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TBR News March 28, 2019

Mar 28 2019

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

Washington, D.C. March 28, 2019: “The America Trump claims to be supporting, and is supported by, is a country populated solely by white Christians. Latin Americans, Native Americans, Hindus, all black people, citizens or immigrants and perhaps Asians are considered unwelcome and not only is their presence unwanted, their expulsion is a goal to strive for. And another aspect of this plan is to support Israel in her vicious persecution of any and all Arabs whose land they demand for new high rises. These attitudes are not surprising in a country that has large groups who believe the earth is flat or that Jesus will be appearing very soon at a Dallas shopping mall. In 2020 the nation will have the opportunity of either rejecting these concepts or accepting them.Will Donald Trump be crowned emperor in the National Cathedral or will he and Mr. Bolton be seen boarding a plane bound for Aruba and safety?”

 

The Table of Contents

  • An Iranian April Surprise?
  • ‘Why not give Israel North & South Carolina?’ Syrian envoy asks US at UN
  • Conway’s Spin on Trump’s ‘Obstructive Conduct’
  • Russia says it sent ‘specialists’ to Venezuela, rebuffs Trump
  • Why Does the United States Want to Overthrow the Government of Venezuela?
  • Past, Present and Future
  • Full stream ahead: RT takes a peek at progress on construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  • The Tragedy of Trump’s Foreign Policy
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • The Amercan Gestapo
  • How to sell a massacre: NRA’s playbook revealed

 

An Iranian April Surprise?

How far will the White House go to re-elect Netanyahu?

March 26, 2019

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

The situation that is developing around both this year’s Israeli election and next year’s ballot in the United States smacks of something like a developing conspiracy to renew the mandates of both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump somewhat reminiscent of the October Surprise that helped bring Ronald Reagan to the White House. Back then, the Reagan campaign team led by William Casey secretly negotiated with Iranian representatives to prolong the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis past the 1980 election, enabling Reagan to use the continuing stand-off as a wedge issue to attack the “weakness” of Carter foreign policy. If Carter had been able to bring the hostages home, he might have won reelection. In exchange for a Reagan offer of considerable military hardware, the Iranians agreed to release the U.S. hostages after the new president took office, which they did. And Reagan provided the hardware in an exchange that eventually morphed into Iran-Contra.

What is less known is that the initial secret meetings between Casey and the Iranians were set up by a group of CIA Chiefs of Station who had served in the Middle East but were at that time in Europe. The first meetings were in Paris. The Chiefs, all active-duty, serving CIA officers, were working for the Carter administration but were conspiring to defeat him and contributed materially to that outcome. Several of them were rewarded when Casey was subsequently named Director of Central Intelligence.

Curiously, both then and now Iran was and is at the center of what might or might not develop and there are clear signs that the United States is escalating its crisis with Tehran artificially to produce a conflict that would benefit no one in the short term but Bibi Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, who is struggling to get re-elected. A critical question becomes “Since Trump has pledged disengagement in the Middle East, is it he who is pulling the strings or is it National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, somewhat reminiscent of the cabal of CIA Chiefs conspiring behind the back of the elected president in 1980?” But the more important question is, perhaps, whether Bolton and Pompeo actually want Trump reelected or might they be engaged in something even more devious? Is a Mitt or a Marco lurking, either of whom would be seen very favorably by Israel and the neocons versus an extremely narcissistic and ultimately unreliable Trump?

That Washington has been slowly tightening the screws on Iran is undeniable, starting with the withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement last year, which has led to a level of economic warfare initiated by Washington that is unprecedented between two countries that are not actually at war. Ironically and inevitably, though the suffering of the Iranian people is real, the elites who run the country are largely immune to the hardships being experienced.

As there has been no sign that the Iranian people will overthrow their government, which is the White House’s stated objective, more pressure is being contemplated. New sanctions were initiated last Friday and a move that mighty actually bring about an armed confrontation is being considered by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is clearly favoring declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to be a foreign terrorist group.

Qassim Suleimani, commander of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force component, has already been designated a terrorist by the U.S., but no armed forces entity from any country has ever before been awarded that distinction and it would likely produce a serious response from Iran, possibly including an attack on some U.S. military installation in the Middle East or against a U.S. Navy warship patrolling the Straits of Hormuz. That would in turn justify a response and the crisis could easily escalate.

According to the New York Times, the Pompeo “…plans also would designate some Iraqi Shiite militias as foreign terrorist organizations. As a result, the Iranian-trained militias — and Iraqi officials who support them — would be subject to new economic sanctions and travel restrictions.” This scenario would also compound problems with Baghdad, which is already reluctant to accept the stationing of U.S. troops in the country without placing severe restrictions on when, how and where they might be able to operate, and it would also be seen by the rulers in Tehran as a major threat to Iran’s national security.

So, there would be complications and also considerable downside if Washington were to take the lead on designating Iranian or Iranian connected militias terrorists, but bear in mind the considerable upside, which is that war is, generally speaking, good for incumbency unless it quickly and undeniably goes disastrously wrong. A quick strike to punish Iran before the Israeli election would help Netanyahu, just as a successful and not too prolonged “cakewalk” engagement with the Mullahs would elevate Trump next year. The president and his close advisors have surely noted that the only time he was regarded as “presidential” by the media and inside the Beltway talking heads was when he ordered the launch of cruise missiles to punish Syria for an alleged chemical attack back in April 2017. The fact that the attack was based on false intelligence was irrelevant and it did not produce any damage to key voter constituencies, apart from that segment of the population that voted for Trump because he was perceived to be the anti-war choice for president.

The Israelis are, of course, deep into the planning for a conflict, and have recently again been promoting their repeatedly discredited casus belli claim that Iran has a secret nuclear program. It would be reasonable to suggest that war with Iran is coming and it is only a matter of timing concerning when and exactly how it starts. There may not be enough time left to do Netanyahu a favor that he would surely reciprocate in American elections next year, but you can also bet that the Israeli Mossad intelligence service is hard at work coming up with “false flag” contingency plans to jump start a war sooner rather than later. There have long been concerns that intelligence agencies might go rogue but we are now living in an age where the existence of a “deep state” in many countries suggests that they have already been rogue for some time, most particularly in the United States.

Suggesting the possibility of some covert intrigues behind the scenes in the Administration does not necessarily mean that there is an actual conspiracy apart from that which is being run by the White House and Congress against the American people. But because we live in a world where we can no longer expect the government to behave honorably, it is wise to expect just about anything. Politicians care only about retaining power by being re-elected in both Israel and in the United States and, since the two governments are currently joined at the hip and likely perceiving war as part of an electoral strategy, why not expect the worst?

 

‘Why not give Israel North & South Carolina?’ Syrian envoy asks US at UN

March 28, 2019

RT

Syria’s UN ambassador has suggested the US hand “a couple” of its own states over to Israel instead of flouting international law and selling others’ land for favors with the Israeli lobby, like it did with the Golan Heights.

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari offered a stark rebuke to the US-backed Israeli claim to the occupied Golan Heights at the UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday. Jaafari said the Trump administration does the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN to curry favor with the powerful Israeli lobby in the US.

In a remark that elicited a chuckle and a head-shake from his Israeli counterpart, Jaafari suggested that Washington bargain away land that is actually its to give.

Trump’s decision to back the Israeli claim to the Golan Heights comes just ahead of the Israeli general elections on April 6 and has been widely considered as an electoral boost for Netanyahu, who is facing charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust at home.

“Don’t be misguided by thinking that one day this land will be yours due to hypocrisy or due to being a pawn in the electoral game where you bring each other support, so the Israelis can succeed in their elections and the Americans can also get support from Israeli lobbying groups in the US,” Jaafari said. The Golan Heights, seized by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day war and formally annexed in 1981, will ultimately “come back” to Syria, the diplomat said.

The Security Council meeting was called at Syria’s request. Damascus insists that the recognition of the Golan Heights belonging to Israel runs counter to UN resolutions that expressly declare the annexation “null and void.”

Washington’s adversaries and allies alike have lined up to condemn the breach of international law. The Arab League, Turkey, Iran and Russia spoke up against the recognition. Russia’s Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said it was a “highway to war.” At a UNSC meeting on Wednesday, Russian Deputy Envoy to the UN Vladimir Safronkov said that by siding with Israel, Washington hampers the efforts to improve the security situation in the Golan Heights and ease tensions between the Arab world and the Jewish State itself.

“This not only exacerbates the situation in Syria and complicates the establishment of political process but it also creates serious obstacles to normalizing the relations between Israel and the Arab States,” he said, adding that the US followed through with its decision while turning a blind eye to “the opinion and warnings at both international and regional levels.”

 

Conway’s Spin on Trump’s ‘Obstructive Conduct

March 26, 2019

by Eugene Kiely

FactCheck.org

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway falsely claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller’s report concluded that President Donald Trump engaged in “no — quote — ‘obstructive conduct’” during the Russia investigation. Mueller’s report said it “does not exonerate” Trump of obstruction of justice.

The report, which has yet to be released, “did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct [by Trump] constituted obstruction,” Attorney General William P. Barr wrote in a four-page memo summarizing the special counsel’s report. “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,’” Barr wrote.

Instead, Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made the determination that the evidence is “not sufficient” to establish that Trump committed obstruction of justice — which is also not the same as saying there was “no – quote – ‘obstructive conduct,’” as Conway said.

Conway made her remarks on PBS’ “NewsHour” on March 25, a day after Barr released his memo on Mueller’s confidential report.

Conway, March 25: The president did not try to interfere with the investigation. And that, of course, we know, is in the documentation, that nobody at Justice felt that Mr. Mueller could not do his work. And he did his work in quiet, Judy, for 22 months, and now he has spoken.

And I think the — what we know from the Mueller report, through the Barr memo, is instructive not so much for what it says, but for what it doesn’t say, no collusion, no new indictments, no indictments of anybody named Trump, no — quote — “obstructive conduct.”

