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TBR News January 30, 2019

Jan 30 2019

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

Washington, D.C. January 30, 2019:” We will be out of the office until February 2.” e

 

The Table of Contents

  • ‘Absolute coldest’ deadly deep freeze grips Midwestern U.S.
  • Venezuela’s political crisis: How did we get here?
  • Our Man From Boeing
  • Apple bans Facebook from tech tools for tracking teen browsing habits
  • A Tale of Two Walls
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

 

‘Absolute coldest’ deadly deep freeze grips Midwestern U.S.

January 30, 2019

by Suzannah Gonzales

Reuters

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A large swath of the United States was gripped by brutal cold and wind chills on Wednesday as record-low temperatures caused by a blast of Arctic air moved across the Midwest and into Eastern states, prompting residents to stay indoors.

Classes were canceled Wednesday and Thursday in Chicago, home of the nation’s third-largest school system, and police warned of the risk of accidents on icy highways. The U.S. Postal Service temporarily set aside its credo about carrying mail regardless of “snow nor rain … nor gloom of night,” and halted deliveries from parts of the Dakotas through Ohio.

Temperatures in parts of the Northern Plains and Great Lakes plunged to as low minus 42 Fahrenheit (minus 41 Celsius) in Park Rapids, Minnesota, and minus 31F in Fargo, North Dakota, according to the National Weather Service.

Andrew Orrison, a meteorologist with the service, said the some of the coldest wind chills were recorded in International Falls, Minnesota, at minus 55F (minus 48C). That’s significantly more frigid than an expected low of minus 28F (-33C) with wind chill in Antarctica.

“Really today is going to be the absolute coldest across the Northern Plains and across the Midwest… stretching down into the Ohio Valley as well,” Orrison said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “Moving forward here, we are going to see a decent amount of this cold air move through the East Coast.”

The bitter cold is being carried by the polar vortex, a stream of air that spins around the stratosphere over the North Pole, but whose current has been disrupted and is now pushing south.

TREACHEROUS DRIVING CONDITIONS

An Illinois police department found a fictitious cause for the icy blast, posting on Facebook that its officers had arrested Elsa, the frosty character from the Disney movie “Frozen,” for bringing the arctic air to the Midwest.

The McLean Police Department shared a staged photo of officers putting a woman dressed in a blue princess gown in pink handcuffs and escorting her into a police car.

With officials in Midwest and the Northern states advising residents to stay indoors, dashcam footage from one trucker taken outside Grand Rapids, Michigan gave a snapshot of hair-raising driving conditions.

“I about just got caught in a giant wreck; cars are into other pickups, there’s people hurt. I gotta let you go,” Jason Coffelt is heard saying in an Instagram post on Tuesday, as his truck is forced off the highway and pulls up just before a multi-vehicle accident.

At least five deaths relating to cold weather were reported since Saturday in Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, local media reports said.

More than 2,000 flights were canceled early on Wednesday, largely out of Chicago O’Hare and Chicago Midway international airports, the flight tracking site FlightAware.

Train service Amtrak said it would cancel all trains in and out of Chicago on Wednesday.

Most federal government offices in Washington D.C. opened three hours late on Wednesday due to the frigid weather already impacting the area.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales, additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Bernadette Baum

 

Venezuela’s political crisis: How did we get here?

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido are vying for control of the country. DW takes you through the key events since Guaido declared himself acting president.

January 30, 2018

by Louisa Wright

DW

 

January 23

Venezuela’s political crisis began when opposition leader and president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, declared himself acting president.

The United States recognized Guaido as interim president.

President Maduro accused Guaido of attempting a coup.

Maduro declared he would break all diplomatic ties with Washington.

Maduro ordered US diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours.

 

January 24

The world was divided into two sides, as countries started to express their support for either Maduro or Guaido.

Thirteen of the Lima Group’s 14 members and Canada recognized Guaido.

Cuba, Bolivia, Mexico, Russia, Turkey and China supported Maduro.

 

January 25

The European Union started to speak up and called for fresh presidential elections in Venezuela.

Germany and Spain said Guaido should be recognized if new elections weren’t held.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told DW that Germany “stands on the side of Guaido.”

EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini called for “free and credible elections.”

 

January 26

The EU got further involved, with Germany, Spain and France giving Maduro eight days to call fresh elections or they would recognize Guaido as president.

The EU said “further actions” would be taken if the Venezuelan government failed to call elections.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza insisted that Maduro was the legitimate president.

Venezuela’s defense attache to the US, Colonel Jose Luis Silva, broke with Maduro and backed Guaido.

Maduro suspended a directive for all US diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours.

 

January 27

Maduro and Guaido started to compete for control of Venezuela’s military.

