TBR News January 23, 2012

Jan 23 2012

The Voice of the White House


Washington, D.C., January 24, 2012: “With a growing official tendency to limit personal freedoms, it is astonishing to read that the basically right wing Supreme Court has knocked off the Obama administrations spreading tentacles of public control. I know several FBI people and they laugh about how they started, and own, Internet II and how they can stick a GPS bug “on any car we like and track anyone in the country whenever we like.” The public is becoming more and more aware of the trend and the recent public uproar over Internet control Obama lovingly launched has caused much frustration and even bitterness in the White House. “We are only protecting them from terrorists!” they bleat on a daily basis. The White House is afraid of a public fed up with rising and permanent unemployment, offshoring of American blue collar jobs, anti-union far right Republicans and on and on. They are afraid the Republicans might actually find a candidate that is both intelligent and sane and then Obama is a one-termer just like the first Bush. And so the DHS spies on everyone, as does the FBI and even the DoD. No phone call is private, no computer safe and no safe deposit box inviolate. Eventually the public will erupt but hopefully, the White House hopes, not until after the November elections.”

Police need warrant for GPS tracking: court

January 23, 2012

by James Vicini


            WASHINGTON  – The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that police cannot put a GPS device on a suspect’s car to track his movements without a warrant, a test case that upholds basic privacy rights in the face of new surveillance technology.

The high court ruling was a defeat for the Obama administration, which had argued that a warrant was not required to use global positioning system devices to monitor a vehicle on public streets.

The justices unanimously upheld a precedent-setting ruling by a U.S. appeals court that the police must first obtain a warrant to use a GPS device for an extended period of time to covertly follow a suspect.

The high court ruled that placement of a device on a vehicle and using it to monitor the vehicle’s movements was covered by U.S. constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures of evidence.

There are no precise statistics on how often police in the United States use GPS tracking in criminal investigations. But the Obama administration told the court last year it was used sparingly by federal law enforcement officials.

The American Civil Liberties Union rights group hailed the ruling as an important victory for privacy. “While this case turned on the fact that the government physically placed a GPS device on the defendant’s car, the implications are much broader,” Steven Shapiro of the ACLU said.

“A majority of the court acknowledged that advancing technology, like cell phone tracking, gives the government unprecedented ability to collect, store, and analyze an enormous amount of information about our private lives,” he said.


The case began in 2005 when police officers went to a public parking lot in Maryland and secretly installed a GPS device on a Jeep Grand Cherokee used by a Washington, D.C. nightclub owner, Antoine Jones.

Jones was suspected of drug trafficking and the police tracked his movements for a month. The resulting evidence played a key role in his conviction for conspiring to distribute cocaine.

The appeals court had thrown out Jones’s conviction and his life-in-prison sentence, and ruled prolonged electronic monitoring of the vehicle amounted to a search.

All nine justices agreed in upholding the appeals court decision, but at least four justices would have gone even further in finding fault not only with the attachment of the device, but also with the lengthy monitoring.

In summarizing the court’s majority opinion from the bench, Justice Antonin Scalia said attachment of the device by the police was a trespass and an improper intrusion of the kind that would have been considered a search when the Constitution was adopted some 220 years ago.

The administration argued that even if it were a search, it was lawful and reasonable under the Constitution. Scalia said his opinion did not decide that issue and some more difficult problems that may emerge in a future case, such as a six-month monitoring of a suspected terrorist.

Joining Scalia’s opinion were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor.

Sotomayor wrote separately to say the case raised difficult questions about individual privacy expectations in a digital age, but said the case could be decided on narrower grounds over the physical intrusion in attaching the device.


Justice Samuel Alito wrote a separate opinion that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined. He wrote that he would have decided the case by holding that Jones’s reasonable privacy expectations were violated by long-term monitoring of his vehicle’s movements.

Alito said in recent years many new devices have emerged that track a person’s movements, including video surveillance in some cities, automatic toll collection systems on roads, devices on cars that disclose their location, cell phones and other wireless devices.

“The availability and use of these and other new devices will continue to shape the average person’s expectations about the privacy of his or her daily movements,” he wrote.

One law professor said those four justices were clearly concerned about the potential impact of new technologies and believed extended monitoring likely required a warrant so law enforcement should “be on the safe side and get a warrant.”

“This is an indication that there are justices who are recognizing that privacy norms are shifting but the fact that people’s lives take place increasingly online does not mean that society has decided that there’s no such thing as privacy anymore,” said Joel Reidenberg, a law professor at Fordham University in New York.

The Supreme Court case is United States v. Antoine Jones, No. 10-1259.


Reporting By James Vicini; Editing by Will Dunham


DHS Pumping Money into Drones for Domestic Surveillance, Hunting Immigrants and Seizing Pot

DHS has little to show for its drone spending spree other than stacks of seized marijuana and a few thousand immigrants who crossed the border without visas.

January 16, 2012

            The Department of Homeland Security says it needs a fleet of two-dozen Predator and Guardian drones to protect the homeland adequately. Designed for military use, 10 of these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are already patrolling U.S. borders in the hunt for unauthorized immigrants and illegal drugs.

DHS is building its drone fleet at a rapid pace despite its continuing inability to demonstrate their purported cost-effectiveness.  The unarmed Predator and Guardians (the maritime variant) cost about $20 million each. Yet DHS has little to show for its UAV spending spree other than stacks of seized marijuana and several thousand immigrants who crossed the border without visas.

Aside from a continuing funding bonanza for border security, to pursue its drone strategy DHS is also counting on the Federal Aviation Administration to continue authorizing the use of more domestic airspace by the unarmed drones. And FAA seems set to comply, having approved 35 of the 36 requests by the department’s Customs and Protection agency from 2005 to mid-2010. In congressional testimony in July 2010, the FAA said it was streamlining its authorization process for drones, including the hiring of 12 additional staff to process drone airspace requests.

While DHS is leading the way, national and local law enforcement agencies, as well as private entities, are demanding that FAA open the American skies to drone surveillance. Yet neither the FAA nor the Department of Transportation has been forthcoming in informing the U.S. public about the new robotic presence in the already congested American airways. The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently filed a suit against the transportation department for allegedly withholding information about drones in our skies.  


More Predators on Border 

For decades, the Border Patrol has annually boasted of the millions of pounds of illegal drugs it has seized and the number of immigrants detained. It’s a practice that border scholar Peter Andreas aptly calls “the numbers game.”

Since the creation of the DHS, illegal immigrants and drugs aren’t just illegal, they are now classified as “dangerous people and goods.”

In fiscal year 2011 CBP reports that it seized “nearly five million pounds of narcotics.” But it fails to note that the domestic consumption of illegal drugs, especially marijuana, is steadily increasing despite these monumental numbers or that most of these “narcotics” enter the country from Mexico despite a massive buildup in border security and U.S. support for the Mexican drug war.

