Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News February 17, 2019

Feb 17 2019

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

Washington, D.C. February 17, 2019:” The Kremlin has formed a  strategic military command to protect its interests in the Arctic. It’s part of a broader push from Moscow to establish military superiority at the top of the world. (Severny Flot- Obedinyonnoye Strategicheskoye Komandovaniye, SF-OSK)

The command comprises the Northern Fleet, Arctic warfare brigades, air force and air defense units as well as additional administrative structures.

The Russian Air Force re-opened the Temp airfield on the Kotelny Island, in October 2013  the first in a chain of similar bases all along the northern coast of Russia. The military has initiated deployment of aerospace defense units in the Arctic and construction of an early warning missile radar in Russia’s extreme north

A December 2013 order from Russian President Vladimir Putin to ramp up Russia’s military presence in the Arctic. Putin said Russia was returning to the Arctic and “intensifying the development of this promising region” and that Russia needs to “have all the levers for the protection of its security and national interests. “The new command will comprise the Northern Fleet, Arctic warfare brigades, air force and air defense units as well as additional administrative structures,” the source in Russia’s General Staff said.

The military structure, dubbed the Northern Fleet-Unified Strategic Command, (Северная Объединенная флотом Стратегическая Команда,) is responsible for protecting Russia’s Arctic shipping and fishing, oil and gas fields on the Arctic shelf, and the country’s national borders in the north, the source said. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the military to boost its presence in the Arctic and complete the development of military infrastructure in the region with all urgent rapidity.

The Russian military has deployed  aerospace defense units in the Arctic and construction of an early warning missile radar in Russia’s extreme north, according to the commander of the Aerospace Defense Forces.

Arctic territories are believed to hold vast untapped reserves of oil and gas. They have increasingly been at the center of disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice and make energy reserves more accessible. Russia has made claims to several Arctic shelf areas and plans to defend its bid at the United Nations.

As Arctic ice has melted, companies from Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States — the five countries that have a border with the Arctic — have been rushing to secure rights to drill for oil and natural gas in places that are now accessible.

Under international law, no country currently owns the North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. The five surrounding Arctic countries, the Russian Federation, the United States (via Alaska), Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland), are limited to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) adjacent to their coasts. The waters beyond the territorial waters of the coastal states are considered the “high seas” (i.e. international waters). The sea bottom beyond the exclusive economic zones and confirmed extended continental shelf claims are considered to be the “heritage of all mankind” and administered by the UN International Seabed Authority.”

The Table of Contents

  • East Antarctica’s ice is melting at an unexpectedly rapid clip, new study suggests
  • Trump policies unite allies against him at European security forum
  • France to investigate anti-Semitic insults at ‘yellow vest’ protest
  • The Timmerrman letters
  • What To Know About The Mueller Investigation Into Russian Election Interference
  • California tells Trump that lawsuit over border wall is ‘imminent’
  • California tells Trump that lawsuit over border wall is ‘imminent’
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

 

East Antarctica’s ice is melting at an unexpectedly rapid clip, new study suggests

January 14, 2019

by Alex Fox

Science

Antarctica’s melting ice, which has caused global sea levels to rise by at least 13.8 millimeters over the past 40 years, was long thought to come from primarily one place: the unstable West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now, scientists studying 40 years of satellite images have found that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet—considered largely insulated from the ravages of climate change—may also be melting at an accelerating rate. Those results, at odds with a large 2018 study, could dramatically reshape projections of sea level rise if confirmed.

“If this paper is right, it changes the ball game for sea level rise in this century,” says Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, who was not involved in the new work. East Antarctica’s ice sheet holds 10 times the ice of its rapidly melting neighbor to the west.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet, whose base is below sea level, has long been considered the most vulnerable to collapse. With an assist from gravity, a deep current of warm water slips beneath the sheet, melting it from below until it becomes a floating shelf at risk of breaking away. In contrast, frigid temperatures and a base mostly above sea level are thought to keep the East Antarctic Ice Sheet relatively safe from warm water intrusion. A collaboration of more than 60 scientists last year, published in Nature, estimated that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet actually added about 5 billion tons of ice each year from 1992 to 2017.

But as climate change shifts wind patterns around Antarctica, some scientists think warm water carried by a circular current off the continental shelf will start to invade East Antarctica’s once unassailable ice. “People who study Antarctic ice know that East Antarctica has the potential to start losing significant amounts of ice, but it’s never been clear how fast that would [happen],” Oppenheimer says.

To find out how fast that ice loss is happening, glaciologist Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues combined 40 years of satellite imagery and climate modeling. The models were used to estimate annual snowfall, which over time adds ice to the region’s glaciers. Then, the team measured the speed of ice flowing out to sea by tracking visual landmarks on the glaciers through time. This allowed them to estimate how much ice each of the continent’s many glaciers sent out to sea each year from 1979 to 2017. By subtracting the amount of ice added annually by snow from the amount of ice lost to sea, the researchers determined how much ice was gained or lost.

“After staring at satellite photos for hours you go a little cross-eyed, but it’s basic statistics—you beat down the noise by adding more data points,” Rignot says. “Tracking down these old satellite photos and spending months analyzing by hand was worth it to create this long-term record.”

Overall, the study found that Antarctica now sends six times more ice plunging into the sea each year than it did in 1979. During the 40-year period of the study, Antarctica added 13.8 millimeters to sea level, with the majority coming from West Antarctica. But East Antarctica, particularly the area known as Wilkes Land, was responsible for more than 30% of Antarctica’s contribution to sea level rise, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “The more we look at this system the more we realize this is a fragile system,” Rignot says. “Once these glaciers are destabilized there is no red button to press to stop it.”

If intensifying polar winds are responsible for the intrusion of warm waters beneath East Antarctica, the situation is likely to get worse, Rignot says. The increasing strength of those winds is owed in part to the contrast in temperature between Antarctica and the rest of the world. As greenhouse gases warm much of the planet, this temperature differential is likely to intensify, driving even stronger westerlies, he adds.

But the bold new results won’t be accepted without a fight, says glaciologist Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, who was not involved in either study. “There will be a lot of comparisons between the methods used to create these estimates and those in the [previous study],” he says. In addition to the ice-tracking method used in the current paper, the previous one also gathered two other measurements: one that estimated ice loss by repeatedly “weighing” the ice sheet via satellite, and one that estimated changes in elevation on the glacier’s surface from planes and satellites.

No matter the outcome, Rignot hopes the study brings greater attention to a part of Antarctica that has traditionally been understudied. Helen Fricker, a glaciologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, agrees. “We need to monitor the entirety of Antarctica and we just can’t do that without international cooperation,” Fricker says. “We can’t take our eyes off this ice.”

 

Trump policies unite allies against him at European security forum

February 17, 2019

by Robin Emmott and John Irish

Reuters

MUNICH (Reuters) – In 2009, then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden came to Munich to “press the reset button” with Russia. A decade later he came again to offer the world better relations, this time with his own country.

Promising that “America will be back” once Donald Trump leaves office, Biden won a standing ovation at the Munich Security Conference from delegates who find the president’s brusque foreign policy stance hard to like.

