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TBR News June 18, 2019

Jun 18 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. June 18, 2019:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary for June 18:Trump has gotten it into his bald head that staff members in the White House are “betraying” him by leaking confidentical and highly negative documents to the media. The FBI is now inspecting computers on the sly, mostly at night when most everyone has gone home. That there are ways to send sensitive information around without fear of spying by government agencies has escaped these people. There are no secrets safe in the White House, the Pentagon, the NSA, Langley or the FBI files but the inmates of these institutions are in blissful ignorance. For ecample, there are many Israelis working at Langley and the leaks there are phenomical but everything goes to Tel Aviv. But what goes to Tel Aviv also goes to Moscow!”

 

The Table of Contents

  • The Trump administration’s dangerous fever dream about Iran
  • War With Iran Would Become ‘Trump’s War’
  • Reducing U.S. Dependence on Middle Eastern Oil
  • US Sanctions: Economic Sabotage That Is Deadly, Illegal, and Ineffective
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

 

 

The Trump administration’s dangerous fever dream about Iran

The Iran debate in Washington is increasingly divorced from reality – and that should worry us

June 18, 2019

by Michael H Fuchs

The Guardian

The Trump administration is caught in a fever dream about Iran, and the fever is becoming dangerous.

In the wake of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman – which the US blames on Iran, though questions remain about the attack – the discourse on Iran being pushed by the administration and others is reaching fever pitch. Senator Tom Cotton has called for a “retaliatory military strike”. The New York Times columnist Bret Stephens says the US should threaten to sink Iran’s navy.

This, of course, is not surprising to anyone who has watched the Iran debate in Washington. It’s divorced from reality.

Everyone knows that Iran’s government is dangerous. It represses the Iranian people. It sponsors terrorism across the Middle East. The question is not whether Iran is bad – the question is what the best strategy is to deal with the threats.

During the end of George W Bush’s administration and Barack Obama’s terms, the priority was stopping Iran’s nuclear program. After years of a carefully coordinated global sanctions campaign, the Obama administration secured a deal that stopped Iran’s nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency and even the Trump administration certified that the deal was working. Before, during and after the deal, the US has countered Iranian terrorism and bolstered Israel’s defenses.

None of it has been good enough for those trapped in the fever dream. The fever dream convinces policymakers to cozy up to regimes from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates that are themselves awful. It rationalizes support for a devastating war in Yemen. It causes the state department to fund, until recently, a group that attacked journalists and experts for not being anti-Iran. Locked in the fever dream’s grips for years, John Bolton in 2015 called for bombing Iran.

All of this is in lieu of a realistic set of goals or a strategy for actually achieving them. It’s a fever dream, and only those with the fever seem to be able to make sense of the dream. US allies from Europe to Asia are frustrated with how much sway the fever dream has over US policy; they wonder what could possibly drive the US to abandon such a successful deal.

It reminds one of the absurdity and recklessness of those who talked about bombing North Korea in 2017 – which could have started a nuclear war – and how completely they ignored the catastrophic consequences.

Most worrying, it reminds one of the run-up to the war in Iraq in 2003 – how the Bush administration lied about Iraq’s possession of WMD and links to terrorism, and how Americans were told the invasion would be a “cakewalk” and that America would be greeted as a liberator. Reports of a rare, recent high-level meeting on Iran at the CIA before the latest round of warnings over Iran should concern those who remember the politicization of intelligence before the Iraq war.

The result of it all is a heightened risk of conflict. And though the Trump administration claims it does not want war, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, reportedly said that the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) – passed in order to fight those involved in 9/11 – could authorize a war with Iran (which the AUMF does not).

America needs to have a real conversation about Iran. We need to make clear that Iran is not ten feet tall.

We can’t let the fever dream drive US policy in the Middle East. Israel has the region’s strongest military, and with continued US support it can defend itself. America will continue to counter Iranian-sponsored terrorism. America does not need to blindly support countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the name of countering Iran. These governments repress their own people, stoke regional conflicts and have funded terrorism and radical indoctrination abroad. When the United States partners with Saudi Arabia by supporting a war in Yemen – supposedly to counter Iran – that creates a humanitarian disaster, America has lost sight of its interests.

To develop an effective strategy, America needs to put itself in Iran’s shoes. After the US invaded two of Iran’s neighbors – Afghanistan and Iraq – tensions got even worse with Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon and deadly fights between Iranians and American soldiers in Iraq. America believes Iran’s aggression has intensified while Iran believes America is surrounding Iran.

Lost in the fever dream is the need for a dialogue with Tehran. A strategy of pressure alongside dialogue produced the nuclear deal. The US should talk to Iran about the future of Afghanistan and Iraq. And there is a broader dialogue to be had – alongside pressure – about regional security.

Iran could do more to push a crisis to the brink as well. With Trump ripping up the nuclear deal, Iran is saying it will enrich uranium beyond the limits of the nuclear deal. If it was responsible for the oil tanker attack, more destabilizing acts could follow. That could lead to a vicious cycle that raises the chances of war.

We need to wake up from the fever dream and have a real debate about Iran, develop a real strategy for Iran and start a real dialogue with Iran.

Michael H Fuchs is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs

 

War With Iran Would Become ‘Trump’s War’

June 18, 2019

by Patrick J. Buchanan

President Donald Trump cannot want war with Iran.

Such a war, no matter how long, would be fought in and around the Persian Gulf, through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil travels. It could trigger a worldwide recession and imperil Trump’s reelection.

It would widen the “forever war,” which Trump said he would end, to a nation of 80 million people, three times as large as Iraq. It would become the defining issue of his presidency, as the Iraq War became the defining issue of George W. Bush’s presidency.

And if war comes now, it would be known as “Trump’s War.”

For it was Trump who pulled us out of the Iran nuclear deal, though, according to U.N. inspectors and the other signatories – Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China – Tehran was complying with its terms.

Trump’s repudiation of the treaty was followed by his reimposition of sanctions and a policy of maximum pressure. This was followed by the designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist” organization.

