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TBR News March 2, 2012

Mar 02 2012


The Voice of the White House


Washington, D.C. March 1, 1012: There are new stirrings about the 9/11 attacks and not the usual lunatic blog fantasies.

Consider the facts here: The Republicans had been out of power for some time and were eager to not only get back into power (with one of the usual electorate mood swings and guaranteed assistance by the Florida Republicans and some of the Supreme Court) but, as Karl Rove insisted, keep it for a long time. Rove worked for George H.W. Bush before the elder sent him to run his useless, drunken sot of a son.

Rove, very much a history buff, reasoned that as George was colorless and stubborn, he would have to have some help or it would be a one term reign. The answer? Looking at Roosevelt, the answer was plain: A wartime president. In this position, if he could get the public riled up the way they were just after Pearl Harbor (which FDR deliberately pushed the Japanese into doing) much could be accomplished and firm domestic control installed and implemented so the plan went to this level and to implement it, George H.W. Bush  made four trips to Sausi Arabia between 1998 and 2000.

George H.W. was on excellent terms with the Saudi-based and very powerful bin Ladin family. They socialized together and many family members were honored guests of the Bush family (and others) in this country.

One son, Osama, had worked with the CIA/Taliban connection and although seriously ill (kidney problems) he was an excellent connection. The Interior Minister of Saudi Arabia was anti-US so the older Bush spoke with one of the bin Ladins who, in turn, spoke with the Interior Minister and, hey presto, a road crew of Saudi fanatics was put together, supplied with fake papers and off the went on their mission.

First to Germany where the German BND watched them and reported to their superiors who, in turn, passed on information to our people and next the Saudi terrorists came to this country. In order to keep an eye on the volatile Arabs, we enlisted the eager support of the Israeli Mossad who were allowed to function in this country with the, often-disregarded, idea they would pass any information of importance to the FBI.

The whole bunch were in Hollywood, Florida, plotting. The Jews knew to the minute what was on the fire and passed it all along. One projected hijacked plane was destined for the Pentagon (where we got the Mossad people to convince them to target a side of the huge building that was closed for repairs…the real targets were on the opposite side of the complex), two were destined to slam into the iconic WTC buildings (that had been attacked earlier) and the fourth was intended for the most important mission: crash into the Capitol while Congress was in session.

This latter was the key to the Rove/George H.W. plan. Congress was in session at that time and if the plane crashed into either wing, it would cripple the government until replacements could be elected to fill the empty seats left by the attack.

That plane, we can be thankful, was crashed into a field in Pennsylvania by the unexpected revolt of the doomed passengers and Congress was not touched. With the mainstay neutralized, the Bush people pushed ahead with their constant threats of pending terror, followed by more and more oppressive legislation and the erection of more organs of domestic repression.

Eventually, because of a number of relatively minor problems, the worst being gross ineptness on the part of the Rovians, the plot slowly collapsed like a ground-based barrage balloon with a tear in the fabric.

There is also the fact that bin Laden died in 2003 in a Pakistani military hospital of renal failure (I have a copy of his Pakistani death certificate) but he lived on in the rather amateurish productions of the CIA but as a unifying factor, bin Laden is now “officially” dead.

Now, the intelligence agencies are of the opinion that Muslim activists, here and abroad,  are trying to lay hands on an atomic device which they plan to smuggle into this country (given poor security and porous borders, not a difficult task if done with thought and knowledge of systems) and detonate it on the ground.


 Like the WTC and the Pentagon, symbolic. The Tampa public library? No, more likely some target in D.C or New York. To stop this, a competent and professional agency would have to actively penetrate a number of groups and work from the inside. Given their emotional makeup and lack of sophistication, penetrating such groups should be relatively easy.

Perhaps the Mossad could have Yemeni Jews do the job as they did in Florida but at any case, hit them first and kill them all. Kill them in private. Let no one know they are all dead and buried somewhere, (the Pine Barrens come to mind. )That way, their friends and contacts are bewildered and later, whey you plant the information that they all defected and are working for us to trap others, frightened.

Often, frightened people will break down and run to us to confess their sins and, for example, protect them and their new girlfriend.

Saudi Arabia May Be Tied to 9/11, 2 Ex-Senators Say

February 29, 2012

by Eric Lichtblau

New York Times

             WASHINGTON — For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats.

Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities say they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks.

“I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks.

His former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that “significant questions remain unanswered” about the role of Saudi institutions. “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Mr. Kerrey said.

Their affidavits, which were filed on Friday and have not previously been disclosed, are part of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit that has wound its way through federal courts since 2002. An appellate court, reversing an earlier decision, said in November that foreign nations were not immune to lawsuits under certain terrorism claims, clearing the way for parts of the Saudi case to be reheard in United States District Court in Manhattan.

Lawyers for the Saudis, who have already moved to have the affidavits thrown out of court, declined to comment on the assertions by Mr. Graham and Mr. Kerrey. “The case is in active litigation, and I can’t say anything,” said Michael K. Kellogg, a Washington lawyer for the Saudis.

Officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, who have emphatically denied any connection to the attacks in the past, did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

The Saudis are seeking to have the case dismissed in part because they say American inquiries — including those in which Mr. Graham and Mr. Kerrey took part — have essentially exonerated them. A recent court filing by the Saudis prominently cited the 9/11 Commission’s “exhaustive” final report, which “found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi individuals funded” Al Qaeda.

But Mr. Kerrey and Mr. Graham said that the findings should not be seen as an exoneration and that many important questions about the Saudis’ role had never been fully examined, partly because their panels simply did not have the time or resources given their wider scope.

Terry Strada of New Vernon, N.J., whose husband died in the World Trade Center, said it was “so absurd that it’s laughable” for the Saudis to claim that the federal inquiries had exonerated them.

Unanswered questions include the work of a number of Saudi-sponsored charities with financial links to Al Qaeda, as well as the role of a Saudi citizen living in San Diego at the time of the attacks, Omar al-Bayoumi, who had ties to two of the hijackers and to Saudi officials, Mr. Graham said in his affidavit.

Still, Washington has continued to stand behind Saudi Arabia publicly, with the Justice Department joining the kingdom in trying to have the lawsuits thrown out of court on the grounds that the Saudis are protected by international immunity.

State Department officials did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday on the impact of the court declarations.

The senators’ assertions “might inject some temporary strain or awkwardness at a diplomatic level,” said Kenneth L. Wainstein, a senior national security official in the George W. Bush administration. Even so, he said, “the United States and the Saudis have developed strong counterterrorism cooperation over the last decade, and that relationship will not be undermined.”


Israeli PM demands Obama commit to military action if Iran sanctions fail

Binyamin Netanyahu pressing for explicit threat from US ahead of crucial meeting with Obama next week in Washington

March 1, 2012

by Chris McGreal in Washington


Israel is pressing Barack Obama for an explicit threat of military action against Iran if sanctions fail and Tehran’s nuclear programme advances beyond specified “red lines”.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, is expected to raise the issue at a White House meeting on Monday after weeks of intense diplomacy in which Obama has dispatched senior officials – including his intelligence, national security and military chiefs – to Jerusalem to try and dampen down talk of an attack.