But their elation also exposed the weakened state of Western diplomacy in the face of Trump’s assertiveness, according to European diplomats and politicians who were present.

Biden’s successor, Mike Pence, was met with silence at a reception in the palatial Bavarian parliament on Friday evening after he delivered his signature line: “I bring you greetings from the 45th president of the United States, President Donald Trump.”

His four-day trip to Europe succeeded only in deepening divisions with traditional allies over questions such as Iran and Venezuela and offered little hope in how to deal with threats ranging from nuclear arms to climate change, diplomats and officials said.

Misgivings about Washington’s role in the world are being felt by ordinary people as well as foreign policy specialists. In Germany and France, half the population see U.S. power as a threat, up sharply from 2013 and a view shared by 37 percent of Britons, the Washington-based Pew Research Center said in a report before the Munich foreign policy gathering.

Asked about European anxiety over Trump’s leadership style, a senior U.S. official on Pence’s Air Force Two plane said the vice president’s Munich conference speech on Saturday at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof would “help give them a different perspective”.

TIT-FOR-TAT”

But if the Europeans did not like the “America First” message, there was no concerted response to it. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was on her own after a last-minute cancellation by French President Emmanuel Macron.

That caused some to lament the failure of the West to uphold the rules-based international order that Washington itself championed in the 70 years that preceded the arrival of Trump in the White House.

“The tit-for-tat logic is unfortunately prevailing … I think that takes us back to the question of enlightened leadership,” said Thomas Greminger, secretary general of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a security and human rights watchdog.

“We need leaders again who do not believe exclusively in short-termism,” he told Reuters.

It fell to China to aid Merkel in her defense of the post-World War Two order, as the country’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, spoke in flawless English for over 20 minutes about the virtues of open trade and global cooperation.

Pence’s message was, in fact, that the pillars of U.S. foreign policy were being rebuilt on a different foundation: isolating Iran, containing China, bringing American troops home and requiring European powers to fall into line.

BROKEN NARRATIVE?

After using a speech in Warsaw on Thursday to accuse Britain, France and Germany of trying to undermine U.S. sanctions on Iran, Pence called in Munich for the European Union to recognize Venezuelan congressional leader Juan Guaido as president over Nicolas Maduro, whom he called a dictator.

That drew an angry response from Spain’s Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who said the European Union could acknowledge Guaido as interim president until new elections, in line with the Venezuelan constitution.

French foreign minister Jean-Yves LeDrian said he was mystified by U.S. policy on Syria after Trump’s decision to withdraw troops because it would only benefit Iran, which Washington wants to be tough on.

European diplomats and officials also took issue with Pence’s insistence that EU governments stay away from Chinese telecoms companies as they build the latest generation of mobile networks, preferring first to have an internal discussion about the potential risks and U.S. claims of Chinese espionage.

“U.S. pressure has a tendency to make us do the opposite. U.S. pressure is counterproductive. It’s best that they don’t try and pressure us,” a senior French diplomat said.

Whatever the threats, officials seemed to be mainly talking past each other.

Kumi Naidoo, global head of Amnesty International, said security was often defined too narrowly, failing to address the wider dangers of climate change.

“The narrative here at the Munich Security Conference is broken. They are talking about the right topics but in the wrong language. The mentality here is that security is only a national issue,” Naidoo told Reuters.

Leaving for Washington, Pence was unfazed, telling reporters his trip had been very successful. “We’re advancing the interests of the free world, and we’ve made great progress.”

Additional reporting by Paul Carrel and Andreas Rinke; Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by Giles Elgood

 

France to investigate anti-Semitic insults at ‘yellow vest’ protest

Authorities in Paris have opened an investigation into anti-Semitic insults by French “yellow vests” against Jewish philosopher and writer Alain Finkielkraut. Anti-Jewish incidents have been on the rise across France.

February 17, 2019

by Richard Connor

DW

Paris prosecutors on Sunday announced an investigation over the anti-Jewish insults against Finkielkraut on the sidelines of a yellow vest demonstration in Paris.

A video aired on several French news channels showed the philosopher being accosted by a group of protests who hurled anti-Semitic abuse at him on Paris’s Boulevard du Montparnasse.

Among the words heard were “dirty Zionist,” “we are the people,” and “France is ours.”

“I sensed an absolute hatred and unfortunately this isn’t the first time,” Finkielkraut told France’s Journal du Dimanche newspaper. “I would have been afraid if the police hadn’t been there. Fortunately they were.”

Finkielkraut, one of the most controversial figures in French public debate, told the Parisien newspaper he believed his “notoriety” and his professed attachment to Israel had given rise to the insults, as well as a general “strong feeling of hostility toward the Jews” in France.

Finkielkraut said he came across a group of protesters, and approached them out of curiosity. He said he heard some of the insults, including someone telling him to throw himself into the canal.

Once a supporter of the demonstrations, Finkielkraut has since withdrawn his support.

“I no longer support the demonstrations. It’s becoming grotesque,” Finkielkraut said on Sunday. “It’s a movement that no longer knows how to stop.”

The charge to be investigated was the “public insult on the grounds of origin, ethnicity, nationality, race or religion.”

Finkielkraut is the son of a Polish Jewish maker of fine leather goods who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The insults prompted a flurry of condemnation for the protesters, including from French President Emmanuel Macron.

“The anti-Semitic insults he has been subjected to are the absolute negation of who we are and what makes us a great nation. We will not tolerate them,” Macron said on Twitter.

The increasingly divided “yellow vest” movement has held protests every Saturday since November 17, with some rallies on Sunday to celebrate the movement’s three-month birthday.

The French government on Tuesday said that anti-Semitic acts in France rose 74 percent in 2018 compared with the previous year.

This month, swastikas were sprayed on portraits of the late French politician and Holocaust survivor Simone Veil.

Last week, the word “Juden” was spray painted on the window of a Parisian bagel bakery.

 

The Timmerrman letters

by Joel Timmerman

We mustn’t forget that some of greatest murderers of modern times were Jewish

Here’s a particularly forlorn historical date: Almost 90 years ago, between the 19th and 20th of December 1917, in the midst of the Bolshevik revolution and civil war, Lenin signed a decree calling for the establishment of The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage, also known as Cheka.

Within a short period of time, Cheka became the largest and cruelest state security organization. Its organizational structure was changed every few years, as were its names: From Cheka to GPU, later to NKVD, and later to KGB.

We cannot know with certainty the number of deaths Cheka was responsible for in its various manifestations, but the number is surely at least 20 million, including victims of the forced collectivization, the hunger, large purges, expulsions, banishments, executions, and mass death at Gulags.

Whole population strata were eliminated: Independent farmers, ethnic minorities, members of the bourgeoisie, senior officers, intellectuals, artists, labor movement activists, “opposition members” who were defined completely randomly, and countless members of the Communist party itself.

In his new, highly praised book “The War of the World,” historian Niall Ferguson writes that no revolution in the history of mankind devoured its children with the same unrestrained appetite as did the Soviet revolution. In his book on the Stalinist purges, Tel Aviv University ‘s Dr. Igal Halfin writes that Stalinist violence was unique in that it was directed internally.

