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TBR News May 28, 2020

May 27 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. May 28, 2020: Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the plac e to discuss it.”
Comment for May 28, 2020 : By his mindless threats to shut down social media because Twitter dared to criticize him, Trump has antogainzed the enormous number of people who use social media on a regular basis. This is a clear example of his instability and lack of any kind of understanding of politics or people. He can’t shut down Facebook, Twitter or other sites and his staff, at least the sane ones, know it but no one dares to tell Trump anything that counters his erratic beliefs. Termination and shouting always follows such behavior. One of these days, he will turn a light blue and fall heavily onto the floor and we will all have a ten second period of mourning.”

The Table of Contents
The Wuhan Hoax
• Nord Stream 2 Pipeline is Nearing Its Endgame
• Trump threatens to shutter social media companies after Twitter warning
• Trump threatens social media after Twitter puts warning on his false claims
• Trump: I Can and Will Start Wars Whenever I Please
• 2001-2014: Russians Own Over $98 Million in Trump Properties in Florida
• Trump and Bayrock
• Revealed: conservative group fighting to restrict voting tied to powerful dark money network
• Partners in Crime
• Accidents on Purpose
• Stalin’s Intelligence Game
• Encyclopedia of American Loons

The Wuhan Hoax
Covid-19 and Trump’s War on the U.S. Intelligence Community
by Bob Dreyfuss
TomDispatch
There’s a meme that appears now and then on Facebook and other social media: “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Yet those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it.”
That’s funny. What’s not is that the Trump administration and its coterie of China-bashers, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and aided by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, have recently been dusting off the fake-intelligence playbook Vice President Dick Cheney used in 2002 and 2003 to justify war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. At that time, the administration of President George W. Bush put enormous pressure on the U.S. intelligence community to ratify spurious allegations that Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaeda and that his regime had assembled an arsenal of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Fantasy claims they may have been, but they did help to convince many skeptical conservatives and spooked liberals that a unilateral, illegal invasion of Iraq was urgently needed.
This time around, it’s the Trump administration’s reckless charge that Covid-19 — maybe manmade, maybe not, advocates of this conspiracy theory argue — was released perhaps deliberately, perhaps by accident from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, the city that was the epicenter of the outbreak late last year. It’s a story that has ricocheted around the echo chambers of the far right, from conspiracy-oriented Internet kooks like Infowars’ Alex Jones to semi-respectable media tribunes and radio talk-show hosts to the very highest reaches of the administration itself, including President Trump.
Unlike with Iraq in 2003, the U.S. isn’t planning on going to war with China, at least not yet. But the Trump administration’s zeal in shifting attention from its own bungling of the Covid-19 crisis to China’s alleged culpability in creating a global pandemic only raises tensions precipitously between the planet’s two great powers at a terrible moment. In the process, it essentially ensures that the two countries will be far less likely to cooperate in managing the long-term pandemic or collaboratively working on vaccines and cures. That makes it, as in 2002-2003, a matter of life and death.
Iraq Redux?
Back in 2002, the Bush administration launched an unending campaign of pressure on the CIA and other intelligence agencies to falsify, distort, and cherry-pick intelligence factoids that could be collated into a package linking al-Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad. At the Pentagon, neoconservatives like Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith set up an ad hoc team that eventually took on the name of Office of Special Plans. It was dedicated to fabricating intelligence on Iraq.
Just in case the message didn’t get across, Vice President Cheney made repeated visits to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to badger analysts to come up with something useful. In 2003, in “The Lie Factory,” which I co-authored with Jason Vest for Mother Jones, we reported on how Wolfowitz, Feith, allied Defense Department officials like Harold Rhode, and neoconservative apparatchiks like David Wurmser, then a senior adviser to Iraq-war-touting State Department Undersecretary John Bolton (and now an unofficial advisor to Donald Trump on Iran), actively worked to purge Pentagon and CIA officials who resisted the push to shape or exaggerate intelligence. A year later, veteran spy-watcher James Bamford described the whole episode in excruciating detail in his 2004 book, A Pretext for War.
In 2020, however, President Trump is not just pressuring the intelligence community, or IC. He’s at war with it and has been busy installing unprofessional know-nothings and sycophants in top positions there. His bitter antipathy began even before he was sworn into office, when he repeatedly refused to believe a sober analysis from the IC, including the CIA and FBI, that President Vladimir Putin of Russia had aided and abetted his election. Since then, he’s continually railed and tweeted against what he calls “the deep state.” And he’s assigned his authoritarian attorney general, Bill Barr, to conduct a scorched-earth offensive against the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the FBI, and the Justice Department itself, most recently by dropping charges against admitted liar Michael Flynn, briefly Trump’s first national security advisor.
To make sure that the IC doesn’t challenge his wishes and does his bidding, Trump has moved to put his own political operatives in charge at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, or ODNI, created as part of an intelligence reorganization scheme after 9/11. The effort began in February when Trump named U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as acting DNI. A highly partisan, sharp-elbowed politico and spokesman for former National Security Advisor John Bolton, he harbors far-right views and is a Trump loyalist, as well as an acolyte of former Trump aide Steve Bannon. On arriving in Bonn as ambassador, Grenell soon endorsed the rise of Europe’s anti-establishment ultra-right in an interview with Bannon’s Breitbart News.
To bolster Grenell, the administration has called on another ultra-right crusader, Kash Patel. He has served as Republican Congressman Devin Nunes’s aide in the campaign to discredit the Russia investigation and reportedly acted as a White House backchannel to Ukraine during the effort to stir up an inquiry in Kiev aimed at tarring former Vice President Joe Biden.
Following that, the president re-named Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas, one of the president’s most enthusiastic defenders during the debate over impeachment, to serve as Grenell’s permanent replacement at ODNI. In 2019, Trump first floated Ratcliffe’s name for the post, but it was shot down days later, thanks to opposition from even Republican members of Congress, not to speak of intelligence professionals and various pundits. Now, he’s back, awaiting likely confirmation.
It remains to be seen whether the Grenell-Ratcliffe tag-team, combined with Trump’s three-year campaign to disparage the intelligence community and intimidate its functionaries, has softened them up enough for the administration’s push to finger China and its labs for creating and spreading Covid-19.
The Wuhan Lab Lies
As is often the case, that campaign began rather quietly and unobtrusively in conservative and right-wing media outlets.
On January 24th, the right-wing Washington Times ran a story entitled “Coronavirus may have originated in a lab linked to China’s biowarfare program.” It, in turn, was playing off of a piece that had appeared in London’s Daily Mail the previous day. Written like a science-fiction thriller, that story drew nearly all its (unverified) information from a single source, an Israeli military intelligence China specialist. Soon, it moved from the Washington Times to other American right-wing outlets. Steve Bannon picked it up the next day on his podcast, “War Room: Pandemic,” calling the piece “amazing.” A few days later, the unreliable, gossipy website ZeroHedge ran a (later much-debunked) piece saying that a Chinese scientist bioengineered the virus, purporting even to name the scientist.
A couple of weeks later, Fox News weighed in, laughably citing a Dean Koontz novel, The Eyes of Darkness, about “a Chinese military lab that creates a new virus to potentially use as a biological weapon during wartime.” The day after that, Senator Tom Cotton — appearing on Fox, of course — agreed that China might indeed have created the virus. Then the idea began to go… well, viral. (Soon Cotton was even tweeting that Beijing might possibly have deliberately released the virus.) By late February, the right’s loudest voice, Rush Limbaugh, was on the case, claiming that the virus “is probably a ChiCom laboratory experiment that is in the process of being weaponized.” (A vivid account of how this conspiracy theory spread can be found at the Global Disinformation Index.)
Starting in March, even as they were dismissing the seriousness of Covid-19, both Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeatedly insisted on referring to it as the “China virus” or the “Wuhan virus,” ignoring criticism that terminology like that was both racist and inflammatory. In late March, Pompeo even managed to scuttle a communiqué from America’s allies in the Group of Seven, or G7, by demanding that they agree to use the term “Wuhan virus.” It didn’t take the president long to start threatening retaliatory action against China for its alleged role in spreading Covid-19, while he began comparing the pandemic to the 1941 Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.
And all of that was but a prelude to the White House ramping up of pressure on the CIA and the rest of the intelligence community to prove that the virus had indeed emerged, whether by design or accident, from either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan Center for Disease Control, a branch of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An April 30th article in the New York Times broke the story that administration officials “have pushed American spy agencies to hunt for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that a government laboratory in Wuhan, China, was the origin of the coronavirus outbreak,” and that Grenell had made it a “priority.”
Both Trump and Pompeo would, in the meantime, repeatedly assert that they had seen actual “evidence” that the virus had indeed come from a Chinese lab, though Trump pretended that the information was so secret he couldn’t say anything more about it. “I can’t tell you that,” he said. “I’m not allowed to tell you that.” Asked during an appearance on ABC’s This Week if the virus had popped out of a lab in Wuhan, Pompeo answered: “There is enormous evidence that that’s where this began.”
On April 30th, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a terse statement, saying that so far it had concluded Covid-19 is “not manmade or genetically modified,” but that they were looking into whether or not it was “the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.” There is, however, no evidence of such an accident, nor did the ODNI cite any.
A Finger on the Scale
The run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2002-2003 should be on all our minds today. Then, top officials simply repeated again and again that they believed both Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent ties to al-Qaeda and his nonexistent active nuclear, chemical, and bioweapon programs were realities and assigned intelligence community collectors and analysts to look into them (while paying no attention to their conclusions). Now, Trump and his people are similarly putting their fat fingers on the scale of reality, while making it clear to hopefully intimidated intelligence professionals just what conclusions they want to hear.
Because those professionals know that their careers, salaries, and pensions depend on the continued favor of the politicians who pay them, there is, of course, a tremendous incentive to go along with such demands, shade what IC officials call the “estimate” in the direction the White House wants, or at least keep their mouths shut. That is exactly what happened in 2002 and, given that Grenell, Patel, and Ratcliffe are essentially Trump toadies, the IC officials lower on the totem pole have to be grimly aware of what their latest bosses expect from them.
There was near-instant pushback from scientists, intelligence officials, and China experts about the Trump-Pompeo campaign to finger the Wuhan lab. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the preeminent American scientist and Covid-19 expert, promptly shot it down, saying that the virus had “evolved in nature and then jumped species.” That’s because actual scientists, who study the genome of the virus and its mutations, unanimously agree that it was not generated in a lab.
Among America’s allies — Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand — in what’s called the Five Eyes group, there was an unambiguous conclusion that the virus had been a “naturally occurring” one and had mutated in the course of “human and animal interaction.” Australia, in particular, rejected what appeared to be a fake-intelligence dossier about the Wuhan lab, while German officials in an internal document ridiculed the lab rumors as “a calculated attempt to distract” attention from the Trump administration’s own inept handling of the virus.
Finally, according to Bloomberg News, those studying the issue inside the intelligence community now say that suspicions it emerged from a lab are “largely circumstantial since the U.S. has very little information from the ground to back up the lab-escape theory or any other.” In the end, however, that doesn’t mean top IC officials beholden to the White House won’t tailor their conclusions to fit the Trump-Pompeo narrative.
John McLaughlin, who served as deputy director and then acting director of the CIA during the Bush administration, believes that we are indeed seeing a replay of what happened in Iraq nearly two decades ago. “What it reminds me of is the dispute between the CIA and parts of the Bush administration over whether there was an operational relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda,” he said. “They kept asking the CIA, and we kept coming back and saying, ‘You know, it’s just not there.’”
Whether the tug-of-war between Trump, Pompeo, and the IC is just another passing battle in a more than three-year-old war between the president and the “Deep State” or whether it’s something that could lead to a serious crisis between Washington and Beijing remains to be seen. Ironically enough, in January and February of this year, the IC provided President Trump with more than a dozen clear warnings about the dangers to the United States and national security posed by the coronavirus, following clarion calls from China and the World Health Organization that what was happening in Wuhan could spread worldwide — warnings that Trump either failed to notice, disregarded, or downplayed through March.
Were Donald Trump not so predisposed to see the intelligence community as his enemy, he might have paid more attention back then. Had he done so, there would undoubtedly be many less dead Americans right now and he wouldn’t have had to spend his time in his own lab concocting what might be thought of as batshit excuses for his dereliction of duty.
By the time this affair is over, the invasion of Iraq could look like the good old days.
Bob Dreyfuss, an investigative journalist and TomDispatch regular, is a contributing editor at the Nation and has written for Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, the American Prospect, the New Republic, and many other magazines. He is the author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.