In its latest Predator announcement, Office of Air and Marine (OAM) tried playing the numbers game, but raised questions about the integrity of the numbers in the process:

Since the inception of the UAS program, CBP has flown more than 12,000 UAS hours in support of border security operations and CBP partners in disaster relief and emergency response, including various state governments and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The efforts of this program has led to the total seizure of approximately 46,600 pounds of illicit drugs and the detention of approximately 7,500 individuals suspected in engaging in illegal activity along the Southwest border.

One problem is the low numbers of seizures and apprehensions attributed to drone surveillance.

Another is that all the “narcotics” seizures CBP/OAM attributes to drone surveillance consist of bundles of Mexican-grown marijuana. That’s understandable since marijuana constitutes almost 100 percent of the drug seizures between the ports of entry along the southwestern border – more than 99 percent along the Arizona border. 

But is this small quantity of marijuana spotted by the Predators worth their $20 million price tag (including surveillance systems and support)? That’s not a question the congressional oversight committees have asked DHS. Nor has DHS asked itself questions about comparative costs and benefits of border control measures. 

Instead, it has poured steadily increasing budgets for border security into all three of its defined instruments of border control, what it calls the “three pillars of border security,” namely personnel or “boots on the ground,” tactical infrastructure (border fence and other physical barriers) and technology including the “virtual fence” of ground-based electronic surveillance and aerial surveillance. 

In CBP-think, all three pillars are equally important and all components of these border-security pillars are equally fundamental to protecting homeland security. 


Unimpressive Numbers

Since 2005 the Border Patrol has seized 13.5 million pounds of cannabis. This does not include the border marijuana seizures by CBP agents working at the POEs or by other federal and local law enforcement officials. 

Yet OAM, which first deployed in 2005, reports that drone surveillance has led to the seizure of a mere 46,600 pounds of marijuana. Drones, then, played a role in seizing less than one percent of the Border Patrol’s total marijuana in the past six years – to be exact only 0.003 percent.

On the “dangerous people” front, CBP reports that in the six years of the UAV program, drones have contributed to the apprehension of 7,500 suspected criminals detained. That’s small potatoes when compared to CBP’s overall number of detentions since 2005 – 5.7 million immigrants, including the 327,000 detained in 2011. Expressed as a percentage, amounts to only 0.001 percent.

Just as DHS eschews cost-benefit analysis, it also doesn’t apply risk analysis. All illegal border crossers and all contraband fall into the broad post-9/11 mission of protecting the homeland against “dangerous people and goods.” If all are dangerous, then DHS argues that all are targets, and the UAV numbers, while small, still demonstrate that these agencies are on target and on mission.  

Typically, CBP frames its UAVs as a fundamental instrument in combatting terrorism, even though no terrorists have ever been spotted or captured. 

CBP says that the Predators play a “lead role in CBP’s critical anti-terrorism mission.”

Two Predators also patrol the northern border, and Candice Miller, the Republican from Michigan who chairs the House Subcommittee on Border and Marine Security, complains that CBP is slighting northern border security. 

The northern border Predators, however, haven’t led to a single interception of an illegal border crosser in the past two years. 


Dubious Numbers

Yet another problem with OAM is that its declared numbers are carelessly formulated by the agency. What is more, it’s unclear whether the number of apprehensions and seizures CBP/OAM does disseminate are entirely attributable to UAV surveillance. CBP and OAM officials have been ambiguous about this. Most agency media releases say that Predator surveillance “has led” to the reported drug seizures and immigrant apprehensions. 

Yet other media releases and CBP statements to congressional oversight committees fudge the role of the drones, saying only that drones “contributed to” or were “involved” in the actions that led to the seizures and arrests.

Second, CBP is careless in providing its numbers of arrests, seizures, and flight hours, raising questions about the veracity of the numbers.

The Dec.  27 media release refers to the seizures and arrests during so many drone flight hours – 12,000 hours of drone flight-time since 2005.

But CBP/OAM has over the past year given the media, Congress, and this writer the same arrest and seizure numbers (46,600 pounds of narcotics and 7,500 apprehensions) for varying numbers of reported hours flight-time – for 10,000, 11,500, and mostly recently 12,000 hours of drone air time. 

CBP/OAM’s numbers game also includes variations of the numbers of arrests and seizures for the same number of flight hours. Celebrating reaching 10,000 hours of drone air time in June 2011, CBP/OAM released a press statement asserting that 10,000 hours of “UAS Predator operations have resulted in the apprehension of 4,865 undocumented aliens and 238 smugglers; the seizure of 33,773 pounds of contraband.” 

Setting aside questions about why CBP/OAM can’t get its current numbers straight, the integrity and value of the drone program are also called into doubt by the unimpressive rate in the increased number of drug seizures and immigrant apprehensions reported by the agencies since 2006. 

As more Predators are added to the CBP/OAM fleet, the rate of arrests and seizures has dropped dramatically.


Crash and Burn

CBP deployed its first Predator drone in October 2005. Manufactured by General Atomics in the San Diego area, the Predator drone also came with a General Atomics technical team and pilot to operate the drone.

If evaluated against the total numbers attributed to the border Predators since 2005, the quantity of marijuana seized and the number of immigrants apprehended during the first six months of border drone surveillance are outstanding.

When announcing that it was purchasing its second Predator, CBP said that “during its operational period” its first Predator flew 959 hours and supported 2,309 arrests, contributed to the seizure of four vehicles, and the capture of 8,267 pounds of illegal drugs

That operational period was from October 2005 to April 2006, when the Predator crashed in the Arizona desert near Nogales. 

Crash investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board found that the contract pilot shut off the drone’s engine when he thought he was redirecting the drone’s camera. As Major General Michael Kostelnik, who directs OAM, explained to the Border and Marine Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee, “There was a momentary loss link that switched to the second control” — and the Predator fell out of the sky.

The safety board issued CBP 17 safety recommendations to address deficiencies in OAM’s drone program. 

CBP/OAM has not, however, estimated the cost of this strategy. Nor have the agencies reported on the cost of the program thus far. A review of DHS purchasing reveals that the department spent $242 million in drone contracts with General Atomics. 

The crash didn’t deter CBP/OAM, which has steadily increased the homeland security drone fleet – which now includes seven Predators and two more expensive maritime variants called Guardians, also manufactured by General Atomics. By 2016 CBP hopes to deploy a fleet of 24 Predators and Reapers protecting the homeland. 

recent report by the Government Accounting Office on CBP’s high-tech border-security programs noted that the UAVs have “significant infrastructure costs with the highest cost risk.” Yet DHS continues to burn through its ever-expanding border security budget without apparent concern for cost-effectiveness or aptness in pursuing the DHS counterterrorism mission. 

Declining Numbers as Predators Increase

Border state politicians like governors Jan Brewer and Rick Perry together with an array of congressional Democrats and Republicans – notably the leadership of the homeland security oversight committees (including Michael McCaul, Henry Cuellar, and Candice Miller) insist that the increased deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles is fundamental to securing the border.

