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TBR News March 15, 2019

Mar 15 2019

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8

         Washington, D.C. March 15, 2019:”Here is an interesting CIA manual on certain interrogation methods:

THE INTERROGATION OF SUSPECTS UNDER ARREST

Your virtuous interrogator, like the virtuoso in any field, will tell you that formulating the principles of his art would be a presumptuous and sterile procedure. Interrogators are born, not made, he almost says, and good interrogation is the organic product of intuition, experience, and native skill, not reducible to a set of mechanical components. Yet the organic whole can usefully be dissected, and examination will reveal its structural principles.

 

This article selects from the many different ramifications of the interrogation art that genre which is applicable to suspected agents under arrest, and sets forth some of the principles and procedures which characterize it. The essay is slanted toward relatively unsophisticated cases, and does not cover the subtler techniques which should be used, for example, against a suspected double agent, nor those required when access to the subject or the control of his person is limited. It does, however, treat interrogation as a process designed to yield the highest possible intelligence dividend. Such an interrogation is usually incompatible with one intended to produce legal evidence for a court conviction, since statements by the accused may be barred as court evidence on the ground that they were made under duress, during prolonged detention without charge, or in some other violation of legal procedures.

 

An interrogation yields the highest intelligence dividend when the interrogee finally becomes an ally, actively cooperating with the interrogator to produce the information desired. It is to a discussion of principles and procedures helpful in transforming a recalcitrant prisoner into something approaching an ally that this article is devoted. This kind of interrogation is essentially a battle of wills in which the turning-point is reached as the subject realizes the futility of his position. It usually develops in three tactical phases: a) breaking the cover story; b) convincing the subject that resistance is pointless and acquiescence the better part of valor; and c) getting active cooperation.

 

The question of torture should be disposed of at once. Quite apart from moral and legal considerations, physical torture or extreme mental torture is not an expedient device. Maltreating the subject is from a strictly practical point of view as short-sighted as whipping a horse to his knees before a thirty-mile ride. It is true that almost anyone will eventually talk when subjected to enough physical pressures, but the information obtained in this way is likely to be of little intelligence value and the subject himself rendered unfit for further exploitation. Physical pressure will often yield a confession, true or false, but what an intelligence interrogation seeks is a continuing flow of information.

 

No two interrogations are the same. The character, behavior, and degree of resistance of each new subject must be carefully assessed, and his estimated weaknesses used as the basis of a plan for intensive examination and exploitation. Each interrogation is thus carefully tailored to the measure of the individual subject. The standard lines of procedure, however, may be divided into four parts: a) arrest and detention; b) preliminary interview and questioning; c) intensive examination; and d) exploitation. The first three stages may often be merged; they constitute the softening-up process during which the cover story is broken and the subject may be shown up as a liar, an important step in making him realize the futility of further resistance.

 

In the matter of proving the subject a liar a word of caution is necessary. Showing some subjects up as liars is the very worst thing to do, because their determination not to lose face will only make them stick harder to the lie. For these it is necessary to provide loopholes by asking questions which let them correct their stories without any direct admission to lying.

 

When the cover story and the will to resist have been broken, when the subject is ready to answer a series of carefully prepared questions aimed at an intelligence target, the exploitation can begin, often in a veiled spirit of cooperation and mutual assistance. At this stage the interrogation may for example be moved to an office assigned the subject, where he might even be left alone for a few minutes to show that he is being trusted and that there is something constructive for him to do. This feeling of trust and responsibility can be very important to a broken subject, because he may now have suicidal inclinations; he must be given something to occupy his mind and keep him from too much introspection.

 

We shall examine in detail each stage of the interrogation procedure after a word on the language problem. Without doubt an interrogator using the subject’s language is in a much better position than one who has to work through an interpreter. But the interrogation skill is infinitely more important than the language skill, and a good linguist should not be substituted for a good interrogator. In the absence of an interrogator who speaks the language, an interpreter should be used, preferably one with some training in interrogation techniques. It is very important that the interpreter not only report accurately what both parties say but also reflect as faithfully as he can their inflection, tone, manner, and emphasis. He should try to become part of the furniture in the room rather than a third personality, and the interrogator should act as though he were not there.

 

  1. Arrest and Detention

The interrogations officer, since his critical objective is breaking the subject’s will to resist, should attempt to control the psychological factors in every aspect of the subject’s life from the earliest possible stage, normally the time of arrest. If possible, he should plan in advance the conditions of arrest and immediate detention. If the subject is already in detention, the principles set down in the following paragraphs may be applied to his removal from ordinary detention to the place of interrogation.

 

The arrest should take the subject by surprise and should impose on him the greatest possible degree of mental discomfort, in order to catch him off balance and deprive him of the initiative. It should take place at a moment when he least expects it and when his mental and physical resistance is at its lowest. The ideal time which meets these conditions is in the early hours before dawn, when an abrupt transition from sleep to alert mental activity is most difficult.

 

If the arrest cannot be made during the pre-dawn sleep, the next best time is in the evening, when a person is normally relaxed in his own home. One is most impressionable when relaxing at home, as witness the findings of advertising firms who have studied the impact of television commercials. A less desirable time is in the morning when the day’s routine begins, especially in the case of underground personnel, because they will have thought through the day ahead of them and steeled themselves to its risks.

 

The police detachment which effects the arrest, or removal from detention to the interrogation center, should impress the prisoner with its cool efficiency and assurance.   This scene is important enough to justify a rehearsal, if necessary. A subject arrested by three or four ill-dressed, clumsy policemen is more likely to regain his composure after the initial shock and draw some confidence from his superiority over his captors. If he is abruptly awakened by an arresting party of particularly tall, smart, well-equipped and business-like officers, he will probably be exceedingly anxious about his future.

 

The arresting party should also be schooled in observing the prisoner’s reactions and in the techniques for a quick but thorough search of his room and person. In ordinary arrests there are arguments for having the prisoner witness the searching of his room: he cannot then claim theft or willful damage to his property; he can be asked questions about what is found; and his reactions may help the searchers uncover hidden objects. But during the search preceding an intelligence interrogation it is usually better to have the subject out of the room; his ignorance as to what has been found there will foster uncertainty and uneasiness in his mind. One member of the arresting party should be specifically charged with watching the prisoner’s reaction to everything that goes on.

 

Other aspects of the arrest and the conditions of initial detention should be governed by the interrogator’s preliminary assessment of the subject’s personality and character on the basis of records, reports, and any other sources available. If, for example, the prisoner belongs to a subversive organization which makes a practice of stressing the harsh and summary treatment its members should expect if they let themselves fall into the hands of the security authorities, the arresting party might make a point of treating him correctly and even courteously. This unanticipated finesse might disconcert his antagonism and be a useful factor in winning him over later.

 

Some of the alternative detention conditions from which the interrogator must choose according to his preliminary assessment of the subject are: a) a long period or brief interval between arrest and initial questioning, b) solitary confinement or quartering with other prisoners, c) comfortable or discomfiting accommodations, and d) subjection to comprehensive personal search or no. Some subject-types would be enabled by any delay between arrest and questioning to firm up a cover story, regain their composure, and fortify themselves against the interrogation. On the other hand, a prisoner left in solitary confinement for a long period with no one, not even his custodian, speaking a word to him may be thoroughly unnerved by the experience. When this course is chosen it is important to deprive the prisoner of all his personal possessions, especially of things like snapshots and keepsakes, symbols of his old life which might be a source of moral strength to him.

 

Other techniques which may or may not be employed at this stage, according to the subject’s personality, include the use of a stool-pigeon, the double stool-pigeon routine, microphoning the cell and doctoring it in other ways. The double stoolpigeon technique has two stool-pigeons in the cell when the prisoner arrives. One of them befriends him, warns him that the other is a stool-pigeon, and if possible enlists his help in agitating for the removal of this plant. When the third man has been removed the subject may have come to trust his fellow-agitator and confide in him. The cell can be doctored by having messages written on the walls, either with deceptive content recommending for example some attendant as a sympathetic channel to the outside or with discouraging and depressive impact.

 

  1. The Preliminary Interview

The preliminary interview is not intended to obtain intelligence, but only to enable the interrogators to make a firm assessment of the character and type of subject with whom they will have to deal. It is useful to have the interrogators – preferably two of them – seated behind a table at the far end of a long room, so that the subject after entering will have some distance to walk before taking his chair in front of them. This device will enable them to observe his poise and manner, and may often quite unsettle the subject. The interrogators should sit with their backs to the main source of light in order to obscure their faces, veil their expressions, and place a strain on the prisoner.

 

The subject can be placed under further strain by providing him an uncomfortable chair, say one with a polished seat and shortened front legs so that he tends to slide off it, or one with wobbly legs. On the other hand, an opposite technique has sometimes been successful: the prisoner is made so comfortable, after a hearty lunch with beer, that he drops his guard in drowsiness.

 

The interview must of course be recorded, either on tape or in stenographic notes. The interrogators must on no account try to do this job themselves; it would distract them from the critical task of framing questions and steering the course of interrogation according to the implications of the subject’s replies. Whether the stenographer or recorder should be concealed or visible depends on the subject’s sophistication and the state of his alert. If the recording process is not evident some subjects may become careless of what they say when they see that the interrogators are not taking notes, whereas a visible recording would alert them to be more cautious. For others, consciousness of a recording going on in full view may be unnerving, and they may betray the weak links in their stories by showing signs of distress at these points.

 

At a later stage of the interrogation it may be of value to play back to the subject some part of this recording. The sound of his own voice repeating his earlier statements, particularly any with intonations of anger or distress, may make a psychological breach in his defenses.

 

The attitude of the interrogators at the preliminary interview should usually be correct, studiously polite, and in some cases even sympathetic. It is imperative that they keep their tempers both now and throughout the interrogation. The prisoner may be given the true reason for his arrest or a false one, or he may be left in doubt, according to the circumstances of the case. The interrogators must try to determine whether his usually vigorous protestations of innocence are genuine or an act, but they should not at this stage give any indication of whether they believe or disbelieve him. A clever prisoner will try to find out how much the interrogators know; they should at all costs remain poker-faced and non-committal.

