TBR News May 10, 2011

May 10 2011

Washington, D.C., May 10, 2011: “I have been involved in various intelligence matters, know many in the intelligence community and I have never, ever, seen such a crude, botched business as this bin Laden “assassination.” This has to be a CIA operation because of its crudeness. Even the Bushmen of Africa could have done a better job.

My Arab contacts all, without exception, tell me that the “bin Laden tapes” are awful fakes. I know from someone whose son-in-law is in the Company that the tapes were made in Texas.

Bin Laden was a very sick man with diabetes Type A and serious renal problems. From a medical standpoint, his survival to the present time is another impossibility.

He did exist. He was a CIA man, bought and paid for, who did our dirty work in Afghanistan when Ivan was there. Afterwards, he decided he was a reincarnation of the Prophet Mohammad.

Note that bin Laden was from a wealthy Saudi family. Note that almost all of the terrorists who flew planes into the WTC and the Pentagon were Saudi citizens. Note, too, that someone in the Saudi government supplied Saudi passports to the Atta group, using the identities of legitimate Saudi citizens.

A very amateurish production that is reaping loud laughter from all over the world.”

The Voice of the White House: A Volcano of Lies

Weekend Edition
May 6 -8, 2011

by Alexander Cockburn


Barack Obama, who pledged to restore ethical honor to the White House after the Bush years, is now burying himself under an active volcano of lies, mostly but not exclusively concerning the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

There was scarcely a sentence in the President’s Sunday night address, or in the subsequent briefing by John Brennan, his chief counter-terrorism coordinator, that has not been subsequently retracted by CIA director Leon Panetta or the White House press spokesman, Jay Carney, or by various documentary records.

• The White House photograph of Obama, Clinton and top security advisors supposedly watching real-time footage of the Navy Seals’ onslaught on the Abbottabad compound, their killing of two men and a woman (excuse for the latter killing: the standard “caught in crossfire”) and liquidation of OBL himself turns out to have been a phony. BO and friends could have been watching basketball replays. Panetta has admitted the real-time video link stopped working before the Seals got into the compound.

• Panetta also admits Osama bin Laden was not armed, and that he did not hide behind his young wife’s skirt. He conceded that under military rules of engagement Osama should have been taken prisoner, but then added vaguely that he showed some unspecified form of resistance. He probably reached for his walking stick, since he has been ailing from kidney and liver problems. As any black or brown resident in, say, the purview of the  Ramparts Division of the LAPD knows full well, reaching for a walking stick or even holding a cell phone can be a death warrant; multiply that likelihood by a factor of 100 if you are the world’s most wanted terrorist  in front of a score of heavily armed and homicidal Navy SEALs, no doubt amped up on amphetamine.

An admitted fan of the herb, Osama may have been stoned as part of his pain management program since there was a marijuana patch outside in the allotment and, like any world star in retirement, Osama liked to smoke a lot of weed and made DVDs of important speeches which stacked up forlornly on the bookshelf next to the bottles of pills and the Koran, hoping to get picked up by Al Jazeera or HBO. How his lieutenants must have yearned for his summary martyrdom as they received his importunate bulletins that they derail a train during Obama’s State of the Union and other madcap schemes.

• The White House claims that issues of delicacy prohibit the release of photographs of Osama’s bullet-riddled face and required that after an alleged match with a relative’s DNA he be given a swift but formal sea burial in a weighted body bag dropped from the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson into the north Arabian Sea, presumably awaiting retrieval by salvagers with a fix on the Vinson’s position at the time of burial.

Maybe the Navy Seal photographer forgot to take his lens cap off. Obama’s claims of ethical sensitivity certainly ring hollow. He’s battling the wimp factor, and “Lo! The head of Osama” would be a nifty prop. There was lengthy display back in Bush-time of the mutilated bodies of Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay, killed by US special forces in 2003, plus filming of Saddam’s own execution by hanging.

Further back, when DNA matches were unknown, US special forces verified Che Guevara’s execution by permitting many photographs immediately post-mortem. They also cut off Che’s hands, for subsequent verification by the CIA. We’re not talking Miss Manners here.

• The official “back story” released Sunday night by Obama is that US intelligence learned of the Abbottabad compound only last August and spent the following months watching the place, following Osama’s trusted couriers and concluding that it was highly likely, though not certain, that Osama was there.

This is bunk. The three-storey house has been a well-known feature of Abbottabad. Shaukat Qadir, a well-connected Pakistan Army officer, reported to CounterPunch from Pakistan: “For the record, this house has been under ISI surveillance while it was under construction. It was first raided in 2003, and the ISI just missed capturing al-Libi (he was later captured by the ISI close to Mardan in K-P Province). It has been raided on numerous occasions since.”

Shaukat tells me that contrary to a report in the New York Times by Carlotta Gall on May 5, neither of the two trusted couriers were among the dead in the compound.

Shaukat: “The house where Osama had sought refuge belonged to two brothers from Mardan (a Pashtun dominated region of K-P) who had numerous aliases; locally they were known as Arshad (or Bara—meaning elder) and Chota (younger) Pathan, who have been residents of that house for seven years past. The rub is; neither one has been identified among the dead. If Osama was followed to this house by constant tracking of his courier who, according to CIA reports, shouldn’t one, if not both brothers, should have been present, shouldn’t they? But they weren’t. Of the seven bodies left behind (a female, a child and five men of ages ranging from mid-twenties to mid-thirties), none have been identified as being either brother…. “ Inference: “Osama was sold out. The operation was the result of entrapment. An entrapment organized through one or more of his most trusted aides…”

In fact, specific knowledge by US intelligence of the compound and its likely possible prime denizen goes back to 2005.

This has been established by Israel Shamir, also writing for CounterPunch. Shamir compares certain passages in the WikiLeaks documents on Guantanamo against those recently published by the New York Times and the Guardian.

Shamir reports these newspapers were working from the WikiLeaks files supplied to them (price unknown) by WikiLeaks’ former German employee, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, “who went AWOL after this appropriation”. Shamir says Domscheit-Berg made a deal with the Guardian which subsequently made a co-publication arrangement with the New York Times. “Both papers published the cables after redacting them, or should we say ‘censoring’ – removing everything the secret services demanded [they] remove.”

When Assange learned that the Guardian and the New York Times planned to publish the Guantanamo files, his WikiLeaks team also prepared the files and began to upload. So did the competitors, possessing the Domscheit-Berg appropriated copy.

The most important redactions by the Guardian and the New York Times, Shamir writes, “were  directly dictated by the US intelligence services. The name of Nashwan Abd Al Razzaq Abd Al Baqi, or by another name, Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi or by his number IZ-10026 was edited away from the file of Abu al-Libi (US9LY-010017DP) and elsewhere.”

This is significant because al-Iraqi was in close contact with al-Libi who had been designated by Osama in 2003 as his trusted, official courier, therefore aware of OBL’s whereabouts at all times. In the end, at separate times, the US captured both al-Libi and al-Iraqi, had them both tortured and thus became aware of al-Libi’s courier duties and hence the possibility that Osama was in Abbottabad.

Comparison of the redacted version of the Guardian and in the uncut version of WikiLeaks shows to what extent all the traces of al-Iraqi, the likely informer-under-torture, were removed at the behest of US intelligence. It was not connected to “caring about informers”, for al-Libi was understood at the time to have committed suicide in a Libyan jail just before the arrival of the US Ambassador in Tripoli. The file of al-Iraqi is missing in all databases; he was captured in 2005 and kept in various secret prisons, until transferred to Guantanamo where he remains detained.

So the trail to Abbottabad was known to the US intelligence services at least since 2005, when al-Libi was captured. “Careful reading of the file,” Shamir writes, “shows that al-Libi was connected with al-Iraqi since October 2002. In 2003, Osama stated al-Libi would be the official messenger between OBL and others in Pakistan. In mid-2003, al-Libi moved his family to Abbottabad, Pakistan and worked between Abbottabad and Peshawar. He maintained contact with al-Iraqi.”

We can conclude, from this narrative, that when the unredacted WikiLeaks files surfaced, US intelligence concluded that Osama’s associates would soon figure out that the Americans had made the appropriate connections and conjectures and there the associates urged him to move on with all due haste. So Obama decided to send in the Seals.

From this active volcano of lies, we can safely assume that Obama’s re-election campaign has been well and truly launched. Lift-off began on April 27 with the White House’s release of the long birth certificate. Obama seems to have problems with timely provision of convincing documentation about arrivals (his own) and departures (Bin Laden’s).

Release of the full birth certificate could have come in 2008, when it first became a minor issue. Instead Obama refused to authorize release until last week, by which time 25 per cent of all Americans and 50 per cent of all Republicans thought he was hiding something fishy. A photo of the dead Osama would have been useful this week in quelling speculation.

Had it not been for cloud cover over Abbottabad, the raid on Osama’s compound could have come on Friday, April 29, the same day as the royal wedding.

Saturday, April 30 was reserved for the attempted assassination of Colonel Gaddafi, with the dropping of precision-guided bombs on the house of his son Saif, who died along with three grandchildren. Saif, then four, was in the Gaddafi family compound on April 15, 1986 when bombs ordered up by Ronald Reagan were dropped from F-111s, killing his 15-month old sister, adopted by Gaddafi 11 months earlier.  Thus have Reagan and Obama shared a target. ‘Decapitation’ – going for the enemy’s top guy – is now standard Nato strategy. In the “shock and awe” assaults on Iraq in 2003, the prime mission of US bombers was to target whatever houses Saddam was presumed to be visiting. We can assume electronic eavesdrops or maybe a human observer told the Nato targeteers that Gaddafi himself was in the house that Saturday, and the bombers were swiftly dispatched from Nato’s Allied Air Command in Izmir, Turkey, whose overall commander is Lt-Gen Ralph J. Jodice II (US).

Would Obama have been briefed on the plan, or have signed off on a program of targeted assassination of Gaddafi? It seems a sure thing.

Reverse the rationale. If a Libyan bomber had blown up the wedding couple and a goodly tranche of the British upper crust in Westminster Abbey under justification that the whole place and its human contents, down to the grandchildren, not to mention the hats, were fair game because Cameron was there.

