TBR News July 11, 2011

Jul 11 2011

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., July 11, 2011: “Such a surprise to learn that Rupert Murdoch has been tapping phones and extorting politicians in England. The Brits are so outraged that Rupert may well have suffered a fatal blow. But the entertaining part of this is that Rupert has been doing the same thing right here in the United States for years. Of course here, Rupert is competing with a number of official governmental agencies who are doing exactly the same thing and for the same end: Money, power and control. Rupert ruins any newspaper or television entity he gets his hairy hands on as witness what he did to the London Times and is now doing to the Wall Street Journal. It is well-known in the trade that Rupert blackmails, threatens and extorts any politician or other political figure he wishes to and so far he has gotten away with it. So far, that is. This ugly business in England is just starting and will, once certain information about Rupert and his doings becomes public in this country, surely bring him down, even in his dotage.”

The Shapiro File

The man behind the enormous MERS mortgage scandal is one Alan G. Shapiro.

He was an associate of Bernie Madoff. Bernie got off with 65 billion, only some of which was recovered but Alan got off with nearly 200 billion, not one cent of which can ever be recovered because, like Bernie, he put his loot into Israeli banks and lending establishments from whence it will never return.

Here is some information on Alan for you:

The Shapiro’s family are Lithuanian, Orthodox Jewish, from Wilno and originally named Speyer. His father, Chaim, a rabbi , fled Lithuania in January of 1939 and went to Stockholm. While in Sweden, Chaim married Esther Domeratsky at Viborg on February 17, 1941. The family emigrated to Israel in September of 1949

Alan was born on September 8, 1958, in Tel Aviv and emigrated to the United States, through Canada ,in August of 1979. Alan was a supporter of the Israeli think tank, JINSA. the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs

Shapiro has been closely associated with the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidics, who follow the Qabala and hold very extremist and insulting views of non-Jews.

Shapiro was taught colloquial English as a child and when he was finished with his obligatory IDF service, he came to the United States to find his fortune and better serve his employers, the Israeli government and people. In due time, Alan became connected with a number of the Hebraic Illuminati in and around Washington, an area that has proven to be of rich pickings for some. At one period or another, Alan was:

  • An associate of William Kristol who published the Weekly Standard, a Rupert Murdoch-financed magazine that promotes the neocon credo a must-read in Cheney’s office.
  • Was a member of the Defense Department’s National Security Study Group, at the Pentagon
  • Worked closely with the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a Washington-based Israeli outfit which distributed articles translated from Arabic newspapers portraying Arabs in a bad light
  • Worked even more closely with top members of the Bradley Foundation, one of the largest and most influential right-wing organizations in America. It set up the PNAC led by William Kristol
  • Was heavily involved with Israeli think tank ‘The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)’ and worked very closely with the Israeli Embassy out of 3514 International Dr NW, Washington, DC 20008, dealing with a Lev Aedelstein, later identified as a senior Mossad operative
  • At one point in his career as a more successful Jonathan Pollard, Shapiro received both Top Secret-SCI (sensitive compartmented information) and Top Secret “NATO/COSMIC” security clearances.
  • And while reaping what other had sown, Alan also worked closely with Angelo Mozilla, head of Countrywide Mortgage which specialized in falsified credit backed mortgages. Countrywide was founded in 1969 as Countrywide Credit Industries.
  • Alan G. Shapiro has often been confused with another Alan who owns TAG Inc. of Orange County, CA, Threat Assessment Group designed  to prevents workplace violence. The latter Alan has nothing to do with his namesake.

Madoff founded the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in 1960, and was its chairman until his arrest on December 11, 2008. The Madoff family gained access to Washington’s lawmakers and regulators through the industry’s top trade group.
The Madoff family had long-standing, high-level ties to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), the primary securities industry organization. Bernard Madoff sat on the Board of Directors of the Securities Industry Association, which merged with the Bond Market Association in 2006 to form SIFMA. Former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt has estimated the actual net fraud to be between $10 and $17 billion. Erin Arvedlund, who publicly questioned Madoff’s reported investment performance in 2001, stated that the actual amount of the fraud will never be known, but is likely between $40 and $70 billion.
DHS investigations, based on computer searches conducted from their Frenso, California office, indicated that money stolen by Madoff has been traced directly to: Union Bank of Israel Ltd, Bank Massad Ltd, Leumi Mortgage Bank Ltd, Total Money International Ltd. Hadar Weitzman Group.
Bernie, like Alan, stole billions but the American authorities were never able to ascertain where much of the stolen money went. The U.S. investigative agencies strongly believed that all of it was safe in Israeli banks but could never figure out how the stolen m money got there. All banking wire transactions are automatically reported and the transfer of so much money would be easy to spot. What both Bernie and Alan did was to buy gold. They bought bar gold and coins with their money because, unlike paper money, gold will keep its value. And how did they get such enormous weights of gold to Israel? On a plane? No, in the hold of Alan’s yacht. His yacht, once called ‘The Polar Queen’ is large enough to carry all the gold in Ft. Knox across the Atlantic and in great comfort for her passengers.

And once the Mozilla scheme collapsed and the Bank of American rushed to buy up his Countrywide Mortgage company, Alan took quiet leave of his many friends and co-religionists in Washington and sailed into the sunrise. Is he now living in Israel, untouched and untouchable? No, Alan, untouchable because of his threats to expose half of Washington for various high crimes and misdemeanors, is now living in France. He lives in a beautiful villa located at Villefranch-sur-Mer near Nice on the Mediterranean French Rivera. The harbor there is big enough to take his yacht, now registered outside the United States, and Alan is thoroughly enjoying the loot he ripped off from millions of hard-working Americans. They were looking for the American Dream but Alan found it. And as the Bank of America said to Obama’s office when the bank learned that a DoJ investigation into their mortgage frauds was being planned, Alan said that if he went down, they all would go down. Isn’t the silence something to notice?”

Email sent by AS to RLM at Goldman-Sachs on March 19, 2011 @ 12:45 AM

I think the very size of the mortgage issue is such as to make it virtually untouchable, at least by the Justice people. We have major financial institutions, i.e., JPMorganChase, BoA, Wells Fargo and Goldman (to name a few) very deep into this project. The BoA, for instance, bought out Countrywide for their holdings. They continued on their happy way with others right beside them. Their involvement is too great to be tampered with. Besides, most mortgage holders will probably keep their homes for decades and by the time the bulk of them discover the problems, none of us will be on the scene. Dick has a bad heart and one more attack and there will be a state funeral. He wasnt involved with the mortgage business but Dick made a huge profit from his Halliburton holdings. He did not divest because he had no stock but he did have options at a very low price. The no-bid govt. contracts shoved Halliburton stock into the sky so Dick can exercise his options and die a rich man. As to your questions, I wouldnt worry too much. Theres too much to lose for too many important people and coming clean would do probably fatal damage to the banking structure here. And as far as your overseas holdings, realize that we lead and they follow. And as to your second point, who gives a flying fuck what the Chinks think? Their economy is on a boom-and-bust course and they may be strutting around like a Washington nigger with a brass watch but they have no base to their pyramid. They bought up Tnotes in order to get a handle on us but that wont work and you know why. No, just enjoy yourself and let the big boys worry. And Im certainly enjoying myself. Ive taken up fishing herefrom the boat of course. Got a sunburn and I look like a boiled lobster. This is a relatively cosmopolitan area. Last night, I had dinner with a Swedish neighbor. Say hello to your wife for me..

The Advertiser and the Adjustable Rate Mortgage

July 9, 2011

by Christopher Brauchli


Worm or beetle-drought or tempest-on a farmers land may fall,
Each is loaded full o
ruin, but a mortgage beats em all.
— Will Carlton, The Tramps Story

Juxtaposition. Avoid it. It makes things seem ridiculous if not incomprehensible. Consider the banking industry. At almost the same time that Bank of America agreed to an $8.5 billion settlement with assorted investors who were disappointed in the investment results they realized when investing in bonds that were based on substandard mortgages, an ad in the New York Times for adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) provided by PenFed caught my eye. The ad seemed oblivious to the lessons taught the last few years.

The substandard mortgage and the ARM were two of the reasons for the country’s recent financial troubles. Banks conspired with borrowers to let them take out loans without verifying their income and assisted the would be homeowners in acquiring properties that were beneficiaries of bubbles rather than increases in value. Many borrowers did not know how ARMs worked. They were seduced by the promise of a low initial interest rate and unaware that that rate could quickly become punitively high, depending on factors over which the borrower had no control.

