TBR News November 3, 2017

Nov 03 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., November 3, 2017: “We have just received a notice from a firm that specializes in digging electronic information out of the woodwork. The firm lists several pages of topics, some of which are unbelievable. They are very expensive but one must assume that their data is correct. We are excerpting some of this list and have included their address for those who have the money to learn the truth as, according to the précis, it has never been available before.

  • Successor to the NSA ‘Harvest” programs that catalog important overseas telephone calls made via communications satellites.
  • In depth information on the DoD’s DISA sytems / VIPER and others
  • USIA/Warrentown files
  • In depth dossiers on members of Congress. These, the list advises us, consists of medical and financial records.
  • A 250 page report on the fake Anthrax scare
  • Firms and individuals in foreign countries known to be friendly sources.
  • Scanned copies of Governor George W. Bush’s personal correspondence and financial records, now hidden in the George H.W.Bush Presidential Library
  • Lists of offshore bank accounts for senior political and military figures
  • The so-called ‘Wilson Blvd.’ technical and scientific records

There are many more fascinating offerings but it should be noted that on the list we were sent, prices are very high indeed but approved credit cards, especially American Express, can be used. We have not availed ourselves of this reported service but as it might prove to be interesting to our many readers, especially those with large amounts of cash, we are including the address for your general information: www.spywarelabs.inc and one must apply for an entrance code.

Good hunting!”

Table of Contents

  • How U.S.-Saudi Marriage Gave Birth to Jihad
  • Islamic State on verge of defeat after fresh losses in Syria, Iraq
  • Angry About the DNC Scandal? Thank Obama.
  • Digital Darwinism: We Need New Rules for the Internet Economy
  • Apple could become world’s first trillion dollar company
  • The INSCOM Story
  • Bowe Bergdahl: Judge orders no prison time for US soldier in desertion case


How U.S.-Saudi Marriage Gave Birth to Jihad

Attempts to use Wahhabism to our advantage ultimately proved disastrous.

November 2, 2017

by Daniel Lazare

The American Conservative

Chatting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November 2016, Barack Obama mentioned Indonesia, where he spent part of his childhood back in the 1960s. The country, he noted, was a changed place. Where Muslims once adopted elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, and animism, a more austere version of Islam had taken hold once Saudi Arabia began pouring money into Wahhabist madrassas in the 1990s. Where women had formerly gone about with their heads uncovered, the hijab began to spread

But why, Turnbull wanted to know, was this happening? “Aren’t the Saudis your friends?” To which Obama replied, “It’s complicated.”

That c-word covers a lot of territory, not only with regard to Wahhabism, the ultra-fundamentalist Saudi ideology whose impact is now felt across the globe, but also with regard to the United States, the Saudis’ chief patron, protector—and enabler—since World War II. Like any imperialist power, the United States can be a bit unscrupulous in the partners it chooses. So one might expect it to look the other way when its Saudi friends spread their militant doctrines into Indonesia, the Philippines, the Indian subcontinent, Syria, and numerous points beyond.

But Washington did more than just look away. It actively encouraged such activities by partnering with the Wahhabists in any number of hotspots. They include Afghanistan, where American- and Saudi-armed jihadis drove out the Soviets in the 1980s. They also include Bosnia, where the two countries reportedly teamed up in the mid-1990s to smuggle hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms into Alija Izetbegović’s Islamic republic, today a stronghold of Wahhabist Salafism. Other notable examples: Kosovo, where the United States joined forces with “Afghan Arabs” and other Saudi-backed jihadis in support of the secessionist movement of Hashim Thaçi; Chechnya, where leading neocons such as Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Kenneth Adelman, Midge Decter, Frank Gaffney, Michael Ledeen, and R. James Woolsey championed Saudi-backed Islamist rebels; Libya, where Hillary Clinton personally recruited Qatar to join the effort against Muammar Qaddafi and then said nothing as the Wahhabist kingdom funneled some $400 million to rebel groups, many of them Islamists who proceeded to turn the country upside down; and of course Syria, where Sunni head-choppers backed by the Saudis and other oil monarchies have turned the country into a charnel house.

The United States pronounces itself shocked—shocked!—at the results, while pocketing the winnings. This is evident from a famous 1998 interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, who, as Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, did as much as anyone to invent the modern phenomenon of jihad. Asked if he had any regrets, Brzezinski was unabashed:

Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap, and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war….What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?

Or, as Graham Fuller, former deputy director of the CIA’s National Council on Intelligence and later a RAND Corporation analyst, put it a year later:

The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.

What could possibly go wrong? Less a specifically Saudi phenomenon, the great Wahhabist offensive of the last 30 or 40 years is best understood as a joint venture between oil imperialism and neo-medieval Islamic revivalism. On its own, such an austere doctrine would never have made it out of the badlands of central Arabia. Only in conjunction with outside powers, first Britain and then the United States, did it turn into a world-altering force.

Still, a bit of pre-history might be helpful. In order to know how Wahhabism arose, it’s necessary to know where it arose. This is Nejd, a vast plateau in central Arabia that is nearly the size of France. Ringed on three sides by desert and on the fourth by the somewhat more fertile Red Sea province of the Hejaz, it was one of the most isolated and barren spots on earth until oil was discovered in the 1930s. Less isolated now, it remains extremely barren. The English explorer Lady Anne Blunt described it in 1881 as consisting of “vast uplands of gravel, as nearly destitute of vegetation as any in the world,” dotted with occasional settlements that were nearly as cut off from one another as they were from the outside world. It was one of the few third-world countries still uncolonized by the 19th century, not because it was unusually strong or well organized but because it was too poor, wild, and inaccessible to be worth the effort.

