TBR News August 22, 2016

Aug 22 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. August 22, 2016: “The Ukraine situation is coming up soon, to rival the ravages in Turkey and that countries’ moves towards Putin’s Russia. It is known in the Western intelligence circles that the CIA was responsible for the so-called ‘Orange Revolution’ in which the Russians and pro-Russians in the government were replaced with US-friendly people. When the Ukraine voted in a pro-Russian president, the CIA moved into action and we saw the Kiev ‘revolt.’ The important Crimea (offshore oil fields and a large naval base at Sebastopol) was mostly Russian in population and the break-away was conducted, not with military force on the part of Russia but a legal, and successful, referendum. It is obvious that Putin will not invade the Ukranine unless, and until, that country attacks him first. And if the CIA, and neo-cons, have their way, that will surely happen and the Ukraine will fall back under the control of Moscow.”

Ukraine, Russia flex muscles ahead of Independence Day

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia have been rising in recent weeks. Russian troops appear ready for military action against Ukraine, but observers say there would be little to gain. David Stern reports from Kyiv.

August 22, 2016


August brings a languid, enjoy-it-while-it-lasts air to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. The outdoor terraces of restaurants and cafes are filled, and families stroll in parks and along the tree-lined boulevards until the late evening, intent on savoring the season’s last shimmering days.

But in recent years, the summer’s end has been laced with anxiety. Two years ago, on Ukraine’s Independence Day, August 24, Moscow-backed insurgents launched – with what was apparently overwhelming Russian military support – a comprehensive attack in the war in the country’s east. Scores of Ukrainian soldiers were wounded, killed or captured, as the rebels pushed back the Kyiv forces and consolidated their grip in the Donbass region.

Last year, the fighting again escalated dramatically. Both the Ukrainian and Russian presidents, Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin, called emergency councils to address the rising violence, and analysts warned of the possibility of “full-scale war.” In his Independence Day speech, President Poroshenko memorably referred to the two Russian-supported breakaway regions as “Mordor,” the evil empire from “The Lord of the Rings.”

And now, once more, the guns of August are growing louder. Ukrainian officials say that government forces’ casualty toll is the highest since this time last year. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who are monitoring the conflict, say that the amount of heavy weapons on the front line has doubled in recent weeks, which both sides use to shell each other.

With the intensifying violence, concerns are also increasing that an all-out Russian attack could be around the corner. Kyiv officials, backed by western experts, say the Kremlin is bolstering its numbers on its border with Ukraine – 40,000 more troops, by some estimates. The Ukrainians also say Russia is shipping more weapons and machinery into the self-declared Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. Russian forces have held major military exercises near Ukraine.

‘Ready to attack’

All the Kremlin needs is a pretext to attack, Kyiv says, which Russia already has put into place: Earlier this month, Russian officials claimed they had foiled an attempt by Ukrainian special forces to enter Russian-annexed Crimea and carry out “terrorist attacks.” The Ukrainians, the Kremlin said, opened fire and two Russian soldiers were killed. A Ukrainian man, Yevhen Panov, was allegedly captured and accused of wanting to blow up strategic infrastructure in Crimea.

“We will not let this pass,” said Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, adding that Kyiv was playing a “dangerous game.” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov echoed him and promised “exhaustive measures.”

The Ukrainians countered that these accusations were “hysterical and false.” Euroepan Council President Donald Tusk backed up Kyiv, calling the Kremlin’s version of events “unreliable.

Nevertheless, President Poroshenko announced he was putting their forces on high alert and that the risk of further escalation was “high.”

“I do not exclude a full-scale invasion on all fronts,” he said, adding that, if necessary, he could introduce martial law.

Ukrainian show of force

Ukraine marks its Independence Day this year on Wednesday with the biggest military display in the country’s history: More than 3,000 troops and 200 pieces of military hardware will parade down Khreschatik Street, the capital’s central thoroughfare.

The main reason for this show of martial power is the country’s 25th anniversary of achieving its freedom from the Soviet Union. But equally it will be a gesture to Moscow that the Ukrainian army is a force not to be trifled with, as well to the Ukrainian population that the country’s defense is in reliable hands.

And indeed they have something to celebrate. More than two years ago, when the fighting in the East began, the Ukrainian army barely existed. Now, although perhaps still unable to defeat the Russian army outright, it has at least fought Moscow to a standstill.

But the war is far from over and the number of dead, now close to 10,000, continues to climb. For some the best realistic outcome would be one of those “frozen conflicts” that smolder elsewhere in the former Soviet sphere, but even that seems a long way off.

‘Little to gain’

Could the Russians now launch a major offensive? The response to this is another question: What would they have to gain from this?

Yes, analysts say, Russian troops seem arranged in preparation for some sort of military action. But to push further into Ukrainian territory would be to risk major casualties, public backlash at home and the loss of any chance to have Western sanctions lifted. Even a limited attack – aimed at intimidating the Ukrainians and providing a swift victory before Duma elections next month – risks a similar outcome.

At the moment, seen from west of the conflict zone, Moscow’s most likely strategy seems to be one of three scenarios, or a combination:

One, to try to provoke the Ukrainians into launching their own offensive.

Two, to continue the pressure on Kyiv in hopes of creating political instability inside the country.

Three, to appear ready to launch a full-out war, which would be met with relief when Russia decides in the end to take the path of peace.

Option three – playing the peacemaker – also could be rewarded with concessions at the negotiating table. President Putin, in his remarks following the incidents in Crimea, said he considered it “pointless” to meet with Germany, France and Ukraine – the “Normandy Four” format – at the G20 summit in early September. This, too, could indicate a hardening of the Russian position, which, were the Russian leader to soften his stance and agree to meet later on, would be welcomed as a compromise.

And what do the Ukrainians think – do they really believe full-scale war is possible?

“The Ukrainians aren’t taking any chances,” one Western diplomat in Kyiv told DW.

Foreign hyper-glide weapons ‘challenge’ to American Defense – media

August 21, 2016


The top brass of US Strategic Command acknowledges that hypersonic glide weapons developed by other countries are a serious challenge to Washington’s defense capabilities.

The concerns were voiced during a Space and Missile Defense Symposium that was hosted in the US state of Alabama earlier this week, Defense News reports.

It is “becoming increasingly more difficult” for the US to track down and tackle the foreign hyper-glide vehicles, Admiral Cecil Haney, chief of US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said as quoted by the media outlet. “Hyper-glide vehicle technology can complicate our sensing and our defensive approaches,” he added.

Hyperglide vehicle’s (HGV), also known as boost gliders, are unmanned weapons that are launched by ballistic missiles. After separating from the rocket, they follow their own track path, reaching speeds of at least Mach 5 (five times faster than the speed of the sound) or more.

HGV’s can “potentially glide over distances approaching ten thousand kilometers,” while hitting their targets “with accuracies down to a few meters,” according to Forbes.

During the summit, Haney admitted that most of the US Defense capabilities are not designed to deal with these threats, which have different flight schemes in the air, compared to conventional missiles.

One of the key problems voiced by the US military was limited detection capabilities of HGV’s because of their extreme high altitude, reaching into the atmosphere, as well as a very short approaching time to target.

