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TBR News January 15, 2020

Jan 15 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. January 15, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
‘Trump aches from his head to his toes
His sphincters have gone where who knows
And his love life has ended
By a paunch so distended
That all he can use is his nose’
Commentary for January 15: “Officially-sanction stories that the Iranian missile strikes did very little damage are, as usual, lies designed to deflect public attention from the truth.
I have a document locked in my desk from the Office of the Chief Mangement Officer of the Pentagon, under date of January 13, 2020, Ref.13-T-1714-T10 and ink-signed by James P. Hogan, stating that the Iranian missile attack on Assad air base had, and I quote, the following results:
• Total number of casualties:285 (139 deceased, 145 injured)
• Extensive damage to 15 helicopters including one Blackhawk, 2 cargo aircrafts and 3 MQ-1 Predator drones.
• Extensive damage to Base Command Center, 3 hangars, 3 barracks and 10 military tents.
• Relative damage to Air Traffic Control Tower and base’s runway.

Stories that there was ‘little damage and no loss of life’ have been put about to tamp down possible US public anger and prevent US military actions against Iran that could easily lead to attacks by them on the oil industry. If this should happen, the price of the world’s oil, and gasoline, would rocket upwards like something dreamed up by Elon Musk.”

Trump’s Approval Ratings

Date Pollster Approve Disapprove
Jan. 11-13 YouGov 39% 52%

The Table of Contents
• Russia to get new prime minister after government resigns
• Trump impeachment: Democrats announce new evidence ahead of vote
• Trump Supporter Who Discussed Surveillance of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Has History of Stalking, Mental Health Issues
• Interesting and Informative Background on 911 by a retired
intelligence operative
• Encyclopedia of American Loons
• The Season of Evil

Russia to get new prime minister after government resigns
Russia will soon get a new prime minister — with Mikhail Mishustin, who heads the country’s tax service, tapped to take on the role. Dmitry Medvedev resigned after longtime ally Putin announced constitutional reforms.
January 15, 2020
The little-known head of Russia’s tax service, Mikhail Mishustin, was named as the next prime minister of Russia hours after Dmitry Medvedev resigned on Wednesday, capping a day of unexpected changes to Russian politics.
“President Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Mikhail Mishustin and suggested that he take on the duties of the head of government,” the Kremlin press service said. “With his consent, [Putin] submitted the prime ministerial candidacy of Mishustin to be considered in the Duma.”
Mishustin has been leading Russia’s federal tax authority since 2010 and is not considered a high-profile politician in Russia.
“The candidacy of Mishustin is absolutely unexpected, but this does not mean that he is a person which causes resistance,” the deputy head of Russia’s Federation Council, Ilyas Umakhanov, told the Interfax news agency. “Not all heads of tax institutions enjoy sympathies and affection. In my opinion, this is the prevalent public mood towards Mishustin.”
Umakhanov described the tax official as a man of “great experience, the person who was part of the system.”
Who is Mishustin?
Mishustin, 53, was born in Moscow and worked as an IT expert in the 1990s. He began working in the tax service in 1998 and was later named deputy tax minister. In 2008, he served as the head of Russian investment company UFG, which at the time cooperated with Germany’s Deutsche Bank. Mishustin was named head of Russia’s tax service in 2010 after his predecessor left for another post. The newly appointed prime minister is also a member of the board of Russia’s Ice Hockey Federation.
Mishustin met with senior Duma lawmakers on Wednesday evening after being tapped for the new role. The lower house of Russia’s parliament is due to vote on his candidacy tomorrow.
‘Not everything works out’
The news came on the heels of President Vladimir Putin’s annual speech to lawmakers where he proposed a series of constitutional reforms that would grant more powers to parliament — including the ability to select the prime minister.
The changes would make significant changes to the country’s balance of power and so “the government in its current form has resigned,” Medvedev said on state television while seated next to Putin.
The prime minister said the move was aimed at clearing the way for the changes to be made. Putin earlier said the constitutional amendments would be put to a referendum.
Putin has asked the outgoing government to continue to carry out their duties until a new government is formed. The Russian president added that he was “satisfied with the government’s performance” although the government failed to fulfill certain tasks, reported news agency Interfax.
“Not everything worked out, but everything never works out,” Putin said.
Kremlin power struggle
While Putin and Medvedev appeared to present a united front in their public appearance, Russian political analyst Alexey Kurtov interpreted the prime minister’s resignation as a show of “disagreement” with sweeping changes suggested by Putin.
“I think this was a spontaneous reaction from Medvedev, who disagreed with the general line of the president’s proposals,” said Kurtov, who serves as president of the Russian Association of Political Consultants (RAPC).
According to Kurtov, Medvedev has been engaged in a long-running power struggle with the current Duma speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin. The proposed changes would give the Duma powers to appoint the prime minister.
Putin heading for the Duma?
The maneuver could prove crucial for Putin’s future. The former FSB chief took power in 2000 and has since served as both president and prime minister. The 67-year-old is currently in his second consecutive term as president and is prohibited by law to run for another term.
“I wouldn’t exclude that Putin sees himself taking on the speaker’s chair in the parliament in the future,” political analyst Abbas Gallyamov told DW. “Since Putin’s main task now is to secure his own political future, we can assume he is paving the way for himself there.”
Opposition politician and former economy minister Andrey Nechayev told DW that Puting was “sounding out the terrain, in order to stay in power forever.”
While Medvedev is set to leave the prime ministerial seat, Putin signaled he would keep his longtime ally near the center of power as the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council. The committee is chaired by Putin himself and deals with affairs of national security. The prime minister, several government ministers and heads of security agencies are among the council’s members. On Wednesday, Putin suggested creating the position of Council’s deputy chief and said Medvedev should take the post.
“It feels like Medvedev is being put in reserve,” analyst Alexey Makarkin told Russia’s Interfax news agency. “The Security Council post, which is offerted to Medvedev, is senior, but also not autonomous.”
Russian law states that a new prime minister should be proposed no later than two weeks after the government resigns.

Trump impeachment: Democrats announce new evidence ahead of vote
January 15, 2020
BBC News
The former US envoy to Ukraine was put under surveillance, texts unveiled as evidence for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial suggest.
The messages indicate an associate of Mr Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani received updates on ambassador Maria Yovanovitch’s location and phone use.
The US House of Representatives has released a trove of documents to bolster their case against Mr Trump.
The president is accused of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Mr Trump was impeached by the House last month. He denies trying to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation into his would-be Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden.
House Democrats are voting on Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, which will hold the president’s trial.
Democrats said they would also send over the new evidence unveiled on Tuesday.
Why Ukraine is so important to the US
Who’s who in this story?
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, who will lead the prosecution of Mr Trump, said the documents “demonstrate that there is more evidence relevant to the president’s scheme, but they have been concealed”.
What is the new evidence?
The letters, phone records, notes and flash drives were obtained from the Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, a close associate of Mr Giuliani, who is the US president’s personal lawyer.
They were made available to investigators earlier this week and then sent to the House Judiciary Committee.
The documents show that Ukraine-born Mr Parnas was in regular contact with Mr Giuliani as well as Ukrainian officials, and suggest that Mr Parnas was directly involved in trying to have Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky look into Mr Biden.
One handwritten note from Mr Parnas, who was indicted last year on conspiracy charges, states: “Get Zalensky [sic] to Annouce [sic] that the Biden case will be investigated.”
Also among the new materials is a screenshot of a previously undisclosed letter from Mr Giuliani to Mr Zelensky, in which he asks to arrange a meeting.
The letter from Mr Giuliani describes himself as “personal counsel to President Trump” and states that Mr Trump had “knowledge and consent” of Mr Giuliani’s actions.
The meeting never took place as Mr Giuliani eventually cancelled his May trip to Ukraine.
Was the envoy under surveillance?
Some of the materials also show Mr Parnas and Mr Giuliani discussing the removal of Ms Yovanovitch, the then US ambassador to Ukraine.
Several of the text messages appear to suggest the former US envoy was placed under surveillance.
Mr Parnas was apparently given updates on the ambassador’s location and mobile phone use by a man named Robert F Hyde.
Mr Hyde is a Republican congressional candidate in Connecticut and a Trump campaign donor.
“She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off,” one message reads. “They will let me know when she’s on the move,” another says.
Another message from Mr Hyde to Mr Parnas said: “They are willing to help if we/you would like a price. Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money… what I was told.”
Ms Yovanovitch is calling for an investigation into the messages.
“The notion that American citizens and others were monitoring [her] movements… is disturbing,” her lawyer said.
Who is Marie Yovanovitch?
The veteran envoy was recalled from Ukraine in May 2019 for reasons that remain unclear.
She testified to the Trump impeachment inquiry last October that she was fired over “false claims” by people with “questionable motives”.
She also said US state department officials had told her she needed to leave Ukraine immediately out of concerns for her “security”.
President Trump complained following her testimony that she had refused to hang his photo in the US embassy in Ukraine.

