TBR News June 17, 2011

Jun 17 2011

The Voice of the White House

“Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence
by Christian Parenti

The new era of climate war is upon us. Extreme weather brought on by global warming is unleashing unrest and violence across the globe, from Africa to Asia to the Americas. In Tropic of Chaos, award-winning writer Christian Parenti reports from the front lines of this gathering social and environmental catastrophe.”

More and more books of this nature are starting to emerge. I always laugh at the weird inventions of the bloggers but this subject is neither fictive nor unimportant.

Malthus says that the population increases geometrically while food supplies increase arithmetically. And the current, well-established and functioning, climate changes are wreaking slow but certain havoc on lifestyle patterns.

All the world’s glaciers are melting and that includes the Greenland and Antarctica masses. The sea levels are slowly but surely rising and the lack of ongoing glacial melt is drying up rivers such as China’s. That country is approaching a sort of melt-down what with a burgeoning population, diminishing water supply and the incursion of the Gobi desert into northern China.

Unchecked capitalism is paralleled by unchecked pollution and I point out to those chronic and stupid doom criers who rant about how China is about to rule the world, that China will collapse, both ecologically, politically and economically.

The Blessed Julian’s mass release of diplomatic cables and his known possession of other more sensitive material has, without a doubt, stirred up immense sociological problems in the mid-East and this is spreading to overpopulated and underfed countries.

No wonder an hysterical White House wants to charge Julian (an Australian) with treason!

The results of the WikiLeaks releases are yet to be finalized but are inevitable. This puts me in mind of what happened on Crete when the Minoan culture was gradually obliterated by the distant eruption on Thera.

When China runs out of water and arable land, she cannot expand into India or Pakistan because they both have similar problems, but will only be able to go north but that would mean Siberia and Siberia is Russian. I have many Russian friends, some of whom are well-connected, and I have been warning them about this Drang nach Norden. I think I have made some progress because my arguments are water-tight and logical.

The Russians, to include the Putin people, now agree that their borders with China need to be tended to. China is even now sending logging people into the Siberian wilderness and stealing timber. The Russians will address this but on a level away from the public.

Logging teams will simply vanish.

India is now building physical walls to keep the starving and desperate population of Bangladesh from doing to India what the poor of Mexico are doing to this country.

Whenever a species grows beyond its capacity to feed (and water) itself, the species dies off in large numbers. This always happens and it will happen again.

Waters roil in the South China Sea

June 16, 2011

by Joel D Adriano

Asia Times

MANILA – Escalating tensions between China and Southeast Asian claimants to the Spratly Islands threaten to spill over into a full-blown conflict. The Philippines and Vietnam are at particular loggerheads with Beijing after a series of provocations that some believe show China is taking a more assertive stance on its claims in the potentially oil and gas rich maritime area.

Vietnam last week accused China of “intentionally” attacking one of its survey ships in an area inside its exclusive economic zone. It represented the second a Chinese vessel confronted a Vietnamese one in the area over the last two weeks. On Thursday, China sent patrol ships into the sea to “protect maritime security,” according to the official Beijing Daily.

The tension has fueled anti-Chinese sentiment across Vietnam, with thousands taking to the streets in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to protest Chinese naval operations in the disputed waters and Vietnamese hackers launching cyberspace attacks on official Chinese websites.

China has also crossed swords with the Philippines through repeated intrusions on Philippine-claimed islands in the Spratlys. China has dismissed the accusations as “rumors” even as Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jinchao during a news conference warned Asian neighbors to stop oil and gas explorations in areas Beijing considers as part of its sovereign territory.

The two countries have swapped high-level diplomatic protests to stake their claims. The Philippines cited six Chinese intrusions from February to May in a protest filed with the United Nations earlier this month. The incidents include the Chinese navy firing on Filipino fishermen, a Chinese vessel intimidating a Philippine oil exploration ship and Beijing putting posts and buoys in waters claimed by Manila.

Manila is also protesting China’s construction of new structures on islands it claims. Senator Francis Pangilinan criticized China’s actions as “unbecoming of a world power”. For its part, China submitted a diplomatic note to the United Nations claiming that the Philippines invaded the Spratlys in the 1970s – a claim that security analysts consider ridiculous given the pathetic state of the Philippine navy.

Ambassador Liu said that the Chinese ships took action to keep Filipino fishermen from its “jurisdiction” despite the fact the areas claimed by China are geographically very close to the Philippines.

For instance, the Reed Bank area where one incident took place is just 80 nautical miles (148 kilometers) from Palawan, the Philippines’ western-most province, but is nearly 500 miles (800 kilometers) from China.

