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TBR News July 14, 2017

Jul 14 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., July 14, 2017:” Here is interesting information, from a source whose son works in the Justice Department, that there are on the drawing board, plans to implement a so-called “National Security State.”

This bit of fascistic nonsense is not new but has been updated and is now waiting for the “right moment.” This moment is stated to be a response to the next serious terrorist incident within the US.A protocol of this report is available but all I have is a listing at this point in time.

This plan calls for:

1.Federal control of all domestic media, the internet, all computerized records, through overview of all domestic fax, mail and telephone conversations,

2 .A national ID card, universal SS cards being mandatory,

  1. Seizure and forced deportation of all illegal aliens, including millions of Mexicans and Central Americans, intensive observation and penetration of Asian groups, especially Indonesian and Chinese,
  2. A reinstitution of a universal draft (mandatory service at 18 years for all male American youths…based on the German Arbeitsdienst)
  3. Closer coordination of administration views and domestic policies with various approved religious groups,
  4. An enlargement of the current “no travel” lists drawn up in the Justice Department that prevents “subversive” element from flying, (this list will include “peaceniks” and most categories of Muslims)
  5. The automatic death penalty for any proven acts of sedition,
  6. The forbidding of abortion, any use of medical marijuana,
  7. Any public approval of homosexual or lesbian behavior to include magazines, websites, political action groups and so

There are about a hundred other categories and I am stressing that these plans are not going to be implemented unless, and until, there is an overriding excuse for them at which time the public will see the need to be protected. Once the lid goes on, it will not come off voluntarily.”

Table of Contents

  • Tucker Carlson, Neocon Slayer
  • Pictures on the post office wall: Neo-Cons Leading Lights
  • Trump-Russia dominates headlines, but there’s more evidence of collusion between Democrats & Ukraine
  • Russia, mulling expulsions, says too many U.S. spies work in Moscow
  • Thanks to State Department Cables, a Torture Victim Won a Rare $10 Million Settlement
  • Questions remain one year after Nice terror attack
  • Trump travel ban: Judge expands definition of ‘close relative’
  • Macron thanks US at Bastille Day celebrations in Paris

 Tucker Carlson, Neocon Slayer

He scores two takedowns in two days

July 14, 2017

by Justin Raimondo

AntiWar

Oh, it was glorious fun, yielding the kind of satisfaction that us anti-interventionists rarely get to enjoy: not one but two prominent neoconservatives who have been wrong about everything for the past decade – yet never held accountable – getting taken down on national television. Tucker Carlson, whose show is a shining light of reason in a fast-darkening world, has performed a public service by demolishing both Ralph Peters and Max Boot on successive shows. But these two encounters with evil weren’t just fun to watch, they’re also highly instructive for what they tell us about the essential weakness of the War Party and its failing strategy for winning over the American people.

Tucker’s first victim was Ralph Peters, an alleged “military expert” who’s been a fixture on Fox News since before the Iraq war, of which he was a rabid proponent. Tucker starts out the program by noting that ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may have been killed in a Russian airstrike and that the talk in Washington is now moving away from defeating ISIS and focusing on Iran as the principal enemy. He asks why is this? Why not take a moment to celebrate the death of Baghdadi and acknowledge that we have certain common interests with the Russians?

Peters leaps into overstatement, as is his wont: “We can’t have an alliance with terrorists, and the Russians are terrorists. They’re not Islamists, but they are terrorists.” He then alleges that the Russians aren’t really fighting ISIS, but instead are bombing hospitals, children, and “our allies” (i.e. the radical Islamist Syrian rebels trained and funded by the CIA and allied with al-Qaeda and al-Nusra). The Russians “hate the United States,” and “we have nothing in common with the Russians” –nothing!” The Russians, says Peters, are paving the way for the Iranians – the real evil in the region – to “build up an empire from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean.” Ah yes, the “Shia crescent” which the Israelis and their amen corner in the US have been warning against since before the Iraq war. Yet Tucker points out that over 3,000 Americans have been killed by terrorists in the US, and “none of them are Shi’ites: all of [these terrorists] have been Sunni extremists who are supported by the Saudis who are supposed to be our allies.” And while we’re on the subject: “Why,” asks Tucker, “if we’re so afraid of Iran did we kill Saddam Hussein, thereby empowering Iran?”

“Because we were stupid,” says Peters.

Oh boy! Peters was one of the most militant advocates of the Iraq war: we were “stupid,” I suppose, to listen to him. Yet Tucker lets this ride momentarily, saving his big guns for the moment when he takes out Peters completely. And Peters walks right into it when Tucker wonders why we can’t cooperate with Russia, since both countries are under assault from Sunni terrorists:

“PETERS: You sound like Charles Lindbergh in 1938 saying Hitler hasn’t attacked us.

“TUCKER: I beg your pardon? You cannot compare me to somebody who makes apologies for Hitler. And I don’t think Putin is comparable.

“PETERS: I think Putin is.

“TUCKER: I think it is a grotesque overstatement actually. I think it’s insane.

“PETERS: Fine, you can think it’s insane all you want.”

For the neocons, it’s always 1938. The enemy is always the reincarnation of Hitler, and anyone who questions the wisdom of war is denounced as an “appeaser” in the fashion of Neville Chamberlain or Lindbergh. Yet no one ever examines and challenges the assumption behind this rhetorical trope, which is that war with the enemy of the moment – whether it be Saddam Hussein, the Iranian ayatollahs, or Vladimir Putin – is inevitable and imminent. If Putin is Hitler, and Russia is Nazi Germany, then we must take the analogy all the way and assume that we’ll be at war with the Kremlin shortly.

After all, Charles Lindbergh’s opponents in the great debate of the 1940s openly said that Hitler, who posed an existential threat to the West, had to be destroyed, and that this goal could not be achieved short of war. Of course, Franklin Roosevelt pretended that this wasn’t so, and pledged repeatedly that we weren’t going to war, but secretly he manipulated events so that war was practically inevitable. Meanwhile, the more honest elements of the War Party openly proclaimed that we had to aid Britain and get into the war.

Is this what Peters and his gaggle of neocons are advocating – that we go to war with nuclear-armed Russia and annihilate much of the world in a radioactive Armageddon? It certainly seems that way. The Hitler-Lindbergh trope certainly does more than merely imply that.

Clearly riled by the attempt to smear him, Tucker, the neocon slayer, then moves in for the kill:

“I would hate to go back and read your columns assuring America that taking out Saddam Hussein will make the region calmer, more peaceful, and America safer, when in fact it has been the opposite and it has empowered Russia and Iran, the two countries you say you fear most – let’s be totally honest, we don’t always know the outcomes.

”They are not entirely predictable so maybe we should lower that a little bit rather than calling people accommodationist.”