Trump Supporter Who Discussed Surveillance of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Has History of Stalking, Mental Health Issues
January 15, 2020
by Lee Fang
The Intercept
The man who relayed information about Marie Yovanovitch’s location to Rudy Giuliani’s Ukrainian associates was a known stalker with mental health issues.
Newly released private WhatsApp messages between Lev Parnas, an associate of Giuliani’s, and Robert F. Hyde, a donor to President Donald Trump’s campaign and aspiring GOP lawmaker, reveal what appears to be an effort to surveil the former ambassador to Ukraine, whose ouster was sought by Giuliani as part of a plan to pressure the Ukrainian government into pursuing political investigations at the White House’s behest.
The messages, released Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee relating to its ongoing impeachment inquiry, show Hyde claiming to know Yovanovitch’s location and movements in Kyiv, while implying that he was in contact with local security services in Ukraine who could be paid to go after the ambassador.
The startling messages show the extent to which the Giuliani associates were willing to at least entertain extreme tactics from a campaign donor who has courted controversy and even unsettled others, including fellow supporters of the president.
The Intercept obtained police records showing that Hyde violated a restraining order issued by a Washington, DC superior court judge at the request of a Republican consultant who says that Hyde stalked her and intimidated her family over the last year. In one of the reports, an officer disclosed that Connecticut police confiscated Hyde’s firearms in connection to his violation of the restraining order. Hyde was reported to authorities for “unsettling behavior” and trespassing at a church in Connecticut, according to a separate police report last summer.
Asked for comment, Hyde texted The Intercept, “Bull Schiff is still crying?! Lol. Tell him to go whistleblow himself.” He did not respond to other allegations against him.
Hyde’s other acquaintances noted that he has a history of erratic behavior. Jeffrey Peterson, a technology entrepreneur, said Hyde came to meet with him recently, then disappeared, only to resurface months later. Hyde, Peterson said, “has been trying to reestablish contact with me ever since, not really comfortable with him.”
Hyde publicized that he was placed in a psychiatric facility in Florida last May, following an incident at the Trump National Doral Miami resort. A report written by the Doral Police Department at the time notes that Hyde expressed fear for his life and told officers that he “was scared due to several painting workers and landscape working trying to do harm to him because they weren’t working.”
Hyde posted about his facility stay in a now-deleted Instagram video. “I don’t know what that nine days was in that facility, and they wanted to keep me 10 and I finally got out, but here I am,” Hyde said in the video following his release. The caption for the video and the police report reference confinement under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows individuals showing signs of mental illness who could pose a danger to themselves or others to be involuntarily submitted to a mental health facility.
Shortly after his release, in a now-deleted Facebook post, Hyde wondered if Dan Coats, Trump’s former Director of National Intelligence, “effed with me in DC a month ago” and “probably initiated my disappearance for awhile.”
Last year, Hyde began a campaign for Congress, seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn. The former owner of a landscaping company, Hyde describes himself as a “U.S. Marine Corps Iraqi Freedom war veteran” and “an ardent support of our duly elected president, President Trump” on his campaign website.
Hyde has other legal issues, according to records, including an eviction from a commercial property in Simsbury, Connecticut, where his former business was located. In 2011, Hyde was arrested in Avon, Connecticut, for reckless endangerment in connection a tree that fell on power lines near one of his work sites. He also owes more than $2,000 in child support payments, according to the Hartford Courant, despite donating thousands of dollars to Trump and the Republican National Committee.
Hyde’s tone toward women has also sparked a minor scandal in his political campaign. In December, after Kamala Harris suspended her presidential bid, Hyde tweeted that Harris was “brought to her knees,” followed by the message, “Must be a hard one to swallow. #KamalaHarris #heelsup.” The inflammatory message was swiftly condemned by both parties. The Connecticut Republican Party returned Hyde’s donation of $750 in response to his “vile comments on Twitter.”
In the newly released WhatsApp messages, Hyde wrote to Parnas, “Wow. Can’t believe Trumo [sic] hasn’t fired this bitch,” in reference to Yovanovitch.
Throughout 2018 and much of early 2019, Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, worked closely with Giuliani to oust Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who was viewed as an obstacle to a plot to use the Ukrainian government to investigate Trump’s political adversaries, including former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and the Democratic National Committee.
As part of the effort, Parnas and Fruman committed to raising $20,000 for then-Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, in exchange for a letter from Sessions to the State Department demanding Yovanovitch’s ouster.
The WhatsApp messages between Hyde and Parnas reveal a new dimension to the continued focus of Giuliani’s focus on Yovanovitch. “She under heavy protection outside Kiev,” Hyde wrote to Parnas last March. In another batch of messages, Hyde claimed, “That address I sent you checks out. It’s next to the embassy.” Other Hyde messages conveyed an eerie level of knowledge about Yovanovitch’s activities: “She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off. She’s next to the embassy. Not in the embassy. Private security. Been there since Thursday.”
Parnas’s lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, did not immediately respond to request from The Intercept. In a statement to The Washington Post, he said, “There is no evidence that Mr. Parnas participated, agreed, paid money or took any other steps in furtherance of Mr. Hyde’s proposals.”
Hyde also sent several cryptic messages that implied he knew of “security forces” in Ukraine who could be tapped for assistance. “They are willing to help if we/you would like a price. Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money …” Parnas responded, “Lol.”
Whether Hyde truly had special access to Yovanovitch remains unclear. The WhatsApp messages were sent last March as the Giuliani-backed campaign to force Ukraine to investigate the Bidens escalated. In April, Trump ordered Yovanovitch to be recalled to Washington, and she was terminated from her post in early May. In November, during the impeachment hearing, Yovanovitch testified that she had been advised by the State Department that she faced threats to her security last year.
Hyde’s various social media profiles are filled with pictures of him with the president, Eric Trump, Corey Lewandowski, Roger Stone, Sarah Sanders, and a variety of Republican lawmakers. On multiple occasions, his photo has been snapped at federal government offices and at Trump-owned properties in New Jersey, Florida, and Washington, D.C. As CNN reported, Hyde “posed for a selfie with Trump on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019, the same day Trump first called Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.”
Last year, Hyde texted photos to Emilie Munson, a Connecticut-based journalist, including images of himself smoking cigars with Giuliani, Fruman, and Parnas.

