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TBR News January 20, 2018

Jan 20 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 20, 2018:”Although Barnum and Baily circus has gone out of business, the Beltway Circus, starring the Federal Elephant Failures and the Presidential Clown Act is still going strong. These elegant buffoons view the voting public as nothing but money-trees due a nice pat on the head from time to time while they spend the money with great eagerness. And Facebook, the compendium of nonsense and trivia for legions of sheep wearing shoes, promises to print only significant news in the future. As filled as they are with degeneracy and hate mail, this might result in a reduction in readership and make it harder for Mr. Zuckerberg to achieve his goal of the Oval Office.”



Table of Contents

  • Trump’s year of foreign policy: How to lose allies and alienate nations
  • With government shutdown, Republicans reap what they sow
  • The Myth of Trump’s ‘Global Retreat’
  • Facebook Will Trust Its Untrustworthy Users to Rank the Trustworthiness of News
  • How the Government Hides Secret Surveillance Programs
  • UK teen gained access to CIA chief’s accounts: court
  • Another Bloody American Century
  • Syrian govt condemns ‘Turkish aggression on Afrin’ as defiant Kurds vow to resist
  • Airstrikes pound Syria’s Afrin as Turkey launches ‘Operation Olive Branch’
  • Andreas and Bernhard: Successful Counterfeiting


Trump’s year of foreign policy: How to lose allies and alienate nations

January 20, 2018

by Alexandre Antonov


Trump’s year of foreign policy: How to lose allies and alienate nations

Those policies do not take into account Trump’s personal diplomatic style. The style with which he went after European NATO allies, berating them for not paying for the protection provided to them by US military machine. The style by which Trump tried to weasel out of the Obama-era refugee deal with Australia during his early days in office. The style in which he dismissed some of the world’s poorest nations, allegedly in highly offensive language.

We are unlikely to learn for sure what names Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull called the US president after that infamous conversation, or what was said by many other world leaders exposed to Trump’s art of the deal. But they may be along the same lines as the expressions that some of his subordinates allegedly used, as described in Michael Wolff’s scandalous book.

Those policies do not take into account Trump’s personal diplomatic style. The style with which he went after European NATO allies, berating them for not paying for the protection provided to them by US military machine. The style by which Trump tried to weasel out of the Obama-era refugee deal with Australia during his early days in office. The style in which he dismissed some of the world’s poorest nations, allegedly in highly offensive language.

We are unlikely to learn for sure what names Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull called the US president after that infamous conversation, or what was said by many other world leaders exposed to Trump’s art of the deal. But they may be along the same lines as the expressions that some of his subordinates allegedly used, as described in Michael Wolff’s scandalous book.

Now the US has Donald Trump as its president, a person whose capacity to hold the office is vigorously questioned at home and whose actions abroad apparently made more than half of the world resent American leadership. The US establishment may tell itself that Trump got where he is through Russia’s machinations, and silence the dissident voices blaming an archaic and corrupt political system that protects an unjust and failing corporate economy. Americans loathing Trump may pray for the Robert Mueller investigation to come up with something actionable to impeach him or at least for his inner circle to find a way to insulate him from any real power.

This won’t change the fact that many people in the world doubt that the US should be trusted with the power it claims as inalienable.


With government shutdown, Republicans reap what they sow

It takes a special type of hypocrite to accuse your opponents of hypocrisy for following in your footsteps

January 19, 2018

by Richard Wolffe

The Guardian

Today’s Republican party is built on principle. As a matter of principle, the GOP believes it is the only party that can shut down government as a negotiating tactic. The Democrats’ job is to keep that government open and to cave in to its demands.

These truths we hold to be self-evident, after watching several rounds of this sad kabuki theater through the Clinton and Obama years.

Now that the Democrats have triggered a government shutdown, Republicans are outraged. Because of their principles, you know.

The ideologue responsible for Trump’s budget, Mick Mulvaney, put it best to reporters at the White House on Friday. Mulvaney, now director of the Office of Management and Budget, was previously a South Carolina congressman. In that role, he was one of the chief proponents of the last government shutdown because he opposed Planned Parenthood and Obamacare.

Now he says the Democrats have no right to do what he did because, well, that would make them unprincipled.

“Keep in mind, go back and watch what they said about folks during the 2013 shutdown who wanted to talk about things like the Obamacare repeal at that time,” he said. “One of the criticisms they made of folks like me is that I was inserting non-financial issues into an appropriations process, which is exactly what’s happening now. So I recognize the fact that Washington does not understand the meaning of the word hypocrisy and irony. The truth of the matter is they’re doing the exact same thing they accused the Republicans of doing in 2013.”

Ah yes, the irony of it all. It takes a special type of hypocrite to accuse your opponents of hypocrisy for following in your footsteps.

As a matter of principle, it’s Republicans like Mulvaney who are the deficit hawks, caring deeply about the fiscal rectitude of the federal government. Right up to the point when one of them says the words “tax cuts”, which turn out to be far more important than balancing the budget or the national debt.

Thank goodness we have the Republicans in total control of Washington, after all those years of the Democrats failing to pass a real budget. Now we can watch the Republicans create an even more dysfunctional budget process with continuing resolutions that last just a few weeks at a time.

This is not the only principled issue that defines today’s GOP.

As a matter of principle, Republicans are the party closest to God, rallying the faithful at the March for Life rally by anti-abortion activists, who also love to rail against Planned Parenthood. Thank God for the leadership of a conservative president whose lawyer paid tens of thousands of dollars to a porn star, through a shell company and false names.

Before she signed a non-disclosure agreement, the porn star disclosed the sordid details of her affair with the current president soon after his third wife gave birth to his third son.

For Christian conservatives, Donald Trump may be a sinner but he’s really doing God’s work. That’s a whole new definition of family values right there.

This is the kind of irony that Republicans ought to understand. After all, the first real shutdowns of the current era – the shutdown that set the tone for all that followed – was the product of Newt Gingrich’s war against Bill Clinton. The 1995 and 1996 debacles were ideological clashes over the size of government by a flame-throwing House Speaker who wanted to cut the president down to size.

That was the first salvo in a war over family values that led to Clinton’s impeachment for an affair with an unpaid intern that began during that same shutdown. Of course Gingrich himself had been unfaithful with another woman for a couple of years before that shutdown. Callista Bisek became his third wife, and is now Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Vatican. So there’s no irony or hypocrisy there at all.