But as Predator drones have increased, the number of marijuana seizures and arrests of illegal border crossers attributed to drone surveillance has dropped precipitously.

During the six months of operation of the ill-fated first border Predator (which crashed in the Arizona desert in April 2006), the drone accounted for nearly a third of the total 2005-2011 drone-related apprehensions and nearly one-fifth of total drug seizures.  

At congressional hearings since 2005, OAM officials routinely report on the drone program with anecdotes and tributes to the wondrous technological capacities of the UAVs. Facts and figures, costs and benefits, and impact evaluations compared to other border security programs are, however, not routinely reported. 

At the July 15, 2010 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, then chairman Democrat Bennie Thompson insisted that OAM provide the committee with specific data. 

CBP complied and later submitted that since the inception of the program in October 2005 through July 2010, OAM had flown drones 6,979 hours over the southwestern border, with 7,173 illegal immigrants apprehended and 39,049 pounds of narcotics (all marijuana, according to the July 2010 CBP report) seized. 

In the four years since the crash of the first Predator, the border drone fleet had increased to five UAVs. Total UAV flight-time increased seven-fold the hours reported during the October 2005-April 2006 period, yet total drone-related apprehensions were only up three-fold while total drug seizures were up four-fold.

As the number of CBP/OAM drones rise, the productivity – measured by the traditional performance measures of immigrants detained and drugs seized – of the UAV program has dropped precipitously. 

The most recent CBP numbers, cited in the agency’s Dec. 27 media release, raise new questions about the cost-benefit of the drone program.  

Flight time rose to approximately 12,000 hours. Yet the roughly 5,000 recent hours (since July 2010) of drone surveillance contributed, according to CBP’s own reporting, to only 325 new apprehensions and 7,000 pounds of marijuana. 

To give some perspective on the drug haul attributed to UAV surveillance, in Arizona alone CBP seizes on average 3,500 pounds of marijuana every day – making a marijuana seizure every 1.7 hours. In the past couple of years the Border Patrol has seized approximately 2.5 million pounds of marijuana along the southwestern border.

CBP/OAM hails its “eyes in the sky” drone program has being “cost effective” and a “force multiplier.” 

Setting aside the up-front costs of the $20 million drones and the additional maintenance expenses and contractor services fees, and counting only the hourly operational costs, CPB/OAM has spent $17.5 million keeping its drones flying about 5,000 hours over the past year and a half.

In an October media release announcing the acquisition of another Predator for border-security duty in Texas, CBP declared that it “has continued to leverage the Predator B to unprecedented success.”

CBP routinely describes its various border security operations as “unprecedented” success stories. Yet the never agency never cites the precedents involved or even attempts to explain how these precedents in border control have been surpassed by its new initiatives and spending.

If evaluated, as none of the DHS agencies do, in terms of costs and benefits, then the CBP UAV program spent (only in flight costs) $54,846 for every illegal immigrant identified (and later apprehended by Border Patrol teams) on the drone cameras and $2,500 for every pound of marijuana. That’s without factoring in the estimated $20 million that DHS spends for its Predators.


CBP Explains the Numbers Game

CBP has answers to the apparent inconsistencies and errors of its statistics for drone-related drug seizures and immigrant apprehensions.

In response to a request to clarify the confusing and ostensibly errant numbers, CBP warned “it would be unfair to categorize UAS [unmanned aerials systems] by only using drug interdiction or border crossing metrics.”

Yes, ideally CBP would measure progress in securing the homeland by achievements by other measures, such as its role in countering terrorism and keeping the homeland secure – whatever that means. 

The border agency further explains that:

CBP deploys and operates the UAS only after careful examination where the UAS can be most responsibly aid in countering threats of our Nation’s security. As threats change, CBP adjusts its enforcement posture accordingly and may consider moving the location of assets.

Then, the agency trots out the old force-multiplier assertion: 

The UAS can stay in the air for up to 20 hours at a time-something no other aircraft in the federal inventory can do. In this manner it is a force multiplier, providing aerial surveillance support for border agents by investigating sensor activity in remote areas to distinguish between real or perceived threats, allowing the boots on the ground force to best allocate their resources and efforts. 

That’s true. The Predators are called out when ground sensors signal movement. But as OAM’s Major General Michael Kostelnik explained at the July 15, 2010 Border and Marine Security subcommittee hearing:

At a standard 15 sensor activations, 12 of them might just be the wind. Two might be animals. One might be a group of migrants, and one might be a big group carrying drugs.

If there is a plausible explanation as to why there has been no increase in the number of drug seizures and immigrant apprehensions despite a jump from 10,000 to 12,000 hours of drone flights, it may be, as CBP wrote in response to the request to clarify its numbers, that:  

UAS is not exclusive to the border security mission. CBP OAM leverages the Predator-B and Guardian UAS as a force multiplier during National Special Security Events and emergency and disaster response efforts, including those of the U.S. Secret Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, USCG, and other Department of Homeland Security partners.

In other words, the border Predators haven’t been on the border but have been deployed elsewhere on homeland security missions. 

Which, would mean, that despite the increased number of Predators and Guardians assigned for border security duty, the drones aren’t patrolling the border and coasts – a scenario, if true, would likely upset all the border security hawks who insist that these drones are needed to secure the border. 

It’s more likely, however, that CBP/OAM has from beginning been cooking the books and manipulating — and that no one has called them on the inconsistencies. 

Asked in the same query to show how CBP/OAM disaggregated the drone-related numbers from overall seizure and apprehension data and for the documentation to support its UAV flight-time declarations, CBP/OAM had no response.


The Larger Threat Picture

Asked at Border and Marine Security subcommittee hearing if the Predators were worth the expense, Major General (Ret.) Kostelnik redirected the question away from actual achievements to the larger threat picture of protecting the homeland against unknown future threats. Kostelnik told the congressional oversight committee: 

I think the UAVs in their current deployment are very helpful in terms of the missions we apply it for. I believe we are building a force for a threat and an experience we really haven’t seen yet. It is something that is in the future.

Major General Kostelnik summarized his support for DHS strategy to deploy two dozen drones, telling the oversight committee: “So not only are they ongoing force multipliers for the agents and troops on the ground, but they are unique capabilities in unique circumstances.”

Members of the DHS oversight committees also cite national security threats as the rationale for their drone boosterism, and like the major general are equally vague about the specific character of the threats that would justify the billions of dollars needed to continue the CBP/OAM drone strategy. 

Henry Cuellar, former chairman and currently ranking member of the Border Security and Marine Subcommittee, has become one of the most prominent boosters of DHS drone acquisition. The Democrat from South Texas and co-chair of the House Unarmed Systems Caucus, explained his enthusiasm for the Predators on the border in his opening statement to the July 15, 2010 subcommittee hearing:

UAVs are one more tool for us to stay steps ahead and leaps  above the threats that we face, and they can help deter and  prevent illegal activity and threats to terrorism against the United States. In the event of a National crisis, they will provide critical eyes in the sky for what we can’t see or do from the ground.