In making her case that “the president did not try to interfere with the investigation,” Conway cited “the Mueller report, through the Barr memo.” The phrase that Conway quoted — “obstructive conduct” — comes from this section of Barr’s memo:

Barr, March 24: Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense.

In other words, Barr’s memo merely said that in order to win an obstruction of justice case the government needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the presence of all three elements: obstructive conduct, corrupt intent and a pending or contemplated investigation. That’s from the U.S. Attorney’s Manual.

But, in Trump’s case, there was not sufficient evidence to satisfy all three elements. “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,” Barr wrote.

“He’s saying at least one of the elements is not met, but not which one,” Eric A. Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago’s Law School, told us in an email. “I suspect it’s intent he had in mind.”

We don’t know for sure, but the president’s intent appears to be a factor in Barr’s conclusion that there was not enough evidence to pursue an obstruction of justice charge. He referenced the president’s intent in his memo.

“In making this determination, we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that ‘the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,’ and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction,” Barr wrote.

Former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi agreed that Conway’s statement is problematic.

“She is absolutely wrong to say that there was no obstructive conduct,” Rossi told us in a phone interview. “This letter doesn’t say that.”

Rossi cited a section of Barr’s memo that said there was “evidence on both sides” of the obstruction of justice case.

“After making a ‘thorough factual investigation’ into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment,” Barr wrote. “The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the president’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction.”

Rossi said the existence of “pro-obstruction evidence” runs counter to what Conway said. The public won’t know what conduct Mueller may have been referring to unless his report is released in some form.

“What she should have said is that there was not enough evidence to warrant prosecution,” Rossi said. “But to go with this leap that he was totally exonerated, totally cleared — is absolutely absurd.”

 

Russia says it sent ‘specialists’ to Venezuela, rebuffs Trump

March 28, 2019

by Tom Balmforth and  Maxim Rodionov

Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Thursday it had sent “specialists” to Venezuela under a military cooperation deal but said they posed no threat to regional stability, brushing aside a call from U.S. President Donald Trump to remove all military personnel from the country.

Trump said on Wednesday that “all options” were open to make Russia pull troops out of Venezuela after two Russian air force planes landed outside Caracas on Saturday carrying nearly 100 Russian troops, according to media reports.

As Venezuela has descended into political turmoil this year, Russia has emerged as a staunch backer of President Nicolas Maduro while the United States backs the country’s opposition and has imposed sanctions.

Venezuela’s military attache in Moscow said on Thursday Russia had sent “servicemen” to Venezuela, but that they would not take part in military operations, Interfax news agency reported.

“The presence of Russian servicemen in Venezuela is linked to the discussion of cooperation in the military-technical sphere,” Jose Rafael Torrealba Perez was quoted as saying.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing on Thursday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described the arrivals only as “Russian specialists”.

“Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region, Russia is not threatening anyone, unlike (officials) in Washington,” she told a weekly news briefing.

“Russian specialists have arrived in Venezuela in line with the provisions of a bilateral inter-government agreement on military-technical cooperation. No one canceled this document,” Zakharova said.

Russia and China have backed Maduro, while the United States and most other Western countries support opposition leader Juan Guaido.

In January, Guaido invoked the constitution to assume Venezuela’s interim presidency, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.

Maduro, who retains control of state functions and the country’s military, has said Guaido is a puppet of the United States.

 

Why Does the United States Want to Overthrow the Government of Venezuela?

A look at what drives the US to persist in its interventions—diplomatic, economic and military—against the Venezuelan government

by Vijay Prashad –

Common Dreams

Since 1998, the United States of America has tried to overthrow the government of Venezuela. What threatened the government of the United States since then was the Bolivarian dynamic set in motion by the election of Hugo Chávez as president of Venezuela that year. Chávez won the elections with a mandate from Venezuela’s workers and poor to overhaul the country to tend to their long-neglected needs.

Venezuela, with the world’s largest proven oil reserves, had enriched the U.S.-based oil companies and its own oligarchy. Venezuela’s key oil minister in the early 1960s (and architect of OPEC—the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso rightly called oil the “devil’s excrement.” It promised so much and delivered so little. Chávez arrived as the embodiment of popular hope. He threatened the oil companies and the oligarchy, which is why the United States tried to overthrow him.

The first attempt at a coup came in 2002, when the United States egged on the military and the oligarchy to overthrow Chávez. They failed. He was supremely popular, the Chavista base eager for change that would improve their lives. They had no faith in the United States or the oligarchy, both of whom had suffocated them for the past century.

Never has the Monroe Doctrine—which the United States invoked to control the American hemisphere—done much good for the millions of people from the southern tip of Argentina to the northern reaches of Canada. It has helped along the big corporations and the oligarchs, but not the ordinary people—the base of the Chavistas.

The residue of that base lined up this Sunday to sign a pledge in public against a new U.S. diplomatic and military intervention, against economic war.

What drives the United States to persist in its interventions—diplomatic, economic and military—against the Venezuelan government?

  1. Humanitarian Concerns

Is the United States of America motivated by humanitarian concerns? If it were so, why did the United States attempt to overthrow Chávez’s government in 2002, when there was no problem with Venezuela’s finances? Why has the United States tried to push policies for all of Latin America—such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)—that have been clearly shown to increase suffering for the people?

A logical person would look at these U.S. initiatives—the attempted U.S. coup in 2002 and the FTAA—and conclude that the U.S. government has more concern for corporate interests than for the interests of the poor. After all, what bothered the United States with Chávez was that he demanded that oil companies pay higher royalties for the oil that they sucked out of Venezuela. Such audacity has to be repaid with a coup attempt.

It is what happened in 1953 to Mohammed Mossadeq of Iran and in 1954 to Jacobo Árbenz of Guatemala and in 1971 to Salvador Allende of Chile. You cross U.S. multinational corporations, and you get overthrown.

Here’s a quick way to end the humanitarian crisis: stop trying to destabilize Venezuela, end the economic war and allow Venezuela to manage its external revenues. If all this is done, Venezuela’s government should be able to import goods and use its resources to continue the process of diversifying its economy. But this is not what the United States wants.

  1. Democracy

Evidence from the past century of U.S. interventions overseas suggests that the United States likes to use the word “democracy” to push its own agenda. Chávez was elected several times, his policies ratified by the people in several referenda. Nicolás Maduro asked the United Nations and external monitors to come to Venezuela and observe last year’s election. The United States pressured these agencies not to go. The right-wing opposition lost the election because they could not come together around a credible candidate—and they have no platform to go to the people.

Even with the chaos in the camp of the right, the right won 33 percent of the vote. Rather than try to appeal to more people on a political basis—the path of democratic politics, in other words—the right has taken cover behind the United States Treasury Department and the U.S. military, with the Canadians in the wings. This is hardly a good way to move a democratic agenda.

What does the United States mean by the promotion of democracy? It is worthwhile to allow U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield to explain the process himself. In November 2006, Brownfield sent a cable to Washington with this five-point strategy (which had been worked out in August 2004):

1.Strengthening Democratic Institutions

2.Penetrating Chávez’ Political Base

3.Dividing Chavismo

4.Protecting Vital US Business

5.Isolating Chavez internationally

This is blatant U.S. interference in Venezuelan politics. The first point—strengthening democratic institutions—is the most Orwellian of them all. The U.S. government—via its agencies such as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy as well as the CIA—has been funding a series of “civil society” groups to challenge the legitimacy of the Venezuelan electoral process.

A vote monitoring group—Súmate—was used to challenge each election, while groups were funded to take to the streets. In 2009, unrest of the streets—the U.S. State Department admitted—was funded by its agencies. Eduardo Fernandez of Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) said that “the streets are hot” and that “all these people” who have organized the protest “are our grantees.” So much for democracy promotion.

  1. Steal the Oil

Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves. No question that the oil companies have long wanted to return to the days when they called the shots in Caracas. When Chávez increased Venezuela’s share of the profits, he threatened a broader challenge to the oil firms. They have long wanted to punish the Bolivarian experiment for its audacity.

But there is no immediate need to take the oil. The world currently faces a glut of oil production, with Saudi Arabia running its wells at full tilt and the United States able to produce more oil than previously.

Low oil prices combined with currency problems within Venezuela has provided the United States with a unique opportunity to challenge Maduro’s government. The atmosphere for regime change was improved when Jair Bolsonaro came to power in Brazil, and when Canada and the dozen Latin American leaders were willing to create the Lima Group to push to overthrow the Maduro government.

Low oil prices and the rise of the Latin American right provided the opportunity for the United States, Canada and the Latin American oligarchies to go for regime change. This is about oil, but not only about oil.

  1. Crush the Alternative

After the fall of the USSR, the United States and its oligarchic allies hoped that no alternative to their dominance would arise. Any challenge to the United States and its world order had to be crushed. To understand the approach of the U.S. government toward the world, the best document to consult is the National Security Strategy (2002).

That document opens with a declaration of U.S. power—“The United States possesses unprecedented—and unequalled—strength and influence in the world.” No question that the United States has the largest and most powerful military, “strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in the hopes of surpassing, or equally, the power of the United States.”

Key here is the idea that the United States must be the most powerful country in the world and that no one will be allowed to threaten this power militarily or with an alternative economic agenda. Chávez attempted an alternative in Venezuela and, worse for the United States, through the Bolivarian project across Latin America. The Bolivarians understood that there was no hope for their revolution if they remained within their borders. They had to build bridges with their neighbors on a new foundation.

The U.S.-attempted coup in 2002 came to break the political alternative posed by Chávez. Once more, the National Security Strategy is useful. “The United States has long maintained the option of pre-emptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security,” the U.S. government wrote. “The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction—and the more compelling case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves. …To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act pre-emptively.” Coups are pre-emptive. So is economic warfare.

Greece, under Syriza, offered a mild alternative. It had to be shut down. Coups come these days, said the former Greek finance minister, by banks as much as tanks.

