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TBR News December 23, 2018

Dec 13 2018

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

Washington, D.C. December 13, 2018: “Zero Hedge is a very eccentric Austrian economics-based finance blog run by a pseudonymous founder who posts articles under the name “Tyler Durden,” after the character from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. It has accurately predicted 200 of the last 2 recessions.

“Tyler” claims to be a “believer in a sweeping conspiracy that casts the alumni of Goldman Sachs as a powerful cabal at the helm of U.S. policy, with the Treasury and the Federal Reserve colluding to preserve the status quo.” While this is not an entirely unreasonable statement of the problem, his solution actually mirrors the antagonist in Fight Club: Tyler wants, per Austrian school ideas, to lead a catastrophic market crash in order to destroy banking institutions and bring back “real” free market capitalism.

The site posts nearly indecipherable, and generally bizarre, analyses of multiple and seemingly unrelated subjects that are intended  to point towards a consistent theme of economic collapse “any day now.” “ Tyler” seems to repeat The Economic Collapse Blog’s idea of posting blog articles many times a day and encouraging people to post it as far and wide as humanly possible. “Tyler” moves away from the format of long lists to write insanely dense volumes filled with generally contradicting jargon that makes one wonder if the writers even know what the words actually mean. The site first appeared in early 2009, meaning that (given “Tyler’s” psychotic habit of denying each and every positive data point), anyone listening to him from the beginning missed the entire 2009-2014 rally in the equities market.

The only writer conclusively identified is one Dan Ivandjiiski, a Bulgarian former medical student, who conducts public interviews on behalf of Zero Hedge. This hysterical blog came online several days after he lost his job at Wexford Capital, a Connecticut-based hedge fund (run by a former Goldman trader). And Ivandjiiski chose his pen name from a nihilistic psychotic delusion.

Zero Hedge is not quite the NaturalNews of economics, but not for want of trying.

This entertaining nonsense is in the same category as the pompous, and often rewritten, political blog, the Drudge Report and the “Sorcha Faal” screeching about the fictional “Planet X.” And for even more light-weight entertainment, look at the conspiracy blogs of “Dr.” Paul Fetzer and Tom Hengehan. Since the media has virtually done away with comic strips, these are all that is left to entertain a bored reader. These sort of babblings also entertain a legion of the feeble-minded conspiracy freaks that flock to the strange Internet sites like flies to shit.”

 

The Table of Contents 

  • Who wants to be Donald Trump’s lawyer? He needs a good one
  • Tabloid Publisher’s Deal in Hush-Money Inquiry Adds to Trump’s Danger
  • Senators vote to end US backing for Saudi war on Yemen
  • US Senate passes resolution blaming Saudi Prince MBS for Jamal Khashoggi murder
  • The official tri-nation report on the sinking of the MV Estonia
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

Who wants to be Donald Trump’s lawyer? He needs a good one

His previous lawyer, Michael Cohen, is about to go to jail. Meanwhile his actual lawyer is failing miserably at the job – and the legal challenges are mounting

December 13, 2018

by Richard Wolffe

The Guardian

Who wants to be Donald Trump’s lawyer?

No, seriously. Among all the positions normally considered to be the worst jobs ever – sewer engineer, decomposition cleaner, British prime minister – it surely ranks as even less desirable than Trump’s chief of staff: a job that literally nobody wants. No matter how many imaginary applicants Trump sees lining up outside the West Wing.

Trump’s last lawyer, Michael Cohen, is now preparing for a long cold spell inside the slammer next year. Meanwhile, the man currently purporting to represent the 45th president of the United States is hawking himself around Bahrain looking for other clients.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, now styles himself as one of the leading lights of Trump’s defense team. This is a stretch for a man who has spent the last decade as a lobbyist and security consultant. Giuliani’s legal career peaked in the late 1980s, around the time Michael Douglas proclaimed that greed was good. In other words: he’s the perfect pretend lawyer for our pretend president

But in terms of, you know, defending the man at risk of not one but two five-year felony charges of breaking election finance laws, Giuliani might not be a Gillette razor: the best a man can get. In Bahrain, he has been seeking new security contracts while his client is facing the deepest legal peril of his life. But Giuliani insists he is still on the case, and most definitely not trading on his presidential contacts. “I’m probably the most ethical person you ever met,” he declared. “I follow all the rules.”

It’s that probably that gives the game away. A bit like Carlsberg saying it’s probably the best beer in the world. Giuliani might be the most ethical person you ever met if you only ever met people related to Trump. Otherwise, you might want to drink a real beer.

As for preparing for the next onslaught from special counsel Robert Mueller, Giuliani sounded like he was plain out of gas: “We’ve done everything we can do. There’s not much more they’re going to call upon us to do.”

Giuliani’s legal work is built less on his actual lawyering than his talent for attacking a target with all the pizzazz of a pizza rat. This is what he said about the man who previously called himself Trump’s personal lawyer: “He’s a pathetic serial liar.” That was somewhat nicer than his previous description of Cohen as a “devious little rat”. It obviously takes one to know one.

This is the stage of Cohen’s life where we ought to have some sympathy for the humble family man whose legal practice barely made him $75,000 a year until he became the fixer for Trump. Sentenced to three years in prison – along with nearly $2m in fines and restitution – Cohen’s life and career lie in ruins. For what it’s worth, he tearfully blamed his crimes on his “blind loyalty” to Trump.

Then again, not so long ago, Cohen dreamed of taking that now-undesirable job of Trump’s chief of staff. Just last year, he was raking in millions from “consulting contracts” for his remarkable insights into the brainwaves of his client.

This is the same family man and legal mind whose modus operandi with reporters was, to put it delicately, knee-cappingly unconventional.

“So I’m warning you,” he told one journalist poking around in Trump’s private affairs, “tread very fucking lightly because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. Do you understand me? Don’t think you can hide behind your pen because it’s not going to happen.”

Apparently nobody told Cohen about karma, special counsels, or the physical challenges of hiding behind a pen. And the poor misguided soul had no idea that he wasn’t working for the Cosa Nostra where loyalty is supposed to count for something.

Instead of protecting one of their own, Trump and Giuliani have dumped on Cohen from the greatest height at every opportunity. “He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence,” Trump said of his former lawyer earlier this month. This was a refreshing affirmation of the rule of law from a president not otherwise known for his jurisprudence.

Why just this week, the man who swore to defend the constitution explained Cohen’s payoffs to porn stars in these terms: “Number one, it wasn’t a campaign contribution. If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?”

