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TBR News January 20, 2011

Jan 20 2011

The Voice of the White House

This is rapidly becoming a decade of official deceit and public disillusion.

The issue under discussion here is MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System).

MERS, set up by the government  in 1995, now claims to be a privately-held company and their official function is stated to be ‘keeping track of a confidential electronic registry of mortgages and the modifications to servicing rights and ownership of the loans.’  MERS is actually a U.S. government initiated organization like Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and its current shareholders include AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, WaMu, CitiMortgage, Countrywide, GMAC, Guaranty Bank, and Merrill Lynch. All of these entities have been intimately, and disastrously, involved with the so-called “housing bubble,” and were subsequently quickly bailed out by the supportive Bush administration

In addition to its publicly stated purpose of simplifying mortgage registration MERS was also set up to assist in the creation of so-called  Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and Structured investment Vehicles (SIV). The CDOs is a type of structured asset-backed security (ABS) whose value and payments are derived from a portfolio of fixed-income underlying assets. CDOs securities are split into different risk classes, or tranches, which permits these entities to be minced into tiny tranches and sold off by the big investment banks to pensions, foreign investors and retail investors. who in turn have discounted and resold them over and over.

It is well-known inside the American banking institutions that these highly questionable, potentially unsafe investment packages were deliberately marketed to countries, such as China and Saudi Arabia, that are not in favor with elements of the American government and banking industry and were, and are, marketed with full knowledge of their fragility.

The basic problem with this MERS system that while it does organize the mortgage market, it also knowingly permits fiscal sausage-making whereby a huge number of American domestic and business mortgages, (59 million by conservative estimate) are sliced up, put into the aforesaid “investment packages” and sold to customers both domestic and foreign.

This results in the frightening fact that the holders of mortgages, so chopped and packed, are not possible to identify by MERS or anyone else, at any time and by any agency. This means that any property holder, be they a domestic home owner or a business owner, is paying their monthly fees for property they can never own. Because of the diversity of the packaging, it is totally and completely impossible to ascertain what person or organization owns a specific mortgage and as a result, a clear title to MERS-controlled property is impossible to get at any time, even if a mortgage is fully paid. No person or entity, has been, or never can be, identified who can come forward and legally release the lien on the property once the loan is paid.


In short, MERS conceals this fact from the public with the not-unreasonable assumption that by the time the owner of the home or business discovers that they have only been paying rent on property they can never get clear title to, all the primary parties;  the banks, the government agencies, the mortgage companies, or the title companies, will be dead and gone. MERS is set up to guarantee this fact but, gradually, little by little, mostly by word of mouth, the public is beginning to realize that their American dream of owning a house is nothing but a sham and a delusion.

The solution to this is quite simple. If a home or business American mortgage payer , goes to the property offices in their county and looks at their registered property, they can clearly see if MERS is the purported holder of the mortgage. This is fraudulent – MERS has never advanced any funds in the transaction and owns nothing. It is merely a registry. If MERS is the listed holder, the mortgage payers will never, ever, get clear title to their property.

In this case, the property occupier has two choices: They can either turn the matter over to a real estate attorney or simply continue pouring good money after bad. And is there relief? Indeed there is. In case after case (95% by record) if the matter is brought to the attention of a court of law, Federal or state, the courts rule that if the actual owner of the mortgage cannot be located after a reasonable period of time, the owner receives a clear title from the court and does not need to make any further payments to an unidentified creditor! It will stop any MERS based foreclosure mid process and further, any person who was fraudulently foreclosed by MERS, which never held their mortgage, and forced from their home can sue MERS and, through the courts, regain their lost homes.

MERS Basic Corporate Information

MERS is incorporated within the State of Delaware.

MERS was first incorporated in Delaware in 1999.

The total number of shares of common stock authorized by MERS’ articles of incorporation is 1,000.

The total number of shares of MERS common stock actually issued is 1,000.

MERS is a wholly owned subsidiary of MERSCorp, Inc.

MERS’ principal place of business at 1595 Spring Hill Road, Suite 310, Vienna, Virginia 22182

MERS’ national data center is located in Plano, Texas.

MERS’ serves as a “nominee” of mortgages and deeds of trust recorded in all fifty states.

Over 60 million loans have been registered on the MERS system.

MERS’ federal tax identification number is “541927784”.

The Nature of MERS’ Business

MERS does not take applications for, underwrite or negotiate mortgage loans.

MERS does not make or originate mortgage loans to consumers.

MERS does not extend any credit to consumers.

MERS has no role in the origination or original funding of the mortgages or deeds of trust for which it serves as “nominee”.

MERS does not service mortgage loans.

MERS does not sell mortgage loans.

MERS is not an investor who acquires mortgage loans on the secondary market.

MERS does not ever receive or process mortgage applications.

MERS simply holds mortgage liens in a nominee capacity and through its electronic registry, tracks changes in the ownership of mortgage loans and servicing rights related thereto.

MERS© System is not a vehicle for creating or transferring beneficial interests in mortgage loans.

MERS is not named as a beneficiary of the alleged promissory note.

Ownership of Promissory Notes or Mortgage Indebtedness

MERS is never the owner of the promissory note for which it seeks foreclosure.

MERS has no legal or beneficial interest in the promissory note underlying the security instrument for which it serves as “nominee”.

MERS has no legal or beneficial interest in the loan instrument underlying the security instrument for which it serves as “nominee”

MERS has no legal or beneficial interest in the mortgage indebtedness underlying the security instrument for which it serves as “nominee”.

MERS has no interest at all in the promissory note evidencing the mortgage indebtedness.

MERS is not a party to the alleged mortgage indebtedness underlying the security instrument for which it serves as “nominee”.

MERS has no financial or other interest in whether or not a mortgage loan is repaid.

MERS is not the owner of the promissory note secured by the mortgage and has no rights to the payments made by the debtor on such promissory note.

MERS does not make or acquire promissory notes or debt instruments of any nature and therefore cannot be said to be acquiring mortgage loans.

MERS has no interest in the notes secured by mortgages or the mortgage servicing rights related thereto.

MERS does not acquire any interest (legal or beneficial) in the loan instrument (i.e., the promissory note or other debt instrument).

MERS has no rights whatsoever to any payments made on account of such mortgage loans, to any servicing rights related to such mortgage loans, or to any mortgaged properties securing such mortgage loans.

The note owner appoints MERS to be its agent to only hold the mortgage lien interest, not to hold any interest in the note.

MERS does not hold any interest (legal or beneficial) in the promissory notes that are secured by such mortgages or in any servicing rights associated with the mortgage loan.

The debtor on the note owes no obligation to MERS and does not pay MERS on the note.

MERS’ Accounting of Mortgage Indebtedness / MERS Not At Risk

MERS is not entitled to receive any of the payments associated with the alleged mortgage indebtedness.

MERS is not entitled to receive any of the interest revenue associated with mortgage indebtedness for which it serves as “nominee”.

Interest revenue related to the mortgage indebtedness for which MERS serves as “nominee” is never reflected within MERS’ bookkeeping or accounting records nor does such interest influence MERS’ earnings.

Mortgage indebtedness for which MERS serves as the serves as “nominee” is not reflected as an asset on MERS’ financial statements.

Failure to collect the outstanding balance of a mortgage loan will not result in an accounting loss by MERS.

When a foreclosure is completed, MERS never actually retains or enjoys the use of any of the proceeds from a sale of the foreclosed property, but rather would remit such proceeds to the true party at interest.

MERS is not actually at risk as to the payment or nonpayment of the mortgages or deeds of trust for which it serves as “nominee”.

MERS has no pecuniary interest in the promissory notes or the mortgage indebtedness for which it serves as “nominee”.

MERS is not personally aggrieved by any alleged default of a promissory note for which it serves as “nominee”.

There exists no real controversy between MERS and any mortgagor alleged to be in default.

MERS has never suffered any injury by arising out of any alleged default of a promissory note for which it serves as “nominee”.

MERS’ Interest in the Mortgage Security Instrument

MERS holds the mortgage lien as nominee for the owner of the promissory note.

MERS, in a nominee capacity for lenders, merely acquires legal title to the security instrument (i.e., the deed of trust or mortgage that secures the loan).

MERS simply holds legal title to mortgages and deeds of trust as a nominee for the owner of the promissory note.

MERS immobilizes the mortgage lien while transfers of the promissory notes and servicing rights continue to occur.

The investor continues to own and hold the promissory note, but under the MERS® System, the servicing entity only holds contractual servicing rights and MERS holds legal title to the mortgage as nominee for the benefit of the investor (or owner and holder of the note) and not for itself.

In effect, the mortgage lien becomes immobilized by MERS continuing to hold the mortgage lien when the note is sold from one investor to another via an endorsement and delivery of the note or the transfer of servicing rights from one MERS member to another MERS member via a purchase and sale agreement which is a non-recordable contract right.

Legal title to the mortgage or deed of trust remains in MERS after such transfers and is tracked by MERS in its electronic registry.

Beneficial Interest in the Mortgage Indebtedness

MERS holds legal title to the mortgage for the benefit of the owner of the note.

The beneficial interest in the mortgage (or person or entity whose interest is secured by the mortgage) runs to the owner and holder of the promissory note and/or servicing rights thereunder.

MERS has no interest at all in the promissory note evidencing the mortgage loan.

MERS does not acquire an interest in promissory notes or debt instruments of any nature.

The beneficial interest in the mortgage (or the person or entity whose interest is secured by the mortgage) runs to the owner and holder of the promissory note (NOT MERS).

MERS As Holder

MERS is never the holder of a promissory note in the ordinary course of business.

MERS is not a custodian of promissory notes underlying the security instrument for which it serves as “nominee”.

MERS does not even maintain copies of promissory notes underlying the security instrument for which it serves as “nominee”.

Sometimes when an investor or servicer desires to foreclose, the servicer obtains the promissory note from the custodian holding the note on behalf of the mortgage investor and places that note in the hands of a servicer employee who has been appointed as an officer (vice president and assistant secretary) of MERS by corporate resolution.

When a promissory note is placed in the hands of a servicer employee who is also an MERS officer, MERS asserts that this transfer of custody into the hands of this nominal officer (without any transfer of ownership or beneficial interest) renders MERS the holder.

No consideration or compensation is exchanged between the owner of the promissory note and MERS in consideration of this transfer in custody.