“Reduced shooter-to-target timeline is our greatest problem because of how we do our command-and-control as well as how do we integrate our systems to be able to engage on fast-moving targets,” US Army Acquisition Chief Katrina McFarland stated.

Alongside the US, China and Russia are among the countries leading the research and development of such state of the art weapons.

Earlier this year reports in the Russian and western media indicated Moscow tested a “combat ready” HGV. The weapon is said to be part of a top-secret project codenamed 4202.

Britain’s Daily Star said the aircraft can reach speeds of over 12,000 kph and can “travel from Moscow to London within 13 minutes.” The Russian Defense Ministry has refrained from commenting on the issue.

Mark Clark, the director of US Missiles and Space Intelligence insists that Moscow is developing a “hypersonic vehicle for the purpose of penetrating missile defense,” as quoted by Defense News.

In April, China launched a seventh test of its hyper glider, the Washington Free Beacon revealed, citing officials familiar with the matter. China is reportedly working on developing HGV’s as part of its secret DF-ZF project. Officials in Beijing also refused to comment on the alleged test.

According to McFarland the HGV weapons “is one of our most challenging areas” the US Defense Department is facing in the coming years.

Washington is currently working on its own Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) project, which is tasked with developing a glider capable of flying within the planet’s atmosphere, Army-technology reports.

The program is running under the guise of the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC) in partnership with Army Forces Strategic Command (ARSTRAT).

Report: Germany to require citizens to stockpile supplies in case of catastrophe

A civil defense plan to be debated by the cabinet would require citizens to stockpile supplies in case of a catastrophe. The plan says people should prepare for an unlikely event that “could threaten our existence.”

August 21, 2016


For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the German government plans to encourage its citizens to prepare for a catastrophe or armed attack by stockpiling food, water and other supplies, the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung” reported on Sunday.

Citing the government’s “Concept for Civil Defense” paper to be discussed by the cabinet on Wednesday, the government will require people to stock 10 days worth of food and five days of worth of drinking water.

The civil defense strategy would require citizens to have a sufficient supply of food, water, energy, money and medicine to wait out a period until the state would be able to initiate a response to a catastrophe or attack.

A spokesperson from the interior ministry declined to comment on the contents of the paper until a Wednesday press conference.

The 69-page report said an armed attack on Germany was unlikely. However, as a precaution people should “prepare appropriately for a development that could threaten our existence and cannot be categorically ruled out in the future,” FAS quoted the report as saying.

The civil defense strategy was originally commission by a parliamentary committee in 2012, but its release comes amid a raft of new security measures in the country.

Health official warns Zika could spread across U.S. Gulf

August 21, 2016

by Chris Prentice


One of the top U.S. public health officials on Sunday warned that the mosquito-borne Zika virus could extend its reach across the U.S. Gulf Coast after officials last week confirmed it as active in the popular tourist destination of Miami Beach.

The possibility of transmission in Gulf States such as Louisiana and Texas will likely fuel concerns that the virus, which has been shown to cause the severe birth defect known as microcephaly, could spread across the continental United States, even though officials have played down such an outcome.

Concern has mounted since confirmation that Zika has expanded into a second region of the tourist hub of Miami-Dade County in Florida. Miami’s Wynwood arts neighborhood last month became the site of the first locally transmitted cases of Zika in the continental United States.

“It would not be surprising we would see additional cases perhaps in other Gulf Coast states,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the allergy and infectious diseases unit of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said in an interview on Sunday morning with ABC News.

Fauci noted that record flooding this month in Louisiana – which has killed at least 13 people and damaged some 60,000 homes damaged – has boosted the likelihood Zika will spread into that state.

“There’s going to be a lot of problems getting rid of standing water” that could stymie the mosquito control efforts that are the best way to control Zika’s spread, he said.

U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies. The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last fall in Brazil, which has now confirmed 1,835 cases of microcephaly that it considers to be related to Zika infections in the mothers.

On Friday, Florida Governor Rick Scott confirmed that state health officials had identified five cases of Zika believed to be contracted in Miami Beach.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told pregnant women they should avoid the trendy area and suggested those especially worried about exposure might consider avoiding all of Miami-Dade County.

NIH’s Fauci on Sunday said the conditions of most of the country make it unlikely there would be a “diffuse, broad outbreak,” even though officials need to prepare for that possibility.

He compared it with diseases such as Dengue, which is endemic in certain tropical and subtropical regions of the world but rarely occurs in the continental United States. In Miami’s Wynwood area, experts have seen “substantial” knockdowns of mosquito populations.

Still, its containment is more complicated because Zika can be sexually transmitted, Fauci said.

“This is something that could hang around for a year or two,” he saiThe World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.

(Reporting by Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Alan Crosby)

Florida resident contracts dangerous brain eating amoeba, the 4th US case this year

August 21, 2016


An unidentified patient in Florida is fighting for their life after contracting a microscopic brain-eating amoeba while swimming in “unsanitary water”.

The Florida Department of Health has confirmed that the patient – the fourth known US case this year – is suffering from a severe illness. Stage one symptoms include fever and vomiting and, as the condition progresses, the patient suffers severe hallucinations and eventually falls into a coma.

According to the Sun Sentinel, this patient is from one of Florida’s most populated areas, Broward County.

Spokesperson for the Florida Department of Health Mara Gambineri told the newspaper that doctors believe the patient “contracted the infection after swimming in unsanitary water on a single private property.”

Often mistaken for meningitis, the disease is caused by Naegleria fowleri ameba attacking the brain.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once the parasite reaches the brain the prognosis is bleak: since 1962, only three people out of 138 are recorded to have survived the infection.

Regarded as an extremely rare parasite, a person can only be infected if they are unlucky enough to breath in contaminated water through their nose. People suffering with the infection usually only survive for a maximum of 18 days.

The latest amoeba virus comes just two weeks after the death of Hannah Collins from South Carolina. The 11-year-old died from a similar infection on August 5, after contracting the debilitating illness whilst bathing in a local river.

Guidelines issued by the South Carolina Department of Health at the time advised people to avoid swimming in warm freshwater lakes during times of high temperature and low water levels.

The department also warned people to refrain from “stirring up” river bed sediment that might contain the parasite.

What Does It Mean When War Hawks Say, “Never Trump”?

The Enemies of My Enemy May Be War Criminals

by Rebecca Gordon

Tom Dispatch

It’s not every day that Republicans publish an open letter announcing that their presidential candidate is unfit for office. But lately this sort of thing has been happening more and more frequently. The most recent example: we just heard from 50 representatives of the national security apparatus, men — and a few women — who served under Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. All of them are very worried about Donald Trump.

They think we should be alerted to the fact that the Republican standard-bearer “lacks the character, values, and experience to be president.”

That’s true of course, but it’s also pretty rich, coming from this bunch. The letter’s signers include, among others, the man who was Condoleezza Rice’s legal advisor when she ran the National Security Council (John Bellinger III); one of George W. Bush’s CIA directors who also ran the National Security Agency (Michael Hayden); a Bush administration ambassador to the United Nations and Iraq (John Negroponte); an architect of the neoconservative policy in the Middle East adopted by the Bush administration that led to the invasion of Iraq, who has since served as president of the World Bank (Robert Zoellick). In short, given the history of the “global war on terror,” this is your basic list of potential American war criminals.

