TBR News June 22, 2019

Jun 22 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. June 22, 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 22:”We see pictures of the damage to a tanker, allegedly from ‘limpit mines’ that are actually very clearly damage from an internal, not an exernal, explosion. And shrapnel from an explosion, on the upper deck, of a Japanese tanker show that the explosive device was a mortar shell, not a ‘limpet mine’ Of course the DoD people who made the films are not intelligent enough to realize what they are showing. Who fired a mortar at a tanker headed for the Hormuz Strait? Three perps are possible” The US, Israel or the Saudis. The Iranians? No, not the Iranians. Trump is being told the danger in attacking Iran and he is moving away from the lunatic Bolton/Pompeo warmongers. If the Gulf is closed or the scene of dangerous (to shipping) fighting, the price of the world’s oil will skyrocket. Bad for politics, very bad. This allowed Fat Donald the chance to appear kindly disposed. And then the new rape charged in public and the psych report in private. We do not need creeps like Fat Donald in the White House or anywhere near the levers of power. How about setting a domestic sewage treatment plant aside for personages like Fat Donald and Bolton the Mustache? A fitting occupation indeed.”


The Table of Contents

  • Tanker attacks in the Gulf — evidence or warmongering?
  • The rise of the deepfake and the threat to democracy
  • Able Danger
  • Donald Trump accused of sexually assaulting writer E Jean Carroll
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations



Tanker attacks in the Gulf — evidence or warmongering?

For the US government, it is clear that Iran is responsible for the explosions on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. As proof, a video and 13 photos have been published so far. What do they show? DW investigates.

June 21, 2019

by Sandra Petersmann


Just how serious the situation in the Gulf region is right now is shown by Iran shooting down a US drone. In the wake of that incident, the US apparently considered and then called off a retaliatory strike on short notice. The saber-rattling has been getting louder since June 13, when several explosions occurred on two oil tankers, Front Altair from Norway and Kokuka Courageous from Japan, just outside the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf of Oman. That same day, the US government accused Iran of attacking the tankers with limpet mines. Iran denies the allegations.

Already on May 12, four ships near the Strait of Hormuz reported damage from explosions. Even then, the US and its Arab-world allies raised allegations against Iran. Around one-third of the world’s oil transport goes by ship through the Strait.

Risky business

Military experts emphasize that attaching and removing limpet mines on ships is risky and requires a great deal of expertise. The explosive devices are magnetically attached to ships, usually below the waterline. Limpet mines are usually manually placed by a swimmer or combat diver on the underside of a ship’s hull. The blast that tore into the hulk of the Kokuka Courageous, according to US data, was a good meter above the waterline. American evidence against Iran focuses on this ship.

Conspicuous in this context is a different portrayal of the incident by the head of the Japanese shipping company that owns the tanker: Yutaka Katada told the press on June 14 that members of the crew had seen something fly towards the vessel just before the explosion.

This contradiction remains unexplained. Eliot Higgins of the investigative research network Bellingcat told Deutsche Welle: “There’s clearly more information that could be shared, and by not doing so the US undermines their own case, and makes it look like they have something to hide.”

In Germany, too, many political observers have not forgotten that the US justified the 2003 invasion of Iraq with counterfeit imagery — making an in-depth look at the evidence presented by the US all the more important.

First US release: One video, two photos

On the evening of June 13, at 10:20 pm local time, US Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa, Florida, released a statement and a grainy black-and-white video on various channels including its own online page and that of the US Navy, as well as on YouTube.

The clip is one minute and 39 seconds long and, according to the US, shows the crew of a patrol boat of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard alongside the Kokuka Courageous, tampering with the ship to remove an unexploded limpet mine.

At the beginning of the video some figures in life jackets are visible, one of which reaches up on the side of the tanker. But the recording is extremely blurred, shaky and cut together from several angles. The clip does not show a continuous action. When and how the video was created remains unclear.

In addition to the video, CENTCOM published two edited photos showing the Kokuka Courageous in side profile from a distance. Two red arrows point prominently to a large hole in the vessel’s side and a shadowy round or cylindrical object jutting out from the ship’s middle.

According to the US, that shadowy object is the unexploded limpet mine whose removal the video allegedly shows. The two photos are provided with the source reference “USS Bainbridge (DDG 96).” That same US Navy destroyer is currently deployed in the region and on June 13 also took in the 21 crew members of the Kokuna Courageous, who had previously been rescued by the Dutch ship Coastal Ace.

It can be assumed that the mariners have been extensively questioned. But none of this has been publicized so far.

Analysis of the alleged evidence

Using ship-tracking tools such as the Marine traffic tracker, the tanker can be located and followed along its route through the Strait of Hormuz. The vessel was situated just off the coast of Iran at the time of the explosion. A detailed comparison with older photos of the tanker indicates that the Kokuka Courageous is indeed pictured in the footage.

Publicly accessible photos also suggest that the smaller ship alongside the oil tanker is very likely a Gashti-type speedboat, which Iran uses. The individuals aboard it, however, cannot be identified, nor is it possible to say with certainty what they are doing. The location and time of the footage cannot be verified.

Bellingcat investigator Higgins suspects a deliberate omission. “The one thing that stands out to me is we have all these images from the US showing the Iranians removing an object from the side of the vessel, supposedly the limpet mine, but not a single clear image of the object itself,” he told DW. “The video footage starts just as they’re removing it, with the Iranians obscuring it, so why not show footage from seconds before when it’s not obscured,” Higgins asks.

Pentagon ups ante with 11 new photos

Publishing the video and photos, however, did not have the desired effect among Western partners. Since Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), European leaders have been trying to engage in dialogue with Tehran. Apart from the US, only the British government openly accuses Iran of attacking the two oil tankers.

On June 17, the US Department of Defense contacted the media directly. The Pentagon’s new press kit includes 11 color photos and a Word document with detailed descriptions of the pictures. It also includes a timeline in PDF format, which reconstructs the events of June 13 in concise military language.

The later images provide much better quality than the video and show details in close-up. One of the photos, taken with a Canon EOS 80D, apparently shows “remnants” of the removed limpet mine: An object appearing to be a magnetic clamp. Also visible is a rounded wreath of indentations, suggesting that several more such magnetic clamps adhered to the side wall. But is it the side of the Kokuka Courageous? This cannot be verified beyond doubt by inspecting the photo. It also remains unclear why all the magnetic clamps would have been removed except for the lone clamp pictured.

Meanwhile, the US Navy has salvaged the remnants of the alleged limpet mine and presented it to the public on Wednesday, June 18 at a press conference held in the port of Fujairah, one of the United Arab Emirates. The parts have a “striking resemblance” to limpet mines, according to US Navy 5th Fleet Commander Sean Kido, who also said that the hole in the side wall is consistent with that of a mine explosion and not with the impact of a flying object.

Another very clear aerial photograph allegedly shows the Revolutionary Guard patrol boat after the removal of the limpet mine. Aboard are nine uniformed individuals; all but two are wearing orange life vests. A web search for Iranian Revolutionary Guard uniforms reveals similarly basic, olive-green garb. There is no doubt that the small vessel pictured is a Gashti patrol boat: Its superstructures, armaments and the peculiar chevron pattern on the bow tip are identical. But a reference point — like the damaged tanker — is not visible in this picture.

According to the Pentagon, five of the eleven images were taken from a US Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopter. In three cases, the angle and cutout of the photos match the video — suggesting that it, too, was likely recorded from a helicopter.

Among the materiel of the USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) are helicopters like the Seahawk. From the timeline supplied with the Pentagon, it appears that on June 13, the destroyer constantly observed the vicinity around the Kokuka Courageous between 09:20 and 14:15 UTC. This hours-long surveillance suggests that there is much more footage than has been published so far.

Reassessment of alleged evidence

With the video and the 13 photos in total, the USA presented a chain of indicators, to which German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded: “We take these claims of course very seriously, and there is also a high degree of evidence.”

But none of the imagery presented by the US thus far shows a limpet mine. None shows Iranian soldiers attaching a limpet mine. There is still no clear and independently verifiable proof that the two tankers were actually attacked with limpet mines just outside the Strait of Hormuz on June 13 and that Iran is responsible.

At the time of the explosions in the early morning of June 13, the distance between the two tankers was ten nautical miles. The Norwegian tanker Front Altair first placed an emergency call, and a major fire broke out on board — but that incident appears to play no role at all in Washington’s circumstantial evidence underpinning its claim of Iranian responsibility.

Several Iranian boats were proven to have been near the two tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13. One took on board the crew of the burning Front Altair, which had previously been rescued by the British cargo ship Hyundai Dubai. But Iran has so far mainly confined itself to verbal attacks and contributed nothing to clarifying the explosions. On Twitter, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spoke of “sabotaging diplomacy” and accused the US of warmongering.