Then came the threats of U.S. secondary sanctions on nations, some of them friends and allies, that continued to buy oil from Iran.

U.S. policy has been to squeeze Iran’s economy until the regime buckles to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12 demands, including an end to Tehran’s support of its allies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Sunday, Pompeo said Iran was behind the attacks on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman and that Tehran instigated an attack that injured four U.S. soldiers in Kabul though the Taliban claimed responsibility.

The war hawks are back.

“This unprovoked attack on commercial shipping warrants retaliatory military strikes,” said Senator Tom Cotton on Sunday.

But as Trump does not want war with Iran, Iran does not want war with us. Tehran has denied any role in the tanker attacks, helped put out the fire on one tanker, and accused its enemies of “false flag” attacks to instigate a war.

If the Revolutionary Guard, which answers to the ayatollah, did attach explosives to the hull of the tankers, it was most likely to send a direct message: If our exports are halted by U.S. sanctions, the oil exports of the Saudis and Gulf Arabs can be made to experience similar problems.

Yet if the president and the ayatollah do not want war, who does?

Not the Germans or Japanese, both of whom are asking for more proof that Iran instigated the tanker attacks. Japan’s prime minster was meeting with the ayatollah when the attacks occurred, and one of the tankers was a Japanese vessel.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal Monday were Ray Takeyh and Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a neocon nest funded by Paul Singer and Sheldon Adelson.

In a piece titled, “America Can Face Down a Fragile Iran,” the pair make the case that Trump should squeeze the Iranian regime relentlessly and not fear a military clash, and a war with Iran would be a cakewalk.

“Iran is in no shape for a prolonged confrontation with the U.S. The regime is in a politically precarious position. The sullen Iranian middle class has given up on the possibility of reform or prosperity. The lower classes, once tethered to the regime by the expansive welfare state, have also grown disloyal. The intelligentsia no longer believes that faith and freedom can be harmonized. And the youth have become the regime’s most unrelenting critics.

“Iran’s fragile theocracy can’t absorb a massive external shock. That’s why Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has, for the most part, adhered to the JCPOA (the nuclear pact) and why he is likely angling for negotiation over confrontation with the Great Satan.”

This depiction of Iran’s political crisis and economic decline invites a question: If the Tehran regime is so fragile and the Iranian people are so alienated, why not avoid a war and wait for the regime’s collapse?

Trump seems to have several options:

  • Negotiate with the Tehran regime for some tolerable detente.
  • Refuse to negotiate and await the regime’s collapse, in which case the president must be prepared for Iranian actions that raise the cost of choking that nation to death.
  • Strike militarily, as Cotton urges, and accept the war that follows, if Iran chooses to fight rather than be humiliated and capitulate to Pompeo’s demands.

One recalls: Saddam Hussein accepted war with the United States in 1991 rather than yield to Bush I’s demand he get his army out of Kuwait.

Who wants a U.S. war with Iran?

Primarily the same people who goaded us into wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, and who oppose every effort of Trump’s to extricate us from those wars.

Should they succeed in Iran, it is hard to see how we will ever be able to extricate our country from this blood-soaked region that holds no vital strategic interest save oil, and America, thanks to fracking, has become independent of that.

 

Reducing U.S. Dependence on Middle Eastern Oil

by Ariel Cohen

The Heritage Foundation

The United States is the largest oil importer in the world, bringing in 13.5 million barrels per day (mbd), which accounts for 63.5 percent of total U.S. daily consumption (20.6 mbd).  Oil from the Middle East (specifically, the Persian Gulf) accounts for 17 percent of U.S. oil imports, and this dependence is growing.

There is a broad consensus in America, from the President to the man on the street, that this situation is detrimental to the country’s economic health. In his 2006 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush said, “[W]e have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.” While recognizing the problem is laudable, however, little has been done to solve it.

Limiting the hold of Middle Eastern oil on the U.S. economy will require creativity and genuine effort. Specifically, the Administration should:

  • Prepare for contingencies in which oil-rich countries become destabilized;
  • Assist friendly Persian Gulf states in enhancing the security of their oil facilities; and
  • Diversify U.S. energy sources and oil imports to reduce dependence on Persian Gulf oil.
  • Beyond these general guidelines, it is crucial that the U.S. follow through with these specific measures:
  • Boost efforts to roll back Iran’s subversive ideological, terrorist, and military threats;
  • Expand military contingency plans and prepare a rapid reaction force;
  • Diversify the energy basket by expanding domestic production of oil and gas and by lifting the bureaucratic barriers that prevent greater use of nuclear energy;
  • Encourage expanded methanol and ethanol production and imports; and
  • Expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration.

Growing Dependence on Imported Oil: A National Security Threat

The U.S. government predicts that by 2025, the country will import 68 percent of its oil.[3] At best, the measures in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 will slow the growth rate of U.S. dependence only slightly.

Many have suggested, quite correctly, drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a small part of Alaska’s remote Arctic slope. However, even opening ANWR would add only 1 mbd to U.S. production-barely 5 percent of America’s growing oil consumption, which currently stands at 20.6 mbd.

However, there is a more pressing problem. Two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves are concentrated in the increasingly unstable Middle East and are controlled by members of the quasi-monopolistic Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Over the years, OPEC has been quick to cut supply and slow to increase production, bringing oil prices to today’s high levels. Most OPEC member countries and other oil producers have high levels of government economic regulation and corruption, as documented in the Index of Economic Freedom, published by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.Thus, consumers are effectively paying two premiums on oil: one for security and one for suppliers’ economic inefficiency and monopolistic behavior.

The countries listed in Table 2 and Table 3 produce about 61 mbd, or about 73.5 percent of world production. OPEC countries account for about 33 mbd, or 40 percent of world production.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration.

Global fuel consumption is projected to increase by 100 percent to 150 percent over the next 20 years, driven largely by the rapidly growing Chinese and Indian economies, and this increased demand will force prices even higher. The supply of conventional light sweet crude oil is likely to dwindle, opening the door to expanded market shares for heavy oil and oil with high sulfur content, as well as oil extracted from oil sands and alternative fuels.