Maduro went on state TV with soldiers and said: “We’re ready to defend our homeland — under any circumstance.”

Guaido proposed an amnesty law that would protect soldiers if they helped overthrow Maduro.

Guaido called for protests to gain control of the army and back the EU ultimatum.

Israel and Australia recognized Guaido as interim president.

 

January 28

The US stepped up its response at a press briefing with US National Security Advisor John Bolton.

The US would place sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela.

Observers saw a veiled military threat —”5,000 troops to Colombia” — scrawled on Bolton’s notepad.

Guaido announced he was taking control of the country’s foreign assets.

 

January 29

Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal of Justice approved a preliminary investigation into Guaido’s activities.

The court imposed a travel ban on Guaido and froze his bank accounts.

 

January 30

Maduro told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that he rejected calls for a snap presidential election.

 

 

Our Man From Boeing

Has the Arms Industry Captured Trump’s Pentagon?

by Mandy Smithberger and William D. Hartung

TomDispatch

The way personnel spin through Washington’s infamous revolving door between the Pentagon and the arms industry is nothing new. That door, however, is moving ever faster with the appointment of Patrick Shanahan, who spent 30 years at Boeing, the Pentagon’s second largest contractor, as the Trump administration’s acting secretary of defense.

Shanahan had previously been deputy secretary of defense, a typical position in recent years for someone with a significant arms industry background. William Lynn, President Obama’s first deputy secretary of defense, had been a Raytheon lobbyist. Ashton Carter, his successor, was a consultant for the same company. One of President George W. Bush’s deputies, Gordon England, had been president of the General Dynamics Fort Worth Aircraft Company (later sold to Lockheed Martin).

But Shanahan is unique. No secretary of defense in recent memory has had such a long career in the arms industry and so little experience in government or the military. For most of that career, in fact, his main focus was winning defense contracts for Boeing, not crafting effective defense policies. While the Pentagon should be focused on protecting the country, the arms industry operates in the pursuit of profit, even when that means selling weapons systems to countries working against American national security interests.

The closest analogues to Shanahan were Charlie Wilson, head of General Motors, whom President Dwight Eisenhower appointed to lead the Department of Defense (DoD) more than 60 years ago, and John F. Kennedy’s first defense secretary, Robert McNamara, who ran the Ford Motor Company before joining the administration. Eisenhower’s choice of Wilson, whose firm manufactured military vehicles, raised concerns at the time about conflicts of interest — but not in Wilson’s mind. He famously claimed that “for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

Shanahan’s new role raises questions about whether what is in the best interest of Boeing — bigger defense budgets and giant contracts for unaffordable and ineffective weaponry or aircraft — is what’s in the best interest of the public.

Rampant Conflicts of Interest

Unlike Wilson, Shanahan has at least implicitly acknowledged the potential for conflicts of interest in his new role by agreeing to recuse himself from decisions involving his former employer. But were he truly to adhere to such a position, he would have to avoid many of the Pentagon’s most significant management and financial decisions. Last year, after all, Boeing received nearly $30 billion in DoD contracts for working on everything from combat, refueling, training, and radar planes to bombs, drones, missile-defense systems, ballistic missiles, and military satellites. If Shanahan were to step back from deliberations related to all of these, he would, at best, be a part-time steward of the Pentagon, unable even to oversee whether Boeing and related companies delivered what our military asked for.

There is already evidence, however, that he will do anything but refrain from overseeing, and so promoting, his old firm. Take Boeing’s F-15X, for example. Against the wishes of the Air Force, the Pentagon decided to invest at least $1.2 billion in that fighter aircraft, an upgraded version of the Boeing F-15C/D, which had been supplanted by Lockheed Martin’s questionable new F-35. There have been reports that Shanahan has already trashed Lockheed, Boeing’s top competitor, in discussions inside the Pentagon. According to Bloomberg News, the decision to invest in the F-15X was due, in part at least, to “prodding” from him, when he was still deputy secretary of defense.

And that’s just one of a slew of major contracts scooped up by Boeing in the past year. Others include a $9.2 billion program for a new training aircraft for the Air Force, an $805 million contract for an aerial refueling drone for the Navy, two new presidential Air Force One planes at a price tag of at least $3.9 billion, and significant new funding for the KC-46 refueling tanker, a troubled plane the Air Force has cleared for full production despite major defects still to be addressed. While there is as yet no evidence that Shanahan himself sought to tip the scales in Boeing’s favor on any of these systems, it doesn’t look good. As defense secretary, he’s bound to be called on to referee major problems that will arise with one or more of these programs, at which point the question of bias towards Boeing will come directly into play.