 

At this interview the interrogators should do as little as possible of the talking, however many questions they are anxious to have answered. The prisoner should be asked to tell his story in his own words, describe the circumstances of his arrest, give the history of some period of his life, or explain the details of his occupation. The object is to get him to talk without prompting in as much continuous narrative as possible; the more he talks the better the interrogators can assess his personality.

 

Personalities are individual, but some typing of subjects can be done cutting across factors of race or background. One category displays no emotion whatever and will not speak a word; another betrays his anxiety about what is going to happen to him; a third is confident and slightly contemptuous in his assurance; a fourth maintains an insolent attitude but remains silent; a fifth tries to annoy his interrogators by pretending to be hard of hearing or by some trick like repeating each question before answering it.

 

After the interview the interrogators should confer, formulate their assessment of the subject’s character, and work out a plan of intensive examination, including the kind of detention conditions to be applied between questionings. The details of this plan will vary widely, but it will be based on two principles, that of maintaining psychological superiority over the prisoner and that of disconcerting his composure by devices to bewilder him.

 

  1. The Intensive Examination

The intensive examination is the scene of the main battle of wits with the prisoner, having the critical objective of breaking his cover story. The cover story, if it is a good one, will be a simple explanation of the subject’s activities as a straight-forward normal person, plausible even to his close friends, containing a minimum of fabrication and that minimum without detail susceptible to a check or ramifications capable of development. Its weakness may often lie in the subject’s abnormal precision about certain details, especially when two or more subjects are using the same cover story.

 

The most difficult subject is one who will not talk at all, and prolonging his solitary confinement usually increases the difficulty of getting him to talk. It is best to put him into a labor gang or some such group of prisoners where he may be drawn into conversation. After some days or perhaps weeks he may be communicating normally with these others, and may have concluded that his interrogators have given him up for good. At that time some incident can be created involving the labor gang which requires that they all be questioned. If innocuous questions are put to the silent prisoner rapidly in a routine and indifferent manner, he may answer them. He may then find it hard to revert to complete silence if caught off guard as the questioning is switched without break to matters of real interest. The device of starting with questions easy for the subject to answer is useful with many whose replies to significant questions are hard to elicit.

 

Everything possible must be done to impress upon the subject the unassailable superiority of those in whose hands he finds himself and therefore the futility of his position. The interrogators must show throughout an attitude of assurance and unhurried determination. Except as part of a trick or plan they should always appear unworried and complete masters of the situation in every respect. In the long and arduous examination of a stubborn subject they must guard against showing the weariness and impatience they may well feel. If a specialist in the subject’s field is used to interrogate him, say scientist to interrogate a prisoner with a scientific specialty, this interrogator must have unquestioned superiority over the subject in his own field.

 

Many prisoners have reported amazement at their own capacity for resistance to any stable pressures or distresses of an interrogation, such as onerous conditions of confinement or the relentless bullying of a single interrogator. What is demoralizing, they find, is drastic variation of cell conditions and abrupt alternation of different types of interrogators. A sample device in the regulation of cell conditions for unsophisticated prisoners is the manipulation of time: a clock in a windowless cell can be rigged to move rapidly at times and very slowly at others; breakfast can be brought in when it is time for lunch or in the middle of the night’s sleep; the interval between lunch and dinner can be lengthened to twelve or fifteen hours or shortened to one or two.

 

The questioning itself can be carried out in a friendly, persuasive manner, from a hard, merciless and threatening posture, or with an impersonal and neutral approach. In order to achieve the disconcerting effect of alternation among these attitudes it may be necessary to use as many as four different interrogators playing the following roles, although one interrogator may sometimes double in two of them:

 

First, the cold, unfeeling individual whose questions are shot out as from a machine-gun, whose voice is hard and monotonous, who neither threatens nor shows compassion.

 

Second, the bullying interrogator who uses threats, insults and sarcasm to break through the subject’s guard by making him lose his temper or by exhausting him.

 

Third, the ostensibly naive and credulous questioner, who seems to be taken in by the prisoner’s story, makes him feel smarter than the interrogator, gives him his rope and builds up false confidence which may betray him.

 

Finally, the kind and friendly man, understanding and persuasive, whose sympathetic approach is of decisive importance at the climactic phase of the interrogation. He is most effectively used after a siege with the first and second types, or after a troubled sleep following such a siege.

 

The course of the intensive questioning cannot be standardized, but some useful procedures are outlined in the following paragraphs.

 

When the subject is brought in he is asked to tell again the story he gave at his preliminary interview. Then he is asked to repeat it, and again a third time. He will be annoyed and with luck might even lose his temper. He at least will be worried about possible inconsistencies among the four versions he has given. In some cases it will be better that the interrogator not disclose his awareness of any such inconsistencies; in others it may be advantageous to emphasize them by making a comparison in his presence and perhaps playing back a recording.

 

If the cover story is still intact, the next step is to probe for detail. One of two interrogators questions rapidly into many details of a particular aspect of some incident. Then the other puts detailed questions on another aspect of the same incident. Then the first takes up a third aspect, and so on alternately for some time. The object is to force the subject to invent detail hastily. Finally, without any break, the interrogators start going back over their detail questions a second time; and the subject, not having had time to fix his improvisations in mind, is most unlikely to remember them.

 

By deliberately misquoting the subject’s replies the interrogator may often succeed in confusing him, or better yet in irritating him and making him lose his temper. A talkative subject should always be encouraged to give full and lengthy explanations; he is likely of his own accord to get mixed up and introduce inconsistencies into his story. Catching the subject in a lie of relatively little importance sometimes unnerves him and starts his resistance crumbling.

 

A not too sophisticated subject can be told that his fellow-conspirators have let him down, that an informer among them has betrayed his secret, or that some of them are in custody and have been persuaded to talk. Incriminating testimony from others, true or false, can be read to him, or a hooded man can pretend to recognize and identify him. The subject can be placed in profile at a window while two guards lead a “prisoner” past outside who will send in word that he recognizes his true identity.

 

Sometimes a very long period of silence while the interrogators are pretending to go over critical evidence will unnerve the subject.

 

The whole procedure is a probe for an opening – a confession of guilt, an admission to having lied, a state of confusion or even extreme concern on some particular point. Once an opening is found, however small, every effort is concentrated on enlarging it and increasing the subject’s discomposure. At this stage he is allowed no respite until he is fully broken and his resistance at an end.

 

  1. The Exploitation

When the subject has ceased to resist his interrogators and is ready to talk freely he must be handled with great care, both because this attitude may change and because he may now have suicidal impulses. He should get better treatment and better detention conditions. He should be induced to ally himself with his interrogators, and encouraged to believe that he is doing something useful and constructive in assisting them. It is often important to keep him hard at work regardless of whether the product of his efforts is of any real value; he could be asked to write out a lot of details about his subversive organition, for example, whether or not such information were required. The object is to keep him busy, to keep his mind occupied, to prevent his having time for introspection.

 

Since interrogators for the exploitation must be well acquainted in the particular field of information involved, it may now be necessary either to introduce new specialist interrogators or to give the earlier ones a thorough briefing in this field. Which course is better will depend on the subject’s character, the way he was broken, and his present attitude toward those who have been handling him. Sometimes only a fresh interrogator can get real cooperation from him. Sometimes, on the other hand, he is so ashamed of having broken that he is unwilling to expose himself further and wants to talk only to his original questioner. And sometimes he has built up a trustful and confiding relationship with his interrogator which should not be destroyed by the introduction of another personality.”

The Table of Contents

  • North Korea mulls suspending denuclearization talks with US, diplomat says
  • Why So Many Trump Supporters Are OK With the President’s Lies
  • How Trump’s Lies about the Wall Undermine Our Criminal Justice System
  • Trump Just Gave Himself More Power to Kill in Secret
  • Origins of the purported British nerve gas attack
  • Rubio’s Gloating Betrays US Sabotage in Venezuela Power Blitz
  • The CIA’s Orange Revolution
  • Pushing boundaries: US eyes Russian encirclement via NATO ‘Trojan horse’
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

North Korea mulls suspending denuclearization talks with US, diplomat says

Pyongyang is weighing the suspension of talks with the United States on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, according to reports. A North Korean official accused Washington of “gangster-like” tactics.

March 15, 2019

DW

North Korea has said it is considering suspending denuclearization talks with the US amid an “atmosphere of hostility and mistrust” created by high-ranking US officials, Russian news agency TASS and The Associated Press reported on Friday.

“We have no intention to yield to the US demands in any form, nor are we willing to engage in negotiations of this kind,” TASS cited Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui as saying.

The reports come after a summit last month in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended without agreement over how best to remove nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula.

Choe, who attended the talks on February 27-28, blamed US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, for the failure of the talks, saying they had “obstructed” Kim and Trump’s “constructive effort.”​​​​​​​

‘Mysteriously wonderful’

Choe’s remarks, in which she described the US stand as “gangster-like,” seem to point to a change in North Korea’s strategy following the talks, with both Pyongyang and Washington initially voicing a readiness to continue on with negotiations.

The main obstacle to agreement between the two sides was reportedly the question of sanctions: Washington says it wants all weapons of mass destruction eliminated by North Korea before economic sanctions are dropped, while Pyongyang envisages lifting the main sanctions in return for an only partial dismantling of its nuclear infrastructure. The failure of the talks came despite what Choe described as a “mysteriously wonderful” chemistry” between Trump and Kim.

The United States and North Korea have long been at loggerheads over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, with North Korea regularly defying international sanctions over the past few years by carrying out atomic arms tests.

 

Trump overrules congress with veto to protect border emergency declaration

  • Trump announces first veto since taking office in 2017
  • President calls congressional action ‘dangerous and ‘reckless’

March 15, 2019

by Ben Jacobs in Washington

The Guardian

Donald Trump has issued his first legislative veto since taking office, overruling Congress to protect his declaration of a national emergency to secure funds for a wall on the US border with Mexico.