Even when the promissory note is physically placed in the hands of the servicer’s employee who is a nominal MERS officer, MERS has no actual authority to control the foreclosure or the legal actions undertaken in its name.

MERS will never willingly reveal the identity of the owner of the promissory note unless ordered to do so by the court.

MERS will never willingly reveal the identity of the prior holders of the promissory note unless ordered to do so by the court.

Since the transfer in custody of the promissory note is not for consideration, this transfer of custody is not reflected in any contemporaneous accounting records.

MERS is never a holder in due course when the transfer of custody occurs after default.

MERS is never the holder when the promissory note is shown to be lost or stolen.

MERS’ Role in Mortgage Servicing

MERS does not service mortgage loans.

MERS is not the owner of the servicing rights relating to the mortgage loan and MERS does not service loans.

MERS does not collect mortgage payments.

MERS does not hold escrows for taxes and insurance.

MERS does not provide any servicing functions on mortgage loans, whatsoever.

Those rights are typically held by the servicer of the loan, who may or may not also be the holder of the note.

MERS’ Rights To Control the Foreclosure

MERS must all times comply with the instructions of the holder of the mortgage loan promissory notes.

MERS only acts when directed to by its members and for the sole benefit of the owners and holders of the promissory notes secured by the mortgage instruments naming MERS as nominee owner.

MERS members employ and pay the attorneys bringing foreclosure actions in MERS name.

MERS’ Access To or Control Over Records or Documents

MERS has never maintained archival copies of any mortgage application for which it serves as “nominee”.

In its regular course of business, MERS as a corporation does not maintain physical possession or custody of promissory notes, deeds of trust or other mortgage security instruments on behalf of its principals.

MERS as a corporation has no archive or repository of the promissory notes secured by deeds of trust or other mortgage security instruments for which it serves as nominee.

MERS as a corporation is not a custodian of the promissory notes secured by deeds of trust or other mortgage security instruments for which it serves as nominee.

MERS as a corporation has no archive or repository of the deeds of trust or other mortgage security instruments for which it serves as nominee.

In its regular course of business, MERS as a corporation does not routinely receive or archive copies of the promissory notes secured by the mortgage security instruments for which it serves as nominee.

In its regular course of business, MERS as a corporation does not routinely receive or archive copies of the mortgage security instruments for which it serves as nominee.

Copies of the instruments attached to MERS petitions or complaints do not come from MERS corporate files or archives.

In its regular course of business, MERS as a corporation does not input the promissory note or mortgage security instrument ownership registration data for new mortgages for which it serves as nominee, but rather the registration information for such mortgages are entered by the “member” mortgage lenders, investors and/or servicers originating, purchasing, and/or selling such mortgages or mortgage servicing rights.

MERS does not maintain a central corporate archive of demands, notices, claims, appointments, releases, assignments, or other files, documents and/or communications relating to collections efforts undertaken by MERS officers appointed by corporate resolution and acting under its authority.

Management and Supervision

In preparing affidavits and certifications, officers of MERS, including Vice Presidents and Assistant Secretaries, making representations under MERS’ authority and on MERS’ behalf, are not primarily relying upon books of account, documents, records or files within MERS’ corporate supervision, custody or control.

Officers of MERS preparing affidavits and certifications, including Vice Presidents and Assistant Secretaries, and otherwise making representations under MERS’ authority and on MERS’ behalf, do not routinely furnish copies of these affidavits or certifications to MERS for corporate retention or archival.

Officers of MERS preparing affidavits and certifications, including Vice Presidents and Assistant Secretaries, and otherwise making representations under MERS’ authority and on MERS’ behalf are not working under the supervision or direction of senior MERS officers or employees, but rather are supervised by personnel employed by mortgage investors or mortgage servicers.

The Fundamentals:

In the period beginning in 1999 and ending in March of 2008, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., aka MERS, has been named as a “mortgagee” on over 50 million mortgages. Yet MERS has never originated a single mortgage loan nor loaned a dime to a single borrower.

In 2001 the New York Supreme Court ordered the Suffolk County Clerk to accept MERS mortgages for recording as a purely ministerial duty. However the Court denied MERS request for a judgment declaring that MERS mortgages were “lawful in all respects”.

The New York Court of Appeals affirmed the Supreme Court’s order directing the County Clerk to record MERS mortgages. The Court of Appeals did not reverse the Supreme Court’s denial of MERS request for a judicial declaration that MERS mortgages are “lawful in all respects”.

MERS, for obvious reasons, did not want a published opinion of the fact that MERS mortgages are legal nullities and/or that MERS has no standing to enforce a mortgage when it is not a creditor entitled to collect a debt. The New York Court of Appeals did address and frame these two issues but left them to be decided at a future date.

No Note No Foreclosure:

In reality MERS is really nothing more than a shell, or a front corporation for its so-called “members”. Many of these MERS members were once some of the most prestigious names in American finance. Many MERS members are now reporting hundreds of billions of dollars of losses as result of their ill conceived scheme to ramp up mortgage origination so they could pretend to flip millions of mortgage loans into trusts in exchange for trillions of dollars of investor’s money. One big problem was that the promissory notes were never actually delivered to the trustees of these trusts. Therefore these trusts have no evidence of ownership of the debts they purportedly purchased.

Akin to purchasing a home without being given a deed and to make matters worse many of the debts evidenced by these undelivered promissory notes were supposed to be secured by mortgage liens. However in place of mortgages being executed in favor of the original lender many of these mortgages were executed in favor of MERS and because MERS never holds these notes or owns a debt it is not a creditor. MERS therefore has no legal standing to enforce a debt, or so it told the Nebraska Court of Appeals in 2005. However this lack of standing defense must be raised by property owners who are sued.

The most effective economic way to raise this lack of standing defense is by bringing amotion to dismiss in response to the complaint to foreclose. In many states and in federal court this is called a Rule 12 motion. This motion is brought in place of answering the complaint.

An honest attorney in most areas of the country should be willing to prepare and bring such a motion for $500.00 to $1,500.00 for a distressed homeowner. Or you might be able to find a lawyer to do it for you pro bono and perhaps a legal aid attorney. At least five judges around the country have dismissed these actions for lack of standing sua sponte, which means they did it on their own volition. Perhaps more judges will feel the duty to do the same thing in the future to protect the integrity of the Court.

MERS members, mortgage industry executives, invented the so-called MERS paperless system to short cut standing mortgage lending safe guards and circumvent the legal requirements for originating mortgage loans and/or for selling and transferring these loans to subsequent holders. This would allow MERS members like Countrywide Financial, Fieldstone Mortgage, and Option One Mortgage to make loans to anyone with a heartbeat and then quickly flip these questionable loans to other MERS members such a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers to name just a few. (“Secondary Mortgage Market Players”)

These Secondary Mortgage Market Players would claim to package millions of these loans, with or without being delivered the promissory notes, into loan pools or “mortgage backed security trusts” and then flip the loans by selling trillions of dollars of bonds to investors around the world. The bonds were touted by Secondary Mortgage Market Players as producing safe yet high returns. The investors who bought these bonds included many of the world’s largest national banks. Initially MERS members reported windfall profits year after year by quickly originating, packaging into pools and then flipping trillions of dollars of mortgages loans to investors.

Other MERS members, such as title insurance companies, also took their cuts from each of the fifty million loans that were made while this high speed gravy train was rolling. MERS itself would earn over a billion dollars a year by charging its members $250.00 for each mortgage that MERS would be named as “mortgagee”.

A June 10, 2007 article in Forbes magazine details the carelessness in the securitization process by which mortgage loans were packaged and sold off to mortgage pools is now coming back to bite the trustees of these mortgage backed trusts who are now seeking to foreclose millions of loans that are in default.

The financial engineering (i.e. mortgage securitization) helped oil the housing boom by making credit more available, but stalled housing prices and rising defaults have revealed a mess. In the rush to flip paper, lots of the new lenders or pools don’t have the proper paperwork to show they even hold the mortgage.

The reported profits from the sale of these mortgaged backed securities would result in billions of dollars of salaries and bonuses being paid to the senior executives of many of MERS member corporations. Ultimately the bond investors who actually provided all the money would learn that their “safe” investment was anything but safe.

As hundreds thousands and then millions of these loans fell into default, these bondholders would lose hundreds of billions of dollars. As of April 1, 2008, the largest banks around the world had already written off loses of one hundred and fifty billion dollars relating to bonds they had purchased. One Swiss bank, U.S.B., has recently reported 40 billion dollars in losses.

These loses may only be the beginning. What many people refuse to admit is that because of the so-called MERS paperless “system” many of the so-called mortgage backed security trusts do not actually hold the promissory notes which evidence the debts that are supposed to be backing the bonds purchased by these investors. The situation is reminiscent of The Great Olive Oil Scandal in the late 1800’s when banks were duped into investing millions of dollars into Olive Oil only to later discover that the tanks which were supposed to be holding millions of gallons of olive oil backing their investments were mostly empty.

This problem with the missing trust assets/promissory notes manifests itself each time MERS and/or the trustees for the bondholders brings a legal action to collect on a debt through foreclosure. Because neither MERS nor the bond holders or trustees are holding the notes and lack proof of standing to maintain their legal actions, thus the actions are subject to dismissal. Many foreclosure actions have been dismissed based upon lack of standing. This is a problem that it is a direct result of MERS “system”.

It appears that after MERS mortgage loans are flipped to the mortgage backed trusts the promissory notes are not actually delivered to the trustees. Nor are assignments of mortgages executed and delivered which evidence the fact the original lender has transferred the debt which is secured by the mortgage. This leaves the trusts with absolutely no paper evidence of ownership of the secured debt it purportedly owns.

One informed lawyer who represents homeowners in Florida, April Charney, had foreclosure proceedings against 300 clients dismissed or postponed in 2007 for lack of standing. She is quoted as saying that “80 percent of them involved lost-note affidavits”.

They raise the issue of whether the trusts own the loans at all,” Charney said. “Lost-note affidavits are pattern and practice in the industry. They are not exceptions. They are the rule.” Ms. Charney, started challenging MERS and it members lost note affidavits after becoming skeptical of that a lender could possibly lose hundreds of promissory notes.