Their letter continues, “He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world.”

There’s a sentence that could use some unpacking.

What Is The “Free World”?

Let’s start with the last bit: “the leader of the free world.” That’s what journalists used to call the U.S. president, and occasionally the country as a whole, during the Cold War. Between the end of World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the “free world” included all the English-speaking countries outside Africa, along with western Europe, North America, some South American dictatorships, and nations like the Philippines that had a neocolonial relationship with the United States.

The U.S.S.R. led what, by this logic, was the un-free world, including the Warsaw Pact countries in eastern Europe, the “captive” Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the People’s Republic of China (for part of the period), North Korea, and of course Cuba. Americans who grew up in these years knew that the people living behind the “Iron Curtain” were not free. We’d seen the bus ads and public service announcements on television requesting donations for Radio Free Europe, sometimes illustrated with footage of a pale adolescent man, his head crowned with chains.

I have absolutely no doubt that he and his eastern European countrymen were far from free. I do wonder, however, how free his counterparts in the American-backed Brazilian, Argentinian, Chilean, and Philippine dictatorships felt.

The two great adversaries, together with the countries in their spheres of influence, were often called the First and Second Worlds. Their rulers treated the rest of the planet — the Third World — as a chessboard across which they moved their proxy armies and onto which they sometimes targeted their missiles. Some countries in the Third World refused to be pawns in the superpower game, and created a non-aligned movement, which sought to thread a way between the Scylla and Charybdis of the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Among its founders were some of the great Third World nationalists: Sukarno of Indonesia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, along with Yugoslavia’s President Josip Broz Tito.

Other countries weren’t so lucky. When the United States took over from France the (unsuccessful) project of defeating Vietnam’s anti-colonial struggle, people in the U.S. were assured that the war that followed with its massive bombing, napalming, and Agent-Oranging of a peasant society represented the advance of freedom against the forces of communist enslavement. Central America also served as a Cold War battlefield, with Washington fighting proxy wars during the 1980s in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, where poor campesinos had insisted on being treated as human beings and were often brutally murdered for their trouble. In addition, the U.S. funded, trained, and armed a military dictatorship in Honduras, where John Negroponte — one of the anti-Trump letter signers — was the U.S. ambassador from 1981 to 1985.

The Soviet Union is, of course, long gone, but the “free world,” it seems, remains, and so American officials still sometimes refer to us as its leader — an expression that only makes sense, of course, in the context of dual (and dueling) worlds. On a post-Soviet planet, however, it’s hard to know just what national or geographic configuration constitutes today’s “un-free world.” Is it (as Donald Trump might have it) everyone living under Arab or Muslim rule? Or could it be that amorphous phenomenon we call “terrorism” or “Islamic terrorism” that can sometimes reach into the “free world” and slaughter innocents as in San Bernardino, California, Orlando, Florida, or Nice, France? Or could it be the old Soviet Union reincarnated in Vladimir Putin’s Russia or even a rising capitalist China still controlled by a Communist Party?

Faced with the loss of a primary antagonist and the confusion on our planet, George W. Bush was forced to downsize the perennial enemy of freedom from Reagan’s old “evil empire” (the Soviet Union) to three “rogue states,” Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, which in an address to Congress he so memorably labeled the “axis of evil.” The first of these lies in near ruins; the second we’ve recently signed a nuclear treaty with; and the third seems incapable of even feeding its own population. Fortunately for the free world, the Bush administration also had some second-string enemies to draw on. In 2002, John Bolton, then an undersecretary of state (and later ambassador to the U.N.), added another group “beyond the axis of evil” — Libya, Syria, and Cuba. Of the three, only Cuba is still a functioning nation.

And by the way, the 50 Republican national security stars who denounced Donald Trump in Cold War terms turn out to be in remarkably good company — that of Donald Trump himself (who recently gave a speech invoking American Cold War practices as the basis for his future foreign policy).

“He Weakens U.S. Moral Authority…”

After its twenty-first century wars, its “black sites,” and Guantánamo, among other developments of the age, it’s hard to imagine a much weaker “moral authority” than what’s presently left to the United States. First, we gave the world eight years of George W. Bush’s illegal invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as CIA torture sites, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and a program of quite illegal global kidnappings of terror suspects (some of whom proved innocent of anything).  Under President Obama, it seems we’ve traded enhanced interrogation techniques for an “enhanced” use of assassination by drone (again outside any “law” of war, other than the legal documents that the Justice Department has produced to justify such acts).

When Barack Obama took office in January 2009 his first executive order outlawed the CIA’s torture program and closed those black sites. It then looked as if the country’s moral fiber might be stiffening. But when it came to holding the torturers accountable, Obama insisted that the country should “look forward as opposed to looking backwards” and the Justice Department declined to prosecute any of them. It’s hard for a country to maintain its moral authority in the world when it refuses to exert that authority at home.

Two of the letter signers who are so concerned about Trump’s effect on U.S. moral authority themselves played special roles in “weakening” U.S. moral authority through their involvement with the CIA torture program: John Bellinger III and Michael Hayden.

June 26th is the U.N.’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. To mark that day in 2003, President Bush issued a statement declaring, “Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example.”

The Washington Post story on the president’s speech also carried a quote from Deputy White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan to the effect that all prisoners being held by the U.S. government were being treated “humanely.” John Rizzo, who was then the CIA’s deputy general counsel, called John Bellinger, Condoleezza Rice’s legal counsel at the National Security Council, to express his concern about what both the president and McClellan had said.

The problem was that — as Rizzo and his boss, CIA director George Tenet, well knew — many detainees then held by the CIA were not being treated humanely. They were being tortured or mistreated in various ways. The CIA wanted to be sure that they still had White House backing and approval for their “enhanced interrogation” program, because they didn’t want to be left holding the bag if the truth came out. They also wanted the White House to stop talking about the humane treatment of prisoners.

According to an internal CIA memo, George Tenet convened a July 29, 2003, meeting in Condoleezza Rice’s office to get the necessary reassurance that the CIA would be covered if the truth about torture came out. There, Bellinger reportedly apologized on behalf of the administration, explaining that the White House press secretary had “gone off script,” mistakenly reverting to “old talking points.” He also “undertook to [e]nsure that the White House press office ceases to make statements on the subject other than [to say] that the U.S. is complying with its obligations under U.S. law.”

At that same meeting, Tenet’s chief counsel, Scott Muller, passed out packets of printed PowerPoint slides detailing those enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, so that Bellinger and the others present, including Rice, would understand exactly what he was covering up.

So much for the “moral authority” of John Bellinger III.

As for Michael Hayden (who has held several offices in the national security apparatus), one of his signature acts as CIA Director was to approve in 2005 the destruction of videotapes of the agency’s waterboarding sessions. In a letter to CIA employees, he wrote that the tapes were destroyed “only after it was determined they were no longer of intelligence value and not relevant to any internal, legislative, or judicial inquiries.”

Of course destroying those tapes also meant that they’d never be available for any future legislative or judicial inquiry. The letter continued,

“Beyond their lack of intelligence value… the tapes posed a serious security risk. Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the program, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qaeda and its sympathizers.”