Trump vetoed the resolution passed by the US Senate on Thursday to reject his declaration of a national emergency. The bill passed the Senate by a margin of 59-41 with 12 Republicans joining Senate Democrats in a rare rebuke of the president.

The bill had passed the House in February with thirteen congressional Republicans crossing the aisle to join Democrats.

In the Oval Office at the White House on Friday afternoon, Trump said “our immigration system is stretched beyond the breaking point” and called the congressional action “dangerous” and “reckless”. Trump made the comments surrounded by law enforcement officials and “angel parents”, whose children were killed by undocumented immigrants.

The president had long threatened a veto of the resolution. It is unlikely that Congress will have the two-thirds majority required to override it.

Nonetheless, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, announced that the House would vote on 26 March in an effort to override Trump’s veto. In a statement, Pelosi said: “The House will once again act to protect our Constitution and our democracy from the President’s emergency declaration by holding a vote to override his veto. House Republicans will have to choose between their partisan hypocrisy and their sacred oath to support and defend the Constitution.”

The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, also criticized Trump’s action. “It is no surprise that the president holds the rule of law and our Constitution in minimal regard,” said the New York Democrat in a statement.

On 15 February Trump invoked the National Emergencies Act of 1976, claiming there was a crisis on the border that required the construction of walls to protect the United States.

Trump declared the national emergency after signing a government funding agreement that did not include the money he requested to build a wall. His signature ended a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government, which had been triggered by a showdown after Congress refused to appropriate the $5.7bn he requested to start construction at the border. But the compromise reached on funding only included $1.37bn for “barriers” on the border, not a wall, and totaling far less than Trump wanted.

Trump made the construction of a wall along the almost 2,000-mile-long US-Mexico border a cornerstone of his 2016 presidential campaign, saying Mexico would pay for it. The Mexican government has yet to agree to fund the project, and the no part of the wall has been built – only repairs and refurbishments to existing barriers have happened in some areas.

The declaration of an emergency allowed the administration to access over $6bn in additional funds not appropriated by Congress to build the wall.

However, Democrats and a number of Republicans said his effort represented an unconstitutional expansion of the power of the presidency. In a statement, Republican senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said: “Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway.”

The statement continued: “The problem with this is that after a revolutionary war against a king, our nation’s founders gave to Congress the power to approve all spending so that the president would not have too much power. This check on the executive is a crucial source of our freedom.”

Defenders of the Trump administration justified their vote by saying the measure was needed to provide border security. Republican senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said: “There is an emergency at our southern border. Military construction funds can be used by President Trump to create barriers to protect our nation from the scourge of illegal immigration. I believe the president is on sound legal ground.”

Under article I, section 7 of the Constitution, a veto override requires two-thirds majorities in each chamber. The initial resolution of disapproval did not receive two-thirds support in either the House or the Senate.

 

Why So Many Trump Supporters Are OK With the President’s Lies

Authoritarianism has long been linked to support for Donald Trump. New research finds people with that mindset are less likely to care that a political leader is lying.

March  14, 2019

by Tom Jacobs·

PS Magazine

As of mid-February, the Washington Post’s fact-checking staff had tallied 8,718 false or misleading public statements by President Donald Trump since he assumed office. Yet his popularity, while low overall, remains very high among his base—a demographic dominated by evangelical Christians, who are taught lying is a sin.

Why are they so willing to discard the core principle of not bearing false witness? New research suggests the Ninth Commandment is subject to amendment when you hold an authoritarian mindset.

The research, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, finds Republicans are more likely than Democrats or independents to consider overt lying on the part of a politician morally acceptable behavior. This difference is largely driven by Trump supporters’ endorsement of authoritarianism.

While relatively few Americans find it acceptable, “these results suggest that right-wing individuals are more tolerant to the spreading of misinformation by politicians,” write Jonas De keersmaecker and Arne Roets of Ghent University in Belgium.

The researchers describe two studies that support that thesis. The first featured 254 Americans recruited online who began by completing surveys measuring their level of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation.

People who score high on the first scale support socially conservative values, respect for authority figures, and punitive punishments. Those who score high on the second favor a hierarchy-based social structure, with their group on top. Both tendencies have been linked to support for Trump in 2016.

Participants were then given three vignettes in which a politician lied about an upcoming increase in the unemployment rate. Depending upon the specific scenario, the lie was either overt, by omission, or a matter of “paltering”—using a truthful statement to mislead. They rated each statement on three scales: ethical to unethical, dishonest to honest, and immoral to moral. Finally, they indicated their political party affiliation.

The result: People who had high scores on right-wing authoritarianism and social-dominance orientation were more tolerant of all three varieties of lying. “These associations can be considered moderate to large,” the researchers note.

In addition, self-declared Republicans were significantly more tolerant of overt lying or paltering than Democrats (and slightly more tolerant of lying by omission). The researchers found this could be traced to their much higher levels of right-wing authoritarianism.

A second study largely replicated these results, and confirmed that the attitudes of political independents on this issue are much closer to those of Democrats than Republicans.

The results provide new evidence that our current political polarization reflects deep-seated differences that extend far beyond individual issues. “Right-wing authoritarianism captures the tendency to defer to legitimized authority,” the researchers write. If, in your mind, your leader can do no wrong, it follows that he can lie with impunity.

Relatedly, people who score high in social-dominance orientation “consider the social world as a competitive jungle,” they add. It’s easy to see how lying would be viewed as acceptable if you hold what the researchers describe as “the dog-eat-dog worldview where everyone does whatever is needed to get ahead.”

The researchers caution that these findings should not be overstated: Lying on the part of politicians was considered morally wrong by most people across the ideological spectrum. But people on the political right were far more likely than those on the left to disagree with this consensus, and this difference may allow Trump to lie without fear of losing their support.

How Trump’s Lies about the Wall Undermine Our Criminal Justice System

The facts just don’t support President Trump’s wall plan—or much else in his immigration agenda.

March 15, 2019

by Cameron Kimble

Brennan Justice Center

One of President Donald Trump’s top campaign promises from the 2016 election was a wall between the United States and Mexico financed entirely by the Mexican government. But to date, every justification President Trump has offered for a border wall has come up plainly false, including his latest: that the experience of El Paso, Texas shows why a wall would work. Indeed, this latest argument isn’t just wrong. It also exemplifies how Trump and others have used misinformation and fear to motivate voters, especially with misleading connections between immigration and crime—a tactic that will have long-term consequences for our country and our criminal justice system.

El Paso sits on the Mexican border and is separated from the Mexican city of Juarez by mere inches. In mid-2009, El Paso completed construction on a wall separating itself from Juarez. According to Trump, El Paso was among the most dangerous U.S. cities—right up until that wall was built. Trump also claims that upon completion of this wall, El Paso became one of the safest cities in the country, immediately—or in his words, “Overnight. Overnight.” He’s repeated this claim on several occasions, most recently at a rally in El Paso itself.

But Trump could hardly be more wrong. El Paso has long been (and continues to be) one of the safest cities in the country relative to similarly sized major cities across the United States and has also generally been the safest among Texas’s major cities. Of Texas’s six major urban areas, El Paso has enjoyed the lowest violent crime rate nearly every year since 2005, with the exceptions of the three years following the wall’s mid-2009 completion. There’s no reason to believe the wall made El Paso more dangerous. But it certainly didn’t make it any safer.

Trump isn’t the only politician to spread false narratives about crime to motivate voters. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) sought to convince the public that they were living through to the early stages of a “new crime wave”—but that crime wave never materialized. Or consider then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who declared that “violent crime [was] back with a vengeance” near the end of 2017—a year that recorded the third lowest national violent crime rate since 1971. Ironically, Sessions later went on to claim credit for heading off this phantom crime wave.

Here are the facts. Currently, the crime rate in the United States is nearing historic lows. In a recent analysis, the Brennan Center estimates that in 2018, in most cities, overall crime rates in major cities kept again to record lows. Today, violent crime is near where it was in 1970 and property crime rates have decreased to the lowest level in over fifty years. This decades-long downward trend will likely continue, as evidenced by analyses such as the recent preliminary release of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.

Here’s another fact: there is little evidence that immigration increases crime at all, according to a number of recent studies. This finding is further supported by researchers at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, who found that immigrants, legal or undocumented, are less likely to be arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for crimes.

Misleading the public about crime affects the public’s perception of public safety. This, in turn, can lead to the implementation of bad, reactionary, and generally ineffective criminal justice policy. For example, the conflation of Latin American asylum seekers with gang members is what leads some Americans to support child-family separation at the southern border. And a false narrative about undocumented immigrants, violent crime, and drug trafficking may lead voters to support the construction of a wall that will not halt illegal immigration or have any measurable effect on violent crime—all while siphoning billions of dollars away from effective efforts to curb drug trafficking.

When elected officials weaponize intentionally misleading crime statistics, they are exploiting the fears of their constituents. In doing so, they overlook long-term criminal justice policy consequences in pursuit of a short-term victory—their own reelection.

 

Trump Just Gave Himself More Power to Kill in Secret

He reversed an Obama-era order requiring the annual publication of drone strikes undertaken by the United States.

March 7, 2019

by Conor Friedersdorf

The Atlantic

After seven years spent presiding over many hundreds of secretive, extrajudicial CIA killings, President Barack Obama signed a 2016 executive order intended to increase transparency and reduce the “tragic” deaths of civilians. The order required the release each May 1 of the number of drone strikes undertaken by the United States “against terrorist targets outside areas of active hostilities,” along with “assessments of combatant and non-combatant deaths.”

In theory, the American public would finally know how many innocents were being killed outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, stoking anti-American sentiment and the possibility of blowback in multiple countries where no war was declared.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump rescinded that short-lived reporting requirement. As Charlie Savage observed in The New York Times, “Mr. Trump’s revocation of the disclosure rule amounted to a belated acknowledgment that his administration had already changed the Obama policy in practice: The director of national intelligence never put out a report about bystander casualties in 2017.” Although the Pentagon is still required by statute to disclose civilian casualties from its ongoing combat operations, Savage explained, that law doesn’t cover lethal CIA drone strikes.

