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TBR News December 21, 2018

Dec 21 2018

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

Washington, D.C. December 21, 2018:”What is not being said in public in Washington is an intelligence report that very clearly shows that the Russians got their hands on Trump and that his actions that are creating a terrible image of the United States worldwide are originating in Moscow, not Trump’s bizarre White House bedroom. And it is known that Putin wants American troops out of Syria so that Turkey can deprive the Kurds of land. The master commands and the dog obeys.”

The Table of Contents

  • Roberts, liberal justices snub Trump bid to enforce asylum policy
  • Why did Mattis resign? To issue a wake-up call to the world
  • In Mattis resignation, a singular challenge to Trump’s agenda
  • Despite Assurances From Trump, the U.S. Battle Against ISIS in Eastern Syria Is Far From Over
  • With Mattis gone, ‘time to be afraid’ of 3 a.m. call for Donald Trump
  • Donald Trump’s motives for Syria withdrawal remain as murky as its implementation
  • Gatwick disruption: How will police catch the drone menace?
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • German court rejects charges against 95yo ‘guard’ at Nazi camp where thousands perished
  • Operation Bloodstone

Roberts, liberal justices snub Trump bid to enforce asylum policy

December 21, 2018

by Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court on Friday dealt a setback to President Donald Trump by refusing to allow his administration to implement new rules prohibiting asylum for people who cross the U.S. border illegally, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four liberal justices in denying the request.The justices on a 5-4 vote rebuffed the administration’s bid to put on hold a California-based federal judge’s order preventing it from carrying out the policy making anyone crossing the U.S.-Mexican border outside of an official port of entry ineligible for asylum.

The planned asylum change was a key component of Trump’s hardline policies aimed at making it tougher for immigrants to enter and stay in the United States.

Roberts, who last month rebuked Trump over his criticism of the judiciary, joined liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor against the administration. Trump’s two high court appointees, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, joined the two other conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, in dissent.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to leave the asylum ban blocked will save lives and keep vulnerable families and children from persecution. We are pleased the court refused to allow the administration to short-circuit the usual appellate process,” said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged Trump’s policy.

San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar blocked the policy on Nov. 19. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals then refused the administration’s request to lift Tigar’s order.

Tigar’s ruling prompted Trump to call the jurist an “Obama judge” and blast the 9th Circuit in general as a “disgrace.” Tigar was appointed to the bench by Democratic former President Barack Obama.

Trump’s comments led to an extraordinary response from the normally reticent Roberts, who defended the independence of the federal judiciary and wrote in a public response to Trump on Nov. 21, “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said.

The port-of-entry restrictions, due to expire after 90 days, were made through a presidential proclamation Trump issued on Nov. 9 alongside a new administration rule. The administration has sought ways to block thousands of Central American men, women and children traveling in caravans to escape violence and poverty in their home countries from entering the United States, with Trump calling the people in the caravans a national security threat.

Illegal crossings at the southern border have dropped dramatically since the late 1970s, but in recent years, applications for asylum have ballooned and more Central American families and unaccompanied children are migrating to the United States

Trump’s proclamation stated that mass migration on the border had precipitated a crisis and he was acting to protect the U.S. national interest. Trump’s policy was crafted to alter American asylum laws that have given people fleeing persecution and violence in their homelands the ability to seek sanctuary in the United States.

The Supreme Court in June backed Trump in another major immigration-related case when the justices in a 5-4 ruling endorsed the legality of the Republican president’s travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority nations. Roberts joined the court’s other conservatives in that ruling.

On Wednesday, a different judge blocked another of Trump’s asylum-related orders, this one aimed at restricting asylum claims by people citing gang or domestic violence in their home countries.

Reporting by Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

 

Why did Mattis resign? To issue a wake-up call to the world

It’s difficult not to respect what the defense secretary did: go public with his grave concerns about the danger Trump poses to the country and world

December 21, 2018

by Michael H Fuchs

The Guardian

James Mattis just shattered the glass you only break in case of emergency.

The US secretary of defense resigned in protest over the president of the United States actively undermining “an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values”.

You don’t have to like Mattis or agree with his policies or sweep under the rug all of the times he didn’t resign when Donald Trump did something truly abhorrent. But it’s difficult not to respect that he just had the courage to do what no one else in the Trump administration has done – resign in protest and go public with his grave concerns about the danger that Trump poses to the country and the world.

That Trump is dangerous has been clear to anyone who has listened to him since the moment he descended the escalators at Trump Tower in 2015 to announce his candidacy. And Trump’s worldview – disdain for democratic allies, embrace of autocrats, and opposition to America’s role in the post-war world – has also long been clear. But the fact that Trump’s current Defense secretary felt the need to resign and let the world know about his deep-seaed concerns about the president is an unprecedented event in an unprecedented presidency.

Mattis’s letter – which was distributed to the press when he resigned – ends with a stunning rebuke of Trump: “Because you have the right to a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”

Translation: Mattis doesn’t agree with Trump’s foreign policy.

Mattis explained which of his views aren’t “better aligned” with Trump.

“While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies,” Mattis wrote.

Translation: Mattis believes that Trump treats America’s closest allies with derision, which endangers America’s national security and its interests around the world.

Similarly,” Mattis wrote, “I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours,” naming Russia and China in particular.

Translation: Trump is weak and erratic in his policies towards America’s greatest rivals, including Russia and China.

Mattis closed by saying: “My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.”

Translation: Trump has no idea what he’s doing.

It is well known that Mattis had numerous policy agreements with Trump. When Trump talked of war with North Korea, Mattis talked of the horrors that war would bring. When Trump withdrew America from the Iran nuclear deal, Mattis reportedly opposed the move. And Trump’s decisions to withdraw American troops from Syria – and now it seems Afghanistan as well – may have been the final straws that forced Mattis’s resignation.

Policy disagreements are normal and can be healthy in a functional administration. But this administration is anything but functional, and the depth of Mattis’ concerns with Trump are anything but normal. Mattis’ resignation should be a uniquely clear wake-up call amid daily wake-up calls about the danger that Trump poses.

So, what does it mean?

Will Mattis’ replacement at the defense department be worse?

Possibly.

Will Trump feel less constrained in pursuing reckless foreign policy decisions? Probably.

Are the wheels coming off the bus?

Maybe.

Though it doesn’t seem like the bus ever had any wheels.

Agree or disagree with Mattis on specific policies, the world he has worked to build – that America has worked to build – is under stress. China is placing strains on global economic and security norms. Russia is becoming more aggressive, destabilizing parts of Europe and the Middle East. And America’s democratic allies in Europe are struggling.

Trump is exacerbating all of these trends. His erratic policies on China are ineffective. His unwillingness to stand up to Russia is giving Putin a green light for more belligerence. Trump is eroding America’s alliances, forcing them to push back against America. And all of this is undermining the structures of global stability that have prevented great power conflict for decades.

While there is much Mattis should not be proud of – sending troops to the border with Mexico as part of an election campaign show, not speaking out or resigning when Trump stood up for white supremacists at Charlottesville, attacked the FBI or the press, or did any number of things that undermine American democracy and security – Mattis can be proud of taking a stand now. One can only hope that this is the first – not the last – that the world hears from Mattis about Trump.

And for the sake of America and the world, one can only hope that other members of Trump’s party begin to speak out and act to restrain a president they all know is completely unfit for office.

 

In Mattis resignation, a singular challenge to Trump’s agenda

December 21, 2018

by Phil Stewart and Lesley Wroughton

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – By plainly stating his policy differences in his resignation letter, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has sparked an incipient challenge to President Donald Trump’s foreign and security agenda that sets his departure apart from scores of others that preceded him.

Mattis, a retired Marine general who was highly regarded by Republicans and Democrats, had far wider political support in Washington than Trump himself when he walked into the White House on Thursday afternoon.