The Kalayaan islands and the Scarborough Shoal are both closer to Palawan than to any of the other claimants and lie within its archipelagic baselines – the only claimant who can make such a geological claim.

United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was in the Philippines on May 30 for talks related to bilateral defense ties, warned the competing claims could cause instability in the region and that clashes could erupt unless nations with conflicting claims adopt a mechanism to settle disputes peacefully.

The Spratly islands, named after English mariner Richard Spratly, are part of a group of more than 650 islands, islets, reefs, cays and atolls in the South China Sea. They comprise less than five square kilometers of land area spread over more than 400,000 square kilometers of sea.

The disputed islands are largely uninhabited but include important shipping lanes and are believed by some to hold major reserves of oil and gas. They are claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam . The area is considered by US intelligence as one of the eight top flashpoint areas in the world, according to reports.

Tensions could escalate further after a live ammunition military exercise earlier this week by Vietnam and an earlier joint US-Philippine exercise in the disputed waters. The Philippines is also upping the ante against China with plans in congress to formally rename the South China Sea to the West Philippine Sea.

In filing the resolution, Akbayan party-list representative Walden Bello said the South China Sea name is a misnomer which China is using and which has given it undue advantage in its territorial claim. By renaming it “we are taking a proactive move that strengthens our claim”, Bello said.

The Philippine government used the new name officially for the first time last Friday during a news briefing on the issue. Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Eduardo Malaya explained that the name West Philippine Sea is reflective of its proper geographic location. Media organizations in the Philippines have also started using the new name.

Political analyst Ed Dagdag of the University of the Philippines’ Asian Center suggested that government officials including the presidential spokesperson should refrain from making inflammatory statements if they want to settle the dispute peacefully.

Dagdag believes that if a military confrontation breaks out that the US, a key Philippine military ally, would be unlikely to side with the Philippines due to the risk of being dragged into a potential major conflict with China. Gates stressed during his Philippines visit that the US has “no position” on the competing Spratly claims.

Despite the posturing and rhetoric, the Philippines will be hard-pressed to prevent future Chinese incursions and construction in the contested area. Philippine President Benigno Aquino, along with other claimant Southeast Asian states, has said they prefer to strike a multilateral solution to the dispute – in stark contrast to China’s position of insisting on bilateral negotiations. But because China has balked at suggestions the US play a mediating role, tensions in the South China Sea are set to get hotter before cooler.

Joel D Adriano is an independent consultant and award-winning freelance journalist. He was a sub-editor for the business section of The Manila Times and writes for ASEAN BizTimes, Safe Democracy and People’s Tonight.

Corrupt officials funnelled £76bn out of China

Corrupt Chinese officials escaped to the West with more than 800bn yuan (£76bn) in ‘black money’ in the two decades to 2008, a report by the country’s Central Bank anti-money laundering bureau has claimed.

June 17, 2011

by Peter Foster in Beijing


A total of nearly 18,000 officials drawn from Communist Party cadres, state-owned companies executives, police, judicial and customs officers were alleged to have siphoned off the funds, escaping to the West, often via small African and Asian countries.

The details of how corrupt officials embezzled billions and then smuggled their ill-gotten gains out of China evading the country’s capital controls are contained in a 67-page report that appeared this week on the People’s Bank of China website.

Stamped “internal materials, store carefully” and compiled in June 2008 the report was apparently published after winning a finance industry award, but was turned into front page news in several Chinese newspapers. It has since been removed.

Detailed analysis in “Research on the Channels and Detection Methods for the Transfer Overseas of Asset by Corrupt Elements in Our Country” showed how corrupt cadres funnelled their illicit monies to friends, family and mistresses living outside China before escaping the country.

Some used sophisticated money-laundering instruments to channel money through the banking system, while others laundered cash through casinos or simply smuggled suitcases of hard currency to Hong Kong.

Greek Turmoil Raises Fears of Instability Around Europe

June 16, 2011
by Rachel Donadio

New York Times

ATHENS — The instability rocking Greece this week is the latest manifestation of a troubling new phase in the global financial crisis: political turmoil is sweeping through Europe, toppling governments and threatening to undermine efforts to rescue the financial system and, ultimately, the euro zone itself.

It seems likely that Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece will manage to hold his government together long enough to push through the deep cuts required for his debt-ridden country to receive its next installment of international aid. He reshuffled his cabinet on Friday, replacing Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou with veteran Socialist Evangelos Venizelos as part of a broader cabinet reshuffle aimed at restoring waning confidence among Greeks and foreign creditors.