At least two Florida judges shared Ms. Charney’s skepticism regarding the copious amounts of MERS lost note affidavits and they issued show cause orders, sua sponte, challenging MERS to show proof that it held and/or lost notes in numerous actions. After evidentiary hearings these two alert judges dismissed twenty nine (29) MERS actions to foreclose for lack of standing. One judge struck MERS pleadings as being a sham.

A South Carolina court dismissed a MERS action to foreclose for lack of standing even though MERS filed an affidavit wherein a person claiming to be an officer of MERS claimed that MERS was holding a promissory note. The South Carolina court vetted the MERS affidavit claim that it was the holder of the note after being apprised of the fact that MERS had previously told the Nebraska Court of Appeals that it never held promissory notes.

In late 2007 three Federal Court Judges in Ohio dismissed over fifty law suits brought by trustees of mortgage backed trusts where they could not produce the original promissory notes. Following these decisions the Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles, California adopted a rule of practice which requires all foreclosing trustees or other plaintiffs to produce the original promissory note when bringing an action to foreclose a debt or face sanctions for not doing so. Several courts in New York have been routinely dismissing foreclosure actions brought by MERS or its members because they continually fail to produce promissory notes.

It is disturbing to know that National Banks are the trustees of thousands of trusts that may be missing millions of promissory notes. This might explain why, to date, not a single National Bank has publicly disclosed the fact that they are not actually holding what may be millions of promissory notes which evidence ownership of debts supposedly owned by their respective trusts.

An independent audit of these trusts would probably be quite revealing and this writer is also unaware of any such audits that have been performed to date.             These National Banks, as trustees, are accountable and therefore liable for missing trust property or the documents evidencing ownership.

As more borrowers, lawyers and judges learn that neither MERS nor these trustees are actually holding the promissory notes evidencing the debts they seek to collect through foreclosure, dismissals of these foreclosure actions for lack of standing will become routine, as it now has in New York, Ohio and Florida. This will also mean that bond holders from around the globe will be seeking to recover their losses from the National Bank trustees who never got around to obtaining the notes evidencing debts that were purportedly owned by these trusts.

A Review of problems with basic MERS paperless system:

The members of MERS had from the onset, three serious problems which would ultimately derail their high speed and high volume mortgage lending system. The first problem was finding millions of Americans who could qualify for a loan to purchase any home. The second problem was how to quickly endorse and deliver of millions of promissory notes from the originating lender to Secondary Market Players and then on to subsequent holders, like the trusts. The third problem was executing millions of assignments of mortgages and recording these assignments in the public land records, with each successive transfer of the promissory notes.

The last two would require significant administrative time and expense. MERS and its members didn’t want to be bogged down by trivial administrative details. They wanted to make big money fast by making millions of loans with other people’s money and making those loans at lightning speed. Their attitude was “Damn the torpedoes full speed ahead” rather than finding people who could actually qualify for loans, meaning pay it back.

MERS members simply lowered the qualification bar by creating all kinds of “creative loans”, including two which they called “No Doc” and “Sub-Prime loans”. No Doc (no documentation) loans would be made to borrowers who had good credit scores but would not require verification of actual income of the borrowers. Sometimes relying on income as stated by the borrower and sometimes putting in fictional numbers. These loans would later become known as liar loans.

Sub Prime loans would be made to borrowers who had less than stellar credit history or no credit history at all. Many people from minority groups and newly arrived immigrants became targets for these loans. Both No Doc and Sub Prime loans carried higher interest rates than regular mortgage loans. By lowering home loan qualification bar these greedy geniuses had invented a larger market of residential home purchasers.

Swarms of previously unqualified borrowers could now be swooned by real estate agents, mortgage brokers into buying a house by borrowing money, not from a bank or savings and loan, but from investors who were at best, two times removed from the closing table.

This expanded market of previously unqualified home buyers and/or investors created a real estate bonanza on the street level for realtors, mortgage brokers, and home builders. Prices for homes rose dramatically as this new demand by buyers who really were not qualified out-stripped the supply of homes. The high foreclosure rates in the Las Vegas, Miami, California and rust belt areas as no relationship to geography. But clear relationships with the ease of No Doc and Sub Prime loan acceptance.

Rather than actually delivering millions of endorsed promissory notes to the Secondary Market Makers and then on to the bondholder’s trusts, which is the only way a debt evidenced by a negotiable instrument is legally transferred to a new owner, the promissory notes were either not delivered at all, or were simply delivered to the original loan servicer, weeks and/or months after the originating lender had sold the debt. Thus in many cases the “mortgage backed security” trusts may not actually be holding millions of promissory notes which evidences the ownership of the debt that these mortgage backed loan pools supposedly own or hold.

To make matters worse many of the original mortgage lenders and large loan servicing companies have filed for bankruptcy or just gone out of business and decreasing the trusts likelihood of ever locating, much less obtaining possession of what could be hundreds of thousand if not millions of missing promissory notes.

Rather than actually delivering bona fide (real) assignments of each mortgage to the Secondary Mortgage Makers and then causing each mortgagee’s interest to be re-assigned to each mortgage backed investment pool, along the high speed mortgage gravy train route, they simply invented the MERS “paperless” system.

The founders of MERS knew that MERS was merely a “a facade” they would employ to expedite the number of loans that could be originated, packaged and sold as mortgage backed securities. They felt they could “eliminate” such paperwork as promissory notes and mortgage assignments, even though commercial law requires such sundry items as promissory notes and mortgage assignments. The MERS founders seem to think they could ignore and/or circumvent the law as if the “the ends justified the means” as long as they would make big money.

Rather than record millions of mortgages and multiple millions of assignments in local land records, the founders of MERS decided that it would be named the “Mortgagee” in place of the original lender. By creating (inventing) this new entity, MERS declared that it was some sort of agent for each and every mortgagee or mortgagee assignee and could then act as a “mortgagee” in the public land records.

Through this clever legal sleight of hand MERS founders believed they could eliminate the commercial lending practices of having to endorse and deliver each promissory note to the new owner/holder and eliminate the execution of each assignment of mortgage by the mortgage lender for each secured note that was sold to a Secondary Market Maker, together with incidental recording of each assignment of mortgage by the Secondary Mortgage Maker or its assigns.

MERS founders and members went about foisting their so-called “paperless” system on the American economy and indirectly upon the global economy. MERS studiously avoided seeking any legislative changes of long standing commercial laws relating to promissory notes, mortgages and public recording of assignments in any of the 50 states that it would ultimately be operating. It is possible that this blatant abuse, of the UCC and state recording laws might have passed itself off as the new way of doing business in our computer age.

But MERS member companies, under clear instructions from their leaders, guaranteed disaster by pumping up and then dumping these shaky loans onto investors through trust they set up for this purpose. These investor/bond holders are just now discovering that they were duped. They just don’t know how badly they were duped.

Perhaps this is what the global economy is really all about. Seeing who can dupe international banks and governments out of trillions of dollars depositor and taxpayer money and do so with complete impunity. Yet, to my knowledge, after learning that they invested trillions of dollars into these questionable loan pools, aka cesspools, not a single National Bank has ordered an audit of these cesspools or trusts to determine the actual contents and the value.

As a matter of sound public policy our courts should not allow MERS or its so-called “members” to circumvent and/or violate long standing laws of commerce, simply because some greedy mortgage executives thought they could shoe-horn their so-called “paperless system” into the framework of our current system of commerce. Our system still requires such sundry instruments as promissory notes to be used to evidence debts and also requires that these instruments change hands when sold or transferred to a new owner.

Our system also requires a new holder of a promissory note to record an assignment of security interest or mortgage in order to enforce a lien which secures the debt evidenced by the promissory note. No one should be able to simply ignore these long standing laws just so they can reap billions of dollars in illicit bonuses by quickly originating and then flipping loans without the attendant delivery of notes and assignments of mortgages. Our system of commerce does not operate this way. This is because we have laws of commerce including the UCC which regulates our system of commerce.

The MERS paperless system simply provided an expedient way for MERS and its members to fleece investors on a global basis, by loaning money to people who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the money back and then flipping trillions of dollars of these bogus loans to third party investors. The MERS system does not comply with our current laws of commerce.

While the computer age has admittedly changed how business is transacted it has not eliminated or replaced the legal requirement for such things as promissory notes, mortgages and assignments of mortgages, when a loan is made, a mortgage is given and the loan is subsequently sold and/or resold. This is precisely why a competent and prudent lender who makes a loan to a qualified borrower takes back a promissory note and if the loan is to be secured the borrower executed a mortgage or security agreement naming the lender as the mortgagee or secured party. The lender must then record or file its mortgage or security agreement to prefect its lien.

If the lender decides to sell the debt it is owed to a third party it must endorse and deliver the promissory note to the third party, and in order for the third party to enforce either a mortgage lien or security interest, the original lender must execute an assignment of mortgage or security interest, which must then be recorded or filed by the third party to give evidence and public notice of its status as assignee of the lien securing the debt it had purchased. Only the holder of the promissory note is entitled to enforce the note and/or any lien which secured the debt.

Given the extremely close relationship that MERS and its many corporate members have with the politicians who run our state and federal governments, it is not surprising that MERS and it members were able to pull off this gigantic global financial scheme without raising the brow of a State or Federal law enforcement or regulators. Only now are a few politicians and regulators paying lip service to what they refer to as the “Mortgage Meltdown”.

What no politician or regulator ever seems to mention is that a millions of the mortgages that “melted down” have the name Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc. on them. American courts should no longer tolerate or close a blind eye to the fact that the MERS has no standing to commence any legal actions relating to peoples properties because they do not hold any legal or equitable interest in the debt or in the properties.

The Court’s must protect the integrity of our court system by enforcing our laws of commerce as they have existed and not allow parties to come into our courts and commence actions relating to debts that they do not own and/or have no proof of ownership.

The MERS “paperless system” is the same kind of scheme that is hatched in some internet boiler room in Nigeria, not in the boardrooms of our once prestigious American financial institutions and this gigantic scheme has completely ignored long standing laws of commerce. The effect of the system has already had a catastrophic effects on both the American and global economy.

Yet many of the investment “trusts” which supposedly hold thousands of original promissory notes are hard pressed to produce them when legally required to do so. MERS admittedly does not hold any promissory notes. A party must have possession of a promissory note in order to have standing to enforce and/or otherwise collect a debt that is owed to another party.