Sources said Mattis had already made up his mind that it was time to go. Later in the afternoon, Trump announced Mattis was retiring, only to be rapidly contradicted as Mattis circulated his eight-paragraph resignation letter.

Even as Washington digested Trump’s surprise decisions this week to remove U.S. troops from Syria and to draw down the military presence in Afghanistan, it was Mattis’ departure and the attendant strategic uncertainty that sources said really vexed officials across the administration and in the U.S. Congress.

It prompted unusually sharp criticism of Trump from his fellow Republicans.

“It’s sadness for our country,” said retiring Republican Senator Bob Corker, adding he thought Mattis’ departure could change how Senate Republicans defend Trump. “We are in a really bad place as it pertains to foreign policy.”

U.S. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “distressed” by Mattis’ departure. Senator Lindsey Graham, who has mostly been a staunch Trump ally, called for immediate hearings on Trump’s moves in Syria and Afghanistan and wanted to hear directly from Mattis.

Mattis is the first U.S. defense secretary in decades to explicitly resign over purely policy differences with a president.

His departure is wholly different from that of other top foreign policy and national security officials in the administration who have left, including the president’s unceremonious firing of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Two national security advisors left Trump – but did so from weakened positions.

‘STATE OF SHOCK’

Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria was a major contributing factor to Mattis’ departure, and was part of their discussion in the 45-minute conversation on Thursday, as the two men aired their differences, officials told Reuters.

The defense secretary made a final effort on Thursday to convince Trump to reverse course on Syria, one official with knowledge of discussions told Reuters.

Trump, by all accounts, was not pressuring Mattis to resign and had not been expecting an announcement to come that day, sources said.

The Pentagon declined to comment on Mattis’ resignation, referring reporters to his letter.

Even aides to Mattis said they were surprised. “We’re all in a state of shock,” said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Republican-led Congress, which has done little to check Trump’s political instincts, including his decision to create a Space Force and to deploy troops to the southern border with Mexico, appeared more ready to step in.

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry, rebuked Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, another surprise move by Trump that leaked in news reports on Thursday.

“Reducing the American presence in Afghanistan and removing our presence in Syria will reverse (U.S.) progress, encourage our adversaries, and make America less safe,” he said.

Hearings are planned in the U.S. House of Representatives, which will be controlled by Democrats starting in January.

The resignation has triggered deep concern among U.S. allies abroad. In Europe, Mattis was seen as a critical advocate for the NATO alliance, which extolled him in a statement on Friday. In Asia, he was credited with building trust and tempering Trump’s isolationist impulses.

TRUMP’S CALL WITH ERDOGAN

Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria, where he said they are no longer needed against what he called a defeated Islamic State, initially appeared to come out of nowhere. But its genesis, said sources, was a phone call he had with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Dec. 14.

The call was arranged by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after Turkey’s threat to launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters in the northeast.

Mattis, Pompeo and others helped prepare briefing notes for the call. Trump was supposed to push back against the Turkish plan, according to an official briefed on discussions.

During the call, Erdogan asserted that Islamic State had been defeated and complained that the United States was undermining Turkish security by backing the Kurds, the official said.

That message appealed to Trump, who said the United States did not want to be in Syria and made a snap decision to pull out, ignoring his briefing notes and the advice of Mattis and Pompeo, the official said.

Trump has long been skeptical of the U.S. military mission in Syria that his national security team have advocated to ensure Islamic State’s defeat.

A White House spokesman called this a “false version of events.”

Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Richard Cowan, Ginger Gibson, Idrees Ali and Steve Holland; editing by Mary Milliken and Frances Kerry

 

Despite Assurances From Trump, the U.S. Battle Against ISIS in Eastern Syria Is Far From Over

December 20, 2018

by Ali Younes, Trevor Aaronson and Murtaza Hussain

The Intercept

Despite assurances from President Donald Trump that the Islamic State is no more, the U.S.-led battle to oust the militant group from its last Syrian stronghold has intensified in recent weeks.

Amid heavy fighting between the Kurdish-led, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and hardened Islamic State fighters, scores of civilians and prisoners have been killed by American airstrikes in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, according to sources on the ground.

As part of that campaign, U.S. warplanes bombed a hospital in the village of Al Shaafah late last month, killing patients and the families of medical personnel working there. The hospital was “reduced to only stones and a huge crater in the middle,” an ISIS fighter said in an interview.

Two senior U.S. diplomats with knowledge of the fight against ISIS who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity confirmed the airstrike on the hospital. One of them maintained that it was justified and legal. He said the ISIS soldiers were firing at coalition forces from the hospital, making it a legitimate target.

On Wednesday, Trump announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, tweeting: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” What Trump’s announcement means for the aerial campaign against ISIS remains unclear. On Thursday morning Reuters reported that American airstrikes against ISIS would be ending, citing unnamed U.S. officials. Pentagon spokesperson Com. Rebecca Rebarich, however, said in a statement, “As long as there are U.S. troops on the ground, we will conduct air and artillery strikes in support of our forces. We will not speculate on future operations.”

The reality of ISIS’s demise, however, is far more complex. It’s true that the militant group, which once controlled a wide swath of land stretching from Syria to Iraq, has been significantly weakened. But it still controls some pockets of land in eastern and northeastern Syria, and over the last few weeks, it has waged fierce battles against U.S.-backed forces while facing sorties from U.S. warplanes in the sky. What’s more, ISIS fighters in Syria are confident that they are still being led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph and ISIS leader whose death has been reported by Iraqi, Russian, and Iranian media. It is unlikely that the militants will give up on their fight with Baghdadi still in power.

Multiple sources have told us about recent airstrikes in eastern Syria that have killed the families of ISIS members, as well as a late-November bombing that killed Kurdish prisoners and dissidents being held by the group. In October 2017, when ISIS began to lose control of its de facto capital, Raqqa, multiple U.S. and British news organizations described the battle there as the group’s “last stand.” But it was largely an orchestrated one. As part of a negotiated withdrawal of Raqqa, the Syrian government provided buses to transport ISIS fighters and their families to towns in Deir al-Zour, a province near the border with Iraq that at the time was, for the most part, under ISIS control.

Last week, Syrian Democratic Forces captured Hajin, which had been the only urban area still under ISIS control in Syria. The remaining pockets of ISIS-held territory are villages in Deir al-Zour, along the Euphrates River. These areas are largely under siege by Syrian government forces on one side and Kurdish forces on the other.

For weeks now, markets in these towns and villages have been barren, leaving local civilians with little food. “Things here are very difficult now,” an injured former ISIS fighter in a village south of Hajin said in an interview.

U.S. planes have been dropping leaflets in the remaining ISIS-controlled areas of Syria. The ISIS fighters and residents of those areas often rip up the leaflets and leave them on the side of the road. One side of a leaflet, an image of which we obtained, shows a soldier in fatigues looking out victorious over the desert as two fighter jets fly toward the horizon. The other side shows a tattered ISIS flag as an ISIS fighter throws down his weapon and retreats. “The Syrian Democratic Forces are coming,” the leaflet reads in Arabic.

The humanitarian situation was worsened by a U.S. air campaign that took place from November 25 to December 1 as part of Operation Roundup, which has targeted the Middle Euphrates River Valley and Iraq-Syria border region. In a December 5 press release, U.S. Central Command disclosed the bombings of ISIS armored vehicles, supply routes, staging positions, and a storage facility, among other military targets. But these airstrikes also have targeted heavily trafficked open-air markets and other civilian areas, according to multiple sources on the ground.

The late November attack on the Al Yarmouk Hospital in the village of Al Shaafah, also near Hajin, was part of that operation. The hospital had patients on the first floor, including captured Kurdish fighters; doctors’ families lived on the second floor. The hospital was hit with a so-called double-tap strike — one bomb, followed soon after by a second at the same location — according to sources on the ground. The monitoring group Airwars reported that between 10 and 45 civilians were killed, based on local news accounts.

