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TBR News March 13, 2018

Mar 13 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. March 13, 2018: “’Que bono’ means ‘who benefits.’  And if this is applied to the very recent episode in England where an ex-Russian senior intelligence officer and his daughter were apparently the victims of a nerve gas attack, serious questions arise.

The officer involved had sold out to British intelligence and, because of his actions, was responsible for the uncovering of Russian agents in the United States. He got caught by the Russians and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He later was part of a prisoner swap, ended up in England and had a good deal of money. He bought a house for cash and lived very openly there under his real name. Now the story is that for some reason, the Russians poisoned him in public.

The question is that if the Russians were seeking to punish him for his treasonable activities, why didn’t they do this while in was in a Russian jail? The Russian government knew all about his activities at the time they incarcerated him.

Waiting a number of years after they traded him for Russian agents, and then killing him in a very public place is an act of totally stupidity.

And this is the usual hallmark of the actual perpetrators.

The same people who caused a car “accident” in Moscow wherein Putin’s limousine was rammed by an oncoming car or the shooting down of an airliner over the eastern Ukraine also were responsible for the nerve gas attack, believe it.

And the British secret site at Porton Down where such nerve gasses are developed is within easy driving distance of the place where the incident happened.

‘Que bono?’

More anti-Russian activity to try to work up public condemnation of a country that always seems to be a few steps ahead of its competitors.”

Table of Contents

  • Trump’s Spur of the Moment ‘Yes’ Unmasked 68 Years of Washington Duplicity
  • The Racism Behind Alien Mummy Hoaxes
  • Inventor of internet: ‘Regulate social media companies!’
  • Point:

        Russian spy: Russia demands nerve agent sample from UK

  • Counterpoint:

        UK intelligence may be complicit in Skripal’s poisoning – ex-FSB head

        Cold War at Porton Down: Informed Consent in Britain’s Biological and Chemical Warfare Experiments

 Trump’s Spur of the Moment ‘Yes’ Unmasked 68 Years of Washington Duplicity

March 13, 2018

by David Stockman


They say that even a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn, and by our lights the Donald just proved that in spades with his spur of the moment acceptance of Kim Jong Un’s proposal for a summit meeting. It is no exaggeration to say that the shock of it nearly sent Imperial Washington into cardiac arrest – as was surely attested to by the storm of censorious harrumphing that poured out of the mainstream media over the weekend.

The gravamen of all this high-toned blather is that Trump made the decision all on his own without asking his advisors – mainly a bevy of failed generals and recycled Washington war hawks – for their opinion. And that’s to say nothing of not grinding it through the NSC’s interagency paper mill for months on end or a prolonged ordeal of pre-summit diplomatic ping-pong about the shape of the table.

That prospective absence of bureaucratic foreplay was all that the Trump-o-phobic New York Times needed to belittle the most hopeful breakthrough for peace in years, if not decades, as just another case of Trump’s impetuosity and unfitness for office.

After noting that Mr. Chung, the South Korean envoy, had taken pains to “open with flattery, which diplomats have discovered is a key to approaching the volatile American leader”, the Times wasted no ink before slamming the Donald’s purportedly rash decision:

Mr. Trump accepted on the spot, stunning not only Mr. Chung and the other high-level South Koreans who were with him, but also the phalanx of American officials who were gathered in the Oval Office.

Mr. Trump brushed them off (generals Mattis and McMaster). I get it, I get it, he said.

Where others see flashing yellow lights and slow down, Mr. Trump speeds up. And just like that, in the course of 45 minutes in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump threw aside caution and dispensed with decades of convention to embark on a daring, high-wire diplomatic gambit aimed at resolving one of the world’s most intractable standoffs.

The two bolded words capture the essence of the matter because there is nothing at all intractable about the Korean problem. It was born, bred and perpetuated in Washington all along, and could be unmade with alacrity in the same corridors of Imperial power.

So the Donald’s instincts were absolutely correct to immediately accept Kim’s offer with the single proviso that the North Koreans had already conceded to their South Korean interlocutors – namely, a moratorium on nuclear testing and rocket launches ahead of the meeting.

Yet Trump’s singular act of statesmanship has the mostly unelected War Party bureaucrats in high dudgeon because our duly elected President didn’t ask their permission first; and because the entire case for not meeting with the leader of North Korea is rooted in a 68-year old Washington propagated tissue of errors, lies, pretense and duplicity.

Apparently, the nation’s once-and-former pro-peace progressives and liberals has been to the Imperial City’s reeducation camps on the matter, too. There us nothing more indicative of that sad fact than the rabid anti-Trump blindness of the increasingly insufferable Rachel Maddow.

Her indictment was that none of the other “peacemakers” who occupied the Oval Office before the Donald – presumably including Lyndon Johnson, Dick Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush – had ever agreed to meet with the North Koreans:

“You might think another president in this circumstance, you can imagine a president asking himself or herself, ‘why has no other American president ever agreed to do this? Why has no sitting American president ever met with a leader from North Korea? Why has that never happened in all the decades North Korea existed as a nation? Should I take that to mean that this might be particularly risky or even an unwise move?’”

Well, no, Rachel. Take it to mean that to a man US presidents have been taken hostage by the Warfare State apparatus and the Imperial City’s stultifying groupthink.

The fact is, however, the Korean peninsula never had anything to do with American security. Its partition was an accident in the final days of WWII; the 1950-1953 war was utterly pointless and unnecessary; and the prolonged US occupation of the southern half of the peninsula was at once a provocation, a massive waste of treasure and a prime example of what imperial rulers do once bivouacked astride a global empire.

That is, like Imperial Rome, they puff themselves up with self-importance and busy-body rule for its own sake. So doing, they invent self-serving rationalizations for hegemony, such as the insidious “indispensable nation” conceit – even as they extract the taxes and issue the mountains of debt required to fund the endless fiscal needs of the state’s machinery of war and foreign domination.

Indeed, Washington has long ago forgotten how its global empire came about or why the Korean frontier has remained a vestigial Maginot Line – long after the “enemies” it was designed to contain disappeared from the pages of history.

We are referring, or course, to the Soviet Empire, which is no more; and the Red China Menace, which has morphed into a colossal Red Ponzi scheme of debt, malinvestment and speculative building madness that is a danger mostly to the 1.3 billion Chinese caught up in history’s craziest economic freak show.

So whether by inadvertence or blind impulse, the Donald has now opened the door to sweeping away six decades of Washington duplicity and double-speak. The fact is, the Korean problem is not complicated or some kind of imponderable riddle that baffles even the so-called “experts”.

To the contrary, both a visiting Martian and an attentive reader of history not enthrall to the groupthink of Imperial Washington can see that the key to “de-nuclearizing” Korea is to demilitarize it and de-internationalize it at the same time.

That is, if Washington ever wishes to de-escalate its current dangerous nuclear brinksmanship with the Fat Boy Of Pyongyang, it needs to get its 29,000 troops off the peninsula and end the constant war games and practice invasions of the North Korea; and to also tear up the Washington imposed mutual security agreements, and let the two halves of the “Hermit Kingdom” restore their own version of the pre-1945 status quo ante.

Or better still, to revert to a modern version of the Korea-for-the-Koreans arrangements that existed before Japan annexed Korea in 1910; and before Teddy Roosevelt (TR) told Japan that it would be ok to invade Korea during the 1905 Portsmouth conference that TR ostensibly staged to end the Russo-Japanese War but which was really a theatrical bid for his Nobel Peace Prize; and even before the Japanese extracted trading and extra-territoriality concessions from Korea in 1876, just as Admiral Perry and his black ships had inflicted upon Japan in 1854.