The result is one side’s word against the other’s. It is not possible to unambiguously and squarely place blame without independent scrutiny and clear evidence. As the threat of war lingers, much will depend on the crew members’ testimonies.


The rise of the deepfake and the threat to democracy

June 22, 2019

by Simon Parkin

The Guardian

On 4 May 2016, Jimmy Fallon, the host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, appeared in a sketch dressed as Donald Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee. Wearing a blond wig and three coats of bronzer, he pretended to phone Barack Obama – played by Dion Flynn – to brag about his latest primary win in Indiana. Both men appeared side by side in split screen, facing the camera. Flynn’s straight-man impression of Obama, particularly his soothing, expectant voice, was convincing, while Fallon played the exaggerated caricature that all of Trump’s mimics – and the man himself – settle into.

Three years later, on 5 March 2019, footage of the sketch was posted on the YouTube channel derpfakes under the title The Presidents. The first half of the clip shows the opening 10 seconds or so of the sketch as it originally aired. Then the footage is replayed, except the faces of Fallon and Flynn have been transformed into, seemingly, the real Trump and Obama, delivering the same lines in the same voices, but with features rendered almost indistinguishable from those of the presidents.

The video, uploaded to YouTube by the founder of derpfakes, a 28-year-old Englishman called James (he asked us not to use his surname), is a forgery created by a neural network, a type of “deep” machine-learning model that analyses video footage until it is able algorithmically to transpose the “skin” of one human face on to the movements of another – as if applying a latex mask. The result is known as a deepfake.

James’s video wasn’t intended to fool anyone – it was, he says, created “purely for laughs”. But the lifelike rendering of the presidents, along with thousands of similar deepfakes posted on the internet in the past two years, has alarmed many observers, who believe the technology could be used to disgrace politicians and even swing elections. Democracies appear to be gravely threatened by the speed at which disinformation can be created and spread via social media, where the incentive to share the most sensationalist content outweighs the incentive to perform the tiresome work of verification.

Last month, a digitally altered video showing Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, appearing to slur drunkenly through a speech was widely shared on Facebook and YouTube. According to The Daily Beast, the clip was first posted by Shawn Brooks, 34, a sports blogger and “Trump superfan” from New York, who uploaded the doctored footage to Facebook. Trump then posted the clip on Twitter with the caption: “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE”. The video was quickly debunked, but not before it had been viewed millions of times; the president did not delete his tweet, which at the time of writing has received nearly 98,000 likes. Facebook declined to take down the clip, qualifying its decision with the statement: “Once the video was fact-checked as false, we dramatically reduced its distribution.”

In response, a team including the artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe two weeks ago posted a deepfake on Instagram, in which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg boasts that he has “total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures”. The video formed part of an installation at the 2019 Sheffield Doc Fest earlier this month and was posted, the artists said, in an attempt “to interrogate the power of these new forms of computational propaganda”. It was also a test of whether or not Facebook would allow a fraudulent video to be distributed via its platforms – in this case, Instagram – when the content was damaging to the company’s reputation. At the time of writing, the fake Zuckerberg video remains live. “We will treat this content the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram,” a spokesperson said. “If third-party factcheckers mark it as false, we will filter it.”

When James, whose day job is unrelated to technology, launched his channel in January 2018, most deepfakes had nothing to do with politics. Using publicly available software such as FakeApp, amateurs typically would transpose the faces of celebrity women on to those of pornographic actors (one pornography site that specialises in deepfakes contains more than 60 films “starring” the singer Ariana Grande).

“The technology intrigued me, but the early uses didn’t, so I tried my hand at something more wholesome,” James says over online chat. He set his neural network the task of examining the face of Carrie Fisher, as she had appeared, aged 21, in the original Star Wars film, in order to transpose her into the 2016 sequel, Rogue One. James hoped to show how a desktop PC could produce special effects comparable with those that might cost a Hollywood studio tens of thousands of dollars in CGI work (proponents argue that deepfake technology has a variety of applications to offer film companies, potentially enabling automated dubbing and lip-syncing.) The resulting clip, in which 1977-era Fisher lands intact in the 2016 movie, was created “in the time it takes to watch an episode of The Simpsons”, James says, and viewed thousands of times within a few days.

The Star Wars clip helped to kickstart a community of meme-creating film fans around the world, who use deepfake technology to place actors in films in which they never appeared, often to comic or meaningful effect. A popular subgenre of deepfakes places Nicolas Cage into films such as Terminator 2 and The Sound Of Music, or recasts him as every character in Friends. One deepfake convincingly transposes Heath Ledger’s The Joker into the actor’s role in A Knight’s Tale. In February, a video grafting the face of one of China’s best-known actors, Yang Mi, into a 25-year-old Hong Kong television drama, The Legend Of The Condor Heroes, went viral, picking up an estimated 240m views before it was removed by Chinese authorities. Its creator wrote on the video-sharing platform Bilibili that he had made the video as a warning.

Since then, deepfake technology has continued to gain momentum. In May, researchers at Samsung’s AI lab in Moscow published “footage” of Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dalí and the Mona Lisa, each clip generated from one still image. While it is still fairly easy to discern a deepfake from genuine footage, foolproof fabrications appear to be disconcertingly close. Recent electoral upsets have demonstrated the unprecedented power of political entities to microtarget individuals with news and content that confirms their biases. The incentive to use deepfakes to injure political opponents is great.

There is only one confirmed attempt by a political party to use a deepfake video to influence an election (although a deepfake may also have played a role in a political crisis in Gabon in December). In May 2018, a Flemish socialist party called sp.a posted a deepfake video to its Twitter and Facebook pages showing Trump appearing to taunt Belgium for remaining in the Paris climate agreement. The video, which remains on the party’s social media, is a poor forgery: Trump’s hair is curiously soft-focus, while his mouth moves with a Muppet-like elasticity. Indeed, the video concludes with Trump saying: “We all know that climate change is fake, just like this video,” although this sentence alone is not subtitled in Flemish. (The party declined to comment, but a spokesperson previously told the site Politico that it commissioned the video to “draw attention to the necessity to act on climate change”.)

But James believes forgeries may have gone undetected. “The idea that deepfakes have already been used politically isn’t so farfetched,” he says. “It could be the case that deepfakes have already been widely used for propaganda.”

At a US Senate intelligence committee hearing in May last year, the Republican senator Marco Rubio warned that deepfakes would be used in “the next wave of attacks against America and western democracies”. Rubio imagined a scenario in which a provocative clip could go viral on the eve of an election, before analysts were able to determine it was a fake. A report in the Washington Times in December claimed that policy insiders and Democratic and Republican senators believe “the Russian president or other actors hostile to the US will rely on deepfakes to throw the 2020 presidential election cycle into chaos”.

Some question the scale of this threat. Russell Brandom, policy editor at the Verge, the US tech news site, argued recently that deepfake propaganda is “a crisis that doesn’t exist”, while the New York Times has called deepfakes “emerging, long-range threats” that “pale in comparison” with established peddlers of political falsity, such as Fox News. But many experts disagree. Eileen Donahoe, the director of the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity (TCEI) and an adjunct professor at Stanford University, has been studying the deepfake threat to democracy for the past year. “There is little to no doubt that Russia’s digital disinformation conglomerate has people working on deepfakes,” she says. So far, the TCEI has not seen evidence that the Russians have tried to deploy deepfakes in a political context. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not coming, or that Russia-generated deepfakes haven’t already been tried elsewhere.”

‘Those who seek to undermine democracy won’t be deterred by the law’

Ivan is a 33-year-old Russian programmer who, having earned a fortune in the video-game industry, is enjoying an extended sabbatical spent cycling, running and camping near where he lives, on the banks of the Volga. He is the creator of DeepFaceLab, one of the most popular pieces of software used by the public to create forged videos. Ivan, who claims to be an “ordinary programmer” and not a political activist, discovered the technology on Reddit in 2017. The software he used to create his first deepfake left a watermark on his video, which irritated him. After the creator of the software rejected a number of changes Ivan suggested, he decided to create his own program.

In the past 12 months, DeepFaceLab’s popularity has brought Ivan numerous offers of work, including regular approaches from Chinese TV companies. “This is not interesting to me,” he says, via email. For Ivan, creating deepfake software is like solving an intellectual puzzle. Currently, DeepFaceLab can only replace the target’s face below the forehead. Ivan is working to get to the stage where an entire head can be grafted from one body to another. This will allow deepfake makers to assume “full control of another person”, he says, an evolutionary step that “all politicians fear like fire”. But while such technology exists behind closed doors, there is no source code in the public domain. (Ivan cites a 2018 presentation, Deep Video Portraits, delivered at a conference by Stanford researchers, as the gold standard towards which he is working.)

