TBR News January 4, 2011

Jan 05 2011

The Voice of the White House


          Washington, D.C., January 4, 2011: “Bad news for coin dealers and collectors. Our wonderful friends, the Chinese, are now manufacturing both gold American and foreign coins out of tungsten, almost the ideitncal weight to gold, and somehow, very mysteriously to be sure, these fakes are pouring into the United States in particular and the rest of the world in general. As a tungsten counterfeit American 20 dollar gold piece, heavily gold-plated is identical in size, color and weight to an original.

            The Chinese government pretends not to know that tons of faked coins and gold bullion bars are leaving their country but at one time, they were using these fakes to pay for foreign purchasers; until the Swiss banks caught on and returned the fakes. Does the U.S. Customs know about this outrage? Of course it does. Even one of our government agencies cannot be that stupid. And if this is true, why is nothing done by this agency? Why because the Obama people do not wish to unduly upset the Chinese…who hold trillions of dollars in U.S. Treasury paper. This is the main reason why the Obama people turn a blind eye to the immense mortgage problem. There are over 50 million Americans who will never own clear title to their homes. Why? Because crooked banks are taking legitimate mortgages, putting hundred into ‘investment packages’ like sausage and like sausage, the ‘investment packages’ are sold by the crooked banks to customers all over the world. It is totally impossible for anyone to find out who is the legal owner of over 50 million American mortgages. Will the government do anything about this? No, it will not and it will not be discussed anywhere other than in passing. Why? Because our Chinese friends have bought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of these sliced and diced mortgages and any government action that might interfere with payments to the holders is not to be considered. Our leaders would much rather risk a major domestic scandal and possible insurrection than offend Beijing. The solution to these problems” Simple. Stop buying gold now and also stop paying on your mortgage unless and until an actual owner can be found. Put the money into a bank escrow account so no one can accuse you of beating our honest, helpful banks. And do read on here about what WikiLeaks is about to do to the Bank of America who has been so active in this sausage-making prgraom.”

            And here, complete with links, are the Chinese perps talking about their wonderful means of making lots of money…for them.:”

            ‘In theory, as its density is 19.1g/cm3, which is approximately 70% denser than lead, uranium could be used as material of making fake coin. However, it is weakly radioactive and not as dense as gold, so it does not appear to be a practical method.

            Then people have discovered that tungsten is environmental-friendly, durable and hardness, the most important is that its density of 19.25g/cm3 is just about the same density as gold (19.3g/cm3), which bears the similar specific gravity. These advantages make tungsten enjoys the superiority to be the best substitute for the costly metal of gold or platinum. It is necessary to tell that alloying gold with tungsten would not work for several reasons but a coin with a tungsten center and gold all around it could not be detected as counterfeit by density measurement alone.

             Notice: Chinatungsten Online (Xiamen) Manu.&Sales Corp. is a very professional and serious company, specializing in manufacturing and selling tungsten related products for more than two decades. Our gold-plated tungsten alloy products are only for souvenir and decoration purpose. Here we declare: Please do not use our gold-plated tungsten alloy products for illegal purpose.

Besides, if you don’t know how to identify true gold or gold-plated tungsten alloy products, you can consult us directly by email: sales@chinatungsten.com or call us by 86 592 5129696.’

            http://www.tungsten-alloy.com/en/alloy11.htm Chinatungsten Online (Xiamen) Manu.&Sales Corp.

Facing Threat From WikiLeaks, Bank Plays Defense


January 5, 2011

by Nelson D. Schwartz

New York Times

By the time the conference call ended, it was nearly midnight at Bank of America’s headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., but the bank’s counterespionage work was only just beginning.

A day earlier, on Nov. 29, the director of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, said in an interview that he intended to “take down” a major American bank and reveal an “ecosystem of corruption” with a cache of data from an executive’s hard drive. With Bank of America’s share price falling on the widely held suspicion that the hard drive was theirs, the executives on the call concluded it was time to take action.

Since then, a team of 15 to 20 top Bank of America officials, led by the chief risk officer, Bruce R. Thompson, has been overseeing a broad internal investigation — scouring thousands of documents in the event that they become public, reviewing every case where a computer has gone missing and hunting for any sign that its systems might have been compromised.

In addition to the internal team drawn from departments like finance, technology, legal and communications, the bank has brought in Booz Allen Hamilton, the consulting firm, to help manage the review. It has also sought advice from several top law firms about legal problems that could arise from a disclosure, including the bank’s potential liability if private information was disclosed about clients.

The company’s chief executive, Brian T. Moynihan, receives regular updates on the team’s progress, according to one Bank of America executive familiar with the team’s work, who, like other bank officials, was granted anonymity to discuss the confidential inquiry.

Whether Mr. Assange is bluffing, or indeed has Bank of America in its sights at all, the bank’s defense strategy represents the latest twist in the controversy over WikiLeaks and Mr. Assange.

The United States government has been examining whether Mr. Assange, an Australian, could be charged criminally for the release by WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of classified Pentagon and State Department diplomatic cables that became the subject of articles in The New York Times and other publications last month.

