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TBR News July 23, 2019

Jul 23 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. July 23, 2019:

“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.

When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.

I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.

He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.

He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.

His latest business is to re-institute a universal draft in America.

He wants to do this to remove tens of thousands of unemployed young Americans from the streets so they won’t come together and fight him.

Commentary for July 23:” There has been much published claiming that Russia “influenced” the last Presidential elections in favor of Trump. It now appears that they might have blackmailed him because of his important participation in Russian drug money laundering. In short, it is very obvious the Russian intelligence community did not lure Trump into this mess but once he was in it, they uncovered this via their people in the Deutsche Bank and used it to leverage him. Trump is as crooked as they come and most of Washington is aware of this. I imagine that soon enough, his mafia-type activities will become public and then even his far-right fanatical supporters will view him with distaste.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • As Mueller testimony approaches, Trump can’t look away
  • As Iran-U.S. Tensions Rise, Hezbollah Readies for War With Israel
  • Brexit Leaves UK with No Choice But to Do Trump’s Bidding in Iran
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Shocking Origins of the Jeffrey Epstein Case

 

 

As Mueller testimony approaches, Trump can’t look away

July 22, 2019

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Monday he will watch only “a little bit” of Robert Mueller’s long-awaited congressional testimony on the results of his 22-month inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and renewed his attacks on the former special counsel.

Mueller’s findings have kept Trump on the defensive since the Justice Department released a redacted version of the former FBI director’s report in April, as congressional Democrats struggle with whether to launch the impeachment process set out in the U.S. Constitution for removing a president from office.

Asked by reporters whether he would watch television coverage of Wednesday’s hearings before two Democratic-led House of Representatives committees, the Republican president said, “No, I’m not going to be watching, probably.” But he quickly added, “Maybe I’ll see a little bit of it.”

The committees are conducting their own investigations of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and the extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow detailed by Mueller.

Mueller’s report said the investigation found insufficient evidence to prove that Trump and his campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia despite the numerous contacts. The report did not reach a conclusion on whether Trump committed the crime of obstruction of justice but did not exonerate him. Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee, subsequently concluded the president had not committed obstruction of justice.

Trump has attacked the Mueller investigation and the FBI inquiry that preceded it as a politically motivated “witch hunt” and repeated the words “No Collusion! No obstruction” in Twitter posts even though Mueller did not come to either conclusion.

Trump has lashed out repeatedly at Mueller, who has served under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

He kept up the attacks on Twitter on Monday: “Highly conflicted Robert Mueller should not be given another bite at the apple. In the end it will be bad for him and the phony Democrats in Congress who have done nothing but waste time on this ridiculous Witch Hunt.”

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Will Dunham

 

As Iran-U.S. Tensions Rise, Hezbollah Readies for War With Israel

Hezbollah field commanders say they’re redeploying toward Israel’s border, ready to fight in a devastating conflagration.

July 19, 2019

by Jesse Rosenfeld

The Daily Beast

BEIRUT—The tranquil winding roads of Lebanon’s mountainous interior are far from the tense waters of the Persian Gulf where President Donald Trump says America came within 10 minutes of war with Iran a few weeks ago. And where, he said on Thursday, the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone. But if fighting ever does begin, these hills and valleys near the border with Israel will quickly be on the front lines. And according to Hezbollah commanders, that moment could be coming soon.

When Trump talked of war, he meant a shooting war in the conventional sense. But for Iran and its allies, it’s Trump’s economic war with its suffocating sanctions that is bringing the region to the brink of armed conflict. The targets of Trump’s weaponized dollar increasingly see resorting to military engagements as the only response left.

Here in Lebanon, Hezbollah’s commanders are close allies and clients of Iran—and they are targeted by U.S. sanctions as well. They warn that if the pressure continues these rugged hills where the Party of God fought bloody guerrilla campaigns to end 15 years of Israeli occupation in 2000 and repel an Israeli invasion in 2006 could erupt once again.

And this time, they say, the combat will be far more devastating.

Hezbollah’s forces, battle-hardened in the Syrian civil war, have begun redeploying toward the Israeli border, not only in Lebanon, but in Syria opposite the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights.

Hezbollah fighters who spoke to The Daily Beast say their organization is hurting from sanctions and ready to initiate hostilities—if and when Tehran deems that necessary.

“The sanctions now have us preparing for dealing with the Israeli front,” says “Commander Samir,” a Hezbollah officer in charge of 800 fighters on Lebanon’s border with Israel. He declines to use his real name because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “We will fire the first shot this time,” he says.

Hezbollah’s military wing has changed fundamentally since its 2012 entrance into the war in Syria to prop up the Assad regime, transforming into a regional fighting force the Shia organization inspired by the Iranian revolution that the U.S. lists as a terrorist group.

When Trump offers the reasons he pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran last year, precipitating the current crisis, he cites Iran’s support for militias that extend its power and influence across the region as something the U.S. intends to end—with Hezbollah the main target.

But the pressure may actually be consolidating and motivating Iran’s proxies.

Hezbollah is still fighting in Syria while training Iranian allied militias in Iraq and Yemen. The commander says his organization and Iran have moved past their split with Palestinian allies over Syria, where they were on opposite sides of the Syrian revolution as it turned into a bloody regional proxy war, and Iran is once again providing training and support for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

From a living room overlooking the valleys where he became a veteran, ambushing the Israeli army and melting away into the surrounding hills, Samir says the next war will be nothing like those that came before.

He underscores the importance of Hezbollah’s positions in the Syrian-controlled part of the Golan, giving it the ability to open a second front there against Israel, and boasts about drone capabilities and new anti-aircraft and anti-naval weapons acquired in Syria alongside a more seasoned fighting force.

“Our wish before the war in Syria was to go and open a front in the Golan but [the Syrian Government] set a red line,” the commander says, describing the limits the pre-war Assad regime placed on Hezbollah activity in its territory. “Now there are no red lines,” he said.

The commander acknowledges a new war would bring vast devastation to Israel and Lebanon, but says the sanctions crippling the Iranian economy and forcing a large reduction in Iran’s financial support for Hezbollah could make this nightmare scenario real.

Already, salaries for Hezbollah fighters have been halved, according to the three fighters The Daily Beast spoke with. But while they are hurting economically, they insist their organization feels strong militarily.

“The Iranians have said either we all sell oil or no one does,” Commander Samir says definitively, describing Hezbollah’s interests in lockstep with Iran’s. Like the two other fighters that spoke to The Daily Beast, he describes Hezbollah’s concerns in more regional rather than domestic terms, responding to actions of U.S. allies around the Middle East rather than Israeli action on Lebanese soil.

“If any missile hits Iran, it will be treated like Israel did it,” says the commander,

In spite of the increasing destabilization of the region since the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and sanctions started taking hold, the Trump administration has argued that its policy of “maximum pressure” will force Iranian acquiescence.

However, according to Ahmad Moussalli,  a political science professor and specialist in Islamic movements at the American University of Beirut, the financial constraints imposed by Washington are having the opposite effect.

“You find this axis sees itself as fighting for its existence,” says Moussalli referring to Iran and its regional allies and proxies. “So they are going to pull together and strengthen their axis,” he continues, pointing to the way Hezbollah has been increasing overt political influence in Lebanon while allies in Yemen and Iraq have been taking more aggressive action.

“Iran is not going to sit down, take it and destroy itself from within,” Moussalli says. “And the only way for them to react is militarily; they don’t have many other options.” He leaves no doubt that Iran is the power determining regional responses rather than Hezbollah or any other proxy acting on its own initiative.