Venezuela, under the Bolivarians, offered a stronger alternative. It has to be shut down. Humanitarian concerns? Democracy? Not so important to the United States. Far more important is to deliver the planet into the hands of the billionaires, to extend the dictatorship of the billionaires over every square inch of the planet.

 

 

Past, Present and Future

Russian and American Swindles: U.S. taxpayers and Oil companies lose billions

by Christian Jürs

March 28, 2019

In mid-1998British officials investigating Russian organized criminal activities brought the attention of US authorities to a link between YBM Magnex, a front company for suspected Russian gangster Semyon Yukovich Mogilevich, and Benex, a firm owned by Peter Berlin, the husband of one of the subsequently-suspended Bank of New York (hereinafter ‘BNY’) vice-presidents. From October 1998 to March 1999, $4.2 billion in suspect money passed through the BNY accounts of Benex and other firms. Investigators allowed the account to remain open after March of 1999 as they continued their probe, and the total amount laundered eventually proved to be in excess of $10 billion. In August 1999, Swiss banks in Geneva discovered massive fraud involving Swiss banks and local prosecutors immediately froze 22 accounts of Russian individuals and corporate entities, worth a total of $15 millio

The growing evidence of  international criminal wrongdoing extended far beyond suspected organized crime figures like Mogilevich and point to high-level officials in the US and Russia. Investigators began to look into whether funds from the subsequently insolvent Russian bank, Menatep, were also involved in money laundering at BNY. Menatep was then owned by Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and employed, as a senior executive, Konstantin Kagalovsky. (for a full listing of the Russian personalities involved, see Appendix at the end of this article.)

Federal officials, in the main, the New York office of the FBI in conjunction with their counterparts in Britain and Switzerland, launched an in-depth an investigation of what later proved to be the largest money-laundering scheme in US history. The investigation revealed that billions of dollars from Russia, the bulk of it from Russian criminal elements, were channeled through accounts at the Bank of New York. Two BNY vice-presidents were initially suspended as a result of the probe.

Kagalovsky’s role in the money-laundering operation highlighted the criminal character of the nouveau riche in Russia, for the most part born of the old Stalinist bureaucracy, as well as the complicity of Western financial institutions, governments, and academic advisors. Kagalovsky was involved at the highest level of the Russian government, serving as an advisor and as its representative to the IMF before moving on to Menatep in 1994. Prominently displayed in his office at Menatep were photographs of his meetings with George Bush, John Major and other Western leaders.

He left Menatep to become the vice-chairman of the Lukos oil conglomerate. This company had been acquired by Menatep on the cheap in a “loans-for-shares” scheme in which the bank extended credit to the Russian government in exchange for shares in the company’s ownership. When the bank went under, Lukos picked up many of its assets, including its Moscow headquarters and a number of offshore holding companies, according to a report in a 1999 Wall Street Journal.

These holding companies are alleged to have been used to plunder a number of other Russian companies, also owned by Menatep. In a procedure known as tolling, the assets or products of manufacturing firms were sold to the holding companies at below-market prices. The offshore holding companies then sold the goods at normal prices, keeping the profits outside Russia. The Journal article cited one example of tolling in which $20 million was removed from a Russian titanium plant in just one year.

In essence, and there are literally two reams of emails, Xeroxed documents and discs on this matter, this is what happened. This is a very large story and one now being prepared as a book but the précis of it is this:

Boris Yeltsin, the Russian President, was not only a very corrupt drunk but also in the pocket of the American CIA. The CIA, and now the current Administration, has the best connections with the upper levels of American business. When the Soviet Union imploded, American oil interests looked with growing hunger at the enormous Russian oil and gas reserves.  They reasoned that if a compliant Yeltsin could be persuaded to privatize the former state oil holdings, American oil giants might be able to purchase controlling interests in these relatively untapped sources. This is exactly what happened. The prime mover in this buyout was a Russian gangster, one  Semyon Yudkovich Mogilevich.

The name Semyon Mogilevich first came to public light in 1999 in connection with the Bank of New York (BoNY)-Russian money laundering scandal. Media reports described Mogilevich as  one of the most powerful and dangerous “godfathers” in the world. US and UK intelligence agencies believe that his organization operates in Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, Belorussia, Lithuania, Israel, United States, Columbia, Pakistan, Lebanon, Germany, Austria and dozens of other countries. Mogilevich has his hand in narcotics and weapon trafficking, prostitution, money laundering, gambling and numerous other illicit trades. He is extremely clever – a quality that earned him the nick-name the “Brainy Don” – as he is callous and brutal, ruling his world-wide syndicate with an iron-fist and extraordinary sagacity. In the mid 90s Mogilevich acquired a secret interest in Russian bank Inkombank. He then used it to finance his ignoble trade, most notably drug smuggling through the Georgian port of Poti, and funnel the proceeds to his and his “banker”-partners’ offshore coffers. Mogilevich was de facto ruler of Inkombank when the BoNY – Inkombank relationship was at its peak.

Semyon Yudkovich Mogilevich was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Kiev on June 30, 1946, to Genya Tevevna Shepelskaya and Yudka Mogilevich. His early years are mist-shrouded. At the age of 22, Mogilevich earned an advance degree in economics from the prestigious University of Lvov. “He was a brilliant student” recalls one of his former professors – “he had a photographic memory and he could multiply, divide and add seven digit numbers in his head instantaneously.” Another former professor said that Mogilevich had a great interest in macroeconomics and “was able to see a panoramic picture of national and world economies, everybody believed he would become a great academician.”

An academic career however did not entice the future crime emperor. Russian police records reveal Mogilevich’s ties with a Moscow gang known as Lybretskaya in early 70s. At the time, the young Mogilevich was primarily involved in small time fraud and black market currency machinations. He was caught and twice served terms of three and four years in Russian prisons for  “currency offenses.”

In the 1980s Mogilevich found a niche in the then emerging immigration of Russian Jews to Israel. After receiving “exit visas” from Russian authorities, Jewish families were often given only a few days to leave the country and allowed to take out only bare essentials. Mogilevich would persuade them to leave all their possessions with him promising to sell them and sent the proceeds to their new homes in Israel.

Many immigrating families at the time owned expensive art objects, jewelry and other valuable items, exportation of which was strictly forbidden by Soviet authorities. Thus Mogilevich’s proposition appeared quite alluring. Mogilevich made a small fortune selling the property of thousands of departing families. He sent nothing to them in Israel correctly calculating that these people would have absolutely no recourse.

In 1990 Mogilevich decided to immigrate to Israel himself. By that time he had parlayed his “Jewish proceeds” into a fortune by craftily investing in various illicit enterprises, including weapons trafficking and prostitution. He arrived in Israel a millionaire, highly respected in the emerging Russian underworld as a shrewd operator who was capable of putting together complex international schemes. Several of Mogilevich’s top lieutenants immigrated with him.

Mogilevich became an Israeli citizen and made contacts with top Russian-Israeli organized crime figures, expanding his international crime syndicate. Expert-economist Mogilevich continued to acutely invest in everything from night-clubs to precious metals and stones, to liquor distilleries. At the same time Mogilevich continued to develop his world-wide networks of prostitution, weapon-running and drug smuggling. Mogilevich always operated through a complex web of offshore companies which he created.

In 1991 Mogilevich married Katalin Papp, a Hungarian citizen and a year later he moved to Hungary and settled down in Budapest. Marrying a Hungarian accorded Mogilevich the opportunity to obtain a Hungarian passport and by 1992 he was simultaneously a citizen of 4 countries: Russia, Ukraine, Israel and Hungary. He likes to refer to himself as “a citizen of the world.”

Mogilevich decided to make Budapest the home of his growing criminal empire, which by that time operated on five continents. In Hungary he continued investing in legitimate enterprises, night clubs, restaurants and other liquor establishments. His major acquisition was a so-called Army Co-Op, a military plant producing anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles. His criminal organization was emerging as one of the world’s largest and most feared international organized crime groups.  Mogilevich fashioned it after the Sicilian Cosa Nostra but added “a unique Russian touch”, according to one Hungarian intelligence official. Mogilevich befriended many Hungarian politicians and law enforcement officials thanks to payoffs and his charismatic personality.

Under their protection, Mogilevich’s organization flourished and expanded. He had de facto his own private army of enforcers numbering in the hundreds. Mogilevich preferred to recruit veterans of Soviet special forces who fought in the USSR war in Afghanistan and were known for their extreme viciousness. Mogilevich’s highly trained killers carried out his nefarious orders in over thirty countries, including Israel, Germany, Canada and the United States. Anyone standing in his way was tortured and murdered, his body conspicuously left gruesomely mutilated “for educational purposes,” as one of his top enforcers, the infamous and universally feared Igor Tkachenko, once said. When Tkachenko was himself murdered in Budapest, Mogilevich’s “enforcement department” was headed by two brothers, Igor and Sergei Korolev, whose particular brand of brutality made them somewhat of a legend.

In 1993, Mogilevich joined forces with the Solntsevo crime syndicate, one of Moscow’s dominant crime families. Together the Mogilevich and Solntsevo syndicates invested in a joint venture which purchased antiques, precious stones and art stolen from churches and museums in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Mogilevich’s wife died in December of 1994. Initially he considered returning to Russia but decided to remain in Budapest. A year later he married his long time mistress, Russian-Israeli, Galina Alexeyevna Telesh-Jambulskaya. Apparently the relationship between Mogilevich and Telesh started long before their marriage, as their son was born in September of 1990. Mogilevich also has children from his prior marriages: a daughter Mila, born in 1972 and a son Yuly born in 1983.

Mogilevich continued to expand his armament cartel. To complement the Army Co-OP, he also acquired Magnex 2000, a large magnet manufacturer and defense contractor, and the Digep General Machine Works which manufacturs artillery shells and mortar. These acquisitions gave Mogilevich virtual control of the Hungarian war industry.