The Swedish government is also seeking to question Mr. Assange about rape accusations against him. As he fights extradition from Britain in that case, he remains under house arrest in an English mansion. Mr. Assange has said the timing of the rape accusations was not coincidental, and that he was the victim of a smear campaign led by the United States government.

Despite his legal troubles, Mr. Assange’s threats have grown more credible with every release of secret documents, including those concerning the dumping of toxic waste in Africa, the treatment of prisoners held by the United States at Guantánamo Bay, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and, most recently, the trove of diplomatic cables.

That Mr. Assange might shift his attention to a private company — especially one as politically unpopular as Bank of America or any of its rivals, which have been stained by taxpayer-financed bailouts and the revelation of improper foreclosure practices — raises a new kind of corporate threat, combining elements of law, technology, public policy, politics and public relations.

“This is a significant moment, and Bank of America has to get out in front of it,” said Richard S. Levick, a veteran crisis communications expert. “Corporate America needs to look at what happens here, and how Bank of America handles it.”

Last month, the bank bought up Web addresses that could prove embarrassing to the company or its top executives in the event of a large-scale public assault, but a spokesman for the bank said the move was unrelated to any possible leak.

Then, on Dec. 18, Bank of America may have antagonized Mr. Assange further when it said it would join other companies like MasterCard and PayPal in halting the processing of payments intended for WikiLeaks, citing the possibility the organization’s activities might be illegal.

Mr. Assange has never said explicitly that the data he possesses comes from Bank of America, which is the nation’s largest bank, though he did say that the disclosure would take place sometime early this year.


 The bank has emerged as the most likely target because a year before the latest threat, Mr. Assange said in an interview that his group had the hard drive of a Bank of America executive containing five gigabytes of data — enough to hold more than 200,000 pages of text — and was evaluating how to present it. It was this .  con \nection that set the wheels in motion on Nov. 30 The financial markets took the threat seriously. Bank of America shares fell 3 percent in trading the day after Mr. Assange made his threat against a nameless bank, and while the stock has since recovered, the prospect of a Bank of America data dump from WikiLeaks remains a concern, said Moshe Orenbuch, an analyst with Credit Suisse.

“The fears have calmed down somewhat, but if there is something out there that is revealed, the market reaction will be negative,” he said.

Bank of America’s internal review has turned up no evidence that would substantiate Mr. Assange’s claim that he has a hard drive, according to interviews with executives there. The company declined to otherwise comment on the case. A WikiLeaks representative also declined to comment.

With the data trail cold, one working theory both inside and outside the bank is that internal documents in Mr. Assange’s possession, if any, probably came from the mountains of material turned over to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Congressional investigators and the New York attorney general’s office during separate investigations in 2009 and 2010 into the bank’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

As it happens, Mr. Assange’s first mention of the Bank of America hard drive, in October 2009, coincided with hearings by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform into the Merrill merger, and with wide-ranging requests for information by the committee.

The bank’s investigative team is trying to reconstruct the handover of materials to public agencies for a variety of inquiries, in pursuit of previously undisclosed documents that could embarrass the company, bank officials said.

In addition to the Merrill documents, the team is reviewing material on Bank of America’s disastrous acquisition in 2008 of Countrywide Financial, the subprime mortgage specialist, the officials said. The criticism of Bank of America’s foreclosure procedures centers mostly on loans it acquired in the Countrywide deal, and one possibility is that the documents could show unscrupulous or fraudulent lending practices by Countrywide.

If that is the case, it would not only reignite political pressure on Bank of America and other top mortgage servicers, but it could also strengthen the case of investors pressuring the big banks to buy back tens of billions in soured mortgages.

“If something happens, we want to be ready,” one bank official said. “You want to know what your options are before it comes out, rather than have to decide on the spot.” Bank of America’s efforts are complicated by the fact that it has made several huge acquisitions in recent years, and those once-independent companies had different computer systems and security procedures.

WikiLeaks has taken on private companies in the past, including leaking documents from Barclays of Britain and Bank Julius Baer of Switzerland, but neither disclosure drew nearly as much attention.

Officials at the S.E.C., the House oversight committee and the New York attorney general’s office insist the information they received had been turned over in the form of papers and discs, never a hard drive, and deny they are the source of the WikiLeaks cache.

At the same time, Mr. Assange’s own statements would seem to undermine the government-as-source theory, hinting instead that resignations might follow as evidence emerges of corruption among top executives, something the public investigations never found.

“It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume,” he said in the November 2010 interview with Forbes. “For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron e-mails.”

Eric Dash and Louise Story contributed reporting.

The Real Reason Amazon Dropped WikiLeaks? Taxpayer Money


December 28, 2010

by Charles Davis

Criminal Justice

Earlier this month, online retail giant Amazon.com portrayed its decision to drop the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks from its servers as a brave, moral stand prompted by its tremendous concern for protecting innocent lives.