The eruption of shelling between Israel and Gaza ahead of the Israeli election in May provided some instructive examples of changes in tactics. Commander Samir points to a threat—which was not carried out—by Islamic Jihad to fire missiles at the northern Israeli city of Haifa. The threat was a marked change from recent rhetoric by the Palestinian Islamist faction which had previously taken the public position of “quiet for quiet,” a term used by the Israeli army to describe its claimed intention not to initiate armed hostility. “It was a message from us and Iran,” he brags about the ability to fire at Israel from the south or the north while contending the choice to do so or not is up to Tehran. “Islamic Jihad never shoots before calling the Iranians.”

“Assir,” a seasoned Hezbollah fighter in Syria is back in Lebanon after years of bloody tours in what’s been an unending war. He takes up a nom-de-guerre because Hezbollah fighters are generally not authorized to speak to media. When we meet in Beirut, he says that like the many fighters coming back to Lebanon as Assad consolidates control over much of Syria, he is not being demobilized but rather redeployed south to the Israeli border.

“People who finish their mission in Syria go to the south,” Assir says, describing how his comrades and he have been given new posts since tensions started rising in the Gulf. “There are some units in Syria but a lot go back to Lebanon or to the Golan. Thousands have come back.”

Military success in Syria has reinforced Assir’s confidence and he points to the tensions in the Strait of Hormuz as the source of the next conflict with Israel. “The commanders talk about if there is a spark in Hormuz, there could be a spark in Lebanon,” recalls Assir.

However, Moussalli sees the prospect for war with Israel, while it looms, probably is not imminent. He doubts that Hezbollah is eager for a war at the moment. He says currently Iran is primarily focused on responding in the Gulf area and Iraq.

“Syria and Lebanon will be engaged in war once Europe or Iran completely pull out of the nuclear agreement,” says Moussalli, arguing war with Israel is still a ways off. “The issue with Israel is a rather big one,” he continues, referring to the costs of the 2006 war. “So yes there is pressure, there is the possibility of war but I don’t think it is near,” he says, believing that if sanctions are relieved the tension will be as well.  But, “are they ready [for war]?” he adds referring to Hezbollah. “Yes they are.”

The second Lebanon War ignited in the wake of Hezbollah seizing two Isralei soldiers and killing three others in a cross border raid in July 2006 and Israel retaliating with a massive artillery and aerial bombardment of Lebanon. Hezbollah in turn fired rockets at northern Israeli cities and Israel launched a ground invasion. The result was the demolition of large swaths of Lebanon, pulverized by Israeli jets, while Israeli soldiers found themselves in an unwinnable quagmire and forced to withdraw from a country for the second time in less than a decade. By the time the shooting ended 1,200 Lebanese – mostly civilians, 45 Israeli civilians and 120 soldiers had been killed. More than a million people in Lebanon, a quarter of the population at the time, were displaced and while there are no official numbers of Hezbollah casualties, the UN estimated that 500 of the Lebanese casualties were Hezbollah fighters.

Moussalli’s assessment of a slower march toward the carnage of an Israeli-Lebanese conflict more devastating than past ones is echoed by “Commander Ayman,” a Hezbollah officer currently based in Beirut who also oversees units fighting in Syria.

“The Americans know the kind of fighters we have, so Hezbollah and Iran have been reminding the world how bad [a war] could be,” notes Ayman.  While confirming there is a strict red line around any attack on Iran, he maintains there is a strong desire to avoid war, suggesting the blusterous talk of imminent conflict with Israel is designed to convince the U.S. to abandon its current strategy.

Israel also doesn’t seem very interested in conflict over Lebanon at the moment. While Netanyahu has pursued a policy of striking Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, he has avoided another war in Lebanon. Even when Hezbollah tunnels into Israel were unmasked in January, there was no action over Lebanon.

Unlike Israeli wars in Gaza, which have carried low costs to Israeli soldiers and civilians and have pushed the electorate toward Netanyahu, wars in Lebanon have had large military and civilian costs for Israel, often turning the electorate against the government.

When asked if Netanyahu thought that the U.S. sanctions he has actively encouraged could ignite conflict with Hezbollah, the Prime Minister’s Office officially declined to comment. The Israeli military also declined to comment on how it sees the current level of tension on its Lebanese border or if its alert level had changed since Iran started reacting to sanctions, claiming it “is too complex an issue to explain on the phone or in a statement.”

Meanwhile sanctions and rhetoric continue to escalate.

Following the U.S. Treasury Department’s announcement last Tuesday of fresh sanctions targeting Hezbollah members of the Lebanese parliament, threats of annihilation have been hurled back and forth between Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (who, not coincidentally, is fighting for reelection).

In a speech last Friday marking the 13th anniversary of the 2006 war with Israel, Nasrallah gloated about expanded military capabilities and threatened that another war would “bring Israel to the brink of extinction.” Netanyahu responded on Sunday by threatening to deal Lebanon and Hezbollah “a crushing military blow” if Hezbollah attacks.

On Monday, European signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, gathered in Brussels to try to salvage the agreement that the US pulled out of in 2018. The Europeans hope to find enticements that will encourage Iran to stay in the deal.

During his address, Nasrallah claimed that he didn’t intend to start a war with Israel. Those sentiments were reiterated by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an interview with CNN in New York on Wednesday where Zarif stated that Iran will not start a war but will defend itself.

The sheer destruction a new conflict between Hezbollah and Israel would unleash on Lebanon leads Moussalli to call it a “madness war.” While Hezbollah’s exact intentions are unclear, the border between Israel and Lebanon was much quieter before U.S. sanctions put Iran and its allies on this collision course.

Even if Hezbollah and Israel don’t want to start shooting now, it increasingly seems like a decision determined by Washington’s policies and how Tehran reacts. After all, according to Trump, a few weeks ago it looked like a war—one likely to stretch from the Gulf to the Mediterranean—was only 10 minutes away.

 

Brexit Leaves UK with No Choice But to Do Trump’s Bidding in Iran

July 22, 2019

by Patrick Cockburn

The Independent

What on Earth were the British politicians and officials thinking who gave the go-ahead for the seizure of the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 off Gibraltar on 4 July? Did they truly believe that the Iranians would not retaliate for what they see as a serious escalation in America’s economic war against them?

The British cover story that the sending of 30 Royal Marines by helicopter to take over the tanker was all to do with enforcing EU sanctions on Syria, and nothing to do with US sanctions on Iran, was always pretty thin.

The Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell, has said categorically that Britain took over the tanker “following a request from the United States to the United Kingdom”.

One fact about Iranian foreign policy should have been hardwired into the brain of every politician and diplomat in Britain, as it already is in the Middle East, which is that what you do to the Iranians they will do to you at a time and place of their own choosing.

The US and UK backed Saddam Hussein in his invasion of Iran in 1980, but this was not unconnected – though it was impossible to prove – with the suicide bombing that killed 241 US service personnel in the marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.

Commentators seeking an explanation for the UK’s seizure of the Grace 1 suggest that it was suckered into the action by super hawks in the US administration, such as the national security adviser John Bolton.

But, given the inevitability of the Iranian reaction against British naval forces too weak to defend British-flagged tankers, the British move looks more like a strategic choice dictated by a lack of other options.

Confrontation with the EU over Brexit means that Britain has no alternative but to ally itself ever more closely to the US.

Of course, this will scarcely be a new departure since Britain has glued itself to the US on almost all possible occasions since the Suez Crisis of 1956.

The lesson drawn from that debacle by Whitehall was that the UK needed to be always close to the US. The French drew the opposite conclusion that it must bond more closely with the continental European states in the shape of the European Economic Community.

The one-sided relationship between the US and UK was in operation in the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Britain walked into these quagmires to demonstrate its position as America’s most loyal ally while lacking a coherent policy and without adequate forces.

The Chilcot report said the only consistent theme that it could detect in British policy in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 was how to get its troops out of the country. Wanting to do it without offending the Americans, the British – in a major miscalculation – decided that this could be best done by relocating their forces to Afghanistan, where more than 400 of them were killed in action.