The legislative branch has all but abdicated its war powers, and lawmakers on both sides have let successive presidents preside over secret kill lists. Without the reporting order in place, there is no way for the public to know what the Trump administration is up to, theoretically in its name.

Subjecting any president to so little accountability is imprudent. And Trump warrants particular mistrust, given his habit of surrounding himself with unscrupulous individuals and statements he has made on the use of lethal force, e.g., “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength.”

Representative Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, released a statement asserting “the need for Congress to make this reporting mandatory.” The Democrat tried to force an increase in transparency under Obama too.

What he proposes would be better than nothing.

It is nevertheless disheartening––as a longtime critic of America’s program of lethal drone strikes––to assess the state of the policy debate in Washington, D.C.

The president wants the power to kill people in secret far from any battlefield without having to disclose how often he exercises it or how many innocents die.

The Democratic Party purports to regard him as a morally depraved, power-hungry opportunist who lacks wisdom, judgment, and restraint, rendering him unfit for high office. But it won’t push to strip him of the ability to unilaterally kill an indeterminate number of people in various countries where we are not at war. It will merely try to force him to disclose the body count once a year. And it likely doesn’t have the votes in Congress to accomplish even that.

 

Origins of the purported British nerve gas attack

March 15, 2019

by Christian Jürs

Michael Richard Pompeo is an American politician and businessman who has been serving as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency since January 23, 2017, following his nomination by President Donald Trump.

Previously, he was the member of the United States House of Representatives for Kansas’s 4th congressional district (2011–2017).

He is a member of the radical right wing Tea Party movement within the Republican Party. He was a Kansas representative on the Republican National Committee and member of the Italian American Congressional Delegation.

Pompeo is also an Evangelical Christian.

In August of 2017, Pompeo took direct command of the Counterintelligence Mission Center, the department which helped to launch an investigation into possible links between Trump associates and Russian officials.

Former CIA directors expressed concern since Pompeo is known to be an ally of Donald Trump

William Evanina is currently the head of NCIX, which is the executive officer of the United States Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX), and who is also the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

The London branch of this secret organization is located at 33 Nine Elms Ln. London SW11 7.

Formerly, it was headquartered at Caversham Park.

A supposedly secret communication from Evanina’s office in question is marked USA/GBR/ EYES ONLY and addressed to M. Aubineau in the UK office of ONCIX (detailed information from Booth)

Part of the document reads:

“Necessary to remove Skripal from any possibility of allowing him to be interviewed via Judicial Assistance Request, by on-going U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump/Russian working agreements. If possible try to make this look like some kind of a negative Russian intelligence operation, thus killing two birds with one stone. Note that Skripal is of considerable value to UK intel so termination with extreme prejudice not suggested.”

And further in the same document:

“President Trump does not tolerate anything that he views as opposed to his will. For that reason, he has developed a very strong dislike for the Justice Department’s FBI because of their ongoing investigation of his extensive contact with Russian entities. He has been contemplating abolishing the FBI and turning its domestic intelligence programs over to the CIA, creating one massive surveillance entity that he can easily control.”

The British agency involved in the purported “nerve gas attack” scenario is the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU)

In May 2013, the NDEDIU was split into two units:

a )Protest and Disorder Intelligence Unit. This unit collates and provides strategic analysis relating to protest and disorder across the UK; and b) Domestic Extremism Intelligence Unit. This unit provides strategic analysis of domestic extremism intelligence within the UK and overseas.

The NDEU had been created in 2011 following a merger of the three domestic extremism units under the National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism – the National Domestic Extremism Team, National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).

The quid pro quo for Pompeo’s cooperation in keeping devastating information about Trump’s clandestine political deals with Russia away from hostile investigators is evident.

On March 13, 2018, Trump announced his intention to nominate Pompeo as the new United States Secretary of State, on March 31, 2018, succeeding Rex Tillerson who had the audacity to disagree with Trump.

There is absolutely no question whatsoever that Russian intelligence was able, by the offering of large amounts of money for rigged hotel business deals as well as securing his interest through the activities of very attractive women, to get Trump to work with them closely in the event he was able to secure election to the American presidency.

U.S. Congressional committees also have been investigating Russia and the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

It is now known that the Trump people hired the Facebook people to influence the election and it is also known, but only in top intelligence circles, that the WikiLeaks organization that released damning emails about the Clinton organization is entirely owned by Russian intelligence.

Trump, therefore, bought support with cash from Facebook and promises of cooperation from Russian top level sources.

Rubio’s Gloating Betrays US Sabotage in Venezuela Power Blitz

March 14, 2019

by Finian Cunningham

Strategic Culture

US imperialists are so desperate in their regime-change predations over Venezuela, they seem to have a problem controlling their drooling mouths.

The latest orgy of American gloating was triggered by the massive power outages to have hit Venezuela. No sooner had the South American country been blacked out from its power grid collapsing, senior US officials were crowing with perverse relish.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio – who has become a point man for the Trump administration in its regime-change campaign in Venezuela – was a little too celebratory. Within minutes of the nationwide power outage last Thursday, Rubio was having verbal orgasms about the “long-term economic damage”… “in the blink of an eye”. But it was his disclosure concerning the precise damage in the power grid that has led the Venezuelan government to accuse the US of carrying out a sabotage.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez noted how Rubio, in his tweeted comments “three minutes” after the power outage, mentioned failure of “back-up generators” in Venezuela’s main hydroelectric plant, known as the Guri Dam, located in Bolivar State. The dam supplies some 80 per cent of the Venezuelan population of 31 million with its electricity consumption.

Rodriguez mockingly ascribed “mystic skills” to Rubio because the Florida Republican senator appeared to know the precise nature of the power failure even before the Venezuelan authorities had determined it.

The Venezuelan government has since claimed that the failure in the electric grid was caused by a cyber attack on the computer system controlling the Guri Dam turbines. Caracas said it will present proof of its claims to the United Nations.

Apart from Rubio’s apparent insider information, there are several other indicators that Venezuela’s latest turmoil from power blackout was indeed caused by US sabotage, and specifically a cyber attack.

The South American country has experienced recurring power cuts over recent years due to economic problems and Washington’s sanctions. But the latest outage was widespread – at least 70 per cent of the country – and sustained for more than four days, rather than being rectified within hours. That scale of disruption suggests an unprecedented event, way beyond intermittent problems of maintenance.

The duration of the blackout in the capital Caracas and other major cities also indicates that the nature of the problem was difficult to reverse, which would be consistent with a cyber attack on the power grid. “It was a kill-shot,” says American political analyst Randy Martin.

Furthermore, US officials like President Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton as well as “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams have been warning that Washington is seeking new ways to pile pressure on Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro to stand down.

Abrams was caught out last week in a prank phone call made by two Russian entertainers posing as Swiss President Ueli Maurer in which Abrams openly advocated crushing the Venezuelan banking system in order to topple the government in Caracas. The American envoy, who was convicted over the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s for sponsoring terrorism to sabotage Nicaragua, appeared to balk at using overt US military power against Venezuela. That suggests Washington was persuaded on the efficacy of cyber warfare to inflict social chaos and incite popular anger against the Maduro government.

The immediate reaction by Washington officials and the US-backed political opposition in Venezuela was to blame the Maduro government for the power disorder. The failure was flagged up as a sign of “incompetence” and “mismanagement” of the oil-rich country by the socialist administration. Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself the rightful president with Washington’s blessing, conveyed the logic of blackmail when he declared, “the lights will come back on when usurper Maduro is gone”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also weighed in with repulsive gloating within hours of Venezuela’s power crisis. Pompeo tweeted: “No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro.”

The delight openly displayed by Washington officials in regard to aggression against Venezuela has broken new ground in terms of the brazenness of US imperialism.

Only a few weeks ago, Bolton announced that the objective for seeking regime change in Venezuela against the elected President Nicolas Maduro was for US corporations to seize the South American state’s vast oil wealth – reckoned to be the largest known reserves on the planet, far exceeding those of Saudi Arabia.

Such is Washington’s unbridled lust for Venezuela’s natural resources that its imperialist advocates are falling over themselves with naked lies and crimes.

When a US Trojan Horse aid convoy was blocked from entering into Venezuela from Colombia last month, American politicians and media immediately blamed the Maduro government for sabotaging the effort. An aid truck was set alight on a border crossing on February 23. US Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Rubio, as well as CNN, condemned the Venezuelan authorities for “callous” destruction of vital aid delivery to its long-suffering people. It turns out, as even the New York Times has now admitted three weeks later, that the aid truck was torched by US-backed opposition supporters on the Colombian side of the border.

The obscenity of American imperialism is that it has inflicted huge social misery in Venezuela from years of sanctions and illegal confiscation (theft) of billions of dollars in assets belonging to the nation. Then it has the audacity to mount a charade seeming to deliver humanitarian aid.

The latest twist to this sadistic game played by Washington is turning the lights off across the entire nation, in homes, hospitals, airports and schools, among other essential services, and attempting to lay the blame on the Venezuelan government.

We may, however, be thankful for Washington’s overweening arrogance and criminality. Because, as Marco Rubio’s rash remarks concerning the latest power outage show, the American gangsterism towards Venezuela is being exposed for the naked aggression that it is.

US-based political analyst Randy Martin, in comments for this column, says that what Washington is doing to Venezuela is tantamount to the “rape of democracy”. “American imperialism has no longer any shame,” he said. “It used to rape countries under the cover a seedy alleyway of false excuses and hollow claims of righteousness. Now it has its trousers around its ankles and trying to rape Venezuela right on the global Main Street.”