ARMs were all the rage in the last decade. Borrower and lender alike assumed that house prices (if not values) would continue to go up and when the time came for the interest rate to be adjusted upwards, the home owner would sell at a profit and not be confronted with the higher monthly payments required by the new, much higher interest rate. It was, therefore, surprising to see that notwithstanding their contribution to the mortgage crisis, one financial institution that offers ARMs goes to great length to make them attractive, if deceptively so. That institution is PenFed whose copywriters for ads for ARMs were either born after the recent mortgage crisis (unlikely) or were completely oblivious to what went on (more likely.) The foregoing assumption is based on an advertisement in the New York Times that appeared in late June and that can be viewed on PenFed’s webpage.

As long as you’re a fine print sort of person, the ad is not at all deceiving. And even if you’re not a fine print sort, I’m sure that a loan officer would carefully explain to you that contrary to what the bold print in the advertisement appears to say, it doesn’t mean it at all. It means the fine print stuff. The rest was just put in to catch the reader’s eye. In my case it worked.

The ad was a half page ad. Using a headline type designed to attract the reader’s attention, it proclaimed: “A PenFed Mortgage. Right for you.” It then stated in considerably smaller type the advantages of a 5/5 Adjustable Rate Mortgage which included the statement that “Your rate is locked-in for 5 years at a time, guaranteed.” In large bold letters in the center of the ad it provided an example that a casual reader would assume was an example of how such a mortgage would work. It said that for the first 60 months at a mortgage rate of 3.35% and an annual percentage rate of 3.494%, the monthly payment would be $1,959. In the next line it said for the next 300 months at a 3.625% rate and an annual percentage rate of 3.494% the monthly payment would be $2,039. Beneath this description, in small-italicized print appeared a recital that the interest rate “is variable and can increase by no more than 2 percentage points every 5 years . . . .”

There is probably a simple explanation for why, when the interest rate goes from 3.25% to 3.625%, the annual percentage rate remains constant, although the explanation will not be found in this relatively unsophisticated space. The more tantalizing question to which no answer is yet forthcoming is, why would PenFed place, in an advertisement for a 5/5 ARM, an example that shows 60 monthly payments at one fixed rate and 300 payments at another fixed rate when in fact there is not only no guarantee that the second rate will remain in effect for 300 months but a certainty that it will not. A phone call to the call center for PenFed Mortgage where one can apply for a mortgage yielded little enlightenment. The person who answered the phone said he had seen the ad and found it confusing. He said when consulting with his superior about its confusing nature he was told that the company was required to advertise the mortgage in that fashion. He did not say whose requirement it was. Another person in the call center thought the form of the advertisement was mandated by the government.

Any borrower will almost certainly have any confusion caused by the ad cleared up before the borrower actually signs any papers. The ad is probably just intended to catch the attention of the readers, some of whom may be potential borrowers. It has probably worked.

Murdoch’s Troika

July 9, 2011

by Gwynne Dyer


The troika hurtles across the frozen plain. The wolves are close behind, and from time to time a peasant is hurled from the sleigh in the hope of letting the more important people escape. But nothing distracts the pack for long, not even when the occupants of the sleigh move up the pecking order and throw a couple of minor aristocrats to the wolves.

Wait! What’s this? They have thrown a newspaper to the wolves? An entire newspaper, with two hundred full-time employees and hundreds more freelance contributors? How do they think that that will help them to get away?

The troika is called News International, the newspaper wing of Rupert Murdoch’s globe-spanning media empire. The paper that has just been sacrificed is the News of the World, a Sunday tabloid that claims to have more readers than any other paper in the English-speaking world.

The NoW makes a tidy profit, but this Sunday’s edition will be its last. After 168 years, the institution that pioneered the art of persuading the emerging class of semi-literate English people to buy newspapers has been shut down by its owners.

Semi-literates were consumers too. If it took a steady diet of salacious and scandalous stories about the rich and/or famous to get them to read a newspaper, the publishers of the NoW were always willing to provide it. The advertisers flocked in and the “News of the Screws”, as the magazine Private Eye dubbed it in the 1970s, flourished like the green bay tree.

It used to get its salacious and scandalous stories by paying celebrities’ friends to betray them, or just by going through celebrities’ garbage in search of letters, receipts, etc. Starting as long ago as the late 1990s, however, the NoW also started hacking new communications technologies, even though that was against the law.

Over the past decade the NoW has paid various shady characters to hack the voice-mails, e-mails and other electronic data of literally thousands of people, from members of the British royal family to Z-list celebrities. A few of them, suspecting they had been hacked, launched lawsuits against the paper, and the whole shabby enterprise began to unravel.

The first peasants to be thrown from the troika were the NoW’s royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, and the private eye he had paid to hack into the royal family’s e-mails, Glenn Mulcaire. Both men went to prison in 2007. The management at the NoW insisted that they were just a couple of “bad apples” – but it paid their legal expenses, and probably much more besides, in order to buy their silence about any further hacking.

The stone-walling worked for a while, as the police soft-pedalled the investigation (the NoW had been paying them for stories, after all). But details of the hacking continued to leak out anyway, and during this year several more senior NoW journalists have been arrested for questioning, including former editor Andy Coulson.

James Murdoch, the 80-year-old Rupert’s son and heir apparent, was moved from London to New York in March, at least partly to put him beyond easy reach of the British legal system. (He was ultimately responsible for the NoW at the time of the crimes.)

Last week it was revealed that the NoW had been hacking not only celebrities’ voice-mails, but also those of a murdered schoolgirl, of the grieving families of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan, and of victims of the terrorist attack in London in 2005. Public disgust was intense, and it was clearly time to throw the wolves a really big meal.

The obvious candidate was Rebekah Brooks, who was the editor of the NoW in the early years of phone hacking (2000-03). She is now the chief executive of News International, and a close personal friend of Rupert Murdoch, so firing her would create the impression that Murdoch’s empire was serious about cleaning house. Instead, Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World itself down.

His son James made the announcement, lamenting the loss of a paper with a “proud history of fighting crime, exposing wrong-doing and regularly setting the news agenda for the nation.” How true. Why, in its last edition it had a front-page story about Florence Brudenell-Bruce’s revelation that her new boyfriend, Prince Harry, was “fantastic in bed.” The only picture they could find to illustrate the story, alas, showed her in her underwear.

News International isn’t really going to lose money by closing the NoW. It will be replaced almost immediately by a new Sunday edition of its weekday stable-mate, the Sun: new web addresses for thesunonsunday.com and TheSunOnSunday.co.uk were registered last week. As British Justice Secretary Ken Clarke pointed out: “All they’re going to do is rebrand it”.

But why didn’t they just blame it all on Rebekah Brooks and fire her? Because if Rebekah Brooks goes down, the next person in the line of fire will inevitably be James Murdoch himself. That cannot be allowed to happen, because he is leading News Corporation’s bid for control of British Sky Broadcasting, which would give it utter dominance in the British media and huge profits.

So leave Brooks out there to draw fire at least until the British government approves the BSkyB takeover bid. Then, if necessary, she can be thrown out of the troika too.

Phone-hacking scandal: is this the tipping point for Murdoch’s empire?

For decades the US mogul has held sway over British media and political life but last week all that seemed to change

July 9, 2011

By Jamie Doward, Toby Helm, James Robinson, Richard Wachman, Vanessa Thorpe and Paul Harris in New York


Shortly before nine o’clock on a Saturday evening last month an elderly man wearing a woollen jumper and slacks escorted a flame-haired woman to the back of a dining room in a Cotswolds pub. The sun was emerging after a day of rain and the jolly mood in the Oxfordshire gastropub was shared by the couple. Laughing, they settled side by side behind a stripped pine table and examined their menus.

Fellow diners scrutinising the couple attentively could have been forgiven for mistaking them for father and daughter, such was their age gap and the way they seemed to be extremely comfortable in each other’s company. Whatever their relationship, clearly they were close. At one stage the woman could be seen wiping fluff off her companion’s jumper.

They were still at their table, chatting casually to locals, two hours later. If they had pressing matters on their minds, they did not betray them. Only the chauffeur-driven car waiting outside the honey-stoned pub might have given a clue that they were a little out of the ordinary.

That Rupert Murdoch had chosen to spend a rare evening in the UK outside London with Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of his News International UK subsidiary, says much about the relationship between the two.

While many of their friends and colleagues, including Brooks’s racehorse-training husband, Charlie, were attending George Osborne’s 40th birthday party, Murdoch had chosen to spend his evening with his most loyal lieutenant, who lives close to the Kingham Plough pub, near Chipping Norton. Murdoch, who can expect presidents and prime ministers to fly all the way round the world to court him, was dropping in on his employee. The mountain was coming to Muhammad.

Although, only two days earlier, Brooks had been at Murdoch’s annual summer party in London, where she had rubbed shoulders with David Cameron and the Labour leader Ed Miliband, the two would still have had much to talk about.