Lenin, Stalin, and their successors could not have carried out their deeds without wide-scale cooperation of disciplined “terror officials,” cruel interrogators, snitches, executioners, guards, judges, perverts, and many bleeding hearts who were members of the progressive Western Left and were deceived by the Soviet regime of horror and even provided it with a kosher certificate.

All these things are well-known to some extent or another, even though the former Soviet Union ‘s archives have not yet been fully opened to the public. But who knows about this? Within Russia itself, very few people have been brought to justice for their crimes in the NKVD’s and KGB’s service. The Russian public discourse today completely ignores the question of “How could it have happened to us?” As opposed to Eastern European nations, the Russians did not settle the score with their Stalinist past.

And us, the Jews? An Israeli student finishes high school without ever hearing the name “Genrikh Yagoda,” the greatest Jewish murderer of the 20th Century, the GPU’s deputy commander and the founder and commander of the NKVD. Yagoda diligently implemented Stalin’s collectivization orders and is responsible for the deaths of at least 10 million people. His Jewish deputies established and managed the Gulag system. After Stalin no longer viewed him favorably, Yagoda was demoted and executed, and was replaced as chief hangman in 1936 by Yezhov, the “bloodthirsty dwarf.”

Yezhov was not Jewish but was blessed with an active Jewish wife. In his Book “Stalin: Court of the Red Star”, Jewish historian Sebag Montefiore writes that during the darkest period of terror, when the Communist killing machine worked in full force, Stalin was surrounded by beautiful, young Jewish women.

Stalin’s close associates and loyalists included member of the Central Committee and Politburo Lazar Kaganovich. Montefiore characterizes him as the “first Stalinist” and adds that those starving to death in Ukraine , an unparalleled tragedy in the history of human kind aside from the Nazi horrors and Mao’s terror in China , did not move Kaganovich.

Many Jews sold their soul to the devil of the Communist revolution and have blood on their hands for eternity. We’ll mention just one more: Leonid Reichman, head of the NKVD’s special department and the organization’s chief interrogator, who was a particularly cruel sadist.

In 1934, according to published statistics, 38.5 percent of those holding the most senior posts in the Soviet security apparatuses were of Jewish origin. They too, of course, were gradually eliminated in the next purges. In a fascinating lecture at a Tel Aviv University convention this week, Dr. Halfin described the waves of soviet terror as a “carnival of mass murder,” “fantasy of purges”, and “essianism of evil.” Turns out that Jews too, when they become captivated by messianic ideology, can become great murderers, among the greatest known by modern history.

The Jews active in official communist terror apparatuses (In the Soviet Union and abroad) and who at times led them, did not do this, obviously, as Jews, but rather, as Stalinists, communists, and “Soviet people.” Therefore, we find it easy to ignore their origin and “play dumb”: What do we have to do with them? But let’s not forget them. My own view is different. I find it unacceptable that a person will be considered a member of the Jewish people when he does great things, but not considered part of our people when he does amazingly despicable things.

Even if we deny it, we cannot escape the Jewishness of “our hangmen,” who served the Red Terror with loyalty and dedication from its establishment. After all, others will always remind us of their origin.

The Rabbi Joel Timmerman can be reached care of his Holocaust Survivor’s Association at 350 5th Ave , New York , NY 10018

There are several millions of Jews living in the United States. The bulk of us are Reformed Jews. Nearly all of us consider ourselves to be Americans. We and our children are proud to have served in the American military and even prouder to be citizens of the one nation that has welcomed refugee Jews, fleeing from European persecutions, and permitted them free access to American society.

A much smaller percentage of American Jews are Zionists. They view themselves as Jews first, Israeli’s second and, perhaps, Americans third. Their complete allegiance is to the state of Israel and not to America. They send money to Israel and, when they have access to it, military and commercial secrets. They are the Pollards of this country. They do not represent the rest of us at all.

The State of Israel has always been a Zionist state. It was born in violence and hatred. Jews, mostly from Poland, invaded the Palestine area, killing and maiming anyone who stood in their way: Arabs, British soldiers, civilians and even high UN officials. Bombings, bank robberies, arsons and mass murder attended the birth of this state. One man, Menachim Begin, blew up a hotel full of people and was later made Chief of State!

The Zionists have fastened themselves onto the instruments of power in the United States, feeling, rightly, that American soldiers, and most importantly, money, will nurture their state and protect it from their many enemies.

Instead of making efforts to co-exist with their neighbors, Israel has constantly attacked the impoverished Palestinian Arabs and killed as many of them as they could. The IDF has had no problem murdering Arab men, women and children. It has had no problem destroying the homes and businesses of the reviled Arabs and their sole, stated aim, is to drive the Arabs out of their homes so that Jews can take them over.

How redolent this is of the attacks by the Nazis, the Poles and the Russians in recent times past! It is true that the abused child becomes the abusing parent and Israel has in truth become the National Socialists of the Middle East.

The Zionists have infiltrated the American government to a remarkable degree. They have gained an astonishing hold in the American mass media. CNN, Time Warner, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek and Time magazines and a host of other media giants are either owned outright by Jews or are under the control of Jews.

These mighty organs daily pour out a great stream of pro-Israel commentary while Jewish organizations such as the ADL and various other pressure groups, make constant, threatening demands on a subservient American legislative entity.

The fact that there are many Jews in America that view such blatant and ruthless manipulation with horror is never reported in the media.

We are the silent Jews although we outnumber the loud ones twenty to one. Our views, those of tolerance and moderation, are never seen in the media but the frantic, fanatic views of the hysterical Zionists receive daily, slavish attention.

The American pubic is not stupid but it has no voice to express its concerns. Faked opinion polls, pious statements about Israel as “America’s best ally” can be seen daily in all the major branches of the media.

Believe me, Israel is not America’s best ally. Through the Israel lobby, American leaders and legislators do as they are told. The consequences of refusal or worse, opposition to Zionist demands is orchestrated oblivion. Furious because President Harry Truman blocked the sale of weapons of destruction to the rampaging Zionists in 1948, Jewish money backed Thomas Dewey. An assassination attempt was launched by the Stern Gang against Truman but failed.

The British, the United Nations and the United States eventually let the Zionists have their murderous way in Palestine because they grew tired of the constant acts of savage terrorism which seemed to inspire the terrorists to even greater infamies.

These miserable, vicious and ideological creatures have nothing to do with the great majority of American Jews. We deplore their savage, manipulative behavior because we know from bitter experience that eventually the American public will become aroused and infuriated. When that dismal day comes, and it will come, all the rest of us will be held to account for the savage brutes like Sharon and his butchers. We will become the eternal victims of a population enraged by the ruthless and self-serving manipulations of a small, detestable handful of chronic fanatics. We will, at last, lose the respect of our colleagues, our neighbors and our friends and again, the eternal wandering will begin.