The intentional bombing of hospitals and civilian areas during armed conflict is a violation of international law. CENTCOM has said it “is committed to avoiding and in every case minimizing civilian casualties” in bombing campaigns against ISIS. While one U.S. official said the hospital was being used as an ISIS attack site, an ISIS fighter presented an alternative narrative in an interview. While he admitted that his understanding was that ISIS fighters were using the hospital as a meeting point, he said the group had been negotiating with the Syrian Democratic Forces to release the Kurdish fighters in its custody in exchange for opening the single main road out of the region, used to get supplies, for up to nine months. The ISIS fighter, who has knowledge of but was not directly involved in the negotiations, said the group believes the United States did not want the deal to happen and bombed the hospital to kill the Kurdish prisoners, thus eliminating ISIS’s bargaining chip.

We could not independently verify the claims of the U.S. official or people on the ground. The U.S. official evaded questions about the presence of civilians at the hospital. A Defense Department spokesperson did not respond to questions about the hospital bombing.

ISIS Power Struggle

As ISIS has suffered defeats on the battlefield, it has become increasingly riven by internal conflicts over questions of ideology, as well as allegations of corruption on the part of its leaders, according to three sources with knowledge of the divisions, and internal communications we reviewed. Some religious scholars in towns and villages the group controls have questioned ISIS’s leadership and ideological doctrine, the sources said.

Due to their religious authority, these scholars represent a credible threat to ISIS’s control over the region. In recognition of this threat, ISIS’s secret security service had been imprisoning a number of these dissidents in a large building south of Hajin, three sources closely connected to ISIS said. Also held in that prison were Kurdish fighters captured on the battlefield. According to sources on the ground, a U.S. bombing sortie leveled the prison where the ISIS critics and Kurdish fighters were being held in an airstrike in late November. The Defense Department did not respond to questions on the reports of this bombing.

Among those said to have been killed in the strike were a notorious Austrian militant named Mohamad Mahmoud al-Namsawi, who had been seen in videos taking part in executions, and Yousef Simrin, a Jordanian also known as Abu Yacoub al-Urduni, who was formerly a senior religious official within ISIS. Despite their bloody track records, these men had become internal theological critics of the group.

Some of the other men killed in the recent prison airstrike were former high-ranking members of ISIS’s religious and militant leadership. According to sources, the imprisoned former leaders were accused of “apostasy” for opposing some of the group’s extremist practices, such as excommunicating Muslims for not following ISIS’s strict religious edicts. Others were imprisoned for their alleged communication with Jordanian Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, who is considered one of the key religious scholars behind modern militant Salafi jihadism, an extremist ideology associated with groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Maqdisi was a mentor to Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is credited by some with laying the foundation for ISIS. Maqdisi has also criticized ISIS’s extremism and wanton killing of noncombatant Westerners and Muslims. Maqdisi’s opposition to ISIS and his early refusal of personal overtures to join the group, including from Baghdadi himself, caused the group to label him an apostate.

Still, scores of ISIS militants venerated Maqdisi for his knowledge and history in the global jihadist movement. ISIS’s security services accused many of these fighters of having secret communications with Maqdisi following ISIS’s defeats in Raqqa and Mosul. These men were among the prisoners killed in the U.S. airstrike, according to three sources closely connected to ISIS.

ISIS leadership is also plagued by rumors of corruption, according to three sources in contact with former high-ranking ISIS members. These sources said that Baghdadi had taken at least a dozen women as concubines. This narrative gels with claims that Baghdadi kept American aid worker Kayla Mueller as a sex slave before her 2015 execution. Even as ISIS’s territories erode, the sources said, Baghdadi and others in his circle are also believed to be holding onto small fortunes accumulated through oil smuggling and extortion rackets during the group’s rise.

As the situation worsens for civilians in Syria’s ISIS-occupied towns and villages, the militants appear to be retreating. For weeks now, some of the group’s fighters have traveled to the Iraqi border with cash to bribe their way across, the ISIS fighter said. The plan is to slip as many ISIS fighters back into Iraq as possible before its remaining territory in Syria falls to Syrian government or Kurdish forces, the source said.

But even as remnants of ISIS slip into the desert straddling Syria and Iraq, it is unlikely that this will be the last of them. So long as the region is plagued by sectarianism, dictatorships, and collapsing governments, ISIS is bound to make a comeback, said national security analyst Peter Bergen. “The real issue in the region is not ISIS itself,” Bergen said, “but rather the underlying conditions that produced it.”

 

With Mattis gone, ‘time to be afraid’ of 3 a.m. call for Donald Trump

While the resignation of James Mattis was widely lamented in Washington, hopes for some kind of internal resistance against Donald Trump are misplaced. Instead concerns about an impulsive commander-in-chief are growing.

December 21, 2018

Michael Knigge (Washington)

DW

One day after James Mattis announced his resignation as secretary of defense in a scathing letter on the heels of President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw all US troops from Syria, the hashtag #TrumpResign was trending on Twitter in Washington.

But if one safe prediction can be made in a week that was unusually turbulent even by Trump era standards, then it is that any kind of musings about this president resigning are wishful thinking.

“I don’t see any chance for Trump resigning, unless there were some impeachment proceedings, the way Richard Nixon did when he resigned,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the Washington office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). “Resigning would be an admission of defeat for a man who insists on winning, winning, winning, so I don’t think we can expect a Trump resignation as a solution the growing concerns people have.”

Mattis’ announced exit also dashed whatever remained of the previous hopes about a so-called internal opposition to Trump inside the administration. While Mattis himself had repeatedly tried to slow-walk what he viewed as some of the president’s most egregious decisions, that tactic only appeared to work for a limited time, and was ultimately doomed when Mattis’ influence began waning months ago.

‘Adults out, children in’

While there still are likely some administration officials left who will try use bureaucratic inertia to stymie what they view as ill-advised moves by the president, at the end of the day, they will have to fall in line, said Fitzpatrick. “Trump is the commander-in-chief and people will salute.”

Nevertheless, a commander-in-chief who is increasingly prone to sideline his advisors in making crucial decisions such as the Syria troop pullout and the expected partial withdrawal from Afghanistan — first without consulting people like Mattis and then ignoring their after-the-fact objections — is raising concerns in Washington.

Mattis is widely considered the so-called last adult in the room to be leaving the administration. One-time members of the club such as National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are long gone; another, White House chief of staff John Kelly, is on his way out.

After a couple of years in office presidents often find that they have got a rhythm, a sense of what they want to do and what kinds of people they want around them and make changes, said Norman Ornstein, an American politics scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.”But all the changes Trump has made are to get rid of the grown-ups in the room and bring in the children.”

Instead of listening to advice from his own experts, Trump appears to be increasingly listening to his gut. Just last month, he told The Washington Post in an interview that “my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”

Relying on Trump’s gut is worrying

It is precisely Trump’s penchant for listening to his gut when making key decision that has scholars worried. “Frankly, that gigantic gut does not have a lot of intelligence, depth or sensitivity to the larger consequences of actions,” said Ornstein. “So it’s time to be afraid.”

The Trump administration and the world, noted the experts, have been fortunate until now that this president has not yet had to deal with the kind of national security crisis that a US president usually has to face in his tenure.

But eventually, they said, such a crisis, the famous “3 a.m. phone call” to the White House, is likely to come. And with someone like Pentagon chief Mattis, who was widely viewed as a responsible international security leader, gone, the prospects of influencing or intervening in Trump’s decision making process have dimmed.

“Whoever will be secretary of defense will be concerned not to see a world war launched,” said IISS head Fitzpatrick, who is also a nuclear security specialist. “Although Trump has an individual ability to start a war and to launch nuclear weapons, there are other people involved who will try to steer him in the right direction should he go crazy.”

Asked who in the Trump administration could still curb the president’s worst impulses, Fitzpatrick, to his own astonishment, mentioned National Security Advisor John Bolton. “I didn’t think I would ever be in the position of pinning my hopes on John Bolton being the restraining influence,” he said chuckling.