But with a rising tide of voter anger against bank bailouts, budget cuts and austerity measures, his popularity is plummeting. And it is not just Mr. Papandreou who is feeling the public’s wrath.

Across Europe, people are complaining that they are unfairly paying the price for the mistakes of their governments while they are growing increasingly resentful of the international banks and the preferential treatment they seem to receive. And they are getting louder.

“They took everything, and we have to pay,” said Katerina Fatourou, 30, an elementary school music teacher in Athens, summing up a common sentiment here after a large and sometimes violent general strike. It is not likely to be the last in Europe this summer.

In a vicious cycle, the rising political turmoil is sowing unrest in global financial markets, raising the interest rates paid by heavily indebted nations in Europe to ever higher levels and threatening their solvency.

European officials are also worried that if Greece’s politicians bow to popular anger and reject the austerity route, other countries might follow, with potentially dire consequences for Europe’s banks and the common currency. So concerned were European Union officials about the potential for trouble that the bloc’s top financial official, Olli Rehn, hinted in Brussels on Thursday that Greece might get the new financial aid even if European finance ministers failed to approve the loan at a meeting this weekend.

In recent months, the governments of Ireland and Portugal have been ousted over efforts to cut budgets and benefits. Students have rioted to protest tuition increases in Britain, and young people who feel shut out of their own futures have held nationwide sit-ins in Spain, where the governing Socialists are in trouble in the polls. Right-wing political parties are gaining strength, tapping, in part, the populist rejection of austerity plans.

This week, Mr. Papandreou became the latest politician pulled in opposite directions by the markets, which hang on his every word, and his country’s citizens, who have already been stung by one round of wage and pension cuts and are resisting new spending reductions and tax increases. But he needs those measures to persuade the International Monetary Fund to release the next installment of a $155 billion bailout package negotiated a year ago.

“It’s hard enough to get the electorate to support austerity at the best of times,” said Simon Tilford, the chief economist of the Center for European Reform in London. “They promised endless austerity with no prospects of a return to growth, and there will be mounting opposition to this.”

In Athens this week, the pessimism was as thick in the air as the tear gas that the police sprayed during Wednesday’s demonstration.

“A year ago it was bad, but not like now,” said Irene Anastasiou, 22, a quiet marketing student who has been taking part in a peaceful sit-in in Athens’s central Syntagma Square for the past three weeks. “I am a young Greek girl. I have dreams, and they destroyed them,” she said of the government.

In Greece, “clearly there is a sense that this society is reaching the breaking point,” said Jens Bastian, an economist at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy in Athens. People are asking: “ ‘Where is this going to lead? Why are we making these cuts? Why do I have to accept that I have less income? What’s the larger purpose of this?’ ”

But those questions are not being asked only in Greece. Across Europe, politicians have failed to sell skeptical electorates on a variety of austerity measures.

Earlier this month, Portugal’s center-right Social Democratic Party unseated the governing Socialists, as voters punished José Sócrates, the Socialist caretaker prime minister, for his failure to get public finances under control and help reverse a slump in the economy that has pushed the unemployment rate above 12 percent.

Instead, Portugal was forced to negotiate a $110 billion international bailout in return for pledging more austerity measures, even as analysts forecast that its economy will contract by 2 percent this year and next. Mr. Sócrates resigned in March because of parliamentary opposition to his austerity plan.

In Greece, the center-right opposition is also opposed to the terms of the bailout and is instead calling for tax breaks — a strategy that experts said would make the deficit rise sharply and lead to further turmoil.

More and more experts are questioning the wisdom of budget cutting because countries like Greece and Portugal are already caught in what they call a “debt trap.” Further cuts, they say, will only depress the economy, reducing tax revenues and making it harder to repay the debt.

“The E.U. and I.M.F. are insisting on a course of action that has already failed,” Mr. Tilford said. “That is not going work but is going to impose huge economic and social costs.”

Voters are increasingly sending politicians the same message. In Ireland in February, the governing party, Fianna Fail, which had run the government for 14 years, suffered its worst showing in its more than 80-year history and was kicked out of power.

In Britain, retail sales were down 1.4. percent in May, which was taken as a sign that consumers have no faith in the Conservative government’s economic plan, while the opposition called for an emergency cut in the value added tax to increase spending.

British labor unions representing about two million employees say they plan to hold coordinated strikes on June 30, upset at layoffs, pay freezes and changes to the pension system. They have prompted talk of a “summer of discontent” with echoes of the 1970s, when the country was crippled by general strikes.