That party was notable for the fact that several Tory ministers, including culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, had opted not to attend, concerned about being seen to be too close to Murdoch at a time when his holding company, News Corp, was seeking a full takeover of satellite broadcaster BSkyB, a deal that rival media companies warned would cripple competition.

The putative takeover was framed by the backdrop of never-ending allegations of phone hacking at Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper, which had given the media mogul’s enemies plenty of ammunition to use against his BSkyB bid. How could the government endorse such a deal when one of the jewels in the crown of the Murdoch empire had been engaged in such criminality, critics asked. How could Brooks apparently have not known what was going on?

The same questions were repeated vociferously last week as evidence emerged that the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler had been hacked, as well as those belonging to the families of the 7/7 victims.

But Murdoch would not give his critics what they wanted: Brooks’s head. For a man often labelled ruthless, it was an extraordinary defence of an employee. It was also costly. News Corp’s share price dropped as analysts warned the Sky deal might be delayed.

The saga was spiralling out of control, threatening not only the Sky deal but also long-term damage to Murdoch’s US interests such as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. According to one insider, the crisis has dismayed Prince Alwaleed bin Talal whose Saudi-based Kingdom Holdings sovereign fund owns 7% of News Corp.

In a belated attempt to show how seriously it was taking the allegations, News Corp revealed that Brooks has been replaced as the head of a team investigating the phone hacking. Instead, two experienced lawyers, Joel Klein and Viet Dinh, who both sit on News Corp’s board in New York, will lead the inquiry.

But it was not nearly enough. Murdoch, who was attending a conference of media bigwigs in Sun Valley, Idaho, found himself surrounded by reporters last Thursday, baying for answers. Flanked by his wife, Wendi, the ageing mogul cut a diminished figure, battling through the throng and belligerently saying he had nothing to add to a statement he made earlier in the week.

With shareholders and politicians vying to express their fury, it was left to Murdoch’s son, James, News Corp’s chief operating officer, to deliver the coup de grâce.

But, astonishingly, it was not to be Brooks’s head on a plate. Instead it was the newspaper she edited between 2000 and 2003. The News of the World, Britain’s bestselling Sunday paper, was to be axed after 168 years, Murdoch Junior revealed in an email sent to all News International staff. A fleeting visit from Brooks to the paper’s newsroom, in which – soft-voiced, dry-eyed and rambling – she spoke of her affection for the paper, confirmed its demise to the few shell-shocked staff who were there to hear her.

As a damage limitation exercise, it was as brutal as it was unprecedented. But in sacrificing its massively profitable Sunday title, the Murdoch empire has triggered more questions than answers. Questions that will now dismantle what became an unholy alliance of politics, press and police.

Talk to former News of the World journalists and ask where it all went wrong and they are likely to start with Phil Hall. The combative hack, who now runs his own PR company, started his career on the Dagenham Post and became the News of the World editor in 1995. Hall inherited a paper with a circulation above four million that enjoyed a formidable reputation as a gutsy breaker of big stories. Some were famously salacious, but many involved exposés of the great and the not-so-good, big league criminals, dodgy politicians and corrupt officials.

“It was a proper paper 20 years ago,” one former employee told the Observer. “We turned over drug dealers, immigration rackets, things like that. Really good, hard-hitting stories. It also made people laugh; there was lots of fun stuff in it. Sure, there was a touch of spin to it all, but the stories were genuine. We were not saints. We bent things, but it was only to get the guys who deserved to be got.”

Part of the paper’s success lay in the near symbiotic relationship it enjoyed with the police, the two institutions swapping tip-offs and working together on major stories that ensured a win-win for all involved: the cops got the glory; the paper the headline.

But after Hall came in things went in a different direction. Journalists were under increasing pressure to bring in stories. “The focus became celebrity and then all the other papers followed and so it became even more competitive,” the former hack said.

Andy Coulson, who took over as editor in 2003, was cut from the same cloth. The man who would go on to become Cameron’s spin doctor, and was arrested on Friday in relation to allegations of phone hacking and corruption, appeared to be a firm believer in the macho politics of the newsroom. A 2008 industrial tribunal found he had presided over a culture of bullying at the paper that forced one his reporters to go on long-term sick leave because of stress-related depression.

Coulson had cut his teeth on the Sun’s Bizarre column, another high-octane environment. “People were having nervous breakdowns left, right and centre,” recalls one former employee. “There were people crying in the toilets. Every day you put your body on the line.”

Little changed when Coulson arrived at the News of the World. “Everyone felt that pressure from the executives down,” said one News International employee. “Conference could be incredibly tense sometimes and maybe that pushed some people to do stupid things, but it was never overt. It was never something that people talked about it. If it was happening, and I suppose it clearly was, then people were going off to do it somewhere on their own. Andy was a really good editor and wanted good stories. He was passionate. It was tough.”

Some of the staff may have felt uncomfortable, but the culture reaped dividends with the News of the World bringing in scoop after scoop that left rivals trailing in its wake well into the new millennium, when Brooks took over, editing the paper for three years before moving to the Sun.

Even if, in common with other papers, its circulation was declining, the sensational stories ensured about 7.5 million people continued to read the paper, of whom 2.7 million were the wealthy ABC1s beloved of advertisers. The News of the World was a cash cow for Murdoch, who used its profits to help shore up his other newspaper interests such as the Times and the Sunday Times, which gave him huge political leverage.

What has now become clear is that the provenance of a large number of those stories can be traced to private investigators employed by News International, several on six-figure contracts.

At the outset, in the 1980s, much of their work – such as obtaining ex-directory numbers or helping find addresses – was relatively routine. Sometimes it involved covert surveillance, even though it was not always for reasons that could be justified in the public interest. An outside agency was employed to establish that Freddie Mercury had HIV. One former journalist told how the bar belonging to the brother of a television personality was bugged. “Half the dressing rooms on [the television soap] Eldorado were also done,” he said.

But the arrival of the mobile phone added a new dimension. “It used to be much easier to listen to live phone calls when it was the old analogue cell system,” one former journalist said. “In the early 1990s there used to be an advert in the Exchange and Mart from a mobile shop in Bridgend which offered for sale an old Motorola carphone-type phone which had been doctored with a serial cable that could be connected to your PC. With the software provided you could use it as a live scanner showing people’s numbers and listen in to calls via the PC.”

Soon journalists across Fleet Street were well versed in how to listen in to the new phones and to access their voicemails. “It became more of a question of journalists listening in to other journalists’ phones from rival papers,” the ex-journalist said. “One journalist would deliberately leave false messages to throw people off the track of where he was and what he was doing.”

Some private detectives on contract to the paper were like Glenn Mulcaire, the former footballer at the centre of the hacking scandal and a newcomer to Fleet Street. “Working for the News of the World was never easy,” Mulcaire said last week. “There was relentless pressure. There was a constant demand for results. I knew what we did pushed the limits ethically, but at the time, I didn’t understand that I had broken the law.”

Many others were like Sid Fillery, a former member of Scotland Yard’s flying squad, who worked for a private detective firm, Southern Investigations, run by his friend Jonathan Rees. The two men were accused of being involved in the unsolved murder of Rees’s business partner, Daniel Morgan, but walked free after the case against them collapsed earlier this year, with the police accused of misconduct by the judge.

It is this type of complicated relationship between the police, the papers and private investigators that is likely to yield further scandal as the three sides turn on each other.

Fillery, who now runs a pub in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, confirmed to the Observer that the agency had worked with the News of the World on a string of legitimate stories while he was in the Met. But, in a development that promises to throw more fuel on the fire, he said he intends to sue his former force. A spokesman for his solicitors, Pannone, said: “We can confirm that a partner at the firm is advising Mr Fillery on an action against the Metropolitan police for malicious prosecution.”

The Met, meanwhile, is scouring all the evidence it has accumulated on Rees to establish if his firm was also involved in carrying out illegal activities on behalf of newspapers. There are said to be at least 11,000 pages of material relating to Rees in the Met’s possession, none of which has yet been disclosed and some of which is thought to relate to key public figures who so far have been mentioned only on the periphery of the scandal.

Significantly, while it is confirmed that Rees was paid by the News of the World, the Observer understands other newspaper groups used his services far more extensively.

The names of other investigation agencies are likely to emerge soon as Operation Weeting, the Met’s investigation into phone hacking, continues. “There were lots of other agencies working for the papers; I know of at least three more,” one private investigator said.

So far the arrests have been confined to reporters and editors, but how did the investigators obtain the mobile phone numbers to hack into in the first place? One obvious line of inquiry is the illegal accessing of the police national computer, suggesting corrupt officers were involved. The paper has already confirmed that several Met officers were paid for information.

