TBR News January 3, 2019

Jan 03 2019

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

Washington, D.C. January 3, 2019:” “Here is an entertaining email sent by a website operator to the editorial department of the New York Times.


I run two websites.

I take stories from various news sources.

I am entranced when I see that this or that major newspaper site only allows you to download a few stories free. After this, one must sign up and pay 30 cents a day for two weeks and once the paper has your credit card number, then one has to pay $60.00 a month.

If one does not pay the enhanced fee, they are cut off.

I have a number of friends and communicants scattered across the planet who will, if I request them to do so, download any story I need, whenever I need it and all for free!

But you assure the pubic that 80,000 eager viewers per diem sign up for your internet edition so I am only the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

Fortunately for you, there are not that many stories on your site that I deem worthy of using.

The bulk of your publication consists of stories about new pizza restaurants for the deaf in Manhattan, the repainting of city busses, a touching two page story of two blind Lesbians and their three legged cat, a new book by a friend of the publisher dealing with serious bowel problems in public places, the tragic death of a black basketball player in a supermarket accident and whatever thrilling bit of fiction the CIA people want printed as fact.

Now if you printed nude pictures of Fat Donald the Groper (known in the trade as the Shrimp-Dicked Kid) getting it on with a poodle or how to fish in the city aquarium  after hours, you might get more important readers, otherwise I must admit, your paper makes a wonderful lining for the parrot’s cage.

Misha’ ”


The Table of Contents

  • 815 false claims: The staggering scale of Donald Trump’s pre-midterm dishonesty No 7
  • Moscow’s covert muscle
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Trump and Democrats Dig In After Talks to Reopen Government Go Nowhere
  • Clouds gathering over global economy

 815 false claims: The staggering scale of Donald Trump’s pre-midterm dishonesty No 7

November 15, 2018

by Daniel Dale Washington Bureau Chief

Toronto Star

WASHINGTON—It took Donald Trump until the 286th day of his presidency to make 815 false claims.

He just made another 815 false claims in a month.

In the 31 days leading up to the midterm elections on Nov. 6, Trump went on a lying spree like we have never seen before even from him — an outrageous barrage of serial dishonesty in which he obliterated all of his old records.

How bad have these recent weeks been?

  • Trump made 664 false claims in October. That was double his previous record for a calendar month, 320 in August.
  • Trump averaged 26.3 false claims per day in the month leading up to the midterm on Nov. 6. In 2017, he averaged 2.9 per day.
  • Trump made more false claims in the two months leading up to the midterms (1,176), than he did in all of 2017 (1,011).
  • The three most dishonest single days of Trump’s presidency were the three days leading up to the midterms: 74 on election eve, Nov. 5; 58 on Nov. 3; 54 on Nov. 4.

As always, Trump was being more frequently dishonest in part because he was simply speaking more. He had three campaign rallies on Nov. 5, the day before he set the record, and eight more rallies over the previous five days.

But it was not only quantity. Trump packed his rally speeches with big new lies, repeatedly reciting wildly inaccurate claims about migrants, Democrats’ views on immigration and health care, and his own record. Unlike many of his lies, lots of these ones were written into the text of his speeches.

Trump is now up to 3,749 false claims for the first 661 days of his presidency, an average of 4.4 per day.

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not telling the truth.


  • Oct 14, 2018

“I didn’t really make fun of her (Christine Blasey Ford)…What I said, the person that we’re talking about didn’t know the year, the time, the place.”

Source: Interview with 60 Minutes

in fact: It is subjective whether Trump “really” made fun of Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who accused judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, but he recounted her testimony in a mocking voice — and with factual errors. Blasey Ford did indeed know the year of the alleged assault: 1982.


Question: “What about the forced separation of children from their — migrant children?” Trump: “Well, that was the same as the Obama law. You know, Obama had the same thing.”

Source: Interview with 60 Minutes

in fact: Obama did not have “the same thing.” While Obama administration policies did result in some parents being separated from children — former Obama officials say this happened in exceptional circumstances like the parent being found carrying drugs — it was Trump who decided to attempt to criminally prosecute everyone found crossing the border illegally. This decision resulted in the routine separation of parents and children, which did not occur under Obama.

“Now, I like NATO, NATO’s fine. But you know what? We shouldn’t be paying almost the entire cost of NATO to protect Europe.”

Source: Interview with 60 Minutes

in fact: U.S. military spending does represent a large majority of all military spending by NATO Countries, but “almost the entire cost” is an exaggeration. According to NATO’s 2018 annual report, U.S. military spending — on everything, not just protecting Europe — represented 72 per cent of alliance members’ total military spending in 2017. Of NATO’s own organizational budget, the U.S. contributes a much smaller agreed-upon percentage: 22 per cent.

“But nobody treats us much worse than the European Union. The European Union was formed in order to take advantage of us on trade, and that’s what they’ve done.”

Source: Interview with 60 Minutes

in fact: Experts on the EU say that competing with the U.S. economically was not even on the list of the top reasons for the original formation of the European coalition or its evolution into the official European Union in 1993 — let alone “taking advantage” of the U.S. “That effort was never to compete with the United States,” said Maxime Larivé, associate director of the European Union Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Its original incarnation, an economic “community” created in the 1950s, was intended “to simply foster peace through trade and economic exchange” of coal and steel, Larivé said.