Simultaneously Mogilevich developed powerful contacts in the Muslim Middle East, including with top officials in Iraq, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. These countries became the primary market for his weapon sales – both “legal” and illegal. Mogilevich structured a deal selling $20 million worth of armaments stolen from East Germany to an Iranian buyer. The weapons included ground-to-air missiles and a dozen armored personnel carriers, according to a Mossad officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

By the mid-90s, Mogilevich’s ever growing illicit international multimillion dollar transactions required extensive banking contacts. Hiding behind a web of offshore shell companies became progressively more difficult as banks around the world were adopting a more cautious approach to Mogilevich-style “banking” and money movement. Mogilevich could no longer afford to be just a bank “customer.” A need arose for an “equity partnership” with a bank that would be able and willing to both finance large international schemes and funnel the proceeds through his shell corporation world-wide. Mogilevich set his eye on Inkombank, by then one of Moscow’s largest privately owned banks with $3 billion in assets. What made Inkombank especially attractive to Mogilevich was its vast network of correspondent accounts, which Inkombank maintained with banks around the globe, including with such major banks as Bank of China, Union Bank of Switzerland, Swiss Bank Corp., and Deutchebank. In the US, Inkombank maintained its largest correspondent relationship with the Bank of New York. This was particularly crucial to the Brainy Don’s empire, as most of the world trade, legal and illegal, was effected in US dollars.

Because of its rapid expansion, Inkombank was short on liquidity and Mogilevich offered to “help.” A secret deal was struck between Inkombank’s then chairman, Vladimir Vinogradov and Mogilevich’s representatives, whereby in exchange for $65 million, and a promise to help gain Inkombank’s entree into the world’s arms market (which Vinogradov desperately sought,) Mogilevich’s front entities were given 23% in Inkombank’s equity. This gave the “latter day Don” de facto control over Inkombank.

The don kept his part of the bargain. In late 1996 he used his connections and muscle to help Inkombank’s bid for 25% of the common stock of the Sukhoy, maker of the coveted Russian SU fighter jets. Arguably the world’s most advanced military aircraft, of which some are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Countries like Iraq, Iran, India and Libya have gladly paid $30 to 50 million per aircraft and Sukhoy had generated $1 billion in sales in the three year period after Inkombank became its largest shareholder, accordingly to Russian intelligence sources. The proceeds were largely funneled from the Inkombank-Cyprus branch through BoNY correspondent accounts – to various offshore firms, including Brasset, Footnote and Bridge Investments, controlled by Vinogradov and Mogilevich.

Having Inkombank as a player in his multifaceted empire, propelled Mogilevich to the very top of global organized crime networks. He had now entered “the big time” and was able to participate in major deals. Running conventional arms around the world no longer fitted the don’s newly found “stature” and he attempted to move into the nuclear weapons black market. He financed the 1997 theft of six thousand pounds of enriched uranium from a Warsaw Pact storage facility intending to sell it to a Middle East buyer and deliver it through the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan. The deal was negotiated in the Czech resort of Karlovy Vary but Czech intelligence and security forces were able to stop it days before the fissile material was to be shipped to the Middle East. The uranium was safely recovered and Mogilevich’s partners in crime, J. Vagner, a nuclear physicist, Z. Sindlauer, a Prague police official and A. Sczerbinian, a Tadjik entrepreneur, were arrested. Mogilevich however was able to buy his way out with large bribes and by arranging for the disappearance of key witnesses. Intelligence sources said that this was the largest known theft of nuclear material ever.

According to filings in Federal court in New York, in mid-1998, The Bank of New York security personnel raised concerns to BoNY CEO Thomas Renyi about the association and apparent close ties between Mogilevich and Konstantin Kagalovsky, the husband of Natasha Kagalovsky, BoNY’s senior vice president in charge of its Eastern European Division. Renyi personally “interviewed” Kagalovsky about the matter but no action was taken. Court documents also show that BoNY was linked to at least two Hungarian banks, MKB Bank and CIB Bank, that have been the subject of FBI investigations concerning their ties to Semyon Mogilevich. Both MKB Bank and CIB Bank were involved in circular transactions for substantial amounts that were listed on Inkombank’s statement for its BoNY accounts in November and December 1993. In addition, law enforcement authorities in Latin America have investigated transactions whereby Mogilevich, or persons under his control, gave Kagalovsky wire transfer instructions to move funds through BoNY for the Cali drug cartel through Brazilian banks to offshore companies.

The FBI “wanted” alert warned that Mogilevich might  be armed and dangerous and asks anyone with information about him to contact his local FBI office or the nearest US embassy

On April 24, 2003, a federal indictment, unsealed today, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, charges Semyon Mogilevich and his two cohorts, Igor L’Vovich Fisherman, and Anatoli Tsoura with 45 counts of racketeering, securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering, according to the FBI crime alert. The three men are wanted for their alleged participation in a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors in the stock of YBM Magnex International, Inc. (YBM), a public company incorporated in Canada, but headquartered in Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Investors lost more than 150 million dollars through the alleged scheme that included inflating stock values, preparing bogus financial books and records, lying to Securities and Exchange Commission officials, and offering bribes to accountants. The scheme to defraud collapsed on May 13, 1998, when federal search warrants were executed in Pennsylvania and trading of the YBM stock was suspended by the Ontario Securities Exchange.

The company later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities and mail fraud.  YBM paid a $2 million fine, and agreed to pay $1 million more to reimburse investors, as part of a plea bargain.

The indictment alleges that between 1993 and September of 1998, Semion Mogilevich (56) headed and controlled the Mogilevich Enterprise, an association which consisted of the aforementioned individuals and a network of companies in over twenty different countries which orchestrated a sophisticated scheme to defraud investors in YBM stock. The scheme was allegedly funded and authorized by Mogilevich. This complex network of corporations was set up to create the illusion that YBM was engaged in a profitable international business, primarily the industrial magnet market. Igor Fisherman served as the Chief Operating Officer of YBM on behalf of Mogilevich, who was YBM’s major shareholder. Anatoli Tsoura was the Vice President of Finance for YBM’s main subsidiary.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan said the company was no more than “a well disguised illusion.” “Books were cooked. Auditors were deceived. Bribes were paid to accountants,” Meehan said, according to the Wall Street Journal report.

This morning FBI agents arrested YBM’s former chief executive, Jacob Bogatin, Thursday morning at his home in Richboro, an affluent town near Philadelphia.  Bogatin (56), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Russia netted more than $10 million from the YBM scheme, according to the indictment. Fisherman (51), also a naturalized Russian American, got more than $3 million and Tsoura (54), a Russian national, more than $1 million. Mogilevich skimmed over  $18 million in profits from the scheme, indictment charges.

Jeffrey A. Lampinski, the head of  Philadelphia FBI office, traveled to Moscow and Kiev last week and met with Russian and Ukrainian law enforcement officials to ask for help in arresting  Mogilevich and his two leiutenants. Lampinsky said Russian and Ukrainian authorities promised help in locating the fugitives. However, at least one high ranking Russian official privately expressed skepticism that Mogilevich would be caught and extradited.

Mogilevich utilizes the aliases Seva Moguilevich, Semon Yudkovich Palagnyuk, Semen Yukovich Telesh, Simeon Mogilevitch, Semjon Mogilevcs, Shimon Makelwitsh, Shimon Makhelwitsch, and “Seva”, according to the FBI.

Mogilevich masterminded the great oil swindle in which official agencies like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, along with the Israeli-controlled Bank of New York, sent huge sums of money to the so-called “oligarchs” who successfully bought up the Russian oil and gas industry. They were, in essence, being paid for a controlling interest in their holdings. These oligarchs, listed herewith, were all men with previous criminal backgrounds in drug sales, prostitution, extortion, espionage and  money laundering. Besides their criminal records, the oligarchy all were Jewish and most held dual Russian/Israeli citizenship.

In order to facilitate American assistance, Mogilevich made contact with Republican lobbyist Jack Abramof. From 1996, the American CIA in conjunction with various European law enforcement agencies, were tapping Mogilevich’s international telephone calls (with the assistance of the secret NSA “Operation Harvest” that taps into the communications satellites worldwide) and became aware of the outlines of the enormous swindle. From this, it was learned that a person being contacted with the purpose of security top level financial support and official U.S. government blindness, was a man called  “Производитель” or Producer. This was later positively identified as Jack Abramof, who had produced a terrible movie called – “Red Scorpion,” released in 1989. His high-level American contact was identified as  – Истребитель Exterminator- who was later positively identified as Tomas Dale DeLay, Congressman and powerful Republican figure from Texas. At one time, DeLay, a personal friend of Abramof, ran a pest exterminiator company in Texas, one that failed due to the rampant alcoholism of the later Republican Whip.

The problem with Mogilievich’s plan was that Yeltsin was forced to retire and Vladimir Putin, a former KGB colonel, was elected to the office of Russian President. Unlike Yeltsin, who was a drunken American “asset,”, Putin at once recognized the potential economic disaster to Russia if the American oil interests controlled of that nation’s increasingly valuable natural resources. He followed the old Italian dictum that he who goes softly goes safely and he who goes safely goes far. In short, Putin broke the back of the U.S. sponsored oligarchs, either imprisoning them or causing them to flee from extradition-safe Israel. The oil and natural gas assets reverted back to state control and none of those, including institutions and private parties, who invested with the oligarchs in the hope of enormous financial rewards, recovered a cent of their ill-advised investments.

While the now-disgraced DeLay apparently did nothing more than pressure various agencies to cooperate with Mogilevich’s criminal enterprises, nevertheless, it also appears that at least $10,000,000 in U.S. dollars was paid into a bank account at the Banque Suisse at 2 rue Confédération in Geneva, Switzerland in 1999 and 2000. From a European source (such things are strictly off-limits in the Republican-controlled United States) it is learned that DeLay was not alone in reaping enormous rewards although he was one of the few non-Jews to do so.

