state TV said. It gave no further details and there was no independent confirmation.

State television said 10 people were killed in several cities on Sunday night and showed footage of damage to property. It did not elaborate.

Police in Tehran fired water cannon on Sunday to disperse demonstrators, according to pictures on social media.

Frustrations over economic hardships and alleged corruption erupted in Iran’s second city of Mashhad on Thursday and escalated into calls for the religious establishment in power since the 1979 revolution to step down.

Some of the anger was directed at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, breaking a taboo surrounding the man who has been supreme leader of Iran since 1989.

In the western city of Kermanshah Iranians chanted “Death to Khamenei!” and “If you fight, we will fight!”.

Iran is a major OPEC oil producer and regional power but frustrations have grown at home – where youth unemployment reached 28.8 percent last year – while the country is deeply involved in Syria and Iraq as part of a battle for influence with rival Saudi Arabia.

Those foreign interventions are resented by many Iranians who want their leaders to create jobs instead of engaging in costly proxy wars.


Two people were shot dead in the southwestern town of Izeh on Sunday and several others were injured, ILNA news agency quoted a member of parliament as saying. It was not clear if the two dead were among the 10 cited on state television.

“I do not know whether yesterday’s shooting was done by rally participants or the police and this issue is being investigated,” Hedayatollah Khademi was quoted as saying.

Regional governor Mostafa Samali told Fars that just one person had been killed in an incident unrelated to the protests, and the suspected shooter had been arrested.

Demonstrations turned violent in Shahin Shahr in central Iran. Videos showed protesters attacking the police, turning over a car and setting it on fire. Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the footage.

There were also reports of unrest in the western cities of Sanandaj and Kermanshah as well as Chabahar in the southeast and Ilam in the southwest.

The government said it would temporarily restrict access to the Telegram messaging app and Instagram. There were also reports that mobile access to the internet was being blocked in some areas.


More deaths in Iran as protests continue 

January 1, 2018

by Eric Randolph


Iranian officials were expected to hold an emergency meeting Monday to discuss a burgeoning security crisis after 10 people were killed overnight as nationwide demonstrations continued.

The overall death toll is currently 12, and hundreds more have been arrested.

Of those who died, six people were killed in the small western town of Tuyserkan and at least two more people were shot dead in the southwestern town of Izeh, according to local TV reports.

“In this incident (in Tuyserkan), there were shots fired in which three people died and three other people were killed in subsequent events,” a news presenter on state television said without elaborating.

While showing video footage of the damage caused by the protests, the state TV also reported, “In the events of last night, unfortunately, a total of about 10 people were killed in several cities.” It gave no further details of the deaths.

Hedayatollah Khademi, a member of parliament who represents Izeh and the surrounding region, reported two of the latest deaths to Iranian media on Monday.

“People of Izeh, like some other cities, held a protest against economic problems and unfortunately it led to the killing of two people and injuries to some others,” Khademi, told the ILNA news agency.

“I do not know yet whether last night’s shooting was by the protesters or by police,” he added.

State TV reported, “Some armed protesters tried to take over some police stations and military bases but faced serious resistance from security forces.” It did not say where those attacks took place.

Protests against economic problems broke out in several towns and cities for the fourth night.

Demonstrators in Izeh, a town of about 200,000 people, broke bank windows as protests continued until around midnight (2030 GMT), according to Khademi.

“That’s why police intervened to restore peace and order,” Khademi told ILNA. “The governor said [the gunfire] was unlikely to be by police as they were not supposed to open fire,” he said in a separate interview with the reformist Etamad newspaper.

Appeal for calm ignored

The protests continued despite President Hassan Rouhani’s appeal for calm. He said Iranians have the right to criticize the authorities but warned of a crackdown against unrest.

“Our nation will deal with this minority who chant slogans against the law and people’s wishes, and insult the sanctities and values of the revolution,” he said in a statement on his official website. “Criticism and protest are an opportunity not a threat. The nation will themselves respond to the rioters and lawbreakers.”

Despite the president’s comments, messages on social media called on Iranians to protest in the capital, Tehran, and 50 other urban centers, many of which have already seen anti-government demonstrations, which began in Masshad, Iran’s second largest city, as protests over rising prices. Some protesters called for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to step down and chanted against a government they described as thieves.

Police responded to the violent protests with water cannons and tear gas in an effort to break up protests in multiple cities, including Tehran. Some demonstrations also turned violent, with cars being set on fire and other damage.


California rings in new year with broad legalization of marijuana

  • Adults can grow up to six plants and possess an ounce of cannabis
  • About 90 businesses receive licenses to sell pot in most populous state

January 1, 2018


The arrival of the new year in California brought with it broad legalization of marijuana, a much-anticipated change that comes two decades after the state was the first to allow pot for medical use.

The US’s most populous state joins a growing list of other states, and the nation’s capital, where so-called recreational marijuana is permitted even though the federal government continues to classify pot as a controlled substance, like heroin and LSD.

Pot is now legal in California for adults 21 and older, and individuals can grow up to six plants and possess as much as an ounce of the drug.

In 1996, over the objections of law enforcement, President Clinton’s drug tsar and three former presidents, California voters approved marijuana for medicinal purposes. Twenty years later, voters approved legal recreational use and gave the state a year to write regulations for a legal market that would open in 2018.

Today, 29 states have adopted medical marijuana laws. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana. Since then, five more states have passed recreational marijuana laws, including Massachusetts, where retail sales are scheduled to begin in July.

Even with other states as models, the next year is expected to be a bumpy one in California as more shops open and more stringent regulations take effect on the strains known as Sweet Skunk, Trainwreck and Russian Assassin.