As the Oxford historian Mark Almond subsequently wrote in this site, “Little wonder, the royal newlyweds’ honeymoon was suddenly cancelled on Saturday. So much of William and Kate’s nuptials was choreographed around their parents’ and grandparents’ weddings that it was a fair guess that like Princess Elizabeth and Philip they were going to fly to Malta to start their honeymoon before going on to Kenya where three generations of Windsors have enjoyed cementing their relations. Malta is too close to Libya for comfort and Kenya’s Muslim minority might not be too friendly to a serving Nato officer.”

But Gaddafi survived. So Obama only had one bloodied feather in his cap when he gave one of the most morally repellent speeches I have ever heard delivered from the White House. Bush at least had the crude brio of a semi-literate jock when he vaunted America’s prowess. Obama’s “we nailed him” paragraphs of mendacity concluded with Dickensian Heepishness: “Tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history.”

Alas, the actual story of the “our history” is an unrelenting ability to lie about everything, while simultaneously claiming America’s superior moral worth.

Americans, Everything You Do Is Monitored!

May 5th, 2011

by Mac Slavo


When President Obama talked about a transparent administration during the run up to the 2008 election most Americans assumed he was talking about openness in government dealings. Obviously, this is not the case, as evidenced by the administration’s handling of the universal health care legislation which was passed without a single American having had a chance to read it for 72 hours before a vote as the President promised would be the case with all legislation, refusal to release photographic evidence of the Osama Bin Laden raid, the President’s own birth certificate which has taken two years to be made public, and the many secret meetings held with Congressional members behind closed doors.

It should be clear by now that Big Government’s domestic surveillance policies under Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush are being furthered expanded by Mr. Obama. Transparency, it seems, had nothing to do with making government more visible. It did, however, have everything to do with making your life more transparent.

Before we itemize the many ways in which you’re being watch, surveyed, monitored and aggregated, this latest report by Alex Thomas of The Intel Hub reiterates, yet again, that digital surveillance capabilities are not just isolated to intelligence agencies:

A lawsuit filed on Tuesday alleges that Aaron’s, a huge furniture rent to buy company, used software and a special device on their computers that enabled them to spy on PC renters.

According to the lawsuit, the company is able to track keystrokes and snap webcam pictures in the home of their customers.

Brian and Crystal Byrd, the couple who filed the lawsuit, claim that they were never told about these intrusive spying measures.

While computer privacy experts agree that Aaron’s has the right to install devices that enable them to shut down the computers remotely, customers must be told that they are being monitored.

The couple only found out about the spying after an Aaron’s employee showed them a picture of Brian Byrd that was taken remotely while the Byrds were in their home.

“After they showed us the picture, I, of course, felt violated,” Crystal Byrd said in an interview Monday. “There are many times I sat in front of that computer with barely nothing on. So I didn’t know if they had taken lots of pictures of us or what,” reported the Wyoming Tribune.

Brian Byrd also reported that he thinks the picture was shown to him in order to intimidate him into an easy repossession.

Source: The Intel Hub

While we often hear protests from privacy advocates about government intrusion into the lives of Americans, what many fail to understand is that it’s not just the government. Private businesses like Aaron’s, as well as large corporate conglomerates, are themselves engaging in the surveillance of Americans with the development of products and services specifically for this purpose – and often without the consent of their customers, or, through terms of services agreements that include dozens of pages of unintelligible fine print.

As modern technology continues to advance at breakneck speeds, just as the merger of the corporations and the state are occurring within political circles, so to are they becoming more prevalent in the intelligence sphere.

Fellow Americans, everything you do is being monitored.

With respect to the government, it’s not by choice. However, when dealing with private businesses, we have readily accepted our own fate by accepting into our lives the very technologies that make it all possible.

What You Do Online Is No Secret: As you sit in the perceived privacy of your own home reading this article, a log of your surfing habits and preferred reading or video viewing subjects is being created. Your IP address, that unique identifier the points specifically to the broadband line connected to your home modem, is time stamped with every web site you visit. Everything you watch at video web sites, everything you download online, and even your search queries are logged. You don’t even have to have an account with a major online service provider – your IP is sufficient – but that user account you create is used to further improve your personal profile and characteristics.

We can see you. We can hear you. Not only are your actions logged, but if you were deemed a person of interest for whatever reason, that little camera staring back at you on top of your monitor or that microphone built directly into your PC can be flipped on for remote surveillance at any time. While Aaron’s furniture or the local school district may need to install special software to remotely view what you’re doing in your bedroom, public sector intelligence groups operating on equipment that is technologically advanced compared to the consumer products of today is perfectly capable of entering your ‘secure’ home network and turning on those video and audio features – and you’d have absolutely no clue it’s going on.

Your cell phone is a mobile monitoring device. Much like your computer, all modern day cell phones come with cameras. And they all have a microphone. It is no secret that law enforcement agencies have the ability to easily tap these devices and listen and watch anything that’s going on. This capability is essentially hard-wired right into the phone. In fact, it has been reported that even if your cell phone is turned completely off, the microphone can still be remotely activated. The only known solution is to remove the battery if you want to ensure complete privacy. Sounds pretty far-fetched doesn’t it? Up until two weeks ago, so did the notion that Apple and Android phones could track and log everywhere you go. We now know that this is exactly what’s happening, and literally, every movement you make is tracked within inches of your location. A log of everywhere you have been has been logged if your cell phone was in your pocket.

Phone Conversation and Email Analysis. If you haven’t guessed yet, phones can be dangerous to your personal privacy. In the 1990′s, the few alternative media web sites on the internet often discussed a little know operation in Europe called Echelon. It was hard core tin foil conspiracy type stuff. You know, the kind where intelligence agencies were plugged into the entire phone, fax and email grids and had computers analyzing conversations in multiple languages looking for keywords and keyword strings. If you said a specific word, your conversation was immediately red-flagged and distributed to appropriate intel desks. As sci-fi as this may sound, it turns out that the ‘conspiracy theorists’ were 100% correct about Echelon. Its existence has been confirmed by the US government. Of course, no such system could possibly exist here domestically.

Your pictures are not private. When you snap those photos of the kids in the front yard and subsequently post those pictures on your favorite social network, guess what? That’s right, an inquiring viewer on your social networking account can track exactly where that picture was taken. Remember that location logging thing with your cell phone? It turns out that every single picture you take with most newer model cell phones will be tagged with specific GPS coordinates. When you upload that picture anywhere online, that location information becomes publicly available. So anyone who wants to know can now track down exactly where it is your kids were when the picture was taken, or, where exactly you were if you happened to engage in an activity that may be deemed illegal.

The social network. For many, it’s fun to spend every waking hour updating the rest of the world on what we’re doing. We publish our thoughts. We upload our pictures. We even click a like button at the end of articles like this one to let people know what we’re into and what they should be reading. As social networking becomes bigger, connecting hundreds of millions of people across the world, so to does the profiling of members of these networks. Have you agreed with what a certain person has said in a recent post? If they’re a person-of-interest for whatever reason, then guess what? You’ve just become one too. Did your friend recently take a picture of you at a party getting rowdy? Once that hits the social network, facial recognition technology will identify you and publish your name for all the world to see, including current or future employers. It’s a social network, and its purpose is to learn everything about you. Perhaps this is why key U.S. intelligence agencies made no effort to hide their $5 billion investment in the largest network in the world recently. Social networking is a critical tool in the struggle to categorize every person on earth.

Toll tags and license plates. Even if you’ve given up the cell phone and prefer to go without for privacy reasons, when you drive around town you may have noticed those little intersection cameras – at least four of them – on every major (or more regularly now, minor) intersection. While most of them may not be tied to the computer processing systems yet, some, and especially those in sensitive areas and toll booths can automatically read your license plate. Like your cell phone, your position can be logged on a regular basis with either your toll tag or simply, your license plate. Impossible? Not really. Especially when you consider that the information required to track your personal movements are nothing but a few data bytes. All anyone really needs to keep extensive records is a bigger hard drive.

We know your underwear size. Admittedly, we sometimes have a hard time remembering what size pants or shirts we need to purchase. But while our memory may be failing, private data aggregators have plenty of it, and the processing power to boot. Everything you have ever bought with a credit card or membership club card is sent off for processing and aggregation to centralized data centers. While you may use a Visa card at one store, a Mastercard at another, and pay cash with a grocery membership card somewhere else, it’s as easy as finding your name and cross referencing that on your cards – and your entire shopping profile can be created. The purpose, we’re told, is to better improve our shopping experience and provide market data to companies so that they can improve their advertising. We can only guess at who else has access to this information, which happens to be very easily accessible and widely available for a small fee.

Radio Frequency Identification. Say you’ve decided to scrap cell phones, internet surfing and electronic payment or membership cards. And, you choose to walk everywhere you go. Not a problem for enterprising surveillance technologists. Large retail distributors have already begun implementing RFID technologies into every major product on store shelves. For now, most of the RFID tracking is limited to transportation and inventory control and is designed to track products on the pallet level. Tracking capabilities are improving, however, and are quickly being implemented on the individual product level. That means when you buy a soda at your local grocery store, an RFID monitoring station will be capable of tracking that soda across the entire city, with the goal eventually being whether or not you put that aluminum can in a trashcan or a recycle bin once you were finished drinking it. One day, you may be issued a ticket by a law enforcement computer autmatically for failing to dispose of your trash properly. Again, it’s simply an issue of hard drive space and processing power – and technology will soon get over that hurdle. All electronics, clothing, food packaging, and just about everything else will soon contain a passive RFID chip.

Ripping Data Off Your Private, Secure, chip-enhanced personal identification cards. Passports, driver’s licenses, credit cards, cell phones – they all store data. Personal data like banking information, birth date, social security numbers, pictures, phone books – basically everything you’ve ever wanted to keep private. As storage technology further integrates into our daily lives, and everything from our passports to our health insurance cards contains a digital chip that stores our private information, it will become much easier to rip that data from your purse or wallet without ever touching you. A recent report indicated that local law enforcement officials now have devices that, when you’re pulled over, can remotely pull all of the data on your cell phone. This demonstrates how simple it is for anyone, be it law enforcement or criminals, to gain access to everything about you – including you personal travel habits.