It was a land that no one else wanted. It also was home to an ideology that no one else wanted. This was Hanbalism, the most severe and unforgiving of the four major schools of Islamic jurisprudence. It arose in Baghdad in the 9th century and within a few decades was wreaking havoc as adherents plundered homes to confiscate liquor, musical instruments, and other forbidden items; raided shops; and challenged men and women walking together in the street. Expelled from the metropolis, Hanbalis found themselves relegated to the most primitive and distant outposts, Nejd most notably. But then, in the mid-18th century, they found themselves under attack by a wandering preacher named Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, for whom Hanbalism was not severe enough.

Moving from village to village, “the Luther of Mahometanism,” as Lady Blunt described him, denounced such folk practices as worshiping at saints’ graves and praying at sacred trees. Theologically, Wahhab’s great contribution was to take the concept of shirk, or association, which traditionally referred to the worship of any deity in conjunction with Allah, and expand it to include anything that distracted from the single-minded focus on the one true god. Seeking the intervention of a saint, wearing a good-luck charm, even adorning the interior of a mosque—all were shirk. The goal was a religion as bare as the landscape, one that allowed nothing to come between man and God.

Presumably, Wahhab was not the first mullah to inveigh against superstition. But what distinguished him was his energy, his fanaticism—he made a name for himself by ordering the stoning of an accused adulteress—and an alliance he made in 1744 with a tribal leader named Muhammad bin Saud. In exchange for military backing, al-Wahhab provided bin Saud with the legal writ to rob, kill, or enslave anyone who refused to bow down to the new doctrine. Backed by fanatical Bedouins known as the Ikhwan, or Brotherhood, Saud and his sons set about conquering the desert interior.

A new dynasty was born. The Saudi-Wahhabi alliance amounted to a “constitution” of sorts in that it laid down basic rules that the new kingdom would have to follow. The al-Saud gained untrammeled economic and political authority. But the clan also acquired the religious obligation to support and defend the Wahhabiyya and struggle against practices that they regarded as un-Islamic. The moment it faltered, its legitimacy would vanish.

This explains both the strength and weakness of the Saudi state. At first glance, Wahhabism would seem to be the most untamable of ideologies since the only submission it recognizes is to God. But after being briefly toppled by the Ottomans in 1818, the al-Saud could only claw their way back by garnering outside support. The regime’s survival therefore hinged on balancing a fierce religious establishment against international forces that, as the dynasty knew too well, were infinitely more powerful than any horde of desert horsemen.

The tidal wave of oil money that washed over the kingdom in the 1970s compounded the problem. Not only did the al-Saud dynasty have to balance off the Wahhabiyya against the United States, but it also had to balance religious austerity off against modern consumerism. In the 1920s, mullahs had raged against foreign travel and telephones. A member of the Ikhwan once even struck a royal servant of the king for riding a bicycle, which the Wahhabists denounced as “Satan’s carriages.” But now the mullahs had to contend with Rolls Royces, Land Rovers, shopping malls, cinemas, female newscasters, and, of course, the growing ubiquity of sex.

What was to be done? The answer became clear in 1979, when three epochal events occurred. In January, the shah of Iran fled by plane to Egypt, paving the way for Ayatollah Khomeini’s triumphant return to Tehran two weeks later. In July, Jimmy Carter authorized the CIA to begin arming the Afghan mujahideen, prompting the Soviet Union to intervene several months later in support of the embattled left-wing government in Kabul. And in November, Wahhabist militants seized control of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, holding it for two weeks before being dislodged by French commandos.

The last was particularly shocking because it was quickly apparent that the militants enjoyed widespread clerical support. Juhayman al-Otaybi, leader of the assault, was a member of a prominent Ikhwan family and had studied under the grand mufti, Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz. While the Wahhabists condemned the takeover, their language, according to the journalist Robert Lacey, “was curiously restrained.” Support for the royal family was beginning to waver.

Plainly, the Saudi royal family needed to mend relations with the Wahhabiyya while burnishing its Islamic credentials in order to fend off criticism at home and abroad. It had to reinvent itself as an Islamic state no less militant than the Persian one across the Persian Gulf. But the burgeoning conflict in Afghanistan suggested a way out. While the United States could funnel aid to anti-Soviet forces, it obviously could not organize a proper jihad on its own. For that, it needed the help of the Saudis, which the kingdom now hastened to provide.

Out went the multiplexes and female news presenters, and in came the religious police and 75 percent discounts on Saudi Arabian Airlines for holy warriors traveling to Afghanistan by way of Peshawar, Pakistan. Thousands of bored and restless young men who might have caused trouble for the kingdom were shipped off to a distant land to make trouble for someone else. Saudi princes could still party as if there were no tomorrow, but now they had to do so abroad or behind closed doors at home. The homeland would otherwise have to remain pure and unsullied.

It was a neat solution, but it still left a few strings untied. One was the problem of blowback in the form of hardened jihadis returning from Afghanistan more determined than ever to battle corruption at home. “I have more than 40,000 mujahideen in the land of the two holy mosques alone,” Osama bin Laden reportedly told a colleague. It was a claim that could not be entirely laughed off once al Qaeda bombs starting going off in the kingdom beginning in 1995. Another problem concerned whom the militants targeted abroad, a problem that initially didn’t loom very large but would eventually prove highly significant.

Still, the new partnership worked brilliantly for a time. It helped the al-Saud regime mollify the ulema, as the mullahs are collectively known, which had come to see the umma, or community of the faithful, as besieged on multiple fronts. As Muhammad Ali Harakan, secretary-general of the Saudi-sponsored Muslim World League, put it as early as 1980:

Jihad is the key to Muslims’ success and felicity, especially when their sacred shrines are under Zionist occupation in Palestine, when millions of Muslims are suffering suppression, oppression, injustices, torture, and even facing death and extermination campaigns in Burma, Philippines, Patani [a predominantly Muslim region of Thailand], USSR, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cyprus, Afghanistan, etc. This responsibility becomes even more binding and pressing when we consider the malicious campaigns being waged against Islam and Muslims by Zionism, Communism, Free Masonry, Qadianism [i.e. Ahmadi Islam], Bahaism, and Christian Missionaries.