 

The CIA’s Orange Revolution

Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev

by Steve Weissman

If the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland had not said “Fuck the EU,” few outsiders at the time would have heard of Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, the man on the other end of her famously bugged telephone call. But now Washington’s man in Kiev is gaining fame as the face of the CIA-style “destabilization campaign” that brought down Ukraine’s monumentally corrupt but legitimately elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

“Geoffrey Pyatt is one of these State Department high officials who does what he’s told and fancies himself as a kind of a CIA operator,” laughs Ray McGovern, who worked for 27 years as an intelligence analyst for the agency. “It used to be the CIA doing these things,” he tells Democracy Now. “I know that for a fact.” Now it’s the State Department, with its coat-and-tie diplomats, twitter and facebook accounts, and a trick bag of goodies to build support for American policy.

A retired apparatchik, the now repentant McGovern was debating Yale historian Timothy Snyder, a self-described left-winger and the author of two recent essays in The New York Review of Books – “The Haze of Propaganda” and “Fascism, Russia, and Ukraine.” Both men speak Russian, but they come from different planets.

On Planet McGovern – or my personal take on it – realpolitik rules. The State Department controls the prime funding sources for non-military intervention, including the controversial National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which Washington created to fund covert and clandestine action after Ramparts magazine and others exposed how the CIA channeled money through private foundations, including the Ford Foundation. State also controls the far-better-funded Agency for International Development (USAID), along with a growing network of front groups, cut-outs, and private contractors. State coordinates with like-minded governments and their parallel institutions, mostly in Canada and Western Europe. State’s “democracy bureaucracy” oversees nominally private but largely government funded groups like Freedom House. And through Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, State had Geoff Pyatt coordinate the coup in Kiev.

The CIA, NSA, and Pentagon likely provided their specialized services, while some of the private contractors exhibited shadowy skill sets. But if McGovern knows the score, as he should, diplomats ran the campaign to destabilize Ukraine and did the hands-on dirty work.

Harder for some people to grasp, Ambassador Pyatt and his team did not create the foreign policy, which was – and is – only minimally about overthrowing Ukraine’s duly elected government to “promote democracy.” Ever since Bill Clinton sat in the Oval Office, Washington and its European allies have worked openly and covertly to extend NATO to the Russian border and Black Sea Fleet, provoking a badly wounded Russian bear. They have also worked to bring Ukraine and its Eastern European neighbors into the neoliberal economy of the West, isolating the Russians rather than trying to bring them into the fold. Except for sporadic resets, anti-Russian has become the new anti-Soviet, and “strategic containment” has been the wonky word for encircling Russia with our military and economic power.

Nor did neoconservatives create the policy, no matter how many progressive pundits blame them for it. NED provides cushy jobs for old social democrats born again as neocons. Pyatt’s boss, Victoria Nuland, is the wife and fellow-traveler of historian Robert Kagan, one of the movement’s leading lights. And neocons are currently beating the war drums against Russia, as much to scupper any agreements on Syria and Iran as to encourage more Pentagon contracts for their friends and financial backers. But, encircling Russia has never been just a neocon thing. The policy has bi-partisan and trans-Atlantic support, including the backing of America’s old-school nationalists, Cold War liberals, Hillary hawks, and much of Obama’s national security team.

No matter that the policy doesn’t pass the giggle test. Extending NATO and Western economic institutions into all of a very divided Ukraine had less chance of working than did hopes in 2008 of bringing Georgia into NATO, which could have given the gung-ho Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvilli the treaty right to drag us all into World War III. To me, that seemed like giving a ten-year-old the keys to the family Humvee.

Western provocations in Ukraine proved more immediately counterproductive. They gave Vladimir Putin the perfect opportunity for a pro-Russian putsch in Crimea, which he had certainly thought of before, but never as a priority. The provocations encouraged him to stand up as a true Russian nationalist, which will only make him more difficult to deal with. And they gave him cover to get away with that age-old tool of tyrants, a quickie plebiscite with an unnecessary return to Joseph Stalin’s old dictum once popular in my homestate of Florida: “It’s not the votes that count, but who counts the votes.”

Small “d” democrats should shun such pretense. Still, most journalists and pollsters on the scene report that – with the exception of the historic Tatar community – the majority of Crimeans want to join the Russian Federation, where they seem likely to stay.

Tensions will also grow as the US-picked interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk – our man “Yats” – joins with the IMF to impose a Greek, Spanish, or Italian style austerity. Hard-pressed Ukranians will undoubtedly fight back, especially in the predominantly Russian-speaking east. According to Der Spiegel, a whopping three quarters of the people there do not support the coup or government. What a tar patch! A domestic conflict that could split Ukraine in two will inevitably become even further embroiled in the geo-strategic struggle between Russia and the West.

On Planet Snyder, as in most Western media, these realistic considerations make absolutely no difference. Ideology rules, masked as idealism. Fine sounding abstractions fill the air. Ukrainians are making their own history. They are acting with great courage. They are seeking the rule of law and their rightful place in “European Civilization.” They are defending “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity.” Russians remain vicious. Big bad Vlad is the new Hitler. He is seeking his own Eurasian empire (as opposed to NATO’s), which could soon include parts of Moldova, Belarus, and Kazakhstan that the West needs like a “lok in kop,” a hole in the head. And those watching in the West must abandon what Snyder calls “our slightly self-obsessed notions of how we control or don’t control everything.”

“It was a classic popular revolution,” proclaims the professor. An undeniably popular uprising against “an unmistakably reactionary regime.”

Writing in The Nation, Professor Stephen Cohen shreds Snyder’s argument. My concern is more pointed. Popular uprisings deserve our support or opposition depending on who comes to control them and to what ends. As McGovern puts it, “The question is: Who took them over? Who spurred them? Who provoked them for their own particular strategic interests?”

Detailed evidence provides the answers. For all the courage of the Ukrainian minority who took to the barricades, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt and his team spurred the protests in Kiev and exercised extensive – though never complete – control over them. Tactically, Pyatt and his fellow diplomats showed unexpected skill. Strategically, they should have stayed home.

Revolution on Demand

Arriving in the Ukrainian capital on August 3, Pyatt almost immediately authorized a grant for an online television outlet called Hromadske.TV, which would prove essential to building the Euromaidan street demonstrations against Yanukovych. The grant was only $43,737, with an additional $4,796 by November 13. Just enough to buy the modest equipment the project needed.

Many of Hromadske’s journalists had worked in the past with American benefactors. Editor-in-chief Roman Skrypin was a frequent contributor to Washington’s Radio Free Europe / Radio Libertyand the US-funded Ukrayinska Pravda. In 2004, he had helped create Channel 5 television, which played a major role in the Orange Revolution that the US and its European allies masterminded in 2004.

Skrypin had already gotten $10,560 from George Soros’s International Renaissance Foundation (IRF), which came as a recommendation to Pyatt. Sometime between December and the following April, IRF would give Hromadske another $19,183.

Hromadske’s biggest funding in that period came from the Embassy of the Netherlands, which gave a generous $95,168. As a departing US envoy to the Hague said in a secret cable that Wikileaks later made public, “Dutch pragmatism and our similar world-views make the Netherlands fertile ground for initiatives others in Europe might be reluctant, at least initially, to embrace.”

For Pyatt, the payoff came on November 21, when President Yanukovych pulled back from an Association Agreement with the European Union. Within hours Hromadske.TV went online and one of its journalists set the spark that brought Yanukovych down.

“Enter a lonely, courageous Ukrainian rebel, a leading investigative journalist,” writes Snyder. “A dark-skinned journalist who gets racially profiled by the regime. And a Muslim. And an Afghan. This is Mustafa Nayem, the man who started the revolution. Using social media, he called students and other young people to rally on the main square of Kiev in support of a European choice for Ukraine.”

All credit to Nayem for his undeniable courage. But bad, bad history. Snyder fails to mention that Pyatt, Soros, and the Dutch had put Web TV at the uprising’s disposal. Without their joint funding of Hromadske and its streaming video from the Euromaidan, the revolution might never have been televised and Yanukovych might have crushed the entire effort before it gained traction.

For better or for worse, popular uprisings have changed history long before radio, television, or the Internet. The new technologies only speed up the game. Pyatt and his team understood that and masterfully turned soft power and the exercise of free speech, press, and assembly into a televised revolution on demand, complete with an instant overdub in English. Soros then funded a Ukrainian Crisis Media Center “to inform the international community about events in Ukraine,” and I’m still trying to track down who paid for Euromaidan PR, the website of the Official Public Relations Secretariat for the Headquarters of the National Resistance.

Orange Revolution II

Preparing the uprising started long before Pyatt arrived in country, and much of it revolved around a talented and multi-lingual Ukrainian named Oleh Rybachuk, who had played several key roles in the Orange Revolution of 2004. Strangely enough, he recently drew attention when Pando, Silicon Valley’s online news site, attacked journalist Glenn Greenwald and the investor behind his newFirst Look Media, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Trading brickbats over journalistic integrity, both Pando and Greenwald missed the gist of the bigger story.

In 2004, Rybachuk headed the staff and political campaign of the US-backed presidential candidate Victor Yushchenko. As the generally pro-American Kyiv Post tells it, the shadowy Rybachuk was Yushchenko’s “alter ego” and “the conduit” to the State Security Service, which “was supplying the Yushchenko team with useful information about Yanukovych’s actions.” Rybachuk went on to serve under Yushchenko and Tymoshenko as deputy prime minister in charge of integrating Ukraine into NATO and the European Union. In line with US policy, he also pushed forprivatization of Ukraine’s remaining state-owned industries.

Despite US and Western European backing, the government proved disastrous, enabling its old rival Yanukovych to win the presidency in the 2010 election. Western monitors generally found the election “free and fair,” but no matter. The Americans had already sowed the seeds either to win Yanukovych over or to throw him over, whichever way Washington and its allies decided to go. As early as October 2008, USAID funded one of its many private contractors – a non-profit called Pact Inc. – to run the “Ukraine National Initiatives to Enhance Reforms” (UNITER). Active in Africa and Central Asia, Pact had worked in Ukraine since 2005 in campaigns against HIV/AIDS. Its new five-year project traded in bureaucratic buzzwords like civil society, democracy, and good governance, which on the public record State and USAID were spending many millions of dollars a year to promote in Ukraine.