In its confrontation with Iran, Britain is in trouble because it is trying to ride several horses at the same time. It is supposedly seeking to adhere to the Iran nuclear deal and oppose US sanctions on Iran, but in practice it has done nothing of the sort and boarding the  Grace 1 was a clear demonstration of this.

One feature of the present crisis is that the seizure of the Stena Impero is clearly tit-for-tat by Iran. It is, unlike past Iranian retaliatory actions, making no effort to conceal this, presumably calculating that there is not much Britain can do about it and it is a good time to demonstrate Iranian strength and British weakness.

Iran expresses no doubt that Britain is acting as a US proxy, though this has been true for a long time. But life as a proxy may be particularly dangerous in the Gulf at the moment because of the peculiar nature of the confrontation between the US and Iran in which neither side wants to engage in an all-out war.

This makes it necessary to act through proxies like the UK, an approach that minimises the chances of Americans being killed and Donald Trump having no option but to retaliate in kind.

Iran is being visibly hurt by sanctions but Iranians are more likely to blame the US for their sufferings than their own government. The US is not going to launch a ground invasion, as it did in Iraq in 2003, and, so long as this is off the table, Iran can sustain the military pressures.

In fact, a permanent crisis in the Gulf just below the level of a full-scale military conflict is in the interests of Iran and better than enduring a prolonged economic siege.

 

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Rob Schneider

Celebrity loonis a pretty common breed; after all, celebrity status is only rarely the result of cognitive skills and qualities. We cannot cover them all, but some celebrity loons are particularly vocal and may actually wield enough influence to have a negative influence on civilization. Actor, comedian, screenwriter and director Rob Schneider is one such. Schneider is an anti-vaccine activist (and far from the only antivaxx celebrity loon). And as you expect, Schneider has no idea what vaccines actually are, how they function or how and what the science behind vaccines actually work and says.

Schneider promotes the thoroughly refuted claim that vaccines are dangerous and cause autism. In Schneider’s opinion “the efficacy of these shots have not been proven … And the toxicity of these things – we’re having more and more side effects. We’re having more and more autism.” All of those claims are false, of course, but Schneider seems to have a rather foggy idea of how to determine whether claims are true or not. But then, Schneider has claimed that California lawmakers are Nazis for passing a law that requires parents to get educated before getting a vaccine exemption, so there is perhaps a certain bizarre consistency in his position (education, knowledge, research, facts are to be viewed with extreme suspicion), just not of the kind most people should be looking for. Of course, even that sense of consistency is undermined when Schneider claims to be all about advocating “informed consent”; he explicitly doesn’t care about the “informed” part.

Schneider is in particular a vocal opponent of the state of California’s restrictions on non-medical exemptions to school vaccines, mostly invoking the “health freedom” gambit, and views any actions from the state he perceives as attempts to mandate vaccinations “government overreach”. As Schneider sees it, “it’s illegal [it is not].You can’t make people do procedures that they don’t want [which the laws don’t, which is (in part) why it isn’t illegal]. The parents have to be the ones who make the decisions for what’s best for our kids. It can’t be the government saying that [Parent intuitions and conspiracy theories trump facts every time]. It’s against the Nuremberg Laws [and down the rabbit hole we go, as antivaxxers are wont to do].” Some would see it as a shortcoming of Schneider’s statements that they lack any basis in facts or reality; Schneider’s fans don’t seem to care. It is worth mentioning that the Nuremberg Laws were actually the Nazi laws that stripped Jewish people of their citizenship; Schneider might have meant the Nuremberg Code, but who knows – besides: details – details are related to facts and accuracy; good antivaxx conspiracy theorists hate details. Schneider has also railed against Big Pharma, claimed that kids get 70 vaccinations (apparently a number selected at random), claimed that there are no safety or efficacy studies of vaccines (presumably because he hasn’t seen them because he cannot be bothered to check because that would only be relevant if we cared about truthand this has nothing to do with truth), complained that doctors won’t tell you “both sides”, called for a randomized, blinded vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study (which would, ironically, straightforwardly violate the Nuremberg Code; hint: why don’t we have a randomized, double-blinded study of the efficacy of car seatbelts?), and finally claimed that vaccines contain mercury, which is idiotic for a number of reasons. And he wasn’t done: more stupid here; Schneider’s rant is actually kind of remarkable for being wrong about absolutely every single detail.

His main schtick is to claim that “there’s no medical science behind vaccines” or “don’t vaccinate. Vaccines don’t work. There’s no science behind them” or “they don’t research this stuff” (apparently betting on the idea that if he repeats a claim three times, it transforms into an argument). The claim is remarkably easy to refute, of course, but we suspect that Schneider doesn’t even have the faintest clue what he would be looking for. Nor do vaccines work, according to Schneider; “vaccines had nothing to do with the eradication of smallpox from the world.” Instead, according to Schneider, “diseases run cycles.” It is, of course, just a remarkable coincidence that the cycles abruptly end when vaccines are introduced and never return (at least until unvaccinated people bring them back).

Despite being wrong about everything, Schneider has, as mentioned, passionately fought the passage of California Assembly Bill 2109 and California Senate Bill 277, which both intended to make childhood vaccination exemptions harder to obtain. In 2012, Schneider joined California State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly at a “Medical Freedom Rally”, urging Governor Brown to veto 2109. In 2015, after Schneider had talked to California state Assemblywoman and Bill 277 co-author Lorena Gonzalez, Gonzalez aptly illustrated the ridiculousness of having that conversation: “he was actually much nicer to me, but let’s be honest … that is 20 mins of my life I’ll never get back arguing that vaccines don’t cause autism with Deuce Bigalow, male gigolo.”

His own people in the antivaccine movement don’t really see or care about the difference between Deuce Bigalow and scientists, however. Schneider was for instance invited as panelist, along with e.g. Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association (an antivaccine group sponsored by Boiron), and disgraced fraud Andy Wakefield, at the Give Autism a Chance Summit in 2014. He has also given numerous radio show appearances and narrated deranged videos for the Canary Party published by NaturalNews and apparently shown at a Congressional briefing explaining how antivaxxers completely and fundamentally fail to comprehend how the Vaccine Court works – Schneider really, really doesn’t get it – and venturing deep into Alex Jones-style conspiracy territory, e.g. with the familiar “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy (decent summary of that one here and here); Schneider is of course himself a champion of the side of wrong regarding that particular conspiracy theory.

Also predictably, Schneider claims to have had his free speech rights violated since his vocal, stupid and dangerous claims about vaccines have generated a backlash and a certain amount of criticism.

He has also claimed that he can’t be bothered to work because California Democrats tax so much and put bureaucratic obstacles in the way of his vitamin company (Schneider is a Republican).

Diagnosis: The immediate reaction among minimally reasonable people is of course that the feeble idiocy of dense celebrities like Rob Schneider hardly matters; the thing is, of course: antivaxxers have never been able to distinguish the authority of fact, evidence and science from the authority of glitter and nonsense. Unfortunately, the efforts of blathering fools like Schneider actually do make a difference.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

July 23, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

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

Conversation No. 66

Date: Wednesday, February 12, 1997

Commenced:  11:15 AM CST

Concluded:  11:45 AM CST

 

RTC: That has to be you, Gregory. Such timing. Corson was speaking with me a few minutes ago about you. Are your ears still ringing?

GD: No.

RTC: Ah, you are so popular. Bill was warning me that we had both best cut you loose because the wrath of God might descend. Bill has a paper asshole.

GD: Who is it this time? The Pope?