But there will be others outside the force. “I should imagine there are some ex-BT engineers that have done extremely well over the years performing dark arts via third parties,” said one former News of the World employee.

A News International insider said that claims an estimated 4,000 phones may have been targeted could tell only part of the story. There are suggestions that the paper was interested in as many as 80,000 phone numbers over the past decade. How many were hacked or bugged is a subject for the police investigation, but by the mid-1990s it appears hacking had become endemic and no one was considered out of bounds. From the families of 7/7 victims to Milly Dowler, all were targets. John Cooper, a barrister who represents the families of soldiers killed in the Nimrod disaster in Afghanistan and the RAF Hercules explosion in Iraq, as well as those who died at Deepcut barracks, confirmed on Saturday night that his clients were concerned that they may have been the victims of telephone hacking.

Even the nearly dead were apparently fair game. In the winter of 2004, when his most famous client, George Best, was dying of liver failure, agent Phil Hughes could not understand how the press appeared to be outside the right hospitals at the right time.

“Somehow the News of the World always seemed to understand who was visiting and would always have photographers there,” said Gerald Shamash, Hughes’s solicitor, who has asked the Met to hand over any information it has relating to his client.

“Phil is convinced his phone was substantively hacked by the News of the World. The situation became very difficult, particularly in the latter months of George’s life. It was very upsetting for both of them.”

As the story switched last week from hacked celebrities to vulnerable members of the public, the mood noticeably shifted. In the City, BSkyB’s shares took a pounding as Ofcom, the media regulator, said it would consider whether News Corporation would make a “fit and proper” owner of BSkyB. By the end of the week the shares were down nearly 12%, wiping £1.8bn off BSkyB’s market value as hedge funds bet the deal would be bogged down for months to come.

The fit and proper person test applies to any owner of a TV station in the UK. The regulator indicated it would invoke the test only if a director of BSkyB were to be charged with criminal offences, such as phone hacking.

But other legal concerns are brewing. There is speculation that illegal acts by company executives in London could potentially be prosecuted in America under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which is aimed at stopping US firms from engaging in bribery abroad.

At the same time, the idea has been floated that News of the World journalists, or those working at News Corp organisations in the US, might have broken the law in pursuit of stories across the Atlantic. The US has extremely strict laws on phone hacking and many ambitious prosecutors might like to make a name for themselves by pursuing such a case.

In the face of massive public opprobrium and a City backlash, James Murdoch’s decision to kill off the title was portrayed as a kneejerk reaction, an emergency amputation to keep the News International patient alive. But this may not be true. One well-placed source has suggested Murdoch has had a team working on plans to replace the News of the World with a Sunday Sun for at least three months. This belief is shared by former journalists on the paper. “What happened on Thursday was a cynical exercise to save Murdoch money, sack staff and turn the Sun into a seven-day operation,” said one. “Thirty years ago this would have been a trade union issue, but Murdoch did for that.”

Analysts were quick to pronounce that closing the News of the World was a small price for Murdoch to pay. True, the paper is highly profitable, making an estimated £12m of profit in 2010 and generating almost £50m in advertising revenue. But Sky, in which News Corp owns a 39% stake, is forecast to make more than £1bn profit in 2011-12.

On Wall Street, Richard Greenfield of US broker BTIG said Murdoch’s other media interests in cable television – Fox News and his numerous other operations – were far more valuable in the eyes of investors than print.

Greenfield spoke for his fellow analysts when he said: “Many of us believe newspapers are a sunset industry and wouldn’t give a damn if Murdoch decided to get rid of them.”

Murdoch’s audacious overnight transfer of his newspapers to Wapping, east London, in 1986 proved he hated the trade unions, but what he likes is more difficult to pinpoint. In an interview with the Village Voice newspaper in 1976, seven years after he bought the News of the World, he gave a rare insight into his psychology. He painted himself as an outsider, someone who rubbed up against the grain.

“I just wasn’t prepared to join the system,” he said. “Maybe I just have an inferiority complex about being an Australian … you join the old school-tie system and you’re going to be dragged into the so-called social establishment somehow. I never was.”

His status as an outsider was confirmed shortly after he acquired the News of the World when it published the diaries of Christine Keeler at a time the shamed minister, John Profumo, was trying to put the scandal behind him. However, it was Murdoch’s purchase of the Times, waved through by Margaret Thatcher in 1981, and the paper’s subsequent move to Wapping that saw him become a member of the establishment he professed to loathe.

Murdoch and Thatcher were ideological soulmates who espoused free markets, loathed Europe and were impatient to dismantle the UK’s creaking old institutions. For once, Murdoch seemed to have genuine affection for a politician, usually seeing them as useful allies in his quest to expand his interests.

This political pragmatism plays to Murdoch’s advantage, allowing him to back winners – and oppose losers. It was only in 1992, when John Major won a surprise election victory over Neil Kinnock’s Labour party, that the full extent of Murdoch’s influence became evident. Kinnock had looked on course for victory but the Murdoch press led a strident campaign against him in the final days.

On the morning of election day the Sun front-page requested that, “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”. As he licked his wounds amid the wreckage of a fourth consecutive general election defeat for Labour, Kinnock blamed the media and the Murdoch stable in particular for turning the tide against him. “It’s The Sun Wot Won It” ran the paper’s triumphant headline.

From that moment, Labour’s modernisers – Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Gordon Brown, Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell – knew that if the party was to break the Tory stranglehold on power there no more important task than to get Murdoch and his papers onside.

Lance Price, a journalist and ex-spin doctor who worked at No 10 as Campbell’s deputy, recounts how Blair and Campbell took to heart the advice of the Australian prime minister, Paul Keating, on how to deal with Murdoch.

“He’s a big bad bastard and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure he thinks you can be a big bad bastard too,” he said. “You can do deals with him, without ever saying a deal is done. But the only thing he cares about is his business and the only language he respects is strength.”

Throughout his years in power, Blair had regular secret meetings with Murdoch, many abroad, and was in regular telephone contact. Price has gone as far as to claim that Murdoch “seemed like the 24th member of the cabinet”.

Blair insisted no record was ever kept of the meetings or calls, so they were totally deniable. Cherie Blair has said that her husband’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 was a “close call”. So it was – and there is evidence that the final decision was taken only after Murdoch’s encouragement was received and his blessing given. Blair talked to the media tycoon three times on the telephone in the 10 days before the US-led invasion. Details obtained under freedom of information show Blair called Murdoch on 11 March, 13 March and 19 March 2003. British and US troops began the invasion on 20 March, with the Times and Sun voicing total support.

The Murdoch penetration into the heart of political life has accelerated under Cameron. His links to the Murdoch empire are arguably even closer than those of Blair or Gordon Brown, whose wife, Sarah, helped to arrange Brooks’s 40th birthday party.

The contact between the Tory leader and the likes of Michael Gove, the education secretary and an ex-Times journalist, are not merely professional but also social. They mix in the Oxfordshire political and media set. Cameron, who has been a guest at Brooks’s Cotswolds home, made his own visit to see Murdoch in August 2008 on his yacht off the coast of Greece.

But after last week’s momentous events some are questioning whether the umbilical cord between Murdoch and Britain’s politicians has been snapped. Some commentators wonder whether, in an era of declining sales, the hegemony of the press, and in particular that of Murdoch, has been overstated. The rise of new media is allowing politicians to convey their message without needing newspapers as an intermediary. Advertisers are shifting their spending from conventional media brands to social networking sites.

MPs, who last year were accused by Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes of being “too scared” of Murdoch’s News International to testify in court that their phones had been hacked, are lining up to denounce the mogul. “We are in a totally new world now,” said one shadow minister. “This is unbelievable. The Murdoch empire, in a matter of hours, has gone from being one which politicians wanted to do everything they could to please, to one they were desperate to disown and condemn. Murdoch has turned from asset to liability.”

The replacement of the Press Complaints Commission with an independent regulator, after the watchdog was roundly criticised for failing to get to grips with the scandal, will further curtail the power of newspapers.

Two official inquiries, one into phone hacking, the other, with a wider remit into press ethics, promise uncomfortable headlines for Fleet Street over the coming months. So too does Scotland Yard’s continuing investigation, the results of which will extend far beyond the News of the World and phone hacking to other newspapers and criminal acts like bugging and email interception.

Brooks herself hinted there was much more bad news to come, telling staff they would only understand why the plug had to be pulled on their newspaper a year down the line – presumably when criminal investigations have concluded.

Last Thursday evening, stunned News of the World staff made their way to the Cape bar in Wapping where they watched constant updates of their demise flash up on large television screens. It must have been a strange feeling. Used to making the news, they were the news.