The California Police Chiefs Association, which opposed the 2016 ballot measure, remains concerned about stoned drivers, the risk to young people and the cost of policing the new rules in addition to an existing black market.

“There’s going to be a public health cost and a public safety cost enforcing these new laws and regulations,” said Jonathan Feldman, a legislative advocate for the chiefs. “It remains to be seen if this can balance itself out.”

At first, pot shops will be able to sell marijuana harvested without full regulatory controls. But eventually, the state will require extensive testing for potency, pesticides and other contaminants. A program to track all pot from seed to sale will be phased in, along with other protections such as childproof containers.


Wilderness of Mirrors: Documents Reveal the Complex Legacy of James Angleton, CIA Counterintelligence Chief and Godfather of Mass Surveillance

January 1, 2018

by Jefferson Morley

The Intercept

Veteran CIA officer Cleveland Cram was nearing the end of his career in 1978, when his superiors in the agency’s directorate of operations handed him a sensitive assignment: Write a history of the agency’s Counterintelligence Staff. Cram, then 61, was well qualified for the task. He had a master’s and Ph.D. in European History from Harvard. He had served two decades in the clandestine service, including nine years as deputy chief of the CIA’s station in London. He knew the senior officialdom of MI-5 and MI-6, the British equivalents of the FBI and CIA, the agency’s closest partners in countering the KGB, the Soviet Union’s effective and ruthless intelligence service.

Cram was assigned to investigate a debacle. The Counterintelligence Staff, created in 1954, had been headed for 20 years by James Jesus Angleton, a legendary spy who deployed the techniques of literary criticism learned at Yale to find deep patterns and hidden meanings in the records of KGB operations against the West. But Angleton was also a dogmatic and conspiratorial operator whose idiosyncratic theories paralyzed the agency’s operations against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, and whose domestic surveillance operations targeting American dissidents had discredited the CIA in the court of public opinion.

In December 1974, CIA Director William Colby fired Angleton after the New York Times revealed the then-unknown counterintelligence chief had overseen a massive program to spy on Americans involved in anti-war and black nationalist movements, a violation of the CIA’s charter. Coming four months after the resignation of Richard Nixon, Angleton’s fall was the denouement of the Watergate scandal, propelling Congress to probe the CIA for the first time. A Senate investigation, headed by Sen. Frank Church, exposed a series of other abuses: assassination conspiracies, unauthorized mail opening, collaboration with human rights abusers, infiltration of news organizations, and the MKULTRA mind-control experiments to develop drugs for use in espionage.

The exposure of Angleton’s operations set off a political avalanche that engulfed the agency in 1975 and after. The post-Watergate Congress established the House and Senate intelligence committees to oversee covert operations. The passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act required the CIA to obtain warrants to spy on Americans. And for the first time since 1947, the agency’s annual appropriation was slashed.

Cram’s mission — and he chose to accept it — was to soberly answer the questions that senior CIA officials were asking in their private moments: What in the name of God and national security had Jim Angleton been doing when he ran the Counterintelligence Staff from 1954 to 1974? Did his operations serve the agency’s mission? Did they serve the country?

With his porkpie hat and trenchcoat, the portly Cram bore a passing resemblance to George Smiley, the fictional British spymaster as played by Alec Guinness in the BBC’s production of John le Carré’s classic “Smiley’s People.” There was some professional similarity as well. In le Carré’s novels, Smiley is introduced as a veteran counterintelligence officer called on by his superiors to assess a covert operation gone disastrously wrong. He is drawn into a hunt for a mole in the British intelligence service.

Cram’s task in 1978 was to investigate a covert career that culminated in a disastrous mole hunt. Like Smiley, Cram was a connoisseur of files, their connections and implications, their deceptions and omissions. Like Smiley, he embarked on a Cold War espionage odyssey that would fill more than a few volumes.

When Cram took the assignment, he thought his history of the Counterintelligence Staff would take a year to write. It took six. By 1984, Cram had produced 12 legal-sized volumes about Angleton’s reign as a spymaster, each running 300 to 400 pages — a veritable encyclopedia of U.S. counterintelligence that has never before been made public. With professional thoroughness, Cram plumbed the depths of a deep state archive and returned with a story of madness that the CIA prefers to keep hidden, even 40 years later.

Last June, I received a phone call from a Los Angeles area code. Half expecting a robocall, I tapped the green icon.

“I’ve heard you are interested in a man named Cleve Cram,” the caller said in a British accent. “Is that so?”

Was I ever. I had just sent in final changes to the manuscript of “The Ghost,” my biography of Angleton. I thought of Cleve Cram the way a fisherman thinks of the Big One that got away. I had focused on Cram in 2015, as soon as I started to research “The Ghost.” He had written an article, published in an open-source CIA journal, about the literature of counterintelligence, which gave some insight into his classified conclusions about Angleton. To learn more, I sought out his personal papers, more than a dozen cartons of correspondence and other documents that his family had donated to Georgetown University Library after his death in 1999. The library’s finding aid indicated that the bequest contained a wealth of material on Angleton.

But I was too late. The CIA had quietly re-possessed Cram’s papers in 2014. I was told that representatives of the agency had informed the library that the CIA needed to review the material for classified information. All that had been publicly available vanished into the CIA’s archives. By withdrawing the Cram papers from view, the agency effectively shaped my narrative of Angleton’s career. Without Cram’s well-informed perspective, my account of Angleton would necessarily be less precise and probably less critical. I wrote about the experience for The Intercept in April 2016.

The caller said his name was William Tyrer. He had read my article. He told me he had visited the Georgetown library a few years earlier, while developing a screenplay about a mole in Britain’s MI-5. He had gone through the Cram papers, photographed several hundred pages of material, and become fascinated by the man. “He’s like an American George Smiley, no?” Tyrer said.