Eye in the sky. We’ve previously reported about domestic drone programs in Houston and Miami. Local and state law enforcement agencies are increasingly adding Federal and military technologies to their surveillance arsenals. Drones have the capability of flying quietly and at high altitude, while monitoring multiple targets simultaneously. It’s been reported that domestic drones can not only monitor in the visible light spectrum, but night vision and infrared. That means they can ‘see’ what you’re doing in your home behind closed doors. Incidentally, there have been reports of roaming ground patrols with similar infrared technology, capable of seeing right through your walls. This is not science fiction – this is reality right now. Combine this with real-time spy agency satellites and interested parties have the ability to see and hear you, even when you’re locked indoors with computers and cell phones disabled.

Security cameras. We’ve already discussed traffic cams. But cameras are not limited to just the government. Residences, retailers and even day cares are now interconnecting camera security systems with online web browsing. And, as we pointed out earlier, these are easily subject to unauthorized access. Certain cities in the US are now allowing residents to register their personal or business camera systems with the city to allow for local police monitoring. The government doesn’t need to push the technology on us. The people willingly accept the technology en masse in exchange for a sense of being more secure.

I See Something! When all else fails, the last bastion of surveillance is human intel. It’s been used by oppressive regimes for millennia. The Nazis used it. The Communists used it (and do to this day). It was very effective. And now, we’re using it. Remember, if you See Something, Say Something. Even if what someone sees is not accurately represented because of mis-perception, you can be assured that when they say something rapid response units will be on the scene to diffuse the situation.

Fusing It All Together

What is the purpose ? It depends who you ask.

Local law enforcement will tell you it’s to protect the safety of the public. Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies say it’s to prevent terrorism. Apple and Android tells us it’s so that they can produce better mobile products and services. Retailers want more customer data so they can improve advertising and marketing.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that almost everything we do, whether it’s in the privacy of our own homes or on public streets, can be tracked, monitored, and logged.

As technology improves and the internet interconnects even more nodes, the information collected by the public, private and personal sectors will be further aggregrated, cross referenced and analyzed. Your personal profile will become more detailed, including your shopping habits, hobbies, likes, dislikes, political affiliation, reading preferences, friends, and potentially your psychological and emotional status.

All of this information will eventually be fused into one large database. In fact, the government has already setup well over fifty fusion centers around the nation. What goes on in these centers is kept strictly confidential, and there doesn’t seem to be any agency in charge of them, but we know they exist, and we know that their purpose is to acquire, aggregate and act on whatever information they have available to them. These are fairly new, appearing just over the last several years. But be assured that as processing power and software technology improves, so too will the surveillance capabilities of fusion like facilities, whether they belong to government, private industry or criminal industry.

History has shown what tends to happen in surveillance societies. Often times, that surveillance is forced upon the people by tyranical government. We won’t argue that this is not the case today, as governments the world over are not hiding the fact that they want to know what everyone is doing. The odd thing is, we the people don’t seem to care a whole lot. What we’re seeing is that the surveillance state is expanding in concert with the definitions for what is criminal or terrorist-like activity – and that’s scary. Every year, more people are finding themselves on no-fly lists, no-work lists, or other terrorist watch lists. We’ve facetiously noted in a previous commentary that at this rate, the terrorist watch list will exceed the U.S. population by 2019. While we were, for the most part, trying to put a humorous spin on an otherwise very important issue, the fact is, that as surveillance expands, more and more people will become enemies of the state or persons-of-interest. That’s just how these things tend to work with these types of things.

In today’s world, the private sector is ready and willing to help government achieve these goals of total control and involvement in our personal lives. In fact, it is at times becoming difficult to distinguish between government and private industry.

But if we are to lay blame on anyone here, it must be ourselves. We need only take a look into the mirror and we’ll see who makes these technologies possible. It’s the American consumer who willingly adopts the technologies into his or her daily life, often standing in lines a quarter mile long to acquire the latest in digital monitoring.

While our votes at the ballot box account for something, how we vote with our pocket books will ultimately determine the direction of our country. We have empowered the corporation to lobby Congress and further erode our own freedoms, whether it’s with the surveillance technologies we choose to integrate into our lives, the food we buy, the cheap Chinese goods we’ll stampede children over, or the gas we pump into our vehicles.

The problem is not government. It’s us. We’ve let it go this far. It can only change when the individual does.

Experts Describe the Secret, Stealthy Chopper From the bin Laden Mission

May 9, 2011

by by Valerie Ross


What’s the News: The helicopter that crashed during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound earlier this week was a stealth design that the US government had kept secret, according to aviation experts. The military is still keeping mum and the SEALs—keeping with protocol—burned the aircraft after it went down. But information gleaned from photos of the surviving tailboom (the part that holds the rear rotor) and clues from other stealth aircraft suggest the helicopter was an H-60 Blackhawk, heavily modified to escape radar detection and fly more quietly—explaining why Pakistani air forces didn’t detect the helicopters.

How the Heck: To the experts’ eyes, several unusual features marked the helicopter as a never-before-discussed stealth model.

  • Rotor: The rotor had five or six blades—rather than the usual four—that were topped with a shield-like cover, which would keep down turbulence, making the helicopter more efficient, and reduce noise.
  • Skin: Most helicopters are liberally studded with rivets, but this one’s skin was unusually smooth and nearly rivet-free, a sign that this was a departure from the normal design.
  • Paint Job: Coating the copter might have been an infrared suppression finish, which would camouflage the aircraft’s infrared signature and has been used on F-22′s and other stealth planes.

Torture is still Torture, and it is Still Illegal.

May 7, 2011

by Lawrence Rafferty


This entire week the torture enthusiasts have been back on all of the news channels exclaiming their happiness that their “enhanced interrogation techniques” worked.  Of course, they are talking about waterboarding and other methods of torture. Why are Michael Mukasey, John Yoo and other members of the George W. Bush administration once again declaring that torture is good policy and that it was successful in helping to get Osama Bin Laden?

“Osama bin Laden was killed by Americans, based on intelligence developed by Americans. That should bring great satisfaction to our citizens and elicit praise for our intelligence community. Seized along with bin Laden’s corpse was a trove of documents and electronic devices that should yield intelligence that could help us capture or kill other terrorists and further degrade the capabilities of those who remain at large.  But policies put in place by the very administration that presided over this splendid success promise fewer such successes in the future. Those policies make it unlikely that we’ll be able to get information from those whose identities are disclosed by the material seized from bin Laden. The administration also hounds our intelligence gatherers in ways that can only demoralize them.  Consider how the intelligence that led to bin Laden came to hand. It began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information—including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.”  Wall Street Journal

The quote above was from an op-ed written by the former Attorney General of the United State, Michael Mukasey. It seems that Gen. Mukasey is now a big proponent of torture techniques and he even makes the unfounded claim that the name of the courier that eventually led the United States to Osama Bin Laden was obtained through the “harsh interrogation techniques”.  It is amazing to me that Mukasey who was a Federal judge before being named Attorney General, would be ignorant of the illegality of waterboarding.  Doesn’t Mukasey remember that the United States prosecuted Japanese soldiers after WWII for waterboarding American personnel and we also prosecuted American servicemen for waterboarding prisoners during the Vietnam War?

Gen. Mukasey even complains that President Obama did the country a disservice by eliminating the torture techniques from the government’s arsenal.  He further attacks the Obama administration for investigating the CIA operatives who were involved in the torture of detainees.  Gen. Mukasey just can’t get enough torture. An article in Firedoglake.com claims that Mukasey’s feigned concern for the CIA agents being investigated is a farce because the Wikileaks documents proved that the United States was using the alleged investigation into the CIA agent’s as a mechanism for convincing the Spanish authorities that their planned investigation into the torture carried out by American agents was unnecessary.

“In other words, what this cable shows is the genesis of the plan–on the day after the torture memos were released–to forestall international investigations of US torture by claiming that the US is itself conducting an investigation. It’s a claim that continues to this day.  It’s not a surprise that the Obama Administration has been pointing to its own investigations–credible or not–to persuade the international community not to hold our torturers accountable. But it is useful to see how the diplomats and the lawyers first hatched that plan.” Firedoglake.com

One of the authors of the infamous Torture Memos, John Yoo, also came out in favor of the torture techniques and he also tries to assert that torture played a role in obtaining the information needed to find and kill Osama Bin Laden.  “Also, buried in the stories may be yet another sign of the vindication of the Bush administration’s war on terror policies. Anonymous government sources say that the al Qaeda courier who led our intelligence people to bin Laden was a protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks who was captured in 2002, subjected to enhanced interrogation methods, and yielded a trove of intelligence on al Qaeda. Those same sources admit that interrogation of al Qaeda leaders, presumably by the CIA, yielded the identity of the courier. That identity was then combined into a mosaic of other information from other detainee interrogations, electronic intercepts, and sources in other countries, to eventually identify bin Laden’s hideout.” American Enterprise Institute

It seems painfully obvious to this reader that Prof. Yoo and Gen. Mukasey are trying to rewrite history, as well as rewrite our laws on interrogation.  There is no evidence torture had anything to do with the finding of and killing of Osama Bin Laden.  Even Senator Lindsey Graham admits to that as does Senator Barbara Feinstein.  Think Progress “Not all Republicans are claiming that bin Laden’s killing vindicates torture. At a Capitol press conference Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stood apart from his colleagues in the GOP. “This idea we caught bin Laden because of waterboarding I think is a misstatement,” he said. “This whole concept of how we caught bin Laden is a lot of work over time by different people and putting the puzzle together. I do not believe this is a time to celebrate waterboarding, I believe this is a time to celebrate hard work.” Talking Points Memo

The Bush Administration officials seem to be attempting to rewrite history by claiming their illegal torture techniques aided in the search for Bin Laden.  In former Attorney Gen. Mukasey and Prof. Yoo’s cases, they are both asserting that torture is effective and that is legal.  That’s right.  According to the Torture Twins, Mukasey and Yoo, they claim that waterboarding is legal.  Although I agree that President Obama has done the country a disservice by not prosecuting the officials who authorized and carried out the torture during the Bush administration, by no means does that inaction make waterboarding legal.  I guess if the Bush apologists keep saying it enough, they hope that Americans will believe them.  Mukasey and Yoo both sold out their souls for their jobs and their President.  I hope they can sleep at night.