Defenders of Shanahan’s appointment to run what is by far the largest department in the federal government suggest that key Boeing decisions won’t even reach his desk. That, however, is a deeply flawed argument for a number of reasons. To start, when making such decisions, lower-level managers will be aware of their boss’s lifetime connection to Boeing — especially since Shanahan has reportedly sung the praises of his former firm at the Pentagon. He has insisted, for example, that the massive F-35 program would have had none of the serious problems now plaguing it had it been run by Boeing.

In addition, Shanahan will be developing policies and programs sure to directly affect that company’s bottom line. Among them, he’ll be setting the DoD’s priorities when it comes to addressing perceived threats. His initial message on his first day as acting secretary, for instance, was summarized as “China, China, China.” Will he then prime the pump for expensive weapon systems like Boeing’s P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft, designed specifically to monitor Chinese military activities?

He has similarly been the Pentagon’s staunchest advocate when it comes to the development of a new Space Force, something that likely thrills President Trump. He’s advocated, for example, giving the Space Development Agency, the body that will be charged with developing military space assets, authority “on steroids” to shove ever more contracts out the door. As a producer of military satellites, Boeing is a major potential beneficiary of just such a development.

Then there’s missile defense, another new presidential favorite. Shanahan presided over Boeing’s missile defense division at a time when one of the systems being developed was the Airborne Laser, meant to zap launched nuclear missiles with lasers installed on Boeing 747 aircraft. The project, a dismal failure, was cancelled after more than $5 billion in taxpayer funds had been sunk into it. The Pentagon’s latest “Star Wars”-style anti-missile technology, whose development was just announced by President Trump, calls for a major investment in an equally impractical set of technologies at a price that Joseph Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund suggests could reach $1 trillion in the decades to come.

Among Boeing’s current missile-defense programs is the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System, an array of land-based interceptor missiles that has already failed the majority of its tests. It’s unlikely that it will ever function effectively in a situation in which incoming warheads would be accompanied by large numbers of decoys. The Congressional Budget Office has identified the cancellation of the program as one obvious decision that could save significant sums. But what chance is there that Shanahan would support such a decision, given all those years in which he advocated for that missile-defense system at Boeing?

Or take nuclear policy. His former company is one of two finalists to build a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Critics of such weapons systems like Clinton administration Secretary of Defense William Perry point out that ICBMs are the most dangerous and unnecessary leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, since in a potential war they might need to be launched on only minutes’ notice, lest they be lost to incoming enemy nukes. Even some of their supporters have questioned the need for a brand-new ICBM when older ones could be upgraded. Nuclear hawks might eventually be persuaded to adopt such a position, too, since the cost of the Pentagon’s across-the-board $1.5 trillion “modernization” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal (including the production of new nuclear bombers, missiles, and warheads) will otherwise begin to impinge on department priorities elsewhere. But how likely is Shanahan to seriously entertain even such modest critiques when they threaten to eliminate a huge potential payday for Boeing?

Finally, there is the issue of U.S. support for the brutal war launched by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Yemen nearly four years ago. Boeing’s combat planes, bombs, and attack helicopters have played a central role in that conflict, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians, while a Saudi blockade of the country has put millions more at risk of famine. In addition, Boeing continues to benefit from a $480 million contract to service the F-15s it has supplied to the Royal Saudi Air Force.

Here, President Trump is firmly in that company’s corner. “Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon… I don’t wanna hurt jobs,” he told 60 Minutes. “I don’t wanna lose an order like that [from the Saudi government].” Before his resignation, Secretary of Defense James Mattis was regularly called upon to comment on the Saudi war and help craft U.S. policy towards both that country and the UAE. Where will Shanahan stand on a war significantly fueled by the products of his former company?

There is, in fact, a grim precedent for Shanahan’s present situation. The Intercept and the Wall Street Journal have both reported that State Department Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Charles Faulkner, a former lobbyist for Raytheon, advocated giving Saudi Arabia a clean bill of health on its efforts to avoid hitting civilians in its air strikes in Yemen, lest Raytheon lose a lucrative bomb deal. So much for draining the swamp.

The Revolving Door Spins Both Ways

Shanahan and Faulkner are far from the only former defense executives or lobbyists to populate the Trump administration. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson is a former lobbyist for Lockheed Martin. Ellen Lord, who heads procurement at the Pentagon, worked at Textron, a producer of bombs and military helicopters. Secretary of the Army Mark Esper — rumored as a possible replacement for Shanahan as secretary of defense — was once a top lobbyist at Raytheon. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood was a senior vice president at Lockheed Martin. And the latest addition to the club is Charles Kupperman, who has been tapped as deputy national security advisor. His career includes stints at both Boeing and Lockheed Martin. (His claim to fame: asserting that the United States could win a nuclear war.)