Nord Stream 2 Pipeline is Nearing Its Endgame
May 13, 2020
by Jonathan Tirone
Bloomberg
Construction of the world’s most controversial natural gas pipeline is about to enter the endgame of an energy dispute that’s pitted the U.S. against Russia and some of its closest trans-Atlantic allies, satellite images show.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, built to increase the flow of Russian gas into Europe’s biggest economy, was thwarted five months ago after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed sanctions that forced workers to retreat. Now, after a three-month voyage circumnavigating the globe, the Akademik Cherskiy, the Russian pipe-laying vessel that’s a prime candidate to finish the project, has anchored off the German port where the remaining pipeline sections are waiting to be installed.
Nord Stream 2 AG, the project operator owned by Russia’s Gazprom PJSC and financed by some of Europe’s biggest energy companies, confirmed that segments for the pipeline are stored at the port but declined to comment on whether the Akademik Cherskiy’s arrival meant that a restart of construction was imminent. The threat of U.S. sanctions is “unlawful discrimination against European companies,” Nord Stream 2 said Wednesday in an emailed statement in reply to questions.
Despite the sanctions, Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller has said Russia has the means to build the remaining section on its own, without specifying how. Exports via the link may start by the end of the year, he’s said.
Ongoing activity at the Mukran Port in the midst of coronavirus pandemic lockdowns underscore the strategic importance of the project. The facility, located on the island of Ruegen, some 300 kilometers (326 miles) north of Berlin, is a key Nord Stream 2 logistics center that began receiving pipeline segments in 2016.
Satellite images captured by Planet Labs inc. on May 10 show that sections of pipeline have been moved to a jetty equipped with a crane for loading. Ship-tracking data shows that a dredging vessel operated by a Nord Stream 2 contractor, as well as a Russian pipe-laying-crane ship are also in the vicinity and that the Akademik Cherskiy had moved as of Wednesday next to the jetty loaded with pipes.
The Akademik Cherskiy departed from the Sea of Japan in February, before the full force of Covid-19 washed over European economies. As it navigated from the Pacific, around the Horn of Africa and into the Baltic Sea, the global death toll from the pandemic rose to about 287,000 from just 904 on Feb. 9. European benchmark prices for natural gas tumbled more than 40% to record lows during the ship’s journey.
U.S. lawmakers drafted legislation signed by Trump in December that forced a pipe-laying ship operated by Allseas Group SA to retreat from the project. Washington argues Nord Stream 2 would give Russia new leverage over Europe. In June, Trump suggested trans-Atlantic allies should buy American liquid natural gas instead.
Separate images from Alphabet Inc.’s Google Earth show how far Nord Stream 2 has advanced in the past two years. Inland storage pads have been emptied as the 1,239-kilometer pipeline was built. BloombergNEF estimates only about 6% of the pipeline is unfinished and that the Akademik Cherskiy could complete construction so that the pipeline ships gas by the end of 2020.
German authorities have stood behind the Nord Stream 2 project, even as regulators consider forcing the venture to change its ownership structure. The almost 10 billion-euro ($11 billion) project is being financed by Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Germany’s Uniper SE and Wintershall AG, as well as France’s Engie SA and Austria’s OMV AG.
Historical images of the port show that the region has already been generating economic activity from Germany’s energy transition, which is pushing the country away from coal and toward more renewables backed up by natural gas. Mukran Port has not only become a logistics hub for Nord Stream 2, but also a staging point for offshore wind developers. Before 2015, Google Earth images show empty weed-ridden jetties and storage pads at the site.