At least the 1990s shutdowns were about the budget. The next government shutdown in 2013 was simply about defunding Obamacare and destroying Barack Obama. For some Tea Party-infused Republicans, this was a principled stand. For every Republican senator other than Ted Cruz, it was madness.

Now Republicans are perfectly entitled to say Democrats are copying them. We can argue about whether their principles about Obamacare are more or less important than the Democratic efforts to stop the deportation of children brought to the country as undocumented immigrants.

We can surely all agree that shutdowns are an insane way to manage political disputes at any time, by any party. Democrats should take no pride in shutting down the government.

But Republicans cannot, as a matter of principle, pretend to be outraged that Democrats are following them. And they cannot, as a matter of political good sense, pretend like the electoral damage is all going to fall on their opponents.

Like some political goldfish swimming in a bowl of amnesia, Republicans have forgotten they picked up seats in the mid-term elections following their own 2013 shutdown. In fact they picked up control of the Senate, and with it, blocked everything Obama wanted to do, including his nomination of a supreme court justice.

The GOP believes it has set a brilliant trap for Democrats with a cunning ploy of pretending to care about children’s health insurance. “Who could vote against children?” says the party that allowed the insurance to lapse in October.

And who could support the deportation of children? The one thing Republicans didn’t count on was their own president, whose racist rant about “shithole” countries blew up a hard-fought bipartisan deal on immigration.

This is a shithole of the Republicans’ own making. They control all sides of Washington and have now made history by presiding over their own shutdown, under a president who prided himself on knowing the art of the deal.

No deal, no sympathy: polls suggest most voters blame both Trump and the Republicans for the open sewer that stretches all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue.

During previous shutdowns, calm heads ultimately prevailed: people who cared about good government, or at least worried about the polls that pointed to widespread public disgust. But this is now Donald Trump’s Washington and there are no calm heads to be found.

As a matter of principle, Republicans cannot come together to agree a deal on immigration. As a matter of sanity, Donald Trump cannot stop his racist belching or surrender the fantasy about his Mexican wall. This shutdown shit-show could run and run.


The Myth of Trump’s ‘Global Retreat’

January 17, 2018.

by John Glaser

New York Post

An increasing number of observers argue that President Trump is orchestrating fundamental changes to US grand strategy, dismantling the US-led international order and relinquishing America’s overseas commitments.

It’s not true.

Joe Scarborough recently lamented “America’s dangerous retreat from the world,” drawing a parallel to the isolationism of the inter-war period. “Under the banner of ‘America First,’ ” reports Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, “President Trump is reducing US commitments abroad.”

Misplaced as it is, this criticism isn’t cut from whole cloth. Last year the Trump administration abruptly withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the Paris Climate Accord, and has also approved cuts in funding for foreign aid and the United Nations. Trump himself has contributed to the view of America’s retreat from the world with his erratic tweets and his campaign statements decrying “globalism.”

Though White House officials are quick to deny accusations of retreat, they do claim they’re being more selective. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster says the Trump approach differs from the “consensus view . . . that engagement overseas is an unmitigated good, regardless of the circumstances.” Instead, “there are problems that are maybe both intractable and of marginal interest to the American people, that do not justify investments of blood and treasure.”

That’s eminently reasonable. But it doesn’t accurately describe Trump’s foreign policy, which hasn’t backed away from any theater in which the US military was committed or engaged at the time of his inauguration. In some respects, Trump is more interventionist than his predecessors.

Just like under Barack Obama, and George W. Bush and Bill Clinton before him, the United States continues to guarantee the defense of almost 60 nations around the world in formal treaty arrangements, along with many more tacit agreements throughout the Middle East and Asia. We’re still forward-deployed all over the world, with over 250,000 troops stationed at 800 military bases and installations in some 70 countries.

In Europe, Trump’s rocky personal relationship with many traditional allies hasn’t upended the US commitment to NATO. In fact, NATO has expanded: Trump welcomed Montenegro to the alliance in April. And last month, the president went beyond his predecessor’s interventionist impulses in Ukraine by approving the delivery of lethal arms to battle Russian-backed separatists.

In the Middle East, Trump has increased the number of US boots on the ground by more than 30 percent. That doesn’t include Afghanistan, where he ordered roughly 4,000 additional troops to go and fight. More bombs are being dropped in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen.

Trump even ordered airstrikes against the Bashar al-Assad regime in retaliation for chemical-weapons use. The strike didn’t produce any tactical or humanitarian benefit, though it was intended to reinforce America’s role as policeman of the world.

While Trump has threatened to back out of the Iran nuclear deal, he hasn’t followed through yet. And even if he does, he favors greater US involvement in containing Iranian influence in the region, which hardly constitutes a retreat from the traditional US posture.

In Asia, Trump hasn’t reduced America’s postwar role. Rhetoric aside, his administration’s approach to North Korea, and to Asia more generally, is straight out of the traditional DC playbook. In his National Security Strategy, Trump singled out China as our greatest geopolitical competitor. And the president has prioritized North Korea as a threat by reaffirming the US commitment to South Korea and pushing for international sanctions.

So why do people have it so wrong? The problem comes from taking Trump’s rantings too seriously. His occasional rhetoric suggesting a reduced global role for the United States is contradicted by his actions.

He isn’t guided by any cohesive foreign-policy “vision” beyond knee-jerk impulses to project toughness. This means much of US foreign policy will be relegated to the professional national-security apparatus beneath Trump, which doesn’t differ fundamentally from preceding administrations.

Trump hasn’t forfeited America’s global leadership. On the world stage, his is a new flavor of the same dish. America is still playing the futile role of global cop, still reigns as the only superpower with a globe-straddling military presence and is still picking fights in distant regions remote to US national-security interests. The fact that it is Donald Trump at the helm of all this is fooling observers into thinking more has changed than actually has.


Facebook Will Trust Its Untrustworthy Users to Rank the Trustworthiness of News

January 19 2018

by Sam Biddle

The Intercept

Facebook users, by and large, are not very good at differentiating between what’s fact and what’s false. Many users will eagerly share both reliable news and the fake stuff without any hesitation. It happens because users either want the falsehoods to be received as true or simply can’t tell the difference. Rampant media illiteracy is the root cause of the fake news handwringing we’ve been dealing with since before the election, and will be fretting over until the end of time (or the end of Facebook, whichever comes first). Today, Facebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg said he is setting out to fix this fundamental problem of digital media illiteracy — by putting more power in the hands of the illiterate.