You can see why nobody in their right mind would want to be Trump’s lawyer. As legal arguments go, it leaves as much to the imagination as a Stormy Daniels movie.

Number one, the courts just jailed Cohen because the porn star payoffs were illegal campaign contributions.

Number two, they were most definitely criminal. Thus the jail time.

Number three, Trump’s violations were vividly detailed in the US attorney’s sentencing memo last week: “As Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.”

Mr Individual-1: in case Giuliani hasn’t told you, there was another filing on Tuesday, this one involving your friends at the National Enquirer. They confirmed their role with Cohen and your campaign to pay off a Playboy model to influence the election.

In the absence of legal counsel, and with no legal qualifications whatsoever, it falls upon this column to spell out the choices ahead of you.

Even before there is any discussion about Russia, or your tax returns, you are staring at 10 years in prison in addition to substantial fines and loss of property. You might escape impeachment, but you won’t escape prosecution.

You may think you cannot be indicted as a sitting president, but this idea – which is merely based on guidance from the justice department – will be tested in reality in short order. If you lose your re-election in 2020, you will have nowhere to run to, and nowhere to hide.

Like Nixon’s vice-president, Spiro Agnew, you may well find that it’s far less risky to quit office in exchange for a lesser sentence. You might even hold on to some of your hotels and golf courses, while also avoiding spending the rest of your life behind bars.

Some might say this plea deal would undermine the 2016 election. Others might say you undermined that election with your campaign finance crimes, which amounted to electoral fraud. But you can comfort yourself with this thought: for the man whose name is on the Art of the Deal, this would be your greatest masterpiece.

 

Tabloid Publisher’s Deal in Hush-Money Inquiry Adds to Trump’s Danger

December 12, 2018

by Mike McIntire, Charlie Savage and Jim Rutenberg

The New York Times

With the revelation by prosecutors on Wednesday that a tabloid publisher admitted to paying off a Playboy model, key participants in two hush-money schemes say the transactions were intended to protect Donald J. Trump’s campaign for president.

That leaves Mr. Trump in an increasingly isolated and legally precarious position, according to election law experts. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments made in 2016 to keep two women silent about alleged affairs are now firmly framed as illegal campaign contributions.

The news about the publisher, the parent company of The National Enquirer, came on the same day that Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael D. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in part for his involvement in the payments. “I blame myself for the conduct which has brought me here today,” Mr. Cohen said, “and it was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man” — a reference to Mr. Trump — “that led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”

Mr. Cohen said the transactions were an effort to cover up the president’s “dirty deeds,” a claim that was buttressed when federal prosecutors announced that the tabloid publisher, American Media Inc., said it had bought one of the women’s stories to ensure she “did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate.”

“A.M.I. further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election,” prosecutors said in a statement announcing they had struck a deal not to charge the company in exchange for its cooperation. As part of the deal, dated in September but previously kept private, the company also agreed to train employees in election law standards and appoint a qualified lawyer to vet future deals that may involve paying for stories about political candidates.

The cascading disclosures marked a turning point in the multiple investigations related to Mr. Trump and the campaign he led. Until recently, the inquiries had produced numerous guilty pleas and indictments but no direct accusations of illegality by the president. That changed with Mr. Cohen’s assertions, outlined in detail by prosecutors, that his own crimes were done “in coordination with and at the direction” of Mr. Trump.

Where the investigations go from here is not clear. The prevailing view at the Justice Department is that a sitting president cannot be indicted, though prosecutors in Manhattan could consider charging him after leaving office.

Investigators have continued to scrutinize what others in the Trump Organization may have known about the crimes described by Mr. Cohen, including its chief financial officer, according to people briefed on the matter. Prosecutors have met with campaign officials and asked how the campaign interacted with Mr. Trump’s company, which shared office space and employees.

Establishing a nexus between Mr. Cohen’s efforts to silence the women and Mr. Trump’s campaign is central to making a criminal case of election law violations. That is why A.M.I.’s admission carries so much weight, said Richard L. Hasen, an election law professor at the University of California, Irvine.

“It’s looking a lot like an illegal and unreported in-kind corporate contribution to help the campaign, exposing the Trump campaign and Trump himself to possible criminal liability,” Mr. Hasen said.

A.M.I., run by Mr. Trump’s longtime friend David J. Pecker, had previously claimed it had paid $150,000 to the model, Karen McDougal, to secure the rights to publish her story of an alleged affair with Mr. Trump. But the company never published it, and people familiar with its operations had said it was part of a longstanding practice, known in the tabloid trade as “catch and kill,” to suppress damaging stories about favored people.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Cohen had intended to reimburse A.M.I. for its payment to Ms. McDougal by arranging a bogus $125,000 fee to an A.M.I. affiliate for “advisory services.” Although Mr. Pecker signed off on the deal, he later contacted Mr. Cohen and called it off. He also instructed Mr. Cohen to tear up the paperwork, prosecutors said.

In addition to McDougal, Mr. Cohen said he arranged a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress, to squelch her story of an alleged affair with Mr. Trump. He said that he used his own money, but that Mr. Trump had agreed to pay him back, with the reimbursement eventually being couched as legal fees billed to the Trump Organization.

A.M.I. was also involved in the early stages of Mr. Cohen’s dealings with Ms. Daniels. Rather than pay her, as it did with Ms. McDougal, the company notified Mr. Cohen that she was trying to sell her story

Until this week, it was largely Mr. Cohen’s word against the president’s denials. That is why the admission by A.M.I. is “highly significant, because it goes to corroborate” Mr. Cohen’s testimony, said Jeff Tsai, part of the prosecution team that accused Senator John Edwards of campaign finance violations when he arranged for payoffs to a pregnant mistress during his 2008 presidential campaign.

“In any future prosecution, Mr. Cohen’s credibility is squarely at issue — as it should be — and that is where you see the nature of corroboration, either in the form of witnesses or documents, become such a pivotal factor in a prosecution,” Mr. Tsai said.

The Edwards case — which ended in an acquittal and mistrial — has been invoked by Trump allies as an example of prosecutorial overreach. Central to Mr. Edwards’s defense was that the payments were intended not to help his campaign but to hide the affair from his wife — that they were personal, not political.

Mr. Trump seemed to hint at this strategy in a tweet responding to Mr. Cohen’s admissions, in which he made an oblique reference to a “simple personal transaction” that was being wrongly called “a campaign contribution.”

Given the president’s stance, the disclosure of A.M.I.’s understanding that the efforts were campaign-related — and its promise of future cooperation — shows that potential witnesses against Mr. Trump go beyond Mr. Cohen.