All of the above, including Patrick Shanahan, spun through that famed revolving door into government posts, but so many former DoD officials and top-level military officers have long spun in the opposite direction. In 1969, for example, Wisconsin Democratic Senator William Proxmire, a legendary Pentagon watchdog, was already describing the problem this way:

“The easy movement of high-ranking military officers into jobs with major defense contractors and the reverse movement of top executives in major defense contractors into high Pentagon jobs is solid evidence of the military-industrial complex in operation. It is a real threat to the public interest because it increases the chances of abuse… How hard a bargain will officers involved in procurement planning or specifications drive when they are one or two years from retirement and have the example to look at of over 2,000 fellow officers doing well on the outside after retirement?”

Or, as a 1983 internal Air Force memo, put it, “If a colonel or a general stands up and makes a fuss about high cost and poor quality, no nice man will come to see him when he retires.”

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump appeared to recognize the obvious problem of the revolving door and proposed a five-point ethics reform plan to slow it down, if not shut it down entirely. Unfortunately, the ethics executive order he put in place once in office fell wildly short of his campaign ambitions, leaving that revolving door spinning madly. A new report from the Project On Government Oversight has documented 645 cases in 2018 alone in which former government officials held jobs at the top 20 Pentagon contractors. The leader among them? You probably won’t be surprised to learn that it’s Boeing, with 84 such hires.

Retired Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa, who led the Pentagon’s arms sales office, is a case in point. In that role, he helped promote sales of U.S. weaponry globally. Perhaps as a result, he “earned” himself a position as president for global services and support at Boeing less than a year after he retired. He’s far from alone. Retired Rear Admiral Donald Gaddis, a program officer for Navy air systems, also joined the company, as did retired Air Force Major General Jack Catton, Jr., who served as the director of requirements for the Air Combat Command before moving to Boeing. Retired Vice Admiral Mark Harnitchek, the former head of the Defense Logistics Agency, charged with managing $35 billion in goods and services across the DoD annually, similarly became a vice president at Boeing.

Slowing the Revolving Door

Candidate Donald Trump saw the revolving door between government and industry as a problem. “I think anybody that gives out these big contracts should never ever, during their lifetime, be allowed to work for a defense company, for a company that makes that product,” he said. As the continuing flow of officials through it suggests, however, as president, he’s done anything but drain that swamp.

In order to do so, he would, as a start, have to focus his administration on closing the many loopholes in current federal ethics laws, which, however imperfectly, seek to limit conflicts of interest on the part of government officials who move to jobs in industry. Under current law, lobbying restrictions on such former officials can be circumvented if they label themselves “consultants” or “business development executives.” Similarly, former Pentagon officials can go to work for an arms maker they once awarded a contract to as long as they’re hired by a different division of that company. In addition, while Congress requires that the Pentagon track whoever’s moving through that revolving door, the database that does so is both incomplete and not available for public viewing.

Candidate Trump was onto something. However, rather than curbing the blatant conflicts inherent in the revolving door — the ultimate symbol of the military-industrial complex in action — President Trump is actually accelerating them. America is indeed great again, if you happen to be one of those lucky enough to be moving back and forth between plum jobs in the Pentagon and the weapons industry.

 

Apple bans Facebook from tech tools for tracking teen browsing habits

January 30, 2019

by Stephen Nellis and Katie Paul

Reuters

(Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) said on Wednesday it had banned Facebook Inc (FB.O) from a program designed to let businesses control iPhones used by their employees, saying the social networking company had improperly used it to track the web-browsing habits of teenagers.

Apple offers what are known as certificates that let businesses have deep controls over iPhones, with the potential to remotely install apps, monitor app usage and access, and delete data owned by a business on an iPhone. Apple designed the program for organizations whose staff use iPhones for official duties, when privacy needs are different from phones for personal use.

On Tuesday, technology news site TechCrunch reported that Facebook was paying users as young as 13 years old to install an app called Facebook Research. The app used Apple’s business tools to ask for an iPhone user’s permission to install so-called virtual private network software that can track browsing habits.

Apple ejected Facebook from the business app program, saying in a statement on Wednesday the program was “solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization.”

“Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple,” Apple said in the statement.

The ban does not affect Facebook’s apps in Apple’s App Store, which Facebook depends on to distribute Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram apps to iPhone users. But it does mean that Facebook will not be able to distribute internal apps to its own employees.

In a statement, Facebook said key aspects of the research program were being ignored and that it had secured users’ permission.

“Despite early reports, there was nothing ‘secret’ about this,” Facebook said in a statement. “It was literally called the Facebook Research App. It wasn’t ‘spying’ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate.”