The Wahhabiyya would overlook the princes’ many sins if they used their newfound wealth to defend the faith.

The arrangement also worked for the United States, which acquired a useful diplomatic partner and an auxiliary military force that was cheap, effective, and deniable. It worked for gung-ho journalists traipsing through the wilds of Afghanistan, who assured the folks back home that the “muj” were nothing more than “ornery mountain folk who have not cottoned to a foreign power that has seized their land, killed their people, and attacked their faith,” to quote William McGurn, who went on to prominence as a speechwriter for George W. Bush.

It worked for nearly everyone until 19 hijackers, 15 of them Saudis, flew a pair of fuel-laden jetliners into the World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people in all. The 9/11 attacks should have been a wake-up call that something had gone seriously amiss. But instead of pressing the pause button, the United States opted to double down on the same old strategy. From its perspective, it had little choice. It needed Saudi oil; it needed security in the Persian Gulf, global commerce’s most important chokepoint; and it needed a reliable ally in the Muslim world in general. Moreover, the Saudi royal family was clearly in trouble. Al Qaeda enjoyed wide public support. Indeed a Saudi intelligence survey reportedly found that 95 percent of educated Saudis between the ages of 25 and 41 had “sympathies” for bin Laden’s cause. If the Bush administration had walked off in a huff, the House of Saud would have become more vulnerable to al Qaeda rather than less.

Consequently, Washington opted to work on the marriage rather than splitting up. This entailed three things. First, there was a need to cover up Riyadh’s considerable role in the destruction of the Twin Towers by, among other things, suppressing a crucial 29-page chapter in a joint congressional report dealing with Saudi links to the hijackers. Second, the Bush administration redoubled efforts to pin the blame on Saddam Hussein, Washington’s latest villain du jour. Need “best info fast,” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered while the towers were still burning, according to notes taken by his aide Stephen Cambone. “…Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. at same time—not only UBL [i.e. Usama bin Laden]. Hard to get a good case. Need to move swiftly—Near term target needs—Go massive—sweep it all up, need to do so to get anything useful. Things related or not.” Washington needed a fall guy to get the Saudis off the hook.

Third was the need to prosecute the so-called “War on Terror,” which was never about terrorism per se but about terrorism unsanctioned by the United States. The goal was to arrange for jihadis only to strike at targets jointly approved by Washington and Riyadh. This meant, first and foremost, Iran, the Saudis’ bête noire, whose power, ironically, had grown after the U.S. invasion of Iraq had tipped the formerly Sunni-controlled country into the pro-Shi‘ite column. But it also meant Syria, whose president, Bashar al-Assad, is an Alawite, a form of Shi‘ism, and Russia, whose friendliness to both countries left it doubly marked in U.S. and Saudi eyes. Ideologically, it meant taking Wahhabist anger at Western powers such as America, Britain, and France and directing it at Shi‘ism instead. The doors to sectarianism were thus opened.

The “redirection,” as investigative reporter Seymour Hersh termed it in 2007, also worked brilliantly for a time. Hersh described it as the product of four men: Vice President Dick Cheney; neocon Elliott Abrams, at the time deputy national security adviser for “global democracy strategy”; U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad; and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, for 22 years the Saudi ambassador to the United States and now the kingdom’s chief of national security. In Lebanon the goal was to work closely with the Saudi-backed government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to limit the influence of the pro-Iranian Shi‘ite militia Hezbollah, while in Iraq it entailed working more closely with Sunni and Kurdish forces to rein in Shi‘ite influence. In Syria, it meant working with the Saudis to strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni group locked in a ferocious struggle with the Baathist government in Damascus since the 1960s. Indeed a secret 2006 State Department memo made public by Wikileaks discussed plans to encourage Sunni fears of growing Shi‘ite influence even though it conceded that such concerns were “often exaggerated.”

The “redirection” program soon imploded. The problem began in Libya, where Hillary Clinton spent much of March 2011 persuading Qatar to join the effort against strongman Muammar Qaddafi. Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani eventually agreed and took the opportunity to funnel some $400 million to rebel groups, many of them Sunni Salafists who proceeded to turn the country upside down. The result was anarchy, yet the Obama administration stayed mum for years after. In Syria, the Defense Intelligence Agency determined in August 2012 that “events are taking a clear sectarian direction”; that Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al Qaeda “are the major forces driving the insurgency”; and that, despite this fundamentalist surge, the West, Turkey, and the Gulf states still backed the anti-Assad uprising. “If the situation unravels,” the report went on, “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria … and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion….” Eastern Syria, of course, became part of the Caliphate declared by ISIS—the recipient of “clandestine financial and logistic support” from both Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to no less an authority than Hillary Clinton—in June 2014.

The war on terror turned out to be the longest route possible between Sunni terrorism and Sunni terrorism. Once again, the United States had tried to use Wahhabism to its own advantage, but with consequences that proved nothing less than disastrous.

What went wrong? The problem is two-fold. Wahhabism is an ideology of Bedouin zealots who may be adept at conquering their fellow tribesmen but who are incapable of governing a modern state. This is nothing new. It’s a problem discussed by Ibn Khaldun, the famous North African polymath, in the 14th century and by Friedrich Engels, Marx’s collaborator, in the late 19th, but the bottom line is an endlessly repetitive cycle in which nomadic fanatics rise up, overthrow a regime that has grown soft and corrupt, only to grow soft and corrupt themselves before succumbing to yet another wave of desert warriors. The result is anarchy piled on top of anarchy.