Pact would build the base for either reform or regime change. Only this time the spin-masters would frame their efforts as independent of Ukraine’s politicians and political parties, whom most Ukrainians correctly saw as hopelessly corrupt. The new hope was “to partner with civil society, young people, and international organizations” – as Canada’s prestigious Financial Post laterparaphrased no less an authority than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

By 2009, Pact had rebranded the pliable Rybachuk as “a civil society activist,” complete with his own NGO, Center UA (variously spelled Centre UA, Tsenter UA, or United Actions Center UA). Pact then helped Rybachuk use his new base to bring together as many as 60 local and national NGOs with activists and leaders of public opinion. This was New Citizen, a non-political “civic platform” that became a major political player. At the time, Pact and Soros’s IRF were working in a joint effort to provide small grants to some 80 local NGOs. This continued the following year with additional money from the East Europe Foundation.

“Ukraine has been united by common disillusionment,” Rybachuk explained to the Kyiv Post. “The country needs a more responsible citizenry to make the political elite more responsible.”

Who could argue? Certainly not Rybachuk’s Western backers. New Citizen consistently framed its democracy agenda as part of a greater integration within NATO, Europe, and the trans-Atlantic world. Rybachuk himself would head the “Civil Expert Council” associated with the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Committee.

Continuing to advise on “strategic planning,” in May 2010 Pact encouraged New Citizen “to take Access to Public Information as the focus of their work for the next year.” The coalition campaigned for a new Freedom of Information law, which passed. Pact then showed New Citizen how to use the law to boost itself as a major player, organize and train new activists, and work more closely with compliant journalists, all of which would seriously weaken the just-elected Yanukovych government. Part of their destabilization included otherwise praiseworthy efforts, none more so than the movement to “Stop Censorship.”

“Censorship is re-emerging, and the opposition is not getting covered as much,” Rybachuk told the Kyiv Post in May 2010. He was now “a media expert” as well as civic activist. “There are some similarities to what Vladimir Putin did in Russia when he started his seizure of power by first muzzling criticism in the media.”

One of Rybachuk’s main allies in “Stop Censorship” was the journalist Sergii Leshchenko, who had long worked with Mustafa Nayem at Ukrayinska Pravda, the online newsletter that NED publicly took credit for supporting. NED gave Leshchenko its Reagan Fascell Democracy Fellowship, while New Citizen spread his brilliant exposés of Yanukovych’s shameless corruption, focusing primarily on his luxurious mansion at Mezhyhirya. Rybachuk’s Center UA also produced a documentary filmfeaturing Mustafa Nayem daring to ask Yanukovych about Mezhyhirya at a press conference. Nothing turned Ukrainians – or the world – more against Yanukovych than the concerted exposure of his massive corruption. This was realpolitik at its most sophisticated, since the US and its allies funded few, if any, similar campaigns against the many Ukrainian kleptocrats who favored Western policy.

Under the watchful eye of Pact, Rybachuk’s New Citizen developed a project to identify the promises of Ukrainian politicians and monitor their implementation. They called it a “Powermeter” (Vladometer), an idea they took from the American website “Obamameter.” Funding came from theUS Embassy, through its Media Development Fund, which falls under the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Other money came from the Internews Network, which receives its funding from the State Department, USAID, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and a wide variety of other government agencies, international organizations, and private donors. Still other money came from Soros’s IR

New Citizen and its constituent organizations then brought together 150 NGOs from over 35 cities, along with activists and journalists like Sergii Leschchenko, to create yet another campaign in 2011. They called it the Chesno Movement, from the Ukrainian word for “honestly. ” Its logo was agarlic bulb, a traditional disinfectant widely believed to ward off evil. The movement’s purpose was “to monitor the political integrity of the parliamentary candidates running in the 2012 elections.”

This was a mammoth project with the most sophisticated sociology. As expected, the Chesno monitoring found few honest politicians. But it succeeded in raising the issue of public integrity to new heights in a country of traditionally low standards and in building political interest in new areas of the country and among the young. The legislative elections themselves proved grim, with President Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions taking control of parliamen

What then of all New Citizen’s activism, monitoring, campaigning, movement-building, and support for selective investigative journalism? Where was all this heading? Rybachuk answered the question in May 2012, several months before the election.

“The Orange Revolution was a miracle, a massive peaceful protest that worked,” he told Canada’s Financial Post. “We want to do that again and we think we will.”

He Who Pays the Piper

Rybachuk had good reason for his revolutionary optimism. His Western donors were upping the ante. Pact Inc. commissioned a financial audit for the Chesno campaign, covering from October 2011 to December 2012. It showed that donors gave Rybachuk’s Center UA and six associated groups some $800,000 for Chesno. PACT, which regularly got its money from USAID, contributed the lion’s share, $632,813, though part of that came from the Omidyar Network, a foundation set up by Pierre and his wife.

In a March 12th press release, the network tried to explain its contributions to Rybachuk’s Center UA, New Citizen, and the Chesno Movement. These included a two-year grant of $335,000, announced in September 2011, and another $769,000, committed in July 2013. Some of the money went to expand Rybachuk’s technology platforms, as New Citizen explained.

“New Citizen provides Ukrainians with an online platform to cooperatively advocate for social change. On the site, users can collectively lobby state officials to release of public information, participate in video-advocacy campaigns, and contribute to a diverse set of community initiatives,” they wrote. “As a hub of social justice advocates in Kiev, the organization hopes to define the nation’s ‘New Citizen’ through digital media.”

Omidyar’s recent press release listed several other donors, including the USAID-funded Pact, the Swiss and British embassies, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Soros’s International Renaissance Foundation. The Chesno Movement also received money from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Figures for fiscal year 2013 are more difficult to track. Washington’s foreignassistance.govshows USAID paying PACT in Ukraine over $7 million under the general category of “Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance.” The data does not indicate what part of this went to Center UA, New Citizen, or any of their projects.

What should we make of all this funding? Some of it looks like private philanthropy, as back in the days when the CIA channeled its money through foundations. Was the Soros and Omidyar money truly private or government money camouflaged to look private? That has to remain an open question. But, with Rybachuk’s campaigns, it makes little difference. USAID and other government funding dominated. The US Embassy, through Pact, coordinated most of what Rybachuk did. And, to my knowledge, neither Soros nor Omidyar ever broke from the State Department’s central direction.

Strategic Containment, OK?

When Ambassador Pyatt arrived in Kiev, he inherited Pact and its Rybachuk network well on its way to a second Orange Revolution, but only if they thought they needed it to win integration into Europe. That was always the big issue for the State Department and the Ukrainian movement they built, far more telling than censorship, corruption, democracy, or good governance. As late as November 14, Rybachuk saw no reason to take to the streets, fully expecting Yanukovych to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union at a November 28-29 summit in Vilnius. On November 21, Yanukovych pulled back, which Rybachuk saw as a betrayal of government promises. That is what “brought people to the streets,” he told Kyiv Post. “It needed to come to this.”

Euromaidan would become a “massive watchdog,” putting pressure on the government to sign the association and free trade deal with the EU, he said. “We’ll be watching what the Ukrainian government does, and making sure it does what it has to do.”

That is where the State Department’s second Orange Revolution started.

Furthermore, the significance of Ukraine for the EU as a transit country from Russia mostly in terms of oil and natural gas is high. The high dependence of the EU countries on Russian natural resources was visible during the Russian-Ukraine gas disputes in 2006 and the beginning of 2009. As a consequence, the EU stressed the essentiality of integration of Ukraine into the unified framework of EU. Before the first gas dispute in 2005, the Memorandum of Understanding of Energy was signed which focused on the safety of energy deliveries. However, since 2008, the cooperation in the field of efficiency of energy and renewable resources is included into this treaty. The peak in this aspect came in October 2009 when Ukraine joined the Energy Community Treaty (EnCT), which created integrated market with electricity between the European Community and contractual parties. Signing of this treaty meant another substantial advance in the mutual relations of the EU and Ukraine (Ukrainian Energy 2013: 5).

The Orange Revolution, as it was known at the time, was a classic CIA-engineered plot to impose their political outcome on the Ukrainian people. And they succeeded with flying colors.

That CIA-sponsored coup d’etat was so successful that it has since been used as a model for every other CIA-manufactured scheme that has toppled governments and reversed fair election outcomes the world over. In fact, the Ukraine is where the various social network utilities were used so effectively that the new MO has become known as the digital blitzkrieg. Never in human history have so many citizens been stampeded in the direction of overthrowing their government while being completely ignorant of the real forces manipulating the cattle prods.

The state of Ukraine during the 2004 presidential election is considered an “ideal condition” for an outburst from the public. During this time Ukrainians were impatient while waiting for economic and political transformation.[1] The results of the election were thought to be fraudulent and considered “a nail in the coffin” of the preceding events.

The U.S. and NATO Have Been Trying to Encircle Russia Militarily Since 1991

The American press portrays Putin as being the bad guy and the aggressor in the Ukraine crisis.

Putin is certainly no saint. A former KGB agent, Putin’s net worth is estimated at some $40 billion dollars … as he has squeezed money out of the Russian economy by treating the country as his own personal fiefdom. And all sides appear to have dirt on their hands in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

But we can only see the bigger picture if we take a step back and gain a little understanding of the history underlying the current tensions.

Indeed, the fact that the U.S. has allegedly paid billions of dollars to anti-Russian forces in Ukraine – and even purportedly picked the Ukrainian president – has to be seen in context.

Veteran New York Times reporter Steven Kinzer notes at the Boston Globe:

From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. [Background here, here and here.] It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.

“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” warned George Kennan, the renowned diplomat and Russia-watcher, as NATO began expanding eastward. “I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely, and it will affect their policies.”