RTC: No, the Kimmel people. He regularly turns his Justice people loose on both of us. I think they need a new record. The current one gets stuck. Is it true you killed Abraham Lincoln, Gregory? I mean it’s pretty well set that you are the illegitimate son of Adolf Hitler, or is it Josef Stalin? I can’t seem to remember, it’s all so mixed up. Anyway, you are pure evil and have to be kept away from. And do let’s keep the Pope out of this. I had enough trouble with that one.

GD: Which Pope?

RTC: John Paul I. We also went after John Paul II but that one didn’t work, and we didn’t want to try it again.

GD: Why, in God’s name, did you want to kill the Pope? And out of curiosity, how did you pull it off?

RFC: The first one was going to put a terrible crimp in our drug business out of Italy and we tried to do the second one to blame the Russians. It was a sort of a game with us. Always try to do a bad bit and make it look like the Russians did it.

GD: The drug business? What did the Pope have to do with drugs?

RTC: He didn’t. It was the bank there that did. He had nothing to do with it but it was the Vatican bank.

GD: The Vatican bank was involved with drugs?

RTC: No, we used it to launder money. Who, I ask you, who would ever question the Vatican bank? It was the Mafia who had the inside bank contacts and, believe me, there was a lot of money moving around. Let’s see, the Pope was elected in, I think, August of ’79. He replaced Montini. Former Vatican Secretary of State….he was Paul VI. Anyway, we had a fine working arrangement with the Italian Mafia about the movement of money as I said.

GD: I met Montini once, I think in ’51.

RTC: The new one had been in Venice….Luciani….

GD: There was another one from Venice….

RTC: I know but not the same one. That was back in the ‘60s. But the new Pope posed quite a problem. He had been told that there were certain irregularities in the IOR…that’s the Vatican bank. And the new Pope was inclined to be honest and was demanding a full review of the books and so on. If this had happened, a good deal would have been uncovered, so the Pope had to go. It was that simple, Gregory. Politics had nothing to do with it, nothing at all.

GD: Couldn’t someone have cooked the books? Was murder necessary?

RTC: You don’t understand the whole picture, Gregory. The Mafia was involved in this up to their eyebrows and if any of it had come out, someone would have talked and pointed to us. We couldn’t have that. We had to get rid of Dag Hammarskjold because he was interfering with the uranium people in the Congo. It was nothing personal at all.

GD: How did you do it?

RTC: Our Station Chief in Rome ran the show. Contacts in the Vatican and especially with Buzonetti, the Pope’s doctor. My God, old Renata cost us plenty. On our payroll since God knows when. And our Political Psychological Division worked on this to put the blame on the KGB. And the P-2 Lodge was also involved and they were ours.

GD: The what?

RTC: The P-2 Lodge was an Italian Masonic group and early in 1970, we got our hands on it. It was designed to attract right wing Italian bankers and businessmen to combat the very active Italian Communist party.  No, if the Pope had started something, it would have wrecked years of hard work on our part and ruined some of our more important assets. In the end, it was money, not Renaissance-style politics, that did Luciani in.

GD: Does the Vatican know now?

RTC: Suspects, but would rather not know anything. After the Pope assumed room temperature, we consolidated and revamped the system. There was quite a bit of mopping-up to do. We had to kill off a number of Italian players who had been pushed out of the picture and were longing to get back into the money. One hanged himself from a bridge in England. Obviously killed himself out of remorse.

GD: Stalin said once that it was not difficult to execute a murder, but much more difficult to arrange a suicide.

RTC: Josef was a clever man.

GD: And, he said, “No man, no problem.”

RTC: That one I know. A friend and co-worker had that up over his desk. I am not joking.

GD: Oh, I believe it, Robert. It is lawful to be taught by your enemies.

RTC: I detect a critical attitude here, Gregory. You have to realize that the amount of money we were, and are, making from our drug partnerships is nothing to walk away from. Vast sums of money, Gregory, and enormous political power therefrom.

GD: I can see that, but one day they will go too far.

RTC: The Kennedy business is a classic example why nothing will ever come of this sort of thing. If you publish the ZIPPER material you already have and what I am going to give you, you will only excite the conspiracy buffs, all of whom will gather together and hiss at you and heap coals of fire on your head. Let us say that you write a newspaper article on what I just told you. It would never get published and within minutes of your submitting it to an editor, we would be notified.

GD: And then you’d shoot me?

RTC: No, trash you. Laugh at you. Get our little broken down academics to piss on you. The press would ignore you completely and eventually, you would find something else to do. Now, on the other hand, if you had been one of us and had inside knowledge and worse, proof, you would perish very quickly. The faulty brakes while driving on dangerous mountain roads, an overdose of some kind of popular drug and dead in an overheated apartment. Things like that. But as an outsider, just laughter and silence. Of course, there are those who would believe you and if you wrote about this business with the Pope and mentioned some Italian names, you might get different treatment. The bomb under the front seat of your car or something crude like that. But we wouldn’t have done it and I would recommend against stirring those people up. We would look into your tax records and turn the IRS loose on you or let your wife know you were boffing a nice waitress at a cheap local motel. Or one of your nice children would be introduced to dangerous drugs. That’s more effective than a bomb in the car or someone shooting you dead in a parking garage. The Italians tend to be very emotional, and we do not.

GD: The Italians once said that he who went softly went safely and he who went safely went far.

RTC: It would be less messy if they actually practiced that sentiment.

GD: By the way, Robert, why did you go after the other Pope? I assume that’s the one that got shot by the Arab in front of the Vatican.

RTC: Yes, but not an Arab, a Turk. They do not like to be equated with Arabs. That one? Actually, we thought that if we had him done in right in front of everybody, it would draw a lot of attention and we could really blame it on the KGB. It was a perfect set up. He was a Polack who was agitating the Solidarity people against Russia, so who would be the most logical suspect? And we had been financing the Turkish Grey Wolves for some time. They got the hit man for us. Of course, he didn’t know anything so no one shot him in the courtroom.

GD: Que bono! But for no other reason?

RTC: Isn’t that enough? Turn all the world’s Catholics against the Russians in a hurry.

GD: Let’s see here. One Pope for sure, another shot at, a dead UN chief, a dead American president, assorted deceased South American leaders, a Pakistani or two, at least one high level Indian, and so on. I would hope not all for such trivial motives.

RTC: Turning huge number of people against Russia is not a trivial motive at all.

GD: The wheel does turn, Robert, it does. And what is now at the bottom comes to the top. Out of curiosity, have you killed any Israelis?

RTC: No, they know just how far to go, and we work very closely with them. They do a lot of our dirty work for us. They blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon and, of course, we blamed it on the Arabs. It goes on, Gregory, and if you had sat in my chair and walked in my shoes, you would be a bit more understanding.

GD: This is not aimed at you, of course.

RTC: If it were, I wouldn’t be defending you to the monkeys when they jabber about you. They aren’t worth much. I think your problem is that you never were in a position of command and at a high level. If you had been, you would be less judgmental.

GD: I am just an amateur, Robert, just a dilettante. Thank God.

 

(Concluded at 11:45 CST)

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Conversations+with+the+Crow+by+Gregory+Douglas

 

 

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Shocking Origins of the Jeffrey Epstein Case

Epstein is only the latest incarnation of a much older, more extensive and sophisticated operation that offers a frightening window into how deeply tied the U.S. government is to the modern-day equivalents of organized crime.

by Whitney Webb

July 18th, 2019

Mint Press News

Despite his “sweetheart” deal and having seemingly evaded justice, billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was arrested earlier this month on federal charges for sex trafficking minors. Epstein’s arrest has again brought increased media attention to many of his famous friends, the current president among them.

Many questions have since been asked about how much Epstein’s famous friends knew of his activities and exactly what Epstein was up to. The latter arguably received the most attention after it was reported that Alex Acosta — who arranged Epstein’s “sweetheart” deal in 2008 and who recently resigned as Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary following Epstein’s arrest — claimed that the mysterious billionaire had worked for “intelligence.”

