TBR News June 22, 2016

Jun 22 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 22, 2016: “ The sky is falling! I have seen this disaster coming for quite a while and though it is not being planned, it is inevitable. Massive unemployment in this country because the major manufacturing companies have all moved overseas to save on money; a diminution of American military power, and the threat of it, across the planet.

And added to this are the tremendous number of Americans who drive gas-guzzling cars and the fact that the United States only produces enough oil to give to the enormous military.

American political and military goals over the past decades has been to secure oil so that the population will remain happy.

Unfortunately for this scenario, Russia now has direct or de facto control of the oil and gas and so the CIA has been trying to get their hands on it.

As usual, they have been clumsy, ill-advised and a failure.

Putin has always been one or two steps ahead of the United States and the more we scream at him and the more we harass him, the stronger he becomes.

Soon enough, the world economy will slow down, hesitate and then start downwards.

Like all fiscal bubbles do.


We will see, are seeing, redoubling bankruptcies, pensions vanishing, no more social security, increased unemployment, increased police reactions to protests, increasing protests, more repression, and soon, learn what James Watt did.

If you block the spout of a boiling tea kettle, the lid blows off.”  

The Müller Washington Journals   1948-1951

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

His name was Heinrich Müller.

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 19 January, 1951

I had a discussion with (General Walter Bedell, ed. ) Smith today concerning (Allan W. ed.) Dulles. For some completely unknown reason, I seem to be one of the only people who can get along with Smith. Truman likes him; I do not but he is the Director and one must get along, after all.

Smith had a recent operation for ulcers, which I used to have, and a good deal of his stomach is gone. Ulcers obviously come from his temperament that is acidic and very bitter. I found out that he is one of the few high-ranking Generals who did not go to the Military Academy (West Point, ed.) and is laughed at by those who did.

Also, he has very little money and is a poor man from the Middle West. He is very bitter about this and I have played to this when dealing with him. I speak about my own poor background; make fun of the brainless aristocrats and so on. This he seems to like and I am one of the few people he does not insist stand up when he comes into a room.

Every time I look at him, I am reminded of the story Truscott told me about Sicily. It is very hard to take him seriously but I try.

A small-minded man who hates everyone but is a capable organizer. Of course Himmler was a very strange man with his herbal remedies and religious fervor about old Germans but he too was a good organizer.

Smith glares hatefully at everyone and is now very upset with Dulles. I had told him previously that Dulles was a congenital idiot who made terrible errors in Switzerland when he headed the OSS there. His reports on what was what inside Germany sound as if they were written by his housekeeper (who was a Soviet spy…and mine as well) when she was drunk on vanilla extract.

The other day, he was telling Smith that his OSS sent twenty teams into Germany in the last part of the war and they all returned with rare documents and vital information.

I enjoyed telling Smith that he had sent twenty two teams into Germany and I caught and executed every one of them! I told Smith I had records on all of this and he asked me to make copies for him.

He got Dulles into the CIA but now regrets it because, he says, Dulles acts as if he ought to have Smith’s job and that Smith is an idiot (Dulles used those very words) who fooled Truman. Smith hates him now and wants to discredit him. Never should have let him get his foot in the door. Dulles is one of those well-bred idiots who went to the correct schools and met the right people. If it weren’t for that, he would be scrubbing toilets in the YMCA in some small town in New Jersey.

The CIA, unfortunately, is filled with such idiots and they spend all their time talking about their social friends and so on, while they are busy looting the treasury of government money and spending it on small boats, club memberships and tuition for their children at very good schools. My God, these brainless innates will breed and we should encourage them to drop their calves into the ocean and spare the country from their arrogant pretensions to gentility and ability.

The CIA head of counter intelligence, (William K. ed) Harvey is one of the few that did not go to Yale or Harvard. He used to be in the FBI until Hoover fired him for being drunk all the time and he came over to the CIA as a “Russian expert.” Of course Robert tells me that Harvey still reports to Hoover and is his man on the inside that is utter nonsense because Maxl knows more about the Soviets than he does, but there we are.

I do love to listen to these bores droning on about a subject that I am very well up on and note the number of errors they can make in a single sentence.

Someone has suggested that I might like to join a Council on Foreign Relations that Dulles founded some time ago but I declined. Such elitist groups can be seen any day in the library of the Metropolitan Club, drinking like fish and chattering away about how to control the banks in this country and set its foreign policy to suit themselves. They do have some influence but it is not good influence. Alger Hiss is a member…still!

And some interesting news. Bunny is for certain pregnant! How wonderful to be a father at fifty. Well, my father is still alive and healthy although mother died three years ago. Maybe I will have a long life (if I cut back on the cigars…which I am doing…and watch the cognac intake) and confound my enemies. So far, I have outlived a number of them that is a great comfort.

Bunny is very happy and I am supportive. We have had a good deal of fun at our new place and I am now doing fairly well on horseback. She knows quite a few of the CIA people and agrees with me that they are as empty of brains as a ladle. Still, I recall that they used to call the OSS “Oh So Social” after its “aristocratic” membership.

She knows that I have had a few brief affairs with a wife or two and told me that she more or less expected this and unless I made a point of it, would not be too worried.

We do seem to get on quite well and I often discuss business with her, something she tells me her Georgetown lady friends husbands will not. She had good insight into local customs and even better insight into the people of her class and is valuable in that sense. She does agree with me that we want none of those drunken ninnies to come down here to visit. She said she would get tired counting the silver spoons after they left!

Saturday, 20. January, 1951.

American troops are now advancing against the Chinese and North Koreans and it is felt that they will be pushed back over the 38th parallel. Now the question is, do we go further as we did last time or merely stop at the parallel? This would restore the situation to a status quo ante bellum but half a cake is better than none. The general feeling here is that we bit off far more than we could chew by going so close to the Chinese-Russian borders and that perhaps this time we could just stop short of the border, perhaps no further than the parallel.

We then would have beaten them by chasing them out of South Korea but there is also the argument that we ought to reunify the country and go further north. Stalin did send in a number of Soviet aircraft, which we do not like to emphasize but what would he do the next time? It would probably be wiser to stop at the former border but only after wreaking havoc on the Chinese troops so that their losses would prevent them from attempting any further adventures.

Viktor came down today for lunch and chess and we had a most interesting literary and historical discussion later in the afternoon. When we had finished our games (three to me, one to him) Arno joined us in the library mostly to ask me several questions about a paper I am working on and he is putting into better English.

Somehow, the conversation turned to the Jews and from a general, rather bland overview, we got off into the notorious Protocols (the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, ed.) I have known about this book for some time, glanced at it and found it rather pretentious and of questionable origin. It was nothing I could use in my official work and I have more interest in other literary matters than a Russian-produced anti-Semitic diatribe.

Arno is a university graduate with a doctorate in history and he joined the conversation because he has written an historical background on the subject.

