TBR News July 10, 2017

Jul 10 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., July 10, 2017:” Governments, like individuals, are chronically in need of money to operate.

This funding comes from diverse sources in the main taxes raised from the population.

But in a democratic state, these funds are controlled and accountable.

It would be, as it is in the United States, quite acceptable for the government to loot the Social Security and federal pension funds until all that remains to the eye of the beneficiaries is a hollow facade, only awaiting a strong windstorm to collapse.

However, it is another matter entirely for a government to make a profit by selling illegal drugs to its own citizens, as only one example.

Clandestine agencies are always loathe to disclose to the custodians of public funds the reasons for which their budgetary needs are required.

Other, and less public, sources have to be tapped. Here we have an example of how such matters are conducted on the highest levels.”

Table of Contents

  • Russophobia Hits the Libertarian Movement
  • The Dangers of a Public in Arms
  • Germany starts to withdraw troops from Turkish Incirlik base
  • Why Is Nikki Haley Still Trump’s UN Ambassador?
  • The Publicly Available Evidence Doesn’t Support Russian Gov Hacking of 2016 Election
  • Huge crowd rallies in Istanbul against Turkey’s post-coup crackdown
  • Saudi Arabia exports extremism to many countries – including Germany, study says
  • Trump presses congressional Republicans to pass healthcare plan
  • Stolen Gold and Coming Revolution
  • To Syria and Back


Russophobia Hits the Libertarian Movement

But “Libertarians for World War III” won’t get much traction

July 10, 2017

by Justin Raimondo


Fear and loathing of Russia is all the rage in Washington, D.C., as both liberal Democrats and neoconservative Republicans unite in a campaign to demonize the Kremlin as “the premier and most important threat, more so than ISIS,” as Sen. John McCain recently put it. While Hillary Clinton and her dead-ender supporters conjure a Vast Russian Conspiracy to hand the 2016 election to Donald Trump, and the neocons take advantage of this to push their longstanding hatred of Russian President Vladimir Putin, even ostensible libertarians are getting into the act.

This may seem counterintuitive: after all, the modern libertarian movement was born in rebellion against the cold war politics of the Vietnam war era, and libertarians have always opposed Washington’s interventionist foreign policy, such as NATO and a destabilizing and dangerous arms race. Yet even libertarians are not immune to the power of groupthink and the tyranny of political fashion, as the cover story in the most recent edition of Reason magazine makes all too clear. Provocatively entitled “Russia’s Global Anti-Libertarian Crusade,” and authored by longtime Russophobe Cathy Young – herself an immigrant from Russia – the piece makes the case for viewing Russia in McCain-esque terms, i.e., an implacable enemy, the driving force behind an “illiberal international” dedicated to stamping out the last vestiges of liberty all across the globe. And it doesn’t stop there: Young advocates a series of measures to be undertaken by both governments and private entities to stem the “illiberal” tide – including economic sanctions against Russia. She writes:

“Aside from a verbal commitment to liberal democracy and the rule of law, what can Western countries do to curb Russia’s anti-liberal influence without risking military conflict? Economic sanctions – particularly when they target the Russian political elite and its properties abroad, as opposed to targeting ordinary Russian consumers – can be more effective than they are often believed to be.”

As Young and the editors of Reason know full well, existing sanctions against Russia are not limited to “the Russian political elite.” And, in any case, Young doesn’t object to these comprehensive restraints on trade: she wants them extended to include particular persons and institutions for the sole purpose of antagonizing them and making any sort of rapprochement between Russia and the United States impossible.

Which leads us to scratch our heads and ask: what’s up with a “libertarian” magazine pushing economic sanctions? What happened to “free trade” and untrammeled capitalism, supposedly the touchstones of the free market philosophy so energetically celebrated by Reason since its founding in 1969? Isn’t it odd that Reason opposes economic sanctions on Communist Cuba, but wants them slapped on Russia – which is just emerging from 70-some years of its Marxist nightmare? Perhaps one explanation is that the magazine is funded in large part by oil oligarch Charles Koch, of Koch Industries, who stands to make billions if Russian energy exports are blocked by government action.

While ascribing this motivation to the editors of Reason may seem uncharitable, it is the least uncharitable explanation for publishing Young’s farrago of falsehood, innuendo, and neo-McCarthyite rubbish. Far worse would be an ideological motivation: that they actually believe the pathetic conspiracy theory Young cobbles together out of the imaginings of various professional Russophobes.

While distancing herself from the “more extreme” anti-Russian narratives, which she admits are conspiracy theories with little evidence to support them, Young weaves a “moderate” conspiracy theory of her own – with just as little evidence to support it. She claims that the Russians are supporting the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party of Greece, and Hungary’s “quasi-fascist” Jobbik movement, although no evidence of this is presented. She says in several instances that the National Front party of France’s Marine Le Pen is a Russian front: her “evidence” is that a Russian bank with “links to the Kremlin” provided the party with a loan. One wonders if, say, a British bank (with undefined “links” to Westminster) loaned money to an America political party, would that make them a tool of Perfidious Albion?

Who needs actual evidence, anyway, when writing about Russia? After all, as computer security expert Jeffrey Carr points out, there is exactly zero public proof that the Russians “hacked” the 2016 elections – and yet the media “reports” this as undisputed fact.

Bereft of any actual facts, Young proceeds to assemble an ideological construct, one that, however, has some pretty big cracks in the foundations. To wit:

“Cloaked in the mantle of religious and nationalist values, the Kremlin positions itself as a defender of tradition and sovereignty against the godless progressivism and the migrant hordes overtaking the West. It has a global propaganda machine and a network of political operatives dedicated to cultivating far-right and sometimes far-left groups in Europe and elsewhere.”

How does one reconcile Russia’s alleged crusade against “godless progressivism” with their alleged support for “far-left groups in Russia and elsewhere”? She mentions Syriza, the Greek leftist party that briefly came to power. Leaving aside that Young nowhere documents this alleged support – not even with so much as a single link – it would seem more than a bit odd for the Kremlin, the supposed fountainhead of Orthodox Christianity, to be behind the success of the Greek Syriza party, which is militantly secular: a Syriza proposal to completely separate the Greek state from the Orthodox Church and levy a special tax on all church members would seem to contradict Young’s thesis. Are leftists now suddenly defenders of “tradition”?

Young’s hostility to Orthodox Christianity is one of the linchpins of her conspiracy theory: Putin’s support for Christian values, as viewed through the lens of Russian Orthodoxy, is depicted as a threat to the West. This is a curious argument to make, since Christianity – while in retreat in the West – is still seen as the basis of the Western individualist ethic, the foundation of the very same “liberal values” that Young extols throughout her essay.

She cites John Schindler, a former US Naval War College professor forced out for sending photos of his penis to a Twitter follower, in support of this contention. Schindler asserts that Edward Snowden is a Russian agent and that Glenn Greenwald, who reported on Snowden’s findings, was in it for the money. Young cites him as a credible authority, invoking his theory that Putin is engaged in “Orthodox Jihadism” against the West. It doesn’t matter that Putin’s “Orthodox jihadists” – Where are they? Who are they? – aren’t the ones planting bombs throughout Western Europe. They’re against gay marriage, aren’t they? Writes Young: “The main example of Western decadence and liberal extremism was, of course, same-sex marriage.” Case closed! Except that Schindler ridiculing Greenwald, who is gay, as “Glenda” seems to undercut Young’s depiction of the former Naval War College professor and NSA veteran as a champion of liberal tolerance. One also has to wonder what Young, an admirer of novelist Ayn Rand, makes of Schindler’s belief that Rand was a secret Russian agent.

Another building block of Young’s argument that Putin’s Russia is “authoritarian” and a danger to the West is Ivan Ilyin, an early twentieth century Russian writer whom she describes as an “authoritarian nationalist,” a designation that has little to do with his actual views. During his time as Russia’s chief executive, Putin has quoted Ilyin on exactly five occasions, and Young sees this as “telling” – but what exactly does it tell us?

When Ilyin was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1922, he went to Berlin, where he was forced out by the Nazis for the crime of failing to teach in accordance with the doctrines of National Socialism – an odd transgression for an “authoritarian nationalist” to have committed, but there you have it. While Young gives us a highly colored view of Ilyin’s politics, a more expansive – and fairer – synopsis is provided by Paul Robinson in The American Conservative:

“Ilyin believed that the source of Russia’s problems was an insufficiently developed ‘legal consciousness’ (pravosoznanie). Given this, democracy was not a suitable form of government. He wrote that ‘at the head of the state there must be a single will.’ Russia needed a ‘united and strong state power, dictatorial in the scope of its powers.’ At the same time, there must be clear limits to these powers. The ruler must have popular support; organs of the state must be responsible and accountable; the principle of legality must be preserved and all persons must be equal under the law. Freedom of conscience, speech, and assembly must be guaranteed. Private property should be sacrosanct. Ilyin believed that the state should be supreme in those areas in which it had competence, but should stay entirely out of those areas in which it did not, such as private life and religion. Totalitarianism, he said, was ‘godless.’”