Other investigations have made it increasingly clear that Epstein was running a blackmail operation, as he had bugged the venues — whether at his New York mansion or Caribbean island getaway — with microphones and cameras to record the salacious interactions that transpired between his guests and the underage girls that Epstein exploited. Epstein appeared to have stored much of that blackmail in a safe on his private island.

Claims of Epstein’s links and his involvement in a sophisticated, well-funded sexual blackmail operation have, surprisingly, spurred few media outlets to examine the history of intelligence agencies both in the U.S. and abroad conducting similar sexual blackmail operations, many of which also involved underage prostitutes.

In the U.S. alone, the CIA operated numerous sexual blackmail operations throughout the country, employing prostitutes to target foreign diplomats in what the Washington Post once nicknamed the CIA’s “love traps.” If one goes even farther back into the U.S. historical record it becomes apparent that these tactics and their use against powerful political and influential figures significantly predate the CIA and even its precursor, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). In fact, they were pioneered years earlier by none other than the American mafia.

In the course of this investigation, MintPress discovered that a handful of figures who were influential in American organized crime during and after Prohibition were directly engaged in sexual blackmail operations that they used for their own, often dark, purposes.

In Part I of this exclusive investigation, MintPress will examine how a mob-linked businessman with deep ties to notorious gangster Meyer Lansky developed close ties with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) while also running a sexual blackmail operation for decades, which later became a covert part of the anti-communist crusade of the 1950s led by Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), himself known throughout Washington for having a habit of drunkenly groping underage teenaged girls.

Yet, it would be one of McCarthy’s closest aides who would take over the ring in later years, trafficking minors and expanding this sexual blackmail operation at the same time he expanded his own political influence, putting him in close contact with prominent figures including former President Ronald Reagan and a man who would later become president, Donald Trump.

As will be revealed in Part II, after his death, this blackmail operation continued under various successors in different cities and there is strong evidence that Jeffrey Epstein became one of them.

Samuel Bronfman and the Mob    

The Prohibition Era in the United States is often used as an example of how banning recreational substances not only increases their popularity but also causes a boom in criminal activity. Indeed, it was Prohibition that greatly increased the strength of the American mafia, as the top crime lords of the day grew rich through the clandestine trade and sale of alcohol in addition to gambling and other activities.

It is through the bootlegging trade of the 1920s and the early 1930s that this story begins, as it brought together key figures whose successors and affiliates would eventually create a series of blackmail and sex trafficking rings that would give rise to the likes of Jeffrey Epstein, the “Lolita Express” and “Orgy Island.”

Samuel Bronfman never planned to become a major producer of liquor but true to his family’s last name, which means “brandy man” in Yiddish, he eventually began distributing alcohol as an extension of his family’s hotel business. During Canada’s Prohibition period, which was briefer than and preceded that of its southern neighbor, the Bronfman family business used loopholes to skirt the law and find technically legal ways to sell alcohol in the hotels and stores the family owned. The family relied on its connections with members of the American mafia to illegally smuggle alcohol from the United States.

Soon after Prohibition ended in Canada, it began in the United States and, by the time the flow of illegal alcohol had turned the other way, the Bronfmans – whose business ventures were then being led by Sam Bronfman and his brothers — were relatively late to an already flourishing bootlegging trade.

“We were late starters in the two most lucrative markets – on the high seas and across the Detroit River. What came out of the border trade in Saskatchewan was insignificant by comparison,” Bronfman once told Canadian journalist Terence Robertson, who was then writing a biography of Bronfman. Nonetheless, “this was when we started to make our real money,” Bronfman recounted. Robertson’s biography on Bronfman was never published, as he died under mysterious circumstances soon after warning his colleagues that he had uncovered unsavory information about the Bronfman family.

Key to Bronfman’s success during American Prohibition were the ties his family had cultivated with organized crime during Canada’s Prohibition, ties that led many prominent members of the mob in the United States to favor Bronfman as a business partner. Bronfman liquor was purchased in massive quantities by many crime lords who still live on in American legend, including Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Moe Dalitz, Abner “Longy” Zwillman and Meyer Lansky.

Most of Bronfman’s mob associates during Prohibition were members of what became known as the National Crime Syndicate, which a 1950s Senate investigative body known as the Kefauver Committee described as a confederation dominated by Italian-American and Jewish-American mobs. During that investigation, some of the biggest names in the American mafia named Bronfman as a central figure in their bootlegging operations. The widow of notorious American mob boss Meyer Lansky even recounted how Bronfman had thrown lavish dinner parties for her husband.

Years later, Samuel Bronfman’s children and grandchildren, their family’s ties to the criminal underworld intact, would later go on to associate closely with Leslie Wexner, allegedly the source of much of Epstein’s mysterious wealth, and other mob-linked “philanthropists,” and some would even manage their own sexual blackmail operations, including the recently busted blackmail-based “sex cult” NXIVM. The later generations of the Bronfman family, particularly Samuel Bronfman’s sons Edgar and Charles, will be discussed in greater detail in Part II of this report.

Lewis Rosenstiel’s dark secret

Crucial to Bronfman’s Prohibition-era bootlegging operations were two middlemen, one of whom was Lewis “Lew” Rosenstiel. Rosenstiel got his start working at his uncle’s distillery in Kentucky before Prohibition. Once the law banning alcohol was in force, Rosenstiel created the Schenley Products Company, which would later become one of the largest liquor companies in North America.

Though he was a high school drop-out and not particularly well-connected socially at the time, Rosenstiel happened to have a “chance” meeting with Winston Churchill in 1922 while on vacation in the French Riviera. According to the New York Times, Churchill “advised him [Rosenstiel] to prepare for the return of liquor sales in the United States.” Rosenstiel somehow managed to secure the funding of the elite and respected Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers to finance his purchase of shuttered distilleries.

Officially, Rosenstiel is said to have built his company and wealth after Prohibition, by following Churchill’s advice to prepare for Repeal. However, he was clearly involved in bootlegging operations and was even indicted for bootlegging in 1929, though he evaded conviction. Like Bronfman, Rosenstiel was close to organized crime, particularly members of the mostly Jewish-American and Italian-American mob alliance known as the National Crime Syndicate.

Subsequent New York state congressional investigations would allege that Rosenstiel “was part of a ‘consortium’ with underworld figures that bought liquor in Canada [from Samuel Bronfman]”, whose other members were “Meyer Lansky, the reputed organized crime leader; Joseph Fusco, an associate of late Chicago gangster Al Capone and Joseph Linsey, a Boston man Mr. Kelly [the congressional investigator testifying] identified as a convicted bootlegger.” Rosenstiel’s relationship with these men, particularly Lansky, would continue long after Prohibition and Samuel Bronfman, for his part, would also maintain his mob ties.

In addition to his friends in the mob, Rosenstiel also cultivated close ties with the FBI, developing a close relationship with longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and making Hoover’s right-hand man and longtime assistant at the FBI, Louis Nichols, the Vice President of his Schenley empire in 1957.

Despite their similar backgrounds as bootlegger barons turned “respectable” businessmen, Bronfman’s and Rosenstiel’s personalities were drastically different and their relationship was complicated, at best. One example of the dissimilarities between North America’s top liquor barons was how they treated their staff. Bronfman was not necessarily known for being a cruel boss, whereas Rosenstiel was known for his erratic and “monstrous” behavior towards employees as well as his unusual practice of bugging his offices in order to hear what employees said about him when he wasn’t present.

Such differences between Bronfman and Rosenstiel were also reflected in their personal lives. While Bronfman married only once and was loyal to his wife, Rosenstiel was married five times and was known for his relatively closeted bisexual antics, a part of his life that was well-known to many of his close associates and employees.