Back in Athens, many Greeks said the government, not the people, should be held accountable for the country’s problems, raising an ancient question.

“Could we and should we trust the people?” asked Konstantinos Poulis, a playwright and actor who attended Wednesday’s demonstration. “Or should it be someone who knows better? Even if Plato were governing the country, and not Papandreou, the problem would be the same.”

Raphael Minder contributed reporting from Madrid, Sarah Lyall from London and Niki Kitsantonis from Athens.

Mob politics vs. political movements

Sam Smith


For the next year and a half you will be subjected to the latest developments in the great contemporary American fairy tale: a presidential campaign.

True, we will get to pick who we want to be Goldilocks and who the big bad bears, but citizen participation in a fantasy doesn’t make it any more real.

There has been over the past few decades a steady deterioration of the political difference between national Democratic and Republican politics, most notably with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Today it is hard to define that difference given the strong bipartisan support for several illegal wars, the unconstitutional Patriot Act, and a bottomless desire to bail out Wall Street, and a stunning indifference to the financial problems of everyone else. On some days it seems like the only thing that stand between Obama and the Republican Party is his voter registration card. Even on his better days he is just – to borrow a favorite term of his White House a “distraction from the real issues.”

In fact, the political metaphor hardly works anymore. It’s more sensible to regard the two major parties as Mafia mobs fighting for control of a region known as the United States.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t a difference between them. But it’s about survival, however, not politics. The Demos tend to do less damage to our lives than the Repubs. Both mobs may beat the shit out your father, but the Demos are less likely to harm your children or your grandmother.

The importance of this distinction between politics and survival is important because, for one thing, it spares us of the totally false myth that got Obama into office in the first place. Obama turned out to be the Bernie Madoff of the Democratic Party. He conned millions into giving him their hope and change and then ripped them off.

This doesn’t mean that one doesn’t vote for a Demo thug as president or some lower position, but it means that one does so recognizing that the selection of the least dangerous mob in town is a far different matter than backing a political cause.

Once one has made that important distinction the whole nature of politics changes. It is no longer about icons, but about issues. It’s not about elections but about what happens before and after elections. It is no longer about identifying with a party but with a movement.

We are in desperate need of an anti-war movement, an anti-Wall Street movement, an anti-foreclosure movement, and anti-corporate bribery movement, and a new labor movement just to name a few.

Yes, there are wonderful folk attempting to build such movements, but it doesn’t help when liberals and their media constantly lower their goals to Obama’s uncertain, misguided, misleading and unimaginative solutions or when public interest groups adopt the same narrow objectives and insider trading style typical of corporate lobbyists.

If America is to be saved, it will because of movements outside the mainstream political game. It’s always been like that and will continue to be so.

So enjoy the fairy tale that is bubbling up around us. Vote for the bastards who will be do us the least harm. But if you want to be part of the story – and you are whether you desire it or not – then that only thing that will really matter is what you do outside the voting booth.

For in the end, there’s nobody who can make a better difference but us.

American Wars Will Be Increasingly Secret

June 16, 2011

by John Glaser,

Antiwar Forum

The Obama administration responded to pressure this week regarding the legality of American military involvement in Libya by claiming that the War Powers Resolution does not apply. Citing a limited support role in the NATO intervention, the President decreed the Vietnam-era legislation which requires Congressional approval for any military engagement surpassing 60 days irrelevant in the current context.

The House of Representatives passed an amendment last Monday onto a military appropriations bill that would prohibit any funding of the war in Libya, which will have cost $1.1 billion by September. Additionally, a group of ten representatives have filed a formal lawsuit against President Obama and outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the grounds that the intervention in Libya is illegal and unconstitutional. Still, the administration refuses to ask permission from Congress and continues to maintain, as State Department legal advisor Harold Koh said, “We are acting lawfully.”

The administration’s defiance in this regard notes an expanded authority ascribed to the Executive Branch, unrestricted by traditional checks and balances in war-making powers. And the legal position they are taking – that supporting, planning, and conducting attacks from the air does not amount to the “hostilities” specified by the War Powers Resolution – is not very strong. Indeed, the law requires the President to seek Congressional approval “in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced: (1) into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances …”

The ability of the President to go to war against the wishes of Congress and the American people has expanded dramatically over the years. But technological advances in airpower are beginning to allow entire wars to be conducted without the introduction of United States Armed Forces into any field of conflict. As former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel under the Bush administration Jack Goldsmith told the New York Times, “The administration’s theory implies that the president can wage war with drones and all manner of offshore missiles without having to bother with the War Powers Resolution’s time limits.”