The most sophisticated deepfakes require advanced machine-learning skills and their development is computationally intensive and expensive. One expert estimates the cost to be about £1,000 a day. For an amateur creating fake celebrity pornography, this is a major barrier to entry. But for a government or a well-funded political organisation, the cost is insignificant – and falling every month. Ivan flipflops in his assessment of the threat. “I do not think that so many stupid rulers… are capable of such complicated schemes as deepfakes,” he says. Then, when asked if politicians and journalists have overestimated the risk of deepfake propaganda, he says: “Did the gods overestimate the risk of giving people fire?”

James, founder of derpfake, uses Ivan’s software to create his fakes. He says it is only a matter of time before “truly convincing” forgeries are created by amateurs, but he believes public awareness of the technology will prevent such footage from being able to “significantly disrupt or interfere” politically. “If I show you the latest Transformers film, you fully understand the world isn’t being attacked by robot aliens and that [the film] has been created using computers,” he says. “But show the same footage to a person from 1900 and the reaction would likely be very different.”

Not everyone shares James’s optimism. In December, the Republican senator Ben Sasse introduced the US’s first bill to criminalise the malicious creation and distribution of deepfakes, describing the threat as “something that keeps our intelligence community up at night”. A similar bill is being debated in New York state, while last month a Chinese law to regulate the use of deepfakes reached its second review before the country’s legislative body. For James, however, legislation cannot halt the rising tide: “Those who seek to undermine democracy or the rights of others won’t be deterred by the laws in another country, or even their own.”

‘There will always be an arms race between detection and generation’

Just north of Oxford Circus in central London, 80-odd data analysts work in a four-storey mansion, the lofty rooms of which each contain a blackboard, giving it the feel of a Victorian schoolhouse. Unlike most of London’s tech startups, Faculty chose an office in Marylebone, rather than the industry hub of Shoreditch, due to its proximity to University College London, where many of the company’s employees studied.

For the past year, one of Faculty’s teams has focused exclusively on generating thousands of deepfakes, of varying quality, using all the main deepfake algorithms in the market. The idea is not to sow disinformation, but to compile a library that will help train systems to distinguish real video or audio from fakes. While politicians scrabble to write laws that may protect societies from weaponised deepfakes, startups such as Faculty, whose clients including the Home Office and numerous police forces, hope to inoculate the internet-going public to their effects.

The theory is that a machine-learning detective will adapt quickly as new deepfake technology emerges, whereas human forensics experts will take much longer to get up to speed. The results of Faculty’s deepfake experiments are improving at a pace that has startled the company’s co-founder and CEO, Marc Warner. Earlier this year, the company created an AI-generated audio deepfake, trained on clips of Trump’s speeches, that sounded more like him than some of the best human impersonators. The company’s latest version, Warner says, is almost impossible to distinguish from Trump. “We’re trying to work on this before it’s a large problem, to ensure that we’re prepared,” says Warner, who has tousled hair, tortoiseshell glasses, a dusting of startup founder’s stubble and a PhD in quantum computing. If anything, he argues, the danger posed by this new form of lying has been underestimated. “It’s an extremely challenging problem and it’s likely there will always be an arms race between detection and generation.”

Faculty, which is working with the TCEI, is not the only tech company aiming to fight fire with fire. In May 2018, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded three contracts to a nonprofit group called SRI International to work on its “media forensics” research programme. Then there is Amber, a company in New York with an even bolder vision for cleaning up the internet: the creation of a ubiquitous “truth layer” – software embedded in smartphone cameras to act as a kind of watermark, used to verify a video’s authenticity in perpetuity. The technology works by creating a fingerprint at the moment of a film’s recording. It then compares any “playback” of the footage with the original fingerprint to check for a match and provides the viewer with a score that indicates the likelihood of tampering.

Amber’s CEO, Shamir Allibhai, is driven by a moral belief in the importance of his work. “Society is increasingly in an unfair fight against bad actors wielding powerful AI tools for ill intent,” he says. “A postfact world could undo much of the last century’s progress toward peace, stability and prosperity, driven in part by a belief in evidence-based conclusions.” Without detection tools powerful enough to match the deepfakes, Allibhai believes society will be forced to become more cynical. But that cynicism presents an additional risk, enabling powerful people to discredit authentic video – dismissing potentially damaging footage as fakery.

For derpfakes’ James, however, cynicism is the perfect protection. “Erosion of public trust in everything people see on the internet is surely a positive for society,” he says. “Far better than the assumption of everything as truth as the default.” James is also sceptical of companies such as Faculty and Amber, claiming that authentication would detect only amateur deepfakes. “Authentication hasn’t completely stopped any other sort of crime or nefarious activity. I have little reason to believe it would stop anyone working at a serious enough level.”

There is also the issue that the original disinformation can have a much greater effect than its subsequent debunking. In March, the Conservative political activist Theodora Dickinson posted a video alongside the tweet: “In response to the New Zealand mosque attacks, Islamists have burned down a Christian church in Pakistan. Why is this not being shown on @BBCNews?!” In fact, the video showed an attack on a church in Egypt in 2013. Despite scores of Twitter users pointing out the error, Dickinson left her tweet uncorrected (it has since been deleted) and continued to use the site. At the point at which she knew it wasn’t true, she apparently still believed – somehow – it a point worth making. She did not respond to a request for a comment.

Once a political narrative is shifted, it’s almost impossible to bring it back to its original trajectory

“Once a political narrative is shifted, it’s almost impossible to bring it back to its original trajectory,” says Donahoe of the TCEI. This, for her, is the issue with authentication tools such as Faculty and Amber. “Claiming a deepfake is not real or true can’t completely erase its impact.” Whatever the creators of deepfakes and the software that builds them may say, the loss of citizen confidence in the trustworthiness of information is destructive for democracy.

Media literacy can only go so far; humans often believe first, then look for things that support those beliefs. As elections loom in Israel, Canada, Europe and the US, Donahoe wants political leaders and candidates of all stripes to pledge not to use deepfakes against their opponents and to disavow any deepfakes put out on their behalf, even if their campaigns had nothing to do with them.

“We have to inoculate the public before deepfakes affect elections,” she says. “People have a right to choose their government and representatives. We all need to stand up to protect this right from interference.”

How to spot a deepfake

A lack of blinking

Many older deepfake methods failed to mimic the rate at which a person blinks – a problem recent programs have fixed.

Face wobble

Shimmer or distortion is a giveaway. Also, look for abnormal movements from fixed objects in the frame – a microphone stand or a lamp, for example.

Strange behaviour

An individual doing something implausible or out of character should always be a red flag.

But obvious fakes may not be what they seem. It is easy to sow doubt about real footage by adding an inconsistency.


Donald Trump accused of sexually assaulting writer E Jean Carroll

Carroll alleges that Trump assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in 1995 or 1996, as president says he ‘never met’ her

June 21, 2019

by Ed Pilkington in New York

The Guardian

Donald Trump is facing a fresh allegation that he sexually assaulted a woman in his days as a real estate developer in the mid 1990s, adding to the long list of claims against him of sexual misconduct.

In a cover story in New York magazine, the writer and celebrated agony aunt E Jean Carroll relates an incident in which she encountered Trump in the Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman some time in late 1995 or early 1996. She was 52 years old and had recently started an advice column for Elle magazine called Ask E Jean, and he would have been 49 or 50, and married to Marla Marples.

In a lengthy statement issued on Friday, Trump said he “never met this person in my life”.

Carroll alleges that Trump assaulted her in a dressing room in the store after he had asked her for advice on a present to buy a female friend. He selected a “lacy see-through bodysuit of lilac gray” and asked her to model it for him; she quipped back that he should try it on.

When they reached the dressing room, Carroll alleges that Trump lunged at her and over the next three minutes sexually assaulted her. “He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights,” she writes.

In a “colossal struggle” he unzipped his trousers and forced his fingers around her genitals and thrusted his penis “halfway – or completely, I’m not certain – inside me.”

She managed to force him off her, Carroll alleges, open the door of the dressing room and flee.

In the statement, Trump said Carroll was “trying to sell a new book – that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.”

He added: “Ms. Carroll & New York Magazine: No pictures? No surveillance? No video? No reports? No sales attendants around?? I would like to thank Bergdorf Goodman for confirming they have no video footage of any such incident, because it never happened.”

He appealed to anyone who “has information that the Democratic Party is working with Ms. Carroll or New York Magazine, please notify us as soon as possible”.

