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TBR News November 5, 2019

Nov 05 2019

The Voice of the White House Washington, D.C. November 5, 2019:

“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 place to discuss it.

Commentary for November 5: “I see that an entire American family was shot to death by the drug lords in Mexico. There are a large number of retired Americans living in Mexico and given the total anarchy that country has fallen into, it would be prudent for them to return to the United States and further, Americans should not, under any circumstances, travel south of the border unless they want to end up, without a head, in some trench.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Four ways Trump’s tax returns could come to light
  • Tax Fraud By The Numbers: The Trump Timeline
  • Impeachment inquiry transcripts reveal shock and concern over Trump plot
  • Winter Is Coming
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

 

Four ways Trump’s tax returns could come to light

November 5, 2019

by Brendan Pierson

Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump broke with a decades-long tradition of U.S. presidential candidates by not releasing his tax returns during his campaign, prompting state and Congressional investigators to seek the returns through other means.

On Monday, a federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled that Trump’s accounting firm could hand eight years of his returns over to New York prosecutors, in one of several legal battles over the returns. Trump is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Below are four ways investigators could get his tax returns.

  1. Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars LLP, could hand the returns over to the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee.

The committee subpoenaed Mazars for Trump’s financial records, including tax returns, in April. It said the committee said it needed the records to determine if Trump – whose business interests have ranged from real estate and golf courses to a reality TV show – complied with laws requiring disclosure of his assets, and to assess whether those laws need to be changed.

Trump sued in April, arguing that the committee’s subpoena was politically motivated and exceeded limits on congressional investigative power.

A federal district court and an appeals court have both upheld the committee’s authority to enforce the subpoena, but it remains on hold as Trump seeks a rehearing in the appeals court.

  1. Mazars could give the returns to New York state prosecutors.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August, seeking eight years of Trump’s returns as part of a criminal investigation. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations. The scope of the investigation is not known.

Last month, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that Trump was not immune from investigation, and on Nov. 4, an appeals court upheld that ruling.

Vance’s office has agreed not to enforce the subpoena while Trump appeals to the Supreme Court. It has also said in court that if it obtains the returns, they will remain confidential.

  1. The House Ways and Means Committee could get the tax returns from the U.S. Treasury Department.

U.S. Representative Richard Neal, chair of the committee, asked the Treasury Department to turn over six years of Trump’s tax returns in April. Federal law states that the Treasury “shall furnish” tax returns to Congress upon request.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to hand over Trump’s returns. The committee in July filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C. seeking to compel the Treasury to comply. In August, the judge overseeing the case declined to fast-track the litigation, meaning the dispute is likely to extend well into 2020.

  1. States could obtain the returns through new laws.

Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom in July signed a law requiring presidential candidates to release five years of tax returns in order to appear on a nominating ballot in the state.

Trump sued to block the law, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution. A federal judge sided with the president last month, and the law remains in limbo while the state appeals.

Similarly, Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in July signed a law requiring state authorities to hand state tax returns over to Congress. However, Neal has said the law may not be relevant to his inquiry, which focuses on Trump’s federal returns.

Trump has filed a lawsuit to block the New York law. Whatever its outcome, the law will be limited to past years, as the president recently changed his state of residence from New York to Florida.

Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot

 

Tax Fraud By The Numbers: The Trump Timeline

November 5, 2019

by Kenneth W. Boyd

CPA Accounting Institute

It’s no secret that tax law in the United States is extremely confusing. Even the length of the official tax code is subject to wild speculation; people estimate it to be somewhere between 2,500 pages and four times the length of the complete written works of Shakespeare.

As a result of this confusion, many people are intimidated by this substantial piece of American legislation. It’s because of this wariness around taxes and tax law that accounting has become such a lucrative profession, and it’s why the word “audit” strikes fear into the hearts of business owners.

But what if we could make tax law less confusing? What if it’s possible to break down the thousands of pages and hundreds of sections into something easier for ordinary people to understand?

Tax Fraud By The Numbers

In order to better understand the intricacies of tax law, we should start by examining the concept of tax fraud. After all, by understanding what constitutes a violation of the law, we can obtain a better understanding of the law itself.

And what better place to start than with the President of the United States?

Donald Trump has a long and fascinating history as a business mogul before becoming elected President in 2016. In that time, he has made big waves in real estate and entrepreneurship and has been accused of multiple fraudulent activities in the process. Many of these accusations have been catalogued in a massive exposé published by the New York Times.

Whether or not these accusations are legitimate is up to the courts to decide. This is in no way an indictment or direct attack on the president; all we are attempting to do with these events is construct an educational case study. By analyzing these scenarios, we should be able to establish a working knowledge of tax fraud and, by extension, tax law itself.

So read on to learn about Donald Trump’s tax fraud allegations over the course of 25 years and what they can teach us about the United States tax code!

Trump’s Tax Fraud Timeline

Gift Tax Fraud

Although the accusations of fraud leveled at Donald Trump cover several different areas of tax law, one thing nearly all of them have in common is that they involve circumventing gift taxes.

But why is this the case?

For people who aren’t billionaires, gift tax isn’t a major issue. Any exchange of money or property from one individual to another without expecting anything of equivalent value in return would qualify as a taxable gift in the eyes of the IRS. However, this tax doesn’t need to be paid if the value of these gifts are lower than the annual or lifetime exclusion. As of 2018, the annual exclusion is $15,000 and the lifetime exclusion is $11.8 million.