In a new Facebook post today, Zuckerberg said he “asked our product teams to make sure we prioritize news that is trustworthy, informative, and local.” Why this has only become a priority in the company’s 14th year of existence is left unsaid. Zuckerberg admitted that “there’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today,” and that his website “enables people to spread information faster than ever before.” As with the rest of Silicon Valley, Facebook is obsessed with the appearance of machine-like objectivity, and so Zuckerberg said figuring out which outlets deliberately package viral-ready falsehoods and which do not is a head-scratcher (spoiler — it isn’t):

The hard question we’ve struggled with is how to decide what news sources are broadly trusted in a world with so much division. We could try to make that decision ourselves, but that’s not something we’re comfortable with. We considered asking outside experts, which would take the decision out of our hands but would likely not solve the objectivity problem. Or we could ask you — the community — and have your feedback determine the ranking.

So, rather than relying on the subjectivity and biases of a team of outside experts, Facebook will rely on the subjectivity and biases of two billion people around the world. Specifically, Facebook said it will decide which media outlets are prioritized at least in part by just asking people which outlets they like:

As part of our ongoing quality surveys, we will now ask people whether they’re familiar with a news source and, if so, whether they trust that source. The idea is that some news organizations are only trusted by their readers or watchers, and others are broadly trusted across society even by those who don’t follow them directly. (We eliminate from the sample those who aren’t familiar with a source, so the output is a ratio of those who trust the source to those who are familiar with it.)

Facebook is either unaware of — or, more likely — unwilling to deal with the fact that people have rabid, tribalistic loyalties to certain outlets. Someone who enjoys sharing, say, the Daily Caller or InfoWars articles is going to of course say that these are trustworthy outlets. Otherwise, they’re admitting that they voluntarily consume and spread information that isn’t trustworthy, and we all think too highly of ourselves for that. According to a Facebook spokesperson, the surveys are meant to make sure “people can have more from their favorite sources and more from trusted sources.” Isn’t part of the Facebook information disaster that so many people count things like RedStateEagleMilitiaZoneDeepStateNews (or what have you) among their “favorite sources”? Should we be asking these people what’s trustworthy and what isn’t? Should they be deciding what will appear on your feed — or even there own — as reliable news?

Similarly, no one who posts five MSNBC articles every day is going to even consider giving Fox News a vote of trustworthiness. In fact, partisan news consumers will relish an opportunity to boost their side and downvote the bad guys, a cherished internet pastime. Rather than fix the enormous, world-spanning information morass they’ve created, Facebook is punting responsibility to its users (and, of course, the almighty Algorithm).

Details on how exactly these surveys will function are scant for now, though the Facebook spokesperson told me these new “changes that are not intended to directly impact any specific groups of publishers based on their size or ideological leanings.” The spokesperson added, “We do not plan to release individual publishers’ trust scores because they represent an incomplete picture of how each story’s position in each person’s feed is determined.”

It’s also unclear how this would affect small or new outlets that have little to no name recognition because they’re small or new. What is clear is that Facebook in the new year is still as reluctant to do anything that will cause it institutional discomfort or provoke backlash from its right-and-left-aligned users. So long as Facebook remains a corporate monolith with immense control over the entire worldwide media industry, this problem won’t go away.

At the outset of the year, Zuckerberg declared it his personal challenge to fix what’s broken at his company. Today, he said to everyone, Here, you deal with it.


How the Government Hides Secret Surveillance Programs

January 9, 2018

by Louise Matsakis


In 2013, 18-year-old Tadrae McKenzie robbed a marijuana dealer for $130 worth of pot at a Taco Bell in Tallahassee, Florida. He and two friends had used BB guns to carry out the crime, which under Florida law constitutes robbery with a deadly weapon. McKenzie braced himself to serve the minimum four years in prison.

But in the end, a state judge offered McKenzie a startlingly lenient plea deal: He was ordered to serve only six months’ probation, after pleading guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor. The remarkable deal was related to evidence McKenzie’s defense team uncovered before the trial: Law enforcement had used a secret surveillance tool often called a Stingray to investigate his case.

Stingrays are devices that behave like fake cellphone towers, tricking phones into believing they’re pinging genuine towers nearby. By using the device, cops can determine a suspect’s precise location, outgoing and incoming calls, and even listen-in on a call or see the content of a text message.

Many people may have been convicted using techniques that violated their rights.

McKenzie’s lawyers suspected cops had used a Stingray because they knew exactly where his house was, and knew he left his home at 6 a.m. the day he was arrested. The cops had obtained a court order from a judge to authorize Verizon to hand over data about the location of Mckenzie’s phone. But cell tower data isn’t precise enough to place a device at a specific house.

The cops also said they used a database that lets law enforcement agencies locate individuals by linking them with their phone numbers. But the phone McKenzie was using was a burner, and not associated with his name. Law enforcement couldn’t adequately explain their extraordinary knowledge of his whereabouts.

The state judge in the case ordered police to show the Stingray and its data to McKenzie’s attorneys. They refused, because of a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI. The state then offered McKenzie, as well as the two other defendants, plea deals designed to make the case go away.

The cops in McKenzie’s case had ultimately failed to successfully carry out a troubling technique called “parallel construction.”

First described in government documents obtained by Reuters in 2013, parallel construction is when law enforcement originally obtains evidence through a secret surveillance program, then tries to seek it out again, via normal procedure. In essence, law enforcement creates a parallel, alternative story for how it found information. That way, it can hide surveillance techniques from public scrutiny and would-be criminals.

A new report released by Human Rights Watch Tuesday, based in part on 95 relevant cases, indicates that law enforcement is using parallel construction regularly, though it’s impossible to calculate exactly how often. It’s extremely difficult for defendants to discern when evidence has been obtained via the practice, according to the report.

“When attorneys try to find out if there’s some kind of undisclosed method that’s been used, the prosecution will basically stonewall and try not to provide a definitive yes or no answer,” says Sarah St. Vincent, the author of the report and a national security and surveillance researcher at Human Rights Watch.

In investigation reports, law enforcement will describe evidence obtained via secret surveillance programs in inscrutable terms. “We’ve seen plenty of examples where the police officers in those reports write ‘we located the suspect based on information from a confidential source;’ they use intentionally vague language,” says Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney at the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology project. “It sounds like a human informant or something else, not like a sophisticated surveillance device.”