Note here that Israel is afraid of Saddam Hussein. He has attacked Israel before, just as Israel has attacked him even earlier. Why should valuable Jewish youth be sacrificed in a war with Iraq when expendable American youth can accomplish the same thing? Perhaps, and I have learned this from a close friend in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Israel and America can also attack Saudi Arabia and thereby gain military control of two major oil producing areas.

The American President is not an intelligent or reasonable man but those who control him are and they, and the Israeli lobby can see that if both America and Israel can wrest control of oil from the Arabs, both countries will be better off…from the Zionist world view. Jews can make money from the captured oil fields and some of this can be stuffed into the pockets of America’s notoriously corrupt legislators…and bureaucrats.

This is a suicidal, very short-term policy. By catering to American religious fundamentalists, Jewish groups and the oil industry, Bush is digging the grave, not only of his own erratic and fanatic administration but also of very loyal American Jews.

The President may be a stupid man but his handlers are not but they are all so myopic that they cannot see that they are rushing in haste towards the top of a very high cliff.

If only it were the guilty, the stupid and the vicious that would plunge down to their deaths, nothing would be lost and much gained but they will drag with them tens of thousands, or more, of completely innocent people.

Joel Timmerman

 

The pro-Israel lobby is an enormous and very powerful force in American politics; the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is the No. 1 foreign-policy lobby in Washington and the fourth most powerful lobby in Washington, according to Fortune Magazine. Other powerful and influential pro-Israel groups include the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

 

What To Know About The Mueller Investigation Into Russian Election Interference

Here’s where things stand with the special counsel’s look into Trump and the Kremlin.

February 16, 2019

by Nick Robins-Early and Ryan J. Reilly

Huffpost

Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is ramping up after a midterm election hiatus — just as Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives.

It can all be a lot to keep up with. So here’s your guide to what’s happening with the Mueller probe and what comes next.

  • What have we learned about Russian interference in the 2016 election?
  • Who in Trump’s circle has Mueller indicted?
  • Who has the Mueller investigation found committed crimes?
  • Is anyone going to prison?
  • What about Paul Manafort?
  • How long has this Mueller probe been going on?
  • When is the Mueller report coming out?
  • What kind of operation is Mueller running?
  • How has Trump’s legal team responded?
  • After the Mueller probe wraps up, is that it?
  • How do Jeff Bezos’ dick pics factor into all this?
  • What’s Rod Rosenstein’s role?
  • Who is Matt Whitaker?
  • Where does WikiLeaks fit in?
  • What was Roger Stone charged with, exactly?
  • Is there anyone else implicated in the Roger Stone indictment?
  • How did Michael Cohen end up in prison?
  • What ended up happening with the Moscow Trump Tower?
  • What’s the deal with that secret Supreme Court battle?
  • Does it matter that the Democrats now control the House?
  • Is Don Jr. going to prison?

All right, so this is all about Russian interference in the 2016 election. What have we learned about that?

A decent amount so far, but we don’t yet have the full picture. Much of the media coverage of the Mueller investigation has focused on the Americans in Trump’s orbit who have been caught up in the probe. But most of the individuals indicted in the Mueller probe are Russian nationals accused of involvement in a conspiracy to boost Trump’s 2016 candidacy by hacking the Democratic National Committee or of manipulating social media.

One reason those cases don’t get a lot of day-to-day coverage is that there’s little to no chance that any of those Russians will ever step foot in an American courtroom. Another is that they’re faceless foreign figures, as opposed to boldface-name Americans with direct connections to Trump and his campaign. But those indictments — one announced in February 2018 and one in July 2018 — are essential parts of the Mueller probe.

The first indictment accuses 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities of interfering with the 2016 election. The indictment alleges that the defendants posed as Americans and sought to “sow discord in the U.S. political system” and support the Trump campaign, as well as damage Hillary Clinton.

The second indictment alleges that 12 Russian nationals ― most of them military intelligence officers ― “conducted large-scale cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election” by hacking the Clinton campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee. Using the names DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, the Russians released the stolen emails and documents to the public.

OK, other than all those Russians, who in Trump’s circle has Mueller indicted?

Former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign deputy Richard Gates, former Trump fixer Michael Cohen and Trump associate Roger Stone.

There were also cases that grew out of the Mueller probe but don’t really have any direct connection to Trump. There was Richard Pinedo (a California man who sold Russians their fake online identities), London lawyer Alex van der Zwaan (who worked with Manafort) and Konstantin Kilimnik (a Russian Manafort associate charged with witness tampering alongside Manafort). Pinedo was sentenced to six months in prison in October, van der Zwaan served 30 days before being deported, and Kilimnik (a Russian citizen believed to be living in Russia) isn’t likely to appear in an American court anytime soon.

Who has the Mueller investigation found committed crimes?

The special counsel has so far secured eight convictions or guilty pleas and issued over 20 indictments. The big names to go down are Manafort, Cohen and Flynn, the lesser-known ones are Papadopoulos and Gates.

Manafort was found guilty on several bank fraud charges. Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 and admitted lying to the FBI about his communications with the Russian ambassador. Papadopoulos admitted lying to the FBI about his communications with a professor who told him about Russian “dirt” on Clinton and was sentenced to 14 days. Gates admitted to conspiracy and lying to the FBI and testified against Manafort during his trial.

Is anyone going to prison?

Papadopoulos and van der Zwaan have done their time, and Pinedo is still serving his six-month prison sentence. Cohen was sentenced in December to three years in prison for a variety of crimes, including campaign finance violations related to paying women hush money to keep quiet about alleged sexual affairs with Trump. Most others are awaiting sentencing.

What about Paul Manafort?

Manafort is almost certainly going to prison, potentially for a very long time.

After he was found guilty on bank fraud charges last August, Manafort reached a plea deal in which he admitted to conspiracy to obstruct justice and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel in hopes of getting a more lenient sentence. But Mueller’s team later accused Manafort of repeatedly lying to investigators during his interviews ― committing even more crimes and breaking his plea deal. A judge ruled in February that Manafort had indeed nullified his agreement with the Mueller investigation and made intentionally false statements to the FBI.

How long has this Mueller probe been going on?

Mueller was named as special counsel in May 2017. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ― who was functioning as attorney general on Russia-related matters at the time because then–Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from them ― named Mueller as special counsel shortly after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

When is the Mueller report coming out?

First, there’s the question of whether the Mueller report, as it’s generally understood, will come out at all. William Barr, the once and likely future attorney general, suggested at his confirmation hearing that he believes the report would be kept confidential. But he said that the attorney general could author a separate report that would be publicly disclosed. It’s unclear what form that would take.

What kind of operation is Mueller running?

It’s a pretty tight ship. There haven’t been many leaks coming out of the Mueller investigation, which tends to speak only through court filings. What other news emerges comes from the attorneys representing defendants or targets (and sometimes from the defendants themselves).

How has Trump’s legal team responded?

By getting out ahead of the report and undermining the Mueller investigation, basically. Trump, his supporters and his legal team have already done a lot of work to shake public confidence in the Mueller investigation. By early 2018, Trump had already convinced his voters he was being persecuted by the FBI, with 74 percent of Trump supporters saying the bureau was biased against the president. Some messages by individual bureau employees, of course, helped fuel the perception that the FBI ― generally a conservative-leaning law enforcement organization ― was a hotbed of the liberal resistance. Although the bureau’s public actions ahead of the 2016 election undoubtedly hurt Clinton’s candidacy, a number of officials in FBI leadership exchanged private messages discussing their concerns about Trump before and after his election.