Here’s an example of how the gift tax works:

If you wanted to give someone in your family a used Toyota Corolla that was worth about $5,000, you wouldn’t have to pay gift taxes on it. But if you wanted to gift someone a brand-new Tesla Model 3 with a base price of $35,000, you would have to pay gift taxes since it’s worth more than the annual exclusion rate.

At least, you would have to pay taxes on that Tesla if you had already given them $11.8 million over the course of your lifetime. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it works to illustrate our point!

In the case of Donald Trump, the amounts of money and property being given far exceed these exclusions. And because of this, all gifts that he received would be taxed to the tune of 55%.

So how did he (allegedly) get around this steep tax? In a number of ways: many of them accomplished with the help of his father Fred Trump, according to the New York Times.

As the Times tells it, Donald took out several “loans” from his father Fred in order to support some of his struggling business ventures. A document cataloguing some of these loans place the total at nearly $5 million in 1979 alone. These loans were open-ended, meaning that there was no set payment schedule. The implication of this is that there was no real pressure or even expectation to pay back these loans.

And this is how Trump’s father gave him a gift of about $5 million dollars without having to give the IRS 55%.

Allegedly!

Securities Fraud

So how did Donald Trump get out of paying back the loans he made to his father? Even though these substantial cash injections into his businesses were essentially gifts from a father to his son, there needed to be some attempt at paying them back in order to avoid the 55% tax bill. And because Trump (allegedly) needed this money to simply keep many of his struggling businesses afloat, there was no way he could actually pay them back in full.

The solution in this case would be to work out a situation where the loans have been paid off without losing any actual money or equity: which is exactly what the New York Times claimed Trump did in the early 90’s by committing securities fraud.

But before we get into the specifics, let’s quickly go over what securities fraud is:

Securities fraud is any kind of fraudulent activity that involves stocks or investments. According to Investopedia, this form of tax fraud “can be committed in a variety of forms, but mostly involves misrepresenting information investors use to make decisions.” Some recent high-profile examples of securities fraud include the Enron scandal in 2001 and Bernie Madoff’s long-running Ponzi scheme that was thwarted in 2008.

Securities fraud isn’t always tax fraud, but it becomes tax fraud when it is committed in order to circumvent paying taxes. And this is the context of the allegations leveled against Trump.

Here’s what happened according to the Times:

By 1989, Donald Trump owed his father about $11 million and it was coming up on time to collect. If the loan was simply forgiven, it would turn into taxable income; instead, Donald paid it back through a 7.5% stake in one of his Manhattan condominiums. This means that both Donald and his father Fred agreed that 7.5% of his property, obtained through stocks, had a value of $11 million.

However, Fred Trump sold this 7.5% stock back to his son just two years later for only $10,000, spread out over multiple transactions. One documented example from 1991 provided by the Times listed a net loss of almost $1 million for just one of these transactions! Nothing drastic happened to New York City real estate prices in order to justify this price difference, so it appears as though the agreed-upon 7.5% was now only worth a fraction of its original value.

In this way, Donald Trump and his father were able to turn a debt of $11,000,000 into only $10,000, paid tax-free, all by grossly overvaluing and then undervaluing the stock value of his property.

Allegedly!

Loans Fraud

Based on the evidence, it seems that Trump has been receiving quite a bit of help from his father in a way that isn’t supposed to attract a lot of attention from the IRS. However, an incident of loan fraud in 1990 seems to be an exception to father and son’s standard operating procedure, at least according to documented evidence provided by the Washington Post.

As the story goes, a man named Howard Snyder acting as Fred Trump’s attorney visited Trump Castle, one of Donald Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City. He then purchased $3.5 million worth of casino chips. Then he leaves without playing a single game.

You might be wondering: if Donald Trump is already receiving gifts from his father disguised as loans, why would he then take out loans from his father poorly disguised as legitimate business transactions?

Part of the reason for this extra layer of deception seemed to be so that Trump could receive this money faster than if conducted through ordinary loan channels. The reason why this particular loan was so time-sensitive, according to the New York Times, is that he needed it in order to make a bond payment of about $18.4 million. And because of that loan, even in spite of the fact that this obvious act of fraud was caught and punished by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, Trump was able to make that payment.

Another reason for this fraudulent act could easily be explained by the way it reduced the fees he had to pay the government in exchange for such a substantial wealth transfer. As we’ve learned, receiving $3.5 million as a gift would require paying an extremely high percentage in gift taxes. However, a loan also requires high fees due to the need for an interest rate.

One of the ways that the IRS differentiates a loan from a gift or taxable income is through the addition of an Applicable Federal Rate (AFR). These rates are updated every year since they reflect the average percentage of interest charged on all loans made by banks and other financial institutions in the country. Consequently, a loan is only considered a loan in the eyes of the IRS when it applies interest in line with the AFR. And in December of 1991, the AFR for a short-term monthly loan was 5.49%.

Here’s a quick multiple-choice question. If you are required to give up a portion of $3.5 million dollars, which amount would you rather pay:

55%, or $1.9 million

5.5%, or $175,000

1.8%, or $65,000

Donald Trump picked option C. When the New Jersey Casino Control Commission charged him with fraud, they fined him $65,000, which is slightly less than 2% of the money he received. And that’s how he was able to receive a loan, tax and interest-free, in time to save his casino from foreclosure.

Allegedly!

Appraisal and Estate Tax Fraud

Before we go any further, it’s important to define some terms:

Let’s start with estate tax. This is more or less the same thing as gift tax and is closely tied with inheritance tax. All three of these concepts are closely interlinked to the point where many individuals mistake them for each other; they will refer to inheritance tax as estate tax and vice versa.