This is what the neocons hate: reminding them of their record is like showing a vampire a crucifix. Why should we listen to Peters, who’s been wrong about everything for decades? Peters’ response is the typical neocon riposte to all honest questions about their policies and record: you’re a traitor, you’re “cheering on Vladimir Putin!” To which Tucker has the perfect America Firster answer:

“I’m cheering for America as always. Our interests ought to come first and to the extent that making temporary alliances with other countries serves our interests, I’m in favor of that. Making sweeping moral claims – grotesque ones – comparing people to Hitler advances the ball not one inch and blinds us to reality.”

Peters has no real argument, and so he resorts to the method that’s become routine in American politics: accuse your opponent of being a foreign agent. Tucker, says Peters, is an “apologist” not only for Putin but also for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Again, Tucker answers smears with cold logic:

“So because I’m asking rational questions about what’s best for America I’m a friend to strongmen and dictators? That is a conversation stopper, not a beginning of a rational conversation. My only point is when Syria was run by Assad 10% of the population was Christian and they lived in relative peace.”

And that’s really the whole point: the War Party wants to stop the conversation. They don’t want a debate – when, really, have we ever had a fair debate in this country over foreign policy? They depend on fear, innuendo, and ad hominem “arguments” to drag us into war after war – and Tucker is having none of it.

So why is any of this important? After all, it’s just a TV show, and as amusing as it is to watch a prominent neocon get creamed, what does it all mean in the end? Well, it matters because Tucker didn’t start out talking sense on foreign policy. He started out, in short, as a conventional conservative, but then something happened. As he put it to Peters at the end of the segment:

“I want to act in America’s interest and stop making shallow, sweeping claims about countries we don’t fully understand and hope everything will be fine in the end. I saw that happen and it didn’t work.”

What’s true isn’t self-evident, at least to those of us who aren’t omniscient. Many conservatives, as well as the country as a whole, learned something as they saw the disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria unfold. On the right, many have rejected the neoconservative “idealism” that destroyed the Middle East and unleashed ISIS. When Donald Trump stood before the South Carolina GOP debate and told the assembled mandarins that we were lied into the Iraq war, the chattering classes declared that he was finished – yet he won that primary, and went on to win the nomination, precisely because Republican voters were ready to hear that message.

Indeed, Trump’s “America First” skepticism when it comes to foreign wars made the crucial difference in the election, as a recent study shows: communities hard hit by our endless wars put him over the top in the key states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. This, and not “Russian meddling,” handed him the White House.

Tucker Carlson’s ideological evolution limns the transformation of the American right in the age of Trump: while Trump is not, by a long shot, a consistent anti-interventionist, Tucker comes pretty close. He is, at least, a realist with a pronounced antipathy for foreign adventurism, and that is a big step forward from the neoconservative orthodoxy that has bathed much of the world in blood.

If the demolition of Ralph Peters was the cake, then the meltdown of neoconservative ideologue Max Boot the next evening was the frosting, with ice cream on the side.

Perhaps the neocons, having been trounced in round one, thought Boot could do better: they were mistaken. Tucker took him apart simply by letting him talk: Boot didn’t answer a single question put to him, and, in the course of it all, as Boot resorted to the typical ad hominems, Tucker made a cogent point:

“[T]o dismiss people who disagree with you as immoral – which is your habit – isn’t a useful form of debate, it’s a kind of moral preening, and it’s little odd coming from you, who really has been consistently wrong in the most flagrant and flamboyant way for over a decade. And so, you have to sort of wonder, like –

”BOOT: What have I been wrong about, Tucker? What have I been wrong about?

”CARLSON: Well, having watch you carefully and known you for a long time, I recall vividly when you said that if we were to topple the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, the region will be much safer and the people who took their place would help us in the global war on terror. Of course it didn’t happen –“

Boot starts to completely melt down at this point, screeching “You supported the Iraq war!” To which Tucker trenchantly replies:

“I’ve been wrong about a ton of things, you try to learn your lesson. But when you get out there in the New York Times and say, we really should have done more to depose Qaddafi, because you know, Libya is going to be better when that happens. And then to hear you say we need to knock off the Assad regime and things will be better in Syria, we sort of wonder like, well, maybe we should choose another professions. Selling insurance, something you’re good at. I guess that’s kind of the point. Are there no sanctions for being as wrong as you have?”

Why oh why should we listen to Peters and Boot and their fellow neocons, who have been – literally – dead wrong about everything: their crackbrained ideology has led to untold thousands of deaths since September 11, 2001 alone. And for what?

In the end, Boot falls back on the usual non-arguments: Tucker is “immoral” because he denies that Trump is a Russian agent, and persists in asking questions about our foreign policy of endless intervention in the Middle East. Tucker keeps asking why Boot thinks Russia is the main threat to the United States, and Boot finally answers: “Because they are the only country that can destroy us with a nuclear strike.”

To a rational person, the implications of this are obvious: in that case, shouldn’t we be trying to reach some sort of détente, or even achieve a degree of cooperation with Moscow? Oh, but no, because you see the Russians are inherently evil, we have “nothing” in common with them – in which case, war is inevitable.

At which point, Tucker avers: “Okay. I am beginning to think that your judgment has been clouded by ideology, I don’t fully understand where it’s coming from but I will let our viewers decide.”

I know where it’s coming from. Tucker’s viewers may not know that Boot is a Russian immigrant, who – like so many of our Russophobic warmongers – arrived on our shores with his hatred of the motherland packed in his suitcase. There’s a whole platoon of them: Cathy Young, who recently released her polemic arguing for a new cold war with Russia in the pages of Reason magazine; Atlantic writer and tweeter of anti-Trump obscenities Julia Ioffe, whose visceral hatred for her homeland is a veritable monomania; Gary Kasparov, the former chess champion who spends most of his energy plotting revenge against Vladimir Putin and a Russian electorate that has consistently rejected his hopeless presidential campaigns, and I could go on but you get the picture.

As the new cold war envelopes the country, wrapping us in its icy embrace and freezing all rational discussion of foreign policy, a few people stand out as brave exceptions to the groupthinking mass of the chattering classes: among the most visible and articulate are Tucker Carlson, Glenn Greenwald, journalist Michael Tracey, Prof. Stephen Cohen, and of course our own Ron Paul. I tip my hat to them, in gratitude and admiration, for they represent the one thing we need right now: hope. The hope that this madness will pass, that we’ll beat back this latest War Party offensive, and enjoy a return to what passes these days for normalcy.

 

Pictures on the post office wall: Neo-Cons Leading Lights

July 14, 2017

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

 

  1. Richard Perle: One of Bush’s top foreign policy advisors, he was the chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. Perle was expelled from Senator Henry Jackson’s office in the 1970s after the National Security Agency (NSA) caught him passing highly classified (National Security) documents to the Israeli Embassy. He later worked for the Israeli weapons firm, Soltam. Perle came from one the above mentioned pro-Israel think tanks, the AEI.