That Putin isn’t presiding over a Jeffersonian republic is a complaint that fails to view modern Russia’s history in context. It wasn’t that long ago that Josef Stalin was sending millions to the Gulag, and a one-party totalitarian state reigned supreme in Russia and its satellites. Ilyin’s advocacy of a strong central state makes sense in the context of Putin’s task: dismantling a system from the top. (See libertarian economist Henry Hazlitt’s novel, Time Will Run Back, about a socialist dictator who decides to free up the system.)

Borrowing from the academic contingent of neo-Cold Warriors, such as Timothy Snyder, Young invokes the theories of one Alexander Dugin, an obscure Russian rightist whose philosophy of “Eurasianism” posits a struggle between a capitalist-globalist-universalist West intent on imposing its rule worldwide and a Russian-led resistance energized by traditionalism and Christian values. Undeterred by her own observation that Dugin’s influence is minimal, she goes on to link “Eurasianism” to the “global anti-libertarian crusade” that is supposedly a threat to our precious bodily fluids. Yet Dugin has next to no influence inside the Russian government, or within the body politic: he is a marginal figure. So what’s the big deal?

Young cites Montenegro as an example of an insidious Russian plot to overthrow “pro-Western” forces, but a simple look at the alleged coup supposedly attempted by a murky group of allegedly pro-Russian types shows that this is absolute bollocks. As the New York Times reported:

“[Former Montenegro Prime Minster Milo] Djukanovic and his officials initially provided no evidence to support their allegation of a foiled coup attempt on Oct. 16, the day of national elections. They said only that 20 Serbs – some of whom turned out to be elderly and in ill health – had been detained just hours before they were to launch the alleged putsch. Nonetheless, Mr. Djukanovic insisted it ‘is more than obvious’ that unnamed ‘Russian structures’ were working with pro-Moscow politicians to derail the country’s efforts to join NATO.”

Evidence? Who needs it? After all, we’re talking about Russia! Meanwhile, everyone supposedly involved in the “plot” has been released – except for leaders of the opposition party, who have been rounded up on suspicion of aiding the “plotters.”

You don’t have to be a neoconservative, says Young, in order to support “freedom friendly” countries, and if Russia “bullies” the Baltics, Georgia, and Ukraine into “returning to vassalage” it would be a “net loss for liberty” and for America.

To begin with, there is zero evidence that the Russians have any desire – or even the capacity – to retake the Baltics, for example. What they are concerned about, however – and what is completely off Young’s radar – is that ethnic Russians who live in Estonia, for one, and have lived there for generations exist in a legal limbo and are forbidden to vote in national elections. In his interviews with Oliver Stone, Putin points out that, with the sudden fall of the Soviet Union, millions of ethnic Russians woke up one day to find themselves outside their own country. Young, who left Russia at an early age, is indifferent to their fate.

More to the point, however, is that the social and political systems outside the United States which are less than Jeffersonian utopias have zero impact on the status or strength of our constitutional system and civil liberties in this country. What does have an impact is our policy toward these countries: if we engage in a cold war with Russia, and spend ourselves into oblivion in an arms race, risking war and even nuclear annihilation, America will itself become much less “freedom-friendly.”

The real point of Young’s elaborate conspiracy theory is to discredit anyone who challenges the narrative that a cold war with Russia is both inevitable and desirable. This means framing the debate – although there hasn’t really been a debate – in a certain way. She writes:

“Pro-Russian (or at least anti-anti-Russian) arguments have become fairly common not just among conservatives but among a contingent of libertarians, such as former Rep. Ron Paul and Antiwar.com Editorial Director Justin Raimondo. The new Republican affection for Russia is largely a matter of political polarization: Since Putin is the Democrats’ boogeyman du jour, he can’t be all bad. But quite a few conservatives also genuinely see Putin’s Russia as a Christian ally against Islam, a perspective recently endorsed by Ann Coulter in a March column trollishly titled ‘Let’s Make Russia Our Sister Country.’”

Young’s hostility to Christianity aside, what Young is attempting to do here is to define the debate in terms very similar to those employed by the neoconservatives during the run up to the Iraq war. If you opposed that war, you were “pro-Saddam” or “pro-Iraq”: if you supported it you were for installing a “freedom-friendly” regime in Baghdad.

This loading of the dice will not stand: the idea that opposing a new cold war with Russia makes one “pro-Russian” is nonsensical, unless “pro-Russian” means you don’t want to start World War III. Is it “pro-Russian” to point to the fact that the United States under George W. Bush and Bill Clinton unilaterally abrogated the ABM Treaty, and that this act fueled a new arms race and increased the risk of war? Is it “pro-Russian” to have opposed the expansion of NATO, which violated a verbal agreement between the first Bush administration and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev?

In Cathy Young’s World – right next door to Bizarro World – the answer is yes.

Opponents of a new cold war with Russia are neither pro-Russian nor fans of Vladimir Putin. They are simply advocates of a common sense approach to Russia, and to US foreign policy in general, which holds that America’s real interests lie in cooperation with the world’s largest nation insofar as that is possible.

If you oppose Cold War II, you are siding with Russia – this is the assumption at the heart of Young’s argument, and it is, simply put, a primitive lie. She writes:

“Ron Paul–style libertarians are inclined to see Russia as a check on U.S. foreign adventurism and Russia hawks as hardcore proponents of the American imperial leviathan. ‘Unfortunately, there is a small contingent who fall victim to the fallacy that ‘the enemy of the enemy is my friend,’ and if the Kremlin is the enemy of my enemy, then it must be my friend,” [Cato Institute vice president and Atlas Network activist Tom] Palmer says.”

The real fallacy is Palmer’s attempt to characterize libertarian opposition to the new cold war as evidence of active collaboration with and support for the Russian state – a smear similar to the one he frenetically propagated during the Iraq war (he opposed what he saw as “premature” US withdrawal), when he accused Antiwar.com and myself of supporting terrorism and advocating the death of US soldiers.

If Russia is “a check on US adventurism,” it isn’t doing a very good job, as demonstrated by the interventions in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, etc. etc.

Although Palmer claims to be a libertarian, his Atlas Network has the endorsement of a US government agency, the National Endowment for Democracy, which is part of the “regime change” apparatus the US operates throughout the world. While it’s not clear if Atlas gets direct government funding, their personnel and activities are intertwined with the NED, and perhaps other government agencies. Two years after the invasion of Iraq, Palmer traveled to that country to attend a conference on “Advancing Women’s Rights: Two Years in Iraq” – a title that, given Iraq’s present state, cruelly mocks its sponsors down through the years. The conference – where Palmer lectured participants on “What is Democracy?” – was funded in part by the US government. He also addressed the Iraqi Parliament on the subject of their proposed constitution, which he praised in an op ed.

Now that Putin has taken the place of Saddam Hussein as the bogeyman of the moment, Palmer has taken up the cudgels against the Kremlin, traveling to Ukraine to support the corrupt kleptocracy of Petro Poroshenko and hailing the Ukrainian central government’s war on its own citizens. There he railed against the “red-brown homophobic racist bigoted movements” which  Putin is supposedly behind. By the way, Franklin Templeton, a major investment firm, is Ukraine’s biggest private investor in government bonds: Templeton also contribute substantial amounts in the form of “Freedom Grants” to Palmer’s Atlas Network.

Just follow the money.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get along with Russia?” President Trump said this repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign, and it enraged the foreign policy elites of both parties, who are banking their prestige – and their stock options – on a confrontation with Putin. The military-industrial complex, the national security bureaucracy, the out-of-fashion Kremlinologists who hope for new relevance in this age of renewed Russophobia, and, yes, the Cathy Youngs of this world – embittered Russian émigrés who carried their hate of the homeland with them in their suitcases – flipped out.

Trump’s victory was followed by an all-out offensive by these people, who built an elaborate conspiracy theory that claims Trump is a Russian agent, “Putin’s puppet,” as Hillary Clinton foolishly put it. The campaign to create a climate of anti-Russian hysteria, to the point where a US official meeting with the Russia ambassador is considered suspect, is well advanced, and the Young piece in Reason is part of this: the goal is to police the libertarian movement in order to expunge it of “pro-Russian” elements, such as myself and Ron Paul.

Well, good luck with that, Cathy: most libertarians – I’d say the overwhelming majority – are against the new cold war, and look with disdain on the ludicrous evidence-free antics of the Democrats and their neoconservative allies in the Never Trump camp to paint the President as a Russian sleeper agent. Of course, she’ll have more luck inside the Beltway, where the winds of conformism reach gale force – thus the editors of Reason put Young’s screed on their cover. Libertarian organizations inside the Beltway, such as the Cato Institute – which has been jumping on the Hate Russia bandwagon lately – cited in Young’s piece have become increasingly irrelevant as far as the grassroots libertarian movement is concerned. In that sense, Young’s attempt to smear such good libertarians as Ron Paul is merely virtue-signaling to the Beltway that the “mainstream” libertarians are going to go along with the current Russophobic hysteria, regardless of what us “extremists” may say or do.

The truth is, however, that the “small contingent” Palmer spoke of is a description of him and his fellow cold warriors, who represent nothing and no one but themselves and their wealthy donors. Our movement, the libertarian movement, was born in the midst of the cold war: we learned early on that the War Party is the greatest enemy of liberty, the adversary that must be defeated before we can get our old republic back. The crazed anti-Russian campaign now being waged by both the “left” and “right” wings of the War Party can only lead to a military conflict – a war that could annihilate us all. Somehow, I doubt that “Libertarians for World War III” is going to get much traction – but, hey, they’re trying!


