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TBR News September 28, 2018

Sep 28 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. September 28, 2018:” In order to fund their anti-democratic actions, American far right activist groups have a process that verges on the bizarre.

Firstly, they get their support money partially from a large hoard of gold coins hidden around an Austrian lake by a nazi SS general at the end of the war. This is known as the Weissensee-Globocnik gold. Globocnik ran three death camps in Poland and looted his victims. Parts of this concentration camp blood money were dug up in 2000 and the gold was, and is, being used to fund.

The exact amount of looted nazi gold dug up is strongly believed to be in the neighborhood of 20,000 gold coins, each weighing about one ounce each.

It is known for a certainty that this hoard is now in the hands of the nazi financers, hidden in one of the southern states of the United States, and is easily converted into needed cash for guns and explosives.

And the second method of raising alt-right neo-nazi funding is to make, and sell, nazi relics to gullible collectors. We speak of a flood of counterfeit nazi-era relics such as ‘concentration camp officer’s rings,’  ‘Adolf Hitler paintings,’ ‘nazi tapestries,’ ‘nazi daggers and swords,’ ‘rare nazi documents.’ ‘German military field marshal’s batons,’ ‘nazi military medals,’ ‘nazi SS flags and banners,’ ‘fake personality nazi items such as Hitler military caps and Hermann Goering medals.’ And many more such overt nazi propaganda pieces are manufactured and sold as ‘rare original relics’ by a group of neo-nazis pretending to be purveyors of ‘rare souveniers.’

There is a legitimate market in genuine items of militaria, including German, that has nothing to do with these practices but we are interested in the growth of anti-Semitic neo-nazi hate groups and the people who fund their dangerous progress, both in the United States and in a Europe ripe for far-right takeovers because of the on-going immigrant problems.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 34
  • The Huge Stakes of Thursday’s Confrontations
  • Brett Kavanaugh’s credibility has not survived this devastating hearing
  • Kavanaugh’s High School, Georgetown Prep, Warned Parents in 1990 of “Sexual or Violent Behavior” at Parties
  • Israel Project President Urged Funders to Anonymously Promote Pro-Israel Messaging
  • With new missile defense for Syria, Russia shifts its relationship with Israel
  • Mapping Erik Prince’s Private Mercenary Empire

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 34

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

 

  • Oct 23, 2017

“Singapore, doing well; continues to do well. You never even see a downturn in Singapore, so — I guess you don’t agree with that. But I would say looking from the outside, you never see a downturn.”

Source: Remarks before meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

in fact: Singapore experienced an economic downturn just a year prior. The Straits Times reported in Oct. 2016: “Singapore’s small, trade-dependent economy is going through a cyclical downturn and is not expected to pick up significantly next year, the country’s central bank said.” Reuters reported that month: “Singapore’s economy contracted by 4.1 per cent in the third quarter on a seasonally adjusted annualised basis, from the previous three months, the biggest slump since 2012, data from the statistics office showed.”

  • Oct 24, 2017

“Under our plan, more than 30 million Americans who own small businesses will get a 40 per cent cut to their top marginal tax rate.”

Source: Speech to the Minority Enterprise Development Week White House Awards Ceremony

in fact: Trump grossly exaggerated the number of people who would receive a tax cut of 40 per cent. Business Insider’s Josh Barro found that “only the very richest slice of business owners — 670,000 of them, all making over $400,000 — would enjoy the full 40 per cent reduction in their tax rate that Trump bragged about, from 39.6 per cent down to 25 per cent.” The others are currently taxed at a lower rate, so Trump’s proposed cut to 25 per cent would affect them less — or affect them not at all. As Barro points out, “86 per cent of tax filers with business income would get no benefit at all from the proposal, because they’re already taxed at a marginal rate of 25 per cent or less.”

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“It’s also going to bring back — if we get this passed, which I really believe we will — I think we have to, as a country — it’s going to bring back, I would say, $4 trillion back into this country, which right now cannot come back.” And: “Nobody even knows the amount (of profits parked overseas). It was $2.5 trillion a few years ago, so I would say now it’s got to be close to $4 trillion or maybe above that number. We’ll find out soon because it’s going to come back very, very rapidly.”

Source: Speech to the Minority Enterprise Development Week White House Awards Ceremony

in fact: Trump’s “$4 trillion” estimate is unsupported by any experts. The U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation released an estimate of $2.6 trillion in August 2016, and experts said they were not aware of a massive jump in the following 12 months; an October 2017 report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy also pegged the number at $2.6 trillion. “I do not know of anyone who increased the estimate so much recently,” Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said in August. “Like many things, I assume he made this up on the fly,” said another expert on the subject, who requested anonymity, when Trump made an estimate of $5 trillion in August.

Trump has repeated this claim 32 times

“We are one of the highest-taxed nations in the world — anywhere in the world — one of the highest-taxed — costing us millions of jobs and trillions and trillions of dollars.”

Source: Speech to the Minority Enterprise Development Week White House Awards Ceremony

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

 

“Bob Corker, who helped President O give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts…”

Source: Twitter

in fact: “Corker criticized and voted against the deal that aims to constrain Iran’s nuclear activities — “What you have done is codify a personally aligned pathway for Iran to get a nuclear weapon…I believe you’ve been fleeced,” Corker told Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015 — and he played no role in negotiating an agreement negotiated by the Obama administration, Iran, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Germany, China, and the European Union. Some conservatives fault him for his role in finding a compromise with Democrats over a bill to allow Congress to review the agreement. But the final version of the bill was overwhelmingly supported by Republicans — it passed the Senate 98-1 — and was, obviously, not the same thing as the deal itself.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

  • Oct 25, 2017

“Clinton campaign & DNC paid for research that led to the anti-Trump Fake News Dossier. The victim here is the President.” @FoxNews”

Source: Twitter

in fact: This is not a real quote from Fox News. While various Fox hosts and pundits have made similar remarks at various times, they have not uttered these precise words together, according Matthew Gertz, who monitors Fox for the liberal group Media Matters, and an independent search of Fox transcripts on the website Archive.org.