Note: On March 27, 2003, it was announced in the media that Perle had resigned as Chairman of the Defense Policy Board. His involvement in assisting the Global Crossing bankrupts and his purported $700,000 fee for his work was apparently too much for even the corrupt Bush administration to swallow. A subsequent official report completely exonerated Perle of “any wrongdoing whatsoever” and claimed his actions were “completely within official regulations.” In February of 2004, Perle reluctantly resigned his official duties so as “not to become an embarrassment to President Bush’s reelection campaign.”

  1. Paul Wolfowitz: Former Deputy Defense Secretary, and member of Perle’s Defense Policy Board, in the Pentagon. Wolfowitz has been a close associate of Perle and has close ties to the Israeli military. Wolfowitz holds Israeli citizenship and his sister lives in Israel. Wolfowitz was connected with the think tank, JINSA. Wolfowitz is the number two leader within the administration behind the disastrous Iraqi war. He has been targeted by Iraqi resistance fighters on several occasions and they only narrowly missed blowing him up in his well-guarded headquarters in Baghdad. Wolfowitz was subsequently appointed by President Bush to head the World Bank
  2. Douglas Feith: Former Under Secretary of Defense and Policy Advisor at the Pentagon. He has been a close associate of Perle and served as his Special Counsel extremist, advocating anti-Arab policies. Feith has run a small law firm, Feith and Zell, which only has one International office, in Israel. The majority of their legal work represents Israeli interests. His firm’s own website stated, prior to his appointment, that Feith “represents Israeli Armaments Manufacturers.” Feith, like Perle and Wolfowitz, campaigned intensely for war against Iraq. He has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy, 1984-1986 and was Special Counsel to Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Peale 1982-1984. In 2001, Feith returned to DoD as Donald Rumsfeld’s Undersecretary for Policy, and it was in his office that “OSP”, the Office of Special Plans, was created. The OSP was created to manufacture intelligence information to justify the invasion of Iraq. This intelligence flowed directly from Ariel Sharon’s office to the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon. The OSP also miss-planned the post-war reconstruction there, and continues to point an accusing finger at Iran and Syria, as per Zionist plans to control the Middle East and funnel Arab oil to Israeli refineries. Feith is a graduate of Harvard College and Georgetown University Law Center and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Like Perle and the others, Feith is a pro-Israel extremist, who has advocated anti-Arab policies in the past. He is closely associated with the extremist group, the Zionist Organization of America, which even attacks Jews that don’t agree with its extremist views. Feith frequently speaks at ZOA conferences. Feith runs a small law firm, Feith and Zell, which only has one International office, in Israel. The majority of their legal work is representing Israeli interests. His firm’s own website stated, prior to his appointment, that Feith “represents Israeli Armaments Manufacturer.” Feith basically represents the Israeli War Machine. Feith, like Perle and Wolfowitz, campaigned hard for the Israeli proxy war against Iraq
  3. Edward Luttwak: Member of the National Security Study Group of the Department of Defence at the Pentagon. Luttwak is an Israeli citizen and has taught in Israel. He frequently writes for Israeli and pro-Israeli newspapers and journals. Luttwak is an extremist whose main theme in many of his articles is the necessity of the U.S. waging war against Iraq.
  4. William Kristol: Co-Founder of PNAC. Kristol publishes the Weekly Standard, a Rupert Murdoch-financed magazine that promotes the neocon credo, reportedly a must-read in Cheney’s office. In 2002, Media Bypass reported, “In what has been called ‘punditgate,’ conservative journalists Bill Kristol and Erwin Stelzer of The Weekly Standard … have been exposed for accepting Enron largesse. … Kristol, chief of staff to former Vice President Dan Quayle, took $100,000 without disclosing the payments at the time.
  5. Henry Kissinger: One of many Pentagon Advisors, Kissinger sat on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board under Perle. For detailed information about Kissinger’s evil past, read Seymour Hersch’s book, Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House. Kissinger had a part in the Watergate crimes; Southeast Asian mass murders under the CIA’s Operation Phoenix (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos); overthrowing the legitimate government of Chile and installing Chilean mass murdering dictator Pinochet; Operation Condor’s mass killings in South America; and more recently served as Serbia’s ex-dictator Slobodan Milosevic’s advisor. He has consistently advocated going to war against Iraq. Kissinger is the Ariel Sharon of the U.S. Typically, President Bush nominated Kissinger as chairman of the September 11 investigating commission. This was tantamount to selecting Enron’s Ken Lay to investigate a fraud scandal. The ensuing public outcry about this nomination caused Kissinger to beat a hasty retreat and he promptly resigned.
  6. Dov Zakheim: Once Under Secretary of Defense, Comptroller, and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the Department of Defense. He is an ordained rabbi and holds Israeli citizenship. Zakheim attended the Jewish College in London and became an ordained Orthodox Jewish Rabbi in 1973. He was adjunct professor at New York’s Jewish Yeshiva University.
  7. Kenneth Adelman: One of many Pentagon Advisors, Adelman also sat on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board under Perle, and was another supporter of war against Iraq. Adelman frequently was a guest on “Fox News” and often expressed extremist and often ridiculous anti-Arab and anti-Muslim views.
  8. I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby: Once Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff. As the chief pro-Israel Jewish advisor to Cheney, Libby was in a perfect position to influence Cheney’s stand on invading Iraq. Libby is a longtime associate of Wolfowitz. Libby was also a lawyer for convicted felon and Israeli spy Mark Rich, whom Clinton pardoned in his last days as president. Convicted felon, Libby was kept from prison by Clinton’s commutation of his sentence.
  9. Robert Satloff: FormerU.S. National Security Council Advisor, Satloff was the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
  10. Elliott Abrams: A former National Security Council Advisor. Abrams previously worked at Washington-based “think tank” Ethics and Public Policy Center. During the Reagan Administration, he was the Assistant Secretary of State, handling, for the most part, Latin American affairs. He played an important role in the Iran-Contra Scandal, which involved illegally selling U.S. weapons to Iran to fight Iraq, and illegally funding the contra rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. He also actively deceived three congressional committees about his involvement and thereby faced felony charges based on his testimony. Abrams pled guilty in 1991 to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to a year’s probation and 100 hours of community service. A year later, former President Bush (Senior) granted Abrams a full pardon. He previously worked at Washington-based “Think Tank” Ethics and Public Policy Center. Abrams is the son-in-law of Norman Podhoretz, editor emeritus of Commentary, whose magazine has for decades branded critics of Israel as anti-Semites. Abrams is a diehard PNACer, having “authored the chapter on the Middle East in the 2000 blueprint for U.S. foreign policy by the Project on the New American Century. Edited by PNAC founders William Kristol and Robert Kagan, Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy is a chapter-by-chapter playbook on how to deal with America’s current and future adversaries.”