Though for years there were only hints to this other side of the controversial businessman, details emerged years later during a divorce proceeding brought by Rosenstiel’s fourth wife, Susan Kaufman, that would back the claims. Kaufman alleged that Rosenstiel hosted extravagant parties that included “boy prostitutes” that her husband had hired “for the enjoyment” of certain guests, which included important government officials and prominent figures in America’s criminal underworld. Kaufman would later make the same claims under oath during the hearing of the New York’s State Joint Legislative Committee on Crime in the early 1970s.

Not only did Rosenstiel organize these parties, but he also made sure that their venues were bugged with microphones that recorded the antics of his high-profile guests. Those audio recordings, Kaufman alleged, were then kept for the purpose of blackmail. Though Kaufman’s claims are shocking, her testimony was deemed credible and held in high regard by the former chief counsel of the Crime Committee, New York Judge Edward McLaughlin, and committee investigator William Gallinaro and aspects of her testimony were later corroborated by two separate witnesses who were unknown to Kaufman.

These blackmail “parties” offer a window into an operation that would later become more sophisticated and grow dramatically in the 1950s under Rosenstiel’s “field commander” (a nickname given by Rosenstiel to an individual to be named shortly in this report). Many of the people connected to Rosenstiel’s “field commander” during the 70s and 80s have again found their names in the press following the recent arrest of Jeffrey Epstein.

The “Untouchable” Mobster

Bronfman and Rosenstiel became legendary in the North American liquor business, in part due to their fight for supremacy in the industry, which the New York Times described as often erupting “into bitter personal and corporate battles.” Despite their dueling in the corporate world, the one thing that united the two businessmen more than anything else was their close connection to American organized crime, particularly renowned mobster, Meyer Lansky.

Lansky is one of the most notorious gangsters in the history of American organized crime and is notable for being the only famous mobster that rose to notoriety in the 1920s that managed to die an old man and never serve a day in jail.

Lansky’s long life and ability to avoid prison time was largely the result of his close relationships to powerful businessmen like Bronfman and Rosenstiel (among many others), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. intelligence community as well as his role in establishing several blackmail and extortion rings which helped him keep the law at arm’s length. Indeed, when Lansky was finally charged with a crime in the 1970s, it was the Internal Revenue Service that brought the charges, not the FBI, and he was charged with and acquitted of tax evasion.

Lansky was remarkably close to both Bronfman and Rosenstiel. Bronfman regularly threw “lavish dinner parties” in Lansky’s honor both during and after Prohibition. These parties were remembered fondly by Lansky’s wife, and Lansky, in turn, did favors for Bronfman ranging from exclusive protection of his shipments during Prohibition to getting him tickets to coveted “fight of the century” boxing matches.

Rosenstiel also threw regular dinner parties honoring Lansky. Susan Kaufman, Rosenstiel’s ex-wife, claimed to have taken numerous pictures of her ex-husband and Lansky socializing and partying together, photos that were also seen by Mary Nichols of The Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition, Lansky, per Kaufman’s recollection, was one of the individuals that Rosenstiel sought to protect from legal scrutiny as part of his child prostitution and blackmail ring targeting high-ranking officials, and he was overheard saying that if the government “ever brings pressure against Lansky or any of us, we’ll use this [a specific recording taken at one of the “parties”] as blackmail.”

Lansky was known to address Rosenstiel as “Supreme Commander,” a title that would later be used to refer to Rosenstiel by another individual deeply connected to the mob and sexual blackmail operations, previously referred to in this report as Rosenstiel’s “Field Commander.”

Lansky also had close ties to the CIA and U.S. military intelligence. During World War II, Lansky –along with his associate Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel — worked with Naval intelligence in what was codenamed “Operation Underworld,” an operation that the government denied for over 40 years.

Journalist and noted chronicler of CIA covert activities, Douglas Valentine, noted in his book The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World that the government’s cooperation with the mafia during World War II led to its expansion after the war and set the stage for its future collaboration with U.S. intelligence.

According to Valentine:

Top government officials were also aware that the government’s Faustian pact with the Mafia during World War II had allowed the hoods to insinuate themselves into mainstream America. In return for services rendered during the war, Mafia bosses were protected from prosecution for dozens of unsolved murders. […]

The Mafia was a huge problem in 1951 [when the Kefauver Committee was convened], equivalent to terrorism today. But it was also a protected branch of the CIA, which was co-opting criminal organizations around the world and using them in its secret war against the Soviets and Red Chinese. The Mafia had collaborated with Uncle Sam and had emerged from World War II energized and empowered. They controlled cities across the country.”

Indeed, the CIA forged ties with Lansky not long after its creation at the behest of CIA counterintelligence chief James J. Angleton. The CIA would later turn to the Lansky-linked mob in the early 1960s as part of its consistently fruitless quest to assassinate the Cuban leader, showing that the CIA maintained its contacts with Lansky-controlled elements of the mafia long after the initial meeting with Lansky took place.

The CIA also had close connections to associates of Lansky, such as Edward Moss, who did public relations work for Lansky and was said to be of “interest” to the CIA by the agency’s then-inspector general J.S. Earman. Harry “Happy” Meltzer was also another Lansky associate that was a CIA asset and the CIA asked Meltzer to join an assassination team in December 1960.

In addition to the CIA, Lansky was also connected to a foreign intelligence agency through Tibor Rosenbaum, an arms procurer and high-ranking official in Israel’s Mossad, whose bank – the International Credit Bank of Geneva – laundered much of Lansky’s ill-gotten gains and recycled it into legitimate American businesses.

Journalist Ed Reid, author of the Virginia Hill biography The Mistress and the Mafia, wrote that Lansky was attempting to entrap powerful people through sexual blackmail as far back as 1939. Reid contends that Lansky sent Ms. Hill to Mexico, where his West Coast connections had established a drug ring that later involved the OSS, the forerunner to the CIA, to seduce numerous “top politicians, army officers, diplomats and police officials.”

Eventually, Lansky was credited with obtaining compromising photos of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover sometime in the 1940s, which showed “Hoover in some kind of gay situation”, according to a former Lansky associate who also said that Lansky had often claimed, “I fixed that sonofabitch.” The photos showed Hoover engaged in sexual activity with his long-time friend, FBI deputy director Clyde Tolson.

At some point, these photos fell into the hands of CIA counterintelligence chief James J. Angleton, who later showed the photos to several other CIA officials, including John Weitz and Gordon Novel. Angleton was in charge of the CIA’s relationship with the FBI and Israel’s Mossad until he left the agency in 1972 and, as was recently mentioned, he was also in contact with Lansky.

Anthony Summers , former BBC journalist and author of Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, has argued that it was not Lansky, but William Donovan, the director of the OSS, who obtained the original photos of Hoover and later shared them with Lansky.

Summers also stated that “To [gangster Frank] Costello and Lansky, the ability to corrupt politicians, policemen and judges was fundamental to Mafia operations. The way they found to deal with Hoover, according to several mob sources, involved his homosexuality.” This anecdote shows that Lanksy and the CIA maintained a covert relationship, which included, among other things, the sharing of blackmail material (i.e. “intelligence”).

It is also possible that Hoover was ensnared by the mob during one of Rosenstiel’s blackmail “parties,” at which Hoover sometimes found himself in attendance with prominent figures of the mafia. Hoover was said to have worn women’s clothing at the some of the events and Meyer Lansky’s wife later said that her husband had photos of the former FBI director in drag. Furthermore, Hoover is on record showing an unusual concern in the FBI’s handling of Rosenstiel’s criminal links as early as 1939, the same year that his close associate Lansky was actively orchestrating the sexual blackmail of powerful political figures.