At the same time, Washington needs to renounce once and for all any interest in Regime Change in the north – no matter how much the Kim family’s brutal dictatorship offends the sensibilities of Washington do-gooders and democracy uplifters.

After all, ever since Washington went into the “regime change” business under Bush the Younger, the long-festering conflict in Korea has sharply escalated and the Pyongyang regime – especially after Kim Jong Un took power in 2011 – has dramatically intensified its quest to develop a nuclear deterrent.

We have absolutely no brief, of course, for the brutal, erratic despot who now rules the country. But then again, Kim Jong Un has surely come to believe that he has been targeted by Washington for its next exercise in Regime Change and that the consequences for him personally would not be pleasant.

After all, Saddam Hussein was ceremoniously hung from the gallows on worldwide TV by Washington’s occupation, and the outcome for Muammar Gaddafi was even more hideous.

Admittedly, the image below is not pleasant to see, but that’s what Washington did with him – even after he had turned in all of his nuclear technology.

As Hillary Clinton famously said, “we came, we saw, he died”. For some reason she didn’t bother to add the “savagely” part.

So perhaps the Donald’s bold gesture will rattle the stultifying Washington consensus sufficiently to at least get the pages of history re-opened, and to reveal how Washington needlessly took the wrong path time and again over the decades.

Likewise, sunshine is said to be the great disinfectant – so perhaps President Moon’s courageous effort to restart the “sunshine policy” with the North that was deep-sixed by Dick Cheney and his neo-con war mongers in 2002 will help further clarify that free Koreans of the south do not need an imperial nanny in Washington to manage their security and relationship with Pyongyang.

The historical truth of the matter begins with the fact that today’s fraught partition at the 38th parallel was an utter accident of history. It occurred literally during 30 minutes on August 10, 1945 when Japan suddenly agreed to surrender after having been nuked twice during the proceeding week.

Prior to that there had only been a loose Big Three agreement at the Cairo Conference of 1943 to establish a temporary international “trusteeship” once Korea had been liberated from its 35-year occupation by Japan. As memorialized at the time:

The aforesaid three great powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.

Related to the above was Stalin’s promise to join the war against Japan once Germany surrendered and to mobilize Soviet forces to help clear the Japanese army from Manchuria, Korea and perhaps the Japanese islands themselves under the going assumption that there would be a prolonged and bloody Allied invasion of Japan.

But Hiroshima and Nagasaki changed all of the in a historical nanosecond. Since Japan’s armies would be suddenly surrendering everywhere in north Asia, the vague discussion about who would do what in Korea between Truman and Stalin at Potsdam three weeks earlier was suddenly in need of instant clarification.

That was especially the case because the Red Army had already entered Manchuria and the northern end of the Korean peninsula, as Washington had insisted. This rapidly advancing Soviet occupation of Korea was part of a division of responsibilities for uprooting the Japanese army that a suddenly emboldened Truman had embraced when the A-bomb test in New Mexico succeeded in late July 1945; the Red Army’s mopping-up assignment in Korea, in fact, was now seen as a way to keep Stalin out of Japan in the post-war world.

So here’s exactly what happened 73 years ago, and why the Donald’s impulsive response last Thursday afternoon in the Oval Office may have finally lifted the dead hand of history’s clammy clutches:

As Japan asked for surrender terms on August 10, Washington made one final attempt to prevent unilateral Soviet occupation of Korea. Secretary of State James Byrnes instructed the State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee (SWNCC) to construct a plan for the joint Soviet-American occupation of Korea, with the line as far north as possible.

Late the evening of August 10, meeting in the Pentagon, Col. Charles H. Bonesteel (later to command U.N. forces in Korea) and Col. Dean Rusk (later Secretary of State) were given thirty minutes to devise a plan for dividing the Korean peninsula between the U.S. and USSR. What Bonesteel and Rusk kept in mind was that the nearest American troops were 600 miles away in Okinawa, while the Soviets had already entered northern Korea.

The issue for them was how to quickly create a surrender arrangement which the Soviets would accept while preventing their seizure of all Korea. Bonesteel wanted to draw the division around provincial boundaries so that the Japanese would clearly understand the demarcation. The only map of Korea available to them was a 1942 National Geographic map of “Asia and Adjacent Areas,” which did not denote provinces, only latitude and longitude. Rusk later confided that they had seriously considered drawing the line between Pyongyang and Wonsan, at the narrowest waist of Korea and north of 38° latitude, but their map’s limitations precluded doing so with accuracy. Instead, they chose the 38th parallel. Moreover, the two colonels believed the division line was further north than they thought could realistically be reached by U.S. forces if the Soviets disagreed, but felt it vital to include Korea’s capital, Seoul.

Needless to say, these temporary occupations by the US and the Soviets on their respective sides of the 38th parallel remained in limbo as the Cold Water materialized in 1947-1948, and then became hardened in place after China fell to Mao’s communists in 1949.

Still, prior to the June 1950 outbreak of hostilities, Secretary of State Acheson had aptly called the 38th parallel boundary a mere “surveyors line” and had explicitly (and correctly) said during his famous speech at the National Press Club on 12, January 1950 that the entire peninsula was outside of America’s sphere of strategic interest . As one scholar noted,

In it, he defined the American “defensive perimeter” in the Pacific as a line running through Japan, the Ryukyus, and the Philippines. This denied a guarantee of US military protection to the Republic of Korea (ROK)….

Yet as US/Soviet tensions heated up in the late 1940’s, the American occupation authorities in the south encouraged the puppet government they had established under ex-pat and Washington dandy, Syngman Rhee, to cleanse the country of left-wing influences and prepare to eventually rule the entire peninsula.

As Justin Raimondo succinctly chronicled this period:

…….the Korean war started during the American occupation of the South, and it was Rhee, with help from his American sponsors, who initiated a series of attacks that well preceded the North Korean offensive of 1950. From 1945-1948, American forces aided Rhee in a killing spree that claimed tens of thousands of victims: the counterinsurgency campaign took a high toll in Kwangju, and on the island of Cheju-do – where as many as 60,000 people were murdered by Rhee’s US-backed forces.

Rhee’s army and national police were drawn from the ranks of those who had collaborated with the Japanese occupation during World War II, and this was the biggest factor that made civil war inevitable. That the US backed these quislings guaranteed widespread support for the Communist forces led by Kim IL Sung, and provoked the rebellion in the South that was the prelude to open North-South hostilities. Rhee, for his part, was eager to draw in the United States, and the North Koreans, for their part, were just as eager to invoke the principle of “proletarian internationalism” to draw in the Chinese and the Russians.

The last sentence tells the whole story. When hostilities broke out between the two Korean sides in June 1950, Washington instantly transformed it into a proxy war against the Soviet Union and its fledgling ally in China, which had just fallen under Mao’s control the previous year.

As Truman baldly put it, he was not going to lose another country to the “reds”.

As it happened, however, there wasn’t anything “red” about the north Korean invasion by Kim Jung Un’s grandfather. It was just a power grab by a widely-heralded lifelong Korean nationalist and revolutionary who understood that his 35-year battle against the brutal Japanese occupiers gave him bona fides with the Koran people that Washington’s puppet, Syngman Rhee, could not hope to match.

More importantly, the now open Soviet archives show that Stalin time and again thwarted Kim IL Sung’s request for aid to invade the south; and also that Mao was even less interested in a war against the US on his recently established and tenuously held doorstep.

