TBR News June 1, 2016

Jun 01 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 1, 2016: “The Turks, well-known for their savage behavior, are furious that the German legislators are about to pass a resolution using the word ‘genocide’ when referring to the Turkish slaughter of over a million Armenians during the First World War. That the figures are correct is an historical fact and outside of Turkey, commonly accepted. The Turks are now beginning to harass their restive Kurds who represent 25% of Turkey’s current population. There is a high-level Beltway rumor that the Russians are supplying Kurdish separatist groups with weapons and it is certain that the Kurds are using them against the repressive actions of Turkey. It is interesting to note that when the Sunni Turks moved against their Christian Armenian populations, the Kurds were then a willing ally in the slaughter.”


The Müller Washington Journals   1948-1951

At the beginning of December, 1948, a German national arrived in Washington, D.C. to take up an important position with the newly-formed CIA. He was a specialist on almost every aspect of Soviet intelligence and had actively fought them, both in his native Bavaria where he was head of the political police in Munich and later in Berlin as head of Amt IV of the State Security Office, also known as the Gestapo.

His name was Heinrich Müller.

Even as a young man, Heini Müller had kept daily journals of his activities, journals that covered his military service as a pilot in the Imperial German air arm and an apprentice policeman in Munich. He continued these journals throughout the war and while employed by the top CIA leadership in Washington, continued his daily notations.

This work is a translation of his complete journals from December of 1948 through September of 1951.

When Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA¹s station chief in Bern, Switzerland, James Kronthal in 1948, he had misgivings about working for his former enemies but pragmatism and the lure of large amounts of money won him over to what he considered to be merely an extension of his life-work against the agents of the Comintern. What he discovered after living and working in official Washington for four years was that the nation¹s capital was, in truth, what he once humorously claimed sounded like a cross between a zoo and a lunatic asylum. His journals, in addition to personal letters, various reports and other personal material, give a very clear, but not particularly flattering, view of the inmates of both the zoo and the asylum.

Müller moved, albeit very carefully, in the rarefied atmosphere of senior policy personnel, military leaders, heads of various intelligence agencies and the White House itself. He was a very observant, quick-witted person who took copious notes of what he saw. This was not a departure from his earlier habits because Heinrich Müller had always kept a journal, even when he was a lowly Bavarian police officer, and his comments about personalities and events in the Third Reich are just as pungent and entertaining as the ones he made while in America.

The reason for publishing this phase of his eventful life is that so many agencies in the United States and their supporters do not want to believe that a man of Müller¹s position could ever have been employed by their country in general or their agency in specific.

Thursday, 20 April 1950

Today is the Führer’s birthday and a few of us will celebrate it tonight but very quietly at home. Also, (Louis, ed.) Budnez, former communist leader here, has identified Lattimore. Of course he has no proof but so what, as they say here. Important communist sources were never members of the communist party and very often kept far away from the gibbering and very visible radicals. Just because a man did not carry a card in his wallet or give money for party dues does not absolve him from guilt.

Communism was so popular with the feeble-minded intellectuals here that it would surprise me if more professors and government bureaucrats didn’t turn up with each turn of the spade. Now, many of them are living in increasing fear…fear of exposure, arrest or loss of their jobs…because of what was once considered socially acceptable…. at least in their circles.

Lattimore was in a position to influence policy. Some dockworker in New York was not.

(Sen. Millard, ed.) Tydings is going to open the “Amerasia” case again and that ought to make a lot of these State Department types very angry. After all, a number of their most sensitive documents ended up in a communist magazine’s office. Roosevelt had this shut up but now it is the Republican’s chance to dig up more dirt.

That brutal (Colonel James A. ed.) Killian lost his lawsuit over a book discussing his sadistic behavior at an American training camp in England during the war. Truman hates him and once told me that he considered K. as a “real Gestapo” type that I found amusing because I would never have had such a repulsive brute on my rolls. And the Army has tried to paint him white for years.

Am proceeding now with plans for my dinner for Truman. He has accepted in principle but we have to find a date when it is convenient for him. So far, I have worked up a menu, laid in the wine and had the servants unpack and prepare the plates and dinnerware.

I think we can give the President a very pleasant intimate dinner and after it is over, perhaps I can make a few points.

I am told that he likes bourbon whiskey and I was at my wine dealers recently and asked him what the best bourbon was. He looked at me rather unhappily because he (and I) are basically wine drinkers. He mentioned a superior brand that comes from some place in Tennessee where they only make a few dozen crates a year. Extremely expensive but I am told very good. I bought a case (at a hundred dollars a bottle!) just in case.

If Truman doesn’t come, we can sell it to McCarthy (who would no doubt drink boot polish if it were strong enough in alcoholic content).

And there will be music. I will have a Bechstein and a Steinway in the music room and Bunny and I can entertain him. We have been going over the scores and I am very partial to two Bach pieces. Truman prefers more romantic music but I loathe Chopin so if we keep it relatively short, I think the Bach will do.

Aunt, of course, wants to come…and shall. Even though she is a staunch Republican, the thought of dining with the President is enough to warm her cold Republican heart.

Wednesday, 26 April 1950

Truman has launched another barb at McCarthy. Gave a speech to a group of lawyers on Friday and spoke about his methods of fighting communism. The slow, steady method is recommended and he struck at M. by using the word “hysteria” with reference to the recent press reports.

Yes, of course, Truman is correct from his point of view. He cannot permit a great movement of hysterical people to purge out all the communists because it would wreck his administration and do terrible damage to the fabric of American society.

He knows perfectly well that McCarthy is a tool and who is using him. It is, as I said earlier, he can easily deny what is happening and attack M. while looking like a reasonable man. At the same time, we will go on our happy way, sensitizing the Americans to the (at least) former menaces. This will help us to root out the real spies and so terrify the left wing that they will crawl back under the wet logs for a decade or so.

They were getting extremely pervasive and arrogant during the Roosevelt era, and what is actually worse, fettering American businesses in such a way as to eventually destroy them. Had the war not broken out and business not had many controls temporarily lifted by the Roosevelt people to increase wartime production, who knows if we would not now be enjoying Henry Wallace’s version of the corporate state? Poor Henry. He almost was President but now is a discredited man, talking to himself in the wilderness from which he will soon vanish entirely

And poor Irmgard. She now lusts after Heini’s brother but cannot get at him. He will be coming to Washington (as my guest, of course) in a week so Irmgard can get her battery recharged. I will put both of them up at a hotel so we won’t have to bother with their mating rituals.

And good news! Truman will come!

Now all we have to do is fix the date, buy the meat and vegetables, polish the armor and hire some temporary servants.

I want to be careful not to appear too rich or the President might get jealous but a good show might impress him. I have stressed to him my own humble origins, as compared with the Dulles brothers, and I know it hits a point with him.

I think we will sit ten to table. There might be one more but I like even numbers and I am told Truman is somewhat superstitious and doesn’t want thirteen. I do not want to invite Clifford. He does not like me after the wig business and he would monopolize every conversation throughout the evening. Hoover would be out. He would no doubt want tomato ketchup at the table with paper napkins and grape juice.

Enough of this.

I am expecting another shipment of drawings tomorrow and I want to get up early enough to walk Maxl and be here just as they arrive. I alone get to open the boxes and only safely upstairs.

This place is beginning to look like Hearst owned it! Still, better to have too much than not enough!