A ripple of applause from the table occupied by staff on the paper’s Fabulous magazine greeted an announcement on Sky News that subeditors at the Sun had briefly walked off the job in protest at their sister paper’s closure. Most of the anger was saved for a solitary figure – Brooks. Picture editors vied with subs and young reporters to say the same thing: they had been sold down the river by the Murdoch family to save her skin.”There are young people with families,” one said. “What are they going to do?”

Their mood is unlikely to be helped by the disclosure, presumably made by a disgruntled, recently unemployed member of staff, that Brooks regularly enjoys the services of a helicopter to fly her from Battersea heliport to her Cotswolds home. Her use of a private jet for a breakfast meeting in Venice is also the subject of discussion by Wapping veterans.

“This is about what happened under the old regime,” volunteered a senior reporter gesturing to the pub’s television screens. “Look at most of these people. They weren’t even around when all this happened. Colin Myler [the paper’s editor] might have his faults but he was trying to turn it round. We’ve all been sacrificed to save Rebekah Brooks.”

Their anger raises an important question. How will reporters and editors of other Murdoch titles such as the Sun and the Times feel about continuing to work under Brooks, especially after Cameron in effect called on her to stand down, saying: “It’s been reported that she had offered her resignation in this situation, and I would have taken it.” His comment again threw into question Murdoch’s increasingly quixotic desire to protect Brooks. As the seasoned media commentator Raymond Snoddy observed on the MediaTel Newsline Bulletin: “Her famed political access will be no more. You can hear the doors already slamming in her face.”

But her weakened stature will mean little to the 250 staff on the paper now out of work at a time when none of its rivals is hiring.

In an email to staff yesterday, Myler said: “You have made enormous sacrifices for this company and I want you to know that your brilliant, creative talents have been the real foundation for making the News of the World the greatest newspaper in the world.”

On Saturday night, as Murdoch prepared to fly in to Wapping to tackle a crisis that refuses to die, the News of the World was doubling its print run to five million, anticipating a surge in demand from readers keen to buy a piece of history. Whatever plans he has for its replacement, it was a curtain coming down. Not just for the News of the World but for all of Fleet Street.

Why Do the Police Have Tanks? The Strange and Dangerous Militarization of the US Police Force

The federal government has supplied local police departments with military uniforms, weaponry, vehicles, and training.

July 5, 2011

by Rania Khalek



Just after midnight on May 16, 2010, a SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade through the window of a 25-year-old man while his 7-year-old daughter slept on the couch as her grandmother watched television. The grenade landed so close to the child that it burned her blanket. The SWAT team leader then burst into the house and fired a single shot which struck the

child in the throat, killing her. The police were there to apprehend a man suspected of murdering a teenage boy days earlier. The man they were after lived in the unit above the girl’s family.

The shooting death of Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones sounds like it happened in a war zone. But the tragic SWAT team raid took place in Detroit.

Shockingly, paramilitary raids that mirror the tactics of US soldiers in combat are not uncommon in America. According to an investigation carried out by the Huffington Post’s Radley Balko, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement over the last 30 years, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units for routine police work. In fact, the most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.

Some 40,000 of these raids take place every year, and are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. And as demonstrated by the case of Aiyana Mo’nay Stanley-Jones, these raids have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries.

How did we allow our law enforcement apparatus to descend into militaristic chaos? Traditionally, the role of civilian police has been to maintain the peace and safety of the community while upholding the civil liberties of residents in their respective jurisdiction. In stark contrast, the military soldier is an agent of war, trained to kill the enemy.

Clearly, the mission of the police officer is incompatible with that of a soldier, so why is it that local police departments are looking more and more like paramilitary units in a combat zone? The line between military and civilian law enforcement has been drawn for good reason, but following the drug war and more recently, the war on terror, that line is inconspicuously eroding, a trend that appears to be worsening by the decade.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 is a civil war-era law that prohibits the use of the military for civilian policing. For a long time, Posse Comitatus was considered the law of the land, forcing militarization advocates to come up with creative ways to get around it. In addition to assigning various law enforcement duties to the military, such as immigration control, over the years Congress has instituted policies that encourage law enforcement to emulate combat soldiers. Hence, the establishment of the SWAT team in the 1960s.

Originally called the Special Weapons Attack Team, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units were inspired by an incident in 1966, when an armed man climbed to the top of the 32-story clock tower at the University of Texas in Austin and fired randomly for 90 minutes, shooting 46 people and killing 15, until two police officers got to the top of the tower and killed him. This episode is said to have “shattered the last myth of safety Americans enjoyed [and] was the final impetus the chiefs of police needed” to form their own SWAT teams. Soon after, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) formed the country’s first SWAT team, which acquired national prestige when used against the Black Panthers in 1969.

Suicide rates rise as debt and cuts take their toll

July 8, 2011

by Nina Lakhani


Suicide rates have risen sharply across Europe since the banking crisis as people struggle to cope with debt, unemployment and public service cuts.

Britons fared worse than average, with an 8 per cent rise in suicides between 2007 and 2009 – a shock after almost a decade of annual declines, according to research in The Lancet.

The mental health of people in countries worst hit by the crisis such as Ireland and Greece suffered most. In Greece, 16 per cent more people killed themselves in 2009 than 2007, a large increase, even before the huge financial bailouts hit jobs, pensions and public services. The Irish have suffered a similar fate, with a 13 per cent rise as people face up to home repossessions and dire long-term prospects.

The research is the first large-scale analysis of the impact of the recession on health, and it strongly suggests governments have failed to learn the lessons from previous economic downturns.

Countries that have a fair benefits system and strong programmes to help people back into work quickly have historically avoided suicide spikes during recessions.

Dr David Stuckler, lead author and lecturer in sociology at the University of Cambridge, said the findings were “terribly frustrating”. “Human beings are the real tragedy of an economic crisis, so it is terribly frustrating that government leaders have not only failed to invest in programmes that protect people, but have actually done the opposite… This has been the pattern for three and a half decades but lessons have not been learnt,” he said.

For every suicide there are on average 10 failed attempts and thousands of depression cases, which are much harder to count. Dr Peter Byrne, consultant liaison psychiatrist at Newham University Hospital in east London, said he has seen an increase in patients who have self-harmed or attempted suicide because of “personal debt, loss of hope and uncertainty”.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, added: “The right health, social care, housing and employment support services must be available to help vulnerable people in need now.”

Visa blocks WikiLeaks donations via DataCell once again

July 8, 2011

By Peter Sayer


IDG News Service – For a few hours on Thursday, credit card donations once again flowed to WikiLeaks through a payment gateway at Icelandic hosting company DataCell. Then Visa shut it down again.

DataCell CEO Andreas Fink said his company had found a new payment acquirer, Valitor, willing to process payments to WikiLeaks, and accepted thousands of donations to the whistle-blowing website before running into problems around 3.30 a.m. Icelandic time.

“I don’t think its Visa who pushed Valitor to close, as at that time there’s nobody in Valitor’s office,” Fink said via e-mail. “What’s more likely is the scenario that we run into some automated blocking due to the unexpected high amount of transactions within a short time while before we only had a few test transactions,” he said.

His initial assumption that the sudden spike in payments had triggered an automated antifraud measure at Valitor soon proved wrong, though.

According to Visa representative Amanda Kamin, “An acquirer briefly accepted payments on a merchant site linked to WikiLeaks. As soon as this came to our attention, action was taken with the suspension of Visa payment acceptance to the site remaining in place.”

DataCell’s contract with Valitor contains no terms that forbid DataCell from accepting donations on behalf of WikiLeaks, Fink said.

Nevertheless, this is the second time in seven months that Visa has stopped DataCell from accepting donations on behalf of WikiLeaks.

Until late last year DataCell had been accepting donations on behalf of WikiLeaks via another Icelandic payment acquirer, Korta, an agent for Danish payment processor Teller. Following WikiLeaks’ release in November of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, though, Teller abruptly terminated its contract with DataCell on Dec. 7 on the instructions of Visa and MasterCard, according to DataCell.

Before the latest shutdown, DataCell’s donations page accepted MasterCard, Visa and American Express payments on behalf of WikiLeaks — and also solicited donations via bank transfer for its own legal fund. DataCell had earlier threatened legal action against MasterCard and Visa over the interruption to its payment processing, which harmed its business in addition to stopping WikiLeaks donations.

DataCell lawyer Sveinn Andri Sveinsson said on Monday that he had written to Visa Europe and MasterCard Europe informing them that DataCell planned to file a lawsuit in Iceland seeking compensation, and to file a complaint with the European Commission in Brussels, alleging that the companies have flouted European Union competition rules, unless they allowed the company to resume processing payments.