Obama has significantly increased the drone program in Pakistan during his tenure. The remote controlled aerial vehicles have allowed the administration to conduct an aggressive bombing campaign in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province with pilots safely sitting far away from the targeted area. The program is managed by the Central Intelligence Agency and, while widely known about in the public, is technically covert, excusing the administration from answering any questions about it or from adhering to any legal requirements to seek the approval of Congress.

Various reports have confirmed that the Obama administration has been conducting another drone war in Yemen for about two years, with at least 15 attacks and 130 killed so far this month. These operations have been similarly free from any accountability, legal justification, or Congressional pressure as has been the case with Libya.

The important difference between Obama’s wars in Pakistan and Yemen and his war in Libya is not in the level of hostilities or security interests, but rather in the ability to call one kind of war secret and another kind public. This realization, coupled with the cutting edge technology that enables such shadow wars, carries dire prospects for the future. If this administration, or any successor, is faced with an option to either carry out war in the open and be held accountable, or in secret and avoid any responsibility or checks to his power, the allure of the latter option may prove too enticing. An impending disintegration of the rule of law which at one time limited the Executive’s ability to make war with impunity is the unfortunate predictable consequence.

Not only may laws limiting war become obsolete or disregarded, but America’s legal, geographical jurisdiction will extend to the entire globe. Any dark corner or ostensibly threatening pocket of any country in the world suddenly becomes subject to the President’s discretion in a drone war. If protocols of secrecy are followed as they have been in Pakistan and Yemen, no legal sanction from Congress will be required, no justification to the American people need be put forth, and no limit to the President’s war prerogative will be observed.

Whether the administration’s legal position regarding the war in Libya will be accepted by the majority of a typically ineffectual Congress remains to be seen. The pressure to be held accountable and adhere to the law may be over in this case, but Obama and his national security team have by this time learned their lesson. Their next war will likely avoid such public scrutiny.

Army suicides at highest level in a year

June 16, 2011

by Larry Shaughnessy


Washington (CNN) — May was the worst month in a year for suicides and potential suicides in the active-duty Army, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

The Army reported 21 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers in May. One of them has been confirmed; the other 20 are under investigation. In the past, most of the cases investigated were confirmed to be suicides.

May’s number was the highest for one month since June 2010, which at the time was the worst month in recent memory for Army suicides.

There were also 21 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers in June 2010, but that month also saw 11 potential suicides among the Guard and Reserves. Last month, there were six potential suicides in the National Guard and Reserves, so June 2010 remains worse.

The latest data continue to show that suicide statistics in the Army frequently fluctuate. April saw 16 potential suicides, more than twice the number in March, when seven cases were investigated.

The Army says it’s tough to know why suicide cases increase even as the entire Pentagon is trying to solve the problem. But spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Warren said, “a spike in cases does not necessarily mean a trend.”

Ex-Spy Alleges Bush White House Sought to Discredit Critic

June 15, 2011

by James Risen

New York Times

WASHINGTON — A former senior C.I.A. official says that officials in the Bush White House sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him.

Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.

In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful.

It is not clear whether the White House received any damaging material about Professor Cole or whether the C.I.A. or other intelligence agencies ever provided any information or spied on him. Mr. Carle said that a memorandum written by his supervisor included derogatory details about Professor Cole, but that it may have been deleted before reaching the White House. Mr. Carle also said he did not know the origins of that information or who at the White House had requested it.

Intelligence officials disputed Mr. Carle’s account, saying that White House officials did ask about Professor Cole in 2006, but only to find out why he had been invited to C.I.A.-sponsored conferences on the Middle East. The officials said that the White House did not ask for sensitive personal information, and that the agency did not provide it.

“We’ve thoroughly researched our records, and any allegation that the C.I.A. provided private or derogatory information on Professor Cole to anyone is simply wrong,” said George Little, an agency spokesman.

Since a series of Watergate-era abuses involving spying on White House political enemies, the C.I.A. and other spy agencies have been prohibited from collecting intelligence concerning the activities of American citizens inside the United States.

“These allegations, if true, raise very troubling questions,” said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former C.I.A. general counsel. “The statute makes it very clear: you can’t spy on Americans.” Mr. Smith added that a 1981 executive order that prohibits the C.I.A. from spying on Americans places tight legal restrictions not only on the agency’s ability to collect information on United States citizens, but also on its retention or dissemination of that data.

Mr. Smith and several other experts on national security law said the question of whether government officials had crossed the line in the Cole matter would depend on the exact nature of any White House requests and whether any collection activities conducted by intelligence officials had been overly intrusive.