Thursday, 4 May 1950

Every so often, one plants a seed and then forgets about it. Actually, doesn’t forget about it but it gets pushed to the bottom of the pile. A little earlier, I had the acute pleasure in seeing one of my small acorns suddenly sprout into a massive oak tree! It started early in the morning when Angleton called me in some agitation and said he simply had to see me at once. As he knows full well who I am and where I live, I told him finally to come over. He said he would walk, not being that far from here, but from the look on his face, I would rather thought he had run over.

He had not yet been inside the house and he was greatly impressed with the nice things I have on the first floor. Such a nervous, pale and very obviously distraught man he was. Then I took him into my library with all the Catherine the Great items (from her palace) about and asked him to sit down. I turned on the recording device by the simple expedient of opening a desk drawer and asked him what I could do for him.

Although badly frightened, he managed to maintain his sly demeanor…at least up to a point. He asked me if I had ever heard of a Brontös Karlsefni! The oak had grown at last! I said that I certainly recognized the name. What did my honored guest want to know about this man?

What could I tell him about this man?

What did he himself know?

Brontös Karlsefni, according to our subsequent conversation, was an Icelander from an old Norse family. He had lived in various countries and had done intelligence work for a number of these countries, including Germany. Yes, I cautiously acknowledged, I had used this man’s services in the past.

Angleton then went straight to the point, that is how badly rattled he was. Normally, he would wander around making sly, oblique remarks that would mask his ignorance and give him the impression of knowing everything. In this case, it was I who knew everything but he didn’t know that.

It comes down to the fact that Angleton, and others at the CIA, have heard that this man, who might be working for the NKVD, had amassed considerable information on many OSS people and, of course, of many CIA people. Angleton heard that Karlsefni might be trying to sell his papers here in the United States but he did not know to whom. Since I had known K. “in my previous life” (as if I were the victim of reincarnation) A. wanted to know if I had heard from K. If I had not, did I know how to contact him?

I would have absolutely no problem whatsoever in getting into contact with the elusive Karlsefni because I am Karlsefni! I invented this man many years ago as a cat’s-paw or a straw man upon whom I can blame many things. I at once told A. that if he would wait a moment, I would get a file.

I didn’t even have to go to the wine cellar and within five minutes, I was back again, just in time to catch Angleton attempting to get into my desk. He pretended he was looking at my silver-framed picture of Bunny (whom he knows socially) and we all went on with the theater.

He looked at the file and went as white as my handkerchief. “Oh, my God, we are all finished!” he kept saying.

Wonderful performance on my part as I managed to look both concerned and conspiratorial at the same time. Angleton at once told me that he wanted to find out where K. was now so he could have him killed!

As I know, A. has had quite a few people he did not like killed. Some by Pash and some by others. I should let him use Arno’s services but then I would tell Arno to finish off Angleton and throw him in the Potomac down by the canal.

“Yes,” he said, “this man must die as soon as possible before he makes more trouble for all of us.” He tried to include me in this, to enlist my support of course, by saying that K. would expose me too and I would have to stand trial.

I think not, James.

I told him that K. had been in Japan with Meisinger and then ended up in Chiang’s China and at this point, I thought he was in Taiwan acting as an intelligence source.

Angleton said: “We have friends there. Try to get an address and I’ll have him killed at once.”

Of course I said I would try and then invited him to stay for breakfast. They all like free food and he is no exception.

He kept looking at some of my treasures and I finally told him what he already knows, namely that I have been selling stolen loot for the CIA since 1948.

He knows (James Speyer, ed) Kronthal, their station chief in Bern very well and went on about his art dealings. Angleton is jealous so to draw him further into the web, I gave him two small paintings and a nice gold necklace for Cicely (his wife, ed.). Knowing that they were in all probability stolen in Paris from Jewish collectors, Angleton had no problem taking them home. The rumor is that he is part Jewish on his mother’s side but I am certain his greed overcame his racial unhappiness.

I intend to enlarge on the K. issue and produce some highly incriminating material on Angleton and several other potential troublemakers. I will do this in a spirit of friendly assistance on the face of it but beneath the mask, a warning: I have this now so be very careful where you walk or indeed, you will swing from a rope sometime.

Push the man into a corner but always allow him the ability to make a graceful exit…on your terms only.

James Jesus Angleton was the gray eminence at the CIA. A Yale graduate and well known at that institution as a poet, Angleton went into the OSS and operated in Italy during the war. His father had a business there before the war.

Angleton spied on everyone, including the CIA, bugged everyone’s offices and telephones and made recordings of all kinds of highly compromising conversations that he gleefully played for the voyeuristic enjoyment of Allen Dulles.

When Angleton became head of counterintelligence for the CIA, he continued his unsavory activities, to which he added assassinations. Anyone whom Angleton felt to be a danger to him or his agency was subject to being terminated “with extreme prejudice,” a term invented for CIA murders.

It was a term used extensively during his reign

In 1961, Angleton and several of his associates developed a dislike of Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary General of the United Nations. Angleton felt that Hammarskjöld, who was attempting to interfere in the CIA-instigated upheaval in the mineral-rich Belgian Congo, was not properly oriented to the CIA’s goals and the former Swedish foreign minister’s aircraft was sabotaged near Ndola in Zambia. The Secretary General died in the crash.

In 1963, furious that President Kennedy was secretly planning to establish a rapprochement with Fidel Castro and also because of his firing of Allen Dulles as head of the CIA, Angleton became involved in a successful plot to assassinate the president.

A considerable body of documentation exists, one is told, on these subjects and as distant felonies become nothing more than interesting history, perhaps much of this will surface in one forum or another. Dean Swift’s description of the proceedings of the Academy of Laputa, while bitter satire, are very close to the mark indeed.



From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2016, Issue No. 47

May 31, 2016


The size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile as of September 30, 2015 — 4,571 weapons — and the number of U.S. nuclear weapons that were dismantled in FY 2015 — 109 of them — were declassified and disclosed last week.

The latest figures came as a disappointment to arms control and disarmament advocates who favor sharp reductions in global nuclear inventories.

The new numbers “show that the Obama administration has reduced the U.S. stockpile less than any other post-Cold War administration, and that the number of warheads dismantled in 2015 was lowest since President Obama took office,” wrote Hans M. Kristensen in the FAS Strategic Security blog.

But precisely because the new disclosure casts an unflattering light on the Obama Administration, it also represents a triumph of transparency. Since it is at odds with the Administration’s own declared agenda, the release enables the press and the public to exact a measure of accountability.

“The new figures […] underscored the striking gap between Mr. Obama’s soaring vision of a world without nuclear arms, which he laid out during the first months of his presidency, and the tough geopolitical and bureaucratic realities of actually getting rid of those weapons,” wrote William J. Broad in the New York Times on May 26.

“Obama calls for end to nuclear weapons, but U.S. disarmament is slowest since 1980,” as a Washington Post headline put it on May 27.

News stories credited the Department of Defense for the “annual public release” of the stockpile information. But it is a bit more complicated than that.

The nuclear stockpile size was classified as “Formerly Restricted Data” (FRD) under the Atomic Energy Act. As such, it had to be cooperatively declassified by both the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. And the declassification of FRD does not occur regularly or spontaneously.

“It is not the policy of the DoD/DOE to release such numbers automatically,” said Andrew Weston-Dawkes, the director of the DOE Office of Classification. Instead, consideration is given to declassification of specific information as it is requested. In this case, release of the 2015 stockpile figures was requested by the Federation of American Scientists in an October 2015 petition.

“The declassification of stockpile numbers was a direct result of your request for the information,” Dr. Weston-Dawkes wrote in an email. “Your request was reviewed by the DoD-FRD working group and in turn approved by the DoD and the DOE.”