DHS does not measure the progress and achievements of the program by the number of terrorists seized, drug lords and lieutenants captured, or “transnational criminal organizations” broken by its border security operations. 

Instead, border security programs  — whether traditional patrolling, the border fence, the “virtual wall” of SBInet, traditional air surveillance, or unmanned aerial surveillance — continue to be measured by traditional border-control benchmarks: how many immigrants are captured and how many pounds of illegal drugs are seized. 

It is a costly numbers game that has done little or nothing to resolve the country’s immigration policy challenges or the failures of its drug control policy. 


Ten Steps for Radical Revolution in the US


January 23, 2012

by Bill Quigley

Common Dreams

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr 1967


One. Human rights must be taken absolutely seriously. Every single person is entitled to dignity and human rights. No application needed. No exclusions at all. This is our highest priority

Two. We must radically reinvent contemporary democracy. Current systems are deeply corrupt and not responsive to the needs of people. Representatives chosen by money and influence govern by money and influence. This is unacceptable. Direct democracy by the people is now technologically possible and should be the rule. Communities must be protected whenever they advocate for self-determination, self-development and human rights. Dissent is essential to democracy; we pledge to help it flourish.

Three. Corporations are not people and are not entitled to human rights. Amend the US Constitution so it is clear corporations do not have constitutional or human rights. We the people must cut them down to size and so democracy can regulate their size, scope and actions.

Four. Leave the rest of the world alone. Cut US military spending by 75 percent and bring all troops outside the US home now. Defense of the US is a human right. Global offense and global police force by US military are not. Eliminate all nuclear and chemical and biological weapons. Stop allowing scare tactics to build up the national security forces at home. Stop the myth that the US is somehow special or exceptional and is entitled to act differently than all other nations. The US must re-join the global family of nations as a respectful partner. USA is one of many nations in the world. We must start acting like it.

Five. Property rights, privilege, and money-making are not as important as human rights. When current property and privilege arrangements are not just they must yield to the demands of human rights. Money-making can only be allowed when human rights are respected. Exploitation is unacceptable. There are national and global poverty lines. We must establish national and global excess lines so that people and businesses with extra houses, cars, luxuries, and incomes share much more to help everyone else be able to exercise their basic human rights to shelter, food, education and healthcare. If that disrupts current property, privilege and money-making, so be it.

Six. Defend our earth. Stop pollution, stop pipelines, stop new interstates, and stop destroying the land, sea, and air by extracting resources from them. Rebuild what we have destroyed. If corporations will not stop voluntarily, people must stop them. The very existence of life is at stake.

Seven. Dramatically expand public spaces and reverse the privatization of public services. Quality public education, health and safety for all must be provided by transparent accountable public systems. Starving the state is a recipe for destroying social and economic human rights for everyone but the rich.

            Eight. Pull the criminal legal prison system up and out by its roots and start over. Cease the criminalization of drugs, immigrants, poor people and people of color. We are all entitled to be safe but the current system makes us less so and ruins millions of lives. Start over.

Nine. The US was created based on two original crimes that must be confessed and made right. Reparations are owed to Native Americans because their land was stolen and they were uprooted and slaughtered. Reparations are owed to African Americans because they were kidnapped, enslaved and abused. The US has profited widely from these injustices and must make amends.

Ten. Everyone who wants to work should have the right to work and earn a living wage. Any workers who want to organize and advocate for change in solidarity with others must be absolutely protected from recriminations from their employer and from their government.

Finally, if those in government and those in power do not help the people do what is right, people seeking change must together exercise our human rights and bring about these changes directly. Dr. King and millions of others lived and worked for a radical revolution of values. We will as well. We respect the human rights and human dignity of others and work for a world where love and wisdom and solidarity and respect prevail. We expect those for whom the current unjust system works just fine will object and oppose and accuse people seeking dramatic change of being divisive and worse. That is to be expected because that is what happens to all groups which work for serious social change. Despite that, people will continue to go forward with determination and purpose to bring about a radical revolution of values in the USA.

Deeper Than Oil: The Red Flag Still Flies High in Russia

January 20, 2012

by Marc Bennetts
RIA Novosti

            One thing that many people have overlooked about the current unrest in Russia is the depth of support for left wing values. Is a new red dawn about to rise over the Kremlin?

On Tuesday, I attended the signing of a deal between two generations of Russian opposition forces – the Communist Party and the Left Front movement, one of the more radical political groups to have emerged here in recent years.

Under the agreement, Left Front pledged to back veteran Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov in March’s presidential polls, while he vowed to implement the demands drawn up by protesters at recent rallies against alleged electoral fraud on behalf of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party at December’s parliamentary polls.

Both Zyuganov and Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov attended the signing of what the latter called a “historic moment.”

The two made for very strange allies. Zyuganov, 64, was dressed in a suit and tie and sporting a Communist Party pin. Udaltsov, at 34, almost twice as young as his new comrade, was dressed in a black pullover and jeans and his shaven head only added to his general gauntness – a result, no doubt, of the recent hunger strike he undertook while behind bars on protest-related charges to draw attention to what he said was persecution by the authorities (he has been arrested around a dozen times in the last 12 months or so).

Still, while the two might look very different, they would seem to be ideologically close – the oddly archaic slogan on Left Front’s website urges “Land to the Peasants! Factories to the Workers! Power to the Soviets!”

The deal might have been newsworthy, but neither Zyuganov nor Udaltsov impressed the veteran Russian journalist sitting next to me.

“Christ,” she exclaimed sarcastically as Udaltsov strode into the room, “They’ve let him out of jail for a bit.”

“What does he need all this for?” she went on, addressing her question to no one in particular. “He’s got a wife and two kids – family comes first.”

She then glanced down at a copy of the “historic” deal and grunted. “What a farce,” she said. “Who is going to hand the presidency to Zyuganov anyway? We all remember what his lot was like the last time they were in power.”

“Well,” she said, glancing about the room at the twenty- and thirty-something journalists around her. “I do, at least.”

            *Left Front and Udaltsov were in attendance again when I was at a rally in downtown Moscow two days later to mark the third anniversary of the murders of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova.

Markelov and Baburova were shot dead in broad daylight by a nationalist gunman across from downtown Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2009, their deaths making international headlines.

Despite freezing temperatures of around minus 10 degrees Centigrade (14 degrees Fahrenheit) there were some 800 people in attendance at the rally, according to the cops. The crowd was a mixture of die-hard socialists like Udaltsov and his gang and participants in the recent poll fraud protests.

“Raise the red flag high! Capitalism must die!” chanted a group of young socialists as we marched towards Pushkin Square and Europe’s largest McDonalds.