 

“Two and a half trillion. But you and I have both been using that number for years…That number is much higher now, because it’s, you know, built up over the years. And I would be surprised if it weren’t close to $4 trillion.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs

in fact: No expert or organization has issued an estimate even close to $4 trillion; the Joint Committee on Taxation released an estimate of $2.6 trillion in August 2016, and experts said they were not aware of a massive jump in the following 12 months. “I do not know of anyone who increased the estimate so much recently,” said Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, when Trump began claiming the number might be $4 trillion or even $5 trillion. “Like many things, I assume he made this up on the fly,” said another expert on the subject, who requested anonymity.

Trump has repeated this claim 32 times

“Because we have fewer judges (at the WTO) than other countries. It’s set up as you can’t win. In other words, the panels are set up so that we don’t have majorities.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs

in fact: The WTO-judge system is not set up in a way that privileges other countries over the U.S. No panelist on any of the three-panelist dispute resolution bodies that initially hear WTO cases can be from any country involved in the dispute being heard. In other words, neither the U.S. nor its opponent has “majorities” in its own Further, decisions can be appealed to the WTO’s seven-member appeals body on which the U.S. has a judge.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“And I say to my people, you tell them, like as an example, we lose the lawsuits, almost all of the lawsuits in the WTO — within the WTO.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs

in fact: This is not even close to true. Like other countries, the U.S. tends to win at the World Trade Organization when it has brought the case against another country, and it tends to lose when it is responding to a case brought by another country. As FactCheck.org reported: “In March, Dan Ikenson, director of (the libertarian Cato Institute’s) Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, reviewed WTO trade disputes involving the U.S. from 1995 to March of this year. He found that the U.S. prevailed in 91 percent of cases that it brought against other countries.” Rufus Yerxa, former deputy director general of the WTO, conveyed the same information to FactCheck.org, saying: “U.S. is the most frequent complainant in WTO dispute settlement and has won over 90 percent of the cases it has brought. It has lost many cases as a defendant. So have most other countries, since most countries only bring cases they know they can win.”

“And the good thing about social media is that I have so many millions of people, so many — I guess, 128 million. You could add up — you know, you add up all the different platforms — massive social media.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs

in fact: Trump exaggerated again. Adding up his Twitter account (42 million followers), his Facebook account (23 million followers), the White House Facebook account (8 million followers), his Instagram account (8 million followers), the White House Instagram account (4 million followers), the official “POTUS” Twitter account (21 million followers), and the official “POTUS” Facebook account (2 million followers), Trump was at about 108 million followers. Since many of these people undoubtedly follow him on more than one platform, the total number of actual humans is even further below 125 million.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

“I think one of the best names is — you know, I’ve really started this whole ‘fake news’ thing. Now they’ve turned it around and then, now they’re calling, you know, stories put out by different — by Facebook — ‘fake.'”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobb

in fact: Trump reversed the actual history of the term “fake news.” During and after the 2016 election, the term was used to describe deliberately fabricated articles from non-news publications that purported to be real for the purposes of getting clicks and shares on Facebook. Trump then “turned it around” for his own purposes, using “fake news” to describe legitimate news stories that he alleged contained errors.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“You know, something has been given to him (Xi Jinping) that’s never been…it’s really virtually never happened in China. He’s been given powers that nobody’s ever seen.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs

in fact: Xi had indeed been given extraordinary powers, but it is not true that this had “virtually never happened in China.” As most news stories on Xi’s elevation noted, Xi’s new stature put him on a similar level to previous Chinese Communist leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping

“And the wall’s coming along. You know, we’re building right now prototypes. We have six prototypes.” And: “We actually have six prototypes that are all very top of the line.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs

in fact: This is the rare occasion on which Trump under-counted rather than exaggerated. There are eight border wall prototypes, not six.

“We have trade deficits with almost everybody.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs

in fact: The U.S. has surpluses with more than half of all countries in merchandise trade, figures from the U.S. International Trade Commission show — and merchandise trade is a measure that doesn’t count the services trade at which the U.S. excels. Major countries with which the U.S. has a surplus in merchandise trade include Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Argentina, and the United Kingdom.

Trump has repeated this claim 21 times

“We have a trade deficit right now with Mexico of $71 billion. People can’t believe it. ” And: “Mexico’s wonderful. But we have a trade deficit with Mexico of $71 billion a year.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs

in fact: People can’t believe it because it is not true: the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico is not that large. Counting trade in goods alone, the deficit was $64 billion in 2016, $60 billion in 2015, $55 billion in 2014 and $54 billion in 2013, according to U.S. government data; it has not exceeded $67 billion since 2007. Further, the deficit is properly assessed counting both goods and services. When trade in services is included, the 2016 deficit was $56 billion. This year’s total deficit may be bigger — the goods deficit was already $47 billion at the end of August — but when services are included, it is still highly unlikely to approach $70 billion.

Trump has repeated this claim 34 times

“And as you know, Mexico has an election coming up and they have a number of people that are running and they’re very pro-Mexico. Which is, in fact, they wore a hat, a green hat, that says, ‘Make Mexico Great Again.’ They call them the Donald Trump of politics. They have a couple of them, actually.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs

in fact: No Mexican election candidate has worn a “Make Mexico Great Again” hat. “Big fat lie,” former Mexican ambassador to China Jorge Guajardo wrote on Twitter. “The only Make Mexico Great Again hats were made by the Trump campaign so staff could wear them during their visit to Mexico,” Univision anchor Enrique Acevedo wrote on Twitter.

“Because right now, our country’s about the highest-taxed or certainly one of the highest-taxed in the world.”

Source: Interview with Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs

in fact: The U.S. is far from the highest-taxed nation in the world. While its corporate tax rate is near the top, it is below the average of developed OECD countries when other taxes are included.

Trump has repeated this claim 28 times

“The military was so great, and the Coast Guard — I’m hearing numbers of 16,000 people saved by the Coast Guard.” And: “They saved 16,000 people.”

Source: Remarks at briefing on Hurricane Harvey recovery

in fact: The Coast Guard told the Star that they rescued 11,022 people during their response to Hurricane Harvey.