So there was no reason for the bloody slog that incepted in June 1950; the so-called invasion by the north was only another move in an already raging civil war that would have sorted itself out in due course, anyway.

And whatever the outcome might have been, so what?

The successor to Mao’s Red China is now the Red Ponzi – supposedly the economic salvation of the world and a model of financial success that causes Wall Street to nearly foam at the mouth with excitement. Why would a Korean state un-threatened by American land, sea and air forces been any different.

As it happened, the only thing that Washington’s counter-invasion actually accomplished was to put the Kim family into business permanently as the heirs to a patriotic resistance to the utter destruction that was visited upon their country by the American air force.

Virtually every city and town above hamlet size was fire-bombed and leveled into heaps of rubble. More than one million civilians in the north were killed or maimed, while agriculture and industry was extinguished entirely and famine and disease stalked the land for years to come.

In a word, Kim Il Sung’s crude form of proletarian communism hadn’t been needed to destroy the economy of North Korea; the US air force had already done the heavy lifting. So doing, however, it also deposited a legacy of hatred among the surviving North Koreans the enabled the rise and perpetuation of the hideous tyranny that rules in Pyongyang to this day.

As Justin Raimondo further reminds, the Korean War had quickly descended into a bloody slog essentially to protect the corrupt, authoritarian regime of Syngman Rhee – a tyranny that even the Korean people soon rejected:

We were fighting on behalf of Syngman Rhee, the US-educated-and-sponsored dictator of South Korea, whose vibrancy was demonstrated by the large-scale slaughter of his leftist political opponents. For 22 years, Rhee’s word was law, and many thousands of his political opponents were murdered: tens of thousands were jailed or driven into exile. Whatever measure of liberality has reigned on the Korean peninsula was in spite of Washington’s efforts and ongoing military presence. When the country finally rebelled against Rhee, and threw him out in the so-called April Revolution of 1960, he was ferried to safety in a CIA helicopter as crowds converged on the presidential palace.

In this regard, we heard all weekend over the War Channel (CNN) and elsewhere that America has kept the “peace” on the Korean peninsula for 65 years after the 1953 armistice, but more nearly the opposite is actually true.

The US unnecessarily kept the peninsula divided for six decades because like the armies and imperial apparatus of Rome, Imperial Washington needed frontiers to defend and enemies to justify the massive fiscal cost of its permanently mobilized Warfare State.

This isn’t academic history or a wistful exercise in “could have been, should have been.” After 1960, there were numerous times that Washington could have evacuated the peninsula, but one imperial project after another prevented the return of the Korean peninsula to the Koreans to settle their differences as they saw fit.

In the 1960s and early 1970s it was the folly of the Vietnam invasion that kept the fear of falling “dominoes” alive in the Imperial City and American forces bivouacked on the 38th parallel in order to keep the two Koreas divided.

Likewise, during the 1980s the giant and unnecessary Reagan defense build-up was predicated on the myth of a globally resurgent “Evil Empire” in Moscow, meaning that the South Korean frontier required military reinforcement, not the rational course of abandonment.

Indeed, we recall well that the predicate for the massive squandering of resources in the Reagan build-up was that America needed the capacity to fight tw0-and-one-half wars simultaneously – the “half” war part being on the Korean peninsula.

Yes, China had just been enfeebled by Mao’s famines and the madness of the cultural revolution and the Soviet economy was lapsing into the entropic decay of over-centralization and militarization. So the two-and-one-half war fighters never did say who it was that would occupy the Korean peninsula other than some variant of the Korean people.

Then came the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Mr. Deng’s massive shift to export-mercantilism a few years later to save China from an economic and civil collapse that would have ended the rule of the communist party. At that point, there was zero chance of a renewed proxy war.

So surely that was the very time to bring 29,000 American servicemen and women home, thereby enabling the former Hermit Kingdom to work-out a 21st century arrangement for either the reunification of all Koreans or at least their co-existence in autonomous zones of self-governance.

But that didn’t happen, either. And the reason is not hard to resurrect from the history of the 1990s.

Bill and Hillary were far more intent on gaining a second term in the White House than in carrying out the assigned mandate of their 1960s generation. That is, to dismantle the American Empire and bring the possibility of general peace to the world for the first time since August 1914.

So they temporized, thereby precluding a readily available peace settlement in Korea – the better to keep unreconstructed GOP hawks and newly ascendant neocons at bay.

After that chance was blown, the South Koreans themselves attempted to normalize the peninsula and pave the way for an end to the American occupation.

As indicated above, between 1998 and 2006 they diligently pursued what they called the “sunshine policy”. And it did begin to thaw the tensions between north and south for the first time in 50 years – including humanitarian aid from the south, family reunifications and the beginnings of cross-DMZ flows of trade and investment.

At length, the policy failed, but there should be no confusion as to why. The blood-thirsty neocons of the George W. Bush administration killed it in the cradle by naming North Korea to the axis of evil, when, in fact, it was an accident of history long past its sell-by date.

Rarely has there be a stupider act of foreign policy than the hideous refrain inserted into Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address by a speechwriting twit named David Frum, who apparently invented the “axis of evil” from wholecloth.

That the Fat Boy ended up as an impetuous, bellicose rogue on the Kim throne in 2011 is as much the responsibility of Frum and his fellow neocon belligerents than anything else.

Still, after all those blown chances to roll-back what is really an illicit forward frontier of Imperial Washington, there is still no reason for any American presence at all on the Korean peninsula. And that’s to say nothing of the massive 350,000 soldier war game rehearsal for an invasion of North Korea just completed by U.S. and South Korean forces, as they do annually; or all of the huffing and puffing presently about the vastly exaggerated Korean nuclear threat.

Indeed, the idea that North Korea is an expansionist threat to anybody, but most especially its kinsmen in South Korea, is a ridiculous joke.

After all, the GDP of North Korea is $30 billion and that of South Korea is $1.80 trillion. So the economy of the latter happens to be 60X bigger than the GDP of the former.

Likewise, South Korea’s population of 50 million is 2X larger than the North’s 25 million. And that’s to say nothing as to South Korea’s advanced technology, millions of skilled industrial and tech workers and absence of the abject poverty and even starvation which is rampant on the northern side of the DMZ.

So that gets to the heart of the matter. Namely, Pyongyang’s rational fear that it is targeted for Regime Change and that its only hope of survival is to become a rogue nuclear state not to be tread upon. Indeed, anyone not wearing the Imperial City’s self-serving blinders and false history can see that deterring Washington is the real treason for North Korea’s dangerous campaign to become a nuclear power.

So if that is North Korea’s real aim – rather than the preposterous idea of attacking Japan or blackmailing South Korea with nuclear weapons – then the Donald now has a historic opportunity.

That is, to exchange a peninsula free of Washington’s military occupation and threat to the Pyongyang regime in exchange for a peninsula also free of nuclear weapons.

Under a nuclear-free arrangement, South Korea, which has been growing by leaps and bounds for a half-century, could surely defend itself from a two-bit industrial backwater.

Then again, no one in Washington has bothered to notice that since 2002 South Korea’s economy has grown every eight months by more than the entire current GDP of North Korea. But that doesn’t change the reality on the ground and the overwhelming case to permit Korea to be run by the Koreans under whatever state arrangements they can agree to.

That was the exact aim of the South Korean governments after the Cold War ended when they pursued “sunshine policy” rapprochement with the North. That is, until it was shutdown by George Bush’s neocon hatchet men.