The other problem involves U.S. imperialism, which, in contrast to the French and British varieties, eschews the direct administration of colonial possessions for the most part and instead seeks to leverage U.S. power via innumerable alliances with local forces. Unfortunately, leverage works the same way in diplomacy as in finance—i.e., as a multiplier of both gains and losses. As part of its alliance with the Saudis, the United States encouraged the growth not only of jihad but of Wahhabism in general. It seemed like a good idea when the Saudis established the Muslim World League in Mecca in 1962 as a counter to Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. So how could Washington object when the kingdom vastly expanded its missionary effort in 1979, spending anywhere from $75 billion to $100 billion to spread the word? King Fahd, who ruled from 1982 to 2005, bragged about all the religious and educational facilities he built in non-Muslim lands—200 Islamic colleges, 210 Islamic centers, 1,500 mosques, 2,000 schools for Muslim children, etc. Since the aim was to combat Soviet influence and promote a conservative view of Islam, U.S. fortunes received an immense boost.

It seemed like a good idea for some 15 to 20 years. Then bombs started going off, the 9/11 attacks rocked America, the United States rushed into the restless Middle East, and radical Saudi Wahhabism metastasized beyond its spawning ground. U.S. fortunes haven’t been the same since.


Islamic State on verge of defeat after fresh losses in Syria, Iraq

November 3, 2017

by Angus McDowall and Raya Jalabi


BEIRUT/ERBIL (Reuters) – Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate was on the verge of final defeat on Friday, with Syrian government forces capturing its last major city on one side of the border and Iraqi forces taking its last substantial town on the other.

The losses on either side of the frontier appear to reduce the caliphate that once ruled over millions of people to a single Syrian border town, a village on a bank of the Euphrates in Iraq and some patches of nearby desert.

Officials on both sides of the border said its final defeat could come swiftly, although they still fear it will reconstitute as a guerrilla force, capable of waging attacks without territory to defend.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar Abadi announced that government forces had captured al-Qaim, the border town where the Euphrates spills from Syria into Iraq. That leaves just the village of Rawa further down river on the opposite bank still in the hands of the ultra-hardline militants, who swept through a third of Iraq in 2014.

On the Syrian side, government forces declared victory in Deir al-Zor, the last major city in the country’s eastern desert where the militants still had a presence. Government forces are now about 40 km away from Albu Kamal, the Syrian town across the border from al-Qaim, and preparing for a final confrontation.

A U.S.-led international coalition which has been bombing Islamic State and supporting ground allies on both sides of the frontier said before the fall of al-Qaim that the militant group had just a few thousand fighters left, holed up in the two towns on either side of the border.

“We do expect them now to try to flee, but we are cognisant of that and will do all we can to annihilate IS leaders,” spokesman U.S. Colonel Ryan Dillon said.

“As IS continues to be hunted into these smallest areas … we see them fleeing into the desert and hiding there in an attempt to devolve back into an insurgent terrorist group,” said Dillon. “The idea of IS and the virtual caliphate, that will not be defeated in the near term. There is still going to be an IS threat.”

The group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to be hiding in the desert near the frontier.


Driven this year from its two de facto capitals — Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa — Islamic State has been squeezed into an ever-shrinking pocket of desert straddling the frontier by enemies that include most regional states and global powers.

In Iraq, it faces the army and Shi‘ite armed groups, backed both by the U.S.-led international coalition and by Iran. In Syria, the U.S.-led coalition supports an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias north and east of the Euphrates, while Iran and Russia support the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

On the Syrian side, Friday’s government victory at Deir al-Zor, on the west bank of the Euphrates, ended a two month battle for control over the city, the center of Syria’s oil production. Islamic State had for years besieged a government enclave there until an army advance relieved it in early September, starting a battle for jihadist-held parts of the city.

“The armed forces, in cooperation with allied forces, liberated the city of Deir al-Zor completely from the clutches of the Daesh terrorist organization,” state media reported, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Engineering units were searching streets and buildings in Deir al-Zor for mines and booby traps left behind by Islamic State fighters, a Syrian military source told Reuters.

The source added that he did not believe the final battle at the Albu Kamal border town would involve “fierce resistance”, as many fighters had been surrendering elsewhere.

“Some of them will fight until death, but they will not be able to do anything,” he said. “It is besieged from all directions, there are no supplies, a collapse in morale, and therefore all the organization’s elements of strength are finished.”


Angry About the DNC Scandal? Thank Obama.

November 3 2017

by Ryan Grim

The Intercept

In the fall of 2015, a year before the presidential election, the Democratic National Committee, we now know, was bought for the equivalent of a pawn shop by the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

The party organization was still deeply in debt from the 2012 campaign, owing millions to banks and vendors, burning through what little cash it had at a stunning rate of some $3 million to $4 million per month. By August 2015, the DNC was becoming unable to make payroll and approaching the equivalent of bankruptcy, according to a former senior party official, who requested anonymity, arguing that being quoted publicly criticizing the DNC in a news outlet connected to Intercept founder Glenn Greenwald, who is a critic of the DNC, would be damaging professionally.

And so the DNC, to save itself, sold everything to the only bidder. The Clinton campaign bailed out the DNC and, in exchange, effectively took it over, according to Donna Brazile, who served as the organization’s acting chairperson from July 2016 to February 2017.

“The agreement — signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias — specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff,” Brazile wrote in an explosive excerpt of her book published Thursday in Politico. “The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.”

Brazile’s belated acknowledgement that the DNC was, in fact, under the direct control of the Clinton campaign, rather than a neutral arbiter of the race, has enflamed a long-burning fight between Clinton’s backers and those of 2016 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, lending official credence to the argument that the DNC was tilted in Clinton’s favor.

There will be plenty of Facebook and Twitter threads to hash that out between now and the apocalypse. There will also be a chance to ponder the thinking behind Brazile’s timing — after it could have made a difference in the DNC chair race and a week before the Virginia gubernatorial election — as well as the motive, both personal and political. Indeed, during the campaign, Mook subjected Brazile to regular indignities, according to people who observed the relationship.