Until the Obama Administration declassified it for the first time in 2010, the current size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal had never been officially made public. (Historical stockpile numbers up to 1961 were released in the 1990s.)

Columnists and commentators are in the habit of mocking President Obama’s promise that his would be the most transparent Administration in history. But when it comes to nuclear stockpile information, that promise has been fulfilled.


The Central Intelligence Agency said that it will disclose four previously unacknowledged Cold War covert actions. The four have not yet been publicly identified, but they will be addressed in forthcoming editions of the U.S. State Department’s official Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series.

“In 2015 [CIA] agreed to acknowledge four covert actions that will be documented in future volumes (of FRUS),” according to a new annual report from the State Department Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation for calendar year 2015.

CIA spokesperson Ryan Trapani declined to say what those four covert actions are.

“CA [covert action] programs are not officially declassified until done so by FRUS, so you have to wait for its formal announcement,” Mr. Trapani said by email.

The FRUS series has been a significant driver of the national security declassification program, particularly since a 1991 statute required that FRUS must present a “thorough, accurate, and reliable” documentary history of U.S. foreign relations — which necessarily includes information that was classified at the time — within 30 years of the events in question.

The State Department has never yet complied with that 30 year deadline, but the new Advisory Committee report indicates the situation is improving. “It is likely that HO [the State Department Office of the Historian] will finally meet its statutory thirty-year timeline as it publishes more volumes in the Reagan administration series over the next few years.”

The Committee report was complimentary towards the CIA, citing “the very positive relationship HO has developed with CIA over the past several years [which] has paid dividends. CIA consistently reviews both specific documents and compiled volumes in a timely manner….”

“Nevertheless, the frequent reliance on covert actions in the Reagan and subsequent administrations will doubtless require lengthy declassification processes that will inevitably delay publication of a significant number of volumes beyond the 30-year target,” the report said.

One specific area of disappointment is the failure to release the long-deferred FRUS volume on the 1953 coup in Iran.

“Owing to the currently volatile relationship between the United States and Iran…, the State Department continues to withhold its approval for publishing the eagerly anticipated retrospective volume on Iran 1953,” the Committee report noted.

The status of the Iran volume is expected to be on the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the State Department Advisory Committee on June 6.


Most public controversy concerning the Congressional Research Service revolves around the question of whether Congress should authorize CRS to make its reports publicly available, or whether unauthorized access to CRS reports is a satisfactory alternative.

But a more urgent question is whether CRS itself will survive as a center of intellectual and analytical vitality. Already many of its most deeply knowledgeable and experienced specialists have been lost to retirement or attrition. And recurring budget shortfalls are taking a toll, say congressional supporters.

“According to CRS, recent funding levels have led to a loss of 13 percent of its purchasing power since 2010. The $1 million increase [proposed in the House version of the FY2017 Legislative Appropriations Act] will not even cover mandatory pay for CRS’ current staff,” wrote Reps. Nita Lowey and Debbie Wasserman Schultz in dissenting views attached to the House Appropriations Committee report on the FY 2017 bill.

“CRS’s [FY2017] budget request sought to rebuild the agency. They asked for two defense policy staff, five health policy staff, three education policy staff, two budget/appropriations staff, four technology policy staff, and two data management and analysis staff. None of those staff would be funded under the current bill, depriving Congress of a non-biased analysis of these critical policy areas,” Reps. Lowey and Wasserman Schultz wrote.

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service last week included the following.

OSHA Rule Makes Workplace Injury and Illness Data Publicly Available, CRS Legal Sidebar, May 25, 2016

Status of the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa: Overview and Issues for Congress, May 25, 2016

Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Hypervelocity Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 25, 2016

Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 26, 2016

Fact Sheet: FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) DOD Reform Proposals, May 25, 2016

Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 25, 2016

Taliban Leadership Succession, CRS Insight, May 26, 2016

Who is a “Veteran”? — Basic Eligibility for Veterans’ Benefits, updated May 25, 2016

Military Funeral Honors for Veterans, May 25, 2016

Appeals Court Delivers Devastating Blow to Cellphone-Privacy Advocates

May 31 2016

by Jenna McLaughlin

The Intercept

Courts across the country are grappling with a key question for the information age: When law enforcement asks a company for cellphone records to track location data in an investigation, is that a search under the Fourth Amendment?

By a 12-3 vote, appellate court judges in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday ruled that it is not — and therefore does not require a warrant.The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld what is known as the third-party doctrine: a legal theory suggesting that consumers who knowingly and willingly surrender information to third parties therefore have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” in that information — regardless of how much information there is, or how revealing it is.

Research clearly shows that cell-site location data collected over time can reveal a tremendous amount of personal information — like where you live, where you work, when you travel, who you meet with, and who you sleep with. And it’s impossible to make a call without giving up your location to the cellphone company.

“Supreme Court precedent mandates this conclusion,” Judge Diana Motz wrote in the majority opinion. “For the Court has long held that an individual enjoys no Fourth Amendment protection ‘in information he voluntarily turns over to [a] third part[y].’” The quote was from the 1979 Supreme Court case Smith v. Maryland.

The 5th, 6th, and 11th circuits have reached the same conclusion.

However, there’s been a lot of disagreement within the lower courts and among privacy advocates that the third-party doctrine is consistent with the way people live their lives in the digital age — primarily on their cellphones.

A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit in fact first ruled last August that getting cell-site records in bulk did constitute a search, triggering a warrant requirement. In the case, United States v. Graham, the government obtained 221 days’ worth of records belonging to a robbery suspect in Baltimore.

The panel’s opinion relied heavily on a separate legal theory, called mosaic theory, to come to that conclusion: the argument that even if one instance of evidence gathering doesn’t count as a search, asking for a large number of data points can eventually amount to one.

For a while, it looked like there might be a split in the lower courts that would require the Supreme Court to reconsider the third-party doctrine.

But now that the 4th Circuit has ruled, that seems less likely.

The three judges in the minority wrote a strongly worded dissent.

“Only time will tell whether our society will prove capable of preserving age-old privacy protections in this increasingly networked era. But one thing is sure: this Court’s decision today will do nothing to advance that effort. I dissent,” Judge James Wynn wrote, joined by Henry Floyd and Stephanie Thacker.

“This is a sign that lower courts are still following the third-party doctrine,” Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University Law School, wrote in an email to The Intercept. “I think the 4th Circuit correctly applied Supreme Court law. But that doesn’t tell us what the Supreme Court might do.”

While this case “removes the circuit split,” he wrote, a Supreme Court consideration of third-party doctrine issues “will probably happen eventually.”

Nate Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said he remains hopeful.

“In virtually every one of these cases, there have been very strong dissents. That in itself is a very strong message to the Supreme Court,” he said.

He also pointed out that many judges in the majority on these cases have signaled that it may be time for the Supreme Court to revisit the issue. And in several of the appellate cases, judges have called on Congress to do something about it.

Congress is poised to consider the privacy implications of searching stored emails, Wessler said, pointing to popular reform in Congress of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which passed the House unanimously, requiring law enforcement to get a warrant to search old emails.

“Hopefully they can muster the same for location information,” he said.

18 women allegedly sexually assaulted at Germany music festival, 3 refugees arrested

May 31, 2016


Eighteen women in Germany have filed complaints to police saying they were sexually assaulted at a musical festival in Darmstadt. Police arrested three refugees from Pakistan at the scene after three of the women immediately reported their attacks.

The sexual assaults are reported to have taken place at the Schlossgrabenfest music festival in the city of Darmstadt, near Frankfurt, on Saturday night.  Three of the women immediately alerted police at the festival that they had been assaulted. They said they had been surrounded and then sexually harassed by a group of men who were of South Asian appearance.