And it is the stated policy of the new Korean government – which is the real reason it brought the Kim Jong Un summit to the Donald’s doorstep.

Ironically, the only real argument for the huge U.S. presence in South Korea, of course, is that it provides a trip-wire deterrent that puts the North Korean ruler on notice that an attack on South Korea is an attack on Washington. But with respect to a potential conventional attack, that’s just plain malarkey.

If South Korea with 60X the economy, twice the population and infinitely more industrial base and technological sophistication can’t or won’t defend itself from the “potemkin” economy and military north of its border, why should the American taxpayers and soldiers be called into the breach?

And “potemkin” is the right word for it. Most of North Korea’s military equipment is 40 years old and is more suited to internal repression of uprisings, not offensive action against the South.

Thus, one of the few new aircraft it has purchased since the 1980s is the Russian Su-25 Frogfoot, which is a ground-attack aircraft similar to the American A-10.

Needless to say, South Korea’s modern F-5, F-15 and F-16 fighters would turn the slow and heavy Frogfoots into an exercise in shooting fish in a barrel. Then again, the real job of the Frogfoots is not to attack South Korea anyway; but they are just the thing to put down a coup by other North Korean forces.

Likewise, the 1,000,000 soldiers in the Korean People’s Army spend more time as conscript construction labor and get far more practice with shovels than Kalashnikov assault rifles. Some of them are also quite skilled at goose-stepping parade entertainment for the country’s otherwise catatonic masses, as we saw once again during Kim Jong Un’s most recent parades.

So at the end of the day, the dangerous Korean impasse up until last Thursday afternoon was as much the result of Imperial Washington’s self-serving blinders and revisionist history of how we got here than anything that is remotely relevant to the safety and security of the American homeland.

Suddenly, however, the Deep State’s false, self-serving narrative about why the American imperium remains decamped on the 38th parallel has gotten exposed in the most unlikely manner.

What perhaps can now finally become evident in the wake of Trump’s decisive move, and what staunch non-interventionists like Senator Robert Taft and Congressman Howard Buffett (R-Nebraska and Warren’s father) knew even way back then, is that 1950s style communism could take care of its own self-destruction.

America only needed to militarily secure the homeland, and then wait out the eventual demise of the wretched states that had temporarily fallen victim to communist misrule.

That is to say, a vastly different foreign policy would have emerged if it had been rooted in an understanding of the inherent superiority of free market capitalism and the inexorable certainty that centralized socialism would fail. Such a policy would never have been duped into the folly of a proxy war on this economically and strategically irrelevant Asian littoral.

To wit, why does the U.S. maintain a vast armada of warships, bases and military occupations throughout East Asia 73 years after the Japanese empire was reduced to rubble and cinders; and also after the Cold War disappeared into the dustbin of history a quarter century ago and after the red suzerains of Beijing hostaged their continued rule (and perhaps physical survival) to the daily flow of $2 billion of exports to America’s ports?

The above depicted insanity is the real handiwork of the Imperial City. It didn’t make us secure; it merely hastened the nation’s fiscal bankruptcy and put the world in harms’ way for no good reason.

Donald Trump may not know much about Korea, but apparently – and unlike Imperial Washington – he knows at least that much.


The Racism Behind Alien Mummy Hoaxes

Pre-Columbian bodies are once again being used as evidence for extraterrestrial life.

August 1, 2017

by Christopher Heaney

The Atlantic

Peruvian archaeologists are tired of debunking claims of extraterrestrial influence on human history. In 1968, Swiss author Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods? introduced the mainstream to the theory that the Nazca Lines, the massive geoglyphs in Southern Peru whose shapes are fully visible only from the air, were landing strips for “ancient astronauts.” Archaeologists calmly disagree, positing that they were astronomical designs that turned the desert itself into an observatory, or counter constellations matching the dark spaces in the Milky Way, or, more abstractly, cosmological figures meant to be seen by skyward deities, of which ancient Peru had many. 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull put a new spin on this old tale, including, for good measure, the large-skulled aliens that pepper North American abduction stories.

Now, Peruvian scientists are furious at a new and possibly pernicious permutation of the “ancient astronaut” theory. A web series named Unearthing Nazca purports to depict the investigation of a pre-Columbian and “humanoid” mummy. Archaeologists, who have been denied access to the mummy, worry that it is as old as the series’ creators claim, but that it is actually indigenous and Andean—a real human individual that has been mutilated to look like an alien. They worry that Unearthing Nazca is an archaeological snuff film in disguise.

The series’ success is also of concern. Since the series’ launch in June by Gaia.com—a website specializing in “conscious media, yoga, and more”—the teaser episode of Unearthing Nazca has been viewed 2.35 million times on YouTube alone. It starts with what at first seems to be a typical seated Peruvian mummy, arms wrapped around its knees, like a child waiting for its parent. Its head is elongated like those of other pre-Columbian mummies, whose societies artificially shaped their children’s crania to achieve ideals of beauty or represent group belonging.

The resemblance ends there. A Hans Zimmer-esque score throbs, and a Russian-accented expert in “bioelectrography”—who elsewhere claims to have photographed the human soul escaping the body after death—declares the mummy “one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century.” The camera orbits the mummy, revealing that it has only three long fingers on each hand and three long toes on each foot. Its elongated head has no nose, no ears, and large, heavy-lidded eyes. And its skin is an eerie, powdery white.

The video’s experts stop short of the A-word, letting a series of vest-wearing and white coat-clad “experts” claim that x-rays, CT scans, and DNA and carbon-14 tests of the mummy’s flesh reveal that this new “humanoid” or “organic creature,” whom they have dubbed “Maria,” is no fraud. To learn more, viewers were initially encouraged to watch the rest of the investigation behind Gaia’s paywall.

The English- and Spanish-language tabloids and YouTube channels that cover the “discovery” reliably fill in the blanks, guarding journalistic integrity with scare quotes: “The ‘Alien’ Mummies of Nazca,” trumpeted The Sun in mid-July, when the mummy’s most prominent promoter, a Mexican “ufologist” and TV personality named Jaime Maussan, produced photographic and x-ray “proof” of at least four additional more “reptilian” “humanoid” bodies.

Because of course: What else could they be?

Human beings, and indigenous ones to boot.

In 2015, Maussan tried to promote a photographic slide from the late 1940s that, he hinted, depicted the corpse of an alien child found in the American Southwest. More skeptical ufologists applied de-blurring technology to the “Roswell Slide” when it was released, and found that a previously undecipherable placard next to the body revealed that it was actually the mummy of a two-year-old Puebloan boy removed from the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde in 1894. Returned to a National Park museum in 1938, the boy was repatriated to a local tribe in 2015. Incredibly, Maussan then offered $10,000 for information that might permit the Puebloan boy’s “location and recuperation.”

This inclusion of pre-Columbian Peruvians in science’s supposed cover-up of extraterrestrials echoes the previous collection and study of the indigenous dead. In the 19th century, Anglo-American and European craniologists and scholars who came upon artificially molded skulls in Peruvian tombs hypothesized that they were either the undeformed remnants of a lost and civilized people they named the “Ancient Peruvians,” or artificial deformations of later peoples inspired by those Ancient Peruvians’ natural forms. Archaeologists came to realize that “deformed” Peruvian skulls were bound and shaped from infancy, when cranial bones weren’t yet fused—with no change to cranial capacity and, judging from the monumental societies their elites achieved, without handicap to cognitive ability. But ufology’s rise after the “Roswell incident” of 1947 has resurrected the search for secret ancestors—and its less responsible practitioners have re-enlisted ancient Peruvian skulls as evidence of the presence of large-skulled “Gray Aliens.” They speculate that Peru’s greatest pre-Columbian achievements—including Machu Picchu, according to a theory aired on the History channel program Ancient Aliens—are literally out of this world, the product of a superior, extraterrestrial “race” or their borrowed technology.