But New York University journalism professor Dave Winer thinks he’s stumbled across the real reason the company moved so quickly to boot WikiLeaks, “the 800 pound gorilla in the room”: Amazon’s desire to secure lucrative government contracts that could’ve been jeopardized had it agreed to host a website whose founder has been labeled a “high-tech terrorist” by the vice president.

“Today I got a promotional email from Kay Kinton, Senior Public Relations Manager for Amazon Web Services [AWS], entitled ‘Amazon Web Services Year in Review,’” Wisner recounts on his blog — an email that heralded the company’s financially lucrative and growing ties to the federal government.

“Today we have nearly 20 government agencies leveraging AWS, and the U.S. federal government continues to be one of our fastest growing customer segments,” reads the letter from Amazon. “AWS customers include Treasury.gov, the Federal Register 2.0 at the National Archives, the openEI.org project at DoE’s National Renewable Energy Lab, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at USDA, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA.”

Like any corporation, Amazon acts in the way it thinks it can best maximize its profit, not how best it thinks it can serve society or, say, public discourse. And its original excuse – that WikiLeaks violated its terms of service because it didn’t “own” the content it hosted – never made sense considering the company sells all of Bob Woodward’s books, which are loaded with classified information disclosed to him by government insiders, as well as a Kindle version of The New York Times.

 However, “It makes perfect sense that the U.S. government is a big customer of Amazon’s web services,” writes Winer. “It also makes perfect sense that Amazon wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that business. There might not have even been a phone call, it might not have been necessary.”

The standard comeback for Amazon’s defenders is that, as a private company, it is free to host or not host the content of its choosing. And indeed, as stated, that’s hard to argue with. But then, Amazon is also a major recipient of taxpayer dollars, making it more of a corporatist creation than a legitimate example of free market virtue. And its customers are also free to give their money to those who share their values – and if free speech and the right to know how the U.S. government is spending its taxpayers’ money is one of them, there’s better places to shop than Amazon.com.

FBI Steps Up WikiLeaks-Linked Probe With Texas, Germany Raids


January 4, 2011

by Michael Riley


The U.S. is stepping up a search for participants in WikiLeaks-related cyber attacks on PayPal Inc. and other payment processors, raiding a Dallas company last month and coordinating a seizure of evidence with police in Germany, according to a request for a federal search warrant.

A Federal Bureau of Investigation raid of the Dallas computer server company Tailor Made Servers, which a person familiar with the case said occurred on Dec. 16, could provide investigators with information about the creators of chat rooms used by a group of WikiLeaks supporters that calls itself Anonymous. The group said it was behind more than two weeks of cyber attacks in December.

The chat rooms were used to issue instructions about how to download software that could flood the websites of payment processors with thousands of commands a second, slowing or even disabling them, according to an affidavit filed in Dallas federal court, which was briefly made public and posted on the Smoking Gun website because of a court error.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters last month that the Justice Department would investigate the attacks, launched by an informal global network of activists in retaliation for the decision by some companies to stop processing donations to WikiLeaks after it released thousands of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables.

The targets included EBay Inc.’s PayPal unit, MasterCard Inc., Visa Inc. and Moneybookers.com.

“We are looking into them,” Holder said on Dec. 9.

The attacks could be prosecuted as a conspiracy to cause damage to computer networks, a federal crime.

Dallas Raid

Seven days after Holder spoke, FBI agents raided the server company in a Dallas industrial park, which uses one of eight Internet Protocol addresses globally that hosted the chat rooms, according to the affidavit in support of the search warrant.

Jose Quinones, a Tailor Made Servers employee, said by e- mail that the authorities asked him not to speak to the press about the raid. Special Agent Mark White, a spokesman for the FBI field office in Dallas, confirmed the raid but said he couldn’t provide details other than those in the affidavit.

Cyber security experts said the servers may contain detailed log information, including data that could lead investigators back to individual computers and their users.

“Those servers are likely to have logs showing certain events — people setting up the server,” said Jose Nazario, a cyber security expert with Arbor Networks, based in Chelmsford, Massachusetts. “It gives you an indication of who the ring- leaders were.”

Germany, France

The route to those leaders runs through Germany and France, as well as Canada and U.S. states including California and Texas, a zigzag path that security experts say the cyber attackers may be using to hide their tracks.

Investigators with the German Federal Criminal Police traced one of the eight IP addresses to the German Internet service provider Host Europe, according to the affidavit. The German police executed their own search warrant, uncovering Host Europe business records that showed the server actually belonged to a resident of Herrlisheim, France, the FBI said.

From there, investigators tracked commands being issued to the French server from one hosted by Tailor Made Servers, the affidavit said. On its website, Tailor Made Servers said it offers server space to various clients with the motto “we put a lot of passion into building the best servers possible.”

“The multiple layers add to the difficulty,” Nazario said.

While it’s difficult for investigators to find the culprits behind so-called denial of service attacks, security experts say the assault by Anonymous could be an exception. To enlist thousands of volunteers to lend their personal computers to the attack, nicknamed “Operation Payback,” organizers were forced to discuss logistics and plans in open web forums.