“No no, although they’re (China) down 32 per cent in four months, which is 1929.”

Source: Interview with 60 Minutes

in fact: Shanghai’s SSE Composite Index was actually down 15 per cent over the four months dating back from the week Trump spoke. Shenzhen ‘s SZSE Component Index was down 27 per cent.

“I have a great chemistry also with President Xi of China. I don’t know that that’s necessarily going to continue. I told President Xi we cannot continue to have China take $500 billion a year out of the United States in the form of trade and other things.”

Source: Interview with 60 Minutes

in fact: The U.S. has never once had a $500 billion trade deficit with China, according to U.S. government data. The deficit was $337 billion in 2017, $375 billion if you only count trade in goods and exclude trade in services.


“The day before I came in, we were going to war with North Korea. I sat with President Obama…and — we were gonna — I think it was going to end up in war. And my impression is — and even in my first few months, I mean, that rhetoric was as tough as it could possibly get. Doesn’t get any tougher than that. Nobody’s ever heard rhetoric that tough. We were going to war with North Korea. Now, you don’t hear that. You don’t hear any talk of it. And he doesn’t wanna go to war, and we don’t wanna go to war, and he understands denuclearization and he’s agreed to it.”

Source: Interview with 60 Minutes

in fact: There is no evidence Obama was ever ready to go to war with North Korea or that, as Trump has claimed, he told Trump such a thing; such a remark would be a total departure from Obama’s long-held views on North Korea. Obama’s office has declined to comment on Trump’s previous claims about Obama supposedly making this statement at his post-election meeting with Trump, but Ned Price, a former special assistant to Obama and spokesperson for the National Security Council, called Trump’s remark “absolute revisionist history,” saying, “I’ve never heard anything even remotely like that coming up during that session.” Obama’s strategy of “containment and deterrence” was “predicated in part on the understanding that a military conflict on the (Korean) Peninsula would be nothing short of catastrophic,” Price said. In the past, Trump has confirmed what news outlets have reported: Obama told him North Korea was the biggest or most urgent problem he would face, not that war was inevitable.

  • Oct 15, 2018

“Somebody comes into our country, they put one foot on our land, and we have to bring them through a long court process. Or we have catch and release, which is even worse. We catch them, Commissioner — we catch them, we find out they’re a criminal, we write them up, and then we release them and we tell them to come back in three or four years for a court case, and they never show up.”

Source: Remarks at American Red Cross briefing

in fact: It is not true that people released for immigration hearings “never show up” for court. The Justice Department says 72 per cent showed up for their immigration court hearings in 2017. For asylum seekers in particular, 89 per cent had their hearings in person rather than in absentia.

“Our nation is the hottest nation economically on the planet, by far, even though we’re very big.”

Source: Remarks at American Red Cross briefing

in fact: The New York Times explained why this is false: “The United States does have one of the fastest growing of the world’s largest economies. But it is not the fastest growing in the whole world. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development compiles quarterly growth in real gross domestic product for its 36 member nations and nine other major economies like China, India and Brazil. The United States had the eighth-highest rate in the second quarter of 2018 out of this group. Its rate was the highest among the Group of 7, the largest of the industrialized democracies. Among the entire world, however, the United States is nowhere near ‘the fastest-growing economy.’ Growth rates among developing nations, while volatile, often exceed those of the big industrialized countries. In 2017, the United States’ GDP annual growth rate ranked in the bottom third out of more than 180 countries, according to data from the World Bank. The International Monetary Fund’s projections for GDP growth rate for 2018 place the United States among the bottom half of about 190 countries. Similarly, Harvard University’s Atlas of Economic Complexity projects that the United States will reach an annual growth rate of 3.07 per cent by 2026, placing it No. 104 out of 121 countries.” While China’s growth rate has slowed down in 2018, its 6.5 per cent growth in the third quarter was still about twice the forecasts for the not-yet-announced growth rate in the U.S.

“No, I want crystal clean water. I want the cleanest air on the planet — which, by the way, now we have.”

Source: Remarks at American Red Cross briefing

in fact: The Environmental Performance Index, developed by Yale University, Columbia University and the World Economic Forum, ranks the U.S. 10th in the world for air quality.


Moscow’s covert muscle

Intelligence units dueling the West have extended their reach, including into Russian classrooms

December 28, 2018

by Anton Troianovski and Ellen Nakashima

Washington Post

MOSCOW — Nina Loguntsova arrives at school early to stand at soldier-style attention, and she leaves late after extra classes that have included cryptography. Three different military uniforms hang in her closet.

The 17-year-old student is part of an expanding military-education program at Moscow’s public schools that aims to inculcate respect for security services and boost the math and computer knowledge of potential recruits.

One of the program’s partners is the Russian military intelligence agency known as the GRU — whose fingerprints, the West claims, are increasingly found on suspected Kremlin-ordered operations around the world.

The list includes hacking into Democratic National Committee emails in 2016, spearheading Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and the nerve-agent attack in Britain earlier this year.