The use of the word “race” is telling, as it suggests how the repurposing of older, European collections of non-European bodies and research upon them can reproduce old and debunked theories of racial deficiency: that indigenous Peruvians, in particular, could not have built such advanced, monumental societies on their own. (“Ancient astronaut” theorists claim evidence of extraterrestrial inspiration worldwide, but only indigenous Americans see their bodies and achievements remade as only explicable by alien presence.) From the 18th century on, Northern Europeans have accused the Spanish of exaggerating or misidentifying the origins of the Incas’ achievements. Alexander von Humboldt asserted that the first Incas were actually Chinese. Inca embalming of their dead was attributed instead to natural mummification by the elements or to the diffusion of Egyptian knowledge.

With the rise of specifically racialized science in the 19th and 20th centuries, evidence for Native American otherness was sought in the ancient Peruvians’ very bones. In the 1920s, one German scholar and future SS officer would seek confirmation that the Andes’ most megalithic cultures were actually Aryan or Atlantean, and that their elongated skulls were of a higher, Northern European race. More dismissively, earlier scholars took ancient Peruvian skulls’ distinctive size, shape, and possession of unique interparietal bones as evidence of a similarity to rodents and marsupials, a contradiction that undercut their attributed civilization. In his great assault on racial bias in the scientific estimation of intelligence, The Mismeasure of Man (1981), Stephen Jay Gould famously claimed that the Philadelphia craniologist Samuel George Morton had “plummeted” the average size of Indian skulls in his collection by including a “major overrepresentation of an extreme group—the small-brained Inca Peruvians.”

Archaeology and museums have come a long way in their study and portrayal of an indigenous past in which Peruvians are proud, and conversations about the repatriation or more ethical study of the indigenous American dead are ongoing. (Simultaneous to Unearthing Nazca’s release, there was massive attendance at a new and decidedly non-extraterrestrial show on the Nazca culture at the Lima Museum of Art.) Gould’s use of Morton as an illustration of racial bias in science has also been debated—Morton actually used a grouped mean of the groups included among his “Americans,” controlling for the Peruvians’ greater presence so that their inclusion would not plummet the average.

Nevertheless, Unearthing Nazca is support for Gould’s larger warning against describing non-European bodies as deficient, abnormal, or non-human. The Internet in particular has provided a platform for claims of Peruvian skulls’ alien or alt-hominid abnormality that rely on the repetition of old scholarship without grappling with the racist presumptions behind the very metrics they used. Proponents of the idea that elongated Peruvian skulls were naturally occurring, for example, have embraced the work of Morton and his cohort, such as the Swiss author who compared the ancient Peruvians to marsupials. It also shows how zombified racial science—even when it claims not to be about race—might abuse actual human bodies.

It was for this reason that Unearthing Nazca broke Peruvian archaeologists’ studious reserve. The trouble began late last year, when the Peruvian YouTuber Paul Ronceros got local media to cover an earlier “alien” or “reptilian” mummy and separated three-fingered hand from Nazca, which he claimed were discovered by interested parties other than himself. At some point Ronceros brought that hand and the first “mummy” to a series of museums, including the natural history museum at Lima’s University of San Marcos, the oldest university in the hemisphere. According to that museum’s head of vertebrate paleontology, Rodolfo Salas-Gismondi—who is also an investigator affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History in New York—Ronceros changed his story when challenged on the obvious fabrication, claiming that it instead was a pre-Columbian “representation” of alien life, made of a mixture of animal and human bones. Around this time, Maussan and fellow international UFO “experts” got involved, declaring that the mummies in question—they kept multiplying—were fabrications, possibly ancient, but that others were “genuine, non-human biological remains.”

That archaeological human bones may have been used to mount Ronceros’s “reptile” mini-mummy and its accompanying hand was bad enough. But Peruvian scientists held their fire in public until June, when Unearthing Nazca revealed the previously un-photographed “Maria,” whose dramatic resemblance to actual Peruvian mummies—down to an almost anatomically correct CT scan—suggested that she wasn’t a pastiche of animal and human bones, but an actual pre-Columbian Andean, looted and remade for the sake of a hoax.

From the x-rays of the mummified hands featured on Unearthing Nazca, Salas-Gismondi has proposed that they were part of a pre-Columbian mummy that was subsequently mutilated—two fingers or toes cut from each extremity and redeployed to augment the number of falanges in the remaining three digits to conform to our alien pop culture stereotypes. Its skeletal extremities, Salas-Gismondi observes, are otherwise identical to that of a human being with five fingers, which “makes no evolutionary sense.” To complete the package of “Maria,” her nose and ears may have been sliced away from what was either an unsurprisingly elongated head, or were left off of a recently fabricated one. Evidence of all alterations could easily be covered up with the white, plastery powder that the talking heads on Unearthing Nazca claim is a desiccant. The benefit of using an actual mummy is that the body may be probed for samples of actual pre-Columbian flesh, as some face-masked participants in Unearthing Nazca are seen to be doing in the name of “carbon-14 and DNA testing.” The “experts” later declare that those tests reveals that the mummy was a 1,600–1,800 year-old female “humanoid”—results that have not been verified by outside parties.

Maria’s guardians have not let her be examined by established mummy experts. In late June, Peru’s Ministry of Culture announced that it was investigating the possibility that the composition of the mummies were the product of looting. And in July, the organizers of last year’s World Congress on Mummy Studies in Lima—Peru’s actual experts on pre-Columbian remains—denounced Unearthing Nazca, calling upon Peruvian authorities to investigate, find, and prosecute the mummies’ apparent makers for violating Peru’s laws against trafficking in pre-Columbian human remains, which are considered Peruvian cultural patrimony. The Congress’s organizers were particularly galled by the possibility that this assault upon the dignity of an actual pre-Columbian mummy bolstered believers—even in Peru—that Andean culture and achievements owed to “outside help.”

These Peruvian archaeologists and bio-anthropologists have been careful not to say who they believe is responsible for the suspected fraud; the experts on Gaia.com are likewise careful to say that “Maria” was “discovered” by “Mario,” a pseudonymous third party. When reached for comment, Gaia.com’s media representatives say that the organization has only investigated and reported “on facts related to artifacts presented to us,” and “arranged for independent testing including carbon-14 and DNA sequencing.” The on-camera experts involved in the investigation have apparently not been paid, and Gaia.com has never been “in possession of any artifacts.” During this story’s reporting, the paywall for the rest of the episodes of Unearthing Nazca was lowered, releasing them to the open web and possibly helping Gaia answer the charge that it continues to profit from an unraveling story.

But Peru’s mummy experts remain frustrated. In mid-July, one of Peru’s most respected bio-anthropologists, Elsa Tomasto-Cagigao, agreed to debate Maussan and another member of his team—a Mexican naval surgeon whose claims to be a forensic anthropologist have not checked out—live on Peruvian TV.

Maussan took the opportunity to claim that he and his colleagues were being defamed; that they never said it was an ‘extraterrestrial’; that they only sought the truth on whether or not it was a “human being.” But Tomasto-Cagigao wasn’t having it. She laid out the case clearly, patiently, unflappably, observing that no one in Peru’s actual scientific community of mummy experts had been consulted or had seen “Maria” or the actual x-rays other than what was flashed on Unearthing Nazca or in Maussan’s “press conferences.”