Diplomats say that Israel is angered by the Obama administration’s public disparaging of early military action against Iran, saying that it weakens the prospect of Tehran taking the warnings from Israel seriously.

The two sides are attempting to agree a joint public statement to paper over the divide but talks will not be made easier by a deepening distrust in which the Israelis question Obama’s commitment to confront Iran while the White House is frustrated by what it sees as political interference by Netanyahu to mobilise support for Israel’s position in the US Congress.

“They are poles apart,” said one diplomatic source. “The White House believes there is time for sanctions to work and that military threats don’t help. The Israelis regard this as woolly thinking.

They see Iran as headed towards a bomb, even though they agree there is no evidence Tehran has made that decision yet, and they want the White House to up the ante. The White House has the Europeans behind its position but it’s losing Congress.”

The mood is not helped by worsening distrust between the two leaders. Relations soured within weeks of Obama coming to power after he attempted to pressure Netanyahu to halt construction of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that Iran will dominate his talks with Obama.

“There is no doubt that one issue will be at the centre of our talks, and that is, of course, the continued strengthening of Iran and its nuclear programme,” he said.

Israeli officials say that Netanyahu is not happy with Obama’s “vague assertion” that all options are on the table in dealing with Iran. The Israeli prime minister wants Obama to state unequivocally that Washington is prepared to use force if Iran’s nuclear programme advances beyond specified red lines.

US administration sources say that Obama is unlikely to make a major shift in policy in public although he may give Netanyahu firmer assurances in private.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration is intent on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon but that for now it is committed to using sanctions and diplomacy.

“We believe that there is time and space to continue to pursue that approach,” he said. “Even as we refuse and make clear that we do not take any option off the table in our effort to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he said.

But last month the Guardian revealed that some American officials are convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear programme, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.

One of the principal differences is over timing. The US continues to say it believes Iran has not yet decided whether or not to develop a nuclear bomb, and that even if it does it is perhaps years away from being able to do so.

Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, was in Washington this week for meetings with vice-president Joe Biden and US defence secretary Leon Panetta, among others, at which he pressed his view that a direct decision by Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon is not the immediate issue so long as it continues to build the means to do so, and that the matter is urgent.

The chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey, told Congress this week that during a recent visit to Jerusalem the principal difference was over the question of how long to give sanctions and diplomacy an opportunity to work. “We’ve had a conversation with them about time, the issue of time,” he said.

Dempsey was one of several senior US officials to travel to Israel in recent weeks, including Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper.

Dempsey infuriated Netanyahu with comments that it is “premature” to launch an attack and that an Israeli assault on Iran would be imprudent and destabilising, and not achieve Israel’s objectives. He also said that Iran is a “rational” player and should be treated as such.

Netanyahu met a group of US senators last week, including John McCain, and complained strongly about Obama administration officials publicly opposing an Israeli strike on Iran.

After the meeting, McCain criticised the White House position. “There should be no daylight between America and Israel in our assessment of the [Iranian] threat. Unfortunately there clearly is some,” he said.

McCain described relations between the US and Israel as in “very bad shape right now” saying that differences over Iran have caused “significant tension”. He appeared to side with the Israeli position in noting that “there is very little doubt that Iran has so far been undeterred to get nuclear weapons“.

The Republican chair of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, Mike Rogers, said on Monday after meeting Israeli officials that there is a wide difference of opinion between Israel and the White House.

“I got the sense that Israel is incredibly serious about a strike on [Iran’s] nuclear weapons programme. It’s their calculus that the [US] administration … is not serious about a real military consequence to Iran moving forward,” he said. “They believe they’re going to have to make a decision on their own, given the current posture of the United States.”

Last week, 12 senators sent the president a letter warning that he should not allow Tehran to buy time by engaging in fruitless diplomatic negotiations, expected to begin in the coming weeks. They demanded that Obama insist Iran halt its uranium enrichment programme before talks begin.

More than half the members of the Senate have backed a resolution that some see as pressing for an attack in declaring that the White House should not pursue a policy of “containment”.

Senator Joe Lieberman, one of the sponsors of the resolution, said it is intended “to say clearly and resolutely to Iran: You have only two choices – peacefully negotiate to end your nuclear program or expect a military strike to end that programme.”

Critics of the resolution said that it smacks of a congressional authorisation for an attack on Iran. That view was reinforced when the sponsors declined a request from some Democrats to amend it to clarify that the resolution did not imply consent for war.

Israeli officials told the Associated Press this week that Israel will not notify the US before an attack on Iran. US officials scoff at the idea that Washington would not know an assault is coming, and the Israeli position may be intended to allow the White House to deny any responsibility.


Talk of Israel strike on Iran soars but is it bluff?


March 2, 2012

by Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent


LONDON | Fri Mar 2, 2012 (Reuters) – As tension rises over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme, chatter indicating a potential Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear targets has never been higher.

But in the smoke-and-mirrors world of Middle East geopolitics, such talk can often be a diplomatic weapon in its own right and sometimes an alternative to genuine action.

To an extent, the recent storm of speculation and newspaper stories are just an escalation in a long-running game of words. Tehran says its programme is purely peaceful, not designed to yield nuclear weapons, but U.S., Israeli and other Western officials have often warned that, if it continues unabated, Israel might take unilateral action and bomb key facilities.

But the United States and Israel in particular have never gone to such lengths to suggest that a strike might be imminent.

Discussion of potential military and other options – and an increasingly public discussion between the United States and Israel over what to do next – will move further into plain sight on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington to meet President Barack Obama.

While U.S. officials say they want to dissuade Israel from striking, Obama’s Republican opponents are eager to paint him as too tough on Israel and too soft on Iran ahead of November’s presidential election. Netanyahu wants more U.S. support, including endorsement of any action Israel might take.

“The drumbeat for military action is getting louder,” says Michael Denison, research director for London-based consultancy Control Risks and a former senior adviser in Britain’s Foreign Office. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen soon.”

U.S. officials have repeatedly briefed journalists – including those from Reuters – to say that they no longer know what those in charge in Israel might be planning, and that Washington does not expect advance warning of an attack.

European officials say they too are pushing hard to restrain Israel from action that might spark a wider regional conflict, but increasingly fear they will be unable to do so.

Israeli officials have been more reticent, and many recent stories in the Israeli press may in part be lifted from European and U.S. media. But recently, Israeli officials too have held background briefings in London with businesses and think tanks.

Some have gone beyond the usual threatening statements, usually on no options being ruled out, that have come to be expected from Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

The precise message has varied, particularly over the time it might take Tehran to genuinely be able to build a nuclear bomb. But the thrust is clear: As Iran’s nuclear enrichment and wider development moves forward and its facilities are dug ever deeper into the ground, time is running out.

Israel, widely believed to harbor the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, sees Iran’s atomic campaign as a mortal threat.