The Dangers of a Public in Arms

June 10, 2017

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

The concept of the citizen army in the United States had its roots in the rural militias of the colonial period, when small communities, far from urban areas or standing garrisons, needed to protect themselves, their families and their holdings from attacks by hostile Indians. These militias grew in strength and eventually viewed the British Army as a more serious enemy.

That the first government of the United States viewed the citizen-soldier or the militiaman as an important implement of defense, is reflected in the Constitution where the subject is specifically addressed.

The hostility of an administration bent on public control, to the dangers inherent in the existence of armed citizens is obvious. Times change and often what was abstract comment fifty years earlier can become reality.

In one of his dinner table conversations, Hitler once said that the purpose of the police was to protect the citizen, not to intimidate him. Müller’s comments about the danger inherent when the police can no longer protect their charges certainly have recognizable validity fifty years after he made them.

No coup or popular rising has taken place in times of relative stability. It is only when the great middle-class awakens to find itself and its institutions under attack and undefended that the thought of self-defense becomes valid. Violent upheavals do not begin without warning. Before a volcano erupts, there are nearly always ominous signs of the impending disaster and very often, clear though these indications may be, they are ignored out of the fear of radical change found in the complacent throughout history.

Trotsky very clearly recognized this fear of change and took swift advantage of it when he seized power in Russia. By the time the public was aware of what had happened, it was almost too late to react, and by the time the population, most of whom were only interested in survival and creature comforts might have reacted, the militants were in power and increasing their control on a daily basis.

A conservative government might be dull but it does not, in general, attempt to exert control over its citizens, other than to maintain law and order. A radical government, on the other hand, cannot feel safe in its power until it has established an ever-intrusive control over its people. Control of weapons is certainly a prime goal for such an entity and this would work in tandem with discrediting, and eventually destroying, any institution that might be able to mount an attack on it. The first target would be any religious group who might find a moral, and hence religious, fault with its goals or techniques. The second target would be any other organization that could conceivably organize against it.

In a monarchy, the people have little choice over the succession of rulers and a good king with a short reign can easily be replaced by a bad one with a long reign. In a republic, malfunction and mendacity are correctable at the ballot box. If this safety valve is shut down, an explosion will certainly result. Thus, Müller’s discussion of the importance of the press, or media, as a means of public control has complete validity.

News can easily be controlled by those with the desire and ability to do so. Governments can exert great influence over nearly any media entity through their power in the granting of licenses or their control over entree to official information. By a de facto control over the reporting of news, an administration bent on complete domination can accomplish the implementation of their goals with relative ease, given a receptive and passive audience.

Faked opinion polls and heavily slanted pro-administration reportage might have had a strong effect on this audience when there were no other sources of information. But, with the advent of alternative information sources, such as the computer, the photocopier and the facsimile machine, propaganda is far less able to influence, dominate, and control public perceptions.

The concept of civil unrest is always abhorrent to the entrenched entities which comprise the leadership of the political and business factors of an urbanized and stable society. These individuals belong to the Order of St. Precedent whose motto is “Look Backwards,” and whose watchword is “That Which Has Not Been, Cannot Be.” Trotsky and his ilk knew how to utilize such blindness.

Germany starts to withdraw troops from Turkish Incirlik base

Germany has started to withdraw troops from a Turkish air base where they have been supporting international operations against the so-called “Islamic State.” This follows a row with Ankara over access to the base.

July 10, 2017


The motion to pull the troops out of Incirlik had been approved by the German parliament in June, after parliamentarians had repeatedly been refused access to the roughly 260 soldiers stationed at the facility. Turkey had denied German lawmakers requests to make what they saw as routine visits to the base.

A German defense ministry spokesman said on Sunday that the withdrawal from the Incirlik base in southern Turkey’s Adana province was the next step in one of several bilateral disputes between Germany and Turkey. These range from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s post-coup clampdown on dissidents to Turkey’s political campaigning in Germany in the run-up to a key referendum held in April giving Erdogan sweeping new powers.

A vote in Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, on referring to the 1916 Turkish massacre of Armenians as genocide also influenced the diplomatic stand-off directly.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Erdogan had revealed “deep differences” between the two NATO allies.

A Turkish official meanwhile confirmed that the withdrawal had started, saying that Germany’s defense minister Ursula von der Leyen had informed her Turkish counterpart of the withdrawal date when they met during the recent NATO summit in Brussels.

Gradual withdrawal

Germany’s Tornado jets were originally due to keep operating out of Incirlik at least until the end of July this year as part of a mission providing reconnaissance aircraft to support US-led coalition operations against the self-styled “Islamic State” (IS) in Iraq and Syria.

The jets and other necessary material were to be moved to a new air base in Jordan, where the planes are scheduled to be deployed again by October.

According to German news magazine Der Spiegel, two supply airplanes will be transferred to an air base near al Azraq in Jordan as part of a step-by-step withdrawal from the Turkish air base.



Why Is Nikki Haley Still Trump’s UN Ambassador?

It’s unclear whether she is speaking for herself or the White House.

July 7, 2017

by Philip Giraldi

The American Conservative

I went to a meeting the other night with some Donald Trump supporters who, like me, had voted for him based on expectations of a more rational foreign policy. They were suggesting that the president’s attempts to move in that direction had been sabotaged by officials inside the administration who want to maintain the current warfare state. Remove those officials and Trump might just keep his pledge to leave Bashar al-Assad alone while improving relations with Russia. I was somewhat skeptical, noting that the White House had unilaterally initiated the April 7 cruise missile attack on a Syrian airbase as well as the more recent warning against an alleged “planned” chemical attack, hardly moves that might lead to better relations with Damascus and Moscow. But there are indeed some administration figures who clearly are fomenting endless conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere.

One might reasonably start with Generals James Mattis and H.R. McMaster, both of whom are hardliners on Afghanistan and Iran, but with a significant caveat. Generals are trained and indoctrinated to fight and win wars, not to figure out what comes next. General officers like George Marshall or even Dwight Eisenhower who had a broader vision are extremely rare, so much so that expecting a Mattis or McMaster to do what falls outside their purview is perhaps a bit too much. They might be bad choices for the jobs they hold, but at least they employ some kind of rational process, based on how they perceive national interests, to make judgements. If properly reined in by a thoughtful civilian leadership, which does not exist at the moment, they have the potential to be effective contributors to the national-security discussion.

But several other notable figures in the administration deserve to be fired if there is to be any hope of turning Trump’s foreign policy around. In Arthur Sullivan’s and W. S. Gilbert’s The Mikado, the Lord High Executioner sings about the “little list” he is preparing of people who “never will be missed” when he finally gets around to fulfilling the requirements of his office. He includes “apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind,” indicating that the American frustration with the incompetence of its government is not unique, nor is it a recent phenomenon.

My own little list of “society’s offenders” consists largely of the self-described gaggle of neoconservative foreign-policy “experts.” Unfortunately, the neocons have proven to be particularly resilient in spite of repeated claims that their end was nigh, most recently after the election of Donald Trump last November. Yet as most of the policies the neocons have historically espoused are indistinguishable from what the White House is currently trying to sell, one might well wake up one morning and imagine that it is 2003 and George W. Bush is still president. Still, hope springs eternal, and now that the United States has celebrated its 241st birthday, it would be nice to think that in the new year our nation might be purged of some of the malignancies that have prevailed since 9/11.

Number one on my little list is Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who is particularly dangerous as she is holding a position where she can do bad things. Haley has been shooting from the lip since she assumed office and, it has become clear, much of what she says goes without any vetting by the Trump administration. It is never clear whether she is speaking for herself or for the White House. That issue has reportedly been dealt with by having the State Department clear in advance her comments on hot button issues, but, if that is indeed the case, the change has been difficult to discern in practice.

Haley is firmly in the neocon camp, receiving praise from Senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and from the Murdoch media as well as in the opinion pages of National Review and The Weekly Standard. Her speechwriter is Jessica Gavora, who is the wife of the leading neoconservative journalist Jonah Goldberg. Haley sees the United Nations as corrupt and bloated, in itself not an unreasonable conclusion, but she has tied herself closely to a number of other, more debatable issues.

As governor of South Carolina, Haley became identified as an unquestioning supporter of Israel. She signed into law a bill to restrict the activities of the nonviolent pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the first legislation of its kind on a state level. Haley has also stated that “nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel.” On a recent visit to Israel, she was applauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stating “You know, all I’ve done is to tell the truth, and it’s kind of overwhelming at the reaction…if there’s anything I have no patience for, it’s bullies, and the UN was being such a bully to Israel, because they could.”

But Haley sometimes goes far beyond trying to “tell the truth.” In February, she blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a diplomatic position at the United Nations because he is a Palestinian. In a congressional hearing this past week, she was asked about the decision: “Is it this administration’s position that support for Israel and support for the appointment of a well-qualified individual of Palestinian nationality to an appointment at the UN are mutually exclusive?” Haley responded yes, that the administration is “supporting Israel” by blocking any Palestinian from any senior UN position because Palestine is not recognized by Washington as an independent state.