DataCell representatives met European Commission officials in Brussels on Thursday to explain their case.

“We had a very fine meeting,” Sveinsson said on Friday.

However, DataCell did not file its complaint with the Commission, as Visa had asked for more time to consider its response to his letter, Sveinsson said.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

Obama Has Finally Become Dick Cheney

His administration wants to jail James Risen, a reporter who exposed Bush-era wrongdoing, if he doesn’t reveal one of his sources

June 28, 2011

by Conor Friedersdorf

The Atlantic

In Barack Obama’s rise to national prominence, when he criticized the Bush Administration for its false claims about WMDs in Iraq, its torture of detainees, and its illegal program of spying on American citizens without warrants, he owed a particular debt of gratitude to a New York Times national security reporter. In a series of scoops as impressive as any amassed during the War on Terrorism, James Risen reported in 2004 that the CIA failed to tell President Bush about relatives of Iraqi scientists who swore that the country had abandoned its weapons program; the same year, he was first to reveal that the CIA was waterboarding detainees in Iraq; and in 2005, he broke the Pulitzer Prize winning story about the secret NSA spying program.
These scoops so embarrassed and angered the Bush Administration that some of its senior members wanted Risen to end up in jail. They never managed to make that happen. But President Obama might. He once found obvious value in Risen’s investigative journalism. Its work that would’ve been impossible to produce without confidential sources and an ability to credibly promise that he’d never reveal their identities. But no matter. The Obama Administration is now demanding that Risen reveal his source for a 2006 scoop about CIA missteps in Iran. If he refuses to cooperate, which is his plan, he faces the possibility of jail time.
Somewhere, Dick Cheney is smiling.
To understand why, a bit of history is required. Risen’s national security reporting generally, and especially his scoop about the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping, exposed illegal acts at the highest levels of government. Bush Administration officials speculated about having Risen tried and imprisoned for violating the Espionage Act, secretly surveilled his phone calls, and singled him out for harassment even when he was writing the same stories as other national security journalists, he reports in a sworn affidavit filed last week in a Virginia district court. “I was told by a reliable source that Vice President Dick Cheney pressured the Justice Department to personally target me because he was unhappy with my reporting and wanted to see me in jail,” the affidavit states. “An organized campaign of hate mail from right wing groups with close ties to the White House was launched, inundating me with personal threats. Meanwhile, protestors supporting the Bush Administration picketed my office.”
In 2006, Risen expanded on his newspaper reporting in a book entitled “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.” Its a chapter of that book that concerns us here:

In Chapter 9 of State of War, I reported on Operation Merlin, an intelligence operation in 2000 during the Clinton Administration that was intended to stall – but which may have actually helped – Iran in its efforts to develop a nuclear weapons program. The plan behind Merlin was to have a former Russian scientist provide Iranian officials with faulty nuclear blueprints. The CIA hoped that based on those flawed plans, Iran would build an inoperable nuclear weapon….
As reported in Chapter 9, Merlin was deeply flawed and mismanaged from the start. First, the flaws in the nuclear blueprints were so obvious that the Russian scientist noticed them within minutes of seeing the plans. When the scientist explained this to his CIA handlers, they inexplicably refused to call off the operation and simply told him that he should go ahead and deliver the plans to the Iranians.

On January 24, 2008, the Bush Administration subpoenaed Risen, insisting that he reveal the confidential source for that chapter. Like any good reporter who promises confidentiality, he was prepared to go to jail rather than do so, and guessed that was the Bush Administration’s intent all along. “I believe that this investigation started as part of an effort by the Bush Administration to punish me and silence me,” Risen states. “In fact, the first subpoena issued to me was the culmination of a prolonged campaign against me by the Bush Administration and its supporters.”
In his judgment, “the efforts to target me have continued under the Obama Administration, which has been aggressively investigating whistle-blowers and reporters in a way that will have a chilling effect on the freedom of the press in the United States.” Risen received his second subpoena in April of 2010, and pressure has intensified since the January 6, 2011 indictment of former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling, his alleged source, who is charged with leaking the classified information.
Near the end of his affidavit, Risen explains why he is willing to go to jail to avoid breaking his promise to a source. He couldn’t have written his award winning books and newspaper pieces without the use of confidential sources, he insists. “Any testimony I were to provide to the Government would compromise to a significant degree my ability to continue reporting as well as the ability of other journalists to do so. This is particularly true in my current line of work covering stories relating to national security, intelligence, and terrorism. If I aided the government… I would be impeding all other reporters’ ability to gather and report news in the future.”
For some, that’s the whole point. Dick Cheney would argue that laws against leaking classified information must be enforced because they are a vital tool in the War on Terrorism. Government officials cannot be permitted to reveal state secrets at their own discretion, nor can journalists be permitted to hide the lawbreaking of folks who jeopardize national security through leaks.
You’d think that President Obama would take a different view. After all, he might not be in the White House today if the Bush Administration would’ve succeeded in keeping all its secrets: the torture, the detainee deaths, the abuses at Abu Ghraib, the spying on Americans, the faulty pre-war intelligence in Iraq, and all the rest. One would expect Obama of all people to see the value in Risen’s reporting – the real ways in which he has helped to preserve civil liberties, American freedom, and accountability in government – and to weigh that against the national security implications of reporting in 2006 on a bungled CIA effort that happened way back in the year 2000.
Instead, a president who once championed whistle-blowers has adopted Cheney’s view, and as Glenn Greenwald puts it, “the Obama administration appears on the verge of fulfilling Dick Cheney’s nefarious wish beyond what even Cheney could achieve.” All this while failing to prosecute the much more serious Bush era illegal acts that Risen has uncovered in his reporting.

The War On Terror Is A $6 Trillion Racket, With $1 Trillion In Interest Alone, Exceeding The Total Cost Of World War II

July 6th, 2011

by David DeGraw

AmpedStatus Report

When Obama launched his re-election propaganda campaign to trick the American public into thinking that he intends to end the Af-Pak War, he said that the “War on Terror” has cost $1 trillion over the past decade. While that is a staggering amount of money, he was being deceitful once again.

As you may have heard, a newly released study by the Eisenhower Research Project at Brown University revealed that the cost of the War on Terror is significantly greater than Obama has said. The little passing coverage the study received in the mainstream press cited $3.7 trillion as the total cost, which was the most conservative estimate. The moderate estimate, which the mainstream media ignored, was $4.4 trillion. In addition, interest payments on these costs will most likely exceed $1 trillion, which brings the total cost up to at least $5.4 trillion. The report also states that the following costs are not even included in this total:

“THESE TOTALS DO NOT INCLUDE: Medicare costs for injured veterans after age 65; Expenses for veterans paid for by state and local government budgets; Promised $5.3 billion reconstruction aid for Afghanistan; Additional macroeconomic consequences of war spending including infrastructure and jobs.”

David Callahan, reporting for The Policy Shop, summed up the report’s cost estimates:

“… the total direct and indirect costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may exceed $6 trillion…. That figure comes from combining congressional appropriations for the wars over the past decade ($1.3 trillion), additional spending by the Pentagon related to the wars ($326 – $652 billion), interest so far on Pentagon war appropriations, all of which was borrowed ($185 billion), immediate medical costs for veterans ($32 billion), war related foreign aid ($74 billion), homeland security spending ($401 billion), projected medical costs for veterans through 2051 ($589 – $934 billion), social costs to military families ($295 – $400 billion), projected Pentagon war spending and foreign aid as troops wind down in the two war zones ($453 billion); and interest payments on all this spending through 2020 ($1 trillion).”

Once you add up all these costs, and also consider the fact that these wars are not ending anytime soon, the War on Terror will easily cost us well over $6 trillion. To put the War on Terror’s cost in context, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the total cost of World War II, adjusted for inflation, was $4.1 trillion.

Another major deception is the reported annual military budget. The FY 2012 military budget is often cited as being $690 billion. Again, that is a huge sum of money for one year. However, when you add up all the other military expenditures not included in this budget, you find that our true total annual budget “likely exceeds $1.5 trillion.

To put this cost in perspective, as the average American has little understanding of how much money this is, one trillion is equal to 1000 billion. If you took all the state budget deficits and combined them, which are leading to cuts in vital social programs that will negatively impact the lives of millions of Americans, you would need a small fraction of one trillion, $140 billion (roughly equivalent to the annual military interest payment), to balance every state budget and avoid cuts to all programs.