 

Full stream ahead: RT takes a peek at progress on construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline

March 27, 2019

RT

Despite criticism from the US and some EU countries, work on Russia’s natural gas pipeline to Europe is in full swing and on schedule. An RT correspondent visited the Nord Stream 2 construction site in Germany.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, stretching along the seabed of the Baltic Sea to supply Russian gas to Europe, has caused division in the EU, with some fearing that it will make countries overly dependent on Russian energy. Those concerns were further fueled by Washington, which warned its allies to ditch the project.

Nevertheless, six kilometers of pipeline is being added every day, with the project expected to be finished by the end of this year, RT’s Maria Finoshina reported from the pipeline’s landfall site in Lubmin, Germany. She managed to speak to the project spokesman, who said that it will diversify European energy supplies.

“If the domestic production in Europe decreases by half within the next 20 years, you definitely need more imports. Nord Stream 2 will be part of this solution,” Jens Mueller told RT. “Nord Stream 2 cannot fill the gap completely, in general [it] will increase the number of options for the consumers and we should be happy about it.”

Russia already supplies just under 40 percent of Europe’s national gas, and Nord Stream 2 aims to satisfy the continent’s growing appetite. The US opposes the plan, with President Donald Trump excoriating Germany for its commitment to the pipeline last year. The House of Representatives ratified a bill on Monday to assist European countries in switching to US natural gas, an expensive option due to the cost of getting the gas across the Atlantic.

 

The Tragedy of Trump’s Foreign Policy

The U.S. president had some genuine insights about America’s international problems. Where did it all go wrong?

March 5, 2019

by Stephen M. Walt

Foreign Policy

In a classic tragedy, the leading figure is usually a person with admirable qualities and even good intentions, drawn inexorably toward disaster by a tragic flaw. Othello is susceptible to jealousy, Macbeth is too ambitious, Hamlet cannot make up his mind, and Faust cannot resist an offer to trade his soul for knowledge and pleasure. In each case, a single flaw overwhelms their positive qualities and places them on the road to destruction.

From that perspective, it’s hard to see Donald Trump as a truly tragic figure. Far from being heroic but flawed, he’s just the spoiled, self-indulgent scion of a wealthy and odious father, with more deficiencies of character than one can count. Apart from a genuine gift for self-promotion, a decent golf game, and a practiced ability to connive on cue, he’s decidedly lacking in other virtues.

Yet there is an undeniably tragic quality to the Trump presidency, even if he manages to avoid impeachment, jail, or permanent disgrace. Why? Because Trump did have some valid and important insights into America’s current problems and he had a chance to do something about them when he got elected. That opportunity has been wasted, however, and Trump’s flaws as a politician, strategist, and human being are the main reason why.

What did Trump get right? In 2016, when he called U.S. foreign policy a “complete and total disaster” and blamed repeated foreign-policy failures on an out-of-touch and unaccountable elite, he was on to something. He was correct to accuse key U.S. allies of spending too little on defense—a complaint many previous presidents had made—and right on the money in denouncing open-ended and costly efforts at nation building in places like Afghanistan. Trump and Bernie Sanders were the only candidates to acknowledge that globalization was not delivering as promised, and his message resonated with lower- and middle-class Americans who were deeply worried about lost jobs, flat income growth, and lax immigration controls. Trump also recognized China as America’s principal long-term competitor and that Beijing would not stop its predatory trade practices if the United States just asked nicely. And Trump was nearly alone in recognizing that demonizing Russia was counterproductive and served only to drive Moscow closer to Beijing.

Moreover, Trump’s expressed views on international affairs suggested he had a more or less realist perspective on foreign policy that might have served him well—if he had really meant it and grasped its implications. Although he was hardly a sophisticated or knowledgeable thinker on such matters, he seemed to understand that 1) international politics were inherently competitive; 2) foreign policy was not about philanthropy; 3) all nations pursue their selfish interests; and 4) foreign adventures whose costs exceed the benefits are dumb.

After his surprising electoral victory, therefore, Trump was in a position to chart a more realistic course for the country, based on some—but not all—of the positions he had taken during the campaign. Republicans controlled both the House and Senate, and much of the public would have been receptive to a foreign policy that corrected the excesses and mistakes of the past quarter-century. Had he assembled an experienced team and insisted that it follow his vision, he might have improved America’s global position and won over many of his early critics. But as in a classic tragedy, Trump’s vanity, stubbornness, poor taste in advisors, and other deficiencies of character have led to repeated disappointments at home and abroad.

Let me count the ways.

With regard to Europe, Trump was correct in saying that Europe should get serious about its own defense and to stop relying on U.S. protection. Europe is wealthier, more populous, and spends a lot more on defense than Russia does, and there is no compelling reason for the United States to commit its own people to its defense. Accordingly, Trump could have proposed a gradual reduction in the U.S. commitment—say, over a period of 5-10 years—while making it clear that the United States wanted friendly relations with Europe and would continue to cooperate on areas of mutual interest. Indeed, Trump might even have tried to recruit Europe into a broader effort to check a rising China.

But that’s not what he has done. Instead, Trump has repeatedly insulted European leaders and embraced some of Europe’s most destructive political forces. He also increased the U.S. defense budget and the U.S. contribution to reassurance efforts in Eastern Europe, thereby giving NATO’s European members additional reason to free-ride some more. To be sure, some NATO members have maintained their Barack Obama-era commitments to increase defense spending but not by enough to lessen their dependence on Washington. With respect to NATO, in short, Trump has managed to weaken ties with key allies without reducing U.S. burdens.

In Asia, Trump understood that China was America’s primary long-term rival and it was time to get tough with Beijing about its economic practices. Unfortunately, he’s pursued that goal in a singularly inept way. He started off by unilaterally abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade deal that would benefited the U.S. economy in several ways and strengthened its strategic position in Asia. Instead of lining up other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in a united front over China’s trade and investment policy, Trump threatened to launch trade wars with several of them simultaneously. And in recent weeks, Trump’s all-too-public eagerness for a deal with Beijing has undercut his own negotiating team, making meaningful progress on these issues less likely.

Trump is also singlehandedly responsible for the bungled U.S. approach to North Korea. To be sure, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is a problem that would challenge the shrewdest strategist, but Trump’s handling of it has been a textbook case of wishful thinking and the antithesis of hardheaded realism. Experts inside and outside the U.S. government insisted that Pyongyang was not going to give up its hard-won nuclear weapons capability, which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the regime see as the ultimate guarantee of their own survival. Yet Trump deluded himself into thinking that his personal charm and self-proclaimed skills as a “master dealmaker” would somehow persuade Kim to do something that was obviously not in his own interest. Not only did Trump miss an opportunity to make tangible if limited progress on this vexing issue, but his bumbling gave America’s Asian partners yet another reason to question his judgment and competence.

In the Middle East, Trump’s policies have been a far cry from what realism would recommend. Instead of maximizing U.S. influence and leverage by establishing pragmatic working relationships with as many states as possible (as China and Russia do), Trump let himself get bamboozled by local potentates and repeated the same mistakes that have crippled U.S. Middle East policy for a long time. Instead of sticking to the nuclear deal with Iran and working with the P5+1 and other states to curtail Iran’s regional activities, he walked away from the deal and got nothing in return. He handed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process over to his unqualified son-in-law and turned a blind eye to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s increasingly erratic behavior.

Even when his instincts are correct—as when he announced he was going to pull U.S. troops out of Syria—he’s been a Hamlet-like portrait of indecision, and his off-the-cuff remarks about using bases in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran roiled U.S. relations with Baghdad to no good purpose. And having promised to get out of the nation-building business, he sent more troops to Afghanistan (like Obama did), where they are likely to still be fighting when he leaves office.

Then there’s Russia. Back in 2016, Trump recognized that ironing out America’s current differences with Russia would be good for Europe, good for Russia, and good for the United States, too. But instead of confronting Russia over its misdeeds—including its possible interference in U.S. elections—and beginning a serious dialogue to resolve issues like Ukraine, cyberattacks, and arms control, Trump’s conduct as president has reinforced doubts about his own relations with Moscow (and Russian President Vladimir Putin). Ironically, he is just about the last person who could even try to work things out with Russia because any serious effort to do so would lead critics to accuse him of being under Putin’s sway.

Finally, if the essence of realism is to deal with the world “as it really is” (rather than how we would like it to be), then Trump is more of a fabulist. A true realist would acknowledge the scientific reality of climate change and try to develop an effective policy response to it. Indeed, given his own background and prior statements, and the growing deference of the Republican Party itself, Trump was well-positioned to realign the party with the scientific consensus. Instead of continuing to deny the reality of climate change, he could have reversed course, said he now understood it was a serious problem, and called for something better than the Paris climate accord. If it took a Richard Nixon to go to China, maybe Trump could have restored environmental sanity to the Republicans.

It really is a tragedy. Not unlike Obama (whose popularity and dignity Trump clearly envies), Trump entered the Oval Office hoping to liquidate some of America’s counterproductive overseas commitments, pass the buck to local allies in Europe and the Middle East, focus laserlike on China, and do some much-needed nation building at home. Remember when he used to talk about a big infrastructure program, something that would provide jobs for lots of workers and prepare the United States to compete more effectively in the rest of this century? Sadly, the only building he ever talks about now is a pointless wall that most of the country doesn’t want, isn’t going to make the country safer, and probably won’t get built. More than two years into his first term, Trump most visible foreign-policy “achievement” is a steady and sharp decline in America’s global image.

And that’s the real tragedy. For unless Trump is eventually brought down by his legal troubles, he’ll probably live out the rest of life in comfort, surrounded by a retinue of sycophants, supplicants, and other lowlifes of the sort he cultivated throughout his life. It’s the rest of us who will end up footing the bill for this train wreck of a presidency.

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

 

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

March 28, 2019

by Dr. Peter Janney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks. ”

Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

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

 

Conversation No. 50

Date, Friday, November 29, 1996

Commenced: 11:20 AM CST

Concluded: 11:55 AM CST

GD: How are you doing today, Robert?

RTC: Had a bad night, Gregory. Couldn’t get to sleep and then dozed off about five. Not a good night.

GD: Take sleeping pills?