Facebook said fewer than 5 percent of the participants in the program were teens and that all of those teens had signed parental consent forms.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Katie Paul in San Francisco; Editing by Bernadette Baum

 

A Tale of Two Walls

Congress prefers the Israeli version

January 22, 2019

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

The demand of President Donald Trump that congress should appropriate money to build a wall securing the nation’s southern border has resulted in the longest federal government shutdown in history with no end in sight. There is considerable opposition to the wall based on two quite different perceptions of border security. The generally “progressive” view is that there is no border threat at all, that the thousands of migrants heading for the U.S. can be assimilated and indeed should be allowed entry because of U.S. government policies in Central America that have created the ruined states that the would-be immigrants have been fleeing.

There is certainly some truth to that argument, though it suggests that the United States should essentially abandon sovereignty over its own territory, which most Americans would reject. The alternative viewpoint, which has a much broader bipartisan constituency, consists of those who do feel that border security is a national priority but are nevertheless critical of building a wall, which will be expensive, possibly ineffective and environmentally damaging. They prefer other options, to include increased spending on the border guards, more aggressive enforcement against existing illegals and severe punishment of businesses in the U.S. that hire anyone not possessing legal documentation. Some also have argued in favor of a national ID issued only to citizens or legal permanent residents that would have to be produced by anyone seeking employment or government services.

Whether the wall will ever be built is questionable, but one thing that is certain is that there is more than enough hypocrisy regarding it to go around. Democratic Presidents including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama when campaigning have called for better border security, as have Democratic Congressional leaders who are now smelling blood and attacking Trump for seeking to do what they have long at least theoretically sought.

Apart from that, many of the Democrats who are currently criticizing the southern border wall on moral grounds have failed to apply the same standard to another infamous wall, that which is being built by Israel. Israel’s “separation wall” is arguably being constructed at least in part using “aid” and charitable money provided by Washington while also being enabled politically by the U.S. government’s acquiescence to the Israeli violations of international law. And if the moral argument for not having a wall to aid suffering refugees has any meaning, it would be many times more so applied to the Israeli wall, which is an instrument in the maintenance of apartheid in areas under Israeli control while also making permanent the stateless status of the more than one million Palestinian refugees, far more in number than the would-be immigrants marching through Mexico.

The Israeli wall is at many points larger and more intimidating than that planned by Trump, and it is also designed to physically and economically devastate the Palestinian population adjacent to it. Israel’s wall is undeniably far more damaging than anything being considered for placement along the U.S.-Mexican border as it operates as both a security measure and a tool for confiscating more Arab land by including inside the barrier illegal West Bank settlements.

There are both physical similarities and differences relating to the two walls. Judging from prototypes, Trump currently appears to favor prefabricated mostly metal sections with barbed wire coils on top that would be high and intimidating enough to deter climbing over. The sections would be set in foundations sufficiently deep to deter most tunneling and there would be sensors at intervals to alert guards to other attempts to penetrate the barrier. Israel’s wall varies in terms of structural material, including large concrete blocks 28 feet high in some areas while other less populated stretches that are considered low security make do with multiple lines of barbed wire and sensors. It is interesting to note that some Israeli companies have apparently expressed interest in building the Mexico wall and, as one of the many perks Israel receives from congress includes the right to bid on U.S. government contracts, they might well wind up as a contractors or subcontractors if the barrier is ever actually built.

As noted above, the principal difference between the U.S. wall and that of Israel is that the American version is all on U.S. land and is engineered to more or less run in a straight line along the border. The Israeli version is nearly 90% built on Palestinian land and, as it is designed to create facts on the West Bank, it does not run in a straight line, instead closing off some areas to the Palestinians by surrounding Arab villages. It therefore keeps people in while also keeping people out, so it is not strictly speaking a security barrier. Indeed, some Israeli security experts have stated their belief that the wall has been only a minor asset in preventing violence directed by Palestinians against Israelis.

If the Israeli wall had followed the Green Line that separated Israel proper from Palestinian land it would be only half the estimated 440 miles long that it will now be upon completion. The extra miles are accounted for by the deep cuts of as much as 11 miles into the West Bank, isolating about 9% of it and completely enclosing 25,000 Palestinian Arabs from areas nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority. One often cited victim of the barrier is the Palestinian town of Qalqilyah, with a population of 45,000, which is enclosed on all sides by a wall that in some sections measures more than 25 feet high. Qalqilyah is only accessible through an Israeli controlled military checkpoint on the main road from the east and a tunnel on the south side that links the town to the adjacent village of Habla.

The wall is therefore only in part a security measure while also being a major element in the Israeli plan to gradually acquire as much of the West Bank as possible – perhaps all of it – for Israeli settlers. It is a form of collective punishment based on religion to make life difficult for local people and eventually drive them from their homes.