Given these facts how will these investors ever recoup their investments if the debt they were supposed to own cannot be legally enforce or collected? What will be the status of title to properties that were purportedly foreclosed by MERS where MERS admittedly had no legal right to foreclose or otherwise collect debt which are evidenced by promissory notes held by someone else?

What mortgage brokers dont tell you: Hidden penalties abound

January 17, 2011

Reuters

There’s a host of information a mortgage broker or banker won’t tell you up front that may increase the cost of your financing.

You could pay much more on a mortgage than your initial quote rate based on a rating system used by government mortgage insurers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Brokers and bankers rarely tell you this coming in the door. They want to lock you in to a loan as soon as possible. With rates rising, this is really important to know.

In the wake of the biggest real estate meltdown in American history, the devil’s in the details when you apply for a loan. This hidden rating system will penalize you with a higher rate if your credit score is low or you apply for certain types of loans. It’s being employed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government’s captive mortgage entities, which account for about 80 percent of new loans now.

As of January 1, mortgage brokers and bankers have to tell you that you may not get the best rate if your credit report is flawed, although they may not give you essential details up front on what else could bump up your finance rate.

You need to ask about how you will fare in the Fannie/Freddie “risk-based pricing” regime, which is basically a computer-run scoring matrix run by your banker. Here are some factors that could raise your cost of credit:

Credit scores (based on the FICO system) below 740.

High loan-to-value ratios (the percentage of the property’s value that’s mortgaged). The more equity you have or the more money you put down, the lower your rate.

Adjustable-rate, Interest-only or 40-year loans.

Cash-out refinancings.

Investment properties.

Condominiums and cooperatives.

Manufactured homes.

Multiple-unit properties.

The risk-based pricing program evaluates the type of loan, your credit score and loan-to-value ratio and determine what “add-ons” will boost your quoted rate, if any.

A low FICO score — say below 620 — may add at least a half-percentage point to your loan. An interest-only loan may increase your rate by three quarters of a point. Those financing buying investment properties will likely pay the highest rates — up to one and three-quarter points more.

As with all loans, it pays to pull your credit report before you apply for a loan or refinance. Certain items such as record errors or bumping up against credit limits can be fixed fairly easily and raise your credit score. Outstanding bills such as medical debts may also hurt.

“We encourage people to be more informed,” says Dick Lepre, a senior loan officer with RPM Mortgage in San Francisco. “If they want the best rates they need to keep their credit score at or above 740.  They must be vigilant about things such as medical collections which are often the result of confusion regarding medical co-payments.”

You can request a free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. Just be careful not sign up for credit monitoring services that will cost you additional monthly fees. The Federal Trade Commission spells out some of the pitfalls of so-called free services.

One other side effect of risk-based pricing: The stricter underwriting rules also make it more difficult to qualify for a loan, which is not much help to markets that are swimming in properties and won’t get back on their feet unless demand returns.

Hindsight seems to rule the day as the government struggles to alleviate the home crisis. If only the mortgage barons had some realistic underwriting standards five years ago. It would have prevented a lot of heartbreak.

Julian Assange Vows to Reveal Tax Details of 2,000 Wealthy People

Swiss banker gives WikiLeaks founder data ‘to educate society’ about amount of potential tax revenues lost to offshore schemes

January 17, 2011

by Esther Addley

The Guardian/UK

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, today pledged to make public the confidential tax details of 2,000 wealthy and prominent individuals, after being passed the data by a Swiss banker who claims the information potentially reveals instances of money-laundering and large-scale illegal tax evasion.

In a carefully choreographed handover in central London, Rudolf Elmer, formerly a senior executive at the Swiss bank Julius Baer, based in the Cayman islands, said he was handing the data to WikiLeaks as part of an attempt “to educate society” about the amount of potential tax revenues lost thanks to offshore schemes and money-laundering.

“As banker, I have the right to stand up if something is wrong,” he said. “I am against the system. I know how the system works and I know the day-to-day business. I wanted to let society know how this system works because it’s damaging society,” he said.

Elmer will appear in a Swiss court on Wednesday charged with breaking Swiss banking secrecy laws, forging documents and sending threatening messages to two officials at his former employer.

He denies the charges.

He refused to comment on the period of time covered by the data, contained on two compact discs, or the precise source of the information; nor would he give the names of any corporations or individuals whose details he was handing over, saying that the information needed to be “investigated” before it was released into the public domain.

Assange, making his first public appearance since being bailed in December on sex assault allegations, for which Sweden is seeking his extradition, said he would pass the information to the Serious Fraud Office(SFO), examine it to ensure sources were protected, and then release it on the WikiLeaks site, potentially within “a couple of weeks”.

“Once we look at the data, yes, there will be full disclosure,” he said.

He would not be drawn on questions relating to the extradition case, which will be heard at Belmarsh magistrates court on 7 February, or on other leaks the site has promised are forthcoming, including information involving a “big US bank”, which many believe to be Bank of America.

The site was not yet fully functional, he said. “We are not open yet for public business. The volume of material that we would receive is too high for our internal mechanisms, but we are receiving in other ways, like this, in this manner,” he said. The release of leaked US diplomatic cables, which the site originally released through the Guardian and four other international media organisations, would continue, however. Elmer said he was passing the information to WikiLeaks because he had previously approached universities with the information but it had not been followed up. He said his attempts to interest the Swiss media had resulted only in his being dismissed as “a paranoid person, a mentally ill person”.

“I was close to giving up, but then a friend of mine told me: ‘There’s WikiLeaks.’ I looked at it and thought: ‘That’s the only hope I have to [let] society know what’s going on.'”

In 2008, he released to the site a much smaller collection of documents, also detailing the tax details of some of the bank’s clients. Though the site has never published that information, Julius Baer succeeded briefly in shutting down Wikileaks.org before the site, supported by a number of US media and civil liberties organisations, succeeded in overturning the injunction. He also passed the information to the US tax authorities.

The data was later seen by the Guardian, which found “details of numerous trusts in which wealthy people have placed capital. This allows them lawfully to avoid paying tax on profits, because legally it belongs to the trust”; the data also “[appeared] to include several cases where wealthy individuals sought to use trust money as though it were their own”.

In a statement to the Observer on Friday, Julius Baer said: “The aim of [Elmer’s] activities was, and is, to discredit Julius Baer as well as clients in the eyes of the public. With this goal in mind, Mr Elmer spread baseless accusations and passed on unlawfully acquired, respectively retained documents to the media, and later also to WikiLeaks. To back up his campaign, he also used falsified documents.”

A spokeswoman for the SFO said it would “consider allegations made to it to determine if the matter is within its jurisdiction and criteria for investigation or possibly for another authority to consider”.

WikiLeaks: Julian Assange claims to have Rupert Murdoch ‘insurance files’

Founder claims WikiLeaks has more than 500 US diplomatic cables on one broadcasting organisation

January 12, 2011

by Josh Haliday

Guardian/co.uk

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, claimed today he was in possession of “insurance” files on Rupert Murdoch and his global media company, News Corporation.

Assange also claimed that WikiLeaks holds more than 500 confidential US diplomatic cables on one broadcasting organisation.

Speaking to journalist John Pilger for an interview to be published tomorrow in the latest edition of the New Statesman, Assange said: “There are 504 US embassy cables on one broadcasting organisation and there are cables on Murdoch and News Corp.”

Assange refers to these specific cables as “insurance files” that will be released “if something happens to me or to WikiLeaks”.

The Guardian has published stories based on more than 700 of the cables and has access to all 250,000.

He said yesterday that the whistleblowers’ site would “shortly” continue publishing cables stories which would “speak more of the same truth to power”.

WikiLeaks began publishing the leaked cables through international media partners including the Guardian, part of the group that publishes MediaGuardian.co.uk, in late November.

Their release slowed over Christmas as the partner media organisations, which supplied redacted versions of the documents to WikiLeaks, scaled back their cable operations.

The 39-year-old Australian is currently fighting extradition from the UK to Sweden on accusations of rape and sexual assault. Pilger, who counts Assange as a personal friend, last month offered to stand £20,000 in surety to secure the whistleblower’s bail.

Attempts by the US to take legal action against Assange should worry the mainstream media, he said.

“I think what’s emerging in the mainstream media is the awareness that if I can be indicted, other journalists can, too,” he added.

“Even the New York Times is worried. This used not to be the case. If a whistleblower was prosecuted, publishers and reporters were protected by the first amendment, which journalists took for granted. That’s being lost.”

Despite pressure from the US on private companies to severe ties with WikiLeaks, Assange insisted that China is the real “technological enemy” of the site.

China has deployed “aggressive and sophisticated” interception technology to stop details of the diplomatic dispatches reaching its citizens, he said, adding that there were now “all sorts of ways” Chinese users could access the controversial material.

Attack of the drones

Unmanned aircraft are now a vital tool in war zones, but our skies could soon be buzzing with spy planes that feed information back to the police and even the paparazzi

January 16, 2011

by Owen Bowcott and Paul Lewis

Guardian.co/uk

There is a second-and-a-half delay between the RAF operator pressing his button and the Hellfire rocket erupting from the aircraft he is controlling, circling in the sky above Afghanistan.

That’s a long time in modern warfare, but the plane is an unmanned “drone” and its two-strong crew are 8,000 miles away at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Right now, the Reaper is being commanded from a console with twin video screens shaped to resemble a plane’s cockpit.

The UK has five Reapers like this one operating in Afghanistan. With a wingspan of 66ft, they are 36ft long, reach a top speed of 250 knots and usually carry four Hellfire rockets and two laser-guided bombs. These Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – which rely on fibre optic cables, European “upstations” and satellite links – are part of an international trend towards remote combat. RAF-controlled Reapers used their weapons in Afghanistan 123 times in the first 10 months of 2010.

British forces are also using smaller drones, such as Lockheed Martin’s hand-launched Desert Hawk. The lightweight surveillance aircraft is flown by Royal Artillery controllers to provide army patrols with “over the hill” vision for improved reconaissance. Last summer the Ministry of Defence ordered £3m worth of an enhanced version that will give troops in Afghanistan “greater situational awareness” and upgraded “target acquisition” capabilities. On the US side, there were more than 100 CIA-led drone strikes in Pakistan last year and the Pentagon is about to deploy its intimidatingly named Gorgon Stare airborne surveillance system, a multi-image video device for tracking suspects across large areas.