During the Reagan Administration, Abrams was the Assistant Secretary of State, handling, for the most part, Latin American affairs. He played an important role in the Iran-Contra Scandal, which involved illegally selling U.S. weapons to Iran to fight Iraq, and illegally funding the contra rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. He also actively deceived three congressional committees about his involvement and thereby faced felony charges based on his testimony. Abrams pled guilty in 1991 to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to a year’s probation and 100 hours of community service. A year later, former President Bush (Senior) granted Abrams a full pardon. He was one of the more hawkish pro-Israel Jews in the Reagan Administration’s State Department.

  1. Marc Grossman: Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. He was Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources at the Department of State. Grossman was one of many of the officials from the Clinton Administration that Bush has promoted to higher posts.
  2. Richard Haass: Former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and Ambassador at large. He was also Director of National Security Programs and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Haass was one of the more hawkish pro-Israelis in the first Bush Administration and sat on the National Security Council, consistently advocating war against Iraq. Haass was also a member of the Defense Department’s National Security Study Group, at the Pentagon. Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and Ambassador at large.
  3. Robert Zoellick: Former U.S. Trade Representative, a cabinet-level position. He was also one of the more hawkish members of the George W. Bush Administration who advocated invading Iraq and occupying a portion of the country in order to set up a Vichy-style puppet government. Zoellick was (2005) promoted to Deputy Secretary of State

Member of CFR and Project for the New American Century signatory. Formerly U.S. Trade Representative and Under Secretary of State in the Bush administration. It is no accident that Robert Zoellick was in line with the loudest chicken-hawks in promoting the Iraq War, and at the same tme acted to increase our unemployment lines in America. Robert Zoellick has been instrumental in fostering outsourcing of American jobs to the Third World.

  1. Ari Fleischer: Had been official White House Press Spokesman for the Bush (Jr.) Administration. Fleischer was closely connected to the group called the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidics, who follow the Qabala and hold very extremist and insulting views of non-Jews. Fleischer was the co-president of Chabad’s Capitol Jewish Forum. He received the Young Leadership Award from the American Friends of Lubavitch in October, 2001. Fleischer subsequently resigned his White House post.
  2. James Schlesinger: Was one of many Pentagon advisors, Schlesinger also sat on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board under Perle and was another supporter of the war against Iraq. Schlesinger was also a commissioner of the Defense Department’s National Security Study Group, at the Pentagon.

17 David Frum: Former White House speechwriter behind the “Axis of Evil” label. Frumm lumped together all the Administration’s outright lies and accusations against Iraq for Bush to justify the war.

  1. Joshua Bolten: Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Bolton was previously a banker, former legislative aide.
  2. John Bolton: Formerly Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Bolton was also a Senior Advisor to President Bush. Prior to this position, Bolton was Senior Vice President of the above mentioned think tank, AEI. In October 2002, Bolton accused Syria of having a nuclear program so an attack Syria could be justified after a subjugation of Iraq. President Bush has appointed Bolton, an extremely opinionated and abrasive individual, to the post of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. His appointment was the subject of strong controversy and as of this writing, Bolton has not been officially appointed. Yale graduate. A prime architect of Bush’s Iraq policy, Bolton served Bush Snr and Reagan in the state department, justice department and USAid and was later under-secretary for arms control and international security in Bush Jnr’s state department. His appointment was intended to counter the dove-ish Colin Powell. Bolton is part of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Project for the New American Century and is a vice-president at the American Enterprise Institute. He was also one of Bush’s chad-counters during the Florida count. Bolton has long advocated Taiwan getting a UN seat — he’s been on the payroll of the Taiwanese government. The US unilateralist is a regular contributor to William Kristol’s right-wing Weekly Standard and vilified UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Bolton was an opponent of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a cheerleader for the Star Wars Defense System. He had hinted at targeting Cuba in the war on terror. His financial interests have include oil and arms firms and JP Morgan Chase, like Shultz. It is said that Bolton believes in the inevitability of Armageddon. Like Woolsey, Bolton is said to believe we are in the midst of world war four which he estimates could take 40 years to finish. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary they believed Iraq was involved in September 11. With Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Khalilzad, Bennet, Woolsey, Perle and Kristol, Bolton co-signed a letter in 1998 urging President Bill Clinton to take military action in Iraq.
  3. David Wurmser: Was Special Assistant to John Bolton (above), the under-secretary for arms control and international security. Wurmser also worked at the AEI with Perle and Bolton. His wife, Meyrav Wurmser, along with Colonel Yigal Carmon, formerly of Israeli military intelligence, co-founded the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a Washington-based Israeli outfit which distributes articles translated from Arabic newspapers portraying Arabs in a bad light. He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, which on July 7, 1996 which issued a paper by six ”prominent opinion makers” laying out ”a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership” that urged an end to ”land-for-peace” concessions. Among many suggestions was to ”focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”

Wurmser, of American Enterprise Institute joined his former colleague, John Bolton, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, to be a special assistant. While at AEI Wurmser wrote that any attack on the U.S. military overseas should be met by Washington with a response of massive killing of civilians in the offending nation. Bolton is known for arguing that Washington should disregard international law. He “promptly dismantled or obstructed nearly every multilateral treaty in sight,” He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, which on July 7, 1996 which issued a paper by six ”prominent opinion makers” laying out ”a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership” that urged an end to ”land-for-peace” concessions. Among many suggestions was to ”focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.”

  1. Eliot Cohen: Member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board under Perle; another extremist pro-Israel advisor. Like Adelman, Cohen often expressed extremist and often ridiculous anti-Arab and anti-Muslim views.Later, he wrote an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal openly admitting his racist hatred of Islam and claiming that Islam and not terrorism should be the enemy.
  2. Mel Sembler: President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. A prominent Republican and Former National Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee. The Export-Import Bank facilitates trade relationships between U.S. businesses and foreign countries, specifically those with financial problems.
  3. Michael Chertoff: Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, at the Justice Department. Mr. Chertoff subsequently has been appointed to head the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security Czar Holds dual Israeli citizenship.
  4. Steve Goldsmith: Formerly a Senior Advisor to the President, and Bush’s Jewish Domestic Policy advisor. He also served as liaison in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (White House OFBCI) within the Executive Office of the President. Goldsmith was the former mayor of Indianapolis.
  5. Christopher Gersten: Formerly Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families at HHS.
  6. Mark Weinberger: Formerly Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy.
  7. Samuel Bodman: Formerly Deputy Secretary of Commerce. He was the Chairman and CEO of Cabot Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts.
  8. Bonnie Cohen: Formerly Under Secretary of State for Management.
  9. Ruth Davis: Formerly Director of Foreign Service Institute, reporting to the Office of Under Secretary for Management. This Office is responsible for training all Department of State staff (including ambassadors).
  10. Lincoln Bloomfield: Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.
  11. Jay Lefkowitz: General Counsel of the Office of Budget and Management.
  12. Ken Melman: Formerly White House Political Director.
  13. Brad Blakeman: Formerly White House Director of Scheduling.
  14. Stephen David Bryen : In 1979 Bryen was investigated for espionage. He had been overheard in the Madison Hotel Coffee Shop, offering classified documents to an official of the Israeli Embassy in the presence of the director of AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. It was later determined that the Embassy official was Zvi Rafiah, the Mossad station chief in Washington. Bryen refused to be poly-graphed by the FBI on the purpose and details of the meeting; whereas the person who’d witnessed it agreed to be poly-graphed and passed the test. The investigation was squashed by Philip Heymann. Bryen was asked to resign from his Foreign Relations Committee post shortly before the investigation was concluded in late 1979. For the following year and a half, he served as Executive Director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and provided consulting services to AIPAC.