New York magazine said that two of Carroll’s friends – both prominent but unnamed journalists – confirmed that she had related the alleged incident to them at the time and that they had full recollection of the account.

Describing one of her friend’s reaction, Carroll writes: “‘He raped you,’ she kept repeating when I called her. ‘He raped you. Go to the police! I’ll go with you. We’ll go together.’”

Carroll said in her article that she had not gone to police with a complaint right after the alleged incident and that there was no visual or other lasting evidence of the events to corroborate her claims.

Carroll asks herself the question that many people will now ask: why didn’t she come forward with these details earlier? She writes that she had watched other women making similar allegations against Trump “receiving death threats, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud … Also, I am a coward”.

Carroll has added her name to a long line of women who have come forward to publicly accuse Trump of sexual improprieties and assault. In her own article, she listed 15 women: Jessica Leeds, Kristin Anderson, Jill Harth, Cathy Heller, Temple Taggart McDowell, Karena Virginia, Melinda McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Jessica Drake, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos, Juliet Huddy, Alva Johnson and Cassandra Searles.

In November 2017, the Guardian chronicled the sexual misconduct accusations of 20 women against Trump, and more have come forward since then. Most recently, in February, Alva Johnson, a former staffer on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, lodged a federal lawsuit in which she accused him of forcibly kissing her at a campaign event in Tampa, Florida.

The stock position of Trump and his inner circle has remained consistent: all the women who have accused him are lying or peddling “fake news”. In the case of Johnson, the then White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who stepped down from the job this month, dismissed the allegations as “absurd on its face”.

In Carroll’s New York magazine article – an extract from her new book, What Do We Need Men For? – she lays out a long personal history of unpleasant and at times violent encounters with those she collectively denounces as “hideous men”. Shortly after the incident with Trump, she alleges she was sexually molested in an elevator by Les Moonves, then chairman and CEO of the CBS Corporation, after she had interviewed him for Esquire magazine in 1997.

Moonves denied the incident to New York magazine. He resigned from his post as one of the most powerful executives in television in September 2018 after 12 women accused him of sexual harassment or assault stretching back to the 1980s.

It is unclear how much impact, if any, the latest allegation of sexual misconduct will have on Trump’s chances of securing a second term in the White House when the nation votes in November 2020. One of the mysteries of his presidential victory in 2016 was how he easily he seemed to be able to swat away public outrage over misogynist remarks made in the notorious Access Hollywood tapes.

Many pundits assumed that Trump’s presidential hopes were obliterated when the Washington Post published details of the tapes just weeks before the 2016 election. In them Trump was heard bragging that as a TV celebrity “you can do anything” with beautiful women, including “grab them by the pussy”.

The US president launched his campaign for a second term in Florida this week.

Able Danger

(Able Danger was a classified military planning effort led by the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). It was created as a result of a directive from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in early October 1999 by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh Shelton, to develop an information operations campaign plan against transnational terrorism.)

U.S. Department of Defense

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Special Defense Department Briefing

Participating in this brief were:

Mr. Bryan Whitman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (Media Operations)

Ms. Pat Downs, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Intelligence)

Mr. Thomas Gandy, Army G-2 Director of Counterintelligence and HUMINT

Mr. Bill Huntington, Vice Deputy Director for HUMINT, Defense Intelligence Agency

Cmdr. Christopher Chope, Center for Special Operations, U.S. Special Operations Command

Whitman: When I scheduled this particular room I hadn’t anticipated that we would have these other activities that are going on down south, but I’m glad there are some of you here to report on this and have an interest in this.

As you know, the department has been aggressively looking into this Able Danger program since there were some allegations that were made some three weeks ago I think now, about three weeks. There’s been a very extensive effort by the department to look broad, to look deep, and to document as well as to interviewing individuals that are associated with the project. Today we have reached the point where we’re prepared to tell you what that broad and deep and extensive review has revealed to us.

I’ve got a number of subject matter experts here whose organizations were involved. By the mere fact of the representatives here you can see that this was not something that was just looked at narrowly. What we’ll be able to do today is talk a little bit about what Able Danger was and maybe more importantly what it wasn’t; what type of products were a result of this activity; discuss a little bit about some of the legal authorities and things that have been reported on, sometimes inaccurately about this; and to really talk to you a bit about our interactions with the 9/11 Commission when they were doing their work.

I got you all here under the guise of a background briefing, but I think what we’ll do is, we’ve discussed this and these individuals have agreed to be on the record. There has been a lot of anonymous reporting on this which I think has been unhelpful. I hope that as you write these reports that you give weight to those people that have been directly involved in this effort and are on the record to discuss what the department has found for you on this.

With that they’re going to kind of open up with a little bit of a presentation, talk about it just a little bit. Pat’s going to start I think, Pat Down is going to start from the Under Secretary of Defense Intelligence Office. Then the commander here from Special Operations Command is going to give you a bit of a thumbnail on the activities. We’ve got some other subject matter experts if we get into Q&A that involves their areas. I promise not to make it too long because I know you all have day jobs on this other story too.

With that, Pat, why don’t you go ahead and start us off.

Down: Let me give you an overview of what we have done to determine the facts concerning the recent public statements on Able Danger and where we are to date and what we’ve found. And then I’ll turn it over to Commander Chope so he can give you background information on Able Danger. Some of you may not be as familiar with exactly what that is, what it isn’t, and what the timeline is here. It can be confusing with all the various accounts that are in the press.

We have conducted two types of activities. One is extensive document searches from all the organizations including contracting firms that were associated with the Able Danger program. To date we have not identified the chart that is referenced in public statements by Mr. Schaeffer and Captain Philpot in particular, who say they saw a chart with the photo of Mohammed Attah and other hijackers, particularly Mohammed Attah, pre-9/11. We have not discovered that chart. We have identified a similar chart, but it does not contain the photo of Mohammed Attah or reference to him or reference to the other hijackers.

The second type of activity we’ve conducted is interviews of people involved, again associated with the Able Danger project. To date we’ve conducted interviews with 80 people, and that is still ongoing. We’re not done yet. We’re still refining the questions. As we talk to some people we have to come back to other and ask additional questions.

Most of those people do not recollect the existence of a chart with the picture of Mohammed Attah on it, or again, other hijackers pre-9/11. We have identified three other individuals besides Mr. Schaeffer and Captain Philpot who have a recollection of either a chart with a photo of Mohammed Attah or a reference to Mohammed Attah. That’s basically where we are.

As I said, we continue, we also have searched the records, the documents that we sent to the 9/11 Commission just to be sure that our copies of those records don’t include anything additional we might have missed, including a whole number of documents that were deemed non-responsive to Commission requests. It’s possible we might have missed something in that collection. It’s a fairly extensive collection. We have reviewed all that documentation and at this point have not identified, again, such a chart which references pre-9/11 hijackers.

Media: But the three people who do remember, those three people are from which agency or what’s their function?

Down: We have from SOCOM, two individuals. One of those is Captain Philpot. We have, of course Tony Schaeffer, he’s actually a DIA civilian employee. We have, the two other individuals are, one is from the Land Information Warfare Activity, the Army’s Land Information Warfare Activity, now actually part of the Information Dominance Center. The last one is with the O’Ryan contractors.

Media: At the time.

Down: At the time, yes. And we can answer, Mr. Gandy can answer more questions on the contractors and some of these — Five individuals all told. Four of them, five individuals including Captain Philpot and Mr. Schaeffer. Four of them remember a chart with a photo of Mohammed Attah pre-9/11; the fifth person remembers a chart with a reference to Mohammed Attah, but not a photo.

As I said, we’re continuing to interview or re-interview based on what we’ve discovered so far to be sure that we’re not missing anything.

I think it probably is a good idea at this point to turn it over to Commander Chope, and he’ll describe to you what Able Danger is. I think that would be helpful. Again, describe some of the timelines because, as I said, we’re confused by some of the reports out. We’re trying to find the facts. Some of the various accounts have conflicted somewhat. I think it would be helpful to put this in some context for you.

Chope: I’m Commander Chope from the Special Operations Command and I’ll offer a brief chronology and overview of what Able Danger was and try and dispel some of the myths and rumors surrounding the effort.

In early October 1999 the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tasked the United States Special Operations Command with developing a campaign plan against transnational terrorism, specifically al-Qaida. That effort would result, or that tasking would result in a 15-month effort undertaken mostly out of Tampa, Florida with some peripheral collaborative partners, that would span a 15-month period. In order to accomplish this tasking SOCOM turned to an internal working group who again worked with elements within the Department of Defense and with the Department of the Army to construct this plan. Captain Scott Philpot, then Commander Scott Philpot was probably the team leader, you would call him, for the Able Danger effort.