While we were deep in discussion, Bunny joined us and the four of us had a most interesting afternoon indeed.

There are twenty-four of these protocols which purport to be a report of a gathering of Jewish elders in Prague sometime in the nineteenth century. They first appeared in Russia in 1903 and were subsequently expanded into the book we are now talking about. This work was published in Russia and then, after the 1914 war, got into England and then to America. Henry Ford, the automobile maker, was entranced with them and had them printed in this country and widely distributed.

Then pro-Jewish scholars did some research and determined that the book was lifted in toto from a political pamphlet appearing in 1864 put together by one Maurice Joly. At that time, it was entitled “Dialogs in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu” and was a satire on Napoleon III, the constitutional dictator. Joly was arrested and spent the rest of his life in jail.

Somehow, the book, which was banned in France and all known copies burnt by orders of the Minister of Police, ended up in Russia where it was altered to be anti- Semitic and published in that country.

So much for history. At least that is what I thought, having heard some of this before. No, Arno assured us, it was not that simple. It seems that Joly copied his Protocols from a much earlier book by one Eugène Sue called Les Mystères du peuple.

According to Arno, Sue copied his material, which duplicated the Russian production in its anti-Semitism, from someone much earlier. So, now we have the Protocols, an anti-Jewish document, lifted from a French satire on Napoleon III that was, in turn, stolen intact from a much earlier French work that was anti-Jewish.

Arno then asks if the basic tenets of the Protocols are fakes?

Viktor, who has some knowledge of this, says that they are not; that this subject has been around for at least two hundred years. He and Arno had a discussion about the roots of this business and Arno went and got a pamphlet from his library that was published in France in 1880. As Viktor does not speak French (Bunny does and I understand quite a bit of it), Arno translated it into English and I made some notes.

In some ways this is similar to the Joly book, and certainly postdates it, and in other ways not.

Purported to be a response by Byzantine Jews to letter from French Jews in the fourteen hundreds, it says…in essence

“If the French king wishes to force you to become Christians, do this because he uses force but if you do, always remain true to the laws of Moses within yourself. If the French take away your lands and money, become merchants so that you can strip the Christians of their lands and money. If they threaten to kill you if you do not convert, join them and make your children doctors so that they may kill them. If the French Christians destroy your temples, join their churches so that you may destroy them from the inside. You are also enjoined to make your children lawyers so that you may further take revenge upon them.”

Of course there is no determining if this letter is actual although Arno says there is a copy of it in the National Library in Paris that dates from 1490 and is quite authentic to that period.

The Protocols go on at some length about how Jews can achieve power and gain protection against the Christians. This by being bankers and owning the press and so on.

Of course one must say that I doubt if the Jews, who are very intelligent people, would put such things down on paper but considering the official secret papers from both Germany and America that I have or have seen, one cannot make this statement with any degree of logic. All people are very stupid and it would not surprise me if something of the sort had not been written.

Viktor went on about the problem of Jews in Russia. Nothing that I did not already know. He spoke of how much the Christian Russians detested them and eventually had terrible pogroms in the late 19th century. These pogroms only hardened the attitude of the Jews who stayed in Russia and from these persecuted people emerged the Bolsheviks who had a most terrible hatred for the Russian Christian community.

Since the Czar was the embodiment of the Orthodox Church in Russia, the radicals aimed at him and his aristocracy.

Once Lenin was in power, he and Stalin used this cadre of intelligent, ruthless and very vindictive Russian Jews to fasten the yoke of communism onto the Russian people. In the process, their trained dogs obliterated the churches and killed off as many of the priests as they could. This was coupled with great bloodbaths aimed at the Christian Russians. And then what? Viktor says that now in Russia, there is another growing anti- Semitic movement, led by Stalin himself! Many of the old-time Bolsheviks were murdered by him in his purges and now he plans to wipe out the rest in one terrible pogrom.

I must say, in private, that I do feel sorry for the plight of the Jews. They were so oppressed in Imperial Russia that they fell into Stalin’s trap and eagerly became his executioners, not realizing that their heads would be next to fall into the basket.

Then we got onto the subject of anti-Semitism in America. It is obvious both to Viktor and myself that the current, growing and very brutal anti-communist movement here in America is actually anti-Semitic in nature. It is a concealed anti-Semitism but is there just the same.


Like Stalin, Roosevelt recognized the value of Jews for his radical social programs. Although he personally did not like Jews, he welcomed them into his government where they eagerly implemented his anti-business and pro-trade union programs. This led to Roosevelt’s acceptance of Soviet Russia and by his doing so, increased his popularity among the Jewish community who, of course, were very pro- Stalin. After all, didn’t the Great Georgian officially make anti-Semitism a capital offense and hadn’t he filled his government with many Jews? Naturally, among Jewish liberals, Stalin was a great man and Roosevelt, seeing this, did the same thing.

However, when Roosevelt died, the protector was not longer able to promote and his successors began to move against the Jews in the New Deal.

The leadership of the CIA is what they call “East Coast Establishment”. They are Protestant, mostly Episcopalian, anti-Catholic, anti-German, very pro-British and exceptionally anti-Semitic. They know they cannot come out and attack Jews as such so they now savagely attack all communists with the wink-and-nod that “we all know communists are all Jews.”

Of course this is not true but the attacks on all communists, in academia, government and the motion picture industry are motivated mostly by anti-Semitism and nothing else. This is one of the reasons that I have friends in the Pentagon and at the CIA because they assume, wrongly, that I persecuted the Jews during the course of the Third Reich. That I assisted many Jews to escape they do not know and I do not think it would suit me to discuss this with them.

Dulles is certainly typical of this aristocratic anti-Semitism. In fact, in the upper reaches of the CIA, only Angleton is pro-Jewish and this is because his mother was a Mexican Jew. Dulles doesn’t much like him and I suspect for that reason.

It is also assumed in the CIA that I hate Russians. This is not the case at all. I detested German communists whom I consider to be traitors to their country and agents of a hostile foreign government. I have the same view in this country. In my view, all traitors, German or American, should be shot on the spot with no mercy shown. On the other hand, I know what Viktor is and it does not bother me to socialize with him and play chess with someone whom Dulles would consider an incarnation of Satan. I have always considered myself to be a German patriot and not an ideologue. Anyone who makes their personal prejudices a matter of policy is a damned idiot and I have always maintained this, even during my tenure in the Gestapo.

Stalin and his system will eventually pass away and the Russian people will be left behind. Are we to murder all of them? People like Dulles and Wisner would certainly do this with great glee but Truman would never approve of, for example, dropping one of our fourteen atomic bombs on Moscow or Leningrad out of hate.

Now there is talk in the Pentagon about using bacterial warfare against the Chinese in Korea but it will need Truman’s approval and they will never get it from him.