I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but the left seems to be making a comeback with the young generation in Russia of late. Communism was pretty much a dirty word among the youth in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but something would appear to be stirring.

After all, it’s now over twenty years since the collapse of the Soviet system – long enough for a new generation who remember little of it to grow into adulthood. Udaltsov, for example, would only have been 14 when the red flag was lowered from the Kremlin’s towers for the last time.

While the youth’s enthusiasm for Communism is a novelty, there has always been nostalgia in Russia for the Soviet years, much of it encouraged by the authorities. Putin once famously called the break up of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”

And, just in case we forget, it was the Communist Party that came second to Putin’s United Russia at the parliamentary polls with almost twenty percent of the vote. If the allegations of poll fraud are true, it would only be logical to expect their genuine figures were even higher. As it is, the Communists triumphed in a number of major cities across the country.

So is Russia about to set off on the long road to Communism once more? Right now it seems a long shot – but Russia is nothing but unpredictable. After all, who would have predicted the current protests – and the accompanying widespread political fervor – even six months ago?

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

From lurid tales of oligarch excess to scare stories about Moscow’s stranglehold on Europe’s energy supplies, the land that gave us Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Putin is very rarely out of the news. But there is much more to modern Russia than billionaire tycoons and political conspiracy. Marc Bennetts’ weekly column, Deeper Than Oil, goes beyond the headlines to explore the hidden sides of the world’s largest, and often strangest, country.

Marc Bennetts is a journalist who has written about Russian spies, Chechen football and Soviet psychics for a number of UK newspapers, including The Guardian and The Times. He is also the author of Football Dynamo: Modern Russia and the People’s Game (Virgin Books).

German anti-Semitism ‘deep-rooted’ in society

January 23, 2012

BBC News

Anti-Jewish feeling is “significantly” entrenched in German society, according to a report by experts appointed by the Bundestag (parliament).

They say the internet has played a key role in spreading Holocaust denial, far-right and extreme Islamist views, according to the DPA news agency.

They also speak of “a wider acceptance in mainstream society of day-to-day anti-Jewish tirades and actions”.The expert group, set up in 2009, is to report regularly on anti-Semitism.

The findings of their report, due to be presented on Monday, were that anti-Jewish sentiment was “based on widespread prejudice, deeply-rooted cliches and also on plain ignorance of Jews and Judaism”.

They added that far-right slogans at football matches were a regular occurrence.

The report’s authors put Germany midway in their assessment of other European countries in relation to the spread of anti-Semitism.

They see extremely high levels of anti-Jewish sentiment in parts of Poland, Hungary and Portugal.

Germany’s Jewish population has experienced something of a revival since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Before 1989, the population was below 30,000 but an influx of Jews, mainly from the former Soviet Union, has raised the number to 200,000.

Speaking on Friday to mark the anniversary of the 1942 Wannsee conference, when the Nazis’ murder of millions of Jews was mapped out, President Christian Wulff pledged that Germany would keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and would never abandon the Jewish people.

More Lockouts as Companies Battle Unions

January 22, 2012

by Steven Greenhouse

New York Times

America’s unionized workers, buffeted by layoffs and stagnating wages, face another phenomenon that is increasingly throwing them on the defensive: lockouts.

From the Cooper Tire factory in Findlay, Ohio, to a country club in Southern California and sugar beet processing plants in North Dakota, employers are turning to lockouts to press their unionized workers to grant concessions after contract negotiations deadlock. Even the New York City Opera locked out its orchestra and singers for more than a week before settling the dispute last Wednesday.

Many Americans know about the highly publicized lockouts in professional sports — like last year’s 130-day lockout by the National Football League and the 161-day lockout by the National Basketball Association — but lockouts, once a rarity, have been used in less visible industries as well.

“This is a sign of increased employer militancy,” said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University. “Lockouts were once so rare they were almost unheard of. Now, not only are employers increasingly on the offensive and trying to call the shots in bargaining, but they’re backing that up with action — in the form of lockouts.”

The number of strikes has declined to just one-sixth the annual level of two decades ago. That is largely because labor unions’ ranks have declined and because many workers worry that if they strike they will lose pay and might also lose their jobs to permanent replacement workers.

Lockouts, on the other hand, have grown to represent a record percentage of the nation’s work stoppages, according to Bloomberg BNA, a Bloomberg subsidiary that provides information to lawyers and labor relations experts. Last year, at least 17 employers imposed lockouts, telling their workers not to show up until they were willing to accept management’s contract offer.

Perhaps nowhere is the battle more pitched than at American Crystal Sugar, the nation’s largest sugar beet processor.

Last summer, contract negotiations bogged down, with the company insisting that its workers agree to higher payments for health coverage, more outsourcing and many other concessions. Shortly after the 1,300 unionized workers — spread among five plants in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa — voted overwhelmingly to reject those demands, the company locked them out and hired replacement workers.

That was on Aug. 1, more than five months ago, and since then the workers and their families have been scrounging to make ends meet. Some face foreclosure and utility disconnection notices.

American Crystal has hired more than 900 replacement workers to keep its plants running. Federal law allows employers to hire such workers during a lockout, although they cannot permanently replace regular employees. Employers can pay the replacements lower wages, although as is the case with American Crystal, the companies sometimes need to offer higher wages and help pay for housing to attract replacements.

With many private-sector labor unions growing smaller and weaker, and with public-sector unions under attack in numerous states, some employers think the time is ideal to use lockouts, a forceful approach they were once reluctant to use.

Many employers, though, say they have little choice.

Robert Batterman, a labor lawyer who represents employers, said whether it was the N.F.L. or Sotheby’s, which locked out 43 art handlers in Manhattan last July, “the pendulum has swung too far toward the employees, and the employers are looking in these tight economic times to get givebacks.”

“Employers,” he continued, “are using lockouts because unions are reluctant to do what the employers consider reasonable in terms of compromising. Employers are looking to reset their collective bargaining relations.”

After being out of work since Aug. 1, Paul Woinarowicz, a warehouse foreman employed at American Crystal Sugar for 34 years, sees another rationale for lockouts.

“It’s just another way of trying to break the union,” said Mr. Woinarowicz, a member of the bakery and confectionery workers union. “People here in the Red River Valley are really mad at American Crystal. It was just like a knife stuck in your heart.”

With American Crystal earning record profits before the lockout, the workers strongly opposed its push for concessions. Mr. Woinarowicz noted that the company’s most recent quarterly report showed a sharp decline in production and profits — a development the workers said showed the lockout was taking a toll. American Crystal said the drop was due to a smaller sugar beet crop and higher operating costs.

American Crystal accuses union negotiators of being inflexible and denies that it is seeking to break the union. For many employers, lockouts have proved highly successful. Last July 17, Armstrong World Industries locked out 260 workers at its ceiling tile plant in Marietta, Pa., after they rejected the company’s offer as stingy on pensions and health coverage.