Trump threatens to shutter social media companies after Twitter warning
May 27, 2020
Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to regulate or shut down social media companies, one day after Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) for the first time added a warning to some of his tweets prompting readers to fact check the president’s claims.
Trump, without offering any evidence, reiterated his accusations of political bias by such technology platforms, tweeting: “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
He added: “Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”
Representatives for Twitter and Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment on Trump’s tweets. Shares of the companies were down in pre-market trading following his posts.
In the pair of early morning posts, the Republican president again blasted mail-in ballots. Trump posted similar tweets about the ballot topic on Tuesday, which had moved Twitter to add a blue exclamation mark alert underneath those tweets to warn his claims were false and had been debunked by factcheckers.
The dramatic shift by the tech company, which has tightened its policies in recent years amid criticism that its hands-off approach has allowed misinformation to thrive, had prompted Trump to accuse it of interfering in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Trump threatens social media after Twitter puts warning on his false claims
• Twitter added warning on tweets that spread falsehoods
• President vows to ‘strongly regulate … or close them down
May 27, 2020
by Tom McCarthy
The Guardian
Donald Trump has threatened to “strongly regulate” or close down social media platforms that do not meet his standards for ideological balance, a day after Twitter, for the first time, slapped a warning label on a pair of Trump tweets spreading lies about mail-in voting.
“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One on Wednesday that Trump soon planned to sign an executive order on social media companies, but details remained scant
Trump also repeated his attacks on mail-in voting, which is common in the United States but could expand further during the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans fear that an expansion of the franchise could result in their members being ejected from office.
Trump in the past has made threats about media censorship that he did not then act on, and any attempt by the White House to shutter a media organization would encounter robust first amendment challenges in the courts. In 2018 a federal judge ruled the president could not block people on Twitter, because it violates their first amendment rights to participate in a “public forum”
As his election-year polling numbers have deteriorated, however, Trump has grown increasingly wild in his threats against media organizations and the voting system, and more aggressive in removing mechanisms for oversight in the federal government and in installing loyalists. His takeover of the federal courts could put future first amendment claims on new and dangerous ground.
“It’s disturbing that the president misunderstands the first amendment so fundamentally,” said Jameel Jaffer, the executive director at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “The only first amendment issue here arises from the president’s threat to punish Twitter in some way for fact-checking his statements.”
Most recently, Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting and on a cable news host, Joe Scarborough, have created controversies and put a great deal of pressure on Twitter, Trump’s preferred bullhorn, to modulate the president’s speech.
The husband of a former aide to Scarborough, who died when the MSNBC host was a member of Congress, formally asked Twitter this week to remove “horrifying” tweets by Trump wrongfully and recklessly accusing Scarborough, a frequent Trump critic, of murder.
Twitter declined to remove those tweets, citing a relatively new policy crafted with Trump in mind to allow itself to leave up tweets by “world leaders”.
But the company took unprecedented action on Tuesday in response to lies tweeted by Trump about mail-in voting. Twitter added links to the Trump tweets inviting users to “get the facts about mail-in ballots”.
The company confirmed its decision was in keeping with its “civic integrity policy”, which bars users from “manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes”.
Trump falsely claimed that state secretaries of state were mailing ballots to every citizen, and that mail-in voting invited fraud. In fact, the secretaries in question, including Republicans, had only mailed out ballot applications – not the ballots themselves – and mail-in voting, which is common in 34 states and Washington DC, has not been vulnerable to fraud. Trump himself voted by mail in a primary this year in his home state of Florida.
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, a frequent Twitter combatant in his father’s cause, said the platform was more likely to ban “a conservative for saying something not” politically correct than to ban attacks on the president from the left. Trump Jr linked to a recent Tweet by the comedian Kathy Griffin suggesting that Trump inject air, which the platform has not challenged.
Claims that Twitter polices content from the right more aggressively than content from the left have been the subject of US Senate hearings, but no conclusive data has been compiled, in part because most of the most blatant violations of the platform’s rules, racist and hate speech, are categorized as “conservative.”
In the past, Trump has praised Twitter for allowing him to take his message directly to followers, and despite his claims of being “silenced”, social media platforms have been a boon for Trump. His current campaign has rebuilt a targeted advertising operation on Facebook that was widely credited with helping Trump win in 2016. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter were – and are – staging grounds for foreign propaganda campaigns meant to scramble and empoison US politics and society. Those campaigns have also been credited with helping Trump’s 2016 victory.
The federal government has in the past attempted to enforce ideological balance for broadcast television, where licenses are controlled by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC enforced a “fairness doctrine” for 40 years after the second world war, and still enforces an equal-time rule requiring stations to give competing political candidates the opportunity for equal exposure.
Reuters contributed reporting

Trump: I Can and Will Start Wars Whenever I Please
May 26, 2020
by Michael Tennant
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President Donald Trump’s May 6 veto of a Senate resolution that would have required him to seek congressional approval for any further military confrontations with Iran demonstrates that, despite his occasional feints toward scaling back foreign intervention, Trump is as much a warmonger as anyone else in Washington. Worse still, his explanation for his veto indicates that he believes presidents have unlimited authority to launch wars, contrary to clear constitutional language.
“The question of whether United States forces should be engaged in armed conflict against Iran should only be made following a full briefing to Congress and the American public of the issues at stake, a public debate in Congress, and a congressional vote as contemplated by the Constitution,” reads the resolution. It directs Trump to remove U.S. troops from any hostilities with Iran within 30 days and not to order any further attacks “unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or a specific authorization for use of military force.” It does, however, reserve to Trump the right to respond to an “imminent attack.”
In short, the measure simply restates the Constitution’s war requirements, to wit: (1) The United States may not engage in offensive military action absent a congressional declaration of war (the resolution actually weakens this a bit, allowing for a generic “authorization”), and (2) the president is in charge of prosecuting a war once Congress declares it.
But to Trump, who swore an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution,” it is “a very insulting resolution,” as he put it in a statement explaining his veto. As far as he is concerned, it was a purely political move “by Democrats as part of a strategy to win an election on November 3 by dividing the Republican Party.” Moreover, “The few Republicans who voted for it played right into their hands.”
That argument has more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese.
To begin with, the senator who introduced it, Virginia’s Tim Kaine, while a liberal Democrat, has consistently pushed for similar measures since joining the Senate in 2013, at which time the Democrat Barack Obama was president.
Next, the resolution wasn’t just dreamed up out of the blue. It was occasioned by Trump’s assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January, which precipitated retaliatory strikes on U.S. forces in Iraq. As the resolution explains, Congress wanted to assert its constitutional prerogative in order to ensure that American lives were not put unnecessarily at risk.
As to Republican votes helping Democrats, if voting to uphold the Constitution plays into the opposing party’s hands, so be it. Principle should always — if you’ll pardon the expression — trump politics.
In a statement following the veto, Kaine said, “Last year, in President Trump’s State of the Union remarks, he said: ‘Great nations do not fight endless wars.’ But instead of following through on his word, President Trump vetoed legislation that would help avoid unnecessary war in the Middle East.”
Apparently, Trump isn’t as keen on making America great again as his rhetoric suggests. In fact, the remainder of his veto statement indicates quite the opposite. He demands, and believes he already has, unrestrained authority to take military action whenever and wherever he pleases.
Trump claims that the resolution was “based on misunderstandings of facts and law.” The only allegedly incorrect fact he mentions is the existence of open hostilities between the United States and Iran, but that’s merely a reflection of the time when the measure was drafted. Besides, the two countries are still not exactly at peace with each other, thanks in part to the president.
Trump is the one who is clearly mistaken regarding the law. He insists, as he did in January, that the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was sufficient justification for killing Soleimani, but as the American Conservative’s Daniel Larison opined, “There is no honest reading of that resolution that supports this interpretation.” In addition, he claims that he derives his war-making power from Article II of the Constitution, yet that article specifically states that “the president shall be commander in chief of the [armed forces] when called into the actual service of the United States.” (Emphasis added.) And who gets to call them into service? According to Article I, Congress does, by declaring war.
Trump doubles down on this unsupportable assertion in his next paragraph:
The resolution implies that the President’s constitutional authority to use military force is limited to defense of the United States and its forces against imminent attack. That is incorrect. We live in a hostile world of evolving threats, and the Constitution recognizes that the President must be able to anticipate our adversaries’ next moves and take swift and decisive action in response. That’s what I did!
“The president talks about Congress’ assertion of its constitutional authority as if they were guilty of lèse-majesté,” observed Larison. “Americans have allowed presidents to wage illegal wars so often and for so long that it was probably just a matter of time before one of them took for granted that his war powers were effectively unlimited. A president who didn’t want to be able to start a war on his own would have no objection to the resolution passed by Congress.
Of course, Congress doesn’t help matters any by letting presidents get away with such shenanigans. Only eight Republicans were willing to set partisanship aside to vote for the resolution, and the Senate was unable to muster the votes to override Trump’s veto. Occasionally Congress makes noises about withholding funding for certain military adventures, but little ever comes of it. No president has ever been impeached for engaging in unconstitutional wars.
“Many members of Congress, what they want to do is hide under their desk, let the president just do whatever the president wants, and then they think they can escape accountability for the consequences of war,” Kaine told CBS’ Face the Nation in January.
Kaine’s resolution, however, would not have changed the situation much even if Trump had signed it. It was, the New York Times noted, “mostly symbolic and not legally binding.” That an ultimately meaningless restatement of the fundamental law of the land should be so difficult to get on the books is a testament to how far the U.S. government has strayed from the Founders’ intentions.