Domestic Surveillance Court Approved All 1,506 Warrant Applications in 2010

May 6, 2011

by David Kravets


The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved all 1,506 government requests to electronically monitor suspected “agents” of a foreign power or terrorists on U.S. soil last year, according to a Justice Department report released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The two-page report, which shows about a 13 percent increase in the number of applications for electronic surveillance between 2009 and 2010, was obtained by the Federation of American Scientists and published Friday.

“The FISC did not deny any applications in whole, or in part,” according to the April 19 report to Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).

The 11-member court denied two of 1,329 applications for domestic-intelligence surveillance in 2009. The FBI is the primary agency making those requests.

Whether the FISA court, whose business is conducted behind closed doors, is rubber-stamping the requests is a matter of debate.

“That’s been a traditional concern that the court might have become a rubber stamp and that it’s approval is only a formality,” Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, said by telephone. “The government’s argument, and it’s also an argument that has been made occasionally by the judges, is in fact the Justice Department has grasped the court’s expectations so well that the only applications they submit to the court are ones that are likely to meet its approval.”

The court, set up in 1978, issues warrants for domestic surveillance that are unlike the warrants issued in criminal investigations. The secret court warrants, under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, grant the government broad authority to secretly monitor the electronic communications of persons in the United States, generally for intelligence purposes only.

The targets of a FISA warrant may never learn of the surveillance. Whereas subjects of non-FISA warrants may challenge the warrants and the evidence gathered if it is used in a criminal prosecution.

Aftergood notes that the figures, whether they amount to rubber-stamping or not, do not account for the warrantless monitoring program President George W. Bush adopted in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks. Under the Terror Surveillance Program, exposed in 2005 by The New York Times, the government conceded it was eavesdropping — without warrants — on the electronic communications of Americans if they were communicating with somebody overseas believed linked to terrorism.

The Justice Department report, meanwhile, said the FBI issued 24,287 “national security letter” requests last year on 14,212 people, “a substantial increase from the 2009 level of 14,788 NSL requests concerning 6,114 U.S. persons,” Aftergood wrote in a blog post. In 2008, there were 24,744 requests regarding 7,225 people.

National security letters are written demands from the FBI that compel internet service providers, credit companies, financial institutions and others to hand over confidential records about their customers, such as subscriber information, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, websites visited and more.

They do not require court approval, and the FBI need merely assert that the information is “relevant” to an investigation, and anyone who gets a national security letter is prohibited from even disclosing that they’ve received one.

Here is a link to all 32 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court annual reports to Congress made available by the Federation of American Scie

Food supply at risk of attack by terrorist groups

Food and drink sold in Britain face a growing threat from groups who might try to poison supplies, MI5 has warned.

May 8, 2011

by Richard Gray, Science Correspondent


Industry chiefs have been told that their sector is vulnerable to attacks by ideologically and politically motivated groups, intended to cause widespread casualties and disruption.

The warning comes from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), which operates as part of the Security Service to provide advice to energy, water, food and transport suppliers in the UK.

In the past the main threat of deliberate contamination has been from criminals attempting extortion or from individuals with a grudge, but security officials now fear there is an emerging threat from extremists such as al-Qaeda, dissident Northern Ireland republicans and animal rights fanatics.

The CPNI has now issued guidance to food and drinks producers and major supermarkets asking them to identify their vulnerabilities and to protect their plants and depots against potential attacks.

Steve Barrass, from the CPNI, spoke about the threat at a meeting of food safety experts.

Addressing the spring conference of the Society for General Microbiology, he said: “The UK suffers from a low level of malicious contamination of food by the bad, the mad and the sad.

“Now it has to consider the possibility of food supplies being disrupted by politically motivated groups.”

Although there is extensive food testing carried out in the UK, a document sent to producers warns of a number of threats to the supply chain.

Attackers could contaminate prepared food or drink with bacteria such as E. coli or chemicals, causing consumers to fall sick and even die.

Alternatively, by targeting the basic ingredients that are used in large numbers of popular foods, they could cause even wider panic and disruption.

Experts in the US have warned that the dairy industry is particularly vulnerable as adding just a few grams of botulinum toxin or ricin to a tanker load of milk could kill or hospitalise thousands of consumers.

Milk is also wildly used by food manufacturers and the contaminated milk could end up in thousands of products.

With imported food accounting for much of what Britons eat, the report warns that it is harder to guarantee the security of produce grown abroad and transported to the UK.

The report warns that such attacks could also gravely damage consumer confidence in brands, while causing severe economic harm.

In one example, a major UK producer of pastries was targeted by a malicious attack where peanuts were introduced into the production of a nut-free product.

The factory was shut down for five days and products were removed from sale due to the risk of anaphylactic reactions from allergy sufferers.

A police investigation ruled out accidental causes and the company lost five per cent of its annual sales.

In February, a South African farmer was arrested after allegedly threatening to unleash foot and mouth disease in Britain, causing widespread devastation to the livestock industry.

He was said to have been motivated by a belief that Britain was responsible for allowing Robert Mugabe to inflict losses on the farming industry in Zimbabwe.

The CPNI report warns: “The food and drink industry in the UK – the food sector of the national infrastructure – could be under threat from ideologically motivated groups.

“The threat extends that from criminals who use extortion and from individuals with a grudge. It is different in nature from the (natural) hazards which the industry is well versed in handling. The threat is unlikely to decline in the foreseeable future.

“This could cause mass casualties, economic disruption and widespread panic. In many ways the diversity of the food operations may seem to make the food supply highly vulnerable to attack.”

The report singles out farms as vulnerable because they often employ casual workers from abroad, and urges all businesses to make comprehensive checks on new employees and visiting contractors.

Production facilities should have security and perimeter controls, while unscheduled deliveries should not be accepted, it says.

In the United States, food “bioterrorism” has become a major concern after documents were found in Afghanistan apparently referring to plans by terrorists to contaminate food supplies.

An al-Qaeda group in Yemen that built toner cartridge bombs in an unsuccessful attempt to blow up aircraft last October were also thought to be planning to poison salad bars and buffets in restaurants.

The US now also has special agents stationed in countries that export food to America to monitor vulnerable points where the food supply could be attacked.

Dr Richard Byrne of the Centre for Rural Security at Harper Adams University College in Shropshire, who has carried out research on the threats posed by terrorism to agriculture, said: “The US and Australia are much more publicly aware of the threat from terrorism to the food supply compared to here in the UK.

“Groups could go after consumer health in a short term way by using something like E. coli, or longer term by contaminating with cadmium or radioactive caesium, but the economic impact of an attack on food can have the greatest impact.

“Look at the resources we had to put into tackling foot and mouth – it tied up the police, army, fire service, private contractors and sapped huge amounts of money.”

Professor Tim Lang, a food policy expert at City University, London, added: “Only 60 per cent of our food comes from Britain. That reliance on imported food is a huge vulnerability in the country’s food supply chain.”

Terry Donahoe, head of the chemical safety division at the Food Standards Agency, said: “We have a very robust set of procedures to detect threats and an emerging risks programme to identify risks that might be coming up so we can act at an earlier stage to prevent them from happening.”




The hunger to come in Egypt

May 10, 2011

by Spengler

Asia Times

Egypt is running out of food, and, more gradually, running out of money with which to buy it. The most populous country in the Arab world shows all the symptoms of national bankruptcy – the kind that produced hyperinflation in several Latin American countries during the 1970s and 1980s – with a deadly difference: Egypt imports half its wheat, and the collapse of its external credit means starvation.

The civil violence we have seen over the past few days foreshadows far worse to come.

The Arab uprisings began against a background of food insecurity, as rising demand from Asia priced the Arab poor out of the grain market The chaotic political response, though, threatens to disrupt food supplies in the relative near term. Street violence will become the norm rather than the exception in Egyptian politics. All the discussion about Egypt’s future political model and its prospective relations with Israel will be overshadowed by the country’s inability to feed itself.

Egypt’s political problems – violence against Coptic Christians, the resurgence of Islamism, and saber-rattling at Israel, for example – are not symptoms of economic failure. They have a life of their own. But even Islamists have to eat, and whatever political scenarios that the radical wing of Egyptian politic might envision will be aborted by hunger.

The Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice is already forming “revolutionary committees” to mete out street justice to bakeries, propane dealers and street vendors who “charge more than the price prescribed by law”, the Federation of Egyptian Radio and Television reported on May 3.

According to the ministry, “Thugs are in control of bread and butane prices” and “people’s committees” are required to stop them. Posters on Egyptian news sites report sharp increases in bread prices, far in excess of the 11.5% inflation reported for April by the country’s central bank. And increases in the price of bottled propane have made the cost of the most widely used cooking fuel prohibitive.

The collapse of Egypt’s credit standing, meanwhile, has shut down trade financing for food imports, according to the chairman of the country’s Food Industry Holding Company, Dr Ahmed al-Rakaibi, chairman of the Holding Company for Food Industries. Rakaibi warned of “an acute shortage in the production of food commodities manufactured locally, as well as a decline in imports of many goods, especially poultry, meats and oils”. According to the country’s statistics agency, only a month’s supply of rice is on hand, and four months’ supply of wheat.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen by US$13 billion, or roughly a third during the first three months of the year, Reuters reported on May 5. The country lost $6 billion of official and $7 billion of unofficial reserves, and had only $24.5 billion on hand at the end of April. Capital flight probably explains most of the rapid decline. Egypt’s currency has declined by only about 6% since January, despite substantial capital flight, due to market intervention by the central bank, but the rapid drawdown of reserves is unsustainable.

At this rate Egypt will be broke by September.

Egypt imported $55 billion worth of goods in 2009, but exported only $29 billion of goods. With the jump in food and energy prices, the same volume of imports would cost considerably more. Egypt closed the 2009 trade gap with about $15 billion in tourist revenues, and about $8 billion of remittances from Egyptian workers abroad. But tourism today is running at a fraction of last year’s levels, and remittances are down by around half due to expulsion of Egyptian workers from Libya. Even without capital flight, Egypt is short perhaps $25 billion a year. Price controls and currency depreciation have made it more profitable for wholesalers – including some employees of state companies – to export rice and cooking oil illegally. According to the daily al-Ahram, hoarding of rice by wholesalers has pushed up the price of the grain by 35% this year, while 200 containers per day are sold to Turkey and Syria.