Hundreds Of Billions Of Dollars In Fraud And Waste

When you breakdown the spending on the War on Terror, you see hundreds of billions of dollars in shocking fraud and waste across the board. When it comes to fraud, a Defense Department report revealed:

“The military paid a total of $285 billion to more than 100 contractors between 2007 and ’09, even though those same companies were defrauding taxpayers in the same period… What’s perhaps most shocking is that billions of dollars went to contractors who had been either suspended or debarred for misusing taxpayer funds. The Pentagon also spent $270 billion on 91 contractors involved in civil fraud cases… Another $682 million went to 30 contractors convicted of criminal fraud.”

There have also been several cases where billions of dollars have gone missing. To name one recent revelation, the Federal Reserve shipped between $6.6 billion to $18.7 billion to Iraq for reconstruction that was stolen. The reason there is such discrepancy in the amount stolen in this case is due to the fact that the New York Federal Reserve is refusing to disclose the total amount. This is just one of several cases where billions of dollars in aide to Iraq and Afghanistan have gone missing. Not to mention the obscene and exorbitant fees charged by many private military companies. Earlier this year, the Congressional Commission on Wartime Contracting revealed that “tens of billions of dollars” have been wasted on private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan – and the amount spent on private contracting has dramatically increased during the Obama Administration.

When it comes to shocking examples of waste, it costs the military in Afghanistan $400 for a gallon gas, and the Marines alone use 800,000 gallons a day. Another report reveals that the military spends $20.2 billion a year on air conditioning. That’s $20.2 billion a year on AC. There are more absurdities in military spending than you can imagine. The list goes on and on.

Let’s also not forget that the Pentagon’s “own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends.” By these measures, the estimated overall total of $1.5 trillion in annual military spending would mean that $375 billion goes unaccounted for, per year.

War Is A Racket

For anyone who researches this, it is easy to see that the primary goal is not our safety, it is huge profits for military companies and global banking interests. As famed two-time Congressional Medal of Honor Award winner Major General Butler said:

“War is a racket… easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious… It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives….

It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes….

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers.

In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

The global financial elite profit off of the war, while the American public bares the severe financial costs. In this regard, not to mention the loss of life and civil liberties, the War on Terror is a war against the American people. As President Eisenhower said, every dollar spent on war is a dollar not spent on education, food, health care, etc:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”

Woman says TSA hair search amounts to racial profiling

July 8, 2011

by Keith Laing –

The Hill

An African-American woman is accusing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of racial profiling because her hair was searched at an airport security checkpoint.

In an interview Friday on MSNBC, Laura Adiele said that TSA agents notified her after she went through a full-body scanner at Seattle’s Sea-Tec Airport that her hair needed to be inspected. Adiele said she had no problem with being patted down, but she said the agents made the request to check her hair after she was scanned because she is black.

It’s already uncomfortable to be going through a naked body imaging,” she said on MSNBC’s “Jansing and Co.” show. “For me, my hair is my breaking point.”

“I played the race card in this just because I looked around and didn’t see anyone else being searched in that way,” Adiele continued. “And at the end of it, I had an African-American flight attendant come up to me and say that she’s had this experience and that she’s seeing it more frequently and that she thought I should complain about it.”

Adiele said the TSA agents told her it was the agency’s policy to check anything that “poofs” from the body.

TSA said that it screens all passengers “thoroughly,” which might sometimes mean their hair.

“Additional screening may be required for clothing, headwear or hair where prohibiting items could be hidden,” the agency said in a statement provided to the network. “TSA has record of this passenger coming through the security checkpoint. We are happy to work with this passenger directly and address her complaints.”

However, Adiele said she did not see anything about hair in the guidelines posted on TSA’s website.

“I’ve sent a complaint and I haven’t heard anything back,” she said. “The whole thing just seemed kind of fishy to me.”

Customer tries to cash bank check, ends up in jail

Chase issues apology for unfounded suspicions over its own cashier’s check

July 8, 2011

by Anika Anand


For 28-year-old Ikenna Njoku, what should have been the simple act of cashing a check turned into four days in jail and the loss of his car and job.

A year ago Njoku, a construction worker, had just purchased his first home and qualified for a federal rebate for first-time home buyers on his tax return.

He says he requested to have the rebate deposited directly into his Chase bank account in Auburn, Wash., but when the IRS rebate arrived, he found out that Chase had closed his account because of overdrawn checks. The bank deducted $600 to cover what he owed and mailed Njoku a cashier’s check of $8,463.21 to make up the difference.

When Njoku arrived at the bank to cash the Chase check, he says the teller immediately became suspicious.

“When I walked in, the teller looked me up and down and asked if I worked for Chase,” he said. “She asked me questions like where did I get the check from. I sat there for half an hour while they researched the check.”

Njoku got impatient and said he would run an errand and return.

When he returned the bank was closed, so he says he called Chase’s customer service, who told him to return the next day. But when he did, bank officials insisted the check was fake. The police soon arrived to arrest Njoku on forgery charges. Njoku was held in jail four nights, even though Chase called the Auburn police detective handling the case and left a message saying the arrest was a mistake, according to Njoku’s lawyer. But it was that detective’s day off, so Njoku stayed in jail through the weekend.

“He had two forms of valid ID, a check issued by Chase, he walked in there during normal business hours. I don’t see any valid basis for suspicion in the first place,” said Felix Luna, Njoku’s lawyer. The Seattle attorney took on Njoku’s case about two months ago. The story was reported this week by KING 5 News.

Njoku, who was born in Seattle and whose family is from Nigeria, says he was extremely embarrassed by the situation.

Njoku’s car, which he drove to the bank the day he was arrested, was towed and ultimately auctioned off because he couldn’t pay the impound fees to get it back. Because he needed the car to get to his job, he lost the temporary construction job he had as well. Now Njoku uses his mother’s car and gets construction work wherever he can find it.

Luna, who has not yet filed any litigation, said he believes the bank may have violated federal laws prohibiting discrimination in banking transactions based on race or presumed national origin.

Even after admitting its mistake, the bank did not immediately reissue another cashier’s check to Njoku or give him the more than $8,000 they were retaining, Luna said. It took about a month before Njoku received the money after the Auburn police department released the original cashier’s check to him.

Despite repeated efforts to contact Chase, Njoku and his lawyer said they heard from the bank for the first time this week, more than a year after the June 2010 event. Luna said a Chase lawyer contacted him Wednesday saying he would look into the case and be in touch.

Soon after the story aired on KING 5 news this week, a Chase spokeswoman issued an apology to Njoku, the station reported. That would mark the first and only apology he has received.

“This is a very unfortunate and unusual situation,” Darcy Donahoe-Wilmot of Chase wrote to KING 5. “We apologize to Mr. Njoku and deeply regret what happened to him. We are working quickly to understand all the details so we can reach a fair resolution.”

A manager at the Chase branch in Auburn declined further comment to msnbc.com.

Njoku now holds an account with Wells Fargo instead. He said he just wants Chase bank to fix the way they do things.

“It shouldn’t take them a day and a half to research a check,” he said.

FBI: Smugglers plant pot in crossers’ cars

July 7, 2011

by Lourdes Cárdenas

El Paso Times

Unsuspecting border crossers who routinely use the express lane at the Downtown port of entry were targeted by a drug-smuggling ring that put drugs in their cars before crossing into the U.S., according to court documents.

The disclosure may have an impact on the case of Ana Isela Martinez Amaya, 35, a private school teacher from the La Fe Preparatory School, who sits in a Juárez prison waiting trial on drug charges. Her husband said Wednesday that they will use the information from the FBI to try to gain her freedom.

The scheme of putting drugs in cars of unsuspecting victims was used against Martinez and Dr. Justus Lawrence Opot and co-worker Marisol Perez, according to the affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Daniel Clark.

Mexican authorities dropped the charges against Opot and Perez, but Martinez is still being prosecuted.

The smugglers selected their targets by placing lookouts at the port of entry who identified vehicles that daily used the SENTRI express lane, according to the affidavit. Once a vehicle and driver were selected, the smugglers would secretly obtain the car’s vehicle identification number. The VIN was then used to make spare keys for that car.

The keys would be used at night by smugglers to unlock the car, put drugs in it and lock it. The next morning, the drivers would get in their cars and drive to El Paso — without ever knowing that drugs had been placed in the vehicles overnight.

Clark filed the sworn statement in federal court in advance of a detention hearing for Jesus Chavez, an El Pasoan arrested June 30 on drug-smuggling charges. Chavez’s detention hearing will be today in U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Norbert Garney’s court, according to records.

Chavez and Carlos Gomez, allegedly ran a marijuana-smuggling operation in Juárez and El Paso for more than a year, according to court documents. They are charged with smuggling drugs into El Paso using the trunks of unsuspecting drivers’ vehicles.