Indeed, the A.M.I. agreement with prosecutors said there was at least one other person associated with Mr. Trump’s campaign involved in an initial discussion in August 2015, attended by Mr. Cohen and Mr. Pecker, in which they agreed that the publisher would help the campaign by identifying negative stories about Mr. Trump’s relationships with women “so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.”

But many details remain hidden. Among them, the statement did not say whether the other campaign member was Mr. Trump himself — identified by prosecutors last week as attending a similar meeting — or some other person. A.M.I. had no comment on Wednesday.

Mr. Pecker had been steadfast in his support of Mr. Trump, equating any attack against him as an attack against A.M.I. But one associate of Mr. Pecker’s, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Pecker felt betrayed when the president’s legal team failed to push back against revelations in July that Mr. Cohen had recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump discussing the McDougal payment. The recording seemed to support the notion that A.M.I. was complicit in an illegal campaign finance scheme.

In admitting to the scheme, Mr. Pecker, his lieutenant Dylan Howard and A.M.I. are now protected from criminal prosecution.

 

Senators vote to end US backing for Saudi war on Yemen

December 13, 2018

BBC News

The US Senate has voted to withdraw US military aid for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen and to blame the kingdom’s crown prince for the murder of a journalist.

Members US President Donald Trump’s Republican party joined Democrats by 56-41 to rebuke the longtime US ally over reporter Jamal Khashoggi’s death.

Mr Trump has vowed to veto the largely symbolic measure, and it is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives.

Experts say Yemen is experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

US Senate passes resolution blaming Saudi Prince MBS for Jamal Khashoggi murder

December 13. 2018

RT

The US Senate has unanimously passed a resolution calling Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was brutally killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The resolution demands that Riyadh “ensure appropriate accountability” in this case. The move came just minutes after the senators passed a separate motion calling on the US to stop any aid to the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

The Senate called the situation in the war-ravaged country a “humanitarian crisis” and demanded all parties seek an immediate ceasefire. It is yet unclear whether the House would vote on any of the motions after they had passed the Senate.

The move came a week after CIA Director Gina Haspel appeared on Capitol Hill to tell about a dozen senators about intelligence her agency had on Khashoggi’s death. The briefing apparently solidified the belief, at least among some of them, that the Saudi crown prince was indeed behind the murder.

 

The official tri-nation report on the sinking of the MV Estonia

by Christian Jürs

Report: Design flaw led to Estonia ferry sinking 852 died in 1994 disaster off Finland

On September 28, 1994 the Swedish motor ferry sank off the Finnish coast with heavy loss of life. Like the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963, this major maritime disaster has given birth to some of the most entertaining and fantastic legends since those of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

Some journalists insist that atomic bombs were hidden on the ship; that former KGB agents were responsible for the sinking; Swedish authorities know the truth and are prohibiting any diving on what is a major grave site and so on and on. Mysterious meetings with former KGB generals at secret locations are hinted at and an entire cottage industry of nonsense has grown up around this marine tragedy.

Finally, a joint Swedish-Estonian-Finnish Commission was set up, conducted exhaustive investigations and released their official conclusions. None of these conclusions pleased the conspiracy fiction writers but the salient portions, in translation, are reproduced here, hopefully as an antidote to myth and legend.

A design flaw and a slow response by the crew to signs of trouble were largely responsible for 1994’s Estonia ferry disaster in which 852 people perished in the rough waters of the Baltic Sea, according to an investigative commission’s official report released Wednesday.

The Swedish-owned ferry, on its way from Tallinn, Estonia, to Stockholm, Sweden, sank on the night of September 28, 1994, off the Finnish coast. It was Europe’s worst maritime disaster since World War II. Most of the victims were from Sweden and Estonia.

The joint Estonian-Swedish-Finnish commission said the primary cause of the disaster was a design flaw in the ship’s bow door that allowed it to be jolted open by rough seas, causing the ship to take on water and eventually sink.

The report also concluded that the ship’s crew was slow to respond to signs of trouble, including reports of strange noises coming from the bow of the ship. Warning alarms weren’t sounded until five minutes after the ferry began listing heavily, and, by then, it was difficult for passengers to escape.

Investigators also concluded that the crew should have slowed the ship down once it became obvious something was amiss.

However, because all of the crew on the bridge that night died, “we don’t really know what happened there,” conceded Uno Laur, chairman of the commission.

The report also criticized the rescue effort by Finnish officials, saying radio operators were slow in relaying the Estonia’s distress calls.

Of the nearly 1,000 people on board the Estonia, only 137 survived.

The German shipbuilding company that built the ferry, Meyer Werft, rejected the report’s findings, saying poor maintenance by the ship’s owners, not a design flaw, was responsible for the disaster.

“The report is wrong and worth less than the paper it is written on,” said Peter Holtappels, a lawyer for Meyer Werft. “The shipyard built a perfectly seaworthy vessel that functioned extremely well on the seas for 14 years. … But when repairs had to be done that were not carried out, you cannot make the shipbuilder responsible for this.”

The investigative commission has itself been at the center of controversy because of repeated delays in releasing its findings and the resignation of its former chairman. Critics have called its investigation clumsy and incomplete.

A lawyer representing the families of Swedish victims, Hennig Witte, said he was not satisfied with the report.

“You must now give us an independent investigation,” he said.

Accident

The ro-ro passenger ferry ESTONIA sank in the northern Baltic Sea during the early hours of 28 September 1994. Of the 989 people on board, 137 survived. All 95 victims recovered from the sea have been identified and 757 people are still missing.

Weather

The wind at about 0100 hrs at the site of the accident was south-westerly, 18-20 m/s, and the significant wave height was about 4 m.

At the time of the accident the ESTONIA was encountering the waves on her port bow.

The wave-induced motion made several passengers seasick but the situation on board was not exceptional.

Ship’s condition

The vessel was seaworthy and properly manned.

The cargo was secured to normal standard and the visor was properly closed and secured on departure.

The vessel had a starboard list of about one degree when she gained the open sea.

Failure

The failure sequence may have started at about 0055 hrs when the AB seaman heard a metallic bang at the bow ramp.

The locking devices and the hinges of the bow visor failed fully under one or two wave impact loads on the visor shortly after 0100 hrs.

The visor worked its way forward and forced the ramp partly open due to mechanical interference between the visor and the ramp, inherent in the design. Water started entering the car deck at the sides of the partly open ramp.

The ramp rested for a while within the visor before the visor at about 0115 hrs fell into the sea, pulling the ramp fully open.