“What is happening,” the newspaper claims, is that that traders are storing basic items such as rice and barley, hoarded in barns and in large quantities, and are reluctant to send it to the rice mills in order to raise the price of this strategic commodity”. The al-Ahram report, headlined, “Conspiracy to Monopolize Rice,” demands physical inspection of containers leaving Egyptian ports.

The rest of the story is predictable. Once the government relies on young men with guns to police its merchants, hoarding will only get worse. The Egyptian revolution has cracked down on the commercial elite that ran the country’s economy for the past 60 years, and the elite will find ways to transfer as much of its wealth to safety as it can. The normal chain of distribution will break down and “revolutionary committees” will take control of increasingly scarce supplies. Farmers won’t get fuel and fertilizer, and domestic supplies will fail.

The Egyptian government will go to the International Monetary Fund and other aid agencies for loans – the government reportedly will ask for $7 billion to tide things over – and foreign money at best will buy a few months’ respite. The currency will collapse; the government will print IOUs to tide things over; and the Egyptian street will reject the IOUs as the country reverts to barter.

It will look like the Latin American banana republics, but without the bananas. That is not meant in jest: few people actually starved to death in the Latin inflations. Egypt, which imports half its wheat and a great deal of the rest of its food, will actually starve.

Revolutions don’t only kill their children. They kill a great many ordinary people. The 1921 famine after the Russian civil war killed an estimated five million people, and casualties on the same scale are quite possible in Egypt as well. Half of Egyptians live on $2 a day, and that $2 is about to collapse along with the national currency, and the result will be a catastrophe of, well, biblical proportions.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. Comment on this article in Spengler’s Expat Bar forum.

An Essay on the Principle of Population

by Thomas Malthus

Chapter 2

The different ratio in which population and food increase - The necessary effects of these different ratios of increase - Oscillation produced by them in the condition of the lower classes of society - Reasons why this oscillation has not been so much observed as might be expected - Three propositions on which the general argument of the Essay depends - The different states in which mankind have been known to exist proposed to be examined with reference to these three propositions.

I SAID that population, when unchecked, increased in a geometrical ratio, and subsistence for man in an arithmetical ratio.

Let us examine whether this position be just. I think it will be allowed, that no state has hitherto existed (at least that we have any account of) where the manners were so pure and simple, and the means of subsistence so abundant, that no check whatever has existed to early marriages, among the lower classes, from a fear of not providing well for their families, or among the higher classes, from a fear of lowering their condition in life. Consequently in no state that we have yet known has the power of population been left to exert itself with perfect freedom.

Whether the law of marriage be instituted or not, the dictate of nature and virtue seems to be an early attachment to one woman. Supposing a liberty of changing in the case of an unfortunate choice, this liberty would not affect population till it arose to a height greatly vicious; and we are now supposing the existence of a society where vice is scarcely known.

In a state therefore of great equality and virtue, where pure and simple manners prevailed, and where the means of subsistence were so abundant that no part of the society could have any fears about providing amply for a family, the power of population being left to exert itself unchecked, the increase of the human species would evidently be much greater than any increase that has been hitherto known.

In the United States of America, where the means of subsistence have been more ample, the manners of the people more pure, and consequently the checks to early marriages fewer, than in any of the modern states of Europe, the population has been found to double itself in twenty-five years.

This ratio of increase, though short of the utmost power of population, yet as the result of actual experience, we will take as our rule, and say, that population, when unchecked, goes on doubling itself every twenty-five years or increases in a geometrical ratio.

Let us now take any spot of earth, this Island for instance, and see in what ratio the subsistence it affords can be supposed to increase. We will begin with it under its present state of cultivation.

If I allow that by the best possible policy, by breaking up more land and by great encouragements to agriculture, the produce of this Island may be doubled in the first twenty-five years, I think it will be allowing as much as any person can well demand.

In the next twenty-five years, it is impossible to suppose that the produce could be quadrupled. It would be contrary to all our knowledge of the qualities of land. The very utmost that we can conceive, is, that the increase in the second twenty-five years might equal the present produce. Let us then take this for our rule, though certainly far beyond the truth, and allow that, by great exertion, the whole produce of the Island might be increased every twenty-five years, by a quantity of subsistence equal to what it at present produces. The most enthusiastic speculator cannot suppose a greater increase than this. In a few centuries it would make every acre of land in the Island like a garden.

Yet this ratio of increase is evidently arithmetical.

It may be fairly said, therefore, that the means of subsistence increase in an arithmetical ratio. Let us now bring the effects of these two ratios together.

The population of the Island is computed to be about seven millions, and we will suppose the present produce equal to the support of such a number. In the first twenty-five years the population would be fourteen millions, and the food being also doubled, the means of subsistence would be equal to this increase. In the next twenty-five years the population would be twenty-eight millions, and the means of subsistence only equal to the support of twenty-one millions. In the next period, the population would be fifty-six millions, and the means of subsistence just sufficient for half that number. And at the conclusion of the first century the population would be one hundred and twelve millions and the means of subsistence only equal to the support of thirty-five millions, which would leave a population of seventy-seven millions totally unprovided for.

A great emigration necessarily implies unhappiness of some kind or other in the country that is deserted. For few persons will leave their families, connections, friends, and native land, to seek a settlement in untried foreign climes, without some strong subsisting causes of uneasiness where they are, or the hope of some great advantages in the place to which they are going.

But to make the argument more general and less interrupted by the partial views of emigration, let us take the whole earth, instead of one spot, and suppose that the restraints to population were universally removed. If the subsistence for man that the earth affords was to be increased every twenty-five years by a quantity equal to what the whole world at present produces, this would allow the power of production in the earth to be absolutely unlimited, and its ratio of increase much greater than we can conceive that any possible exertions of mankind could make it.

Taking the population of the world at any number, a thousand millions, for instance, the human species would increase in the ratio of — 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, etc. and subsistence as — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc. In two centuries and a quarter, the population would be to the means of subsistence as 512 to 10: in three centuries as 4096 to 13, and in two thousand years the difference would be almost incalculable, though the produce in that time would have increased to an immense extent.

No limits whatever are placed to the productions of the earth; they may increase for ever and be greater than any assignable quantity. yet still the power of population being a power of a superior order, the increase of the human species can only be kept commensurate to the increase of the means of subsistence by the constant operation of the strong law of necessity acting as a check upon the greater power.

The effects of this check remain now to be considered.

Among plants and animals the view of the subject is simple. They are all impelled by a powerful instinct to the increase of their species, and this instinct is interrupted by no reasoning or doubts about providing for their offspring. Wherever therefore there is liberty, the power of increase is exerted, and the superabundant effects are repressed afterwards by want of room and nourishment, which is common to animals and plants, and among animals by becoming the prey of others.

The effects of this check on man are more complicated. Impelled to the increase of his species by an equally powerful instinct, reason interrupts his career and asks him whether he may not bring beings into the world for whom he cannot provide the means of subsistence. In a state of equality, this would be the simple question. In the present state of society, other considerations occur. Will he not lower his rank in life? Will he not subject himself to greater difficulties than he at present feels? Will he not be obliged to labour harder? and if he has a large family, will his utmost exertions enable him to support them? May he not see his offspring in rags and misery, and clamouring for bread that he cannot give them? And may he not be reduced to the grating necessity of forfeiting his independence, and of being obliged to the sparing hand of charity for support?

These considerations are calculated to prevent, and certainly do prevent, a very great number in all civilized nations from pursuing the dictate of nature in an early attachment to one woman. And this restraint almost necessarily, though not absolutely so, produces vice. Yet in all societies, even those that are most vicious, the tendency to a virtuous attachment is so strong that there is a constant effort towards an increase of population. This constant effort as constantly tends to subject the lower classes of the society to distress and to prevent any great permanent amelioration of their condition.

The way in which these effects are produced seems to be this. We will suppose the means of subsistence in any country just equal to the easy support of its inhabitants. The constant effort towards population, which is found to act even in the most vicious societies, increases the number of people before the means of subsistence are increased. The food therefore which before supported seven millions must now be divided among seven millions and a half or eight millions. The poor consequently must live much worse, and many of them be reduced to severe distress. The number of labourers also being above the proportion of the work in the market, the price of labour must tend toward a decrease, while the price of provisions would at the same time tend to rise. The labourer therefore must work harder to earn the same as he did before. During this season of distress, the discouragements to marriage, and the difficulty of rearing a family are so great that population is at a stand. In the mean time the cheapness of labour, the plenty of labourers, and the necessity of an increased industry amongst them, encourage cultivators to employ more labour upon their land, to turn up fresh soil, and to manure and improve more completely what is already in tillage, till ultimately the means of subsistence become in the same proportion to the population as at the period from which we set out. The situation of the labourer being then again tolerably comfortable, the restraints to population are in some degree loosened, and the same retrograde and progressive movements with respect to happiness are repeated.

This sort of oscillation will not be remarked by superficial observers, and it may be difficult even for the most penetrating mind to calculate its periods. Yet that in all old states some such vibration does exist, though from various transverse causes, in a much less marked, and in a much more irregular manner than I have described it, no reflecting man who considers the subject deeply can well doubt.

Many reasons occur why this oscillation has been less obvious, and less decidedly confirmed by experience, than might naturally be expected.

One principal reason is that the histories of mankind that we possess are histories only of the higher classes. We have but few accounts that can be depended upon of the manners and customs of that part of mankind where these retrograde and progressive movements chiefly take place. A satisfactory history of this kind, on one people, and of one period, would require the constant and minute attention of an observing mind during a long life. Some of the objects of inquiry would be, in what proportion to the number of adults was the number of marriages, to what extent vicious customs prevailed in consequence of the restraints upon matrimony, what was the comparative mortality among the children of the most distressed part of the community and those who lived rather more at their ease, what were the variations in the real price of labour, and what were the observable differences in the state of the lower classes of society with respect to ease and happiness, at different times during a certain period.