New details uncovered by The Washington Post also show that a GRU unit has been at the forefront of Russia’s psychological-warfare efforts, including an attempt to influence Ukraine policy in Congress in 2015.

As Russian President Vladimir Putin tightens his grip at home and asserts Russian influence abroad, the country’s military intelligence agency — a worldwide network of thousands of officers, special-forces troops and spies — is emerging as one of his most powerful tools.

“A military intelligence agency that used to be strictly military has now become, if you will, universal,” said Nikita Petrov, a historian of Soviet intelligence agencies at Memorial, a history and civil rights organization in Moscow. “What we know about are their failures. But we don’t know about their successes.”

This portrait of the GRU’s reach — from Moscow classrooms to U.S. senators’ offices on Capitol Hill — is based on interviews in Moscow and Washington, public records and information provided by Western intelligence officials. Russia’s Defense Ministry, which oversees the GRU, did not respond to requests for comment.

The agency’s rise reflects the Kremlin’s tactics in its confrontation with the West, analysts say. While Russia is far weaker economically than the United States and Western Europe, Putin has shown a higher appetite for risk and benefited from a domestic public that largely buys into the narrative of a Russia under siege.

“Russia is our motherland,” said Loguntsova, an 11th-grader. “We will defend it.”

Former U.S. intelligence officials say the GRU has always been seen as the more brutish cousin of Russia’s main intelligence agency, previously known as the KGB.

Gennady Gudkov, a Russian opposition politician who served in the KGB and then in its FSB successor agency, said GRU officers referred to themselves as the “badass guys who act.”

“ ‘Need us to whack someone? We’ll whack him,’ ” he said. “ ‘Need us to grab Crimea? We’ll grab Crimea.’ ”

In the United States, the GRU is perhaps best known as the agency that led the way in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a July indictment of 12 of its officers obtained by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

But interviews and public records in Russia show that its reach extends to the battlefields of Ukraine and Syria and to school classrooms in Moscow — reflecting the multipronged approach Putin is taking in his conflict with the West.

“Putin has become more comfortable with risk,” said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former U.S. deputy national intelligence officer. “The GRU fits his moment.”

GRU in the classroom

The GRU’s power is bolstered by a surge in public support for Russia’s military and its intelligence agencies — a focus on patriotism and conflict with the West that is a recurring theme in state media. The GRU itself, records show, is now involved in promoting the intelligence services in public schools.

Yevgenia Loguntsova — the mother of Nina, the student in the military-linked classes — heard horror stories when she was young about the Soviet intelligence services. Her mother warned her that the secret police might detain people on the street, simply on suspicion of skipping work.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Loguntsova said, fear gave way to ridicule and disgust. Many regular Russians saw the successor agencies to the Soviet security services as enmeshed in corruption.

But by 2015, Loguntsova’s perception of the Russian intelligence services had changed. Russia’s best and brightest now join the services, she said. And she saw the intelligence branches as fighting corruption rather than taking part in it.

She enrolled her daughter in a “cadet class” that boasted the school’s best teachers, Loguntsova said, and provided extra math and computer lessons.

Documents posted on the school website show the class is sponsored by the Federal Security Service, the formal name of the FSB, and by the military’s Unit 26165, the cyberwarfare wing of the GRU that has also been called APT28 or Fancy Bear by American researchers.

Unit 26165 has helped design the curriculum at Nina Loguntsova’s school and at least six others in Moscow in recent years, “cooperation agreements” posted on the schools’ websites show.

The unit appears to operate largely in the background, though.

Nina Loguntsova and her mother knew about the FSB’s participation but not about that of the GRU. Loguntsova’s school did not respond to a request for comment. The Moscow education department and the FSB declined to comment.

The cooperation agreement between the security services and Loguntsova’s school is signed by the Unit 26165 commander, Viktor Netyksho. He was named in the July indictment, accused of leading the GRU’s effort to hack the email accounts of Democratic and Clinton campaign officials.

“The concepts of motherland and patriotism are all-encompassing,” said the elder Loguntsova, 43, a psychologist. “We can’t love our motherland and not respect these same organizations.”

Covert ‘center of gravity’

The GRU’s rise in standing at home has mirrored an expanded role abroad.

In the Soviet era, the GRU conducted clandestine operations seeking to build Kremlin influence in the developing world. But its role in the West was limited largely to collecting military secrets, according to historians and former officials. The KGB took the lead on political influence operations.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the GRU played a key role in Moscow’s two bloody wars against rebels in the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

“They gained experience in extrajudicial violence,” said Alexei Kondaurov, a retired KGB general and a Putin critic. “This is a key thing that changes one’s psychology.”

Under Putin — a former FSB chief — the GRU has taken the anything-goes approach to cyberspace. GRU units that focused on propaganda and decryption in the Soviet era are now conducting psychological operations over the Internet and waging cyberattacks. In 2013, the GRU launched a “science company” as part of the Defense Ministry’s effort to recruit top talent from universities.

“Historically, the GRU has been Russia’s main agency for operating in uncontrolled spaces, which has meant civil wars and the like,” said Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian intelligence at the Institute of International Relations in Prague. “In some ways, the Internet is today’s uncontrolled space.”