So what’s the difference between these three concepts? Here’s a brief rundown of their definitions:

Gift tax is applied when explicitly giving a gift to another person or party. It is paid by the giver, but it can be collected from the receiver if the giver fails to pay. It is a federal tax, which means that gifts given anywhere in the country can be subject to them.

Estate tax is applied when determining the value of a deceased person’s property. It is paid by the estate before bequeathment, meaning that the taxes are taken out of this value before it is passed on to the receiver. There is a federal estate tax with its own exclusion rate and a state estate tax that varies depending on the state.

Inheritance tax is applied when passing a deceased person’s property onto their beneficiaries as outlined in their will. It is paid by the receiver, meaning that the taxes are charged to the person receiving the money or property. This is a state tax that only applies to Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Now that we’ve defined those terms, we can talk about appraisal fraud. This is when an individual or organization either inflates or deflates the value of a property dishonestly. The reasons for doing so can vary; however, the most often reason for committing this form of fraud is to manipulate mortgage rates, which is why it is also sometimes referred to as mortgage fraud. The FBI has stated that this particular form of fraud was a major contributing factor to the 2008 housing crisis.

So what does estate tax and appraisal fraud have to do with Donald Trump?

It’s important to note at this point that Donald Trump is not an only child. Although it sounds like he received quite a bit of special treatment from his father Fred, the truth is that his siblings also allegedly received substantial gifts and properties as well.

And in 1981, one of Donald’s siblings, Fred Trump Jr., passed away due to complications from alcoholism. This meant that all of his assets would be passed on to his surviving family members according to his will, which would be handled by his estate.

The individuals who were in charge of his estate, by the way, were Donald and Fred Sr.

This is the first instance reported by the New York Times in which Donald Trump participated in appraisal fraud in order to avoid paying estate taxes. Although the Times states that the inherited properties would have been worth over $90 million, a document they obtained shows that the estate (Donald and Fred Sr.) claimed they were only worth slightly over $13 million.

As a result of this, Fred Trump Jr.’s estate only had to pay $700,000 in estate taxes. If they had declared these properties on their estate tax return at their full value, they would have had to pay nearly $60 million according to estate tax rates and exclusions in that year.

The next instance in which the Times claims that Donald Trump committed appraisal fraud to pay less in estate taxes occurred in 1997 when his father passed away. According to another document provided by the publication, Fred Trump’s estate was said to have a total value of around $41 million. However, they then state that Donald was able to sell his share of the estate for $177.3 million in 2004.

Think about those numbers for a minute. How was Donald Trump able to turn a portion of $41 million into $177.3 million in just 7 years? As the Times tells it, he was able to do this by handling his late father’s estate the same was as he did his late brother’s: fraudulently.

Allegedly!

Expense Reports Fraud

As the story goes, Fred Trump Jr.’s passing was a tragic surprise that couldn’t have been planned for in any way. However, the passing of Fred Trump Sr. was of natural causes, meaning there was plenty of time to prepare for the handling of his estate. Because of this, the New York Times claims that steps were taken ahead of time to siphon as much wealth from Fred Sr. to his children before his death in order to further minimize the size of his estate taxes.

One of the ways that this was accomplished was through a company named All County Building Supply and Maintenance, according to the Times. This company was hired by Fred Trump, owned by his children, and used to give them money through expense reports fraud.

But what is expense reports fraud?

This is a form of financial fraud that is well-known and fiercely opposed by many forensics accountants and anti-fraud organizations. Also known as expense schemes, this is when a business or one of its employees lies about their expenses.

Let’s go over the difference between an honest business expense and a fraudulent one. In the first scenario, an employee takes a client out to dinner in order to discuss business. In this case, the employee can claim the cost of dinner as a legitimate business expense. But if the employee takes someone who isn’t a client out to dinner as a date and then claims it as a business expense, they are committing expense report fraud.

Expense reports fraud can take many forms, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, such as when “an employee overstates the cost of actual expenses and seeks reimbursement.” And this is the type of fraud that the Times claims the Trumps engaged in with the aid of All County Building Supply and Maintenance.

An annotated document contained in their article breaks down how a purchase of 60 boilers for Fred Trump’s properties, conducted through All County Building Supply, was marked up by 20%. This extra 20% was pure profit, paid out to the owners of the building supply company. With enough business transactions conducted in this way, substantial amounts of money can be legally fed from Fred to his children without having to pay gift taxes.

And that’s how Donald Trump and his siblings were able to drain their father’s accounts before his death while paying the bare minimum taxes possible.

Allegedly!

Conclusion

Let’s go over the different types of fraud discussed in this article: those that have been allegedly committed by the 45th President of the United States according to the Times’ exposé:

Gift tax fraud, where IRS fees on gifts are avoided by disguising them as loans or legitimate business transactions.

Securities fraud, where the value of stocks and investments are misrepresented in order to deceive investors or the IRS.

Loans fraud, where a loan is disguised as a different transaction in order to avoid involving a financial institution and setting fair interest rates.

Appraisal fraud, where the value of a property is misrepresented in order to manipulate mortgage rates or deceive the IRS.

Estate tax fraud, where the value of an individual’s estate is misrepresented in order to avoid paying a high percentage to the IRS.

Expense reports fraud, where business expenses are misrepresented in order to deceive a business or the IRS.

Not all of these fraudulent activities are specifically tax fraud, but they can all be used for the purpose of committing tax fraud. This is because they involve misrepresenting the value or existence of properties and expenses in order to deceive individuals, businesses, accountants, and tax auditors.