Able Danger was never a special access program. Able Danger was never a military unit. Able Danger was never a targeting effort. It was not a military deception operation. It was merely the name attributed to a 15-month planning effort.

In January of 2001 the U.S. Special Operations Command delivered the final product of their plan which was a draft operations plan to the Joint Staff, and for all intents and purposes Able Danger ended at that time.

Media: Can you say how many people were involved in it?

Chope: From the Special Operations Command, probably ten people were involved throughout the effort.

Media: You say it wasn’t military? It was —

Chope: It was not a military unit. It was a name given to the effort. It’s like calling all of us in here Able Danger. That’s not —

Media: Were they all military people?

Chope: No, not uniformed service members, no.

Media: You say it wasn’t a targeting effort.

Chope: Correct.

Media: I’m very ignorant about military affairs, but wouldn’t any kind of plan against transnational terrorism involve a list of targets?

Chope: It would, and that’s a good question. Throughout the Able Danger effort we’re going to talk about data mining and nodal analysis. What the data mining and nodal analysis actions were designed to do was characterize the al-Qaida terrorist network. Those were some of the tools they used in order to do that mapping, if you will. When I said it was not a targeting effort, I mean it was not meant to go after individual people. It was meant to determine vulnerabilities, key nodes, linkages among and within al-Qaida.

Media: Nodal analysis? What does that mean?

Chope: I think in layman’s terms it means determining linkages and relationships among disparate entities.

Down: Looking for patterns based no previous activity.

Media: It would seem you would want to deal with individual names of people if you were trying to understand vulnerability and linkages. No?

Chope: I’m sure that they got to that level of detail, however when you look at the plan, what the task was rather, the task was develop a plan, so that was the focus of the effort. The effort was never determine which individuals we ought to roll up. Did Osama bin Laden’s name come up? Of course it did. But as far as that granularity, that level of detail, that was not the desired or required level of effort on the project. It was a by-product.

Gandy: This is Tom Gandy from the Army. Let me just help out here a little. The way it works is there’s a campaign plan and then if someone decides to act upon that plan they will give that plan to someone to execute. At that point you get into various specifics about how you’re going to execute it, phases of the operation, what the targets are in each phase, and get really down to the down and dirty side of things.

But in a plan you’re saying here’s what we’re trying to do against this threat element, in this case transnational terrorism, not al-Qaida, so it’s a more generalized level. I’m just trying to help out there.

Media: Can I get some clarity on the subsets that people are talking about. There were ten in Able Danger.

Gandy: SOCOM personnel.

Media: SOCOM personnel. How large was Able Danger in all then?

Gandy: I would say in the 15-month period it waxed and wanted. It depended on which collaborative partner SOCOM dealt with at the time. AT some points there was a partnership with the Army; other points there were contracted personnel involved?

Media: What was the maximum number —

Media: Hang on just a second and let me finish this line of questioning.

So you’ve interviewed 80 people. Were all 80 of them Able Danger or were they people who got briefings by Able Danger? What is that universe that gave you 80 people?

Gandy: It probably spans both of those representations you just gave. Not only folks who were integrally involved in the effort, but also those that were peripherally involved. I don’t think that we necessarily went out and amongst those 80 we’d count people who just happened to have been exposed. Those 80 I would say had something to do with Able Danger.

Media: And the five who have some recollection of something, are those Able Danger core members, are they people who received briefings, are they the peripherals?

Gandy: Out of the ten I quoted you, two of them are from that ten. So the other three would be from the other 70, if you will, if that math makes sense to you.

Media: So three are peripheral, quote/unquote, to use your phrase; and two are from Able Danger.

Gandy: No. The hard core U.S. SOCOM part of Able Danger was ten people. There were other collaborative partners who were as involved in Able Danger. I’m only speaking to the SOCOM Personnel involved in Able Danger with those ten. There were other people who were as involved in Able Danger during the time.

Media: Who were the five who have some recollection of something?

Gandy: We have two SOCOM personnel, one of whom is Captain Philpot, one is Mr. Schaeffer who is a DIA employee.

Down: Actually —

[Multiple voices].

Media: Just simple math here. This is a really —

Whitman: In the SOCOM people there’s an unnamed analyst who’s going to remain unnamed. Then there’s Captain Philpot. Those are the two from the ten.

Media: Civilian analyst?

Whitman: Yes.

Media: But there are five with some recollection, so who are the other three?

Whitman: The other three, one was an analyst associated with the Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA) which is the Army activity, one of the partners spoke of where LIWA was supporting the SOCOM effort for a period of time in the planning effort.

Another was a contractor who supported the Land Information Warfare activity. That’s one of the other.

The other was Mr. Schaeffer.

Media: That’s very helpful. Thank you.

Media: One further thing on that, how would you characterize, of those three people — the analyst from LIWAC (sic) and the, well Schaeffer I think we know his relationship with Able Danger. But the other two. The analyst from LIWAC (sic) and the, associated with LIWAC (sic) and the contractor, how would you characterize their degree of — Were they part of the core? Were they in the periphery, out of periphery?

Whitman: They were doing analysis and production support of requirements to help build the plan. So they were provided with requirements from the core group of SOCOM planners and they would try to meet those requirements of intelligence analytical products.

Media: Intelligence requirements.

Whitman: Right. It’s LIWA, by the way, Activity. Not LIWAC.

Down: And Captain Philpot was more managing the whole effort. As opposed to an analyst.

Media: So five people remember this, but you haven’t been able to come up with the chart. So you’re not here telling us this chart does exist or doesn’t exist.

Down: We don’t know. We don’t have it. We have not to date identified that chart, discovered it in our recent searches, nor did we pull it up during the life of the 9/11 Commission where the Commission itself did ask us, sent us two document requests for information on Able Danger. It was not pulled up at that time.

Media: What could have happened to it? Could someone have destroyed it to cover up?

Whitman: Let me say something there, just for any other questions that might come up too. We’re not going to get into the business of speculating in terms of what might have happened. We’re here today to present the facts as they exist and as we know them.

Like Pat was saying, what we know is that we didn’t discover such a chart when we first responded to the Commission back in November and December of ’03 and we haven’t discovered such a chart in the current search. That’s the facts. It’s just not productive for us to get into speculating beyond what we actually know.

Media: Does that mean that because it was a classified operation a lot of documents including the chart could have been destroyed and that’s why you can’t find it?

Down: There are regulations. At the time how they were interpreted, very strictly pre-9/11, for destruction of information which is embedded, I guess is the way I would say it, that would contain any information on U.S. persons. In a major data mining effort like this you’re reaching out to a lot of open sources and within that there could be a lot of information on U.S. persons. We’re not allowed to collect that type of information. So there are strict regulations about collection, dissemination, destruction procedures for this type of information. And we know that that did happen in the case of Able Danger documentation.

Media: So it’s possible then that this is how the chart cannot be found. Along with other documents, they could have been destroyed and that’s why you can’t corroborate what these people are saying or say it’s wrong.

Down: Correct.

Media: What is the definition for U.S. person?

Down: I wish we had our lawyer here.

Chope: A U.S. citizen or someone who is in the country legally.

Media: So a tourist is a U.S. person.

Chope: Can be.

Media: Under what circumstances?

Chope: For instance on a work visa. I think it’s more than just a tourist, on a work visa or something like that.

Media: But there are work visas that allow you to come, I’m here on one —

Gandy: We have a whole class on that if you’d like to attend it. I’ll invite you. We have it annually.

We have lots of regulations on this that spell out precisely what they are. I’d hate to make an off-the-cuff comment here.

Media: Okay.

Gandy: But there are strict definitions.

Media: Maybe you can direct me to —

Gandy: Executive Order 12333. You can go on the web tonight and do it. DoD Directive 5240-1R.

Media: That does not —

Gandy: And Army Regulation 381-10.

Media: Does that mean there could have been legal advice given by the department or somebody within SOCOM to destroy it before it got out of the military’s possession?

Chope: We have negative indications that that was ever the case. We’ve spoken to all the attorneys at all levels of command and organization that were involved with Able Danger, and there was no legal advice given along those lines.

Media: That lines?

Chope: Along the lines to destroy anything.

Down: We have not discovered that legal advice was given to date.

Media: On this chart, can you say approximately what the date of the chart is these five people recall? And do all of them recall not only Attah, but the other hijackers?

Down: Maybe Tom can help with the details of the interviews, but I believe Captain Philpot says he saw the chart in January, February 2000. That’s the general reference point.

Media: Are you saying that the recollections of Schaeffer and Philpot are incredible?