But, he added, “John Bolton is very influential — and whatever one may think about Bolton’s neocon tendencies and inclinations to use military force rather than diplomatic solutions — he is not a wild man, he is not a crazy person,” said Fitzpatrick. “I hope he will continue to exercise some restraining power over Trump.”

 

 

Donald Trump’s motives for Syria withdrawal remain as murky as its implementation

President Trump’s surprising move to order the withdrawal of all US forces from Syria via Twitter stunned Washington. But why he did it and whether his order will be implemented remains murky.

December 21, 2018

by Michael Knigge (Washington)

DW

What was President Donald Trump’s rationale for the withdrawal?

Trump, who like his predecessor Barack Obama, has been deeply skeptical about US military deployments abroad, has long wanted to withdraw American troops from Syria, but until this week could be dissuaded by his advisers — including Jim Mattis, who announced Thursday he would resign from his post as secretary of defense due to differences with the president — from doing so with the argument of fighting terrorism.  It is difficult to know what triggered Trump’s tweeted order of an immediate troop withdrawal, which surprised the Pentagon, the State Department as well as US allies and opponents alike.

“It’s very difficult to predict what Donald Trump will do about foreign policy on any given morning,” said Stephen Biddle, a professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University who served as a strategic adviser to General Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan and General David Petreaus in Iraq.

While it’s true that the “Islamic State” terror group has been substantially weakened, it has not, contrary to Trump’s claim, been totally destroyed, Biddle added.

It has also become increasingly difficult to say “any terrorist is ever ‘fully defeated militarily,'” noted Sarah Kreps, an international security scholar at Cornell University in an email. In light of similar sounding declarations by former President George W. Bush regarding the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that later turned out to be premature, Kreps cautioned against making categorical statements.

Biddle said Trump’s “general distaste for military actions that don’t promise big, quick, showy ‘wins,'” might have played a role, that the Syria mission started under Obama’s time in the White House and even a phone call from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who encouraged a US pullout, could all have contributed to the president’s decision.

In the end, no one really knows. Kreps said she would “not going to hazard a guess about any of Trump’s motivations.”

What was the political reaction in Washington?

Trump’s move was widely condemned by Democrat as well as Republican lawmakers. Only a few prominent Republicans, such as libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul, a skeptic of American military engagement overseas, openly backed Trump. Other high-profile voices generally supportive of Trump, like Senator Lindsay Graham, blasted the decision as ill-advised and “a disaster in the making.”

“What strikes me as interesting is that Congress never authorized Obama to send troops to Syria to defeat ISIS, but now seems to be complaining that the president is unilaterally withdrawing the troops that the previous president unilaterally sent,” said Kreps. “I’m somewhat puzzled by the bipartisan outrage about the unilateral withdrawal when there was a unilateral action that was potentially much more costly, the deployment of American blood and treasure.”

Meanwhile, the Pentagon and the State Department, which were caught completely off guard by the decision, are not only still trying to figure out exactly what Trump’s order means, but also how it can be implemented. Both departments, according to a report in The New York Times, urged Trump to reconsider even after he announced his decision.

Will the withdrawal actually happen?

Whether the withdrawal even goes into effect as ordered by the president is difficult to predict given the administration’s erratic nature. Bringing troops home from Syria in an orderly fashion requires time and steadfastness. That this president could change his mind based on a tweet or television shows makes his administration’s goals unpredictable, said Columbia University’s Biddle: “Maybe Trump will see a different guest on Fox and Friends some morning, change his mind completely, and tweet some new policy instead. The withdrawal announcement itself came out of the blue in a way that surprised almost every US government official — it could flip back just as easily, or not, depending on presidential whim.”

Kreps noted that the pushback from both military and Congress already appears to have put the White House on the defensive. “This may end up being like the border wall, talking a big game and having no real effect on policy,” Kreps said.

Asked for their view of a US troop withdrawal from Syria notwithstanding Trump’s unconventional way of going about it, both scholars expressed their dissatisfaction with the status quo.

“Staying put in Syria is hardly an ideal option either,” said Biddle. “But if you face nothing but unattractive options you shouldn’t go out of your way to make things even worse for no reason. This withdrawal decision does exactly that — it makes things gratuitously worse than they need to be, by making the US look incompetent, impulsive, and unreliable.”

“I support the withdrawal,” said Kreps. “I don’t support how it was done.

 

Gatwick disruption: How will police catch the drone menace?

December 21, 2018

BBC News

Police say they are still searching for those responsible for the unprecedented disruption at Gatwick Airport.

But the drones that were flown over the airfield have not been captured and have not been seen since Thursday night.

Endangering the safety of an aircraft is a criminal offence that can carry a prison sentence.

So how will police find those responsible?

Tracking the controller

If the drones were being operated by a typical remote control unit, it would be possible to establish the controller’s position.

Police could pick up the controller’s radio signal and “drive around and look where the signals are coming from”, said cyber-security expert Prof Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey.

That would only be possible if the drones were being controlled by somebody in the area, which Prof Woodward thinks is a likely scenario.

Police have suggested that the operator moved when officers got close, which points to “someone in a van”.

A drone was seen so regularly that somebody must have been changing its batteries. Unless, of course, there was more than one drone.

However, there have been no sightings since Thursday night. If the operator has fled, there will be no signals to track.

Clues in the metadata?

Drones and their controllers emit radio signals, which the police can capture and analyse.

While Prof Woodward says there is “not much forensic information in the signals”, there are “some identifiers” in them. This lets two drones work next to each other without signal interference – and could let police identify the drone or controller used, if they managed to record them.

It is also possible the drone operator was not at the airport and was controlling the devices over the internet.

If a drone was receiving its instructions using a mobile data connection, the network operators may be able to provide useful information.

If they were able to locate a device switching between mobile masts as it flew over the airfield, they may be able to identify the account holder.

But Prof Woodward says this would require a lot of technical knowledge, and thinks it is less likely that the drone was remotely controlled this way.

Missing evidence

The police have not managed to capture a drone. Now the operator has gone, the “evidence has gone with them”, says Prof Woodward.

If one reappears, they could “follow it with another drone”, although there have already been helicopters flying around the airfield looking for people.

The police have also appealed for any photos or videos the public have managed to capture of the drones. They could reveal whether the device is off-the-shelf or custom-made.

Beyond that, police will be searching Gatwick CCTV – both in the airport and the surrounding area.

“Gatwick Airport has a lot of CCTV inside the perimeter and on the edge looking outwards. But outside the airport it’s quite a rural area, so I doubt there will be that much CCTV around,” said Prof Woodward.

It could be like looking for a “needle in a haystack”, he warns.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

December 21, 2018

by Dr. Peter Janney

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

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

 

 

Conversation No. 41

Date:  Sunday, October 6, 1996

Commenced:  8:45 AM CST

Concluded:    9:38 AM CST

 

GD: Hello to you this morning, Robert. Up and around?

RTC: Well, the sun did come up and animal instincts get us going. And then there is coffee. Are you a coffee drinker, Gregory?

GD: I never used to be, but I am now. I hate the taste of the stuff which is funny because my grandfather was a big-time coffee broker. We had coffee all over the kitchen in little bags. My uncle was an expert and when my father got out of the business, he continued long after my grandfather died. Coffee gets you going but if I drink too much of it, my wiring gets fried.

RTC: The world runs on coffee.

GD: They buy a lot of it. My grandfather wasn’t exactly poor. That’s how I know about your people and the Guatemala business. My uncle was involved in it and it was well-known around the house. Grandfather was tied up with Levi and Zentner…the United Fruit people…. and the Grace Steamship company. Uncle was born in Petropolis in Brazil and was fluent in a number of languages, including Portuguese. Yes, there seemed to have been quite a connection between American business and the CIA. And of course, the White House and Congress.