“And if they present them tomorrow?” asks the host.

“I’ll eat a cockroach, live, with mayonnaise,” Tomasto-Cagigao replied. “It is not just grave-robbing … Peruvian law says that to extract, alter, or manipulate cultural patrimony without the permission of the state is a crime.”

The interviewer tries to break in.

“I’m not saying that they did it,” she adds, refusing to look at the Unearthing Nazca experts, whose latest episode investigates a mummified pre-Columbian infant whose tiny hands and feet have, or were made to have, three fingers.

“But there’s a crime here.”


Inventor of internet: ‘Regulate social media companies!’

The inventor of the worldwide web has argued that some internet platforms and social media firms are becoming too powerful. Tim Berners-Lee said they were in a position to “weaponize the internet at scale.”

March 13, 2018


British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the internet 29 years ago, told the German business daily Handelsblatt on Tuesday that big internet platforms and social media companies must be regulated to prevent the worldwide web from being “weaponized at scale.”

In an open letter to the global internet community, he spoke of “a new set of gatekeepers” being dominant and controlling the spread of ideas and opinions.

“The fact that power is concentrated among so few companies has made it possible to weaponize the web,” he argued.

Closing the loopholes

“In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections and criminals steal troves of personal data,” Berners-Lee said.

The scientist’s warning comes as some European governments turn to legislation to curb fake news and hate speech that they fear is undermining the basis of their democracies.

In Germany, a law came into force on January 1 that foresees fines of up to €50 million ($62 million) for platforms that fail to remove hate speech within 24 hours.

French President Emmanuel Macron is planning legislation that would empower judges to order the removal of fake news during election campaigns.

Berners-Lee doubted that companies that were created to maximize profits could adequately address the problem on a voluntary basis.


Trump picks controversial figure Haspel as new CIA chief

March 13, 2018

by John Walcott and Warren Strobel


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Gina Haspel, a veteran CIA clandestine officer picked by President Donald Trump on Tuesday to head the CIA, is a controversial figure, backed by many in the U.S. intelligence community but regarded warily by some in Congress for her involvement in the agency’s“black site” detention facilities.

Haspel was selected as the agency’s new director after the Republican president fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and chose current CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Tillerson’s replacement.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Haspel would become the first woman to head the CIA, after serving as deputy director since February 2017. Trump told reporters he has worked very closely with Haspel and regards her as“an outstanding person.”

U.S. officials said that while Haspel was generally held in high regard at the CIA, her nomination raised the unwelcome prospect of greater congressional and media scrutiny of officers who are more comfortable in the dark than in the spotlight.

“This is going to reopen wounds from a decade and more ago, and also invite more oversight of both our analyses and our activities, especially if Gina is confirmed,” said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

When she was named deputy director last year, intelligence officers who served with her and congressional officials said that in 2002, during Republican former President George W. Bush’s administration, she ran a secret CIA prison in Thailand codenamed“Cat’s Eye.” Two suspected members of the al Qaeda militant group were subjected to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques at the facility.

Three years later, still during Bush’s presidency, she helped carry out an order to destroy videotapes of the waterboarding, which simulates drowning and is considered a form of torture, according to those people.

Such facilities are called“black sites” because their existence is unacknowledged by the U.S. government.

On Tuesday, some U.S. intelligence officials said reports of her alleged involvement in interrogations involving torture were false. However, they did not immediately provide details.

They did not dispute her involvement in carrying out orders to destroy videotapes of harsh interrogation techniques, which was reported in the book“Hard Measures,” by Jose Rodriguez, her boss at the time, and former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow.

A CIA spokesman had no immediate comment.

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democratic member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Tuesday he opposed the nominations of both Pompeo and Haspel.

“Ms. Haspel’s background makes her unsuitable to serve as CIA director,” Wyden said.“Her nomination must include total transparency about this background, which I called for more than a year ago when she was appointed deputy director. If Ms. Haspel seeks to serve at the highest levels of U.S. intelligence, the government can no longer cover up disturbing facts from her past.”

One key Republican, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, promised to support her nomination. Saying he was“proud” of her work, Burr said he would ensure her nomination would be considered without delay.

“I know Gina personally, and she has the right skill set, experience and judgment to lead one of our nation’s most critical agencies,” Burr said.

Her confirmation hearing has yet to be scheduled.

“There is no question that a director leaving after a year is very turbulent for the agency,” said former CIA Director Michael Hayden.“That said, leaving Gina and making her the actual director will have a very positive calming influence.”

Hayden added,“I suspect other parts of the government (will) see more turbulence out of this than CIA will.”

Human rights groups signaled opposition to Haspel.

“Haspel is a particularly controversial choice, given her reported past involvement in torture at CIA black sites. No one responsible for torture should be leading a federal agency, period,” said Rob Berschinski, senior vice president of Human Rights First.“The Senate should use her confirmation process to send a strong signal about where this country stands on correcting the mistakes of the past.”

Haspel has served in a number of undercover overseas posts in addition to her work in Thailand, including as chief of the CIA station in London and the agency’s base in New York. Then-CIA Director John Brennan in 2013 named her deputy director of National Clandestine Service, but she was denied a permanent promotion in the face of congressional opposition.

Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Will Dunham


Russian spy: Russia demands nerve agent sample from UK

March 13, 2018

BBC News

Russia will not co-operate with the UK inquiry into how an ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned until it has been given a sample of the substance used, its foreign minister has said.

Sergei Lavrov’s comments came as police appealed for witnesses who had seen the pair’s red BMW car before the attack.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hailed support from other countries.

US President Donald Trump has said he would take Britain’s assessment that Russia was behind the attack “as fact”.

Former double agent Mr Skripal, 66, and Yulia, 33, were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury city centre in Wiltshire on 4 March. Police said they remain critically ill in hospital.

Det Sgt Nick Bailey, who fell ill responding to the incident, is in a serious but stable condition.

Speaking outside New Scotland Yard, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said 35 other people had been seen in hospital, of whom 34 had been assessed and discharged, while the condition of one person is being monitored.

Midnight deadline

Russia has been given a midnight deadline by Prime Minister Theresa May to explain why a Russian-made nerve agent was used in the attack in Salisbury on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

But Mr Lavrov described claims of Russian involvement as “rubbish” and said it had been refused access to the nerve agent.

The UK ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, has met the Russian deputy foreign minister in Moscow.

Assistant Commissioner Basu revealed Miss Skripal had flown into Heathrow Airport on 3 March.

He appealed for witnesses who saw the pair in her father’s car – licence plate number HD09 WAO – between 13:00 and 13.45 GMT on the day of the poisoning.

He said the police investigation will take “many weeks”, with the “prime focus” being how the poison was administered.

However, he said detectives were “not declaring a person of interest or suspect at this time”.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the investigation was “going well” after chairing another meeting of the government’s emergencies committee Cobra.

She announced that MI5 and police are to look into claims that as many as 14 deaths on UK soil may be linked to Russia.

Mrs May told the Commons on Monday that the poison used in the attack was a military-grade nerve agent developed by Russia. She said it was part of a group of nerve agents known as Novichok.

“Either this was a direct action by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others,” she said.

The PM warned that if there was no “credible response” by the end of Tuesday, the UK would conclude there has been an “unlawful use of force” by Moscow.

Has the UK received international support?

Mr Trump said he would be speaking to Theresa May later, adding: “It sounds to me they believe it was Russia based on all the evidence they have”.