Interesting and Informative Background on 911 by a retired intelligence operative
January 15, 2020
by Christian Jürs
I joined a Washington-area intelligence agency just after the 9/11 episode
Shortly after I arrived, a senior staff member, a woman of some age and great determination, took ill with what was diagnosed as a form of cancer and she had to take a protracted medical leave to have it treated. After she had been gone a month, corporate became concerned because she was the one who received and allotted stories on national security.
Her prognosis was guarded, so my immediate superior, at the top of the food chain, told me to look into her files and see if there was anything that might be needed currently. She had four large filing cabinets in her office, all locked. Before having them opened, I checked with the staff at her clinic and explained our position.
Her oncologist told me that she might recover in time but would not be able to return to work for at least six months. Later that night, we had a discreet locksmith come into the building. I personally guided them past our security people downstairs in the lobby. It took about five minutes to open all the locks and they then left.
For the next three days, I personally waded through hundreds of files going back to the Eisenhower presidency. Most of the material was interesting but little of it was of any current use.
However, in one cabinet, there were stacks of what appeared, and later proved , to be copies sent to our staffer by Israeli sources, both from the Israeli Embassy people in D.C. and from other sources in Israel. These were very interesting (to say the very least) and many bore on the current situation in the Middle East.
One file in particular was astonishing.
It was an Israeli post mortem analysis of the 9-11 attack, complied from their inside sources in May of 2003, and one of the most remarkable historical chronicles I have ever read.
That file in particular had a note with her name printed at the top that it was never to be shown to anyone under any circumstances. Reading it through, I can see why. I put all the other files back in place and made photo copies of some of the more sensitive ones before doing so.
That’s the background. And here is the complete report.
You will note that there are a number of comments and explanations in italics. Those are mine and are taken from reliable sources and duly noted.
Insofar as controlling the news is concerned, this is a prime, even classic, example of that oeuvre. When you read it, you will understand why no media outlet in the United States would ever dare address its contents.
• The Initial attack on the World Trade Center
On Friday, February 26, 1993, at approximately 12:18 PM, a huge car bomb exploded in the Secret Service section of the underground garage of the World Trade Center in New York. The blast killed five people and injured many more The concrete ceiling over the Path subway station collapsed and the casualties were killed by the debris. The blast destroyed three floors of reinforced concrete and set off fires that sent dense clouds of smoke up into one of the two towers. Power was interdicted and the lighting and elevator systems were not functioning.
Many thousands of office workers had to be evacuated . There was great chaos in the building with occupants breaking windows to get air and filling the stairwells with a panic stricken mass of fleeing people. This attack was the work of a handful of amateur Muslims who were soon apprehended and tried. Four of them, Nidal Ayvad, Mohammed Salameh, Amad Ajaj and Mahmud Aboulhalma were tried and convicted of this act and in May of 1994 were sent to prison for life. Their putative leader, one Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, a New York area religious leader, was also sentenced to life for his controlling role in the attack.
The issues of this bomb attack were quite simple. Muslim fundamentalists had tried to destroy a major American financial institution. That they were amateurs and very inept was beside the point. Other, better organized and funded groups would note the disruption and panic and use it for future such attempts.
The Americans are not anywhere as competent in dealing with terrorists as we are. We have been intimately involved with them since before 1948. As usual, the American media made a large production of it for about a week and then it simply vanished.
The attitude of the Clinton administration was that they did not want to disturb the American Muslim population and in the end, viewed the attack as an aberration that was unlikely to be repeated. The terrorists were viewed as a group of rank amateurs and the matter was not pursued. We have good rapport with the Central Intelligence Agency and have many of our people employed there but this is a domestic matter and these internal matters are addressed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation which is not as friendly with us as other agencies. They have been instructed to cooperate with our people on such things but are very sparing in this cooperation. In summation, the Americans did not learn from this attack and this will be dealt with later in this report.
• Muslim extremists in US
Because of very lax, almost incompetent, enforcement of American immigration laws, many Muslim terrorists go to America to conduct their plotting, secure in the knowledge that unless they commit a crime, no one in authority will bother with them. They are free to enter, overstay their short-term visas and go to ground without fear of detection. Because many of these individuals and groups are a distinct threat to us, we have sought and obtained permission from the American authorities to send our counter intelligence people into their country and keep these potential terrorists under close surveillance.
Part of the agreement permitting this is that we were to keep the FBI fully appraised of anything we might find. They also agreed to supply us with information. This was rarely fully forthcoming so we set up our own surveillance, using telephonic systems we controlled. Also, we have been able to track bank records without any difficulty and can immediately locate funds coming into the United States from suspect foreign banks, known to act as conduits for terrorist funding. Because the FBI is often not particularly responsive or cooperative, we, in turn, only inform them of matters of common interest when absolutely necessary.
• Mossad Observations
Due to our investigations, we early on learned that known Muslim terrorists and suspected terror cells were primarily located in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in both the Miami and Hollywood, Florida areas and once this had been ascertained, these groups were kept under close local surveillance from December 2000 to April 2001. The terrorists were watched daily and all telephone usage was closely observed. They often used codes when talking both inside the United States and overseas but these were fairly easily broken.
• Specific Activities of Mossad in US against terrorists
We were aware that several terrorist cells were operating in Germany, thanks to cooperation with the German BND and another agency. In 1996 and 1997, we were watching a number of suspected terrorists, specifically one Mohammed Atta and his lieutenant, Marwan al=Shehi were located at 54 Maarienstrasse in Hamburg We learned from telephone intercepts and one of our undercover people, a Yemeni , that the Muslims were planning to attack American naval units ported in Yemen. This was the attack on the USS Cole on October 12, 2000.
Our informant said that the Hamburg people were talking about the idea of launching a “massive and impressive” attack on American territory that would be planned to achieve the maximum public relations effect. In 2000, we learned that Atta and others had left Germany for the United States and that they were specifically preparing to launch a spectacular terrorist attack somewhere inside the United States. We had notified the FBI headquarters about this and then learned from them that Atta and others were now resident in Hollywood, Florida.
We sent a team of Arab-speakers led by Hanan Serfati, into the area and they were able to lease apartments had rented several dwellings near the corner of 701st St. and 21st St. in Hollywood, in direct proximity to the terrorist cell. Initially, we kept them under constant surveillance and when they had left their residence, conducted a break-in and planted listening devices. Also, one of our people, speaking perfect Arabic, made personal contact with the Atta people. The team leader himself kept a residence in proximity to the American Postal Service office where it had been determined that they had a drop box. At this point, we had kept both the FBI and the CIA fully informed of our actions and they, in turn, were able to help us with mail covers and other information. .
We observed that several of the terrorists began to take flight training. Mohammed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi took jet flying lessons at Huffman Aviation, a flight school in nearby Venice. Again, we notified the FBI and CIA of this training because it indicated a probable aerial assault but neither agency expressed any genuine interest in the information.
The Arab extremist plot that led to the attacks of September 11 was hatched in Hamburg, Germany.
The main movers in this plot, Mohammed Atta, Ramzi bin al Shibh and Said Bahaji, moved into an apartment at 54 Marienstrasse in the German port city. In 1999 these men, and others, went to an al Quaeda camp in Afghanistan for training purposes. In 2000, they were back in Hamburg, boasting about planned attacks against American targets. In the same year, a number of the Hamburg Arab plotters went to the United States to attend flight training schools.
From this time onwards, until the date of the actual attacks, the Hamburg terrorist cell was in constant telephonic and fax communication with their members in America.
Shortly before the attacks, most of the Hamburg terrorists left Germany for Afghanistan and Pakistan. [Source: New York Times, August 30, 2002]
• The Actual Terrorist Plan revealed
Our undercover agent with the Atta group had proven to be of great value to them by giving them information we supplied him. As they grew more confident of him, they confided to him, and we had made tapes of these conversations, that they planned to launch a massive aerial attack against targets inside the United States. The USS Cole incident, they felt, had had very little impact on the American public. It was then that an enlargement of the 1993 car bomb attack on the World Trade Center in New York was put forward They developed the idea that if they crashed their planes into both buildings, the results would be far more dramatic than the initial attack. Later, our man also suggested a possible attack on other targets in Washington. They discussed attacks on the White House, the Capitol building and the Pentagon.
The number of terrorists to fly commercial planes into targets was limited by the number of men who were available and could be trained. It was then decided to rule out the White House because it was such a small target and concentrate on the Pentagon and the Capitol building. Once that had been settled, the actual planning began in earnest. Our man kept us advised at all times of the progress and we, in turn, immediately notified the (Israeli) Embassy in Washington and our own agency, both in Tel Aviv and the United States.
• Reports to Department of Justice (FBI) and CIA to White House in re coming attacks: The President notified.
As it appeared that there would be such attacks for a certainty., our Embassy first of all contacted both the American Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency and appraised them of the seriousness of the situation. Eventually, the office of the Ambassador made contact with top aides of the Vice President Cheney.
It was felt at the time that Mr. Cheney would understand this matter and be able to make a presentation to the President. In a number of substantive talks with Mr. Cheney, it was mutually decided that the attacks should proceed. The reasons agreed upon were that it would at once give the President the opportunity of securing great domestic power with the legislature and the public. It would also permit, and most important, that the U.S. could attack Saddam Hussein. He was then one of our top enemies and had, in fact, bombarded us with missiles during the Gulf War.
It was felt strongly that if Hussein were removed, the country invaded by American troops and occupied, not only would the United States have secure rights to the huge Iraqi oil reserves but could set up a large, permanent military base in Iraq. This would act as a buffer for Israel and a constant threat to other Arab states plus set up a vital block between Iran, who has threatened Israel many times, and our state. Mr. Cheney, who has excellent connections with the American oil business, was entirely in favor of this on both counts.