Sometimes, when a savvy defense attorney pushes, an unbelievable plea deal is offered, or the the case is dropped entirely. If a powerful, secret surveillance program is at stake, a single case is often deemed unimportant to the government.

“Parallel construction means you never know that a case could actually be the result of some constitutionally problematic practice,” says St. Vincent. For example, the constitutionality of using a Stingray device without a warrant is still up for debate, according to the Human Rights Watch report. Some courts have ruled that the devices do in fact violate the Fourth Amendment.

Hemisphere, a massive telephone-call gathering operation revealed by The New York Times in 2013, is one of the most well-documented surveillance programs that government officials attempt to hide when they use parallel construction. The largely secret program provides police with access to a vast database containing call records going back to 1987. Billions of calls are added daily.

In order to create the program, the government forged a lucrative partnership with AT&T, which owns three-quarters of the US’s landline switches and much of its wireless infrastructure. Even if you change your number, Hemisphere’s sophisticated algorithms can connect you with you new line by examining calling patterns. The program also allows law enforcement to have temporary access to the location where you placed or received a call.The Justice Department billed Hemisphere as a counter-narcotics tool, but the program has been used for everything from Medicaid fraud to murder investigations, according to documentation obtained in 2016 by The Daily Beast.

Apple’s FaceID Could Be a Powerful Tool for Mass Spying

“What Hemisphere’s capabilities allow it to do is to identify relationships and associations, and to build people’s social webs,” says Aaron Mackey, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “It’s highly likely that innocent people who are doing completely innocent things are getting swept up into this database.”

The EFF filed Freedom of Information Act and Public Records Act requests in 2014 seeking info about Hemisphere, but the government only provided heavily redacted files. So the EFF filed a lawsuit in 2015. It’s currently waiting for a California judge to decide whether more information can be made public without impeding law enforcement’s work.

“[The government] is obscuring what we believe to be warrantless or otherwise unconstitutional surveillance techniques, and they’re also jeopardizing a defendant’s ability to obtain all the evidence that’s relevant,” says Mackey.

Parallel construction can also involve a simple event like a traffic stop. In these instances, local law enforcement follows a suspect and then pulls them over for a mundane reason, like failing to use a turn signal. While the stop is meant to look random, cops are often working on a tip they received from a federal agency like the DEA.

“Sometimes when tips come through, the federal authorities don’t even tell the local authorities what they’re looking for,” says St. Vincent. The tip could be as simple as to watch out for a car at a specific place and time.

These stops are referred to as “wall off” or “whisper” stops, according to the Human Rights Watch report. In these instances, local law enforcement has to find probable cause for pulling the suspect over to avoid disclosing the tip. The tip is then never mentioned in court, and instead the beginning of the investigation is said to be the “random” stop.

The Human Rights Watch report concludes that Congress should pass legislation forbidding the use of parallel construction because it impedes on the right to a fair trial. Some representatives, like Republican Senator Rand Paul, have also called for banning the practice.

Opponents of parallel construction believe it should be outlawed because it prevents judges from doing their jobs. “It really gives a lot of power to the executive branch,” says St. Vincent. “It cuts judges out of the role of deciding whether something was legally obtained.”

One of the most concerning aspects of the practice is it shields government surveillance technology from public scrutiny. Stingrays, the cellphone-tracking device used in the Florida robbery case, have existed for years, but have only recently been disclosed to the public. Lawyers and legal scholars haven’t yet conclusively decided whether their use without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment, in part because so little is known about them. That means many people may have been convicted using technology that violated their rights.

In the future, if the government hides new surveillance technology like facial recognition, the public will be unable to discern if it’s biased or faulty. Unless judges and citizens understand how surveillance techniques are used, we also can’t evaluate their constitutionality.

The public needs to determine if hiding surveillance programs is something it’s comfortable with at all. On one hand, keeping certain techniques secret likely helps authorities apprehend criminals. But if we don’t know at least the basic contours of how a program works, it’s hard to have any discussion at all.


UK teen gained access to CIA chief’s accounts: court

January 19, 2018

by Robin Millard


A British teenager managed to access the communications accounts of top US intelligence and security officials including the then CIA chief John Brennan, a London court heard Friday.

Kane Gamble, now 18, was aged 15 and 16 when, from his bedroom in Coalville, central England, he managed to impersonate his targets to gain highly sensitive information.

“Kane Gamble gained access to the communications accounts of some very high-ranking US intelligence officials and government employees,” prosecutor John Lloyd-Jones told England’s Old Bailey central criminal court.

“He also gained access to US law enforcement and intelligence agency networks.”

Gamble has admitted 10 offences against the computer misuse act, between June 2015 and February 2016, and is awaiting sentencing.

The court heard how the teenager founded the group Crackas With Attitude (CWA), who used “social engineering” — manipulating call centres and help desks into divulging confidential information — which they then exploited.

Gamble impersonated Brennan in calls to the telecommunications companies Verizon and AOL, although in one attempt, he stumbled on a question about Brennan’s first pet.

Several sensitive documents were reportedly obtained from Brennan’s private email inbox and Gamble managed to get information about military and intelligence operations in Iran and Afghanistan.

“It also seems he was able to successfully access Mr Brennan’s iCloud account,” the prosecutor said.

Gamble called AOL and initiated a password reset, and took control of Brennan’s wife’s iPad.

– ‘I own you’ –

Gamble also targeted the then US secretary of homeland security Jeh Johnson and made calls to his phone number.

He left Johnson’s wife a voicemail saying “Am I scaring you?” and managed to get a message to appear on the family television saying: “I own you”.

Other targets included the then US president Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser Avril Haines, his senior science and technology adviser John Holdren, and FBI special agent Amy Hess.

Gamble gained extensive unauthorised access to the US Department of Justice network and was able to access court case files, including on the Deepwater oil spill.

The British teenager gave some of the material he managed to access to WikiLeaks and boasted that he had a list of all Homeland Security employees.

– Clashing autism reports –

The court heard from consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Steffan Davies, whose assessment was that Gamble did not have a full understanding of the impact of what he was doing, due to autism.

“I’m very clear that he has an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD),” he said.

“He spent most of his life in his bedroom on the internet and that is where he is getting his cues from.

“He has a very black and white understanding of what was happening, seeing it more as a video game with goodies and baddies.

“He was trying to right what he saw as an injustice.”

However, another expert, Dr Philip Joseph, said he doubted Gamble was autistic.

“He’s at the mild end (of the spectrum), if he’s on it at all,” he said.