Capsize

Large amounts of water entered the car deck and in a few minutes a starboard list of more than 15° developed.

The main engines stopped at about 0120 hrs, one after the other, due to lubricating oil pressure loss caused by a list of about 30°.

The vessel drifted with her starboard side towards the waves.

At about 0125 hrs the list was more than 40°. By then, windows and a door had broken in the aft part on the starboard side, allowing progressive flooding of the accommodation. The main generators stopped.

As the list increased the ESTONIA started to sink stern first. At about 0135 hrs the list was about 80°.

The vessel disappeared from the surface at about 0150 hrs.

Action by the crew

Two reports of unusual sounds from the bow area were given to the officers of the watch, the first about 20 minutes prior to the loss of the visor.

Attempts were made to find the reason for the sounds.

The master arrived at the bridge and was present when the second attempt was initiated shortly after 0100 hrs.

The speed setting was maintained until the list developed. At about 0100 hrs the speed was about 14 knots, with all four main engines running at full service speed setting.

The visor indicator lamps on the bridge did not show when the visor was detached, and the visor was not visible from the conning position. Nor did the lamps show when the ramp was forced open.

The ingress of water at the sides of the partly open bow ramp was observed on a monitor in the engine control room, but no information was exchanged with the bridge.

As the list developed the officers of the watch reduced the speed and initiated a turn to port. They also ordered the engineer to compensate for the list by pumping ballast, but the pump sucked air and, furthermore, the tank was almost full. The officers of the watch also closed the watertight doors.

The first known Mayday call from the ESTONIA was transmitted at 0122 hrs, and at about the same time the lifeboat alarm was given. Shortly before that, a brief alarm in Estonian was given over the public address system. Just after this, the crew was alerted by a coded fire alarm. No general information was given to the passengers during the accident.

Besides the master and the two officers of the watch, at least the chief officer and the third officer were on the bridge at the time of the distress traffic.

Technical matter

There were no detailed design requirements for bow visors in the rules of Bureau Veritas, the classification society concerned, at the time of the building of the ESTONIA.

The Finnish Maritime Administration was, according to a national decree, exempt from doing hull surveys of vessels holding valid class certificates issued by authorised classification societies.

The visor locking devices were not examined for approval by the Finnish Maritime Administration, nor by Bureau Veritas.

The visor design load and the assumed load distribution on the attachments did not take realistic wave impact loads into account.

The visor locking devices installed were not manufactured in accordance with the design intentions.

No safety margin was incorporated in the total load-carrying capacity of the visor attachment system.

The attachment system as installed was able to withstand a resultant wave force only slightly above the design load used.

A long series of bow visor incidents on other ships had not led to general action to reinforce the attachments of bow doors on existing ro-ro passenger ferries, including the ESTONIA.

Wave impact loads generated on the night of the accident exceeded the combined strength of the visor attachments.

Wave impact loads on the visor increased very quickly with increasing significant wave height, while forward speed had a smaller effect on the loads.

The SOLAS requirements for an upper extension of the collision bulkhead were not satisfied.

The general maintenance standard of the visor was satisfactory. Existing minor maintenance deficiencies were not significant factors in the accident.

 Evacuation

The time available for evacuation was very short, between 10 and 20 minutes.

There was no organised evacuation.

The evacuation was hampered by the rapid increase in the list, by narrow passages, by transverse staircases, by objects coming loose and by crowding. About 300 people reached the outer decks. Most victims remained trapped inside the vessel.

The lifesaving equipment in many cases did not function as intended. Lifeboats could not be lowered.

 Distress traffic

Mayday calls were received by 14 radio stations including MRCC Turku. At the beginning the SILJA EUROPA took the role of control station for the distress traffic.

The distress traffic was not conducted in accordance with the procedures required by the radio regulations.

The ESTONIA’s two EPIRBs were not activated and could therefore not transmit when released.

MRCC Turku did not announce on the radio that they were conducting the operation.

Helsinki Radio did not hear the ESTONIA’s distress calls or the distress traffic.

Helsinki Radio transmitted a Pan-Pan call (urgent message) at 0150 hrs instead of the distress message requested by MRCC Turku

Rescue operation

Initially the accident was not treated as a major accident. It was formally designated as such at 0230.

MRCC Turku started alerting rescue units at 0126 hrs. One standby helicopter was alerted at 0135 hrs, another at 0218 hrs, and the military helicopters at 0252 hrs.

Assistance by Swedish helicopters was agreed at 0158 hrs.

The master of the SILJA EUROPA was appointed On-Scene Commander (OSC) at 0205 hrs.

The first rescue unit, the MARIELLA, arrived on the scene of the accident at 0212 hrs, 50 minutes after the first distress call.

MRCC Tallinn was informed of the accident at 0255 hrs by MRCC Helsinki.

The first helicopter arrived at 0305 hrs.

Two Finnish helicopters landed survivors on the passenger ferries. Other helicopters carried rescued persons to land.

An air coordinator arrived to assist the OSC at 0650 hrs and a surface search coordinator arrived at 0945 hrs.

The participating vessels did not launch lifeboats or MOB boats due to the heavy weather. Their rescue equipment was not suitable for picking up people from the water or from rafts.

Winch problems

Some helicopters carried journalists during the later rescue flights.

Of the approximately 300 people who reached the open decks, some 160 succeeded in climbing onto life rafts, and a few climbed onto capsized lifeboats. Helicopters rescued 104 people, and vessels rescued 34.

Meteorological conditions

The weather at the accident site at about 0100 hrs was rough but not extreme. The wind was south-westerly, mean velocity 18 – 20 m/s. Statistically, winds of such force occur five to ten times annually during the autumn and the winter in the northern Baltic Sea. The significant wave height was about 4 m. Generating a wave pattern with a significant wave height of this magnitude requires wind of 15 – 20 m/s from S – SW for at least ten hours.

Numerous studies of wave statistics show that, if the significant wave height is 4 m, one wave in a hundred will be higher than 6 m. A maximum wave height is estimated as twice the significant height.

The weather forecast for the midnight hours predicted a significant wave height of only 2.5 to 3.5 m whereas the actual height was about one metre more. Even if the predictions had been correct, this would most likely not have changed the way the passage was conducted.

The weather forecast was not regarded as severe on board the two passenger ferries leaving Helsinki for Stockholm the same day. They both selected the coastal route in shallow waters instead of the deep-sea route followed in heavy weather.