He then made a presentation, with our people present, to the President who at once accepted all the aspects of it. The decision was made not to interdict the attack in any way and allow it to happen as it would and to await the outcome. Both the CIA and FBI were to be listened to but forbidden to act “until informed to do so.”
Mr. Cheney remarked that he did not want an attack on the Pentagon to emasculate its military leadership so he suggested that since a part of the building was empty due to interior renovations, that our man with the Atta group inform them that this empty side was where the important people worked.
When the subject came up of the air attack on the Capitol building, an enormous and easily hit target, the President remarked that if the Congress was sitting at the time of the attack, the death or injury of many of its members would not only add to national outrage but also strengthen his powers as a President during a wartime. There was at this point in time, no doubt that a subsequent American military attack on Iraq with ground troops would be made as discussed above.
• Influx of Foreign Intelligence Warnings
Since well before the target date, a number of high-level warnings were received by American governmental agencies concerning news of a pending terrorist attack. Because, at the highest level, it was wished not to interfere with the probability of such an attack, all such information was sent to either the Vice President or the President himself. Of course, nothing was done in fact but there were many worried conversations back and forth. The most persistent were the Germans who had developed inside information and on a number of occasions sent their finding on to the Americans. All were ignored.
In mid-August, 2001, President Vladimir Putin of Russia made a report about possible Arab attacks against domestic American targets..
On August 20, 2001, the French government made a similar report.
On August 24, 2001, the head of the Israeli Mossad reported the imminence of an Arab attack against American targets and a similar report was made by the same agency on September 7, 2001.
Domestically, the picture is not as clear but it is known that:
On June 26, 2001, the CIA informed the White House that they had intercepted foreign intelligence traffic concerning possible al-Qaeda strikes in America on July 4.
On July 1, 2001, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee stated that her staff had advised her that there was a “major probability of a terrorist incident within the next three months.” (emphasis added)
On July 2, 2001, the FBI reported to the White House that al-Qaeda terrorist attacks outside the United States were very possible and that domestic attacks could not be discounted.
On July 5, 2001, the CIA informed the President that al-Qaeda attacks against American targets were entirely possible during the summer of that year.
On July 28, 2001, authorities in Dubai arrested one Djamel Beghal who revealed information about a planned al-Qaeda explosive attack on the U.S. Embassy in Paris
On August 6, 2001, the CIA also presented a warning to the President, explicitly concerned with terrorism inside the United States. The actual content of this message has been the subject of considerable debate, with White House officials understandably downplaying its significance.[Sources: Time May 27, 2002]
• Mossad agrees to provide special services to US in addition to updates on Atta people
After many discussions, it was determined that the American authorities could not be seen to have had real knowledge and specific information on this attack. It was also reasoned that for the attack to achieve its geo-political goals, the targets would have to be destroyed. Of course they could not destroy the Pentagon nor would this be wished. As stated above, the damage was to be in a so-called “safe” area. Our man in Florida did give to the Atta people his ‘inside” information as to which part of the building to attack and thereby save the lives of top military officials. Because the main public relations targets were the two tall buildings, it was imperative that they be either badly damaged or destroyed in full view of the cameras and the American public. Heavy loss of life was expected but mention was made of an air accident previously in which an American bomber got lost in the clouds and rammed into the Empire State building. Damage to the building was not great. It was finally agreed that we would supply certain technical assistance to absolutely insure the very visual and dramatic damage.
The Americans would have no provable connection with this. To achieve this, first a study of both buildings was made that showed they were very cheaply erected and that it would be very possible to “assist” the terrorists in their work. To do this, three teams of our people were selected with the idea that they would leave the country right away and that no one would attempt to interdict or block their exit.
The actual plan was to enter the big buildings at night as maintenance people, to proceed to the part of the buildings most likely to be struck. We knew approximately where this would happen but not certainly. Then, entering the office spaces, quick access through the false ceilings allowed the team to use locally-made thermite bombs with magnetic attachments which would easily and quickly be placed against a strategic number of the horizontal steel beams that held up each floor.
They were to be triggered by a specific rise in heat and were placed against each beam at an angle so as to insure burring the beam through sufficiently to materially weaken it. Our engineers calculated that first the plane would strike the building and start big fires. The fires would weaken the beams and when the heat had reached a certain point, the thermite hidden up above the false ceilings would ignite and burn through the beam. The weight of the building above would press down below and it was then hoped that everything would crash down.
As we did not know just on what floor the plane would strike, these heat bombs were placed, five to a floor, for five floors, up and down. These bombs were small enough, and safe enough, to conceal in maintenance equipment. And, in the event that the attacks were aborted for any reason, our people could easily return to the buildings afterwards and retrieve the bombs without leaving a trace. The thermite would certainly eat into the steel but would not explode and reveal its presence.
• The attack
About three weeks prior to the actual attack, the special code words were developed by Atta. In that case, the Pentagon was called ‘The Faculty of Fine Arts”, the Capitol was termed “The Faculity of Law;” and the Trade Building tower was termed, as “The Faculty of Town Planning.” This, of course was part of the cover story that Atta and his people were students, following an educational career in America and used these for international telephone calls to their superiors in Saudi Arabia.
As soon as the date was fixed for the attack, the White House warned very senior American officials like the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense and his staff, not to fly on commercial aircraft because of “rumors of possible hijackings” . No one outside of a very small circle was told the truth. And because of the possibility that the White House might still be a target of opportunity, the President went in early October, well before the projected attack date, to Texas and then later went to Florida where he and his staff remained in safety until after the attack was over.
July 26, 2001: Attorney General Ashcroft stops flying commercial airlines due to a threat assessment but “neither the FBI nor the Justice Department … would identify [to CBS] what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it.”. [Source: CBS, 7/26/01] He later walks out of his office rather than answer questions about this. [Source: Associated Press, 5/16/02]
August 4-30, 2001: President Bush spends most of August 2001 at his Crawford, Texas, ranch, nearly setting a record for the longest presidential vacation. While it is billed a “working vacation,” ABC reports Bush is doing “nothing much” aside from his regular daily intelligence briefings. [ABC 8/3/01; Washington Post 8/7/01; Salon 8/29/01] One such unusually long briefing at the start of his trip is a warning that bin Laden is planning to attack in the US, but Bush spends the rest of that day fishing (see August 6, 2001). By the end of his trip, Bush has spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots or en route. [Washington Post 8/7/01] At the time, a poll shows that 55 percent of Americans say Bush is taking too much time off. [USA Today, 8/7/01] Vice President Cheney also spends the entire month in a remote location in Wyoming. [Jackson Hole News and Guide 8/15/01]
September 6-7, 2001: 4,744 put options (a speculation that the stock will go down) are purchased on United Air Lines stock as opposed to only 396 call options (speculation that the stock will go up). This is a dramatic and abnormal increase in sales of put options. Many of the UAL puts are purchased through Deutschebank/AB Brown, a firm managed until 1998 by the current Executive Director of the CIA, A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal]
September 10, 2001: 4,516 put options are purchased on American Airlines as compared to 748 call options. [New York Times; Wall Street Journal.]
September 6-11, 2001: No other airlines show any similar trading patterns to those experienced by UAL and American. The put option purchases on both airlines were 600% above normal. This at a time when Reuters (September 10) issues a business report stating “airline stocks may be poised to take off.”
September 6-10, 2001: Highly abnormal levels of put options are purchased in Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, AXA Re (insurance) which owns 25% of American Airlines, and Munich Re. All of these companies are directly impacted by the September 11 attacks.
On September 10, 2001, the NSA intercepted two messages in Arabic. One message read:
“Tomorrow is zero hour” and the second “The match begins tomorrow.” [Source: New York Times, August 10, 2002] On June 19, 2002, CNN reported the contents of these two National Security Agency intercepts. Other news outlets, including The Washington Post, also reported on the intercepts. [Source: New York Times, August 10, 2002]
September 10, 2001: Bush flew to Florida from Texas to visit with his brother Governor Jeb Bush. Attorney General Ashcroft rejects a proposed $58 million increase in financing for the bureau’s counter-terrorism programs. On the same day, he sends a request for budget increases to the White House. It covers 68 programs, but none of them relate to counter-terrorism. He also sends a memorandum to his heads of departments, stating his seven priorities—none of them relating to counter-terrorism. This is more than a little strange, since Ashcroft stopped flying public airplanes in July due to terrorist threats (see July 26, 2001) and he told a Senate committee in May that counter-terrorism was his “highest priority.” [New York Times, 6/1/02, Guardian, 5/21/02]
• Final Observations
The final attack varied very little from the last planning stage. One of the hijacked planes, the one intended to hit the Capitol building, was crashed by action of its passengers but the other three struck their targets as anticipated. The flames, smoke and general confusion were indeed a public spectacle, seen by all of America and the buildings, beams severed when the heat reached a certain point, did collapse in great clouds. A third building was tended to from the inside, not struck by an aircraft, and because great tanks of fuel were ignited, burned until it collapsed some time later.
The carnage was not to believe and everyone involved in this felt is was a most profitable operation. As we know, the President was acclaimed as a great leader and he was then able to marshal national support into his attack on Iraq. The military campaign, as foreseen, has proven to be quick and decisive, Hussein and his henchmen were swept away and now the American military and civilian forces are in complete control of Iraq. Iran has been put on notice and we expect a large, permanent American military base in the area to act as a deterrent to any future manifestation of Arab nationalism. All of our technicians, as opposed to our intelligence people, were immediately evacuated and aside from several who were temporarily detained by American authorities, eventually all were released and returned safe home.
Now, we have moved from a defensive to an offensive posture and, with American support and a large military presence, the ever-present fears of attacks have been neutralized, hopefully for a very long time.”