Trailing an attack in advance might have certain advantages, analysts say. Financial markets would be largely prepared, reducing the economic shock.

Benchmark Brent crude oil prices have gained some $15 a barrel over the last month to around $125. Almost all of that, oil experts say, has been down to escalating tensions with Tehran: partly speculation of an Israeli strike, partly the loss of Iranian crude supply due to tightening Western sanctions.

But the real agenda, some suspect, is much more about shaping the diplomatic battlefield.

“Barak and Netanyahu think that this (talk of an Israeli attack) is the only tool that gets the players moving,” Udi Segal, diplomatic correspondent for Israel’s top rated Channel Two television news, said in a commentary last week.

“And even if this is a bluff, it is a bluff that should not be allowed to be ruptured because it makes the Iranians feel fear, the Americans take action, the Europeans impose sanctions, and everyone worry.”

If Netanyahu and those around him had genuinely decided to strike, many experts say they would simply do so rather than pre-briefing the media.

Few doubt Israel does have the ability to strike targets deep inside Iran, using either jets, long-range drones or submarine- or land-launched launched missiles.

But in reality, it finds itself hugely constrained.

A strike could provoke a massive backlash, both diplomatic and through Iranian-backed groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Tehran might make good threats to hit international oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

Even were such a conflict relatively brief, it could send oil prices rocketing and jeopardize a fragile global economy.


And few experts believe an Israeli strike would put the Iranian weapons programme back more than a few months or years.

Worries about the broader impact – particularly from Washington – are seen as having deterred Israel from a strike in 2008-9, another period of heightened speculation. Instead, Israel, perhaps working with the United States, is believed to have gone for a more covert approach including the computer worm Stuxnet, which affected Iranian nuclear technology.

But such attacks are only ever partially effective, experts say, and assassinations of nuclear scientists widely blamed on Israel – which has made no comment on the matter – have also proved increasingly controversial.

“The Israelis do not have any good options and so they are simply sending every signal under the sun,” Anthony Cordesman, a veteran former U.S. intelligence official and now chair of strategy at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Reuters last month.

Some experts question to what extent an Iranian bomb would truly be a strategic game changer.

Tehran is already believed to have ballistic missiles with chemical warheads able to strike Tel Aviv. Even if Iran successfully assembled the four bombs that Israel says it has the uranium to build, Israel would still have many more, and the ability to inflict much more catastrophic damage.

Intelligence experts and officials, some of them Israeli, say it is still far from clear that Tehran has made a final decision to build a nuclear warhead.

But the further the nuclear programme moves forward, the quicker Iran could have one should it make that final decision. For a country that has had to fight several times for its survival in the 65 years since it was founded by the survivors of a genocide, the risks may simply be too high.

“The important thing is that the Israelis believe it would be an existential threat,” said one Western official heavily involved with the Iran issue. “That is the point. That’s really what it has always been about.”

(Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem and Mark Hosenball in London; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Mark Heinrich)


The Invisible Panopticon: Spying On America’s Top Secret Intelligence Geography

September 27, 2011

by Alex_Pasternack

Top secret America isn’t just a Fort Meade of the mind. It’s an actual space, albeit an unusual one, occupying tens of thousands of acres in about 10,000 locations around the country. The shiny office parks and non-descript rural buildings house impressive statistics: 1,271 government organizations, 1,931 private companies, and countless sensor networks, slurping up data from the air and the cloud; in Washington, DC, alone, about 17 million square feet, the size of about three Pentagons, or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings, is devoted to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence-gathering.

It’s an alternative geography, as Dana Preist and William M. Arkin describe it in their Washington Post report last year (and in a recently aired Frontline documentary, below), made of more than just the sort of places that can’t be seen on Google Maps. A spy sandbox born the night of September 11, 2001, Top Secret America has evolved into an array of non-descript architecture that forms a modern day Garrison State.

The Post report contained no bombshells, nor does the documentary. And neither dives in very far to the sticky, complexities of spying on American citizens. Priest and Arkin focus on the meta-concerns – about overload, redundancy, waste, scale and sheer secrecy. Consider that right now, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, are tracking the flow of money to and from terrorist networks. The WaPo report includes a nine page list of domestic airborne intelligence contractors. An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. No wonder people like the Underwear Bomber or the Times Square bomber have slipped through the net.

Priest and Arkin asked retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who once commanded 145,000 troops in Iraq, what he thought of the government’s method for tracking the Defense Department’s most sensitive programs. “I’m not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities,” he said. “The complexity of this system defies description.”

Amidst all of the talk of spending sprees, recent budget woes may be tempering the high tech intelligence bonanza. The largest government complex ever planned – the Department of Homeland Security’s $3.4-billion renovation of the dilapidated, castle-like 1855 Government Hospital for the Insane, outside Washington, DC — has ended up stalled as Congress tried to cut the federal deficit. As a result, Homeland Security employees will remain scattered across more than 35 offices around Washington.

Total publicity sucks (ask a post-Wikileaks Hillary Clinton or a disgruntled Facebook paramour), but the opposite is also dangerous. It’s hard to know what all of this money has bought, and what it actually costs, and not just in dollars. Ten years since 9/11, what’s clear is that, after unprecedented spending and growth, a hidden America of surveillance drones, data mining, and the blank architecture of countless gray sites, is now considered an essential weapon in the war on terror. Not so clear is whether the U.S. as a country knows how to wield this kind of hammer – or if the problem is even a nail.


Spying on America



LONDON—Today, Monday 27 February, WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The emails show Stratfor’s web of informers, pay-off structure, payment-laundering techniques and psychological methods, for example :

“[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control… This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase” – CEO George Friedman to Stratfor analyst Reva Bhalla on 6 December 2011, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on the medical condition of the President of Venezuala, Hugo Chavez. 

The material contains privileged information about the US government’s attacks against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks and Stratfor’s own attempts to subvert WikiLeaks. There are more than 4,000 emails mentioning WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The emails also expose the revolving door that operates in private intelligence companies in the United States. Government and diplomatic sources from around the world give Stratfor advance knowledge of global politics and events in exchange for money. The Global Intelligence Files exposes how Stratfor has recruited a global network of informants who are paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards. Stratfor has a mix of covert and overt informants, which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world.

The material shows how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients. For example, Stratfor monitored and analysed the online activities of Bhopal activists, including the “Yes Men”, for the US chemical giant Dow Chemical. The activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. The disaster led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.

Stratfor has realised that its routine use of secret cash bribes to get information from insiders is risky. In August 2011, Stratfor CEO George Friedman confidentially told his employees : “We are retaining a law firm to create a policy for Stratfor on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I don’t plan to do the perp walk and I don’t want anyone here doing it either.”