The human costs for the Palestinians have consequently been high. A United Nations 2005 report states that :

… it is difficult to overstate the humanitarian impact of the Barrier. The route inside the West Bank severs communities, people’s access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities. In addition, plans for the Barrier’s exact route and crossing points through it are often not fully revealed until days before construction commences. This has led to considerable anxiety amongst Palestinians about how their future lives will be impacted… The land between the Barrier and the Green Line constitutes some of the most fertile in the West Bank. It is currently the home for 49,400 West Bank Palestinians living in 38 villages and towns.”

Amnesty International in a 2004 report observed:

“The fence/wall, in its present configuration, violates Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law… Since the summer of 2002 the Israeli army has been destroying large areas of Palestinian agricultural land, as well as other properties, to make way for a fence/wall which it is building in the West Bank. In addition to the large areas of particularly fertile Palestinian farmland that have been destroyed, other larger areas have been cut off from the rest of the West Bank by the fence/wall. The fence/wall is not being built between Israel and the Occupied Territories but mostly (close to 90%) inside the West Bank, turning Palestinian towns and villages into isolated enclaves, cutting off communities and families from each other, separating farmers from their land and Palestinians from their places of work, education and health care facilities and other essential services. This in order to facilitate passage between Israel and more than 50 illegal Israeli settlements located in the West Bank.”

Of course, the situation has become far worse for Palestinians since the two reports dating from 2004 and 2005. Israel has accelerated its settlement construction and the wall has expanded and shifted to accommodate those changes, making life impossible for the indigenous population.

Any pushback from the United States has been rare to nonexistent, with successive administrations only occasionally mentioning that the settlements themselves are “troubling” or a “complication” vis-à-vis a peace settlement. The first direct criticism of the wall itself took place in 2003, when the Bush administration briefly considered reducing loan guarantees to discourage its construction. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell remarked “A nation is within its rights to put up a fence if it sees the need for one. However, in the case of the Israeli fence, we are concerned when the fence crosses over onto the land of others.”

On May 25, 2005, Bush repeated his concerns, noting that “I think the wall is a problem. And I discussed this with Ariel Sharon. It is very difficult to develop confidence between the Palestinians and Israel with a wall snaking through the West Bank.” In a letter to Sharon he stated that it “should be a security rather than political barrier, should be temporary rather than permanent and therefore not prejudice any final status issues including final borders, and its route should take into account, consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.”

Congress is, of course, Israeli occupied territory so its response was directed against Powell and Bush in support of anything Israel chose to do. Then Senator Joe Lieberman complained “The administration’s threat to cut aid to Israel unless it stops construction of a security fence is a heavy-handed tactic. The Israeli people have the right to defend themselves from terrorism, and a security fence may be necessary to achieve this.”

In 2005, Senator Hillary Clinton declared her support for the wall by claiming that the Palestinian Authority had failed to fight terrorism. “This is not against the Palestinian people. This is against the terrorists. The Palestinian people have to help to prevent terrorism. They have to change the attitudes about terrorism.” Senator Charles Schumer, also from New York, added “As long as the Palestinians send terrorists onto school buses and to nightclubs to blow up people, Israel has no choice but to build the Security Wall.”

So, for many in Washington a legal and relatively apolitical wall by the United States to protect its border is a horrible prospect while the Israeli version built on someone else’s land with the intention to damage the local Arab population as much as possible is perfectly fine. The reality is that America’s Establishment, which is dominated by veneration of Israel for a number of reasons, is completely hypocritical, more prepared to criticize actions taken by the United States even when those actions are justified than they are to condemn Israeli actions that amount to crimes against humanity. That is the reality and it is playing out in front of us right now.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

January 30, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Conversation No. 63

Date: Friday, February 7, 1997

Commenced:  11:55 AM CST

Concluded:  12:35 PM CST

RTC: Hello there, Gregory. I hope you’re feeling better than I am.

GD: You have a cold?

RTC: No, getting old. Some advice, Gregory. Don’t get old. The worst part isn’t forgetting things, it’s remembering. And knowing you are helpless to correct the present. But there still is correcting the past.

GD: Historians do that all the time. Hitler lost so Hitler was always wrong. Roosevelt won so Roosevelt was always right. Saints and sinners. It depends entirely on who wins.

RTC: True. I told you I once met Roosevelt, didn’t I? My father got me in to see him. Old and shaky, but still clever. Phony old bastard, one thing to the face and another to the back, but very shrewd in political circles. He set up a powerful movement, but as soon as he hit the floor, they started to dismantle it.

GD: Müller was filling me in on the anti-Communist activities he was involved in. McCarthy and all of that.

RTC: Well, Franklin put them all in, and Truman threw them all out. Most of them were Jewish so we were all accused of anti-Semitism, but we held all the cards then and they knew it, so criticism was muted. It wouldn’t be that way now, but times change.