It is very fortunate for the Chinese that someone like Eisenhower is not in the White House or the lunatic fringe here would certainly have their way. Truman did order the atom bomb dropped on Japan but he was new to the job, lied to by everyone around him and pushed into his decision. He said to me once that it was the worst error of his Presidency and he would never do something like that again.


Long-Awaited Domestic Drone Rules Won’t Stop Peeping Drones

June 21 2016

by Alex Emmons

The Intercept

The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday released regulations on the use of drones in American airspace, spelling out in more than 600 pages rules that will take effect in August relating to weight, speed, altitude, certification for commercial users, and other flight restrictions.

But despite recognizing that drones “pose risks to individual privacy,” the FAA declined to issue any privacy regulations at all.

More than 180 groups raised privacy concerns through the agency’s public commenting process, but the FAA decided that its “long-standing mission … as a safety agency” does not include privacy, and that “it would be overreaching for the FAA to enact regulations concerning privacy rights.”

The rise of drones gives both hobbyists and corporations access to a relatively inexpensive surveillance technology. In 2013, the Congressional Research Service warned that drones could be used for “stalking, harassment, voyeurism, and wiretapping.” In 2014, Business Insider reported on a real example: a Seattle woman who was being stalked through the windows of her high-rise apartment.

There are also few legal restrictions on the surveillance or data-retention abilities of commercial drones. Drones can be equipped with sophisticated imaging technology like Gigapixel cameras, infrared sensors, and facial recognition technology. According the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), some drones can track up to 65 targets across an area as wide as 65 miles.

The stalking capability of drones even persuaded Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that they had to be regulated. “I’m in my home and there’s a demonstration out front, and I go to peek out the window and there’s a drone facing me,” she explained in an interview with 60 Minutes. She said that for her, it raised “major” privacy concerns. Ironically, Feinstein is one of Congress’s foremost defenders of NSA surveillance.

Due to the frequency of drone crashes and near misses, Congress in 2012 required the FAA to develop a “comprehensive plan” for the integration of commercial and private drones into U.S. airspace. Congress did not mention privacy specifically, but advocates have argued that the prevalence and surveillance capabilities of drones makes regulating privacy an essential feature of drone safety.

“Commercial operators are free to collect data on people in public with little to no restriction on the information they collect, how they use it, or who they share it with,” said Jeramie Scott, an attorney with EPIC. “Congress mandated that the FAA come up with a comprehensive plan to integrate drones into the airspace,” he said. “The agency’s refusal to establish privacy standards is inconsistent with this mandate.”

The FAA has previously indicated that it may include privacy regulations in its rules. In 2013, privacy advocates celebrated when the agency directed each of its regulation test sites for the new rules to write and implement their own privacy recommendations.

Several weeks ago, however, EPIC published previously secret documents they obtained through Freedom of Information Act litigation, showing that the FAA declined to invite any privacy advocates to secret meetings between the government’s secret drone task force and drone industry representatives, which took place in November.

According to the FAA, many of the 180 groups who raised privacy concerns thought it was necessary for their business, including the Illinois Farm Bureau, Colorado Cattleman’s Association, and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, who argued that drones should not be permitted over private property without advanced authorization from the owner.

The FAA says it is “following up” on its concerns with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to “develop best practices concerning privacy.”

Bipartisan groups in both houses of Congress have introduced measures to restrict how law enforcement can use drones without a warrant, but those measures would not affect private users or corporations.

Amazon and Google’s drone delivery plans hit snag with new US regulations

The Obama administration has green-lit commercial drones so long as they stay within sight of a pilot – which isn’t exactly what companies had in mind

June 21, 2016

by Danny Yadron

The Guardian

San Francisco-In the not-too-distant future, Amazon could use a drone to deliver a package from a country warehouse all the way to … a nearby farm.

And that, the government said on Tuesday, is about it.

The Obama administration green-lit commercial drone flights but said it wasn’t ready to let Google and Amazon launch automated drone delivery fleets out across urban areas.

The regulations mark the government’s first explicit efforts to define the commercial uses for the horde of small, plastic, buzzing aircraft that are invading America’s skies. The Federal Aviation Administration said commercial drones are OK so long as the drone and its payload weigh less than 55lb, stay within unaided sight of the pilot and operators pass a test every two years. In addition, each drone must have its own pilot.

While consumers have flocked to the miniature aircraft, US businesses say the problem for them is not technology. Amazon and Google, for instance, have shown prototype delivery drones that could eliminate the need for shipping via post or UPS. Executives say the holdup is a web of unclear regulation.

The government said it is comfortable with companies using drones for inspecting crops, search and rescue, aerial photography and other infrastructure inspection. But when it comes to deliveries, the Obama administration said drones are only clear for take off in a very limited set of circumstances.

The combined drone and package still has to weigh less than 55lb. The drones cannot fly over anyone not involved in the transaction and cannot fly out of sight of the pilot. That isn’t exactly what Amazon had in mind with its famous demo video of a drone touching down on a suburban driveway.

The government said on Tuesday that Amazon had taken particular issue with its requirement to have one pilot for each drone. “Amazon asserted that the proposed restriction is based on the flawed premises that small UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] must be operated under constant manual control,” the FAA’s filing said.

The government said Google, meanwhile, argued for the ability to “present a safety case” for instances where they want to be able to fly drones over “non-participants”.

The debate doesn’t appear to be entirely about safety. The Teamsters labor union, whose membership includes truck drivers, has lobbied against letting pilots control fleets of multiple drones, “until there is technological certainty that no workers, or the general public, would be at risk from automated package delivery”, the government said.

The government said it lacks data on the safety of flying drones outside the line-of-sight of the pilot; though it said operators could apply for a waiver on a case-by-case basis.

Commercial drones can only fly during daylight and 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. Speeds must be kept under 100 mph and the drones can’t fly above 400ft (122m).

The government acknowledged that it doesn’t have the authority to regulate recreational drone flights the same way, other than to punish amateur pilots who “endanger the safety of the national airspace system”. US hobbyists are also supposed to register their drones, though it’s unclear what percentage actually do.

Dominating the Skies — and Losing the Wars

Air Supremacy Isn’t What It Used to Be

by William J. Astore


In the era of the long war on terror, Thursday, June 2nd, 2016, was a tough day for the U.S. military. Two modern jet fighters, a Navy F-18 Hornet and an Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, flown by two of America’s most capable pilots, went down, with one pilot killed. In a war that has featured total dominance of the skies by America’s intrepid aviators and robotic drones, the loss of two finely tuned fighter jets was a remarkable occurrence.

As it happened, though, those planes weren’t lost in combat.  Enemy ground fire or missiles never touched them nor were they taken out in a dogfight with enemy planes (of which, of course, the Islamic State, the Taliban, and similar U.S. enemies have none).  Each was part of an elite aerial demonstration team, the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds, respectively. Both were lost to the cause of morale-boosting air shows.