Stratfor’s use of insiders for intelligence soon turned into a money-making scheme of questionable legality. The emails show that in 2009 then-Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz and Stratfor CEO George Friedman hatched an idea to “utilise the intelligence” it was pulling in from its insider network to start up a captive strategic investment fund. CEO George Friedman explained in a confidential August 2011 document, marked DO NOT SHARE OR DISCUSS : “What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor’s intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical instruments, particularly government bonds, currencies and the like”. The emails show that in 2011 Goldman Sach’s Morenz invested “substantially” more than $4million and joined Stratfor’s board of directors. Throughout 2011, a complex offshore share structure extending as far as South Africa was erected, designed to make StratCap appear to be legally independent. But, confidentially, Friedman told StratFor staff : “Do not think of StratCap as an outside organisation. It will be integral… It will be useful to you if, for the sake of convenience, you think of it as another aspect of Stratfor and Shea as another executive in Stratfor… we are already working on mock portfolios and trades”. StratCap is due to launch in 2012. 

The Stratfor emails reveal a company that cultivates close ties with US government agencies and employs former US government staff. It is preparing the 3-year Forecast for the Commandant of the US Marine Corps, and it trains US marines and “other government intelligence agencies” in “becoming government Stratfors”. Stratfor’s Vice-President for Intelligence, Fred Burton, was formerly a special agent with the US State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service and was their Deputy Chief of the counterterrorism division. Despite the governmental ties, Stratfor and similar companies operate in complete secrecy with no political oversight or accountability. Stratfor claims that it operates “without ideology, agenda or national bias”, yet the emails reveal private intelligence staff who align themselves closely with US government policies and channel tips to the Mossad – including through an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks’ contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel. 

Ironically, considering the present circumstances, Stratfor was trying to get into what it called the leak-focused “gravy train” that sprung up after WikiLeaks’ Afghanistan disclosures : 

“[Is it] possible for us to get some of that ’leak-focused’ gravy train ? This is an obvious fear sale, so that’s a good thing. And we have something to offer that the IT security companies don’t, mainly our focus on counter-intelligence and surveillance that Fred and Stick know better than anyone on the planet… Could we develop some ideas and procedures on the idea of ´leak-focused’ network security that focuses on preventing one’s own employees from leaking sensitive information… In fact, I’m not so sure this is an IT problem that requires an IT solution.”

Like WikiLeaks’ diplomatic cables, much of the significance of the emails will be revealed over the coming weeks, as our coalition and the public search through them and discover connections. Readers will find that whereas large numbers of Stratfor’s subscribers and clients work in the US military and intelligence agencies, Stratfor gave a complimentary membership to the controversial Pakistan general Hamid Gul, former head of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service, who, according to US diplomatic cables, planned an IED attack on international forces in Afghanistan in 2006. Readers will discover Stratfor’s internal email classification system that codes correspondence according to categories such as ’alpha’, ’tactical’ and ’secure’. The correspondence also contains code names for people of particular interest such as ’Hizzies’ (members of Hezbollah), or ’Adogg’ (Mahmoud Ahmedinejad).

Stratfor did secret deals with dozens of media organisations and journalists – from Reuters to the Kiev Post. The list of Stratfor’s “Confederation Partners”, whom Stratfor internally referred to as its “Confed Fuck House” are included in the release. While it is acceptable for journalists to swap information or be paid by other media organisations, because Stratfor is a private intelligence organisation that services governments and private clients these relationships are corrupt or corrupting.

WikiLeaks has also obtained Stratfor’s list of informants and, in many cases, records of its payoffs, including $1,200 a month paid to the informant “Geronimo” , handled by Stratfor’s Former State Department agent Fred Burton. 

WikiLeaks has built an investigative partnership with more than 25 media organisations and activists to inform the public about this huge body of documents. The organisations were provided access to a sophisticated investigative database developed by WikiLeaks and together with WikiLeaks are conducting journalistic evaluations of these emails. Important revelations discovered using this system will appear in the media in the coming weeks, together with the gradual release of the source documents.

Wikileaks and Anonymous Join Forces To Reveal How Dumb Our Intelligence Is

February 29, 2012

by Joshua_Kopstein

The most recent bombshell of confidential documents dropped by infamous watchdog organization Wikileaks is already looking to have an enormous impact on our understanding of government security practices. Specifically, intimate details on the long-suspected fact that the U.S. has been paying a whole lot of money to have private corporations spy on citizens, activists and other groups and individuals on their ever-expanding, McCarthy-style shitlist. But perhaps more importantly, the docs demonstrate something very interesting about the nature of U.S. government intelligence: They haven’t really got much of it.

U.S. government intelligence contractor Stratfor is the first of the red-handed entities being outed in this newest batch of docs, which were delivered to Wikileaks care of the equally infamous hacking collective Anonymous. They show that the company, at the behest of U.S. intelligence agencies, had been conspiring a program of clandestine dragnet surveillance targeting private citizens and organizations based on political beliefs and allegiances, among other things. But what’s even more ludicrous is that the government is getting a bum deal — a look at the recently revealed “intel” reveals that a lot of it is just pure hogwash, and Stratfor very likely knows it.

In one example, emails reveal that Stratfor had been tracking the political performance art collective The Yes Men, a group famous for impersonating politicians and corporate representatives in order to showcase the absurdity and corruption present within powerful institutions. But “tracking” in this case merely involved selling the government a list of public appearances planned by the group’s members.

See also: A Timeline Detailing Anonymous and Wikileaks’ Growing Relationship

Jamal Ghosn, associate editor at the Lebanese publication Al Akhbar, a Wikileaks media partner, also reported that Stratfor employees focused on activities in that region were simply using Google Translate on their articles as a way to glean intel for the United States. Not exactly “intelligence” on either count, but very much akin to paying untold amounts for an office temp to frequently type things into a search engine. Remember to file your taxes this month, folks!

Government waste and mismanagement in the intelligence community shouldn’t be such a shocking revelation, however. At last year’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, former senior official of the U.S. National Security Agency, Thomas Drake warned us about the U.S. government’s ham-fisted and ineffectual intelligence-gathering programs like Trailblazer, a billion dollar effort that in the end, he says, “delivered nothing but a few PowerPoint slides.”

Meanwhile, domestic surveillance in the United States continues to expand. A Washington Post investigative series and book from last year, Top Secret America explores some of the more outward-facing evidence of much of what groups like Wikileaks and Anonymous are now beginning to confirm — an enormous network of private intelligence contractors taking from America’s indebted coffers to keep botched and inconclusive tabs on its citizenry.

Drake calls the staggering and secretive buildup of this shadow surveillance state “fundamentally anathema to our form of government.” He’s not wrong. What we may now be witnessing is the intelligence equivalent of post-9/11 military buildup in the last decade. But no matter how big and bloated they get, there’s still no guarantee that the government’s intelligence toadies will ever be able to manage the overwhelming flood of data that seems to increase exponentially in volume with every passing moment — that’s a job for a computer, if only they could get smarter.