Threats to Key Suppliers

The oil market operates today without cushions of additional production capacity or significant strategic petroleum reserves beyond the U.S. reserves. For example, al-Qaeda’s February 24, 2005, attack on the Aramco facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, sent shock waves through the world’s financial markets. On the same day, the price of oil on international markets jumped nearly $2, despite the attack’s complete failure. (The terrorists and two security guards were killed.)

Most analysts agree that this attack and an averted attempt on March 28 were merely trial runs in a much longer campaign designed to disrupt the global economy, particularly the oil and gas industry. As the September 2001 World trade Center attacks demonstrated, al-Qaeda tends to return to the scene of the crime, so another strike on Abqaiq and other oil targets is likely.

Ayman al-Zawahiri has repeatedly called for attacks on key Western economic targets, especially energy sources.In a tape aired by Al Jazeera, Zawahiri said:

‘I call on the mujahideen to concentrate their attacks on Muslims’ stolen oil, most of the revenues of which go to the enemies of Islam while most of what they leave is seized by the thieves who rule our countries.’

The unfortunate reality is that the Middle East remains the strategic center of gravity of the global oil market-a position that is not likely to change in the medium term. As long as radical Islam, China, India, and Europe continue the struggle for the world’s limited oil supply in the Middle East, the region will remain unstable. If the U.S. is to protect itself from these economic and political threats, it must reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Oil as a Weapon

Many Arab leaders understand the dynamic of this dependence. For example, as early as 1990, the late Yassir Arafat said:

The North Sea oil has dried up in 1991, and the United States needed to buy Arab petroleum. And when the American oil fields themselves run dry and oil consumption in the United States increases, the American need for the Arabs will grow greater and greate

This observation has not been lost on the current generation of politicians and terrorist leaders. However, bin Laden and Zawahiri are not satisfied with the unwieldy weapons of oil boycotts, threats of boycotts, and buying political influence in the West. Instead, they are clearly zeroing in on the oil-rich kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf as their principal targets. They also appear increasingly interested in attacking the entire global oil industry, from wells to wheels.

The failed February strike and the prevented March attack on Abqaiq were not the first times that al-Qaeda has targeted energy assets in the region. In October 2002, al-Qaeda attacked the Limbourg, a French oil tanker, off the coast of Yemen with a suicide boat filled with explosives. In 2002, American and Saudi intelligence agencies uncovered a plot by al-Qaeda sympathizers inside Saudi Aramco to destroy key Saudi oil facilities. In 2003-2004, al-Qaeda attacked the Saudi port of Yanbu and murdered five Western engineers working there.

Indeed, terrorist attacks against energy infrastructure are not the exception, but the rule, as an examination of the three primary regional challenges to energy security in Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia illustrates.

Iraq. While the removal of Saddam’s regime may have been a positive factor for energy security because it freed Iraq from the U.N. sanctions that restricted oil exports, the postwar turmoil in Iraq is hindering the foreign investment that could help to expand Iraqi oil exports. This makes building a politically stable and peaceful Iraq all the more important.

Meanwhile, pipeline sabotage by foreign and domestic insurgents has crippled Iraqi oil production. Today, Iraq produces 800,000 to 1.3 million barrels per day less than it produced before Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. According to the Iraqi oil ministry, the 186 insurgent attacks on the oil industry cost the country $6.25 billion in lost revenue during 2005 and claimed the lives of 47 engineers and 91 police and security guards.

Poor U.S. postwar planning, coupled with Iraqi corruption, mismanagement, lack of investment, and inept technological exploitation of the existing fields, has clearly had a detrimental effect on production. However, terrorism, sabotage, and sectarian violence are at the heart of Iraq’s reduced oil production.

Oil export routes are hampered as well. With both the Saudi-Iraq pipeline to the south and the Syrian pipeline to the west off-line, Iraq is vitally dependent on two pipelines: one from Kirkuk to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan in the northwest and the Basra pipeline in the south.

Escalating violence is further impeding oil production and cash flow for the central government in Baghdad. The fear that the situation may deteriorate further has fueled speculation that the Kurdish region in northern Iraq may decide to pursue independence-a development that might invite both Turkish and Syrian military involvement. If this were to happen, Iraq’s oil fields in the north (the largest in the country) and the strategic Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline would likely remain under a security threat for the foreseeable future.

Iran. Despite Iranian President’s earnest and ongoing attempt to project the image of an irrational leader of what international relations theorists have called a “crazy state,” many analysts have yet to recognize fully the dire ramifications of Iran’s professed intention to develop a nuclear weapons program.

If diplomacy fails, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons will leave the U.S. and its allies with few choices, similar to the options that President John Kennedy faced 40 years ago during the Cuban missile crisis.

On one hand, the U.S. and its allies could choose the military option, deciding that a nuclear-armed Iran that sponsors global terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad is incompatible with the post-9/11 world.

Yet, the economic consequences of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities to the world energy market would likely be significant, if not disastrous. Immediately following military action, uncertainty about Iran’s ability to sustain oil production at the current level of 4.05 mbd could drive oil prices above $80 per barrel. If Iran retaliated and escalated by shutting down the Strait of Hormuz, which would merely require placing anti-ship mines in the strait, the temporary loss of more that 15 million barrels of oil to the international market could drive oil prices above $83 per barrel, the historic height of the 1970s On the other hand, Iran’s aspirations in the region are far-reaching. Allowing Iran to join the nuclear club introduces the possibility of Iranian interference throughout the Middle East, especially given Iran’s location near so many of the world’s largest oil fields.

The large Iranian military, amply supplied by Russia and China, would be in a position to dominate the Persian Gulf under a nuclear umbrella, with U.S. ground forces pinned down in Iraq.

Currently, Iran enjoys the support of some Shi’a in Iraq, especially Muqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army, and in the Shi’ite-populated Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern) Province of Saudi Arabia. This appeal could facilitate the takeover of some of the largest oil fields in the world. In a worst case scenario, a nuclear Iran could threaten the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. If this were to happen, the Islamic republic could quickly secure a sizable part of the world’s oil supply, bringing the nuclear-armed militant Shi’ite Muslim state close to a virtual monopoly over the world’s energy market.