In February 2015, as the conflict in eastern Ukraine dragged into a second year, a dozen U.S. senators received an email from someone purporting to belong to a group called the “Patriots of Ukraine.” The email contained a link to a petition to “save” Ukraine, whose pro-Western government is fighting pro-Russian separatists.

In creaky English, it began: “US Senators and Congressmen! Today the situation in Ukraine is extremely bad. Ukraine is in war . . . Level of corruption is Ukrainian Armed Forces is enormous. High-ranking officer sell armaments to the terrorists.”

The petition went on to implore the senators — who appeared to be picked only by virtue of their last names, as they were the first dozen or so by alphabetical order — to send “high-experienced U.S. and NATO specialists” to substitute for Ukrainian commanding officers.

“We hope you are able to influence the White House, Pentagon and State Department and achieve the agreement to send western officers to Ukraine for direct control of our Armed Forces,” said the petition, a copy of which was shared with The Post by a Western intelligence agency, which described the operation.

The email apparently gained no traction on Capitol Hill.

But it was noteworthy in one important regard. It was the first known, if somewhat crude, effort by the GRU’s main psychological-operations division to influence U.S. politicians, according to the Western intelligence agency.

Western intelligence analysts saw the campaign having twin aims, to further demoralize Ukrainians after heavy losses and to sow confusion among U.S. policymakers — to make them believe that the Ukrainians themselves had lost faith in their military.

The GRU unit behind the emails, known as Unit 54777, or the 72nd Special Service Center, is the center of the Russian military’s psychological-warfare capability, say Western intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information.

Last month, when the Russian border guard fired upon and seized three Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea, young men in a Ukrainian border region were sent text messages to report for military service.

The text messages, the Western intelligence agency said, were sent by the psy-ops unit — a previously unreported assessment.

“They are the center of gravity for Russian psychological operations,” said an officer from that agency. “Their hand has been seen in many of the most well-known campaigns.”

Unit 54777 has several front organizations that are financed through government grants as public diplomacy organizations but are covertly run by the GRU and aimed at Russian expatriates, the intelligence officer said. Two of the most significant are InfoRos and the Institute of the Russian Diaspora. In February 2014, for instance, shortly before Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, the institute and InfoRos launched an appeal, purportedly on behalf of Russian organizations in Ukraine, calling on Putin to intervene in the brewing crisis, the intelligence officer said.

The appeal was intended to convince the international community as well as the Russian public that Ukraine was not unified and to increase pressure on the anti-Russian protesters in Kiev, the intelligence officer said. InfoRos and the institute did not respond to requests for comment.

Unit 54777 also is thought by Western intelligence to work with other psy-ops and cyber units, such as the CyberCaliphate, a hacking outfit passing itself off as supporters of the Islamic State but really part of the same GRU unit that would penetrate the Democrats’ networks in 2016.

The CyberCaliphate hijacked the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter feed in January 2015 and targeted military spouses, hacking their Twitter accounts and posting threats.

In April 2015, the CyberCaliphate, again claiming to be Islamic State supporters, took France’s TV5Monde off the air for 18 hours.

“What the GRU demonstrate very consistently is profound innovation with available resources,” said Joe Cheravitch, a Russia analyst with Rand Corp., a nonprofit, federally funded research institute. “That’s what really makes them dangerous.”

Ukraine as testing ground

In many ways, the Ukraine conflict provided the test bed for the GRU’s information and cyberwarfare operations, analysts say.

Spies directed by Unit 54777 created fake personas and posted comments on Russian and English-language social media platforms, as well as on articles in Western publications, according to the Western intelligence agency. Often, they sought to stoke divisions between pro-Russian and pro-Western Ukrainians by portraying themselves as Ukrainian “patriots” fed up with the pro-Moscow “Nazis” and “fascists” who they blamed for the violence.

In December 2015, GRU hackers plunged some 225,000 people into darkness after gaining access to Ukraine’s power grid, according to U.S. intelligence and private-sector analysts. It was the first known cyberattack to result in a power outage.

GRU units also are suspected of deploying a highly disruptive computer virus dubbed NotPetya, analysts said. Launched on June 28, 2017 — Ukraine’s Constitution Day — the virus wiped data from the computers of banks, energy firms, senior government officials and an airport in Ukraine.

It also affected computers in Denmark, India and the United States. The White House called it “the most destructive and costly cyberattack in history.”

In response to the NotPetya virus and other suspected hackings, the United States in March placed sanctions on six GRU officials.

“Ukraine is to 21st-century hybrid warfare what Spain was in the 1930s for battlefield blitzkrieg techniques — the place where the bad guys try out what they may use against us later on,” said Daniel Fried, a former senior State Department official who helped lead the West’s response to Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine.

Russia has denied that the GRU engages in malign activity around the world. After Mueller’s indictment of 12 officers accused of interfering in the U.S. election, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that “it has become the norm in Washington to promote fake news and initiate criminal proceedings for obvious political purposes.”

Putin’s embrace

In a book on the agency, Soviet GRU defector Vladimir Rezun quotes from a czar’s order in a Russian folk tale to describe the mission often given to officers: “Go there — I don’t know where! Bring me something — I don’t know what!”