RTC: I don’t like to start with things like that. You can get addicted to them so I just put up with it and I will take a nap after lunch. That will help. How are you today?

GD: I’m OK. Been working on the latest Müller book and I got bogged down. When that happens, you have to just stop everything and walk away for a while.

RTC: How is the book coming?

GD: Making it, Robert. Publisher tells me the first book is doing very well.

RTC: Any negative comments?

GD: Not to him.

RTC: Oh, there are some unhappy people back here. The rumors are out that you might do another book so I would be careful talking about its contents to anyone.

GD: Corson and Kimmel have been very interested.

RTC: That’s what I mean. Don’t tell either one of them a damned word.

GD: No, the more curious people get, the less I say. I know Tom is with the FBI so, naturally, I only engage in light conversations with him and Bill is too curious to suit me.

RTC: Bill like to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds, if you follow me.

GD: Yes. Typical.

RTC: Müller died in ’83, didn’t he?

GD: Yes. Buried in Oakland.

RTC: Buried under his Company name?

GD: No, his real one.

RTC: He sold paintings for us, as I remember.

GD: Oh, yes he did. Your people took over looted Nazi art from the Army after the war and then you know what happened to it.

RTC: Yes, of course. We sold it for profit and if we had any trouble with previous owners, we simply terminated them. Mostly hysterical Jews screaming about this or that but eventually, they were dealt with and business went on.

GD: Heini told me he took in millions.

RTC: Oh, yes, he did. Some of it we used for off the books operations, like snuffing Diem and other nasty businesses and the rest ended up in private hands, let us say.

GD: Well, I recall the beautiful Raphael hanging up in Heini’s office. A fruity looking fellow in a white shirt. It apparently came from a collection in Warsaw along with a Leonardo. The Leonardo was found and sent back but the Raphael ended up with the Gestapo and Heini hid it and later went back for it. Of course he could never sell it but it looked so nice in his home. I can imagine the howls of rage if the Polacks found out about it.

RTC: Yes, indeed. God, how many such scenes we had to take care of.

GD: Terminate with extreme prejudice?

RTC: No, that term is used for in-house problems. Like the unfortunate fellow who shot himself in the back of the head and jumped off his little boat with weights on his feet. Things like that.

GD: And Olson?

RTC: Well, he was potential trouble so he did a full gainer out of a hotel window. It wasn’t the long fall that did him in, Gregory, but that sudden stop at the bottom.

GD: Müller told me about that. He said unwanted people like Forrestal rained down all over Washington until he introduced the heart attack drug. He used to feel sorry for people down below. I mean, some woman taking mail to the corner box gets an unwanted individual landing on top of her. Or imagine someone just bought a new Packard and there is a huge mess on their crushed roof and brains splattered all over the rest of the car. No, Heini was right about the heart attacks. Much more plausible and certainly less messy.

RTC: I agree.

GD: Diem?

RTC: Oh that business. I was on the inside with that one. What a mess but typical. Diem and his brother ran Vietnam and were trying to kill off the Buddhists. Kennedy had no idea what was going on over there and was waffling about pouring American troops into the country. The Diem family were crooked as hell and very, very nasty and demanding. Thee were two camps here, Gregory. The first one wanted a major effort there to stop Communism dead in its tracks and the other felt that such actions would become a bottomless pit.

GD: In the event, they were right.

RTC: Yes, but that is now, based on hindsight, but at the time, no one knew just what to do. We were technically only advising Diem. We had a deal with the French, at least the Company did, to support any régime that would protect their interest there. Lots of rubber and there was also untapped oil fields offshore. Jack was an idealist at times and got pulled this way and that. I mean we felt that a strong military presence there was good. We could use that country as a base of operations to expand into Laos and other areas but we had to act like we were supporting the democratic movements in Saigon. Diem was a vicious dictator and was surrounded with totally corrupt officials so he was not a good image for us. After we talked about it somewhat, it was decided to get rid of him and his brother and put in new people. We talked with dissident generals and pretty well set up a putsch. The idea was not to run him out of the country but to kill both of them and set an example for others.

GD: Was Kennedy in on it?

RTC: OF course, he knew in advance. We tarted it up and he went for it. But kept waffling this way and that so we just told the generals to go ahead. They grabbed the two of them and chopped them both up with bayonets in the back on an armored car. I personally told our people there that it ought to be done and the bodies tossed out on the street as an example to others.

GD: Admiral Byng.

RTC: Yes, just so. Kennedy was presented with a fiat and went along.

GD: And what about the usual Congressional investigations?

RTC: We did what we always do, Gregory. Private talks with key people on the hill and the whole thing is rigged from the beginning.

GD: You told them the truth?

RTC: Oh, be a realist here. Of course not. We lie to Congress and the White House every day. We know so much about all of them, just like old Hoover did, that they shut up and we have our people at the New York Times write things up the way we wish. And then the public goes off and watches a football game and opens another beer.

GD: Could any of this ever get out?

RTC: No. Say some gung ho reporter wants to do a story on how we killed Diem or something else like that. We would hear about it at once because we have our people in all the major papers and television offices so we would get the word right away. The usual drill is to call up the editor and have a talk with him and the reporter gets assigned to inspect whale shit somewhere.

GD: And if he gets too curious or won’t give up?

RTC: There’s always the heart attack or the road accident.

GD: Of falling out of the window.

RTC: Not much of that anymore. As you say, too messy.

GD: Heini used to off them and then turn up the heat in their house until they got really ripe.

RTC: Not personally?

GD: No, he used Arno to off people. Arno is a real jewel. He’s a Lutheran minister at the present time but Heini told me once that Arno loved the knife and some of his victims looked like something Picasso would have painted

RTC: (Laughter) Yes, well, we had some of those too.

GD: I recall the Diem business. That was the turning point over there. The hawks won out.

RTC: What a mess that was, Gregory. Now mind you, I felt that Diem just would not listen to us and was causing such bad publicity here by his undemocratic behavior that I really don’t think we had much of a choice. Kennedy was a twit and proved to be so unreliable in the business that we eventually decided he had to go too. Johnson would do what he was told but Kennedy was as independent as a hog on ice so onto the face of the fifty cent piece and into the hearts of all Americans. You won’t find Johnson on a coin but he put plenty of them into his pocket. Give me the crook over the idealist any time.

GD: I agree. Anyway, I am writing the art business up for the new book. They never took anything really big but all the small stuff fell through the cracks. Müller used to call it degenerate filth and that Hitler was right about it but I notice he never burnt any of the Klees or Picassos. You can get money for all of that and I find that money has such a soothing effect, Robert.

RTC: Yes, I believe it does. It is the root of all evil, after all.

GD: No, the actual Biblical quotation is that the love of money is the root of all evil.

RTC: One or the other.

 

(Concluded at 11:55 AM CST)

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

The American Gestapo

March 28, 2019

by Christian Jürs

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the few surviving members of Hitler’s Gestapo, or Secret State Police, should be gratified that their counterpart, the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, has copied, in detail, the so-called Vertrauns-Leute or V-Leute, program and is now developing it into a very powerful, and relatively unknown, internal surveillance force in the United States. Unlike the Gestapo, who had Communists as their chief enemy to observe, infiltrate and destroy, the FBI program is aimed solely at American citizens who are considered as present, and future, threats to the state.

Before we analyze the FBI program with its nearly sixty thousand reporting members, let us briefly look at its father, the Gestapo’s V program, because in comparing Hitler’s secret internal surveillance program with its huge network of volunteer informers with the FBI program, the parallels will at once become painfully obvious.

The Gestapo, or Geheime-Staats Polizei (Secret State Police) was initially constructed from the political section of Berlin’s civil police force in April of 1933. Given the intensive Communist espionage in the lax Weimar Republic, a number of German law enforcement agencies, such as the Berlin and Bavarian police, had set up sections to deal with this menace.

In Berlin, under the government of Prussia, Hermann Goering, its Prime Minister, set up the Gestapo by enlarging the previous Geheimes Staatspolizeiamt. In 1934, the SS, under Heinrich Himmler and his top intelligence chief, Reinhard Heydrich (Head of the Sicherheitsdienst or SD) assumed control over the Prussian, and later, Bavarian, police. The small Gestapo was put under the control of one Heinrich Müller, a top operative in the political police of Munich. Although Müller had been a devoted enemy of the National Socialists, he was considered by Heydrich as an extremely competent expert in detecting and dealing with the Commniists and other dissident groups. Müller, a member of the Catholic right-wing BVP, organized the small Berlin intelligence agency into a highly competent and efficient arm of detection and repression. With the outbreak of the war in September, 1939, all German police and political police agencies were put under the umbrella of the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt…State security main office) and the Gestapo, still under Müller, constituted Amt IV (Bureau IV) of that agency. Although nominally under the control of both Himmler and Heydrich, Müller, a decorated WWI military pilot, was essentially independent and was in complete control of his organizatioAt its height, the Gestapo had offices in all the major, and some of the minor, German cities but never had more than thirty-two thousand personnel, to include office workers and field agents, but the effectiveness of the Gestapo lay not only in Müller’s institution of an in-depth national card file on most German citizens but in an enormous network of volunteer informers called ‘V-Leute’ or Vertrauens-Männer (Leute) or trustworthy sources. Politically trustworthy supporters of the Nazi movement were recruited as voluntary, unpaid, reporting sources and could be found in all walks of German civilian and, to a lesser degree, government and military, sectors. These ‘V-Leute’ were given special identity cards, assisted if possible by the Gestapo in the event of civil or criminal legal problems and made privy to various impressive but unimportant Gestapo information. The value of this army of over 75,000 known domestic informers was, without doubt, one of the reasons for the Gestapo’s successes against internal dissident groups. Setting aside malicious denunciations, the V-Leute kept the Gestapo field offices and from them, the central headquarters on the Prinz Albrecht Strasse in Berlin, with an enormous input of often very valuable information.. One of the positive aspects of the activities of this army of domestic voluntary informers was the feeling among the German public that the Gestapo was everywhere, even present, ever observant and this fright quotient was often more than sufficient to quell any anti government sentiments in most of the German population and created  a `self-policing’ society operating within a `consensus dictatorship’

Here is a very brief outline of the structure of the Gestapo that dealt with the input of information from the unpaid but very effective ‘V-Leute’:

Heinrich Müller, the father of the informant program and the head of the Gestapo almost since its inception, escaped from Germany in 1945 and ended up in Switzerland where he worked as an expert on Communist espionage until 1948 when he was recruited by the CIA’s James Critchfield to work for the CIA, also as an expert in Communist espionage.  In studying the current FBI program, it is very obvious that Müller brought more to Washington than his hat and if the old adage that it is lawful to be taught by an enemy is correct, our own form of the Gestapo, the FBI, certainly and clearly benefited from Müller’s organizational skills.