Stephen Cohen – professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University who has long focused on Russia – explained this weekend on CNN:

We are witnessing as we talk the making possibly of the worst history of our lifetime. We are watching the descending of a new cold war divide between west and east, only this time, it is not in far away Berlin, it’s right on Russia’s borders through the historical civilization in Ukraine. It’s a crisis of historic magnitude. If you ask how we got in it, how we got into the crisis, and how therefore do we get out, it is time to stop asking why Putin – why Putin is doing this or that, but ask about the American policy, and the European Union policy that led to this moment.

 

***

 

I don’t know if you your listeners or views remember George Kennan. He was considered [a] great strategic thinker about Russia among American diplomats but he warned when we expanded NATO [under Bill Clinton], that this was the most fateful mistake of American foreign policy and that it would lead to a new Cold War. George lived to his hundreds, died a few years ago, but his truth goes marching on. The decision to move NATO beginning in the 90′s continuing under Bush and continuing under Obama, is right now on Russia’s borders.

And if you want to know for sure, and I have spent a lot of time in Moscow, if you want to know what the Russian power elite thinks Ukraine is about, it is about bringing it into NATO. One last point, that so-called economic partnership that Yanukovych, the elected president of Ukraine did not sign, and that set off the streets – the protests in the streets in November, which led to this violence in and confrontation today, that so-called economic agreement included military clauses which said that Ukraine by signing this so called civilization agreement had to abide by NATO military policy. This is what this is about from the Russian point of view, the ongoing western march towards post Soviet Russia.

Vladimir Putin’s troop movements in Crimea, which are supported by most Russians, are of questionable legality under the terms of the peace and friendship treaty that Russia signed with Ukraine in 1997. But their illegality is considerably less clear-cut than that of the US-led invasion of Iraq, or of Afghanistan, where the UN security council only authorised the intervention several weeks after it had happened. [Indeed, top American leaders admit that the Iraq war was for reasons different than publicly stated. And the U.S. military sticks its nose in other countries’ business all over the world.  And see this.] And Russia’s troop movements can be reversed if the crisis abates. That would require the restoration of the language law in eastern Ukraine and firm action to prevent armed groups of anti-Russian nationalists threatening public buildings there.

Again, we don’t believe that there are angels on any side.  But we do believe that everyone has to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, calm down and reach a negotiated diplomatic resolution.

And see this, this, this and this (interview with a 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff).

 

Pushing boundaries: US eyes Russian encirclement via NATO ‘Trojan horse’

November 19, 2013

RT

The US is using the NATO as a Trojan horse in order to take over militarily and politically the whole of Eastern Europe, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and this is an open provocation vis-à-vis Russia, Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO told RT.

RT: What’s the problem with NATO doing more war drills? We do live in a dangerous world and practice makes perfect doesn’t it?

Rick Rozoff: Right, we have to put matters into context. If we are talking about the most recent NATO war games in the Baltic Sea, so-called operations or exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013. We have to keep in mind it’s the largest joint military exercise held by NATO in seven years. And it was with the expressed intent of solidifying what is called the NATO response force, which is a global military strike force and was conducted in two countries – Latvia and Poland – that share borders with Russia. And it was again a large-scale: 6,000 troops, air and naval and as well land and infantry components in countries bordering Russia. It’s not an everyday affair, as your comments may have indicated. If anything analogous to this were to occur on an American border, say Mexico and Canada, and troops from 40 countries, all NATO members, and a number of NATO partners were to engage in joint war games on the American border, you’d hear something from Washington, I’m going to assure you. And this isn’t an innocuous everyday affair of one nation, two nations, holding war games; this is the largest military bloc in history, to be honest, with 24 members, with partners of over 70 countries in the world, which is over a third of the nations in the world, and in the UN, for example. So this is a further indication that the US-led military bloc that is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, inspires, first of all, to hold what could be construed as reckless and perhaps even dangerous war games near Russia’s borders and at the same time design to further develop and give a body to activate its international response force.

RT: These exercises do not come cheap though – and many European nations aren’t in the best shape financially. Is it really worth it for them?

RR: Of course not, this is a phantom, an imagined threat that has been combated. It’s worth noting that the Secretary-General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen and other NATO officials including the Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow, who is the former US Ambassador to Russia, made comments on the war games conducted in Latvia and Poland were meant to consolidate the gains that have been made over the last 12 years in Afghanistan, where NATO, through the International Security Assistance Force, has consolidated – in its own words – its operability with military forces of over 50 different nations. Can the peoples of Europe, the citizenry of the respective 26 NATO member states in Europe afford this sort of extravagance? No, of course, they cannot. So what we’re left to believe is that the United States finds it expedient to use NATO and it’s prepared to underwrite the majority of what it costs to conduct the war games or set up military installations, and further the United States’ geopolitical interests in Europe and in the world.

RT: NATO’s just wrapped up exercises in Poland and the Baltic states. Any reason why it picked these specific locations?

RR: If you are talking about the rapid response force, which is a NATO mechanism used presumably to interfere as the NATO intervene militarily, as NATO has over the last 14 years outside of the area of responsibility of the self-declared area of protection of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. What we’re talking about of course is a serious military action, serious as war is, in fact. In south-eastern Europe 14 years ago, in former Yugoslavia, in Afghanistan over the last 12 years, in Asia and two years ago in Libya and North Africa, then they have chosen such a sensitive spot vis-à-vis Russia – the Baltic states, the north-west border of the Russian Federation – almost looks like a provocation to me. But the official NATO explanation is that now having established itself as an international military expeditionary force which can conduct military actions in Africa, in the Middle East, in the Gulf of Aden, in the Indian Ocean, in South and Central Asia, now has to re-establish its ability to defend its member-states. Who else but Russia could be intended when NATO states, and, in the case of Latvia and Poland – they have to be able to defend their new NATO member-states such as Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland – that any one nation that could be potential aggressor in that context and of course it is  Russia. So this is an open provocation vis-à-vis Russia.

RT: Next year NATO will finish up its Afghanistan combat mission, which lasted over a decade. What will all these troops be doing after the 2014 withdrawal?

RR: There is going to be a period of rest and recuperation for the actual ground forces. And keep in mind that the NATO commanders in Afghanistan and US military commanders have mooted about retaining as many as 8,000-14,000 US and other NATO troops in Afghanistan for the indefinite future. And this is of course an addition to the US sustaining and perhaps even expanding its presence and its strike capability in major airbases that the US has upgraded in Shandan, in Kandahar, and the ground bases outside Kabul, the capital, and so forth. So what the NATO evidently intends to do, and the US in first instance, is having integrated the military structures of over 50 countries – this a very significant event, there’s nothing like this even remotely comparable has occurred before in history. We have to be honest about this. There have been no military personnel from 50 countries in any war, not even the WW2, much less on one side, much less in one theater of war and in one nation. So what NATO has done is it used 12 years of indecisive war affair in Afghanistan in order to build up global NATO, in fact. And coming out of that with the NATO summit that was in Chicago, you know, the last NATO Summit in May 2012, immediately before that the NATO announced another partnership program. And this is one is the first that is not defined geographically, such as those in the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East region or Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia. In this case it’s called Partners Across the Globe. This is the latest NATO initiative, which includes initially eight nations of the Greater Asia-Pacific region: Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia. Mongolia of course, like Kazakhstan, which is a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, borders both Russia and China. So what we are seeing is that despite all these efforts to seduce the world into believing it has become an adjunct to the UN, or that it’s a peacekeeping apparatus of some sort, has in fact extended itself into a global military force. It may have a limited capacity to extend itself, at least not to what it would choose to. But its intent is still clear. The new NATO headquarters in Brussels which will cost over a billion dollars to construct are going to come online very shortly. Well, there is no intent by NATO to accept another budgetary constraint and other factors mitigating its shrinking, its ambitions are even more grandiose than they have ever been before.

RT: What does the future hold for the organization in general? How can it continue to stay relevant and be an important force in the world?

RR: We will find out at the next summit in Berlin next year, in 2014. What we do know is that at the summit of Chicago last year, one of the more significant decisions was that the so-called phased adaptive approach interceptor missile system that the US – initially under the George W. Bush administration and now fully-integrated with NATO under the Barack Obama’s administration – has achieved initial operational capability meaning plans to base ultimately hundreds of intermediate- and medium-range interceptor missiles on the ground in nations like Romania and Poland, and also on destroyers and other kind of warships in the Mediterranean. Ultimately, I suspect, in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, that the US is using the NATO again as a Trojan horse, not only to take over militarily, but also politically the entire Eastern Europe, the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Every single member of the Warsaw Pact, with the exception of Russia itself, is now a full member of NATO. Half of the states of the former republic of Yugoslavia are now full members of NATO. So what we see is that the US uses NATO to extend military from Berlin, you know, at the end of the Cold War all the way to the Russian border. And the most alarmingly of late is that it intensified its efforts to incorporate Ukraine, which has a sizeable border with Russia, as a major NATO partner. Ukraine is joining the response force, as well as Georgia, Finland and Sweden. Of course Sweden is the only one of those countries that doesn’t have a border with Russia. Finland, Ukraine and Georgia have sizeable borders. What we are seeing is that NATO in one form or another is continuing the push-up to Russia’s borders and effectively the military encirclement of the Russian Federation.

But while the gains of the orange-bedecked “chestnut revolution” are Ukraine’s, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.

Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.

Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.

Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.

That one failed. “There will be no Kostunica in Belarus,” the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.

But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev.

The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections.

In the centre of Belgrade, there is a dingy office staffed by computer-literate youngsters who call themselves the Centre for Non-violent Resistance. If you want to know how to beat a regime that controls the mass media, the judges, the courts, the security apparatus and the voting stations, the young Belgrade activists are for hire.

They emerged from the anti-Milosevic student movement, Otpor, meaning resistance. The catchy, single-word branding is important. In Georgia last year, the parallel student movement was Khmara. In Belarus, it was Zubr. In Ukraine, it is Pora, meaning high time. Otpor also had a potent, simple slogan that appeared everywhere in Serbia in 2000 – the two words “gotov je”, meaning “he’s finished”, a reference to Milosevic. A logo of a black-and-white clenched fist completed the masterful marketing.