Down: They’re our starting point. They’re DoD people who — Captain Philpot, or then Commander during when the 9/11 Commission was wrapping up, came to us and said I have this information. We took him to the 9/11 Commission to examine it further. It’s really up to the Commission to determine the relevancy of the information.

Fortunately, Captain Philpot or then Commander Philpot did not have documentation either, and so the staff questioned, and you can talk to the 9/11 Public Discourse Project where the two former chairmen of the Commission now work. But in terms of the clarity of the dates, when things were produced. At the time that Commander Philpot spoke with the Commission, the Commission staff at that time believed it wasn’t strong enough evidence, especially without documentation, to make a change in their report which was at that time being coordinated with us and had already been drafted.

Media: So now that you have three other individuals corroborating this chart, saying they’ve seen this chart, are you going back to brief the Discourse Project now? The 9/11 Commission?

Down: No, not at this point, but we will be shortly. Or at least —

Media: Has anything changed. Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.

Down: That’s okay.

Media: Has anything changed about the way that U.S. persons who get sucked up in a data mining operation would be handled today as opposed to how they might have — completely independent of this. Say if my name gets sucked up into a database tomorrow morning would it be handled differently today than it would have before 9/11?

Down: My understanding is that the same procedures are in place. We may exercise some flexibility, but I have to be careful here because the same procedures, the same regulations, they are still accurate. We have to be very careful of what we protect against U.S. persons —

Media: — different or —

Down: Again I have to be careful. The procedures stand and I really can’t speak for the analytical side at the moment, but I would think that in the post-9/11 mindset —

Chope: Let me get into some of the problems we have. We’re looking back about 5.5 years. Data mining is a relatively new thing in the intelligence community. They were not using the most sophisticated tools. They were using what tools were available. Sophisticated at the time, but compared to now of course we’re Moore’s law a couple of times down and we’ve got a lot better tools. So at this point now in the analytical side, we’re a lot better in identifying the type of data we get and where we get it from. Back then you would do what they called a web crawl and you’d get a lot of data and it would go in one pile.

Now when we put the data in a pile we tag it, you’ve heard about XML tagging and those sorts of things. So we understand where the data came from better, we understand the nature of that, and we have tools to help us identify the data.

So while the procedures haven’t changed, the interpretation has probable become a little more flexible with hindsight on 9/11, a little more flexible, but we still have the procedures in place, believe me, and we have the training, but we also have the better ability now to say okay, this data came from this source, it’s a U.S. person that has nothing to do with our problem set and we can expunge it a lot more easily than we could in the past. In the old days it was kind of an all or nothing.

Media: All these questions about Able Danger seem to sound like how could you possibly have missed Mohammed Attah did this, but I’m wondering if Mohammed Attah came in under the same circumstances at the same time tomorrow, he would still be of the same class. Wouldn’t they get ditched, thrown out? Not that that’s what happened with this, but if you were to tag him as a U.S. person wouldn’t he automatically be thrown out of the data base tomorrow just as —

Chope: I don’t know.

Media: Can you say whether you have gone through all the documents yet? You say you you’re now going back and reintegrating, but have you looked through all the documents? Is that why you’re here, to say you’ve completed that?

Down: We have done extensive searches including the documents that we delivered to the 9/11 Commission and the group of documents that were deemed unresponsive to the Commission’s particular request. There are boxes and boxes of these.

As you can imagine, an organization as large as DoD with the speed at which we had to respond to the Commission’s request, there were numerous documents that came through for all 39 of the Commission’s requests that weren’t really relevant to specific requests. So we have like a non-responsive pile. We weeded those out. If we had any doubt we left it up to the Commission to decide. It’s their job to decide what’s really relevant for them. But we went back through the old piles just to be sure we had not missed anything or to see if we could potentially identify this chart. And in terms of the other organizations, there have been very extensive document searches.

Media: Is there an estimate about how many pages you searched?

Down: Oh, boy —

Chope: We did a complete electronic search —

Down: Pages.

Chope: All holdings, physical searches, —

Down: Hundreds of thousands probably.

Media: Are you done with your effort?

Down: Including electronic files, of pages

Media: I’m sorry. Are you done with your review? Is this, are you finished or is this ongoing?

Down: Not in terms of the interview process. But in terms of document searches, unless there is some other source of documents that we find out through the interview process that we haven’t looked at, and again, we haven’t identified what that would be, right now we are complete on our document.

Media: Can I just return briefly on this chart that had Attah’s picture or reference, did the chart, did all the people have a recollection that the other hijackers who have been mentioned were also on the chart or just Attah?

Chope: Most of the discussion’s been about Attah —

Whitman: Before we get into that, let’s address the question. You said the chart that had Attah on it. We have not found a chart that had Attah on it. I just want to make sure —

Media: You said five people said they recall —

Whitman: I just didn’t want that to be out there as that there is a chart that exists that has Attah on it. Okay?

Chope: If there was a chart with Attah, [Laughter].

Whitman: It’s important.

Media: These five people recall, do they recall it having Attah and additional hijackers on it?

Chope: I can’t be certain. That would really be the, then Commander Philpot would be the one. The remainder talk about Attah and a picture, or Attah’s name. The one person who only saw a name and no picture, and the others saw a picture and a name.

Media: So Philpot is the only one who recalls other hijackers?

Chope: I believe, but I’d have to check the notes I have from the discussions we had.

Media: Let me go back to the U.S. persons question for a second. To what extent did any controversy over that issue lead to the shutdown of this program? I talked to several people who said there was a separate program developing. They were looking at Chinese tech transfer. It wasn’t Able Danger, but it used some of the same personnel, some of the same facilities at LIWA and came up with a name list of some very prominent U.S. persons and led to somebody saying terminate this thing. Is there any truth to that at all?

Chope: No. It had nothing — There was a prior effort involved with those topics that you mentioned. That effort ended with a subpoena by Congress in November of ’99. That was the end of it. It was a completely different target, different subjects, different data, everything.

Media: You say ended with a subpoena from Congress. From where? From which committee?

Chope: I’m not sure about the committee. That was a completely different effort. There were similar tools, but you’ve got to remember back here, let me just for the Land Information Warfare Activity, this was very experimental stuff back then. So what that was about was demonstrating can experimental stuff like this be useful in helping us solve some technology transfer riddles. That was kind of the purpose of that effort. That effort ended in the LIWA’s eyes in November. LIWA did a lot of other analytical projects. That’s what they do. They do intelligence analysis.

Media: — open source, classified?

Chope: In which?

Media: In both.

Chope: In Able Danger it was mixed, both open source and classified.

Media: The five people that recall seeing either Attah’s name or photograph on the charts, do they have any recollection of where that photograph might have come from, number one? How many people’s names were on that chart? Was it five, was it 10,000?

Chope: We don’t know what was on the chart.

Media: In their recollection, what is their recollection of that chart?

Chope: It’s different compared to any person you talk to.

Gandy: Captain Philpot will contend there are upwards of 60 names on that chart. Not all of them will have photographs attributed to them. Some will just be outlined silhouettes of a head.

Media: Given the differences in their recollection, are their claims considered credible?

Chope: Don’t know. We’re just in the fact-finding mode.

Media: This is kind of a fair question, actually. We won’t ask you to do hypotheticals or conjectures, but you all live in a world of analyzing data. Clearly if you’re supervisors or Dr. Cambone said to you want do you think now? You’ve now gone from two to five people who recall it. You haven’t found the document. What do you think?

Down: These people are, Captain Philpot for instance and the others, especially the ones that are involved in data mining, the contracting firms, are credible people. Again, we just — We are unable to again provide corroborating evidence. We just, as I’ve said, can’t find the document. But as I said, they are credible people.

Media: What do you make of that? That disparity. How do you conclude?

Chope: We can only hypothesize on how this —

Down: I don’t —

Chope: — might have come about is all you can do, hypothesize.

I agree with Pat. Most of the people involved in this are credible folks. We’ve checked out everything they’ve said. We can go to the same group of people you would think were sitting next to each other and say did you see a chart with a picture of Attah on it? No, no, no, yes. That’s kind of the situation we’re in right now. We drill into that and we still have the no, no, no, yes kind of situation.

Media: If these people are credible, what could account for this difference in your view?

Down: I don’t know. We’ve seen a chart with different Mohammed’s on them. Is it possible that Mohammed Ajaz, Mohammed — what’s the other one.

Chope: Arateff.

Down: Arateff, thank you. So we have charts with those names but not Mohammed Attah. Is there confusion there? Again, we don’t know. We simply don’t know. Was the reference to Mohammed Attah, did it come out early on in a chart? In that case if it came out early on, were there any kind of concerns which we again can’t corroborate for our interviews. If it came out early, such as in a proof of concept chart, we may never find it.