Trump has repeated this claim 8 times

“I mean, you look at the (electoral) votes; it was 306 to what — 223 or something. They lost it by a lot.”

Source: Comments to media before Marine One departure

in fact: Hillary Clinton earned 232 electoral votes, not 223. This is the third time Trump said “223.”

Trump has repeated this claim 12 times

“This was the Democrats coming up with an excuse for losing an election. It’s an election that’s very hard for a Democrat to lose because the Electoral College is set in such a way that it’s very hard to lose that election for a Democrat.”

Source: Comments to media before Marine One departure

in fact: Trump’s frequent claim about the Electoral College continues to be nonsensical. It is obviously false that the presidential election system is set up in a way that favours Democrats. Six of the last nine presidents, all of whom except for Gerald Ford had to win an Electoral College election, have been Republicans

Trump has repeated this claim 17 times

“The tax plan is going to be incredible for this country. It’s going to bring back jobs, it’s going to cut taxes tremendously. We’re going to bring back $4 trillion, I think at least, from overseas.”

Source: Comments to media before Marine One departure

in fact: Trump’s “$4 trillion” estimate is unsupported by any experts. The U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation released an estimate of $2.6 trillion in August 2016, and experts said they were not aware of a massive jump in the following 12 months; an October 2017 report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy also pegged the number at $2.6 trillion. “I do not know of anyone who increased the estimate so much recently,” Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said in August. “Like many things, I assume he made this up on the fly,” said another expert on the subject, who requested anonymity, when Trump made an estimate of $5 trillion in August.

Trump has repeated this claim 32 times

“He (Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake) wrote a book about me before I ever met him, before I ever heard his name…But if you know, long before he ever knew me, during the campaign, even before the campaign — I mean, he came out with this horrible book, and I said, who is this guy?”

Source: Comments to media before Marine One departure

in fact: Flake’s Trump-criticizing book, Conscience of a Conservative, was released in August 2017, more than six months into Trump’s term; Trump, of course, had met Flake by then. Flake did begin the book project before Trump took office, two weeks after the election, but Trump is wrong to suggest Flake “came out” with the book during the campaign or “before he ever knew me.”

 

The Huge Stakes of Thursday’s Confrontations

September 24, 2018

by Patrick J. Buchanan

Thursday is shaping up to be the Trump presidency’s “Gunfight at O.K. Corral.”

That day, the fates of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and much else, may be decided.

The New York Times report that Rosenstein, sarcastically or seriously in May 2017, talked of wearing a wire into the Oval Office to entrap the president, suggests that his survival into the new year is improbable.

Whether Thursday is the day President Donald Trump drops the hammer is unknown.

But if he does, the recapture by Trump of a Justice Department he believes he lost as his term began may be at hand. Comparisons to President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre may not be overdone.

The Times report that Rosenstein also talked of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump suggests that Sen. Lindsey Graham had more than a small point on “Fox News Sunday”: “There’s a bureaucratic coup going on at the Department of Justice and the FBI, and somebody needs to look at it.”

Indeed, they do. And it is inexplicable that a special prosecutor has not been named. For while the matter assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller, to investigate any Trump collusion with Russia in hacking the emails of the Clinton campaign and DNC, is serious, a far graver matter has gotten far less attention.

To wit, did an anti-Trump cabal inside the Department of Justice and the FBI conspire to block Trump’s election, and having failed, plot to bring down his presidency in a “deep state” coup d’etat?

Rosenstein’s discussion of wearing a wire into the Oval Office lends credence to that charge, but there is much more to it.

The story begins with the hiring by the Clinton campaign, though its law firm cutout, in June 2016, of the dirt-divers of Fusion GPS.

Fusion swiftly hired retired British spy and Trump hater Christopher Steele, who contacted his old sources in the Russian intel community for dirt to help sink a U.S. presidential candidate.

What his Russian friends provided was passed on by Steele to his paymaster at GPS, his contact in the Justice Department, No. 3 man Bruce Ohr, and to the FBI, which was also paying the British spy.

The FBI then used the dirt Steele unearthed, much of it false, to persuade a FISA court to issue a warrant to wiretap Trump aide Carter Page. The warrant was renewed three times, the last with the approval of Trump’s own deputy attorney general, Rosenstein.

Regrettably, Trump, at the request of two allies — the Brits almost surely one of them — has put a hold on his recent decision to declassify all relevant documents inside the Justice Department and FBI.

Yet, as The Wall Street Journal wrote Monday, “As for the allies, sometimes U.S. democratic accountability has to take precedence over the potential embarrassment of British intelligence.”

Thursday’s meeting between Trump and Rosenstein will coincide with the Judiciary Committee’s hearing into the charge by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that, as a 15-year-old, she was sexually assaulted by 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

This weekend brought fresh charges, from a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh, Deborah Ramirez, that at a drunken party in their freshman year, Kavanaugh exposed himself.

Kavanaugh has fired off a letter to Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein, chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, calling the accusations “smears, pure and simple.”

Kavanaugh continued: “I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed.”

What is at stake in Thursday’s appearance by Kavanaugh and Ford is huge. A successful defense of his good name could mean Kavanaugh’s swift elevation to the high court, a historic victory for the GOP’s judicial philosophy, and the culmination of a decades-long campaign dating back to the Earl Warren era of the Supreme Court.

As for the judge himself, the issue is not just his behavior as a teenager and university student, but his credibility and honor as a man.

He has asked friends and allies to trust and believe him when he says that he is a victim of a character assassination steeped that is rooted in ideology and lies.

Thus far, no credible individual has come forward to corroborate the charges against him when he was at Georgetown Prep or at Yale. And almost all who knew him testify to his character.

We are often told that the moment we are in has historic significance and will be long remembered. Yet, how many can still recall what the “resister” in the Trump White House or Cabinet wrote in his or her anonymous op-ed in The New York Times?

How Kavanaugh conducts himself Thursday, however, and whether he is elevated to the court, could decide the fate of constitutional conservatism and the Republican Congress in 2018.