The direction of the waves is difficult to determine as indicated by the different meteorological institutes (see 5.4.2). The Commission is of the opinion that before reaching the waypoint the ESTONIA encountered waves close to head sea. Thus after the turn of about 25 degrees to starboard she had the waves coming at about 30 degrees on the port bow.

The general wave statistics of the different routes where the ESTONIA had been operating indicate that significant wave heights above four metres on the bow should have occurred for a total of less than about twenty hours during the full operating history of the vessel. Most of this time refers to the 20 months on the Tallinn – Stockholm route.

A review of the weather reports for the entire time while the vessel operated on the Tallinn – Stockholm route shows that wind and wave conditions similar to those during the accident voyage only occurred once or twice.

Thus it can be concluded that the vessel had generally been protected from heavy sea conditions during her lifetime.

Course of events

Introduction

The general course of events described in this section has been plotted from observations on the wreck, analysis of statements by witnesses, analysis of the damage and evaluation of the strength of the visor and ramp attachments. Calculations and model tests of the vessel’s behaviour in waves have also been used.

The Commission has analysed 258 statements from 134 survivors. The Commission is aware that none of the survivors is a witness proper, in the sense of an observer. All the witnesses are victims of the accident, involved in it and a part of the chain of events. Their observations and recollections are thus influenced by prolonged anxiety, exhaustion and stress. All statements are furthermore restricted to individual experience on board and outside the vessel only, and no witnesses have had any possibility of gaining an overall view.

When analysing the chain of events the Commission has usually put somewhat more emphasis on earlier statements than on later ones. The reason for this is that earlier statements were made at a time when witnesses’ recollections were presumably less influenced by information from other witnesses and the media.

The Commission has also given more weight to witnesses’ recollections of objective and perceived events than to statements concerning time or time spans. This is because most objective events were experienced by many in different locations whereas statements concerning points of time vary radically and are judged to have been more subjectively influenced. Also statements concerning degree of list are judged to be considerably subjective. Somewhat more credibility is, however, given to such estimations by crew members and to their judgements of sounds, because of their experience.

A few crew members when interrogated, however, were more inclined directly to give exact and precise information about actions and points of time rather than to reveal any uncertainty. In such cases they often stated that they had acted in accordance with their instructions.

One of the key witnesses, the AB seaman of the watch, was interrogated several times and some details are not consistent throughout his statements. His latest statement seems, however, to be more reliable concerning specific parts and supplementary details because he then revealed new information that was partly to his discredit, and also commented upon his earlier statements.

Preparations for the voyageThe route-specific weather and wave height forecast was received from the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) in accordance with the existing subscription arrangement as well as other weather forecasts. The master was informed prior to departure that a low pressure with increasing winds would be encountered during the night.

No route plan has been available to the Commission, as planning was done on board only. It is deemed likely, however, that the plan was to proceed along the normal route with full service speed as long as the vessel was in sheltered waters in the Gulf of Finland, and thereby gain some time margin for crossing the Baltic Sea.

Loading began at 1620 hrs via the forward ramp and was completed shortly before departure. The loading was supervised by second officer A. According to witnesses large trucks were loaded almost bumper to bumper on the aft and mid parts of the car deck. Smaller trucks and cars were loaded on the forward part.

Heavy vehicles seem to have been loaded on the car deck without sufficient account of the athwartships weight disposition, resulting in the ship leaving port with the port side heeling tank almost full and the starboard one empty. Due to this cargo disposition and the wind pressure on the port side the ESTONIA, gaining the open sea, had a starboard list of about one degree according to the third engineer.

In compliance with the loading practice for ro-ro ferries on short routes, when strong winds are expected the major part of the weight should be located on the windward side in order to maximise possibilities to compensate for wind-induced heel. Hence, the ESTONIA should have been loaded differently.

The deck crew had been instructed to secure the heavy cargo with extra care due to the weather expected. Surviving crew members have testified that the trucks were properly secured with lashings, generally four per vehicle. It is claimed to be common practice that securing of vehicles is not finished when the vessel leaves port but is completed during an early stage of the voyage. All indications are that the cargo was secured to normal standard.

In this context the Commission has noted that the number of cargo damage claims was low while the vessel was operating on the Tallinn-to-Stockholm route and that no damage has been related to inadequate lashing of trucks, containers or other cargo.

Condition of visor and ramp closure

The Commission has noted from observations on the wreck that one of the locking bolts for the forward ramp was most probably not in its properly extended position at the time of the accident, and the related indicator lamp on the bridge was then not lit. The deficiency did not prevent closing of the visor.

It is possible that the locking bolt had been in its proper position and had backed out prior to the accident due to movement between the ramp and the ramp coaming in combination with hydraulic leakage, e.g. past the operating piston seals. Such movement of locking bolts at sea has been noted in other ro-ro ferries.

Even if this defect had existed at the time of departure it has not been possible to find out whether any action was called for. This potential deficiency would have had no effect on the development of the accident, as the ramp would have been forced open by the visor even if all the locking bolts had been in their proper positions.

Some rags can be seen on pictures filmed from a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in the area of the half-extended locking bolt on the lower port side of the ramp. This may indicate that a sealing problem in the ramp, mentioned by the second engineer in his testimony, had been temporarily cured by packing rags into the gap. However, the Commission considers it likely that the mattresses and rags were washed into the area from nearby storage spaces during the final flooding of the car deck. They were observed at a point which was the highest on the car deck and still over the water surface when the stern reached the sea bed. Other floating objects and debris were also observed in the bow area, all probably trapped by the partly closed ramp when the bow started sinking.

If rags had been tucked along the sides of the ramp it is most likely that they would have been washed away when the ramp was forced open. The rags were partly in a position between the failed hinge lugs and the lug in the hull, where they could not have penetrated when the hinge was intact. The plastic covers of the mattresses appear intact, which indicates that they had not been subjected to heavy rubbing. It would hardly have been possible to close five ramp locks with rags packed in the positions observed.

Truck drivers have stated that sometimes there were problems in opening the ramp locks, and tools had to be used. Such problems have also been encountered on other vessels.

The magnet of the visor bottom lock position indicator was on the bracket in the locking bolt but the sensors could not be found during the ROV and diving investigations. The empty ends of the sensor cables were near the mounting bracket of the sensors. The mounting bracket appeared to be undamaged like remains of the broken port lug and the deck plating near the bottom lock. This indicates that the sensors were not in their place during the accident voyage. However, since the distance from the magnet to the nearest sensor was a few centimetres, a small chance remains that the pounding visor detached the sensors. According to crew members and the technical superintendent the bottom lock position indicator had been in working order. The most likely absence of the sensors would not have had any effect on the accident since there was no indicator lamp on the bridge showing the position of this locking bolt.