I agreed and said I would be most interested to see what he had found. He questioned me closely about my views on Angleton, Cram, and the CIA, and said he would be in touch. A quick web search revealed that Tyrer is a British-American movie producer, the man behind “Memento,” a brilliant and unforgettable backward-running thriller, the cult favorite “Donnie Darko,” and scores of other movies. He was a serious man and a credible source. A few days later, Tyrer started emailing me 50 pages of material about Angleton that he had found in Cram’s personal papers.

The Cleveland Cram File, portions of which are published here for the first time, contains a sample of the primary source materials that the veteran CIA official used to write his Angleton study. The documents were photographed in Georgetown University’s Booth Family Center for Special Collections. A Georgetown archivist did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comment; the CIA also declined to comment.

The Cram file illuminates a pregnant moment in the history of America’s secret government, when the CIA began to reckon with the legacy of James Angleton, a founding father of the deep state, a master of mass surveillance, a conspiracy theorist with state power.

Perhaps the most complex and contested Angleton story that Cram had to untangle concerned two KGB officers who defected to the United States and offered their services to the CIA in the early 1960s. Angleton insisted the men’s conflicting stories had enormous implications for U.S. presidents and policymakers, and indeed for U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. For the CIA, the question was, which defector was the more reliable source?

Anatoly Golitsyn, the chief of the KGB station in Finland, bolted to the West in December 1961. He was a heavyset man with hazel eyes and a methodical and manipulative mind. Yuri Nosenko, a career KGB officer embedded in the Soviet delegation to a U.N. disarmament conference in Geneva, started selling information to the Americans in June 1962 to pay back official funds blown in the company of dubious women. Eighteen months later, he approached the CIA and struck a deal to defect in return for a $50,000 cash payment. Among other things, Nosenko had firsthand knowledge that the KGB had not recruited accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald when he lived in the Soviet Union from 1959 to 1962.

Golitsyn, resettled in upstate New York by the CIA, convinced Angleton that Nosenko was a false defector sent by the KGB. Under Golitsyn’s influence, Angleton came to believe that in 1959, the KGB had launched a massive deception operation designed to lull the U.S. government into believing Soviet propaganda about “peaceful coexistence” between capitalism and communism, with the goal of prevailing over the complacent West.

Nosenko’s purpose, Golitsyn said, was to protect a Soviet “mole” already working inside CIA headquarters. “He is a provocateur, who is on a mission for the KGB,” Golitsyn told Angleton, according to a memo found in the agency’s declassified online database known as CREST, or the CIA Records Search Tool. “He was introduced to your agency as a double agent in Geneva in 1962. During all the time until now he has been fulfilling a KGB mission against your country.”

Angleton reneged on the payment and ordered that Nosenko be held in what would now be known as a “black site,” a secret CIA detention facility in southern Maryland. Nosenko was not tortured, but he was fed a minimal diet, denied all possessions, and, he said later, dosed with LSD. He was held in solitary confinement for the next four years, all the while protesting his innocence.

In 1968, Angleton lost out to the institutional consensus within the agency that Nosenko was in fact a bona fide defector. Nosenko was released from solitary confinement and the CIA resettled him in suburban Washington, D.C. Nothing he did in his retirement supported the idea that the KGB had sent him or that he knew of a mole inside the CIA.

A few years later, Cram was faced with a simple but important question: Had Angleton been right to incarcerate Nosenko?

To answer it, Cram relied in part on a secret CIA history titled “The Monster Plot,” written by John Hart, a career officer in the Soviet Russia division who had previously studied the Nosenko case on behalf of CIA Director Richard Helms. “The Monster Plot,” which runs to more than 180 pages, was declassified with a batch of JFK assassination files in November; Cram kept a copy in his personal papers.

The introduction and conclusion of “The Monster Plot,” photographed by Tyrer in the Georgetown collection, detail how legitimate concerns about Soviet penetration of the CIA blossomed into Angleton’s certainty that a giant KGB deception operation was undermining the West. The history’s title referred to the massive size of the suspected Soviet “plot” that Angleton and others feared was unfolding within the CIA.

Angleton was well acquainted with Soviet treachery. His best friend in British intelligence was Kim Philby, with whom he shared many a secret over liquid lunches in Washington. In 1951, Philby was expelled from the United States on the wholly justified suspicion that he was a Soviet spy. He later turned up in Moscow and became a general in the KGB.

After Philby’s betrayal, Angleton and other CIA officials worried that another communist mole might still be working the agency, a theory that seemed to be borne out nearly a decade later, when the CIA began losing a string of spies inside the Soviet Union. In October 1959, Petr Popov, a Soviet military intelligence officer who had been passing secrets to the Americans for seven years, vanished. A few months later, it emerged that he had been arrested, which “added a specific problem to the general concerns about the possibility the CIA was penetrated,” wrote Hart.

In 1961, the CIA began receiving anonymous letters warning that Western intelligence agencies — but not the agency itself — had been penetrated. The information in the letters was considered genuine because it led to the arrest of Soviet spies in the upper ranks of the British and German intelligence services. A year later, Oleg Penkovsky, a British spy in Soviet military intelligence who had given the U.S. information of “great strategic importance,” was arrested.

Angleton suspected the worst, and he found Golitsyn’s explanation persuasive. All the Soviet defectors who came after Golitsyn’s arrival in late 1961, including Nosenko, were phonies, Golitsyn said. They had been dispatched with false information to discredit Golitsyn, to protect KGB moles already in place, and to confuse U.S. policymakers about Moscow’s intentions. Hart noted that when Golitsyn “stressed themes of KGB ‘disinformation’ (dezinformatsiya) and extensive (but initially unspecified) staff penetration of the Western services, he found a willing and eager audience” in Angleton.