Saudi Arabia.Saudi Arabia not only is the world’s largest exporter of oil, but also has the biggest share of unused oil production capacity, which is crucial for cushioning oil markets from supply disruptions elsewhere. Thus, the political stability and future of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry remain paramount to forecasting trends in the oil economy of the Middle East in the next 15 to 20 years.

If Saudi Arabia remains stable or even increases production, the world has a couple of decades to make the transition to new fuels, probably a combination of hydrocarbons and non-hydrocarbons. This transition needs to be manageable and not too disruptive so that industries can adjust and raise the capital necessary to create new technologies and distribution networks. However, a combination of security factors and economic policies is making this kind of “soft landing” less likely than an escalating energy shortage, rife with international security and economic crises. A successful attack on the Saudi oil facilities could cut Saudi supply and neutralize Saudi Arabia’s 1.5-2 mbd surplus oil producing capacity, which in turn would destabilize world oil markets, undermining international energy security.

Internally, the Saudi leadership has spent much of its recent existence on the knife’s edge. The balancing act between supplying the United States with oil on one hand and financing radical Islamists on the other was always a tremendously risky feat for the monarchy. The attack on Abqaiq demonstrates the potentially disastrous consequences of a misstep.

The attacks on Abqaiq most probably signal an escalation of a low-intensity terrorist war between the oil-rich Saudi monarchy and the jihadis in which oil fields, pipelines, pumping stations, ports, and terminals are soft targets, vulnerable to the types of asymmetric attacks that are already the bloody hallmark of al-Qaeda. According to Newsweek, a successful strike on Abqaiq could have cut Saudi output by more than 4 mbd for two months or more, with disastrous consequences for the global economy.[23]

Even more frightening is the prospect of jihadis mounting an outright takeover of the country. Under such a scenario, radical Islamists dedicated to overthrowing the Al Saud regime would slowly build up their forces until they could exploit a revolutionary situation created by a succession struggle, a political assassination, or some other circumstantial trigger.

Uprisings, if not checked, could lead to the regime’s overthrow and political turmoil, which would deeply affect oil production capacity and immediately and directly threaten Western experts and workers in Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden has stated his belief that oil should cost $145-$200 per barrel. If radical Wahhabis succeeded in taking over Saudi Arabia, they would likely drastically reduce production. The radical regime’s anti-Western policies, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, could trigger Western economic sanctions, which would likely include limits on investment and spare parts for the oil industry or even an outright trade boycott. Furthermore, if the survival of the world’s economy is threatened, military action to remove an al-Qaeda-type regime could not be ruled out.

Source: : U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration.

Implementing a Three-Pronged Strategy

The United States and its allies need to pursue a three-pronged strategy by preparing for contingencies in which the oil-rich regimes become destabilized, assisting friendly Persian Gulf states in enhancing security of their oil facilities, and diversifying U.S. energy sources and oil imports to reduce dependence on Persian Gulf oil. Specifically, the United States should:

  • Boost efforts to roll back Iran’s subversive ideological, terrorist, and military threats to Iraq and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf through close cooperation with those governments. It is crucial that the United States deter, contain, or disarm Iran through cooperation with its allies, particularly those oil-producing states that are most directly threatened by Iran. The U.S. defense and intelligence community should build capacity in Iraq, Turkey, and other border states. The U.S. should ascertain that these countries are staffing their intelligence and internal security agencies with reliable personnel.
  • Expand military contingency plans and prepare a rapid reaction forcein cooperation with U.S. allies in the region to secure and protect the Persian Gulf oil infrastructures if terrorists attempt to seize or destroy them. Such a force should be fully interoperable with the Gulf Cooperation Council militaries. U.S. military and intelligence agencies should support countries and companies in the region in efforts to increase their defenses against terrorist attacks on oil facilities.

The Administration should also ensure that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies receive full cooperation from the Persian Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, in the war against terrorism. An integrated and computerized real-time operations center is needed to integrate intelligence and operations to protect oil and gas infrastructure in the Gulf. The U.S. should pressure Persian Gulf states to intercept and disrupt all financial support for al-Qaeda and similar organizations around the world. These efforts should include using financial controls and improved banking transparency to cut funding for virulently anti-American/anti-Western clergy, radical Islamic academies (madrassahs), and those elements of private or state-run media that incite terrorism.

  • Diversify the sources of U.S. energy importsaway from the Persian Gulf, importing more oil from other sources such as West Africa and Eurasia, more natural gas from Canada and Mexico, and more liquid natural gas (LNG) from Russia and Africa. The Bush Administration should direct the Departments of State and Energy to provide economic aid incentives and technical assistance to non-Middle Eastern oil-producing countries to simplify regulations and speed up the licensing process for expanding and building new pipelines and refiners.
  • Diversify the U.S. energy basketby expanding domestic production of oil and gas and by lifting the bureaucratic barriers to greater use of nuclear energy. The White House and Department of Energy should actively lobby Congress to expand domestic petroleum and gas production, such as in ANWR; to allow states to override the federal limitations on continental shelf exploration and exploitation; and to speed up licensing and construction of LNG terminals.
  • Encourage expanded production and imports of methanol and ethanol.Congress should work with the U.S. Department of Commerce to lift import tariffs on foreign ethanol produced from sugar cane.The U.S. should also encourage research and development of market-based alternatives and enhanced technologies to help meet the nation’s future needs without dependence on foreign oil.
  • Expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and create a U.S. Strategic Gasoline Reserve. Currently, the U.S. SPR is sufficient for only 90 days. It needs to be expanded gradually to 180-250 days. The U.S. Department of Energy should cooperate with the European Union, China, India, and Japan to encourage all oil-importing countries to build up their strategic reserves to at least six months.

Conclusion

It is only a matter of time until America’s energy security, including its economic health and defense capabilities, will be jeopardized by the growing political instability, terrorism, and potential warfare in the Middle East. Over time, the U.S. needs to limit its dependence on foreign oil, especially from the Middle East, shifting to other sources of supply and eventually to new types of energy sources. Limiting U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil will be a major strategic challenge for the U.S. in the coming decades.

Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

 

US Sanctions: Economic Sabotage That Is Deadly, Illegal, and Ineffective

Whether in Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea or one of the 20 countries under the boot of U.S. sanctions, the Trump administration is using its economic weight to try to exact regime change or major policy changes in countries around the globe

June 18, 2019

by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies

AntiWar

While the mystery of who is responsible for sabotaging the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman remains unsolved, it is clear that the Trump administration has been sabotaging Iranian oil shipments since May 2, when it announced its intention to “bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, denying the regime its principal source of revenue.” The move was aimed at China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, all nations that purchase Iranian oil and now face US threats if they continue to do so. The US military might not have physically blown up tankers carrying Iranian crude, but its actions have the same effect and should be considered acts of economic terrorists.

The Trump administration is also committing a massive oil heist by seizing $7 billion in Venezuela’s oil assets – keeping the Maduro government from getting access to its own money. According to John Bolton, the sanctions on Venezuela will affect $11 billion worth of oil exports in 2019. The Trump administration also threatens shipping companies that carry Venezuelan oil. Two companies – one based in Liberia and the other in Greece – have already been slapped with penalties for shipping Venezuelan oil to Cuba. No gaping holes in their ships, but economic sabotage nonetheless.

Whether in Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea or one of the 20 countries under the boot of US sanctions, the Trump administration is using its economic weight to try to exact regime change or major policy changes in countries around the globe.

Deadly

The US sanctions against Iran are particularly brutal. While they have utterly failed to advance US regime change goals, they have provoked growing tensions with US trading partners across the world and inflicted terrible pain on the ordinary people of Iran. Although food and medicines are technically exempt from sanctions, US sanctions against Iranian banks like Parsian Bank, Iran’s largest non-state-owned bank, make it nearly impossible to process payments for imported goods, and that includes food and medicine. The resulting shortage of medicines is sure to cause thousands of preventable deaths in Iran, and the victims will be ordinary working people, not Ayatollahs or government ministers.

US corporate media have been complicit in the pretense that US sanctions are a nonviolent tool to inflict pressure on targeted governments in order to force some kind of democratic regime change. US reports rarely mention their deadly impact on ordinary people, instead blaming the resulting economic crises solely on the governments being targeted.

The deadly impact of sanctions is all too clear in Venezuela, where crippling economic sanctions have decimated an economy already reeling from the drop in oil prices, opposition sabotage, corruption and bad government policies. A joint annual report on mortality in Venezuela in 2018 by three Venezuelan universities found that US sanctions were largely responsible for at least 40,000 additional deaths that year. The Venezuela Pharmaceutical Association reported an 85% shortage of essential medicines in 2018.

Absent US sanctions, the rebound in global oil prices in 2018 should have led to at least a small rebound in Venezuela’s economy and more adequate imports of food and medicine. Instead, US financial sanctions prevented Venezuela from rolling over its debts and deprived the oil industry of cash for parts, repairs and new investment, leading to an even more dramatic fall in oil production than in the previous years of low oil prices and economic depression. The oil industry provides 95% of Venezuela’s foreign earnings, so by strangling its oil industry and cutting Venezuela off from international borrowing, the sanctions have predictably – and intentionally – trapped the people of Venezuela in a deadly economic downward spiral.

A study by Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, titled “Sanctions as Collective Punishment: the Case of Venezuela,” reported that the combined effect of the 2017 and 2019 US sanctions are projected to lead to an astounding 37.4% decline in Venezuela’s real GDP in 2019, on the heels of a 16.7% decline in 2018 and the over 60% drop in oil prices between 2012 and 2016.

In North Korea, many decades of sanctions, coupled with extended periods of drought, have left millions of the nation’s 25 million people malnourished and impoverished. Rural areas in particular lack medicine and clean water. Even more stringent sanctions imposed in 2018 banned most of the country’s exports, reducing the government’s ability to pay for imported food to alleviate the shortages.

Illegal

One of the most egregious elements of US sanctions is their extraterritorial reach. The US slaps third-country businesses with penalties for “violating” US sanctions. When the US unilaterally left the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions, the US Treasury Department bragged that in just one day, November 5, 2018, it sanctioned more than 700 individuals, entities, aircraft, and vessels doing business with Iran. Regarding Venezuela, Reuters reported that in March 2019 the State Department had “instructed oil trading houses and refiners around the world to further cut dealings with Venezuela or face sanctions themselves, even if the trades made are not prohibited by published US sanctions.”

An oil industry source complained to Reuters, “This is how the United States operates these days. They have written rules, and then they call you to explain that there are also unwritten rules that they want you to follow.”

US officials say that sanctions will benefit the people of Venezuela and Iran by pushing them to rise up and overthrow their governments. Since the use of military force, coups and covert operations to overthrow foreign governments have proven catastrophic in Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia, Honduras, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, the idea of using the dominant position of the US and the dollar in international financial markets as a form of “soft power” to achieve “regime change” may strike US policymakers as an easier form of coercion to sell to a war-weary US public and uneasy allies.

But shifting from the “shock and awe” of aerial bombardment and military occupation to the silent killers of preventable diseases, malnutrition and extreme poverty is far from a humanitarian option, and no more legitimate than the use of military force under international humanitarian law.

Denis Halliday was a UN Assistant Secretary General who served as Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq and resigned from the UN in protest at the brutal sanctions on Iraq in 1998.

“Comprehensive sanctions, when imposed by the UN Security Council or by a State on a sovereign country, are a form of warfare, a blunt weapon that inevitably punishes innocent citizens,” Denis Halliday told us. “If they are deliberately extended when their deadly consequences are known, sanctions can be deemed genocide. When US Ambassador Madeleine Albright said on CBS ‘Sixty Minutes’ in 1996 that killing 500,000 Iraqi children to try to bring down Saddam Hussein was ‘worth it,’ the continuation of UN sanctions against Iraq met the definition of genocide.”