After the Mueller probe wraps up, is that it?

No. There have been some clear signs that Mueller’s team has been preparing for a world in which the special counsel investigation no longer exists. Cases that originated with the probe have been passed on to federal prosecutors in U.S. Attorney’s offices, and two federal prosecutors who aren’t on Mueller’s squad are a part of the case against Roger Stone. The offices are typically headed by Trump appointees, but it’s a bit more difficult for the White House to interfere with an ongoing prosecution out of U.S. Attorney’s office without setting off a bunch of alarms.

One of the biggest threats to Trump and his associates might come from prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. That’s where Trump fixer Michael Cohen was first indicted. In December, SDNY prosecutors announced they secured a nonprosecution agreement with the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., in which the company admitted it paid former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal $150,000 to suppress her story about an alleged affair with Trump, a decision that AMI said it made in direct consultation with Trump’s team. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan recently sought interviews with officials at the Trump Organization. Allen Weisselberg, who was the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, was granted immunity and has been cooperating with prosecutors since August.

So that’s how Jeff Bezos’ dick pics fit into all this?

Right. The Enquirer published Bezos’ intimate texts with his girlfriend. When Bezos — the CEO of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post — began investigating how the National Enquirer obtained those texts, AMI tried to broker a deal in which it wouldn’t publish intimate photos of Bezos if he agreed to end his investigation. There’s a question whether what he calls “extortion and blackmail” violates AMI’s nonprosecution agreement, which could be, let’s say, a complexifier.

What’s Rod Rosenstein’s role in everything?

It’s a complicated one. Rosenstein is a lifelong Republican who had gained bipartisan respect during his long career as a federal prosecutor when Trump appointed him to the critical No. 2 position at the Justice Department. A few months later, he wrote the memo that provided the legal basis for Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey ― based on the premise that Comey mistreated Clinton. Trump quickly blew up that premise by telling NBC he had “the Russia thing” in mind when he decided to fire Comey. Rosenstein reportedly told other law enforcement officials that he felt used by White House, though he has stuck by the memo in public.

Rosenstein soon appointed Mueller as special counsel and later came under attack from Republicans, who went so far as to draft articles of impeachment against him. He’s reportedly planning to exit after Barr is confirmed.

Who is Matt Whitaker, and how the heck did he become Rosenstein’s boss?

Whitaker’s long stint as acting attorney general is unprecedented; the last person to serve as acting attorney general who wasn’t previously confirmed by the Senate was in the position for only six days in the 1860s, before the Department of Justice even existed. Before Whitaker, formerly one of George W. Bush’s U.S. Attorneys, came on board the Trump administration as Sessions’ chief of staff, he worked for a dark-money conservative group that targeted Democrats with ethics complaints, and he was on the board of a shady company now under FBI investigation. Whitaker made a number of comments about the Mueller investigation before he joined the DOJ, and Whitaker and Trump apparently hit it off before Trump elevated him to the position of acting attorney general, although Whitaker insisted he made no promises to Trump about how he would handle the probe.

Where does WikiLeaks fit in?

A key focus of the Mueller investigation concerns whether anyone in the Trump campaign knew that WikiLeaks had obtained Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s stolen emails and planned to publish them. The emails were sent to WikiLeaks from Russian hackers, and the emails’ release in October 2016 damaged the Clinton campaign just weeks before the election.

Some of the special counsel’s indictments have suggested that there were Trump campaign officials trying to get information about the Podesta emails and speaking with people who would act as intermediaries with WikiLeaks. The most prominent suspect for that is Trump’s longtime informal adviser Roger Stone.

So what is Roger Stone charged with, exactly?

Mueller’s team believes that Stone lied to lawmakers about his connections with WikiLeaks and indicted him in late January. FBI agents arrested Stone, and the special counsel’s office charged him on seven counts, including making false statements, obstructing official proceedings and witness tampering.

The indictment states that Stone told radio host Randy Credico to lie to a grand jury — referring to a scene in “The Godfather: Part II” in which a character pretends to have no knowledge of crimes he was connected to — and threatened Credico’s dog. Stone pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Is there anyone else implicated in the Roger Stone indictment?

There’s also Jerome Corsi, the conspiracy theorist who was in plea negotiations with Mueller’s team. Corsi is a prominent booster of the racist “birther” movement and a former Infowars bureau chief. He cooperated with the investigation until he said in November that their negotiations broke down and that he expected to be indicted.

Draft court documents from the special counsel allege that Corsi tipped off Stone that WikiLeaks planned to release material that would hurt the Clinton campaign, multiple outlets reported late last year.

Guess we should talk more about Michael Cohen

Trump’s former personal lawyer and longtime fixer was a central character in the Mueller probe this past year. After FBI raids of his office and hotel room in April 2018, Cohen became a cooperating witness for the special counsel and received three years in prison on charges including campaign finance violation and lying to Congress.

His indictment and testimony revealed the apparent inner workings of the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization’s failed plans to build a Moscow Trump Tower, including that Cohen lied to Congress about how long negotiations for the Russian real estate development lasted.

Cohen told investigators that at Trump’s direction, he paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money to keep quiet about her alleged sexual affair with Trump. He additionally admitted to helping pay off Karen McDougal to keep her alleged affair with Trump from going public. Trump has denied that he directed Cohen to make the payments.

What ended up happening with the Moscow Trump Tower?

It never got built, and the plan was abandoned in 2016. But as Cohen’s testimony and internal Trump Organization documents detail, negotiations for the project went on far longer than the president admitted and were much more intensive. Documents acquired by BuzzFeed show that Cohen and other Trump Organization officials were still trying to make the deal happen while Trump was attending campaign rallies and denying any connections to Russia.

What’s the deal with that secret Supreme Court battle?

This one is complicated. There was a secretive fight over whether the Supreme Court should get involved in a legal battle that involves a foreign-owned business ― called “Corporation” from “Country A” in court filings ― trying to avoid a subpoena that may have come from Mueller. The Supreme Court decided in January that it will leave a lower court ruling in place, which means the “Corporation” has to comply with the subpoena, but didn’t explain its decision.

All this mystery could amount to nothing ― it’s not clear whether the subpoena came from Mueller’s team ― but it has sparked a lot of legal, political and media speculation.

Does it matter that the Democrats now control the House?

It does mean that they have subpoena power, which would allow Democrats to call people to testify or to secure documents of interest related to the Mueller probe. This would also potentially help bring the Mueller investigation findings into the public eye if the White House or new attorney general attempts to suppress the report.

Is Don Jr. going to prison?

Donald Trump Jr. isn’t currently facing any charges, so at least in the short term, the answer is no. But ever since the special counsel indicted Cohen for lying to Congress, there has been an increased focus on whether Trump Jr. could face similar charges.