Golitsyn couldn’t have known how ready Angleton was to believe him when it came to Soviet disinformation, for Angleton had learned firsthand how strategic deception operations could influence the course of history. As a young intelligence officer in World War II, he was cleared for the ULTRA operation, in which British intelligence fed false information to the German High Command. Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower both believed the ULTRA operation gave the Allies a decisive advantage over the Germans, and so did Angleton.

The Soviets’ goal, Golitsyn said, was to dupe the West into believing that a schism was developing between the Soviet Union and its longtime ally China in the late 1950s. On the surface, at least, there were ample indications of a split. When Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s tyranny in 1956, the Chinese communists turned hostile to Moscow, issuing bitter demarches about the correct course of communism and launching border skirmishes over obscure territorial disputes. But Golitsyn didn’t buy it. According to Hart, the defector “was certain” the purported distance between the two powers “was the clever product of KGB disinformation.”

Angleton was persuaded, viewing the public Sino-Soviet conflict as part of a KGB deception operation designed to persuade the West that the communist world was divided, Hart wrote. If the deception succeeded — that is, if the CIA believed it — it would undermine the U.S.’s commitment to a firm policy of containing Soviet power, Angleton thought. Hart concluded that Angleton had set out to break Nosenko before ascertaining the facts.

“There was never an honest effort at the time to establish NOSENKO’s bona fides,” Hart wrote. “There was only a determined effort to prove NOSENKO was mala fide, and part of a KGB deception operation meant to mislead the CIA into believing it was not penetrated.”

In his report, Hart affirmed the agency’s 1968 finding, reached over Angleton’s bitter objections, that Nosenko was a genuine defector. Not for the first or last time, a self-serving informant had used the agency’s ideological preconceptions to manipulate it to his own ends. Angleton’s handling of Nosenko “did not conform to any generally accepted sense of the term ‘methodology,’” Hart wrote. In his recommendations, he called for more rigorous psychological assessment of defectors and “improvement of intellectual standards” in the clandestine service.

Cram agreed. In a summary of his assessment of the Nosenko case, published in a 1993 monograph for the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence titled “Of Moles and Molehunters,” he concluded Angleton was wrong about Nosenko. The excerpts from Cram’s papers reveal the classified information on which he based his conclusion.

As Cram delved into Angleton’s records, he received a signed memo, included in the Georgetown collection, from a branch chief in the Soviet Russia division named “Miles.” Miles explained that in the mid-1960s, he had served on a CIA team code-named AESAWDUST that sought to vindicate Angleton’s theory of false defectors and strategic disinformation. (All CIA operations involving the Soviet Union were identified by the diagraph AE, followed by a randomly selected code name.)

With the benefit of hindsight, Miles admitted that groupthink had distorted his work. “The AESAWDUSTERS were convinced people (I ought to know, I was one of them), and they were very impatient with anyone who disagreed with them or were critical [sic], often snapping back that the critic did not have all the information they had, so didn’t know what he was talking about,” he wrote. “Convinced participating AESAWDUST members were terribly concerned and motivated by fear that until this vast deception complex was exposed and countered, we would be in bad trouble which could get worse at any moment.”

The sheer enormity of Angleton’s “Monster Plot” theory convinced its advocates that it must be true, Miles wrote. But a counterintelligence theory that explained everything was suspect. The mass of cases “tossed into the boiling pot grew and grew, until outsiders simply could no longer swallow the idea that all [Soviet defectors] were bad,” Miles wrote. “Sooner or later those not bound up in the mission said ‘Hold it, Wait a minute! Maybe NOSENKO [was a fake defector], maybe some [double agent] cases, maybe even a few more, but almost all? Too much.’”

“Simple passage of time has proven that AESAWDUST was wrong,” Miles continued. “The idea was that NOSENKO would not have been sent unless the goals of the KGB were truly major. These were postulated as negating GOLITSYN’s information (which NOSENKO never did, nor do I believe he could have); then to protect sources the KGB had in place in the USG and CIA (none discovered despite marathon effort); and finally to destroying CIA itself.”

The CIA had indeed “gone downhill” in the 1970s, Miles noted, but he attributed that decline to sensational revelations of CIA abuses in the press and the cultural changes wrought by the 1960s, not KGB deception operations. “Nothing has turned out as AESAWDUST predicted,” Miles concluded.

Even Angleton’s original supporters eventually became disenchanted with the rigidity of his thinking. Such testimony fortified Cram’s findings about Angleton and clarified the fate of another one of his victims, James Leslie Bennett, chief of counterintelligence for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

In the course of his inquiry, Cram heard from a counterintelligence officer with the initials “PTD” who seems to have known about the origins of Angleton’s investigation of Bennett.

PTD sent Cram a one-page memo on “The Bennett Case,” which was included in the Georgetown collection and photographed by Tyrer. It was a damning account of Angleton’s methods and his misguided reliance on Anatoly Golitsyn.

The Bennett Case began in 1970, when senior Canadian intelligence officers became convinced, correctly, that there was a communist spy working inside their headquarters. Because the CIA worked closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, known as the RCMP, Angleton was concerned, too. He consulted with Bennett, his Canadian counterpart, an intellectual whose headstrong opinions were not always appreciated by his more provincial colleagues. But Angleton liked Bennett, according to PTD. Angleton “never thought of Bennett as a spy and in fact was very high on him as a pro among cowboys,” PTD wrote. Angleton even gave a “tongue-lashing” to a colleague who suggested Bennett might be working for the Soviets.