“Unfortunately several women were sexually harassed on Saturday, when the dance floor area was completely packed,” the police said in a statement, as cited by Die Welt.

However, due to the quick intervention by the law enforcement officers, they were able to apprehend three suspects, who are asylum seekers from Pakistan and aged between 28 and 31. Police say that there could be more who took part in the attacks that are still at large.

Since the arrests were made, a further 15 women have come forward since Tuesday, to say they were sexually assaulted at the festival.

The women added that the pattern of the attacks was similar, as they were surrounded by a group of men, who proceeded to assault them sexually.

The festival in Darmstadt took place over four days and attracted some 400,000 revelers.

These attacks come just over two weeks after two female teenagers, 17- and 18-years-old, were sexually harassed by a group of 10 men during a street festival in Berlin.

The men allegedly pressed against the teens and groped them, blocking their attempts to escape.

Police arrested three teenagers aged between 14 and 17 at the scene, while they tweeted that the three suspects were known to the police from prior incidents, adding that “two are of Turkish descent and the third is [of] unknown [origin].”

These attacks in May were reminiscent of numerous allegations of sexual assaults being reported in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. Some 1,049 people said they were victims of attacks allegedly committed by men of North African and the Middle Eastern descent, while about 821 complaints were filed with the police.

German police were heavily criticized for their perceived lack of activity during the New Year’s Eve celebrations in the city as well as for their poor investigations into the crimes. Cologne Police Chief Wolfgang Albers resigned a week after the incident.

Germany has taken steps to try and assimilate asylum seekers into German culture, with one education center even holding classes to explain to refugees how they should interact with women in Germany.

The German government will allocate nearly €94 billion (US$105 billion) for incoming refugees over the next five years. The money will be used for housing, integration, German language courses and social welfare benefits, as well as dealing with the underlying causes of the refugee influx.

The Federal Finance Ministry expects around 600,000 refugees to enter Germany in 2016, some 400,000 in 2017 and about 300,000 each consecutive year. In 2015, an estimated 1.1 million arrived in Germany seeking asylum.

However, not everyone is taking kindly to the mass arrivals of asylum seekers, mainly from the Middle East and North Africa, with German police recording 45 cases of arson at refugee centers since the start of the year, while there have been calls for Chancellor Angela Merkel to cap the number of refugees entering Germany.

“The majority don’t have a clue how to approach the opposite sex in this country,” said sex therapist Christian Zech, who works with the Pro-Familia center, specializing in sexuality, partnership and family planning.


Jets bomb Syrian rebel group Ahrar al Sham’s main camp, large numbers killed: monitor

May 31, 2016

by Suleiman Al-Khalidi


Unidentified jets bombed a major camp of the powerful Islamist Ahrar al Sham insurgent group in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, leaving a large number of dead and wounded, a monitor reported on Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said top trainers from among Ahrar al Sham’s leaders were normally at the camp located in the Sheikh Bahar area of rural Idlib.

The insurgent group could not be reached comment. Syrian warplanes over the past 24 hours have intensified raids in the province, which is mainly in the hands of Ahrar al Sham and the Nusra Front, an al Qaeda offshoot.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

German MPs receive threatening emails over plans to recognize Armenian genocide

June 1, 2016


Thousands of emails have been reportedly sent out by the Turkish community to German MPs, threatening the politicians and calling them names in connection with Berlin’s latest attempts to recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide.

Berlin is looking to adopt a resolution, titled “Remembrance and commemoration of the genocide of Armenians and other Christian minorities in the years 1915 and 1916” this Thursday.

The legislation, which has strained German-Turkish relations, is largely being supported by the opposition Greens in Germany, Merkel’s conservative bloc and Social Democrats.

The document has the word “genocide” in its headline and the text that reads “the fate of the Armenians is exemplary in the history of mass exterminations, ethnic cleansing, deportations and yes, genocide, which marked the 20th century in such a terrible way.”

The document also mentions the “inglorious” role of the German Empire, which was the Ottomans’ ally in World War I and did nothing to stop the atrocities.

Over 500 different Turkish organizations in Germany have sent out emails to their local MPs and journalists covering the subject, Germany’s Spiegel Online reported. Turkish citizens have also reached out privately via social media.

Some emails crossed a line, intimidating politicians and threatening the lives of journalists.

Chairman of the German Greens, Cem Ozdemir, who is of Turkish origin, was one of the MPs who received abusive messages via email, Twitter and Facebook.

“It’s always the same terms: ‘Traitor,’ ‘Armenia’s pig’, ‘son of a bitch’, ‘Armenian Terrorist’ and even ‘Nazi’,” he told ARD.

The most common letter sent out stated: “More than 90 percent of the Turkish population rightly rejects the genocide accusation and interprets it as slander.” It then warns that if the resolution is passed, it will “poison the peaceful coexistence between Germans and Turks in this country, and also in Turkey,” Spiegel reported.

Journalists covering Germany’s attempts to recognize the Armenian genocide also received threats such as: “You will be eliminated,” or “Your end will be like that of Hrant Dink [the Turkish-Armenian journalist who was shot in January 2007 by right-wing extremists in Istanbul].”

Armenians also sent out letters supporting the resolution. “Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is important to prevent other genocides in the future,” the spokesman of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Tigran Balayan, told AFP.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined the conversation on Tuesday, warning Germany that if it proceeds with its Armenian genocide resolution, it would hurt the bilateral ties between the two nations.

“If Germany is to be deceived by this, then bilateral diplomatic, economic, trade, political, and military ties – we are both NATO countries – will be damaged,” Erdogan told reporters.

The parliamentary vote was originally scheduled to take place a year ago to mark the 100th anniversary of the genocide, but due to concerns over the fallout with Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s allies postponed the move.

The mass killings began on April 24, 1915, when 250 Armenian intellectuals were detained by Ottoman authorities and later executed in their capital, Constantinople, which is now present-day Istanbul.

Most of the Ottoman Empire’s Armenians were subsequently displaced, deported or placed in concentration camps, ostensibly for rebelling against the Ottomans and siding with the Russians during World War I. This affected up to 1.5 million Armenians.

Earlier this year, thousands of people around the globe took to the streets to commemorate the 1915 massacre.

Turkey – the successor of the Ottoman Empire – agrees that many Armenians were mistreated at the time, but maintains that the number of victims has been grossly exaggerated and that there was no “genocide.”

Turkey’s Erdogan warns Germany ahead of Armenian genocide vote

Turkish President Erdogan has warned Germany of consequences if it passes an Armenian genocide resolution. Berlin and Ankara’s deep cultural, economic, political and military ties could sour at a critical time.

May 31, 2016


Turkey’s Erdogan warns Germany ahead of Armenian genocide vote

Turkish President Erdogan has warned Germany of consequences if it passes an Armenian genocide resolution. Berlin and Ankara’s deep cultural, economic, political and military ties could sour at a critical time.

Türkei Ankara Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Germany on Tuesday against labeling the mass death of Armenians during World War I as “genocide,” a sensitive move that could damage relations at a critical juncture.

German lawmakers are expected to pass the resolution on Thursday, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and their coalition partner, the Social Democrats, as well as the Greens backing the measure.

Before heading on a trip to Africa on Tuesday, Erdogan told reporters the resolution’s passage would “naturally damage future diplomatic, economic, business, political and military relations between the two countries – and we are both also NATO countries.”

Erdogan also initiated a call with Merkel on Tuesday, Turkish state-run Anatolia Agency reported.