After being locked out for five months, the workers accepted a contract only slightly different from the one they had originally voted down. Union officials said the workers knew Armstrong had the upper hand.

There have been several recent lockouts at hospitals, often after nurses engaged in a one-day walkout. To hire replacement nurses from a staffing company, hospitals often have to commit to hiring them for at least a week, so a one-day nurses’ strike is often followed by a four-day lockout. But at some health care facilities, like West River nursing home in Milford, Conn., where management locked out 100 workers on Dec. 13, companies see lockouts as a way to wrest concessions and set an example for workers at their other facilities.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the National Football League Players Association, said the football, hockey and basketball leagues ordered lockouts in recent years for a clear reason: to gain leverage in negotiations.

“The lockout is designed to put you at a distinct disadvantage,” he said, saying it places huge pressures on players who typically have short professional careers. The National Hockey League’s lockout of 2004-5 canceled an entire season.

Mr. Smith said, “A lot of players have careers of two or three years, and you might get a player who asks, ‘At what point is this fight worth one-third of my career?’ ”

For Jeannie Madsen, a lab technician at American Crystal, the lockout has meant strains for her and her fiancé, also a worker there. With her former husband also locked out and suspending child support payments, she said she could not afford new school clothes and shoes for her children and had to stop paying her daughter’s orthodontist bills. She said Wells Fargo would soon foreclose on her home.

“What’s most upsetting is that it’s affecting the lives of many innocent children,” she said.

The sides are holding occasional negotiations but remain deadlocked.

Ms. Madsen said the company was continually putting up barriers to a settlement, essentially pressing the workers to surrender. Company officials did not return phone messages, but Brian Ingulsrud, the company’s vice president for administration, wrote in an editorial for a Fargo newspaper that “American Crystal Sugar remains committed to good-faith negotiations.”





The power of protest

January 21, 2012

by Martin J Young

Asia Times

            HUA HIN, Thailand – The Internet community united this week in protest at two United States anti-piracy bills that, if approved, could result in unprecedented levels of online censorship.          The congressional bills, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), are backed by major media companies in an effort to restrict illegal downloading and streaming of TV shows and movies from the Internet.
            If implemented, the bills would grant power to limit access to and block websites deemed to be concern is that the US would be building its own Great Firewall, giving it a stranglehold on the web, starting with SOPA and PIPA. This heavy-handed approach would result in a cloak of censorship across the globe.

            Critics say the definitions involved are too broad, such as the term “search engine”, which could result in entire websites being taken offline for having links to material hosted elsewhere. The primary

            On Wednesday, a number of major players on the Internet went dark and shut down their websites for a 24-hour protest. Wikipedia replaced its home page with a black screen and the message “For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the US Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”
            Google joined in by prompting people to sign a petition [1] and stating, “The most effective way to shut down pirate websites is through targeted legislation that cuts off their funding. There’s no need to make American social networks, blogs and search engines censor the Internet or undermine the existing laws that have enabled the Web to thrive, creating millions of US jobs.”
            At the time of writing, 4.5 million Internet users had signed the petition, according to Google, and over 3 million messages on the subject made it onto Twitter. The protest began to snowball mid-week, with others, including Craigslist, Facebook, Yahoo’s Flikr and Reddit, voicing their opposition against the proposed legislation. Several other Internet companies, including AOL, eBay, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Yahoo and Zynga, wrote a letter to the US Congress highlighting the implications on job creation and innovation in the industry.
            Real-world protests also began in earnest as people took to the streets of New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas to raise awareness of SOPA and PIPA and the danger they present to a free and open Internet.
            United States senators and politicians in favor of the acts have labeled the web blackout a “publicity stunt” and “gimmick”, promoting fear instead of fact.
            Supporters of the bills, including Hollywood movie industry leaders, the US Chamber of Commerce, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the Motion Picture Association of America, claim that they are necessary to protect content providers being plagiarized by rogue websites beyond the enforcement reach of US authorities.
            Google pointed out that censorship regulations wouldn’t shut down rogue websites as they would just change their addresses and continue their criminal activities, while law-abiding companies would suffer high penalties for breaches they could not possibly control.
            Following one of the largest digital protests in recent times, political support for the two bills began to wane, with a number of senators previously in favor of them voicing reservations and stating that there was a lack of consensus on them. The power of protest this week has proved at least one thing: that the Internet has politically come of age.

            Cyber skirmishes in the Middle East escalated this week as Israel and its neighbors exchanged digital blows on the Internet. Just days after an unidentified hacker with proclaimed Palestinian sympathies posted thousands of Israeli credit card details stolen from an e-commerce site, Israel came under attack in what the government has called a cyber-offensive.
            Hackers targeted the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, El Al Airlines and three banks causing intermittent access and services. Stock trading and banking services were not affected, though the First International Bank of Israel did block international access to its website as a security precaution.
            Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon stated that Israel would respond, as it usually does, by striking back with force against the attackers. Hackers going by the name IDF-Team wasted no time in targeting websites of the Saudi Stock Exchange and the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange in retaliation.
As political tensions continue to build in the real world with little or no end in sight, the digital battles online are bound to follow.

            Canadian BlackBerry maker Research In Motion enjoyed a rare surge in stock value this week as shares jumped as much as 10% on the back of a rumor that South Korea’s Samsung may be interested in buying the struggling mobile phone company. The joy for BlackBerry investors was short-lived, as Samsung released a statement on Wednesday claiming that the company hasn’t considered acquiring the RIM and is not interested in buying it.
            RIM been struggling to maintain a viable place in a market increasingly consumed by Google and Apple and their burgeoning online app stores.

1. For the Google petition, see here.

Martin J Young is an Asia Times Online correspondent based in Thailand.

Conversations with the Crow

            When the CIA discovered that their former Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs, Robert T. Crowley, had been talking with author Gregory Douglas, they became fearful (because of what Crowley knew) and outraged (because they knew Douglas would publish eventually) and made many efforts to silence Crowley, mostly by having dozens of FBI agents call or visit him at his Washington home and try to convince him to stop talking to Douglas, whom they considered to be an evil, loose cannon.          

Crowley did not listen to them (no one else ever does, either) and Douglas made through shorthand notes of each and every one of their many conversation. TBR News published most of these (some of the really vile ones were left out of the book but will be included on this site as a later addendum ) and the entire collection was later produced as an Ebook.

 Now, we reliably learn, various Washington alphabet agencies are trying to find a way to block the circulation of this highly negative, entertaining and dangerous work, so to show our solidarity with our beloved leaders and protectors, and our sincere appreciation for their corrupt and coercive actions, we are going to reprint the entire work, chapter by chapter. (The complete book can be obtained by going to:


Conversation No. 111



Date: Saturday, November 22, 1997

Commenced: 1:55 PM CST

Concluded: 2:38 PM CST

GD: Good afternoon, Robert. A fateful date today, isn’t it?

RTC: What date? One tends to lose time when one gets old.