 

Brett Kavanaugh’s credibility has not survived this devastating hearing

The US Supreme Court nominee has badly stumbled just as he believed he was striding towards the highest court in the land

September 27, 2018

by Richard Wolffe

The Guardian

They say there are no heroes and no leaders left in Washington. Well one showed up in front of the Senate judiciary committee, and her name is Dr Christine Blasey Ford.

Victims are supposed to be many things: suffering creatures who struggle to withstand the klieg lights of a court, or a hearing. Ford was something else entirely.

Her pain was clear each time her voice cracked and her eyes welled with tears. But her courage, decency and honesty were even clearer as she walked carefully over ground she plainly never wanted to revisit from her teenage years.

When Democratic senators were trying to score political points, she stuck to the facts as she remembered them, and the science behind why those memories are so vivid. When the Republican prosecutor was trying to poke holes in her credibility and memory, she offered her honest help in patiently answering an endless line of small-bore questions.

The contrast with the US Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, could not have been greater. He was hot and bothered from the outset, fiddling with his shirt cuffs, sniffing incessantly, anxiously unscrewing small bottles of water, spraying accusations across the political landscape.

He lapsed into his old role as a political hack, accusing a wide range of actors for his suffering: the media, the Democrats on the judiciary committee, a vast leftwing conspiracy, the Clintons. He predicted political Armageddon as sex was weaponized to destroy reputations, notably his own, as he was just on the verge of success.

“For decades to come I fear the country will reap the whirlwind,” he declared. “When I did at least OK enough at the hearings that it looked like I might actually get confirmed, a new tactic was needed. Some of you were lying in wait and had it ready.”

As a federal appeals court judge, Kavanaugh’s performance was jarringly unbalanced and at times unhinged.

As a former staffer to Ken Starr, the man who investigated Bill Clinton’s sexual scandals in excruciating and public detail, Kavanaugh seemed oblivious to his part in the very whirlwind that swept him up.

Republicans had two ways to defend Kavanaugh. One boiled down to mistaken identity: Ford was assaulted, but she couldn’t be sure by who. The other revolved around arcane process questions about committee letters and staffers, senators and protocol. The extended debate about process made the Republican chairman Chuck Grassley sound like the grumpy, batty octogenarian he really is.

But the questions about mistaken identity prompted two answers that were as explosive as they were definitive.

Kavanaugh’s performance was jarringly unbalanced and at times unhinged

Ford was asked about her strongest memory of the assault. The response was deeply moving to anyone with a living, beating heart. “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter, and their having fun at my expense,” Ford said, as she turned her eyes down to her lap. “I was underneath one of them while the two laughed. Two friends having a really good time with one another.”

Another senator asked Ford what was her degree of certainty about being assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh.

“100%”, she said firmly.

In the silence that followed, you could hear Republicans gasping for air as they calculated the political cost of this nomination. What was larger? The number of votes they were losing among women versus the number of votes they would lose among Trump fanatics by putting this flatlining nomination out of its misery.

Senate hearings are political theater: a strange spectacle with legal trappings designed to showcase the leading actors, the senators themselves. So it was doubly strange to see one half of the actors step off stage and surrender their time to a career prosecutor.

They wanted to avoid the scene of a group of men badgering a woman about sexual assault. Sure enough, they managed to avoid looking like they were staging a witch trial. But by choosing silence they looked worse: like cowards.

While Democratic senators could express sympathy for Ford and the searing memories of her sexual assault, their Republican counterparts gave their time to a technical deposition. The questions by Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona, were cold and calculating.

At best the questions were tone deaf. At worst they were uncaring and self-defeating. Far from undermining the credibility of Ford, the prosecutor made the professor look more credible, more human, and more sympathetic.

The same could not be said for the prosecutor’s questions of Kavanaugh. The more he was grilled about sex and alcohol, the worse he sounded. Did he drink to the point where he blacked out, or woke up in a different place, or found his clothes somewhere else? The questions themselves were tarnishing Kavanaugh even as they were intended to clear him.

“We drank beer. And sometimes we probably had too many beers,” Kavanaugh said, clinging to the only talking point that made him seem comfortable. “We drank beer. We liked beer.”

Did he drink too many beers?

“What are too many beers? I don’t know,” he said, seeming totally unprepared to talk about his favorite subject. “Whatever the chart says. The blood alcohol chart.”

The Republican senators soon abandoned the prosecutor and her pesky questions about penis-waving and gang rape, resorting instead to angry finger-wagging and complaints about the Democrats.

Aside from his impassioned denials, Kavanaugh’s defense hinged on one claim: that Ford’s friend, Leland Ingham Keyser, didn’t recall the party or Kavanaugh. The judge claimed that meant Ford’s accusations were not just uncorroborated but refuted. But they weren’t refuted, and Keyser also said she believed her friend.

In any case, the judge himself undermined Keyser’s blanket amnesia when he said that actually he knew her, probably at high school.

It was a pattern repeated throughout Kavanaugh’s many angry outbursts and interruptions. He claimed he had no calendar record of the party in question, so it didn’t take place. He even claimed he never attended any gathering of that kind.

But he also said he liked hanging out with his friends, drinking beers and talking about girls. Which sounded remarkably like the night Ford described.

For a guy who claimed to have busted his butt on his academics, it wasn’t clear that Kavanaugh busted his butt preparing for a hearing that will define his career and reputation. He had no coherent response for why he couldn’t support an FBI investigation into Ford’s account.

When asked what he personally thought about an investigation, Kavanaugh sat in silence before blurting out something about the FBI not coming to conclusions.

Instead, Kavanaugh interrupted Democratic senators to press them on whether they liked to drink, and what they liked to drink. He teared up at strange moments, about his yearbook, his calendars and his workouts with his football buddies.

The longer the questioning went on, the more he interrupted, the more evasive he sounded. He claimed his yearbook references to throwing up was just because of his weak stomach. It could have been spicy food, or could have been beer. Either way, he really loved beer and still does.

Kavanaugh’s nomination may, or may not, survive the Senate hearing on Thursday. But his credibility, testifying under oath for a lifetime job on the highest court in the land, did not.