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Brad Steiger

Brad Steiger was a legendary crackpot, conspiracy theorist and pseudoscience promoter particularly well known, perhaps, for promoting ancient astronauts and Atlantis nonsense but really into more or less any conceivable brand of silliness. Several of his books were coauthored with his wife Sherry Hansen Steiger, and since Brad passed away in 2018, she will be rewarded with being the focus of the present entry. Many of the Steigers’ books, such as Conspiracies and Secret Societies: the Complete Dossier; Real Visitors, Voices from Beyond; Real Angels: Guiding Spirits, Benevolent Beings, and Heavenly Hosts and Parallel Dimensions and The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained (which they edited), read as descriptions of the various conspiracies and delusions mentioned in the titles, but the Steigers have also been pretty clear that they tend to at least assign some degree of credibility to more or less every piece of nonsense that comes their way – their books can, as such, be characterized as ambitious attempts at JAQing off.
Not all of their releases have aged particularly well
Brad and Sherry are for instance largely responsible for promoting the sad delusions of Al Bielek, having coauthored The Philadelphia Experiment and Other UFO Conspiracies with him in 1990. The book does a comprehensive job of packing all the expected nonsense involving CIA plots, government conspiracies, secret meetings with aliens, trips to Mars, visits from the Men in Black and so on together in a single volume. Another book in the same vein is their The Rainbow Conspiracy: The Greatest Cover-Up of Our Time, which ostensibly concerns a WWII program by the US Navy designed to make their warships invisible to the enemy, but which instead ended up “forever chang[ing] our relationship with extraterrestrials”, a conclusion reached by a substantial dose of imagination and paranoia.
Sherry Steiger is, rather unsurprisingly, also heavily into woo. She has “actively studied the dynamic interaction between the body, mind and spirit in health-related matters as well as the effects of environment and technology on health and wellness,” and given her distaste for methodology, accuracy and accountability displayed in her “studies”, has arrived at exactly the kinds of conclusions you’d expect.
Given that even her and her husband’s website is currently defunct, we suspect that she is more or less retired.
Diagnosis: Prolific, colorful, and with a very tenuous grasp of the distinction between fiction and reality (or, perhaps more accurately: the Steigers simply never cared about that distinction), the Steigers are probably responsible for recruiting plenty of bored, critical-thinking-challenged people to the fantastic realm of delusion, pseudoscience and conspiracies. Hansen Steiger does seem to be more or less retired, but she is still with us, and famous enough to warrant an entry nonetheless.

Robert David Steele

Robert David Steele is a former CIA officer who has found a new career as a major league crackpot: given his background, paranoid conspiracy theorists are naturally inclined believe that Steele’s wild-eyed rantings carry some sort of authority, especially since Steele claims to have government resources at his disposal: for instance, according entirely to himself, Steele helped President Trump use the NSA database to “get every name, date and place for every pedophile, every traitor and every white collar criminal in the United States of America.” Yes, this one’s for the QAnon and pizzagate crowds, and builds on some remarkably resilient conspiracy tropes in wingnut circles.
Steele was also the one who told Alex Jones about the pedophile colonies the government has on Mars: “We actually believe that there is a colony on Mars that is populated by children who were kidnapped and sent into space on a 20-year ride,” said Steele, “so that once they get to Mars they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony.” And if you wonder what the purpose would be for NASA to go through such efforts, Steele is ready to explain: “Pedophilia does not stop with sodomizing children. It goes straight into terrorizing them to adrenalize their blood and then murdering them. It also includes murdering them so that they can have their bone marrow harvested as well as body parts” (ok, so for an explanation this misses some details, such as why they would go to Mars rather than some local pizza parlor, but it’s the best you’ll ever get for this type of claim.) “This is the original growth hormone,” commented Alex Jones. “Yes, it’s an anti-aging thing,” Steele replied. Now remember that President Trump listens to Alex Jones’s show, rather than to the “fake news” of the mainstream media.
Steele also told deranged dingbat Sheila Zilinsky that if Hillary Clinton had been elected, she would have legalized bestiality and pedophilia. He was, however, quick to lay the blame for his imaginary Clinton-policies on the Jews: “Hollywood has been run by Zionists from day one,” said Steele said, “and Hollywood was designed, inclusive of Walt Disney, was designed to destroy American values.” For instance, “if you go back and look at every Shirley Temple movie, it is essentially soft porn for pedophiles […], they are essentially the pedophile’s wet dream.” Steele’s reaction to watching Shirley Temple movies should, in other words, be the cause for some concern. Continued Steele: “We have senior founding Zionists in Hollywood saying, ‘Our objective is to eliminate all American values,’ [he did, curiously, not provide any attribution for the quote] and we have a senator who has exposed a memorandum from Loretta Lynch, had Hillary Clinton become president, they were going to legalize bestiality and pedophilia.”
Steele also believes that “Jeffrey Epstein is a Mossad clandestine operations officer” whose mission was to “entrap US politicians, judges, celebrities, prosecutors, and corporate leaders with rigged ‘no name’ hotels and the multi-cavern ‘Lolita Island’” with the help of the FBI and CIA – not to expose them, mind, since FBI and CIA are evil, but to blackmail them (Epstein is, moreover, probably still alive). Accordingly, he hopes that “President Donald Trump follows through on this – and then throws in 9/11 disclosure [but of course] and an end to our support for Zionist Israel and its unregistered agents bribing and blackmailing everyone of consequence (AIPAC and ADL),” suggesting that if he does, “then he will in all probability be re-elected in a landslide, at the same time that the Democrats lose the House and 27 states flush their Governors and state legislators out of office for making it a felony to speak freely about the need to boycott Zionist genocidal apartheid criminal invented state Israel.”
Steele is currently Chief Enabling Officer of the Earth Intelligence Network and CEO of Open Source Everything. His insights have appeared for instance on the globalresearch webpage, including his article “The Soft Coup Collapses – CIA Bluffing, Russia Did Not Hack, Blackmail Revealed – What Next?” about the alleged deep-state conspiracy against President Trump, presumably because Trump’s tireless work against Zionist child abuse on Mars is a threat to their machinations.
He has also written numerous books, including The Orlando Mass Casualty Event: A False Flag Drama, Atrocity, or Hybrid? and the somewhat confusingly titled EYES ONLY: For the President (and the Public): Everything the Deep State Does Not Want You To Know. Steele’s earlier predictions for revolution (“all preconditions for revolution are now present in the US and Britain”) and WW3 starting in 2019, which was met with some enthusiasm in the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) community (where Steele used to be a respected figure), should probably be evaluated in light of his more recent revelations.
Diagnosis: Yes, people – lots of people, apparently – believe this. We can and should point and laugh, of course, but it’s pretty scary.