The experts said it might not be unlawful for the C.I.A. to provide the White House with open source material — from public databases or published material, for example — about an American citizen. But if the intent was to discredit a political critic, that would be improper, they said.

Mr. Carle, who retired in 2007, has not previously disclosed his allegations. He did so only after he was approached by The New York Times, which learned of the episode elsewhere. While Mr. Carle, 54, has written a book to be published next month about his role in the interrogation of a terrorism suspect, it does not include his allegations about the White House’s requests concerning the Michigan professor.

“I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Mr. Carle said. “People were accepting it, like you had to be part of the team.”

Professor Cole said he would have been a disappointing target for the White House. “They must have been dismayed at what a boring life I lead,” he said.

In 2005, after a long career in the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, Mr. Carle was working as a counterterrorism expert at the National Intelligence Council, a small organization that drafts assessments of critical issues drawn from reports by analysts throughout the intelligence community. The council was overseen by the newly created Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Mr. Carle said that sometime that year, he was approached by his supervisor, David Low, about Professor Cole. Mr. Low and Mr. Carle have starkly different recollections of what happened. According to Mr. Carle, Mr. Low returned from a White House meeting one day and inquired who Juan Cole was, making clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to gather information on him. Mr. Carle recalled his boss saying, “The White House wants to get him.”

“ ‘What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?’ ” Mr. Low continued, according to Mr. Carle.

Mr. Carle said that he warned that it would be illegal to spy on Americans and refused to get involved, but that Mr. Low seemed to ignore him.

“But what might we know about him?” he said Mr. Low asked. “Does he drink? What are his views? Is he married?”

Mr. Carle said that he responded, “We don’t do those sorts of things,” but that Mr. Low appeared undeterred. “I was intensely disturbed by this,” Mr. Carle said.

He immediately went to see David Gordon, then the acting director of the council. Mr. Carle said that after he recounted his exchange with Mr. Low, Mr. Gordon responded that he would “never, never be involved in anything like that.”

Mr. Low was not at work the next morning, Mr. Carle said. But on his way to a meeting in the C.I.A.’ s front office, a secretary asked if he would drop off a folder to be delivered by courier to the White House. Mr. Carle said he opened it and stopped cold. Inside, he recalled, was a memo from Mr. Low about Juan Cole that included a paragraph with “inappropriate, derogatory remarks” about his lifestyle. Mr. Carle said he could not recall those details nor the name of the White House addressee.

He took the document to Mr. Gordon right away, he said. The acting director scanned the memo, crossed out the personal data about Professor Cole with a red pen, and said he would handle it, Mr. Carle said. He added that he never talked to Mr. Low or Mr. Gordon about the memo again.

In an interview, Mr. Low took issue with Mr. Carle’s account, saying he would never have taken part in an effort to discredit a White House critic. “I have no recollection of that, and I certainly would not have been a party to something like that,” Mr. Low said. “That would have simply been out of bounds.”

Mr. Low, who no longer works in government, did recall being curious about Professor Cole. “I remember the name, as somebody I had never heard of, and who wrote on terrorism,” he said. “I don’t recall anything specific of how it came up or why.”

Mr. Gordon, who has also left government service, said that he did not dispute Mr. Carle’s account, but did not remember meeting with him to discuss efforts to discredit Professor Cole.

Several months after the initial incident, Mr. Carle said, a colleague on the National Intelligence Council asked him to look at an e-mail he had just received from a C.I.A. analyst. The analyst was seeking advice about an assignment from the executive assistant to the spy agency’s deputy director for intelligence, John A. Kringen, directing the analyst to collect information on Professor Cole.

Mr. Carle said his colleague, whom he declined to identify, was puzzled by the e-mail. Mr. Carle, though, said he tracked Mr. Kringen’s assistant down in the C.I.A. cafeteria.

“Have you read his stuff?” Mr. Carle recalled the assistant saying about Professor Cole. “He’s really hostile to the administration.”

The assistant, whom Mr. Carle declined to identify, refused to say who was behind the order. Mr. Carle said he warned that he would go to the agency’s inspector general or general counsel if Mr. Kringen did not stop the inquiry.

Intelligence officials confirmed that the assistant sent e-mails to an analyst seeking information about Professor Cole in 2006. They said he had done so at the request of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which had been asked by White House officials to find out why Professor Cole had been invited to CIA-sponsored conferences.

John D. Negroponte, who was then the director of national intelligence, said that he did not recall the incident, but that the White House might have asked others in his office about Professor Cole. A spokeswoman for the office said there was no evidence that anyone there had gathered derogatory information about him.