Brett Kavanaugh’s former boss might have put it best. “You cannot defile the temple of justice,” Ken Starr intoned to reporters as he was carrying out the trash from his home.

That was back in the late 1990s, when Kavanaugh was, um, defiling the temple of justice by leaking confidential tidbits to those same reporters on behalf of Starr.

Two decades later, he and his Republican senator friends were shocked (shocked!) that confidential tidbits were getting leaked to reporters. The media was outrageously misreading his yearbook to concoct references to sex and beer. It was a sham, a con, that couldn’t possibly be subject to an FBI investigation because the Democrats were so political.

Nobody should suffer the public whirlwind that has swept up two families, the Fords and the Kavanaughs. No senators should bluster and rage when considering a Supreme Court nominee.

But more than anyone else in Washington, Brett Kavanaugh should know that he stumbled badly just as he believed he was striding towards his rightful place on the Supreme Court. You cannot defile the temple of justice when you want your own seat in the inner sanctum of the high temple itself.

 

Kavanaugh’s High School, Georgetown Prep, Warned Parents in 1990 of “Sexual or Violent Behavior” at Parties

September 28 2018

by Jon Schwarz and Camille Baker

The Intercept

According to a 1990 article in the Washington Post, the headmasters from seven prestigious Washington, D.C.-area private schools sent a joint letter that year to parents, warning them that their children had developed a party culture that included heavy drinking leading to “sexual or violent behavior.”

One of the schools was Georgetown Prep, from which Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh graduated in 1983. Christine Blasey Ford, who during congressional testimony on Thursday described being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh in 1982, attended another of the schools, Holton-Arms.

The Post article also reported that before the letter was sent, Georgetown Prep had individually “held a conference with parents to discuss the problem of unsupervised parties.”

Malcolm Coates, then the headmaster of the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland, is quoted as saying that the schools decided to write the letter jointly “to give it more impact. … The fact that seven schools decided it was enough of a problem to address it is significant.”

The Post also quoted Charles P. Lord, headmaster at Holton-Arms, saying that “a number of parents and kids have expressed dismay over some of the situations at weekend parties. … We’re concerned about the potential for tragedy.”

The Intercept has not independently obtained the 1990 letter. The seven schools which sent it either could not find it in their records, or did not respond to inquiries. Georgetown Prep directed The Intercept to a recent general statement: “The problems and abuses of alcohol and drugs, sexual assault and misconduct, emotional and physical violence toward others are real. … But it is demonstrably false that such behavior or culture is tolerated, still less encouraged, at Georgetown Prep.”

Of the seven school headmasters in 1990, several, including Coates and Lord, have since died. The others declined to comment or could not be located.

Andrew C. Lottmann, then a news aide at the Post who contributed to the report, graduated in 1988 from St. Albans, another of the schools sending the letter. “[Excessive drinking] happened at all the schools,” Lottmann remembers. “Yes, absolutely.”

“I think that at these schools there are children of wealthy and politically important people and there are some who certainly acted as though there [were] little consequences for their actions,” recalls Lottmann. While “there were people who ran with the party crowd who were good people. … The core of it is there were certainly some people who acted as though there were no ramifications for their actions.” However, he says, he has “no direct knowledge” of sex or sexual violence at parties during his high school years.

Binge drinking was also a notable issue at Washington, D.C.-area public schools during this period. In 1989 the Post published an article on the subject headlined, “Kids and Booze: It’s 10 O’Clock — Do You Know How Drunk Your Children Are?” The piece quotes one student saying that she had felt “trapped” by her drinking, and had experienced frequent blackouts. Another described school parties as “really sordid. Parents have little idea of what is going on.”

A recent study found that drinking decreased among American teenagers from 1991 to 2015, particularly among boys and children from better-off families. A publication from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health states that “We all feel the effects of the aggressive behavior, property damage, injuries, violence, and deaths that can result from underage drinking,” and warns that “Underage youth who drink are more likely to carry out or be the victim of a physical or sexual assault after drinking than others their age who do not drink.­­”

 

Israel Project President Urged Funders to Anonymously Promote Pro-Israel Messaging

September 19, 2018

by Eli Clifton

LobeLog

A pro-Israel advocacy organization, The Israel Project (TIP), was identified last week as operating a series of Facebook groups as part of an under-the-radar effort to spread pro-Israel messaging without identifying the source of the content. Its media strategy, however, was much bigger than that.

A message published on an online forum by TIP president Josh Block, and discovered by LobeLog, reveals that the Facebook groups documented in Al Jazeera’s still unaired documentary, The Lobby-USA—clips of which were published by The Electronic Intifada last Thursday—were merely the beginning of Block’s ambitions for unbranded media platforms promoting his message.

The clips published last week show David Hazony, managing director of The Israel Project, acknowledging, “there are things that we do that are completely off the radar. We work together with a lot of other organizations.”

Hazony adds, “We produce content that they then publish with their own name on it,” but doesn’t provide the identity of the “other organizations.”

Another Israel Project employee, Jordan Schactel, was recorded saying:

So we have a lot of side projects that we are trying to influence the public debate with. That’s why it’s a secretive thing. Because we don’t want people to know that these side projects are associated with The Israel Project.

Beyond the four Facebook groups identified in the clip, TIP’s efforts to influence the media without explicitly acknowledging its involvement are made clearer in a March 15, 2018 message authored by Block to attendees of the Jewish Funders Network International Conference, in Tel Aviv. The Jewish Funders Network (JFN) describes itself as a “community that grows the size and impact of Jewish philanthropy.” According to the group’s website, “We connect funders together, empower individual excellence, and catalyze collective action.”

The Israel Project is frequently cited in the media promoting a hawkish agenda of opposing the Iran nuclear deal and, more recently, supporting the Trump administration’s decisions to move the U.S. embassy to Israel to Jerusalem and cut all U.S. aid to Palestinians on the West Bank and East Jerusalem Authority, as well as to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

In his message to the JFN attendees, Block appeared to map out the contours of a possible sweeping influence campaign orchestrated anonymously by TIP.

Block told the group:

TIP was founded in 2002 based on the recognition that “they who control the media, define the narrative—and they who control the narrative secure the outcomes they desire.