RTC: Well, you’ve seen the tip of the big iceberg, haven’t you, Gregory?

GD: How big is it?

RTC: It’s not so much the size but the power of it. This country isn’t run by little local political action groups or small town newspapers. Democracy is only a word that sounds good. The public hates to vote although I understand that in Switzerland it is mandatory. They don’t care as long as they make money. Do you know how much money it costs to run for Congress? Many millions. And where does the money come from? Aunt Anna’s cookie and mad money jar? No, it comes from corporate interests who want to keep things balanced on their side of the books.

GD: That’s not a great revelation, Robert. No one really cares, as you say, as long as they have television and a car. Back in the Depression days when people didn’t have television sets and no cars, a lot of the underpaid and overworked workers were Communists. Once Roosevelt got the war started for us, business boomed and the workers ceased to be Communists.

RTC: Oh, that’s absolutely true, Gregory, but don’t underestimate the power of the Communist bugaboo to terrify the public into letting us do what we wanted.

GD: Gehlen told me that in ’48 when he was asked by the Army brass to prepare an intelligence paper proving the Russians were about to launch a huge attack on the West, there were two forces behind all of this bullshit. The first was the Army who didn’t like to be reduced in size. Generals had to retire you know and they didn’t like that. And, business had been booming during the war and they, like the generals, didn’t much like shutting down plants and making less money. This from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Oh, and it worked. Leaked to Congress and Harry Truman, it started the Cold War.

RTC: Nicely put and remember this for Critchfield. Yes, that’s basically the long and short of it. At this moment, the United States is run by four major power sources. They are all interconnected and they have the common goal of protecting their asses and increasing their profits. We have what they call big business which consists of international companies, mostly the huge New York banking giants but some manufacturing companies as well. This country got great by being a manufacturing country but that’s slipping a bit. At the turn of the century it was railroads and steel, but that has faded a little…

GD: A little? A lot.

RTC: Yes, a question of degree, I suppose. Anyway, we have really big business as one entity. The other is the political part of our society. Most Congressmen are put into office to take care of business.

GD: And then we have Huey Long, who was not interested in business.

RTC: Yes, and Roosevelt had him shot very dead, didn’t he?

GD: Yes.

RTC: But Congress passes the laws and since most of them are on the take, they are careful not to pass too many laws to injure their business paymasters.

GD: But under Roosevelt they went the other way.

RTC: But Roosevelt is dead and when he died, we had a new dawn of commerce. And Congress knows where the money comes from and acts accordingly. Eventually we will see someone in the Oval Office who is also Chairman of the Board of Chase Bank. Just joking, but there are those who would love the concept. We have business and political and then we have the Mafia. Yes, it is a huge industry, spawning billions of dollars in revenue. Joe Kennedy turned to them to get Jack elected and then turned on them and began to persecute them using the other brother. Look at all the damage that short-sighted behavior did to the family. And that leads us into our very own CIA. We are at the top of the pyramid, Gregory, for a number of reasons. As you know, we started out as a small advisory group whose job it was to supply Harry Truman accurate international intelligence. Harry never trusted the Army and he found out about the humped Gehlen Report and wanted more facts to work with. Now we got Allen Dulles whose brother, John Foster, was a lawyer with Sullivan and Cromwell in New York. Sullivan and Cromwell was, in essence, a Nazi establishment. They were firm supporters of Hitler and worked with the Schroeder bank in Cologne. And you ought to know that when he was Ambassador to England, Joe Kennedy did business with Hitler and got huge blocks of I.G. Farben stock. It got taken away at the end of the war, seized by the Justice Department and one of the first things Joe did when Jack became President was to have him put Bobby in as AG so he could get his stock back. Oh yes, those people were for Hitler right up to the last week of the war. And even afterwards as well. Of course now that Jews are getting more power here and especially in the CIA, we do not mention any of this. Same thing with your Mueller friend. Of course we used him because he was the top Nazi expert on Communists. Why not? But, of course, if the Jews ever had to face that fact, they would come unglued. Can you imagine the huge headlines in The New York Times?

GD: Yes, I can. We called that Second Coming Type.

RTC: Wrong. The New York Times is run by Jews and sucks at Israel’s tit but they would never discuss this, let alone put it on the front page. Why? Because we have control over what they print. You see, we help our friends in business with delicate political nuisance problems. Like the nice Belgians in the Congo who had all that uranium. Kill off the left wing politicos who tried to grab it all. They really weren’t Communists planning to give uranium to Russia but that’s what we told the President and that’s what our friends who publish The New York Times heard. And that’s what they published and that’s what they condoned. Naturally, with such a dangerous menace, the CIA rushed up to save us all and kill off old Patrice.1  Same in Guatemala and the same in Iran with Mossadegh. The enemy is identified as dangerous to our business friends. We do studies to prove it to the rabble such as …fake documents and all that…that these enemies are vile Communists, working for the Soviet Union, and a real danger to all of America. On the one hand, get permission to destroy these enemies and on the other, launch a publicity campaign through our many friends in the media to make it just another heroic crusade.

GD: Oh, say it isn’t so, Robert.

RTC: I see you are a baseball fan, Gregory.

GD: No, that’s where it came from, but I am not a baseball fan. I was feigning shock and horror at your dastardly revelations. Do go on, though.

RTC: So we have business, the press, the mob on one side thanks to Jim Angleton’s organization, the legislative branch and that’s it. We don’t control, Gregory, we influence. A press campaign, planned in our offices here, and an assassination or bomb blast there. We have it down to an exact science. A nice balance at that.

GD: And the Mueller business?

RTC: A mere bump in the road. If you had brought this up twenty years before, they would have killed you but by now, it’s unpleasantly cold coffee. They’ll just ruin your reputation by using paid hacks. The media would never discuss this, believe me. You could have Heinrich Mueller’s body in a glass case and the press would be as silent as the grave. We would ask them nicely to drop it and guess what? They would.

GD: The machine seems to run well enough.

RTC: We’ve had time to perfect it. There are always glitches but so far, we have been able to repair them. But it isn’t like it used to be, Gregory. Then it was a band of brothers and now the whole agency has gotten too big, too compartmentalized and too stiff. The power is there but it is an old power, not a dynamic one. One of these days, parts will start falling off and then it will be replaced with another group that will march to a different drummer.

GD: Things always change, Robert, mark that.

RTC: I’m afraid I’m stuck in the old days, thinking the old thoughts and doing what I got used to doing. I told you not to get old, Gregory. I’ve seen it before. Sweet children grow up to be anarchists, faggots, drug addicts, bank robbers, drunks and so on. Wives leave you for someone else, your business changes way past recognition and you become redundant and out you go. You don’t recognize the cars in the street, the music is terrible and the trouble is you remember too much.

GD: And tend to romanticize the past instead of learning from it.

RTC: We write books, but in my case, I can’t. In the first place, I am forbidden to by contract with the Agency and in the second, I can write reports but not books. You write books, though. Of course, so do Joe and Susan. I don’t think very much of Joe, Gregory but I think you might do well to write things up. Joe can see for about two inches in front of his nose, but I find you can see for miles.

GD: It’s a blessing and a curse. I have a secret for you, Robert. You won’t believe me, of course, but here it is, For reasons I don’t even begin to understand, I can meet a new person and almost at once see right into them and know just who and what they are. They may be a professional football player, but if I talk with them for three minutes, I can see that they are gay. Or a religious leader and see he is a drunk. But only face to face. Can’t do it on the phone on by mail. And I think sometimes these people sense I am poking around inside their psyche. I never say a thing to them but some people can sense my invasion of their often rotten soul. And for no reason apparent to a, say, neutral observer, they suddenly hate me.

RTC: They’re afraid of you, Gregory. People fear the predator.

GD: Yes, I’m sure they do, but I am not predatory. I am very understanding of other people.