Rezun’s point — as echoed by experts on Russian intelligence agencies — is that GRU operatives look for opportunities to give the Kremlin what they think it wants without always following precise orders.

But by this fall, the GRU seemed as if it might have gone too far.

In July, 12 officers were indicted in Washington. In September, British officials accused two GRU officers of the clumsy attempt to assassinate former GRU agent Sergei Skripal earlier this year. In October, the Netherlands said that GRU officers had tried to hack into the WiFi network of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international watchdog group, by parking a specially equipped car at the Marriott next door.

In November, the GRU was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of its Communist predecessor under the revolutionary Leon Trotsky. Putin arrived at its headquarters for the celebration and offered only praise.

For analysts, the Russian president’s defense was a surprisingly full-throated one. It showed that Putin had no plans to back down from deploying his century-old military intelligence agency as one of his main weapons in asserting Russian influence abroad. And it reflected many Russians’ continued belief that the country needs aggressive intelligence services to head off a threat from the West.

“Provocations and outright lies are being used and attempts are being made to disrupt strategic parity,” Putin told the assembled spies, agents and hackers. “I have confidence in your professionalism, your personal courage and dedication. I am certain that you will do everything for Russia and our people.”

Nakashima reported from Washington. Shane Harris in Washington and Natalia Abbakumova in Moscow contributed to this report.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

January 3, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney


On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.


Conversation No. 18

Date: Wednesday, June 26, 1996

Commenced: 11:15 AM CST

Concluded: 11:40 AM CST

RTC: I did some digging in the archives, through the kindness of a friend, and dug up the story about your Vancouver caper. The Vancouver Sun had a running account of it. My God, what an uproar you caused! Mounties here and there, mass arrests, utter Christmas chaos in the shops. Wherever did you come up with such an idea, Gregory?

GD: From the German Operation Bernhard, Robert. They counterfeited the British pound note, destroyed its value, made millions in the process and did a good deal to bankrupt Britain after the war. The confidence in the almighty pound was gone. I figured that if the Canadians could gleefully steal all my money, I could teach them all a lesson in manners.

RTC: You surely did that. How much did you get out of it?

GD: Nothing. No, I take that back. They stole four dollars and ten cents from me and I got four dollars and ten cents back. I didn’t do it to make money, Robert. I did it to teach them a lesson and I think I succeeded. Besides, I got my money back.

RTC: It cost the Canucks millions.

GD: So what? I never counterfeited the money and I never took a penny from the money. All I did was to walk around Vancouver at the height of the Christmas season, scattering money here and there. So much in the Sally Ann pots, so much for the Hare Krishna people, so much in public lavatories, telephone booths, retail stores and finally, in a wild orgy of joy, scattering the money out of the back of a friend’s van all over the town. And on a windy night at that. Twenties all over like leaves in early autumn. Oh my and the next day, small children, finding the money, rushed to candy or comic book stores and were promptly arrested. Hysteria reigned. And what was left over from my charitable scatterings was tossed by myself off the roof of my downtown hotel, late at night and in a good wind coming up Granville Street from the water. Oh yes, I did have my fun. I got to visit all my Canadian friends, treat them all to wonderful dinners in return for all the dinners they gave me and give them the pure Christmas tide joy of tossing tens of thousands of dollars worth of fake Canadian money all over town. Yes, it was entertaining and instructive.

RTC: Instructive?

GD: To see the growing hysteria on the television and to hear the constant hooting of police sirens as another 90 year old grandmother was dragged off to the cooler because she found a stack of my little children in a phone booth and was using them to buy Christmas presents. Lawyers were frantic, families hysterical, the police completely beyond their depth and Ottawa in a frenzy. They said it was the biggest counterfeiting ring in Canadian history and the press was split between deciding whether Chinese drug dealers or the Mafia were responsible.  But there was even more fun later on.

RTC: You were caught.

GD: For a time, but I got out from under it. But the thing I do remember the best and savor on cold winter nights when I have no money, and naturally, no friends, is the thought of my dear friends in the Secret Service.

RTC: Now, given what you did, I can’t imagine you could call them that. They certainly couldn’t say that about you.

GD: No, I suppose not. You see, I was working on a new book down at the same print shop that had turned out the Canadian money in the first place. The owner, as I found out, was a convicted child molester named Temple. He did call himself Church from time to time but that is neither here nor there. Poor Temple had a loose mouth and bragged to some black fellow he was trying to impress and that one ran to the Feds. So one day, when I came in to work on the light table, I was introduced to two creatures known as Bob and Joe. They were introduced to me as members of the Mafia. How entertaining, Robert. I know Mafiosa and they are all Sicilians, not strange people that looked like they escaped from Arkansas. Mafia my ass. Anyway, one had a wire that a blind man would have seen, a box under his shirt. And as subtle as a fart in a bathtub. I remember one of them getting me off to one side and asking me about the joys of counterfeiting. Of course I made both of them in about thirty seconds but did enjoy myself. I told Bobby, off the record, that I had a friend working at Treasury who stole bearer bonds and flogged them to me at pennies apiece.

RTC: Jesus…

GD: Ah, yes, and his eyes bugged and his tongue hung out. What did I do with them? Bobby asked me. Did I keep them at home? Oh no, I told him with a wink. I sold them. To whom he wanted to know. To the KGB people who used them to finance their North American spy rings.