One of the Canadian officials who clashed with Bennett came to Washington in the summer of 1970 for “long discussions of penetration of RCMP by [Russian Intelligence Service] and probable Bennett role,” PTD recalled.

After defending Bennett, Angleton asked Golitsyn to analyze the case. “In early 1972 Golitsyn was given RCMP files to peruse about the supposed RIS penetration,” PTD recalled. In his report, Golitsyn wrote down three names of Canadian officials, one of whom was Bennett. “After pondering some he decided Bennett was the penetration.”

Angleton was suddenly persuaded. “JJA forced Golitsyn on the RCMP for this purpose of supposedly aiding them in the investigation,” PTD wrote, using Angleton’s initials. “And all through the case, JJA kept up an unrelenting pressure on the RCMP … to push Bennett out.”

Bennett protested his innocence and took a polygraph test to prove it. The exam “showed him to be a strong reactor on certain subjects not related to the investigation,” PTD reported. “But when queried whether he was working for an adversary service (and they tried them all), there was no response.”

When a CIA polygraph security officer looked at the results, PTD wrote, “he concluded Bennett had passed the test.” By then Bennett had already been forced to retire.

As first reported in “Cold Warrior,” Tom Mangold’s 1993 book about Angleton’s mole hunt, Bennett left intelligence work under a cloud of undeserved suspicion. He got divorced and moved to Australia. The Canadians eventually caught a Russian spy in their midst who had nothing to do with Bennett. In 1993, the Canadian government cleared Bennett of any wrongdoing and gave him $150,000 Canadian in compensation, according to journalist David Wise.

To Cram, PTD’s account showed that Angleton had acted on Golitsyn’s whim, misinterpreted the polygraph results, and ruined a man’s career on the slenderest of suppositions.As Cram dug into the debacle of the mole hunt, he came across its absurd culmination: Angleton, the mole hunter, became the prime suspect.

Cram heard the story in May 1978 from Clare Edward Petty, a veteran U.S. counterintelligence officer. After years of unsuccessful mole hunting, Petty became convinced that the mole must be working on Angleton’s staff. First, Petty wrongly suspected Angleton’s longtime deputy, Newton “Scottie” Miler, and later Pete Bagley, chief of counterintelligence for the Soviet Division, who didn’t actually work for Angleton but was, in Cram’s estimation, “wholly under Angleton’s domination.”

Petty had also spoken to two reporters, David Martin, a defense correspondent for Newsweek, and David Ignatius, then a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Both had written glancingly about the astonishing-if-true allegation that Angleton was suspected of being the mole, and were trying to confirm it with sources inside the agency.

In a four-hour interview with Cram, Petty gave a more detailed version of the story he had told Martin and Ignatius. He said that he had written up his suspicions of Bagley in a memo and sent it to Angleton at some point in the late 1960s. Several months later, during a long conversation about something else, Angleton suddenly said, “Bagley is not a spy.”

That blanket denial, Petty said, set him wondering what made Angleton so sure. Could it be that Angleton was himself the mole? Cram thought it unlikely that Petty was alone in his suspicions, “for there were many who regarded Angleton as sinister,” he observed in his memo about the interview, which was included in the Georgetown collection.

Petty said he recorded 30 hours of commentary in which he outlined the various “litmus tests” he had run on Angleton to see if he was a KGB spy. His reasoning might have been called “Angletonian.” Assuming the CIA had been penetrated at a high level, Petty considered the possibility that both Anatoly Golitsyn and Yuri Nosenko had been sent by the KGB under the guidance of the real mole, Angleton himself. Through this analytical lens, Petty saw new meaning in the anomalies of Angleton’s career: his friendship with Kim Philby; his faith in Golitsyn; his insistence that the Sino-Soviet split was a ruse. Every decision he made seemed to impede U.S. intelligence operations, Petty noted. Perhaps it was intentional.

Cram’s account of the interview makes clear that Petty had no solid evidence to support his musings. Petty specialized in “airy theorizing,” Cram wrote later, favoring “extreme speculation unsupported by facts.”

There was — and is — no evidence that Angleton was a spy for the KGB. Given Angleton’s staunch anti-communism, the notion is close to absurd. Petty’s accusation is most significant as evidence for Cram and the CIA leadership that Angleton’s theory and practice of counterintelligence were deeply flawed.

If Angleton wasn’t working for the Soviets, what could account for his folly?

Among the papers Cram reviewed was a “very secret” report prepared in January 1973 for Angelo Vicari, chief of the Italian National Police, and included in the Georgetown collection. It conveyed the views of an Italian intelligence officer serving in Washington to his superiors in Rome, including his impressions of the CIA.

“He regards the offensive sector of the CIA as better than the defensive sector and says that noteworthy conflicts exist between the two of them,” the report said. “The man who ruined the defensive sector there is Angleton, known to you personally — who though fortunately set aside for some time — is still in a position to do harm.”

“According to this opinion, not his (because he does not know him personally) but of his service, Angleton is clinically mad and his madness has only gotten worse in these later years. This is a madness that is all the more dangerous because it is sustained by an intelligence that has about it elements of the monstrous and that rests on a hallucinatory logical construction. The whole is unified by a pride that imposes a refusal to recognize his own errors.”

That was hearsay evidence of a widely held belief that buttressed what even Angleton’s onetime supporters admitted: The man’s thinking bordered on delusional, even as he was too proud to admit he might be wrong about anything.