2001-2014: Russians Own Over $98 Million in Trump Properties in Florida
At least 63 Russian oligarchs purchased $98.4 million in properties in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in South Florida. They included businessmen with deep ties to the Putin regime and suspected criminals.
None of the buyers were members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. Alan Garten, the chief lawyer for the trump Organization, said the story of Russian oligarchs buying so much Trump property “is an overblown story that is media-created. I’ve been around this company and know the company’s dealings.” The Russian ownership is much higher than is publicly known, as about a third of the owners are LLCs (limited liability companies) who routinely hide the identities of property owners. And the nationalities of some of the buyers is not publicly known.
The South Florida area has a large concentration of Trump-owned and/or branded buildings. Sunny Isles Beach, which has six of the seven Trump-branded residential towers, has one of the highest concentrations of Russian-born residents in the US.
Six of those seven Trump properties in Florida are the result of an agreement between Trump and the father-and-son development team of Michael and Gil Dezer. Gil Dezer says that the project generated some $2 billion in initial sales, of which Trump received a commission, 4%, for an estimated profit of anywhere between $20 and $80 million. In March 2017, one of those properties, the Trump International Beach Resort, continued to generate profits for Trump. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in 2017: “While [Trump] has denied having invested in Russia, he has said little or nothing about Russian investment in his businesses and properties in the United States or elsewhere. This should concern all Americans and is yet another reason why his refusal to release his tax returns should be met with considerable skepticism and concern.” Some of the Russians who own Trump-branded property are using the properties to “stow cash,” in the words of the team of Reuters journalists who authored the initial report. One buyer, Pavel Uglanov, is a former deputy minister for industry and energy in the Saratov regional government of central Russia. He bought a 3-bedroom apartment in Trump Hollywood for $1.8 million in 2012, and sold it for $2.9 million two years later. Uglanov struggled to keep businesses running in America. In August 2016, Uglanov posted a photo of himself on Facebook standing with Alexander Zaldonostov, leader of a motorcycle gang calling themselves the “Night Wolves.”
Both the “Night Wolves” and Zaldostanov personally were made subject to US financial and travel restrictions. The US government said that “Night Wolves” stormed a Ukrainian government naval base and a gas facility during Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
The “Night Wolves” have strong ties to the Kremlin.

Trump and Bayrock

Trump began doing business with the Bayrock Group, a real estate development organization with its headquarters in the Trump Tower. He met founder Tevfik Arif, a Russian born in then-Soviet Kazakhstan, and Russian-born American businessman Felix Sater, COO of Bayrock and a convicted felon, through a Trump Tower leasing agent. Bayrock arranged for the Trump Organization to become involved in multiple developments that were marketed under the Trump name.
The first Trump-Bayrock deal, a 19-story condominium tower and hotel complex in Phoenix, fell through in 2005 after organized resistance from residents. A follow-up project in Fort Lauderdale also collapsed after lawsuits and claims of criminal fraud tarnished the project’s reputation. Trump dodged the lawsuit by asserting he was not the developer and bore no responsibility for the problems.
Eventually, Trump and Bayrock engaged in a series of deals leading to the construction of the Trump SoHo in New York, which became the centerpiece of a RICO investigation. The firm’s organizational structure was deliberately designed to make it difficult to determine how it worked, or who profited from what business dealing.

Revealed: conservative group fighting to restrict voting tied to powerful dark money network
Honest Elections Project, part of network that pushed supreme court pick Brett Kavanaugh, is now focusing on voting restrictions
May 27, 2020
by Sam Levine and Anna Massoglia
The Guardian
This story was reported in collaboration with OpenSecrets.
A powerful new conservative organization fighting to restrict voting in the 2020 presidential election is really just a rebranded group that is part of a dark money network already helping Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the US federal judiciary, the Guardian and OpenSecrets reveal.
The organization, which calls itself the Honest Elections Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and started stoking fears about voter fraud. Backed by a dark money group funded by rightwing stalwarts like the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos’ family, the Honest Elections Project is part of the network that pushed the US supreme court picks Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and is quickly becoming a juggernaut in the escalating fight over voting rights.
The project announced it was spending $250,000 in advertisements in April, warning against voting by mail and accusing Democrats of cheating. It facilitated letters to election officials in Colorado, Florida and Michigan, using misleading data to accuse jurisdictions of having bloated voter rolls and threatening legal action.
Calling voter suppression a “myth”, it has also been extremely active in the courts, filing briefs in favor of voting restrictions in Nevada, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among other places, at times represented by lawyers from the same firm that represents Trump. By having a hand in both voting litigation and the judges on the federal bench, this network could create a system where conservative donors have an avenue to both oppose voting rights and appoint judges to back that effort.
Despite appearing to be a free-standing new operation, the Honest Elections Project is just a legal alias for the Judicial Education Project, a well-financed nonprofit connected to a powerful network of dark money conservative groups, according to business records reviewed by the Guardian and OpenSecrets.
“These are really well-funded groups that in the context of judicial nominations have been systematically, over the long term but also the short term, kind of pushing an agenda to pack the courts with pretty extreme right wing nominees,” said Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The infrastructure that they’ve built over the years has been a really important vehicle for them to do this.”
For nearly a decade, the organization has been almost entirely funded by DonorsTrust, known as a “dark money ATM” backed by the Koch network and other prominent conservative donors, according to data tracked by OpenSecrets. In 2018, more than 99% of the Judicial Education Project’s funding came from a single $7.8m donation from DonorsTrust.
The Judicial Education Project is also closely linked to Leonard Leo, one of the most powerful people in Washington who has shaped Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the federal judiciary with conservative judges.
The organization has deftly hidden the changes to its name from public view. In December, the Judicial Education Project formally changed its legal name to The 85 Fund, a group Leo backed to funnel “tens of millions” of dollars into conservative causes, according to Axios. The Honest Elections Project is merely a fictitious name – an alias – the fund legally adopted in February. The change was nearly indiscernible because The 85 Fund registered two other legal aliases on the same day, including the Judicial Education Project, its old name. The legal maneuver allows it to operate under four different names with little public disclosure that it is the same group.
The Judicial Education Project is closely aligned with the Judicial Crisis Network, a group with unmatched influence in recent years in shaping the federal judiciary. The Judicial Crisis Network spearheaded the campaigns to get Gorsuch and Kavanaugh confirmed to the US supreme court, spending millions of dollars in each instance. It has also spent significantly on critical state supreme court races across the country.
There is a lot of overlap between the Honest Elections Project and the Judicial Crisis Network. Both groups share personnel, including Carrie Severino, the influential president of the Judicial Crisis Network. Both groups have been funded by The Wellspring Committee, a group Leo raised money for until it shut down in 2018. Both have also paid money to BH Group, an LLC Leo once disclosed as his employer, that made a $1m mystery donation to Trump’s inauguration.
“This is a small community that is really trying to push forward these more suppressive tactics that will be challenged in court and having those judges on the bench, they’re really hoping it’s going to continue to rig the system in their favor,” said Lena Zwarensteyn, who closely follows judicial nominations at the Leadership Conference. “By changing the rules of the game and who the referees are, they’re trying to change the landscape.”
Neither the Honest Elections Project nor the Judicial Crisis Network responded to requests for an interview.
The Honest Elections Project has become active as Republicans are scaling up their efforts to fight to keep voting restrictions in place ahead of the election. The Republican National Committee will spend at least $20m on litigation over voting rights and wants to recruit up to 50,000 people to help monitor the polls and other election activities.
Gupta said seeing a group that has been extremely successful in pushing judicial confirmations turn its attention to voting rights was alarming.
“It isn’t any surprise to those of us that do work in both of these spaces that our opponents [who] want to constrict access to voting, access to the courts, who are seeking an anti-inclusive, anti-civil rights agenda are one in the same,” she said.