So what does this teach us about tax law? Well, by understanding what we aren’t supposed to do, we should be able to figure out what we are supposed to do, at least in the eyes of the IRS.

We’re supposed to pay a portion of anything inherited or received as a gift if it’s worth a significant amount.

If we’re taking out a loan instead of receiving a gift, we have to go through proper channels in order to ensure that the payment schedules and interest rates are set fairly.

And we’re not supposed to lie about the values of our properties, investments, or business expenses.

Sounds pretty simple, right? The truth is, most of our lengthy and confusing tax code can be distilled to these core values:

Be truthful, be fair, and remember to share!

 

Impeachment inquiry transcripts reveal shock and concern over Trump plot

Yovanovitch and McKinley warned plot undermined national security

November 4, 2019

by Tom McCarthy in New York

The Guardian

Two senior American diplomats warned congressional investigators a White House plot to manufacture political dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine had undermined US national security interests and shredded faith among foreign service personnel, according to transcripts released on Monday by committees pursuing an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.

One of the diplomats, former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, described her “shock” to discover that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal emissary who has also worked for Ukrainian and Russian interests, was attempting to destroy her reputation.

When she sought advice on how to stanch the attack, she said, she was told to tweet something nice about Trump.

The second diplomat, P Michael McKinley, described how his dawning awareness of the White House plot to attack Biden, combined with the failure of the state department to support Yovanovitch, led him to resign.

“To see the emerging information on the engagement of our missions to procure negative political information for domestic purposes,” McKinley testified, “combined with the failure I saw in the building to provide support for our professional cadre in a particularly trying time, I think the combination was a pretty good reason to decide … I had no longer a useful role to play.”

Trump and his supporters continue to deny allegations the White House withheld almost $400m in military aid and the promise of a White House meeting until Ukraine announced investigations that could harm Biden, a frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But a summary of a call between Trump and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, provided evidence of a quid pro quo, which has been backed by testimony from more than a dozen officials and admitted by some Republicans – who claim it is not impeachable conduct.

The committees leading the impeachment inquiry released the transcripts as four White House officials failed to respond to subpoenas, in an abrupt escalation of Trump’s defiance of Congress.

Trump, meanwhile, sparked an outcry by beginning to lift a veil on the identity of the official whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry, in spite of federal laws making it a crime to threaten or take action against government whistleblowers.

“The Whistleblower got it sooo wrong that HE must come forward,” Trump tweeted on Sunday, revealing the individual’s gender and hinting at knowledge of his identity. On Monday, he said the whistleblower’s offer of written answers to Republicans’ questions was “not acceptable”.

House intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff vowed the inquiry would not be delayed.

“We may infer by the White House obstruction here, that [the officials’] testimony would be further incriminatory of the president,” Schiff told reporters. “We will continue to release the transcripts and we will soon, although I can’t give you the timetable, be moving to open hearings as well.”

Yovanovitch, a career diplomat with a reputation as a staunch anti-corruption advocate, discovered in late 2018 that Giuliani was campaigning against her, she testified.

When she sought the advice of Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the European Union, he said: “You need to, you know, tweet out there that you support the president.

“He said: ‘You know the president. Well, maybe you don’t know him personally, but you know, you know, the sorts of things that he likes. You know, go out there battling aggressively and, you know, praise him or support him.’”

It is unclear who was paying Giuliani but he has advised two Ukrainian Americans arrested last month for campaign finance violations. Another witness described former congressman Bob Livingston, a lobbyist, campaigning against Yovanovitch.

Yovanovitch was recalled by the state department in April. “This is about your security,” she said she was told. “You need to come home immediately. You need to come home on the next plane.”

She said she was later told secretary of state Mike Pompeo was trying to protect her from Trump: “They were worried that if I wasn’t, you know, physically out of Ukraine, that there would be, you know, some sort of public either tweet or something else from the White House.”

Yovanovich told investigators she felt “shocked” when she found Trump had said of her in his 25 July call with Zelenskiy, according to a partial White House transcript: “Well, she’s going to go through some things.”

“I didn’t know what it meant. I was very concerned,” said Yovanovitch. “I still am.”

“Did you feel threatened?” she was asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

McKinley, a former ambassador who returned to service at the request of Pompeo, described his frustration at the state department’s refusal to support Yovanovitch.

Three times, Pompeo ignored his outrage that Yovanovitch was being hung out to dry, including a final such statement accompanying his resignation, McKinley testified.

He also said he was shocked to watch efforts inside the department to manufacture dirt abroad on a domestic political opponent.

“And if I can underscore, in 37 years in the foreign service and … working 10 years back in Washington, I had never seen that,” McKinley testified.

More than a dozen current and former state, defense and White House officials have defied a Trump gag order to testify. But the parade came to a halt on Monday.

Defying subpoenas were John Eisenberg, top lawyer on the National Security Council; Michael Ellis, his deputy; Robert Blair, an adviser to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; and Brian McCormack, an official in the White House budget office.

Investigators had been eager to hear from Eisenberg, who at least two witnesses have said was responsible for transferring the 25 July call summary on to a restricted network.

Eisenberg did so, according to Lt Col Alexander Vindman, a national security staffer, after Vindman approached him with concerns. Eisenberg instructed Vindman not to discuss the call with anyone, Vindman testified.

In a letter dated 3 November, a justice department lawyer argued that Eisenberg is “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony in his capacity as senior adviser to the president”.

n other developments on Monday, a Soviet-born associate of Giuliani reversed course by saying he is prepared to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, according to his attorney.