GD: They always do and a smart man changes with them.

RTC: Some times the older forms are better.

GD: Yes, but people grow tired of old forms and want new ones. A revolution might mean more money and power for some and death or disgrace for others. The wheel does turn.

RTC: So it does. I wanted to give you a little background here, Gregory, about you. You see, at one time, these others wanted to set up a sort of private think tank. They wanted to call it after the oracle of Delphi. Tom Kimmel, Bill Corson, the Trento ménage, Critchfield and others. But they wanted me to be the honcho.

GD: And why you?

RTC: I have the connections with the business community. I could get big money people behind the idea. It was a sort of miniature Company if you will. Money and power. We always called it the Company because it was a huge business conglomerate. But anyway, this think tank would bring all of us lots of money. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel too happy with the make up of it. Kimmel is pompous and entirely too much obsessed with his late Grandfather; the Trentos are very lightweight, but aren’t really aware of it; and poor Bill is a perpetual wannabe, running around trying to sound like a great keeper of various unknown secrets. We tried Costello. Tom liked him because of his Pearl Harbor writings, but I never liked him. There was a screw loose in his brain somewhere. And of course being a fairy didn’t improve his objectivity. I gave up on John after his trip to Reno. He hated you, you know.

GD: My heart is breaking. I should have given him some of my old shorts to chew on.

RTC: Now do let’s be serious, Gregory. John was a spiteful person but I got the impression he thought you were much worse than he was and since he was hiding his perversions, he probably thought you could see through him. I think people get that impression: That you watch and see too much. Of course, it doesn’t help that you run your mouth and say terrible things about self-made saints. Anyway, I didn’t want John involved and then I began to have some interest in you. Of course, I couldn’t put you forward for the group because Kimmel detested you and Bill didn’t know where to turn. He liked you but always listened to others in making up his mind. When I ditched Costello and Bill knew you and I were talking, Kimmel went through the roof. He didn’t like me talking to you and spent much time getting his oafs at Justice to ring me up and tell me how terrible you were. Tom likes to get others to do his dirty work, I noticed long ago. The Trento family didn’t know you and Bill is actually afraid of you. So the private study group for profit more or less died a natural death. I wanted to include you but they did not so there it ended.

GD: I would have had no problem working with you but not with the others. Bill is a lightweight, Kimmel a gasbag and the one Trento book I tried to read was hopeless.

RTC: Yes.

GD: ‘And slime had they for mortar.’—Genesis 11:3.

RTC: Citing Scripture, Gregory? I thought the Devil did that.

GD: He does. Daily. Now we call him Pat Robertson.

RTC: Where’s your Christian charity?

GD: I sold it to buy a gun.

RTC: Yes. Well, to get back to the subject here, which is the fact that these gentlemen do not like you, but I do. They have stopped yapping about you because I told them to shut up, but no doubt they still run around behind my back and try to stab you in the back. Never to the face, but in the back.

GD: Not to change the subject, Robert, but why do you really call it the Company?

RTC: Because it’s a huge business. We are one of the most powerful businesses on the planet, Gregory. We make enormous sums of money, have established a tight and very complete control over the media, have the White House doing as we tell them to, overturn foreign governments if they dare to thwart our business ventures, and so on.

GD: Business ventures?

RTC: A generalized case in point. A left-wing nigger gets into power in the Congo. The Congo has huge uranium deposits. Will Moscow get the uranium? The Belgian businessmen come to us for help. We agree to help them and we get into a civil war and murder Lumumba. One of our men drove around with his rotting corpse in his trunk. The head of the UN starts to interfere in matters, so we have an aircraft accident that kills him very dead and stops the interference. We tell the President about the uppity nigger but not about poor dead Dag. We tell them what we want them to hear and nothing more.

GD: And the business aspect?

RTC: The drugs, of course, bring in astronomical amounts of loose money. And if some rival group cuts into the business, we get them removed. Ever read about huge heroin busts somewhere? Our rivals going down for the third time. All of this is part and parcel of the Plan.

GD: Sounds like the Templar’s Plan.

RTC: Ah, you know about this, do you? Which one of the seven dwarves enlightened you? Not Kimmel, but probably Bill.

GD: Actually no. I was speaking of the Plan of the Templars…

RTC: Ah, you see, you do know that. You knew Allen was an initiate, didn’t you?

GD: Well, not in so many words. Didn’t the Templars get disbanded for having too much money? I think they killed DeMolay…

RTC: Now don’t change the subject here. They were never really disbanded, but they went underground. Do you know how much money they had? The French only got a little bit of it. Now let me know, who told you?

GD: You did, actually. Just now. I was thinking of Umberto Eco’s excellent Foucault’s Pendulum and his discussion of the survival of the Templars.