Partners in Crime
Trump and Pompeo
May 28, 2020
by Christian Jürs
Michael Richard Pompeo is an American politician and businessman who has been serving as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency since January 23, 2017, following his nomination by President Donald Trump.
Previously, he was the member of the United States House of Representatives for Kansas’s 4th congressional district (2011–2017).
He is a member of the radical right wing Tea Party movement within the Republican Party. He was a Kansas representative on the Republican National Committee and member of the Italian American Congressional Delegation.
Pompeo is also an Evangelical Christian.
In August of 2017, Pompeo took direct command of the Counterintelligence Mission Center, the department which helped to launch an investigation into possible links between Trump associates and Russian officials.
Former CIA directors expressed concern since Pompeo is known to be an ally of Donald Trump
William Evanina is currently the head of NCIX, which is the executive officer of the United States Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX), and who is also the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.
The London branch of this secret organization is located at 33 Nine Elms Ln. London SW11 7.
Formerly, it was headquartered at Caversham Park.
A supposedly secret communication from Evanina’s office in question is marked USA/GBR/ EYES ONLY and addressed to M. Aubineau in the UK office of ONCIX (detailed information from Booth)
Part of the document reads:
“Necessary to remove Skripal from any possibility of allowing him to be interviewed via Judicial Assistance Request, by on-going U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump/Russian working agreements. If possible try to make this look like some kind of a negative Russian intelligence operation, thus killing two birds with one stone. Note that Skripal is of considerable value to UK intel so termination with extreme prejudice not suggested.”
And further in the same document:
“President Trump does not tolerate anything that he views as opposed to his will. For that reason, he has developed a very strong dislike for the Justice Department’s FBI because of their ongoing investigation of his extensive contact with Russian entities. He has been contemplating abolishing the FBI and turning its domestic intelligence programs over to the CIA, creating one massive surveillance entity that he can easily control.”
The British agency involved in the purported “nerve gas attack” scenario is the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit (NDEDIU)
In May 2013, the NDEDIU was split into two units:
a )Protest and Disorder Intelligence Unit. This unit collates and provides strategic analysis relating to protest and disorder across the UK; and b) Domestic Extremism Intelligence Unit. This unit provides strategic analysis of domestic extremism intelligence within the UK and overseas.
The NDEU had been created in 2011 following a merger of the three domestic extremism units under the National Coordinator for Domestic Extremism – the National Domestic Extremism Team, National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU).
The quid pro quo for Pompeo’s cooperation in keeping devastating information about Trump’s clandestine political deals with Russia away from hostile investigators is evident.
On March 13, 2018, Trump announced his intention to nominate Pompeo as the new United States Secretary of State, on March 31, 2018, succeeding Rex Tillerson who had the audacity to disagree with Trump.
There is absolutely no question whatsoever that Russian intelligence was able, by the offering of large amounts of money for rigged hotel business deals as well as securing his interest through the activities of very attractive women, to get Trump to work with them closely in the event he was able to secure election to the American presidency.
U.S. Congressional committees also have been investigating Russia and the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
It is now known that the Trump people hired the Facebook people to influence the election and it is also known, but only in top intelligence circles, that the WikiLeaks organization that released damning emails about the Clinton organization is entirely owned by Russian intelligence.
Trump, therefore, bought support with cash from Facebook and promises of cooperation from Russian top level sources.

Accidents on Purpose
May 28, 2019
by Christian Jürs

Pity the poor Ukrainians, so far from God and so close to the United States.
When the Ukraine separated from Russia, it was with the assistance of the American CIA and when a pro-Russian president came into office there, the same CIA moved to remove him.
The Ukraine is important to the United States because she then controlled the strategically important Crimea with its extensive offshore oil deposits and, more important, the large former Soviet naval base at Sevastopol. One of the demands of the CIA when it worked to remove the pro-Russian president was that the lease the Russians had on this base would be cancelled and the U.S. Navy given the same lease.
This would give the US a naval presence in the Black Sea, part of the encirclement of Russia. To facilitate this, a CIA-trained unit started protest meetings in Kiev and to sharpen their demands, on February 20, 2014, a large public meeting in Kiev’s Maidan square had hidden snipers shoot into the crowd, killing over 50 people. This created the necessary push for a successful anti-Russian putsch.
Acts of violence resulting in the deaths of many people seemed to be the norm in the encirclement campaign against Russia
On 10 April 2010, a Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft of the Polish Air Force crashed near the city of Smolensk, Russia, killing all 96 people on board. Among the victims were the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński and his wife Maria, the former President of Poland in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski, the chief of the Polish General Staff and other senior Polish military officers, the president of the National Bank of Poland, Polish Government officials, 18 members of the Polish Parliament, senior members of the Polish clergy and relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre. The group was arriving from Warsaw to attend an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the massacre, which took place not far from Smolensk.
The pilots were attempting to land at Smolensk North Airport – a former military airbase – in thick fog, with visibility reduced to about 500 meters (1,600 ft). The aircraft descended far below the normal approach path until it struck trees, rolled inverted and crashed into the ground, coming to rest in a wooded area a short distance from the runway.
In this case, a man code-named ‘Corey’ was able to alter the signals on the airport landing area to show the ground twenty-seven feet lower than it actually was.
‘Corey’ was a member of a CIA group called ‘Summerfield II’ that was run by a CIA officer named Russle.
His real name is George Macalister, his date of birth is 5.29.42 and his American Social Security number SS # 465-80-9315, his email address is :
george_macalister@hotmail.com (G137596.)
The reason why the aircraft was destroyed is because the US wanted Poland to be a supportive member of countries facing Russia who were to form a bloc of American-supportive entites designed to threaten Russia both militarily and economically. The Poles were flying to Smolensk to take part, with Russian officials in a memorial to the Stalin-killed Polish officers at Katyn during the Second World War. This rapproachment was anathema to the CIA and had to be somehow disrupted. Hence we had the entire Polish government wiped out in a single action as an object lesion to others.
After the installation of a CIA-friendly government in the Ukraine and a pending revoking of the Russian lease on the Sebastopol naval base, on April 15, 2014, CIA Director John Brennan and is staff flew into Kiev and met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema to discuss the formation of new, more secure channels for sharing U.S. intelligence with the country now fighting pro-Russian secessionists in its eastern cities.
Shortly after this, on July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) a scheduled passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down while flying over eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. The rocket projectors used in this attack were of Russian origin but had been sold to the Ukrainian military ten years earlier.
This operation was also run by the ‘Summerfield II’ people.
And note that the two ships that caught on fire were dealing in oil from a country that the US had sanctioned. It has been reliably reported that external sabotage was the reason for the explosions and fire and that the group responsible for the sabotage are headquarted in the same building in Kiev that also houses the large CIA unit.
Mr. Macalister, now retired, lives in Vienna, Virginia and no doubt enjoys leafing through his scrapbook filled with photographs and old newspaper clippings depicting international incidents involving large death tolls.

Stalin’s Intelligence Game
Playing the United States and Japan against each other, this resulted in Pearl Harbor and the Japanese attack on the United States in 1941