Trump Jr. told a Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017 that he never directly or indirectly sought foreign assistance for his dad’s campaign. However, Trump Jr. did hold a meeting in 2016 with an emissary for Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates leaders, as well as an Israeli social media specialist, who reportedly all offered to help with Trump Sr.’s campaign.

There is also the possibility Trump Jr. could be involved in collusion. He held a meeting in June 2016 at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer associated with the Kremlin. Days before the meeting, an intermediary emailed Trump Jr. to let him know that a senior Russian government official was offering to provide damaging information on Clinton.

Trump Jr. responded, “If it’s what you say I love it.”

 

California tells Trump that lawsuit over border wall is ‘imminent’

February 17, 2019

by David Morgan and David Lawder

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – California will “imminently” challenge President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to obtain funds for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said on Sunday.

“Definitely and imminently,” Becerra told ABC’s “This Week” program when asked whether and when California would sue the Trump administration in federal court. Other states controlled by Democrats are expected to join the effort.

“We are prepared, we knew something like this might happen. And with our sister state partners, we are ready to go,” he said.

Trump invoked the emergency powers on Friday under a 1976 law after Congress rebuffed his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall that was a signature 2016 campaign promise.

The move is intended to allow him to redirect money appropriated by Congress for other purposes to wall construction.

The White House says Trump will have access to about $8 billion. Nearly $1.4 billion was allocated for border fencing under a spending measure approved by Congress last week, and Trump’s emergency declaration is aimed at giving him another $6.7 billion for the wall.

Becerra cited Trump’s own comment on Friday that he “didn’t need to do this” as evidence that the emergency declaration is legally vulnerable.

“It’s become clear that this is not an emergency, not only because no one believes it is but because Donald Trump himself has said it’s not,” he said.

Becerra and California Governor Gavin Newsom, both Democrats, have been expected to sue to block Trump’s move.

Becerra told ABC that California and other states are waiting to learn which federal programs will lose money to determine what kind of harm the states could face from the declaration.

He said California may be harmed by less federal funding for emergency response services, the military and stopping drug trafficking.

“We’re confident there are at least 8 billion ways that we can prove harm,” Becerra said.

Three Texas landowners and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s move on Friday, saying it violates the Constitution and would infringe on their property rights.

The legal challenges could at least slow down Trump’s efforts to build the wall but would likely end up at the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court.

Congress never defined a national emergency in the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which has been invoked dozens of times without a single successful legal challenge.

Democrats in Congress have vowed to challenge Trump’s declaration and several Republican lawmakers have said they are not certain whether they would support the president.

“I think many of us are concerned about this,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump could, however, veto any resolution of disapproval from Congress.

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller told Fox News on Sunday that Trump’s declaration would allow the administration to build “hundreds of miles” of border wall by September 2020.

“We have 120-odd miles that are already under construction or are already obligated plus the additional funds we have and then we’re going to outlay – we’re going to look at a few hundred miles.”

Trump’s proposed wall and wider immigration policies are likely to be a major campaign issue ahead of the next presidential election in November 2020, where he will seek a second four-year term.

Reporting by David Morgan and David Lawder; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

 

Legal fight expected for Trump’s national emergency declaration

Experts predict high court will back his power to do so, but maybe not accessing military monies

February 14, 2019

by John T. Bennett

Roll Call

President Donald Trump will declare a national emergency at the southern border to redirect military funds to his border wall project after lawmakers gave him $4.3 billion less than his $5.7 billion ask. But the move is expected to bring court fights that could sink his plan.

A House-Senate conference committee could only agree to give the president just shy of $1.4 billion for the barrier project as conferees struck a deal needed to avert another partial government shutdown. The president — who earlier this week said he couldn’t say he was happy about the contents of the compromise — reluctantly agreed to sign it into law after the Senate and House sign off during floor votes Thursday.

The White House confirmed Trump would sign the compromise spending measure — and avert another government shutdown after the recent 35-day one left him politically damaged — but then declare a national emergency.

“President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action — including a national emergency — to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country.”

Lawmakers in both parties who desperately want to keep the government open breathed a sigh of relief at the former. But Democrats will have to hold their noses as most of them vote for the spending measure, knowing the president will subsequently take an action over which they long have threatened legal action.

Nancy Pelosi said Thursday afternoon she “may” file a legal challenge to Trump’s national emergency declaration, adding that she didn’t support “any president doing an end-run around Congress.”

In a statement issued after her press conference, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer  were more explicit in threatening a legal fight. “The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities,” the duo said.

Trump’s top spokeswoman, however, brushed off the threat. “We are very prepared, but there shouldn’t be. The president is doing his job. Congress should do theirs,” Sanders told reporters outside her office Thursday.

The money will be there’

Democratic and Republican lawmakers in recent days, echoed by legal scholars, had already been predicting that a “national emergency” move would be met by swift legal action.

Public Citizen, a left-leaning consumer rights advocacy organization, said in a statement Thursday that it would sue Trump if he takes that action.

“If this invocation of emergency on false pretenses is tolerated, it could justify almost limitless abuses of presidential and military power, including far-reaching clampdowns on civil rights,” the group said.

Mark Rom, a Georgetown University professor, said that should the matter get to the U.S. Supreme Court, he wouldn’t expect the justices to “challenge the president’s ability to declare a national emergency.”

“Now, on the question of whether the president’s claim that an emergency allows him to move the money around, it’s anyone’s guess just where the court might come down,” Rom said. “My expectation is this will play out like Trump’s initial travel ban: He will keep tinkering and keep tinkering until the courts decide it’s just within legal boundaries.”

Trump’s power to declare the emergency stems from the 1976 National Emergencies Act, which “makes no attempt to dictate conditions for when this can be done, according to Bobby Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. Thus, if Trump wishes to state that the border is in such a state of disarray or exposure that it constitutes a national emergency under the NEA, he is mostly free to do so.

“Trump presumably would assert that the border wall is a military fortification of sorts, and that it is key to supporting the military role in providing border security. And so the argument would turn on whether one accepts the predicate about the military’s role in the first instance,” Chesney said.

“On one hand, it’s obvious that, in some contexts like an armed invasion, border control can be a military matter of the first order,” he said. “On the other hand, that is not the situation we currently face … and not the way we largely have handled the southern border.”

Gordon Adams, who oversaw defense and national security budgeting for the Clinton White House, agreed that Trump has the legal authority to make the declaration. It is not a settled legal matter that four congressional panels — two now controlled by Democrats — would have to sign off on using Pentagon dollars for the Department of Homeland Security border wall program under a national emergency

The funds likely would be drawn from the Pentagon’s “military construction,” or MILCON, budget, Adams said.

“There are usually $5 billion to $10 billion of unobligated MILCON funds every year, so the money will be there,” he said. “Now, that will mean the secretaries of the [armed] services won’t be able to upgrade barracks or do other projects on bases, but there’s no sign the president gives a damn or would prioritize that over the wall.”

What’s more, the declaration is a signal White House officials have decided they do not need the approval of the congressional committees to shift the funds around. “There’s no actual statutory requirement for that,” Adams said. “A lot of the ways government does business in this town is based on customs. This administration has found every loophole to those customs.”