At various UN meetings Haley has repeatedly and uncritically complained of institutional bias towards Israel, asserting that the “days of Israel bashing are over,” without ever addressing the issue that Israeli treatment of the Palestinians might in part be responsible for the criticism leveled against it. Her description of Israel as an “ally” is hyperbolic and she tends to be oblivious to actual American interests in the region when Israel is involved. She has never challenged the Israeli occupation of the West Bank as well as the recent large expansion of settlements, which are at least nominally opposed by the State Department and White House.

Haley is inevitably a hardliner on Syria, reflecting the Israeli bias, and consistently hostile to Russia. She has said that regime change in Damascus is a Trump administration priority. Her most recent foray involves the White House warning that it had “identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime.” Haley elaborated in a tweet, “…further attacks will be blamed on Assad but also on Russia and Iran who support him killing his own people.” Earlier, on April 12, after Russia blocked a draft UN resolution intended to condemn the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, Haley said, “We need to see Russia choose to side with the civilized world over an Assad government that brutally terrorizes its own people.”

Haley’s analysis of who is doing what to whom in Syria is certainly questionable at a minimum. And her language is hardly supportive of possible administration diplomatic attempts to mend fences with the Russians and can also be seen as quite dangerous as they increase the likelihood of an “accidental encounter” over the skies of Syria as both sides harden their positions and seek to expand the areas they control. She has also said that, “We’re calling [Russia] out [and] I don’t think anything is off the table at this point. I think what you’re going to see is strong leadership. You’re going to continue to see the United States act when we need to act.” Regarding Moscow’s role on the UN Security Council, she complained that, “All they’ve done is seven times veto against Syria every time they do something to hurt their own people. And so Russia absolutely has not done what they’re supposed to do.”

Regarding Ukraine, Haley has taken an extreme position that guarantees Russian hostility. In February, she addressed the UN Security Council regarding the Crimean conflict, which she  appears not to understand very well. She warned that sanctions against Russia would not be lifted until Moscow returned control over the peninsula to Kiev. On June 4, she doubled down, insisting that the United States would retain “sanctions strong and tough when it comes to the issue in Ukraine.”

Haley is also increasingly highly critical of Iran, which she sees as the instigator of much of the unrest in the Middle East, again reflecting the Israeli viewpoint. She claimed on April 20, during her first session as president of the UN Security Council, that Iran and Hezbollah had “conducted terrorist acts” for decades within the Middle East, ignoring the more serious terrorism support engaged in by U.S. regional allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar. She stated last week that the Security Council’s praise of the Iran Nuclear Agreement honored a state that has engaged in “illicit missile launches,” “support for terrorist groups,” and “arms smuggling,” while “stok[ing] regional conflicts and mak[ing] them harder to solve.” All are perspectives that might easily be challenged.

Haley is also much given to rhetoric reminiscent of George W. Bush during his first term. Regarding North Korea, on May 16 she told reporters that, “We have to turn around and tell the entire international community: You either support North Korea or you support us,” echoing George W. Bush’s sentiment that, “There’s a new sheriff in town and you’re either with us or against us.”

So Haley very much comes across as the neoconservatives’ dream ambassador to the United Nations–full of aggression, a staunch supporter of Israel, and assertive of Washington’s preemptive right to set standards for the rest of the world. That does not necessarily make her very good for the rest of us, who will have to bear the burdens of imperial hubris. Nor is her tendency to overstate her case a plus for the Trump administration itself, which is clearly seeking to work its way through Russiagate–and just might be considering how to establish some kind of modus vivendi with Vladimir Putin.

If Donald Trump really wants to drain the Washington swamp and reduce interference in other nations, he might well continue that program by firing Nikki Haley. He could then appoint someone as UN ambassador who actually believes that the United States has to deal with other countries respectfully, not by constant bullying and threats. In the lyrics of Gilbert and Sullivan, she’s on my list and “she will never be missed.”

The Publicly Available Evidence Doesn’t Support Russian Gov Hacking of 2016 Election

July 9, 2017

by Jeffery Carr


Three days ago, the Washington Post ran this article by Philip Bump — “Here’s the public evidence that supports the idea that Russia interfered in the 2016 election”.

This gist of the article was, since we can’t know what the classified evidence is that supports the U.S. government’s finding in favor of Russian government interference, there is plenty of public evidence which should convince us.

Bump is wrong about that. The public evidence isn’t enough to identify Russian government involvement, or even identify the nationality of the hackers involved. That doesn’t mean that the Russian government isn’t responsible. It means that we don’t know enough to say who is responsible based solely on the publicly known evidence, including classified evidence that’s been leaked.

Here’s a recap:

The X-Agent malware used against the DNC is not exclusive to Russia. The source code has been acquired by at least one Ukrainian hacker group and one European cybersecurity company, which means that others have it as well. “Exclusive use” is a myth that responsible cybersecurity companies need to stop using as proof of attribution.

The various attacks attributed to the GRU were a comedy of errors; not the actions of a sophisticated adversary.

The FBI/DHS Grizzly Steppe report was a disaster.

Crowdstrike’s Danger Close report, which was supposed to be the nail in the coffin that proved the GRU was involved in the DNC hack, has been repudiated by the Ukrainian government, the IISS whose data they misused, and the builder of the military app that they claimed was compromised.

The Arizona and Illinois attacks against electoral databases that were blamed on the Russian government were actually conducted by English-speaking hackers.

The Reality Winner leak of a classified NSA document contained a graphic that used different colors of lines to qualify the data (confirmed, analyst judgment, contextual information). The line that connected the “actors” who sent out the spearphishing email to various electoral organizations with the GRU was yellow (analyst judgment) and included the words “probably within”; meaning that this was not a communications intercept.

There are many other problems with the DNC investigation starting with the fact that no government agency actually did the forensics work. It was done by a company with strong ties to the Clinton campaign and an economic incentive to blame foreign governments for cyber attacks on evidence that was either flimsy or non-existent.

Does any of this mean that the Russian government didn’t do it? No. It only means that there is insufficient public evidence to say that it did.


Huge crowd rallies in Istanbul against Turkey’s post-coup crackdown

July 10, 2017

by Umit Bektas and Humeyra Pamuk


ISTANBUL-Turkey’s main opposition leader told a huge protest rally on Sunday that the country was living under dictatorship and pledged to keep challenging the crackdown launched by the authorities after last year’s failed military coup.

Addressing hundreds of thousands of people waving Turkish flags and banners demanding justice, Kemal Kilicdaroglu said his 25-day march from Ankara to Istanbul – culminating in Sunday’s rally in Istanbul – was the first stage of a long campaign.

“We will be breaking down the walls of fear,” he told the crowd who gathered to welcome him at the end of his 425 km (265 mile) trek from the Turkish capital.

Kilicdaroglu’s protest march drew only modest support in its early days, but as more people joined him it grew into the biggest protest yet against the year-long, post-coup crackdown launched by President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party.

“The last day of our Justice March is a new beginning, a new step,” said Kilicdaroglu, a bespectacled, 68-year-old veteran politician. “Rights, law, justice,” the crowd chanted back.

He called on the government to lift a state of emergency enforced after the abortive July 2016 coup, release scores of journalists from prison and restore the independence of Turkey’s courts.

Kilicdaroglu, head of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), launched his protest last month after the jailing of a fellow parliamentarian for 25 years on spying charges.

Enis Berberoglu was the first CHP lawmaker to be imprisoned in the purge. About 50,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 state workers including teachers, judges and soldiers, have been suspended.

“The era we live in is a dictatorship,” Kilicdaroglu said.


Rights groups and government critics say Turkey has been drifting toward authoritarianism for years, a process they say accelerated since the coup bid and a referendum in April which granted Erdogan stronger powers.

The government says the crackdown and constitutional changes are necessary to address challenges and security threats.

Erdogan criticized Kilicdaroglu when he launched his protest, saying justice should be sought in parliament, not on the street. He likened the protesters to those who carried out the attempted coup, saying they could face charges.

But Kilicdaroglu said the opposition had no alternative because Turkey’s courts had been politicized, “the powers of parliament have been seized” and the media had been muzzled.

“There is only a single place for our demand for justice and that is the streets,” he said.

People in the crowd said they were heartened by the turnout.

“This is now our future at stake,” said Beyhan, a 50-year-old civil servant who declined to give her full name. “Seeing this crowd has made my hopes blossom.”

“We are here for justice and democracy. We are here because we are against one-man rule,” she said. “There is no democracy, there is no freedom, even thinking is a crime.”

Samet Burak Sari, 21, a student at Marmara University, said he spent four weeks in prison because he described Erdogan as a terrorist on Twitter. He was released but his trial continues.

He said Sunday’s Istanbul rally was the third time the opposition had come together in large numbers – firstly in the 2013 protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, then in April over the referendum which narrowly approved Erdogan’s new powers.

“Through this march again, people with varying opinions have come together for the third time. Things like this keep the public opposition alive,” he said.