So as I said, we haven’t found any supporting evidence at this point, especially that documentation, to back those claims up.

[Multiple voices].

Down: We didn’t, no.

Media: — head of Special Ops at the time, wasn’t he?

Chope: — do not.

Media: You do not?

Down: Not yet.

Media: Can I ask a real basic question here? This effort to try to get to the bottom of this, this is responsive to Congress, to a directive from the Secretary, to what? Maybe you got into that in the beginning or maybe everyone in here knows it but me, I just — You’re getting to the bottom of this because Congress wants an answer or because you just want to know, because we’re all asking these questions and you want us to shut up? [Laughter].

Down: Maybe all of the above. We —

Chope: — Cambone has directed that we do fact-finding and find the facts in this case. Each of the components involved, SOCOM as the headquarters and supporting agencies have stepped forward and are doing their part to try and figure out what the facts are.

Media: Can I ask another question about the lawyers? You said I think that you had negative indication that that has happened, i.e. the destruction of documents.

Chope: That was taken a little out of context. No lawyer ever directed any Able Danger personnel to destroy documents. Any destruction of documents was conducted in accordance with established regulations and directives.

Media: What about the question of the meetings with the FBI?

Chope: Aside from the statements by Mr. Schaeffer and Captain Philpot we have found no corroborating statements or evidence or whatever you want to call it to that effect in the course of our interviews.

Media: So you talked to all of the lawyers who might have tried to stop this because it was U.S. person information and couldn’t be disseminated to domestic agencies. And no one remembers —

Chope: We have talked to all the lawyers involved in the project and there is no hindrance upon the sharing of information.

Gandy: We know that data was destroyed, the Land Information Warfare Activity. But it was destroyed in compliance with our intelligence oversight directives, 12333, DoD 5240-1R, et cetera. So it was destroyed in complete protocols, normal protocols that we would follow with any kind of U.S. person data. It wasn’t destroyed because a lawyer came in and said you’ve got to get rid of this stuff. It was the clock is ticking, show us how you can pull this U.S. person information out of here or not, you can’t do it we have protocols and directives to comply with, we’re going to comply, and they did. That’s how the data was destroyed at LIWA and I believe later on in SOCOM was in a similar manner destroyed.

Media: So the people involved in the project were asked whether there was a way that they could extract intelligence which could be shared from this massive data that they had from this pile you talked about —

Gandy: I think you’re confusing the sharing of data — Data can be shared with anybody. U.S. person data can be shared in a wide variety of situations. We do that every day in the Department of Defense. For instance on the counter-intelligence side of the house which I am responsible for for the Army, our intelligence agents share information every day with the FBI no U.S. persons, and who has primacy in an investigation, and who doesn’t. It’s all laid out in the protocols surrounding EO-12333 and 5240, our counter-intelligence regulations. Promulgation of those sharing agreements. So we can share data with U.S. persons.

In this case because of the nature in which the data was collected, now we’re 5.5 years ago. It was a gobbling up of a lot of data from a lot of sources and put in one pile. You had this commingling of U.S. person data with lots of other data, and there was no way to really pull it out. So the protocols were applied as they stood and really as they stand saying do you have a reason to do this. Like in the counter-intelligence case we have a reason, that we’re doing a counter-espionage investigation or we’re doing a force protection investigation. In this case there was no perceived imminent threat, imminent crime going to occur, any danger, those kinds of things that say that you can share it. That was not perceived to be the case in these situations and it was destroyed.

Media: So the identification of individuals who were linked to al-Qaida inside the United States was not perceived as an imminent threat after the USS Cole and after the embassy bombings —

Gandy: We don’t know that they identified those people in this data.

Media: You say there was no imminent threat, there was no perceived imminent threat.

Gandy: That might be a reason you would keep the data. Those are the kind of reasons we’re allowed to keep data about U.S. persons.

Media: And share it, right?

Gandy: Absolutely. It depends on the situation. If that person, for instance, if that person is located overseas, then you would share it with a different group of people than if the person was located in the United States. Just that there are links established doesn’t really mean anything. And by the way, some of these links, in the primacy of this technology you get some very goofy links that require research. In fact when we interviewed these analysts to a person they said what was the nature of the stuff? They said you really need to dig into this to find out what these links meant.

Media: I was told that the, after the data run had been done on unclassified data bases it was then scrubbed against classified data in order to try and do this process. Like burrowing in and finding out what the links might be and which might be meaningful and so on. Have you been able to discover whether this chart that these five people remember was the product of a first stage of that or a second stage?

Gandy: One, we don’t know there’s a chart. But if there was a chart we believe it came from open source information.

Media: And not being scrubbed against classified —

Gandy: I don’t know.

Media: Just to return to the question of the lawyers, Schaeffer said there were two occasions on which military lawyers intervened, the first was he said, that the military couldn’t do anything with it and then when he tried to take it to the FBI again — But you’re saying that no — Can you clarify exactly what you’re saying about what the lawyers did? The document destruction stuff was SOP. You haven’t found anything about a meeting with the FBI. I mean apart from the SOP on document destruction, what role did the regulations about U.S. persons and the legal interpretation of those made by lawyers of SOCOM play in how this all played out?

Gandy: Intelligence oversight drives how long we can store information on U.S. persons. It’s really proscribed pretty clearly.

Media: Any activity that was proposed by people involved in Able Danger that was prohibited by lawyers —

Gandy: No. That’s not the lawyers’ job in this kind of a, in any situation within here. Their job is to give advice to the commander. The commander makes the ultimate determination. In no way, shape or form did the lawyers dissuade or hinder people from turning information over.

Media: The additional three people that recall seeing references to Mohammed Attah, do any of them recall what that was based on? You said —

Gandy: We asked where did this data come from and the person who saw the name and not the face couldn’t tell. What it comes from is a big large conglomeration of data from lots of sources, and you drag a problem set through this data and you get lots of linkages and then you research the linkages is how it works.

We asked every single analyst if there was such a chart where would the data from that have come from? They didn’t know. What they’re doing is this huge data mining and they just get a pile of data, and in those days — Now if you say okay, I have this piece of information, you could probably trace it back to its original parentage.

Media: But not in those days.

Gandy: In those days I think you could with some of the tools, but it depends upon analyst input to the tools, the linkages and all. They had some capability to do that because they would describe an anecdote where they’d say we’ll read this information, and they’d say well, it’s from a web site. They got to the web site it’s kind of like a goofball web site. Then okay, get rid of that stuff. It’s from something that really is not credible information. So they had some capability but I don’t think they had the capability to scrub it in the fashion that the oversight rules could live with.

Media: The documents that were destroyed, is there a, if it’s a standard operating procedure, are there rudimentary records that are kept of what documents are destroyed?

Gandy: There are certificates of destruction. What you’ll have, traditionally for electronic it’s very difficult. They’ll say I destroyed so many disc drives, so many zip drives, so many CD roms were in the cruncher, that kind of stuff. You have lots and lost of data. So it’s very general in nature.

Media: It doesn’t really identify —

Gandy: It would never go down like in an index fashion or an inventory fashion. For those volumes of data it would say, the Y drive on this server at this place was wiped on this day, certified by the technician who conducted it.

Media: If there were a chart, a piece of paper, that would be different?

Gandy: You do physical destruction of it.

Media: Is that what it was?

Gandy: This is for documents that are actually published and numbered kind of documents that you would sign for. Those kind of documents. But if you have like working papers, charts that you’re printing off looking that’s not good, that’s not good, you wouldn’t do that. You’d just destroy all those.

Media: Schaeffer and Philpot’s current status is?

Gandy: Captain Philpot’s in the Navy and Mr. Schaeffer is —

Huntington: On administrative leave without (corrected – should be with) pay.

Media: From the DIA?

Huntington: That’s correct.

Media: Is he in uniform still?

Huntington: I don’t know the answer to that.

Media: Is he on administrative leave without pay as punishment?

Huntington: No. That’s totally separate from any of this activity.

Media: Does he face any possible action for disposing of information?

Whitman: We’re not going to get into any personnel issues that bump against the Privacy Act.

Media: Is the reason why he’s on leave, does that affect his credibility at all in the investigation?

Huntington: No. These two things are entirely separate sorts of things. The reason for this action is totally unrelated to any of the activities related to Able Danger.

Media: How much of your resources has been devoted to digging this up? Is it something – do you have a lot of people who are looking in to this now? [Laughter].

Down: Yes.

Gandy: A lot of personal time.

Media: Your personal opinion of it, is it a waste of time? Is it constructive? Is it something you find helpful?