In the spring of 1941, Stalin feared the Soviet Union would become trapped in the vise of a two-front war, crushed between Germany and Japan. To escape the trap, three separate Soviet intelligence operations in Chungking, Tokyo, and
Washington, without knowledge of each other, manipulated Japan to attack Ameri- can forces in the Pacific and bring the United States into World War II. In concerted covert efforts directed from Moscow, Soviet intelligence worked to divert
Japanese expansionism south against “colonialist imperialism,” so that Japan would take over French Indochina, the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), and American interests in the Philippines protected by the U.S. Navy, instead of pushing westward through Siberia. Stalin’s desperate purpose was to fend off a unified, two-pronged attack by Germany and Japan that he feared would destroy the Soviet Union.
Stalin’s nightmare was a German-Japanese “handshake in the Urals.”
Attacking Southeast Asia meant the Japanese navy would come into conflict with the American Pacific fleet, which had been moved from southern California to Pearl Harbor in October 1939 and in May 1940. Stalin signed a nonaggression treaty with the Germans in 1939, then a neutrality pact with the Japanese in 1941, playing the pride and duplicity of Berlin and Tokyo off against each other. His goal was to deflect a Japanese attack away from the Soviet Union.
War between the United States and Japan was the alternative Stalin favored.
Retracing the reasons for Stalin’s frenzy to push the Japanese to attack the
United States reveals the answer to one of the great mysteries of the twentieth century.
Both communist devotees of Stalin and anticommunist commentators have long wondered why Stalin entered a pact with the devil named Hitler, knowing what a dangerous ally he might become. The 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact of Non-Aggression, signed in August of that year, was a landmark on the path to World War II. The answer to the mystery: Stalin was already fighting the Japanese in the Far East and he feared a two-front war.
Until recently, we had only one piece of the skeleton in the closet of history, the confession of Richard Sorge, a dynamic, heavy-drinking officer of Soviet militaryintelligence, the GRU (Glavnoe Razvedyovatelnoe Upravlenie), under cover as a German foreign correspondent in Tokyo. A statue of Richard Sorge, clad in a foreign correspondent’s trench coat, stands in homage to him on a Moscow back street near GRU headquarters.
Sorge enjoyed access to the highest officials of the German embassy and to members of the Japanese prime minister’s cabinet before he was arrested by the Japanese and hanged for spying in November 1944.
Now there are new pieces to clarify those events: officially released, deciphered intercepts of Russian intelligence traffic during 1939-1946, code-named VENONA; the memoirs of Vitali Pavlov, an NKVD (Narodny Kommissariat Vnu-trennikh Del, predecessor to the KGB) intelligence officer; and secret messagesfrom the Russian archives, which throw new light on the work of Vasili Zarubin, an experienced NKVD intelligence officer sent to China during the tense months before Pearl Harbor.
This is a Soviet intelligence success story, which changes the conventional history of the year 1941 and our memory of Pearl Harbor. It is a story that until now none of the participants wanted known.
What was Operation Snow?
It is the title of a book published in Russian in
1996, but not in English, in which a high ranking retired KGB officer, Vitali
Pavlov, recalled his mission to Washington in April and May 1941.2 Pavlov, then a junior officer on his first trip abroad, was sent to the United States seven months before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor to meet with Harry Dexter White, then director of Monetary Research for the Treasury.
Did “Snow” mean “White”? Yes,
Harry Dexter White had been a Soviet “asset” since the early 1930s, providing information to Whittaker Chambers, a courier for the communist underground.
By 1941 White was a top aide and adviser to Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury. Pavlov wrote that the Soviets feared a Japanese attack from the east, and his mission was to discuss with White what could be done to keep the Japanese from joining forces with the Germans. Tsarev’s reference to Operation Snow brought back into focus his earlier statement that in the years leading up to World War II the United States was not a main intelligence target “except as a balance against Japan.”
What did “balance” mean to the Soviet Union?
In the spring of 1941, Vitali Pavlov, an eager 27-year-old intelligence officer, msat nervously in his office on the sixth floor of Lubyanka, NKVD headquarters, torn by fear of invasion. The Soviet Union was facing a two-front war with the threat of attack from Japan in the east and Germany in the west. Pavlov and his colleagues devised a plan for him to go to Washington and help deflect a Japanese attack on the Soviet Union. His mission was to be a “sacred secret” (meaning they would carry it to their graves with no paper trail).
The goal: exacerbate tensions between the United States and Japan to divert Japanese expansionism away from Siberia and toward Southeast Asia, where Japan would come into conflict with the United States and its Pacific fleet. Pavlov’s plan did not begin and end with him, but was part of a larger Soviet design to worsen relations between Japan and the United States, even if their efforts led to war, to prevent a Japanese invasion of the Soviet Union.
Pushing the limits of discord between capitalist powers was a central tenet of
Lenin’s foreign policy. Stalin learned it well and used it in the 1939 Non-Aggression
Pact. Stalin’s contribution was to set up intelligence operations worldwide to capitalize on these rifts to further Soviet interests.
In this light we must examine Sorge, Pavlov, and Zarubin in their activities on the eve of the war.
Pavlov’s mission in April 1941, when he met with Harry Dexter White, U.S.
Treasury Director of Monetary Research, at the Old Ebbitt Grill across the street from the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., was to confirm that White’ thinking toward Japan was in line with Soviet interests.
Soviet intelligence knew that White formulated all of Morgenthau’s recommendations bearing on foreign relations, especially monetary policy toward China, Japan, and the Soviet Union.
In the name of peace in Asia, Pavlov urged White to demand that Japan remove its troops from China, which the Soviet Union knew the Japanese would never accept.
The impetus for Operation Snow began in the top leadership of Soviet intelligence. It followed a report from New York NKVD resident Gaik Ovakimian in
January 1941 to Moscow Center suggesting that Harry Dexter White be used to press Soviet aims for the Far East. Ovakimian’s report was the seed from which Pavlov’s mission grew.
On January 30, 1941, Foreign Intelligence Director Pavel Fitin compiled a spravka (summary), which reported that the NKVD New York resident, Gaik
Ovakimian (code name, GENNADI), had cabled from New York to raise the possibility of using agents and friendly sources in America to influence the formulation of American foreign policy toward Japan. The summary went to Lavrenti Beria, head of the NKVD, and his deputy, Vsevelod Merkulov.
The text read: “GENNADI reported 28 January from New York about agent possibilities of influencing from outside the formulation of USA foreign policy toward
Japan because
(1) USA cannot accept unlimited Japanese expansion in the Pacific region which affects its vital interests,
(2) Having at its disposal thenecessary economic and military might, Washington is capable of preventing aggression, but it prefers to negotiate mutually acceptable solutions under the conditions that Japan:
(1) stops its aggression in China and areas adjacent to it,
(2) recalls its military forces from the continent and halts its plans of expansion in this region.
Signed Fitin (Chief of the Fifth Department, Main Administration of
State Security)
On this summary report are handwritten notes:
VERNO [verified] Captain of State Security Grauer under instruction of
Comrade Merkulov.
In view of the upcoming negotiations with the Japanese by the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, Comrades Kabulov and Grauer are directed to urgently prepare information for instancia [the leadership, in this case Vyacheslav Molotov and Joseph Stalin]. Also undertake verification of GENNADI’s sources, ZVUK [Jacob Golos], RICHARD [Harry Dexter White], and ROBERT [Nathan Silvermaster] in line with data from the First Special Department, special investigation department, and NKVD Lithuanian SSR pending to the fact that they were known to Shpigelglas, Gutzeit, Sobel, now arrested by us.
Signed Merkulov”
Merkulov was giving instructions for operational research on the intentions of the Japanese, to identify hidden motives behind the Japanese desire in early 1941 to sign a neutrality pact with the USSR. He was instructing his staff to check on Harry Dexter White’s relatives in Lithuania for anti-Soviet activities to make certain of White’s political reliability. This was the period following the Great Purges of the 1930s in which Stalin arrested “enemies of the people” who he believed were competing with him for control of the Soviet Union and the world communist revolution. Soviet intelligence organizations were regrouping and vetting their ranks. Moscow Center wanted to make certain that the purge and execution of suspected senior officers such as Shpigelglas, Gutzeit, and Sobel had not affected the loyalty of their own New York-based espionage chief, Golos, or the continued services of two American sources, White and Silvermaster.
Fitin’s summary reveals that the impetus for Operation Snow came from the top, following Ovakimian’s suggestion. Fitin’s report demonstrates that there are traces of Operation Snow in the NKVD archives, that not every shred of the paper trail was destroyed.
Stalin’s internal purges, during which he had his suspected rivals for absolute power executed, exiled, or sent to labor camps, occurred in the period 1934-1939.
During these purges, Stalin had about 100 senior Soviet intelligence officers re- called, including Akhmerov. Only about twenty-five survived. This was the period of “cleansing” for the intelligence services, with ensuing executions and banishments, during which foreign intelligence operations came to a near standstill. Pavlov’s rapid rise to deputy director of the American desk of NKVD intelligence was a result of the purges.
When these upheavals began to quiet down and intelligence officers went back to supplying the leadership with intelligence on war preparations in 1941, they found their system in suspended animation. Akhmerov was still being kept on the shelf in Moscow. Moscow Center first had to reassess its most valued assets in Washington, to see who was still working for them. They had to indoctrinate their agents and sources to the Soviet viewpoint in matters of diplomacy affecting Soviet national interest. It made sense to dispatch a young officer untainteby association with the previous suspected generation and still unknown in the United States to make the necessary call.
It was under these circumstances that Pavlov left for an inspection tour of the Washington rezidentura (intelligence station). His real mission was to determine whether the NKVD’s important U.S. Treasury assets were still in place and would cooperate with the USSR. In his memoir, Pavlov states that before going to America the NKVD assessment of the situation was: “USA cannot reconcile with uncontrolled Japanese expansion in the Pacific area which affects their vital interests.
Having adequate economic and military might, Washington is capable of preventing Japanese aggression but it prefers to reach mutually beneficial decisions with Japan if it
(1) stops its aggression in China and bordering areas,
(2) recalls its military forces from the continent and halts its expansion plans in this region,
(3) pulls out its forces from Manchuria.”
Pavlov’s explanation is a replay of Fitin’s spravka, reporting Ovakimian’s suggestion from New York.
White contacted AGENT X [Joseph Katz] looking for BILL [Akhmerov] because he wanted to thank him for one idea that had been realized with great success. Akhmerov worked out the detailed plan for a meeting in Washington. It was called Operation Snow to match the name White. We understood that only by strengthening the position of the group in Japanese ruling circles who advocated the extension of Japanese aggression in China southward could we postpone the Japanese plan to conquer the northern territories. We understood that the doubts of the Japanese militarists to immediately implement their northern plans to a great extent depended on the position of the U.S. From what we knew about White it was clear that we could influence through Morgenthau the strengthening of a line in the