(Writing by Dominic Evans)

Saudi Arabia exports extremism to many countries – including Germany, study says

A British study has found that Saudi Arabia plays a key role in the radicalization of Muslims. The Wahhabi influence, fueled by oil money, can be seen in Germany as well, says researcher Susanne Schröter.

July 9, 2017

by Matthias von Hein


DW: After the bloody terror attacks in Great Britain, there are an increasing number of studies being conducted on the cause of radicalization. Britain’s Henry Jackson Society, a think tank, has published a report on foreign funding for extremist branches of Islam in Great Britain. Saudi Arabia has been clearly named as one of the greatest supporters. In the past 50 years, Riyadh has invested at least 76 billion euros ($86 billion) in Wahhabi extremism, the ideological basis of extremist and jihadist movements throughout the world. Are you surprised about these findings?

Susanne Schröter: The findings do not surprise me at all. It has long been known that Saudi Arabia has been exporting Wahhabist ideology – largely similar to the ideology of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS). Propaganda material and organizational expertise are being sent along with money. People are being hired to build mosques, educational institutions, cultural centers and similar organizations, so that Wahhabist theology can reach the public – with great success.

Where is this extremism, that is fueled by oil money, most obvious?

The export of Wahhabism got off the ground after the Islamic revolution in Iran. The revolution had dramatically shaken the Saudis. When Iran started exporting its Shiite ideology, the Saudis felt threatened by it. Around that time, in 1979, hardliners seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The Saudis launched an ideological offensive and said, “Now we are exporting our own ideology. We will show the hardliners in our own country what we are capable of achieving.” Then, they started promoting Wahhabism through intermediaries and organizations like the World Muslim League in different countries throughout Asia, Africa and parts of Europe – for example, in former Yugoslavia where Muslims and Christians fought against each other in the civil war. Wahhabists saw it as a gateway, where money was needed since the Muslim population was ready for a new and radical ideology.

The result is that, in many parts of the world, a radical form of Islam is gaining the upper hand. I have experienced this first hand in Southeast Asia. In southern Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and sometimes Malaysia, it was always said that a special form of Islam was practiced, a much more open, much more tolerant version. There has been a dramatic development towards radicalism over the past three decades. It is perfectly clear that this development has been encouraged by Saudi money. Moreover, young intellectuals have been recruited with generous scholarships at Saudi universities. These people return to their homes after having studied at Saudi universities and suddenly carry out Wahhabi missionary work in all their home countries.

Pierre Vogel, perhaps the most well-known German Salafist preacher, studied on a Saudi scholarship in Mecca. Saudi Arabia has apparently influenced the radicalization process of Muslims in Germany. German media made such claims in December 2016, citing intelligence sources. It was said that religious foundations from the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia, supported local Salafist groups in Germany with the approval of their governments. To what extent does this correspond to your research findings?

This is absolutely consistent with our findings. In some cases, state-owned Saudi institutions were massively involved. There was once a Saudi attache in Berlin, Mohamed Fakihi. He had connections to the terrorist cell in Hamburg that carried out the attack on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001. Fakihi also was well connected to Berlin’s Al-Nur Mosque, which often attracts attention for being a Salafist hotspot. The attache is now no longer there but back then, it was the first time people became aware of this.

We have seen that Saudi foundations are operating everywhere – partly underground and partly through intermediaries, like Nadeem Elias. Until 2006, he was chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany. This is one of the most important Muslim associations that constantly maintain inauspicious ties with Saudi foundations, including the Muslim World League or the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

There is also another high-ranking official in the Central Council of Muslims: Ibrahim El-Zayat. Zayat was chairman of the Islamic Community of Germany from 2002 to 2010. We have only scratched the surface. And when people are asked questions, they are always evasive. But it is clear that there are organizations and individuals in Germany who take the Wahhabization of German Muslims seriously.

According to latest report published by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a German domestic intelligence agency, the Salafist scene in Germany has now grown to include over 10,000 members. There must be other reasons apart from Saudi support, right?

Of course. Firstly, not only do the Saudis bankroll extremists. Now attention has been drawn to Qatar for doing this. And yes, it is true that Qatar provides funds and Kuwait provides funds. There are also other players in the Gulf Region who support radical tendencies here in Germany – including Iran. Iran has set up an institute in Berlin, where it works as a missionary. I assume that if you observe where money flows, you will be amazed. Germany is generally a place where foreign extremist organizations are active.

Professor Susanne Schröter is the director of the Frankfurter Research Center for Global Islam (FFGI), director of the Institute for Ethnology, principal investigator the cluster of excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders,” director of the Cornelia Goethe Center for Gender Research and executive board member of the German Orient Institute.

The interview was conducted by Matthias von Hein.

Trump presses congressional Republicans to pass healthcare plan

July 10, 2017

by Susan Heavey and Susan Cornwell


WASHINGTON-President Donald Trump on Monday prodded the Republican-led U.S. Congress to pass major healthcare legislation but huge obstacles remained in the Senate as key lawmakers in his party voiced pessimism about the chances of rolling back the Obamacare law.

The House of Representatives approved its healthcare bill in May but the Senate’s version appeared to be in growing trouble as lawmakers returned to Washington from a week-long recess.

“I cannot imagine that Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go!” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the seven-year Republican quest to dismantle Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

Trump appeared to be referring to the August recess that lawmakers typically take.

Senate Republican leaders have faced a revolt within their ranks, with moderate senators uneasy about the millions of Americans forecast to lose their medical insurance under the legislation and hard-line conservatives saying the bill leaves too much of Obamacare intact.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey said a new version of the legislation is expected to be released on Monday, telling the CNBC program “Squawk Box” that “there’s a shot” of getting to the 50 votes his party needs to win passage in the 100-seat Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking vote.

Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, was a central campaign pledge for Trump.


Stolen Gold and Coming Revolution

July 10, 2017

by Christian Jürs

In late April 1945, a convoy of German trucks left the German-occupied Italian city of Muggia [in Istria] on the Adriatic Sea and drove north through Udine and then northeast to Villach in what was once the Greater German Reich and is now Austria.

There were five trucks, all painted the medium camouflage yellow of the later war German Wehrmacht, and one staff car bearing license plates of the SS. This car was occupied by SS-Gruppenführer Odlio Globocnik, Senior SS and Police Commander of the Adriatic Region, his driver and two SS aides. The trucks each had, besides the driver, two armed Ukrainian guards, all in field-gray Waffen-SS uniforms.

Inside the trucks were stacked dozens of heavy wooden German ammunition boxes, containers of food, cases of liquor and miscellaneous furniture, carpets and household goods.

Before the convoy reached Villach, it turned off the main highway and headed west through the Gaitaler Alps, finally stopping on the north shore of the Weissensee, a long, deep mountain lake.

The ground was still hard from the winter cold, but throughout the night and into the early hours of the next day, holes were dug in the ground at various points around the lake and the wooden ammunition boxes carefully buried. The fresh earth was hastily covered with armfuls of old pine needles and branches. All of the sites were carefully marked on a map and then the trucks drove off, past the small towns of Neusach and Techendorf and onto the main road which is now E-66.

Globocnik was later captured by a British armored unit and purported by them to have killed himself while under interrogation. In fact, U.S. intelligence reports indicate very clearly that not only did Globocnik survive the end of the war, but ended up in American employment.

He had bought his freedom by bribing the British and turning over to them the contents of two of his buried cases, which consisted of many thousands of British pound notes. The remainder of the wooden chests contained millions of dollars worth of gold coins, religious medals, gold jewelry, platinum, silver, antique coins, gold pencils, containers of dental gold and bridgework, and wedding rings.

These had originated in the concentration camp system under Globocnik’s control in the Lublin district of what had been pre-war Poland. While the head of such camps as Belzec, Sobribor and Treblinka, Globocnik who had been fired by Hitler from his official prewar position as Gauleiter, or Governor, of Vienna for theft, took advantage of his situation. He sequestered a large amount of treasure he took from the occupants of his camps as well as additional assets obtained from extensive treasure hunts in the districts he controlled.

When Heinrich Himmler learned of Globocnik’s completely unauthorized activities in his Polish domain, he ordered him to close the camps, destroy any trace of them and remove himself with a promotion, to the city of Trieste where Globocnik, a Slovenian, had been born in 1904. While there, Globocnik managed to acquire more loot and it was this money which he took into the Austrian Alps with a crew of his loyal Ukranians who had served as camp guards at Treblinka.

When the information about the positive location of Globocnik’s horde was discovered, buried in British archives, the recovery of the buried money became a subject of great interest to several people.

Under then-current Austrian law, the treasure trove was to be divided equally between the finder or finders, the government of Austria and the owner or owners of the land on which it was found.

Very discreet inquiry with agencies in Vienna disclosed that the Austrian government did not view their former Gauleiter’s money as having been acquired through criminal activities and that, therefore, the division of the find was to follow standard procedure. Had the government decreed that the buried money resulted from a criminal endeavor, the state would assume complete control over it and its eventual disposal.

Given all of this, a very cautious expedition was launched in 2000, and with careful planning and excellent security, a great deal of the buried gold was dug up, the diggers always on guard against discovery.