Today, two UN Special Rapporteurs appointed by the UN Human Rights Council are serious independent authorities on the impact and illegality of US sanctions on Venezuela, and their general conclusions apply equally to Iran. Alfred De Zayas visited Venezuela soon after the imposition of US financial sanctions in 2017 and wrote an extensive report on what he found there. He found significant impacts due to Venezuela’s long-term dependence on oil, poor governance and corruption, but he also strongly condemned US sanctions and “economic warfare.”

“Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns,” De Zayas wrote. “Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees.” De Zayas’s report recommended that the International Criminal Court should investigate US sanctions against Venezuela as a crime against humanity.

A second UN Special Rapporteur, Idriss Jazairy, issued a forceful statement in response to the failed U.S-backed coup in Venezuela in January. He condemned “coercion” by outside powers as a “violation of all norms of international law.” “Sanctions which can lead to starvation and medical shortages are not the answer to the crisis in Venezuela,” Jazairy said, “…precipitating an economic and humanitarian crisis…is not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes.”

Sanctions also violate Article 19 of the Charter of the Organization of American States, which explicitly prohibits intervention “for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State.” It adds that it “prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.”

Article 20 of the OAS Charter is equally pertinent: “No State may use or encourage the use of coercive measures of an economic or political character in order to force the sovereign will of another State and obtain from it advantages of any kind.”

In terms of US law, both the 2017 and 2019 sanctions on Venezuela are based on unsubstantiated presidential declarations that the situation in Venezuela has created a so-called “national emergency” in the United States. If US federal courts were not so afraid to hold the executive branch accountable on matters of foreign policy, this could be challenged and very likely dismissed by a federal court even more quickly and easily than the similar case of a “national emergency” on the Mexican border, which is at least geographically connected to the United States.

Ineffective

There is one more critical reason for sparing the people of Iran, Venezuela and other targeted countries from the deadly and illegal impacts of US economic sanctions: they don’t work.

Twenty years ago, as economic sanctions slashed Iraq’s GDP by 48% over 5 years and serious studies documented their genocidal human cost, they still failed to remove the government of Saddam Hussein from power. Two UN Assistant Secretaries General, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck, resigned in protest from senior positions at the UN rather than enforce these murderous sanctions.

In 1997, Robert Pape, then a professor at Dartmouth College, tried to resolve the most basic questions about the use of economic sanctions to achieve political change in other countries by collecting and analyzing the historical data on 115 cases where this was tried between 1914 and 1990. In his study, titled “Why Economic Sanctions Do Not Work,” he concluded that sanctions had only been successful in 5 out of 115 cases.

Pape also posed an important and provocative question: “If economic sanctions are rarely effective, why do states keep using them?”

He suggested three possible answers:

  • “Decision makers who impose sanctions systematically overestimate the prospects of coercive success of sanctions.”
  • “Leaders contemplating ultimate resort to force often expect that imposing sanctions first will enhance the credibility of subsequent military threats.”
  • “Imposing sanctions usually yields leaders greater domestic political benefits than does refusing calls for sanctions or resorting to force.”

We think that the answer is probably a combination of “all of the above.” But we firmly believe that no combination of these or any other rationale can ever justify the genocidal human cost of economic sanctions in Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela or anywhere else.

While the world condemns the recent attacks on the oil tankers and tries to identify the culprit, global condemnation should also focus on the country responsible for the deadly, illegal and ineffective economic warfare at the heart of this crisis: the United States.

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Shelley Penney

The alkaline diet is a diet fad and type of nature woo that has recently gained quite a bit of popularity. The guiding idea is that altering your blood pH through diet change to make it more alkaline is a means to health benefits. As an idea, it is as stupid and insane as they come, because i) ) changing your blood pH will quickly lead to alkaliosis and death and certainly no health benefits, but ii) it doesn’t matter since it is impossible to change your blood pH through diet anyways. There is, in short, no evidence (not even the slightest) for any of the claims made by proponents of the diet, and the dietary recommendations – which are usually related to alkaline pH values at a rate little better than random chance – are often harmful for different reasons. Facts, however, tend to be of minimal importance to promoters of the idea, who often push it as part of some MLM scheme. It is of course common to mention that diet can alter urine pH (which may reduce the impact of kidney stones), something that is unrelated to your blood or the rest of your body.

One ardent promoter of the alkaline diet, is Shelley Penney, who runs the blog Real Water Health. RWH pushes in particular alkaline water, which ostensibly contains “millions of added electrons” to make the water alkaline and improve cell hydration. The blog does contain a list of 17 “Peer Reviewed Articles on Alkaline Water”, but a quick scan shows that these are articles discussing research on acidosis; none of them mention any benefits from actually drinking alkaline water. So it goes.

Penney herself is a retired nurse with interests in “health, peace and abundance”. Apparently she skipped the chemistry classes one would have hoped nurses (or any student with a highschool diploma) should have had. Penney claims, for instance, that “because it is very alkaline, ionized water may dissolve accumulated acid waste and return the body to a balance.” (The notion of “balance” involved is presumably this one.) She also claims that “keeping our body fluid pH in an alkaline state may be the first line of defense in fighting any disease,” which is technically true since an arterial blood pH much lower than 7.35–7.45 would quickly kill you. Of course, ionized water (which has a pH around seawater in any case) will not have the slightest effect on your body fluid pH.

Diagnosis: A disgrace to her profession, currently wasting her life on pushing harmful nonsense. A sad and sordid affair.

 

Rand Paul

He probably needs no introduction, but Rand Paul is in any case the junior United States Senator from Kentucky, serving since 2011. Son of Ron, Rand Paul’s main qualification for an entry here is the fact that he is one of DC’s most prominent antivaccine apologists (after Congressman Bill Posey). NowPaul is in fact arguably an MD (ophthalmologist), but he is also a member of the deranged crank organization the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which sort of negates any credentials he might (perhaps) have on paper.