According to statements by members of the alternate crew, a strict routine was followed in the closing and securing of the ramp and visor, and technical assistance was called upon if any malfunction developed. No problems were evident at the time of the last crew change, nor had any reports about deficiencies in the ramp or visor locking system been made to the technical superintendent of the vessel.

The Commission’s conclusion, which is supported by the failure pattern, is that the visor had been properly closed and secured at departure and that there were no deficiencies in the ramp affecting the development of the accident.

The voyage up to the accident

The ESTONIA departed from Tallinn at 1915 hrs. The crew was into the 13th day of its current 14-day duty period.

The speed was around 19 knots at the beginning of the voyage and when passing Osmussaar lighthouse at about 2200 hrs the ESTONIA was approximately on her normal schedule in spite of leaving Tallinn 15 minutes late. Weather conditions deteriorated during the night. Because of this the resistance of the vessel increased and the speed gradually decreased. After the course change at the waypoint at about 0025 hrs, the ESTONIA encountered waves on the port bow and conditions became more unfavourable, with increased rolling and pitching and more severe wave impacts on the bow. The stabilising fins had been extended just after the waypoint. Shortly before the accident the speed had dropped to about 14 knots.

It may be of interest to compare the ESTONIA’s speed with those of the MARIELLA and the SILJA EUROPA, two other passenger ferries en route to Stockholm on the same heading and encountering the same sea state as the ESTONIA. On the MARIELLA, speed was reduced at about 2300 hrs to 12 knots by order of the master. The SILJA EUROPA was running at approximately the same speed as the ESTONIA, i.e. 14.5 knots at about 0055 hrs. Just afterwards the SILJA EUROPA’s officer of the watch reduced the speed due to the weather.

Separation of the visor

The first indication that something was wrong in the bow area was noted and reported to the bridge about five minutes before one o’clock by the AB seaman of the watch when he, at the forward ramp on his routine watch round, noted a sharp metallic bang from the bow area. This coincided with a heavy upward acceleration that nearly made him fall. He reported this bang to the bridge. Remaining about five minutes near the ramp he then continued on his round to decks 1 and 0 and finally to the bridge. He heard no more unusual sounds, nor made any unusual observations.

Shortly after one o’clock a few wave impacts on the visor caused the visor attachments to fail completely. The visor started cutting openings in the weather deck plating and associated structures. Soon the back wall of the visor housing came into contact with the ramp, hitting its upper edge and thus breaking its locks. The ramp fell forwards and remained resting inside the visor. In a few minutes the visor started falling forwards.

The ramp then followed the visor in a forward, tumbling motion. The starboard side actuator was extended to its full length and was torn out of the hull during the final stage of the sequence. The visor subsequently tilted over the stem, left the ramp fully open allowing large amounts of water to enter the car deck, and as it fell collided with the bulbous bow of the vessel.

This sequence of events is supported by witnesses from several areas on board who heard a repeated metallic noise from the bow area during a period of about ten minutes, starting shortly after one o’clock. The detailed timing is, however, uncertain. The witnesses have given several good descriptions of these sounds and it is beyond doubt that the sounds were caused by the visor moving and pounding on the forepeak deck. Some of the metallic blows were associated with hull vibrations. The sounds from the bow area ended in a few loud, metallic crashes, caused by the final separation of the visor and its colliding with the bulbous bow of the vessel. This occurred at about 0115 hrs. The collision is documented by clear impact marks on the visor.

Development of the list and sinking of the vessel

On deck 1 the first passengers left their cabins already when they began hearing metallic blows from the bow area. A few have reported seeing small amounts of water in corridors on deck 1 and feeling that the vessel already at this stage had a slight list.

While the ramp was partly open inside the visor, water entered the car deck along the sides of the ramp, as observed first by the third engineer at 0110 – 0115 hrs on the TV monitor showing the forward part of the car deck. The water noted by the first passengers fleeing from their cabins on deck 1 could at this stage have poured down to the accommodation on deck 1. Later, during the evacuation, several passengers observed on deck 2 that water entered the staircases through the slots around the fire doors to the car deck.

After the ramp had been forced open by the visor, waves may have caused the ramp to move between fully open and partly closed position but generally a significant opening was available for waves to enter the car deck as further described in 13.5 below. The large amounts of water flooding onto the car deck caused the vessel to heel over and after a few rolling movements a significant list developed to starboard. This happened within the first minutes after the visor had separated from the ship. According to witnesses the ship steadied temporarily at a list angle of about 15 degrees.

Just before the moment when the list developed many crew members and passengers noticed a change in the vessel’s motion. This coincides with the time when the visor separated from the vessel and may have been the effect of the first larger volume of water to enter the car deck.

At about the time when the list developed, the engines were throttled back close to idling speed and the vessel was turned to port into the wind. She passed through the wind’s eye and continued to port with decreasing speed. Information from some survivors indicates a reduction of engine speed just before the accident but the timing is uncertain. It is, however, the opinion of the Commission that full service speed setting was maintained right up to the time when the list developed.

During the port turn water continued to enter the car deck and the list increased to 20 – 30 degrees where the vessel for some minutes stabilised as the water inflow decreased. By about 0120 hrs all four main engines had stopped, at intervals of a few minutes, starting with the port side engines, due to lack of lubricating oil pressure. The main generators stopped about five minutes later.

After the main engines stopped, the ESTONIA drifted with a list of about 40 degrees and the starboard side towards the waves. Water continued to enter the car deck through the bow but at a significantly lower rate. Waves were pounding against the windows on deck 4. Window panels and aft doors broke, allowing flooding of the accommodation to start. As the flooding progressed, the list and the trim by the stern increased and the vessel started to sink. At a list of about 80 degrees the bridge was partly flooded. This happened shortly after 0130 hrs as indicated by a clock in the chartroom whose hands had stopped at 2335 hrs UTC. The emergency generator stopped at about the same time but the accumulators supplied power for limited lighting. The sinking continued, stern first, and the vessel disappeared from the surface of the sea at about 0150 hrs. This phase of the accident is covered further in 13.6. Figure 13.3 illustrates the development of the list and sinking of the vessel.

 

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

December 13, 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. 70

Date:  Thursday, February 27, 1997

Commenced: 6:15 PM CST

Concluded: 6:38 PM CST

 

RTC: Gregory? Have I interrupted your dinner?

GD: Not at all. I eat later, if I think about it that is. I thought you’d be in bed by now, Robert. A problem?