The blackmail acquired on Hoover and the mob’s possession of the evidence has been cited as a major factor in Hoover’s decades-long denial that nationwide networks of organized crime were a serious issue. Hoover asserted that it was a decentralized, local issue and therefore outside of the bureau’s jurisdiction. By the time Hoover finally acknowledged the existence of national organized crime networks in 1963, it was so entrenched in the U.S. establishment that it was untouchable.

Congressional crime consultant Ralph Salerno told Summers in 1993 that Hoover’s willful ignorance of organized crime for most of his career as FBI director “allowed organized crime to grow very strong in economic and political terms, so that it became a much bigger threat to the wellbeing of this country than it would have been if it had been addressed much sooner.”

  1. Edgar Hoover: Blackmail Victim?

Most records place the beginning of Hoover’s relationship with Rosenstiel in the 1950s, the same decade when Susan Kaufman reported that Hoover was attending Rosenstiel’s blackmail parties. Rosenstiel’s FBI file, obtained by Anthony Summers, cites the first Rosenstiel meeting as taking place in 1956, though Summers notes that there is evidence that they had met much earlier. After requesting the meeting, Rosenstiel was granted a personal face to face with the director in a matter of hours. The FBI file on Rosenstiel also reveals that the liquor baron heavily lobbied Hoover to aid his business interests.

During that time, the salacious details of Hoover’s sex life were already known to the U.S. intelligence community and to the mob, and Hoover was aware that they knew of his closeted sexuality and penchant for women’s clothing. Yet, Hoover apparently seemed to embrace the very type of sexual blackmail operation that had compromised his private life, given that he was seen at many of Rosenstiel’s “blackmail” parties in the 1950s and 1960s, including at venues such as Rosenstiel’s personal home and later at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel. Hoover’s penchant for dressing in drag was also described by two witnesses who were not connected to Susan Kaufman.

Soon after their first “official” meeting, the public relationship between the two men quickly flourished, with Hoover even sending Rosenstiel flowers when he fell ill. Summers reported that, in 1957, Rosenstiel was heard telling Hoover during a meeting, “your wish is my command.” Their relationship remained close and intimate throughout the 1960s and beyond.

Like Rosenstiel, Hoover was well-known for amassing blackmail on friend and foe alike. Hoover’s office contained “secret files” on numerous powerful people in Washington and beyond, files he used to gain favors and protect his status as FBI director for as long as he wished.

Hoover’s own propensity for blackmail suggests that he may have associated with Rosenstiel’s sexual blackmail operation more directly, given he already knew he was compromised and his involvement in the operation would have served as a means of procuring the blackmail he coveted for his own purposes. Indeed, if Hoover was merely being blackmailed and extorted by the Lansky-Rosenstiel connected mob, it is unlikely that he would have been so friendly to Rosenstiel, Lansky and the other mobsters at these gatherings and participated in them with such regularity.

According to journalist and author Burton Hersh, Hoover was also tied to Sherman Kaminsky, who ran a sexual blackmail operation in New York involving young male prostitutes. That operation was busted and investigated in 1966 extortion probe led by Manhattan District Attorney Frank Hogan, though the FBI quickly took over the investigation and photos of Hoover and Kaminsky together soon disappeared from the case file.

Hoover and Rosenstiel’s deep ties would continue to develop over the years, an example of which can be seen in Rosenstiel’s hiring of long-time Hoover aide Louis Nichols as the Vice President of his Schenley liquor empire and Rosenstiel’s donation of over $1 million to the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, which Nichols also ran at the time.

There is also more than one documented occasion wherein Hoover attempted to use blackmail to protect Rosenstiel and his “field commander,” none other than the infamous Roy Cohn, the other key figure in Rosenstiel’s sexual blackmail operation involving minors.

The Making of a Monster

Decades after his death, Roy Cohn remains a controversial figure in large part because of his close, personal relationship with current U.S. President Donald Trump. Yet reports on Cohn, both in recent and in past years, often miss the mark in their characterization of the man who became closely associated with the Reagan White House, the CIA, the FBI, organized crime and, incidentally, many of the figures who would later surround Jeffrey Epstein.

To understand the true nature of the man, it is essential to examine his rise to power in the early 1950s, when at just 23 years old, he became a key figure in the high-profile trial of Soviet spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and later in the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) led by Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Cohn’s dedication to anti-communist activities in the 1950s is allegedly what first endeared him to J. Edgar Hoover who he first met in 1952. During that meeting, as described by Hersh in Bobby and J. Edgar: The Historic Face-Off Between the Kennedys and J. Edgar Hoover That Transformed America, Hoover expressed admiration for Cohn’s aggressive and manipulative tactics and told Cohn to “call me directly” whenever he had information worth sharing. From that point on, Cohn and Hoover “traded favors, effusive compliments, gifts and elaborate private dinners. It quickly became ‘Roy’ and ‘Edgar.’” Hersh also describes Hoover as Cohn’s soon to be “consigliere.”

The date and circumstances around Cohn’s introduction to Rosenstiel is harder to come by. It is possible that the connection was made through Roy Cohn’s father, Albert Cohn, a prominent judge and an influential figure in the New York City Democratic Party apparatus then-run by Edward Flynn. It was later revealed that the Democratic organization dominated by Flynn and based in the Bronx had long-standing connections to organized crime, including associates of Meyer Lansky.

Regardless of how or when it began, the relationship between Cohn and Rosenstiel was close and was often likened to that of a father and son. They were said to frequently salute each other in public and remained close until Rosenstiel was near death, at which point Cohn attempted to trick his then-barely conscious and senile “friend” and client into naming him the executor and trustee of the liquor magnate’s estate, valued at $75 million (more than $334 million in today’s dollars).

LIFE magazine reported in 1969 that Cohn and Rosenstiel had for years referred to one another as “Field Commander” and “Supreme Commander,” respectively. Media references to these nicknames appear in other articles from the period.

Though LIFE and other outlets had interpreted this as merely an anecdote about the nicknames shared in jest between close friends, the fact that notorious crime lord Meyer Lansky also called Rosenstiel “Supreme Commander” and the fact that Cohn and Rosenstiel would later become intimately involved in the same pedophile sex ring, suggests that there may have been more to these “nicknames.” After all, the mob to which Rosenstiel was connected often used military-themed titles like “soldier” and “lieutenant” to differentiate the rank and importance of its members.

Once he had made his connection with Hoover, Cohn’s star began to rise even higher in Washington. Hoover’s recommendation of Cohn would become the deciding factor in his appointment as Sen. McCarthy’s general counsel over Robert Kennedy, a rival and bitter enemy of Cohn’s.

Though Cohn was ruthless and seemingly untouchable as McCarthy’s counsel and helped the Senator destroy many careers during both the red and lavender scares, his antics in relation to his work on the committee would eventually lead to his downfall after he attempted to blackmail the Army in return for preferential treatment for committee consultant and Cohn’s rumored lover, David Schine.

After he was forced to leave McCarthy’s side due to the scandal, Cohn returned to New York to live with his mother and practice law. A few years later New York Judge David Peck, a long-time associate of former CIA director Alan Dulles, orchestrated Cohn’s hire to the New York law firm, Saxe, Bacon and O’Shea, which would later become Saxe, Bacon and Bolan after Tom Bolan, a friend of Cohn’s, became a partner in the firm. Upon his hire, Cohn brought the firm a slew of mafia-linked clients, including high-ranking members of the Gambino crime family, the Genovese crime family and, of course, Lewis Rosenstiel.

What happened in Suite 233?

The connections Roy Cohn built during the 1950s made him a well-known public figure and translated into great political influence which peaked during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Yet, as Cohn built his public image, he was also developing a dark private life which would come to be dominated by the same blackmail pedophile racket that appears to have first begun with Lewis Rosenstiel.