With regard to vaccines, Paul has bought heavily into the antivaccine propaganda, claiming in 2011 that “I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” There is, of course, no link between vaccines and “profound mental disorders”. In fact, Paul clarified his comment a few days later, saying that “I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related … I support vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated.” Indeed, for all we know, Paul may, in fact, not believe that vaccines cause “profound mental disorders” (though the evidence is at best inconclusive and may have made the first comment just to appease the conspiracy theorists that tend to flock his events; it doesn’t matter – the mere willingness to cater to the antivaccine crowd in this manner makes you a serious loon. (In fact, the “temporal relation” claim is dubious, too.) In any case, Paul subsequently tried to frame his point, in typical antivaccine fashion, as a “health freedom” issue – what he opposes is really state- og government-mandated vaccines: “I think the parent should have some input. The state doesn’t own the children. Parents own the children.” Parents do not own their children. More recently, Paul has come out in support of conspiracy theorist and antivaxxer Michael Snyder’s run for Congress.

An opponent of rights to health care, Paul has stated that a right to health care equals slavery for health care workers, since you would in that case “have a right to come to my house and conscript me” and “have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you.” This is not how having a right to something works, but the description may be instructive when it comes to understanding how Paul conceives of e.g. constitutionally enshrined rights. He seems to have some serious difficulties with ownership-slavery relations, to the extent that normal people should be a bit concerned about putting him in any position of power.

As you’d expect Paul has also voiced support for a number of crank wingnut conspiracy theories related to the North American Union, such as the NAFTA Superhighway and the Amero. He has also toyed with religiously motivated historical revisionism, including claiming that the US is a Christian nation whose laws must be based on the Bible; in fact, we wouldn’t need laws if everyone were Christian, said Paul, which is demonstrably idiotic unless intended – we suspect it is – as a no-true-Scotsman gambit. Like David Barton’s books, Paul’s books are riddled with fake “quotes” by the founding fathers to support his agenda

On climate change, Paul’s position is that “while I do think that man may have a role in our climate, I think nature also has a role,” which is such a feeble attempt at waffling that it justifies chalking him up as a denialist. In 2011, Paul chastised President Obama – not BP – for BP’s handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; apparently Obama’s criticism was “anti-business” and “un-American”. Then he thought that people should stop playing the blame game because shit just happens.

Diagnosis: Conspiracy theorist and, more significantly, conspiracy theorist enabler. And Paul has a significant following (even though he seems to lack his father’s charisma) and as such quite a bit of power to realize the deranged aims of such conspiracy theorists. Extremely dangerous.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

June 18, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conversation No. 4

Date: Wednesday, March 20, 1996

Commenced: 9:32 AM (CST)

Concluded: 10:08 AM (CST)

RTC: Hello, Gregory. Sorry I was out the last time you called but we were off on family business. My son’s family. By the way, I have some information for you that might interest you. You know, there are a number of people here who are not happy with you and they are certainly not pleased that I am talking with you. Not at all. This morning I had a call from some shit at Justice who wanted to warn me, being a friendly and caring person of course, that you were a very bad person and I would ruin my reputation by telling you anything. He had a similar talk with Corson yesterday. Bill called me last night about this and we both laughed about it. This is a sure sign that you must be right. Both of us know you were friends with Müller and the thought of him loose in America is something the Company, and now Justice, does not want talked about. First off, they don’t know what name he used while he was here.

GD: Are you serious, Robert?

RTC: Oh yes, very. You see, the CIA and don’t forget the Army, used high-level Nazis after the Cold War broke out. We especially went after the Gestapo and SD people because they had the most to do with fighting the Communists, both in Germany in the ‘30s and then during the war.

GD: I knew Gehlen very well and met some of them. I agree. His top recruiter was old Willi Krichbaum who was a Colonel in the SS and a top Gestapo person. I talked many times with Willi who had been in the Freikorps after the first war and he was quite a fellow. He was Müller’s top deputy in the Gestapo and in charge of the border guards at one time. And, don’t forget, Willi was head of the Wehrmacht’s Geheime Feldpolizei who had a terrible reputation with the troops. Hanging deserters at the end of the war. Yes, Gehlen told me the SS intelligence men were his best people.

RTC: You have a grasp of this from the time, don’t you? So, of course no one now wants to infuriate the rah-rah patriotic idiots and most especially the Jews by letting anyone know about this. You see, they brought Müller and others over here and gave them new names and identities. The higher they had been, the more they concealed them. Now your friend Müller’s name was known to Truman, Beetle Smith, Critchfield, Gehlen and about three others. Now that everyone is dead and you are tearing open old caskets, they are absolutely frantic to find out what name Mueller was here under and actually so they can run around the files and burn anything with that name on it. Then they can say, like the pious frauds they are, that Oh no, we never heard of that person. We searched our records, sir, and believe us, there was no such person anywhere. That’s what they want. Smith is dead, Truman is ditto, Critchfield will never talk because he ran Müller and still has his pension to consider. I know the name but they have never brought the subject up to me. They think you’re a loose cannon, Gregory, with no loyalty to the system and they think I am getting daft in my old age and marginalize me.

GD: Think they’ll shoot me? A boating accident? Something like that?

RTC: When I was in harness, yes, they would. A bungled robbery or a rape like Kennedy’s lady friend but not now. Besides, they don’t know what you have on them and if you were crushed to death by an elephant falling out of a plane, who knows what might come out? I have to send you some documentation which you then have to let them know you have. But in a safe place, not in a local storage locker under your name or in your attic or garage. A gentle hint of joys to come. I have hinted at that and very strongly. The Justice oaf today got an earful from me and when I told him I would tell you about this, he got scared and hung up on me. Now, I can expect Tom Kimmel to call me and try to find out if I’ve told you or given you anything. You know, you got some rare documents that were very helpful to his case to clear the Admiral but now he’s a torn person. The family wants desperately to accept these as genuine but are furious that you, a terrible person in their eyes, had them. No gratitude. I suppose if that awful Wolfe had found them and passed them along, he would be a great hero to the Kimmel family but you are one whose name is never to be mentioned. You know, Gregory, I find this very entertaining. And Kimmel is horrified that Bill and I like you and talk to you. Both of us have been warned, I by people from the Company I haven’t seen since I retired and Bill by the fringe wannabees like Trento and others. I think it’s time we nailed Critchfield, don’t you?