As the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey officially denies that the events that started in 1915 amounted to genocide and has lashed out at countries that have officially recognized the term.

When France formally called the displacements and killings genocide in 2011, Turkey temporarily recalled its ambassador; it did the same thing to Austria last year. It has threatened the US with the closure of critical NATO bases if the US Congress passes a resolution.

The German resolution comes at a time when Merkel is relying on Turkey to implement a migrant deal with the EU. The controversial deal has already faced difficulty over Turkish demands for visa-free travel to the bloc. Erdogan’s allies have threatened to unleash a wave of migrants on Europe if the country’s demands are not met.

It also comes amid mounting concern over human rights in Turkey, Erdogan’s authoritarian bent and spillover from the war in Syria. Domestically, the resolution could stir emotions among Germany’s 3 million-strong Turkish minority.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday he didn’t believe passing the resolution would cause problems with Germany’s Turkish community. However, he did voice popular concern that passing the resolution would trigger an unproductive response from Turkey and hamper efforts at reconciliation with Armenia.

Backing away from passing the resolution could renew criticism that Merkel is appeasing Erdogan. She has already come under criticism for allowing an investigation into a German comedian who insulted the Turkish president in a poem.

Militating against a sharp and sustained Turkish response against a genocide resolution is Germany’s position as Ankara’s top trading partner.

The resolution and German culpability

The resolution up for vote on Thursday uses the world “genocide” in both the headline and the text.

“The fate of the Armenians is exemplary in the history of mass exterminations, ethnic cleansing, deportations and yes, genocide, which marked the 20th century in such a terrible way,” it reads.

It also notes that Germany, as an ally of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, “bears partial responsibility for the events.”

Last April 24, on the 100th anniversary of what Armenians call the Great Crime, the Bundestag postponed voting on a similar resolution to classify the mass killings as genocide. Yet German President Joachim Gauck used the term, drawing criticism from Turkey.

At the time, the governing coalition opted not to vote on the resolution, but the Greens led by Cem Ozdemir, an ethnic Turk, forced a vote this year.

Turkey officially refers to what happened as the “Events of 1915” and denies that the massacres and deportations amounted to genocide. The official line is that ethnic Armenians represented a fifth column backed by Russia during World War I, and that the mass deportation and accompanying Armenian deaths were not premeditated or intentional – a key requirement in the legal definition of genocide.

Officials in Turkey put the number of Armenians who died at around 500,000, while Armenia puts the number at about 1.5 million out of a prewar population of some 2 million. Turkish officials also point out that hundreds of thousands of Muslims died from combat, starvation, cold and disease in eastern Anatolia during the war. Armenians have documented systematic mass murder, organized banditry, raping of women, pillaging of property and other atrocities.

Nearly 30 countries have formally recognized the massacres as genocide. Keen to avoid irking a key ally, the United States has avoided using the term, although more than 40 US state legislatures have passed genocide resolutions.

Russia overtakes Saudi Arabian crude output

May 31, 2016


Russian oil production in March outpaced Saudi Arabia, according to the data from the Russian Federal Statistics Service Rosstat published Monday. Russian producers extracted almost 10.92 million barrels a day compared to 10.12 produced by Saudi Arabia.

OPEC members produced over 32 million barrels a day throughout the first three months of this year.

In February, Saudi Arabia led production with a similar quantity, with Russia close behind pumping 10.03 million barrels per day.

Russia sold oil worth more than $10 billion through March this year, according to the data. Crude sales made up 23 percent of Russian exports compared to 25.2 percent in the same period of 2015.

Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak doesn’t expect the global oil market to recover until the end of 2017. “I think we will see the end of the respective cycle and the recovery of the market by the end of 2017,” he said at the Vestifinance forum, Sunday.

The share of oil in the global economy will go down from 32 to 26 percent by 2040, while the share of gas as a more environmentally friendly energy source is expected to rise, according the minister.

As global crude production outpaced global demand, oil prices in January plunged to $28 per barrel from $110 per barrel in June 2014. Since then prices have stabilized near $50 per barrel.

US issues summer travel alert for Europe warning of ‘greater targets for terrorists’

US state department alert said France’s state of emergency covers Euro 2016 and Tour de France in aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels

May 31, 2016

by Ciara McCarthy

The Guardian

The US state department has issued a travel alert for Europe, cautioning Americans that the influx of summer tourists and a series of high-profile events “will present greater targets for terrorists planning attacks in public locations”.

“We are alerting US citizens to the risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe, targeting major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers and transportation,” department officials wrote.

The alert came just hours after the French president, François Hollande, said that terrorism remained the biggest threat to the Uefa Euro 2016 football championship, which is scheduled in June and July.

Announcing the alert, the state department said: “Euro Cup stadiums, fan zones, and unaffiliated entertainment venues broadcasting the tournaments in France and across Europe represent potential targets for terrorists, as do other large-scale sporting events and public gathering places throughout Europe.”

The alert noted that France has extended its state of emergency through 26 July to cover the championship and the Tour de France.

The State Department also mentioned the Catholic church’s World Youth Day, which begins 26 July in Krakow, which it said is expected to draw 2.5 million visitors.

The travel alert follows terrorist attacks in November in Paris and in March in Brussels, which killed 130 and 32 people respectively. The US previously issued a global travel alert following the attacks in Paris, and issued a travel alert for Europe specially after the attacks in Brussels. In March, the State Department encouraged citizens to “exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation”.

Unlike travel warnings, travel alerts are issued for a defined period of time around short-term events, according to the state department’s website. Travel warnings are issued when the state department wants “you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all”.

The travel alert for Europe is scheduled to expire on 31 August.

Congress Boosts Rehab but Gives Opioid Pushers a Pass

May 31 2016

by Lee Fang

The Intercept

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are proudly touting recently passed measures to address the nation’s growing heroin and opioid crisis, but the legislation may have handed the drug companies at the center of the epidemic a major victory.

The legislation focuses on treating addiction and does nothing to limit the role of pharmaceutical companies in fueling the opioid crisis. In fact, it instructs the federal government to review and potentially undo sweeping new guidelines that recommend less prescribing of highly addictive opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin.

The review panel would be made up of a range of stakeholders including pain management groups, many of which are financially tied to the drug industry.

Four out of five people addicted to heroin began using it after trying prescription opioid painkillers, which provide a similar high. Investigations have found that drug companies orchestrated much of the epidemic by promoting claims that opioids are not addictive and by financing third-party groups that promote opioid painkillers for minor pains, such as toothaches.

Now the boldest effort to curb the flow of legal opioids may face a setback.

The Centers for Disease Control issued new guidelines in March to encourage doctors to prescribe opioids with low dosages, and only after other pain relief treatments, such as ibuprofen, have been tried. Since the voluntary guidelines were first leaked online last year, the drug industry has reacted furiously, even convening regularly in Washington to discuss how to derail the proposal. A legal group funded by the makers of OxyContin threatened the CDC with a lawsuit.

The legislation, which passed the House and Senate and is currently in conference committee, calls for the prescribing guidelines to be reviewed and potentially changed by a new panel made up of representatives from a range of stakeholders, and for the revisions to incorporate “pain management” expertise from the “private sector.” The legislation calls for the task force to be convened by the end of 2018, and for it to issue a report within 270 days.

“We must make sure that these guidelines are updated and reviewed regularly,” said Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., who co-sponsored one of the House bills now being merged with the Senate version, which contains similar language instructing a new panel to review the guidelines.