An inventory of the recovery was as follows:

Russian Imperial gold coins

810   5 Rouble pieces valued (in 1990 spot gold prices..much higher in 2017) at $64,800

475 10 Rouble pieces valued at $95,000

Austrian gold coins

1, 470  Imperial 1 ducat pieces valued at $88,200

975  Imperial 4 ducat pieces valued at $438,750

1,355 10 Corona pieces valued at $101,625

2,101 20 Corona pieces valued at $630,600

217 100 Corona pieces valued at $184,450

6320 Kronen pieces valued at  $58,275

28 100 Kronen pieces valued at $56,000

4,150  25 Schilling pieces valued at 229,800

517 100 Schilling pieces valued at $310,200

Polish gold coins

4158 10 Zloty pieces valued at $249,480

French gold coins

802  20 Franc pieces valued at $64,160

50  50 Franc pieces valued at $22,500

142 100 Franc pieces valued at $60, 350

Swiss gold coins

907 10 Franc pieces valued at $54,420

1121 20 Franc pieces valued at $78,470

British gold coins

804 Sovereign pieces valued at $54,420

202 ½ Sovereign pieces valued at $15,150

The total number of coins was 20,247 and the approximate value as of the current (2017) market in gold is $24,998,707.

Who dug up part of this treasure and what happened to it?

And who legally owned it?

The heirs of General Globocnik?

The distant relatives of those incarcerated in his camps?

The owners of the land from which it was dug up?

The Austrian government?

And what happened to it?

The names of those who removed this hoard of gold are known and it is also known that most of the gold coins (the wedding rings were melted down in situ) were brought back to the United States by a simple and easily concealed method.

They were packed into a boat in a northern Adriatic port, having been brought down from Austria in a small, rented truck and subsequently landed on the Virginia coast at a small, unguarded marina.

From there, the coins were transported to a rural southern town and hidden in the cellar of one of the participants in the dig.

Little by little, the gold coins are converted to cash and are being cautiously distributed to a number of very far-right American proto-fascist groups and used to buy arms and ammunition for what most of these groups believed will eventually be open warfare with the government establishment and eventualy assumption of national power.

Who are these groups? Here is a listing of only some of them:

  • ACT for America
  • Alliance Defending Freedom
  • America’s Promise Ministries
  • American Border Patrol/American Patrol
  • American Family Association
  • American Freedom Party
  • American Renaissance
  • Aryan Brotherhood
  • Aryan Brotherhood of Texas
  • Aryan Nations
  • Blood & Honor
  • Brotherhood of Klans
  • Center for Security Policy
  • Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
  • The Creativity Movement
  • The Sovereign Citizen Movement of the US and Canada
  • The Dominonist Movement of America
  • National Alliance
  • National Coalition for Immigration Reform
  • National Socialist Movement
  • National Vanguard
  • Oath Keepers
  • Stormfront
  • The Aryan Terror Brigade.
  • The neo-Confederate League of the South.
  • Traditionalist Worker Party
  • White Revolution


The present gold holders; a prominent dealer in Nazi-era relics, one gun dealer and an advanced collector, were put in touch with each other by the late Willis Carto of Culpepper, Virginia. Carto, and his aide, Michael Collins Piper, had strong connections with many of these groups and instigated the treasure hunt so as to be able to adequately fund their activities.

Carto had had legal problems and was very cautious about showing the possession of any funds.

One of the methods for concealing the use of the funds is the extensive use of the militaria collecting business.

The gold has reportedly been converted into cash and used to buy exotic, and very expensive, fake Third Reich items which are then sold to the collecting world and the profits worked into the coffers of the revolutionaries.

Weapons and other material, as is strongly rumored, are generally purchased in Canada and, like the gold coins, drop-shipped via boat, to a quiet port on the east coast of the United States.

It is ironic that gold coins, and a box of gold wedding rings, that belonged to inmates in an SS camp system, are being used to support, and encourage, entities that are both anti-democratic and anti-Semetic.

To Syria and Back

Josh Walker Fought Against ISIS. He Almost Got Killed. Now He’s Charged With Terrorism.

July 10, 2017

by Ryan Gallagher

The Intercept

It was a quiet night until the bombs began crashing out of the sky. Only a few minutes earlier, on the roof of a gray, single-story building not far from the city of Manbij in northern Syria, Josh Walker had been peacefully sleeping. Now the walls were collapsing beneath him, he was surrounded by fire, and his friends were dead.

Walker, a 26-year-old university student from Wales in the United Kingdom, was in Syria volunteering with the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, a Kurdish-led militia that has been a leading force in the ground battle against the Islamic State. He had made the long journey to Syria after flying out of a London airport on a one-way ticket to Istanbul, appalled by the Islamic State’s brutal fascism and inspired by the YPG’s democratic socialist ideals.

Over the course of six months last year, Walker learned to speak Kurdish and shoot AK-47 assault rifles. He trained and fought alongside militia units made up of Kurds, Arabs, and young American, Canadian, and European volunteers. He faced Islamic State suicide bombers in battle and helped the YPG as it advanced toward Raqqa, the capital of the extremist group’s self-declared “caliphate.”

In late December, Walker returned to London. There was no welcome home party waiting to greet him. Instead, there were three police officers at the airport who swiftly arrested him. The officers took him into custody, interrogated him, searched his apartment, and confiscated his laptop and notebooks. After risking his life to fight against the Islamic State, Walker was charged under British counterterrorism laws — not directly because of his activities in Syria, but because the police had found in a drawer under his bed a partial copy of the infamous “Anarchist Cookbook,” a DIY explosives guide published in 1971 that has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide.

The case against Walker is highly unusual. He is the first anti-Islamic State fighter to be prosecuted by British authorities under terrorism laws after returning to the U.K., and he appears to be the only person in the country who has ever faced a terror charge merely for owning extracts of the “Anarchist Cookbook.” The authorities have not alleged that he was involved in any kind of terror plot; rather, they claim that because he obtained parts of the “Cookbook” — which is freely available in its entirety on the internet — he collected information “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.”

Walker is due to go to trial in October, where in the worst-case scenario he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Until then, he is free on bail, living with his mother and working part time as a kitchen porter in a restaurant. In an interview with The Intercept, he talked in-depth about his experiences in Syria and shared stories about the harrowing scenes he witnessed on the front line, which have profoundly affected his life. He also discussed for the first time the British government’s charges against him, which have not previously been publicized due to court-ordered reporting restrictions that have prevented news organizations in the U.K. from disclosing information about the background of his case. A judge lifted the restrictions late last month.

The sun is beating down on a hot summer’s day in Bristol, the largest city in southwest England, with a population of about 449,000. Outside a derelict former electronics store on a busy residential street in the St. Werburgh’s area of the city, Josh Walker is waiting. He is thin, about 5 foot 9 with a thick head of wavy, dark brown hair, wearing a faded green T-shirt, black trousers, and sneakers, and carrying a white plastic bag. We walk to a nearby park, where Walker pulls out two cans of cold beer from his bag, lights a cigarette, and begins explaining how he wound up on a journey to fight the Islamic State in Syria.

After leaving high school at age 18 in 2009, Walker had a variety of temporary jobs — he worked in construction, in gardening, and in an office as a volunteer for a politician who would later become the mayor of Bristol. In 2014, he decided to enroll at a university in Aberystwyth in Wales, about 210 miles west of Bristol, and he began studying for a degree in international politics and strategic studies.

As an avid follower of global affairs, Walker had been keeping a close eye on the fallout from the Arab Spring — the democratic uprisings that in late 2010 spread across the Middle East and North Africa. By 2016, the major unrest in most of the countries — like Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, and Egypt — had largely petered out. In Syria, however, the demonstrations evolved into a full-blown civil war and led to the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.

What began as protests against the tyrannical leadership of Bashar al-Assad morphed into something far more complex, with a multitude of warring militias fighting one another to gain control of territory across the country. Islamist extremists were quick to capitalize on the chaos. The Islamic State group, which had previously been active primarily in Iraq, entered into the fray and took control of large swaths of Syria through 2013 and 2014, imposing strict Islamic rules and draconian punishments for anyone who disobeyed.

At university, Walker had watched it all unfold and discussed the events with his friends and professors. But he was not content to view the crisis on television as a passive observer. He wanted to help.

“I had enough of talking about history while it was being made,” he recalls. “I couldn’t just let it play out without being involved somehow and without seeing it for myself.”

So he hatched a secret plan to travel to Syria.

Walker was particularly drawn to what was happening in the Rojava region of northern Syria, where the Kurdish-led YPG had seized territory in the summer of 2012. The radical left-leaning group was implementing a “social revolution,” building secular, multiethnic communities that prize gender equality, ecology, and direct democracy.

Walker had read George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia,” which describes the author’s journey to fight in the Spanish Civil War against fascist nationalists in the 1930s. He had also read stories about Welsh miners who — like Orwell and some 3,000 other Brits — traveled to Spain to take up arms against fascism, battling alongside a ragtag coalition of anarchist, socialist, and communist militias.

He was inspired by these tales and saw parallels with what was happening in Rojava. Like the dozens of other young Westerners who have made the treacherous journey to Rojava in recent years, he identified with the progressive society that the YPG was trying to create, and in equal measure, he despised the violent fascism of the Islamic State. “They are the very worst aspects of the state and conservative order,” Walker says. “The militarism, the hierarchy, the repression, the prejudice, the misogyny — all of it rolled up into one in its most imperialist, genocidal form.”