But interest in UAVs is not limited to the military. Advances in remote control, digital imagery and miniaturised circuitry mean the skies might one day be full of commercial and security drones.

They’re already being used by the UK police, with microdrones deployed to monitor the V festival in Staffordshire in 2007. Fire brigades send similar machines to hover above major blazes, feeding images back to their control rooms. And civilian spin-offs include cheaper aerial photography, airborne border patrols and safety inspections of high-rise buildings.

Despite this development, not everyone, even within the miltary, thinks that drones will eventually replace all other planes. Wing Commander Christopher Thirtle is responsible for the RAF’s strategy on remotely piloted air systems (RPAS) — the term preferred in air force circles.

“Reapers will not replace Tornados. Human beings bring flexibility like no computers,” he told an audience at the Royal Society in London.

It may be just as well: there has been international criticism because a significant number of those killed in drone attacks have been reported to be innocent tribesmen misidentified as al-Qaida leaders, or villagers caught up in targeted explosions.

But Thirtle insists the RAF is bound by international laws governing armed conflict – specifically the principle of attacks being discriminate and proportionate. “We have a targeting directive which sets down who are combatants and sets out rules on how we can engage [them].”

A ground pilot’s extreme distance does not necessarily result in greater collateral damage, he argues. Aircrews in Kosovo conducted bombardments from 22,000ft. “If I was asked where I make the best decisions about people on the ground, then my clarity of thought is much more conducive at a ground control station [without] a 10lb flying helmet on my head.”

Accustomed to the 20th-century gadgetry of cruise missiles, CCTV, satellite phones and radio-controlled model aeroplanes, technical experts and peace campaigners have only belatedly become alarmed by the combination of such capabilities.

The International Committee for Robot Arms Control (Icrac), founded in Britain in 2009, marked the beginning of a global – if small-scale – protest movement. The organisation held its first workshop in Berlin last summer and called for a ban on the “further development of armed autonomous robots”, limits on numbers operated by any state and restrictions on the use of armed drones for “targeted killings in sovereign territories not at war”.

Even the UN human rights special rapporteur, Philip Alston, has warned that US drone killings may violate international law. He has called on the US to explain the legal basis for its attacks. Others have taken direct action: peace protesters recently breached the gates of the Creech base – 14 of them were arrested for invading the site. Kathy Kelly, their spokeswoman, said: “We protested because . . . the US is, at an alarming rate, moving into robotic warfare, kind of a mission creep, that could lead us into perpetual war.”

Opponents of drones fear they will lower the threshold for wars to start in places such as Yemen and Somalia, where the US is not involved in any formal conflict. Yemen was the site of one of the earliest CIA-co-ordinated Predator drone attacks on al-Qaida targets as early as 2002. There have been further drone strikes there since the failed Christmas Day attack on a transatlantic airliner. A fresh onslaught, it is suspected, is being planned in the wake of the recent Yemeni-based plot to destroy cargo planes.

Noel Sharkey, professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at Sheffield University, told the Royal Society meeting there are credible estimates that one in three casualties from drone attacks is a civilian. His chief anxiety is the development of “autonomous targeting”, where unmanned planes are engineered to lock automatically onto what their onboard computers identify as the enemy. The military are keen on this because it would no longer have to worry about radio signals being jammed.

“There’s a really big drive to get autonomy,” he says. Manufacturers are even working on “swarms” of vehicles that can co-operate. “The big problem is there’s no system capable of consistently distinguishing [between] targets. The Pentagon is funding research labs and saying these things can ‘think’: that’s strong anthropomorphic language.”

However, Thirtle is adamant we will never reach a Terminator-style situation where robots run out of control. “There will be an enduring need for a man in the [control] loop for the foreseeable future,” he maintains.

The Oxford-based Fellowship of Reconciliation is “seriously concerned” the UK might be sanctioning a culture of “convenient killing . . . Our core concern is with ‘PlayStation warfare’, where the geographical and psychological distance between operator and target lowers the threshold for launching an attack.”

Thirtle dismisses the accusation. “The people doing this are adults,” he said. “They understand flying and the effects they are having on the ground. They are not remote. One pilot told me he had never felt more connected to the ground than in flying a Reaper.”

But Steve Graham, professor of cities and society at Newcastle University, who studies urban battle grounds, warns that the US military‘s “technophilia” and “fantasies of omnipotence” blur the distinction between surveillance and killing. As he puts it in his book Cities Under Siege: “The possibility of deploying swarms of armed and unarmed robots to loiter persistently across regions of the world deemed trouble spots is clearly a good fit with the Pentagon’s latest thinking surrounding the long war.”

The growing popularity of UAVs can also be witnessed in the UK’s congested skies. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has conducted two safety inquiries, the first of their kind involving UAVs, into the use of drones over Salisbury Plain following reports of near-collisions with helicopters. (It concluded that the ground operator avoided a risk of collision.)

Border patrols present a further opportunity for deployment. The US Customs and Border Protection Agency has announced that it is patrolling all 2,000 miles of the Mexican border with Predator drones equipped with night vision cameras. Frontex, the European border agency, has held a drone demonstration conference in Bulgaria, while the UK Border Agency says: “[We] do not rule out the use of drones in the future if they can be shown to provide a value for money increase in our border security.”

At least four police forces – Essex, Merseyside, Staffordshire and the British Transport police – have bought or used microdrones. Last summer the Serious Organised Crime Agency published a tender notice requesting information on “a fully serviced, airborne, surveillance-ready platform for covert observation” provided by either drones or manned aircraft. And several fire brigades – including West Midlands and South Wales – regularly send up drones to check on the spread of blazes.

Commercial distributors and manufacturers are convinced drones will gradually displace expensive manned aircraft and expand into even more areas. Aviation experts already envisage a time when unmanned cargo planes, fitted with collision-avoidance detectors, circle the world.

Given this progress, it cannot be long before news organisations exploit microdrones to obtain picture exclusives: imagine aerial races between Hello! and OK! magazines. Last autumn a US academic claimed he was developing a “paparazzi drone”. Ken Rinaldo of Ohio State University said it would have a lot of “flash and bling”.

“UAVs will, to an extent, replace helicopters,” believes Mark Lawrence, director of Air Robot UK. “Our ‘air robots’ cost £30,000 compared with £10m for a fully equipped modern helicopter. We have even been asked to put weapons on them, but I’m not interested in getting involved in that.”

Alistair Fox, commerical director of Air Power Systems, which supplies microdrones to the fire service and the government’s Health and Safety Laboratory, claims drones have “all sorts of commercial applications for safety inspections. With thermal imaging and air-sampling devices they could check for cannabis being grown under lamps in roof lofts.” Another suggested use is perimeter patrols around prisons.

There are possible uses – drones have already been used for high-altitude research into hurricanes. And Israel lent the Chilean airforce several to inspect damage after the country’s earthquake this spring. In Japan, drones are used to cropdust rice fields.

Many of the 70 permissions already granted by the CAA for drones to fly in UK airspace this year are thought to relate to civil engineering surveys or aerial photography companies. But the agency has warned: “In the wrong hands or used irresponsibly in built-up areas, or too close to other people or property, [drones] represent a very real safety risk.”

The advent of effective “sense and avoid” systems would transform the technology, the CAA admits, opening up a future where unmanned UAVs could float safely above our heads. The first firm to design an acceptable system could make a fortune.

Part of the CAA’s anxiety was due to postings on YouTube showing near–collisons in central London involving microdrones launched for amusement. Some of the latest models can be controlled by iPhones. Permission is now required to fly a drone “within 50 metres of a person, vehicle, vessel or structure” not under the control of the remote operator.

Even without these restrictions, it may be a while before our streets echo to the buzz of unmanned aircraft. John Moreland, general secretary of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association, the trade body that represents the industry in the UK, suspects that security surveillance at the 2012 Olympics will be conducted from an airship rather than highly mobile drones.

The CAA, he says, is unlikely to allow UAVs to operate so close to large crowds because of “reliability” issues. The east London site, he also points out, is too close to London City Airport.

One airshow enthusiast has nonetheless contacted the Guardian to say he is convinced he spotted a drone passing over the Olympic site. “Its length was about 8ft and its altitude between 300ft and 400ft,” he said.

The authorities denied any knowledge of the flight. “The public perception of drones at the moment is that they are a little bit sinister,” Moreland adds, “but the technology is becoming more widespread and there are lots of applications. Everyone is feeling their way forward.”

Arab leaders warn of more revolts amid growing anger

Summit agrees $2bn aid for region as family of Tunisia’s former president is arrested

January 20, 2011

by Catrina Stewart and Kim Sengupta in Tunis

The Independent/UK

Tunisia yesterday began the search for the millions of pounds believed to have been stolen by the country’s ousted leader and his family as Arab leaders were warned that dire economic conditions could provoke a Tunisian-style revolt elsewhere in the region.

Switzerland also moved to freeze assets linked to the former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and around 40 others linked to the regime. Mr Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi, who fled the country last Friday after widespread and violent public protests, are alleged to have accumulated a fortune of £2.2bn during his 23-year rule. Their relations are also accused of gaining vast fortunes through illicit means.

Protests continued around the country yesterday against members of the embattled new government with links to the old regime. In its latest concession, the leadership headed by Mr Ben Ali’s long- standing Prime Minister announced that, in a “gesture of reconciliation”, around 1,800 prisoners serving sentences of less than six months were being freed. Moves against Mr Ben Ali’s family were also made with the arrest of 33 of his relatives on suspicion of “crimes against Tunisia”.

In Geneva, the United Nations’ human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, said an assessment team was being sent to Tunisia to start work on charting abuses during the current disturbances during which, the UN estimates, around 100 people have been killed.

The events in Tunisia have inspired similar demonstrations elsewhere in the region, often at the risk of violent crackdowns by powerful security forces that are quick to stamp out dissent. In Algeria, thousands have marched the streets to vent their anger at rising food prices, while Jordanians have staged demonstrations against high unemployment. Egypt, Oman, Yemen and Libya have all witnessed large-scale protests.