In April, 1981, the FBI received an application by the Defense Department for a Top Secret security clearance for Dr. Bryen. Richard Perle, who had just been nominated as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, was proposing Bryen as his Deputy Assistant Secretary! Within six months, with Perle pushing hard, Bryen received both Top Secret-SCI (sensitive compartmented information) and Top Secret “NATO/COSMIC” clearances.

In 1988, while serving as the Director (and founder) of DTSA (Defense Technology Security Administration) in the DOD office, Bryen was involved attempting to export sensitive military technology to Israel. In late1988, Bryen resigned from his DOD post, and for a period worked in the private sector with a variety of defense technology consulting firms.

  1. Michael Ledeen: A fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Ledeen holds a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin. In 1983, on the recommendation of Richard Perle, Ledeen was hired at the Department of Defense as a consultant on terrorism. While being investigated as a security risk by his supervisor, Noel Koch, it was learned from the CIA station that Ledeen had been carried in Agency files as an agent of influence of a foreign government: Israel.

After having his access to classified materials blocked he ceased working there. He next appeared at the National Security Council as a consultant working with NSC head Robert McFarlane. Ledeen was involved in the transfer of arms to Iran during the Iran-Contra affair — an adventure that he documented in the book “Perilous Statecraft: An Insider’s Account of the Iran-Contra Affair.” A prominent member of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) board of governors and the Center for Security Policy (CSP), he advocates “total war” inline with the “Grand Strategy for the Middle East” which advocates “Iraq as the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia as the strategic pivot and Egypt as the prize.” Ledeen later was serving member on the China Commission and, with the support of DOD Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, he had been, since 2001,employed as a consultant for the Office of Special Plans OSP). He was involved in the handling of classified materials and had high-level security clearances

  1. Michael Joyce: The former president of the Bradley Foundation, one of the largest and most influential right-wing organizations in America. It set up the PNAC led by William Kristol. Kristol’s Weekly Standard is viewed in Washington as the in-house paper for Team Bush. The Standard is bankrolled by Rupert Murdoch. Joyce once said that Bush’s key people such as Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz “were clearly influenced by Bradley Foundation thinking”.

Trump-Russia dominates headlines, but there’s more evidence of collusion between Democrats & Ukraine

July 14, 2017

by Brian MacDonald

RT

Ukrainian cooperation with the Democratic Party appears to have been far deeper than any equivalent Trump-Russia collusion. Both pale in comparison to Washington’s meddling in the former USSR. But the US media focuses on the most illusory of the situations.

It’s pretty obvious Donald Trump Jr. isn’t the brightest light in the firmament. The lethargic, spoiled and languid persona he projects doesn’t help either. Nevertheless, the current hysteria surrounding his meeting a small-time Russian lawyer is beyond any bounds of reason.

Especially coming from journalists who have surely met a dodgy source or two in their time, in the hope of a scoop.

Natalia Veselnitskaya was almost certainly not representing the Kremlin when she courted baby Trump. Rather she was lobbying on behalf of a client, mixed up in the Sergei Magnitsky case. To that end, the ex-UK tabloid hack Robert Goldstone exaggerated her usefulness to attract Donald Jr.’s attention. By Trump’s own account, he quickly sussed this distorted pretext and pulled back. Plus, it’s worth mentioning how she’s also engaged plenty of Democrats as part of her campaign.

Nevertheless, certain media elements have been guilty of greater inflation than Veselnitskaya. Including the New York Times, which laughably labeled her a “fearsome Moscow insider,” without explaining how it was Moscow Oblast, not Moscow city, where she enjoyed this clout. Because despite the shared name, the region and the metropolis are two different entities, roughly analogous to the relationship between Virginia and Washington DC. Thus, the Times’ misleading headline was much the same as a Russian outlet hailing a Richmond-based attorney as some kind of White House specialist.

There is another thing which makes this endless Trump-Russia delirium even more dubious. And that’s how the US establishment will leap on any connection, no matter how vague, concerning the President’s team and Russians, but ignores dealings between the Democratic Party and Ukraine. The elephant in the room which has been almost completely ignored, and was amazingly not even mentioned when Petro Poroshenko visited Washington last month.

The real world

Let’s be clear, Ukraine feared a Trump presidency. Because, on the campaign trail, the candidate had openly suggested recognizing Russia’s reabsorption of Crimea and spoke of the Donbass crisis as a problem for Europe, not America. As a result, Kiev bet the house on Hillary Clinton. And lost.

As Politico reported in January: “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers.”

Now, this is pretty explosive stuff. A credible American news organization is reporting how a foreign government directly interfered in the US election. But the popular press didn’t pursue the story. Presumably, because its runs counter to the established narrative.

“A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort, and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation,” the piece continued. “The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.”

And here was the zinger: “Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.”

Later, Politico focused on the activities of Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American activist, who admitted acting as a link between Ukraine’s Washington Embassy and the Democratic National Committee. And also how Sergei Leshchenko, elected in 2014 as an MP for Poroshenko’s party, had offered ledgers purportedly showing connections between Trump and Manafort before urging “Ukrainian and American law enforcement to aggressively investigate Manafort.” Incidentally, Manafort has always been especially appalled at attempts to link his work to Russia, saying “all my efforts were focused on helping Ukraine move into Europe and the West.”

A Tale of Two Intentions

Leschenko wasn’t coy about his intentions. He openly admitted trying to expose Trump as a “pro-Russian candidate who can break the geopolitical balance in the world,” by preferring Moscow to Ukraine. Furthermore, as The Atlantic noted: “the investigation into the payments listed in the ledger—which in April were partially corroborated by the AP through wire transfers that Manafort claimed were legitimate—mysteriously faded after the U.S. election, raising questions about whether Ukrainian officials aired concerns about Manafort less to root out corruption than to undermine the Trump campaign.”