RTC: Trust me, Gregory, you’re a born predator. That’s one of the reasons I trust you. I prefer to know a wolf as a wolf than a yapping little dog that sneaks around and bites you in the lower leg. You would go for the throat and the kill. No, seeing into people is a gift. I ran enough agents in my time and I know. Always go for the throat.

GD: Yes. I was once confronted with six armed men who were trying to kill some people I happened to be with. I had a gun, a Belgian Browning 9mm. The High Power model with a 13 shot box mag. These fellows were shooting at my friends and at me. I had nothing to do with the business but I had the gun. I got it out and I nailed all six. Five through the head and one in the neck. Before I left the scene with my wounded friend, I went over and shot that one through the head. I didn’t want any witnesses. And I got my brass.

RTC: I never knew that one, Gregory. How old were you at the time?

GD: Seventeen and a couple of months.

RTC: You were in the service?

GD: No. A tourist.

RTC: Six at one throw?

GD: Five on the spot and one a few moments later.

RTC: A dumb question here, but did it bother you?

GD: Yes, terribly. My friend bled all over my shoes before I got him to a safe place. It took a lot of work to get the blood off. And I ruined a very good tie. He got it in the upper leg so I used the tie to keep him from bleeding out. Fortunately, the artery was spared and he survived.

RTC: And it never bothered you?

GD: Why should it? These jerks were shooting at me and in time, they might have killed me, too. Fuck them, Robert. Now they’re turning green in a box somewhere, waiting for the Last Trumpet. Yet in my flesh shall I see God? Oh, I think not. Heaven’s doormat will be a horrible, oozing mess come trumpet day.

RTC: Predatory, Gregory, in word and deed. No wonder the club does not like you.

GD: Club?

RTC: Bill, Tom, Trento and a few others. They warn me about you. I can see why. Their old warning system, the cave man one, is still fitfully working and they can sense you are a danger. Seventeen? Was that the first time?

GD: No, when I was in Germany just before that, I got jumped by a DP. He had an iron bar and I emptied a clip from a .380 into his pump. They had quite a bit of trouble from these DPs from Poland. They were all Polish Jews from the liberated camps and until the Army rounded them all up and shipped them, under guard, to Israel, they cut quite a path. And I got another one over by a putting green. He pulled a knife and his buddy had a wooden pistol. My friend got him and broke his neck and I got the one with the knife using a nine iron. I ruined the club but you should have seen his head. It looked like a cherry pie dropped on the sidewalk. Dragged both of them into the hedges and off we went. The club went into the river. I guess they found them later by the stench and all the flies.

RTC: Very predatory, Gregory.

GD: Self-defense, Robert, self-defense. What else would you call it?

RTC: Good reflexes among other things.

GD: God must hate me for making his doormat so filthy,

 

(Concluded at 9:38 AM CST)

 

1   Patrice Émery Lumumba July 2, 1925–17 January 17, 1961 was a Congolese independence leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba’s government was deposed in a CIA-controlled coup during the Congo Crisis. He was subsequently imprisoned and murdered by a CIA officer.

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German court rejects charges against 95yo ‘guard’ at Nazi camp where thousands perished

December 21, 2018

RT

A Berlin court has rejected a case against a former Nazi SS guard accused of accessory to the murder of tens of thousands inmates of the Nazi death camp in Mauthausen, where the 95-year-old was said to have served.

In a quite unusual decision, the German court said it does not see evidence to support charges of accessory to murder in the case of a man identified only as Hans Werner H. The suspect was accused of serving as an SS guard at the Mauthausen in Austria between October 1944 and May 1945 – a period when prosecutors say more than 36,000 people were killed there

Although the suspect was not accused of any specific killings, he was still charged with accessory to murder as he allegedly knowingly and willingly facilitated the work of the death camp. The man himself admitted being a member of the SS but said he never set foot in the camp. Instead, he said he briefly served as a guard at an armaments factory in the Austrian city of Linz, which was linked to another Nazi camp.

The prosecution “has not presented any verifiable facts” of the suspect’s crimes, the court said, adding that the suspect is “unlikely” to be convicted. The prosecutors already filed an appeal against the court’s decision.

Mauthausen was part of the large network of the Nazi labor and death camps spanning across Austria and southern Germany. Of a total of around 190,000 people imprisoned in the Mauthausen and its subcamps between 1938 and 1945, at least 90,000 died, according to the camp victims’ memorial website.

Germany witnessed a number of trials of former Nazis and concentration camp guards in recent years. Although most of them ended up with the suspects being found guilty, some of them never made it to jail.

In 2017, a former Nazi concentration camp accountant Oskar Groening dubbed ‘Bookkeeper of Auschwitz’ died while still appealing his conviction. In 2016, former Nazi SS sergeant Reinhold Hanning, convicted of being an accessory to the murder of 170,000 in Auschwitz, shared the same fate as he died following his conviction without spending a day behind bars.

 

Operation Bloodstone

December 21, 2018

by Christian Jürs

Operation Bloodstone was initially created by the U.S. Department of State in 1948. Its progenitor was George F. Kennan, department expert on Soviet concerns.

Its stated purpose was to thwart Soviet expansionism but its actual mandate was to create dissension within the newly-acquired territories of the Soviet Union, dissension that specifically included the fostering of armed rebellions by various ethnic groups.

In order to facilitate this, Kennan’s plan envisioned the use of any and all of the natural internal enemies of the Communist empire as well as the utilization of Stalin’s former enemies such as ex-Gestapo, SD and Abwehr agents, non-German entities such as the Croatian Ustacha, members of the Hungarian Arrow Cross party and many others.

Immediately after the war, when there was more cooperation with Soviet Russia, members of these agencies were, at the insistence of the Soviets, arrested, tried and often executed for their activities in conquered Russian territory.

In the German arena, many SD and Gestapo personnel, some formerly operatives at the highest levels of government, were clandestinely recruited for work against the Soviet Union. This recruitment was partially aided by use of the numerous wanted lists prepared at the end of the war.

The Gehlen organization, run initially by the U.S. Army and later entirely by the CIA under Colonel James Critchfield, was filled with such people. Other agencies recruited in their own fields of interest.

In one case, the U.S. Air Force sought and obtained the services of General Dr. Walter Schreiber, a Wehrmacht expert on communicable diseases to include bubonic plague and typhus. Schreiber, whose wartime activities in spreading these diseases among members of the Soviet military and civilian populations made him particularly desirable, was eventually exposed and had to leave America.

Bloodstone openly recruited anyone whom they felt would be of value, regardless of any existing allegations of war crimes by any entity, including Soviet Russia and the United States itself.

To an American President who had been subject to the same doses of wartime anti-German propaganda produced for the American public, Bloodstone officials found it necessary to explain, and in many cases, justify their actions.

The following report is specifically intended to address the wartime German concentration camp system in general and the stories of enormous, planned massacres of European Jews in specific.

This report is lengthy and often repetitious and, after an introduction, opens with a general overview of the German concentration camp system as it was perceived in 1948.

“I n t r o d u c t i o n

With growing worldwide tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States, both parties are actively seeking allies to assist them in what may well escalate into open warfare.

The Soviet Union views American rapprochement with German interests with alarm and anger. It had always been STALIN’S firm intention to take physical control of the German industrial basin of the Ruhr. The Russian conquest of the highly industrialized Germany has been one of their prime goals since Tsarist times. For this reason, STALIN had backed the STAUFFENBERG attempt on HITLER in 1944 and had every intention of violating his agreements about spheres of influence and wished to press on through Germany to the Rhine in 1945.

He was thwarted by ROOSEVELT’S death and by the dangerous American military presence in Western Europe in 1945.

As it was obvious that the new President was far less cooperative with Soviet aims than his predecessor, STALIN embarked on a program of terrorism, military threats and subversion, a program still in force and still extremely dangerous to American interests.

The Soviet view is that American economic assistance to Europe is antithetical to their plans for the destabilization of that region and the subsequent take-over by Soviet-friendly local Communist parties. They have been thwarted in their goals in Greece and Italy but, in their view, U.S. attitudes towards Germany is considered by the Kremlin as being extremely dangerous for the Soviets.