Each briefly grabbed the headlines, only to be quickly forgotten.  Americans moved on, content in the knowledge that accidents happen in risky pursuits.

But here’s a question: What does it say about our overseas air wars when the greatest danger American pilots face involves performing aerial hijinks over the friendly skies of “the homeland”?  In fact, it tells us that U.S. pilots currently have not just air superiority or air supremacy, but total mastery of the fabled “high ground” of war.  And yet in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Greater Middle East, while the U.S. rules the skies in an uncontested way, America’s conflicts rage on with no endgame in sight.

In other words, for all its promise of devastating power delivered against enemies with remarkable precision and quick victories at low cost (at least to Americans), air power has failed to deliver, not just in the ongoing war on terror but for decades before it.  If anything, by providing an illusion of results, it has helped keep the United States in unwinnable wars, while inflicting a heavy toll on innocent victims on our distant battlefields.  At the same time, the cult-like infatuation of American leaders, from the president on down, with the supposed ability of the U.S. military to deliver such results remains remarkably unchallenged in Washington.

America’s Experience with Air Power

Since World War II, even when the U.S. military has enjoyed total mastery of the skies, the end result has repeatedly been stalemate or defeat.  Despite this, U.S. leaders continue to send in the warplanes.  To understand why, a little look at the history of air power is in order.

In the aftermath of World War I, with its grim trench warfare and horrific killing fields, early aviators like Giulio Douhet of Italy, Hugh Trenchard of Britain, and Billy Mitchell of the United States imagined air power as the missing instrument of decision.  It was, they believed, the way that endless ground war and the meat grinder of the trenches that went with it could be avoided in the future.  Unfortunately for those they inspired, in World War II the skies simply joined the land and the seas as yet another realm of grim attrition, death, and destruction.

Here’s a quick primer on the American experience with air power:

* In World War II, the U.S. Army Air Forces joined Britain’s Royal Air Force in a “combined bomber offensive” against Nazi Germany.  A bitter battle of attrition with Germany’s air force, the Luftwaffe, ensued.  Allied aircrews suffered crippling losses until air superiority was finally achieved early in 1944 during what would be dubbed the “Big Week.”  A year later, the Allies had achieved air supremacy and were laying waste to Germany’s cities (as they would to Japan’s), although even then they faced formidable systems of ground fire as well as elite Luftwaffe pilots in the world’s first jet fighters.  At war’s end, Allied losses in aircrews had been staggering, but few doubted that those crews had contributed immeasurably to the defeat of the Nazis (as well as the Japanese).

* Thanks to air power’s successes in World War II (though they were sometimes exaggerated), in 1947 the Air Force gained its independence from the Army and became a service in its own right.  By then, the enemy was communism, and air power advocates like General Curtis LeMay were calling for the creation of a strategic air command (SAC) made up of long-range bombers armed with city-busting thermonuclear weapons.  The strategy of that moment, nuclear “deterrence” via the threat of “massive retaliation,” later morphed into “mutually assured destruction,” better known by its telling acronym, MAD.  SAC never dropped a nuclear bomb in anger, though its planes did drop a few by accident.  (Fortunately for humanity, none exploded.)  Naturally, when the U.S. “won” the Cold War, the Air Force took much of the credit for having contained the Soviet bear behind a thermonuclear-charged fence.

* Frustration first arrived full-blown in the Korean War (1950-1953).  Primitive, rugged terrain and an enemy that went deep underground blunted the effectiveness of bombing.  Flak and fighters (Soviet MiGs) inflicted significant losses on Allied aircrews, while U.S. air power devastated North Korea, dropping 635,000 tons of bombs, the equivalent in explosive yield of 40 Hiroshima bombs, as well as 32,557 tons of napalm, leveling its cities and hitting its dams.  Yet widespread bombing and near total air superiority did nothing to resolve the stalemate on the ground that led to an unsatisfying truce and a Korea that remains bitterly divided to this day.

* The next round of frustration came in the country’s major conflicts in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and early 1970s.  American air power bombed, strafed, and sprayed with defoliants virtually everything that moved (and much that didn’t) in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.  A staggering seven million tons of bombs, the equivalent in explosive yield to more than 450 Hiroshimas, were dropped in the name of defeating communism.  An area equivalent in size to Massachusetts was poisoned with defoliants meant to strip cover from the dense vegetation and jungle of South Vietnam, poison that to this day brings death and disfigurement to Vietnamese.  The North Vietnamese, with modest ground-fire defenses, limited surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and a few fighter jets, were hopelessly outclassed in the air.  Nonetheless, just as in Korea, widespread American bombing and air superiority, while generating plenty of death and destruction, didn’t translate into victory.

* Fast-forward 20 years to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990-1991, and then to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  In both cases, U.S. and coalition air forces had not just air superiority but air supremacy as each time the Iraqi air force fled or was otherwise almost instantly neutralized, along with the bulk of that country’s air defenses.  Yet for all the hype that followed about “precision bombing” and “shock and awe,” no matter how air power was applied, events on the ground proved stubbornly resistant to American designs.  Saddam Hussein survived Desert Storm to bedevil U.S. leaders for another dozen years.  After the 2003 invasion with its infamous “mission accomplished” moment, Iraq degenerated into insurgency and civil war, aggravated by the loss of critical infrastructure like electrical generating plants, which U.S. air power had destroyed in the opening stages of the invasion.  Air supremacy over Iraq led not to long-lasting victory but to an ignominious U.S. withdrawal in 2011.

* Now, consider the “war on terror,” preemptively announced by George W. Bush in 2001 and still going strong 15 years later. Whether the target’s been al-Qaeda, the Taliban, al-Shabbab, al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, or more recently the Islamic State, from the beginning U.S. air power enjoyed almost historically unprecedented mastery of the skies.  Yet despite this “asymmetric” advantage, despite all the bombing, missile strikes, and drone strikes, “progress” proved both “fragile” and endlessly “reversible” (to use words General David Petraeus applied to his “surges” in Iraq and Afghanistan).  In fact, 12,000 or so strikes after Washington’s air war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq began in August 2014, we now know that intelligence estimates of its success had to be deliberately exaggerated by the military to support a conclusion that bombing and missile strikes were effective ways to do in the Islamic State.

So here we are, in 2016, 25 years after Desert Storm and nearly a decade after the Petraeus “surge” in Iraq that purportedly produced that missing mission accomplished moment for Washington — and U.S. air assets are again in action in Iraqi and now Syrian skies.  They are, for instance, flying ground support missions for Iraqi forces as they attempt to retake Falluja, a city in al-Anbar Province that had already been “liberated” in 2004 at a high cost to U.S. ground troops and an even higher one to Iraqi civilians.  Thoroughly devastated back then, Falluja has again found itself on the receiving end of American air power.