Ion Cannon

Participants were given instructions on how to download the software, known as Low Orbit Ion Cannon, which is able to barrage target websites with commands meant to disable them. Activists in the U.S. and Europe were given websites to target and told when to activate the software through Twitter accounts associated with Anonymous, with simple messages like “fire now.”

“Users discussed their opinions on ‘Operation Payback,’ obtained technical support on how to install and use the LOIC program, and voted for which websites should be the next target,” the affidavit said.

Security experts who have tracked Anonymous and its roots say the group spans the U.S., Western Europe and Japan and is generally made up of middle and upper-class teenagers, most of them male.

The leaders number fewer than two dozen, according to one security expert, who has studied its members closely and asked for anonymity because he said the group is known to retaliate against critics or perceived enemies.

Clues to Leaders

Nazario said that computer servers may provide clues not just to the group’s leaders, but also to thousands of people in the U.S. and elsewhere who participated in the cyber attacks by using Low Orbit Ion Cannon software.

Dutch police in December said they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected of being involved in the attack. It’s unclear whether U.S. authorities will charge low-level participants as opposed to key organizers, Nazario said.

“That may be a lot of overhead for very little gain,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Riley in Washington at michaelriley@bloomberg.net

Capital’s war against WikiLeaks

Can the leak phenonomen sustain the continued assault by the corporate sector to prevail in the first ever cyber-war?

December 29, 2010

by Mark LeVine

Al Jazeera

When your Swiss banker throws you overboard, you know you’ve made some very powerful enemies.

Long famed for hiding money for everyone from Nazis and drug lords to spies and dictators, the Swiss government’s banking arm has decided that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are just too hot even for it to handle.

And so the PostFinance, which runs the country’s banks, declared in early December that it had “ended its business relationship with WikiLeaks founder Julian Paul Assange” after accusing Mr. Assange of – gasp! – providing false information about his place of residence.

This move followed similar moves by credit card companies MasterCard and Visa, as well as PayPal and Amazon.com, to no longer process WikiLeaks payments and, in Amazon.com’s case, to cease hosting its data.

As I write this, Bank of America has joined the crescendo of corporations taking aim at WikiLeaks, refusing to process payments for it any longer because of “our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.”

And soon after, none other than Apple joined the chorus, pulling the plug on a WikiLeaks app only days after it went on sale on its iTunes website. Every sector of the corporate economy, it seems, is out to get WikiLeaks.


Zeroing in on “neocorporatism”

Should CIA agents, mafia bosses and other fellow Swiss banking customers who have likely been even less than forthright in their personal representations than Assange is alleged to have been also worry about the loyalty and discretion of their Swiss bankers?

Probably not. And that’s because the world’s criminals, autocrats and spooks are very much part of the global political economic system, even if sometimes on opposite sides.

But WikiLeaks both operates outside the system, seeking “Matrix”-style, to use technology – the internet – to “destroy” it by prying it open to public scrutiny, exposing the constant conspiracies of the powerful against the rest of society.

This task, Assange argues, is the most important way to help free the system’s millions of often complicit – if not quite willing – victims and in so doing, “change or remove… government and neocorporatist behaviour”.

As a political theorist, Assange leaves something to be desired. “Neocorporatism” describes a system in which capital and labour are enmeshed in an integrated but ultimately dependent relationship with a powerful and autonomous state apparatus – an update of the triangular relationship that enabled unprecedented economic growth and gains for the working class in the West in the decades after World War II.

Ideologically, this kind of close working relationship between government, big business and organised labour is the antithesis of the neoliberal system WikiLeaks seeks to combat.

But Assange is right that there is something “neo”, if not exactly new, in the way the corporate sector is behaving today and its relationship with government. It lies in the embrace – or better, re-embrace – of finance capitalism and militaristic empire and the military industrial complex that sustains it.

Whether preying on unwitting consumers in middle America or preying on suspected insurgents in the Middle East, these are two of the most secretive sectors of the American economy. They depend on the public knowing as little as possible about their inner workings to secure the greatest possible freedom of action, power and profits.


The power of secrecy

Assage’s abandonment by the Swiss banking system and its American corporate cousins is thus not surprising. Few industries have used secrecy and lack of disclosure more effectively than the banking, financial services and credit card industries.

Indeed, their secretive business practises are central to their constant ability to rake in enormous profits at the expense of working and middle class Americans through monopolising trading systems, charging morally usurious interest rates and fees, and engaging in other practises that would make even the most cold-hearted lone shark blush.

If the grand bargain between workers, capitalists and governments enabled the first two post-World War II generations to move from high school right into the middle class, this road was irreparably damaged by the 1980s, when the neoliberal Right first came to power.

As the United States entered its long and painful era of deindustrialization American foreign policy became more aggressively militaristic; and so joining the military as opposed to GM or Ford became one of the few routes to secure any kind of stable economic future (as long as you stayed in the military).

Not surprisingly, profits from the financial sector surpassed that of manufacturing in the early 1990s and haven’t dropped since. But these profits and the economic growth they generated have relied disproportionately on government and consumer debt and a hollowing out of the manufacturing sector, which together helped make the US the “sick man of the globe”, as one senior corporate economist.