Angleton’s behavior may have sometimes been foolish, but he was no fool, not when it came to amassing power and wielding it. Angleton’s expansive view of the CIA’s scope of operations was discredited in the mid-1970s, but it returned in the 1980s with President Ronald Reagan, who countenanced the extra-legal activities that culminated in the Iran-Contra scandal. After the September 11 attacks, the George W. Bush administration revived Angleton’s warrantless mass surveillance program for the digital age. To oversimplify only slightly, Dick Cheney picked up where Jim Angleton left off.

Angleton acted zealously on a theory of history whose validity is hard to accept and harder to dispute: that secret intelligence agencies can control the destiny of mankind. He had a keen understanding of how intelligence agencies covertly manipulate societies, and he believed that such operations could turn the tide of history. He would not have been surprised by Russia’s meddling in the U.S. presidential election of 2016. The CIA had used such tactics in scores of votes around the world, starting with the 1948 Italian elections, which prevented the communist party from coming to power, and in which Angleton himself played a key role.

Angleton lived and thrived in what he called “the wilderness of mirrors,” his favorite phrase for Soviet deception operations. When David Martin published a book about Angleton called “Wilderness of Mirrors,” Angleton indignantly claimed he had coined the phrase, according to a three-page memo included in the Georgetown collection. He hadn’t. He had first read it in T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Gerontion.” But his explication of the metaphor was apt. The phrase, he wrote in the memo, perfectly captured the “myriad of stratagems, deceptions, artifices, and all the other devices of disinformation which the Soviet bloc and its coordinated intelligence services use to confuse and split the West … an ever fluid landscape where fact and illusion merge.”

The most powerful intelligence agencies traffic in facts and illusions to manipulate societies on a massive scale. Substitute “CIA” for “Soviet bloc” and “America’s perceived enemies” for “the West” and you have a solid description of U.S. covert action around the globe for the last 70 years. Substitute “Putin’s Russia” for “Soviet bloc” and you’ve captured the FSB-sponsored social media operations in recent U.S., French, and German elections.

The Cram papers suggest that if Angleton were in government today, he would approve of the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance capabilities, which were reportedly used to listen in on Russians calling their contacts in Trump Tower. He probably would have overestimated the FSB’s capacity to pull off deception operations, such as social media-driven “fake news,” and their impact on American government, just as he overestimated the KGB’s capabilities and influence in the 1960s. He would have searched long and hard for “moles,” the agent or agents inside the U.S. intelligence community who helped the Russians advance their schemes. Counterintelligence was Angleton’s religion, and he would have insisted on its relevance.

Cram continued to study Angleton and share the lessons of his extraordinary career for the rest of his life, even as his epic study remained a state secret. In his 1993 monograph, declassified a decade later, Cram concluded that Angleton was “self-centered, ambitious and paranoid with little regard for his agency colleagues or simple common sense.” He was a visionary and a crank, a prophet and a law breaker, a national security menace just slightly ahead of his time.



Bitcoin investors will crawl back to gold when crypto-craze uncertainty creeps in

January 1, 2018


The hype around digital currencies like bitcoin may have stolen a chunk of the demand for gold, but the precious metal has proven itself a liquid and efficient investment, according to Agnico Eagle Mines CEO Sean Boyd.

“I actually think you can build a much stronger case for gold in an environment where bitcoin is drawing this kind of investor interest,” Boyd said, highlighting unaddressed risks, still posed by virtual currencies.

Boyd’s Agnico Eagle Mines is a Canadian-based gold producer with operations in Canada, Finland and Mexico and exploration and development activities extending to the US.

“One of the things about bitcoin and the cryptocurrencies is: is there really an unlimited supply? We’re gold miners. We mine deposits. I think, over time, the question will be: are these cryptocurrencies and the developers of these cryptocurrencies just mining the public?” the mining boss told CNBC.

According to Boyd, investors meeting with Agnico on a regular basis are more and more open to gold, and their interest can drive the traditional asset higher.

“Our sense is that investors are starting to do their homework, revisiting the high-quality gold equities, so there is a sense that gold’s about to turn here. We wouldn’t be surprised to see gold between $1,400 and $1,500 within the next 18 months or so,” he said.

Angico reportedly expects gold output to grow 25 percent between now and 2020. Boyd also said that for those seeking to manage potential risk, few investments were better than gold and cryptocurrencies are definitely not among those few.

“I think gold has done exceptionally well given that we seem to be setting record highs in the stock market every week. The market will turn at some point, and it pays to be positioned properly in gold now, it will be hard to get positioned properly somewhere down the road. Gold investors will come back when uncertainty creeps back into the market,” he added.

“Gold’s a highly developed market, very liquid market, a very efficient store of value and portfolio diversifier. That’s why you need to own it. It’s proven itself. It’s hard to believe it’s going away just because of technology. People can invest in cryptocurrencies, but now’s the time to own gold. If the stock market’s setting record levels, I’d rather own gold than bitcoin,” Boyd said.


Gold vs. Bitcoin

December 31, 2017


Perhaps the most obvious difference between Gold and Bitcoin is this: Gold is a tangible physical Precious Metal, whereas Bitcoin is digital. Yet the distinctions between the two run much deeper. Today, APMEX accepts Bitcoin as a form of payment.

Gold is a Precious Metal used by mankind as a medium of exchange for millennia. It is also useful in technology and manufacturing, and is appreciated for its beauty in the form of jewelry, art and keepsakes. Tangible Gold is widely regarded as a sound long-term investment and a hedge against market volatility.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, is a coded, crowdsourced currency that did not exist until 2009.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the world’s first decentralized digital currency. This novel system for virtual money was first proposed by software developer Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and made available to the public in 2009. This system allows members of the bitcoin community to mine new bitcoins using open-source software to solve complex mathematical equations. The total supply of bitcoins that can ever be mined is capped at 21 million. A bitcoin is represented by the record of its transactions between different addresses. Addresses consist of randomly generated sequences of letters and numbers. Users purchase bitcoin by using another sequence in the form of a private key that is kept secret. Miners must verify all bitcoin transactions.