Such a history would tend greatly to elucidate the manner in which the constant check upon population acts and would probably prove the existence of the retrograde and progressive movements that have been mentioned, though the times of their vibrations must necessarily be rendered irregular from the operation of many interrupting causes, such as the introduction or failure of certain manufactures, a greater or less prevalent spirit of agricultural enterprise, years of plenty, or years of scarcity, wars and pestilence, poor laws, the invention of processes for shortening labour without the proportional extension of the market for the commodity, and, particularly, the difference between the nominal and real price of labour, a circumstance which has perhaps more than any other contributed to conceal this oscillation from common view.

It very rarely happens that the nominal price of labour universally falls, but we well know that it frequently remains the same, while the nominal price of provisions has been gradually increasing. This is, in effect, a real fall in the price of labour, and during this period the condition of the lower orders of the community must gradually grow worse and worse. But the farmers and capitalists are growing rich from the real cheapness of labour. Their increased capitals enable them to employ a greater number of men. Work therefore may be plentiful, and the price of labour would consequently rise. But the want of freedom in the market of labour, which occurs more or less in all communities, either from parish laws, or the more general cause of the facility of combination among the rich, and its difficulty among the poor, operates to prevent the price of labour from rising at the natural period, and keeps it down some time longer; perhaps till a year of scarcity, when the clamour is too loud and the necessity too apparent to be resisted.

The true cause of the advance in the price of labour is thus concealed, and the rich affect to grant it as an act of compassion and favour to the poor, in consideration of a year of scarcity, and, when plenty returns, indulge themselves in the most unreasonable of all complaints, that the price does not again fall, when a little rejection would shew them that it must have risen long before but from an unjust conspiracy of their own.

But though the rich by unfair combinations contribute frequently to prolong a season of distress among the poor, yet no possible form of society could prevent the almost constant action of misery upon a great part of mankind, if in a state of inequality, and upon all, if all were equal.

The theory on which the truth of this position depends appears to me so extremely clear that I feel at a loss to conjecture what part of it can be denied.

That population cannot increase without the means of subsistence is a proposition so evident that it needs no illustration.

That population does invariably increase where there are the means of subsistence, the history of every people that have ever existed will abundantly prove.

And that the superior power of population cannot be checked without producing misery or vice, the ample portion of these too bitter ingredients in the cup of human life and the continuance of the physical causes that seem to have produced them bear too convincing a testimony.

But, in order more fully to ascertain the validity of these three propositions, let us examine the different states in which mankind have been known to exist. Even a cursory review will, I think, be sufficient to convince us that these propositions are incontrovertible truths.

The Audacity of Genetically Modified Foods

May 8, 2011

by Bruce Robinson

the Boulder Daily Camera (Colorado)

The biotech industry, led by Monsanto, promotes the idea that the arguments about genetically modified crops should focus on the science and the economics as Monsanto sees them. I maintain that the real discussion should be about the audacity and illegitimate way GM crops have been forced on a reluctant United States and world — the money, corruption, politics and obfuscation that characterize its rise to dominance. The discussion should focus on how GM crops have taken over our food supply with little concern for safety or our right to choose.

Does it bother you that we consumers are largely unaware that 70 percent to 80 percent of the processed foods we buy contain GM ingredients? We are “largely unaware” because these foods are not labeled — even though 90 percent of Americans want them labeled and think that we have the right to know what is in our food. The biotech industry fights labeling viciously because they know that, if GM foods were labeled, many would refuse to buy them as is the case in Europe. It`s not financial considerations that leave us with no choice; it`s our lack of awareness that allows them to take advantage of us. How many realize that Kraft Mac & Cheese is non-GM in Europe but does contain GM ingredients in the United States?

Our regulatory bodies and government are staffed with pro-GM people, a veritable revolving door. Michael Taylor, a Monsanto lawyer, moved from Monsanto to the Food and Drug Administration where he wrote the rules that were used to justify the release of Monsanto`s bovine growth hormone RBGH. He then returned to Monsanto as vice president. He currently is the FDA deputy commissioner for foods — not the best place for a person with such apparent bias. And Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, previously general counsel for Monsanto, supported a ruling that GM alfalfa could be released. He does not recuse himself in cases like this involving conflict of interest.

There are minimal requirements for independent testing of GM crops and foods. Testing is left to the biotech companies who then choose which tests to submit to our regulatory bodies. This results from the gift of “substantial equivalence” that says we don`t need to do thorough testing because GM crops are substantially equivalent to regular crops. But how can we know they are substantially equivalent if we don`t thoroughly test them? Who do our regulatory bodies represent? Aren’t they in place to protect our health? Shouldn’t they be doing or overseeing the testing in our interest?

There is significant correlation between the increase in incidence of serious health problems and the introduction of various GM crops into our foods. Check out Robyn O`Brien`s “The Unhealthy Truth.” Why would the incidence of peanut allergies begin increasing 20 percent yearly just after GM soy came into widespread use in the United States in 1996? Why would the incidence of soy allergies increase by 50 percent in 1998, the year GM soy was introduced in the United Kingdom? Correlation is not the same as cause and effect but determining cause is almost impossible when foods are not labeled.

What can we learn from the numerous cases where wild or domestic animals refuse to eat GM crops but willingly eat the non-GM equivalent? Even more drastic are the cases of animals dying following their consumption of GM crops — not only lab test animals but farm animals. Obviously changes are occurring within the plant that go way beyond what was intended. I remember a statement from Chris Bright that “nature is a system of unfathomable complexity.” Any messing with it should proceed with much greater caution than we are seeing today.

Roundup Ready GM alfalfa has been approved by the Department of Agriculture and is about to be grown large scale and will become the food for much of our meat and dairy animals. Alfalfa is water-intensive and has no significant weed problem while being extremely effective at contaminating other crops. I think this counter-intuitive agriculture policy is indicative of the revolving door and its attendant corruption.

Dominance of GM crops and food results in suppressing the growth of organic agriculture as well as traditional, non-GM, agriculture. Contamination, super weeds and constant efforts to weaken organic standards truly threaten the vibrant organic food industry in Colorado and the nation.

Monsanto and the biotech industry are well on their way to controlling the world`s seed markets. This, together with the lack of labeling, denies us freedom of choice in what we buy. It also dominates and controls farmers worldwide — what they plant and how they operate.

Our favorite fruits, vegetables and grains are being readied for the GM market that views us as guinea pigs. Why are we and our elected representatives allowing them to do this to us? I highly recommend “Seeds of Deception” by Jeffrey Smith as well as his Web site: responsibletechnology.org. Resistance to GM foods is increasing rapidly and this Web site offers strategies and tools for involvement in this critical issue.

‘Peeved’ Pakistan exposes CIA chief Mark Carlton

May 10, 2011

The Times

US-Pakistan relations have hit a new crisis with the outing of the US’s top spy in Islamabad.

Mark Carlton, the purported CIA station chief, was named by a Pakistani newspaper and a private television news network over the weekend, the second holder of that post in less than a year to have his cover blown by the media, presumably with official consent.

The first report by ARY, a private Pakistani television channel, documented a meeting between Mr Carlton and the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, suggesting that the information came from them.

The CIA and the ISI have refused to comment.

Some US officials suspected the move was ISI retaliation for the naming of its chief, Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, in a US lawsuit relating to the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Since then, Pakistan and the CIA have tussled over a CIA contractor’s shooting of two armed Pakistanis under disputed circumstances.

The Islamabad station chief is one of the CIA’s most critical and sensitive assignments. The position oversees the agency’s covert programs, including the drone campaign that targets al-Qa’ida and Taliban leaders, as well as fighters who cross the border into Afghanistan.

The purported name of the CIA’s station chief was first reported on Friday by ARY. The station was reporting on a meeting between the director of Pakistan’s spy service, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence and the station chief.

“If we did not mention the man’s name, the credibility of the story would have been reduced,” said ARY’s Islamabad bureau chief, Sabir Shakir.

Shakir wouldn’t discuss who had provided the name, but said he had “one-plus” sources.

The story was picked up by the Nation, a right-wing newspaper that has often accused American diplomats and private citizens in Pakistan of working for the CIA. The Nation’s editor, Salim Bokhari, said he didn’t know how the name became public.

“It has to have been released by some government agency,” Bokhari said. “Who else would know such information?”

A former senior US intelligence official said any outing of agents would be Pakistan’s “own little way of retaliating,” given how “very, very upset and embarrassed” the government remains over the raid in Abbottabad and its aftermath. Pakistan has long been uncomfortable with the extent of CIA operations inside the country even before the bin Laden raid and revelations about a secret CIA station in Abbottabad.

Raymond Davis, a CIA agent, spent months in jail in Lahore after shooting two men, believed to be ISI officers tailing him, before Washington could secure his release. Mr Carlton’s predecessor had to flee Pakistan last year after his identity was exposed in the Pakistani press. If the revelation about his identity is correct, Mr Carlton will have almost certainly already left the country, dealing a further blow to US intelligence operations there.

McEconomy: Is America’s Middle Class Doomed to Low-Wage Jobs and a Poor Standard of Living?

Increasing numbers of people are flipping burgers, answering telephones, engaged in child care, mopping hallways, and in other low-wage lines of work.

May 8, 2011

by Andy Kroll


Think of it as a parable for these grim economic times. On April 19th, McDonald’s launched its first-ever national hiring day, signing up 62,000 new workers at stores throughout the country. For some context, that’s more jobs created by one company in a single day than the net job creation of the entire U.S. economy in 2009. And if that boggles the mind, consider how many workers applied to local McDonald’s franchises that day and left empty-handed: 938,000 of them. With a 6.2% acceptance rate in its spring hiring blitz, McDonald’s was more selective than the Princeton, Stanford, or Yale University admission offices.

It shouldn’t be surprising that a million souls flocked to McDonald’s hoping for a steady paycheck, when nearly 14 million Americans are out of work and nearly a million more are too discouraged even to look for a job. At this point, it apparently made no difference to them that the fast-food industry pays some of the lowest wages around: on average, $8.89 an hour, or barely half the $15.95 hourly average across all American industries.

On an annual basis, the average fast-food worker takes home $20,800, less than half the national average of $43,400. McDonald’s appears to pay even worse, at least with its newest hires. In the press release for its national hiring day, the multi-billion-dollar company said it would spend $518 million on the newest round of hires, or $8,354 a head. Hence the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “McJob” as “a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement.”