For their part, GM, Ford and Chrysler simultaneously focused most of their energies on producing comparatively profitable gas-guzzlers like SUVs while establishing financial services arms that quickly became responsible for a substantial share of their profits (in some years upwards of 90 percent of profits are so derived).

Their lending practises, it’s worth noting, included the kinds of “liar” home loans, given out with little concern over the ability of borrowers to pay them, that precipitated the global economic crisis of 2007 till today.


Financialisation and history

None of these practises would have withstood the light of public scrutiny, and it was only the corporatisation – in good measure, financialization – of American politics that allowed them to flourish in the last thirty years. Few enterprises threaten that secrecy as much as WikiLeaks and its laser-like focus on openness, which is why its actions are viewed in Washington as “striking at the very heart of the global economy”.

The “financialisation” of the economy represents the increasing dominance of the financial industries in the overall economy, taking over “the dominant economic, cultural, and political role in a national economy”.

Crucially, this process isn’t unique to the United States; it also happened to previous empires, like the Hapsburg’s, Dutch and British empires, at precisely the eras they lost their dominant global position. In all cases, financialism and militarism went hand in hand, as first pointed out by the British historian John Hobson’s famous 1902 book Imperialism: A Study.

In it, Hobson argued that the monopolisation of the financial sector created a new oligarchy that linked together the large banks and industrial firms together with “war mongers and speculators” which encouraged imperialism to secure markets for the surplus products produced by corporations.

America’s rise to global dominance came after the end of the imperial era and so it couldn’t blatantly conquer territory to create new markets. But at the moment of its rise policy makers called on the government to use high military spending to ensure overall robust economic growth.

This coincided with rapid expansion of easily obtainable credit, creating two “giant black holes” (in the words of Israeli economists Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan) whose potential for expansion was limited only by the willingness of citizens to support the policies that enabled them, despite the long term harm to the economic and political well-being of their societies.

During the first thirty years of the Cold War era, the propensity towards militarism was balanced by the robust manufacturing economy and the tripartite business-labour-government relationship that secured it.

This began to change in the 1970s, when the hugely expensive, and profitable, Vietnam War began to wind down.

As Nitzan and Bichler describe in their hugely important book, The Global Political Economy of Israel, beginning in this period “there was a growing convergence of interests between the world’s leading petroleum and armament corporations. The politicisation of oil, together with the parallel commercialisation of arms exports, helped shape an uneasy weapondollar-petrodollar coalition between these companies.”

What is most crucial about Nitzan and Bichler’s analysis is that one of the most important ways that the arms and oil industries were able to earn a disproportionate (as they describe it, “differential”) level of profits was through the regular eruption of Middle Eastern energy conflicts, which ensured both relative high oil prices and arms purchases.


McDonald’s and McDonnell Douglas

As this process developed, the authors explain that “the lines separating state from capital, foreign policy from corporate strategy, and territorial conquest from differential profit, no longer seem very solid.”

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman puts it more colourfully: “The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas – and the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.”

This is the “neocorporatism” that Assange and his WikiLeaks comrades have zeroed in on, although today, more than a decade after Friedman wrote the above words, Master Card is more relevant than McDonald’s.

The problem is that WikiLeaks alone cannot turn the tide in this conflict.

Assange might well be a “high tech terrorist,” as US Vice President Joseph Biden recently called him, given how much terror his actions have struck in the heart of the American political system.

But the US is ultimately only one of a group of powerful countries and corporations whose leaders all share a fundamental commitment to securing as much profit and power as possible for themselves, however much their methods and politics differ.

Indeed, a sober look at the relevant data reveals that the profit share of the financial sectors outside the US has almost always been significantly higher than in the US, meaning that the rest of the world has long been more “financialised” than has the US economy.

As always, capitalism and power have never been as conveniently centred in one country or region as people imagine.

To really have an impact, WikiLeaks needs to inspire a whole generation of leakers in other countries and cultures, who are as willing to risk their freedom as Assange and the other people behind WikiLeaks. The leak culture has started to take root, however only time will tell if it resists the forces working against it’s development.

If this doesn’t happen – if Assange and his comrades are successfully made into examples by their corporate and political enemies that scare off those who might be inspired by their example – Capital will likely win the world’s first “cyber-war”, much as it’s won most every war before it during modernity’s long, bloody and unimaginably profitable history.


Mark Levine is a professional musician and professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of California, Irvine. He is author of half a dozen books, including Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Religion and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam (forthcoming, Random House/Verso, companion CD to be released by EMI Records).


 Journalism of Appeasement. Corruption, Smoke and Mirrors

December 27, 2010

by David DeGraw
Global Research,

            Here’s a brief summation of my recent reporting:

            If we continue to let our politicians and wealthy members of society live in comfort, free from the consequences of their actions, we are complicit in our own demise.

            Our country is so overrun with corruption, we cannot remain passive and expect things to get any better.