But it was more than just the allure of the YPG’s social experiment and a desire to combat fascism that motivated him. He also felt an affinity for the Kurdish people, who have faced repression across the Middle East for decades, particularly in Turkey, where even teaching children to speak Kurdish remains a hotly contested subject after being banned for the better part of a century. Walker, who was born in Wales, saw some similarities between the plight of the Kurds and that of the Welsh people, whose own language was suppressed in favor of English in some Welsh schools during the latter part of the 19th century.

“There’s something to be said about a mountain-dwelling people with a history of resistance and their own strange language,” Walker says, referencing the Kurdish-Welsh connection. “People who are being shat on look out for each other and help each other out. It’s about solidarity — real solidarity.”

In the spring of 2016, Walker contacted a group called the Lions of Rojava, which is affiliated with the YPG and helps recruit foreigners for the fight in Syria.

Walker told the group, through messages sent via its Facebook page, that he wanted to come out and learn about its work. He explained that he had studied military strategy as part of his university coursework and noted that he had read “Democratic Confederalism,” a pamphlet authored by Abdullah Öcalan, one of the founding members of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Öcalan’s 47-page text — heavily influenced by anarchist and libertarian theory — outlines his vision of a stateless, participatory democracy that is controlled and structured at a grassroots level through voluntary meetings and councils. In Rojava, the YPG has attempted to put Öcalan’s principles into practice, using his pamphlet as a sort of blueprint for its revolution in the region.

The volunteers behind the Lions of Rojava seemed impressed by Walker’s knowledge. At least, they were impressed enough to invite him to travel out to Syria and join them.

At first, Walker was concerned that the British government might try to prevent him from going to the war-torn region. In a bid to avoid any potential online surveillance, he limited his contact with the Rojava Facebook group to only a few messages and restrained himself from performing even the most basic Google searches about, for example, learning to speak Kurdish.

He purchased a ticket to fly from London to Istanbul from one travel agency. From another company, he booked a flight from Istanbul to Sulaymaniyah, a city in northeastern Iraq controlled by a Kurdish socialist party informally allied with the YPG in Rojava.

“The last thing I wanted was for the police to be able to crack down on my family and accuse them of aiding and abetting terrorism.”

Walker told only two of his closest friends about his plans. He kept his parents — who are separated — largely in the dark, telling his mother that he was going to the Middle East to work with refugees and his father that he’d be going to Iraqi Kurdistan to help people fighting against the Islamic State.

“I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want to be stopped before I could go there,” Walker explains, taking another puff of his cigarette. “The consequences after I went were something else, because I might not make it back, I might die. But if I don’t get there at all, or I end up facing legal trouble or get my passport taken … it just would have made the whole thing a waste of time and caused a whole lot of problems without any real benefit.”

The YPG has proven itself to be a major force against the Islamic State in Syria, playing a key role in seizing the strategically important town of Kobani in early 2015 and now making progress on the outskirts of Raqqa. The group has been backed by the U.S. government, which has bolstered its operations with airstrikes and agreed to provide it with weapons and ammunition.

But Walker was concerned that amid the chaos and uncertainty in Syria, the Western position on the YPG could quickly shift. At the forefront of his mind was the YPG’s loose affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party — otherwise known as the PKK — which the U.S. and the European Union have designated a terrorist group.

“I was prepared for the possibility that I could end up being deemed a ‘terrorist’ while out there through a change in government policy that perhaps overplayed the YPG’s links to the PKK or bowed to Turkish pressure,” Walker says. “That’s another reason why I didn’t want to tell my parents that I was going out to fight with the YPG. The last thing I wanted was for the police to be able to crack down on my family and accuse them of aiding and abetting terrorism.”

In late June 2016, Walker arrived at the airport in Sulaymaniyah. From there, he made his way to a shopping center in the city, where a contact associated with the Lions of Rojava had arranged for him to be picked up. He was taken to a safe house nearby and met four other foreigners who had also traveled to volunteer with the YPG — a Canadian, two Americans, and a German.

After a couple of days in the safe house, a young Danish-Kurdish YPG fighter named Joanna Palani drove Walker and the other volunteers northwest toward the Syrian border. In the dead of night, they were handed over to people smugglers, who helped lead the group on foot through dry, hilly scrubland filled with spiky bushes. The journey was fraught with risk: The group had to dodge minefields as well as armed patrols organized by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, a right-leaning political party in Iraqi Kurdistan that has been trying to stifle the flow of fighters into Rojava.

The trek took about eight hours in total, and Walker had no water to drink through most of it. At one point, he and some of the other foreigners managed to scoop up some water from the banks of the Tigris River and drink it through a filter. By the time he arrived at his destination in Syria, he was exhausted and dehydrated. “All of us had been doing a lot of exercise and preparation, but still in the conditions it was a very difficult crossing,” Walker recalls.

He was brought along with the other foreign volunteers to a makeshift YPG training academy in northeastern Syria. It was located in the shadow of a mountain, beneath a base that was slightly concealed so it could not be seen from a distance. The living quarters were basic. There was a TV and a shower, a mess hall, and a kitchen for dining. The recruits slept on mats on the floor with pillows that were so hard they were used at one point as makeshift sandbags. “They were like concrete,” Walker says with a laugh.

The training itself lasted about a month. Each day would begin at about 5 a.m. with an hour or so of exercise. There would be breakfast, then several hours of lessons, focusing on history and learning the Kurdish language. Of course, there was also a strong military aspect to the academy, and it was here that Walker learned to shoot an AK-47 for the first time. Occasionally his commanders would stage ambushes, preparing the new recruits for the surprise attacks that they would later endure on the front line against Islamic State fighters.

Walker became close friends with one of the other foreign volunteers — a 24-year-old Canadian named Nazzarino Tassone, known as Naz. Tassone was with Walker from the start of his journey; they had first met at the safe house in Iraq. “Basically, he never fucking shut up,” Walker recalls. “He was very talkative and had very lowbrow humor. He was a little more center-right in his politics, but sympathetic to the Kurdish cause.” Tassone was not so much interested in the academic side of the training as he was the military aspect. He was a gun nut and desperate to get out on the front line.

Before long, he would get his opportunity.

The first time Walker encountered the Islamic State, he was in a farm building in an abandoned village not far from the Tishrin Dam, about 80 miles east of Aleppo. He and Tassone were keeping watch with a sniper rifle and binoculars when they noticed something suspicious. About a mile in the distance, there was a person approaching in an unusually large car. The pair shouted to some of the local Kurdish fighters, who called a commander to prepare an anti-aircraft weapon they could use against the approaching vehicle. Before the commander had arrived, however, Tassone spotted an Islamic State fighter creeping toward their base on foot, and he swiftly fired shots at him. Then “it just went crazy,” Walker says. “ISIS started firing at us, we were firing back. And this is the first time I’ve ever been in this situation.” He was scared, nervous, and lost his focus — before Tassone shouted at him to snap out of it.

He put down the sniper rifle he was holding, picked up a Kalashnikov, and took up a firing position. There was a flurry of gunfire, and amid the frenzy, an Islamic State suicide bomber attempted to drive a truck into the YPG’s position. Luckily, the truck was disabled after one of the Kurdish fighters blasted it with a rocket-propelled grenade. Once the fighting calmed down, Walker’s unit returned to their base, and another YPG unit held the position at the farmhouse.

Walker and Tassone were eventually separated and sent to different units. Walker spent about six weeks on the front line, where he estimates he was involved in about six days of fighting in total. It was his final experience of the conflict that affected him the most.

On November 24, Walker was sent out with several units of fighters to a position in a small town called Arima, between the northern Syrian cities of Manbij and Al Bab. His unit was tasked with guarding a crossing on the eastern side of the town. His team established a base inside a compound that had large red iron doors and two houses within it. They arrived at Arima early in the morning, just as the sun was coming up, and spent the day using machine guns to fend off Islamic State suicide bombers, who were charging at them in cars packed with explosives.

By nightfall, the fighting had paused. Walker and the five other fighters in his unit were taking turns to stand guard and get some sleep. Around midnight, on the roof of one of the buildings in the compound, Walker was woken up by one of the young Arab fighters in his unit, as it was his turn to stand guard. His commander had just returned to the scene in an armored car, and he could hear the loud hum of the engine rumbling in the background.

Then, in a flash, there was a massive explosion that seemed to come out of nowhere. Walker was thrown to the ground, his head smashed forcefully on the edge of the roof. Luckily, he had just put on his helmet, which possibly spared him his life in that instant.

There was a second or two of eerie silence immediately after the explosion, followed by a terrible noise. Walker looked up from his position on the roof, and the young Arab soldier who had awoken him seconds earlier had disappeared and one side of the building had collapsed in on itself. A Turkish fighter jet had bombed their position.

“We would never have been sleeping on the roof if we expected to be bombed,” Walker says. “We were fighting Islamic State. We didn’t think the [Assad] regime would bomb us and didn’t expect the Turks to come so far south.”