“If he had that condition, it doesn’t explain why he committed these offences.”

Gamble was arrested at his home on February 9 last year at the request of the FBI.

He claimed he was motivated to act out of support for the Palestinians, and due to the United States “killing innocent civilians”, the prosecutor said.

Wearing a black jacket, he spoke only to confirm his name, mumbling “yes”, and sat in the court next to his mother.

He will be sentenced at a date yet to be fixed.


Another Bloody American Century

January 19, 2018

by Matthew Harwood


The Violent American Century: War and Terror since World War II by John W. Dower (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017; 184 pages)

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) was livid. “In the dead of night,” the California Democrat wrote on Twitter in July, House Speaker Paul Ryan did something “underhanded and undemocratic.” He stripped out her bipartisan amendment to repeal the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force against al-Qaeda from the Defense Appropriations bill. Congress passed the AUMF three days after 9/11 to give the president the authority to go after al-Qaeda, which had attacked America on that crystal-clear morning in September. There was only one member of Congress to cast a lonely vote against the resolution: Barbara Lee.

In what can only be described as prophetic, Lee warned at the time of the AUMF vote that “we must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target.” She likened the authorization to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that got America bogged down in Vietnam. But she wasn’t worried only about a new war’s impact on the United States and its military. “If we rush to launch a counterattack,” she said, “we run too great a risk that women, children, and other noncombatants will be caught in the crossfire.” Lee closed her speech with a line that should haunt the consciences of all Americans: “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.”

In the past 16 years, the AUMF has allowed the unleashing of America’s signature high-tech violence across the Greater Middle East, with no end in sight. Since 9/11, the United States has bombed at least seven countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, and Syria. Each and every time George W. Bush or Barack Obama authorized the use of force in another country outside of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, they claimed the AUMF as their authority, even though one of the targets of its strikes, the Islamic State, couldn’t have attacked America on 9/11, since the group didn’t exist then.

While events have proven Lee correct, she was too kind to her fellow Americans and their representatives in Congress. Americans have always engaged in the evil they say they deplore. As Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John W. Dower documents in his terse volume The Violent American Century: War and Terror since World War II, the American capacity for bloodletting is bottomless and its appetite for destruction insatiable.

Dower’s slim volume takes aim at the notion that we should take heart from the indication that human violence is on the decline since World War II. The most influential of the “declinists,” as Dower calls them, is Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. In his 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Pinker goes as far as to call the Cold War “the Long Peace” and the years after the Berlin War fell down “the New Peace.” Dower will have none of that. “This so-called postwar peace was, and still is, saturated in blood and wracked with suffering,” he writes.

But what really rankles Dower is the conventional wisdom behind why the world has experienced such “peace” since the end of World War II: the absence of war between great powers, principally the United States and the Soviet Union. Dower’s irritation stems from two related reasons. In America, the belief remains solid that the world didn’t end in a thermonuclear ball of fire because of the “wisdom, virtue, and firepower of U.S. ‘peacekeeping.’’’ And such belief, writes Dower, “obscures the degree to which the United States bears responsibility for contributing to, rather than impeding, militarization and mayhem after 1945.”

The rest of the Dower’s book is a concise history of how a nation that emerged from World War II largely unscathed became “essentially bipolar — hubristic and overwhelmingly powerful by all material measures, yet fearful and insecure.” Military planners, according to Dower, exploited this paradox as a way to ensure the national-security state became a permanent fixture in American life while convincing the general population that empire equaled safety. There’s nothing really new here in Dower’s postwar history that leftists such as Noam Chomsky, conservatives such as Andrew Bacevich, and libertarians such as Robert Higgs haven’t explored in greater detail. But the value of Dower’s book is its length — it’s a perfect introduction to the dark heart of American foreign and military policy since 1945 — and what he chooses to emphasize, namely the imperial mindset that pursues U.S. hegemony at the risk of wiping out humanity.

With nuclear diplomacy now in the hands of the Trump administration, Dower offers a necessary reminder that U.S. nuclear policy almost destroyed the world more than once and continues to fuel nuclear-arms races across the world. During the mid 1980s, the nuclear stockpile of warheads between the United States and the Soviet Union exceeded 60,000, more than enough to wipe out humanity multiple times over. As the American nuclear strategist Albert Wohlstetter wrote in 1959, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a “delicate balance of terror.” Three years later, that balance was almost upended as the nuclear enemies almost pushed their respective buttons over the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And the close calls didn’t end there, Dower reminds us. It’s nothing sort of a miracle that an accident or human mistake didn’t end in nuclear oblivion. “In a jittery world of massive-retaliation groupthink,” writes Dower, “major alarms about a possible Soviet attack were triggered by a flock of birds, sunlight reflected off clouds, the rising moon, a training tape mistakenly inserted in the warning system, and a faulty computer chip costing forty-six cents.”

In behavior that can only be described as shocking the conscience, American nuclear planners after the close call in Cuba wanted adversaries to believe U.S. leaders were crazy enough to use nuclear weapons tactically. In October 1969, the Nixon White House developed a short-lived plan named Operation Duck Hook, whereby Washington would lead Hanoi to believe the unbelievable — that Richard Nixon would nuke North Vietnam to end the war. “They’ll believe any threat of force that Nixon makes because it’s Nixon…. I call it the Madman Theory, Bob,” one of Nixon’s top cronies, H.R. Haldeman, recalled the president telling him. “I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war.”

Such irresponsibility in strategy led some of the nuclear priesthood to confess their sins and renounce their immoral beliefs and actions. Dower focuses on two men, Gen. Lee Butler, the last commander of Strategic Air Command, and William Perry, the secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. Both of them looked back on their careers with regret. Butler noted how the nuclear doctrine of mutually assured destruction evolved into the use of nuclear weapons as conventional weapons, including nuclear land and sea mines as well as “warheads on artillery shells that could be launched from jeeps.”

Perry, similarly, looked back on the conception of nukes as conventional weapons in dismay, “as though they were simply organic evolutions of prenuclear arms,” and decried it as “extraordinarily reckless.” According to Perry, “We acted as if the world had not changed with the emergence of the nuclear age, the age in which the world had changed as never before.” Butler, for his part, wrote that “mankind escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of diplomatic skill, blind luck and divine intervention, probably the latter in great proportion.”