Around the time that Mr. Carle says the White House requests were made, Professor Cole’s conservative critics were campaigning to block his possible appointment to Yale University’s faculty. In 2006, conservative columnists, bloggers and pundits with close ties to the Bush administration railed against him, accusing Professor Cole of being anti-American and anti-Israeli. Yale ultimately scuttled the appointment.

Professor Cole, 58, is still teaching at Michigan, and still writes his blog on the Middle East, called Informed Comment.

Why Not Send your Mother-in-law or favorite Congressman to Mexico on a nice vacation?

Gang warfare kills 33 in Monterrey, Mexico

June 16, 2011

BBC News

Mexican officials say 33 people have been killed in the space of 24 hours in Mexico’s industrial capital, Monterrey.

Security officials in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, where Monterrey is located, said most of those killed had links to the country’s drug cartels.

But two of the victims were identified as bodyguards of the governor of Nuevo Leon, Rodrigo Medina.

Police said a threatening message addressed to Mr Medina had been found next to the bodies.

Mr Medina said the threats would not stop his determination to beat organised crime.

A spokesman for the Nuevo Leon Security Council, Jorge Domene Zambrano, said the killings were almost all connected to a deadly battle for control of the region between rival drug cartels.

“Only five have links to the authorities – the two bodyguards, and three guards from Cadereyta prison,” he explained.

According to the authorities, five presumed gang members were killed in a battle with the army and 10 people died in a confrontation between rival gangs.

The bodies of the remaining victims were found dumped in various parts of the city and, in some cases, hanged from bridges.

The state is the stronghold of the Zetas, thought to be one of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels.

They are engaged in a deadly battle with the Gulf, Sinaloa, and La Familia gangs.

Conversations with the Crow

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

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

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


Here is the seventy- ninth  chapter

Conversation No. 79

Date: Tuesday, April 8, 1997

Commenced:  9:08 AM CST

Concluded: 9;55 AM CST

GD: Good morning, Robert, All week there?

RTC: Very tired today, Gregory.

GD: If I’m calling at a wrong time, maybe I can call back later on…on tomorrow.

RTC: No, just very tires. I slept well but I feel like I haven’t been to bed for several days.

GD: Seen a doctor recently?
RTC: My God, yes. A number of them. General check ups and Emily is under the impression that because I smoke, she says too much, I might have some kind of lung problems. I am not going to give up smoking now, Gregory. I’ve gotten used to it. Terribly addictive, tobacco.

GD: Yes. I read a recent study on tobacco. Very, very addictive. Causes all kinds of respiratory diseases and cancer as well.

RTC: Ah well, Gregory, if one thing doesn’t get you, something else will.

GD: How about being hanged for rape at 95?

RTC: (Laughter) what do they say about a consummation?

GD: A consummation devoutly to be wished. Shakespeare. We could make it less final and mention being sued for child support at the same age.

RTC: They say that if you father children after a certain age, they have mental problems.

GD: Could be. You see a lot of weird yard monsters being carried around these days, Robert. Flat faces, drooling. Mongoloids. Of course, we don’t call them that any more. I think they say differently abled. But a Mongoloid idiot is still a Mongoloid idiot, no matter how you slice it. So correct now. Bloody twits. Don’t say this, can’t say that. Oh my, that is so demeaning. That’s what someone told me the other day when I called a fat woman a bloato. I apologized and called her a piggy instead. That didn’t go over very well, either. So many Mongoloids and so many jiggling fatties waddling around. If they kept their mouths shut, Robert, it would serve two valuable purposes. On the one hand, we wouldn’t have to listen to their babblings and on the other, they wouldn’t be feeding their enormous guts every waking hour. Well, the potato chip industry would suffer but then, on another negative side, they might live longer, .Robert, as you were on board at the CIA during the formative years, could you address some points I am trying to research?

RTC: I’ll try, if I can, Gregory.

GD: OK. The CIA was originally started up by Truman in about ’48…

RTC: Yes. Harry was not happy with the slanted intelligence the Army was providing so he set us up to counter the bs.

GD: Yes. Gehlen told me about the fake Russian invasion plot of ’48. That’s when his organization of former Gestapo people was run by the Army. Faked up the story of a pending Russian invasion to terrify Congress and the public so as to keep business going along on a wartime footing and the Army from being disbanded.

RTC: Basically true, Gregory. We had nothing to do with that.

GD: The CIA took Gehlen over just after that fraud, correct?

RTC: Yes, after that. We had nothing to do with that.