GD: You aren’t talking to dead relatives, are you?
RTC: Not yet but maybe next week. Oh my, yes, the Kennedy business. Why who could forget that date?

GD: Not in our lifetime, Robert. What a classic example of control of public opinion and such a commentary on the secret government.

RTC: There has always been a secret government, Gregory, even in the reign of George Washington.

GD: Well, you seem to have convinced the masses that Kennedy was offed by a lone lunatic or the Mafia. The masses are made up of twits who either are too stupid to grasp anything or who are obsessed with their own self-important observations. Yes, the lone nut did it or the Mafia…don’t forget the Jew Meyer Lansky either…let’s hear it for the anti-Semites while we’re at it. And all along, Robert, I have been talking to the CIA’s main man.

RTC: There were others, Gregory, a number of others. Well, there was the DSI for one. And Lyndon Johnson, for another, although he only knew what he needed to know. And Hoover and some his sweethearts. Who else? Well, the Pentagon people, or at least some of them. And Naval Intelligence, the NSG people, Colonel Cass, a few of our inner circle. All of these to be certain and many, many more in the game guessed but didn’t actually know.

GD: But if so many knew, why haven’t any of them blabbed? Maybe to a wife, a friend, a shrink, a priest or someone else?
RTC: If they did, they would join the long list of those who died as a result of either knowing too much and possibly talking or making the wrong guesses. It goes back to the invasion of Cuba we planned back just before Kennedy got into office. Eisenhower approved this and a few other nasty pieces of business. You see, the Army was planning to do an operation in which their people mocked attacks on the United States, allegedly from Cuban sources, thus giving Ike a casus belli. But this never came to pass and we all thought Kennedy was the sex-obsessed son of a rich bootlegger who was put into office with his father’s money and mob connections.

GD: You mean the Bay of Pigs? I always thought that was when a congregation of fat women went swimming off Monterey. Raised the sea levels in the neighborhood and got a pod of male whales sexually aroused.

RTC: (Laughter) Unkind. Yes, that plan. A handful of our Cuban refugee trainees invaded, established a beach head and then called for eagerly waiting U.S. airstrikes and a naval blockade in aid of the heroic rebels. It would have worked but Kennedy deliberately wrecked it. He was told and we did not know he did not approve. The usual practice was just to slip these actions into the PDBs and slide right over them. Other Presidents just nodded and paid no attention to any of it. There is an art to such presentations, believe me. Fast talk, papers shown, charts displayed, more smooth talk and the befuddled President nods and tries to look serious. You see, we have wonderful connections with the mob, who wanted Castro out because he had tossed them out, away from the huge money they made in the crooked casinos in Havana. That was their main gripe. And they got Kennedy elected, don’t forget, and they expected pay back for giving him Chicago where the dead voted early and often as my father used to say. That was the Mafia. And when Ike talked about the military/industrial complex, we can think about Alcoa whose Cuban plant was shut down by Castro and the military, mostly the Army I must say, who was on a growth program and loved the thought of a close and safe little war. More troops, more bases, more money from Congress, more power. Yes, the military, business interests and the mob. Our people knew them all and we were all friendly with them. We all had common interests.

GD: The FBI?

RTC: Hoover was a self-important little dictator, given his proclivities, a real bitch in men’s clothes. He was also over the line…

GD: Pardon?
RTC: The color line. Hoover was part black. Onward here. Many very powerful groups were not happy with Kennedy. We felt he could be manipulated by shoving a few pretty cunts in his face and leave the governing to us. After all, we had been running the country since Franklin the First bought the farm. But Kennedy turned out to be a lot tougher than we reckoned on. He backed off on the Pigs plan and they were either killed by Castro or put in nasty jails. Very angry people. And the Cubans in this country were the worst of all so we took note of their fury and used them.

GD: And the military?

RTC: Well, in ’61, they wanted to send troops to Laos and eventually to French Indo China. The frogs wanted us to protect their interest there, mostly the rubber plantations and the possibility of rich offshore oil deposits. We agreed to assist and then they became great friends with us in Europe. No, Kennedy refused to go along with this, at least in the beginning, and nixed sending troops to Laos. He was convinced to send some token forces to Viet Nam but later balked at increasing their number as the locals rebelled. We stood to lose a good deal in that country. Both money and face. We put the Diems into power and they were making trouble at one end and Kennedy, by his stupid idealism, was making trouble on the other. I was in charge of most of the ‘Nam business at work and I came to the unspoken conclusion that we could not win a guerrilla war there, especially when the Russians were arming the Cong. It was obvious that even ten million troops could not keep the lid on there for long but who was going to bell that cat? Not Johnson who might have been a great power broker with Congress but who was useless as tits on a boar pig when it came to military ventures. Those of us who could see into the future, based on the present, knew it was an unwinnable situation but no one dared to make a move towards disengagement.

GD: Not to change the subject but your people put Castro in, didn’t you?
RTC: How clever, Gregory. Of course this happened. You see, the Company is so heavily compartmentized that the right hand never knows what the left hand doeth. Yes, one of our sub-groups put him in, thinking he would clean up the really bad corruption…drugs and so on…and we could control that situation. Bad judgment there, Gregory but we close ranks and silence is golden. But the unforgivable  sin as far as Kennedy was concerned was his going around us and establishing a personal contact with Nikita Khrushchev. Not done. All Presidents had to use us as firewalls or contacts. Presidents had to rely on us for their information and what would come of it if they dealt directly with some hostile head of state? This would erode our power and essentially relegate the CIA to being mere messengers. The power? As keepers of the flame, others had to bow to our power but if we lost that power, all of us would be back on the chicken farm. That was the final straw, believe me. And before that, don’t forget, Kennedy was not going to do the Army’s bidding and escalate the local anti-guerrilla campaign in Vietnam. The Army was planning on a massive expansion. There would be contracts with the private sectors that would enrich the men with stars on their shoulders and more jobs for their friends and more bases and so on. No, they wanted a controlled war there, way away from the continental United States. They, through us, could control the incoming news and so on but by not performing as he was expected, Kennedy drew the black spot. Either death or some other kind of removal. And I can recall that when Hoover learned of our house cleaning project, he jumped on board with the caveat that we also get rid of Bobby. John hated Bobby…

GD: John?
RTC: Yes, Colonel John Edgar. Franklin made him a Colonel but Hoover was pissed off that he wasn’t made a general at least so he never used the title but it was there. Anyway, we had no problem with Hoover because Bobby was telling his staff that Hoover was a fairy and John Edgar didn’t like that and when Bobby dug into Hoover’s past and discovered relatives as black as the ace of spades, he got livid with rage. The Kennedy family were living in a dream world their father had convinced them was real. Power can come from money, Gregory, but power has to include working with others who also have power. Dictators cannot function with powerful barons too close. Either kill them or replace them with ciphers. No other choice. So in a sense, Kennedy was going from bad to worse and plots were being hatched all over the place during the last year of his reign. We were certainly determined to stop him from breaking the CIA up and the Army was determined to have its profitable war and then there were the business people and the Mafia in the wings. Killing a sitting President is never easy and one has to move with great care in such matters. Too much talking at the wrong time and in the wrong place can wreck even the most ambitious plans. We knew what had to be done and the opening gambits were to secure the agreement of other power brokers. We got Johnson on board through the good offices of Abe Fortis who would have sold the rotting corpse of his dead mother to the dog food people if they paid him enough. LBJ was a pill in the box in that he had some knowledge and lusted for the Oval Office. And again, Bobby was an irritant by calling him ‘Uncle Cornpone’ all over the Beltway. Johnson was used to power and did not like being ignored and marginalized so he smiled and kept quiet. And we certainly had Hoover and some of the top people in the Pentagon, the full support of the mob and a few other necessary organizations. The Mafia could get their gambling hells back again and a promise of a dead Bobby who was having his fun persecuting the very people who put his brother in the Oval Office.