The demand for pain advocacy and pain specialists to review the CDC guidelines comes as recent reports show that the leading societies for pain management have been funded and controlled by painkiller companies for years.

One leading pain advocacy group, the Pain Care Forum, is funded and largely controlled by Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin. According to a report from the Associated Press, the Pain Care Forum organized a lobbying campaign last year to defeat the CDC guidelines.

A complaint filed by the city of Chicago found that Burt Rosen, the chief in-house lobbyist for Purdue Pharma, has used pain advocacy groups like the Pain Care Forum to advance his company’s agenda. The complaint alleges that Rosen instructs the Pain Care Forum on “what to do and how we do it.”

The American Pain Foundation, another leading pain advocacy organization, shut down after a ProPublica investigation found that the group received 90 percent of its funding from the drug and medical device industry, and had regularly advocated on behalf of painkiller companies.

The push for a panel to review and modify the CDC guidelines can also be traced to the drug industry.

Endo Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Percocet, retained registered lobbyists who have worked to influence Brooks’s legislation, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., according to disclosures.

Advocacy groups backed by the drug industry have also pushed against CDC guidelines.

“Rep. Susan Brooks’s bill would create a more transparent and inclusive process for the development of best practices in pain management and prescribing pain medications than the CDC used in formulating its opioid prescribing guidelines,” says Michael Barnes, the executive director of the Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence (CLAAD). Barnes is also the managing attorney at a D.C. law firm that specializes in helping drug companies with “legislative and regulatory strategies.”

Earlier this month, Barnes gave a presentation to state legislators in which he decried the CDC guidelines as “affiliated with anti-opioid activists” and praised Brooks’s legislation to create a new process. Barnes’s CLAAD has received funds from Purdue Pharma and Endo.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, dismissed the arguments from CLAAD, calling it a “front group for pharma.” Kolodny said that industry-funded groups like CLAAD “argue that efforts for more cautious prescribing, such as the CDC guideline, are bad for patients with pain” but that “their real agenda is to continue reaping profits from aggressive prescribing.”

As the CDC has reported, 78 Americans die every day from opioid abuse, and the U.S. has become the center of the world opioid market. Despite the U.S. accounting for only about 5 percent of the global population, Americans consume almost all of hydrocodone products, such as Vicodin, and nearly 81 percent of global supply of oxycodone products, such as Percocet.

UK opinion polls indicate shift towards a vote for Brexit in June referendum

New opinion polls in the UK have indicated a move towards voting to leave the European Union in the upcoming referendum. The value of the UK currency fell on the news.

May 31, 2016


One online and one telephone poll for the Guardian newspaper showed the “Out” campaign three points ahead of the “In” supporters.

The polls were conducted over three days to Sunday and followed official figures announced the previous Thursday that British net migration had hit the second highest level on record in 2015.

Polling agency ICM said the polls published on Tuesday gave the “Out” campaign its first lead in one of its telephone surveys. To date, telephone polls have tended to give the “In” campaign a comfortable lead.

Surprise in the City

The result came as a surprise to traders in London’s financial district and the UK currency fell to a one-week low against the US dollar. “Widespread selling for sterling and an immediate flight to safety signifies the fact that markets have been caught napping with an overconfidence that every poll would come out in favor of the ‘remain’ campaign,” said Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG. Within minutes of the poll announcement, the UK pound fell by a cent to $1.45.

ICM’s latest weekly online poll showed voters favoring Britain leave the EU up to 47 percent against 44 percent wanting to stay. In the telephone poll 13 per cent said they did not know, while in the online poll 9 per cent were undecided.

“Our poll rather unhinges a few accepted orthodoxies,” ICM’s director Martin Boon said. “It is only one poll, but in a rather unexpected reverse of polling assumptions so far, both our phone poll and our online poll are consistent on both vote intentions and on the EU referendum.” A high turnout is also indicated..

An opinion poll published on Monday for the Daily Telegraph newspaper showed support for the “Out” campaign rising but still trailing the “In” vote.

British bookmakers still think a “remain” vote is the more likely outcome to the vote on June 23.

 Milestones (Or What Passes for Them in Washington)

A Multi-Trillion-Dollar Bridge to Nowhere in the Greater Middle East

by Andrew J. Bacevich


We have it on highest authority: the recent killing of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour by a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan marks “an important milestone.” So the president of the United States has declared, with that claim duly echoed and implicitly endorsed by media commentary — the New York Times reporting, for example, that Mansour’s death leaves the Taliban leadership “shocked” and “shaken.”

But a question remains: A milestone toward what exactly?

Toward victory? Peace? Reconciliation? At the very least, toward the prospect of the violence abating? Merely posing the question is to imply that U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world serve some larger purpose.

Yet for years now that has not been the case. The assassination of Mansour instead joins a long list of previous milestones, turning points, and landmarks briefly heralded as significant achievements only to prove much less than advertised.

One imagines that Obama himself understands this perfectly well. Just shy of five years ago, he was urging Americans to “take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding.” In Iraq and Afghanistan, the president insisted, “the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance.”

“These long wars,” he promised, were finally coming to a “responsible end.” We were, that is, finding a way out of Washington’s dead-end conflicts in the Greater Middle East.

Who can doubt Obama’s sincerity, or question his oft-expressed wish to turn away from war and focus instead on unattended needs here at home? But wishing is the easy part. Reality has remained defiant. Even today, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that George W. Bush bequeathed to Obama show no sign of ending.

Like Bush, Obama will bequeath to his successor wars he failed to finish. Less remarked upon, he will also pass along to President Clinton or President Trump new wars that are his own handiwork. In Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and several other violence-wracked African nations, the Obama legacy is one of ever-deepening U.S. military involvement.  The almost certain prospect of a further accumulation of briefly celebrated and quickly forgotten “milestones” beckons.

During the Obama era, the tide of war has not receded. Instead, Washington finds itself drawn ever deeper into conflicts that, once begun, become interminable — wars for which the vaunted U.S. military has yet to devise a plausible solution.

The Oldest (Also Latest) Solution: Bombs Away

Once upon a time, during the brief, if heady, interval between the end of the Cold War and 9/11 when the United States ostensibly reigned supreme as the world’s “sole superpower,” Pentagon field manuals credited U.S. forces with the ability to achieve “quick, decisive victory — on and off the battlefield — anywhere in the world and under virtually any conditions.” Bold indeed (if not utterly delusional) would be the staff officer willing to pen such words today.

To be sure, the United States military routinely demonstrates astonishing technical prowess — putting a pair of Hellfire missiles through the roof of the taxi in which Mansour was riding, for example. Yet if winning — that is, ending wars on conditions favorable to our side — offers the measure of merit by which to judge a nation’s military forces, then when put to the test ours have been found wanting.

Not for lack of trying, of course. In their quest for a formula that might actually accomplish the mission, those charged with directing U.S. military efforts in the Greater Middle East have demonstrated notable flexibility. They have employed overwhelming force and “shock-and awe.” They have tried regime change (bumping off Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, for example) and “decapitation” (assassinating Mansour and a host of other militant leaders, including Osama Bin Laden). They have invaded and occupied countries, even giving military-style nation-building a whirl. They have experimented with counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention, retaliatory strikes and preventive war. They have operated overtly, covertly, and through proxies. They have equipped, trained, and advised — and when the beneficiaries of these exertions have folded in the face of the enemy, they have equipped, trained, and advised some more. They have converted American reservists into quasi-regulars, subject to repeated combat tours. In imitation of the corporate world, they have outsourced as well, handing over to profit-oriented “private security” firms functions traditionally performed by soldiers. In short, they have labored doggedly to translate American military power into desired political outcomes.