GD: Mueller said that fake report was the real starting gun for the cold war. Would you agree?
RTC: I would go along with that.

GD: Russia had been bled dry during the war and much of her relatively primitive infrastructure had been ruined. Heavy loss in troops and so on. In other words, in 1948, Stalin not only was in no shape to confront the western powers on a military level nor really compete in the marketplace. Right?
RTC: Right.

GD: Now I agree that Stalin was engaged in extensive spying here and elsewhere during and after the war. But everyone spies on everyone else. Spying is not a military threat but wasn’t this domestic spying used to terrify the public into supporting a very expensive cold war? You were on the inside then, Robert. Between us and the phone taps, was Russia going to nuke us or start a land war in ’49 or even ’50?

RTC: No, they were not.

GD: So if that were the case, the CIA grew to such a powerful entity solely on the mistaken, deliberately mistaken, premise that Russia, and later China, were going to attack us. Right?

RTC: This is a rather sensitive area, Gregory, but I’m retired and old and overall, you are probably right. But they were spying on us. Bunch of traitorous Jews under Roosevelt were running rampant here. You must know that White and even Wallace were helping Uncle Joe with all of our secrets.

GD: Yes, but annoying as this was, it was not a military threat. And with the great increase in domestic income as a result of the war, Communism had long ago lost its attraction for the poor and the various left wing politicians here. Right?

RTC: Yes, but we are talking about a huge army of spies here then.

GD: Ideological people. Poor. Give a man some money and a new television, and dreams of communism vanish as the waistline spreads.

RTC: Yes but then don’t forget the very real threats to the west by Stalin and his successors.

GD: But these were struggles for markets and natural resources, weren’t they? I mean not a real military threat. It had always been the dream in Moscow to capture the very technical and industrious Germany. Was that was when Lenin took off the fright wig. Always get Germany. I know about this because when Mueller took over the tiny Gestapo in ’35, he said there were about 20,000 active Communist Russian spies loose all over Germany. When he got through with them, there were about five left. Anyway, wasn’t the struggle then just an economic struggle like the one that started the First World War? Odd. Russia and the United States were engaged in a purely capitalist struggle for economic power. Not military power. Do you concur?

RTC: Yes, it boiled down to that. I mean, we had our friends. People we knew as schoolmates, friends or neighbors. Business friends. Old Bill ran some aluminum company and he wanted us to secure bauxite sites in some country that Russia was also interested in. Of course we couldn’t use this as an excuse to topple some government and set up a US-friendly one so we tarted it up to say the existing government there was being run by Moscow and a Communist seizure was just a matter of time.

GD: Like Nicaragua?

RTC: Exactly so.

GD: Levi and Zentner has friends in Langley.

RTC: Well, more like the Grace people but I follow. But why should Russia get its hands on valuable resources when we wanted them? Let’s face it, Gregory, the struggle for natural resources is the struggle for life.

GD: But why not seek less damaging goals? Isn’t there enough to go around?

RTC: Well, that’s the question. Planet is getting very small these days. Too many people need more products and whoever has the natural resources, at least as long as they hold out, has the upper hand. Now, thanks to us, we have the upper hand. We damned near got all the Russia oil and gas under Yeltsin but you can’t win them all.

GD: But Reagan was the last gasp of all that, wasn’t he?
RTC: When business sees itself as losing something they want, it will never be over.

GD: But when the cold war was on, we struggled with Russia over the natural resources of Africa. Each of us took over this or that country and set up this or that tin horn dictator answerable to us, or them. And now that the cold war is over, thanks to Reagan, why Africa is no longer of any interest to either side. I predict that in twenty years, Africa, at least sub-Saharan Africa, will be a wasteland. There’s a lot of AIDS there now and once all the natives are dead, we can just walk in and take over the resources. No need for a war, Robert, just let nature take its course.

RTC: Very ruthless, Gregory.

GD: I study history, Robert. Use facts, not emotions.

RTC: I hate to say this but Marx was right when he talked about the role of economics in history.

GD: I’ve read Marx. Fine theories but stupid practices. From each according to his ability to each according to his need. Right? Sounds almost Christian, doesn’t it? Of course both systems, Jesus and Marx, sound so noble and self-sacrificing on paper but they are Utopian and never work. And the raging idealists are the first to be shot when the pragmatists come into power. Night following day. And Robert, in the end, who cares?

(Concluded at 9:55 CST)

Dramatis personae:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Wolfe: A retired librarian from the National Archives who worked closely with the CIA on covering up embarrassing historical material in the files of the Archives. A strong supporter of holocaust writers specializing in creative writing

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