If and when Iraqi forces do retake the city, they may inherit little more than bodies and rubble, as they did in taking the city of Ramadi last December.  About Ramadi, Patrick Cockburn noted last month that “more than 70% of its buildings are in ruins and the great majority of its 400,000 people are still displaced” (another way of saying, “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it”).  American drones, meanwhile, continue to soar over foreign skies, assassinating various terrorist “kingpins” to little permanent effect.

Tell Me How This Ends

Here’s the “hot wash”: something’s gone terribly wrong with Washington’s soaring dreams of air power and what it can accomplish.  And yet the urge to loose the planes only grows stronger among America’s political class.

Given the frustratingly indecisive results of U.S. air campaigns in these years, one might wonder why a self-professed smart guy like Ted Cruz, when still a presidential candidate, would have called for “carpet” bombing our way to victory over ISIS, and yet in these years he has been more the norm than the exception in his infatuation with air power.  Everyone from Donald Trump to Barack Obama has looked to the air for the master key to victory.  In 2014, even Petraeus, home from the wars, declared himself “all in” on more bombing as critical to victory (whatever that word might now mean) in Iraq.  Only recently he also called for the loosing of American air power (yet again) in Afghanistan — not long after which President Obama did just that.

Even as air power keeps the U.S. military in the game, even as it shows results (terror leaders killed, weapons destroyed, oil shipments interdicted, and so on), even as it thrills politicians in Washington, that magical victory over the latest terror outfits remains elusive.  That is, in part, because air power by definition never occupies ground.  It can’t dig in.  It can’t swim like Mao Zedong’s proverbial fish in the sea of “the people.”  It can’t sustain persuasive force.  Its force is always staccato and episodic.

Its suasion, such as it is, comes from killing at a distance.  But its bombs and missiles, no matter how “smart,” often miss their intended targets.  Intelligence and technology regularly prove themselves imperfect or worse, which means that the deaths of innocents are inevitable.  This ensures new recruits for the very organizations the planes are intent on defeating and new cycles of revenge and violence amid the increasing vistas of rubble below.  Even when the bombs are on target, as happens often enough, and a terrorist leader or “lieutenant” is eliminated, what then?  You kill a dozen more?  As Petraeus said in a different context: tell me how this ends.

Recalling the Warbirds

From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, dropping bombs and firing missiles has been the presidentially favored way of “doing something” against an enemy.  Air power is, in a sense, the easiest thing for a president to resort to and, in our world, has the added allure of the high-tech.  It looks good back home.  Not only does the president not risk the lives of American troops, he rarely risks retaliation of any kind.

Whether our presidents know it or not, however, air power always comes with hidden costs, starting with the increasingly commonplace blowback of retaliatory terrorist strikes on “soft” targets (meaning people) in cities like Paris or Madrid or London.  Strikes that target senior members of enemy armies or terrorist organizations often miss, simply stoking yet more of the sorts of violent behavior we are trying to eradicate with our own version of violence.  When they don’t miss and the leadership of terror groups is hit, as Andrew Cockburn has shown, the result is often the emergence of even more radical and brutal leaders and the further spread of such movements.  In addition, U.S. air power, especially the White House-run drone assassination program, is leading the way globally when it comes to degrading the sovereignty of national borders. (Witness the latest drone strike against the head of the Taliban in violation of Pakistani airspace.)  Right now, Washington couldn’t care less about this, but it is pioneering a future that, once taken up by other powers, may look far less palatable to American politicians.

Despite the sorry results delivered by air power over the last 65 years, the U.S. military continues to invest heavily in it — not only in drones but also in ultra-expensive fighters and bombers like the disappointing F-35 (projected total cost: $1.4 trillion) and the Air Force’s latest, already redundant long-range strike bomber (initial acquisition cost: $80 billion and rising).  Dismissing the frustratingly mixed and often destabilizing results that come from air strikes, disregarding the jaw-dropping prices of the latest fighters and bombers, America’s leaders continue to clamor for yet more warplanes and yet more bombing.

And isn’t there a paradox, if not a problem, in the very idea of winning a war on terror through what is in essence terror bombing?  Though it’s not something that, for obvious reasons, is much discussed in this country, given the historical record it’s hard to deny that bombing is terror.  After all, that’s why early aviators like Douhet and Mitchell embraced it.  They believed it would be so terrifyingly effective that future wars would be radically shortened to the advantage of those willing and able to bomb.

As it turned out, what air power provided was not victory, but carnage, terror, rubble — and resistance.

Americans should have a visceral understanding of why populations under our bombs and missiles resist.  They should know what it means to be attacked from the air, how it pisses you off, how it generates solidarity, how it leads to new resolve and vows of vengeance.  Forget Pearl Harbor, where my uncle, then in the Army, dodged Japanese bombs on December 7, 1941.  Think about 9/11.  On that awful day in 2001, Homeland USA was “bombed” by hijacked jet liners transformed into guided missiles.  Our skies became deadly.  A technology indelibly associated with American inventiveness and prowess was turned against us.  Colossally shocked, America vowed vengeance.

Are our enemies any less resolutely human than we are?  Like us, they’re not permanently swayed by bombing. They vow vengeance when friends, family members, associates of every sort are targeted.  When American “smart” bombs obliterate wedding parties and other gatherings overseas, do we think the friends and loved ones of the dead shrug and say, “That’s war”?  Here’s a hint: we didn’t.

Having largely overcome the trauma of 9/11, Americans today look to the sky with hope.  We watch the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds with a sense of awe, wonder, and pride.  Warplanes soar over our sports stadiums.  The sky is our high ground.  We see evidence of America’s power and ingenuity there.  Yet people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere often pray for clouds and bad weather; for them, clear skies are associated with American-made death from above.

It’s time we allow other peoples to look skyward with that same sense of safety and hope as we normally do.  It’s time to recall the warbirds.  They haven’t provided solutions.  Indeed, the terror, destruction, and resentments they continue to spread are part of the problem.

Twin wildfires raging near LA are ‘0% contained’ say authorities

A searing heatwave and rugged terrain have hindered firefighter efforts to tackle two blazes burning out of control in the Angeles national forest

June 21, 2016

by Rory Carroll

The Guardian

Los Angeles-Two wildfires are burning out of control on the outskirts of Los Angeles, forcing hundreds of families to flee and the police to deploy to deter potential looting.

A searing heatwave and rugged terrain hindered efforts to tackle the blazes which grew overnight and raged on Tuesday in Duarte and Azusa, towns in the Angeles national forest east of LA.

The proximity of the so-called Reservoir and Fish fires, separated by a canyon, prompted authorities to term them the San Gabriel Complex fire. Combined they cover 5,400 acres.

“They haven’t merged as of yet but they are being handled as one fire,” said Maria Holguin, a spokesperson for the US Forest Service. “They are 0% contained.”

Some 610 firefighters backed by air tankers and helicopters who have battled the flames since Monday will probably be reinforced, said Holguin. “I think we’ll be getting more personnel today.”