In 1996, the FBI set up an organization they called the Infragard, which very closely followed the German Gestapo’s ‘V-Leute’ program:

, ….” the protection of our nation’s infrastructure cannot be accomplished by the federal government alone. It requires coordinated action from numerous stakeholders – including government, the private sector, law enforcement and concerned citizens.” And that: “Each InfraGard chapter is geographically linked with an FBI Field Office, providing all stakeholders immediate access to experts from law enforcement, industry, academic institutions and other federal, state and local government agencies”.

One of the publicly stated aims of this project is that:  “(b)y utilizing the talents and expertise of the InfraGard network, information is shared to mitigate threats to our nation’s critical infrastructures.” This is nearly identical in wording to Müller’s own description of his national informers program and what follows here was lifted, almost verbatim, from his own period analysis: “An InfraGard member is a private-sector volunteer with an inherent concern for national security. Driven to protect their own industry and further motivated to share their professional and personal knowledge to safeguard the country, InfraGard members connect to a national network of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) communicate with federal law enforcement and government agencies through their local InfraGard chapters, and contribute to the security and protection of our national infrastructure from threats and attacks.”

“Critical infrastructures are physical and cyber-based systems that are essential to the minimum operations of the economy and the government (as defined in Presidential Decision Directive/NSC 63, May 1998) Key resources are individual targets whose destruction would not endanger security on a national scales, but would create local disaster or profoundly damage national morale (as defined in Homeland Security Presidential Directive-7, December 2003) Together, critical infrastructures and key resources are so vital that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact on the defense, economic security, public health or national confidence of the United States.

“InfraGard has SMEs around the country in each of the following 17 categories of critical infrastructures and key resources, as recognized by the National Infrastructure Protection Plan:”

“Critical Infrastructures:

  • Agriculture and Food
  • Banking and Finance
  • Chemical
  • Defense Industrial Base
  • Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment Systems
  • Emergency Services
  • Energy
  • Information Technology
  • National Monuments and Icons
  • Postal and Shipping
  • Public Health and Healthcare
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation Systems”

In additional similarity to the earlier Gestapo program of unpaid informers, we learn that the current FBI imitation provides its informers the following benefits:

“The benefits of joining InfraGard include:

> Network with other companies that help maintain our national infrastructure.

> Quick Fact: 350 of our nation’s Fortune 500 have a representative in InfraGard.

> Gain access to an FBI secure communication network complete with VPN encrypted website, webmail, listservs, message boards and much more.

> Learn time-sensitive, infrastructure related security information from government sources such as DHS and the FBI.

> Get invitations and discounts to important training seminars and conferences.

> Best of all, there is no cost to join InfraGard

Our 45000+ membership is voluntary yet exclusive and is comprised of individuals from both the public and private sector. The main goal of the Washington, DC Nations Capital Chapter of InfraGard is to promote ongoing dialogue, education, community outreach and timely communication between public and private members. Furthermore, to achieve and sustain risk-based target levels of capability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from all hazards or events, and to minimize their impact on lives, property, and the economy.

InfraGard members gain access to vital information and education that enables them to in turn provide assistance to prevent and address terrorism and other transnational crimes. InfraGard members are provided threat advisories, alerts and warnings and access to a robust secure web-VPN site and e-mail. InfraGard also helps promote an effective liaison with local, state and federal agencies, to include the Department of Homeland Security.

The FBI retained InfraGard as an FBI sponsored program, and will work closely with DHS in support of the CIP mission. The FBI will further facilitate InfraGard’s continuing role in CIP activities and further develop InfraGard’s ability to support the FBI’s investigative mission, especially as it pertains to counterterrorism and cyber crimes. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security Office of Infrastructure Protection are currently executing an InfraGard Partnership Program Plan under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in December 2007.

Current Washington Field Office (WFO) cleared InfraGard members are encouraged to register on the Cybercop ExtraNet Portal to validate your affiliation with this chapter.”

There are, of course, suggestions and support concepts available to the informant organization as per this statement: “The interests of InfraGard must be protected whenever presented to non-InfraGard members. Independent of the type of presentation, (interview, brief, or published documentation) the InfraGard leadership and the local FBI representative should be made aware of the upcoming presentation. The InfraGard member and the FBI representative should agree on the theme of the presentation. The identity of InfraGard members should be protected at all times.”

As of January 1, 2010, there were over 45,000 InfraGard informants organized in 86 chapters in each of the 50 states, operating under the supervision and control of local FBI agents Secretly, and not reported, are branches in foreign countries, to include Britain, France, Italy and Switzerland..

Given the proliferation of anti-government internet sites and the even larger proliferation of conspiracy stories (many the result of government disinfomation) a reader of the above material might well be expected to dismissed most of it as mere self-serving  bombast on the part of persons with a desperate need to be recognized. In response to these entirely legitimate observations, perhaps it should be noted that the italicized quotations above were taken directly from official sources and can be easily seen at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InfraGard. This lengthy article, an official overview on a site well-known to be very friendly to governmental needs, is confirmation, not only of the existence of this informant organization but, to a historian, a terrifying parallel with the earlier, and very effective, Gestapo program.

Who are the volunteer informers spying on their co-workers, friends and neighbors? If a volunteer is approved by the FBI, they can join InfraGard but the FBI has put special emphasis on persons connected with the communications sector (to include computers and manufacturers and developers of computer-oriented software and equipment) which contains the major, and often minor, telecommunications firms, national, and international, credit reporting bureaus, the major American members of the national, and international, banking systems, the American credit card companies, American automobile manufacturers (who install GPS, or on-board vehicle tracking systems, in their products) Internet providers, (Internet II is owned and operated by the FBI) a significant number of American Evangelical religious organizations who are often over-eager in their efforts to inform on Unbelieving neighbors, friends and co-workers, the hotel and motel industry, the airlines (whose information base of Americans traveling is considered highly important) and even companies who sell boats and private aircraft. Also, and far more alarming, are a number of teachers, recruited into the service because of the often unsophisticated parental remarks small children can be provoked into repeating to the informant. But not all of these sources of information are the sole purview of the FBI. The question arises as to whether the FBI is alone in its intensive spying on the American public and the response unfortunately is that they are only part of the picture of growing, invasive domestic spying.  There has grown up in the United States, an enormous infrastructure of agencies designed solely to spy on the American public and a discussion of some of these might now be in order.

First, and foremost, there is the National Security Agency (NSA) Created by President Truman in 1952, during the Korean War, the NSA is charged with protecting the United States from foreign security threats. The agency was considered so secret that for years the government refused to even confirm its existence. Government insiders used to joke that NSA stood for “No Such Agency

Since early 1996, the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data voluntarily provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth,. The NSA also down-loads any and all information gleaned from its control, or penetration, of global communications satellites. In a word, the NSA can, and does, automatically record all overseas telephone conversations for all sources. It is the goal of the NSA to “create a database of every call ever made” by or to any American resident. To achieve this end, and it should be noted that Müller’s Gestapo had identical systems in place during the life of the Third Reich. This also includes bank transfer data, diplomatic traffic and other interesting information. The Bush administration used the NSA to spy on U.N. diplomats in New York before the invasion of Iraq..President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003. As well as the diplomatically-secure UN, the National Security Agency (NSA), on the orders of the Bush administration, eavesdropped on the private conversations and e-mail of its own employees, employees of other U.S. intelligence agencies — including the CIA and DIA — and their contacts in the media, Congress, and oversight agencies and officesAT&T , once the sole national provider of telephone service, merged with SBC and kept the AT&T name. Verizon, BellSouth and AT&T are the nation’s three biggest telecommunications companies; between them they provide local and wireless phone service to more than 200 million customers.

The three carriers control vast networks with the latest communications technologies. They provide an array of services: local and long-distance calling, wireless and high-speed broadband, including video. Their direct access to millions of homes and businesses has them uniquely positioned to help the government keep tabs on the calling habits of Americans.

Although under Section 222 of the Communications Act, first passed in 1934, telephone companies are prohibited from giving out information regarding their customers’ calling habits: violations of Federal law are quite acceptable, if carried out by official stool pigeons and with grateful acceptance. Also, all incoming calls, as well as wireless calls, are subject to being covered.

The financial penalties for violating Section 222, one of many privacy reinforcements that have been added to the law over the years, can be stiff. The Federal Communications Commission, the nation’s top telecommunications regulatory agency, can levy fines of up to $130,000 per day per violation, with a cap of $1.325 million per violation. The FCC has no hard definition of “violation.” In practice, that means a single “violation” could cover one customer or 1 million and the NSA has made clear that it was willing to pay for the cooperation. AT&T, which at the time was headed by C. Michael Armstrong, agreed to help the NSA. So did BellSouth, headed by F. Duane Ackerman; SBC, headed by Ed Whitacre; and Verizon, headed by Ivan Seidenberg.have proven to be gold mines of intimate secrets for the FBI. Although several lawsuits have been filed against these cooperating communication giants, they have all been quickly dismissed by cooperative Federal judged before they could get to the potentially dangerous discovery process whereby unwelcome information could become public

The Office of Terrorism Analysis[ supports the National Counterterrorism Center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.. Previously, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) oversaw the Intelligence Community, serving as the president’s principal intelligence advisor, additionally serving as head of the CIA. The DCI’s title now is “Director of the Central Intelligence Agency” (DCIA), serving as head of the CIA.At the present time, the CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence. Prior to the establishment of the DNI, the CIA reported to the President, with informational briefings to congressional committees. The National Security Advisor is a permanent member of the National Security Council, responsible for briefing the President with pertinent information collected by all US intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration, etc. All sixteen acknowledged Intelligence Community agencies (and five more whose names and activities are considered to be too secret to divulge) are under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence.