In this one respect at least, an endless parade of three- and four-star generals exercising command in various theaters over the past several decades have earned high marks. In terms of effort, they deserve an A.

As measured by outcomes, however, they fall well short of a passing grade. However commendable their willingness to cast about for some method that might actually work, they have ended up waging a war of attrition. Strip away the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel reassurances regularly heard at Pentagon press briefings or in testimony presented on Capitol Hill and America’s War for the Greater Middle East proceeds on this unspoken assumption: if we kill enough people for a long enough period of time, the other side will eventually give in.

On that score, the prevailing Washington gripe directed at Commander-in-Chief Obama is that he has not been willing to kill enough. Take, for example, a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by that literary odd couple, retired General David Petraeus and Brookings Institution analyst Michael O’Hanlon, that appeared under the pugnacious headline “Take the Gloves Off Against the Taliban.” To turn around the longest war in American history, Petraeus and O’Hanlon argue, the United States just needs to drop more bombs.

The rules of engagement currently governing air operations in Afghanistan are, in their view, needlessly restrictive. Air power “represents an asymmetric Western advantage, relatively safe to apply, and very effective.” (The piece omits any mention of incidents such as the October 2015 destruction of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the Afghan provincial capital of Kunduz by a U.S. Air Force gunship.) More ordnance will surely produce “some version of victory.” The path ahead is clear. “Simply waging the Afghanistan air-power campaign with the vigor we are employing in Iraq and Syria,” the authors write with easy assurance, should do the trick.

When armchair generals cite the ongoing U.S. campaign in Iraq and Syria as a model of effectiveness, you know that things must be getting desperate.

Granted, Petraeus and O’Hanlon are on solid ground in noting that as the number of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan has decreased, so, too, has the number of air strikes targeting the Taliban. Back when more allied boots were on the ground, more allied planes were, of course, overhead. And yet the 100,000 close-air-support sorties flown between 2011 and 2015 — that’s more than one sortie per Taliban fighter — did not, alas, yield “some version of victory.” In short, we’ve already tried the Petraeus-O’Hanlon take-the-gloves-off approach to defeating the Taliban. It didn’t work. With the Afghanistan War’s 15th anniversary now just around the corner, to suggest that we can bomb our way to victory there is towering nonsense.

In Washington, Big Thinking and Small

Petraeus and O’Hanlon characterize Afghanistan as “the eastern bulwark in our broader Middle East fight.” Eastern sinkhole might be a more apt description. Note, by the way, that they have nothing useful to say about the “broader fight” to which they allude. Yet that broader fight — undertaken out of the conviction, still firmly in place today, that American military assertiveness can somehow repair the Greater Middle East — is far more deserving of attention than how to employ very expensive airplanes against insurgents armed with inexpensive Kalashnikovs.

To be fair, in silently passing over the broader fight, Petraeus and O’Hanlon are hardly alone. On this subject no one has much to say — not other stalwarts of the onward-to-victory school, nor officials presently charged with formulating U.S. national security policy, nor members of the Washington commentariat eager to pontificate about almost anything. Worst of all, the subject is one on which each of the prospective candidates for the presidency is mum.

From Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford on down to the lowliest blogger, opinions about how best to wage a particular campaign in that broader fight are readily available. Need a plan for rolling back the Islamic State? Glad you asked. Concerned about that new ISIS franchise in Libya? Got you covered. Boko Haram? Here’s what you need to know. Losing sleep over Al-Shabab? Take heart — big thinkers are on the case.

As to the broader fight itself, however, no one has a clue. Indeed, it seems fair to say that merely defining our aims in that broader fight, much less specifying the means to achieve them, heads the list of issues that people in Washington studiously avoid. Instead, they prattle endlessly about the Taliban and ISIS and Boko Haram and al-Shabab.

Here’s the one thing you need to know about the broader fight: there is no strategy. None. Zilch. We’re on a multi-trillion-dollar bridge to nowhere, with members of the national security establishment more or less content to see where it leads.

May I suggest that we find ourselves today in what might be called a Khe Sanh moment? Older readers will recall that back in late 1967 and early 1968 in the midst of the Vietnam War, one particular question gripped the national security establishment and those paid to attend to its doings: Can Khe Sanh hold?

Now almost totally forgotten, Khe Sanh was then a battlefield as well known to Americans as Fallujah was to become in our own day. Located in the northern part of South Vietnam, it was the site of a besieged and outnumbered Marine garrison, surrounded by two full enemy divisions. In the eyes of some observers, the outcome of the Vietnam War appeared to hinge on the ability of the Marines there to hold out — to avoid the fate that had befallen the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu slightly more than a decade earlier. For France, the fall of Dien Bien Phu had indeed spelled final defeat in Indochina.

Was history about to repeat itself at Khe Sanh? As it turned out, no… and yes.

The Marines did hold — a milestone! — and the United States lost the war anyway.

In retrospect, it seems pretty clear that those responsible for formulating U.S. policy back then fundamentally misconstrued the problem at hand. Rather than worrying about the fate of Khe Sanh, they ought to have been asking questions like these: Is the Vietnam War winnable? Does it even make sense? If not, why are we there? And above all, does no alternative exist to simply pressing on with a policy that shows no signs of success?

Today the United States finds itself in a comparable situation. What to do about the Taliban or ISIS is not a trivial question. Much the same can be said regarding the various other militant organizations with which U.S. forces are engaged in a variety of countries — many now failing states — across the Greater Middle East.

But the question of how to take out organization X or put country Y back together pales in comparison with the other questions that should by now have come to the fore but haven’t. Among the most salient are these: Does waging war across a large swath of the Islamic world make sense? When will this broader fight end? What will it cost? Short of reducing large parts of the Middle East to rubble, is that fight winnable in any meaningful sense? Above all, does the world’s most powerful nation have no other choice but to persist in pursuing a manifestly futile endeavor?

Try this thought experiment. Imagine the opposing candidates in a presidential campaign each refusing to accept war as the new normal. Imagine them actually taking stock of the broader fight that’s been ongoing for decades now. Imagine them offering alternatives to armed conflicts that just drag on and on. Now that would be a milestone.

Phony Kurds in Syria

May 27, 2016

by Paul Pillar

National Interest

Creeping escalation characterizes U.S. military involvement in Syria. What had been fifty American troops on the ground expanded to three hundred beginning last month. Official descriptions of this contingent as not being directly involved in combat become increasingly difficult to swallow as piecemeal reports of the Americans’ activity become available.

The latest detail, which is disturbing on multiple grounds, is that some of the U.S. troops have been wearing on their uniforms the insignia of the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit, or YPG, while fighting against ISIS in northern Syria. A Pentagon spokesman told reporters that “special-operations forces, when they operate in certain areas, do what they can to blend in with the community to enhance their own protection, their own security.” An officer speaking for the U.S. Special Forces Command Middle East had a somewhat different explanation, saying that “U.S. Special Operations Forces and their counterparts typically swap unit patches as a method to build trust … This is a tactical decision and not a reflection of U.S. Government policy.” A day later a Baghdad-based spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve walked the matter back farther, saying, “Wearing those YPG patches was unauthorized and inappropriate, and corrective action has been taken.”