Answering a separate question by reporters, he added: “As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be”.

Former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who spoke to Mr Johnson on the phone about the case on Monday before he was sacked, had said the US supported the UK’s assessment that Russia was likely responsible.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said the UK was a “highly valued ally” and described the incident as “of great concern”.

He said the use of any nerve agent was “horrendous and completely unacceptable” and said Nato had been in touch with the UK authorities.

He added: “We agree that those responsible – both those who committed the crime and those who ordered it – must face appropriately serious consequences.

“We stand in solidarity with our allies in the United Kingdom and will continue to coordinate closely our responses.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said any Russian link would be a “very serious matter” and Berlin stood “in solidarity” with the UK.

Mrs May also spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday and the two leaders “agreed that it would be important to continue to act in concert with allies” to address what it called “the wide pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour”, her spokesman said.

European commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis was among a number of leading EU figures to express “solidarity” with the UK.

He said: “We are very much concerned with this situation – also with the findings the UK has so far.”

How could the UK retaliate against Russia?

Mrs May said the UK must “stand ready to take much more extensive measures” against Russia than it had previously.

She said these measures would be set out in the Commons on Wednesday should there be no adequate explanation from Russia.

Britain could expel Russian diplomats, as it did after the poisoning of former Russian Federal Security Service operative Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 with radioactive polonium.

But many argue that this, and the other measures that were taken after that killing – including visa restrictions on Russian officials – did not go far enough.

So what else could the UK do?

Other possible actions could include:

  • Freezing financial assets
  • Bans on visas
  • Boycotting the Fifa World Cup in Russia later this year
  • Taking Russian broadcasters such as RT (formerly Russia Today) off the air in the UK

Mr Skripal and his daughter Yulia are believed to have been in Salisbury city centre from 13:30 GMT on 4 March.

A witness told the BBC that he saw the pair in Zizzi restaurant at about 14:00 GMT.

Mr Skripal was found alongside his daughter on a bench near the Maltings shopping centre, a short walk away.

At about 16:15 GMT officers were alerted to the incident.

Eyewitness Freya Church said she saw a man and a woman looking unwell on a bench.

Another passer-by, Jamie Paine, said the woman he saw was frothing at the mouth and her eyes “were wide open but completely white”.

A doctor, who was shopping with her husband in the city centre on Sunday, said Ms Skripal was “slumped in her seat, completely unconscious” and had lost control of her bodily functions

A police officer who fell ill after attending the incident – Det Sgt Nick Bailey – was also taken to hospital and placed in intensive care. He remains in a serious condition.


What are Novichok agents?

  • The name means “newcomer” in Russian, and applies to a group of advanced nerve agents developed in secret by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s
  • One chemical – called A-230 – is reportedly five to eight times more toxic than VX nerve agent, which can kill a person within minutes
  • Some are liquids, others are thought to exist in solid form. Some are reported to be “binary weapons”, meaning they are typically stored as two less toxic chemicals which when mixed, react to produce the more toxic agent
  • One variant was reportedly approved for use by the Russian military as a chemical weapon
  • Designed to escape detection by international inspectors, their existence was revealed by defectors




UK intelligence may be complicit in Skripal’s poisoning – ex-FSB head

March 13, 2018


A former FSB director suggested British intelligence agencies may be complicit in attempting the life of former double agent Sergei Skripal, adding the incident has actually caused “enormous harm” to Russia.

Nikolay Kovalev, former director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), told RIA Novosti on Tuesday it is mainly the UK and its ally the US who benefit from Skripal’s poisoning. The former military intelligence officer was exposed as British spy back in the early 2000s.

“It looks like British secret services are complicit in it,” Kovalev went on. “[Defectors] are fully under surveillance … the secret services are monitoring them, they know their whereabouts and schedules. And then you have such strange events happen in a row.”

Kovalev, who led the FSB from 1996 until 1998, said he believes that a series of assassination attempts targeting defectors in the UK makes him think that the British “scapegoat this or that traitor after having utilized him to the maximum extent, and then say the Russians did it.”

Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were found unconscious bench outside a shopping center in Salisbury last week, prompting London to pin the blame to Moscow.

On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the poisoning was either “a direct act by the Russian state on Britain,” or the Russian government had allowed the alleged nerve agent, ‘Novichok’, to get into the wrong hands.

“The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible,” she said.

Kovalev dismissed the claim, saying the nerve agents could have been stored in any post-Soviet country, including Ukraine.

“Given that [such substances] were stockpiled in former Soviet Union republics – sorry, but Ukrainian involvement can’t be ruled out,” he said.

His assessment has been echoed by another former security official who suggested the nerve agent allegedly used in attempting to take Skripal’s life was produced in the UK. General Vladimir Mikhailov, a former high-ranking FSB officer, told RIA Novosti that if Vil Mirzayanov, Russian chemical weapons expert who defected to the West in the early 1990s, had disclosed the fomula, the MI6 “could have synthesize the agent and use it for political purposes.”


Cold War at Porton Down: Informed Consent in Britain’s Biological and Chemical Warfare Experiments

by Ulf Schmidt

US National Library of Medicine

National Institutes of Health In 2004, the author was appointed historical expert to HM Coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon in the Inquest looking into the death of Ronald George Maddison. Unless stated otherwise, the material presented derives from the “Exhibits” that were supplied to the interested parties and from the Inquest “Transcript.”

By the end of the Second World War the advancing allied forces discovered a new nerve gas in Germany. It was called Tabun. Codenamed GA, it was found to be extremely toxic. British experts were immediately dispatched to examine the agent. On arrival, they discovered that German scientists had also developed even more toxic nerve agents, including Sarin, known as GB.1 The first organized testing of Sarin on humans began in October 1951 at Porton Down in Wiltshire, Britain’s biochemical warfare establishment since the First World War. In February 1953, volunteer number 562 experienced the first recorded serious adverse reaction. Testing continued. Two months later, on April 27, six subjects were given 300 milligrams of Sarin. One of the volunteers, a man named Kelly, suffered serious ill effects, fell into a coma, but then recovered. Although asked by their superiors to reduce the amount tested to the “lowest range of dosage” —which would have been somewhere in the region of 10-15 milligrams —Porton’s scientists continued their tests with a “lower” dosage, reducing it from 300 to 200 milligrams.2

On May 6, 1953, tests were carried out on a further six subjects. Number 745 was Leading Aircraftsman Ronald Maddison. All six men went into the chamber at around 10 a.m. All were wearing respirators. Each had two pieces of uniform, serge and flannel tied loosely over the forearm. Two hundred milligrams of pure Sarin were applied onto the layers of cloth, on the inside of the left forearm. Maddison was the fourth of the six to be contaminated at 10:17 a.m. Each was to remain in place for 30 minutes from the time of contamination. But at 10:40 a.m., he said he felt “pretty queer.” Maddison was sweating and sent from the chamber. His respirator and the contaminated cloth were removed and he walked to a bench about 30 yards away, still sweating. After 2 minutes an ambulance was called, a minute later Maddison said he could not hear. He was given an injection of atropine sulphate intravenously, and then a further injection, intramuscularly. Maddison became unconscious shortly after he said he could not hear. At 10:47 a.m., he arrived at the Porton medical center. He was put to bed and given oxygen. But shortly afterward his respiration became irregular. He was gasping. Resuscitation attempts immediately began. At 11 a.m. his color had become ashen gray and no pulse could be found. Anacardone was injected and further dosages of atropine. As a last resort, he was given adrenaline, injected directly into his heart. At 1:30 p.m., Maddison was pronounced dead.3 Days later, the Coroner received a telephone call from the Home Office: “Home Secretary says essential inquest should be held in-camera on grounds of national security. Must not be published.”4 And the Secretary of the Coroner’s Society told the Coroner: “At the present moment, the motto seems to be least said, soonest mended.”5 Now, 52 years later, records have been made publicly available that can clarify what really happened at Porton Down.