GD: Ungrateful.

RTC: Yes, indeed, very. We all need friends, Gregory, and deliberately harassing the Mafia in Chicago was very, very unwise. I point out that Jack Ruby was one of their enforcers there. Dare I say more?
GD: No, I don’t think so at this point.

RTC: Not at any point. And then having such wonderful people as the goat-loving Dr. Gottleib on the staff made it easy to give Ruby fatal cancer. Injecting active cancer cells during a routine jailhouse medical examination is the best way. A natural and unsuspicious death. Of course we could have easily given Jack a heart attack but cancer is more believable, especially in the hothouse atmosphere of post-assassination madness.

GD: How many of the loonies were yours?
RTC: God, without number. The Farrell woman is our best. She controls the library and she belongs totally to us. Oh yes, we started all kinds of confusing and idiotic stories and kept most people away. You read ‘Case Closed’ didn’t you. My, Herr Posner just loved and really believed the Warren Report, didn’t he? And the New York Times couldn’t wait to praise the hell out of that piece of crap and make Gerald rich. That’s how it’s done in a nutshell, Gregory, in a nutshell. I talked with the Times people myself and they were panting and eager to praise this to the skies. Just an example of how we work but we have gone over most of this before.

GD: If I felt pity for anyone in all of this, it was for Oswald.

RTC: In a larger sense, yes. A loyal intelligence operator set up as patsy and then iced before he could tell what he knew. And then we got rid of Ruby and that was that. Howard Hunt was involved in some of this and we had to kill his wife to keep him from shooting off his mouth when he got in trouble. An endless circle of betrayal and death, Gregory, but that’s how the game goes.

(Concluded at 2:38 PM CST

Dramatis personae:

                        James Jesus Angleton: Once head of the CIA’s Counterintelligence division, later fired because of his obsessive and illegal behavior, tapping the phones of many important government officials in search of elusive Soviet spies. A good friend of Robert Crowley and a co-conspirator with him in the assassination of President Kennedy

            James P. Atwood: (April 16, 1930-April 20, 1997) A CIA employee, located in Berlin, Atwood had a most interesting career. He worked for any other intelligence agency, domestic or foreign, that would pay him, was involved in selling surplus Russian atomic artillery shells to the Pakistan government and was also most successful in the manufacturing of counterfeit German dress daggers. Too talkative, Atwood eventually had a sudden, and fatal, “seizure” while lunching with CIA associates.

            William Corson: A Marine Corps Colonel and President Carter’s representative to the CIA. A friend of Crowley and Kimmel, Corson was an intelligent man whose main failing was a frantic desire to be seen as an important person. This led to his making fictional or highly exaggerated claims.

            John Costello: A British historian who was popular with revisionist circles. Died of AIDS on a trans-Atlantic flight to the United States.

            James Critchfield: Former U.S. Army Colonel who worked for the CIA and organizaed the Cehlen Org. at Pullach, Germany. This organization was filled to the Plimsoll line with former Gestapo and SD personnel, many of whom were wanted for various purported crimes. He hired Heinrich Müller in 1948 and went on to represent the CIA in the Persian Gulf.

            Robert T. Crowley: Once the deputy director of Clandestine Operations and head of the group that interacted with corporate America. A former West Point football player who was one of the founders of the original CIA. Crowley was involved at a very high level with many of the machinations of the CIA.

            Gregory Douglas: A retired newspaperman, onetime friend of Heinrich Müller and latterly, of Robert Crowley. Inherited stacks of files from the former (along with many interesting works of art acquired during the war and even more papers from Robert Crowley.) Lives comfortably in a nice house overlooking the Mediterranean.

            Reinhard Gehlen: A retired German general who had once been in charge of the intelligence for the German high command on Russian military activities. Fired by Hitler for incompetence, he was therefore naturally hired by first, the U.S. Army and then, as his level of incompetence rose, with the CIA. His Nazi-stuffed organization eventually became the current German Bundes Nachrichten Dienst.

            Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr: A grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel, Naval commander at Pearl Harbor who was scapegoated after the Japanese attack. Kimmel was a senior FBI official who knew both Gregory Douglas and Robert Crowley and made a number of attempts to discourage Crowley from talking with Douglas. He was singularly unsuccessful. Kimmel subsequently retired, lives in Florida, and works for the CIA as an “advisor.”

            Willi Krichbaum: A Senior Colonel (Oberführer) in the SS, head of the wartime Secret Field Police of the German Army and Heinrich Müller’s standing deputy in the Gestapo. After the war, Krichbaum went to work for the Critchfield organization and was their chief recruiter and hired many of his former SS friends. Krichbaum put Critchfield in touch with Müller in 1948.

            Heinrich Müller: A former military pilot in the Bavarian Army in WWI, Müller  became a political police officer in Munich and was later made the head of the Secret State Police or Gestapo. After the war, Müller escaped to Switzerland where he worked for Swiss intelligence as a specialist on Communist espionage and was hired by James Critchfield, head of the Gehlen Organization, in 1948. Müller subsequently was moved to Washington where he worked for the CIA until he retired.

            Joseph Trento: A writer on intelligence subjects, Trento and his wife “assisted” both Crowley and Corson in writing a book on the Russian KGB. Trento believed that he would inherit all of Crowley’s extensive files but after Crowley’s death, he discovered that the files had been gutted and the most important, and sensitive, ones given to Gregory Douglas. Trento was not happy about this. Neither were his employers.

            Frank Wisner: A Founding Father of the CIA who promised much to the Hungarians and then failed them. First, a raging lunatic who was removed from Langley, screaming, in a strait jacket and later, blowing off the top of his head with a shotgun.           

            Robert Wolfe: A retired librarian from the National Archives who worked closely with the CIA on covering up embarrassing historical material in the files of the Archives. A strong supporter of holocaust writers specializing in creative writing. Although he prefers to be called ‘Dr,’ in reality he has no PhD

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