American administration that would counterbalance the Japanese expansion.
I was to pass on to White the above-mentioned three principles. It was presumed that White would formulate them himself to be presented to the American administration.
With these instructions firmly in his mind, Pavlov left for Washington. If he succeeded, he would change history. He had been entrusted with a “sacred secret so awesome that he did not reveal it for more than half a century.
For the Soviet Union, Japan was a threatening and ambiguous enemy. European Russians-citizens of Moscow and those west of the Urals-imbibe fear of attack from the east with their mothers’ milk.
Deep in their national memory is conquest by cruel Mongol hordes who ruled Russia for more than 200 years, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. Russians believe that the followers of Genghis Khan left no improvements, only a more defined slant to the cheekbones of Russians acquired through the rape of their female ancestors.
A more recent memory was the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, in which the Japanese pushed Russia out of the Pacific Rim areas it had moved into since 1895. The British National Review for September 1904 noted: “The military power of the Island Empire has been revealed.”
In the 1920s and 1930s, the Kwantung Army of Japan set out to rid Manchuria of its Chinese warlord ruler and create an autonomous state in the vast, untamed territory. The Japanese military hoped Manchuria would be a buffer zone against the Soviet Union on its border; it would provide space and resources for Japan’s merchants and impoverished proletariat.
On September 18, 1931, the Kwantung Army took over Mukden, “to keep order.” In 1933 the Japanese invaded northern China proper.
The Soviet Union sent military advisers to both nationalists and communists, the two groups competing to rule China. The Soviet Union’s goal in China was to control Japanese expansionism.
In the early 1930s, the Soviet Union began a propaganda campaign against
Japanese aggression through the Comintern, the communist international organization that, under Moscow’s aegis, controlled communist parties worldwide. Soviet intelligence distributed the “Tanaka Memorial,” said to be a 1927 memorandum from Baron Giichi Tanaka to the Emperor, outlining Japan’s imperial ambitions to become a “continental nation”: Japan’s destiny was to establish a predominant position in China and Southeast Asia. Tanaka’s design would develop a new plan against Siberia.
The Communist Party translated the Memorial into English and first published it in the United States in the Comintern theoretical magazine, ‘Communist International’, in December 1931, then later reprinted it as a book. Evidence points to Soviet intelligence and propaganda organs jointly rewriting the actual document.
Tanaka’s ideas had been skillfully manipulated to make Japan an aggressor. All of the Memorial’s prophecies were to become Japan’s strategy for World War II.’
Within Japanese leadership circles, both aggressive militarists and thoughtful intellectuals agreed on the moral rationale for invading China and pushing southward to control all of Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Australia, and New
Zealand. They believed in the spiritual unity of East Asians, and in ridding the western Pacific Rim nations of imperial domination by European powers.
The Japanese included the United States in this group-enemy image because American power competed with Japan for trade, political influence, and control of the seaways.
Most important in Japan’s antagonism against the United States was American support for China and its struggle to repel Japanese aggression. Japan considered
America to be an imperialist nation not only for its own overseas territories, but because American naval forces also protected the colonial domination of the French, British, and Dutch in China, Indochina, and the East Indies, controlling the flow of oil, rubber, tin, and other natural resources necessary to military and industrial strength.
The Japanese called their vision “The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.” They saw themselves to be the liberators of East Asia from European and American imperialists.
Stalin never doubted that the United States would in some way support Japan in its dream of attacking Siberia. Ever since 1919, when the United States intervened on the side of the Whites during the 1918-1920 civil war, for a short time landing troops in Siberia to fight the Red Army, Stalin had a deep distrust of offers of friendship from America. This continued even after President Roosevelt granted diplomatic recognition to the USSR in 1933. Stalin believed that eventually the “capitalist-fascist-imperialists” in Washington would be overthrown in favor of communism.
With Japan’s occupation of Manchuria in 1931, Stalin became preoccupied with the new threat from the east and put his military on a “half-war, half-peace” footing.
As early as 1931 and 1932, while the Japanese army was invading Manchuria on the Soviet border, Stalin’s intelligence services were setting up networks in California to sabotage shipping in case of a new Russo-Japanese war.
In 1937 a shooting incident between Chinese and Japanese troops at the Marco Polo Bridge near Peking escalated into open war. The Japanese declared a “new order” in China. The question remained whether Japan’s expansionism would be directed north to Siberia and the entire Soviet Far East, or south to secure Japanese military and commercial domination of China and Southeast Asia. Through China,
Japan would be on its way to the riches of Southeast Asia, while ridding the Eastof Western colonialists.
In June 1938, Soviet Commissar of State Security in the Far East Genrich
Samuelovich Lyushkov defected across the Manchurian border and revealed to the Japanese occupation army full details of the levels of Soviet military strength in the region. Lyushkov, who took his family with him, feared he would be a victim of the purges Stalin was carrying on against his own officers.
After he surrendered, Lyushkov was transferred to Tokyo, where he was interrogated by Japanese military intelligence and military attaches at the German embassy. Lyushkov provided the Soviet order of battle both in Ukraine and the Far East. His debriefing was turned into a memorandum of approximately 100 pages, “Report on a Meeting Between Lyushkov and the German Special Envoy, and Related Information.”
The secret pages were photographed by Richard Sorge, correspondent of the
German newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung, who used his journalist’s cover to head a
Soviet espionage ring in Tokyo.
Sorge was a German national, secretly working for the Red Army’s Fourth Bureau, the GRU, military intelligence. Sorge, the son of a German father and Russian mother, became a communist while recovering from wounds he received fighting on the German side in World War I.
His legs had been shattered and he was left with a lifelong limp. From having been an avid volunteer in the German army, he went into deep disillusionment and depression and emerged a dedicated Marxist.
Sorge had close friendships with high ranking diplomats and military officers in the German embassy; one of them, the military attache Major Erwin Scholl, lent the Lyushkov document to Sorge, unaware of the use the newspaperman would make of its pages.
Lyushkov’s main thesis: because of widespread discontent caused by Stalin’s purge in the Red Army and strong opposition to Stalin in Siberia, the Soviet military machine in the Far East would collapse under a Japanese offensive. Lyushkov is also believed to have provided the military wireless codes being used by the Red Army. He described the location, organization, and equipment of twenty-five Soviet divisions. It was clear to Lyushkov’s German and Japanese interrogators that his defection resulted from Stalin’s purges of the Red Army high command and reflected the army’s weakened strength.
For the Germans and Japanese, this information created the temptation to strike the Soviet Union soon, while it was weak from internal strife. To his Japanese and German friends, Sorge played down the importance of Lyushkov’s information; he compared it to anti-Nazi books written by German refugees suggesting that the Nazi regime faced imminent collapse.
But Moscow was getting another message. Sorge later confessed: “One consequence of Lyushkov’s report was a danger of joint Japanese-German military action against the Soviet Union.”
Western leaders were less aware of Stalin’s problem in the East, which figured as strongly into his calculations as his alliance with Hitler. At all cost Stalin needed to avoid a two-front war. In fact, he was already at war with Russia’s historic rival, Japan. In 1938 the Soviets and Japanese had fought each other in a series of incidents on the Manchurian frontier, about seventy-five miles southwest of Vladivostok, without a clear victory on either side.
What began as skirmishes in January 1939 gradually brought in larger Japanese units; by May, major Japanese forces were engaged against Soviet-Mongolian units near Khalkhin-Gol (the Khalkhin River on the Manchurian border with Mongolia) and the town of Nomonhan.
The Japanese call it the Nomonhan Incident.
By July it had become a war, to which the Japanese brought heavy pressure to bear against the Soviet troops. Even while Stalin’s and Hitler’s emissaries were negotiating their infamous 1939 Non- Aggression Pact, Soviet and Japanese troops were battering each other at Khalkhin- Gol.
In a decisive Soviet tank offensive that took place in August, General (later Marshal) Georgi Zhukov, then a corps commander, exhibited his aggressive leadership. Zhukov’s massive armored assault was a totally unexpected innovation that defeated the Japanese and led to his rise in the Soviet officer corps.
With Sorge’s microfilm of Lyushkov’s report in hand, the Soviet High Command knew what the Japanese expected when they pushed across the Manchurian border at Khalkhin-Gol. As a result, Zhukov built up his forces to much greater strength and overwhelmed the Japanese.
Sorge continued to advise Moscow during the fighting, warning that although sizable Japanese reinforcements might be transferred to the battlefield from North China and Manchuria, there was no evidence that large-scale units were being sent from Japan. This was the evidence, reported Sorge, for his standing firm on the view that: “Japan had no intention of waging war against the Soviet Union.” He repeated variations of this radio message several times during the fighting.
At this point Zhukov assumed command of the Soviet First Army Group. For weeks he maintained a defensive posture, methodically but stealthily building up his forces. He created a three-to-two superiority in manpower, two-to-one strength in artillery and airplanes, and a four-to-one advantage in armor. He gathered 35 infantry battalions to fight 25 Japanese infantry battalions; 20 cavalry squadrons against 17 Japanese cavalry squadrons. Zhukov had nearly 500 tanks, 346 armored cars, and 500 planes to go up against the Japanese Sixth Army, which had no tanks.
Zhukov drew the Japanese in without revealing his strength, then counterattacked for the kill. The attack against the Japanese forces came at 5:45 a.m., August 20, 1939, only three days before the announcement of the Non-Aggression Pact. The battle raged for more than ten days, until the Japanese were driven back across the frontier in disorder.
The defeat of the Japanese at Khalkhin-Gol forced a reassessment in Tokyo of plans for the timing to attack the Soviet Union and discredited the army officers responsible for the defeat.
Red Army intelligence has never released evidence of the connection between
Lyushkov’s information and the defeat of the Japanese at Khalkhin-Gol. In 1941, when Sorge was arrested by the Japanese for espionage activities, a leading
Japanese procurator, Yoshikawa Mitsusada, made the connection between the failure of the Japanese military operation at Khalkhin-Gol and Sorge’s transmission to Moscow of the Japanese evaluation of Soviet strength based on Lyushkov’s information. In their study of Sorge, F. W. Deakin and G. R. Storry wrote,
“Sorge’s activity in connection with the Lyushkov affair was one of the greatest services he rendered to the Fourth Bureau (Soviet Military Intelligence) during his Japan mission.”
When the fighting ended, it had changed the course of history. Khalkhin-Gol was the decisive turning point that created fear and doubt for the Japanese in their plan to attack the Soviet Union through Siberia.
Two years later the Japanese focused south into Indochina, but until they attacked Pearl Harbor, Stalin was uncertain whether or not the Japanese would attempt another invasion of the Soviet Far East.