Overall, Democrat-Ukraine collusion seems far deeper than anything so far proven between the Trump campaign and Russia. For instance, Donald Jr. stands exposed as having been willing to meet someone described as affiliated with the Kremlin to get information on Hillary, which was pretty dumb. The meeting itself appeared to be a bait and switch so the lawyer could lobby on other matters.

However, the Ukraine story involved a concerted and deliberate campaign, including cooperation between Kiev representatives and the Clinton camp to research Trump-Kremlin connections. Thus, If the issue is collusion, it’s obvious there was much greater connivance concerning Ukraine and the Democrats than a single exchange involving Donald Jr. and an insignificant lawyer. One where no information was actually provided.

That said, American outrage over meddling from Kiev and Moscow is laughable in the context of Washington’s long history of interference in both countries’ politics. In 1996, the US openly intervened in Russia’s election to help Boris Yeltsin defeat the Communist Gennady Zyuganov. And in 2011, Washington officials, including Clinton, publicly supported a protest campaign over disputed parliamentary elections. The following year, Michael McFaul arrived as ambassador to Moscow and unabashedly courted fringe opposition leaders in his very first event in the role.

In Ukraine, the interruptions have had even more serious consequences. By the admission of Victoria Nuland, a member of the Obama administration, Washington spent over $5 billion on influence projects in the country. The first “regime change” operation came in 2004 and was known as the “Orange Revolution.” And in 2013, US politicians and officials, such as John McCain and Nuland herself, turned up in Kiev to encourage the Maidan movement, in which the US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt was prominent.

That led to the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government, which divided the country and caused the separation of Crimea and a civil war in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. And it also contributed to an economic collapse which has seen the average Ukrainian salary fall to around $200 a month and led to unprecedented levels of emigration.

For sure, Ukrainians didn’t hide their hostility to Trump. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov deriding the eventual winner as a “dangerous marginal” and describing him as a “clown” on Twitter. Many Russians publicly slammed Clinton, which was hardly surprising after she compared Vladimir Putin to Hitler.

The fact remains there is no evidence of a direct Kremlin campaign to undermine America’s election. The media has almost totally ignored Kiev’s transparent meddling to chase Russian ghosts. All the while downplaying US manipulation of the political process throughout the former Soviet Union.

Russia, mulling expulsions, says too many U.S. spies work in Moscow

July 14, 2017

by Andrew Osborn and Maria Tsvetkova

Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Friday that too many American spies operated in Moscow under diplomatic cover and said it might expel some of them to retaliate against the United States over Washington’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats last year.

The warning, delivered by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, reflects rising frustration in Moscow over the Trump administration’s refusal to hand back two Russian diplomatic compounds which were seized at the same time as some of Russia’s diplomats were sent home last year.

Barack Obama, U.S. president at the time, ordered the expulsion of 35 suspected Russian spies in December, along with the seizure of the two diplomatic compounds, over what he said was the hacking of U.S. political groups during the 2016 presidential election, something Russia has flatly denied.

President Vladimir Putin decided not to retaliate immediately at the time, saying he would wait to see what the new administration of Donald Trump would do.

Zakharova complained on Friday that U.S. officials were not issuing visas to Russian diplomats to allow Moscow to replace the expelled employees and get its embassy back up to full strength.

“We have a way of responding,” she told a news briefing. “The number of staff at the U.S. embassy in Moscow exceeds the number of our embassy employees in Washington by a big margin. One of our options, apart from a tit-for-tat expulsion of Americans, would be to even out the numbers.”

If there was no movement in the U.S.-Russia dispute soon, she said Moscow would have to reluctantly retaliate and suggested U.S. spies working in Russia would be among those to be expelled.

“There are too many employees of the CIA and the Pentagon’s espionage unit working under the roof of the American diplomatic mission whose activity does not correspond at all with their status,” said Zakharova.

‘Time Running Out’

Russia would also move to deny U.S. diplomats use of a dacha compound and a warehouse in Moscow, she made clear.

Separately, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had not yet taken any decision on retaliation. He said Russia rejected the idea of linking the dispute to other issues.

Peskov was responding to comments made to CNN by Sebastian Gorka, a Trump adviser, that appeared to link the compounds’ return to Russia’s behavior in Syria.

Zakharova said time for Washington to act “was running out.”

“We don’t want to resort to extreme measures. (But) if it’s the only way to make our American partners understand we will have to act.”

Asked when Moscow might retaliate, she suggested a lot would depend on the outcome of a meeting in Washington on Monday between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon.

Russia expected U.S. officials to use the meeting to set out “detailed proposals” on the matter, she said.

“There is no precise deadline. Everything depends on the reaction of the U.S. side, its concrete actions, and on the results of the consultations which will now take place in Washington.”

Additional reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Christian Lowe

 Thanks to State Department Cables, a Torture Victim Won a Rare $10 Million Settlement

July 13 2017

by Ryan Grim and Alex Emmons

The Intercept

An American citizen won a rare $10 million torture settlement against three top members of the ruling family in the United Arab Emirates, after State Department cables proved the man had indeed been detained as he had claimed.

The confidential and previously unreported settlement was paid out in May 2013, according to documents extracted from the hotmail account of UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba. The documents were provided to The Intercept either by a hacker or someone who had access to his account.

Settlements for torture victims are extraordinarily rare, making the payout to Los Angeles resident Khaled Hassen that much more surprising.

Hassen’s case was brought in federal court in L.A. against three of the most powerful figures in the Gulf — the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, known in Washington as MBZ, a man particularly close to Otaiba; the emir of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan; and General Saeed Hilal Abdullah al Darmaki.

The case had more than geopolitical hurdles to overcome: it was seeking justice from an abduction all the way back in January of 1984, when Hassen was working for a member of the royal family consulting on weapons contracting. Competition for contracts in the arms-trade industry can often turn violent, as it did in Hassen’s case. At the time, the three defendants were also in the arms trading business, and were rivals of Hassen’s boss as they all fought to rise through the ranks of the UAE power structure.

MBZ personally witnessed some of Hassen’s torture, Hassen claimed.

Hassen, in his suit, claims he was held in a windowless 7 by 10 foot cell until November 1985, beaten, blindfolded for days at a time, with the air conditioner cut off in the summers, causing the temperature to rise to excruciating levels. His feet and legs, he said, were bound together and he was hung upside down for long periods of time; he was fed foul tasting liquids that brought on “severe pain and hallucinations.” All the while, the State Department was working feverishly to locate and visit with him, the cables indicate.

The suit was filed in February 2009, just weeks after the Obama administration took office. In November, the judge warned that the case was going to be dismissed for lack of action, as the defendants, who were in the UAE, had not been served. So Hassen’s attorneys served Otaiba instead, and the judge accepted it.