“The Tunisian revolution is not far from us,” said Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League, at a meeting of the organisation in the Egyptian resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh. “The Arab citizen has entered an unprecedented state of anger and frustration.” The Egyptian diplomat’s remarks were a stark warning to Arab leaders to address despair at high unemployment, soaring food prices and other economic woes. “The Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession,” Mr Moussa said. “This is on the mind of all of us.”

Few believe that a Tunisian-style revolt will sweep across the region tomorrow, in part because of the difficulty in channelling economic frustrations into a political strategy. Protesters and the political opposition are nevertheless emboldened.

The street vendor who triggered the Tunisian revolt when he set himself on fire after police confiscated his stall has sparked a wave of copycat self-immolations. At least 12 people have set themselves on fire – seven of them in Algeria, three in Egypt – in the past week.

Claire Spencer, head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House, described Mr Moussa’s comments as a “wake-up call” to the region. “It’s a warning to say that some of the pressure on the population has to be lifted,” she said.

In an attempt to provide some relief to troubled economies, the Arab League countries said they would back a $2bn (£1.2bn) aid programme. The fund will go towards creating job opportunities at a time when the Arab world is experiencing an “unprecedented historical crisis,” said the Kuwaiti ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

The fund won only limited backing when it was set up last year, mainly from the oil-rich Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Governments have been more forthcoming with their contributions in light of the upheaval in Tunisia, not least because the economic problems that sparked the riots, such as high unemployment, are similar to those experienced elsewhere in the region.

The League also committed to investing in Arab youth – “the most precious of all our resources and wealth” said the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who chaired the summit yesterday. “The issue of unemployment will remain at the top of all challenges.”

But analysts warned that joblessness could only be tackled through a loosening of state control over the economy, a trend that prevails in many Arab states, and encouraging the growth of a private sector.

Tunisia Unrest Stirs Passions Across North African Region

January 17, 2011

by David D. Kirkpatrick

New York Times

TUNIS — Passions unleashed by the revolution in Tunisia resonated throughout the region on Monday as an Egyptian and a Mauritanian became the latest of six North Africans to set themselves on fire in an imitation of the self-immolation that set off the uprising here a month ago.

In Egypt, Abdo Abdel Moneim, a 50-year-old restaurant owner, poured a gallon of gasoline over his head and set himself ablaze outside the Parliament building on Monday morning in downtown Cairo. Around the same time in Mauritania, Yacoub Ould Dahoud was setting fire to himself in his parked car near Parliament in Nouakchott.

And on Sunday, Senouci Touat of Mostaganem, Algeria, 34 and unemployed, set himself on fire in his hometown, the fourth attempted self-immolation in his country since the Tunisian street revolt exploded in furious demonstrations in recent days. And while there were no immediate signs that their actions inspired widespread protests, as the victims all apparently intended, the immolations stood as gruesome testimony to the power of the Tunisian example.

In Tunis, the fight was far from over. More than a thousand protesters swarmed once again onto the city’s main artery, Bourguiba Boulevard, in what they described as an effort to sustain their revolution, this time in a battle pitting the small group of recognized opposition leaders against the masses in the streets.

Taking aim for the first time at the newly formed unity government, the protesters raged against the domination of the new cabinet by members of ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s ruling party. “Citizens and martyrs, the government is still the same,” they chanted. “We will protest, we will protest, until the government collapses!”

They called for the complete eradication of the old ruling party, while complaining that outlawed parties like the once powerful Islamist groups or the Tunisian Communists — battle-scarred stalwarts of the long dissident fight against Mr. Ben Ali’s 23-year-rule — were still barred from participating.

“Nothing has changed,” said Mohamed Cherni, 47, a teacher who said he had been tortured by Mr. Ben Ali’s police force. “It is still the same regime as before, and so we are going to keep fighting.”

But it was not clear exactly who spoke for the street protesters, and the old guard of the opposition struggled to convince the people in the streets that the country was moving toward democracy while still maintaining basic order and governance. It was not going to be an easy task in a new government in which the prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, and the newly named ministers of interior, foreign affairs, defense and finance were all members of the ruling party.

Around folding tables in a run-down office a few flights up from the throngs in the streets, Ahmed Najib Chebbi, leader of the largest and most credible legal opposition party, the Progressive Democratic Party, tried to his sell his members on the unity government. Like other opposition leaders, Mr. Chebbi had received a relatively minor post, secretary of regional economic development.

As he urged patience, an angry party veteran wearing a suit and tie shouted Mr. Chebbi down. “The people, who bled and died for us and our children, need to decide!” the man said, accusing Mr. Chebbi of settling too cheaply for a partnership with a prime minister whom he accused of complicity in murder under Mr. Ben Ali. “How can the murderer be our leader today?” Several around the room cried, while Mr. Chebbi sat solemnly resting his chin in his hand.

Opposition leaders included in the new government said the revolution had collided with reality. After 23 years of Mr. Ben Ali’s one-party dictatorship, it was impossible to find qualified officials outside the party who could take the reins of government quickly enough to stabilize the country and hold free elections.

“We have the choice of three possibilities,” said Ahmed Bouazzi, a member of the executive committee of the Progressive Democratic Party. “The first choice is the complete chaos of Somalia, the second choice is a military coup after a savior comes to rescue us from the chaos and lasts for 23 years, and the third possibility is working with the people who are in charge of the state right now to prepare fair elections.”

He argued that the members of the ruling party remaining in the cabinet were relatively less culpable for the repression and corruption that provoked the uprising against Mr. Ben Ali. “We asked that the figures who had on their hands the blood of the Tunisian people or their pockets full of the money of the Tunisian people should be left out,” he said, “and we achieved this.”

In Egypt, Abdo Abdel Moneim, a 50-year-old restaurant owner, poured a gallon of gasoline over his head and set himself ablaze outside the Parliament building on Monday morning in downtown Cairo. Around the same time in Mauritania, Yacoub Ould Dahoud was setting fire to himself in his parked car near Parliament in Nouakchott.

And on Sunday, Senouci Touat of Mostaganem, Algeria, 34 and unemployed, set himself on fire in his hometown, the fourth attempted self-immolation in his country since the Tunisian street revolt exploded in furious demonstrations in recent days. And while there were no immediate signs that their actions inspired widespread protests, as the victims all apparently intended, the immolations stood as gruesome testimony to the power of the Tunisian example.

In Tunis, the fight was far from over. More than a thousand protesters swarmed once again onto the city’s main artery, Bourguiba Boulevard, in what they described as an effort to sustain their revolution, this time in a battle pitting the small group of recognized opposition leaders against the masses in the streets.

Taking aim for the first time at the newly formed unity government, the protesters raged against the domination of the new cabinet by members of ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s ruling party. “Citizens and martyrs, the government is still the same,” they chanted. “We will protest, we will protest, until the government collapses!”

They called for the complete eradication of the old ruling party, while complaining that outlawed parties like the once powerful Islamist groups or the Tunisian Communists — battle-scarred stalwarts of the long dissident fight against Mr. Ben Ali’s 23-year-rule — were still barred from participating.

“Nothing has changed,” said Mohamed Cherni, 47, a teacher who said he had been tortured by Mr. Ben Ali’s police force. “It is still the same regime as before, and so we are going to keep fighting.”

But it was not clear exactly who spoke for the street protesters, and the old guard of the opposition struggled to convince the people in the streets that the country was moving toward democracy while still maintaining basic order and governance. It was not going to be an easy task in a new government in which the prime minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, and the newly named ministers of interior, foreign affairs, defense and finance were all members of the ruling party.

Around folding tables in a run-down office a few flights up from the throngs in the streets, Ahmed Najib Chebbi, leader of the largest and most credible legal opposition party, the Progressive Democratic Party, tried to his sell his members on the unity government. Like other opposition leaders, Mr. Chebbi had received a relatively minor post, secretary of regional economic development.

As he urged patience, an angry party veteran wearing a suit and tie shouted Mr. Chebbi down. “The people, who bled and died for us and our children, need to decide!” the man said, accusing Mr. Chebbi of settling too cheaply for a partnership with a prime minister whom he accused of complicity in murder under Mr. Ben Ali. “How can the murderer be our leader today?” Several around the room cried, while Mr. Chebbi sat solemnly resting his chin in his hand.

Opposition leaders included in the new government said the revolution had collided with reality. After 23 years of Mr. Ben Ali’s one-party dictatorship, it was impossible to find qualified officials outside the party who could take the reins of government quickly enough to stabilize the country and hold free elections.

“We have the choice of three possibilities,” said Ahmed Bouazzi, a member of the executive committee of the Progressive Democratic Party. “The first choice is the complete chaos of Somalia, the second choice is a military coup after a savior comes to rescue us from the chaos and lasts for 23 years, and the third possibility is working with the people who are in charge of the state right now to prepare fair elections.”

He argued that the members of the ruling party remaining in the cabinet were relatively less culpable for the repression and corruption that provoked the uprising against Mr. Ben Ali. “We asked that the figures who had on their hands the blood of the Tunisian people or their pockets full of the money of the Tunisian people should be left out,” he said, “and we achieved this.”

In an extraordinary televised plea for calm — in the Ben Ali government, officials never explained themselves — the interior minister offered a public accounting of the death toll so far in the month of protests, including 78 demonstrators dead and nearly 100 wounded along with unspecified additional police casualties. He said the unrest had cost the Tunisian economy more than $2 billion.

“We will thank the people who fought for freedom and helped the country during the crisis, but we will also punish all the criminals who have terrorized us,” said the interior minister, Ahmed Friaa. “Yes to democracy, yes to freedom and no to chaos.”

In the streets, the Tunisian revolution continued to evolve. It began in the hard-pressed provinces with demands for more jobs, especially for Tunisia’s soaring number of young college graduates, nearly a third of whom are estimated to be unemployed or seriously underemployed. It spread to the workers, small business owners and the coastal professional class as a revolt mainly against the flagrant corruption associated with Mr. Ben Ali’s family.

But on Monday, the protesters in the streets appeared more working class, including some hardened, veteran dissenters abused by Mr. Ben Ali’s government. Off the streets, some Tunisian professionals who last week had railed against Mr. Ben Ali’s government said they were excited by the new government’s prudent first steps. But the demonstrators sang the national anthem and talked broadly of new “freedom” and the complete elimination of Mr. Ben Ali’s party.