All that is fodder for a good flamewar, but walking away rather unscathed is the man who set the blaze in the first place: former President Barack Obama. “Nobody wanted to out the fact that Obama had let it get so bad,” said the DNC official.

Brazile’s reference to Marc Elias in her exposé was an extra twist of the knife. Elias was the Clinton campaign’s attorney and also the attorney for the DNC. A partner at Perkins Coie, Elias replaced Bob Bauer — another Perkins Coie attorney — when Obama brought him into the White House.

It didn’t have to be this way. Obama’s campaign operation, Obama for America, took small-dollar giving to never-before-seen heights and opened up the possibility of a transformation of politics. But he quickly decided to marginalize his group after the 2008 election. He renamed it Organizing for America, but ordered it to do very little organizing, worried that if grassroots activists attacked Blue Dog Democrats, they would bolt from the president and lose in 2010. Then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel famously told activists such a strategy was “fucking retarded.” (Most lost anyway in 2010, as the tea party wave swept them out.)

OFA became Obama’s primary campaign apparatus, supplanting the DNC, which became an afterthought handed to Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who later became Clinton’s running mate. After the 2010 wave, Obama put Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on top of the moribund institution, a clear signal that he was uninterested in it as a central component of the party. Obama’s poor relationship with Wasserman Schultz was widely known and written about, but he left her in the job for six years regardless.

Raising money for a bland outfit like the DNC isn’t easy in the best of times, but with Obama offering little to no help, and clinging to his invaluable email list, Wasserman Schultz was set up to fail, even if she would have done so on her own.

Obama instead reasoned that he could become the party, his dynamic and charismatic personality carrying it at the national level.

Obama was re-elected, but the party itself went on a historic losing spree, ultimately shedding nearly 1,000 seats across the country. Even after Democrats lost the Senate in 2014, and the DNC continued spending money on consultants at an eye-popping rate, Obama decided not to make a leadership change. Instead, he left it saddled with debt — debt the Clinton campaign would later agree to pay off in exchange for control.

Obama finally became interested in the party after the 2016 loss. His final gift to the party apparatus was Tom Perez, his labor secretary, who he recruited to stop Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., from winning the race for DNC chair. Obama and Perez won. DNC funding has been anemic, and it recently had to add to its roughly $3 million in debt.



Digital Darwinism: We Need New Rules for the Internet Economy

Antitrust laws only go so far when addressing companies that don’t produce any physical goods. It is time to negotiate a new set of rules. Otherwise, our future economy will be dominated by just a few companies.

November 3, 2017

by Armin Mahler


There are still people out there who think that Amazon is nothing more than an online version of a department store. But it’s much more than that: It is a rapidly growing, global internet giant that is changing the way we shop, conquering more and more markets, using Alexa to suck up our personal data straight out of our living rooms and currently seeking access to our front door keys so it can deliver packages even when nobody’s home. Facebook has also long since become much more than a social network for chatting with friends. It is a media company that earns billions in advertising by disseminating content without checking it first.

The list could go on – with Google, or Alphabet, as the company now calls itself, and others. What they all have in common are growth rates that would be impossible in the analog economy. And that they have amassed a dangerous amount of power – which is why they are increasingly facing political pushback.

Shifting Mood

It wasn’t that long ago that EU efforts to limit the power of Google and Amazon on the European market were decried in the U.S. as protectionism, as an attempt by the Europeans to protect their own inferior digital economy. Now, though, politicians and economists in the U.S. have even begun discussing the prospect of breaking up the internet giants. The mood has shifted.

Republicans have always been skeptical of the giants of Silicon Valley, which generally haven’t been shy about their support for the Democrats. Now, though, even the Democrats have begun looking askance at the companies, particularly since an election campaign which showed that the business model pursued by Facebook, Google and Twitter proved particularly advantageous to Donald Trump. Their platforms distributed millions of items of right-wing propaganda, with which Russia sought to influence the American vote. The exact role played by the internet companies is currently the subject of an investigation in the U.S. Congress.

As diverse as the appraisals of the critics might be, they are right. There are, of course, plenty of advantages associated with digitalization, but digital capitalism badly needs new rules – because the old laws are no longer effective. They were made for an economy that traded in real goods and for which price was an important factor. That could all be taxed, controlled and, if need be, adjusted.

The digital economy, by contrast, is based on algorithms and its most powerful companies don’t produce any physical products. Customers receive their services free of charge, paying only with their data. The more customers a service provider attracts, the more attractive it becomes to new customers, who then deliver even more data – which is why Google and Facebook need not fear new competition.

Swallowing Up Potential Rivals

Winner takes all: That is the Darwinist law of the digital economy – and it is why that economy shows a penchant for producing monopolies. But they are monopolies which cannot be addressed using the classical tools of antitrust law.

That is why, first of all, the power of a company, and the abuse of that power, must be redefined. We cannot allow a situation in which these extremely large companies can swallow up potential rivals before they can even begin to develop. As such, company acquisitions must be monitored much more strictly than they currently are and, if need be, blocked.

Second, it must be determined who owns the data collected – whether, for example, it should also be made available to competitors or whether consumers should receive more in exchange than simply free internet search results.

Third, those disseminating content cannot be allowed to reject responsibility for that content. Demonstrably false claims and expressions of hate should not be tolerated.

And finally, those who earn lots of money must also pay lots of taxes – and not just back home but in all the countries where they do business.

Transforming these demands into concrete regulations is complicated, and much of it can only be tackled at the international level. But that doesn’t mean that the German government shouldn’t do its part. The need for reform should be addressed in the ongoing negotiations in Berlin aimed at assembling Chancellor Angela Merkel’s next governing coalition.