A new German military resurrection is of the greatest concern to STALIN followed by American economic assistance and, as they see it in Moscow, eventual American economic control over German economic development.

In order to drive a wedge between current American policy towards Germany and the American people, the Soviets have embarked on an extensive propaganda program aimed at creating a situation wherein the American public will refuse to support further U.S.-German rapprochement.

This propaganda mainly deals with German wartime atrocities, or alleged atrocities. The most important aspect of this campaign deals with the German concentration camps and specifically with purportedly huge numbers of Jews being deported, incarcerated in these camps, tortured, put to death by lethal gas and cremated in huge numbers.

As the Soviets have all of the concentration camp directorate files, it is now possible for them to make any kind of wild and unsubstantiated claim they wish without fear of rejection.

They have launched an extensive campaign with the assistance of various Jewish writers, historians, political groups and members of the motion picture, press and motion picture entities.

This program was commenced during the course of the war by such Soviet literary luminaries as Ilya Ehrenberg and other rabidly anti-German Jews and has been continued without a let up until the present day.

It is now known that many documents presented as evidence at the Nuremberg trials after the war were Russian fabrications and this counterfeiting program is still in effect.

The image of thousands of emaciated, naked bodies strewn around the compounds of liberated concentration camps is strongly fixed in the minds of the American public. These bodies are purported to be those murdered by the Germans when in fact, they are victims of the typhus epidemics that raged in all the German camps from 1942 onwards. Most especially noted was the camp at Bergen-Belsen liberated by the British. Inmates in this camp had been transferred from Auschwitz in late 1944 and typhus had wreaked havoc in that place since the introduction of lousy Soviet prisoners in mid-1941.

There is a great deal of confusion in the public mind about these camps and about the massacre of millions of Jews.

Firstly, it is necessary to give a definition of what constituted a Concentration Camp.

  1. Definition of Concentration Camps

According to German law, a Konzentrationslager (officially abbreviated to KL, but popularly referred to as KZ) provided Schutzhaft (Protective Custody) for persons who had not been legally sentenced to prison by a court of law, and/or for those who, having served a legal sentence, had been ordered further detention by the Gestapo (Secret State Police), Sicherheitsdienst (SD or Security Service) or the Geheime Feldpolizei (Secret Field Police.)

Legal definitions for the camps differed widely in the various German-occupied areas of Europe. For example, Straflager (Punitive Camps) in Poland were often frequently somewhat similar to prisons, and served the same purpose, but the treatment of inmates could correspond to that practiced in concentration camps in Germany.

There did not appear to be a definite formula for the establishment of detention centers. New camps often were attached to existing penal institutions. A Konzentrationslager could be added to or use the facilities of a Zuchthaus (Penitentiary).

An instance of the latter case was the use by the KL ORANIENBURG of the crematorium at the PLÖTZENSEE Zuchthaus. Concentration camps could be expanded by the addition of, for example a Straflager für Arbeitsverweigerer (Penal Camp for Persons Refusing to Work). Contrary to current legend, all German penal institutions since the turn of the century have made it a standard practice to cremate any dead prisoner and return his ashes to his family. This was especially necessary in the event of the deceased expiring from an infectious disease such as typhus.

PW Dulags (Durchgangslager, or Transit Camps) and internment camps appeared erroneously in some wartime lists as KL’s, probably because the term Dulag could have been applied also to collecting stations of all sorts for Schutshäflinge (Persons in Protective Custody).

Movements of inmates from one camp to another, especially from camps in occupied territories to those in the Reich were quite frequent in the last years of the war.

For example, in 1944, large numbers of Hungarian Jews, nearly all of those Jews deported from Budapest in that year, were transferred out of Auschwitz KL to other KLs throughout the Reich.

  1. Number of Camps and Inmates

Because the Soviets have the complete records of the German concentration camp system and refuse to release them, comprehensive reports on this subject, to include estimates of the number of inmates in the KL’s, the complete number of camps in Germany and German-held areas and, most especially, the number of KL inmates who perished during the war, their origins and the means of their deaths is not immediately available.

However, as every camp commander was required to submit monthly statistical reports to the main KL directorate and as many copies of these reports exist in various files in the various occupation zones of Germany, it has been possible to reconstruct much of this information. Because of its patent falsity, no documentation from either Soviet or Jewish sources has been utilized.

A reliable report of October, 1943 concerning the camps in Poland mentioned the existence of 109 camps in that country, divided into the following types:

Nine Transit Camps

Twenty-four KL’s

Three large forced labor camps

Sixty smaller forced labor camps

Three camps for priests

Nine camps for Jews

One camp “for the improvement of the Nordic race.”

Some wartime sources have estimated the number of Germans who had been inmates at various periods during the years 1933 to 1944 to be between 750,000 and 1,300,000

The most conservative estimate of the number of persons in “protective custody” in Germany proper in July of 1944 was from 170,000 to 370,000.

The number of KL inmates in Germany proper in the last months of the war has been estimated to be between 300,000 and 500,000. Of this number, a significant percentage consisted of “racially pure” Germans, as defined by Nazi law.

A large percentage of these inmates were engaged in labor projects, often for the Organization Todt- OT and other labor and auxiliary organizations. The largest camp complex located in the east was Auschwitz which was primarily considered a work camp for the SS and often had between 50,000 and 70,000 inmates of all origins on their rolls.

  1. Commitment and Release

The Einweisung in KL’s (Commitment to Concentration Camps) was effected by both branches of the Sicherheitspolizei (Sipo, or Security Police).

The Gestapo (both Amt IV or the Reichssicherheitshauptamt RSHA in Berlin and its branches and sub -branches) normally committed and could release those persons charged with, but not sentenced for, political offenses and crimes. This was officially designed Schutzhaft (Protective Custody).

The Kriminal Polizei (Kripo or Criminal Police: both Amt V of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and its branches and sub-branches committed “BV’s” (Berufsverbrecher or habitual criminals) and also was able to order their release.

  1. Administration

German Concentration Camps were controlled by the SS Wirtschafts- und Verwalltungshauptamt (SS Economic and Administrative Department) and the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Department of National Security, which was the head office of the Gestapo and the Security Service). Both of these departments formed part of the Reichsführung-SS (SS High Command).

The SS Wirtschafts- und Verwalltungshauptamt (abbreviated to WVHA) administered the camps, having had complete control over all personnel, including the guards and prisoners.

One of the chief functions of this department was the supervision of the SS-Unternehmungen (SS Enterprises), for which prison labor was employed. Most camps used the labor of their inmates, and in some cases, Auschwitz in particular, factories were even built either in or near the camps to utilize this labor. The WVHA was in charge of the products of such work.

The Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke DAW or German Equipment Works), one branch of which was located in ORANIENBURG, had a main office in Berlin, and in liaison with the WVHA took a share in the production activity of the camps.

The WVHA, whose Headquarters were in Berlin, was divided into several Amtsgruppen or sub-branches. The branch which handled concentration camp matters was Amtsgruppe D, Führung und Verwaltung der Konzentrationslager (Command and Administration of Concentration Camps). Its offices were located at ORANIENBURG, twenty miles north of Berlin.

SS Obergruppenführer Oswald POHL was head of the Wirtschafts- und Verwasltungshauptamt and was directly responsible to HIMMLER

Amtsgruppenchef (Chief of Branch) of Amtsgruppe D was Richard GLÜCKS, who held the ranks of Gruppenführer in the General SS and Lieutenant General in the Waffen-SS. GLÜCKS vanished at the end of the war but recent reports, not verified, have him as a resource for the British.

The following Ämter (Departments) were contained within Amtsgruppe D:

Amt I This was Zentralamt (Central Department), which was headed by SS Obersturmbannführer Artur LIEBENSCHERL and was responsible for general policy, security arrangements, public relations and coordination of the other departments within the Amtsgruppe.