Benefits and Risks of Bitcoin Currency

Bitcoins provide users with a unique trading experience. Unlike the American dollar and British pound, bitcoin, also referred to as cryptocurrency, is not regulated by a single central bank. In theory, this means the virtual currency is decentralized, democratized and can be accepted anywhere in the world. It also means that bitcoins are unregulated, which can open the door to corruption.

Growth of Bitcoin

In recent years, power struggles between key creators and traders have disrupted the bitcoin market. By the end of 2015, Chinese bitcoin miners controlled more than 50 percent of bitcoin currency creation, which significantly slowed the speed of transactions for non-Chinese users, the Washington Post reported.

Bitcoins do not carry any personal identifying information such as names or physical addresses. The currency’s potential for anonymous transactions made it particularly attractive on the black market. The Silk Road website, which was used to sell millions of dollars in illegal drugs and illicit goods, accepted only bitcoins. The website was shut down by the FBI in 2013 and its creator was prosecuted, the New York Times reported.

Because bitcoin is crowdsourced, its value is dependent on community participation. In its early years, bitcoin benefited from an enthusiastic base of developers and investors. Its popularity has since faded. In early 2016, Mike Hearn, a prominent bitcoin developer, declared the currency a failure and announced he had sold all of his bitcoins.

“It has failed because the community has failed. What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked ‘systemically important institutions’ and [was] ‘too big to fail’ has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people,” Hearn stated in a blog post.

Investing in Bitcoin vs. Investing in Tangible Gold

As with any commodity, including physical Gold, bitcoin is subject to drastic price fluctuations. Between 2009 and the majority of 2013, the bitcoin price rose gradually from zero to near $200. The value of bitcoin then rose sharply to $1,242 in November 2013, nearly surpassing the price of Gold, which was trading around $1,250 an ounce, CNN Money reported. During the bitcoin price spike, dozens of websites launched to facilitate bitcoin investment. At the same time, bitcoin investing captured an enormous amount of attention in the media.

As more users chose to invest in bitcoin, miners worked to increase the worldwide supply and developers imposed higher transaction fees. Bitcoin could not maintain its peak price. Between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2016, bitcoin’s value steadily decreased to less than $400.

Hearn stated in his blog post that investing in bitcoin was never guaranteed to yield returns. “Bitcoin is not intended to be an investment and has always been advertised pretty accurately: as an experimental currency which you shouldn’t buy more of than you can afford to lose,” he explained.

Supply and Demand

Similarly, market pressures drove the Gold price to historic highs between 2011 and 2013, exceeding $1,900 an ounce in September 2011. Prices remained above $1,000 an ounce into 2016. While Gold prices have responded to supply and demand, fluctuations are less extreme than many other investment commodities, including bitcoin.

It is also important to note that Gold has demonstrated reliability. Civilizations have traded Gold since roughly 600 B.C. and it continues to be used by dealers and investors with great enthusiasm today. Gold is also sure to never lose its intrinsic value as a Precious Metal with numerous practical applications.


Record-breaking big freeze grips much of North America

  • Severe cold hits vast area from south Texas to Canada, and Montana to Maine
  • Omaha cancels New Year’s fireworks as temperature hits record low of -15F

January 1, 2018

The Guardian

Bone-chilling cold gripped the middle of the US as 2018 began on Monday, breaking a low temperature record, icing some New Year’s celebrations and leading to at least two deaths attributed to exposure to the elements.

The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories covering a vast area from south Texas all the way to Canada and from Montana and Wyoming in the west through New England to the northern tip of Maine.

Dangerously low temperatures enveloped eight midwest states including parts of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska along with nearly all of Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota.

The weather service said a temperature of 15 below zero (-9.44C) was recorded in Omaha before midnight on Sunday, breaking a record low dating back to 1884, and the temperature was still dropping early on New Year’s Day. That reading did not include the wind chill effect. Last week, Omaha officials cited the forecast in postponing the 18th annual New Year’s Eve Fireworks Spectacular that usually draws about 30,000 people.

It was even colder in Des Moines early on Monday at 20 below zero (-29C) and wind chill dipping to 31 below zero (-35C). Des Moines city officials had closed a downtown outdoor ice skating plaza and said it would not reopen until the city emerged from sub-zero temperatures.

In New York, throngs of revellers braved the second-coldest New Year’s Eve on record in New York to usher in 2018 as the glittering crystal ball dropped in Times Square.

The temperature was 10F (-12C), the chilliest celebration since 1917, when it was only 1F (-17C). Partygoers heeded warnings from authorities and wrapped up in extra layers, dancing and jogging in place to ward off the cold.

The wind chill dipped to 36 below zero (-38 Celsius) in Duluth, Minnesota, a city known for its bitter cold winters. Steam rose up from Lake Superior as a ship moved through the harbor where ice was forming from the bitter cold.

Bitterly cold temperatures also are spreading across the deep south, a region more accustomed to brief bursts of Arctic air than night after night below zero. Frozen pipes and dead car batteries were concerns from Louisiana to Georgia as overnight temperatures in the teens were predicted across the region by Monday night.

An Indianapolis woman was in critical condition after she became confused in the snow and ice and turned her vehicle the wrong direction, driving 150ft on a retention pond before her vehicle fell through the ice, according to WISH TV. She managed to make an emergency call but the phone went dead when the ice cracked.

The Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office said two bodies found on Sunday showed signs of hypothermia. They included a man in his 50s found on the ground in an alley and a 34-year-old man. Autopsies are being performed on both men.

Milwaukee’s annual Polar Bear Plunge at Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan on Monday could be more dangerous than usual, a city official told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The wind chill was expected to be about 9 below zero (-13C) by the time of the event at noon.

“You’re going to get hypothermic,” said the Milwaukee fire battalion chief, Erich Roden. “Everybody wants to do the polar plunge once in their life; it’s a bucket list item. Unfortunately, it’s something that can cause a lot of harm.”


World War II Fact: America Accidently Killed Its Own Troops with Mustard Gas

December 27, 2017

by Michael Peck


Within a day, medical personnel were puzzled by strange symptoms appearing among sailors, rescuers and Italian civilians. Blast injuries and shock were to be expected from a bombing raid, but not burning eyes and skin blisters. Some 628 victims were afflicted, with eighty-three dead within a month. The Allied high command eventually sent a doctor familiar with chemical warfare to Bari. Though even he wasn’t informed of the John Harvey’s deadly cargo, he deduced that mustard gas had caused the symptoms, and was able to advise medical personnel (for which he was honored by the U.S. Congress in 1988).

To be fair, Allied leaders worried that publicly disclosing that mustard gas had been sent to Italy would invite Nazi retaliation. But such a disaster could not be hidden for long. In February 1944, the Allies had to admit the incident, accompanied by an assurance that they were not contemplating first use of chemical warfare.

It was December 2, 1943. And the Nazi bomber crews flying over the Italian port of Bari might have wondered whether they were actually in a war zone.

Gleaming below, despite the wartime blackout, was a harbor so brightly lit that it illuminated more than than thirty ships supplying the Allied armies advancing up the Italian peninsula. Aboard those transports were the usual necessities of modern warfare: ammunition, fuel, food, spare parts.

Except one ship was different: the American Liberty ship John Harvey. That blandly named vessel carried one hundred tons of mustard gas, contained in hundred-pound bombs, which the United States had sent to the Mediterranean in case Hitler unleashed chemical weapons in a last desperate bid to stave off the invasion of Fortress Europe.

Surely a ship packed with poison gas would have bristled with defenses against air attack? Yet by the end of 1943, the Allies had grown complacent: Hitler’s Luftwaffe was on the defensive, the wings of its once-vaunted bomber force clipped and its fighters withdrawn back to Germany to battle Allied strategic bombing offensive.

Yet underestimating the Germans was always a mistake. The Luftwaffe was actually far from finished. It had been conducting sporadic bomber raids since the Allies landed in Italy in September 1943, enough that any prudent planner would have ensured ample fighters and flak defended a vital supply port like Bari. Yet on that December night, Bari had neither.

The countdown to disaster began on the afternoon of December 2, when a German reconnaissance plane noticed the ships crowding the harbor. Unable to pass up such a juicy target, the Luftwaffe quickly mustered 105 Ju-88 twin-engined bombers capable of dropping up to three tons of explosives apiece.

At 7:25 p.m. that night, a few German aircraft dropped chaff (metal foil) to fool defensive radar, and flares to illuminate the target. Neither was needed.

“Although the raid only lasted 20 minutes, the results were spectacularly successful for the Germans,” wrote U.S. Navy Captain D.M. Saunders in a 1967 article in Proceedings magazine. “Not since Pearl Harbor had the Allies lost so many ships at one time. Hits on two ammunition ships resulted in explosions of major proportions which shattered windows seven miles away. An oil pipe line on a quay was severed and the gushing fuel soon ignited. Oil and gasoline from burning tankers contributed to this tremendous sheet of waterborne flame which spread over much of the harbor. Ships otherwise unscathed were now enveloped in fire. All told, 16 ships carrying 38,000 tons of cargo were totally destroyed and eight others damaged that night.”

If only that had been the worst of the horror. The John Harvey’s cargo had not yet been unloaded when German bombs destroyed the ship. The mustard-gas bombs had not been armed, so they didn’t explode. Nor did they need to, because the ruptured bomb casings allowed liquid mustard to leak into harbor waters shimmering with spilled oil and teeming sailors abandoning their burning ships. Still more mustard drifted through the air as vapors.

As chemical weapons go, mustard gas wasn’t the worst, especially compared to ultra-deadly Nazi nerve gases like sarin. But mixed with spilled oil and gasoline, it clung to survivors as well as the rescuers pulling them out of the water.

Even then, the victors could have been properly treated. Mustard gas (named for its odor, which has been compared to the smell of garlic) had been used extensively in World War I, so doctors knew that victims should be washed off and given uncontaminated clothes. The problem was that the John Harvey’s cargo was so secret that most people at Bari didn’t know there was mustard present. “Many of the survivors who had been in the water, and those who had had oil splashed on them, appeared in good condition and were sent to an Auxiliary Seamen’s Home still clothed in their contaminated garments,” Saunders writes. “Others who appeared to be suffering from shock were merely wrapped in blankets, given warm tea and left alone for 12 to 24 hours— still covered with ‘oil.’”

In the end, the mustard gas shipped to Bari proved unnecessary. The Nazis did not employ chemical weapons on the battlefield (though contrary to what President Trump’s press secretary suggested, they did use poison gas to murder millions of Jews and other victims in the death camps). There was no need for the Allies to resort to them, because they were able to defeat the Third Reich with their armies—though they did need two atomic weapons to bring about Japan’s surrender.

By the end of World War II, Europe had been devastated by bullet and bomb. Yet at least it had been spared the horror of chemical warfare. Unfortunately, since 1945, the peoples of Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan and Yemen cannot say the same. Bari is a reminder of how tragic their fate is.







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