The parties involved in those negotiations have set themselves the goal of advancing digitalization in Germany. That is correct, and it is important. But it is just as important to concurrently address the problems associated with digital capitalism. Otherwise, just a few companies will dominate our future economy.


Apple could become world’s first trillion dollar company

November 3, 2017


Shares of Apple rallied on better-than-expected fourth quarter results and hefty projections about its flagship iPhone X. This helped the company’s market cap briefly hit $900 billion in after-hours trading on Thursday.

The company’s quarterly earnings published on Thursday topped analysts’ estimates with revenue reaching $52.6 billion against $50.7 billion forecast by Thomson Reuters. The company’s adjusted earnings per share at $2.07 also exceeded the $1.87 expected by experts.

Apple sold 46.7 million iPhones compared to 46 million expected by a FactSet consensus estimate. Mac and iPad sales were above forecasts of most analysts as well. The company’s revenue guidance for its fiscal 2018 first quarter is projected at $87 billion against a projected $84.9.

“We’re happy to report a very strong finish to a great fiscal 2017, with record fourth-quarter revenue, year-over-year growth for all our product categories, and our best quarter ever for Services,” said the company’s CEO Tim Cook.

Apple could become the world’s first trillion dollar corporation. The company’s shares grew almost four percent on Friday with the current market cap value hovering around $868 billion.

“We see iPhone X unlocking pent-up iPhone upgrades, especially in China, driving more than 20 percent iPhone unit growth and a revenue and earnings beat in 2018,” analyst Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley told Reuters, commenting on the company’s flagship product that went on sale on November 3.

“Apple’s first-mover advantage and ”easy growth“ from new smartphone adopters is over, but the company appears likely to retain its existing premium customer base,” said analysts at investment research company Morningstar.


The INSCOM Story

November 3, 2017

by Christian Jürs

On February 16, 2017, The National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC) on Rivanna Station, located at 2055 Boulders Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22911 welcomed its incoming commander Colonel Dana Rucinski, replacing Colonel Ketti C. Davison, who served the center since 2015.

The host of the program was Major General Christopher S. Ballard, Commanding General, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), Fort Belvoir, Va.

The organization traces its origins to two highly successful Army organizations: the former Foreign Science and Technology Center and the Intelligence, Threat, and Analysis Center.

And here is the history of this Charlottesville, Virginia-based organization.

On January 1, 1977, the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) was organized at Arlington Hall Station, Va. The formation of INSCOM provided the Army with a single instrument to conduct multi-discipline intelligence and security operations and electronic warfare at the level above corps and to produce finished intelligence tailored to the Army’s needs.

The new major command merged divergent intelligence disciplines and traditions in a way that was unique to the Army. Its creation marked the most radical realignment of Army intelligence assets in a generation. Several major building blocks were consolidated to form the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command. They were the former U.S. Army Security Agency, a signal intelligence and signal security organization with headquarters at Arlington Hall, Va.; the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency, a counterintelligence and human intelligence agency based at Fort George G. Meade, Md.; and several intelligence production units formerly controlled by the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence and U.S. Army Forces Command.

INSCOM had a wide array of diverse assets at its disposal.

Initially, these included eight fixed field stations on four continents inherited from the Army Security Agency, various single-discipline units commanded by the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency, and the production centers in the Washington, D.C., area and at Fort Bragg, N. C.

On Oct. 1, 1977, the former U.S. Army Intelligence Agency headquarters was integrated into INSCOM, and the command established a unified intelligence production element, the Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center, on Jan. 1, 1978.

Additionally, INSCOM assumed command of three military intelligence groups located overseas: the 66th Military Intelligence Group in Germany, the 470th Military Intelligence Group in Panama, and the 500th Military Intelligence Group in Japan. These groups were transformed into multidisciplinary units by incorporating former Army Security Agency assets into the previously existing elements. A fourth such group, the 501st Military Intelligence Group, was soon organized in Korea.

The Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence resubordinated the Army’s Russian Institute in Germany to INSCOM in 1978 and in 1980, gave INSCOM command of the Special Security Group (which disseminated compartmented information to the Army).

That same year, INSCOM established an Army presence in a joint service field station in Kunia, Hawaii. This was the first new Army field station created outside the continental United States since the Vietnam War.

Two years later, the command organized another new field station in Panama from resources already in place. Later, INSCOM fielded Army technical control and analysis elements to provide better cryptologic support to tactical military intelligence units.

In 1982, INSCOM activated a major new military intelligence unit based in the United States, the 513th Military Intelligence Group. The group was formed to support possible operations conducted by the Army component of Central Command, the unified command created that year to deal with contingency situations in Southwest Asia. Alternatively, in case of Soviet aggression against the nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the group could redeploy to Europe. As initially configured, the 513th included the only technical intelligence battalion in the Army.

By 1985, 15,000 people were assigned to INSCOM. By that time, INSCOM was redefining its structure and practices along a wide variety of fronts. One of them was counterintelligence. As revelations of successful penetrations of America’s most sensitive agencies by hostile intelligence services mounted, 1985 became the “Year of the Spy.”

INSCOM moved to reconfigure its limited counterintelligence assets into more productive arrangements to meet the Army’s needs. In the process, the command moved away from a concept of providing generalized operational security support to all Army elements in favor of a narrower focus on priority objectives. This included expanding polygraph examinations and technical service countermeasures, and providing counterintelligence support to the Army’s growing number of Special Access Programs — highly sensitive projects which required exceptional security measures.

The Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center was removed from INSCOM and, along with the Army Materiel Command centers, resubordinated to a new Army Intelligence Agency, a field operating agency of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence with headquarters in Northern Virginia.

Attempts to find a suitable central headquarters location either at Fort George G. Meade, Md., or at Vint Hill Farms, Va., were repeatedly stymied by political and fiscal constraints. The withdrawal of the large Defense Intelligence Agency presence from Arlington Hall made it possible for all headquarters elements to consolidate at that site in 1986.