But Democratic leaders are warning their GOP colleagues to oppose the emergency move.

“The precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans,” Pelosi said. That’s because a Democratic president could declare, for instance, the gun violence epidemic a national emergency to their chagrin, she noted.

Some Republicans also warned of the Pandora’s box Trump may be opening.

“If elected president, how would Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders use this precedent for a national disaster declaration to force the Green New Deal on the American people?” Washington GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said, noting that she opposes the Trump’s decision.

‘We’re building a lot of wall’

The compromise spending bill’s $1.375 billion border fencing amount led Trump to, after weeks of threatening it, revert to the national emergency option after promising his conservative base for years that he would build a wall — later termed a “barrier” – along the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to slow the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country.

“Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway,” he told a rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday. The next day, he signaled to reporters his administration was working on a way to shift funds around to get more into the border project’s coffers, saying: “I’m thrilled because we’re supplementing things and moving things around and we’re doing things that are fantastic, taking from far less important areas, and the bottom line is we’re building a lot of wall.”

The president has repeatedly warned of a “crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border to justify his move, repeating his hard-line rhetoric that the area is a transit route for lethal narcotics, hordes of migrants making illegal crossings, dangerous criminals and human traffickers.

On the legal front, any upcoming lawsuits might include congressional Democrats — just one of many potential legal arenas in which they and Trump could tussle over the next two years.

Senate Judiciary member Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, predicted “a significant and likely successful challenge in court.” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer signaled a similar sentiment on Jan. 8.

But as another shutdown neared, many GOP lawmakers who previously had concerns about an emergency declaration changed their tunes. They said the conference committee proposed too little for border barrier dollars, giving Trump no choice but to seek the Pentagon monies.

‘He can declare victory’

As the expected legal challenges play out, Rom, the Georgetown professor, suggested both sides can claim wins.

“[Trump] can declare victory, no matter what happens in the courts. The president can now say to his supporters that he has solved the problem, and that he had no other choice. He can say, ‘I’ve done all I can do,’” Rom said. “Democrats can tell their supporters they stood strong and forced the president’s hand.”

But Pelosi indicated Democrats will be methodical, saying of a legal challenge: “First, we have to see what the president says.”

To that end, White House aides Thursday afternoon had only begun mulling how Trump might sign the spending measure and the emergency order. In late January, when he announced he would support a stopgap measure to end the partial government shutdown, he took advantage of an unseasonably warm Washington winter day with an early afternoon Rose Garden event.

The forecast for Friday? Partly sunny and 60 degrees

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

February 17, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Conversation No. 59

Date: Saturday, January 11. 1997

Commenced:  2:23 PM CST

Concluded:  3:11 PM CST

RTC: Gregory, would you believe your nice present arrived here today? You mailed it on the fifteenth and it took almost a month to get here. Unbelievable. Symptomatic of the growing inefficiency in the entire bureaucratic structure. Nice book by the way. Who was Malaparte?

GD: Curzio Malaparte was the pen name of an Austrian journalist named Stuckert. A friend and adherent of Mussolini. The book is a classic study of the coup, as you will note. Dutton put this out in ’32, just while the Depression was getting a full head of steam, and it was decided by those in power that it ought not to be circulated so it was pulled. I got your copy from a Denver dealer and I got mine from my grandfather’s library. Very interesting, especially the business with Trotsky in Petrograd. Have you read any of it?

RTC: Yes, actually I have read the Trotsky section. Very perceptive.

GD: And be sure to read the chapter on Trotsky versus Stalin. The differences between the two are well-covered. Trotsky was brilliant but mercurial and Stalin was equally brilliant but thorough, methodical and far more deadly than Trotsky. In Josef’s case, patience was a real virtue.

RTC: At any rate, thank you for your gift. I can assure you I will read it.

GD: You are the only person I know that might appreciate it. I can just see Tom Kimmel with it. Never read it.

RTC: Corson might.

GD: Yes, that’s true.

RTC: I’m sure they have a copy at Langley.

GD: I don’t doubt that at all. But they remind me of a dog I had once. He loved to chase cars. I wonder what would have happened if he caught one?

RTC: Now, they’re not all that bad.

GD: Perhaps not when you were in harness, but some of the idiots they have working for them now certainly aren’t worth a pinch of sour owl shit.

RTC: I haven’t heard that one for years, Gregory.

GD: I’m not young either, Robert.

RTC: Are you working on anything interesting these days?

GD: Still trying to create a structure for the Kennedy business. I translated some wartime German documents last week dealing with their flying saucer program. Habermohl?

RTC: I know that the Krauts had one or two but the name means nothing.

GD: They made and flew at least one prototype, but the project was just one of many at the time.

RTC: Well, the U.S. built them after the war. Some place in Canada.

GD: AVRO. The Roe Company.

RTC: Doesn’t ring a bell.

GD: But that means we did have some examples.

RTC: Oh, yes, that we did. I told you that the Russians thought these were ours and we thought they were theirs. I did some sit-downs on this one. Russian Intelligence was one of my fields, as you know. And we did have some of these, but we used them for high-altitude reconnaissance and photographing. The U-2 replaced them, so we retired them. The Russians had at one working model, that I know.

GD: So all the sightings were of these planes, or whatever they called them?

RTC: No, not all. Most of the public sightings were basically wishful thinking or mass hysteria. But there certainly were other incidents that were not of ours or Russian construction.

GD: Where did they come from?

RTC: No one had any idea. Of course, Truman had all of that shut up to prevent another Orson Wells panic. The idea was to make the whole thing look like a hoax so that people spotting something would ignore it at the risk of being branded a fool.

GD: Know anything about the Roswell business?

RTC: Oh, indeed. Now that was the real thing, Gregory. And there were space cadets on board that one. They had to clamp down on the story and said it was a weather balloon. As I remember, they retrieved a lot of electronic gadgetry that was highly advanced. They reconstructed the thing, or did you know that?

GD: No, I did not. Did they fly it?

RTC: Too complex. Do you know about Groom Lake in Nevada?

GD: No.

RTC: We used it as a U-2 base. Out in the remote desert. They have several of these things there. One is a reconstruction and another one was fished out of a lake in Montana intact, crew and all. That one they did fly around, as I understand.

GD: Why keep it quiet?

RTC: As I said, panic. The Cold War was in full swing, Korea had happened and everyone was afraid of the Russians, so it was decided to play it all down. We got certified idiots on board and got them to set up Flying Saucer clubs to attract the brainless moths and kept the pot boiling. You understand that once the government decides on a program, they never change it. They never do. Poor Tom keeps thinking they will rehabilitate his grandfather over Pearl Harbor, but they never will. I told him that once, and I thought he’d weep. First off, no one cares these days about Pearl Harbor and secondly, once a policy has been set, no one will change it later. Same with the saucers.

GD: They have no idea where they came from?

RTC: Absolutely none. But there were no attacks from any of them and the best thinking was that they were doing what we were doing, and that is photo recon. They weren’t from us because no human could survive the speeds they could move at. Flatten them out. I hope to God you’re not going to get into that mess, Gregory.