One has to wonder whether Hayden was more concerned with his CIA colleagues’ “security” from al-Qaeda or from prosecution. In any case, he deprived the public — and any hypothetical future prosecutor — of crucial evidence of wrongdoing.

Hayden also perpetuated the lie that the Agency’s first waterboarding victim, Abu Zubaydah — waterboarded a staggering 83 times — was a crucial al-Qaeda operative and had provided a quarter of all the information that the CIA gathered from human subjects about al-Qaeda.  He was, in fact, never a member of al-Qaeda at all. In the 1980s, he ran a training camp in Afghanistan for the mujahedin, the force the U.S. supported against the Soviet occupation of that country; he was, that is, one of Ronald Reagan’s “freedom fighters.”

Bellinger later chimed in, keeping the Abu Zubaydah lie alive by arguing in 2007 on behalf of his boss Condoleezza Rice that Guantánamo should remain open. That prison, he said, “serves a very important purpose, to hold and detain individuals who are extremely dangerous [like] Abu Zubaydah, people who have been planners of 9/11.”

“He Appears to Lack Basic Knowledge About and Belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Laws, and U.S. Institutions…”

That’s the next line of the open letter, and it’s certainly a fair assessment of Donald Trump. But it’s more than a little ironic that it was signed by Michael Hayden who, in addition to supporting CIA’s torture project, oversaw the National Security Agency’s post-9/11 secret surveillance program. Under that program, the government recorded the phone, text, and Internet communications of an unknown number of people inside and outside of the United States — all without warrants.

Perhaps Hayden believes in the Constitution, but at best it’s a selective belief. There’s that pesky 4th Amendment, for example, which guarantees that

“[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Nor does Hayden appear to believe in U.S. laws and institutions, at least when it comes to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which established the secret courts that are supposed to issue exactly the sort of warrant Hayden’s program never requested.

John Negroponte is another of the signers who has a history of skirting U.S. laws and the congress that passes them. While ambassador to Honduras, he helped develop a murderous “contra” army, which the United States armed and trained to overthrow the government of neighboring Nicaragua. During those years, however, aid to the contras was actually illegal under U.S. law.  It was explicitly prohibited under the so-called Boland Amendments to various appropriations bills, but no matter.  “National security” was at stake.

Speaking of the Constitution, it’s instructive to take a look at Article 6, which states in part that “all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.” Such treaties include, for example, the 1928 Kellogg-Briand non-aggression pact (whose violation was the first charge brought against the Nazi officials tried at Nuremberg) and Article 51 of the U.N. charter, which permits military action only “if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.”

In 1998, Robert Zoellick, another of those 50 Republicans openly denouncing Trump, signed a different letter, which advocated abrogating those treaties. As an associate of the Project for a New American Century, he was among those who urged then-President Bill Clinton to direct “a full complement of diplomatic, political, and military efforts” to “remove Saddam Hussein from power.” This was to be just the first step in a larger campaign to create a Pax Americana in the Middle East. The letter specifically urged Clinton not to worry about getting a Security Council resolution, arguing that “American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.”

“He Is Unable or Unwilling to Separate Truth From Falsehood…”

So says the letter, and that, too, offers a fair characterization of Trump, who has often contended that President Obama has never proved he was born in the U.S.A., and has more than once repeated the long-disproved legend that, during the 1899-1913 Morro Rebellion in the Philippines, General John J. Pershing used bullets dipped in pig’s blood to execute Muslim insurgents. (And that’s barely to scratch the surface of Donald Trump’s remarkable unwillingness to separate truth from falsehood.) What, then, about the truthfulness of the letter signers?

Clinton never bit on the PNAC proposal, but a few years later, George W. Bush did. And the officials of his administration began their campaign of lies about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, yellow cake uranium from Niger, and “smoking guns” that might turn out to be “mushroom clouds” (assumedly over American cities), all of which would provide the pretext for that administration’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

The Bush administration didn’t limit itself to lying to the American people. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte was dispatched to the Security Council to lie, too. Security Council Resolution 1441 was the last of several requiring Iraq to comply with weapons inspections by the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Some members of the Council, especially Russia and France, were hesitant to approve 1441, fearing that the U.S. might interpret it as a license to invade. So, in the discussions before the vote, Negroponte assured the Security Council that “this resolution contains no ‘hidden triggers’ and no ‘automaticity’ with respect to the use of force. If there is a further Iraqi breach, reported to the Council by UNMOVIC, the IAEA or a Member State, the matter will return to the Council for discussions.” The British ambassador used almost identical words to reassure the Council that, before attacking Iraq, the United States and Britain would seek its blessing.

That, of course, is hardly what happened. On February 24, 2003, Washington and London did bring a resolution for war to the Security Council.  When it became apparent that two of its permanent members, France and Russia, would veto that resolution if it came to a vote, Bush (in consultation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair) decided to withdraw it. “We all agreed,” he wrote in his memoir, that “the diplomatic track had reached its end.”

And so the U.S. was on its foreordained path to war and disaster in Iraq, the path that after much winding, much failure, and much destruction would lead to Donald Trump.

So much for keeping promises and separating “truth from falsehood.”

The Enemies of My Enemy

Keep in mind that this is just a taste of the CVs of this list of 50 Republican foreign policy and national security luminaries who took out after The Donald.

With any luck, between his indirect call to assassinate his opponent and the latest news about his campaign director Paul Manafort’s shady Ukraine connections, we have now reached Peak Trump. With supporters bolting on all sides, it’s just possible that we won’t have Trump to kick around forever.

But we shouldn’t forget that the party that made Trump possible is also the home of the crooks, liars, and war criminals now eager to disown him. The enemies of our enemy are not our — or the world’s — friends.

Christ the Essene

by Harry von Johnston. PhD

Jesus as Essene and homosexual

The Gospel of John makes references to the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 13:23, 19:26, 21:7, 20.

It has traditionally been assumed that the disciple whom Jesus loved is a self-reference by the author of the Gospel, traditionally regarded as John (Jacob) the Apostle,and according to the Dead Sea scroll, also Jesus’ lover.

In the Gospel of John, the disciple John frequently refers to himself in the third person as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’.

One might argue that Jesus loved all of his followers in a non-sexual way, but to specifically discuss Jesus’ love for John has strongly indicates the probability of a sexual relationship.

The actual author(s) of the Gospel of John, written long after the event, describe how the “beloved” disciple laid himself on Jesus’ inner tunic — his undergarment at the Last Supper. See John 13:25 and 21:20 which noted that Jesus and the beloved disciple: “… eat together, side by side.” This is very obviously a pederastic relationship between an older man and a younger man.

The Gospel references to “the disciple whom Jesus loved” use the word “agape.”

In the Book of John this Greek word (the original Gospels were written in Greek) is used eight times with the specific implication of sexual intimacy. Five times it is used with reference to Jesus’ relationship with John. Once it is used to define Jesus’ relationship with Lazarus.

Mark 7:14-16 shows that Jesus approved of homosexual acts. The critical phrase reads:  “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him…” It would appear obvious that Jesus gave great emphasis to this teaching, directing it to everyone.