Unfortunately, nuclear planners haven’t learned the lessons of Butler and Perry. In the unending irony of Obama’s presidency, the commander in chief who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, mainly for his work on nuclear disarmament, committed an estimated $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize America’s nuclear capability. As Dower wisely observes, “The ceaseless U.S. quest to maintain massive ‘technological asymmetry’ militarily is guaranteed to keep arms races of every sort going.” Washington continues to pursue this course, even though the risk of nuclear war has only increased as more countries join the nuclear club, which now stands at nine, and the bellicose rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington intensifies.

It’s partly because of continued American interventionism and aggression, especially under the 2001 AUMF, that nuclear proliferation continues. One of the lessons that North Korea learned from the Iraq War and America’s intervention in Libya was that nuclear warheads are the only defense against U.S.-led efforts at regime change. The Libya case study is the most instructive: dictator Muammar Qaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons program in 2003 and ended up sodomized by a stick and with a bullet through his head after U.S. bombing helped rebels overthrow his regime in 2011. As one North Korean official put it before the U.S.-NATO bombing of Libya began, “It is now being fully exposed before the world that Libya’s ‘nuclear dismantlement,’ much touted by the U.S. in the past, turned out to be a mode of aggression, a way of coaxing the victim with sweet words to disarm itself and then to swallow it up by force.”

No one in the U.S. national-security apparatus, or among the populace, should be surprised that Kim Jong-un is intent on perfecting an intercontinental ballistic missile that could threaten the United States with a nuclear warhead. He made the only rational move to protect his dictatorship from U.S.-led regime change. Or as Donald Trump said, correctly, Kim is “a pretty smart cookie.”

In a world suddenly concerned about nuclear catastrophe, Dower’s emphasis on America’s responsibility for nuclear proliferation and recklessness feels prescient and worth remembering. And for all the data marshalled by the declinists to show a decrease in global violence — no matter how often that bloodshed can be traced back to U.S. shores since the end of World War II — it takes only one frenzied decision to trigger the extinction of the species. So as we watch helplessly on cable news as one megalomaniac stares down another, Dower wants Americans to know this: This is an existential nightmare of our own making.



Syrian govt condemns ‘Turkish aggression on Afrin’ as defiant Kurds vow to resist

January 20, 2018


The Syrian government has condemned “Turkish aggression on Afrin” following the operation launched by Ankara. Kurdish YPG forces responded by saying they have “no choice but to resist.”

The Syrian government also denied that Ankara informed Damascus of the operation, despite Turkish media reporting that such notification was forwarded “in writing,” Syrian state media reported, citing an official source.

Dubbed ‘Operation Olive Branch,’ the Turkish offensive was launched earlier Saturday, with Turkish government officials saying Kurdish “terrorist” targets were struck from the air and on the ground. Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army militants simultaneously entered the Afrin area.

Turkish jets have successful struck 108 out of 113 targets, including the Mannagh Air Base, a military airport in northwest Syria under the control of Syrian Kurdish militants, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Some 72 planes were deployed as part of Saturday’s operation, Turkey’s Chief of General Staff said in a statement cited by Hurriyet.



Airstrikes pound Syria’s Afrin as Turkey launches ‘Operation Olive Branch’

January 20, 2018

by Mert Ozkan and Ellen Francis


HASSA, Turkey/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Turkey opened a new front in Syria’s war on Saturday, launching airstrikes against a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in Afrin province that raise the prospect of worsening relations between Ankara and NATO ally Washington.

The operation, which the Turks dubbed “Operation Olive Branch”, sees Ankara confronting Kurdish fighters allied to the United States at a time when ties between Turkey and Washington – both members of the coalition against Islamic State – appear dangerously close to a breaking point.

The attacks could also complicate Turkey’s push to improve its relationship with Russia. Moscow will demand in the United Nations that Turkey halt the operation, RIA news reported, citing a member of the Russian parliament’s security committee.

The Syrian government condemned what it called Turkish aggression and said Afrin was an intrinsic part of Syrian land.

“We are carrying out this operation from land and air,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told broadcaster NTV. He said the attacks were being carried out to target the Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia and that no civilians had been hurt.

“In a situation like this our expectations from everyone and especially from our allies is that they side with us, not with terrorists,” he said, appearing to refer to Washington.

Some 108 targets had been hit in airstrikes, the Turkish military said. A Turkey-backed rebel group in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, was also providing assistance to the operation in Afrin, a senior Turkish official said.

The YPG said the attacks left it with no choice but to fight back, saying Ankara had hit civilian neighborhoods and a number of people had been wounded.

“We will defeat this aggression, like we have defeated other such assaults against our villages and cities,” the YPG said.

Rojhat Roj, a YPG media official in Afrin, said warplanes pounded parts of Afrin city and villages around it, while there were skirmishes with Turkish forces and their rebel allies at the edge of Afrin.

Hevi Mustafa, a top member of the civilian administration that governs Afrin, said people were holed up in shelters and homes and several wounded people had arrived in hospitals.

Authorities in the Afrin region and war monitors say at least a million people live in the Afrin canton. Many of them are displaced from other areas.


Reuters cameramen in Hassa, near the border with Syria, heard the sound of heavy bombardment and saw thick plumes of smoke rising from the Syrian side of the border. The warplanes appeared to be striking from the Turkish side of the border, one of the cameramen said.

The attacks follow weeks of warnings against the YPG in Syria from President Tayyip Erdogan and his ministers. Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has carried out a deadly, three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast.

Turkey has been particularly outraged by an announcement that the United States planned to train 30,000 personnel in a part of eastern Syria under the control of the YPG-spearheaded Syrian Democratic Forces.

Turkish officials have said the operation is likely to continue toward Manbij, further east. They also said that thousands of pro-Turkey civilians had escaped the YPG-controlled areas in an attempt to reach Aleppo.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K-based monitoring organization said it was not true that people were fleeing en-masse.


The YPG’s growing strength across large parts of northern Syria has alarmed Ankara, which fears the creation of an independent Kurdish state on its southern border. Syrian Kurdish leaders say they seek autonomy as part of Syria, not secession.

The Turkish military said its Afrin operation was to provide safety for Turkey’s border and to “eliminate terrorists… and save friends and brothers, the people of the region, from their cruelty.”

“We will destroy the terror corridor gradually as we did in Jarabulus and Al-Bab operations, starting from the west,” Turkey’s Erdogan said, referring to previous operations in northern Syria designed to push out Islamic State and check the YPG’s advance

Earlier on Saturday, the military said it hit shelters and hideouts used by the YPG and other Kurdish fighters, saying Kurdish militants had fired on Turkish positions inside Turkey.