To overcome the denials of the UAE government, Hassen’s lawyers cited State Department cables that were released in 2006, showing U.S. embassy officials trying to locate Hassan and secure his release. “Special state security arm which claims even it has no jurisdiction over Al-Hassan [sic] admits latter does remain detained in Abu Dhabi under personal supervision of ‘highest levels’ of government…” one cable from July 1984 reads.

One of the UAE’s U.S.-based lawyers, Hamilton Loeb, noted in one email to Otaiba on July 2, 2010, that Hassen had produced nine State Department cables from 1984-1985 “that are somewhat ugly.” In them US embassy reports that after initial denials, UAE authorities confirmed Hassen was being held by a ‘special state security arm…under personal supervision of ‘highest levels’ of government.”

Loeb, who didn’t respond to a request for comment, told Otaiba that the cables made it impossible for the UAE to deny his imprisonment, and gave the case a credibility that they needed to take seriously, especially given the geopolitical implications.

Most cases that old don’t get very far — the statute of limitations on the U.S.’s Torture Victim Protections Act is 10 years — but Hassen argued that the power the men wielded made it reasonable for him to wait. He finally decided to go forward, he reasoned, because the UAE had decided it wanted to be on good terms with the US — a relationship that might be soured if an American citizen were murdered on American soil in retribution for a lawsuit.

Plaintiffs are typically required to exhaust all legal options in the home state of the defendants before bringing suit in the U.S., but Hassen argued that the courts in the UAE have no independence, and are controlled by the very people he is suing.

Most importantly, he argued, the release of the cables made it possible for him to prove his case.

The judge let it go forward.

Otaiba and the country’s foreign minister worked hard behind the scenes to shield the ruling family from liability, with limited success. U.S. law creates a process to remove a sitting head of state from a lawsuit for diplomatic purposes, and Otaiba successfully lobbied the State Department to request the emir be struck from the case. But Clinton declined to do the same favor for MBZ or al Darmaki.

On January 9, 2011, Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan thanked Clinton and the Department of Justice for granting the emir immunity, but pressed the case of MBZ. As a sign of how seriously the Emirates were taking the case, bin Zayed relayed to Clinton that he wanted to add it to the agenda of her upcoming trip to the Gulf.

Otaiba prepared talking points with a U.S. legal team, according to the emails, relying on a precedent set by Israel, a country that the UAE does not officially recognize, but with which they work in concert on regional issues in Washington. “We held off asserting ‘official acts’ in the initial round, in the belief that the judge would dismiss all claims on other grounds and thereby not require the UAE involve itself further in eliminating the lawsuit. The judge to whom the case was assigned, however, is brand-new on the bench and favorably disposed to claimants like Hassen. Accordingly, the UAE now needs to obtain State intervention to assert official acts immunity. If State does so, it is virtually automatic that the judge will dismiss the claims,” the talking points read.

“This is the same immunity that, for example, the Israelis used successfully to obtain State’s intervention in the Gaza apartment shelling case against Avi Dichter.”

The reasoning didn’t work, and MBZ remained on the case. When she was replaced by John Kerry as secretary of state, Otaiba pushed him as well.

On March 25, 2013, Kerry sent bin Zayed a letter that began: “Your Highness: It was a pleasure seeing you in Abu Dhabi on March 4, and I thank you for your letter regarding the case of Hassen v. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan et al.”

It read in full:

Attorneys from the Department of State’s Office of Legal Adviser recently met with Mr. Hamilton Loeb, one of Sheikh Mohammed’s attorneys, and discussed with him your request that the United States file a suggestion of immunity on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed. The Department will continue to monitor this case closely and continue our communications with Mr. Loeb concerning developments in the litigation.

Kerry, those who worked with him say, always enjoyed his time in the Gulf region meeting with leaders there — the fabulously expensive bottles of wine that are routinely uncorked when the ruling elite dine agree with Kerry’s elite sensibilities. But the wine wasn’t enough to buy MBZ’s way off the Hassen case, and Kerry’s diplomatic brush off seems to have sent UAE leaders scrambling toward a settlement.

By May 2, 2013, just a few weeks after Kerry’s rejection, the deal had been signed and counter-signed, and wiring instructions for a $10 million payout were circulated by Otaiba. The condition: silence in the press.

“The Embassy is not commenting on the emails,” said the Harbour Group’s Richard Mintz an Otaiba representative. The Intercept reached out to the law firm who represented Hassen and a woman there said the firm couldn’t comment on the case and immediately hung up.

In April 2013, the same years as Hassen’s settlement, the UAE government imprisoned Shez Cassim, a US citizen from Minnesota, for producing a satirical video about Dubai youth culture, the beginning of a horrifying odyssey through the country’s prison system. Soon, Otaiba would be fielding calls and emails from the Minnesota congressional delegation on the detention of Cassim, who became a cause celeb for comedians in the U.S., including Will Ferrell and others at Funny Or Die.

“I continue to be shocked that he is still in jail,” Sen. Amy Klubuchar (D-Minn.) wrote in one email to Otaiba on Christmas Day 2013. “I believe your country has reached a place on the world stage where these things matter even if they were acceptable in the past. That is the case I hope you can make.”

Otaiba told Klobuchar he would continue to lobby MBZ — fresh off the $10 million settlement for allegedly overseeing the torture of Hassen — to release Cassim. “I assure you that’s precisely the case I am making and it does have merit,” he assured her. He was released the next month.

In May 2014, Otaiba authorized the release of that year’s payment to Hassen after a search of the media turned up no articles on Hassen’s case.

 

Questions remain one year after Nice terror attack

On its national holiday, France remembers the victims of the Nice attack. On July 14, 2016, a terrorist drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day. The survivors are still suffering.

July 13, 2017

by Barbara Wesel

DW

This year, there’ll be no fireworks along the beach promenade, as is the tradition on Bastille Day. Instead, there’s a mass, a memorial with President Emmanuel Macron and an evening concert to express the sorrow still felt by all the residents of Nice.

Last year, the Tunisian-born Frenchman Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove his truck into crowds of revelers on the Boulevard des Anglais. The attack lasted only a few minutes, but killed 86 people, including many children. Authorities still don’t know what prompted him to carry out the attack. Family members of the victims and survivors blame the previous French government for a lack of security measures.

The scars that won’t heal

Most of the more than 400 people injured in the Nice attack have now recovered, though some have lasting damage from their wounds. Between 10 and 20 patients are still in treatment, according to Pascal Boileu from the local university hospital.

But around 3,000 family members and people who witnessed the attack are still in psychiatric treatment. Among them are many children, who can only slowly process the shock they experienced. Survivors say they suffer from sleep disorders and panic attacks. For many, the anniversary is the first chance they’ve had to return to the Boulevard des Anglais to participate in the memorial events. Many others have turned down the invitation from President Macron to attend.