What is “MEDIA” today? Much has changed about where people get information and how they absorb it—but recent political and other events underscore the shift in media and the power it possesses to affect real world outcomes.

WHAT is the value of helping define the topography of truth? When Putin says “there are no Russian troops in Ukraine” and it is reported and repeated, does it eventually become true?

And he boasted of the success of the unbranded Facebook groups disclosed by Al Jazeera. He wrote:

In 2017, TIP’s Future Media Project (4 non-TIP branded thematically appropriate nice social media communities—500K left-leaning women under 30; 300K women 35+, 300K men 30-50 & 500 men 40-60)

These audiences grew from nothing to getting a subscriber base of over 1.6 million, thru sharing friends—who trust them more then anyone else— reaching over 1.8 billion active users in a year, with no paid advertising.

AND that means we produced videos that were watched over 379 million times, of which 40% was the highly messaged pro-Israel content that produces an average 9.8% move from negative or neutral to favorable toward Israel.

Block observed that “there are billions of dollars [of] capital at rest in our community, philanthropic and otherwise” and offered Jeff Bezos’s acquisition of The Washington Post as an example of “investment in narrating the dialogue of history.”

The TIP president’s media strategy appeared to focus heavily on anonymously promoting the group’s message and, noticeably, omitted any mention of fact-based journalism and accurate reporting.

Block explained that there are ample opportunities to acquire media properties. He wrote:

This presents an opportunity for pro-Israel messaging in the media. What if it were owned by members of our community? Can you name a SINGLE MAINSTREAM magazine or media outlet that is reliably pro-Israel? Any that is not seen as conservative? The WSJ will soon change hands from generation to generation, where the views of the Middle East differ greatly.

Block speculated that by replicating the success of TIP’s unbranded Facebook groups, setting up an otherwise innocuous looking smartphone trivia game, similar to the popular HQ Trivia games, could pay dividends in subtly promoting TIP’s messaging about Israel. Block wrote:

JUST ONE EXAMPLE: Look at the HQ live trivia game app—it has 1.5m+ people playing twice a day, live, gathering all that data on them, and delivering messages, and teaching millions of people things subtly every day.

[…]

– The only impediment to launching LIVE GAMESHOWS on MOBILE that actually have a net impact and drive players to a more pro-Israel position is the ability to acquire audience—and that launch pad already exists through our subscriber base [of unbranded Facebook groups]. What better way to teach people things we need them to know, and create a vehicle to help become self-sustaining, and perhaps support future media endeavors.

Although Block’s message to the JFN contains no mention of providing factual information and actively promotes TIP’s efforts to hide their involvement in pro-Israel messaging, he insisted to LobeLog that his plan was intended as pushback against the promotion of “fake news,” such as Putin’s lying about Russian troops in Ukraine or Pizzagate. Block said:

Citing Putin repeating falsehoods is a point of concern and contrast, underscoring the dangers of a world in which factually false information repeated, on TV, in print, online, can too often come to define reality for too many people. It’s not just Putin, recall the horrors of Pizza-gate and so many other examples. It is a point of contrast for the ideas—the opposite of inspiration.

Dismay and alarm at such a terrible trend motivates me to highlight for those with financial means the importance of investing in existing or new media platforms and outlets where the barrier to entry is lower than ever, and of providing ownership that believes in the importance of preserving the topography of truth, of fact-based reporting and content, and the ability to engage audiences with credible information of substance and relevance to their lives.

The words “fake news” and “facts” weren’t used in Block’s message to the JFN. “Truth” was only contained in Block’s repeated use of the phrase, “defining the topography of truth.”

 

With new missile defense for Syria, Russia shifts its relationship with Israel

Despite working closely with Israel’s traditional enemies, Syria and Iran, during Syria’s civil war, Russia has managed to maintain a good relationship with Israel. But it could be about to sour.

September 27, 2018

by Fred Weir and Joshua Mitnick

Christian Science Monitor

Moscow and Tel Aviv- Russia has just taken a huge gamble in Syria.

It will greatly strengthen Moscow’s hand in determining the endgame in the seven-year-old civil war if it works. But it might lead to wider conflict if other powers accustomed to intruding into Syrian airspace with relative ease, particularly Israel, decide to challenge the move.

The Russians have indicated that they will effectively impose what is known as A2/AD (anti-access/area denial) over the entire Syrian theater by supplying Syrian forces with advanced S-300 anti-aircraft systems. The missiles will be integrated into a single, computerized air defense network and supported by Russian-provided electronic jamming measures. It’s not quite a “no fly zone,” since the Russians would be required to announce and enforce something like that directly.

Experts say the system, which Moscow claims will be up and running within two weeks, will be under the nominal control of Syrian forces, but will almost certainly have a Russian finger on the trigger. If the move is implemented, it will compel the Israelis – who have launched 200 airstrikes against Syria in the past 18 months – as well as other active powers such as Turkey and the US-led coalition, to consult much more closely with Moscow if they wish to pursue their separate military objectives in Syria, or risk taking losses.

Deconfliction

The Russians have been mulling this move since 2013, when they first acceded to Israeli requests to suspend a planned sale of the S-300s to Syria in order to preserve “regional stability.” What prompted them to change their minds was the Sept. 17 “friendly fire” shootdown of a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance plane by an old Soviet-made Syrian S-200 missile, killing 15 Russian military personnel, near Russia’s Khmeimim airbase in Syria during or – depending on whom you believe – immediately after a major Israeli airstrike on a nearby Syrian military base.

There were a few days of confusion in Moscow. Vladimir Putin, who has maintained a very close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, initially sounded ready to blame the incident on the fog of war. His Defense Ministry, however, insisted the attacking Israeli F-16s had “set up” the lumbering turboprop Il-20 by hiding behind its radar signature and making it an easy target for the Syrian missile, which is so old it lacks any ability to distinguish friend from foe. Two starkly different narratives about what happened still remain in play, but the Kremlin has clearly decided to accept the version offered by its own Defense Ministry.