Of course, if you read only the headlines, you might think that the jobs picture was improving. The economy added 1.3 million private-sector jobs between February 2010 and January 2011, and the headline unemployment rate edged downward, from 9.8% to 8.8%, between November of last year and March. It inched upward in April, to 9%, but tempering that increase was the news that the economy added 244,000 jobs last month (not including those 62,000 McJobs), beating economists’ expectations.

Under this somewhat sunnier news, however, runs a far darker undercurrent. Yes, jobs are being created, but what kinds of jobs paying what kinds of wages?  Can those jobs sustain a modest lifestyle and pay the bills? Or are we living through a McJobs recovery?

The Rise of the McWorker

The evidence points to the latter. According to a recent analysis by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the biggest growth in private-sector job creation in the past year occurred in positions in the low-wage retail, administrative, and food service sectors of the economy. While 23% of the jobs lost in the Great Recession that followed the economic meltdown of 2008 were “low-wage”  (those paying $9-$13 an hour), 49% of new jobs added in the sluggish “recovery” are in those same low-wage industries. On the other end of the spectrum, 40% of the jobs lost paid high wages ($19-$31 an hour), while a mere 14% of new jobs pay similarly high wages.

As a point of comparison, that’s much worse than in the recession of 2001 after the high-tech bubble burst.  Then, higher wage jobs made up almost a third of all new jobs in the first year after the crisis.

The hardest hit industries in terms of employment now are finance, manufacturing, and especially construction, which was decimated when the housing bubble burst in 2007 and has yet to recover. Meanwhile, NELP found that hiring for temporary administrative and waste-management jobs, health-care jobs, and of course those fast-food restaurants has surged.

Indeed in 2010, one in four jobs added by private employers was a temporary job, which usually provides workers with few benefits and even less job security. It’s not surprising that employers would first rely on temporary hires as they regained their footing after a colossal financial crisis. But this time aroundcompanies have taken on temp workers in far greater numbers than after previous downturns.  Where 26% of hires in 2010 were temporary, the figure was 11% after the early-1990s recession and only 7% after the downturn of 2001.

As many labor economists have begun to point out, we’re witnessing an increasing polarization of the U.S. economy over the past three decades. More and more, we’re seeing labor growth largely at opposite ends of the skills-and-wages spectrum — among, that is, the best and the worst kinds of jobs.

At one end of job growth, you have increasing numbers of people flipping burgers, answering telephones, engaged in child care, mopping hallways, and in other low-wage lines of work. At the other end, you have increasing numbers of engineers, doctors, lawyers, and people in high-wage “creative” careers. What’s disappearing is the middle, the decent-paying jobs that helped expand the American middle class in the mid-twentieth century and that, if the present lopsided recovery is any indication, are now going the way of typewriters and landline telephones.

Because the shape of the workforce increasingly looks fat on both ends and thin in the middle, economists have begun to speak of “the barbell effect,” which for those clinging to a middle-class existence in bad times means a nightmare life.  For one thing, the shape of the workforce now hinders America’s once vaunted upward mobility.  It’s the downhill slope that’s largely available these days.

The barbell effect has also created staggering levels of income inequality of a sort not known since the decades before the Great Depression. From 1979 to 2007, for the middle class, average household income (after taxes) nudged upward from $44,100 to $55,300; by contrast, for the top 1%, average household income soared from $346,600 in 1979 to nearly $1.3 million in 2007. That is, super-rich families saw their earnings increase 11 times faster than middle-class families.

What’s causing this polarization? An obvious culprit is technology. As MIT economist David Autor notes, the tasks of “organizing, storing, retrieving, and manipulating information” that humans once performed are now computerized. And when computers can’t handle more basic clerical work, employers ship those jobs overseas where labor is cheaper and benefits nonexistent.

Another factor is education. In today’s barbell economy, degrees and diplomas have never mattered more, which means that those with just a high school education increasingly find themselves locked into the low-wage end of the labor market with little hope for better. Worse yet, the pay gap between the well-educated and not-so-educated continues to widen: in 1979, the hourly wage of a typical college graduate was 1.5 times higher than that of a typical high-school graduate; by 2009, it was almost two times higher.

Considering, then, that the percentage of men ages 25 to 34 who have gone to college is actually decreasing, it’s not surprising that wage inequality has gotten worse in the U.S. As Autor writes, advanced economies like ours “depend on their best-educated workers to develop and commercialize the innovative ideas that drive economic growth.”

The distorting effects of the barbell economy aren’t lost on ordinary Americans. In a recent Gallup poll, a majority of people agreed that the country was still in either a depression (29%) or a recession (26%).  When sorted out by income, however, those making $75,000 or more a year are, not surprisingly, most likely to believe the economy is in neither a recession nor a depression, but growing.  After all, they’re the ones most likely to have benefited from a soaring stock market and the return to profitability of both corporate America and Wall Street. In Gallup’s middle-income group, by contrast, 55% of respondents claim the economy is in trouble. They’re still waiting for their recovery to arrive.

The Slow Fade of Big Labor

The big-picture economic changes described by Autor and others, however, don’t tell the entire story. There’s a significant political component to the hollowing out of the American labor force and the impoverishment of the middle class: the slow fade of organized labor. Since the 1950s, the clout of unions in the public and private sectors has waned, their membership has dwindled, and their political influence has weakened considerably. Long gone are the days when powerful union bosses — the AFL-CIO’s George Meany or the UAW’s Walter Reuther — had the ear of just about any president.

As Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum has written, in the 1960s and 1970s a rift developed between big labor and the Democratic Party. Unions recoiled in disgust at what they perceived to be the “motley collection of shaggy kids, newly assertive women, and goo-goo academics” who had begun to supplant organized labor in the Party. In 1972, the influential AFL-CIO symbolically distanced itself from the Democrats by refusing to endorse their nominee for president, George McGovern.

All the while, big business was mobilizing, banding together to form massive advocacy groups such as the Business Roundtable and shaping the staid U.S. Chamber of Commerce into a ferocious lobbying machine. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Democratic Party drifted rightward and toward an increasingly powerful and financially focused business community, creating the Democratic Leadership Council, an olive branch of sorts to corporate America. “It’s not that the working class [had] abandoned Democrats,” Drum wrote. “It’s just the opposite: The Democratic Party [had] largely abandoned the working class.”

The GOP, of course, has a long history of battling organized labor, and nowhere has that been clearer than in the party’s recent assault on workers’ rights. Swept in by a tide of Republican support in 2010, new GOP majorities in state legislatures from Wisconsin to Tennessee to New Hampshire have introduced bills meant to roll back decades’ worth of collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions, the last bastion of organized labor still standing (somewhat) strong.

The political calculus behind the war on public-sector unions is obvious: kneecap them and you knock out a major pillar of support for the Democratic Party.  In the 2010 midterm elections, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) spent nearly $90 million on TV ads, phone banking, mailings, and other support for Democratic candidates. The anti-union legislation being pushed by Republicans would inflict serious damage on AFSCME and other public-sector unions by making it harder for them to retain members and weakening their clout at the bargaining table.

And as shown by the latest state to join the anti-union fray, it’s not just Republicans chipping away at workers’ rights anymore. In Massachusetts, a staunchly liberal state, the Democratic-led State Assembly recently voted to curb collective bargaining rights on heath-care benefits for teachers, firefighters, and a host of other public-sector employees.

Bargaining-table clout is crucial for unions, since it directly affects the wages their members take home every month. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union workers pocket on average $200 more per week than their non-union counterparts, a 28% percent difference. The benefits of union representation are even greater for women and people of color: women in unions make 34% more than their non-unionized counterparts, and Latino workers nearly 51% more.

In other words, at precisely the moment when middle-class workers need strong bargaining rights so they can fight to preserve a living wage in a barbell economy, unions around the country face the grim prospect of losing those rights.

All of which raises the questions: Is there any way to revive the American middle class and reshape income distribution in our barbell nation?  Or will this warped recovery of ours pave the way for an even more warped McEconomy, with the have-nots at one end, the have-it-alls at the other end, and increasinglyless of us in between?

Andy Kroll is a reporter in the D.C. bureau of Mother Jones magazine and an associate editor at TomDispatch. The son of two teachers, he grew up in a firmly — and happily — middle-class household. His email is andykroll (at) motherjones (dot) com.

Wall Street Journal Launches Phoney Wikileaks Clone

May 8, 2011

by Noel Brinkerhoff


SafeHouse, The Wall Street Journal’s answer to WikiLeaks, did not get off to a good start with the whistleblowing community.

SafeHouse is supposed to be a place where people can anonymously expose corporate “fraud, abuse and other wrongdoing.” However, after launching SafeHouse this week, the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper received a barrage of criticism for putting together a technically-weak website that can expose the identity of individuals submitting sensitive information.

One encryption analyst described SafeHouse as a “total anonymity failure,” while other experts said the website needed “basic improvements” that should have been addressed before launching.

But the major inherent weakness in SafeHouse can be found in the site’s terms and conditions. Under the Limitations section, the Journal says it reserves “the right to disclose any information about you to law enforcement authorities or to a requesting third party, without notice, in order to comply with any applicable laws and/or requests under legal process, to operate our systems properly, to protect the property or rights of Dow Jones or any affiliated companies, and to safeguard the interests of others.”

Comment: Poor Rupert Murdoch. Alzheimers’s is such a tragedy. First Glen Beck and now this! And no one put together a technically weak website. Like Google, ATT, SBC and many other firms and entities, the Wall Street Journal and Rupert have volunteered to help our investigatige organs spy and disseminate false information. If the White House said that bin Laden was running around in a clown suit before the sadist SEALS shot him, the New York Times would have the story, just as it was given to them, right on the front page, above the fold and with interesting and well-written stories on the inside. Ed.-

Conversations with the Crow

When the CIA discovered that their former Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs, Robert  T. Crowley, had been talking with author Gregory Douglas, they became fearful (because of what Crowley knew) and outraged (because they knew Douglas would publish eventually) and made many efforts to silence Crowley, mostly by having dozens of FBI agents call or visit him at his Washington home and try to convince him to stop talking to Douglas, whom they considered to be an evil, loose cannon.