Family Says Chicago Cops Peed on Their Mail

March 1, 2012

by Jack Bouboushian 

Courthouse News

             CHICAGO (CN) – A family claims Chicago police broke into their house, urinated on their mail, spit in the coffee maker, stomped and slapped them and told them “You’ve been punk’d,” while searching for someone who had not lived there for at least a year.
            South Side residents Estella Walker, Ray Robinson Sr., Ray Robinson Jr., George Graham and Cornelius Burns sued the City of Chicago, Officer Sergio Martinez, and other unnamed officers in the Federal Court. Walker is Robinson Sr.’s wife; Burns is their landlord.
            The Robinsons say they were watching TV peacefully at home on March 2, 2011. Robinson Sr. is over 50 years old and walks with a cane. Graham is a recovering stroke victim.
                  “Unbeknownst to plaintiffs, earlier that same day, the Chicago Police Department obtained a search warrant to search for an individual named ‘Mike,’ a male black, 30 years of age, 6’00” in height, and 230 pounds and the first floor apartment at [their address] to look for contraband, particularly for ‘crack cocaine.'”
             The family says their first-floor apartment had been vacant for a year before they moved into it, on Feb. 1, 2010.
            The family says, “they heard several cars outside screech to a halt and looked out and saw three unmarked cars in front and two in back of the building. Seconds later, seven to eight police officers in plainclothes and one in uniform crashed through two hall doors with a slam bar.
            “The officers came in with guns drawn, were wearing plainclothes, and had no identifying information or badges displayed.
             “The officers immediately yelled to the plaintiffs to get on the ground. The police were yelling obscenities and all police officers had drawn guns, including a shotgun and at least one automatic rifle.
             “The officers were verbally and physically abusive, actually striking the plaintiffs on several occasions, while plaintiffs offered no resistance whatsoever.
                  “Plaintiffs were never asked for identification by any of the officers.
            “Ray Robinson Sr. has diabetes and walks with a cane. Ray Robinson Sr., Ray Robinson Jr., and George Graham, who was recuperating from a stroke, were handcuffed and assaulted. The officers repeatedly yelled ‘where are the drugs?,’ while striking plaintiffs. …
             “The apparent leader of the police was a short, white, chubby officer wearing a white shirt, with blondish hair. This individual appeared to get more and more agitated as the officers, tearing through the apartment, had found no contraband or any gun. He yelled he was going to ‘burn’ someone.
            “After about an hour of entering and searching through every conceivable hiding place, including drawers, closets, and appliances, a sergeant came into the first floor apartment, walked around, and while leaving, stated (apparently to the other officers): ‘You fucked up another one.’ [Parentheses in complaint.]
            “The officers destroyed the apartment, doing, but not limited to, the following acts:
            “a) threw the television off its stand;
             “b) took multiple DVD’s belonging to plaintiffs;
            “c) stole or tore up plaintiffs’ ‘Link’ cards;
            “d) threw food from the pantry and refrigerator around the apartment;
             “e) the same Latino officer that strip searched Ray Robinson Jr., actually urinated on the plaintiffs’ mail;
             “f) broke the washer and the air conditioner;
            “g) tore up books and clothes;
            “h) threatened to charge George Graham with bank robbery;
             “i) told George Graham ‘you’ve been punked’;
             “j) threw a music system on the floor of the apartment;
            “k) tore the pipes to the hot water heater off the wall;
             “l) tore the hot water heater off the wall;
            “m) dumped the contents of every drawer in the unit on the ground;
             “n) dumped the contents of the refrigerator on the ground;
             “o) tore up photographs in a funeral memorial book, and tore up photographs in an album;
            “p) spit into the plaintiffs’ coffee maker;
            “r) took George Graham’s keys and threw them across the street.
             “No guns, drugs or contraband were found in the apartment on the first floor and plaintiffs did not resist, interfere or impede the defendants in any way.
            “The first floor plaintiffs were cuffed throughout the search.
            “No names were displayed on any badges, nor was any identification of individual officers made to any plaintiff.
            “The defendants never showed the plaintiffs a search or arrest warrant. They left a copy of the warrant on the floor on their way out of the premises around 3:00 p.m.”
             The family claims the cops then repeated the process on their landlord, co-plaintiff Burns’ second-floor apartment, where they also found nothing, but trashed the place.
            They seek punitive damages for unlawful search and seizure and violation of due process.
            They are represented by John Moran Jr. 

From a letter to radio show figure Dr. Laura some years ago:

Dear Dr Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from you, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how best to follow them.
            a. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Leviticus 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. How should I deal with this?
            b. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery as it suggests in Exodus 2l:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
            c. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Leviticus 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
            d. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may buy slaves from the nations that are around us. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify?
            e. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
            f. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Leviticus 10:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?
            g. Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
            I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s Word is eternal and unchanging.


Big Bank Weighs Fee Revamp: Bank of America Considers a Revamp That Would Affect Millions of Customers

March 1, 2012,

by Dan Fitzpatrick and David Ernrich

Wall Street Journal

Bank of America Corp. is working on sweeping changes that would require many users of basic checking accounts to pay a monthly fee unless they agree to bank online, buy more products or maintain certain balances.

The plan by the nation’s second-largest bank by assets is the latest sign of stresses in the banking industry at a time of low interest rates, slow economic growth and new rules limiting many types of service charges. Many other big banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.—the nation’s largest—and Wells Fargo & Co., have rolled out plans that aim to raise fee revenue or push customers to do more business with the bank.

Those efforts are tricky, because they risk upsetting the banks’ best customers or drawing fire from politicians. Bank of America retreated last fall from a new $5 debit-card charge following a customer revolt and a wave of criticism.

The search for new sources of income is especially pressing at Bank of America, where 2011 revenue dropped by $26.2 billion, or 22%, from its 2009 level.

Bank of America pilot programs in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts now are experimenting with charging $6 to $9 a month for an “Essentials” account. Other account options being tested in those states carry monthly charges of $9, $12, $15 and $25 but give customers opportunities to avoid the payments by maintaining minimum balances, using a credit card or taking a mortgage with Bank of America, according to a memo distributed to employees.

In addition, some Bank of America branch employees in the Northeast have already been trained to handle the first phase of a U.S. rollout, one branch manager said. Bank officials have made no final decision about specific charges or the timing of a national rollout, though the effort has gained even more urgency in the past few months. People close to the bank said Chief Executive Brian Moynihan is determined to plow ahead. Bank of America declined to comment.

It is unclear whether the bank, which counts more than 55 million U.S. households as customers, will stick with its initial idea for a basic flat-fee checking account that doesn’t offer a way to avoid paying a charge. That scenario is considered less likely than telling checking-account customers they will face a new fee unless they go online or take other steps outlined by the bank.

Banks often lose money on accounts like basic checking that they use in part to lure younger customers. They offer the accounts in part because they hope to retain customers as they grow more affluent and use services such as mortgage and business loans and credit cards.

Many banks have already eliminated the free checking accounts that had been in place since the 1980s and dismantled rewards programs for debit cards. Bank of America currently charges a wide range of monthly fees for checking accounts, unless customers meet certain requirements, but the new plans being tested could change the amounts being charged and the triggers for fees.