Walker tried to compose himself. He looked around but struggled to see beyond a wall of smoke and fire that was surrounding him. Before the YPG had seized the village, the fleeing Islamic State fighters had poisoned all of the water tanks by pouring oil into them. When the airstrikes hit, the blasts burst the water tanks and ignited the oil, creating an inferno. In turn, the fire spread across the YPG’s supplies of ammunition, and there were stray bullets firing off in every direction, crackling like popcorn as they exploded in the heat.

Walker caught sight of Kajin, another young Arab soldier from his unit, who was stumbling around badly injured and confused. Part of his head had caught fire and his eyes were glazed over, but there was still life in him. Walker put out the fire on his head, grabbed his hand, and tried to pull him toward a staircase that led down to the ground, shouting in both Arabic and Kurdish that they had to get out. But before they could get off the roof, one of the stray bullets struck the young fighter in the neck, killing him.

“It was the single worst thing I have ever experienced,” recalls Walker, who looks shaken as he describes the incident. “They say ‘war is hell,’ but I didn’t realize they meant it literally. I saw hell. It was just fire and screaming.”

Somehow, Walker managed to escape with no serious injuries. If the bomb had landed just a few meters closer, he would never have survived. He clambered down the crippled staircase, using a mangled iron handrail to guide himself to the ground. He scrambled across the debris and in the distance heard the sound of his commander’s radio. The commander had not been in the building at the time it was hit. But the rest of the fighters in the unit had disappeared. It later emerged that half of Walker’s unit were killed or injured in the blast. Another YPG squad located about 200 meters away also suffered big losses. Two of Walker’s close friends — an American named Michael Israel and a German called Anton Leschek — had been killed, as had two of the local Kurdish fighters: a female sniper named Sarya and a young male recruit named Mordem.

Walker’s unit was taken out of the village and replaced by another group of fighters. The airstrike had shattered his morale, and he was now left with the grim task of having to identify the disfigured corpses of his friends Israel and Leschek in a nearby hospital. He also had to collect the personal belongings of the deceased pair from the YPG’s base so that they could be returned to their families in their respective countries. And there were funerals to attend for the local Arab and Kurdish fighters who were killed.

The YPG had been pushing toward Raqqa, the Islamic State’s main stronghold in Syria. But now the operation was delayed. The Turkish airstrikes hindered progress. External factors — in particular the outcome of the U.S. election — were also having a direct impact.

Through the transition following the November 8 election of Donald Trump, outgoing Obama officials wanted the incoming Trump administration to sign off on sending the YPG weapons to help with its assault on Raqqa. But the Trump transition team — under the guidance of its then-national security adviser, Michael Flynn — rebuffed the plan.

It later emerged that Flynn had been acting as a paid agent for the Turkish government, which views Kurdish groups as its adversaries and opposes arming them. Flynn resigned in February this year; three months later, the Trump administration finally agreed to begin arming the YPG.

By mid-December last year, Walker was still not back out on the front line. He had returned to a YPG base near the eastern bank of the Euphrates, where he had been reunited with his friend Tassone, the Canadian.

Being back together with Tassone had lifted his spirits somewhat. But he was beginning to contemplate returning to England. Part of him wanted to wait for the Raqqa offensive to begin, but another part of him thought it was time to go home. He had spent nearly six months in Syria, and he had always planned to return home if he made it that long. Tassone was encouraging him to stay for the next big fight, but most of the others at the base were advising him to leave, telling him that he shouldn’t tempt fate one last time.

Walker made the decision to depart and traveled out of Syria toward Iraq. In Sulaymaniyah, he was taken to a safe house where people affiliated with the YPG helped him organize his travel to the U.K. While he was waiting for his flight to be arranged, on Christmas Day, he received some crushing news.

Tassone had returned to the front line and been killed in an Islamic State attack.

As he arrived back at London’s Gatwick Airport, Walker knew something was not quite right.

While he was waiting in line to make his way through passport control, he noticed there were a couple of men wearing suits lingering behind the security barrier, and more police than usual. As soon as he got through the passport gate, Walker was approached by one of the suit-wearing men, who asked him to show his passport again. He was then ushered to the side of the room and introduced to a detective from London’s Metropolitan Police and two detectives from Wales’s extremism and counterterrorism unit — one male, the other female. The female detective read him his rights and told him he was being arrested on suspicion of involvement in the “commission, preparation, or instigation of acts of terrorism.”

In the back of an unmarked police car, Walker was driven about 215 miles west to a police station in Ammanford, Wales, where he spent the night in a cell. The officers confiscated most of the possessions he was traveling with, including his YPG uniform, cellphone, diaries, and notebooks. The following day he was interviewed about his time in Syria. The officers told him they had previously dealt with people returning from the Middle East who were suspected of fighting with the Islamic State, but never anyone who had been fighting against the Islamic State. They asked him basic questions about why he had traveled to Syria and about his military experience there, querying whether he had learned how to make bombs. For Walker, the whole scene was confusing. “I was in shock,” he says. “I didn’t know what was going on. I just kept thinking, ‘I’ve survived … but holy shit, I’ve been arrested.’”

It is estimated that at least 300 Westerners have traveled to the Middle East to fight against the Islamic State, but the treatment they receive when they return home has varied wildly. American fighters who have battled alongside the YPG and other pro-democracy militias have re-entered the U.S. without any difficulties. In Australia, police have questioned and confiscated the passports of returning fighters upon their arrival back into the country. In the Netherlands, the authorities arrested a military veteran on suspicion of murder because he had fought with the YPG in Syria, but later dropped the case after a public outcry. And in Denmark, the authorities served a YPG fighter who returned from Syria with a travel ban, and took her into custody after she violated it.

British authorities’ treatment of fighters returning from Syria and Iraq in recent years has been highly inconsistent. In April 2016, the issue was the focus of a debate in the British Parliament. Robert Jenrick, a Conservative member of Parliament, said during the discussion that he had personally been in contact with the families of 20 British anti-Islamic State fighters. Two of the 20, he said, had been arrested under the Terrorism Act; four were questioned but not arrested; and 14 came and went at will, unquestioned. In several publicly reported cases in the U.K., returning fighters have been arrested or questioned but then not charged. That is what makes Walker’s case particularly unusual.

After his initial interrogation, Walker was released on bail and he was not charged with committing any crimes. But that changed after police searched his apartment in Aberystwyth and found extracts from the “Anarchist Cookbook” in one of his drawers. They subsequently charged him under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act, which states that it is a crime to collect, make a record of, or possess a document containing “information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.”

Walker says that he downloaded an extract of the “Cookbook” while at university, where much of his time was spent learning about the military, intelligence agencies, and counterterrorism. He participated in a role-playing group called the Crisis Games Society, which organized simulations of major political or security crises in an effort to educate students about decision-making in emergency situations. On one occasion, Walker took part in a game in which one team of students performed the role of the security services, and another team played the part of terrorists plotting an attack; the groups were separated in different rooms and had to try to outwit each other. They used the “Anarchist Cookbook” as part of their research for the terrorist aspect.

Through his trial, which will be held in October, Walker’s legal team is likely to argue that he had a “reasonable excuse,” on academic grounds, for his possession of the “Cookbook.” Walker says fellow students have provided witness statements that back up his explanation, and he is confident that he will eventually be exonerated. But still, he is struggling to come to terms with the strange irony of the predicament he has found himself in. He nearly died fighting against Islamic State terrorists, but now he too is being treated as if he were a terrorist.

In mid-May in London, Walker had an early morning hearing at the Old Bailey court, which handles serious criminal cases. He turned up looking tired and scruffy in a black suit jacket, blue shirt, black trousers, and white sneakers. His hearing was scheduled between two others — one involving an accused rapist, and another involving a group of three suspected Islamist extremists who were allegedly preparing to carry out a terrorist attack.

The night before, Walker had struggled to sleep. He had a nightmare about a Turkish jet bombing his father’s house with all his friends sleeping inside, reminiscent of the incident he had experienced in Syria. “It was the most vivid dream I’ve had in a long time,” he says. “My body felt the same. The sounds were the same.”

The horror he witnessed, unsurprisingly, has changed his life. He now gets anxious when passenger jets fly overhead, and he is haunted by flashbacks. On one recent afternoon, he was cleaning the kitchen of the restaurant in Bristol where he has been working part time when he smelled some burned blood from one of the pots or pans that had been used to cook meat. It took him right back to the hospital morgue, where he had to identify the disfigured corpses of his friends Israel and Leschek. He had to quickly leave the kitchen and step outside to get away from the smell.

Many of the friends Walker made in Syria are still there — alive and well — and continuing the fight. Walker is reluctant to be in the spotlight, but he hopes media attention on his case can help educate people about the YPG and its plight in Rojava. “I’m not really that important in all of this,” he says. “There are other people still over there.”

In the short term, pending the outcome of the government’s case against him, he plans to re-enroll in university and complete his studies. He also intends to return to Syria one day, when the war is over, to help rebuild the country. “Sometimes I do still have a bit of a taste for a good fight against some bad fascists,” he says with a wry smile. “Winning a battle — people trying to kill you and failing — it’s an amazing feeling. I miss it in a lot of ways.” He pauses, taking a deep breath. “At same time, I know I’m lucky,” he adds. “I rolled a six on a dice, and I managed to survive.”










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