As exiled leaders of the once-thriving Islamic political party here raced home, Tunisians debated what to do with the Islamist parties. At a makeshift barricade of overturned barrels and corrugated steel erected by a citizens watch group seeking to defend against looters in the neighborhood of Kram, opinions were divided. An older man brought up the subject. “We ask for the Islamists not to be excluded,” he said, giving only his first name, Habib.

An informal poll of more than a dozen young men gathered there produced uniform agreement, yet few here dare criticize the Islamists openly. A few moments later one of them, Khereddine Boulabyare, said quietly: “The one good thing Ben Ali did was to crush the Islamists.”

Everyone in the crowd said their neighborhood had been terrorized the night before by rooftop snipers, a problem in several neighborhoods. Many believed the gunmen to be former personal guards loyal to Mr. Ben Ali.

But Hissin Mraihi, a 38-year-old man armed with only a golf club, said he was undaunted as he prepared to stand watch Sunday night. “We are going to get freedom and we are going to get democracy,” he said. “And we are going to continue to fight for it and to express ourselves.”

Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo.

Glenn Beck And Sean Hannity Dropped From Philadelphia Radio Station

January 19, 2011

by Paul Breer

ThinkProgress

Yesterday, hate radio hosts Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity had their nationally syndicated radio shows dropped from WPHT in Philadelphia, which is the second radio station to drop both of the conservative commentators. The moves were scheduled back in November 2010, and Marc Rayfield, market manager for CBS Radio in Philadelphia and senior vice president, said that WPHT wants to become “more of a locally based station.”

Just weeks ago, Beck was dropped from WOR in New York, but the most recent cancellation in Philadelphia hurts Beck even more. Beck got his start in Philadelphia, and many of his radio staffers still live in Philly, including Beck’s side-kick Stu. Immediately after being dropped yesterday, Beck dropped all affection for the city where he got his start, saying, “Philly sucks”:

“You know the killing streets right there in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia?” Beck told his producer. You know how Philadelphia is not a place you want to be? he added. “I’ll put you on a hidden cam and put you downtown at 6, 7 o’clock at night.” He could not believe his producer would be brave enough to walk around Center City at night. Philly sucks, Beck then said.

Last October, Hannity was dropped from KSL Radio in Utah, which is managed by Deseret Media Companies (DMC), a for-profit arm of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to reports, Hannity’s drop in Utah may have been due to a clash between DMC’s “Mission Statement,” which calls for the declaration of “light and knowledge” along with the advancement of “integrity, civility, morality, and respect for all people,” and Hannity’s constant lack of civility.

WPHT reportedly dropped both Beck and Hannity because they wanted more local talk content, but the most recent cancellations may be part of a pattern in which advertisers and broadcasters have become wary over the rhetoric spouted by hate radio. Color of Change reports that, so far, 81 companies have quit advertising on Beck’s Fox News show and Media Matter reports 100, including a list of those who haven’t withdrawn their advertisements.

Conversations with the Crow

When the CIA discovered that their former Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs, Robert  T. Crowley, had been talking with author Gregory Douglas, they became fearful (because of what Crowley knew) and outraged (because they knew Douglas would publish eventually) and made many efforts to silence Crowley, mostly by having dozens of FBI agents call or visit him at his Washington home and try to convince him to stop talking to Douglas, whom they considered to be an evil, loose cannon.

Crowley did not listen to them (no one else ever does, either) and Douglas made through shorthand notes of each and every one of their many conversation. TBR News published most of these (some of the really vile ones were left out of the book but will be included on this site as a later addendum ) and the entire collection was later produced as an Ebook.

Now, we reliably learn, various Washington alphabet agencies are trying to find a way to block the circulation of this highly negative, entertaining and dangerous work, so to show our solidarity with our beloved leaders and protectors, and our sincere appreciation for their corrupt and coercive actions, we are going to reprint the entire work, chapter by chapter. (The complete book can be obtained by going to:

http://www.shop.conversationswiththecrow.com/Conversations-with-the-Crow-CWC-GD01.htm

Here is the fifty eighth  chapter

Conversation No. 58

Date: Thursday, January 9, 1997

Commenced:  9:47 AM CST

Concluded:  10:28 AM CST

RTC: Ah, good morning, Gregory. Did you talk to Bill yesterday?

GD: Yes, he actually called me. He was discussing Kronthal with me mostly, but I think he was on a fishing trip. Was asking me about the new Mueller book…what was in it and such like.

RTC: Did you tell him anything?

GD: No, not in specific. I find him entertaining and sometimes truthful, but I don’t trust him. And I don’t trust Kimmel, either.

RTC: Probably a good idea. I rarely hear from Kimmel these days.

GD: I wonder why?

RTC: I think you’re the reason. Bill was cautioning me against talking too much to you because it might hurt my reputation.

GD: I think it must be the fact that I’m a practicing vampire. You know, Robert, it’ll be tough sledding this winter.

RTC: Why is that?

GD: No snow.

RTC: I walked right into that one, didn’t I? Has anyone discussed the Kennedy business with you?

GD: Corson did, once. Said he had the real story in his safe deposit box, and Plato or Aristotle would get it when he was called to Jesus.

RTC: Plato. That’s the fix lawyer around here. Little favors for this person or that one, little jobs for the Company and so on.

GD: They probably deserve each other.

RTC: Probably. And how is the Mueller book doing?

GD: Well enough. I’m starting to block out the Kennedy book and, yes, I know not to talk about it…

RTC: Or even write something up about it. If Tom thought you were into this, he’d have his boys do a black bag job on you and get into your hard drive.

GD: I could put a bomb in it… When they turned it on, somebody later would be carrying a white cane and being nice to his German Shepherd guide dog.

RTC: Now, now, Gregory, not to make jokes about things like that.

GD: If people don’t want me to punt them in their fat ass, they shouldn’t bend over. On the other hand, it might be an invite for something more romantic.

RTC: I can see you’re in a good mood today.

GD: Foul mouthed as ever.

RTC: Sometimes, but always entertaining.

GD: I know Kimmel doesn’t find me entertaining. I make fun of the establishment and he is so obviously a dedicated and vocal part of it.

RTC: Everyone has to have something to cling to.

GD: What a waste of time. People are so predictable and so pathetic. You know, Robert, it’s like visiting your ant farm every morning and watching the ants leading their programmed lives.

RTC: Isn’t that a bit arrogant, Gregory?

GD: It’s not that I’m so smart, Robert, although I am, but it’s because so many are so stupid. Anyway, enough Weltschmertz.

RTC: Pardon?

GD: Pain with the world. Burned out. Bored. Frustrated.

RTC: I see. When you get to my age, that’s the whole thing.

GD: Well, if youth knew and age could, Robert. I think that’s from Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who invented aspirin. You know, God is Love, there is no pain. They ought to put that up in the terminal cancer wards. It would be such a comfort. I understand Mary was buried with a telephone in her coffin. High hopes and impossibilities sums it up, and have an aspirin.

RTC: That’s Christian Science, isn’t it? You heard about the Christian Scientist? He had a very bad cold and pretty soon, the cold was gone and so was the Christian Scientist.

GD: That’s how it goes, I guess. Now let me get serious about this ZIPPER business. If you want me to do a treatment on this that will be to your benefit, I need to get from you, on the phone is fine, some kind of a rationale for what happened. I mean, that’s what you want, isn’t it? To let those who come after you fully understand the reasons for your actions.

RTC: Yes, that’s it exactly. If that ever got out, though by now, it probably won’t, I don’t want my son and my grandchildren thinking I was just a common or garden variety assassin. They should know the reasons for why we acted as we did.

GD: Fine. Go ahead.

RTC: You must understand that we took our duties very seriously. Angleton was a first class counter intelligence man and very dedicated. And he discovers that the most important intelligence reports, the President’s daily briefings from the CIA, are ending up in Moscow. Within a week of them being given to the President. A week. And this was not a one-time incident but had been going on for some time. We then tried to find out how this was happening. A major intelligence disaster, Gregory, major. Now there were several copies of this report disseminated, never mind to whom, so in each one, a little spice was put in. An identifier as you will. Nothing that changed the thrust of the report but a little bit of spice, as Jim used to say. Jim’s contact in Moscow was a diplomat, never mind which country, because we don’t need to make trouble for him. So from him, we got copies of what Nikita was getting. So can you imagine how stunned we all were to learn that it was the President’s copy that was being leaked? My God! So we couldn’t just walk up to him and ask him how come Khrushchev was reading his briefings a week after we gave them to him. Jim couldn’t find a way how this was done, but then we had a report that Bobby, his brother, was known to be friendly with a prominent KGB fellow, Bolshakov. No question of who he was. The TASS man here. Top level. Bobby was known to have had at least one meeting with him. Hoover was having Bobby watched day and night because Hoover hated him and wanted to catch him doing something bad so he could leak it to the Post and get him sacked. Anyway, they found out that Bobby was talking to the Commie on the phone from his home so we, and Hoover, tapped his phone. Hoover didn’t know we were doing it, too, but that’s Washington politics for you. And we heard, for sure, that Bobby was sending thermofax copies of this report to him. I mean, there was no question. And, we learned, too, that Kennedy was keeping in direct contact with Khrushchev by Bobby and the Russian. I mean they were subverting the entire diplomatic system and God alone knows what Kennedy was talking about. We had to make sure of this, and really sure. It was explosive, believe me. Jim and a few of us sat down, listened to tapes and agent reports and tried to decide what to do. I mean, Gregory, here we had our President giving, actually giving, the most secret documents to our worst enemy, a man who swore in public he would destroy us. So, what to do? Make it public? Who would dare to do this? Of course we had strong media contacts but we all decided this was just too mind-boggling and negative to let outside that room. And that is where the decision was made to simply get rid of Kennedy. He was too independent, he had sacked Dulles and Bissel over the Cuban thing and threatened to Mansfield to break the Agency up. And here he was giving our worst enemy top secret inside information. I mean it really wasn’t open to discussion. You can see this all, can’t you?

GD: I can see your point of view very clearly.

RTC: What would you have done?

GD: I’m not an important person like those people, so what difference does my opinion make in all this? I’m just trying to find the rationale.

RTC: Well, do you have it?

GD: Yes, very clearly.