RTC: I missed that one. Is that an old book?

GD: No. Late ‘80s, if I remember. Brilliant historical pastiche. Eco’s an Italian scholar and the book is wonderful, although I doubt very few people in America would understand a word of it. They don’t teach history in our public schools, only political correctness. You can no longer look for the chink in someone’s armor anymore because Asians are terribly offended and you dare not call a spade a spade.

RTC: Yes, yes, I know all that. Stunts the mind.

GD: It’s my impression, based on my visits to your town, that they don’t have any minds to stunt.

RTC: Don’t forget, Gregory, that I was in government service as well.

GD: There are always exceptions, Robert.

RTC: Many thanks for your kindness, Gregory. The Templars have always had money but they have been an underground power for so long, they are set in their ways. We are public and they are not, so there is a sort of joint partnership here. As I said, Dulles was taken in when he was in Switzerland. One of the Jung people, as I remember. They can open doors, Gregory, don’t ever think they can’t, but they are always out of the sunlight.

GD: Like the mythic vampires.

RTC: Custom and usage, as they say. We have common interests, believe me.

GD: Catholic group?

RTC: Not anymore.

GD: Well, I had an ancestor in the Teutonic Knights, and they really never went away. And the Knights of Malta still have some influence in Papal matters. Interesting about the Templars, though. I thought Eco was just a good story teller. Could be. Secret societies have always intrigued parts of the public. The dread Masons, for example. Of course, before the French Revolution, they had a great deal of clandestine power in France, but now I think they’re just a high class fraternal organization. Müller told me that the Nazis were obsessed with the Masons, but when the Gestapo got around to really investigating them, they found nothing sinister at all. Just a social organization and nothing more.

RTC: You know quite a bit about so many interesting things. I can see why you got on with the kraut and why the rat pack here hates you. I must ask you please not to discuss this business with anyone. I would also ask you not to put it into anything you write concerning me. The Kennedy business is bad enough, but no one would believe a word of the other business.

GD: I agree, Robert. But if I have to give up a really interesting story, can I get more information on Kennedy?

RTC: Yes, I can send you more. I did give Bill a copy of the Russian report, but nothing more. He started bragging about this, so I basically shut him down. Of course, it doesn’t really say anything, but once is enough when someone starts to leak out material they have sworn to keep silent about.

GD: And have you tested me?

RTC: I don’t need to. You aren’t trying to make points with the bosses like they are. I hate to say it because I am friendly with all of them, but they are just a bunch of useless ass kissers. You certainly are not.

GD: No, I am not. I don’t trust anyone in the establishment. My God, you ought to listen to what the Landreth people were telling me, [I want to wet myself,] that they can put me on the cover of Time magazine. Of course I really believe them and I would like nothing better than to have my picture on the cover of Time magazine. It used to be a good news magazine but now it’s worse than People Magazine which sells very well in the supermarket checkout lines. And right next to the National Enquirer which is probably written by the same people.

RTC: I think the day of the printed paper or magazine is dying. We still have our hand in on that game. We moved to television, but that is also losing out, so we are moving into the Internet. But don’t ask me about that, because I know nothing about it. We view the Internet as very dangerous because we can’t begin to control it. Set up a few people with money and push them. Hope for the best, you know. but doubtful.

GD: The Templars story is interesting, mainly because I read Eco and know something about their early days.

RTC: When the conspiracy idiots babble on about secret societies, they don’t have any idea what they’re talking about. They go on about the CFR and the Masons but they don’t know the half of it.

GD: Did you ever read Mills’ The Power Elite? Came out in ’54 and is a little out of date but very good.

RTC: Can’t say as I have. Didn’t you mention this once? No matter. I might have but years ago. Speculative?

GD: Concrete, realistic and so on. The reason why the American public is so wrapped up in conspiracy theories is because they have lost all faith in their government and most of our major institutions such as banks, the press, mainline religion and so on. I remember the so-called OPEC panic when the price of gas at the pump went up every ten minutes. There was no OPEC crisis, but just the oil companies creating a panic so they could make huge profits. Ever notice, Robert, how the price of gas at the pump soars just at the beginning of summer when everyone drives on trips and then comes down in winter when no one drives? And how the price of fuel oil drops off in summer when no one needs it but then shoots up every winter when everyone does? Tell me, are these accidents?

RTC: Of course not, Gregory, of course not.

GD: I’m surprised that people don’t pick up on this.

RTC: They won’t pick up on anything at all and what if they did? A little talk here and there and they pay the bills.

GD: And the sheep get shorn again.

RTC: Yes, if you want to put it that way. That’s why they’re there, isn’t it?

 

(Conclusion at 12:35 PM CST)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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