The National Clandestine Service (NCS) (formerly known as the Directorate of Operations) is the main United States intelligence agency for coordinating human intelligence (HUMINT) services. The organization absorbed the entirety of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s Directorate of Operations, and also coordinates HUMINT between the CIA and other agencies, including, but not limited to, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Diplomatic Security Service, Defense Intelligence Agency, Air Intelligence Agency, Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, and Office of Naval Intelligence. The current Director of the NCS is Michael Sulick. The Director of the NCS reports to the CIA Director.

The creation of the NCS was officially announced in a press release on 13 October 2005. The NCS was created by a bill from US Senator Pat Roberts in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The investigation by the 9/11 Commission reported that HUMINT had been severely degraded in the past two decades, principally because of the end of the Cold War and because of startling revelations about CIA operations uncovered by the investigations of the Church Committee of the US Senate.

The NCS has analogues in the National Security Agency (signals intelligence), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The National Security Service (NSS) within the Federal Bureau of Investigation was created June 29, 2005, by President George W. Bush through the Executive Order (EO) entitled “Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators and Their Supporters.”

Gary M. Bald, Director

Philip Mudd, Deputy Director

The basis for the creation of a National Security Service is documented in the FBI paper “National Security: FBI or MI-5?” from the “Report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, Chapter 10: Intelligence at Home: The FBI, Justice, and Homeland Security, pp. 466-67, March 31, 2005.”

The National Security Service “pulls together the Counterintelligence Division, the Counterterrorism Division, and the Directorate of Intelligence, enabling it to act together to develop intelligence and then to act on that intelligence, in consultation with not only Department of Justice but also the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).” June 29, 2005, DoJ Briefing Paper.

Also see: Memorandum: “Strengthening the Ability of the Department of Justice to Meet Challenges to the Security of the Nation,” White House, June 29, 2005.

TALON is the acronym for Threat and Local Observation Notice. “To track alleged ‘domestic terrorist threats against the military,’ the Pentagon is created a new database that contained raw, non-validated’ reports of anomalous activities within the United States Talon was intended to provide a means to gather and disseminate reports from volunteer ‘concerned citizens’

In 2002, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz “designated it as the DoD “standard for reporting suspicious activity.” The Department of Homeland Security, ever eager to enlarge it own domestic citizenry files, declared that; “ TALON as a template within the emerging Protect America homeland defense information sharing system.”

“Talon reports grew out of a program called Eagle Eyes, an anti-terrorist program established by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations that ‘enlists the eyes and ears of Air Force members and citizens in the war on terror,’ according to the program’s Web site. A Pentagon spokesman recently described Eagle Eyes as a ‘neighborhood watch’ program for military bases. The Air Force inspector general newsletter in 2003 said program informants include ‘Air Force family members, contractors, off-base merchants, community organizations and neighborhoods’,” Walter Pincus reported in the December 11, 2005, Washington Post.

In April 2007, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence requested that the Secretary of Defense terminate the TALON program because the results of the last year do not merit continuing the program as currently constituted, particularly in light of its image in the Congress and the media.

Operation TIPS, Terrorism Information and Prevention System, was a program designed at the specific order of  President George W. Bush to have United States citizens report suspicious activity on the part of their co-workers, neighbors and family members. US workers who had access to private citizens’ homes, such as cable installers and telephone repair workers, would be reporting on what was in people’s homes if it were deemed suspicious to them. A packet of what was deemed suspicious was to be supplied to each informer. (A copy of this is in the author’s possession and borders on the idiotic) The United States Postal Service, after at first supportive of the program, later resisted its personnel being included in this program, reasoning that if mail carriers became perceived as law enforcement personnel that they would be placed in danger at a level for which they could not reasonably be expected to be prepared, and that the downside of the program hence vastly outweighed any good that it could accomplish. The National Association of Letter Carriers, a postal labor union, was especially outspoken in its opposition. Although the TIPS program was officially cancelled in 2002, on June 30, 2008, the Denver Post reported that 181 individuals, including police officers, paramedics, firefighters, utility workers, and railroad employees had been trained as Terrorism Liaison Officers to report suspicious information which could be signs of terrorist activity and that while Congress had specifically forbidden its implementation, it was still very much active. The article also stated that TLOs were already active in six other states and the District of Columbia.  The final version of the anti-terrorism legislation, the ‘Uniting and Strengthening America By Providing Appropriate Tools Required To Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism’ (H.R. 3162, the “USA PATRIOT Act”) puts the Central Intelligence Agency back in the business of spying on Americans. It permits a vast array of information gathering on U.S. citizens from school records, financial transactions, Internet activity, telephone conversations, information gleaned from grand jury proceedings and criminal investigations to be shared with the CIA (and other non-law enforcement officials) even if it pertains to Americans. The information would be shared without a court order. The bill also gives the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, acting in his capacity as head of the Intelligence Community, enormous power to manage the collection and dissemination of intelligence information gathered in the U.S. This new authority supercedes existing guidelines issued to protect Americans from unwarranted surveillance by U.S. agencies such as the FBI.

 

How to sell a massacre: NRA’s playbook revealed

Three-year undercover sting reveals how US’ National Rifle Association handles public opinion after deadly gun attacks.

March 26, 2019

by Peter Charley

Al-Jazeera

Sydney, Australia – How should you respond to a deadly mass shooting if you are a gun rights advocate?

First, “Say nothing.” If media queries persist, go on the “offence, offence, offence”. Smear gun-control groups. “Shame them” with statements such as – “How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forward your political agenda?”

This was the advice the US’s most powerful gun lobby gave Australia’s One Nation party, according to an Al Jazeera investigation, when representatives of the Australian far-right group sought guidance from the National Rifle Association (NRA) on loosening the Pacific country’s strict gun laws.

The NRA’s playbook on mass shootings came to light during the course of a three-year undercover sting by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit. Rodger Muller, an Australian undercover reporter who infiltrated the gun lobbies in the US and Australia, used a hidden camera to record a series of meetings between representatives of the NRA and One Nation in Washington, DC in September last year.

The secretly filmed footage provides a rare inside view of how the NRA deliberates over mass shootings and seeks to manipulate media coverage to push its pro-gun agenda.

Australia’s One Nation party, led by Senator Pauline Hanson, has long sought to relax the country’s gun laws, which ban almost all automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.

The rules, some of the toughest in the world, were introduced in 1996 after a gunman with a semiautomatic rifle killed 35 people in the town of Port Arthur.

Since then, Australia has had no mass shootings where the attackers did not know their victims. However, the NRA has denounced Australia’s laws as “not the definition of common sense”.

‘The graves of those children’

Muller, Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter who posed as a gun-rights campaigner, introduced One Nation’s Chief of Staff, James Ashby, and the leader of its Queensland branch, Steve Dickson, to the NRA, and travelled with the pair to Washington, DC last year.

Ashby and Dickson were hoping to secure up to $20m in political donations from supporters of the US gun lobby.

In meetings at the NRA’s Virginia headquarters, officials provided Ashby and Dickson tips to galvanise public support to change Australia’s gun laws and coached the pair on how to respond to a mass shooting.

The best method to handle media inquiries in the wake of a massacre was to “say nothing”, according to Catherine Mortensen, an NRA media liaison officer. But if inquiries persisted, she recommended an offensive communications strategy.

That included deflecting public concern by smearing supporters of gun control.

“Just shame them to the whole idea,” said Lars Dalseide, another member of the NRA’s public relations team. “If your policy, isn’t good enough to stand on itself, how dare you use their deaths to push that forward. How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forward your political agenda?”

Dickson responded: “I love that, thank you”.

Then, explaining how the NRA manipulated media coverage, Dalseide told One Nation to enlist the services of friendly reporters.

“You have somebody who leans to your side that worked at a newspaper, maybe he was covering city hall or was a crime reporter,” Dalseide said.

“We want to print up stories about people who were robbed, had their home invaded, were beaten or whatever it might be and that could have been helped had they had a gun. And that’s going to be the angle on your stories. That’s what he’s got to write. He’s got to put out two to five of those a week.”

‘Outrage of the week’

Another NRA tip was to ghost-write columns for pro-gun law enforcement officials.

“We pitch guest columns in the local papers,” said Mortensen.

“A lot of the times, we’ll write them for like a local sheriff in Wisconsin or whatever. And he’ll draft it or she will help us draft it. We’ll do a lot of the legwork because these people are busy. And this is our job. So, we’ll help them and they’ll submit it with their name on it so that it looks organic. You know, that it’s coming from that community. But we will have a role behind the scenes.”

As for social media, the NRA recommended producing short videos that highlight how useful a gun is for self-defence.

“These are hugely popular and they’re short little snippets. You know, ‘Joe Blow’, cashier at the local convenience store, had his firearm with him and protected himself,” said Mortensen.

“Those are good because they’re short and they kind of get you outraged. We call it like ‘the outrage of the week’.”

During the same meeting, Dickson told the NRA that “African gangs imported to Australia” were committing rape and burglary in the country, including “coming into the house with baseball bats to steal your car”.

To that, Dalseide advised the following: “Every time there’s a story there about the African gangs coming in with baseball bats, a little thing you can put out there, maybe at the top of a tweet or Facebook post or whatever, like with ‘not allowed to defend their home’, ‘not allowed to defend their home’. Boom.”

The NRA officials named in this report, One Nation, Dickson and Ashby did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment.

 

 

 

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