Lev Parnas, who is accused of using foreign money to make illegal campaign contributions while lobbying US politicians to oust the country’s ambassador to Ukraine, is willing to comply with a subpoena from impeachment investigators. Parnas and Igor Fruman, another Giuliani associate, were arrested at an airport last month while trying to leave the country.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Ukraine plans to fire the prosecutor who led investigations into the firm where Joe Biden’s son served on the board, a central figure in the activity at the heart of impeachment proceedings, according to sources.

Giuliani has acknowledged meeting the prosecutor, Kostiantyn Kulyk, to discuss accusations against the Bidens. Ukraine’s move comes as the country attempts to avoid getting drawn into a partisan fight in Washington.

Agencies contributed reporting

 

Winter Is Coming

Castle Black, the Syrian Withdrawal, and the Battle of the Bases

by Nick Turse

TomDispatch

They called it Castle Black, an obvious homage to the famed frozen citadel from the HBO series Game of Thrones. In the fantasy world of GoT, it’s the stronghold of the Night’s Watch, the French Foreign Legion-esque guardians of the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms.

This Castle Black, however, was all too real and occupied by U.S. Special Operations forces, America’s most elite troops. In its location, at least, it was nearly as remote as its namesake, even if in far warmer climes — not on the northern fringe of Westeros but at the far edge of eastern Syria.

Today, the real Castle Black and most of the archipelago of U.S. outposts only recently arrayed across the Syrian frontier are emptying out, sit abandoned, or are occupied by Russian and Syrian troops. At least one — located at the Lafarge Cement Factory — lies in partial ruins after two U.S. Air Force F-15 jets conducted an airstrike on it. The purpose, according to Colonel Myles Caggins, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), the U.S.-led military coalition fighting ISIS, was to “destroy an ammunition cache, and reduce the facility’s military usefulness.”

“Only yesterday they were here and now we are here,” a Russian journalist announced after taking selfies at the abandoned base at Manbij where U.S. forces had served since 2015 alongside allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of mainly Kurdish and Arab fighters. “It appears as though the U.S. servicemen fled in their armored vehicles,” said another reporter with RT’s Arabic service, as she walked in front of American tents and equipment at the hastily abandoned outpost. Photographs show that when U.S. troops bugged out, they also left behind other standard stuff from American bases abroad: “crude dick drawings,” a football, fridges stocked with Coca-Cola, an open package of animal crackers, a can of Pringles, and a paperback copy of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

“I see a big problem with it. And it shows just how unplanned and half-assed this ‘withdrawal’ is,” U.S. Marine veteran Anderson Bryant, who — in 2016 — fought alongside the SDF after leaving the Corps, told Military Times. “Though ISIS doesn’t have the infrastructure to take and hold territory or bases anymore, just leaving equipment to be taken after a retreat looks bad for sure.”

Bryant was just one of many to decry the abandonment of most of Washington’s Syrian outposts. “U.S. troops and their allies feel humiliated after abandoning their bases in Syria to be taken over by gleeful Russians,” read the headline of a Business Insider article, while a New York Times piece put it this way: “Pullback Leaves Green Berets Feeling ‘Ashamed,’ and Kurdish Allies Describing ‘Betrayal.’”

A Base by Any Other Name…

After President Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of most U.S. forces from Syria earlier this month, a Turkish military incursion into the area those troops had previously occupied set off a humanitarian catastrophe — sending nearly 200,000 civilians fleeing from the Syrian frontier, about one third of them children. President Trump implied the troops were coming “back home,” but his secretary of defense promptly contradicted him and indicated they would simply be redeployed in the region. After being abandoned by their U.S. allies, the SDF struck a deal with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Syrian and allied Russian troops moved into the area as well. In the chaos, some Islamic State prisoners escaped from SDF prisons.

Back in the United States, rare bipartisan outrage erupted as members of Congress lambasted the president for his decision. Vice President Mike Pence was then dispatched to Turkey to try to mitigate what was widely hailed by the Washington establishment as a foreign policy disaster. Then, in the wake of a Pence-negotiated “ceasefire” that Turkey didn’t agree to and that failed to fully materialize, President Trump took a victory lap after which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “crush” the heads of America’s abandoned Kurdish allies if they didn’t ethnically cleanse themselves from the area. In the end, the withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. military personnel turned out to be largely illusory, as an influx of new forces to a different part of Syria left troop levels almost unchanged.

In the midst of this chaos, however, something strange occurred. Just as America’s Syrian bases, including its two main headquarters — Advanced Operational Base West and Advanced Operational Base East — the Lafarge Cement Factory, and a facility at Manbij were being abandoned, in another sense entirely they suddenly came to exist (at least in news reports anyway). This is something that Castle Black, in its relatively brief life, never officially did. When I asked about its status in late August, for example, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve refused to even acknowledge the existence of such a base. Now, the outpost and its status are no secret at all. “Castle Black is closed,” CJTF-OIR’s media team told TomDispatch more recently.

According to the Pentagon’s official inventory of bases, the Department of Defense (DoD) “manages a worldwide real property portfolio” that spans 45 foreign countries. All told, there are 514 official “DoD sites” overseas, the majority of them in Germany (194 sites), Japan (121 sites), and South Korea (83 sites). This list, however, has never included mention of even one base in Syria — or, for that matter, any of the well-known U.S. garrisons, large and small, in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The common estimate of foreign U.S. military bases is actually around 800. Such a count is little more than an educated guess because of the cloak of secrecy the Pentagon has thrown over the subject. To obfuscate things further, the military employs a plethora of euphemisms to avoid calling U.S. military outposts like Castle Black precisely what they are.