Mark 14:51-52 describes the incident when Jesus was arrested by the religious police. It describes how one of Jesus’ followers was scantily dressed. The King James Version says he had a linen cloth cast on his naked body; (the size and location of the cloth is not defined. From the text, this could well have been the equivalent of a modern thong) The New International Version says that he was “wearing nothing but a linen garment.”  When the police tried to seize him, they were able to grab only this piece of cloth; the young man then ran away naked.

Matthew 8:5-13: and Luke 7:2: One day a Roman Centurion asked him to heal his dying servant. Scholars of both scripture and history tell us that Roman Centurions, who were not permitted to marry while in service, regularly chose a favorite male slave to be their personal assistant and sexual servant. Such liaisons were common in the Greco-Roman world and it was not unusual for them to deepen into loving partnerships. Jesus offered to go to the servant, but the centurion asked him simply to speak a word of healing, since he would not welcome this itinerant Jewish teacher into his quarters. Jesus responded by healing the servant at a distance and proclaiming that he had never found faith like this in his powers before.

“The disciple whom he loved”, as the evidence for a censored relationship between Jesus and him is quite similar. (John 19: 26-27), (John 13:23-25), (John 21:20).

Some commentators argue from silence. They note that there is no passage in the New Testament that directly describes anything about Jesus’ sexuality. However, there are many direct and indirect references to Jesus’ sexual orientation. He was accused of being a “drunkard and a glutton” and of partying with “prostitutes and sinners.” He apparently enjWoyed a tender foot massage from a woman. Yet, neither Jesus’ sexuality nor his celibacy is mentioned. However, sexual activates are referred to elsewhere in the Bible, quite often.

One might argue that the books in the New Testament might have once described Jesus’ sexual relationships, but that these passages have been heavily censored by the later church officials because they were unacceptable.

Why a surging stock market isn’t making ordinary investors happy

For the first time since 1999, the three major US stock market indices have scored records simultaneously – but big personal gains depend on big risks

August 21, 2016

by Susanne McGee

The Guardian

You don’t have to look as far afield as Rio to find all-time records being smashed to bits in the last two weeks.

The US stock market has been celebrating Team USA’s string of gold medals by posting a string of new highs, having staged a decisive recovery from its “Brexit” swoon, after Britain voted to leave the EU in late June. The three major indices – Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite – even scored new records simultaneously for the first time since 1999, the height of the dotcom boom.

So why, amid all this market ebullience, do most ordinary investors feel downright glum?

The problem is that though stock markets bounced back to life rapidly following the 2008 financial crisis, the typical investor waited until 2013 to return, missing out on the earliest – and biggest – parts of the post-crisis rally.

Most people remain deeply wary of stocks – not surprising, after they saw the equity portion of their retirement shrink by 40% or more within a single year. A professional investor isn’t worrying about needing to retire in four or five years with a much, much smaller 401k plan. He can afford a long-term view.

The average woman in the street, however, is in a much different position. Not only are her savings smaller, but the collapse in interest rates – part of the Federal Reserve’s repeated attempts to jump-start the economy – has left her fixed income investments yielding almost nothing.

Her house, which represents a larger share of her net worth than that of a more affluent investor, may have lost value. Or at least she probably can’t count on its value at the same rates as before 2008, when the housing market cratered and left only San Francisco and New York City as real estate exceptions.

Her job may be less secure, as companies cut costs. Her salary, which also is more important to her financial wellbeing than her investment income, is almost certainly flat, and she pays a higher proportion of the cost of the benefits she receives.

To profit from the market’s record highs, she would have to be willing to take on more risk in her investment portfolio – if she has one at all – and load up on stocks. And for many Americans, that feels like it’s asking too much. They probably aren’t wrong.

The last bull market in stocks ended brutally when the dotcom bubble burst in the spring of 2000, but it wasn’t followed by a chasm opening in wealth inequality, as in the crisis of 2008. If that late-1990s boom gave birth to “equity culture” – the idea that stock investing can go mainstream – then the 2008 crisis may have handicapped the idea.

Too few Americans have profited too little from the stock market rally, while a handful of the country’s wealthiest have taken the lion’s share of the profits, simply because they have the spare capital to invest.

Rises in the stock market have persistently accompanied increases in income inequality from 1979 to 2011, according to a report by the St Louis Federal Reserve. Even middle-income families are less likely to expose their savings to the higher risks of the equity markets, the report concluded.

And the reason those stocks have climbed? Well, it’s as much due to interest rates as corporate profits. As long as bond yields are at their current basement levels, even anemic profits look attractive to investors,relative to bonds. It’s growth! And bonds aren’t going to be delivering that any time soon. So what else is an investor to do? As the old saying goes, in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And that one-eyed man, right now, would be US stocks.

The truth is that the stock market’s records may be fragile. Corporate earnings have declined for the fifth straight quarter, and those companies that have managed to post higher profits have done so by cutting costs rather than generating higher sales. That should be bad news for stock prices, which typically trade as a multiple of a company’s earnings.

The only thing that’s keeping the party going for now is super-cheap money, AKA low interest rates. As long as that’s happening, well, the only place to park your spare cash – if you’re an investor – is in stocks.

But it’s interesting to look at just where those investors are choosing to put their money. By far the strongest performers of the S&P 500’s 10 sectors are the telecommunications and the utilities sectors, both crammed full of stocks that pay out big dividends to their investors every quarter. In other words, investors are flocking to the safest companies out there, and the ones that will behave the most like bonds, paying them dividends instead of interest . There just aren’t very many cheap stocks left – another reason to feel gloomy as the market has hit highs.

Perhaps it wouldn’t matter as much if more of us had managed to capture more of the gains. But we haven’t. But when this geriatric bull market eventually gives up the ghost, all of us who have any kind of investment portfolio, however small, will share the pain. The smaller our portfolios, the more significant those losses will be.

Ultimately, the only thing average Americans seem able to count on is financial insecurity. Their increased productivity has gone to higher profits for corporations, and companies have paid those profits to shareholders in the form of higher stock prices, rather than to employees in the form of higher compensation. Only if that is reversed will we all be able to truly celebrate a bull market that profits everyone.

Kurds versus Syrian army battle intensifies, complicating multi-fronted war

August 221, 2016

by Angus McDowall


Beirut-Fighting between the Syrian army and Kurdish forces intensified late on Friday and into Saturday, creating the risk of yet another front opening in the multi-sided civil war.

The two sides have mostly avoided confrontation during the five-year conflict, with the government focusing its efforts against Sunni Arab rebels in the west, and the Kurds mainly fighting Islamic State in northern Syria.

In an indication of their reluctance to escalate further, pro-government media said on Saturday they had held preliminary peace talks.

After the fighting broke out this week, government warplanes bombed Kurdish-held areas of Hasaka, one of two cities in the largely Kurdish-held northeast where the government has maintained enclaves.

Fighting there could complicate the battle against Islamic State because of the Kurds’ pivotal role in the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) fight against the group.

On Friday, warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition flew what the Pentagon called protective patrols around Hasaka to prevent Syrian jets from targeting U.S. special forces, who are operating on the ground with the SDF, the first sorties of their kind in the war.

Ground fighting intensified late on Friday when Kurdish YPG fighters battled Syrian forces, whose air force flew sorties over the city, Kurds and monitors said.

“The clashes continue in areas inside the city today. There were military operations,” a Kurdish official said.