            The economy is propped up by smoke and mirrors and will inevitably collapse. Without immediately breaking up the banks and holding the thieves accountable, we will continue on our downward spiral with increasingly severe and devastating consequences.

            These are extremely unpleasant truths that we are now forced to confront. We have to act now. If you are not calling for revolution or organizing, you are either unaware of what’s happening around you, horribly naïve or a fascist sympathizer.

            In response to statements like those above, I’ve been exchanging emails with colleagues (journalists and news editors) who have become “uncomfortable” with my reporting style and been saying some variation of the following: “You’re being too radical. This is too extreme for us to publish.”

            While I appreciate their opinions, I want to make something 100% clear. I am fully aware that these words are harsh, and may turn off some people. However, in extreme times, telling the truth will make you sound extreme. Ultimately, I don’t mind if you think I sound “too extreme,” I don’t care if I make people “uncomfortable,” or if, in your opinion, I’ve become “too radical.” Try telling that to the 52 million Americans who are now living in poverty. Tell that to the millions of American families who have lost their homes and jobs. Tell that to the 59 million people who can’t afford health insurance. Tell that to the overwhelming majority of the population who are stressed out, living paycheck to paycheck, buried in debt they will never get out of and desperately struggling to make ends meet.

            Try telling that to all the people who have emailed me explaining their dire situations due to this economic crisis. Tell that to all the people I personally know who have taken major pay cuts.

            I will not participate in the journalism of appeasement.

            What has to happen for you to stop being a status quo supporting naïve journalist and realize that we are in the middle of a war? More accurately, it is a slaughter. An all-time record-breaking slaughter.

            I refuse to “normalize the unthinkable.”

            Here’s a list of stats that I am sure you are already extremely sick of hearing, what we have already passively accepted as “the new normal,” some new ALL-TIME RECORDS for you:

            3 million families foreclosed upon;
            30 million people in need of employment;
            43 million people on food stamps;
            52 million people in poverty;
            59 million people without healthcare;
            239 million living paycheck to paycheck;
            $144 billion in Wall Street bonuses;
            $13 Trillion in investible wealth within 1% of US population.

Ask yourself this question: How sick and depraved of a society do you have to live in to get an outcome like this?

            We now have the highest and most severe inequality of wealth in the history of the United States. We have witnessed an economic shock and awe campaign, acts of financial terrorism have impoverished tens of millions of people and put our future prospects in an urgently dire situation. We know who is responsible for it, yet nothing is done to hold them accountable, and most astounding of all, the people responsible for this (a financial terrorism network) are still in power!

            This is the largest criminal racket in world history. We need prosecutions under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, right now!

            Another important point in response to emails that I get: when I write that Obama is a puppet, some people still get upset with me. Are you kidding me? What kind of president allows this to happen without holding people accountable? What kind of president allows our tax dollars to be taken and handed out as all-time record-breaking bonuses while we have an all-time record-breaking number of people living in poverty? What kind of president puts career-long preeminent economic imperialists Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in charge of our economy, and supports Ben Bernanke’s reconfirmation as Fed Chairman? This is all absurd and inexcusable! These three people would be in prison if we lived in a nation ruled by law. Obama is a bullshit artist – Period, Full Stop.

            This is a quintessential banana republic ruled by a puppet president. If that truth is too much for you to handle, stop reading this right now and go retreat into your “reality TV” world while you still can.

            Let me defer to Senator Bernie Sanders. He recently said what I’ve been screaming about and gave us one of those very rare moments when truth was actually spoken on the Senate floor:

            “There is a war going on in this county and I’m not referring to the war in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan. I’m talking about a war being waged by some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this country against the working families of the United States of America, against the disappearing and shrinking middle class of our country.

            The reality is that many of the nation’s billionaires are on the war path. They want more, more, more. Their greed has no end, and apparently there is very little concern for our country or for the people of this country if it gets in the way of the accumulation of more and more wealth, and more and more power….

            Today… the crooks on Wall Street… the people whose actions, illegal actions, reckless actions, have resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs, their homes, their savings… After we bailed them out, the CEOs today are now earning more money than they did before the bailout…. While the middle class of this country collapses and the rich become much richer… the United States now has, by far, the most unequal distribution of income and wealth of any major country on earth.

            When we were in school, we used to read the text books which talked about the banana republics in Latin America… about countries in which a handful of people owned and controlled most of the wealth in those countries. Well, guess what? That is exactly what is happening in the United States today.”

            What will it take to make you understand this? Don’t you get it? This is a war! This is a mass slaughter carried out by economic policy. This is the elimination of the existence of a middle class. These are financial terrorists committing crimes against humanity. Our country is being attacked! My family is under attack! My child is under attack! I am under attack!

            We are under attack!

            I know that TV news propaganda confuses people, but on a basic and profound level, whether people want to admit it or not, the overwhelming majority of the population knows that our nation has been taken over by a global banking cartel. We know that our future has gone up in flames. We know that both political parties have been paid off and don’t represent us. If the politicians don’t drastically change course and start representing the people, we have a duty, a Constitutional commitment and obligation to launch a revolution.