But the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces – which the YPG spearheads – accused Turkey on Saturday of using cross-border shelling as a false pretext to launch an offensive in Syria.

Differences over Syria policy have further complicated Turkey’s already difficult relationship with NATO ally the United States. Washington has backed the YPG, seeing it as an effective partner in the fight against Islamic State.

A U.S. State Department official on Friday said military intervention by Turkey in Syria would undermine regional stability and would not help protect Turkey’s border security.

Instead, the United States has called on Turkey to focus on the fight against Islamic State. Ankara accuses Washington of using one terrorist group to fight another in Syria.

Additional reporting by Osman Orsal in Hassa; Orhan Coskun, Tulay Karadeniz, Gulsen Solaker and Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara; Omer Berberoglu, Ezgi Erkoyun in Istanbul; Writing by David Dolan, Editing by William Maclean


Andreas and Bernhard: Successful Counterfeiting

January 20, 2018

by Christian Jürs


The root cause of all warfare is economics. Whether it is the seizure of a weaker tribe’s grazing land or the destruction of a rival power’s production capacity, war, to elaborate on Clausewitz, is a logical extension of political and economic aims. War launched against an unpopular head of state or a political system is war commenced solely for economic gains; the common rationale of a holy crusade is merely window dressing for popular historians to postulate.

The hatred engendered against Hitler by the American and British official propaganda machinery before the outset of World War II was due more to the success of Hitler’s barter system than to his personal dislike of Jews or threats to putative democracies in Central Europe.

Stripped of her colonies and gold reserves after the First World War, Germany had to incur massive, interest-bearing loans with both the United States and England to pay for needed imports. When Hitler came to power, he paid off the existing loans and instituted a barter system in which, for example, Germany would trade locomotives to Argentina for their beef and wheat. Previously, both countries had borrowed money from international banks at high-interest rates to pay for their respective imports.

The barter system, therefore, represented a serious threat to international banking interests thatcomplained loudly and effectively to their respective governments, demanding intervention and relief. Many economists referred to a boycott of German products, which was instituted in the United States and England as economic warfare, as indeed it was. The British were past-masters in creating economic warfare and experts in ruining the currency of their rivals by flooding the marketplace with counterfeit currency. During the American Revolutionary War, the British dumped so many counterfeit Continental notes into the economy that American currency became virtually worthless, and the phrase, “not worth a Continental” became common. Angered by French support of the American Revolution, the British counterfeited adulterated gold French Louis coins.

As a means of economic retaliation against Napoleon for his support of a French-dominated continental system which excluded England, the British counterfeited French assignats and franc notes. Napoleon retaliated by forging British currency. Later in the same century, the US federal government forged Confederate money in huge quantities.

The Soviet forgery of American currency in the 1930s, on the other hand, was not designed to destroy the US economy. Rather, the counterfeit gold certificates were manufactured to pay their agents. Since many of these agents were highly placed and expensive members of the Roosevelt Administration, Stalin’s experts concentrated on the manufacture of $100 gold certificates. As the duplication of official US banknote paper was a problem, smaller denomination bills were bleached and over-printed.

At the outbreak of World War II, economic advisors to the leaders of England and the United States urged their respective governments to forge German marks and flood the international market which would cause a collapse of confidence in that currency and, therefore, create tremendous inflation in Germany. The British did counterfeit German military scrip but used the blank reverse for propaganda messages. These were scattered by aircraft over Germany where their impact on the population was nil, but the impact on German leadership was considerable.

Exactly who in the Third Reich initiated the program for the counterfeiting of British currency is not known. One man, Alfred Naujocks, an SS-Sturmbannführer (or Major) in the SD, has taken credit for the inception of the plan in 1940. Naujocks was a longtime acquaintance of Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the SD and it was Heydrich who initially authorized the reproduction of British pound notes. The initial code name for the operation was “Andreas.”

It has been stated that the original purpose of “Andreas” was to falsify pound notes and drop them over England to create economic havoc. However, a more believable scenario, and one supported by period documents, is that the SS leadership envisioned the possibility of raising funds for their organization.

The SS was an official branch of the NSDAP and its funding came from the Party coffers, although the Waffen-SS  drew on government funding for much of its military requirements. One of Himmler’s best assets in this economic struggle was his complete control of the KZ (or concentration camp system). Based on the institutions introduced by Lord Kitchener in South Africa during the Boer War to control the civil population, the KZ system encompassed a wide spectrum of inmates, ranging from professional criminals, communists, and political opponents of the government, including Jews and other ethnic and religious groups.

At the beginning of the war, there were 21,300 concentration camp inmates, housed in six camps. During the course of the war, the total number of inmates rose to over 400,000 lodged in an enormous network of camps scattered throughout Europe and the East. SS General Oswald Pohl and his deputy Richard Glücks organized a huge, free labor pool which would provide a major source of revenue for the SS. It was this system of forced labor that the SD turned to when “Andreas” was superseded by “Bernhard.” The “Andreas” attempts to forge British notes floundered in technical problems and contributed to personality conflicts within the RSHA.

The proper paper was nearly impossible to initially produce since, unlike the original, it did not properly fluoresce under ultraviolet light. Also, a proper numbering system proved extremely difficult to develop. In 18 months, “Andreas” had only produced a half-million pounds worth of counterfeit notes, many of which, however, were authenticated by the Bank of England when submitted by unsuspecting Swiss banks. Personal rivalry between Heydrich and Naujocks created so many problems that “Andreas” was eventually terminated

“Bernhard” was named for the new head of the scheme, SS-Hauptsturmführer Bernhard Krüger of the SD. Krüger, born in Reise, Saxony on November 26, 1904, was a specialist in forging documents and was assigned to Section VI F4 of the RSHA where his section assembled a large library of foreign documents of all kinds which were copied for intelligence operations.

.The second project, “Bernhard,” began only after Heydrich was assassinated by British agents in the summer of 1942. At that time, SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Dörner of the RSHA began to assemble a team of specialists from the ranks of concentration camp inmates. This initial cadre was originally constituted at Oranienburg concentration camp north of Berlin, and on August 23, 1942, it was permanently established at Blocks 18 and 19 at nearby Sachsenhausen camp.

Major Krüger promised his inmate workers good housing, better and regularly served meals, no physical abuse, tobacco, newspapers, good clothing, and packages from outside sources. Most importantly, he assured them of survival. In return, he required full cooperation in the counterfeiting projects and the maintenance of strict security.