If the plans under consideration work from Bank of America’s perspective, it would either collect more in fees on checking accounts or increase its profitability as customers made greater use of its services. The goal is to be sure “bank products are used…where they achieve profitability,” the bank manager said.

Service charges U.S. banks collect on savings and checking accounts totaled $8.67 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, down 16% from two years earlier, before limits took effect on the fees financial firms can charge merchants for accepting credit and debit cards, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data.

J.P. Morgan consumer banking chief Todd Maclin told investors Tuesday the bank would like to be able to charge more than its current average of $10 to $12 a month, but “in this environment I am not going to rock that boat.”

The fee experiments exemplify some unintended consequences of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-regulation overhaul, which clamped down on certain revenue sources of banks and motivated them to seek ways to make up the difference.

J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells introduced new account structures in 2010 and 2011 that imposed monthly maintenance fees unless customers maintained certain minimum balances or hit preset monthly deposit levels. J.P. Morgan said Tuesday that 70% of customers with less than $100,000 in deposits will become unprofitable for the bank because of new regulations, such as caps on overdraft fees.

Mike Moebs of Moebs $ervices Inc., a bank consultant in a Lake Bluff, Ill., said Bank of America could lose some customers if a basic account with a flat fee is rolled out across the country. “They will keep everybody they are making money with and try to shed everybody else,” he said.

Mr. Moebs also said new charges by the bank will likely hit a broader portion of Bank of America’s customer base than the debit fees it abandoned.

After the bank told employees in fall 2011 of its plan to levy monthly fees on those making debit-card purchases, Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) called on customers to “vote with your feet.” Jay Leno of NBC’s “Tonight Show” jokingly likened Bank of America on Halloween to a greedy trick-or-treater.

Before Mr. Moynihan became the bank’s chief executive in 2010, he had pushed it to end its growing reliance on overdraft fees charged when purchases left customers with negative balances. Those fees were falling heavily on mostly poor customers. But the late-2009 decision to abandon overdraft charges altogether on debit-card purchases proved costly, depriving the bank of $1.7 billion in annual revenue.

J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo didn’t cancel their overdraft programs, and some inside Bank of America groused that it couldn’t afford to give up that much revenue at a critical time.

The overdraft decision came just months before the Dodd-Frank law halved what financial institutions could charge merchants for accepting credit and debit cards. That took away $2 billion in annual revenue from the bank.

The double hit prompted bank executives to look for new revenue ideas that could be fast-tracked because the outlook for the bank’s consumer operations was so bleak, said one person familiar with the planning. That was when it came up with the idea of a $5 monthly fee on certain customers who used their debit cards. It was a plan that could be implemented quickly and wouldn’t require a lot of new technology.

Before deciding to move ahead, the bank held lengthy discussions with community and fair-lending groups and the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, among others.

Bank of America was so eager to recoup revenue that it moved up the planned launch up by two or three months to early 2012, said the person familiar with its planning.

After the public outcry, several other banks ended up dropping the debit-charge fees before Bank of America retreated.

The debit-card fee wasn’t the only revenue idea Bank of America shelved late in 2011. It decided not to test a plan in which customers who were about to make a debit-card purchase but didn’t have enough in their account would have gotten an alert giving them the option of buying overdraft protection.

Bank managers also discussed, and ultimately rejected, a fee for direct-deposit customers who want to tap into their paycheck early.

The bank didn’t, however, scrap the testing of potential new checking-account fees. The initial plan was to roll out the new accounts in late 2011 or January 2012, said the branch manager, but that timeline was pushed back. Now it could still be “a few months” before the bank is ready, he said.

Write to Dan Fitzpatrick at dan.fitzpatrick@wsj.com and David Enrich at david.enrich@wsj.com

Exclusive: DOJ casts wide net with mortgage subpoenas

March 2, 2012


WASHINGTON -WASHINGTONA Justice Department inquiry into the packaging and sale of home loans by the biggest U.S. banks casts a wide net and appears to significantly overlap with other enforcement efforts, according to people who have viewed subpoenas sent to the firms.

The civil subpoenas that were sent in January ask for documents related to every offering between 2006 and 2008, including bonds backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, three people familiar with the matter said.

An older investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission focused on the first two years, and limited its scope to private offerings, the people said.

The general nature of the subpoenas and the overlap with SEC inquiries suggest investigations related to the financial crisis could drag on for years.

The Justice Department announced in January that it had sent civil subpoenas to 11 financial institutions about the market for residential mortgage-backed securities.

The probe is part of a new inter-agency task force that President Barack Obama unveiled in his State of the Union speech. It is designed to add firepower to investigations into the sale of repackaged mortgages that helped fuel the housing bubble and spread around exposure to toxic loans.

The breadth of the new subpoenas, which also overlap with previous requests from the Justice Department, are leaving some lawyers who are representing banks in the requests befuddled about just want the government is after.

Citigroup disclosed last week that it had received one of the Justice Department subpoenas, and sources familiar with the inquiry said it is aimed at the largest U.S. banks.

“This is a difficult environment to figure out where this is headed; there are a lot of overlapping cooks in the kitchen,” said one source, who declined to be named.

“The government just keeps asking for the same kind of information with a different twist,” another said, “it’s going to be a full-employment-act for lawyers.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Adora Andy said the working group is marshaling parallel efforts to collaborate on current and future investigations, pooling resources and streamlining processes to investigate those responsible for misconduct.

The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their investigations.

In a sign of the uneven advancement of enforcement efforts, three banks earlier this week disclosed they may face SEC charges related to mortgage-backed securities that soured in the financial crisis.

JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, and Wells Fargo & Co all disclosed they had received Wells notices from the SEC, a document that alerts defendants that SEC lawyers are considering bringing charges and gives them a chance to rebut the allegations.

The notices signal the SEC cases are advanced and essentially mark the start of settlement negotiations.

New Justice Department subpoenas could gum up efforts to resolve any SEC case, since companies dislike resolving an enforcement action from one agency if related charges from another are still likely.

“You may see firms fighting more, because they can’t just settle one and have all the others out there,” one of the lawyers said.

When Attorney General Eric Holder announced the subpoenas at a January news conference to promote the inter-agency task force, he said the new requests do not duplicate earlier efforts from the SEC.

At the same news conference, SEC enforcement director Robert Khuzami said his agency had already reviewed 25 million pages of documents on related investigations into residential mortgage-backed securities.

“To be clear, investigations into RMBS offerings have been ongoing at the SEC,” Khuzami said at the time.

(Reporting By Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

Forgery most foul! Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s birth certificate revelations

Arizona sheriff’s six-month investigation ends with Arpaio vowing to find whoever ‘forged’ Barack Obama’s birth certificate

March 2, 2012

The Guardian/UK

It’s hard work being a conspiracy theorist. Just look at Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the self-styled tough guy of American policing, who has released the preliminary results of his “birther” investigation into whether Barack Obama is a true American.

The details of the inquiry – announced at a packed press conference in Arizona – were enough to make you want to lie down in a darkened room for a week just to recover from the terrible exertion of it all. And that’s even before you hear his conclusion: that Obama’s birth certificate is probably a computer-generated fraud.