Anita Staver

Perhaps most familiar as the wife of deranged fundie Mat Staver, Anita Staver is a deranged fundie in her own right and president of Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT hate group (you’d never imagine, from their actions and arguments, that Liberty Counsel fancied liberty; that’s why they had to put “liberty” in their name.)
No fan of public schools, Staver has called them “dangerous, anti-God indoctrination camps” that “threaten our nation’s very survival” because they teach facts and science, like evolution, that Staver does not think children should be exposed to lest their commitment to fundie denialism might start to waver. Pleading with parents to homeschool their children instead, in a column titled “Stealth Creation of Government Indoctrination Camps Underway”, she complained that “millions of helpless people are taken there on busses to be brainwashed and victimized” in “repressive” schools controlled by “secularists, humanists, and socialists.” “Public schools have indeed, become some of the most dangerous places in America,” Staver concluded.
Mostly, though, Staver dislikes LGBT people, who she – albeit totally unable to cite even cursory evidence – perceives to be threat. Staver was for instance part of the group behind the American Prayer Initiative, which offered members a specific prayer for every day of each month until Election Day 2012, including prayers condemning the separation of church and state and homosexuality, and endeavored to pray for God’s “healing for those who struggle with same-sex attraction” and to “replace unnatural affections”. (Other members of the initiative included National Day of Prayer’s Shirley Dobson and Vonette Bright, Janet Parshall, Penny Nance, Susan B. Anthony List’s Marilyn Musgrave, Rebecca Hagelin and Susan Allen.) Staver’s comments on the Florida proposition to enshrine a definition of marriage as between man and woman in the constitution in 2008 probably sum up her views reasonably well: “We don’t need a crystal ball to tell what’s going to happen … Normalizing same-sex marriage will suppress speech and religion. The ultimate goal for those opposing Amendment 2 is to silence all opposition to same-sex behavior and the homosexual lifestyle,” presumably based on what she would do to those who threatened to disagree with her if she had the power to do so – there really is no other justification for the claim. Moreover, noting that the debate, in her mind, is “really a battle over the freedom of speech,” shows that her stance is, unsurprisingly, mere standard wingnut conspiracy mongering based on strong feelings and no facts to appeal to.
She has also taken a strong stance on the imaginary War on Christmas, arguing that when enough people learn the truth, the ACLU and similar “Scrooges” and “grinches” will lose their power to steal Christmas.
Diagnosis: Standard wingnut fundie fare, but Staver definitely wields some power, and must be considered a significant threat to human civilization and well-being.

Penny Starr

Penny Starr is reporter for CNSNews, employee of Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center – a group that barely even pretends to be a media research center – and conservative activist. In particular, Starr is vehemently and virulently anti-gay, and her main claim to fame is the uproar she caused in December 2010 with her story “Smithsonian Christmas-Season Exhibit Features Ant-Covered Jesus, Naked Brothers Kissing, Genitalia, and Ellen DeGeneres Grabbing Her Breasts”. The story was a deranged review of a National Portrait Gallery exhibit on the gay and lesbian experience in American art, which predictably gave rise to a standard call for safe spaces in the right-wing controversy machine and ultimately led to the Smithsonian removing a work from the exhibit – Starr had described said artwork as “anti-Christmas”.
She attempted to repeat the success the following year by attacking a National Portrait Gallery exhibit on Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, which also committed the unforgivable sin of triggering rightwing snowflakes like Starr by acknowledging the existence of gay people.
No fan of science either, Starr is at best critical of evolution, as shown by her (false) assertion that the theory of evolution remains controversial “even in scientific circles” in her “news report” on the New Smithsonian exhibit on human origins entitled “New Smithsonian Exhibit on Human Origins Devoid of References to God, Creation or Pre-Natal Existence” (no link provided).
Diagnosis: A seasoned manufactroversy-monger on the religious right circuit, which is admittedly an easy job considering how easily triggered her audience is, and how little accuracy matters to whether they are triggered or not. Moderately dangerous.