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Susan Stevenson

Founder of the conspiracy theory, New Age quackery, anti-vaccine and anti-GMO site Gaia Health, homeopath Heidi Stevenson, has passed away. Susan Stevenson is probably not related, but she is at least just as crazy (though somewhat less influential). Stevenson is a hypnotherapist who practices past life regressive therapy, and a promoter of angel therapy, a type of New Age therapy based on the idea that communicating with angels is a key to healing. And Stevenson sees angels everywhere: “My life seems to be teeming with angelic connections, and the momentum is building. Have you noticed this in your own life? Angelic reminders that they are with us – ‘whispers’ in our ear, ‘taps’ on the shoulder, brushes of air across your skin or changes in air pressure, ‘flutters’ from deep inside, glints of light and color – all these gentle hints to pay closer attention to their presence. Think back – have you been paying attention, listening, responding? I know I certainly have been. Doreen Virtue, Ph.D. [her “degree” is from California Coast University and not worth the paper it is printed on], in her newest book Angel Therapy [the quote is some years old], says that this increased activity is directly related to the approaching millennium.” Some might suggest that the symptoms she describes would warrant an altogether different kind of response. Stevenson offers instructions on “contacting your personal angels” here.
Stevenson is apparently “a registered and certified clinical hypnotherapist in private practice”, where she offers “private sessions for adults and children,” as well as “workshops and audio tapes on a variety of life enhancing topics.” We do, admittedly, wonder a little bit how she squares her angels with her evident commitment to reincarnation (as per “past life regressive therapy”). More than that, we wonder who on Earth certified her – she doesn’t tell, and California does not recognize any separate licensing category called “hypnotherapist.”
Diagnosis: Yes, they seem warm and welcoming and enthusiastic and positive and harmless, but one cannot help but wonder why such fluffy New Age proponents always feel the need to dishonestly market their skills and qualifications. They are, perhaps, so post-truth that dishonesty doesn’t register any more. Stevenson probably needs serious help making other important distinctions, too.

Arthur Krigsman

Arthur Krigsman, MD, is a pediatrician and gastroenterologist best known for his controversial and widely-criticized research in which he attempts to prove that the MMR vaccine is the cause of diseases, especially autism. In fact, Krigsman may not be among the flashiest, but he is certainly among the most influential member of the antivaxx movement.
He has, in particular, written in support of the existence of autistic enterocolitis, which is, to put it mildly, not particularly widely accepted – Andrew Wakefield’s original study that tied the MMR vaccine to autism has of course been found to be fraudulent, and it was on the basis of this “research” that Wakefield coined the notion of “autistic enterocolitis”. In other words, Krigsman is fringe; but he still, to an extent, knows what he is talking about, which makes his contributions all the more insidious. In 2003, Krigsman reported similar findings as those of Wakefield, saying he found the intestines of 40 autistic children showed signs of inflammation, thus lending support to Wakefield’s ideas that MMR was related to autism and also to gastrointestinal disease. This information was, predictably enough, not formally published until 2010, and then in the pseudo-journal Autism Insights. The results were also obtained through failing to follow standard protocols and through questionable (or even scandalous) ethical behavior. Indeed, in 2004 Krigsman had to leave Lenox Hill hospital under “questionable circumstances,” and in 2005, he was fined by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners for multiple violations, including failing to report previous regulatory sanctions by the Florida medical board, and for the disciplinary action by the Lenox Hill Hospital.
Krigsman later joined Wakefield at the antivaxx organization Thoughtful House (though left when Wakefield was forced to leave after his original study was shown to be fraudulent). He is currently a perennial expert witness in vaccine-related court cases. His participiation in these cases seem to regularly raise discussions regarding his CV and how he represents his publication list. In one case, the judge noted that he thinks Krigsman failed to be a “credible witness” and that the parents who brought the case were “misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment.” In another case, the judge noted of Krigsman’s qualification for identifying a new disease like “autistic enterocolitis”, being “unrecognized by other authorities in the field, were, even when inflated, sadly lacking” and that his testimony about its existence was “speculative and unsupported by the weight of the evidence.”
Diagnosis: Though his cause has taken some fairly serious damage Krigsman is still in the running, and must still be considered dangerous.

Lorie Kramer

A.k.a. Lo the Seektress

Lorie Kramer is among the most ardent critics of Alex Jones on the web. Unfortunately, her criticisms of Alex Jones come, shall we say, from a different angle than ours. Kramer runs the website The Alex Jones Machine, a website allegedly “created in self defense” in order to expose Alex Jones for who he is – a central part of the Zionist conspiracy to take over the world. Just like Glenn Beck and Fox News, Jones is in the hands of powerful Jewish bankers, and Kramer sets out to prove Alex and Kelly Jones’s connections to Bronfman. On the other hand, Jeff Rense is apparently a hero because he once called out Alex Jones and was promptly forced out of the Jones fold. The evidence is clear. At one point Kramer had to ask herself “who really runs the GNC network”, and given that Kramer is the person she is, the answer was more or less a given once that question was asked.
Currently she also runs seektress.com, where she panders conspiracies and various rants about spirituality, channeling, politics, UFOs, chemtrails, and Morgellons (which, according to authority Clifford E. Carnicom, is caused by chemtrails).
Diagnosis: In ardent combat with oppression and evil. It would have been an advantage if Kramer would spend her efforts in a manner that was informed by reality instead, but that’s apparently too much to ask for. Probably harmless.

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