Officially, Castle Black was never a base. It was, instead, a “Mission Support Site” or MSS. And while U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees United States military operations in the Middle East, acknowledges the existence of MSSes, it won’t provide even a basic count of them, let alone more detailed information about such outposts, significant numbers of which exist across the region. The media operations staff of CJTF-OIR responded in an email to a TomDispatch request on the subject this way: “Due to operational security reasons, a total number and locations of the various mission support sites are not available.”

And keep in mind that such Military Support Sites only begin to scratch the surface when it comes to the Pentagon’s inventory of non-base outposts. So when else is a military base not a military base? When, for example, it’s an Initial Contingency Location, which, according to a Pentagon “Contingency Basing” manual, is characterized by austere infrastructure and limited services. Or when it’s a Temporary Contingency Location, which provides “near-term support for a contingency operation” and is characterized by “expedient infrastructure.” Or even when it’s a Semipermanent Contingency Location, which provides support for prolonged contingency operations and is characterized by “enhanced infrastructure.” Or when it’s a full-fledged Contingency Location — a “non-enduring location outside of the United States that supports and sustains operations during contingencies or other operations.”

Such U.S. non-bases also include Forward Operating Sites (FOSes), which are officially defined as “scalable” locations intended for “rotational use by operating forces.” While “rotational use” might make such a place sound like a distinctly temporary location, possibly one abandoned for long stretches, that’s hardly the case. Camp Lemonnier in the sun-bleached Horn-of-Africa nation of Djibouti, for example, is not only an FOS, but also America’s largest base on the African continent and the headquarters for Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), which includes soldiers, sailors, and airmen, some of them members of the Special Operations forces. The camp — which also supports CENTCOM — couldn’t be less temporary, having expanded from 88 acres to 600 acres, while the number of troops stationed there has jumped by more than 500%, to 5,500, since 2002.

Another type of outpost is a cooperative security location, or CSL, which is supposedly neither “a U.S. facility or base.” According to the Pentagon’s official definition, it has “little or no permanent United States presence” and “is maintained by periodic Service, contractor, or host nation support.” This, too, is completely disingenuous. A CSL in the remote smuggling hub of Agadez, Niger, for example, is the premier U.S. military outpost in West Africa. That drone non-base, located at Nigerien Air Base 201, not only boasts a $100 million-plus construction price tag but, with operating expenses, is expected to cost U.S. taxpayers more than a quarter of a billion dollars by 2024 when the 10-year agreement for its use ends.

The primary types of places that the Pentagon will actually call “bases” are huge World War II and Cold War legacy sites like Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, and Camp Humphreys in South Korea. These they call “Main Operating Bases.” Humphreys, for example, began its existence in 1919 as Pyeongtaek Airfield, a product of the brutal Japanese occupation of Korea. Since the Korean War (1950-1953), the U.S. military has occupied the site, transforming it into America’s largest overseas military base. The Pentagon refers to Forward Operating Sites, Cooperative Security Locations, and Main Operating Bases as “enduring locations” which are meant to afford “strategic access” to American forces and support Washington’s security interests for the “foreseeable future.”

Despite these and other euphemisms for bases that appear in the Defense Department’s 2019 edition of Joint Publication 4-04 “Contingency Basing” and its most recent “Base Structure Report,” many other types of smaller baselets get scant attention — including Combat Outposts and Fire Support Bases. Even more types are noted in various official publications and military news releases, often with conflicting definitions. The Army’s Ranger Handbook, for instance, defines a “patrol base” as a “security perimeter” set up when a squad or platoon is “conducting a patrol,” but notes that it should “not be occupied for more than a 24-hour period (except in an emergency).” An Army counterinsurgency manual, on the other hand, states that a “patrol base can be permanent or temporary.” And a 2008 CENTCOM news release mentioned that soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment had been stationed at Iraq’s Patrol Base Copper for seven months.

While Mission Support Sites are mentioned in a few Pentagon publications, they are also poorly defined. When asked just what an MSS actually is, an official at CENTCOM offered this none-too-illuminating response: “Mission support sites, or bases, are sites that temporarily exist to provide support for as long as a mission requires.” That same official went on to note that the U.S. and its allies had “opened and closed numerous bases throughout the campaign in Syria and Iraq,” but refused to provide details or even a simple count of how many bases had been closed, let alone opened. The CJTF-OIR media team was a bit more forthcoming, explaining that a mission support site is “comparable to an initial contingency location (ICL) or a patrol base” and that such facilities support up to 200 personnel for a “total duration of operations lasting less than six months.”

Winter Is Coming for U.S. Military

Castle Black is now officially shuttered. Despite its closing and that of its sister outposts, as part of Donald Trump’s “withdrawal” from Syria, American troops remain in that country. “CJTF-OIR continues to maintain a presence in Syria and Iraq as part of our mission to achieve the enduring defeat of Daesh,” spokesperson Col. Myles Caggins III told TomDispatch, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesperson, was even more specific. “U.S. forces continue a deliberate, phased, and orderly withdrawal from Syria, with the exception of the al-Tanf garrison,” he told TomDispatch. While Robertson refused to “discuss operational details such as numbers or timelines,” it has been widely reported that al-Tanf, a small base in the south of Syria, is still home to about 150 U.S. forces. (It, in turn, is supported from across the Jordanian border by a quick reaction force, additional troops, and artillery.) The CJTF-OIR media team also added that the “Kobani Landing Zone and other sites remain open to facilitate the additional movement of troops and equipment outside of Syria.” Reports now indicate that U.S. troop levels will stabilize at around 900, just 100 troops less than before the announced withdrawal.