“In the last few weeks, we’ve had contact with many of those affected, in preparation for the memorial events on July 14. We spoke with 70 people, and three told us that they wouldn’t find it helpful to meet the president,” said Sophia Seco from FENVAC, an organization representing the victims.

Slow compensation

As is the case after other terror attacks in France, there’s also anger over the slow pace of victim compensation on the part of the state. Only 25 of the promised 300 million euros ($342 million) have been paid out.

After filing an application, victims are given an advance payment of between 2,500 and 5,000 euros, said Seco. “Before the compensation can be paid in full, the person in question has to be healthy again, or at least recovered.” Only then can the severity of any lasting damage be assessed and a final sum allocated. “Some people are happy to even be receiving any money, others say it’s far too little. But no amount can compensate someone for the loss of a daughter,” she said.

Cooperation with the government has improved in the meantime, even if the point of contact for the victims has been moved to a location on the outskirts of the city that’s hard for many to reach.

Ongoing investigation

One year on, French security officials have created a mountain of files. The investigative report comprises some 80,000 pages, and includes reports from criminal researchers, hundreds of eyewitness accounts, and analysis of the perpetrator’s laptop and mobile phone.

What’s missing are clues connecting Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel to command structures in Syria or Iraq of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS), even though the terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack. The lack of evidence linking IS and Lahouaiej-Bouhlel explains why he was not on security officials’ radar.

The authorities are working on the assumption that it was a case of self-radicalization. The Nice attack was the first incident where a terrorist followed the call of former IS spokesman Mohammed al-Adnani. In 2014, he encouraged supporters to carry out attacks in Europe, and expressly called on them to use vehicles as weapons.

Nine suspects are still under investigation on suspicion of aiding in the attack. They are local contacts of Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, accused of crimes such as supplying him with a gun.

The attacker

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s body was released by the French medical examiner last week and repatriated to Tunisia for burial. No explanation was offered as to why it took so long for French authorities to release the body. Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was shot and killed by police who closed in on his truck after he ended his rampage.

 

Trump travel ban: Judge expands definition of ‘close relative’

July 14, 2017

BBC News

Grandparents and other relatives of people living in the US cannot be barred from entering under President Trump’s travel ban, a judge has ruled.

The order, by District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii, is a fresh legal blow to Mr Trump’s immigration crackdown.

The judge said the ban had interpreted a Supreme Court ruling too narrowly.

That decision, made last month, partly reinstated the ban on refugees and travellers from six Muslim-majority countries.

It said only those with “bona fide” family ties would be let into the US.

But the Trump administration decided that did not include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and cousins.

Judge Watson, however, disagreed – and ordered that those restrictions should not be enforced.

The judge condemned the government’s definition of a close relative as “unduly restrictive”.

“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members”, he wrote.

Judge Watson’s ruling has far-reaching consequences for the United States, and not just Hawaii.

He is one of about 700 judges in the district courts, which – despite the name – are part of the federal system, rather than local state courts. Their role is to interpret the law on federal issues using powers devolved to them by the Supreme Court.

The new ruling also offers hope to refugees who have a close relative already in the US, as they should now be able to enter – despite the fact that Mr Trump’s 50,000 cap on refugee admissions for the year was reached earlier in the week.

Another disputed issue was whether a refugee group agreeing to take someone in counted as the type of close connection needed to circumvent the travel ban.

But Judge Watson ruled that assurances from a resettlement agency were adequate.

“An assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency… is formal, it is a documented contract, it is binding… bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that,” he wrote.

Hawaii’s attorney general, Douglas Chin, said the ruling meant the government could not ignore the “scope” of the Supreme Court decision “as it sees fit”.

“Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough. Courts have found that this Executive Order has no basis in stopping terrorism and is just a pretext for illegal and unconstitutional discrimination,” he said.

Hawaii is continuing to prepare for the Supreme Court hearing later in the year, he added.

Mr Trump’s ban on travel to the US for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has been controversial since its announcement.

The Supreme Court is still considering the current version of the law, and allowed a temporary ban to come into effect in June pending their full judgement.

Mass protests

Mr Trump says the restrictions are needed to keep America safe and prevent terror attacks.

However, critics including states and refugee advocacy groups have said the ban discriminates against Muslims.

An initial version of the ban, published in January, sparked mass protests at airports and a series of legal challenges that prevented its implementation.

Mr Trump drafted a new version in March, dropping Iraq from the list of countries, clarifying the position of “green card” holders, removing priority for “religious minorities” in mostly-Muslim countries, and softening a tough stance on Syrian refugees.

But courts struck down the new version within days, with a Virginia court claiming it was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims.

That prompted the Trump administration to go to the Supreme Court for a ruling, where conservatives hold a majority of five to four.

The nation’s highest court allowed the ban to go ahead temporarily, until it makes a full decision in October.

Macron thanks US at Bastille Day celebrations in Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron has thanked his US counterpart during Bastille celebrations. Donald Trump is on hand as the guest of honor to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the US’s entry into World War I.

July 14, 2017

DW

On his first Bastille Day as president, Emmanuel Macron attended the French capital’s military parade alongside his US counterpart, Donald Trump.

“The history of France does not start on the 14th of July, 1789, but on that day the people of France showed which ideals they wanted to follow,” Macron told the nation in an address following the march. “We have also found allies and friends we could trust and who came to the rescue,” he added. “Among those is the United States of America. This is why nothing will ever come between us.”

This year’s parade commemorated the centenary of the US’s entry into World War I and featured military aircraft and soldiers from both countries to stress the continued Franco-American martial cooperation in the Middle East and elsewhere.

“This is a wonderful national celebration,” Trump had said during a joint news conference with Macron ahead of the celebrations on Thursday. “We look very much forward to it,” he added. “Spectacular.”

Fearing attacks, police emptied the famed Champs-Elysees two hours before the parade began, along with the Place de la Concorde, the largest square in Paris, at the avenue’s eastern end.

Also on hand was DW’s Max Hofmann.

‘Forever joined together’

Afterward, Macron planned to head to the southern city of Nice, where last year an extremist plowed a truck into a crowd gathered to celebrate the holiday on the Promenade de Anglais, killing 86 people and injuring hundreds more. With that in mind, Macron’s government deployed more than 130,000 civil servants and members of France’s security services to protect this year’s Bastille Day celebrations, according to figures from the Interior Ministry.

On Thursday, the presidents met while French first lady Brigitte Macron gave her US counterpart, Melania Trump, a tour of Paris and the foursome reconnected for dinner at the Eiffel Tower. “Our two nations are forever joined together by the spirit of revolution and the fight for freedom,” Trump said.

The presidents have found common cause in military philosophy, but differ wildly on climate change and trade.

 

 

 

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