Many inhabitants of Kurdish areas fled on Friday and at least 41 people have been killed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based war monitoring group, said.

“There are efforts to cool things between the army and the Asayish (YPG-affiliated forces), and a first meeting was held aimed at a ceasefire,” Sham FM, a pro-government radio station, reported.


As well as complicating the war against Islamic State, fighting in Hasaka could create problems for the government’s campaign in the city of Aleppo, where Kurdish forces have been accused of coordinating with the Syrian army against rebels backed by Turkey.

The YPG, or People’s Protection Units, have close ties with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, against which Ankara has waged a three-decade counter insurgency. Turkey fears the Kurds’ drive against Islamic State is partly aimed at carving out a Kurdish region along its own southern border.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkey would take a more active role in Syria in coming months to stop it being torn along ethnic lines – an apparent reference to the YPG gains in northern areas.

Local fighters backed by the SDF, of which the YPG militia form an integral part, said on Saturday they would not advance further north – towards the Turkish border – having secured the city of Manbij, 250 km (155 miles) west of Hasaka, from Islamic State, an announcement that may have been aimed at assuaging Turkish fears.

Syria’s army has blamed the YPG for the Hasaka fighting and described it as a branch of the PKK, a characterization the group rejected on Saturday.

In Aleppo, fighting continued near the mouth of a corridor that rebels opened this month into besieged areas they control.

Jakob Kern, the Syria director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme, said opposition-held areas had been inaccessible for weeks and food was running perilously short.

“In the east of Aleppo, the food will last a maximum of two weeks, probably until the end of August,” Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger quoted him as saying on Saturday.

Russia, the main military backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said on Thursday it was willing to support weekly 48-hour ceasefires to allow aid to reach besieged areas.

(Additional reporting by Michael Shields in Geneva; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

A warning shot for the IOC

Around 10,000 athletes, 306 medal decisions, 26 sports – the dimension of the Olympic Games in Rio is enormous, too enormous. The fact the venues have often been half empty is a warning to the IOC, writes Joscha Weber.

August 21, 2016


Most sports fans would agree that the 100-meter dash is the highlight of the Olympic Games. Hardly any contest captivates people from all cultures like the almost 10-second sprinting spectacle. But when even the 100 meters is not sold out, it is a sure sign that something has gone wrong in the Olympic state. On other days, only around 60 percent of the seats in the Olympic Stadium were filled. It was the same story at the wrestling, fencing, track cycling, football and even swimming venues. The reason? The Olympic tickets were simply too expensive for most Brazilians. But that is not the whole story: Just over half of the approximately 280,000 tickets that were handed out to school children free of charge went unused. So have the Olympics lost their appeal?

Yes and no. No, because even Rio 2016 offered incredibly gripping moments like the penalty shoot-out between the Brazilian and German men in the gold-medal match in football, the emotional semifinal in men’s singles tennis between Juan Martin Del Potro and Rafael Nadal, Fiji’s triumph in the rugby sevens, the last-second triumph of the French men’s handball team over Germany, or the heart-stopping end to the road-cycling race at the Copacabana. Athletic contests between people from all over the world continue to captivate billions of people on television, radio, or nowadays on their smartphones.

At the same time, the answer is also yes. The Games continue to move farther and farther away from their origins and ideals. The pervasive commercialization of the Games; the doping scandals, which call the performances of the athletes into question; the partial paralysis of public transportation apart from the reserved Olympic lane; and the strict security measures, which are necessary these days – are all factors that have led to a certain disenchantment among the general public.

People have had enough of Olympic gigantism

And Rio, which is a city of sports enthusiasts, is by no means alone. Other cities have gone much further: Munich, Krakow, Stockholm, Oslo and Hamburg all said “no” to the Olympics before the application process was even over. The cost to the taxpayer is too high (Rio will be on the hook for $10 billion), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) makes too many special requests, and in the end, the host city risks being left with unused, dilapidated sporting ruins, as is the case in Athens. Many people have simply had enough of Olympic gigantism.

Then a senior IOC official, Patrick Hickey of Ireland, gets arrested on allegations of being involved in the sale of tickets on the black market – confirming the public image of the sporting officials who any host country is forced to deal with being corrupt and ostentatious. Not just that, but US swimmers Ryan Lochte and James Feigen go and fabricate a robbery story in an effort to deflect attention from the vandalism that they committed. So it comes as no surprise that the Olympics have an image problem. How credible can the so-called “Olympic family” actually be?

The illusion of the Olympics being clean

Suspicion was a constant companion of the athletes during many of the events. There were remarkable performance improvements in sports like track cycling and a doping case in weightlifting. Not just that, but some obviously poorly trained doping testers got the names and even the sex of the athletes they were testing wrong. Some volunteers inadvertently announced what were meant to be unannounced doping tests. This raises serious questions about the entire system of drug testing in Rio. And as the dozens of positive retests from the Beijing, London and Sochi Games have shown us, the notion of the Olympics ever being clean is an illusion.

A number of bizarre decisions by those who govern sports should not go unmentioned either. The fact that the majority of the Russian team was allowed to compete, even though the Paralympics banned the country’s athletes, defies Olympic logic. One can only shake one’s head at the fact that Yelena Isinbayeva, an athlete who was barred from competing in Rio due to allegations of doping, has been elected to the IOC’s athletes’ commission.

Then there is the fact that FIFA functionary Issa Hayatou has been allowed to take part in some of the awards ceremonies. This is an honor that should not be bestowed on a close confidant of banned former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who has also faced allegations of corruption.

Despite all of this, these games of youth remain a brilliant idea. Bringing together people from nations all over the world in one place to take part in peaceful sporting competition and cultural exchange is a wonderful thought. However, making this gathering ever bigger and more expensive is a big mistake. Rio, with its half-filled arenas, has given the IOC’s officials a warning shot. Let’s hope they got the message.

Nugan Hand & The Australian Coup

August 20, 2016

by Dean Henderson

Banco Ambrosiano insider Robert Calvi was found hanging beneath London’s Blackfriar’s Bridge.  His accomplice Michelle Sindona died from cyanide poisoning just as he was being sentenced to prison.  But the Italians weren’t the only expendable CIA paymasters.

In 1980, half way around the world near Sydney, local Australian citizens reported a parked car on a lonely dirt road to police.  The cops found Frank Nugan in the driver’s seat, his body slumped over the steering wheel with a 12-gauge shotgun propping up what was left of his bloody forehead.  In his shirt pocket they found two business cards.  The one belonging to CIA Director Bill Colby sported an itinerary for a coming meeting in Sydney.

Colby visited that city often in his less official role as legal and political adviser to Nugan Hand Bank.  The other business card was from California Rep. Bob Wilson, ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.  The morning that Frank Nugan died, he completed a deal to buy a $2.2 million country estate, hardly, it would seem, a motivation to suddenly commit suicide, as his death would later be “officially” ruled.

Nugan Hand Bank closed up shop that same day and behind its shuttered office windows Rear Admiral Buddy Yates joined Michael Hand and Bernie Houghton, who ran Nugan Hand’s branch in Saudi Arabia.  The three spent the day feverishly shredding documents.