The Turkish government, unsurprisingly, was irate about the wearing of the patches. Ankara always has opposed any assistance to the YPG, which is the armed wing of a Syrian Kurdish group that Turkey considers to be in effect part of the PKK, the Kurdish group that has long fought an armed campaign against Turkey. Wearing YPG insignia takes things a step further. It says in effect not only that the United States finds the YPG useful in fighting against ISIS in Syria but that it identifies with YPG goals generally. The Turkish foreign minister angrily and sarcastically replied to the Pentagon’s explanation about force protection, “In that case, we would recommend they use the patches of Daesh [ISIS], al-Nusra and al-Qaida when they go to other parts of Syria and of Boko Haram when they go to Africa.”

The broader symbolism of U.S. troops identifying with a local militia goes well beyond upsetting the Turks. The symbolism gets to the broader problem of the United States in effect subordinating itself to the goals and interests of some of the parties to local conflicts. That problem has become more difficult to avoid the more deeply the United States wades into the complicated and messy Syrian civil war. This episode brings to mind, despite the differences, the use by Russia in Ukraine of “little green men”—Russian troops wearing uniforms without any markings indicating that’s who they were. Both instances involve a manipulation of insignia, although in the U.S. case there is no official attempt to deny the presence of U.S. soldiers in Syria. The false-front aspects of wearing someone else’s insignia, as with wearing no insignia at all, tend to feed suspicions of what undeclared shenanigans the United States is up to. Russian propagandists are probably thinking of ways to exploit the episode.

Uniforms and the patches on them may seem of trivial importance compared to many other things in warfare, but they aren’t. They are, among other things, important aspects of the law of war, in distinguishing each belligerent’s combatants from civilians and from other side’s combatants. The U.S. troops sent to Syria have a very difficult job, given the confusion about objectives and priorities that have plagued the U.S. involvement in this multi-sided conflict. A move that can look like hiding behind the skirts of a Kurdish resistance group is one reflection of that confusion.

Official Domestic Control

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

In April 1984, President Reagan signed Presidential Directorate Number 54 that allowed FEMA to engage in a secret national “readiness exercise” under the code name of REX 84. The exercise was to test FEMA’s readiness to assume military authority in the event of a “State of Domestic National Emergency” concurrent with the launching of a direct United States military operation in Central America. The plan called for the deputation of U.S. military and National Guard units so that they could legally be used for domestic law enforcement. These units would be assigned to conduct sweeps and take into custody an estimated 400,000 undocumented Central American immigrants in the United States. The immigrants would be interned at 10 detention centers to be set up at military bases throughout the country. REX 84 was so highly guarded that special metal security doors were placed on the fifth floor of the FEMA building in Washington, D.C. Even long-standing employees of the Civil Defense of the Federal Executive Department possessing the highest possible security clearances were not being allowed through the newly installed metal security doors. Only personnel wearing a special red Christian cross or crucifix lapel pin were allowed into the premises. Lt. Col. North was responsible for drawing up the emergency plan, which U.S. Attorney General William French Smith opposed vehemently.

The plan called for the suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the government over to FEMA, appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments and the declaration of Martial Law. The Presidential Executive Orders to support such a plan were already in place. The plan also advocated the rounding up and transfer to “assembly centers or relocation camps” of a least 21 million American Negroes in the event of massive rioting or disorder, not unlike the rounding up of the Jews in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

The second known time that FEMA stood by was in 1990 when Desert Storm was enacted. Prior to President Bush’s invasion of Iraq, FEMA began to draft new legislation to increase its already formidable powers. One of the elements incorporated into the plan was to set up operations within any state or locality without the prior permission of local or state authorities. Such prior permission has always been required in the past. Much of the mechanism being set into place was in anticipation of the economic collapse of the Western World. The war with Iraq may have been conceived as a ploy to boost the bankrupt economy, but it only pushed the West into deeper recession.

Rex 84, short for Readiness Exercise 1984, was a classified “scenario and drill” developed by the United States federal government to suspend the United States Constitution, declare martial law, place military commanders in charge of state and local governments, and detain large numbers of American citizens who are deemed to be “national security threats”, in the event that the President declares a “State of National Emergency”. The plan states, events causing such a declaration would be widespread U.S. opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad, such as if the United States were to directly invade Central America. To combat what the government perceived as “subversive activities”, the plan also authorized the military to direct ordered movements of civilian populations at state and regional levels.

Rex 84 was written by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who was both National Security Council White House Aide, and NSC liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and John Brinkerhoff, the deputy director of “national preparedness” programs for the FEMA. They patterned the plan on a 1970 report written by FEMA chief Louis Giuffrida, at the Army War College, which proposed the detention of up to 21 million “American Negroes”, if there were a black militant uprising in the United States. Existence of a master military contingency plan (of which REX-84 was a part), “Garden Plot” and a similar earlier exercise, “Lantern Spike”, were originally revealed by journalist Ron Ridenhour, who summarized his findings in an article in CounterSpy.

Operation Cable Splicer and Garden Plot are the two sub programs which will be implemented once the Rex 84 program is initiated for its proper purpose. Garden Plot is the program to control the population. Cable Splicer is the program for an orderly takeover of the state and local governments by the federal government. FEMA is the executive arm of the coming police state and thus will head up all operations. The Presidential Executive Orders already listed on the Federal Register also are part of the legal framework for this operation.

The camps all have railroad facilities as well as roads leading to and from the detention facilities. Many also have an airport nearby. The majority of the camps can house a population of 20,000 prisoners. Currently, the largest of these facilities is just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. The Alaskan facility is a massive mental health facility and can hold approximately 2 million people.

Executive Orders associated with FEMA that would suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These Executive Orders have been on record for nearly 30 years and could be enacted by the stroke of a Presidential pen:

EXECUTIVE ORDER 10990 allows the government to take over all modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 10995 allows the government to seize and control the communication media.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 10997 allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels and minerals.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 10998 allows the government to seize all means of transportation, including personal cars, trucks or vehicles of any kind and total control over all highways, seaports, and waterways.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 10999 allows the government to take over all food resources and farms.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11000 allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11001 allows the government to take over all health, education and welfare functions.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11002 designates the Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11003 allows the government to take over all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11004 allows the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate communities, build new housing with public funds, designate areas to be abandoned, and establish new locations for populations.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11005 allows the government to take over railroads, inland waterways and public storage facilities. EXECUTIVE ORDER 11051 specifies the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Planning and gives authorization to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or financial crisis.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11310 grants authority to the Department of Justice to enforce the plans set out in Executive Orders, to institute industrial support, to establish judicial and legislative liaison, to control all aliens, to operate penal and correctional institutions, and to advise and assist the President.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11049 assigns emergency preparedness function to federal departments and agencies, consolidating 21 operative Executive Orders issued over a fifteen year period.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 11921 allows the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency to develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national emergency. It also provides that when a state of emergency is declared by the President, Congress cannot review the action for six months. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has broad powers in every aspect of the nation. General Frank Salzedo, chief of FEMA’s Civil Security Division stated in a 1983 conference that he saw FEMA’s role as a “new frontier in the protection of individual and governmental leaders from assassination, and of civil and military installations from sabotage and/or attack, as well as prevention of dissident groups from gaining access to U.S. opinion, or a global audience in times of crisis.” FEMA’s powers were consolidated by President Carter to incorporate the…

National Security Act of 1947 allows for the strategic relocation of industries, services, government and other essential economic activities, and to rationalize the requirements for manpower, resources and production facilities.

1950 Defense Production Act gives the President sweeping powers over all aspects of the economy.

Act of August 29, 1916 authorizes the Secretary of the Army, in time of war, to take possession of any transportation system for transporting troops, material, or any other purpose related to the emergency.

International Emergency Economic Powers Act enables the President to seize the property of a foreign country or national. These powers were transferred to FEMA in a sweeping consolidation in 1979.


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