            If you are not calling for revolution or organizing, you are either unaware of what’s happening around you, horribly naïve or a fascist sympathizer. If we continue to let our politicians and wealthy members of society live in comfort, free from the consequences of their actions, we are complicit in our own demise.

            Our country is so overrun with corruption, we cannot remain passive and expect things to get any better. The economy is now propped up by smoke and mirrors and will inevitably collapse. Without immediately breaking up the banks and holding the thieves accountable, we will continue on our downward spiral with increasingly severe and devastating consequences. These are extremely unpleasant truths that we are now forced to confront. We have to act now.

            People who still delude themselves into apathy by clinging to the belief that giving trillions of dollars to the banks had to be done, are buying into a baseless propaganda line. Use your commonsense. What kind of fool would think that the best way to solve the economic crisis would be to give trillions of dollars to the people who are most responsible for causing it. That is absurd! Instead of holding them accountable for the crimes they committed, they were given trillions in taxpayer funds which they used to further consolidate power and give themselves all-time record-breaking bonuses – and they deliberately impoverished tens of millions of people in the process. People are either confused as to what happened or they are in denial and afraid to confront the colossal crime committed. Whatever the case may be, there is no escaping the consequences. The implications are staggering. If you think it’s been bad over the past two years, get ready, you haven’t seen anything yet.

            So are we going to start fighting back, or should I just move my family to another country? Most everyone who understands our economic and political situation are having this debate now and contemplating moving outside the country. Is that what we should do? Should we just leave the country and let it collapse?

            Those who are aware have reached the point where our survival instinct is kicking in. Fight or flight?

            I’m ready to fight, but I’m not ready to fight a losing battle. We all need to do what is best for our family.

            Are you with me? Or should I start packing now?

David DeGraw is the founder and editor of AmpedStatus.com. He is the author of The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States. His new book is The Road Through 2012.



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:





Here is the fifty fifth chapter


Conversation No. 55


Date: Monday, December 30, 1996

Commenced: 8:45 AM CST

Concluded: 9:21 AM CST

RTC: Hello, Gregory. Have a nice Christmas?

GD: Wonderful. I got a sled, some bunny slippers, a silencer for my shotgun, a pornographic Bible, three pair of socks that were too small and a dead turtle. Yourself?

RTC: Somehow, I don’t believe you. Christmas was fine here. I take it you did not have an extensive Christmas.

GD: The rabbit died and we were in deep mourning. But then we ate it and felt much better.

RTC: I could send a sympathy card.

GD: Just flush it down the loo. It might meet up with what’s left of the rabbit. Robert, to be serious, you said that Corson did not like Mark Lane. He represented Carto in a lawsuit and I was wondering what was the reason for the bad feeling?

RTC: My God, Gregory, this is like an old auntie’s sewing circle. Everyone here hates everyone else, tells lies, sticks out their tongues at each other and acts like small children. There was a lawsuit of the Keystone Cops type. Victor Marchetti, who used to be one of ours but got booted out, wrote an article for the Spotlight paper saying that Hunt had been in Dallas on the day Kennedy was shot. He was. Hunt sued the paper and got a judgment. The paper fought back and got Mark Lane to defend them.

GD: The Oswald lawyer?

RTC: The same. So they went back and forth. Marchetti is a fat slob who thinks he is very important when we who really know him consider him to be a chattering nut. Hunt is grossly incompetent but the reason why Corson hates Lane and everyone else, is that Marchetti claimed he got this information about Hunt in Dallas on November 22nd from Corson. Corson got dragged over the coals by Lane and clearly was proved to be a liar. However, there was a third person there when Corson told his little story to Marchetti and that’s what nailed him. Poor Bill. He always has to put his oar in, needed or not.

GD: Well, he told Kimmel that he knew some secret British soldier who told Corson about the Roosevelt/Churchill conversation. Corson claimed he backed it up. Kimmel went for this like a duck after a June bug, but I can’t believe it. Who was this mysterious witness? Corson said his lips were sealed.

RTC: Too bad that isn’t true.

GD: Back and forth. I know Corson has lectured me on a subject that I knew far better that he did but I just kept quiet and acted impressed. Didn’t he get court-martialed?

RTC: My God, Gregory, don’t ever go into that one. Look, these people like Bill and Trento, Marchetti and the rest of them, are like squirrels in the park running around begging nuts from the public. This is the Beltway, Gregory. It’s a hot house. Someone sees the President from about two hundred feet away, driving past in his armored limousine and then tells his friends that he had a chance to talk to the President that afternoon and the President told him….and that’s how it goes. Trento thinks he is a brilliant writer, Bill thinks he’s a mover and shaker, Marchetti sees himself as a secret agent and Hunt has just enough sense to put on his pants before going outside to get the paper. These are the hangers-on, Gregory, the wannabes as the current generation calls them.

GD: Ah, Robert, but you were actually there, you knew from doing it. The sun versus the moon. The moon reflects the glory of another. Does that role make you happy?