Helicopters sucked water from a reservoir to dump over flames while air tankers dropped retardant. Hundreds of residents left amid mandatory evacuations for areas close to flames and smoke.

About 80 deputies have deployed to help the evacuations and to protect against potential looting, said David Halm, an LA County sheriff’s department commander. Several roads have been closed. The American Red Cross set up an evacuation center at the Duarte community center

Columns of smoke swirling over the mountains were visible from downtown LA.

The south coast air quality management district said the warning level on its air quality index was red. “Most important recommendation for anyone who can see or smell smoke is avoid outdoor activity and the stay indoors, use air conditioning system on recirculation mode, if available,” said Tina Cox, a spokeswoman.

Monday’s triple-digit temperatures will cool by up to 10 degrees but the heatwave was set to continue, making conditions difficult for firefighters, the National Weather Service warned.

Much hinged on whether strong winds will resume, said Holguin, of the Forest Service. “They’re hoping the winds won’t pick up.”

Mike Wakoski, an incident commander with the San Bernardino county fire department, told a press conference the Sherpa fire near Santa Barbara and the Border fire near San Diego had stretched resources but that authorities would ramp up efforts to contain the San Gabriel Complex fire. “The fire is threatening the San Gabriel wilderness within the national monument.”

Crews kept the fire on the east flank from damaging homes in the Duarte area overnight but the west flank was still out of control, said John Tripp, a deputy chief with the LA county fire department. “Our big threat today is still that left side of the fire, the west flank,” Tripp said.

A fatal car crash appeared to have started the Reservoir fire on Monday morning, he said. The vehicle ran over the side of a road and fell into a canyon, where it ignited. The cause of the Fish fire, which started shortly after, was not immediately known.

InciWeb, a state-run emergency incident information system, warned drone users they faced serious criminal charges for any violations of temporary flight restrictions over the San Gabriel Complex. “If you fly, we can’t!”

It also urged residents in wilderness areas to take personal responsibility for fire-proofing homes and planning for possible evacuation. “Create defensible space by clearing brush away from your home. Use fire-resistant landscaping and harden your home with fire-safe construction measures. Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe place. Plan escape routes and make sure all those residing within the home know the plan of action.”

Five years of drought have left much of California a tinderbox of parched scrub and dead trees. Officials fear this week’s blazes may herald a long, fraught fire season. Wildfires have already scorched more than 30,000 acres in California, about the same as this time last year, which proved to be a particularly damaging season.

Nervy global investors revisit 1930s playbook

June 22, 2016

by Mike Dolan


LONDON-Global investors are once again dusting off studies of the 1930s as fears of protectionism, nationalism and a retreat of globalization, sharpened by this week’s Brexit referendum, escalate anew.

With markets on tenterhooks over Thursday’s “too close to call” vote on Britain’s future in the European Union, the damage an exit vote would deal business activity and world commerce is amplified by the precarious state of the global economy and its inability to absorb any left-field political shocks.

As such, the Brexit vote will not be an open-and-shut case regardless of the outcome. Broader worries about global trade, frail growth and dwindling investment returns have festered since the banking shock of 2007/08 and have mounted this year.

Stalling trade growth has already led the world economy to the brink of recession for the second time in a decade, with growth now hovering just above the 2.0-2.5 percent level most economists say is needed to keep per capita world output stable.

Three-month averages for growth of world trade volumes through March this year have turned negative compared with the prior three months, according to the Dutch government statistics body widely cited as the arbiter of global trade data.

And it’s not a seasonal blip. Last year saw the biggest drop in imports and exports since 2009 and their average annual growth of 3 percent over the intervening seven years was itself half that of the 25 years before, according to Swiss asset manager Pictet. 2016 is set to be the fifth sub-par year in row.

A study published by the Centre For Economic Policy Research shows this paltry pace of trade growth is also below the 4.2 percent average for the past 200 years.

Foreign direct investment growth of 2 percent of world output is also at its lowest since the 1990s, while the hangover from the credit crunch has seen annual growth rates in cross-border bank lending grind to a halt from some 10 pct in the decade to 2008.

Parsing the big investment themes of the next five years, Pictet this month highlighted “globalization at a crossroads” – offering both benign and malignant reasoning and implications.

One of these was that trade deceleration was due in part to the inwards reorientation of the world’s two mega economies, the United States and China — the former due to the shale energy boom and the latter’s planned shift to consumption from exports.

Another factor cited was a shift in the world economy towards services and digital activity that is not captured by statistics on merchandise trade.

But Pictet had little doubt about what brewing developments could swamp all that — rising nationalism on the far right and left of the political spectrum in Europe and the United States.

Britain “threatens to drive a fault line” through one of the world’s biggest free trade blocs, it said, and both presumptive candidates for November’s U.S. presidential election have talked of renegotiating the still-unratified Trans Pacific Partnership binding economies making up 40 percent of world trade.

“If the rising tide of nationalism results in greater protectionism, then the decline in international trade the world has experienced so far could well morph into something more pernicious,” the Swiss firm said, adding that multinationals — particularly banks and tech companies — were most vulnerable.

“1937-38 REDUX?”

Against that backdrop, this year’s market wobbles make total sense — especially as near-zero interest rates limit central banks’ ability to insulate against further shocks.

But echoes of the last major hiatus in trade globalization during and between the World Wars has economists looking again to the 1930s for lessons and policy prescriptions.

In a paper entitled “1937-38 redux?”, Morgan Stanley economists detail the mistakes that saw monetary and fiscal policy tightened too quickly once a recovery from the 1929 stock market crash and subsequent Depression started in 1936.

Over-eagerness to reset policy before private sector confidence in future growth and inflation had picked up saw a relapse into recession and deflation by 1938. The devastation of World War Two followed, and with it huge government spending on military capacity, war relief and eventually reconstruction.

Morgan Stanley goes on to draw a parallel with the global response to 2008’s crash and subsequent world recession.

Waves of monetary and fiscal easing by 2009 underpinned economic activity, but government budgets have again tightened quickly and before inflation expectations or private investment spending and capital expenditure have been restored.

The second world recession in a decade is now seen as a threat, but with a heavier starting debt burden, historically low inflation and interest rates, stalled trade and a worsening demographic profile. That could mean another global government spending stimulus is needed to re-energize private firms.

“The effective solution to prevent relapse into recession would be to reactivate policy stimulus,” Morgan Stanley said.

Success in preventing a new recession without the cataclysm of a world war would be a profound lesson learned. Political extremism, isolation and protectionism make the task far harder.

(Editing by Catherine Evans)

DHS analyst caught with weapons, may have planned violence against senior staff – court documents

June 22, 2016


A federal investigation is on after a top-secret clearance staffer with Homeland Security was apprehended with a gun and other weapons. Authorities are investigating whether the individual was planning to commit violence against senior DHS staff.