Stephan K. A. Hill, a Nugan Hand director who witnessed the spectacle, recalls Hand’s anxiety about making sure all evidence of wrongdoing was destroyed before Australian Secret Intelligence Organization (ASIO) officials showed up to investigate Nugan’s death and the same-day closing of the bank.  Hill recalls Hand yelling at the others that if they didn’t do the job right, “your wives will be cut up and returned to you in bits and pieces”.

Hand must not have “needed to know” what his superiors obviously did know, since the ASIO, the Australian CIA equivalent, mysteriously delayed its response to the bank closure, giving Hand and his cohorts plenty of time to sanitize Nugan Hand headquarters.

Nugan Hand Bank had plenty to hide.  Subsequent investigations revealed that the bank had been the main repository for Vang Pao and KMT heroin proceeds.  Neil Evans headed Nugan Hand’s Chiang Mai, Thailand branch in the heart of the Golden Triangle.  He later testified that he saw millions of heroin dollars pass through his bank and that Hand had told him in no uncertain terms that Nugan Hand was the CIA’s paymaster for covert operations worldwide.

Nugan Hand was receiving top-secret military intelligence on troop movements and arms shipments worldwide.  Documents revealed that Ed Wilson, who headed Naval Task Force-157 where Shackley, Clines, Yates and others had worked, was Nugan Hand’s primary arms merchant.  Wilson’s Egyptian Air Transport had flown the Shah of Iran’s oil revenues to the Nugan Hand branch in Switzerland.  This petrodollar kitty financed huge chunks of the Vietnam War.  Wilson played the most visible role in the arms for oil for drugs effort, making him the perfect fall guy.

Soon after the document shredding occurred in Sydney, Bernie Houghton, the Nugan Hand Saudi branch manager who had also been a member of TF-157, boarded a plane for Geneva.  There he went straight to the offices of Ed Wilson where he left a bag.  A little while later Tom Clines and Rafael Quintero showed up to retrieve the bag.  At the pickup, Clines stressed to Wilson that, “we’ve got to keep Dick’s name out of this”.

“Dick” was Richard Secord, who ran the Air America opium side of things, sold arms to the Shah and was now Assistant Secretary of Defense.  Documents also revealed that Clines had been depositing millions of dollars into Nugan Hand from a Houston-based company known as API Distributors.  The company sold oil-drilling equipment around the world and listed the exact same partners as Nugan Hand.  API shared office space in Houston with World Shipping & Chartering, which leased oil tankers and was under the control of Ed Wilson.

Nugan Hand’s list of associates reads like a “Who’s Who” of the US military establishment.  As one investigator later commented, Nugan Hand had management of a high enough caliber and number to “prosecute a small war”.  In addition to Shackley, Clines, Secord, Wilson, Yates, Quintero and Hand, numerous other military officers were also linked to Nugan Hand Bank.

Leroy Manor, a three-star general who would later work with Secord and Oliver North on the failed Desert One attempt to release the Iranian hostages, headed the Philippine branch of Nugan Hand.  Manor, a specialist in counter-insurgency, had been Chief of Staff for the entire Pacific Command during the Vietnam conflict.

General Edwin Black, who was Commander of US Forces in Thailand during Nam’ ran the Nugan Hand office in Hawaii.  General Earl Cocke was in charge of the Washington, DC branch.  Robert Jansen, former CIA Station Chief in Thailand, ran the Bangkok operations.  In Taiwan, Dale Holmgren ran the show.  He had worked with Civil Air Transport, the airline which had joined with Paul Helliwell’s Sea Supply in flying KMT opium out of the Burmese Shan States, then ferrying weapons back to the rebels.  CIA Director Colby was the director of Nugan Hand’s Panama branch.

Colby died in a suspicious canoe accident in 1992 shortly after he had done a 60 Minutes interview on the issue of American POWs in Vietnam.  Colby’s close friend, Nebraska State Senator John DeCamp, says the final program was censored, leaving out Colby’s allegations that many American POWs had been forced into service as mules for the SE Asian heroin trade.  DeCamp later wrote a book called The Franklin Cover-up which reveals a global pedophilia ring run by the global oligarchy.

Though guns, drugs and petrodollars were Nugan Hand’s forte, the most revealing window into the complete lack of integrity under which the bank operated opened wide in Saudi Arabia where Bernie Houghton was in charge.

In the wake of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, oil prices shot through the roof and the Saudi monarchs were awash in petrodollars.  Western multinationals flocked to the Kingdom en masse smelling the kind of contracts similar to those previously doled out by the Shah of Iran.  The Saudis wanted to modernize, especially their oil and petrochemical facilities.  Nepotism and bribery were rampant and most contracts ended up going to the Four Horsemen, the same companies which had already benefited from the embargo.

Big Oil hired thousands of American workers and flew them into Saudi to work on their mega-projects.  Bernie Houghton’s job at Nugan Hand was to solicit deposits from these American workers with the promise of extremely high interest rates.  He then wired the funds to Nugan Hand in Sydney.  When the bank went under in 1980, the money was nowhere to be found.  Thousands of hard-working Americans, who had toiled in the 120 degree Saudi desert sun, had been ripped off by a CIA which their tax dollars were paying for.

Nugan Hand was equally courteous to its Australian government hosts.  Gough Whitlam’s Labor government had initially supported the US war effort in Vietnam and was paid for his efforts by Michael Hand.  But in 1972, after the massive carpet bombing which Henry Kissinger ordered on the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, several of Whitlam’s Cabinet Ministers lost their stomach for the war and called for a boycott on US imports to Australia.

Whitlam announced support for the establishment of a nuclear-free Indian Ocean Peace Zone, a move that threatened US bases in the region.  He proposed joining the Non-Aligned Movement, a large group of nations led by India who wished to side with neither the Soviets nor the US during the Cold War.  He announced Australian membership in a mineral exporting cartel modeled on OPEC that would improve collective bargaining for nations endowed with large mineral deposits.

This didn’t sit well with multinational mining interests like Rio Tinto, Anaconda, Phelps Dodge and Kennecott.  When allegations arose in the Australian media that the ASIO had been infiltrated by, and was working for, the CIA, Whitlam had ASIO offices raided and searched.  But it was Whitlam’s public revelations about the US National Security Administration’s Pine Gap facility that sealed his fate.

Pine Gap is a heavily fortified site in remote central Australia which collects NSA intelligence from a good chunk of the Southern Hemisphere.  It captures satellite intelligence via numerous massive parabolic dishes, transmitting the information to TRW Corporation in Los Angeles, which passes it on to NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland.  Australian officials are scarcely allowed on site. US flights into Pine Gap are exempt from Australian Customs.  Whitlam called for a review of the installation before its license to operate could be renewed.  He set hearings for November 11th, 1975.

Suddenly, the Australian press was full of allegations alleging Whitlam’s involvement in a “loan scandal”.  Nugan Hand was at the center of this and other misinformation in a campaign to bring down the Labor government.  Just one day before Whitlam was forced out, CIA East Asia Chief of Station Shackley sent a memo delivering an ultimatum to his counterpart at ASIO.  ASIO was to shut Whitlam up and make sure that the November 11th hearings on Pine Gap were canceled or CIA/ASIO inter-agency cooperation would cease immediately.