The abandonment of about a dozen outposts across northeastern Syria likely constitutes the largest mass closure of military bases of the Trump presidency. (Since the Pentagon refuses to provide an accurate count of overseas outposts, however, there’s no way to make certain of that.) Still, while this reduction of outposts in Syria is significant, it hardly constitutes a substantial drawdown of U.S. forces in the region (especially at a moment when President Trump may be sending tanks and armored vehicles, with all the necessary supporting forces, into the area around Syria’s oil fields). With the president either reshuffling troops in Syria or merely relocating them elsewhere in the Middle East and a new contingent of American forces deploying to Saudi Arabia, there will actually be a net gain in U.S. troops in the region at this moment of supposed reduction.

Perhaps the only true end result of the drawdown in Syria — given that the finale of Game of Thrones ran earlier this year — is the likely demise of U.S. military outposts named for that HBO show’s fictional redoubts. With the real Castle Black gone and the fictional one consigned to the dustbin of pay-for-play streaming services, tomorrow’s bases will undoubtedly be named for emerging cultural touchstones, not last season’s leavings.

Still, given Washington’s penchant for Middle Eastern military missions, the likelihood of yet more U.S. bases across the region (whatever their official designations), and talk of several Game of Thrones prequels still to come, there may be ample opportunities for the next set of off-the-books military bases to carry the names of even more ancient Seven Kingdoms castles, keeps, and citadels.

 

 

 

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

November 5, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publication.

 

Conversation No. 49

Date: Thursday, November 28, 1996

Commenced: 8:45 AM CST

Concluded: 9:22 AM CST

 

RTC: How are you today, Gregory?

GD: Been up since six working on the next Mueller book. Working on the concentration camp business.

RTC: A sensitive and profitable subject. For the same people. My God, what a money-maker that one is!

GD: Tell me about it. An established writer like Irving could never approach it. If he did, the Jews would go for his throat. Or his back more like it. Did you have many dealings with them?

RTC: As individuals or as professional agents?

GD: Either.

RTC: I have to tell you, Gregory, that I do not like Jews very much and I do not trust any of them. I know a few as individuals and some as agents. Jim loved them and spent half his time sucking up to the Mossad creeps. It bothered me because they were using him, but Jim loved flattery and ate it up. I don’t and I’m an Irish Catholic boy from Chicago. Jim was part Mexican and maybe that was part of it. Anyway, with Jews, it’s take, take and never give. You can’t trust any of them to the corner for a pound of soft soap.

GD: I don’t get involved but I have had bad experiences with them. Always watch your back around them has been my experience.

RTC: I have a report for you made for the UN in ’48 listing all their crimes against the Palestinian. The abused child becomes the abusing parent. My God, those filthy Polacks did terrible, vicious things to the Arabs. Murdered them, poisoned their farm wells, killed their animals and finally slaughtered whole villages of them, women and children. The Jews claim they own the Holy Land but these are Polack Jews and had nothing to do with Palestine. The Russian Jews are the same breed and Stalin, who really hated Jews, used them to butcher Russian Christians whom they hated. And then Josef planned to kill off all the Jews in Moscow.

GD: What about that?

RTC: Round them all up, put them in boxcars and ship them off to Siberia in mid-winter. He planned to slaughter all of them. And after all the filthy work they did for him, too! An ungrateful but realistic man.

GD: Why was this turn-about? He loved Jews, didn’t he?

RTC: No, he did not. Josef was far-sighted and knew, and said, that Jews had no loyalty to anyone except themselves. They hate all other people and feel that anything they do to them is justified. They claim centuries of persecution as their excuse.

GD: Yes, isn’t it odd that over thousands of years, everyone has persecuted the poor Jews. One wonders why.

RTC: Why? They burrow into the machinery of the state and the banking system and eventually take it over. And then, always, the locals get after them and either set them on fire or drive them out of their area or country. This has been going on for many centuries. One could say that the Jews of the world have been very unlucky or people know what they’re doing when they pile up wood for the burning pyres or set up camps.

GD: The stories about gassed millions is hysterically funny. Puts me in mind of the stories about the Easter Bunny or the Second Coming. Useful lies for children on one hand and a means to get money out of the suckers who actually believe the silliness about the Rapture, the Battle of Armageddon and other idiotic legends. Barnum was right.

RTC: Yes, he was. And I once looked into the camp story just because I could. There is much on this issue at the National Archives but most people can’t see it.

GD: Why not?

RTC: The Jews don’t want you see this. It would destroy the myth of vast gas chambers and soap factories. My God, Gregory, the Jews make vast sums of money off these made-up stories. I can just hear some raddled Jewess moaning in a furniture store about how her whole family was gassed and can she get 50% off on that chair? Oh yes, I know all about such creatures. And now, the Mossad wants us to hunt down people they don’t like, or send them confidential files on people they want to blackmail. They robbed and murdered the Arabs, so they have to hate them to justify their filthy behavior. The Arabs outnumber them 20 to 1 but the Israelis have us behind them so they literally can get away with murder. And how do they have our support? By working their way into the system, by owning most of the media, by bribery and blackmail, by political pressure. I could go on for days but I just ate breakfast and I don’t want to vomit onto my lap.