In Ukraine, the equivalent is a ticking clock, also signalling that the Kuchma regime’s days are numbered.

Stickers, spray paint and websites are the young activists’ weapons. Irony and street comedy mocking the regime have been hugely successful in puncturing public fear and enraging the powerful.

Last year, before becoming president in Georgia, the US-educated Mr Saakashvili travelled from Tbilisi to Belgrade to be coached in the techniques of mass defiance. In Belarus, the US embassy organised the dispatch of young opposition leaders to the Baltic, where they met up with Serbs travelling from Belgrade. In Serbia’s case, given the hostile environment in Belgrade, the Americans organised the overthrow from neighbouring Hungary – Budapest and Szeged.

In recent weeks, several Serbs travelled to the Ukraine. Indeed, one of the leaders from Belgrade, Aleksandar Maric, was turned away at the border.

The Democratic party’s National Democratic Institute, the Republican party’s International Republican Institute, the US state department and USAid are the main agencies involved in these grassroots campaigns as well as the Freedom House NGO and billionaire George Soros’s open society institute.

US pollsters and professional consultants are hired to organise focus groups and use psephological data to plot strategy.

The usually fractious oppositions have to be united behind a single candidate if there is to be any chance of unseating the regime. That leader is selected on pragmatic and objective grounds, even if he or she is anti-American.

In Serbia, US pollsters Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates discovered that the assassinated pro-western opposition leader, Zoran Djindjic, was reviled at home and had no chance of beating Milosevic fairly in an election. He was persuaded to take a back seat to the anti-western Vojislav Kostunica, who is now Serbian prime minister.

In Belarus, US officials ordered opposition parties to unite behind the dour, elderly trade unionist, Vladimir Goncharik, because he appealed to much of the Lukashenko constituency.

Officially, the US government spent $41m (£21.7m) organising and funding the year-long operation to get rid of Milosevic from October 1999. In Ukraine, the figure is said to be around $14m.

Apart from the student movement and the united opposition, the other key element in the democracy template is what is known as the “parallel vote tabulation”, a counter to the election-rigging tricks beloved of disreputable regimes.

There are professional outside election monitors from bodies such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, but the Ukrainian poll, like its predecessors, also featured thousands of local election monitors trained and paid by western groups.

Freedom House and the Democratic party’s NDI helped fund and organise the “largest civil regional election monitoring effort” in Ukraine, involving more than 1,000 trained observers. They also organised exit polls. On Sunday night those polls gave Mr Yushchenko an 11-point lead and set the agenda for much of what has followed.

The exit polls are seen as critical because they seize the initiative in the propaganda battle with the regime, invariably appearing first, receiving wide media coverage and putting the onus on the authorities to respond.

The final stage in the US template concerns how to react when the incumbent tries to steal a lost election.

In Belarus, President Lukashenko won, so the response was minimal. In Belgrade, Tbilisi, and now Kiev, where the authorities initially tried to cling to power, the advice was to stay cool but determined and to organise mass displays of civil disobedience, which must remain peaceful but risk provoking the regime into violent suppression.

If the events in Kiev vindicate the US in its strategies for helping other people win elections and take power from anti-democratic regimes, it is certain to try to repeat the exercise elsewhere in the post-Soviet world.

The places to watch are Moldova and the authoritarian countries of central Asia.

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

March 15, 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. 6

Date: Sunday, March 31, 1996

Commenced: 8:35 AM CST

Concluded: 8:47 AM CST

 

GD: Hello, Robert. Did you get in touch…or did Corson get ahold of you?

RTC: No, actually, Gregory, I was in touch with him. What do you tell Bill to get him so rattled?

GD: Nothing particularly.

RTC: Did you mention drugs by any chance?

GD: Actually, no but he did.

RTC: He initiated the conversation on that subject?

GD: Yes. About three days ago. He asked me what I knew about allegations, get that, allegations, that the CIA has some involvement with drugs.

RTC: Keep going.

GD: I detect some unhappiness.

RTC: You do but it’s not aimed at you. Let me get this clear here. Bill initiated a conversation with you about drugs? Am I correct there?

GD: Absolutely. He wasn’t very subtle about it, either.

RTC: Try to remember exactly what he said.

GD: He started out…he said that there were rumors being spread that the CIA was connected in some way with large scale drug smuggling. He wanted to know if I had been talking about it and if I had, where had I gotten the information. I asked him to be specific and he got coy with me. He did say, and I recall this very clearly because it was only a few days ago, he asked me if you and I had talked about it.

RTC: And…?

GD: What do you think? What we say goes no place, not even a hint. I told him that you and I had never discussed this….

RTC: Thank you…

GD: Yes, and then I asked him if I should bring this up to you. I said I would tell you Bill was asking about this. He got very agitated then and told me not to say a word to you because he didn’t want to upset you.

RTC: (Laughter) Oh, well, you did a good job. But was he explicit in his comments about drugs? I mean the who-what-why and when?

GD: No, he actually told me nothing but he wanted to know what I personally knew and if I knew anything, where did I get it?

RTC: That figures.

GD: And I mentioned the KMT General and his flight to Switzerland. He jumped on that and asked me if I got that from you. I told him Kimmel told me.

RTC: (Laughter) Sweet Jesus. That’s putting the cat in the hen house. What did he say to that?

GD: He sounded like he was having an asthma attack.

RTC: I’ll bet he was. You turned it back on him, didn’t you?

GD: I think so. I wonder why he thinks I’m stupid?

RTC: People underestimate you.

GD: Yes, and at the same time they are overestimating themselves. What’s this all about, if I dare ask?

RTC: Drugs are a very sensitive issue with certain departments of the CIA. Very sensitive. It’s well known you and I talk and they are frantic to find out what we’re talking about. Of course if they tapped our phones, they might find out but by Bill asking you that, it’s obvious they have not tapped our phones. If I caught them playing their stupid games with either of us, they would be better off to move to Iceland and fish for flounder or whatever. No, that was a fishing expedition. That I know certain things is bad enough but that I talk to you, the author of the evil Müller books, is something else. No, they wouldn’t dare tap my phone. If they did, as I said, there would be blood running all over certain office floors when the hit men left. No, they’re guessing and the Kimmel business was a shrewd hit. I think he’s into this. He views you as an interesting but unstable person to whom one ought not to be at home when you call.

GD: I have always been civilized with Kimmel and, I think, very helpful in giving his family any papers that  might help them about the Admiral.

RTC: Never expect gratitude from such as them, Gregory, and never turn your back on them either. Drugs? Fine. Tell me something, Gregory, where does heroin come from?

GD: The Salvation Army kitchens?

RTC: Be serious.

GD: Heroin comes from opium just as cocaine comes from coca plants.

RTC: Wonderful. And where do we find opium, or rather where does it come from?

GD: The sap of opium poppies. Found in Turkey in places but now getting under control there and mostly in Afghanistan.

RTC: You get a big ‘A’ on your card. Yes, Gregory, opium comes from Afghanistan. And who is very powerful in that country?

GD: The CIA?

RTC: Funny. Who?

GD: The Taliban.

RTC: Yes and do you know who founded that organization of cut throats and killers? We did so they could make trouble for the Soviets. And we trained them and armed them, Gregory which was a terrible mistake.

GD: You should read history, Robert. A poor, tribal area with savage guerrilla people who will fight any occupying power and when they kill them off, they will fight each other.

RTC: That was a first class mess there. Yes, they went after Ivan and then took our weapons and training methodology and took over the country. A nest of vipers.

GD: And all yours.

RTC: Don’t rub it in. There will be serious trouble there, mark my words.

GD: My bet is that they’ll go after Pakistan and when they take over that country…by the way, doesn’t Pakistan have nuclear weapons?

RTC: Oh God, I am so happy I’m retired. Ah, but the drugs. Yes, to be clear on it, I ask you another question. Where do all the drugs in the States come from?

GD: China white heroin comes to this country from, obviously, China. The Chinks smuggle it into Canada using cargo containers that dock on Vancouver Island. That’s one source I know about personally. The bulk of the rest comes up from Mexico.

RTC: Yes, but it isn’t processed there.

GD: No, in Columbia. And smuggled into Mexico via Chaipas and up to our border and the veins of the needy.

RTC: How do you know these things?

GD: Never mind.

RTC: And is there a question here, Gregory?

GD: Of course, Robert. We know about opium, or yen shee as the Chinks call it, being grown in Afghanistan and we know it’s processed into heroin in Columbia. The obvious question is how the stuff gets from a land-locked country to Columbia?  The answer is that someone, or some group, transports it there. By boat? By aircraft?

RTC: Both. Boat from Pakistan and plane from Afghanistan itself.

GD: Yes. And who does this? The Afghanistan navy?

RTC: No there is a special branch of the Company involved in this and has been for decades. A large part of our secret budget comes from this. Of course, we do not sell it but we do supply those who both refine it and eventually sell it.

GD: Where and when do you get your cut?

RTC: After it’s refined in Columbia. You see, we also own the refining facilities which we lease out.

GD: And cocaine?

RTC: Well, if we do one, we can always do the other.

GD: Jesus wept. And why would Bill get his withered balls into such an uproar?

RTC: They don’t want you to get your hands on this. It’s bad enough for you to talk about prominent Nazis working for us let alone this drug business. Be very careful where you put your feet, Gregory. You are dealing with a minefield and I will have to ring off now because I have to talk with Bill. No offense but he has to be told to go and lie down in the corner or I’ll lock him in his cage.

GD: Why I thought he was your friend.

RTC: Bill is useful but Bill has an exalted opinion of himself and it’s time I let the air out of his balloon. So I do appreciate this talk and even more your handling of the subject. We don’t need to discuss this and if Tom the Arrow shirt boy gets onto this with you, keep your mouth shut and change the subject. Oh and do tell me if he does.

GD: Absolutely. I hope I gave Bill the right answers.

RTC: In this business, Gregory, there are no right answers.

GD: Yes. We have only the quick and the dead.

 

(Concluded at 8:47 AM CST)

 

 

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

 

 

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