RTC: It makes me sad sometimes. And they run around acting like old women. Chatter, chatter, boast, back-stab, strut and eventually die. We all die, Gregory, but some take a long time to do it. I’m pleasant with them because perhaps they can help me but I am giving up with most of them. I thought Costello would be a good outlet but I gave up on him long before he died last year. Trento thinks he’s a great intelligence writer but he reminds me of a wino rooting around in old dumpsters for chicken bones. Bill hints at great secrets that only he knows and Hunt is a bumbling idiot and we should have done him instead of his wife. Marchetti is a little bit of all of them. If you listen to them, Gregory, they will convince you that big black cars drive up in front of their homes, every evening, and give them briefcases full of very secret papers. You know the types.

GD: I do, Robert, I really do. I love it when one of your pinheads starts telling me about German intelligence. Oh yes, and what about Nosenko?

RTC: A Russian double agent that Angleton mismanaged.

GD: Was Angleton Italian?

RTC: No, half Mexican. He spoke wop from his father, having lived there and sold cash registers but he was a Mexican. He was well-connected with the mob, though.

GD: Mueller told me about Boris Pash…

RTC: That asshole. A gym teacher with more dreams of glory.

GD: Heini said that Pash tried to kill the Italian Communist leader.

RTC: Togliatti. Yes, but he missed. They always miss, Gregory.

GD: I have an Irish friend who never does. He prefers a knife but bombs will do very well.

RTC: I think you mentioned him. Mountbatten?

GD: The same. Now that’s a professional. And he doesn’t talk like the rest of them.

RTC: Real professionals never do.

GD: So if we both agree on what constitutes a professional agent, how do you analyze Corson, Kimmel, Marchetti, Trento and the others? Are they agents? Kimmel works for the FBI, Marchetti used to work for your people and the others?

RTC: What we have there is the wannabe club, Gregory. All of them think they are important people and, because they have, or have had, connections with the intelligence community, they begin to feel, somehow, that they are possessors of the secrets that others do not have. This elevates them from boredom and real obscurity and makes them believe that they are privy to those who really do walk in the corridors of power. I am the one, pardon the vanity, with the secrets and I am the one who walked once in the corridors of power so they gather around me, snapping up any little bit of information I choose to drop. There are many things I would like people I know, such as my family, to know about. I would like not to leave a legacy of mystery and negativity behind me. I know Corson and the others would like to have a private club type of inner knowledge, to sit around the fire solemnly talking about great secrets they have known. Never happen. When I go, they go. It’s that basic. I had thought once to cultivate Costello and let him speak for me but I gave up on him after his visit with you. The man was brittle, opinionated and as blind as a bat. Kimmel is an establishment man with no creative juices, Corson runs around barking like one of those obnoxious little Mexican dogs that were once raised for food, Marchetti reminds me of a drunken little rat running around in a barn, trying to get out. And when he does get out, he runs around outside trying to get back in. Trento and his wife are delusional and self important and love to mix it up with losers and never-could-have-beens.

GD: Basking, like the moon, in reflected glory.

RTC: Absolutely. And these are at the top of the rank amateur clubs. Down below them, we find the “experts” and the “researchers” who represent the bottom of the pyramid. They are the ones who scribble, jabber and strut. They look upwards to the top for the voices of the masters. They all feed on each other, Gregory. Their little worlds are all they have and if someone like you, especially someone like you, comes along, they loathe, fear and despise you. You see, you are the real thing and they are just wearing Halloween costumes and they know it. After Costello returned from his visit with you and spent hours telling me how terrible and unpleasant you were, I put this down to simple jealousy and thought that perhaps I might look into you myself. And that’s why we’re talking right this very moment.

GD: Thank you for your approval, Robert. I agree with you, but they are wearing the gold-braided clown suits and go to clubs and meetings and, like old peacocks, preen endlessly. What you tell me I already know, Robert, but short of grabbing them by their throats and banging their heads against the wall, there isn’t much I can do…

RTC: Except to out-produce them, Gregory. And they know you can do it and they hate you for it. A week does not go by without my getting some kind of a phone call about what a terrible, evil person you are and warning me never to talk with you. Notice how impressed I have been with these dire warnings. But please make my life a little easier in my old age by not quoting me to any of these cheap hustlers. If they really get it into their heads that I am being informative to you, they will call me every other day, warn Greg and Emily to protect me from you and then do everything in their shabby little power to trash you. Do not, and I repeat, do not trust any of them, ever. I think we understand this all, don’t we?

GD: Oh, yes. I never trusted these sort anyway. They remind me of old aunties or, even worse, academics. Both of them gossip, chatter, denigrate everyone not present and can’t sleep well at night unless they feel they have damaged someone else that day. They see themselves as giants and, in fact, they are small, chattering mice. But, and I am sure you know all about this, we have to put up with them in order to get along with the really important matters. Don’t worry about making myself vulnerable to these types. It ends up that they make themselves vulnerable to me in the end. What is the saying? Out of nothing, nothing is made.

(Concluded at 9:21 AM 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 organizaion 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 and lives in retirement in Florida


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 Hungarian 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

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