The FBI affidavit says Chavez and Gomez targeted professionals and students who travel to El Paso on regular schedules using the express line. After obtaining the VIN, Chavez and Gomez would provide it to a Texas locksmith to prepare two keys for the vehicle. The men in El Paso would keep one of the keys, while the other would be given to their Juárez-based co-conspirators, the affidavit states.

In a conversation recorded by the FBI using a confidential source and quoted in the affidavit, Chavez and Gomez discussed Martinez’s arrest and talked about what went wrong in that case.

“We made such a (expletive) mess,” Gomez said in the conversation. “No, but the damn soldiers saw that she (Martinez) was young. And they got her out.”

The recorded telephone calls show that the alleged smugglers worried about Martinez and even discussed whether they should write a letter on her behalf. One of the suspects said Martinez was targeted because she was punctual and predictable when commuting across the border.

“We have seen that girl (Martinez Amaya) for about a year because she’s like a clock, boss,” Gomez stated in a recorded call. “At 5:00 — she was there. Boom-boom-boom! Always.”

For Martinez’s family, the new information is fortunate.

“It has given us motivation,” said her husband, Isaac Cuanalo. “It corroborates that Ana is innocent and that Ana is a victim that she did not know of the suitcases.”

Cuanalo said that the new information will be presented to a Mexican judge on Friday afternoon and that the judge has up to five days to make a decision.

Though Martinez remains in prison, she is joyful over the latest developments, Cuanalo said.

“We are thanking God,” Cuanalo said. “It has arrived in the precise time.”

Martinez was arrested with more than 100 pounds of marijuana in her car on May 26.

The FBI affidavit stated other commuters were targeted, including James Ivan Diaz who was arrested Jan. 12 after duffel bags with marijuana were found in the trunk of his car on the Stanton Street bridge express lane. A jury acquitted Diaz in May.

Juárez Mayor Hector Murguia said Wednesday that he was glad to see the operation dismantled by the FBI.

“It is lamentable that we see cases of this type in the justice system that involve innocent people, people who had drugs planted on them through no fault of their own,” Murguia said in a statement. “We have to guard against these kinds of things in Juárez, and it’s a good thing that the authorities, in this case in the United States, discovered what these gangs were doing.”

The Juárez city government is launching a campaign to advise the public to avoid these situations by checking their belongings before crossing the border, Murguia said.

“It is good news for Juárez that they were caught,” he said.

Lourdes Cárdenas may be reached at lcardenas@elpasotimes.com; 546-6249

Times reporters Daniel Borunda and Diana Washington Valdez contributed to this report.

Karachi: ‘Shoot on sight’ orders as violence soars

July 8, 2011


Violence has raged in Karachi for three days

Security forces in the Pakistani city of Karachi have been ordered to shoot on sight to stem violence in which 80 people have been killed since Tuesday.

Security forces in the Pakistani city of Karachi have been ordered to shoot on sight to stem violence in which 80 people have been killed since Tuesday.

The violence is widely blamed on armed gangs from rival political parties.

Pakistan’s biggest city is virtually shut down. Many shops, schools and offices are closed and there is hardly any traffic on the streets.

Most people are staying at home fearing more violence. The government says it has deployed an extra 1,000 troops.

Karachi’s main political party, the MQM, which resigned from the government last week, has called for a day of mourning.

“People are stuck at home; their food and rations are finishing,” Karachi resident Mohammad Shahid said. “Where is the government? Where is the police?”

Sharjeel Memon, the provincial information minister, said: “We have issued orders to the security forces to shoot anyone involved in violence on the spot.

“In addition to the police and Rangers, another 1,000 personnel of the Frontier Constabulary will be deployed in the city to control the violence.”

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that most of those who had died were innocent people. “Very few are politically affiliated people,” he said.

He added that 89 people had been arrested for involvement in the violence.


Shahzeb Jillani BBC News, Karachi

Karachi is arguably one of South Asia’s most violent cities. It is not only the largest city and port of Pakistan, but also a major industrial and commercial centre.

The city is plagued by extortion rackets, land-grab mafia and armed groups fighting turf wars for their share of its resources.

The level of violence this week has not been seen for some time. Targeted killings and drive-by shootings are widely blamed on armed gangs linked to the city’s main political parties.

There were always fears that with last week’s resignation from the government by the city’s main political party – the MQM – increased violence and instability would bring Pakistan’s economic capital to a grinding halt.

Conversations with the Crow

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

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

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


Here is the eighty-ninth  chapter

Conversation No. 89

Date: Tuesday, June 24, 1997

Commenced: 11:03 AM CST

Concluded: 11:15 AM CST

RTC: Gregory. How are you? I thought it might be my son but we can talk for a little while. I have a doctor appointment this afternoon but I’m OK for a brief chat. Anything new with you?
GD: Never ask that question in an antique shop, Robert. It might offend.

RTC: You’ve had some experience there, as you’ve told me.

GD: Oh, yes, the upper levels of the art market, both here and in England are crooked as hell. I exposed the fake Rodin market as well as the Frederic Remington copies. God, they hate me. It’s a closed shop, Robert, and when I got started, just helping a friend, I brought the wrath of God down on my head. I had no idea Elsen was Jewish but I found out quickly enough. An army of dealers, lawyers, reporters and so on descended on me, screaming that I was a psychopathic liar and that no one should believe me. Of course I was right and they knew it and their united front collapsed when I goaded Frankenstein into having a heart attack by attacking him in public. And so Jerry Jensen from Channel 7 started investigating this and the dealers got to ABC corporate and Jerry was told to drop the project. I advertised a phony book and sent illustrated brochures out to the art critics of all the major papers. Jesus, what a response. More threats. I could paper my lavatory with letters from the lawyers of major auction houses and especially the minions of Cantor.

RTC: Who was…?

GD: Yes. B. Gerald Cantor of the private banking house of Cantor and Fitzgerald. Cantor was going to Paris, buying new copies, getting Elsen, the expert, to overvalue them and then presenting them to Stanford as a wonderful gift from a cultural man. In fact, old Cantor was taking a huge tax write off. I put a stop to that and the schmuck lost three millons over it.

RTC: No wonder they hated you.

GD: They hated me even more when the IRS ruled that you couldn’t take a write off for more than you paid for the piece. Cantor would go to the Musee Rodin, pick out a piece, let us say, from their catalog. They would make it up for him. He would pay, let’s say, two hundred dollars for it. Elsen would certify it was an old piece worth say a hundred thousand and Cantor, armed with this, would nick the IRS. That got stopped. And they called me a Nazi and a Jew hater because, it turns out, almost everyone involved in this, the auction houses, the big dealers, the press, the Elsen academic types were all Jewish. I never knew that when I got started but I learned very quickly. No, Robert, most of the expensive art is either faked, enhanced or a modern copy. They’ve been faking everything for years, especially bronzes. They do Warhol and anything else that brings in money. Now, they’re doing Dalis by the bale full. I mean that if you know what you are buying, do so, but if you think you know, put the money in pig futures or opening a peg house for Congressmen.

RTC: (Laughter) Very ugly. If you start that one, let me know and I will invest in it. A sure money-maker.

GD: You know, Jensen knew I did Monet paintings, just for my own amusement, of course, but I did get a period painting that was very bad, but had a nice frame. Took off the original painting and then painted the entire canvas black. And when that had dried, I signed it in red at the bottom. And then a nice little gold museum title on the bottom and I gave it to Jensen over a bottle of very good wine. He looked at it in bewilderment, and saw that it appeared to be all black. His boyfriend, who was highly cultured and a great fellow, read the little title and roared with laughter. When Jerry asked him what was so funny, he said that the title, in French, said ‘Two Negroes fighting in a tunnel.” Then Jerry laughed. I pointed out that the signature was a wonderful copy and the brushstrokes were pure Monet of the period. He hung it in his living room and got quite a few laughs from his guests.

RTC: You spend all your time playing jokes?
GD: No, just some of the time. I like a laugh once in a while and note that Jerry never paid me for this. It was a present in exchange for the wine. Yes, the spirit of Jesse James is alive and well in the rarified world of very fine art.. I was in the basement of the Met once and they had a huge room jammed full of fake art. Rich collectors with no taste bought these pieces of crap for huge money and when they died, their heirs lovingly presented them to the Met. Perhaps a gallery named after Uncle Sid and Aunt Leah? Not likely. Out of twenty rare Renaissance works, two were original and one misattributed. It’s a huge joke among some of us but believe me, fine art is not an investment other than for the workshops that crank them out like chocolate Easter Bunnies. I did a really wonderful and sensitive oil of two dykes going at it in a barn and signed Renoir to it. Of course, you couldn’t put it in a catalog but I did sell it finally. Some peanut butter titan bought it for his office. Oh, well, munch away, dears.

(Concluded at 11:15 AM CST)

Dramatis personae:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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