RTC: Actually, yes, there is…or might be. Do you have some time there?

GD: Sure. Not a problem.

RTC: It’s about that Atwood person we spoke of earlier. Remember the one?

GD: Oh, yes, I do remember Atwood. Did old Critchfield off him?

RTC: No, not as I understand but there is unhappiness about Atwood’s proclivity to talk to the wrong people and you are certainly considered the wrong people. By Critchfield’s crowd. Jim does not like me any more over that Angolia business but one of our mutual friends was in touch with me yesterday about this and I thought I ought to discuss it with you. There are, or were, certain aspects to Atwood’s activities, both on and off the board, that there is some anxiety about. It’s known he had very dubious dealings with you six or seven years ago and you are considered to be a loose cannon. Atwood is considered to be a loose mouth and in my calling, that is not considered to be either wise or conducive of a long and happy life. Might I ask you what, if anything, Atwood discussed with you concerning his activities with the Company? Can you recall?

GD: My memory is very good, Robert, as you might have noticed.

RTC: I have. At times a great asset, Gregory, but at other times, a great liability. If you take my meaning?

GD: Oh, I do. Atwood? I got to know him while I was living in Munich in ’65. I was selling German militaria via the Shotgun News….

RTC: And that was….?

GD: Is. It’s a trade paper for gun and military collectors. In Hastings, Nebraska. I was a guest of Franzi von Otting and I used his name. Con premise and he got a percentage of the take. Anyway, Jimmy saw the advert and since he was in Germany, decided to look me up. He wrote and made an appointment and I met him in the lobby of the Vierjahrezeiten.

RTC: Pardon?

GD: A posh Munich hotel. He was staying there with two tarts. Bargirl types if you know what I mean. He was very polite and civil. Slight southern accent. Anyway, we had a long conversation about the collecting trade. Jimmy had written a book on Nazi daggers and was, as he admitted over a drink or two, having these made up in Solingen and selling them. He was making very good money and was highly ambitious. Made up Hermann Goering’s wedding sword and shoved it off on some stupid collector and, as I recall, Hitler’s suicide pistol. A Walther with ivory grips. Got it on the cover of Argosy magazine and sold it to another sucker in Canada. Anyway, we had a talk about creative selling and, as I recall, he was interested in my expertise on the historical aspects. I pointed out to him that in the picture of the alleged Hitler gun, the maker was Walther but their factory was in Ulm, not in what was now the DR. He laughed and said, as I remember, ‘well…you caught me….’ and on we went. I don’t drink very much but he certainly could put it away. And we went out to a restaurant and continued the talking. I learned a lot about him, the more he drank, but he learned nothing about me. Considering everything, that was just as well. I know he had a good opinion of me because in ’90 we went to Austria and dug up some buried Nazi concentration camp loot an SS general buried there in ’45.

RTC: And who might that have been?

GD: A Slovene named Globocnik. Had been the Gauleiter of Vienna until Hitler sacked him for stealing.

RTC: I was told about him. Not a nice person.

GD: No, but you used him after his faked suicide. The Brits sold him to you and you sent him down to Syria to help the rag heads.

RTC: Gregory, you are most interesting and informative. And I hope you are also discreet.

GD: Oh, I can be. Why the interest in Jimmy?

RTC: It has slowly dawned on certain exalted people that perhaps you might have gleaned some forbidden information about brother Atwood in the course of your wild career. Do go on

GD: Well, I don’t know what was, or is, forbidden, and what isn’t.

RTC: Why not just go on and let me be the judge of that. Please continue about Atwood.

GD: I will. Atwood was one of your people and was not only involved in merchandising and otherwise making a profit selling fake German militaria…

RTC: By German, you specifically mean Nazi, don’t you?

GD: Yes, of course. I’ll tell you about the market in a few minutes. Right now, I am going to fill you in on what I learned from James. I give you some background here on the very off chance that you know nothing about it. Since at least 1981 and probably earlier, there exists a worldwide network of ‘free-standing’, or especially and specifically. no direct U.S. government ties companies, including airlines, aviation and military spare parts suppliers, and trading companies, set up that  have been put to good use by the CIA and the U.S. government to illegally ship arms and military spare parts to Iran and to the Contras. And, of course, to smuggle people who can’t go by commercial airlines and, let us not forget, drugs

RTC: I rather wish you would forget about drugs. I don’t think brother Atwood was involved with drugs. Do go on.

GD: Yes. These companies were set up with the approval and knowledge of senior CIA officials and other senior U.S. government officials and staffed primarily by ex-CIA, ex-FBI and ex-military officers. I am correct here?

RTC: Yes. Go on.

GD: You will probably end up hating me if I do, Robert, but I note you asked me to continue.

RTC: I think I am above that, Gregory.

GD: OK. Now let’s look at the Iran Contra business. I know all about at least a part of this so we can go into it a little. Secord’s arms shipments, arraigned through the CIA, transferred weapons destined for Central America to Merex. This was known officially as Merex International Arms and was, and is, based in Savannah. The Merex address was occupied by Combat Military Ordinances Ltd., controlled by Jimmy Atwood. He had been in the Army in MI and then went to work for your people. James was involved in major arms trades with your sponsored international buyers, specifically Middle Eastern Arab states. Monzer Al-Kassar utilized the Merex firm for some of his weapons transactions with the Enterprise.   Now Merex was originally set up, after the war, by old Skorzeny co-worker, one Gerhard Mertins. Gerhard had been  a Hauptmann (captain to you, Robert) in the German paratroopers and got the Knight’s Cross in, I believe, ’45. After the war, Mertins went to work in Bonn and the Merex arms business was considered a CIA proprietary firm. Mertex was close to and worked with the BND, the German intelligence service evolved from the CIA-controlled Gehlen organization. Atwood was involved with Interarmco, run by Samuel Cummings, an Englishman who ran the largest arms firm in the world. Cummings died in Monaco because he had looted his CIA employers and found that principality safer than Warrenton, Virginia. Also connected with Atwood’s firm were Collector’s Armory, run by one Thomas Nelson, whose nickname was ‘Red Nelson’ because of his hair color, not his politics, and a George Petersen of Springfield, Virginia, and one Manny Wiegenberg, a Canadian arms dealer. Jimmy was heavily involved in your support of Canadian separatists and I know something of his role in supplying weapons and explosives to the Quebec Libré movement. The head of your Canada Desk was actively encouraging this group to split away from Canada. I know for a fact that your people do not want ever to mention this little historical aside.

RTC: No, we do not, Go on.