GD: I’m game, Robert. If he ran Müller, he must be scared.

RTC: Will be scared shitless. In the old days, he’d have had you killed at once but those days are no more. You knew Gehlen and that will be my approach. You are quick enough with in-house terms so that I can convince Jimmy that you were once part of his operation. You’ll have to play it by ear but you are about ten times smarter than him so you should have fun. I want you to convince him that you were really there and knew some his people. And most important, convince him you knew Mueller. Oddly enough, Jimmy never met Mueller because he operated him out of Switzerland through Willi and later, Müller moved up the ladder to the point where Jimmy had no access to him. Let’s keep his bowels open, Gregory, what do you say?

GD: I have no problem. Should I tape him?

RTC: Why not get him on a speaker phone with both a tape recorder going and a reputable witness? That way, if something comes of this and they get to the witness, you have a backup.

GD: I have a retired colonel acquaintance who was with your people in ‘Nam. He’d be perfect as a witness. Just let me know. Is Justice going to do something nasty to me?

RTC: God no. They just want to scare me off of you, that’s all. They’re all such pinheads, Gregory. They chatter like old whores at a tea party and I can remind you that gossip is king here. Everyone inside the Beltway runs around like the little self-important toads that they are, pretending to be really important. They see a Senator in a restaurant, wave at him and get waved at back. This impresses their client who does not realize that the Senator will always wave back on the assumption that the waver might be someone important he might have forgotten. And they tell you that the President, or the Secretary of this or that said this to them when no one knows them at the White House or anywhere else. This jerk from Justice is a small, malformed cog in a big and brainless machine. Typical. I had to deal with these punks for years and I have more respect for a black tart, believe me. At least they don’t try to hide the fact that they fuck for money.

GD: (Laughter)

RTC: It really isn’t funny. If the public was aware of the crooked, lying sacks of shit that run this country, they would be boiling the tar and preparing the chicken feathers.

GD: You know, speaking of Gehlen, he told me in ’51 that his famous ’48 report about the Russians being poised to invade Europe was made up at the Army’s specific request. Gehlen told me that far from moving hundreds of armored units into the east zone, the Russians had torn up all the railroad tracks after the war and shipped them back to Russia. And most of the armored divisions were only cadre.

RTC: But it did work, didn’t it? Big business got to gear up for a fictional coming war and the military got a huge boost.

GD: Ever heard of General Trudeau?

RTC: Oh yes, I knew him personally. What about him?

GD: He found out about Gehlen and bitched like hell about what he called a bunch of Nazis working for the CIA and inventing stories about fake invasion threats.

RTC: Now that’s something I didn’t know. You know they shipped him out of the European command and sent him to the Far East? Yes, and I met him when I was in Hawaii. I’m surprised they didn’t do to him what they did to George Patton. A convenient truck ran into his car and shut him up.

GD: Why?

RTC: George found out that the top brass was stealing gold from the salt mine and many generals and colonels were getting very rich. And then the accident and with George dead, they just went on stealing.

GD: I can use that.

RTC: I can get you some paper on that out of my files. Patton was strange but one of our better generals. Lying thieves. Gold has a great attraction for people, I guess.

GD: A few years ago, one of your boys, Jimmy Atwood and I went down into Austria to dig up some Nazi gold. Atwood is a terrible asshole but very useful. I think he viewed me the same way. Anyway, we had a former SS officer and a Ukrainian camp guard along. What a wonderful adventure, Robert.

RTC: Were you successful? Treasure hunts rarely are.

GD: Oh, very. And we brought most of it back with us.

RTC: How ever did you get it through customs?

GD: Boat. Brought it in by boat. I’ll tell you about this some time. Did you ever hear about it?

RTC: No, I didn’t. Should I have?

GD: Probably a rogue operation. Two Limeys got knocked on the head and put over the side on the way to the Panama Canal but other than that, it was an uneventful trip.

RTC: Well, someday, I’ll discuss the Kennedy assassination and you can tell me about the gold hunt. Sounds fair?

GD: Oh yes, why not?

RTC: I remember the time we had to fly the KMT general out of Burma with an Air America transport full of gold. He was our boy out there but he had a hankering to make more money so he began to raise opium and used our weapons to kill off the locals. Thirteen million in gold and twelve trunks full of opium. Quite a problem getting it all into Switzerland and into a bank. But he performed and we kept our word. That fucking Colby was into drugs as well.

GD: William?

RTC: Yes, our beloved DCI. A nasty piece of work, Gregory. Was working in SEA doing the drug business when he was tapped for PHOENIX. And just kept on going when he got to Saigon. PHOENIX got to be a really nasty business and Bill set up torture centers all over our part of the country. Regional Intelligence Centers they called them. Well, Church got his hands on some of the goings on and guess what? Colby snitched on all his co-workers. I know for a fact from some of the old ones that they’re going to kill him for that. I remember he has some kind of a telephone device hidden in his glasses. Princeton man. You can always tell a Princeton man, Gregory, but you can’t tell him very much. Watch the papers pretty soon.

GD: How will they nail him? Run down in a crosswalk? A stampede of elephants flatten him in his garden?

RTC: You have an overheated imagination. I don’t know the how but I do know the why. Give it six months and the Dictator of Dent Place will be another stone in the cemetery.

GD: What about the one who killed himself by tying weights to his legs and shooting himself in the back of the head before jumping off his boat?

RTC: John Arthur Paisley. He used to be the deputy director of the Office of Strategic Research. Paisley. Tragic. Shouldn’t have sold out to the Russians. He was such a rotten mess when they found him that it took weeks to do an ID on him. There’ve been more.

GD: I have a packet coming in from overseas and the mail truck is at the end of the block. Let me ring off now, Robert and I can call you back later today.

RTC: Make it tomorrow. OK? Things to do.

(Concluded at 10:08 AM CST)

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

 

 

 

 

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