Beginning that same year, INSCOM’s five multidiscipline intelligence groups were redesignated as brigades. The transition to brigade status was intended to be more than cosmetic; the units would now be organized for warfighting, rather than having structures geared to national collection requirements in time of peace. In the event of mobilization, INSCOM leaders thought Reserve Component units could be called up to bring the brigades to full strength.

INSCOM relocated to Fort Belvoir, Va., in the summer of 1989, occupying the Nolan Building. The new headquarters structure was named in honor of Maj. Gen. Dennis E. Nolan, Pershing’s G2 in World War I.

It soon became apparent the post-Cold War world would continue to hold unforeseen and unforeseeable perils. In the unstructured international environment created by the sudden collapse of the bipolar world order imposed by the Cold War, crises could — and did — take place around the world. At the end of 1989, the threat posed to American interests in Panama by the country’s narcotics-linked strongman provoked an American military intervention, Operation JUST CAUSE. Eight months later, the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq resulted in a massive deployment of American forces to the Arabian Peninsula and the subsequent ”liberation” of the emirate in Operation DESERT STORM. The challenges of JUST CAUSE and DESERT STORM — successive crises occurring half a world apart and in totally unrelated linguistic environments — made large demands on military intelligence and appeared to serve as a portent for the future.

INSCOM successfully met these demands. Its 470th Military Intelligence Brigade had been in place in Panama when that crisis broke. INSCOM’s 513th Military Intelligence Brigade, with a long-standing contingency mission to support U.S. Army Central Command, was positioned to meet Army intelligence requirements when deployment to the Persian Gulf began. Once brigade elements had moved to Saudi Arabia, INSCOM was able to augment the unit by “lifting and shifting” its own assets around the globe. As the situation reached its climax, the brigade’s echelon-above-corps intelligence center was expanded to a full operations battalion and placed in support of the G2 of Central Command’s Army component.

In JUST CAUSE and DESERT STORM, the Army had been able to draw on the resources built up during the height of the Cold War. The future challenge for Army intelligence was to do more with less. During the course of the 1990’s, the defense budget shrunk inexorably, and the size of the Army and INSCOM steadily decreased. At the same time, INSCOM was drawn into contingency operations other than war all over the globe, supporting a series of humanitarian relief and stability missions in the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans. On the Pacific Rim, North Korea showed increasing belligerency, and INSCOM’s 501st Military Intelligence Brigade readied for war on short notice. Additionally, INSCOM found itself tasked with supporting treaty verification, conducting counterdrug operations, and protecting the Army against an espionage threat posed by nations not traditionally our adversaries.

The Army Intelligence Agency was soon discontinued, and INSCOM merged the two remaining Army production elements into a single National Ground Intelligence Center. The mission of the Special Security Group that had disseminated Sensitive Compartmented Information since World War II was drastically realigned.

The unit was redesignated and resubordinated to the 902d Military Intelligence Group.

The 902nd MI Group headquarters and subordinate battalion activity headquarters are located at Fort George G. Meade, Md. The 902nd MI Group has company headquarters detachments and resident or field offices in more than 50 locations inside and outside the continental U.S.

The 902nd MI Group consists of the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 310th MI Battalion, 10th MI Battalion and the U.S. Army Foreign Counterintelligence Activity.

The HHD provides personnel administration, training, and logistical support to the 302nd MI Group’s headquarters, as well as to subordinate units located at Fort George G. Meade.

In addition, the HHD Special Security Office serves not only the 902nd MI Group, but the entire installation. Without deviating from its core mission, the detachment prepares its Soldiers and civilians to execute their duties in an ever-changing military intelligence environment.

With the Soviets no longer a menace, INSCOM’s U.S. Army Russian Institute was resubordinated to the European Command. Joint operations had become a main focus of the Department of Defense; in 1993, the Secretary of Defense ordered service human intelligence assets consolidated under Defense Intelligence Agency control. INSCOM turned over most of its human intelligence operations to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Defense HUMINT Agency in 1995.

This soon led to drastic decrements in INSCOM strength in Europe and in Central America. The 66th Military Intelligence Brigade was reduced to a provisional group; the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade prepared to stand down. Concurrently, INSCOM’s major field stations in Europe and Panama were discontinued and Army cryptologic organization radically restructured.

To meet changed requirements, INSCOM set up a Regional SIGINT Operations Center at Fort Gordon, Ga., manned by personnel of the newly organized 702d Military Intelligence Group. Since its 513th Military Intelligence Brigade concurrently relocated to Fort Gordon, this allowed strategic and tactical assets to be combined. At the same time, the command assumed host responsibilities for new sites in Europe. This allowed the Army to be involved with the most advanced communications technologies.

New intelligence-related technologies such as the Enhanced TRACKWOLF high-frequency, direction-finding system became part of INSCOM’s inventory. The new discipline of Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) assumed a growing importance. During the 1990’s, INSCOM’s Military Intelligence Battalion (Low Intensity) evolved from a developmental test bed into a fully operational unit, eventually becoming the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion. After experimenting with aerostats and unmanned aerial vehicles, the battalion fielded the Airborne Reconnaissance Low (ARL) platform, which would support Army operations on four continents. INSCOM personnel also helped man the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), which had first seen service in Operation DESERT STORM.

Its capabilities were enhanced in 2001 when it moved into new quarters in Charlottesville, Virginia. INSCOM’s new mission sites at Bad Aibling, Germany, and Menwith Hill, United Kingdom, were joint-service organizations in which INSCOM soldiers worked closely with Air Force, Navy, and civilian counterparts using cutting-edge technologies.

The 513th MI Brigade, the command’s rapid response unit, was restationed and collocated with the Gordon Regional Security Operations Center at Fort Gordon, Georgia..