Amt II This was headed by SS Obersturmbannführer Gerhard MAURER. This department had charge of the general administration of prisoners.

Amt III The Medical Department, under SS Obersturmbannführer Dr. LOLLING, was responsible for general medical and health administration of all camp personnel, both staff and prisoners.

Amtsgruppe C, (Bauwesen) was another branch of the WVHA, controlled works and buildings and, therefore, supervised the construction within the camps of plants of the DAW referred to above. It directed the activities of concentration camp personnel who were drafted into SS Bau Brigaden and SS Bau Battalionen, (SS Construction Brigades and Battalions) for employment on SS building and construction programs or for clearing bombed areas.

  1. Camp Organization

Richard GLÜCKS as head of Amtsgruppe D was the Führer der Totenkopfverbände und Konzentrationslager (Commander of the Death’s Head Formations and Commissioner of Concentration Camps.)

While the methods of organization and administration of camps differed in the various German-held sections of Europe, the following outline is fairly representative of the basic structure of such establishments.

The most important man in any camp was the Politische Kommissar (Political Kommissar). He was a Gestapo official from the Politische Abteilung (Political Section).

This section was subordinated to the Gestapo and Amt VI (Sicherheitsdienst through Amt IV (Gestapo), both of which were part of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt RSHA, or Department of National Security).

Regional control was exercised by the Gestapo through its Leitstellen and Stellen, and by the Sicherheitsdienst through its Leitabschnitte and Abschnitte.

In some respects, the Political Commissar in a camp was the superior of the Lagerkommandant (Camp Commandant) and could even have the latter removed. Normally, however, he did not interfere with the administration of a camp, except in an emergency.

A Political Commissar received double the pay of a Lagerkommandant and, in addition, RM 45 daily for travel allowance.

The rank of a Lagerkommandant was usually in accordance with the importance and size of the camp of which he was in charge. He worked closely with the Political Commissar, and was jointly responsible with the latter for the conduct of the camp, but in addition he was responsible for the safety of the camp.The camp guards were under the command of their own officers, but the latter executed the orders of the camp Commandant insofar as such duties as posting of guards and sentries are concerned.

As deputies, the Commandant had one or more Lagerführer (Camp Sub-commanders), the number depending upon the size of the camp; they generally held the rank of SS Untersturmführer (2nd Lieutenant), and functioned as section leaders.

Another post was the Rapportführer, who called the prisoner rolls.

Under the Commandant, as adjutant and general supervisor, was the Hauptwachmeister (Chief Warden), a post that was often filled by the CO of the SS guards. He controlled the Platzmeister (Wardens) who had charge of working parties.

Under each Lagerführer, as his NCO, was an Arbeitsdienstführer (Works Supervisor , who was in direct contact with the inmates and kept a record of the work to be performed by them.

Assisting the Arbeitsdienstführer were Vorarbeiter (Foremen) and Arbeitskapos

(Labor or Works Supervisors). These foremen and overseers were usually chosen from among those prisoners who were serving court sentences for common crimes and who were committed to the camps by the Criminal Police rather than by the Secret State Police.

In some camps, they were graded and known as Kapos (supervisors) and Haupt-Kapos (Chief Supervisors). These superiors could either wear an armband with the inscription Kapo on the left upper arm or Gefreiterwinkel (sleeve rank chevrons similar to Wehrmacht corporals).

In charge of the living quarters in the camps are Blockführer (Block Leaders).

Prisoner parties which worked outside the camps, under the supervision of a Kommandoführer were known as Kommandos.. There were usually two guards for every five prisoners, and every third guard was armed with a submachinegun.

Among the inmates the Lagerältester (Camp Senior Inmate) held the most privileged position. He received his orders from the Lagerführer, and in some instances, was reported to be the “right hand man” of the Lagerkommandant.

Ranking below the foregoing prisoner officials were the Blockältester, comparable to an Army First Sergeant; the Blockschreiber, who was comparable to a Company Clerk, and the Steubenälteste (Room Wardens), who were prisoners in charge of rooms.

In the main, there were two doctors in each camp, one attending to the SS personnel and the other to the inmates. The nurses or medical orderlies were largely recruited from among the inmates.

The great majority of all camps were basically self-administered by trusted inmates and not SS personnel;.

This has been a general overview of the administration of the camps in the German prison systems.

Although, as noted above, the complete files of the system fell into Soviet hands and are not accessible, a great deal of material on these camps has survived in areas under Allied occupation and it is, therefore, possible to form reasonably accurate assessments of each of the major camps.

As the Soviets are now claiming that the camp complex at Auschwitz in former German Silesia was a “great extermination camp for Soviet prisoners of war and large number of Jews,” perhaps it would be instructive to study this particular camp.

Auschwitz was an enormous work camp at the confluence of several rivers and had been chosen by the senior SS establishment as a site for factories. It initially occupied the barracks of a former Imperial Austrian artillery unit, later taken over by the Poles.

There was an extensive and very important artificial rubber (Buna) factory and a large system designed to manufacture gasoline out of coal, that resource being plentiful in the region.

After the introduction of Soviet prisoners of war post June, 1941, terrible outbreaks of typhus occurred in Auschwitz and the death tolls were enormous.

Because the SS rented their prisoners out to over a hundred small German firms, it was imperative for them to take steps to halt this typhus epidemic. This was never completely accomplished and inmates transferred from Auschwitz to other camps merely spread the disease.

Rumors were begun in 1942-1943 by British intelligence, that “many thousands” of Jewish prisoners were being gassed in huge “gas chambers” and their bodies burnt.

It is entirely true that any prisoner in German custody, be they political prisoners, professional criminals or Jews, were cremated upon their death and, at least in the beginning, their ashes sent to their families. During the war this was not possible and ashes were merely dumped into a nearby river. It is important to note that it was absolutely vital to cremate the infected corpses of the many typhus victims and this may well have been the origin of the gas chamber/cremation story now being put about by Soviet propagandists.

Plans of the Auschwitz camp exist and it can be said categorically that no gas chambers for the killing of any prisoners existed in the camp. What did exist were rather small delousing chambers to kill the lice carrying typhus that could be found in the clothing of newly arrived Polish and Russian prisoners.

Inmate clothing was confiscated and shipped to Germany as raw material and each inmate was issued clean prison garb. Also, the heads of all arriving prisoners were shaved to prevent the spread of body lice and all inmates were subject to showers with medicated soap whose purpose was to kill any lice remaining on the body.

Now, DDT is used for this purpose but this compound did not exist in Germany at the time. Apparently the soap was not entirely effective and permitted the spread of typhus in the camps.

Political Analysis

The Soviets are deeply concerned with the U.S. use, and intended use, of former German military and security personnel. In order to counter what they see as a potential threat from their former, bitter enemies, they have embarked on a campaign very similar to ones used by British propagandists in the 1914-1918. The similarities are quite remarkable all in all, Then, the German were accused of raping nuns, cutting off their hands, throwing babies up into the air and catching them on bayonets and other fabrications.

Much of this was taken, in toto, from reports on Belgian atrocities in the Congo some time before.

The British also introduced the story about turning human bodies into soap by rendering their fat. This same story became prevalent during their anti-German campaigns during the late conflict.

It is interesting to note that there is a considerable body of evidence that the British authorities utilized the services of GLÜCKS in setting up British detention centers in Palestine during their on-going war with Zionist terrorist groups prior to the creation of the current state of Israel.

There is no effective way of dealing with this anti-German propaganda. It is considered unproductive to make any attempt at refutation of the growing legends because the world-wide Jewish community is now supporting and exploiting the Soviet propaganda and are obviously utilizing it for their own ends.

Since a significant number of former German SS and SD personnel are now employed by American intelligence, it is recommended that any material concerning the use of these individuals be strictly limited in its dissemination and that any records now extant be accorded the greatest security protection.”

 

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