RTC: Merciful Christ, Gregory. You did that? You aren’t pulling my leg?

GD: No, I was pulling his. I also told him I was selling the bonds to a major criminal family in London, the Minge family.

RTC: Never heard of them.

GD: Oh they do exist, or the name is well known to the London people. So later, I learned from my lawyer, the Secret Service got ahold of their representative at the London Embassy and had him ask Scotland Yard about this. As I understand it, that one told some official that his people were interested in London Minges. The official responded by saying ‘What do think I am? A bloody pimp?’ You see, a ‘minge’ is Cockney for a woman’s delicate parts. Also used to denote streetwalkers.

RTC: (Loud and prolonged laughter) You’ll be the death of me with your chronicles, Gregory.

GD: Well, it took a while to find out about this but when the Federal courthouse people heard about it, it made for many days of merriment. The Secret Service was not entertained. I often wondered what would have happened if the Brits rounded up some old hookers and sent them to the Embassy? Little boys would have been more effective. You know about the State Department people. They weren’t happy but later, after I dissed the charges, the Canadians tried to lure me back to Canada to put me away for centuries. You see, Robert, I told my lawyer that if I was extradited to Canada, I would tell my friends on the Sun that I was actually working for the CIA who were the sponsors of the Quebec Libreé movement and gave them plastique explosive. Of course your Canada Desk actually did support the terrorists and I had chapter and verse on this. So I was not deported and let go.

RTC: Gregory, that was very nasty of you. Of course it was true. Where did you find out about that one?

GD: A former girlfriend told me. She was pissed off at the Agency and I am a very good listener. It saved my ass, Robert. But to get back to the story. They tried to lure me back so I told them they could meet with me at the San Francisco airport and that I could give them the plates for the money which, I might tell you, they never found. So I read in the paper that Nixon was expected in ‘Frisco and I told my new friends from Vancouver that they could just fly down and meet me. I picked the day Richard was flying in and by God, sir, they did come down. In a private plane with, as I was told, restraints on board. My, my what were they going to use these for? Anyway, I called up the airport Hilton and made reservations in the name of Harry Brunser. Just for accuracy, Robert, a Brunser is San Francisco street slang for an anus.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: Yes, and I got the desk clerk to assign me a room number. I passed this to the Canadians and in due time, they came down in a private plane, drove up to the hotel in a rented car and all went inside. Of course before this happened, I called up the Secret Service and told them French Canadian terrorists were going to fly into San Francisco and shoot Nixon. I said they would be staying at the Hilton under the name of Brunser. I hate to miss good entertainment so I was sitting in the hotel parking lot, wearing a rabat…

RTC: A what?

GD: A rabat. Catholic priests wear them. A priest’s collar and bib. I always wear it with a black suit and rimless glasses. Anyway, up drives the car and into the lobby go my new friends. About two minutes later, after they have mentioned the key word to the primed desk man, two vans full of men in flak vests rushed into the lobby.

RTC: Oh merciful Jesus, if I didn’t know you better….how terrible. But funny.

GD: Yes. The Canadians were all dragged out, yelling and shouting, except for one who put up a fight and pulled a gun. They had him by the arms and legs because he couldn’t walk anymore. And what, they were asked later, were they doing with automatic weapons? And handcuffs? They eventually were allowed to go back to Canada after their plane was put back together and I got a call from my lawyer, a few days later, who indicated that such pranks were not appreciated and a repetition of them might not be nice for me. He did laugh, however.  I understand the judge in my case laughed too. He called me the Professor Moriarty of Northern California.



(Concluded at 11:40 AM CST)



Trump and Democrats Dig In After Talks to Reopen Government Go Nowhere

January 2, 2019

by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael Tackett

The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders dug in Wednesday for a lengthy partial shutdown in a newly divided government after a White House meeting — the first in 22 days — could not break an impasse over Mr. Trump’s demands for billions of dollars for a border wall.

During the contentious meeting in the Situation Room, Mr. Trump made his case for a wall on the southwestern border and rejected Democrats’ proposals for reopening the government while the two sides ironed out their differences.

“I would look foolish if I did that,” Mr. Trump responded after Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, posed the question to him directly, according to three officials familiar with the meeting who described it on the condition of anonymity. He said that the wall was why he was elected, one of the officials said.

Democrats were equally adamant, according to another official who was present for the discussion. Pressed by Vice President Mike Pence and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the incoming minority leader, they refused to budge from their offer to devote $1.3 billion to border security. The official also insisted on anonymity to describe the private conversation.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said after the meeting that he had no intention of putting Democratic bills to reopen the government to a vote if Mr. Trump would not sign them.

“We’re hopeful that, somehow, in the coming days and weeks, we’ll be able to reach an agreement,” Mr. McConnell told reporters at the Capitol, offering an ominous timeline.

The events underscored the personal and political crosscurrents standing in the way of any compromise between a president unwilling to lose face with his core supporters on his signature campaign promise and newly empowered Democrats — poised to assume control of the House on Thursday — who refuse to give ground on an issue that has come to symbolize Mr. Trump’s immigration policies.