One of the “blackmail” parties Susan Kaufman attended with her then-husband Lewis Rosenstiel was hosted by Cohn in 1958 at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel, suite 233. Kaufman described Cohn’s suite as a “beautiful suite…all done in light blue.” She described being introduced to Hoover, who was in drag, by Cohn, who told her that Hoover’s name was “Mary” in a fit of barely concealed laughter. Kaufman testified that young underage boys were present and Kaufman claimed that Cohn, Hoover and her ex-husband engaged in sexual activity with these minors.

New York attorney John Klotz, tasked with investigating Cohn for a case well after Kaufman’s testimony, also found evidence of the “blue suite” at the Plaza Hotel and its role in a sex extortion ring after combing through local government documents and information gathered by private detectives. Klotz later told journalist and author Burton Hersh what he had learned:

Roy Cohn was providing protection. There were a bunch of pedophiles involved. That’s where Cohn got his power from — blackmail.”

Perhaps the most damning confirmation of Cohn’s activities in Suite 233 comes from statements made by Cohn himself to former NYPD detective and ex-head of the department’s Human-Trafficking and Vice-related Crimes division, James Rothstein. Rothstein later told John Decamp, a former Nebraska state senator who investigated a government-connected child sex ring based in Omaha, among other investigators, that Cohn had admitted to being part of a sexual blackmail operation targeting politicians with child prostitutes during a sit-in down interview with the former detective.

Rothstein told John DeCamp the following about Roy Cohn:

Cohn’s job was to run the little boys. Say you had an admiral, a general, a congressman, who did not want to go along with the program. Cohn’s job was to set them up, then they would go along. Cohn told me that himself.”

Rothstein later told Paul David Collins, a former journalist turned researcher, that Cohn had also identified this sexual blackmail operation as being part of the anti-communist crusade of the time.

The fact that Cohn, per Rothstein’s recollection, stated that the child-sex blackmail ring was part of the government-sponsored anticommunist crusade suggests that elements of the government, including Hoover’s FBI, may have been connected at a much broader level than Hoover’s own personal involvement given that the FBI closely coordinated with McCarthy and Cohn for much of the red scare.

It is also worth noting that among Hoover’s many “secret” blackmail files was a sizeable dossier on Senator McCarthy, the contents of which strongly suggested that the Senator himself was interested in underage girls. According to journalist and author David Talbot, Hoover’s file on McCarthy was “filled with disturbing stories about McCarthy’s habit of drunkenly groping young girls’ breasts and buttocks. The stories were so widespread that they became ‘common knowledge’ in the capital, according to one FBI chronicler.”

Talbot, in his book The Devil’s Chessboard, also cites Walter Trohan, Washington Bureau Chief of the Chicago Tribune, as having personally witnessed McCarthy’s habit of molesting young women. “He just couldn’t keep his hands off young girls,” Trohan would later say. “Why the Communist opposition didn’t plant a minor on him and raise the cry of statutory rape, I don’t know.” Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that those “planting” minors on their political foes were McCarthy’s allies and close associates, not his enemies.

The question that necessarily arises from revelations regarding Cohn’s activities in Suite 233 is who else was Cohn “protecting” and servicing with underage prostitutes? One of them could very well have been one of Cohn’s close friends and clients, Cardinal Francis Spellman of the Archdiocese of New York, who was said to have been present at some of these parties Cohn hosted at the Plaza Hotel.

Spellman, one of the most powerful figures in the Catholic Church in North America who was sometimes referred to as “America’s Pope” was accused of not only condoning pedophilia in the Catholic church and ordaining known pedophiles including Cardinal Theodore “Uncle Teddy” McCarrick, but also engaging in it himself to such an extent that many New York area priests widely referred to him as “Mary.” Furthermore, J. Edgar Hoover was said to have a file detailing the Cardinal’s sex life, suggesting Spellman’s involvement in the ring and pedophile protection racket in which Cohn and Hoover were personally involved.

People close to Cohn often remarked that he was frequently surrounded by groups of young boys, but seemed to think nothing of it. Similar off-handed comments about Epstein’s penchant for minors were made by those close to him prior to his arrest.

Controversial Republican political operative and “dirty trickster” Roger Stone, who — like Donald Trump — was also a protégé of Cohn, said the following about Cohn’s sex life during an interview with The New Yorker in 2008:

Roy was not gay. He was a man who liked having sex with men. Gays were weak, effeminate. He always seemed to have these young blond boys around. It just wasn’t discussed. He was interested in power and access.” (emphasis added)

Compare this quote from Stone to what Donald Trump, who was also close to Cohn, would later say about Jeffrey Epstein, with whom he was also closely associated:

I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” (emphasis added)

Though it is unknown how long the sex ring at the Plaza Hotel continued, and if it continued after Cohn’s death from AIDS in 1986, it is worth noting that Donald Trump purchased the Plaza Hotel in 1988. It would later be reported and confirmed by then-attendees that Trump “used to host parties in suites at the Plaza Hotel when he owned it, where young women and girls were introduced to older, richer men” and “illegal drugs and young women were passed around and used.”

Andy Lucchesi, a male model who had helped organize some of these Plaza Hotel parties for Trump said the following when asked about the age of the women present: “A lot of girls, 14, look 24. That’s as juicy as I can get. I never asked how old they were; I just partook. I did partake in activities that would be controversial, too.”

The Roy Cohn Machine

Roy Cohn was only at the beginning of his career when he waded his way into the underground sexual blackmail ring apparently led by Lewis Rosenstiel. Indeed, when Cohn first met Hoover, he was only 23 years old. Over the next three decades or so, before his death from AIDS-related complications in 1986 at the age of 56, Cohn built a well-oiled machine, largely through his close friendships with some of the country’s most influential figures.

Among Cohn’s friends were top media personalities like Barbara Walters, former CIA directors, Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy, media moguls Rupert Murdoch and Mort Zuckerman, numerous celebrities, prominent lawyers like Alan Dershowitz, top figures in the Catholic Church and leading Jewish organizations like B’nai B’rith and the World Jewish Congress. Many of the same names that surrounded Cohn until death in the late 1980s would later come to surround Jeffrey Epstein, with their names later appearing in Epstein’s now-infamous “little black book”.

While President Trump is clearly connected to both Epstein and Cohn, Cohn’s network also extends to former President Bill Clinton, whose friend and longtime political advisor, Richard “Dirty Dick” Morris, was Cohn’s cousin and close associate. Morris was also close to Clinton’s former communications director, George Stephanopoulos, who is also associated with Jeffrey Epstein.

Yet, these were only Cohn’s connections to respectable members of the establishment. He was also known for his deep connections to the mob and gained prominence largely for his ability to connect key figures in the criminal underworld to respected influential figures acceptable to the public sphere. Ultimately, as New York attorney John Klotz stated, Cohn’s most powerful tool was blackmail, which he used against friend and foe, gangster or public official alike. How much of that blackmail he acquired through his sexual blackmail operation will likely never be known.

As Part II of this exclusive investigation will reveal, Cohn and Epstein, and the sexual blackmail operations they ran share many things in common, including not only many of the same famous friends and patrons, but also connections to intelligence agencies and consortiums of mob-linked businessmen, the modern-day equivalents of Samuel Bronfman and Lewis Rosenstiel who have since rebranded as “philanthropists.”

Part II will also reveal that Cohn’s operation was known to have successors, as revealed by a series of scandals in the early 1990s that have since been swept under the rug. The significant amount of overlap between Epstein’s and Cohn’s covert activities in sexual blackmail and their ties to many of the same powerful individuals and circles of influence strongly suggest that Epstein was one of Cohn’s successors.

As will be shown in the final installment of this report, Epstein is only the latest incarnation of a much older, more extensive and sophisticated operation that offers a frightening window into how deeply tied the U.S. government is to the modern-day equivalents of organized crime, making it a racket truly too big to fail.

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