According to court documents, on June 9, John Wienke, an analyst at the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, was caught red-handed with a gun, a knife, an infrared camera, pepper spray, two walkie-talkies and handcuffs, AP reports.

Wienke was busted entering the office at 7:30am with a backpack. The DHS boasts the same kind of security one might see at the Pentagon or the White House. This includes random screenings on entry. Wienke’s backpack aroused suspicion at the door, leading to the discovery of the suspicious objects.

According to court documents, investigators have reason to believe Wienke “was conspiring with another to commit workplace violence, and more particularly may have been conspiring or planning to commit violence against senior DHS officials in the building.” An affidavit accompanying the search warrant for his apartment outlined the reasons the investigation thought this was the case.

When Wienke entered the office in the morning, he was allowed through, as no handgun had been discovered at the time (only the knife and pepper spray were seized). It was only at 9:30am that authorities decided to follow up with him at his cubicle, which included a pat down. That is when the .22-cliber five-shot was discovered, loaded with hollow-point bullets.

Wienke really took his chances by letting the officers search him – he even admitted to not having any additional weapons apart from those discovered earlier upon entry into the building.

At the moment the gun was discovered Wienke is said to have “[uttered] an audible expletive.” Right across from his cubicle in clear view, senior DHS officials were holding a meeting.

The next day, on June 10, all Wienke was charged with was illegal firearms possession. The US Attorney’s Office for DC refused to comment on the court allegations, but said Wienke was released on June 13 pending further investigation.

The FBI is now intent on charging Wienke with conspiracy to assassinate, assault or kidnap a member of the executive branch of the government, as well as false impersonation of a federal officer, aside from possessing a firearm on federal premises, according to the affidavit,

He pleaded not guilty to possessing the gun.

DHS spokesman Scott McConnell said Wienke has been placed on administrative leave.

The FBI is refusing to divulge any more details at this time.

Majority of AfD supporters would vote for Germany to leave the EU

A new poll has found that the vast majority of Germans are for remaining in the EU. When it comes to the country’s major parties, only AfD’s supporters would back a “Brexit”-style departure.

June 22,2016


The results of the poll were published on Wednesday in the latest issue of Germany’s Stern magazine, one day before Britons vote in the long-anticipated Brexit referendum.

According to the poll, which had a margin of error of 3 percentage points, an overwhelming majority of Germans – 79 percent – support remaining in the EU. Only 17 percent are for leaving.

Supporters of all the country’s major political parties, including Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), back remaining in the EU. The glaring exceptions are those who support anti-migrant populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD); almost two-thirds said they would vote to leave.

Germans’ message to Europe: ‘I like the EU’

The outcome of the poll, conducted by the Forsa Institute, shows little change in sentiment across the various parties when compared with previous polls overseen by the organization.

In a statement published in Stern, Forsa Institute chief Manfred Güllner said the results were in line with expectations.

“These results confirm once again the Germans’ friendliness toward Europe, which has existed for years,” Güllner said. “And they show once again just how far removed the AfD is from the vast majority of people it claims to represent.”

Europe: Germany’s natural partner

Additionally, 62 percent of Germans said they would regret a British exit from the EU, and 63 percent said the EU, despite its problems, still has a future.

Hans Kundnani, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund (GMF) in Berlin, told DW that the numbers were reflective of Germany’s historic relationship with the rest of the continent. Whereas Britain has always viewed its relationship with Europe as just one option of several – the others being its relationships with the US and the Commonwealth countries – Germany “has never had any other options – it’s always been just Europe,” Kundnani said.

“Even through the worst moments of German history, Germans have always imagined their future in a European context,” he explained.

Another important factor is that Germany helped steer the EU from the beginning. “You do have a European Union now that is to a much greater extent based on German preferences than it is on British preferences,” the GMF Fellow said.

AfD: no fringe party

Contrary to Güllner, however, Kundnani doesn’t see the AfD, which began as a euroskeptic party before shifting its platform to focus on anti-immigrant policies, as an anomaly in the German political landscape.

“I think sometimes there’s this tendency by the German political elite to downplay the change in German attitudes toward Europe,” he said, pointing to the significant gains made by the anti-EU AfD in state elections last March. Contrary to what Forsa’s poll suggests, those attitudes “have changed dramatically” over the years, Kundnani argued. Specifically, the aftermath of the 2010 financial crisis and the ongoing situation with refugees entering Germany has angered many around the country.

While he said it’s too soon to predict how the outcome of the Brexit referendum will impact those attitudes going forward, Kundnani emphasized that AfD is “here to stay.”

“Particularly since the refugee crisis, Germany has become a much more unpredictable place,” he said.

How Do You Stop a Future Terrorist When the Only Evidence Is a Thought?

June 21, 2016

by Rukmini Callimachi

New York Times

MAGNANVILLE, France — The first time Larossi Abballa appeared on the radar of French terrorism investigators, the only act of violence they could pin on him was killing bunnies.

He had joined a small group of men, all bent on waging jihad, on a trip to a snowy forest in northern France five years ago, when he was 19. There, they videotaped themselves slaughtering the rabbits, bought so the men could grow used to the feel of killing.

When he and seven others were later arrested, the authorities found that several of the men had saved the video of the slaughter on their cellphones, alongside footage of soldiers being beheaded, according to French court records. Mr. Abballa was eventually convicted on a terrorism charge and spent more than two years in prison.

In hindsight, it is not hard to see how that first act of brutality foreshadowed what happened last week: Armed with a knife, Mr. Abballa attacked a couple in northern France in the name of the Islamic State and left them to bleed to death.

But at the time of his arrest in 2011, investigators were not able to definitively show that he was a permanent threat to France. After his prison stint, he was placed under surveillance. Just months after the wiretaps stopped, he committed the double murder last week.

Across Europe and the United States, law enforcement officials are struggling to reckon with attackers like Mr. Abballa and Omar Mateen, whose shooting rampage this month at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., left 49 dead. They are men who clearly seemed to be building toward violent acts, and whose names had surfaced in terrorism investigations, but who avoided crossing legal lines that could tip off the authorities until it was too late.

With thousands of terrorism surveillance cases running at any given time, the European authorities say they are swamped and are in the difficult position of trying to head off attacks of which the only forewarning is often in the form of what someone thinks or what they are overheard saying.

“A man is in a shop and thinks about stealing an object,” said Georges Sauveur, a Paris lawyer who has defended several terrorism suspects, including one of the men who accompanied Mr. Abballa to the forest in 2011 to slaughter the rabbits. “What do you do? You put him in jail?”

Mr. Sauveur added, “You can’t put him in jail unless he takes the next step and attempts to steal something.”

In late 2010, France’s domestic intelligence agency began watching Mohamed Niaz Abdul Raseed, 33, who was living in the Val d’Oise region of northern France and who the agency suspected was a recruiter for Al Qaeda. The investigation revealed that he had lured seven adherents, the youngest of whom was Mr. Abballa.