With the partial government funding lapse dragging into its 12th day and affecting 800,000 federal employees, the confrontation in the Situation Room only served to highlight the depth of the divide.

“Could be a long time, or it could be quickly,” Mr. Trump said of resolving the shutdown. “It’s too important a subject to walk away from.”

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who is in line to be elected speaker on Thursday, said: “We are asking the president to open up government. Why would he not do it?”

“He could not give a good answer,” Mr. Schumer said.

Mr. Trump tried creative ways to persuade the Democrats that they should support his wall. At one point, he said Ms. Pelosi should back it because she was “a good Catholic” and Vatican City is surrounded by a wall, according to one of the officials familiar with the discussion.

In her first legislative act as speaker, Ms. Pelosi plans on Thursday to bring up two bills to reopen the government. One would fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, providing a month to break the impasse over border security funding, and a second would provide money for the remaining shuttered agencies and departments through September. The homeland security measure would devote $1.3 billion to border security measures, such as enhanced surveillance and fortified fencing, but not the wall.

Mr. Trump’s rejection of those measures left the prospects of a resolution at their dimmest since the shutdown began on Dec. 22. It also highlighted the difficulty of the current situation, in which Democrats, Republicans and even some White House staff members have found themselves trying to anticipate what Mr. Trump will accept.

The president asked the congressional leaders to return to the White House on Friday to continue the talks, after Democrats had completed their leadership elections, according to an official who attended the meeting. A second official who attended said Mr. Trump’s team believed it would be easier for Ms. Pelosi to negotiate once she was officially installed as speaker. Both insisted on anonymity to describe the private gathering.

In a pair of evening tweets, Mr. Trump seemed to hold out hope of an agreement, writing: “I remain ready and willing to work with Democrats to pass a bill that secures our borders, supports the agents and officers on the ground, and keeps America Safe. Let’s get it done!”

But the path to such a deal is murky at best.

Before he met congressional leaders on Wednesday, Mr. Trump publicly rejected a compromise that Mr. Pence floated privately with Democrats last month to stave off the government funding lapse, saying $2.5 billion in border security spending was insufficient. In the hours before a midnight deadline to avert a shutdown before Christmas, the vice president had broached that number, which his team has quietly continued to push in the days after parts of the government ran out of money.

No, not $2.5 billion, no — we’re asking for $5.6” billion, Mr. Trump said during a cabinet meeting, hours before the Situation Room briefing.

His rejection of the figure seemed to confirm the concerns of Democratic leaders who had questioned whether they could trust senior White House officials to broker any compromise that could then be rejected by a president who has often shifted his position at the last moment, especially when it comes to immigration.

The larger figure referred to the amount Mr. Trump has demanded for the wall, which the House endorsed in a vote last month, but which failed to garner even majority support in the Senate, where it would need 60 votes to prevail.

But inside the Situation Room later on Wednesday, the proposal resurfaced and Mr. Trump appeared open to it, according to one of the officials present, as Mr. Pence and Mr. McCarthy pressed Democrats to meet in the middle. Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer said $1.3 billion was their highest bid.

Wednesday’s gathering in the Situation Room, a secure chamber in the basement of the White House where military operations are tracked and other sensitive discussions unfold, was a conscious effort by Mr. Trump and his aides to infuse a sense of national-security crisis into the immigration discussion. It was the president’s first face-to-face meeting with Democratic leaders since a combative session last month when he said he would insist that any government spending bill include money for a border wall — and would proudly own the consequences if that meant a shutdown.

But it quickly turned tense as Mr. Trump argued for his wall and called on Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, who appeared via teleconference from the border in San Diego to stress the need for it, according to two of the officials who were at the meeting.

Mr. Schumer interjected, calling on Ms. Pelosi, who disputed Ms. Nielsen’s statistics, two of the officials said. Ms. Pelosi then laid out the legislative proposals she planned to bring up on Thursday, detailing how the spending measures had all received broad bipartisan support either in committees or on the floor in the Republican-controlled Congress.

The back and forth drew an angry response from the Department of Homeland Security.

“Democrats in the room either don’t care that there is a humanitarian crisis on the border or just prefer ignorance,” Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a statement on Wednesday night. “It was incredibly disheartening that they don’t want to know the facts when making policy.”

Yet hours before the meeting began, what was billed as a somber security briefing had already taken on the sharp tone of a political showdown, as Mr. Trump charged that Democrats were sacrificing border security for a partisan advantage in the 2020 elections.

“The United States needs a physical barrier,” the president said during the cabinet meeting, comparing the southern border to “a sieve” that allows criminals and drugs to enter the country and facilitates human trafficking.

“Walls work,” he added, claiming inaccurately that former President Barack Obama has one “around his compound” in Washington. (Parts of Mr. Obama’s home in the northwest section of the city are bordered by a low brick retaining wall, and others have iron or chain-link fencing.)

Mr. Trump repeated his false claims about the border wall, including that Mexico was already paying for it, as he promised during his campaign, and that much of its construction had already been completed.

Outside the White House, the search for a way out is getting more urgent. Some lawmakers have grown anxious about the shutdown’s impact on their constituents, including federal workers who are not receiving pay while their agencies are denied funding.

Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, wrote an opinion article in The Washington Post suggesting three ways out: Grant the president the $1.6 billion for border security that he requested, without wall funding, plus an additional $1 billion for security at ports of entry; approve a bipartisan bill linking wall funding with protection for young immigrants brought illegally to the country as children; or resurrect the 2013 comprehensive immigration overhaul that included huge increases in border security measures, sweeping changes to immigration law and a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Incoming lawmakers vented new concerns about the shutdown’s effect. “This morning I requested that my pay be withheld until the shutdown is over,” Representative-elect Mikie Sherrill, Democrat of New Jersey, said Wednesday on Twitter, where she posted a letter to the chief administrative officer of the House making her request official.

She noted that thousands of federal workers in her state were not receiving paychecks. “I came here to govern, not engage in partisan politics at the expense of hardworking Americans,” she said.

Peter Baker and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.


Clouds gathering over global economy

January 3, 2019

by Andrew Walker BBC World Service economics correspondent

BBC News

What does 2019 have in store for the global economy?

There are certainly clouds on the horizon, but 2018 as a whole was a reasonably strong year.

Global growth will probably be about 3.7% when all the numbers are in, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The world’s two biggest economies are likely to record respectable rates of expansion.

The biggest of all, the US, had two very strong quarters in the middle of the year. Data for the final three months will come at the end of January, and while they might well show some slowing down, the whole year is likely to register pretty strong expansion of close to 3%.

As for China, the slowdown after three decades of stunning growth continues. But it’s still likely to be about 6.6% in 2018, which is more than enough to generate significant improvements in average living standards.

Most mainstream forecasts suggest that the recovery after the great recession will continue for another year and more.

So what about the clouds?


Growth in the US is likely to be slower. The surge in 2018 reflected President Trump’s tax cuts. There is some debate about whether the impact will last. Is it a one-off effect that will fade like a sugar rush, or will it have a lasting impact on incentives to work and invest?

There is also the impact of the central bank, the Federal Reserve, to consider. Will it continue raising interest rates to keep inflation close to its 2% target following the four such moves it made in 2018?

President Trump certainly thinks the Fed could do a lot of harm. It is, he has said, “the only problem our economy has”.

He has repeatedly made similar points, to the extent that his Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, felt the need to say publicly that the president had no desire to sack the Fed chairman Jerome Powell. (It’s not clear whether he has the authority to do that, but he certainly could decline to give him another term as chairman when the current one expires in 2022, if he is still president then).

In any event, the prospect of the president exerting what many would consider undue influence over the Fed has the potential to unsettle financial markets. The Fed has been given responsibility for monetary policy, which includes interest rate policy, by Congress.

The mainstream view among economists is that keeping that away from the centre of the political arena is better for the long-term control of inflation.

There is another strand to President Trump’s economic policy that could undermine economic growth: international trade.

Escalating tariffs?

The US is already well into a major trade confrontation with China over what President Trump calls the theft by China of the technology of American companies doing business there.

Three months into the year, the tariffs that his administration has already imposed on a wide array of Chinese goods are due to increase from 10% to 25%. China can be expected to retaliate as it did to the first round of tariffs.

It is true that Presidents Trump and Xi have held some talks and it is possible that the escalation will be averted. But it is certainly not assured.

And then there are the US tariffs on steel and aluminium, ostensibly imposed to protect national security, which have affected a large number of US trade partners.

The prospect of continued trade tensions is a significant cloud over the economic outlook.

European slowdown

Europe also has its own problemsThe economic data for the third quarter of the year showed a marked slowdown in growth in the eurozone.

Some of this may be a very short-term stumble due to new procedures for testing vehicle emissions, which have disrupted the motor industry. But it could be the start of a more significant loss of momentum in a recovery that was never particularly strong.

A survey of manufacturing industry in the region showed the slowdown continued in December with a contraction in two individual economies, Italy and France.

Europe also has its own trade issue to worry about: Brexit. The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March. There is a wide range of possible outcomes, some of which could disrupt trade between the UK and the continent.

Recession predictors?

Stock markets had a rough ride at the end of 2018. Many recorded strong gains early in the year that were more than reversed. Overall it was the worst year for global markets (and many individual ones) since the financial crisis.

Lower share prices can be a warning sign of wider economic problems ahead, sometimes even a recession. But share price falls are not a reliable sign of a coming recession.

As the late Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson once joked: “Wall Street indexes predicted nine of the last five recessions.” The market can give false alarms.

The bond market, where debts including government bonds, are traded, has also been close to flashing a warning about the US outlook.

A phenomenon known as the inverted yield curve has been a more reliable predictor of a downturn, though not very precise as to when.

That said, there are economists who think the US may be heading for a recession, not this year but in 2020. Nouriel Roubini, who foresaw the financial crisis, is one. He also warns that the recession he predicts will be harder for the government and Federal Reserve to deal with.

China also has things to worry about – in the shape of a rising burden of public and private-sector debt, which could yet undermine financial stability. Surveys of business showed that new orders for manufacturers declined in December, for the first time in two years.

All things told, there are some pretty clear reasons for regarding the outlook now as a good deal harder to read and more overcast than it has been for several years.





































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