A stream of conspiratorialists as numerous as the Dead Sea Scrolls have already been down this road, of course, led by that epitome of investigative integrity Donald Trump. But leaving that aside, let’s look at Arpaio’s inquiry and the extraordinary lengths it took.

It all began when Arpaio received a delegation of 250 Tea Party members from his district of Maricopa county pleading with him to save America from the disaster of an alien president. It was an appeal, he told the Guardian, that he could not ignore.

“I’m not the kind of guy who turns his back on people when they ask for help,” he said.

So off he goes and pulls together what he calls a “cold case posse” of his mates – former cops, other law enforcers, and journalists.

Arpaio’s inquiry had nothing at all to do with the fact that he is currently himself under investigation by the US department of justice – ie, the Obama administration – for blatant racial profiling in his police district. “This has nothing to do with politics!” he bellowed at the press conference. “If we could find evidence that the president was born in this country, I would be very happy.”

(Odd that he said that. He looked so very, very happy to be announcing in front of the nation’s TV cameras that they had uncovered the exact opposite.)

Arpaio’s “posse” was an assemblage of individuals with impeccable objective track records. Take the lead journalist, Jerome Corsie. He writes for the right-wing blog WorldNetDaily.com and is author of the conspiracy book Obama Nation.

The posse set to work, coming up with a mass of acronyms, jargon, and gobbledygook which they put together in a series of videos projected at the press conference. Warning: at this point in the proceedings, you really need high energy levels:

• First, they tested a “genuine” birth cerficate to see how it was put together. They stripped away the green background, photocopied the certificate on green basket-weave safety paper (Lord only knows why), then scanned it into a computer and opened it in Adobe Illustrator.

The result? A document in which the texture of the paper can be seen under the ink, with just one layer and noise consistent through the document.

• Then they did the same with the Obama birth certificate posted on the White House website on 27 April 2011. What did they find? Oh fraud most foul and unnatural! They discovered not one but NINE layers in which parts of the certificate had been put together separately, as well as noise that was not evenly distributed as it should have been.

• Finally, they look at Obama’s selective service card and shows that that too is not only forged but is – gasp! – “poorly forged!” Gadzooks, if someone is going to launch a conspiracy to put a foreigner in the White House, they could at least do it properly.

So what are we to conclude from all this? Not, Arpaio insisted over and over again, that anyone – least of all him – is accusing Obama of being a liar and a fraud. Oh, no.

“I am not accusing the president of any crime. All I’m saying is that we seem to have documents that are forged. We need to find out who committed these crimes.”

So that’s all clear then. Somehow one has to assume that this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Arpaio and his disinterested cold case posse.


Putin and the tall wall against western mischief

February 28, 2012
by Olivia Kroth


             Vladimir Putin must be doing something right because the USA does not want him to become President of the Russian Federation. Whatever the USA does not want will be good for Russia, whatever the USA wants will do harm. It is as simple as that.
            No higher mathematics is needed to figure out that Vladimir Putin presents a major obstacle to US world dominance.
            The three allied countries Russia, China and Iran hold a significant part of the Eurasian landmass, forming a “tall wall against western mischief,” as the Iranian media Press TV pointedly formulated.
            With Putin as President, the West can expect Russia turning further towards Asia. He already announced that he will continue strengthening ties with the republics of the post-Soviet space and cooperate closely with SCO countries.
            The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was founded 2001 in Shanghai, People’s Republic of China. Current members are China and Russia as main driving forces, together with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
            India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status. Belarus and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners, while the status of Turkmenistan is that of guest attendance.
            SCO countries cooperate in security, holding regular joint military exercises in Eurasia. As Iranian writer Hamid Golpira remarked, “control of the Eurasian landmass is the key to global domination, and control of Central Asia is the key to control of the Eurasian landmass.” The SCO states are paying close attention to everything pertaining to the Eurasian landmass.
            China Daily wrote, “SCO member countries have the ability and responsibility to safeguard the security of the Central Asian region.” Consequently, Russian and Chinese forces control the Eurasian periphery on a permanent basis.
            All SCO members except the People’s Republic of China hold membership in the Eurasian Economic Community, with joint energy projects in the oil and gas sector, exploration of new hydrocarbon reserves and water resources.
            SCO Interbank has been created to be independent from international banking systems.
            Putin said at the SCO summit in 2007, “We now clearly see the defectiveness of the monopoly in world finance and the policy of economic selfishness. Russia will take part in changing the global financial structure so that it will be able to guarantee stability and prosperity in the world.”
            Russia and China engage in a special relationship with many common economic and military interests, besides sharing a long land border. Both countries signed a “Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation” in 2001.
            The main fields of cooperation are aircraft manufacturing, biotechnology, computer science, medicine, and nanotechnology. On the 23rd of November 2010, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and China’s Premier Wen Jiabao agreed on bilateral trade in their national currencies, ruble and yuan. China is Russia’s client for oil and gas as well as military exports, making up 30 percent of Russian foreign sales.
            With Putin as President of Russia, EU support for aggressive NATO plans will be curbed, as it is seen to be weakening already due to lack of fuel and funds.
            Putin might use pipeline diplomacy to knot the tie with EU. After the disastrous outcome of EU slapping sanctions on Iran and literally sitting in the cold, without Iranian oil, EU leaders will certainly think twice before angering Russia. If Russian gas supplies are cut off, the lights will go out in Europe.
            Oil prices are soaring high already. Should gas prices follow this upward trend, the EU might be pushed into the abyss of bankruptcy. It is already standing dangerously close to the edge of the cliff.
            “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can,” Sun Tzu asked in his famous treaty for military strategy.
            Putin is an educated and well-read man. Besides Russian literature on military strategy, he might also have studied the works of the Chinese General and military strategist Sun Tzu who lived in the sixth century B.C.
            Putin emphasized several times that he would never use Russian gas sales as means of sanctioning the EU; yet somehow he managed to give his words such a supple twist that a variety of nuances in understanding were produced, reaching from calming appeasement to subtle menace. The western partners who have studied Sun Tzu’s work will certainly know what he means.
            “Invincibility lies in the defense,” Sun Tzu knew. Putin seems to know this stratagem as well. He is modernizing and strengthening the Russian Armed Forces. Russian plans for the defense industry could sound like saber-rattling in western ears, but are deemed necessary for deterrence and Russia’s safety, Putin pointed out.
            Russia has always been a superpower since its old days as an Empire. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia sank to its lowest point of no return, but has risen again, like a phoenix from the ashes, to its almost old status of wealth and glory.
            This has been no small feat. Russians are thankful to Vladimir Putin for having given them back their pride in Russia, their self-confidence as citizens of a great nation with a long history and proud traditions.
            “You have to believe in yourself,” Sun Tzu wrote. Putin certainly believes in himself, but above all, he believes in Russia. In the eyes of many Russians, Putin has become the symbol of Russia’s return to power.
            Putin as President will toughen Russia’s geostrategic stance, according to Mexican analyst Alfredo Jalife, who wrote that Putin “engineered Russia’s geostrategic resurrection”.
            The fury of the western mainstream media may be interpreted as a sure indicator of Putin’s sustained success in strengthening Russia and “reorganizing the world from a multi-polar perspective,” according to Jalife.
            “The highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plans,” Sun Tzu said.
            Washington’s plans of world dominance will definitely be balked by Russia, a prospect that a great part of the non-aligned world is cheering. Putin is a “thorn in Washington’s flesh,” German-American analyst F. William Engdahl wrote.
            “Opportunities multiply as they are seized,” Sun Tzu advised.
            The tandem Putin – Medvedev will seize the opportunity of continuing their successful cooperation with switched roles, after Putin has won the presidential elections on March 4.
            This is another point of discontent for western observers who judge the role switch as being undemocratic. Washington is infuriated by the fact that Putin has a different way of defining democracy.
            To Vladimir Putin, it is not undemocratic at all to switch jobs with Dmitri Medvedev, but a very practicable solution. “Democracy East meets Democracy West.”
            Putin and Medvedev are both members of United Russia and form an inseparable tandem. Washington is enervated because it has not succeeded in sowing discord between the two top Russians.
            Putin’s training as a former KGB officer might partly be responsible for his clever toughness. In part, it is certainly due to his innate character. He appears to be an intelligent, level-headed, self-disciplined man, a true Russian patriot with a positive vision for the future of his homeland. He can neither be swayed nor bought.
            “Move, if it is to your advantage; bide your time if it is not,” Sun Tzu admonished.
            Russia has been biding time. Now it seems that Russia will move, and the world is very much in suspense, regarding the direction of Russian moves.
            We shall wait and see. Russia with Putin as President might have plenty of interesting surprises in store.