GD: I knew the Polish Jews in Munich after the war. Jesus H. Christ, Robert, I have never seen such really terrible people in my life. They were all up on the Muehl Strasse and going there to buy cheap butter for my friends was quite an experience. It was like tiptoeing into a den of circling hyenas. I was always neutral as far as Jews were concerned, but my experiences there radically altered my views. They were DPs. Displaced Persons. Couldn’t go back to Poland where the locals would have shoved them into barns and set them on fire. The Germans got blamed for much of that, but it was the local Poles who snuffed all the Jews in the neighborhood once their central government fell apart in ’39. A friend of mine was a Major in the thirty seventh infantry and he said the Poles would round up all the Jews and barbecue them. Said some of the villages smelt like a badly-vented crematorium. And of course they got the blame for it. Well, they lost so they can expect this. I once bought a German steel helmet at a flea market in Germany and I was carrying it down the street under my arm and some old hag came up behind me, screeching like a wet pea hen. There was no one around so I bashed her on the head with the pot until she shut up. Had to wash the helmet off later. It looked like pink oatmeal on part of it.

RTC: Bravo. I suppose she was dead, Gregory?

GD: I didn’t stop to examine her but she had certainly shut up.

RTC: I suppose she was a Jew.

GD: I didn’t care who she was. She could have been anyone and I would have shut her up regardless.

RTC: You are certainly not a nice person at times.

GD: Oh, I love that, Robert. If I were in your house for dinner, I assure you my manners would be impeccable. But we digress. Can we find out more about that business you people had with the French getting us into Vietnam?

RTC: I wrote on that, Gregory. I ought to send you my manuscript some day. I can’t publish it because I signed a pledge to never publish without permission and I am sure it would never be given. I know all about that slaughterhouse, believe me. A nation steeped in blood. Terrible business. Wars for nothing and when Kennedy tried to get out, that was one of the reasons he got killed. Too much money to be made in a war. It ruined Johnson. No chance of getting reelected. McNamara thought he could apply business norms to a military business and he went as well. Probably be made the head of a think tank. My God, what a misnomer. ‘Think tank’ my ass. Bunch of loud-mouthed idiots running around babbling as if anyone cared what they thought about unimportant things. “I think…” is one of the worst openings for any kind of a conversation. Run into these congenital assholes at any Beltway social function and especially in the CIA circles. I say, who gives a damn what you think?

GD: I’ve been to Beltway functions, Robert. My God, if we could somehow trap all the hot air these methane monsters create, we could heat New York for ten years. Don’t light any matches and breathe very shortly but the gas is tremendous. “I think…?” I doubt it. Most of these self-important cow anuses should join hands and jump off the Key Bridge in the middle of winter. Right through the ice and then blessed silence. Downriver, however, all the marine life dies a terrible death.

RTC: (Laughter) Ah, well, it won’t happen. One day a Jew will sit in the Oval Office and on that day, we will drop atom bombs on anyone Tel Aviv doesn’t like.

GD: Where is Genghis Kahn now that we need him?

RTC: Lee Harvey Oswald would be more to the point.

 

(Concluded at 9:22 Am CST)

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

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Richard Moskowitz

Richard Moskowitz is a homeopath and antivaccine advocate. Apparently Moskowitz was trained as an MD some 50 years ago, but his more recent activities show in the strongest possible way that you should turn elsewhere for medical advice.

As an antivaccine activist (given his background he did make it onto this sorry list of purported anti-vaccine doctors), Moskowitz thinks immunization is an act against God (in “Vaccination: A Sacrament of Modern Medicine” – no link provided). His main idea, though, is that vaccine-preventable diseases are not that bad – a 1/1000 chance of dying from measles is something he thinks you should be willing to deal with, since suffering and death is nothing to worry about as long as it is relatively uncommon – and that if they occur they should be treated with homeopathic nostrums, which don’t do anything and would increase the mortality rate only some (not Moskowitz’s own words). In his article “Unvaccinated Children”, published in the dubious journal (website, really) Medical Voices and discussed here, he even suggests that at least “any child whose sibling or parent previously contracted poliomyelitis, or a severe or complicated case of measles or whooping cough or any of the other diseases listed, should not receive the vaccine prepared against that illness.” A moment’s reflection should reveal that this is not good advice. As for tetanus, Moskowitz recommendation is that“Hypericum can reputedly treat as well as prevent tetanus, but I would recommend giving human antitoxin at the first sign of the disease, since it is far less effective later on.” This piece of advice is actually rather likely to kill you if you ever contracted tetanus. His advice on anthrax (no link provided) would be hilarious if it wasn’t so scary, displaying an almost perfect lack of understanding of the disease.

Moskowitz’s defense of homeopathy reveals an understanding of science and evidence to match his understanding of anthrax, and consists primarily of tirades against Big Pharma (the pharma is shit therefore my magic beans cure cancer-gambit), delusional attacks on real medicine, claiming that clinical trials are not adequate to study homeopathy, since such trials consistently show that it doesn’t work, contrary to Moskowitz’s powers of intuition – how else would he know that homeopathy works, insofar as there can be no proper trials? Besides, modern medicine doesn’t take into account “the energy field of the patient as a whole” – the life force, if you want. He also argues that since homeopathy works in animals and in newborns it can’t be placebo, which is seriously misunderstanding what the placebo effect is and completely missing that part about evaluator bias. It would be interesting to hear Moskowitz try to answer the question of why medical trials use double blinding, but then again it probably wouldn’t.

Diagnosis: Crackpot, pseudoscientist and genuinely dangerous lunatic. He’s apparently viewed as something of an authority in certain anti-vaccine circles, which tells you quite a bit both about them and about him.

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