RTC: Well, the rest was lining up the players. Jim did his part, McCone did his part and he talked to Hoover to get his cooperation. We never went directly to him, but we used Bill Sullivan, his right hand trouble-shooter. That’s how it was done. Hoover hated the Kennedys,  especially Bobby, and we had to have him on our side because it was his people that would investigate any killing that had to be done. It took about a week of back and forth but finally it was agreed on. Johnson was no problem. He was a real rat; a wheeler-dealer whom you couldn’t trust to the corner for a pound of soft soap. The Kennedy bunch were treating him like shit and planned to dump him as VP, so of course he went for the wink and the nod. Fortas was his bagman, just like Sullivan was Hoover’s. These are people who know the value of silence from long experience. And it went on from there. I have a phone conference record which I will dig out, when the time comes, and send to you. At this point are you clear on the motivations? I mean, this was not just some spur of the moment thing, Gregory. We felt it had to be done to stop what we could only call high treason. Hoover and Johnson both went along on those grounds. A matter of treason. And it had to be stopped. I don’t see this as heroic but a vital necessity. For the country.

GD: I remember reading somewhere that treason doth never prosper for if it prospers, none dare call it treason.

RTC: Something like that.

GD: Very like.

RTC: But if you look at it carefully, and I hope you will, Gregory, you will see that Kennedy was committing the treason, not us. It was he and his vile brother who were passing our most sensitive and secret documents to our enemies. What were we to do? Confront him? We’d all be fired, or worse. What choice was there? Tell me that.

GD: From that point of view, none.

RTC: We are making progress. One thing…Jim was thinking about blowing up Kennedy’s yacht while and was sailing around off Cape Cod but since there certainly would be children on board, I put a stop to that. Kennedy is one thing but not the children.

GD: And the wife? Our American saint.

RTC: Oh that one. Don’t be fooled, Gregory. Jackie claims descent from French nobility but in fact, her French ancestor wasn’t a nobleman, but an immigrant cabinetmaker. And crap about her being related to Robert E. Lee is more crap. That part of her family were lace curtain micks from the old sod. The woman is a fraud. She married Kennedy for his father’s money, that’s all. Wonderful backgrounds here, Gregory. Old Joe was as crooked as they come. He was an associate of Al Capone, a bootlegger, and worse, and in 1960, he and the mob rigged the election so Jack could get in. Yes, I know all about that. They did their work in Chicago with the Daley machine and the local mob. That’s right, vote early and vote often. They even voted the cemeteries. I never really liked Nixon but they connived and stole the election from him slicker than snot off a glass-handled door knob.

GD: Ain’t it nice living in a democracy? So Kennedy wasn’t a saint by any stretch.

RTC: :We can overlook all the women and the wild drug and sex orgies in the White House, but, Gregory, passing our top secrets to the enemy was too damned much. I would like you to show that very clearly if and when you get into this.

GD: Well, from a pragmatic view, Robert, it is the very best and clearest reason for the killing. A question here.

RTC: Certainly.

GD: A plot. Good, but then how do you keep it quiet? Someone might talk.

RTC: Remove them, Gregory.

GD: But what about those who remove those who know too much? Then they know too much.

RTC: Oswald knew a little too much, just a little but enough. And he could prove he never shot Kennedy. So he had to go before he started to talk. Oswald knew some of our people and he worked directly for ONI, so there were dangers there. On the other hand, the man who shot King, Ray, knew nothing so he got to live and end up in jail until he died. He knew there was something wrong, but, and this is important to note, Gregory, he had no proof.

GD: You did King?

RTC: No Hoover did King. He hated him with a visceral passion. Hoover was a nut, Gregory, but a very powerful and very dangerous nut. There is a long-standing rumor here that Hoover had passed the color line and that he was part black. Hoover was a homosexual and there we have two reasons to hate yourself. King was black and he was a womanizer. And Bobby was AG and loathed Hoover. He used to go into Hoover’s office while he was taking his after-lunch nap and wake him up. And he laughed at him and called him a faggot behind his back. Not to do that to Hoover. He stayed in absolute power because he had enough real dirt on Congress to put most of them away in the cooler or the loonie bin. No, Bobby signed his death warrant when he did those things. No, Hoover did King and Hoover did Bobby. Not himself, but he got Bill Sullivan to do it. Sullivan was his hatchet man and we worked directly with Bill. But then Bill got old and was starting to babble like old people do, and he was hinting about Hoover, who had sacked him after he had used him. No, that doesn’t make it, so some kid shot Bill right through the head. He thought he was a deer. My, my.

GD: And Bobby?

RTC: That was Hoover too. It was an agreement. We did John and Edgar did the others. We had one of our men there when they did Bobby, just to observe. We got George the Greek to keep an eye open. They got one of Kennedy’s people to steer him into the kitchen after a speech and the raghead was waiting. One of the Kennedy bodyguards did him from behind while all the shooting and screaming was going on. Much better than John. They had a real shooter in front of real people. None of the questions like we had in Dallas. No loose ends, so to speak. And King was another clean job. Sullivan was very good.

GD: And that’s why he turned into a deer.

RTC: Yes, he turned into a very dead deer.

GD: And you got Cord’s wife on top of it.

RTC: Jim said she was hanging around with hippies and arty-farty people and running her mouth.

GD: Did she know anything?

RTC: No, but she was well-connected and some people might believe her. She’d been humping Kennedy and they apparently really got along with each other. She was a lot more of a woman than Jackie and she never nagged Jack or acted so superior like Jackie loved to do. Her brother in law worked for us and we all agonized over this but in the end, Jim had his way. Of course Cord thought it was peachy-keen. He hated her, but then Cord hated everybody. The vicious Cyclops!

GD: One eye.

RTC: Yes. Oh, and like Jim, he, too, was a profound poet. God, spare me from the poets of the world. You don’t write poetry, do you, Gregory.

GD: No, but really filthy limericks, Robert. Would you like to hear some?

RTC: Oh, not now. Maybe later.

GD: Probably just as well. Once I get started on those, I’ll be going strong an hour later. But let me tell you just one. Not a dirty one, but after about an hour of limericks, I love to end the night with this one. Can I proceed?

RTC: Just one?

GD: Yes, just one.

RTC: Go on.

GD: ‘There was an old man of St. Bees,

Who was stung on the arm by a wasp.

When asked if it hurt,

He replied ‘No, it didn’t,

‘I’m so glad that it wasn’t a hornet.’

Dramatis personae:

James Jesus Angleton: Once head of the CIA’s Counterintelligence division, later fired because of his obsessive and illegal behavior, tapping the phones of many important government officials in search of elusive Soviet spies. A good friend of Robert Crowley and a co-conspirator with him in the assassination of President Kennedy

James P. Atwood: (April 16, 1930-April 20, 1997) A CIA employee, located in Berlin, Atwood had a most interesting career. He worked for any other intelligence agency, domestic or foreign, that would pay him, was involved in selling surplus Russian atomic artillery shells to the Pakistan government and was also most successful in the manufacturing of counterfeit German dress daggers. Too talkative, Atwood eventually had a sudden, and fatal, “seizure” while lunching with CIA associates.

William Corson: A Marine Corps Colonel and President Carter’s representative to the CIA. A friend of Crowley and Kimmel, Corson was an intelligent man whose main failing was a frantic desire to be seen as an important person. This led to his making fictional or highly exaggerated claims.

John Costello: A British historian who was popular with revisionist circles. Died of AIDS on a trans-Atlantic flight to the United States.

James Critchfield: Former U.S. Army Colonel who worked for the CIA and organizaed the Cehlen Org. at Pullach, Germany. This organization was filled to the Plimsoll line with former Gestapo and SD personnel, many of whom were wanted for various purported crimes. He hired Heinrich Müller in 1948 and went on to represent the CIA in the Persian Gulf.

Robert T. Crowley: Once the deputy director of Clandestine Operations and head of the group that interacted with corporate America. A former West Point football player who was one of the founders of the original CIA. Crowley was involved at a very high level with many of the machinations of the CIA.

Gregory Douglas: A retired newspaperman, onetime friend of Heinrich Müller and latterly, of Robert Crowley. Inherited stacks of files from the former (along with many interesting works of art acquired during the war and even more papers from Robert Crowley.) Lives comfortably in a nice house overlooking the Mediterranean.

Reinhard Gehlen: A retired German general who had once been in charge of the intelligence for the German high command on Russian military activities. Fired by Hitler for incompetence, he was therefore naturally hired by first, the U.S. Army and then, as his level of incompetence rose, with the CIA. His Nazi-stuffed organizaion eventually became the current German Bundes Nachrichten Dienst.

Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr: A grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel, Naval commander at Pearl Harbor who was scapegoated after the Japanese attack. Kimmel was a senior FBI official who knew both Gregory Douglas and Robert Crowley and made a number of attempts to discourage Crowley from talking with Douglas. He was singularly unsuccessful. Kimmel subsequently retired,  lives in Florida, and works for the CIA as an “advisor.”

Willi Krichbaum: A Senior Colonel (Oberführer) in the SS, head of the wartime Secret Field Police of the German Army and Heinrich Müller’s standing deputy in the Gestapo. After the war, Krichbaum went to work for the Critchfield organization and was their chief recruiter and hired many of his former SS friends. Krichbaum put Critchfield in touch with Müller in 1948.

Heinrich Müller: A former military pilot in the Bavarian Army in WWI, Müller  became a political police officer in Munich and was later made the head of the Secret State Police or Gestapo. After the war, Müller escaped to Switzerland where he worked for Swiss intelligence as a specialist on Communist espionage and was hired by James Critchfield, head of the Gehlen Organization, in 1948. Müller subsequently was moved to Washington where he worked for the CIA until he retired.

Joseph Trento: A writer on intelligence subjects, Trento and his wife “assisted” both Crowley and Corson in writing a book on the Russian KGB. Trento believed that he would inherit all of Crowley’s extensive files but after Crowley’s death, he discovered that the files had been gutted and the most important, and sensitive, ones given to Gregory Douglas. Trento was not happy about this. Neither were his employers.

Frank Wisner: A Founding Father of the CIA who promised much to the Hungarian and then failed them. First, a raging lunatic who was removed from Langley, screaming, in a strait jacket and later, blowing off the top of his head with a shotgun.

Robert Wolfe: A retired librarian from the National Archives who worked closely with the CIA on covering up embarrassing historical material in the files of the Archives. A strong supporter of holocaust writers

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