By the end of 1942, the 200-pound-pressure Stentz Monopel Type 4 press was moved to Sachsenhausen from its former location in the Berlin forgery center. Aside from the manufacture of the highest quality intaglio plates, the most important factor in the production of undetectable counterfeit pound notes was reproduction paper. British notes were printed on a high rag content paper and manufactured by the Portal, England firm of Laverstoke, which had been producing this paper for the Bank of England since the first quarter of the 18th century.

Paper used in the production of American currency was a 17- pound bond manufactured for the U.S. Treasury by the Crane Company. As the SD turned its attention to the counterfeiting of American currency in 1943, the same German firms that duplicated the Portal paper, Spechthausen and Schlichter, and Schall, successfully duplicated the Crane paper.

The counterfeit paper for pounds had to have not only the correct texture and appearance, but had to be properly and exactly watermarked and fluoresce with the exact shade as the original paper. The Germans solved the latter problem by a careful analysis of water used in the preparation of the original British paper.

The actual manufacturing of the pound note plates was preceded by a thorough study of thousands of original examples of the British pound in German hands. The Bank of England had 156 identifying points on their plates and the forgers were able to duplicate every one of them.

Copying the lettering and numbering of the original currency presented few serious problems to Krüger’s experts, but the vignette of Britannia, common to all denomination pound notes, proved to be extremely difficult to copy—a similar problem which had occurred with the portraits on American currency. On the pound notes, the vignette consisted of a crown-surmounted wreath enclosing a seated Britannia holding a spear in her left hand and a floral spray in her right. However, constant reworking eventually produced an exact copy. The correct numbering system for the pound notes was developed by German mathematicians, and the numbering system for the U.S. bills came from American published sources. As the British used German-made ink for their currency, this aspect of the project presented no problems.

The first run of counterfeit pound notes inspected by senior officials at the RSHA in Berlin was declared a technical success, but lacked the overall visual appearance of original, circulated currency. This was solved by the addition of Soloman Somolianov, a highly competent forger, to the Sachsenhausen crew. Somolianov, a Russian Jew, specialized in the forgery of British pound notes and was successful in adding the proper patina of age to the new pounds and later, U.S. dollars.

After the notes had been printed and aged, they were sent to the RSHA and SS-Oberführer Walter Schellenberg, head of Section VI of the RSHA and SD foreign intelligence, distributed the British pounds to various outlets—many of which are still officially unknown.

For many years the old rhyme, “A Pound’s a Pound the World Around,” recalled the preeminence of British currency throughout the world. The final product of “Bernhard” had been tested by passing it through the Swiss banking system and through them eventually pronounced genuine by the Bank of England. Armed with these bonafides, Schellenberg’s agents glutted the world’s currency markets with over 300 million British pound notes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pounds, in varying degrees of perfection.

First-class quality notes that defied any detection were used to purchase gold, jewels and safe currency through neutral banking systems, while lower quality notes were used for less exacting customers such as Tito’s partisans from whom the SS purchased huge amounts of weaponry supplied to the Yugoslavs by British and American clandestine services.

In early 1943, full-scale production of U.S. currency began at Sachensenhausen. First, the $100 gold certificate was printed, followed by the $50 and $20 dollar silver certificates. Although specific information on the amount of U.S. bills counterfeited by “Bernhard” from 1943 has never been released by the U.S. Treasury Department, a conservative estimate based on German documents and other information puts the overall total at $50 million.

As the Soviet Army approached Berlin in 1945, the unit at Sachsenhausen was moved to Mauthausen in the Ostmark on March 12, 1945 and again on March 21, to Redl-Zipf, north of Salzburg.

Finally, on April 24, Krüger ordered the prisoners transferred to Ebensee where they were liberated by the Americans. Krüger had kept his word to the inmates and at one point, in November of 1943, had secured official permission from Berlin to award twelve War Service Medals and six War Service Crosses, 2nd Class without Swords, to more deserving counterfeiters. They were permitted to wear their decorations inside the camp area and since most of them were Jewish, the attitude of the camp commandant can only be imagined.

The liberated “Bernhard” people were free to follow whatever course they chose. There is reason to believe that a number of them continued their artistic endeavors but under different management.

Soviet and American intelligence agencies were extremely eager to locate Bernhard Krüger. Their interest had to do with American dollars.

As retreating SS units threw huge sums of counterfeit pounds into Austrian lakes and streams, the acres of floating and waterlogged notes put an effective end to the usefulness of the once-mighty British pound. It is interesting to note that not a single American bill has ever been identified as a counterfeit of the Sachsenhausen project.

The Soviets and Americans were eager to locate not only the finished U.S. bills but the plates and paper as well. Since the “Bernhard” people and their baggage fell into American hands, the Soviets ran a poor second in the race. They only managed to locate some of the workers but none of their products. Neither the plates, paper, nor German documentation relating to the counterfeiting of American money ever officially surfaced. It is noted that large sums of dollars suddenly appeared in the Mid-East as funding for various U.S. intelligence operations in Lebanon controlled by Haj Amin-El Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem. Many of the funds were in $100 dollar gold certificates.

The Germans were not the only country to liberally finance their intelligence agencies and assist their countrymen in building personal fortunes through the use of counterfeit currency. The basic difference is that the Germans did not manufacture their own currency.

This form of economic warfare has certainly not ceased with the downfall of the Third Reich. The Iranian government has, by all serious accounts, been forging nearly perfect U.S. $100 bills which have circulated throughout the world and caused the U.S. Treasury Department to issue newly formatted bills. The U.S. Treasury Department will eventually recall all outstanding older bills and carefully inspect them before making exchanges.

In 1984, over 2,000 extremely rare, nearly mint condition, ancient Greek silver coins, dating from 465 BC, were unearthed near Elmali in Turkey. The hoard of coins, in violation of Turkish law, quickly circulated into the international marketplace, and many coins sold for huge sums of money. Discovering that their national treasures had apparently been looted, the irate Turkish government forced the return of most of the horde through legal and diplomatic means. The British Museum inspected some of the rarer specimens and concluded that the entire collection had been recently manufactured at the Bulgarian State Mint in Sofia by that country’s intelligence agency to raise much-needed Western currency. Following this revelation, the value of rare Greek coins toppled as quickly as the British pound had fallen in 1945.

The irony of the “Bernhard” operation is that their 5 pound counterfeits are now worth more on the collector’s market than they were during the war.



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