Todd Starnes

A dominant feature of fundamentalism is the martyr complex. No matter what power and influence you have, and no matter that your religious convictions represent the majority of the population, you are a victim, standing defiant in the face of the the Satanic horde, your flag held high and your convictions strong in the face of overwhelming forces trying to vanquish you. It’s a compelling narrative, and for many it’s the self-image they maintain even as they use their own privileges and power to force others to live by their convictions on others, yelling “help, help, I’m being oppressed” while doing so.
A screaming ball of fundie paranoia, Todd Starnes is perhaps the leading propagandist for the myth that Christians are persecuted in the US today. Starnes sees persecution wherever he looks, and regardless of what he is actually looking at – he has a narrative to construct, and everything is interpreted to fit that narrative. Accordingly, Starnes finds a lot of persecution: more or less everything Starnes disagrees with, including separation of church and state and the fact that people with actual power may have different religious beliefs than him, Todd Starnes, turns out to be, ultimately, scandalous and shocking persecution of not only him, but all true Christians. Indeed, everyone who disagrees with him on anything seem to be persecuting him and/or the Christians he represents. There is, according to Starnes, a war on Christianity going on, and Christians are the face of this generation’s civil rights movement. But the road to victory will be hard: “We are going to see, within our lifetime, an attempt to outlaw or criminalize parts of the Bible,” says Starnes; if you ask for evidence or reason you haven’t remotely understood what’s going on here.
Todd Starnes is otherwise a columnist, commentator, author and radio host, a long-time guest on Fox and Friends and Hannity, and from 2017 until 2019 the host of a syndicated talk radio show on Fox News Radio – he was apparently fired from Fox News and all affiliates in October 2019 after endorsing the idea that American Democrats worship the pagan god Moloch. It wasn’t his first time getting in trouble with the media outlets employing him: In 2003, Starnes was let go by the Baptist Press after falsifying quotes from an interview with then U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige – the interview had actually spawned national headlines with several members of Congress calling on Paige to resign over comments on religion and the public schools before the Baptist Press was forced to issue an apology noting “factual and contextual errors” and decide that Starnes “no longer will be employed to write for the Baptist Press”. (For some reason we can’t help suspecting that Starnes’s audacity and predilection for journalistic malfeasance didn’t for the most part actually count against him at Fox.)
Starnes’s examples of religious persecution
Starnes has no compunctions about lying in order to support his persecution narrative. He has for instance repeatedly promoted the Raymond Raines story, which has been repeatedly debunked for some 20 years now. It is very instructive that, when asked for examples of persecution, this fake story is the go-to example for Starnes’s and his religious right allies.
And it is mostly for stories like these that Starnes has earned his position among the religious right; indeed, most persecution stories that rise to popularity on the religious right circuit are either Starnes fabrications or falsehoods picked up and popularized by him. Another famous example is the story of Air Force Sgt. Phillip Monk, who was apparently “relieved of his duties after he disagreed with his openly gay commander when she wanted to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality.” As Starnes saw it, the case was an illustration of how Christians are punished for their religious beliefs and how “in essence, Christians are trading places with homosexuals.” The story spread rapidly, and were for instance picked up by Liberty University official Shawn Akers and AFA’s Bryan Fischer – not people known to check their sources if a story pats them the right way – and Monk was, not surprisingly, also invited to share his tale at a Values Voter Summit panel on the alleged trend of anti-Christian persecution. Of course, Monk’s story was false from beginning to end – he was, for instance, never “relieved of his duties” for anything.
And when Starnes accused a Georgia school of “confiscating” a display of teachers’ Christmas cards, the truth was that the display had merely been moved from a hallway to an office to accommodate the privacy concerns of a teacher who had wanted to participate but didn’t want her personal card displayed in a public space. (As school administrators rightly saw it, Starnes’s fabricated story was “an intentional and vicious dissemination of untrue information that disrupted the good work going on inside” the school.) There is a pattern here, of course, and there are plenty of other examples of Starnes trademark fabrications here, including his story – which gained immense popularity in wingnut media – of a six-year-old girl in California who had been stopped in the middle of a class presentation about her family’s Christmas traditions because “she can’t talk about religion in school” (never happened), his reports about the middle school students forced into a lesbian kiss (false), the tale about the athlete disqualified for thanking God (false: the athlete in question admitted he was disqualified for taunting and disrespecting a referee), the story about students at a Colorado high school who were banned from celebrating America (completely false), and the report of the Pentagon blocking a Southern Baptist website (an intentional lie; the Defense Department employees were briefly unable to access the website because it was infected with malware) – indeed, with regard to the latter example Starnes promptly accused Obama of “Christian cleansing”, and claimed that the incidence was part of a general effort on part of “politically correct Obama administration officals” in cooperation with “church-state separation activists” to conduct a “sort of religious cleansing of the military”. It is probably little surprise that his 2013 column about the military getting ready to court martial Christians (picked up for instance by the Family Research Council and Louie Gohmert) was also completely groundless.
And then, of course, there was the April 2014 story about an elementary school student in Florida who was allegedly told by a teacher “that she was not allowed to pray before eating her lunch time meal” and that “it’s not good” to pray – which was thoroughly investigated and found to be utterly baseless. The girl’s father, however, happened, by what is surely an amazing coincidence, to be head of sales at the company publishing Starnes’ new book God Less America: Real Stories from the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values, a book that is precisely filled with these kinds of tall tales. There is, by the way, a criticism of parts of that book here; perhaps the most remarkable chapter of the book is Chapter 5, “So Absurd It Could Be True: The Gospel Of Barack Obama,” in which Starnes explicitly relies on his imagination to illustrate the persecution Christians are facing in the US at present (the other chapters rely more or less solely on his imagination, too, but are less explicit about where Starnes finds his data.)
You can probably imagine how he spun the Kim Davis affair. Yes, it’s persecution, of course, and Starnes concluded by predicting that “jails will soon fill up with Christians.” And if you thought it’s a bit of an exaggeration to characterize Starnes as a theocrat, we suggest you think a bit about what his views on how the courts should work, as expressed in connection with the Davis case, would actually imply.
Meanwhile, atheists and others fighting government prayer or mandatory prayers are basically “Hitler”. But of course. Anyone who disagrees with Starnes is Hitler (who, by the way, often claimed that God was backing his policies in his speeches).
The War on Christmas
We could, of course, continue: Starnes’s December 2013 report that VA hospitals in Texas and Georgia were guilty of anti-Christian bias because VA administrators had banned Christmas cards for patients? Not only false, but obviously an intentional lie. Or his report from the same month that a Georgia hospital had banned Christmas carols? A lie, of course. Or for that matter: his story about how a Texas school banned Christmas trees and the colors red and green? A complete fabrication (the story was picked up e.g. by Sarah Palin). But of course: the accusations nicely fit the popular wingnut “War on Christmas” narrative, so you can rest assured that someone with as little time or taste for truth and accuracy as Todd Starnes will continue to make them.
One final, illuminating example of Starnes’s strategy for marketing paranoia over the alleged “war on Christmas”. In 2013, Starnes claimed that America is transforming into “1930s Germany” under President Obama’s leadership. The evidence? A 2009 story about how administration officials under the then-social secretary debated whether to have a crèche at the White House, ultimately deciding to do so, which in Starnes’s deranged imagination became President Obama personally trying “to get rid of the nativity scene.” Here is Starnes blatantly lying about how Obama handled the Saeed Abedini case.
To combat the perceived persecution of Christians in the US, Starnes has asked God to send more insects. How effective he thinks mosquitoes and gnats would be in combatting religious persecution at Christmas time across the US is unclear, but not the silliest thing about the request.
Anti-gay antics
Starnes has also fabricated a number of stories to oppose marriage equality (also beyond the Monk story above). Moreover, he has, on multiple occasions, suggested that Obama is secretly gay and implied that devastating floods in D.C. were God’s retribution for the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage. Not the least, Starnes thinks that the gay community is largely responsible for the rise of divorce and single parent households (don’t ask us – or him – how) and that gay rights will lead to “cultural Armageddon”, since that sounds appropriately scary to his audiences.
When Michael Sam came out as gay before the NFL draft, Starnes was deeply disappointed and explained that the mere knowledge that there is a gay person on the field was completely going to ruin his enjoyment of football. Apparently we should all feel sorry for him, and Michael Sam should have thought a bit deeper about the sentiments of Todd Starnes before choosing his orientation.
During the controversy over Chick-fil-A’s stance on gay rights issues, Starnes said that people boycotting the restaurant chain are “un-American” and warned that “the days of persecution are upon us.” That didn’t prevent him from endorsing the Religious Right boycott of the Girl Scouts over bogus accusations that Girl Scout cookies fund Planned Parenthood, of course. (Ha-ha: you really thought this had anything to do with reason or coherence? This is about framing the expression of your position; Starnes could hardly care less about reason and coherence (case in point), unless you compared it with how much he cares about accuracy.) His announcement that he would be boycotting Frito-Lay because of the release of Rainbow Doritos is illuminating, too.
Most importantly, gay rights and marriage equality amount persecution of Christians. Starnes predicted, before the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, that allowing gay people to marry will mean that pastors will be arrested for preaching the Bible as a hate crime, presumably based on the fact that this is what Starnes would do to those who disagree with him if he could and because he is completely unable to fathom that others may be less deranged than himself – I mean, it’s not like he provides any other source for his conclusions.
Starnes’s more forthright views about people with other religious beliefs
In 2015, Starnes managed to court some controversy for his response to the film “American Sniper”, when he stated that Jesus, well-known to people on the religious right for his blood thirst, “would tell that God-fearing, red-blooded American sniper, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant’ ” for dispatching disbelieving Muslims to the lake of fire.
And while he is pretty clear that government-led prayers should be allowed (or mandatory) in public schools – currently US “public schools have been turned into indoctrination centers” where “teachers are preaching a liberal ideology” – they should obviously be prayers in English to the Christian God. Anything else is pure oppression.
In 2017 Starnes was outraged to see Muslims praying at a protest of President Trump’s immigration executive orders at the Dallas airport, saying that the prayer was evidence of police stepping back and making way for a violent coup against Trump: that Muslims are protesting politics and even praying means that “a good argument could be made that the mainstream media and liberal activists and Hollywood, quite frankly, are … trying to foment some sort of a faux revolution or coup in America”. Once you realize that any religious view that deviates from Starnes’s own, or any other disagreement with Starnes, is inherently tyrannical, you will quickly also realize how much Christians (i.e. those who agree with Starnes) are persecuted win the US.
And people who disagree with Starnes are everywhere. Even Superman has become “a propaganda tool for the defenders of illegal aliens” since there is an issue in which he defends a group of Latino men from a gun-wielding racist instead of rounding them up and “flying them back to where they came from.”
Miscellaneous politics
Starnes has referred to the removal symbols of the old Confederacy from public places as “cultural cleansing” and compared anyone supporting it to ISIS. Indeed, the decision by the University of Mississippi to stop playing “Dixie” at football games is apparently also just like ISIS. He also commented on Cliven Bundy and his allied militias in their lawless stance against Bureau of Land Management in 2014, suggesting that violence would have been an appropriate response to the authorities who confronted Bundy after his defiance of several court rulings. And here is Starnes trying to claim that Obama wanted tax payers to pay for marijuana for college kids – Starnes’s dislike of Obama, combined with his dislike of facts, actually makes for some interesting commentaries, for instance his attempt to explain how Obama is to blame for violent Trump supporters.
Meanwhile, the 2016 election of Trump was “a miracle”. Later Starnes accused Jeff Sessions for opening “the door for Robert Mueller and his partisan cronies to come in and wage political jihad on the White House” – he has, as usual, at best only a vague idea about what’s going on, of course. Starnes has also, predictably, fabricated several stories about how persecuted Trump is by the liberal establishment.
In 2018 Starnes wrote that female protesters who protested the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh were “screaming animals” who “should be tasered, handcuffed and dragged out of the building;” it is unclear whether what made the protestors deserving of such treatment was the fact that they disagreed with him or the fact that they were women. The comment is nevertheless an instructive point of departure if you try to imagine what a society would look like that would, for Starnes, count as not oppressive to his particular brand of fundamentalism. “Capitol police should stand their ground and protect the senators at any cost,” continued Starnes. Just think for a moment about what he means by that.
Diagnosis: Liars for Jesus have rarely lied more brazenly than Todd Starnes, but his formula has apparently been a huge success, and his stories enjoy wide distribution on the religious right scene. Starnes knows his audience: older, paranoid wingnuts who are already afraid, and Starnes delivers fear, outrage and conspiracy aplenty for his audience. It works. Extremely dangerous.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 58