Personnel from the 513th formed the core of an American-led Military Intelligence Battalion that supported NATO forces in Bosnia.

Additionally, INSCOM was able to coordinate the movement of intelligence specialists from its units worldwide and deploy them where needed. INSCOM units were active in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Persian Gulf and East Timor

In 1994, INSCOM established a completely new type of intelligence element, the Land Information Warfare Activity (LIWA).

The LIWA was the Army’s first venture into the uncharted field of information operations.

It was designed to defend the Army’s automated communications and data systems from outside intrusion and to give the Army full capabilities in both the defensive and offensive aspects of any future conflict in cyberspace.

The LIWA/INSCOM-staffed Information Dominance Center commenced operations in 1999,

INSCOM provided the United States military and political entities with global reach and coverage. As part of this process, INSCOM found itself working more closely with the overall intelligence community and with the Army’s own tactical military intelligence assets.

On September 11, 2001, the scope and dimension of the challenges that America would have to face in the new millennium became manifest.

INSCOM assets also deployed to Southwest Asia in support of the US Central Command.

Its force protection units were put on highest alert around the world and throughout CONUS and production elements greatly increased analysis and reporting to every level of Army command. INSCOM took immediate and decisive action to accelerate its ongoing restructuring into an operational headquarters.

INSCOM became the Army’s critical information conduit, compressing, processing, and analyzing huge amounts of raw data gathered by national and service sources into actionable intelligence that could be funneled to commanders and national law enforcement agencies in near real time.

On July 8, 1994, these organizations were combined to activate the National Ground Intelligence Center (provisional) and placed as a subordinate command under the Intelligence and Security Command. The center became fully operational on July 9, 1994.

The Center is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., and is the Nation’s leader in foreign ground forces intelligence.

Also located at Charlottesville are the Army Installation Management Command, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

And there is also the top secret command elaborate underground bunker system located at Peters Mountain.

Peters Mountain is part of a string of “hardened” communications nodes built to survive nuclear war in the 1950s. The land it’s on is officially owned by AT&T and to prevent any identification by aerial observation, there’s a large AT&T logo newly installed on the top of the mountain itself and clearly visible from the air, and a large  helicopter pad

This top secret and guarded facility located at the top of Peters Mountain, approximately 16 miles east of Charlottesville has had a $65 million dollar building program since 2007.

This secret underground bunker system is part of a “situational awareness and crisis support” to the nation’s leaders to permit them to evacuate to their classified alternate facility, in Keswick, Albemarle County just east of Charlottesville.

County records for the secret base at 3263 Peters Mountain Road, Keswick, Virginia are as follows:

The building permits  submitted to the county since 2007— B200701545AC dated 07/03/07; B201302542ATWR dated 10/29/13; and B201402314AC dated 11/12/14 — amount to $61,124,583.00 in interior and exterior alterations, including the building of that helicopter pad, a new bunker entrance, “alteration to interior spaces,” and installation of two new satellite dishes.

This is part of a national Warning, Alert, and Mobilization System (WAMS)

which would alert a select group of top level executives from the executive, legislative and the intelligence communities to deploy to the bunker in the event of a potential catastrophic pending event against buildings in and around Washington, DC,.

This alert would come from “The Communicator” Automated Notification System and would take two forms: alerts for everyone and alerts for the “core” participants.

Because Washington, DC has extensive and chronic traffic congestion, the  core participants, those who have to move away from Washington within minutes of notification, would congregate and board helicopters which would take them away.

The Keswick bunker system has been built is built and, like Mount Weather, Raven Rock and the Olney bunkers that dot the west, north, and east of the capital and is immediate protection for  the government —and now the intelligence community  to protect themselves during a disaster.


Bowe Bergdahl: Judge orders no prison time for US soldier in desertion case

US soldier Bowe Bergdahl has been spared prison time for deserting his post in Afghanistan in 2009, but a military judge ordered that he be dishonorably discharged. President Donald Trump called the ruling a “disgrace.”

November 3, 2017


A military judge ruled on Friday that US soldier Bowe Bergdahl should not receive a prison sentence for endangering his fellow troops when he walked off his post in Afghanistan.

The 31-year-old US Army sergeant was given a dishonorable discharge, his rank was reduced to private, and he was ordered to forfeit his pay amounting to a $10,000 (€8,619) fine, the military judge said at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

Bergdahl previously pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and faced a potential life sentence in prison.

Here are the main points in the case:

— Bergdahl left his combat outpost in Afghanistan’s Paktika province in June 2009 without permission

— He was subsequently captured by the Taliban and spent five years in captivity

— Bergdahl was freed and brought back to the US in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay

— The swap, arranged by former US President Barack Obama, was harshly criticized by Republicans

Trump rails against ruling

US President Donald Trump swiftly condemned the military judge’s decision on Twitter, calling it a “complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.”

While on the campaign trail last year, current US President Donald Trump called Bergdahl “a no-good traitor who should have been executed.”

Earlier this week, the military judge in the case warned that Trump’s repeated remarks on the case could “mitigate” the sentencing.

Politically charged trial

Prosecutors were seeking a much harsher 14-year prison sentence for Bergdahl, saying that the prison term was justified based on the injuries sustained by service members who searched for the soldier.

“Sergeant Bergdahl does not have a monopoly on suffering as a result of his choices,” said Major Justin Oshana, a prosecutor.

Bergdahl’s defense team argued that the soldier suffered from several mental health conditions — with experts testifying that a schizophrenia-like condition likely led him to leave his post — and should not be sent to prison. They also said Bergdahl had suffered enough confinement during five years in Taliban captivity.

The dishonorable discharge ruling means that the decision will be automatically appealed to a higher military court. Prior to the appeal, a general will also review the ruling, but they cannot increase the sentence.


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