“Putin is not only president, he is also commander in chief of the armed forces,” says Alexander Sherin, deputy chair of the Russian State Duma’s defense committee. “The military are obliged to explain these things to the Russian people, so possibly they just sound tougher. Maybe the president was a bit more diplomatic. But everyone agrees this is a step we had to take a long time ago. We cannot allow Syrian airspace to be turned into a public thoroughfare.”

Until now, Israel has courted Moscow to cultivate understandings on “deconfliction.” The mechanism, which reportedly includes a hotline between the militaries, allows Israel to target weapons shipments destined for Hezbollah or Iranian-allied forces in Syria, even as Russia maintained overall control in Syria in a loose alliance with Iran. The arrangement that Mr. Putin previously had with Mr. Netanyahu acknowledged that Israel has legitimate security concerns, particularly in Syria’s southwest, where the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights meets Syria proper.

Russia claims it has obliged Israel by helping to roll back Iranian-linked forces from that area. It has also allowed Israel to pursue other prongs of its strategy to contain Iranian influence in Syria: blocking the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah that would substantially erode Israel’s advantage, and preventing the entrenchment of Iranian and Iranian-allied forces in Syria that could serve as a front of conflict.

It is a complicated understanding, heavily dependent on mutual goodwill, which has now somewhat evaporated. Some suggest a new arrangement will need to be worked out, where Russia has the upper hand.

“This changes the rules of the game. We will feel much less confident in attacking Syria, which will make the life of the Iranians easier,’” says Alon Liel, a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “Israel needs Russia very much and won’t risk a conflict.”

A difference-making weapon?

The late-version S-300 system that Russia plans to install in Syria, to cover the country’s entire airspace, is not a Russian top-of-the-line air defense weapon. But it is a relatively recent member of a class of long-range, multi-target-capable anti-aircraft systems developed over decades by the Soviet Union and Russia that have no counterparts in the US arsenal. That’s only because the US, historically, has no need of a weapon to defend against massed air attack.

But although the S-300 has never been tested in combat against modern Western aircraft, most analysts agree it would be foolish to discount it.

“The S-300 can prevent uninvited air strikes in Syria,” says Konstantin Sivkov, an expert with the official Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences. “These other countries, like Israel, will have to change their tactics, and perhaps that will lead to further stabilization of the situation. If not, Syria could become the detonator of World War Three, God forbid.”

Israeli defense analysts say Israel has been preparing for the S-300’s deployment for over a decade, and that it may not prove as significant an obstacle to Israeli operations as the Syrians and Russians might hope. But at the very least, Israel will need to be more circumspect in pursuing its goals in Syria. That might involve giving Moscow more advanced warning of a strike and holding fire in case planes are attacked by new advanced air defense systems supplied by Moscow for fear of endangering Russian personnel.

Israel will have to “be more careful than ever,” says Eyal Zisser, a political science professor at Tel Aviv University. “If you see a Russian airplane, don’t gamble that the Syrians will miss. It’s not in Israel’s interest to get into a conflict with a superpower like Russia.”

‘It’s a big poker game’

It seems most likely that the close Putin-Netanyahu relationship will re-assert itself, and a new modus vivendi will take hold. But not necessarily.

“We shouldn’t be confused: The very important friendship between the leaders ultimately doesn’t outweigh [geopolitical] interests,” Mike Herzog, a former military adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in an interview with Israel Army Radio. “And the Russians have their own interests, and they’re not identical to Israeli interests. Let’s not forget they fought alongside Iran to save Assad.”

It seems certain that the long-running, bitter, multi-sided war in Syria has entered a new phase, perhaps a more dangerous one. Russia is hoping this gambit will ratchet down the free-for-all air war over Syria, and force the various players to step back and mediate their interests in the region through Moscow. If it works, a Russian-authored Syrian endgame might be within sight. But if it doesn’t?

“It’s a big poker game,” says Alexander Golts, an independent Russian military expert. “We don’t really know how effective the S-300 would be in blocking Israeli incursions or thwarting US cruise missile attacks. So, it’s a bluff. But is anyone prepared to call it?”

 

Mapping Erik Prince’s Private Mercenary Empire

September 25, 2018

by Ty Joplin

Al Bawaba

Prince is partially responsible for modernizing the private army for the post 9/11 world, outsourcing militaries to cheap, specialized labor pools and skirting traditional regulations meant to ensure accountability for armed forces.

His journey from hiring mercenaries to help bolster the U.S. occupation in Iraq to China is long, dizzying and includes stops around the world to train Colombian mercenaries to help make a private army for the U.A.E. and outfitting crop duster planes with missiles to be fired at Armenians.

He has become a global figure, roaming between conflicts zones to sell various governments his expertise on private armies.

To document his journey thus far, Al Bawaba has compiled a partial list of countries/regions in or for which he has done business.

United States

Prince’s trip around the world starts in the United States.

Born in an affluent Michigan family, his family maintained deep ties to the Republican establishment and several conservatives, religious organizations like American Values. His sister, Betsy DeVos, married into one of the most influence political families in the Midwest, the DeVos’s, and began helping to run the Republican party machine in Michigan.

That marriage, which tied the Prince and DeVos family together, has given Erik unprecedented political access into the federal government. His list of close allies including Steve Bannon, U.S. President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist. His sister gives him a direct line of access to Trump himself.

Erik became a Navy SEAL and then established his own private military firm in 1997, Blackwater.

Once the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Blackwater received billions in contracts from the U.S. government to help supplement the official mission with private boots on the ground, relatively free from accountability or laws from any particular government.

Iraq

Blackwater’s activities in Iraq are infamous and account for Prince’s self-imposed exile from the United States.

Apart from harassing Iraqi civilians and running them off of roads with their armored personnel carriers, they also indiscriminately gunned down 14 innocent people in Baghdad in 2007, drawing an investigation and heavy criticism from media outlets around the world.

The incident stands as a cautionary tale for when mercenary groups such as Blackwater are able to operate without sufficient legal or logistical oversight. Facing a wave of scrutiny, Prince left Blackwater and the firm changed its name twice (to Xe and then Academi) to escape the heat.