My aim is to provide a historical analysis of the ethical, political, and legal dimensions of Britain’s biochemical warfare program in the early stages of the Cold War. So far the debate on nontherapeutic human experiments carried out at Porton in the 1950s and 1960s has been characterized by a lack of historical focus and a medical ethics context. A number of basic questions are central to understanding the events: Did the subjects give voluntary consent? How was consent obtained? Were the risks explained to the subjects? What safeguards were taken? The paper examines the nature of Britain’s Cold War research on humans at Porton in order to come to a better understanding about the extent to which medical ethics standards, including the Nuremberg Code, formulated in 1947 in response to Nazi medical atrocities, were communicated and introduced, as well as ignored, by the British authorities and the research community. I argue that Maddison’s case study, and other human experiments at Porton from that period, can highlight some of the central dilemmas of human experimentation, especially regarding the issue of informed consent. I will address the tension that existed during the Cold War, and indeed thereafter, between the use of warfare agents as part of national defense policies, on the one hand, and the principles of human research ethics on the other. I first examine how the concept of informed consent developed and was understood in the United Kingdom before and after the promulgation of the Nuremberg Code. What, for example, was the level of consent that was generally required in experimental research and within the specific and secretive military milieu at Porton? Second, I look at the role that consent played in the experimental program at Porton Down (a full analysis of the discrepancy between the expectation of informed consent as it was understood in principle and research practice in the United Kingdom lies outside the purview of this paper). Finally, I look at Maddison’s legacy and assess the extent to which the history of Porton may influence the way in which Britain is beginning to face up to her Cold War past.

Porton’s biochemical warfare program, in which Maddison died, can only be understood in the context of the Cold War. Recently declassified material seems to suggest that in some cases Britain’s national security interests overrode individual human rights and accepted standards of research ethics. Over the past decade, a similar picture has emerged for the United States’ human radiation experiments.6 The Cold War was, above all, a period of substantial rearmament, arms development, and weapons testing. As the world began to learn the destructive potential of nuclear weapons systems, chemical warfare agents were seen as “outmoded” and generally ineffective for military use. However, given the experience of the Second World War, the British authorities were acutely aware that chemical weapons could cause substantial damage and panic among the population. Britain’s threat of retaliation may have prevented Nazi Germany from using chemical weapons. Yet, the scale of the German chemical warfare program only became apparent after German scientists had been interrogated and chemical weapons arsenals were discovered. Germany produced 12,000 tons of the nerve agent Tabun during the war. The advantage of the “G” agents (Tabun [GA], Sarin [GB], Soman [GD], Ethyl Sarin [GE], and Cyclo Sarin [GF]) lay in the fact that they were significantly more toxic than earlier chemical agents, could cause death quickly, and could be disseminated more easily. Research to explore the full potentialities of the agents in the 1950s and 1960s was not only influenced by the perceived threat that the Soviet Union might use these weapons, but also by the experience of the Second World War. The war had changed the degree of risk scientists were willing to take when conducting experiments on humans. The Cold War and its perceived urgency provided Porton and other Allied research establishments with the strategic and moral justification for the testing of radiological, chemical, and biological substances on humans.7

Porton’s nerve agent experiments were unique in several respects. They were by far one of the largest nerve agent trials ever performed, involving more than 1,500 subjects.8 The specific group that was exposed to Sarin, and to which Maddison belonged, included almost 400 subjects.9 The Porton experiments were also unusual in the magnitude of the risks. An increasing number of subjects were exposed to an increasingly high dosage of the nerve agent Sarin,10 which was known by the principal investigators to be highly toxic and potentially lethal in minute concentrations.11 Porton’s investigators knew the great risks involved in the exposure of human subjects to nerve agents.12 They were also reminded of this fact by the adverse reactions some of the servicemen had to Sarin exposure.13 Porton’s scientists appear to have carried out a series of dangerous experiments on Maddison and other subjects that demanded, given the nature of the experiments, that the highest degree of safety and the most rigorous standards of research ethics known at the time should have applied. In summary, Maddison’s death was an accident waiting to happen that resulted from an inadequate level of disclosure and an understatement of risks, despite the fact that there was widespread consensus in the United Kingdom that the principles of the Nuremberg Code should govern these types of experiments. The material presented also shows that the principle of informed consent was in place in U.K. legal doctrine and medical practice from at least 1933 onward, long before the promulgation of the Nuremberg Code.

In 1952 and 1953, six experimental subjects were hospitalized as a result of exposure to nerve agents.73 The Kelly incident in April 1953, in which one of the servicemen fell into a coma, was the clearest indication that the experiments posed a significant risk. It was a clear warning that from that moment onward, the most rigorous safeguards and standards of medical ethics needed to be applied if the scientists decided to continue with the experiments. It was a warning to pursue the experiment, if at all, only under extreme caution. The record suggests that more rigorous safeguards were not introduced and that more rigorous ethical standards were not applied. The Kelly incident was a warning flag and a chance to reassess the entire experimental program. This, we know, was not done.

The existence and testing of nerve gas introduced a new and unknown risk to those servicemen who participated in the research, yet Porton does not seem to have modified its experimental procedure accordingly. In May 1945, a British military official noted that “our investigation of German chemical warfare has revealed the existence of large stocks of a novel type of poison gas that they were intending to use from air and ground weapons.”46 The official felt that since the testing of the new substance is simply an extension of the normal routine it should not involve any additional administrative problems. . . . Porton, of for seeing that the men are not exposed to any concentration of gas which would do them permanent harm.47


United States Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments 1996; also Pechura CM, Rall DP. Veterans at Risk: The Health Effects of Mustard Gas and Lewisite, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 1993; Lederer S. Subjected to Science. Human Experimentation before the Second World War. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1995; Vilensky JA. Dew of Death. The Story of Lewisite, America’s World War I Weapon of Mass Destruction. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press; c2005. For the United Kingdom see Harris R, Paxman J. A Higher Form of Killing. The Secret History of Gas and Germ Warfare. New York: Chatto & Windus; 1982, rep. 2002; Carter GB. Porton Down: 75 Years of Chemical and Biological Research. London: HMSO; 1992; Goodwin B. Keen as Mustard: Britain’s Horrific Chemical Warfare Experiments in Australia. St. Lucia, Old., Australia: University of Queensland Press; 1998; Bud R, Gummett P. Cold War, Hot Science: Applied Research in Britain’s Defence Laboratories, 1945-1990. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers; 1999; Carter GB. Chemical and Biological Defence at Porton Down, 1916-2000, London: HMSO; 2000; Care A. Poisoned by their own people. The Independent 2000, Oct 3; Care A. The Porton Down human guinea pigs —gassed without consent. Association of Personal Injury Lawyers 2000;12(2); Evans R. Gassed: British Chemical Warfare Experiments on Humans at Porton Down. Thirsk: House of Stratus; 2000; Balmer B. Britain and Biological Warfare: Expert Advice and Science Policy 1930-65. Basingstoke: Palgrave; 2001; Hammond P, Carter GB. From Biological Warfare to Healthcare. Porton Down 1940-2000. Basingstoke: Palgrave; 2002.

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