GD: Intellectual curiosity only. What did ours photograph?

RTC: The same things the U-2 did. Military bases like airfields, missile launching areas, naval bases. They took some wonderfully clear pictures. They had a building down on Fifth and K streets where they processed and printed these. It was the Steuart or Seward Building. I was in there a couple of times. And some very interesting buildings out on Wilson Boulevard. Remind me to tell you about them some time. Anyway, I recommend you keep away from the saucer side. As much as they hate you around here that would all that would be needed to label you a certified lunatic.

GD: Oh, I know about the official stories about me. Once the Mueller book came out, they got Gitta Sereny to go after me. Do you know who she is?

RTC: She’s a friend of Wolfe. I looked her up once because he made it a point of shoving some piece of trash on me at the Archives about you she got published. A Communist dyke as I remember. She does not like you.

GD: (Laughing) Oh, I know that, and note that I do not like her. When I uncovered the fact that an SS concentration camp head had been declared dead and then put to work by the Brits and later by us, she came to see me in California, with the assistance of Wolfe, and with the sole intention of getting me to say something she could use to discredit me.

RTC: Well, they didn’t like it made public that this fellow worked for us. The same as your friend Mueller. What did she write?

GD: Long story.

RTC: I have plenty of time and you have the happy knack of making long boring stories interesting. Go on.

GD: She published a book in 1974 entitled Into That Darkness. This work purported to be based on an interview with Franz Stangl, an alleged SS officer who ran a camp in occupied Poland during the war where many prisoners were later stated to have been gassed. Stangl was not an SS man but Sereny never bothered to mention that unimportant fact. The book contains a lengthy section quoting Stangl, who according to Sereny’s version, fully admitted his part in the purported killings and asks for forgiveness from God and his victims. The balance of the work consists of various supplementary testimonies from former associates and family members, all attesting to the evil nature of Stangl’s activities and all clearly acknowledging his willing cooperation in a state-sponsored program of genocide. Of course, Sereny has carved out her niche as a holocaust writer, trashing all the Germans, and she has made a nice living out of it. But this particular book shows with great clarity the pitfalls that occur when a journalist, as opposed to a legitimate academic historian, produces a work which is not only entirely anecdotal in content, but ideological in thrust. There is no documentation, whatsoever, in this work which relies almost entirely on the author’s purported interviews with various people. Stangl died on the day following Sereny’s visit to him in prison where he was appealing his life sentence.

RTC: I agree. That makes no sense. This man was not an SS camp man?

GD: No. He is in none of the official SS personnel lists anywhere at any time.

RTC: Did he exist?

GD: Yes. He was an Austrian policeman. And she must have known it, because she is tied up with Wolfe who has ready access to all the official lists. And herein lies the key to the questionability of the entire book. Stangl had been sentenced to a life term in prison. He, through his attorneys, was appealing this sentence. It is highly doubtful if either Stangl or his attorneys would permit such a damaging interview to take place and to permit Sereny, whose extremist views were well known, free and unfettered access to the prisoner. There would appear to be no question that Sereny and her photographer husband, Don Honeyman, did indeed visit the prison and did see Stangl. Sereny’s husband took several photographs of him, photographs which are extensively reproduced in the book. The published pictures, however, do not support statements alleged to have been made by the former Austrian police officer, but merely prove that he permitted himself to be photographed by his visitors. By making such incriminating statements as Sereny placed, post mortem, in his mouth, Stangl would have irrevocably destroyed any chance he might have had in his pending appeal before the German courts. I think it is beyond reasonable belief that such statements were made under the circumstances indicated. A dead Stangl, however, could comfortably be alleged to have made any statement that the author chose to put into his mouth, and without the possible embarrassment to her or her publisher of an instant denial or possible legal proceedings.

RTC: These fabricators never use logic, do they. Lie like rugs, throw in a few fuzzy pictures of Hitler and, Bingo, a new Holocaust book. Well, they have made quite a business out of it.

GD: Oh, yes, and you dast not dare question them with inconvenient facts. If you have the time and the stomach to read the book, you can clearly see the author’s prejudice towards Stangl and the system he served, but also is entirely devoid of any facts to support her thesis. She notes that a number of witnesses died before the book was published, of course, including her main source, Stangl. Much of the anecdotal material Sereny had put together to support her case is of such a nature as to preclude its ever being introduced in a court of law. Several examples are set forth as illustration.  In one, Sereny claims that Stangl’s wife wrote her a letter following an interview Sereny had with the wife in Brazil. In this letter, which is not reproduced, Frau Stangl allegedly states that in 1945 she was interviewed by two members of the U.S. Army’s Counter Intelligence agency, and that they knew of her husband’s whereabouts in an American jail. “I examined their papers,” she is quoted as writing, “I have no doubt whatever that they were genuine.” The flaw in this scenario is obvious. It is simply not believable that the wife of an obscure police officer would have the slightest idea what “genuine” U.S. CIC identification papers looked like. But Sereny states that the woman would have no reason to invent the incident. Perhaps the invention did not originate with Stangl’s wife, but with the author herself. Robert, generations must pass before the fictive is eventually weeded out from the factual, and in the meantime an appellation which has been applied to the Sereny book, Dialogs with the Dead, could well be applied to other mendacious creative writing essays that people like Wolfe, who certainly will never be any kind of a successful writer or Sereny the ideological hack.

RTC: Maybe Sereny…what is that name, by the way?

GD: She’s a Hungarian Jewess, but the name was changed somewhere years ago to become more Aryan. Anyway, she published some libels about me in two major British papers. I got a solicitor in the UK to represent me and not only were the stories pulled but dear old Gitta was sacked. It was either sack her for free, or I would sue the papers for malicious defamation. There wasn’t any contest. One of the paper’s editors told me on the phone that she was a nasty old bitch and he was glad to be rid of her. Actually, she mumbled away about me for a little while more until I had to take certain actions that dissuaded her from future essays into more libels.

RTC: I don’t suppose…

GD: Not on the phone. Did I bore you?

RTC: No, and none of that surprised me. You ought to have heard old Wolfe screeching about how evil you are. He sounds like you have a picture of him humping the neighbor’s cocker spaniel.

GD: (Laughter) I think it was a sheep named Minnie he keeps in his garage. By God, sir, with mesh stockings and lipstick, she drives men mad with passion.

RTC: Why don’t you turn him into the Humane Society?

GD: I’d much rather turn him into a pumpkin. Speaking of that, do you know what happened to Cinderella?

RTC: No, I don’t. She married her prince?

GD: Maybe, but did you know what happened when the clock struck midnight?

RTC: Not offhand.

GD: Her tampon turned into a pumpkin.

RTC: (Laughter) Such an image!

GD: You see the connection in my imagination, at least, between Wolfe and a pumpkin?

RTC: It’ll give me something to think about over dinner, Gregory. Or are you equating Wolfe with a tampon?

GD: Pay your money, Robert, and take your choice.

 

(Concluded at 3:11 PM CST)

 

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

 

 

 

 

No responses yet

Leave a Reply