GD:Also, I know all about Atwood’s connections with Skorzeny and the IRA/Provo wing. I can give you chapter and verse on this one if you want it. One of Atwood’s Irish connections is the man who blew up Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1979 and I have a file on this as well in some safe and private place You might also be aware of the shipping of weapons into the southern Mexican provinces by Atwood and his Guatemala based consortium. Atwood had a number of ex-Gestapo and SD people on board, some of whom were wanted. I recall a former SS officer, Frederich Schwend who worked with your people and was down in Lima. Schwend had been trained by the OSS in the early 1940s after he had informed Allen Dulles that the German SS had hidden millions in gold, cash, and loot as the European war was winding down. Atwood knew about the Weissensee gold hoard that Müller told me about. Jimmy knew about it but I had the overlay so he courted me and we ended up, shovels in hand, in the beautiful mountains in ’90.

RTC: Thee are conflicting stories about that business. You murdered two British people as I understand it.

GD: No such thing, Robert. As I understand it, and I was there, they fell off the boat in the middle of the Caribbean. Such lies your people make up.

RTC: Well, there are always two sides to every story, Gregory. You are better than two cups of coffee, I must say. I think I ought to get some Pepto Bismol pretty soon. After the Treasure Island adventure, what happened next?

GD: To Atwood? Well, as Jimmy told me, about 1992, he and your Jimmy Critchfield, along with a Russian Jew, formed a partnership in order to obtain a number of obsolete Soviet atomic artillery shells which they then sold to the Pakistanis.  I think the two of them kept the money and no one ever saw the Jew again. If you don’t know this, I can tell you that both Critchfield and the Interarmco people had supplied weapons to the rebels in Afghanistan during their long and vicious guerrilla activities against the Soviet Union. Critchfield also worked with the Dalai Lama of Tibet in a guerrilla war against Communist China and headed a CIA task force during the Cuban missile crisis. He ran regional agency operations when the U.S. and the Soviets raced to secure satellites first in Eastern Europe, then in the Middle East. And note that in the early 1960s, Critchfield recommended to the CIA that the United States support the Baath Party, which staged a 1963 coup against the Iraqi government that the CIA believed was falling under Soviet influence. Critchfield later boasted, during the Iran-Iraq war that he and the CIA had created Saddam Hussein.

RTC: Gregory, where in the sweet hell did you get all of this?

GD: From Atwood when he was drunk.

RTC: You’ve just guaranteed that he will pass to his reward very soon. Does that bother you?

GD: I never liked him. He tried to rip me off once but he was so crude about it that I have no respect for him. Shall I go on?

RTC: I have approach-avoidance conflicts here, Gregory. You might as well ruin the rest of my evening. Proceed.

GD: Are you sure? You don’t sound too happy.

RTC: I am not but do go on.

GD: As you wish. When Arab oil became paramount, your Critchfield became your national intelligence officer for energy and was also an energy policy planner at the White House. He also fronted a dummy CIA corporation in the Middle East known as Basic Resources, which was used to gather OPEC-related intelligence for the Nixon administration. . Critchfield was the chief of the CIA’s Near East and South Asia division in the 1960s and a national intelligence officer for energy as the oil shortage crisis began in the early 1970s. Of course your people, along with the oil barons, forced the price of oil up and up. My, I wonder how much money you all made. Oh well, not important here. Critchfield retired in the mid ‘70s and ended up as both a consultant and the CEO of Tetra Tech International, a Honeywell Inc. subsidiary and which managed oil, gas, and water projects in the strategic Masandam Peninsula. This, in case your geography is weak, is located on the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the West’s oil is transported. And at the same time, Critchfield was a primary adviser to the Sultan of Oman, focusing on Middle East energy resources, especially those in Oman.

RTC: I should never have asked you about this.

GD: The Bible says ask and ye shall receive.

RTC: Yes. We can forget the Bible here. It has no part in the intelligence business. You mentioned Merex. Do you know of other friendly assets?

GD: Surely, Try Aero Systems, Arrow Air, Global International, and how about Zenith?

RTC: Did you get these names from Atwood?

GD: Of course I did. I told you Jimmy was not discreet while he was drinking. I listened to his tales of self-importance and remembered it all. Oh, and I write it up as well.

RTC: Gregory, for the Lord God’s sake, if not mine, or more important, yours, do not discuss any of this with anyone else, your son or people like Willis Carto. If you aren’t careful, Critrchfield will have you eliminated. I shall have to warn him off on that topic but…I mean why would Atwood tell you such terrible things and if he told you, who else could he have told?

GD: One of his German whores, probably. Jimmy goes on and on.

RTC: So I note. And we can ring the curtain down on that one ASAP.

GD: From your reaction, Robert, I assume Jimmy was accurate.

RTC: No comment but Atwood is a dead man.

GD: Well, I might have gotten my insights from the back of a Wheaties’ box but Jimmy is a better candidate. Do you know why I dislike Jimmy and would frame his death notice? His wife stuck with him when he was arrested for tax evasion in smuggling in the ‘60s and as a mark of his appreciation, he deserted her and his two daughters to run off with one of his bar girls. The rest of his activities are one thing but I do not tolerate such domestic treachery. Do you think I’m being too critical?

RTC: What a question. Who cares about his wife and children? This man has gone way beyond the bounds. Way beyond. Of course I believe you. You could never have made all that up and I can assure you it was never in the New York Times. They might know some of it but they wouldn’t dare publish it. No, you got it from Atwood or someone connected with him. Ah, well, I did ask and I did receive. They hate you Gregory, they hate you with a passion but at the same time, they are scared shitless of you. They would have killed you some time ago but others counseled them against it. Who knows what you put down on paper? If you were run over by a truck in the middle of a shopping mall or attacked and eaten by a leopard in your own living room, who knows what might find its way out of some hiding hole and into the public? The public is happy with its football games and beer so we had best not disturb them with such stories.

GD: They might make a good movie out of all this.

RTC: Never, Gregory, I can promise you that. A studio that even considered this would be bankrupt within a few months. No, none of this will ever see the light of day and if you want to continue walking around, remember that silence is golden.

GD: I have no problem with gold. Just think of all that looted concentration camp gold Jimmy and I dug up.

RTC: Yes and I understand you cheated him out of his share.

GD: When thieves fall out, Robert, honest men prosper.

RTC: Meaning no disrespect but do you consider yourself to be an honest man?

GD: Selectively, Robert, selectively. And Jimmy?

RTC: Don’t make book on his seeing Christmas.

 

(Concluded at 6:38 PM CST)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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