Many thought they had seen the end of Erik Prince, but he resurfaced later at the helm of a different private military company.

U.A.E.

In 2011, Erik Prince was appointed by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to make a secret, private army. For this, he was paid $529 million.

In documents obtained by the New York Times, the mission of this privately commissioned battalion included “intelligence gathering, urban combat, the securing of nuclear and radioactive materials, humanitarian missions and special operations ‘to destroy enemy personnel and equipment,’ and crowd-control.

Prince hired Colombians and nationals of other countries thousands of miles away to fill his ranks for two reasons. First, Prince was looking to pay them as little as possible. Second, they weren’t Muslims. Prince surmised that Muslims could not be trusted to kill other Muslims.

A few years later in 2015, Saudi Arabia began its military intervention in Yemen and recruited a host of other Arab nations to join its coalition. Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, a business partner to Erik Prince, Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, signed up for the cause in order to destroy any creeping Iranian influence in the war-torn nation.

Yemen

Erik Prince and his U.A.E. private military firm helped recruit and train over 1,000 soldiers from Latin American countries. Then, their bodies started appearing on battlefields in Yemen. A single missile reportedly killed 45 mercenaries from the U.A.E.

Prince’s initial battalion of 800 soldiers had blossomed into almost 2,000 specialized troops hired mostly from Latin America to do the U.A.E.’s business.

Although officials say Erik Prince’s formal business role with the U.A.E. had ended several years before the intervention into Yemen, his corporate blueprint to partially outsource the U.A.E.’s military is doubtlessly still in use.

The U.A.E. keeping and even expanding Prince’s blueprint for a private, outsourced army demonstrates just how influencial he and his mercenary business model has become.

Azerbaijan

After his stint in the U.A.E., Prince began doing more business with Chinese executives at the Frontier Services Group (FSG), which he heads. On this new enterprise, Prince said it “is not a patriotic endeavor,” rather, it is intended “to build a great business and make some money doing it.”

Azerbaijan called on Erik Prince and FSG to help it keep watch on the Nagorno-Karabakh region, also called the Republic of Artsakh. In response. Prince wanted to show the government two crop duster planes meant for agricultural use but refitted for military purposes. The planes were meant to be outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance technology and were supposedly able to fire missiles.

They never made it to Azerbaijan after an investigation shut the sale down.

This is because the deal may have broken several laws. The Washington Post found that “executives were concerned that the company might be skirting U.S. law — known as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) — requiring Americans to obtain special permits before defense-related technology can be transferred to foreign countries.”

In response to this controversial arms trade, all but two Americans on the FSG executive board quit due to concerns that he was not serving U.S. interests. This has freed Prince to deal more closely

Eastern Africa

FSG’s public focus is on providing security and logistical help to eastern African countries such as South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and the DRC.

“When you want logistics done in Africa, you call DHL,” said Sean McFate, a former military contractor in Africa and current expert on mercenaries at the Atlantic Council. “When you want muscle, you call Erik Prince.”

One of FSG’s ventures appears to help oust the extremist militant group, Al Shabaab, from southwest Somalia—an area it has largely controlled for years. “We have brought together strong international business leaders to team-up with talented Somali entrepreneurs to make development in South West Somalia a reality,” an FSG statement reads.

“The project will include an integrated solution of air-land-sea logistics capabilities and advanced security management.”

China

FSG’s headquarters is in Hong Kong, and though it publicly states that its focus is on eastern Africa, FSG is now reported to be doing domestic work on behalf of the Chinese government.

FSG is partially owned by CITIC, a Chinese-government own investment firm. CITIC is slowly taking more and more control of FSG and is reportedly already the dominant shareholder, meaning it has greater power than Prince to determine the company’s vision and business deals.

“The Chinese are gradually taking more control” of the company. CITIC is now playing a larger role as Frontier’s dominant shareholder, said Xin who heads the International Security Defense College that trains security personnel and is overseen by FSG.

“Prince’s share is decreasing. The Chinese are in charge, so it won’t matter.”

One of FSG’s most recent missions has been to train thousands of security personnel in China’s northwest Xinjiang province, where millions of ethnically Turkic Muslims called Uyghurs live.

Uyghurs are routinely targeted by the state due to continuous attempts by some to break away from China and form an independent state.

Thousands of Uyghurs are part of an extremist group called the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), whose leaders are hiding in Pakistan and whose members have a heavy presence in Syria fighting against the Syrian regime.

Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese government of “deploying a predictive policing program,” using massive surveillance technology and a web of high-tech surveillance cameras and compulsory data collection.

They’ve also reportedly sent thousands of Uyghurs to Chinese ‘re-education’ camps.

The Mercenary Prince

This list only details a few of Erik Prince’s ventures, and does not include an attempt by Prince to send thousands of mercenaries into Afghanistan and reform the political structure of the entire country to essentially be a colony for the United States.

However, Prince has transformed battlefields everywhere and fundamentally altered the way governments construct security apparatuses.

Iran is heavily reliant on outsourced Afghani mercenaries to be cannon fodder in the war in Syria. Russia is supplementing its own intervention into Syria with mercenaries hired by the state-backed Wagner Group who also sends troops to Ukraine. To beat back the nascent extremist group Boko Haram, Nigeria hired private, Apartheid-era security forces from South Africa to do the job.

Thanks to Erik Prince, outsourcing military and intelligence labor is now the norm.

Currently Prince appears to be under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, thanks to meetings he had arranged with a close aide to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Kirill Dmitriev in the Seychelles Islands, a place its own government explains is “the kind of place where you can have a good time away from the media.” The meeting was allegedley to set up a backchannel between Trump and Russia in order to facilitate clandestine communications.

McFate told Al Bawaba that Prince’s use of mercenaries allows countries to enter into and escalate conflicts without having to report it to their citizens; his tactic gives governments “plausible deniability” to anything that the mercenaries do.

According to Dr. P.J. Brendese, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and expert on democratic accountability, private military firms “have greater independence to exercise their own prerogatives and ‘we the people’ don’t get a say. That’s the most dangerous thing, because they’re profiting–their motivation is not God and country; their motive is money.”

 

 

 

 

 

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