Both breakfast and lunch were late that day and the man with the front loader was called and promised to come the next day, having abandoned all of his regular customers in favor of accepting another hundred dollar bribe. Since he was the only snow-clearing firm in twenty miles, the others would have to wait. He later told the unhappy snowed-in customers that his wife had an epileptic seizure while looking at flashing Christmas tree lights and broke their brand new coffee table with her thrashings.
One sympathetic old woman even gave him a freshly baked mince pie for the wife. The man hated mince pies and threw it out into the snow where the birds got very drunk on the alcohol in it and were easy prey for a festive red tail hawk that also liked to observe Christmas.
When lunch was over, Gwen, who had a towel wrapped around her very wet hair, suggested that perhaps they might all take a drive down to Duluth and get out into the world. It was pointed out to her that it took a considerable amount of time to drive to Duluth, especially with bad roads and that perhaps the next day might be more realistic.
“Well, so much for that. I am really tired for some reason and I think I’ll crash out for a little while. Wake me later loves.”
When she had gone, Claude winked.
“Got her hair wet, didn’t she? She thinks you and I were being bad up there?”
“Yes. Hey, clean those plates off into the garbage disposal before you put them in the dishwasher, OK?”
Lars had gone up to his room to listen to his music, Claude went to his room to read through his new art books and Chuck fell asleep on a couch in the living room
The rumbling and grating noises made by the snow removal machinery woke everyone up at seven in the morning and Chuck had to hurriedly put on some clothes so he could go outside and pay the man his bribe. The snow had stopped the day before and the day was warmer than it had been for some time, at least forty degrees instead of the weekly diet of ten and fifteen.
The driver of the machine made small talk, thanked Chuck three times for the money and assured him that the next time the road was closed, he would be up just as soon as the snow stopped.
They made several jokes about Global Warming and the driver said he wished there was more of this because even though the summers were warmer, the winters were much colder and far more violent.
On the way back into the house, Chuck noted that the high snow bank that contained the frozen remains of the hit man seemed to be rapidly shrinking and decided that when they got back from their trip to Duluth, some sort of closure had to be made.
The corpse, suitably weighted, could be dumped into the pond with his crushed car, or shoved back under the log with a load of rocks and dirt on top of him. On the other hand, LeBec could be quietly and reverently deposited out in his woods several miles from the house and left to feed the insects and small animals during the spring thaws.
Chuck decided that the latter would much easier, and safer, than leaving the rotting corpse in the vicinity of his house. A year or so later some hiker might find what the animals had left but he doubted it very much. His property was not sought out by campers because there were no roads and the area was filled with swamps, lakes and bogs. The countryside that was not covered with trees was carpeted with thick underbrush, and wild vines with sharp thorns that had berries which attracted bears.
Bears were well known to lunch on people as well as berries and there had been several fatal bear attacks in the neighborhood over the past few years. For some reason, bears were now attacking and munching on bipeds instead of ripping up their campsites and campers.
Perhaps, Chuck thought, as he inspected the snow bank at closer range, it has something to do with Global Warming. He read somewhere that bears especially enjoyed mauling women who were menstruating but the postmaster told him that three Boy Scouts, a Pentecostal minister and a member of the Greenpeace conservationist movement had all been dispatched by the local bear population. Menstruation was obviously not the attraction but perhaps the bears were evolving into more human entities and like humans, were killing merely for the fun of it.
Fat, drunken hunters who habitually shot at anything that moved in the woods, including other hunters, stray cattle, a horse or two and hunting dogs were now being hunted by bears. Chuck thought about how correct Darwin was and went into the house.
Le Bec was still safely ensconced in his cold bed but if the present weather maintained, a removal would be in order within the week.
Fed and eager to leave the confines of the Viking palace, they all got into the van and drove down the freshly cleared road while the sliding gate clicked shut behind them.
The drive to Duluth was not particularly eventful. There was a good deal of snow on the ground but they traveled on cleared county roads and the trip didn’t take much longer than usual.
There was lunch at an expensive restaurant followed by visits to various shops in the main part of the city. Post-Christmas sales were in full swing and Gwen spent some of her poker winnings on various items she felt were necessary. When no one else was around, she bought belated presents for everyone. It had been her intention to do this before Christmas but Chuck had gone out without telling her. Better late than never became her watchword and she got very reasonable prices on a number of expensive gifts.
She bought Chuck an eight volume set of Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ in beautiful leather bindings. The set had originally been on sale for a thousand dollars but the citizens of Duluth preferred cookbooks and automobile repair manuals to Gibbons so the bookstore owner was delighted to sell it for a hundred dollars. He even gift wrapped it for her and gave her his card. He had other such books and felt that if she was dumb enough to buy the Gibbons books, she might want the Annotated Shakespeare and a beautifully illustrated Kamasutra he kept in the back so that sticky-fingered youth wouldn’t paw furtively through its educational pages.
She was going to buy Lars a photo book on young girls but decided to get him a number of cable-knit Irish sweaters and some sateen briefs that were so small she could have stuffed one of them into a thimble and still had room for her finger. Lars would look just fine in these and the next time he came calling, he would look a good deal better than he did wearing his thermal underwear that was starting to bag at the knees, buttocks and elbows.
She knew very little about art but she bought Claude a very nice book on Della Robbia, whose name she remembered from Christmas, and a fitted leather traveling case.
He would have looked much better than Lars in briefs but she decided that this might encourage Claude to visit her and she did not particularly want that. Claude, she instinctively felt, was a sexual hit-and-run artist and she did not like the thought of being knocked down by a speeding car and left to weep by the side of the road of life.

This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

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