             Prepared for publication by: Lisa Karpova Pravda.Ru


by Gregory Douglas

The Warren Commission Report

At 11:40 a.m., CST, on Friday, November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy, and their party arrived at Love Field, Dallas, Tex. Behind them was the first day of a Texas trip planned 5 months before by the President, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and John B. Connally, Jr., Governor of Texas. After leaving the White House on Thursday morning, the President had flown initially to San Antonio where Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson joined the party and the President dedicated new research facilities at the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine. Following a testimonial dinner in Houston for U.S. Representative Albert Thomas, the President flew to Fort Worth where he spent the night and spoke at a large breakfast gathering on Friday.

Planned for later that day were a motorcade through downtown Dallas, a luncheon speech at the Trade Mart, and a flight to Austin where the President would attend a reception and speak at a Democratic fundraising dinner. From Austin he would proceed to the Texas ranch of the Vice President. [WCR, pp. 1-2.]

The Secret Service was told on November 8 that 45 minutes had been allotted to a motorcade procession from Love Field to the site of a luncheon planned by Dallas business and civic leaders in honor of the President. After considering the facilities and security problems of the several buildings, the Trade Mart was chosen as the luncheon site. Given this selection, and in accordance with the customary practice of affording the greatest number of people an opportunity to see the President, the motorcade route selected was a natural one. The route was approved by the local host committee and White House representatives on November 18 and publicized in the local papers starting on November 19. This advance publicity made it clear that the motorcade would leave Main Street and pass the intersection of Elm and Houston Streets as it proceeded to the Trade Mart by way of the Stemmons Freeway.

By midmorning of November 22, clearing skies in Dallas dispelled the threat of rain and the President greeted the crowds from his open limousine without the “bubbletop,” which was at that time a plastic shield furnishing protection only against inclement weather. To the left of the President in the rear seat was Mrs. Kennedy. In the jump seats were Governor Connally, who was in front of the President, and Mrs. Connally at the Governor’s left. Agent William R. Greer of the Secret Service was driving, and Agent Roy H. Kellerman was sitting to his right. [WCR, p. 2]

At the extreme west end of Main Street, the motorcade turned right on Houston Street and proceeded north for one block in order to make a left turn on Elm Street, the most direct and convenient approach to the Stemmons Freeway and the Trade Mart. As the President’s car approached the intersection of Houston and Elm Streets, there loomed directly ahead on the intersection’s northwest corner a seven story, orange brick warehouse and office building, the Texas School Book Depository. [WCR, p. 2]

The President’s car which had been going north made a sharp turn toward the southwest onto Elm Street. At a speed of about 11 miles per hour, it started down the gradual descent towards a railroad overpass under which the motorcade would proceed before reaching the Stemmons Freeway. The front of the Texas School Book Depository was now on the President’s right, and he waved to the crowd assembled there as he passed the building. Dealey Plaza—an open, landscaped area marking the western end of downtown Dallas—stretched out to the President’s left. A Secret Service agent riding in the motorcade radioed the Trade Mart that the President would arrive in 5 minutes.

Seconds later shots resounded in rapid succession. The President’s hands moved to his neck. He appeared to stiffen momentarily and lurch slightly forward in his seat. A bullet had entered the base of the back of his neck slightly to the right of the spine. It traveled downward and exited from the front of the neck, causing a nick in the left lower portion of the knot in the President’s necktie. Governor Connally had been facing towards the crowd on the right. He started to turn toward the left and suddenly felt a blow on his back. The Governor had been hit by a bullet which entered at the extreme right side of his back at a point below his right armpit. The bullet traveled through his chest in a downward and forward direction, exited below his right nipple, passed through his right wrist, which had been in his lap, and then caused a wound to his left thigh. The force of the bullet’s impact appeared to spin the Governor to his right, and Mrs. Connally pulled him down into her lap. Another bullet then struck President Kennedy in the rear portion of his head, causing a massive and fatal wound. The President fell to the left into Mrs. Kennedy’s lap. [WCR, p. 3]

The first person to see Oswald after the assassination was Patrolman M. L. Baker of the Dallas Police Department. Baker was riding a two-wheeled motorcycle behind the last press car of the motorcade.

Baker testified that he entered the lobby (of the Texas Book Depository) and “spoke out and asked where the stairs or elevator was*** and this man, Mr. Truly, spoke up and says, it seems to me like he says ‘I am a building manager. Follow me, officer, and I will show you.’”

Meanwhile, Truly had run up several steps towards the third floor. Missing Baker, he came back to find the officer in the doorway to the lunchroom “facing Lee Harvey Oswald.” Baker turned to Truly and said, “Do you know this man, does he work here?” Truly replied, “Yes.” Baker stated later that the man did not seem to be out of breath; he seemed calm. [WCR, p. 152]

That Oswald descended by stairway from the sixth floor to the second-floor lunchroom is consistent with the movements of the two elevators, which would have provided the other possible means of descent. When Truly, accompanied by Baker, ran to the rear of the first floor, he was certain that both elevators, which occupy the same shaft, were on the fifth floor. In the few seconds which elapsed while Baker and Truly ran from the first to the second floor, neither of these slow elevators could have descended from the fifth to the second floor. Furthermore, no elevator was at the second floor when they arrived there. [WCR, p. 153]

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