Gandy: Dr. Cambone says this is something we ought to look into, I go roger that, sir. It’s very important.

Whitman: Like I said, we would present you the facts when we had some conviction on it, and that’s where we’re at today. I hope it’s been useful.

Media: Thanks for doing it on the record.

Chope: You’re welcome.


Encyclopedia of American Loons

Arthur Krigsman

Arthur Krigsman, MD, is a pediatrician and gastroenterologist best known for his controversial and widely-criticized research in which he attempts to prove that the MMR vaccine is the cause of diseases, especially autism. In fact, Krigsman may not be among the flashiest, but he is certainly among the most influential member of the antivaxx movement.

He has, in particular, written in support of the existence of autistic enterocolitis, which is, to put it mildly, not particularly widely accepted – Andrew Wakefield’s original study that tied the MMR vaccine to autism has of course been found to be fraudulent, and it was on the basis of this “research” that Wakefield coined the notion of “autistic enterocolitis”. In other words, Krigsman is fringe; but he still, to an extent, knows what he is talking about, which makes his contributions all the more insidious. In 2003, Krigsman reported similar findings as those of Wakefield, saying he found the intestines of 40 autistic children showed signs of inflammation, thus lending support to Wakefield’s ideas that MMR was related to autism and also to gastrointestinal disease. This information was, predictably enough, not formally published until 2010, and then in the pseudo-journal Autism Insights. The results were also obtained through failing to follow standard protocols and through questionable (or even scandalous) ethical behavior. Indeed, in 2004 Krigsman had to leave Lenox Hill hospital under “questionable circumstances,” and in 2005, he was fined by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners for multiple violations, including failing to report previous regulatory sanctions by the Florida medical board, and for the disciplinary action by the Lenox Hill Hospital.

Krigsman later joined Wakefield at the antivaxx organization Thoughtful House (though left when Wakefield was forced to leave after his original study was shown to be fraudulent). He is currently a perennial expert witness in vaccine-related court cases. His participiation in these cases seem to regularly raise discussions regarding his CV and how he represents his publication list. In one case, the judge noted that he thinks Krigsman failed to be a “credible witness” and that the parents who brought the case were “misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment.” In another case, the judge noted of Krigsman’s qualification for identifying a new disease like “autistic enterocolitis”, being “unrecognized by other authorities in the field, were, even when inflated, sadly lacking” and that his testimony about its existence was “speculative and unsupported by the weight of the evidence.”

Diagnosis: Though his cause has taken some fairly serious damage Krigsman is still in the running, and must still be considered dangerous.


Lorie Kramer

A.k.a. Lo the Seektress

Lorie Kramer is among the most ardent critics of Alex Jones on the web. Unfortunately, her criticisms of Alex Jones come, shall we say, from a different angle than ours. Kramer runs the website The Alex Jones Machine, a website allegedly “created in self defense” in order to expose Alex Jones for who he is – a central part of the Zionist conspiracy to take over the world. Just like Glenn Beck and Fox News, Jones is in the hands of powerful Jewish bankers, and Kramer sets out to prove Alex and Kelly Jones’s connections to Bronfman. On the other hand, Jeff Rense is apparently a hero because he once called out Alex Jones and was promptly forced out of the Jones fold. The evidence is clear. At one point Kramer had to ask herself “who really runs the GNC network”, and given that Kramer is the person she is, the answer was more or less a given once that question was asked.

Currently she also runs seektress.com, where she panders conspiracies and various rants about spirituality, channeling, politics, UFOs, chemtrails, and Morgellons (which, according to authority Clifford E. Carnicom, is caused by chemtrails).

Diagnosis: In ardent combat with oppression and evil. It would have been an advantage if Kramer would spend her efforts in a manner that was informed by reality instead, but that’s apparently too much to ask for. Probably harmless.


The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

June 22, 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. 78

Date:  Monday, March 31, 1997

Commenced: 9:12 AM CST

Concluded: 9:28 AM CST


GD: I have been trying to work up an article on the BCCI and thought, Robert, you might have some knowledge of it, seeing as Corson told me you knew about them.

RTC: Bill has a motor mouth but yes, I know about them. What are you looking for?

GD: There has been quite a bit of comment on and off in the press about this and, as I said, Bill commented on this.

RTC: Well, BCCI was, is, a Paki bank, set up by a high-rolling con man and fraud expert named Abedi. We had connections with him and some of his people and he was willing to help us fund the anti-Russian rebels in Afghanistan but off the books. Critchfield had a hand in all of this gun business as you know. These people were a farce, setting up all kinds of off shore banks and basicially, it was nothing but a Ponzi scheme but one that we got into and were able to shut up a number of trouble makers along the way. And the Abedi people had connections with the Paki ISI…

GD: Pardon?

RTC: Called the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence. A Limey set it up at the time the Pakis broke off from India in the late ‘40s,. They basicially were the power behind the throne in Pakistan…ran everything, took huge bribes from us on one hand and the Russians on the other. Typical bunch of worthless raghead scum. Never turn you back on any of them,, ever, Gregory, or you get a knife in it. My, what a game that turned out to be. We had such a stake in all of that mess that we had to make sure it was kept quiet, at least until we managed to get Ivan out of Afghanistan. Oh yes, there were complaints because the BCCI people were not only outright frauds but very obvious to the legitimate bankers here. Oh, a nice conversation there and someone falling off a cliff there but these greedy crooks just got too much hubris and finally it began to unravel. You must have read about this. F. Lee Bailey was a front for them and God knows how many throughly rotten Congressmen, regulatory people and so on were on the take. I mean there was so much bribe money flowing out of those people you couldn’t wonder how high it went. They dragged old Clark Clifford into it and others. Of course Clark has a great opinion of himself and had no problem taking money for his services.

GD: And your people?

RTC: I have pounds of filched files on this. Poor Trento thinks he’s going to get them and write a Pulitizer Prise winner out of it. I ought to send them to you. Would you like that?

GD: And have Paki assassins lurking on my front porch, cunningly disguised as piles of dog droppings? Probably not…although…

RTC: Well, Trento is far too stupid to know what to do with them so if I don’t send them to you, I might burn them. Emily shouldn’t have to deal with it when I’m gone and Greg…my son, not you…wouldn’t have a clue. Yes, I can send them to you and you can do what you want with them. My God, Gregory, billions of dollars in taxpayers funds lining pockets from here to Karachi.

GD: Critchfield?

RTC: Among others…but not me. Jim made so much money from the rag heads that I’m surprised he didn’t buy the Capitol as a barn for his stupid horses.

GD: And Atwood…

RTC: Small potatoes. The roster of the anointed reads like the Washington social calendar. Senator this and Director that.

GD: Kimmel?

RTC: Oh, God, no, not Dudley Doright. And don’t mention any of this to him. He wouldn’t have the fantest idea what to do with it and if he tried, he would join brother Colby in the boneyard. I tell you, Gregory, when we started the Company in ’48, believe it or not, we were a bunch of idealists. Of course the Cold War was a fake but we were really interested in fucking up old Joe Stalin and also thwarting the liberal kikes inside the Beltway. Still, idealists at heart. The thievery started later. Gregory, put a poorish man in a room full of gold coins and a few will stick to his feet. Sometimes more than a few. I ran the CIA’s business section and believe me, it was a wonderful rerlationship with the latter-day robber barons. The slide rule Shylocks. I rather like you, Gregory and if I gave you come of the papers I collected, you would either die or become very, very rich. I think they call it blackmail.

GD: One has to be careful what that, Robert. For instance, you tell me Angleton was in with the mob…

RTC: And the kikes too, don’t forget that. I really liked and admired Jim but…

GD: Yes. That’s like having a best friend from collegs who pimps autistic children to fat old men,

RTC: Yes, more or less but Jim had terrible friends. They got more out of him than he ever got out of them, let me advise you.

GD: I got the better of a Jew once and I thought the bugger would explode. On the other hand, I would never try to get the better of a Mafioso. I’ve known a few and I get on fine with them but try to screw them? I think not. Well, most of them have a really well developed sense of honor and the Jews do not. And they hate the Jews.

RTC: But Lansky…

GD: An exception. There is always an exception. Well, I might take some of your background material on the BCCI people if you have it to hand and it isn’t too much trouble. I always thought Clark Clifford was a triple plated phoney anyway. Him and Alan Cranston.

RTC: Agreed but why stop there?

GD: I’d be on this call for three days straight, just reading off the names. Isn’t America blessed to have to many thieves that get away with it?

RTC: Well, if you steal a dollar, you are a thief but if you steal ten million, you are a financier.

RTC: Or a Republican.


(Concluded at 9:28 AM CST)







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