Under the older man’s instruction, the young men met in a public park to do calisthenics, enrolled in a kung fu class and gathered for lessons on extremist Islam. They also took their day trip to the forest in Cormeilles-en-Parisis with the rabbits, which they had pooled their money to buy.

‘Thirsty for Blood’

By the spring of 2011, two members of the group had gone to Pakistan, where they were met by a facilitator for Al Qaeda, according to French court records obtained by The New York Times.

As the most junior member of the group, Mr. Abballa was not chosen to go, and that frustrated him. “I’m thirsty for blood, Allah is my witness,” he wrote in an email intercepted by the authorities. In another, he begged, “Please let me go, pls, pls, pls.”

When it appeared that he would not be sent to Pakistan, he turned his rage toward France, writing on Feb. 19, 2011, “With Allah’s will, we will find a way to raise the flag here.” A week letter, he wrote that his cell would “wipe away the infidels.”

He was arrested on May 14, 2011, and like the other members of the cell was convicted on a charge of belonging to a criminal or terrorist organization, carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years, said Sébastien Bono, the lawyer representing the accused leader of the group.

Considered the group’s least influential member, Mr. Abballa spent more than two years in prison and was released in 2013. He was kept under surveillance until the end of 2015.

“It’s very easy retrospectively, with hindsight, to say that law enforcement, or government, should have known about someone’s intent. But obviously there’s a big difference between motivation — someone being radicalized — and then going out and actually acting on that,” said Richard Walton, who led the counterterrorism unit for the London Metropolitan Police during the 2012 Olympics. “At any one time, in any country, there will be many hundreds, if not several thousand suspects, that fit this profile.”

Among the difficulties for the authorities in 2011 was that Mr. Abballa had aggressively denied any connection to terrorism. He told investigators he was an atheist. He denied that he had taken part in the practice-beheadings of rabbits — he was not seen on the video — even though the seven other men in the cell all said he had participated. And the members of the group contradicted one another. When pushed, one of Mr. Abballa’s accomplices explained that they had slaughtered the animals in order to have halal meat to eat during the Islamic holiday of Eid, according to a summary of their interrogation.

Needles in a Haystack

While the legal systems may be different, the United States faced many of the same problems in their interactions with Mr. Mateen, who when questioned by the authorities about earlier threats of violence insisted that he had said those things because he was angry after facing discrimination.

After Mr. Mateen’s massacre, James B. Comey, the director of the F.B.I., said the file on Mr. Mateen had been one of “hundreds and hundreds of cases all across the country,” and compared the task of weeding out those who are expressing extremist ideas from those who may act on those ideas to “looking for needles in a nationwide haystack.”

For France, thought to have among the largest numbers of suspected Islamic State loyalists in Europe, the haystack is at least as big, and some say the caseload has become unmanageable.

“We are in fact drowning in intelligence,” said Alain Bauer, a professor of criminology at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Paris.

He and others said there were structural problems, including the fact that France’s so-called S List, a database of people believed to have been radicalized, has over 10,000 names and is not ranked according to threat level.

Though most on the list never commit violence, others have now been responsible for gruesome headlines. Eight of the 10 men who staged the deadliest European terrorist attack in over a decade — the Paris killings on Nov. 13 — were on the S List and several had spent time behind bars, yet were able to sneak back into France and Belgium from Syria. Another suspect on the list, Amedy Coulibaly, had also been imprisoned on a terrorism conviction. Eight months after his electronic bracelet was removed by the French authorities, he killed a police officer and opened fire in a kosher supermarket in Paris in January 2015, leaving four more people dead in the Islamic State’s name.

“If you take your daily agenda, and you were to note down the birthday of every single person you know, it would be unmanageable” to try to wish them all a happy birthday, Mr. Bauer said. “You need to make a selection. We don’t know how to do that with the profiles of these people.”

Those kinds of suspects have created an awkward middle ground for the French authorities, and after a series of plots or attacks  linked to the Islamic State  over the past two years, there is more urgency to find new legal tools to deal with the problem.

After Mr. Abballa killed the couple in Magnanville, France, last week, a deputy in Parliament, Éric Ciotti, introduced a bill creating the status of “administrative detention” for those representing a security threat.

In effect, he was calling for rapid prioritization of the S List, and he said the bill would be aimed at immediately detaining hundreds of those deemed to pose the highest risk, placing them under house arrest or in a detention center.

He called the measure necessary because the penal code is based on proving that an individual is not just talking or thinking about committing an act of terrorism, but has taken steps toward carrying out the act.

“These people are known to us,” he said. “I want to be able to take preventive action.”

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said last week that he would consider the proposal, but that there would be “no Guantánamo” in France, the French newspaper Libération reported.

Jean-Charles Brisard, the chairman of the French Center for the Analysis of Terrorism in Paris, called the idea “absurd” and said France could not jettison civil liberties.

He added that putting everyone on the S List under surveillance was impossible, because there are more than 10,000 names and fewer than 5,000 agents. It takes 20 agents per suspect for 24-hour surveillance, he said, meaning France could perform round-the-clock surveillance of only a small fraction of those suspected of being radicalized.

“My profound conviction is that unfortunately we need to get used to living with this new threat,” Mr. Brisard said. “It’s permanent, it’s diffuse and it can erupt at any moment.”

Jihad and Vengeance

The streets in Magnanville, a community of about 5,600 people less than 40 miles from Paris, are lined with neatly trimmed hedges. It was here that Mr. Abballa waited last week for an off-duty police officer, Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, to come home. As neighbors watched in horror, Mr. Abballa stabbed Mr. Salvaing in the street and left him bleeding in the driveway, then forced his way into the house. There he stabbed to death Jessica Schneider, the officer’s longtime partner, as the couple’s 3-year-old son watched.

In the time it took the police to close in and shoot Mr. Abballa dead, he paused to upload a Facebook Live video. He had prepared a long speech, and the sound of flipping pages could be heard as he spoke.

“First of all, I pledge allegiance to Emir al-Mumineem Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” he began, referring to the leader of the Islamic State using a similar formula to the pledge uttered by Mr. Mateen, who called 911 from inside the nightclub to dedicate his violence to the terrorist group.

In a long rant captured on the video, Mr. Abballa’s thoughts returned to the frustration he felt in 2011, when he begged to be allowed to go abroad to wage jihad

“I address this also to the French infidel authorities. This is the result of your work. You closed the door to my Hijrah,” he said, using an Arabic term for a pilgrimage that for some Islamic State devotees has come to mean traveling to Syria and Iraq to join the group. “You closed the door toward the lands of the caliphate? Well, good then, we have opened the door of jihad onto your territory.”

Alissa J. Rubin, Adam Nossiter and Lilia Blaise contributed reporting from Paris.




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