Governor General John Kerr arrived in Sydney from England representing the British Crown.  Kerr had ties to the OSS, the Asia Foundation (a CIA funding conduit) and the CIA-front Congress for Cultural Freedom.  The same day ASIO received Shackley’s terse memo, Kerr held a meeting with Australia’s Permanent Secretary of the Department of Defense regarding the CIA demarche.  Whitlam, Kerr was told, refused to back down on the Pine Gap hearings, which were scheduled to commence that very day.  On the morning of November 11th, Kerr, for the first time in Australian history, exercised the British Crown’s right to depose a duly-elected government at its discretion.

Kerr installed a coalition government led by Malcolm Fraser, which was immediately endorsed by Business International, a group of twenty US multinationals operating in Australia.  The Australian House immediately passed a no confidence resolution, condemning the new government.  Kerr then proceeded to dissolve both the House and the Senate.

The CIA had effectively overthrown the Australian government.  Their new puppet Malcolm Fraser was soon off to New York to meet with David Rockefeller, even before stopping in at the White House.  In 1981 CIA contract agent Joseph Flynn admitted to Australia’s National Times that he had fabricated information released implicating Whitlam’s government in the loan scandal under directions from Ed Wilson.

Governor General John Kerr saw his paycheck increase by 171%.  Ted Shackley was promoted to CIA Director of Covert Operations Worldwide.

Much will never be known of Nugan Hand bank.  A National Times Freedom of Information Act request to the US government yielded only 71 pages out of a 151-page document in the FBI’s possession.  Much information on even those pages was blacked out and marked B-1, which means, “Deleted for national security reasons”.  Australian agencies were equally uncooperative, although the country’s Narcotics Bureau revealed the fact that eccentric billionaire Daniel Ludwig had financed Michael Hand’s Australian real estate purchases, land which was used as Air America landing strips in bringing heroin into Australia.  Ludwig’s other bizarre endeavor was a Brazilian Amazon industrial project promoted by singer Pat Boone.

Just days before Frank Nugan died and Nugan Hand closed in Sydney, Bernie Houghton welcomed Donald Beazley, who had been called in to help “shut the bank down”.  Beazley had run London Capital Securities, which was taken over by Bay of Pigs veteran Ricardo Chavez at Tom Clines request.  Beazley was later tapped by Colombian drug trafficker Albert Duque to run City National Bank, a Florida cocaine laundry that Duque had purchased with $22 million provided by Bahrainian financiers.

Houghton, Beazley and others wired away millions of dollars in Nugan Hand deposits.  Where did the money go?  While Sydney was shutting down, other Nugan Hand branches stayed open for business.  It was a Cayman Islands branch of Nugan Hand which Air America alumni Oliver North used to finance his Nicaragua contra resupply network.  Chicago researcher Sherman Skolnick says Nugan Hand morphed into Household International, a Chicago-based dealer in sub-prime credit whose lawyer at one time was Bill Colby.

Household was recently purchased by HSBC.  Other HSBC entities include Saudi British Bank, British Arab Commercial Bank and Wells Fargo HSBC Trade Bank.

Michael Hand disappeared from radar and wound up in Angola, where he set up a drugs-for-guns program to finance Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA rebels.  Nugan Hand had financed UNITA, along with the racist Rhodesian regime of Ian Smith, which was later toppled by ZANU revolutionaries who renamed their country Zimbabwe.  ZANU leader and President Robert Mugabe remains a favorite target of the global elite owing to his refusal to hand over his country’s natural resources for multinational exploitation.

Nugan Hand was often paid for its efforts in arming southern African terrorists in poached ivory and tiger skins by the South African apartheid regime.  A 1990 German intelligence report denotes a Michael Brian Hand from England on a list of individuals and corporations who represented the Iraqi government in Saddam Hussein’s weapons procurement efforts.

In 1979, just a year before Nugan Hand/Sydney closed, a former US Navy official who had worked out of the US Office of Naval Operations during the Vietnam War was busy setting up the Far East Trading Company in Bangkok, Thailand.  Richard Armitage had more official duties as well.  He was Special Consultant to the Department of Defense on the Southeast Asia POW issue.

Armitage served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for President George W. Bush.  He served in the same capacity in both the Reagan and Bush Sr. Administrations.  After the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center and Pentagon tragedies, Armitage was all over the news networks advocating a heavy military response.

In August 2006 Armitage was revealed to be the person who leaked the name of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame to journalist Robert Novak.  Plame was trying to infiltrate Saudi ARAMCO to find the truth about Saudi oil reserves.  But in 1979 Bangkok Armitage was laying quite low.  His Far East Trading Company would fill the void created by the closure of Nugan Hand Bank, and shared office space in Chiang Mai, Thailand with the DEA.

In 1988 decorated Marine and Green Beret Colonel James Bo Gritz was commissioned by President George Bush Sr. to lead an undercover fact-finding mission into the Golden Triangle to check on unverified sightings of US POWs.  He would report directly to Richard Armitage.  General William Westmoreland cited Gritz as the top soldier in the entire Vietnam War effort.

Gritz infiltrated the camp of General Khun Sa- the Shan leader who inherited the old KMT opium trade in Burma from General Li Mi.  In a live videotaped interview, which Gritz later distributed throughout the US, Khun Sa stated that for twelve years he had wanted to get out of the heroin business, but that the United States government would not let him out.

Gritz investigated further and found that DEA drug suppression funds sent to Thailand for the purpose of destroying poppy fields had instead been used to build a “heroin highway” from the Burmese border to the Gulf of Thailand.  Gritz dug further and uncovered a familiar cadre of US officials implicated in the Golden Triangle drug trade.  These included Shackley, Clines, Secord and the man Gritz was to report to – Richard Armitage.

Armitage turned over the day to day operations of Far East Trading Company to Daniel Arnold and Jerry Daniels.  In 1989 Daniels died under mysterious circumstances.  Gritz also uncovered evidence that Rep. Larry Smith (D-FL), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Intelligence & Narcotics Control, whose district is Dade County, was also involved in the heroin trade.  Dade County had by now become a major landing strip for Colombian cocaine being sold to finance the contras in Nicaragua.  Jeb Bush was then Florida Secretary of Commerce.  The rabbit hole was getting deeper.

When Gritz reported his findings to the White House that there were no POWs, but that Armitage and the others were using the issue as political cover for their involvement in the drug trade. Gritz got no response.  Instead, he and his crew were kicked out of the US and had their passports revoked.  When Gritz was finally allowed to return, he began to travel the country speaking about the ordeal.  On one occasion in Minneapolis, the group who sponsored his appearance, Veterans for Peace, reported surveillance and threatening phone calls prior to Gritz’ appearance.  After the event, their offices were ransacked.

Billionaire H. Ross Perot, relying on intelligence from his own network of spooks came to the same conclusions as Gritz.  According to Time magazine, Perot filed a complaint with the Bush Administration naming Armitage, Colin Powell and others as players in the Southeast Asian drug trade.  The only response Perot got was from Bush Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, who had earlier served as Reagan Administration National Security Council Chairman and Defense Secretary.

Carlucci, who currently heads the Carlyle Group which served as financial consultant to the Saudi bin Laden family until November 2001, was also the CIA point man for the assassination of Congo’s first Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1961.  Carlucci ordered Perot, “Keep your mouth shut!”


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