Crowley did not listen to them (no one else ever does, either) and Douglas made through shorthand notes of each and every one of their many conversation. TBR News published most of these (some of the really vile ones were left out of the book but will be included on this site as a later addendum ) and the entire collection was later produced as an Ebook.

Now, we reliably learn, various Washington alphabet agencies are trying to find a way to block the circulation of this highly negative, entertaining and dangerous work, so to show our solidarity with our beloved leaders and protectors, and our sincere appreciation for their corrupt and coercive actions, we are going to reprint the entire work, chapter by chapter. (The complete book can be obtained by going to:


Here is the seventy second chapter

Conversation No. 72

Date: Sunday, March 2, 1997

Commenced: 1:45 PM CST

Concluded: 2:05 PM CST

GD: That’s either a vacuum cleaner in the background or the Martians are attacking.

RTC: I hate to disappoint you, Gregory. It’s indeed a vacuum cleaner.

GD: Well, we have spoken about flying saucers before so I thought you might have had a run in with them. It’s amazing, the stories people believe.

RTC: Or they want to believe.

GD: Well, crazy old L. Ron Hubbard tells us that his special people, the Thetans, were flown here from outer space in DC3s.

RTC: No, not that. In what? Piston engined aircraft? From….there is no atmosphere up there.

GD: Hubbard started Scientology in the early ‘50s and his writings are full of such silliness.

RTC: A crock of shit, all of it. Still, we were watching him when he was gadding around the Med in an old tub. No one had any idea what the old nut was up to and we knew he had KGB contacts. Not that he was pro-Commie but he was one of those people who believe his own nonsense and the Russians love to get their hands on such like. Stroke him like a cat and get him to work with them. They’re smart and he’s not. We knew his high command was full of foreign agents but we had a hell of a time getting at him. Very well protected. The KGB and the Stasi for sure and we think the Chinks had a hand in the game. The FBI had some snitches planted on him but the whole thing was like play time in a nut house. Still, the old fool made hundreds of millions of dollars of the sucker brigades and it is very hard to argue with that kind of scratch.

GD: Agreed. I am still trying to make up my mind whether Hubbard was a visionary or a self-deluded crook. Your people viewed him as a spy?
RTC: No, we did not but we felt he could do a lot of damage if we didn’t keep an eye on him.

GD: Did you?

RTC: Yes, we planted people with him. Strange, Gregory. The Company, the FBI, the KGB, the Stasi and others all used to work together, all playing roles. We mostly knew who the others were but just never mentioned.

GD: Hubbard died under odd circumstances out in California.

RTC: He was removed, Gregory. The old man was going around the bend and those just under him were afraid he would blow it and they would be kicked out, away from huge sums of money and with the money, growing political power.  One injection of the wrong kind and off he went to flying saucer heaven in the sky. They cremated the old man and dumped him into the ocean off the back of a fishing boat.

GD: Sic Gloria transit mundi.

RTC: Oh yes indeed..

GD: A friend of mine’s grandmother was cubically rich but getting really soft and the Scientologists got their hands on her. They wanted her to give all her money to them so my friend, knowing what I really am, came to me for assistance.

RTC: How much did you get out of it?
GD: You assume I was successful in driving them off.

RTC: That’s a given.

GD: I had a terrible time, especially with Linda. She was a vicious bitch and had her hooks into the old lady very deeply. I met her several times, passed off by my friend as a nephew. God, she hated me because she could see I didn’t believe a word of her nonsense. I had my problems with that one, believe it. First off, I got the old lady to like and trust me. Believe me, I can do that when I want to. Anyway, I got a power of attorney from her, put all her money into an iron-clad trust with the interest going to her and a percentage to her grandson. I mean she was a very decent person but talking to dead relatives and losing bladder control. I got her into a really excellent nursing home that I inspected very carefully. I used to work for Catholic Charities and I know something about nursing homes. Anyway, I made sure the old girl was safe and then I dealt with Linda. She was livid with rage over my presence so I had to neutralize her. It took a baggie of heroin under the front seat of her car, a silenced pistol in the trunk and two telephone calls and Linda was trying to convert people in her cellblock.

RTC: I thought you might have dispatched her to be with Hubbard.

GD: I thought about it but it wasn’t worth it. The old lady was safe and sound and her grandson was set for life. Of course he was more than generous to me for my work but I got quite a view of the working side of the Scientology game. Very effective what with the e-meter and the gabble. A lot of pitiful dimwits running around, looking for answers from someone else. Linda bit a federal agent so they added assault to her ticket.

RTC: I take it you disapprove of the Scientologists?

GD: No, actually I don’t. I believe that everyone should find Heaven in their own way. But not on my front porch and not pushing money into the pockets of thieving politicians . I have Mormon friends and I have the highest regard for their family life. Fine people with well-raised, first class children. They have very strange beliefs but I pay more attention to what they practice rather than what they preach.

RTC: Lots of LDS people in the Bureau.

GD: High minded and honest. I have no problem with that. The problem with cults like Scientology is that they want everyone to see what they see, or think they see, and they grab you by the lapels and shout in your face…and leave literature behind. I’m a practicing agnostic and a pragmatist, Robert, but from time to time, I have to deal with nasty people like Linda. I knew a fellow that was great company until I learned that he was sexually abusing his children. It took me two weeks of hard work, Robert, but he got caught and sent off. Rob an insurance company or a bank and you get no response from me but mess with little children and you can believe me when I say that I will do everything in my power to stop it. Since I am ruthless and have no conscience whatsoever, I am usually successful. Oh yes, and going after crazy old ladies is another of my annoyances. Linda did three years and although I have not encountered her after her fall from grace, I would imagine she goes a bit more quietly now.

RTC: Given all of that, what would you do if she ran up on you now?

GD: Kill her, Robert, very dead. Take the remains out to a big hog farm and toss them over the fence. Hogs will eat anything, even dead Scientologists.

RTC: They tell me hogs are smart.

GD: They are indeed but they are a wonderful garbage disposal system. And there Linda would be…and there Linda would be…and over there, that’s Linda too! What a fate, Robert. Steaming piles of hog turds in the mud.

RTC: Gregory, you are indeed rather unique. Have you done the hog farm thing?

GD: Only God and the hogs know that one. Ask and it shall not be answered but sniff and you might find.

(Concluded at 2:05PM CST)

Dramatis personae:

James Jesus Angleton: Once head of the CIA’s Counterintelligence division, later fired because of his obsessive and illegal behavior, tapping the phones of many important government officials in search of elusive Soviet spies. A good friend of Robert Crowley and a co-conspirator with him in the assassination of President Kennedy

James P. Atwood: (April 16, 1930-April 20, 1997) A CIA employee, located in Berlin, Atwood had a most interesting career. He worked for any other intelligence agency, domestic or foreign, that would pay him, was involved in selling surplus Russian atomic artillery shells to the Pakistan government and was also most successful in the manufacturing of counterfeit German dress daggers. Too talkative, Atwood eventually had a sudden, and fatal, “seizure” while lunching with CIA associates.

William Corson: A Marine Corps Colonel and President Carter’s representative to the CIA. A friend of Crowley and Kimmel, Corson was an intelligent man whose main failing was a frantic desire to be seen as an important person. This led to his making fictional or highly exaggerated claims.

John Costello: A British historian who was popular with revisionist circles. Died of AIDS on a trans-Atlantic flight to the United States.

James Critchfield: Former U.S. Army Colonel who worked for the CIA and organizaed the Cehlen Org. at Pullach, Germany. This organization was filled to the Plimsoll line with former Gestapo and SD personnel, many of whom were wanted for various purported crimes. He hired Heinrich Müller in 1948 and went on to represent the CIA in the Persian Gulf.

Robert T. Crowley: Once the deputy director of Clandestine Operations and head of the group that interacted with corporate America. A former West Point football player who was one of the founders of the original CIA. Crowley was involved at a very high level with many of the machinations of the CIA.

Gregory Douglas: A retired newspaperman, onetime friend of Heinrich Müller and latterly, of Robert Crowley. Inherited stacks of files from the former (along with many interesting works of art acquired during the war and even more papers from Robert Crowley.) Lives comfortably in a nice house overlooking the Mediterranean.

Reinhard Gehlen: A retired German general who had once been in charge of the intelligence for the German high command on Russian military activities. Fired by Hitler for incompetence, he was therefore naturally hired by first, the U.S. Army and then, as his level of incompetence rose, with the CIA. His Nazi-stuffed organizaion eventually became the current German Bundes Nachrichten Dienst.

Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr: A grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel, Naval commander at Pearl Harbor who was scapegoated after the Japanese attack. Kimmel was a senior FBI official who knew both Gregory Douglas and Robert Crowley and made a number of attempts to discourage Crowley from talking with Douglas. He was singularly unsuccessful. Kimmel subsequently retired, lives in Florida, and works for the CIA as an “advisor.”

Willi Krichbaum: A Senior Colonel (Oberführer) in the SS, head of the wartime Secret Field Police of the German Army and Heinrich Müller’s standing deputy in the Gestapo. After the war, Krichbaum went to work for the Critchfield organization and was their chief recruiter and hired many of his former SS friends. Krichbaum put Critchfield in touch with Müller in 1948.

Heinrich Müller: A former military pilot in the Bavarian Army in WWI, Müller  became a political police officer in Munich and was later made the head of the Secret State Police or Gestapo. After the war, Müller escaped to Switzerland where he worked for Swiss intelligence as a specialist on Communist espionage and was hired by James Critchfield, head of the Gehlen Organization, in 1948. Müller subsequently was moved to Washington where he worked for the CIA until he retired.

Joseph Trento: A writer on intelligence subjects, Trento and his wife “assisted” both Crowley and Corson in writing a book on the Russian KGB. Trento believed that he would inherit all of Crowley’s extensive files but after Crowley’s death, he discovered that the files had been gutted and the most important, and sensitive, ones given to Gregory Douglas. Trento was not happy about this. Neither were his employers.

Frank Wisner: A Founding Father of the CIA who promised much to the Hungarian and then failed them. First, a raging lunatic who was removed from Langley, screaming, in a strait jacket and later, blowing off the top of his head with a shotgun.

Robert Wolfe: A retired librarian from the National Archives who worked closely with the CIA on covering up embarrassing historical material in the files of the Archives. A strong supporter of holocaust writers specializing in creative writing

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